Review | No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant | the illustrations gave the story life

Book Review | ★★★☆☆

SYNOPSIS: When 17-year-old Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forest in her home town of Portland, Oregon, her only expectation is to earn a little money. Homeschooled, affluent, and sheltered, Hazel soon finds her job working side by side with at-risk teens to be an initiation into a new world that she has no skill in navigating. This uncomfortable and compelling memoir is an important story of a girl's awakening to the racial insularity of her life, the power of white privilege, and the hidden story of segregation in Portland.

Review | Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind by Courtney Peppernell | another uplifting collection

Book Review | ★★★★★

SYNOPSIS: In a voice that is inclusive and open to all, Courtney Peppernell presents a tribute to her readers in the third installment of her bestselling Pillow Thoughts series.

A beautifully raw and poignant collection of poetry and prose, Pillow Thoughts III continues the series from poet Courtney Peppernell. Fix yourself a warm drink and settle into Peppernell's words as she pens a tribute to her readers who are bravely continuing their journey from hurt to healing.

Review | Geekerella (Once Upon A Con, #1) by Ashley Poston | cinderella and fandoms

Book Review | ★★★☆☆

”If this is the impossible universe, then I hope tonight was the good sort of impossible.”

SYNOPSIS: Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale romance—now in paperback, with a special Starfield bonus scene!

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Review | Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman | post-apocalyptic squad

Book Review | ★★★★★

”When we've lost the strength to save ourselves, we somehow find the strength to save each other.”

SYNOPSIS: When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival,

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

Review | Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson | magical standalones at it’s finest

Book Review | ★★★★★

”There is always more than one way to see the world. Those who claim otherwise would have you dwell forever in the dark.”

SYNOPSIS: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Review | Five Wakes and a Wedding by Karen Ross | a fun contemporary

Book Review | ★★★☆☆

SYNOPSIS: Undertaker Nina Sherwood is full of good advice. For example, never wear lip gloss when you’re scattering ashes.

Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.

Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.

When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith.

Because, after all, it’s her funeral…

The perfect antidote to all those books about weddings, this book will make you laugh until you cry, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley’s Bridesmaids, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Good Place.

Review | The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1) by Lisa Maxwell | the book that made time-travel appealing again

Book Review | ★★★★☆

”Liars do make the best magicians, and he happened to be exceptional.”

SYNOPSIS: In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Review | The Shortest Distance Between Love and Hate by Sandy Hall | for the fans of cute & giggly cliches

Book Review & Book Tour | ★★★☆☆

SYNOPSIS: A teen girl starting at a new school is torn between long-held loyalties and a bright new love.

Paisley is really looking forward to college. She is ready to take charge of her destiny and embrace some new experiences! Finding a hot guy to make out with at her first ever college party seems like a great start . . . until her best friend informs her that mystery guy is actually Carter Schmitt, Paisley's sworn enemy who basically ruined their lives in middle school.

So much for new people and exciting new experiences. Oh well. Paisley will just pretend he doesn't exist. Of course that would be easier if Carter, AKA her super-hot-sworn-enemy, hadn't ended up in three of her classes AND the same work study. Is it too late to rethink this college thing?

Review | Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) by Neal Shusterman | my brain has been constantly exploding

Book Review | ★★★★★

”That’s exactly what the scythedom is: high school with murder.”

SYNOPSIS: Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

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