A Cloud of Outrageous Blue, by Vesper Stamper, tells the intricate story of a young girl named Edyth in the 1300s who sees the world in a different way than most people. She sees colors and vibrations and is filled with sensations when she hears new noises. She hears a constant Sound in the back of her mind. She imagines and draws complex and exciting sketches. After getting teased for explaining the way she sees colors, she realizes that she is different. With both of her parents dead and her brother Henry trying to scramble for food and work in their small town, Edyth is sent away to a priory in hopes that she will be able to live a good, stable life. Her world is completely changed from tending to animals and the house to Latin lessons, prayers every day, and a clean room to stay in. She settles in, not exactly feeling permanent in this new place but glad to have food and a bed to sleep on.
Suddenly, a sickness begins to sweep the nearby towns and eventually reaches the priory. Edyth senses something horrible coming with her visions and her drawings. The Great Plague sweeps up every living thing in its clutches. Edyth knows she is supposed to do something, but she can’t figure out what exactly. Can the way she sees life differently help her? Can the Sound lead her to a miracle to save the hundreds of dying people surrounding her?
A Cloud of Outrageous Blue is a beautiful story of celebrating one’s differences. Edyth learns to embrace her uniqueness and it in turn embraces the world. This historical fiction book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It shares a distinctive side of the devastating Black Plague outbreak in England during the 1300s. The descriptions of how colors feel to Edyth are incredibly delicate and astonishing. Stamper writes a brand new history of this monumental time in Europe, and does so with grace and interest, as well as beautiful illustrations.
They Went Left, by Monica Hesse, tells the heartbreaking story of a Jewish girl named Zofia and her experiences after World War II and the Holocaust. After the Allied liberation, she was sent to a hospital to get better. Trauma and damage racked her brain and caused her memory to be fuzzy and spotty.
But there was one thing she always remembered: Abek. She had to find Abek, her younger brother. A to Z, Abek to Zofia. That’s what they had always said. Zofia set off on her spontaneous journey to find her brother. He was all she had left. When Zofia and her family arrived at Birkenau, Abek and her family went right in the separation line. The rest of her family went left. Hesse
combines the story of broken families and forgotten lives into the tale of Zofia and her brother Abek. This story is so raw but so necessary; it explores the true experiences of the Holocaust and the happenings of the surviors afterward– a part of the story that isn’t heard very often. They Went Left gives real heartbreak and hatred, but it also provides the idea of hope in the darkest times. It explores a different kind of family, and the ability to patch open wounds. They Went Left reveals the mystery of Abek and Zofia, and the new worlds built up after the war and the Nazis destroyed the old one.
We Are Lost and Found, by Helene Dunbar, explores the dangerous world of being gay in the 1980s, in New York City specifically. Michael, a partially-closeted teenager, lives his life with the same routine: go to school, hang out with his friends James and Becky, go to the club on Friday nights, and
hide the fact that he is gay from his parents so he doesn’t get kicked out of the house like his brother did. He is okay with this repetitive, simple life. But once he finds someone at his favorite club, someone worth giving up his routine for, his outlook changes. He wants more than just school and homophobic parents. He wants to be able to live his life freely without having to worry about the rising AIDS crisis that provides a mystery for everyone, and a blame placed on gay people. Michael is faced with the
menacing decision of staying trapped but safe, or being free and risking it all.
Dunbar writes an incredibly touching story that brings awareness to the struggle of gay people and their discrimination and their constant blame by people looking to make a scapegoat out of them. Michael, and all the other fascinating characters, bring the story of growing up and becoming sexually active in a world bombarded with the AIDS crisis, still new enough for everything about its ways to be a secret except its growing death toll. Michael and the other young people of his time were scared of becoming sick from
any lustful touch, especially one of the same gender. We Are Lost and Found is a beautiful,painful journey of a boy finding himself in a world that is doing everything it can to stop him.
Don’t Call the Wolf, by Aleksandra Ross tells the breathtaking story of Lukasz, a famous Wolf-Lord who kills monsters and dragons for a living, and Ren, the young queen of the forest who’s half-lynx, half-human. Lukasz was once one of ten Wolf-Lords. The brothers were an unstoppable team. But one by one, they all got called back to their home in the Mountains by a familiar tug for the same reason: to kill the Golden Dragon. After Lukasz’s last remaining brother, Franciszek, leaves for the Mountains, he realizes he must kill the dragon to continue his brothers’ legacy and hopefully find Franciszek. He meets Ren in her magnificent fury, and a spark erupts. She tells him that the dragon is destroying her forest and the animals she rules over. The two of them form a promise: she will help him find his brother, and he will slay the dragon. They embark on a long journey filled with colorful characters, littered with monsters, and brimming with magic.
Ross writes this incredibly complex tale with plot twists and dangerous fight scenes jumping off the pages, while devotion and romance fill the chapters. The vocabulary is composed of Polish and European pronunciations and spellings for added character. Don’t Call the Wolf is a perfect story for any classic YA lovers; it’s packed with adventure, magic, imagination, and fantasy, with a smattering of romance.
Lie to Me, by Kaitlin Ward, is a mysterious story about a high schooler named Amelia who fell into a river and is now seen as the extremely clumsy girl. She was dangerously close to death, but her friend found her stuck in a tree with a broken arm and a concussion. After Amelia got out of the hospital, she thought about the incident a lot. Her mind took a dark turn because her gut kept telling her that her fall wasn’t an accident. Was someone trying to kill her? Why would they do that? While her best friend Sky, her brother Hunter, and her new boyfriend Liam all obsess over her health, Amelia tries to figure out who did this to her. She learns new things about herself and about the people she surrounds herself with. The mystery and suspense of not knowing is difficult for her, and she becomes distrusting and suspicious of everyone in her life– despite how much it hurts to not be able to count on the people she loves.
Ward writes a realistic and heartbreaking story about the scary happenings of teenagers and small towns. Filled with enough normalcy to keep you on your toes in real life and enough twists to keep you guessing, Lie to Me is a short and powerful read that shows how important trust and instinct are.
The End and Other Beginnings is a collection of six short stories (two from the Carve the Mark universe) written by Veronica Roth. All of them are set in the future, with all kinds of sci-fi fantasy technology. Some are more realistic than others, but all of them draw you in and leave you wanting more. Roth successfully writes six journeys, setting the scene, addressing the conflict, and sewing up the ends in the shorter amount of space than usual. But these stories feel like their own, drawing you in and letting you live in that world. Her writing is effective and beautiful, bringing in love, hatred, loss, and friendship. Her characters find the true meaning of the feelings they possess without previously knowing what was going on in their minds.
This collection is an interesting read, perfect for any sci-fi lovers and Veronica Roth lovers because it stays true to her previous writing, just taking on a different pathway. Roth makes us realize that despite the non-human beings and massive technological advances possible for the future, humans will always have the same set of problems
Sara finds herself alone and stricken with grief after after her older sister and favorite person, Becca, runs away from home with her boyfriend. Sara knows she is never coming back, and some people doubt if she’s still even alive. After a year of feeling helpless, Sara soon starts dreaming about a girl. A girl named Lucy Gallows, said to have disappeared in Sara’s town years before by escaping down a road in the middle of the forest. Sara knows she has to follow the road and get to Lucy in order to save her sister.
Kate Alice Marshall writes an incredible story about the road and its games, bringing in sacrifice, love, loss, and truth. The relationships between the characters mend and break, never failing to stay interesting. The road itself is scary and unpredictable, forcing the things on it to make impossible decisions. Marshall’s writing brings this fictitious legend alive and allows her readers to truly be present on the road with the characters. The detective-case setup of the story and frequent plot twists create a book that is very difficult to put down.
Rules For Vanishing is a riveting story perfect for anyone who wants a bit of horror mixed with suspense and thrill. Great for anyone interested in small-town myths come to life, and mystical worlds with dangers lurking beneath.
When We Were Lost, by Kevin Wignall, tells the story of a group of high schoolers going on a trip to Costa Rica. The main character, Tom, is a bit of an outsider. He doesn’t have any friends and prefers to be by himself, but he was persuaded to go on the school trip by his teachers and guardian who were concerned about him not being social enough. He set off on the trip not planning on making any new friends, just trying to explore and get it over with. But when the plane crashes in an unknown thicket of wilderness, he is forced to collaborate with his classmates in a duel with the jungle for life or death. He surprisingly comes out of his shell and sees people in a new light. He and his classmates stumble blindly through the dangerous wilderness, just trying to survive, whether it be the breaks in the relationships of the survivors, or the physical challenges within the jungle.
Wignall writes a meaningful story with characters finding themselves in the deep danger but peacefulness of the jungle. Secret talents are showcased, friendships are made, and lives are lost. Tom and his newfound friends discover how truly grateful they are for being alive, and that every little detail matters when it comes to an environment like this. An adventurous journey built for fans of Lord of the Flies, survival stories, and adrenaline-rushing thrills.
The Things She’s Seen, by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, is a beautiful story about grief and moving on. It’s about a young girl named Beth and her detective father Michael, who is the only one able to see and hear Beth after the horrible incident that killed her. Beth is here to help her father heal. Michael gets assigned to an ‘easy’ case to help him get back into
the swing of things, but something about the case doesn’t feel so easy. There is a bit of oddness surrounding the storyline and the characters in this crime. Michael (and Beth, of course) interview a strange witness who goes by Catching, and she tells them a story. Her story. The story is full of magic and fantasy, but always has a truthful meaning hiding underneath. Fishy and lovable characters riddle the pages of this riveting book.
The Kwaymullina siblings write with such amazing imagery when telling Catching’s story, and letting the reader easily picture Beth’s strange surroundings in this small town. An amazing book for anyone dealing with loss, going through hard times, or just a mystery fan in general. Neverending crimes and plot twists keep this short book mysterious, emotional, and hard to put down.
Spin the Dawn, by Elizabeth Lim, is an extraordinary fantasy novel about defeating gender stereotypes, the importance of your craft, and the power of love. Lim tells a beautiful story about Maia, the only daughter of a previously esteemed tailor now living in a small town, who disguises herself
as a boy to compete in a trial to become the next tailor for the emperor.
It is the opportunity of a lifetime, and she attends in disguise, knowing the lethal consequences if her secret gets out. The final challenge is the hardest one, sewing the three gowns made for the goddess Amana: one from the laughter of the sun, one from the tears of the moon, and one from the blood of the stars. Maia always thought these dresses were just a myth, but when she meets some mysterious new characters throughout the trial, her
mind changes. Can she succeed in sewing the three magical dresses and achieve her dream of becoming the best tailor in the land?
Lim crafts a truly amazing story, filled with every element needed for captivating interest throughout the whole thing. With strong themes of magic, adventure, and love, Spin the Dawn is incredibly difficult to put down. Interesting characters, impossible tasks, and blooming romances litter the magical pages. Recommended for anyone who loves sewing, magic, or an amazing story to get attached to. Lim’s sequel to Spin the Dawn will be highly awaited.