February 2, 2016 Debuts

With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.

Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn't stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she's confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away.

Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn't able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there's just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.

Equal parts adventure, romance, and politics, Ahiers’ first novel is astonishingly good. This is a unique twist on a love story, and the exciting Godfather-esque plotline adds layers of intrigue—and, despite her dubious occupation, Lea is a hero worth rooting for. Fans of Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassins series will snatch this one up in a heartbeat, and they won’t be disappointed.
-- Booklist starred review
Ahiers’s Romeo and Juliet–inspired world of gods, angry ghosts, and assassins is darkly lush, and Lea’s voice is strong and pragmatic, making for a stylish and rich read. 
-- Publishers' Weekly

My review: I really enjoyed this book! It's a wonderful fantasy adventure set in a lush, interesting world full of imaginative politics, religions, ghosts, traditions, and social structures. I love the Lea, the main character, and I was thoroughly engaged enough by her anger, her grief, and her determination to go along for the ride. She changes and grows over the course of the book, as she meets people and travels outside her beloved home city and is faced with reality of a future unlike any she had ever imagined. I would love to see more of Lea's story and this beautiful world.

Speaking of people she meets: Les is an absolute darling and I want to steal him for my very own. 


A sharply honest and moving debut perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ask the Passengers.

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn't exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in über-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley's life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it's really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley's starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley's real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be a person.

Readers never learn Riley’s birth-assigned gender, but there’s no question that Riley is a smart, funny, sharp-eyed force. Debut author Garvin clearly wants to teach his readers about gender and gender fluidity, but the knowledge he imparts buoys this rewarding story, never weighing it down. 
-- Publishers' Weekly starred review