Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
"The plot is not so much dramatic as operatic, with masked balls, thwarted passions, fantastical feats, tortured love quadrangles, heartbreaking sacrifices, and vengeful secrets from beyond the grave. And, like many an opera, the climax is beautifully tragic, leading to a poignant, bittersweet epilogue with just enough bread crumbs to leave open the possibility of a sequel."
Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.
Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.
"First-time novelist Mason-Black delivers a subtle, delicate tale reminiscent of the work of Charles de Lint, a magical realist journey of self-discovery and hidden depths, with fascinating characters and a captivating narrative."
"A magical-realist adventure laced with folk guitar and outcast drifters unpacks the bonds of family—those we are born into and those we choose."
My review: This is a stunning, enchanting story about music and magic and traveling the back roads of America to find answers you didn't know you were looking for. Blue is a fantastic character--determined but flawed, loving but hurt, grieving but still moving forward, still living--and I was aching for her the whole way.
But what I really love about this is how every single character--every single one, no matter how minor--is a fully realized character. Even if they only show up for a few pages, Mason-Black is so incredibly good at building secondary (and tertiary) characters that I believe 100% that all of these people who come and go from Blue's life have lives and families and dreams of their own, and how all together they show that while selfishness and cruelty can take so many different forms, so too can kindness and empathy.
I finished this one a while ago, and there are scenes that I'm still thinking about and will be thinking about for a long time. It's so beautiful.
Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences—Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend—the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction.
When disaster strikes and Gena's world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes with a price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age.
"It's very satisfying to see this moment in fandom and Internet-originating relationships so capably represented."
Travis plans to spend the summer as follows:
• Working on his basketball game with his friend, Creature.
• Reading excerpts from Creature’s novel-in-progress: The Pervert’s Guide to Russian Princesses.
• Canoeing around the lake, trying to catch a glimpse of the beautiful girl who just moved in.
• Not getting into trouble, not going back to juvie . . .
• Searching the homeless camps for his mother, with a jar full of cash to help her get back on her feet.
From a powerful new voice in YA literature comes an unforgettable account of growing up, making mistakes, and growing out of the shadow of drug abuse.
"Hoffmeister’s coming-of-age story is both profane and profound... The result is a raw, offbeat novel with an abundance of honesty and heart."
"What might seem didactic in lesser hands feels realistic and right here. Messages are delivered in natural dialogue, the well-drawn characters speaking from the heart with wisdom derived from firsthand experience. 'We keep working. We keep trying. ’Cause fuck everyone else, you know? We just do what we do….We keep trying hard.'"
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.
"Trixie’s face-offs with Ben showcase Anderson’s humor and geek culture bona fides (“This was the Doctor versus the Daleks. This was Ripley versus the Xenomorphs. This was a real, true, full-scale war”), and as the two shift from sparring to feeling sparks, Trixie’s shield of sarcasm gives way to heartfelt interest and affection. Readers familiar with the Shakespeare will enjoy Anderson’s riffs on the original’s plot points as Trixie and Ben get their nerdily-ever-after ending. "