Review: Cemetery Boys

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.


Holy Smokes! What a cool book! In 2021 that doesn’t seem like quite the right word, but that’s really the best descriptor for this book. The plot, the characters, the aesthetic, the magic, they were all so cool.

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Review: The Henna Wars

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigird

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.


In trying to decide upon a rating for The Henna Wars, I think I finally understand why people give half-star ratings. Four stars means “I loved this book!”, and while I did enjoy The Henna Wars quite a lot, it didn’t really stand out enough from other YA romances enough for me to say I “loved” it. But three stars (“I liked it”) doesn’t seem adequate to describe quite how much I enjoyed it either. So, three and a half stars, I guess.

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Review: American Royals

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Series: American Royals
Genres: Young Adult, Alternate History, Romance
Maturity Level: 3+
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling.

Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.

And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.


American Royals was almost exactly what I was expecting, a YA romance with plenty of soap opera style drama. It was fun, escapist, and an enjoyable read despite being a little insipid.

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Review: Supernova

Supernova by Marissa Meyer

Series: Renegades
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

The Renegades’ worst enemy is back among them, threatening to reclaim Gatlon City. Nova and Adrian must brave lies and betrayal to protect those they love. Their greatest fears are about to come to life, and unless they can bridge the divide between heroes and villains, they stand to lose everything. Including each other.

Intrigue and action will leave readers on edge until the final, shocking secrets are revealed.


Supernova definitely improved from the second-book-slump of Arch-Enemies but didn’t quite manage to live up to the series opener of Renegades. Meyer’s writing is engrossing and entertaining, but residual plot problems from the second book prevented this one from knocking it out of the park.

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Review: We Hunt the Flame

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Series: Sands of Arawiya
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4-
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.


We Hunt the Flame was incredibly entertaining, and in that way completely lived up to my expectations. But it was also super trope-y, which I personally found a little disappointing.

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Review: Truly Devious

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
Maturity Level: 3+
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Rating: ⋆⋆

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 


I was so excited for my first Maureen Johnson book, and this sounded so interesting, and I really *wanted* to love it, but I was just so indifferent to Truly Devious.

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Review: Opposite of Always

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4
(Content Warnings: Chronic Illness, Sycle Cell Anemia)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.


I added this book to my tbr like, two and a half years ago, but quickly forgot EVERYTHING about it except that I was really excited for it. And then I … never read it, because book blogger life, right? So I had no idea what it was about and was really stoked to read the word “time travel” on the first page. Then disappointed to discover it wasn’t really about time travel, but more of a Groundhog Day thing. Which, you know, is awesome, I love Groundhog Day. Except I just watched Palm Springs like, two weeks ago, so the time loop was a lot less exciting than it should have been. All that to say, I would probably have loved this book WAY more if I’d read it when it was first published. Oops.

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Classic Remarks: Contemporary Classic

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What is a contemporary book you think might become a classic?  Or should become a classic? This is a difficult question for me because I don’t read a lot of literary fiction which is, in my experience, what is most likely to be taken seriously. Even within genre fiction I’m not super likely to read the critically acclaimed literature as much as I am to read the fun literature.

But perhaps I have a bit firmer of a grasp on what is going to be remembered in children’s literature and YA. While kids lit has a firm set of books that are by and large considerd “classics”, YA is so new that other than The Outsiders it doesn’t. But since there is so much content written for teens now, I think it’s inevitable that these lists start coming out.

When thinking about what would be included in a list of YA classics, it’s impossible to believe that the list would not include something by John Green. He has been consistently producing work that has received critical acclaim for long enough to be, well, influential. The only question would be, which book? Looking for Alaska is the most widely used in schools, while The Fault in Our Stars is easily the most popular of his books. In my opinion Paper Towns has the most to say about what it means to be human. I think ultimately Looking for Alaska’s consistent use by teachers and frequent bannings (which keep it on the librarians’ radar) will land this book in the YA cannon as that begins to develop.

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Review: I’ll Be the One

I’ll be the One by Lyla Lee

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.


This book was so fun! I wish it had been available back in June when I was really craving light, feel-good books because it would have really hit the spot. It’s exactly what you would expect based on the cover and blurb.

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Review: Date Me, Bryson Keller

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

Genre: Young Adult
Maturity Level: 4
(Content Warnings: homophobia, public outing)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.

Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.

Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?


I really enjoyed this sweet, romantic book, but it wasn’t as fluffy/fun as other bloggers led me to believe. It gets really heavy at times, and is super emotional throughout. It’s the perfect blend of adorableness and important themes, and it fits right in with other great LGBTQ YA books coming out this year.

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