G. Bianco, 2019
Readers were first introduced to The Hope Diamond, and author Jeannie Mobley, in 2020 with the release of Mobley’s debut YA novel The Jewel Thief. Her newest novel, The Diamond Keeper (which was released in November 2021), follows The Hope Diamond to France during the French Revolution and one girl’s resolve to protect her sister and their freedom.
Eighteen-year-old Claudie Durand's future is planned. She'll take over the family inn, watch her much prettier younger sister, Mathilde, married off to the butcher's son, and live out her days alone, without the hope of finding a love of her own. Her mother ran off to the cloister when she was young, and her gruff, abusive father has deemed her unmarriageable, a nuisance, and only good for hard labor. But outside their small village in Brittany, a revolution is brewing. When the Army of the Republic seizes their town, and Claudie finds herself at the center of the conspiracy, she and Mathilde must flee their sheltered life and take up a cause that, up till now, had always seemed like a distant conflict. As the sisters carry out a dangerous mission for the resistance: delivering a precious item to the mysterious Rooster of Rennes--Claudie's conscience is torn between the longing to return to her predictable, lonely existence and the desire to carve out a new future, reaching for the life--and love--she never dared dream of but knew deep down she truly deserved.
Jeannie Mobley wonderfully weaves fact and fiction together in this historical fiction YA novel set during the French Revolution. Despite knowing how bloody the French Revolution was, I was so inspired by Mathilde, Yannig, and eventually Claudie’s hope that they could restore their country to the way it was before. Those feelings, alongside the action-packed plot, interesting characters from history and a little romance, made this reading experience so wonderful!
I fell in love with Mobley’s previous book, The Jewel Thief, and I was very excited to see where the Hope Diamond would travel to next. As with her debut novel, Mobley is able to craft an engaging and entertaining story that will have you on the edge of your seat. Her writing style is easy to dive into and make you feel as if you are traveling throughout Europe alongside the characters in the book.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading whatever Mobley decides to write next!
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
Romance author Staci Hart brings readers back to Lindenbach, Texas with the second book in her Blum’s Bees Series. On the Honey Side, which comes out on February 24th, follows the eldest Blum Sister and she navigates her second chance at love.
No one can ever have Keaton Meyer. Least of all Daisy Blum. The brooding construction manager is a man of myth and legend, rarely seen in the wild. Once upon a time, he was the star quarterback, the smiling homecoming king, royalty in their small town. Until tragedy struck. And then he disappeared completely. Now he’s resurfaced, and Daisy can’t keep her eyes off him. He’s an island surrounded by lava, bound by a desert and guarded by dragons. She doesn’t stand a sunshine’s chance in a hail storm. But their siblings disagree and are out to prove it, nudging Daisy and Keaton into each other in the hopes they’ll fall. But with their town in tumult and the two of them firmly in the middle, nothing between them is easy. And when Keaton is faced with an impossible decision, Daisy learns the truth of what she already knew: No one can have Keaton Meyer. And she has the broken heart to prove it.
As with the rest of Staci Hart’s books, this romcom was fun, fast-paced, and just a joy to read! The small town setting of Lindenbach, Texas is endearing to read about, even if you haven’t read For Love and Honey, but seeing cameos of some past protagonists is really fun and just adds more depth to the story.
Daisy and Keaton’s love story is one that is stemmed in tragedy, but to see the two of them both give themselves a second chance at love is so wholesome and satisfying (and a little bit steamy)! Thrown in some town drama, charity work, and a cute match-making niece and you have a wonderful love story! Plus, meddling siblings are always funny to read about in my opinion so having them thrown in there made this book that much sweeter!
Like the rest of Hart’s books, this story is endearing, charming, and a little steamy! I cannot wait for the next Blum’s Bees book to come out!
*I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
Many of you might remember my review of Amelia, Unabridged, which quickly became one of my favorite reads in 2020. Ashley Schumacher returns to the YA stage on February 22nd with her sophomore novel, Full Flight, to showcase first love and how it can so deeply affect us.
Everyone else in the tiny town of Enfield, Texas, calls fall football season, but for the forty-three members of the Fighting Bearcat Marching Band, it’s contest season. And for new saxophonist Anna James, it’s her first chance to prove herself as the great musician she’s trying hard to be. When she’s assigned a duet with mellophone player Weston Ryan, the boy her small-minded town thinks of as nothing but trouble, she’s equal parts thrilled and intimidated. But as he helps her with the duet, and she sees the smile he seems to save just for her, she can’t help but feel like she’s helping him with something too. When her strict parents find out she’s been secretly seeing him and keep them apart, Anna and Weston learn what it truly means to fight for something they love. With the marching contest nearing and the two falling hard for one another, the unthinkable happens, and Anna is left grappling for a way forward.
Ashley Schumacher has captured my heart once again! I don’t know what I can say about this book without spoiling it, but let me just tell you that this book is breathtakingly beautiful!
The poetic writing style is a joy to read and the allegories and symbolism in this book just heighten the emotions of the story and connect everything in a unique and captivating way. From an extinct bird, starry skies, and music duets, the continual repetition of themes in this book make the story even more developed and intricately beautiful.
Aside from the writing itself, the plot and characters are wonderful and this book will have you devouring it! I legitimately binge-read this book in 24 hours and felt so many emotions while reading it. The book was bittersweet and although I cried for the last 20% of the book, I couldn’t help but feel changed after reading it. This book shows how wonderful and precious first love can be and how despite hardships and the cruel things that life throws at us, we must always move forward. It shows how there is sometimes no explanation for the things that happen in this world and we have no control over them, but we can control how we move forward and finish the symphony we call life. Anna and Weston are both complex, yet simple, characters who feel things so fiercely and it just shows the beauty and heaviness that comes with youth.
Poetic, bittersweet, and astounding, Full Flight is a book that I cannot recommend enough. If you choose to only read one book this year, let it be this one.
*I received an ARC from Wednesday Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
In honor of today being the release day for House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas, I thought it was only fitting to post my review of its predecessor, House of Earth and Blood! This high fantasy book, which came out nearly two years ago, kicks off Maas’ most recent series, Crescent City, which is set in a new fantasy world where fae aren’t the only magical creatures, both good and bad, lurking the streets.
Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. By day, she works for an antiquities dealer, selling barely legal magical artifacts, and by night, she parties with her friends, savoring every pleasure Lunathion—otherwise known as Crescent City— has to offer. But it all comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the very foundations of the city—and Bryce’s world. Two years later, her job has become a dead end, and she now seeks only blissful oblivion in the city’s most notorious nightclubs. But when the murderer attacks again, Bryce finds herself dragged into the investigation and paired with an infamous Fallen angel whose own brutal past haunts his every step. Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, wants nothing to do with Bryce Quinlan, despite being ordered to protect her. She stands for everything he once rebelled against and seems more interested in partying than solving the murder, no matter how close to home it might hit. But Hunt soon realizes there’s far more to Bryce than meets the eye—and that he’s going to have to find a way to work with her if they want to solve this case. As Bryce and Hunt race to untangle the mystery, they have no way of knowing the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the darkest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir…
I don’t even know where to start with this book…It was absolutely fantastic and might be one of the best books I’ve read in a while! It was engaging, exciting, funny, sad, and I think I felt every emotion while reading this book. I cried, I laughed, and physically had my hand over my mouth gasping in shock! This book is EVERYTHING that you’d want in a fantasy book.
Not only was the plot so detailed and intricate, but the characters were so amazing and I felt such a connection with the trials and emotions felt by each character. I can’t say I’m too surprised since it’s a Sarah J. Maas book and everything she writes is phenomenal, but I was still taken aback by how comprehensive everything was. The world-building is so detailed and so nuanced that it makes me excited for how the plot and story is going to be built upon even further in the next book. I also really liked how modern technology was canon in this world. It made the story even more fun and fascinating.
Despite its intimidating size, this book is 1000% worth reading and I cannot WAIT for my copy of HOSAB to come in the mail! And I’m very happy I didn’t have to wait two years for book number two…
Senior year of high school can be awkward for many people, but for the titular character of Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions, it seems like he’s the only one struggling. This debut novel by Navdeep Singh Dhillon, which is set to be released on February 8th, features a new kind of YA protagonist as he strives for one great, reckless night to be fearless and bold.
Sunny G's brother left him one thing when he died: His notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions. Decision number one was a big one: He stopped wearing his turban, cut off his hair, and shaved his beard. He doesn't look like a Sikh anymore. He doesn't look like himself anymore. Even his cosplay doesn't look right without his beard. Sunny debuts his new look at prom, which he's stuck going to alone. He's skipping the big fandom party—the one where he'd normally be in full cosplay, up on stage playing bass with his band and his best friend, Ngozi—in favor of the Very Important Prom Experience. An experience that's starting to look like a bust. Enter Mindii Vang, a girl with a penchant for making rash decisions of her own, starting with stealing Sunny's notebook. When Sunny chases after her, prom turns into an all-night adventure—a night full of rash, wonderful, romantic, stupid, life-changing decisions.
To be honest, I did not enjoy this YA contemporary as much as I thought I would. I thought it'd be very romcom-ish and fun, since it’s set on prom night, but instead the plot was just a little too fast-paced and filled with references I didn’t understand.
For example, I read a whole scene where Sunny, our main character, is at a cosplay party, but I didn't recognize any anime/manga character or show references except for “The Last Airbender” (which I didn't even watch as a kid). So, as the reader, I was totally lost because of the lack of explanation of these fandoms and references. I also think the maturity levels of the characters wasn’t quite up to par. Sunny and his friends are seniors in high school, yet it felt like their maturity level was more of an awkward freshman level. Therefore, the meshing of my lack of knowledge and the author’s lack of explanations, paired with a main character who's so awkward it's almost cringey, instead of endearing, made this a not-so-enjoyable reading experience for me.
While I was very intrigued by the cultural references, like the Punjabi dishes and words used and the Hmong historical references, I felt like I didn’t get the full effect of them because they were only half-explained. And neither my Kindle dictionary nor Google Translate were able to help me translate certain phrases I wanted clarification on (for example: it took me a third of the book to realize that "Biji" was referencing Sunny’s grandmother).
One thing I did like was the way the book discussed alcoholism and grieving the loss of a loved one. It helped add a bit of depth to the story and how Sunny is trying to keep his brother alive in some way. But it wasn’t quite enough to sway me into really liking the plot and events of the book.
I admire the way Dhillon tried to create a novel that featured some underrepresented voices in YA literature, including a Sikh main character, and tried to highlight cultural diversity. Maybe if I related more to some of the characters or experiences mentioned in the story or if I was still in my teenage years I’d appreciate this story more, but ultimately this book just wasn’t for me.
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!