Happy last week of October! I can’t believe how quickly the month has flown by. I’ve been able to do some more reading lately, and it’s quite a variety. Today’s roundup includes young adult romance, fantasy, paranormal, and suspense. So hopefully something for every reader!
TOKYO EVER AFTER by Emiko Jean is one of those books I was seeing everywhere and kept thinking I needed to read. For several months, I’d been pretty exclusively reading books by fellow debut authors, but this one broke through the ranks, and I’m so glad it did! I’m not sure what comp titles are being used for it, but it reminded me a lot of THE PRINCESS DIARIES, except instead of a fictional country, Izumi is a secret princess from Japan.
I was immediately drawn into Izumi’s story as a Japanese girl who never felt fully American but then goes to Japan to learn more about her family and doesn’t feel fully Japanese either. She’s torn between two worlds and has to figure out how she fits into each of them and what she wants to hold onto most.
And, of course, there’s a romance as well, with her stubborn, taciturn, too-handsome bodyguard. I loved all of Izumi’s friends, both those she’d grown up with and the new friendships she forms in Japan. I’m so excited there’s a sequel coming next year and can’t wait to read what happens next!
A new book by Stephanie Garber? Of course I’m reading that one right away!
I loved the Caraval series, and while this book is set in the same world and features some of the same characters, it’s not a continuation. I really appreciated how Stephanie Garber portrayed Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, in the earlier series. He’s that character you want to hate because he seems heartless and makes horrible choices, but at the same time, there’s something deeper underneath and you keep hoping he’s going to redeem himself.
Here’s the setup for ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART. Desperate to stop the wedding of the boy she loves to her stepsister, Evangeline Fox seeks the help of Jacks. As he’s a Fate, the deal she makes with him is not at all straightforward. She thinks she can stay in control of her actions, but of course he has a much bigger plan in the works. She becomes embroiled in international intrigue in the North country where her mother originally came from. The setting is so rich, and as with the previous books, the relationships and plot are so tightly woven.
I read this book in a single day (thanks to traveling). It was full of the twists and turns I’ve come to expect from Stephanie Garber, and I can’t wait to read the next book and find out what’s coming for Evangeline and Jacks and everyone else. Because, of course, the story didn’t end.
Have I mentioned here how much I love all things vampire? Not sure it’s come up or not. But even I am not as much of a vampire aficionado as Victoria and her dad in VAMPIRES, HEARTS & OTHER DEAD THINGS by Margie Fuston.
I loved how this story took a new and frankly heartbreaking approach to vampires. In this world, vampires have revealed themselves as real but then went into hiding, after which many people believe the reveal was a hoax. But Victoria and her dad still believe, which becomes even more important when her dad’s cancer becomes terminal. A vampire may be her only hope to save him.
She travels to New Orleans to find one, accompanied by her estranged best friend, Henry, and finds Nicholas, who gives her a series of tasks to prove she loves life in order to possibly become a vampire herself. There are so many gorgeous layers to this story as Victoria struggles to perform the tasks that force her to live when she’s facing the imminent loss of her father. Plus, there is some major baggage with Henry, who is more than her best friend, and serious romantic tension with Nicholas too. I was already intrigued by the setup of this story, and it gave me so much more than I anticipated. It’s a journey both emotionally and through historic New Orleans.
I highly recommend you pick up this gorgeous debut young adult novel!
DARK AND SHALLOW LIES by Ginny Myers Sain is the kind of suspense story I love most: Early on I had a theory, but as the clues piled up, I kept doubting my own suspicions and wasn’t absolutely sure who was responsible until the very end.
Here’s the setup: 17-year-old Grey returns to La Cachette, Louisiana, where she spends her summers. It’s the self-proclaimed “Psychic Capital of the World” and also where her best friend, Elora, disappeared six months earlier. She’s determined to figure out what happened to Elora, between questioning her friends and trying to decipher snatches of dreams that start coming to her. Add to that a mysterious boy living in the bayou and her childhood crush right there in town, and things get even harder to untangle.
I read this book in a day. And I was sooo tempted to peek at the end, but I resisted. A gripping, twisty read!
If you’re looking for more recommendations, you should check out SCBWI BookStop, a showcase of books by Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators members published between 2019 and 2021. It includes everything from YA, picture books, middle grade, nonfiction, and more. You can search the directory at scbwi.org/scbwibookstop, or if you want to check out my page, it’s available here. The SCBWI BookStop will be open through the end of November.
Now’s a great time to start stocking up on gifts for the holiday season. The supply chain is sloooow right now, so if you plan to buy books this year, start now!
Let me know if you read/have read any of the books above or find any other gems at the SCBWI BookStop!