Tag Archives: YA books

Review: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

YA book review of Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer (Raybearer, #1)Goodreads Blurb

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA book is about a girl brought up to kill her mother’s nemesis.

All her life, our heroine craves the love of her mother, who hardly sees her and on the rare occasions when she does, plays with her affections. Without warning, her mother sends her away to be selected as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of Eleven. If this was not traumatic enough, her mother’s parting words were strict instructions to kill the prince as soon as she gains his trust.

It is very easy to root for our heroine who, on one hand craves her mother’s affections and on the other, wants to be true to her conscience and not kill the innocent prince. The concept of the Council of Eleven is unique.

If you enjoy dystopian fantasy, check out this one. 3/5

Review : Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

YA book review of Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and ShadowGoodreads Blurb

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

My Thoughts after Reading

Set in Mexico, this YA book interweaves their myths and legends with contemporary life in the 1920s.

Our heroine is the Cinderella equivalent in her family home. Her widowed mother struggled to make ends meet after her father died and came crawling back to her haughty family. Casiopea is her grandfather’s carer. She has to put up with his bad-temper and her golden-boy cousin’s taunts. The only thing that keeps her going is his promise of inheritance after his passing.

One day her defiance gets her into trouble and she is left behind in a family excursion. She finds the key that her grandfather usually hangs round his neck and opens the mysterious box in her room. Her adventure begins.

In similar vein to Rick Riordan‘s Percy Jackson and Greek mythology, this story is imbued with Mayan gods and beliefs. The detailed description of places took me to the heart of Mexico. I enjoyed getting to know the two main characters and their development as the book progressed.

If you are looking for a book set in South America, check out this one. 3/5

Review : The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose by Mary Hooper

YA book review of The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose by Mary Hooper

The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose

Goodreads Blurb

Ousted from her family by her new stepmother, Eliza Rose makes her way to London–only to be thrown straight into prison for stealing a bite to eat. Her life takes a remarkable twist when she is rescued and befriended by the infamous actress Nelly Gwyn. Nelly introduces her to the courtly intrigue, politics, and glamour of the court of King Charles II, as well as to a handsome young man known as Valentine Howard. Eliza is smitten, yet their love cannot be, as she is only a lowly maid and he is an aristocrat.

From orange seller to mermaid and to a lady about town, Eliza will take on many remarkable guises, but will she ever find what she yearns to know–a place where she truly belongs?

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA historical fiction gives a good feel for what it was like to live in the restoration period in London.

Our heroine has been turfed out of her Somerset home by her stepmother, and she makes the journey to London to find her father, a mason working to rebuild London after the Great Fire. Unfortunately she was so hungry she stole a some food and ended up in prison. Her adventures took her to several places in London. I particularly enjoyed reading about Nell Gwyn and the theatre life.

The author has written a lot of little details of life back then. I was fascinated with how they lived in the clink prison. This is a relaxing read that ticks along slowly, with enough intrigue to keep interest, but not too much suspense and drama that keep you reading into the night. 3/5

Review : The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

YA book review of The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)Goodreads Blurb

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA book of time-travel, sea adventures and history has a great opening line and scene that pulls you right in.

Our main character is the daughter of the captain of the time-travelling ship. They travel round the world and through time to acquire rare and mystical artefacts, especially maps.

I part-listened to the audio book and part-read the paperback. In each destination, I enjoyed learning about the time and place. The author has done a great job giving us a feel of the places and the eras. I got to know the characters and really liked the Kashmir. The author has also taken pains to sneak in nautical terms in the narration, reminding us that our heroine grew up in a tall ship. 3.5*

Review : Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

YA book review of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)Goodreads Blurb

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.


Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA fantasy is about a down-trodden magical tribe under the dictatorship of a cruel king.

Our heroine has inherited her late mother’s magical powers. Together with her non-magical brother and father, they eke out a living as the maggots of society. Fate takes a turn when brother and sister go to the city to make a trade. There Zelie gets entangled with the runaway princess and a stolen scroll that could bring magic back to these maji and diviners.

The story is told in 3-POVs: our heroine, the runaway princess and the crown prince who is trying to stop them. The author has done a brilliant job with both the plot and the characters. There is tension in every scene, and I felt for every character. It felt slow to begin with, as world-building takes time. But once this is established, the story just sweeps you along.

A brilliant read. 4.5/5

Review : With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

YA book review on With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High

Goodreads Blurb

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain—and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life—and all the rules everyone expects her to play by—once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA book is about a teen mother and her journey back to school after giving birth.

Emoni is a gifted chef, but the path ahead is not clear and simple. She lives with her grandmother and has a young toddler. They eke out a living with her grandmother’s disability allowance and her part-time work at a local fast-food outlet. The father of her child has visitation rights once a fortnight. Her home-room teacher has fought hard for her to remain in main-stream education, so she can graduate at 18 with the rest of her cohort.

Through the amazing writing, we get to see what life is like for Emoni as she tries to juggle everything. On top of this, she has to think about her future, which is a difficult concept when day-to-day living is a struggle already. This book sends out a strong message of resilience. Whilst she has people rooting for her, she has to make the difficult decisions. There were some parts so well written I just had to go back and reread it again. I also enjoyed reading about the history, background and culture of Puerto Rico.

The ending sentence is brilliant. She talks about the dish flamble and faith : ‘what better way to take a leap of faith than to set something on fire and trust it will not only come out right, but that it will be completely delicious?’

Quite simply, an amazing read. 5/5

Review : Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper

Young Adult book review of Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper

Petals in the Ashes (Sign of the Sugared Plum, #2)

Goodreads Blurb

This gripping account of London’s Great Fire of 1666 is a worthy companion to At the Sign of the Sugared Plum. Only one year after the city suffered such terrible losses during the Plague, London is recovering and Hannah convinces her parents that, with her younger sister Anne’s help, she can return to the city and manage the sweetmeats shop on her own. The girls are thrilled to be back in London, and Hannah even finds her old beau, Tom, alive and well and working for a magician. But her newfound happiness is short-lived as fires begin to spring up around the city and quickly move closer to their shop. Finally, Hannah and Anne are forced to abandon their home to save their lives. When the fires have abated, the girls return to find their shop in ruins. They also find Tom, beaten and injured after being chased by a mob that blamed the magician for starting the fire. Despite their losses, Hannah is sure that one day she will rebuild her shop and once again trade under the sign of the sugared plum.

My Thoughts after Reading

This young YA book is set in the mid-1660s. It is a direct continuation from Book 1, At the Sign of the Sugared Plum. For continuity, I recommend readers to read this straight after you have read the first book. The book blurb suggests the story is about the Great Fire of 1666, but the start of the story ties up the ends of the previous book.

In our last book the heroines have escaped the clutches of London’s plague. They journey to Dorchester to deliver the baby orphan girl To her aristocrat aunt. Eventually Hannah makes the decision to return to London without her older sister, but takes her younger sister along instead. Hence at the fresh start in London it was reminiscent of the first book, except this time round Hannah is the teacher.

The book give a good insight into the lives in London as they emerge from the depths of the Great Plague. When the fire came, the author has skilfully brought the reader right into the midst of the trauma and mayhem. You feel as if you were there when it happened, and the great loss afterwards.

A good read. 3/5

Review : At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper

Young-Adult Book Review on At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum (Sign of the Sugared Plum, #1)Goodreads Blurb

It is 1665 and Hannah is full of excitement at the prospect of her first trip to London. She is going to help her sister, Sarah, in her candy shop, ‘The Sugared Plum’. But Hannah does not get the welcoming reception she expected from her sister, because the Plague is taking hold of London. However, Hannah is determined to stay and together the two young women face the worst-with the possibility of their own demise, growing ever closer. But through it all they persevere with the support of their neighbors and each other. And at last, they find hope in a daring attempt to escape the city.

My Thoughts after Reading

This young YA book is set in London during the Great Plague in 1665.

Our heroine joins her sister in her busy confectionery shop in London. She arrives when the Plague was just beginning, in places far from them. However the cases grow week by week and the locations come closer and closer to home.

I enjoyed reading about the confectionary shop. It was fascinating to learn about the treats in its the era. I also enjoyed reading about the excitement in London before the plague took hold. The author paints a vivid picture of how things develop week on week.

If you want to travel back to the 17th century, check out this book. 3/5

Review : A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Young-Adult book review on A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)

Goodreads Blurb

In this debut gothic novel mysterious visions, dark family secrets and a long-lost diary thrust Gemma and her classmates back into the horrors that followed her from India. (Ages 12+)

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

My Thoughts after Reading

This YA book is set in a boarding school during the Victorian times.

Our heroine grew up in India, and after mysterious circumstances that lead to her mother’s death, she returns to England with her grieving father. Enrolled in finishing school for girls, she stumbles into a diary and forms a friendship group with a eclectic group. These soon intertwine.

The pacing is good, making me turn the pages. This story is full of intrigue. I got a good sense of our heroine’s grief and her new life in the school. The author skilfully weaves the diary to their current school life, always moving the plot forward.

A good read. 3/5

Review : Boy Everywhere by A. M. Dassu

Teen book review of Boy, Everywhere by A.M. Dassu

Boy, EverywhereGoodreads Blurb

BOY, EVERYWHERE is the debut middle grade novel from writer A. M. Dassu. It chronicles the harrowing journey taken from Syria to the UK by Sami and his family. From privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a smuggler’s den in Turkey to a prison in Manchester, it is a story of survival, of family, of bravery.

Sami is a typical 13 year-old: he loves his friends, football, PlayStation and iPad. But a bombing in a mall changes his life. Sami and his family flee their comfortable home in Damascus to make the perilous and painful journey towards a new life in the U.K. Leaving everything behind, Sami discovers a world he’d never encountered – harsh, dangerous, but also at times unexpectedly kind and hopeful.

My Thoughts after Reading

This older middle-grade book is about a Syrian boy’s journey to UK seeking asylum.

Our protagonist was very settled in his school in Damascus. His life was thrown into chaos when his local shopping mall was bombed. His mother and younger sister were there getting his football boots for him when the bomb went off. His parents decided to leave the country for the safety of the family and they begin their harrowing journey for a safer life in the UK.

The author has captured much of what we’ve heard in the news, and more. I learnt a lot from this book, not just the journey, but what happens when refugees arrive in the UK. If you are looking for similar books, I can also recommend The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson and and The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon.