Dark, fast, witty, and unique.
Did it stand out?: ★★★★★
Taking place in what feels like historic Paris during the time of Church vs. Witchcraft, Serpent & Dove follows two POVs: Louise le Blanc, the daughter of the most powerful witch leader, and Reid Diggory, the head of the Church's military faction.
Louise (Lou) ran away from her mother's coven two years ago and she's never looked back. Being a witch isn't all its cracked up to be, and especially not in the city of Cesarine. Faced with the threat of being found by her mother, Lou takes to the streets and lives the life of a cross-dressing thief. All is going well in her cutthroat world until one day she meets her natural nemesis: Reid Diggory.
Reid Diggory was orphaned on the streets of Cesarine. Like other orphaned boys, he's sent to the Church, where the Archbishop decides to take Reid under his wing and groom him for the Church's military unit, the Chasseurs. Rising among the ranks to become the head of the Chasseurs, Reid's purpose in life is simple: kill all of the witches.
Lou and Reid's lives collide in a major way when during a chase, Reid and Lou find themselves in a compromising situation. To save Reid's reputation, the Archbishop declares they marry—effective immediately. (The logic is questionable, but is answered.)
Cue one of the best YA hate-to-love romances of the year. Reid's a stubborn stick in the mud with limited ideas. Lou's a free-wheeling sarcastic former thief with a secret to hide—one that could lead to her own death at the hand of her husband. Do the two of them have a chance at a real romance? (Ugh, I loved this so much. Enjoy the trope in this one, it's great.)
Serpent & Dove's strength lies in its ability to keep you engaged even when the plot lags. A large portion of this novel is static and takes place at the Chasseurs headquarters—with limited action—and yet the characters and subplots kept me riveted. I loved the final series of reveals, and can't wait to read the read in the second book.
This was one of the most amazing YA contemporary novels that I have ever read.
The Last True Poets of the Sea hit me hard, knocked me out, and left me in the dust of its emotional magnificence. Like the coastal Maine, aquatic version of Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere, I couldn't stop the feelings. Talk about an unputdownable one-day read.
Violet Larkin grew up in a family of shipwrecks. Her great-great grandmother Fidelia was the sole survivor of a shipwreck off of Maine's coast in the 1800s, and the family has become known for disaster—and perseverance—ever since. They leave disaster in their wake, but they never get knocked down. Until this summer.
After her younger brother, Sam, tries to take his own life, Violet's family shuts down to crisis mode. Party-hard, reckless Violet is sent to remote Maine to live on the family's ancestral home with her Uncle, Sam is sent to a rehab facility in Vermont, and their parents attempt to tread water at home in New York City.
Violet's not excited to be in Maine, and she's unwilling to process the events that led to her arrival. To pass the time, Violet joins the local aquarium as a part-time volunteer—where she meets the best-looking boy she's ever seen: Orion.
This meet-cute isn't all that it seems, however, as Orion's had a crush on his long-time best friend for years. Orion invites Violet into the fold of his friend group, where Violet meets his crush, Liv. Violet discovers that maybe Orion's on to something--Liv is an entrancing bay filled with hidden rocks, and Violet can't seem to pull her ship out of the tide leading her to the rocky shore.
Will she do what she does best and create a shipwreck disaster, or will she discover what it means to be herself?
Add in a quest to find Fidelia's sunken ship, some ridiculously poignantly and quietly funny scenes from a bisexual love triangle, and a few moments worth more than a few tears, and you have one hell of an amazing debut. This will remain one of my all-time favorites.
Thank you to Disney Book Group via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review!
Buffy the Vampire Slayers + The Babysitters Club + 2019 humor. This was cute and funny, but I wasn't the right audience.
Plot: ★★ 1/2
Age range: the young end of YA
The Babysitters Coven is a FUN read. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and makes the comparison to its own roots as the 2019 lovechild of Buffy and The Babysitters Club.
Esme Pearl is a high school student with a passion for quirky fashion and a love of babysitting. She started a babysitting hotline with her best friend, Janis, and while they mainly use it as an excuse to hang out every day, they do get frequent babysitting requests.
However, things are changing in Esme's world. When she gets mad, things move. As things continue to happen around her, Esme realizes that maybe she's not going crazy like her mom did.
Enter Cassandra Heaven, the new girl in school. She seems weirdly focused on Esme, and she's definitely noticed the telekinesis. Oh, and she's obsessed with joining the babysitting club.
What's going on with the babysitters, and why does Esme feel like things are following a pre-destined path? A few spells, demons, and trainings later, and things start to make sense...
The Babysitters Coven made no bones about being filled with tropes, but it was still a rollicking good time. It's nice to see a YA novel cater to the 13-15 year olds, but due to its younger humor and use of tropes it was not a personal favorite. Unlike many of the YA novels coming out, this one is actually for its young audiences and not the many adults (like me!) who read the genre anyway.
Thank you to Delcorte Press for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.