The Witch’s Tears is the second book in the cute YA trilogy about sixteeen-year-old Merry, who is trying to be a normal teenager, while also being a witch and the problems that comes with that. The book starts off three months after where The Witch’s Kiss left off, with Merry and Leo still grieving what happened in the first book.
This second book is much darker and sadder than the first one. It’s also my favorite book in the series. I love how the story evolves, creating an intricate weave of dual times (modern and Anglo-Saxon) and deepening the characters. The plot felt more in-depth than the first, and there was even more action and magic in this book. When Merry’s and Leo’s grandmother, and leader of the coven mysteriously vanishes, the two of them must team up to get her back. Which is not an easy task, with Merry still being untrained and inexperienced when it comes to her witch craft, and with the coven distrusting her. And on top of that, Leo is still being consumed by his grief.
Oh, poor Leo! It was painful to see him suffer so much in this book. Really painful. Especially in the parts where he thought that he’d found someone else to love, but you as a reader can feel it in your guts that it will not end well… But still, I love that Leo got to be a bigger part of the story and the extra layers of depth that was added to his personality. He’s definitely my favorite book-brother of all times!
Just like the first book, this book is so well-written and full of action that you can’t stop yourself from flying through the pages. I was so eager and nervous to find out what would happen to the characters and how they would survive all dangerous situation they ended up in that I read this in one sitting. The suspense if they would succeed in finding the grandmother and if the newcomers Ronan and Finn were to be trusted, was killing me!
This is an enchanting YA series that I highly recommend! It is full with magic, adventure, love, evil wizards and old curses wrapped up in an amazing reading experience.
Find out more about the book and the authors here: The Corr Sisters
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel is an absolutely wonderful book that I recommend with all my heart also to YA readers, even though it for most part has the parents’ perspective. This is such a witty, sweet, honest, gripping and thought-provoking read that addresses so many important questions.
The book is about the large, gorgeous, lively Walsh-Adams family and their five sons, and what happens when the youngest one, the extraordinarily verbal little Claude, explains that he wants to be a girl scientist when he grows up. Laurie Frankel does such an amazing job in describing how important it is for Claude to wear dresses to feel comfortable and as him/herself even though he is not yet clear with that he is a girl. She also explains so well how the parents find themselves on new and scary terrain, trying to balance Claude’s safety and happiness with the older brothers worry about the comments and bullying both they and Claude will be victims to. After an incident, the whole family moves to a new city, where Claude blossoms as Poppy. The problem is that they have kept the past a secret, allowing Poppy to be a girl just like anyone else, which makes things easier for Poppy in a way, but increasingly difficult on her brothers. The story takes a darker turn when she is outed and Poppy and her parents must find their footing again.
This is a wonderfully contradictory story. So painful at times, yet so heartwarming and joyful, written with such a humor and witty language. And with so much knowledge. Laurie Frankel has herself a daughter who was born a boy, which is evident from the depth and understanding of what the family goes through in the book. I know that I will keep coming back to this book and the questions about how to best support and protect a child who isn’t identifying itself as its genders, but still not entirely as the other either. I loved the way the book does not give any definitive answers, but rather opens of for discussions about what it really means to be true to yourself; suggesting that there are times when neither right nor left works and, instead, you have to go straight ahead, through the great unknown of the middle.
And I was so moved by Laurie’s explanation about the inspiration behind the book and the differences between a novel you write and your own life, in that the novel should be perilous, unpredictable, full of near misses and heartbreak, but the latter you want as plotfree as possible and a world where anyone can be who they are and become their most wanted , loved and appreciated selves.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Laurie Frankel
The Witch’s Kiss is the first book in the cute YA trilogy about sixteen-year-old Merry, who is trying to be a normal teenager, while also being a witch and the problems that comes with that. This is such an enchanting story, full of magic, adventure, love, evil wizards and old curses that will draw you in from the very first page!
I love the setting in present days and the combination of witchcraft in modern times (like how Merry’s grandmother contacts her witch-friends via Facebook...). It gives this series a unique touch. And the characters are so realistic and loveable. I love that Merry is allowed to be a normal teenager with teenager problem while also being a witch and struggling with understanding her powers (which is extra hard since her mother has prohibited her from using them). Merry is such a great main character. She’s fierce, strong and smart. And the relationship with her older brother, Leo, is adorable.
Merry and Leo must be the cutest siblings in history! I love their strong bond. Leo was overall one of my favorite characters in this series. He was so kind and protective of his sister, even though he sure had his own shares of problems to deal with. His struggle with being in love with his best friend and trying to find a good way to come out of the closet to tell him was so well described and made my heart ache for him.
The book is very fast-paced, with a lot of action as Merry has to defeat and ancient curse when the King of Hearts, who has been hunting Merry’s bloodline for ages, once again rises. When the boy she’s been dreaming about suddenly materializes himself, Merry faces another problem. How can she fight the curse if she’s attracted to the boy under its spell?
I love how the story evolves to be told in parallel timelines, with a fairytale explaining the origin of the King of Hearts by the heartbroken Gwydion in Anglo-Saxan times. And how the love story between Merry and Jack has been a long time coming, over generations.
The ending was a bit of a surprise though. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I had thought that the title of this book would have some meaning that would have made the book end in a different way. But it sure made you eager to continue the series...
All in all, this is an absolutely wonderful YA fantasy book, with strong and loveable characters, magic, adventure, ancient curses and forbidden love that I highly recommend!
Find out more about the book and the authors here: The Corr Sisters
The fact that the events described in The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth even exists, and that families actually send their loved ones to conversion therapy camps to “cure” them from being who they are, makes me so angry I want to cry. This book is a heart-breaking reminder that even though so much has been gained the past decades we must keep on fighting for everyone’s right to love, freedom and justice.
That said, I so wished I would have loved this book. This book is so important and it was well-written, but it wasn’t a read that pulled you in. It wasn’t bad, but it had so much potential that it didn’t quite meet, sadly.
Cameron was a likeable enough main character and I really appreciated that she was allowed to act like a real teenager; selfish at times, irresponsible and contradictory, but she didn’t steal my heart. The main problem was that the book was so wordy and that every single thing Cameron did or thought was described in detail, which slowed the story down and created a distance to the characters.
There is also another objection that I felt after finishing this book, and that is that the book, nor Cameron, doesn’t condemn the correction therapy clear enough. This kind of camps, and the idea that someone can be “cured from homosexuality” or that “homosexuality is a sin” are completely unacceptable, and I wished that it had been made absolutely clear and condemned in a much harder way.
But all in all, it is an important book that deserves to be read and discussed.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Emily M. Danforth
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys will make you cry and will haunt you forever, in the best possible way. It’s a master piece, a gripping and beautiful story of hardship, humanity, loss, love and survival during WWII. This book is both heart-breakingly sad and hopeful at the same time, showing both the best and worst of humanity, and with so many wonderful characters you immediately fall in love with and want to rescue from the brutality and horror surrounding them.
The book takes place during the Winter of 1945 when four persons paths converge as they try to escape the horrors and survive the war and all the terrible things they have experienced. Joana is a Lithuanian nurse who struggles with demons for leaving her family behind, Florian is a German with secrets of his own and revenge on his mind, Emilia is a Polish teenager running from the betrayal and abuse she has suffered at the relatives who were supposed to keep her safe, and Alfred is a Nazi soldier with something to prove and a mind that works in a not completely sane way. There is also the sweet “shoe poet” Opi and the boy Klaus and other lovable persons in the small group of refugees travelling together, trying to reach the coast and get passage aboard a ship to safety and freedom.
The four main characters alternate in telling the story from their point of view, thereby sharing their secrets, backgrounds, hopes and dreams with us, if not to each other. The different POVs really add to the story and brings an extra dimension to story, spinning it around in all angles, and revealing the ever-changing dynamics between them. Three of the characters, and the side-characters, are lovely and make your heart go out for them and their hardship. I felt so so much for them and their struggles it kept me on needles to find out what would happen to them all. (The fourth, Alfred, is an idiot. Even if he can justify his actions to himself, no one else can. That’s all I have to say about him.)
The book is based on a true story, the sea evacuation Operation Hannibal and the sinking of the ship Wilhelm Gustloff. This is the deadliest disaster in maritime history, with Soviet torpedoes destroying and sinking the ship carrying nine thousand people, the majority being civilians (of which, about five thousand were children). The losses dwarf the death tolls of famous ships like Titanic, but yet, this disaster is almost unknown. Ruta Sepetys surely will make that change now. You can tell how much research and thought she has put into this story to inform people about this devastating tragedy.
The writing is exquisite in the face of such brutality. The way Ruta Sepetys told the story was just beautiful, how she created this weave through the different POVs and slowly, slowly revealing their secrets and reasons for their actions.
I finished the book crying my eyes out and my heart aching for the characters in the story, as well as the real lives they mirrored. It is a pretty intense book for being YA, but I cannot recommend it enough! This is one of the best books I’ve read and definitely the best historical fiction ever! Just be prepared to cry and to be hit by a tornado of emotions.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Ruta Sepetys
I’m really late to the party here, but I finally read Love & Gelato and understand what everyone’s been talking about. This book was a supercute, fast-paced and addictive read.
In short, this is a romantic and mysterious story about Lina, an American girl who loses her mother to cancer and gets sent to Italy to live with her until then unknown father, Howard. When Lina arrives, she finds her mother’s diary from the time she spent in Italy and met Lina’s father all those years before. But in the diary, the man is only mentioned with an “X” and their relationship is kept a secret. Soon Lina realizes that “X” might not be Howard and there is a reason why her mother never told her who her father was.
Love & Gelato and is a fun, cute read, with the setting in Italy and the romantic troubles with next door boy Ren and his friend Thomas adding extra flavor. The main characters are heart-warming and the diary plot draws you in. I read this book one afternoon on the beach, skipping the swimming just to find out who Lina’s dad really was and how things would go with Ren and Thomas. There were some tropes, but not as many as I had presumed. And even though it was not that difficult to see the plot twists coming, I’m very happy about the ending. All in all, this is a gorgeous summer read!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Jenna Evans Welch
The Red Scrolls of Magic is such an adorable book! I had this happy, goofy, smile all over my face reading it. I love Magnus and Alec together and it was such a bonus pleasure to get a whole book just focusing on the two of them.
Before reading this book, I actually thought I was ready to leave the Shadowhunter realm, but oh no, this book sure drew me right back in again. It’s an additional book to the Mortal Instruments series telling the swash-buckling romantic adventures of Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood on the vacation mentioned in City of Fallen Angels (the 4th book in the series).
When Cassandra Clare originally wrote The Mortal Instruments she had to hold back on love scenes between Magnus and Alec to not risk getting the books be considered ”inappropriate”, which I now realize in hindsight is why the relationship between them felt a bit thin and not so engaging at times. But not in this book! I’m so glad I decided to read this gem! Even though the romance is constantly getting interrupted by demon attacks (very frustrating!), the romance is definitely not thin anymore! I love the way you could follow how their relationship deepens and how Alec is worried about his lack of experience, but still NEEDS to take things further. He shows so much vulnerability and there are so many amazing softer scenes. Like kissing, cuddling, getting to know each other without any pretend or acts. The book was so adorable and queer and so fun and fast-paced. It I absolutely loved it!
And an extra adorable bonus was the meeting between Helen and Aline! Knowing from The Mortal Instruments series that they would become a couple it was so amazing to read here about their first meeting.
So, if you’re the slightest fan of the Shadowhunter world, or if you ship Malec, or even if you know nothing about the Shadowhunters but are just really wanting to read a LGBTQ+-led romantic story for once, this is the book for you! I truly recommend it, it’s a gem not to be missed!
Find out more about the book and the authors here: Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters
I’ll Give You the Sun is a gem, a masterpiece, a book that is not like anything I’ve ever read before. It’s poetic, gripping, heart-wrenching and so beautiful! I recommend it with all my heart.
This book has won just about any prize that exist (Printz Award, Stonewall Honor, YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction, Rainbow List Top Ten etc.) and I completely understand why. This book deserves all the love in the world!
Storywise, I’ll Give You the Sun is a young adult coming-of-age novel, which follows the lives of non-identical twins Noah and Jude Sweetwine at the ages of 13, 14, and 16. The early years are written from Noah’s point of view whereas the later years are written from Jude’s. Up until age 13 the twins are best friends, so close that they are more or less the same person. Then something happens that turns them into bitter enemies. The story is not linear, instead the early and later years are mixed, to give us a hint of what might happen or how something Noah describes in the early years have consequences from Jude’s perspective and vice versa. It also gives you a much deeper understanding of how the schism between the twins happens and why.
It’s also a wonderful love story (or several parallel ones actually) and a story about becoming who you truly are. Noah is struggling with coming out to himself and to others about being gay and in love with the boy next door, the charismatic Brian. Jude on the other hand is on a boy boycott when she meets the arrogant and broken, yet beautiful Oscar. Then there’s the underlaying love story that isn’t completely revealed until the very end.
But what’s so completely different with this book is the stunning way it is written. Not just the beautiful language but there’s such uniqueness in the way the words are used and how art is integrated in the story. Especially Noah’s parts are written with metaphors and with paintings describing what’s happening and how Noah feels as an outsider, explaining in such an amazing way how he misinterprets social codes. Noah’s love story was so heartbreaking and emotional to read whenever things didn’t go his way due to his difficulty figuring out his sexuality and other people’s reactions. And Jude, I loved her fierceness and humor, and how she had all these fun dialogues with her grandma’s ghost in her mind, and also out loud sometimes.
As the story evolves it is clear that Jude and Noah have done so many things to hurt each other and others as well. Really bad things. Almost unforgivable things. And there are so many secrets that just have to come tumbling out eventually. So much misunderstandings and heart-aches. All of the characters have to overcome their pasts and learn to trust and forgive (each other as well as themselves). And to dare to love again and to allow themselves to be loved. The heartbreaking story unravels slowly but in a way that gets you so attached to these characters. I felt for them so so much! There were parts that I almost didn’t dare to read, being so afraid of the pain and hurt I suspected was coming the characters’ way…
I’ll Give You the Sun might just be one of the most beautiful, awe inspiring books I’ve ever read. It might take a little while to get into it and fully grip the language as it is so unusual in its writing, but it is so worth it. So worth it! I promise. This is one of my absolute favorite reads of all time!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Jandy Nelson
So this book isn’t really a YA book, but I love it so much that I have decided to include it in my reading tips anyway. From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon is such an amazing, beautiful, gripping, emotional and heartfelt read that I wanted to share it with you all.
This’is an epic love story during WWII between Angelo, a Catholic priest, and Eva, a Jew, as Hitler’s army is sweeping throughout Europe, inciting death and destruction.
Eva and Angelo were raised like family, but as the years went by, the two found themselves falling in love. But the church called to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chose the priesthood. A decade later, with Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent. But, Eva refuses to allow herself to be hidden away, allowing Angelo to bear the brunt of everything, while her family and so many others are being persecuted. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial and so much death and danger, grief and heartbreak, intrigue and suspense, so many moral dilemmas and personal crisis of faith, so much sacrifice, so much yearning.
From Sand and Ash is a heartbreaking story, with evil and horror, but also so much love, hope and humanity. At times, it was painful to read, so intense and emotional, but in the end it really shows the strength of love. This story took my breath away and is one I will never forget. It is brilliant and by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. I recommend it with all my heart!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Amy Harmon
The Wicked King is the second book in the dark tale of Jude Duarte and her sisters, and their struggle as mortal in a Faerie world. Jude has been such a favorite character for me since the first book in this series, The Cruel Prince. She’s a complete bad ass, strong and fearless and never whining or feeling sorry for herself no matter what ill treatments and injustice she suffers. After all that happened to her in The Cruel Prince, I wondered (and feared) what more evil Holly Black could possibly to do her this time around? Quite a lot it turned out…
The Wicked King picks up five months after the end of book one and the jaw-dropping revelation that Jude’s little brother Oak is the heir to Faerie, and we get to see how Cardan has developed as a ruler, after several months’ worth of practice. We also discover how Jude’s deception has affected their love/hate relationship thing they have going on, since she’s bound Cardan to her and made herself the power behind the throne. No ruler is ever safe in Elfhame, though. Jude can’t let her guard down for a minute, having to navigate Faerie politics and deal with enemies from without and within the kingdom. As if that wasn’t enough, Jude is constantly at odds with Cardan, who takes every measure to humiliate or defy her wishes. At the same time, there is a spark, an attraction neither of them can get away from.
A LOT happens in this book, much of which I simply cannot tell you without spoiling the whole plot. We get to see new parts of Faerie that were only hinted at in the first book, like the Undersea. We are re-introduced to characters that I assumed were out of the story, in new unexpected ways. And there are upheaval of political alliances and feuds everywhere. The pace of the story is even faster than in the first book and the plot just draws you in completely. Holly Black makes an amazing job keeping her reader at suspense, and to always deliver the unexpected. The intrigue and power dynamics were so entrancing that I couldn’t put the book down until the very end. There were twists I never in a million years saw coming.
I have some mixed feelings about Jude and Cardan’s relationship though. It’s intriguing, for sure, but I don’t know if I want them to be a couple or not, which is a bit frustrating as a reader. I can’t see their relationship ever becoming a good one. There will always be this unhealthy undercurrent, a hint of violence and abuse, that you don’t want anyone ever get caught up in. Yet, some part of me want them to be together, to admit their feelings for each other. So, very mixed feelings for the book in that respect. Nevertheless, the book itself is so good and I truly recommend it and am now eagerly awaiting The Queen of Nothing. It’s simply impossible to not continue reading this series to see where Holly Black takes us and what more she will do to Jude until the end...
Find out more about the book and the author here: Holly Black
Hi! I'm Annie, a Swedish bookworm, YA addict and coffee lover, who writes romantic YA books in English. I'm the author of the Angelheart Saga series (First Came Forever and Forever Disguised).
I love YA books and want to share what I read with you too, so check out my reading tips here!
Below you can find the reviews per author as well.