Colleen Mondor Reviews Trace by Pat Cummings

Trace, Pat Cummings (HarperCollins 978-0-06-269884-1, $16.99, 320pp, hc) April 2019.

Sometimes, readers want a gentle story with big-hearted characters that manages to convey powerful drama in a subtle plot. Trace by Pat Cummings is exactly that, a ghost story that combines an unfolding historical mystery with a heartfelt coming-of-age tale. It is a muted novel, as much about the struggle of adapting to a new family situation as it ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War, Julie Berry (Greenwillow 978-0-451-46993-9, $18.99, 468pp, hc) March 2019.

From the cover, Lovely War by Julie Berry appears to be the historical novel that it is. You have a young woman in period dress, a photo of WWI soldiers in the background, and a statue of the Eiffel Tower encircled with biplanes in the woman’s hands. There is nothing to suggest fantasy from the cover, but rest ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Grif­fin

Other Words for Smoke, Sarah Maria Grif­fin (Greenwillow 978-0-06-240891-4, $17.99, 331pp, hc) March 2019.

Let’s talk about a very creepy book, shall we? Other Words for Smoke by Irish au­thor Sarah Maria Griffin is about witches, a haunted house, a mysterious “other” world, Ireland’s history of abusing unwed mothers, and the seductive allure of power. It’s also about a cat and an owl who are most certainly not just ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

When the Sky Fell on Splendor, Emily Henry (Razorbill 978-0-451-48071-2, $17.99, 340pp, hc) March 2019.

The publisher makes a direct comparison to Stranger Things in the dust jacket copy for Em­ily Henry’s latest, When the Sky Fell on Splendor. While I can see some similarities – teens on bicycles in a sleepy midwestern town who encounter some­thing otherworldly with very negative results – I find that the novel ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always, Justin A. Reynolds (Katherine Tegen 978-0-06-274837-9, $17.99, 464pp, hc) March 2019.

It is not a spoiler to state that Opposite of Always is a novel about time travel; specifically, the story of Jack traveling back over the same period of months again and again (and again and again) to save the life of his girlfriend, Kate. All of this is revealed on the book’s cover, which ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley

An Affair of Poisons, Addie Thorley (Page Street 978-1-62414-713-5, $18.99, 383pp, hc) February 2019.

In 1679 there was a documented plot to assassinate King Louis XIV of France. Instigated by his discarded mistress, Madame de Montespan, a poisoned petition was prepared, and on three separate occasions there were attempts to present it to the king; all of them failed. The plot was uncovered and over 30 people were arrested ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, Temi Oh (Saga 978-1-53443-7401 $16.99, 528pp, tp) March 2019.

First, this book is a doorstop. I am not kid­ding, it’s a book about a deep space mission that doesn’t even leave the ground until more than 100 pages in. It has a big cast of char­acters (six living teens, one dead one, four adults, plus mentions of various parents and assorted other living and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Spectacle, Jodie Lynn Zdrok (Tor Teen 978-0-7653-9968-7, $17.99, 359pp, hc) February 2019.

Author Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Paris initially reads as quite familiar to fans of historical fiction. It’s 1887 and the Eiffel Tower is under construction, the Cata­combs are open for tours, and every morning bodies “found in the public domain” are displayed at the morgue. Anyone and everyone lines up for a brief glimpse of the dead. The ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Station Zero by Philip Reeve

Station Zero, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press 978-0-19-275915-3, 7.99, 288pp, tp) Janu­ary 2018. (Capstone 978-1684460540, $17.95, 313pp, hc) February 2019.

Having now finished reading Station Zero, the final book in Philip Reeve’s fabulous Railhead trilogy, I remain confused about why this science fiction series is not far more popular. It has politi­cal intrigue, smart and gutsy teens of all shapes, sizes, races, and genders, more than one battle ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina

The Things She’s Seen, Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina (Knopf 978-1-9848-4937-3, $17.99, 208pp, hc) May 2019.

First, a non-spoiler plot point about The Things She’s Seen: the primary narrator, 16-year-old Beth, is dead. Readers learn this in the first pages, and the reality of Beth’s deadness grounds the narrative. Beth can see (and hear) things because she is a ghost, while the fact that her father can clearly see ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Blanca & Roja, Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel & Friends 978-1-250-16271-7, $17.99, 367pp, hc) October 2018.

Anna-Marie McLemore follows up her gorgeous­ly crafted novel Wild Beauty with an equally lush and luminous take on the fairy tale of “Snow White and Rose Red”. Blanca & Roja is the story of two sisters who labor under a generational curse. One is light and the other is dark. One is agreeable, the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi (Wednes­day Books 978-1-250-14454-6, $18.99, 388pp, tp) January 2019.

In this glittering journey through a fantastical late 19th-century Paris, author Roshani Chokshi gifts readers with adventure wrapped in mystery wrapped in (unorthodox) family drama that in­corporates aspects of crime thrillers, caper flicks, and a fair bit of James Bond-esque espionage. The descriptions of the 1889 Paris Exposition are exquisite, and the history that Chokshi weaves ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Pérez

The Tesla Legacy, K.K. Pérez (Tor Teen 978-1-250-08489-7, $17.99, 368pp, tp) March 2019.

K.K. Pérez’s The Tesla Legacy presents a familiar but always compelling premise: what if you are not the person you think you are? In this case, high school senior Lucy thinks she knows herself very well. She’s a former homeschooler now happily ensconced in public school, living just outside New York City, where she pursues an ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (Disney Hyperion 978-136801335-2, $16.99, 310pp, tp) January 2019. Cover by Vivienne To.

In the latest title from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, Korean-American author Yoon Ha Lee transports traditional Korean animal folklore to space in an interplanetary adventure with all the thrills, spills, and surprises that younger teens could want. Dragon Pearl is a bit like the vintage “Perils of Pauline” serials (without the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Deceit, Alison Goodman (Viking 978-0-670-78549-0, $19.99, 527pp, tp) November 2018.

The final book in the Lady Helen tril­ogy was released in November and it brought this regency romance/fantasy to a dramatic climax just as all of its fans (includ­ing me) were hoping. The Dark Days Deceit picks right up where the second book, The Dark Days Pact, left off. It is December 1812, Lady Helen ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls, Claire Legrand (Katherine Tegan Books 978-0-06-269660-1, $17.99, 447pp, tp) October 2018.

Let’s talk about how to write a creepy book really, really well, shall we?

Claire Legrand’s Sawkill Girls utilizes an almost dream-like writing style to tell the converging stories of three teenage girls: Marion, Zoey, and Val. The girls live on the island of Sawkill Rock, a place of rolling horse farms, “houses like palaces,” and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wicked King by Holly Black and The Supernormal Sleuthing Service: The Sphinx’s Secret by Gwenda Bond & Christopher Rowe

The Wicked King, Holly Black (Little, Brown 978-0-316-31035-2, $18.99, 324pp, hc) January 2019.

Holly Black’s highly anticipated sequel to her outstanding The Cruel Prince has arrived and somehow, she manages to put even more intrigue and tension into this second volume. The Wicked King picks up a few months after the first book’s stunner of an ending, (and get ready – she packs that same cliffhanger punch with this ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing 978-0-7653-9929-8, $17.99, 192pp, tp) January 2019.

In Seanan McGuire’s elegantly written In an Absent Dream, readers are taken on a years-long coming-of-age story through the Goblin Market that proves to be just as insightful about our own world as the fantastic one she creates. This new entry in the Wayward Children series (which can be enjoyed as a standalone) follows ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Bluecrowne by Kate Milford

Bluecrowne, Kate Milford (Clarion Books 978-1328-466884, $17.99, 255pp, hc) October 2018.

In this prequel to The Left-Handed Fate and her popular books about Greenglass House, author Kate Milford ties together elements from across her sprawling literary landscape to show how, basically, a whole lot of things hap­pened for the first time. It is unnecessary to read any of her other books to enjoy Bluecrowne, however, although new readers ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Plastic Magician, Charlie N. Holmberg (47North 978-1503951778, $24.95, 225pp, hc) May 2018.

Returning to the world of her Paper Magician novels, author Charlie Holmberg takes readers along on the trials and tribulations of Alvie Brechenmacher, as­piring Plastic Magician. There is a journey far from home! Great magical achievements! A smidgeon of romance! A dastardly villain! A battle to save life, limb, and reputation! A robbery! A car! A ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

A Room Away From the Wolves, Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin 978-1-61620-373-3, $18.95, 315pp, hc) September 2018.

A Room Away From the Wolves is the story of 17-year-old Sabina (“Bina”) who runs away from her small upstate New York home for a Manhattan boarding house that caters to young women seeking safety and security. Bina’s story is sadly familiar; she and her two stepsisters fight constantly and to keep the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts, Victoria Schwab (Scholastic Press 978-1-338-11100-2, $17.99, 285pp, hc) August 2018.

The plot for Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts is delightfully straightforward: 12-year-old Cass sees dead people and that leads to many uncomfortable situations. Her life is complicated by the fact that her parents are successful paranormal investigators/authors and actively search out places full of ghosts. Her best friend Jacob also happens to be a ghost, but ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Inkmistress, Audrey Coulthurst (Balzer & Bray 978-0-06-243328-2, $17.99, 387pp, hc) March 2018.

In its opening paragraphs, Audrey Coulthurst’s Inkmistress seems to be a story about love. The protagonist, Asra, declares her love and longing for Ina, the beautiful girl who lives in the village below, and soon, with the coming of spring, will return to her. They are aware that their relationship must remain secret – the fear engendered ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt 978-1-250-17097-2, $18.99, 448pp, hc) March 2018.

Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone was released with a deafening boom in March, arriving on the heels of a near-seven figure film deal on top of the seven-figure publishing contract for the trilogy. This is big book in every way: big story, big pay­check and, at nearly 400 pages, it’s a physically ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Agony House Cherie Priest

The Agony House, Cherie Priest (Scholastic/Levine 978-0-545-93435-0 $18.99 272pp, hc) September 2018. Cover by Tara O’Connor.

Cherie Priest takes a pause from adult fiction with this second foray into YA after the cyberthriller I Am Princess X. This time she goes full creepy with a haunted house story set in New Orleans that also manages to throw in a hefty dose of the history of comic books and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

A Blade So Black, L.L. McKinney (Macmillan/Imprint 978-1-250-15390-6 $18.99, 352pp, tp) September 2018.

Author L.L. McKinney is not coy about what she has to offer with her debut novel A Blade So Black. The protagonist is named Alice, her mentor is named Addison Hatta (a “punk Prince Charming” who strolls onto the page in a t-shirt reading “We’re All Mad Here”), and a couple of her pals are ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The City of Sand by Tianxia Bachang

The City of Sand, Tianxia Bachang (Delacorte 978-0-553-52410-9 $17.99, 243pp, tp) November 2017.

For readers looking for a full-tilt adventure with a side order of the supernatural, Chi­nese author Tianxia Bachang has all they could want with The City of Sand. The novel starts with a bang as teenage “gold hunters” Tianyi and Kai awaken a very angry spirit while looking for treasure inside a grave. Their Indiana ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Astonishing Color of After, Emily X.R. Pan (Little Brown 978-0-316-46399-7, $18.99, 462pp, hc) March 2018.

The unreliable narrator has a long and il­lustrious career in fiction, taunting readers with questions of fantasy versus reality in novels ranging from We Have Always Lived in the Castle to Gone Girl. Either because they are shameless liars, accidental embellishers, or suffering from a degree of mental illness or trauma, unreliable ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Half-Witch by John Schoffstall

Half-Witch, John Schoffstall (Big Mouth Press 978-1-61-873140-1, $18.99, 322pp) July 2018.

There is something deeply satisfying about a traditional fantasy with plucky protagonists, nefarious villains, hungry goblins, tricky witches, and a dangerous and difficult quest. In John Schofstall’s Half-Witch, everything you expect to find is present, plus a lot of unlikely twists and turns that make this ad­venture a classic read. The novel’s most unusual plot device is ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

My Plain Jane, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows (Harper Teen 978-0-06-265277-5, $17.99, 464pp) June 2018.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: you do not need to have read (or liked) Jane Eyre to enjoy the hell out of My Plain Jane. Over the years I have tried to finish Charlotte Brontë’s “masterpiece” many times and could never get past my frustration with Jane’s ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman, eds. (Greenwillow 978-0-06-267115-8, $17.99, 336pp, hc) June 2018.

In the introduction to A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, editors Elsie Chapman & Ellen Oh write of their deep love for myth and leg­end, something many readers will likely identify with. However, for Chapman and Oh, immersion in tales of Greek and Norse gods, while exciting, was always a bit ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

The Price Guide to the Occult, Leslye Walton (Candlewick Press 978-0-7636-9110-3, $18.99, 288pp, hc) March 2018.

The Price Guide to the Occult begins with the story of an island in the Pacific Northwest and the small group of mostly male settlers who arrived there in the mid-1840s. In this prologue, author Leslye Walton sets up the long dark tale of the Blackburn women and the generational burdens inflicted upon ...Read More

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