First of all, I remember the first time I saw those three letters in email conversations and always wondered, “What does TBR mean?” So I asked 🙂 And if you, like me, don’t know what it is, here’s the answer – “To Be Read.” We ALL have that list, be it by our bedside, our coffee table, or our desk (hey, even the dining room table or your device!) and I wanted to share a few titles I’ve recently read that should be on that list!
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd. 2018, HMH Books for Young Readers
Modern day Paris is filled with witches, goblins, Pretties, and beasties. But these witches wear Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada. Ruled by the Royal Court, they have been given designated parts of Paris, including the humans (Pretties) living in them. Mada Vittora is the most powerful and influential of the witches and she has made beasties to serve her, including Anouk her servant, Cricket the thief, Luc the apothecary, Beau the chauffeur and Hunter Black, the mercenary.
But after one evening spent with the royals, Mada Vittora is found dead, and the beasties only have 48 hours until they turn back to their original forms. But news of the death gets out through scryboards, crows, and the Haute (magical community), and Viggo, Mada Vittora’s boy, is set on revenge. The only thing left for the beasties to do is seek asylum and help from Vittora’s enemy, Mada Zola. But can she be trusted? She is a witch…
This is a beautiful, dark, and fantastical book that creates a Paris that is dangerous, alluring, and grim. The main character, Anouk, juxtaposes the setting with her purity and naivete, which the reader sees slowly dissolves as reality sets in. The author left nothing and everything to the imagination from the spells cast to the tongues the witches use to cast the spells, to the history of the Haute and more. Read this NOW, or at least put it at the top of your TBR pile! Highly recommended for JH/HS
New Kid by Jerry Craft. 2019, Harper Collins
There is nothing Jordan loves more than drawing. What he wants is to go to an art school, but his parents decide he needs to go to an Riverdale Academy Day School, which is a far cry from his Washington Heights neighborhood. His first day there as a sixth grader, Jordan sees that he’s one of very few students of color and feels more out of place that ever. He wants out.
But his parents tell him that time and patience can change things and so he must stick out the bus rides that have five stops before he gets to school, the bully who won’t stop bothering him, the teacher who seems biased, and trying to understand why pink shorts are so cool.
Eventually, Jordan finds himself enjoying his new school and friends, but now doesn’t know where he fits in – is he Washington Heights Jordan or Riverdale Day School Jordan?
Jerry Craft does an amazing job presenting, in graphic novel format, a struggle that many kids find themselves in. This is such a perfect book for junior high (and high school!) not only for its content and graphic novel popularity, but also in the characters, which are highly relatable. Highly recommended for JH/HS.
Shadow State by Elyse Brayden. 2018, MacMillan.
Brynn Caldwell is an excellent student. She excels in academics, paticularly science, which isn’t so unusual because her mother is a top science in a major pharmaceutical company and her father sits on the National Symphony Orchestra, a genius in his own right. But all it took was one bad semester….
Brynn suffered from acute depression and her grades, and friends, and her boyfriend abandoned her. She is also having unusual flashbacks of being tied up in a room, a man’s voice…something she swears she’s never experienced before.
And now, her mother is being feted at a gala for creating a breakthrough medication, Cortexia, that allows soldiers coming back from war with PTSD, to deal with their symptoms better through altering memories, feelings and emotions in a suggestive state. But someone is out to sabotage the company and the drug, and it all involves Brynn…
Fast-paced YA action thriller at its best! The premise for the novel lends itself to a mystery, although readers may be able to piece together the clues, but it still has an explosive ending. Highly recommended for HS.
The Soul Keepers by Devon Taylor. 2018, Swoon Reads.
Rhett just watched himself die. At first he was in a state of shock and confusion, but then Basil Winthrop shows up and tells him the Harbinger is about to pick them up and not to dawdle.
And what is the Harbinger? It is a massive sea vessel that contains the souls of the dead that need to be ferried as well as place to protect them. The crew members, known as syllektors, are VERY aware of psychons, who eat souls to stay alive. The most dangerous missions are when Rhett and his small group of crewmates must collect souls, and possibly run into these monsters.
But Rhett is different, he was told by Urcena, the most dangerous leader of the psychons, that he is the Twice-Born Son. And she wants him to find his power. Once he does, she will come for it and him. And the battle for the protection of souls begins.
This fantasy relies heavily on good vs. evil, but the best thing about it are that these aren’t angels and demons. There is no heaven or hell. There is the Harbinger and there is nothing. The author did an amazing job of creating a world based on age old theme of good v. evil in such a fantastic, phantasmagoric way. Recommended for HS.