About Claire Chandler

My name is Claire, and I am a student at Oasis. My favorite genres are fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction. I read constantly, and love to talk about my favorite stories, much to the chagrin of my family and friends. Outside of reading I like to unicycle and bake.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The town of Four Paths is cursed. Hundreds of years ago, the four founders of the town fought a monster and used the powers they bargained away from it to lock the creature in the Gray, a dead version of the town trapped in the time of the Gray’s creation. Now, the descendants of the four founding families use the powers passed down to them to defend Four Paths still.
Justin’s family, the Hawthorne’s have been the most powerful family in Four Paths for years. His mother, the town sheriff, rules Four Paths and the other Founding Families, and expects her children to follow in her footsteps. But while his sister can read people’s futures in the Deck of Omens passed down from the Founders, Justin has proved himself completely powerless. And in a town where being a Founder with power makes you all but a king, and being one without a pariah, Justin’s family has determined to fake his power until he can be shipped off to college.
Harper Carlisle is a pariah. On the day she performed the ceremony in which she was supposed to gain her powers and take her place among a family of Founders, she was trapped in the Gray. When she emerged from the Gray a few days later it was without power, and without her arm. Sheriff Hawthorne decided to cut her out, and her family allowed it, and worse, her best friend, Justin Hawthorne abandoned her. Now, Harper would do anything to get revenge on the Hawthornes and even more, to get even a scrap of the power that was stolen from her in the Gray, a scrap of the power she deserves.
Violet Saunders is still grieving from the death of her older sister when her mother uproots their lives to move to her childhood home of Four Paths to take care of her own sister, who suffers from early onset dementia. She’s expecting old friends of her mother and that small town drama from the movies, but what she finds is much, much weirder. And scarier. Definitely scarier. But also small town drama. And, you know, an ancient evil nobody knows much about but still kills people in creepy ways if they wander into its territory.
The Devouring Gray is wholly original and darkly fascinating. I spent half of it turning my audiobook off and on because parts of it are just that creepy and the other half glaring at anyone who tried to talk to me because I didn’t want to miss a second. It is that one horror story in a hundred where you actually like the characters and agree with their decisions, the one fantasy novel with a story original enough that you don’t actually know what is going to happen. It also has love interests you can get behind and, yes, a love triangle— but not the one you expect! It’s amazing, and I promise you’ll love it!

All for the Game Trilogy by Nora Sakavic

I did not expect to like this trilogy. It’s a sports-crime novel which is not a genre I ever read. In fact, I never would have picked it up if my friend (perhaps the only person whose recommendations I trust) hadn’t read All for the Game and loved it. I started the Foxhole Court without high hopes and while I liked it, I probably wouldn’t have picked up the second one if it hadn’t been at my local library, as The Foxhole Court read as mainly exposition. In the Raven King however, things picked up and at some point, I paused and realized that I was very invested in both the story and the characters therein. By the time I had gotten to the King’s Men the trilogy was one of my favorites, on par with the Raven Cycle (a series that is remarkably similar in its brilliant and unique writing style if not its plot or subject matter).
Now I’m stuck with a giant book hangover, rereading the last book in a desperate attempt to satisfy my need for more of this trilogy. These books will wreck you. They will tear your emotional stability to shreds and make you laugh at its dark humor. You will get way too invested in the people and the plot and the sports (even if like me you couldn’t care less about sports IRL). When you are done you will not be able to read anything else because it will just pale in comparison. You will love it, do yourself a favor and go get it. Right now.
Neil Josten has been running from his father for nearly his entire life. When he signed up to join his new local high school exy team he didn’t mean to catch the eye of Coach Wymack of the Palmetto State Foxes, but before he knows it he’s signed up to join the Foxes as a striker. The problem? Well between worrying about Kevin Day, the Foxes new star player who transferred under suspicious circumstances recognizing him and his father finding out where he is, Neil knows that he shouldn’t be at Palmetto. He’s done running though and joining a team, even the troubled Foxes is a dream come true, so he’s willing to risk it.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

You know that book that you’ve been meaning to get for a long, long time because a friend recommended it, or it’s on the New York Times Bestseller list or you read the blurb on the back in passing and it looked good? The one that you always look at in the bookstore and think, “I’ll get it next time,” but this time you saw a shiny cover and got distracted and ended up buying that one instead? Yet when you finally do pick it up it becomes one of your absolute favorites? For the past few months Emergency Contact has been that book for me, and I finally got around to reading it. Then I smacked myself in the face with said book for waiting as long as I did.
Mary H.K. Choi is one of those rare authors that just gets their readers mentally, emotionally and culturally. From the first few chapters I was hooked. I immediately liked the main characters (it is a dual perspective book) both as characters and people, and as the book continued I kept liking them. The supporting characters as well were well written and fleshed out, to the point that you got a sense of who they were and why they were doing what they were. Even the ex girlfriend of the male lead, who traditionally is a very unlikable character type was portrayed as a person who, yes, was a bit callous and clueless about how she was hurting Sam (the male lead), but wasn’t really a bad person. All of the characters were written as real people who made mistakes and stupid decisions, but in the end were doing their best.
The plot centers around the relationship between Penny, a freshman at UT, and Sam, a relative of her roommate who works at a nearby cafe (this book is literally that perfect coffee shop AU that you’ve been looking for). Both Sam and Penny have anxiety but find it easy to talk to one another— via text that is— and soon become close. However, while the story revolves mainly around Penny and Sam’s friendship, Choi is only too happy to dive into everything from the two’s relationships with their respective parents, their friends, significant others, to Penny’s struggles and triumphs in her creative writing course and the reality of growing up in a low income family.
All said, Emergency Contact is a fantastic book with great writing, wonderful characters and a plot that will make you alternately laugh and cry.

Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

We left Theo on a pirate ship sailing away from Astrea. Over the course of Ash Princess she had managed to transform herself from a hostage to a queen. She lied and spyed and manipulated until she had won back a sliver of power she needed (she really is the ultimate slytherin). Now the Thane is dead, Soren is captured and Theo is safely escaped from the Kaiser; but those victories came with a cost. Elpis is dead, Cress survived— and may have gained dangerous powers nobody thought possible for a Kalovaxian, meanwhile, Blaise’s gift is growing harder to control as he tips closer to mine-madness and Dragonsbane isn’t all that she seems.

Now Theo is in a new kind of game and her allies are just as few as they were in Astrea, despite Dragonsbane’s ‘loyalty.’ The pirate has different ideas on how to take back Astrea and now Theo is being taken to a foreign court to find a husband with a big enough army to take back her kingdom.

I loved Theo in Ash Princess for her intelligence and her adaptability. She is a genuinly good person, but she’s willing to do what it takes to survive and take back her kingdom. She loves Blaise and Soren, but she won’t put them first if doing so endangers her larger goals. She knows how people work and how to use that knowledge to her advantage.

In Lady Smoke I think she loses a lot of that. I still liked the book, but I thought that Theo’s character deteriorates somewhat. Part of this is attributed  to Theo’s new situation, her diffuculty in adapting to a new game in a new place that she doesn’t fully understand, but it is more than that. I was disapointed by how much stress was put on the love triange as a main plot point rather than a supporting and driving factor as it had been in the previous book. I felt this turned a strong, smart women into a lovestruck girl who keeps making stupid descisions that seem incongrous with the character in the first book.

Still, that said, overall it was a good book. It had strong worldbuilding and set up the third book quite well. There were enough surprising twists that I was kept engaged. I’ll definitely buy Ember Queen to find out how the trilogy ends.

The Wicked King by Holly Black

Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince was a masterpiece of magic and intrigue that followed Jude, adopted daughter of a Faerie general, as she fought for power in the Faerie court. In the Wicked King, Jude has the power she always wanted as seneschal and handler of the newly crowned King Cardan, and is struggling to hang onto it.
Before he became king, Cardan swore to obey Jude’s every command for the next year, but with over half that time gone, Jude is scrambling for a way to extend her power over the unpredictable young king. If she doesn’t manage to, then her little brother Oak will be forced to take the throne and she will lose all the influence and control that she fought so hard for. On her side is the Shadow Court, a dangerous team of spies and assassins who work for her and the king, but even their loyalty is only as valuable as the highest bidder is willing to pay for it.
They say old friends make the worst of enemies and between the adopted father she betrayed, the boy who betrayed her and her twin sister, Taryn, Jude has a surplus of foes and is perilously short on allies. If she wants to stay alive— and stay in power— Jude will have to be more clever and more ruthless than ever before.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyers

In Renegades Marissa Meyer blurred the lines between hero and villain as Nova began to question whether the Renegades, an organization of superheroes that run her city, are truly as bad as she has always been told. In Archenemies Nova faces a different internal struggle. After the reveal of Agent N, and the council’s plan to destroy the powers of all prodigies that oppose them, she has made her peace with taking down the organization; to her mind it is a necessity. The problem isn’t the Renegades, it’s her teammates. The problem is Adrian Everheart, son of Captain Chromium and the Dread Warden, her best friend and crush that won’t quite believe that Nova’s secret anarchist alter-ego, Nightmare, is truly dead, despite the stunt she pulled off with Ingrid to convince the Renegades. The problem is Ruby and Oscar, her friends who are, despite their proud status as Renegades actually really good people, and the worst problem of all may be her last teammate, Dana, who is becoming increasingly suspicious of Nova.
The stakes have risen for everyone as time grows short and new dangers arise from every side. Nova must find— and steal— Ace’s helmet from the Renegades before the superheroes catch up, while Adrian struggles with keeping his own secret identity— the Sentinel— hidden from his family, and from Nova. Archenemies is an epic sequel that will take you on a wild ride of secrets, betrayal and action and leave you wanting more!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Six of Crows was a brilliant heist-adventure set in an original world with compelling, 3 dimensional characters. Gilded Wolves is… not. I was excited when I picked up Gilded Wolves, it sounded interesting and unique and as an added bonus it has a gorgeous cover and an intriguing title! I was, sadly, disappointed. Gilded Wolves turned out to be a total rip off of Leigh Bardugo’s book, that, to make matters worse lacks the character and plot depth that sets Six of Crows apart.
While the world was interesting, the author didn’t take the time to develop it enough to give the reader an understanding of its culture and more importantly, although multiple main characters have magic, she neglects to tell us how it works or even the limits of what they can do. The characters too were somewhat lacking. Chokshi’s strategy seemed to be to simply dump their backstory in at some point without making it an organic thing or showing how it shapes the characters in the present and influences their actions. Lastly, the plot structure was unfortunately predictable: the group would be in danger, they’re about to die, the same two characters (who later develop a forced and rushed love interest) solve the problem using math and some random fact that one of them somehow knows.
Perhaps I am being overly harsh, but it is my opinion that if a book is that similar to another book (especially if it is marketed to the same demographic) then it has to be at least as good as the one it is ripping off. Gilded Wolves may be a good fit for younger readers who aren’t quite ready for Six of Crows, but I would not recommend it to people who have already read the aforementioned book, since as a fan of Leigh Bardugo’s book I found myself spending the entire time reading Gilded Wolves measuring it up to Six of Crows and finding it lacking.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Among modern children’s classics, few books ring as true or hit as hard as Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. In leu of Bridge of Clay’s release (his first children’s novel since The Book Thief) I thought it would be a good idea to have his first book as our Throwback Thursday review. The Book Thief is a gem in the world of historical fiction, and a timeless tale that will entrance generations to come.
When Liesel picks up a bedraggled book left by accident on her brothers grave, she has no idea what will happen. She has no idea that her mother— a communist in Nazi Germany— is taking her to live in safety with a foster family. She has no idea she will make friends with a boy with yellow hair and learn to read with her father, no idea she will steal books from a bonfire and a mayor’s library. She has no idea what she will learn and love and lose in the brief span of her fleeting childhood.

An Enchantment of Raven by Margaret Rogerson

Have you ever read a book with such vivid imagery that when you close your eyes you can almost imagine you are inside its world? My favorite of those books is An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. Enchantment is set in a lush world of magic and monsters that— in tandem with sweeping world building and compelling characters— makes for a brilliant book. I am not usually a fan of romance stories, but An Enchantment of Ravens drew me in and held on until the very last page.
At seventeen, Isobel is the best portrait artist in generations, and her reputation grows with every passing year. Since childhood, Isobel has painted for the Fair Folk, a powerful race that lusts after human craft.
Isobel is used to having creatures that could murder her in an instant sipping tea in her living room. But when she hears from one of her clients that the Autumn Prince— a powerful Fair One not seen in Whimsy for centuries— is coming to meet her, she’s shaken. But Rook (the Autumn Prince) is not what she expects from a Fair One, and certainly not what she’d expect from one of their princes. He’s nearly human. But just as they grows comfortable towards one another— fond, even, she makes a terrible mistake. Isobel paints human sorrow in his eyes, an unforgivable weakness among his kind. Furious, Rook spirits her off to the Autumn court to stand trial, setting off a whirlwind of adventures and a forbidden romance that will have you on the edge of your seat.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

After months of waiting, the time has finally come to welcome into the world What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. The long awaited collaboration between two of the best authors of queer YA more than lives up to both author’s previous books. While Albertalli’s light and cheerful style gives the story a rom-comesque feeling (while still flipping the genres usual stereotypes), Silvera’s chapters ground the book, giving it a thoughtfulness and dimension needed to balance it.
When Arthur accompanied his parents to NYC for the summer he had three goals: make friends at his internship, explore the city, see Hamilton. But now his parents are fighting, one of his best friends won’t text him, and there has been no sign of Lin Manuel Miranda. To top it off he was too clueless to get the name of the cute guy he met at the post office.
Meanwhile, Ben has his own set of problems. His friend group splintered after a couple of breakups, his boyfriend cheated on him and his best friend has all but abandoned him for his latest romance. Oh, and he has to attend summer school. With his ex.
With the help of craigslist, their friends, and plenty of internet stalking via instagram they may find each other, but what then? Will they work together, and what happens when Arthur has to leave at the end of the summer?