York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

Laura Ruby delivers a fantastic adventure in York: The Shadow Cipher. This is the first book in the series. It tells the story of a peculiar world ruled by two famous twins, Theodore and Theresa Morningstarr. Back in the 1800’s, these twins were amazing inventors of all sorts of machines and buildings set to use in New York, including the Morningstarr Tower. Right before the two disappeared, they left the ‘Old York Cipher’ in their wake, a series of ciphers and puzzles in the newspaper left for the citizens of New York to solve.

Back in modern day New York, another set of twins, Theo and Tessa (their grandpa was obsessed with the Morningstarrs and their cipher), along with their friend Jaime are being ripped away from their home. They live in one of the original Morningstarr buildings, which are all being demolished by a billionaire real estate developer. Their building, their home, was getting taken away. The kids realize the only way to save their building is to solve the impossible Old York Cipher. Their grandpa had said, while you’re trying to solve the cipher, it’s trying to solve you.

This book is written with so many twisters, you can never expect what comes next. From the moment I started this book, I could not put it down. It is an excellent read for anyone who likes “alternate-history adventure” with mystery and puzzles. There is so much adventure in this high-tech, unimaginable world. I can’t wait for the next book.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Love YA fantasy? Subtle romance? A dark and twisting tale that defies all clichés and expectations? How about brilliant retellings of your favorite fairytales? If so, Girls Made of Snow and Glass is perfect for you.

Mina is a queen. She has wealth, power, a crown, and control over half a kingdom. Everything she could ever want, except one thing: love. Mina’s magician father cut out her dying heart and replaced it with one of glass when she was a child. But Mina’s new heart was made to function, not feel, so she cannot truly love or be loved.

Lynet is a princess who looks exactly like her dead mother, Queen Emilia, a beautiful, delicate, soft-spoken woman who was too frail to survive Lynet’s birth. The young princess has always been told that when she grows up she will be exactly like her mother, but Lynet isn’t so sure. She prefers scaling the castle walls to playing the harp or dancing; and she would much rather spend her time talking with Nadia, the intriguing new female surgeon, than listening to the Pigeons (a gaggle of gossipy old ladies) jabber on about how like her mother Lynet is. But Lynet doesn’t want to be like the dead queen, she doesn’t want to be delicate. She would rather emulate Mina, her fierce and beautiful stepmother, than the mother she never met.

But as Lynet grows older, her father seeks to force his daughter into her mother’s place and in doing so force Mina out. As Lynet is slowly given more of the queen’s power, stepmother and daughter grow farther apart, and Lynet must fight to keep the only mother she has ever known. But there can only be one queen, and when Lynet learns a shocking secret about the circumstances surounding her birth, the princess is forced to reexamine everything she thought she knew about her family, her home, and most of all — herself.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a lovely and haunting tale of love and loss, adventure and politics, and most of all: family. In this beautiful, heartbreaking story, Bashardoust reimagines the fairytale Snow White, to create a vivid and powerful cast of characters to populate the fantastical world that she has conjured into existance on the page. If Girls Made of Snow and Glass isn’t yet on your reading list, add it now, for this is an incredible book that will stick with you for a long time to come.

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashmore

In a tale as delightfully confusing as the mismatched halls of Tu Reviens, Kristin Cashore brings to life a world of art and mystery. The story winds through five alternate universes that take place if Jane had made a different choice in the first half of the book. Each retelling solves a separate mystery that takes place at the same time and place but is never really revealed in the others. Each choice spins the tale into a new direction and genre, be it sci-fi, mystery, adventure, fantasy or romance. With its colorful setting, dark secrets, and unique and quirky characters Jane, Unlimited more than lives up to Cashore’s previous books.