Odd & True by Cat Winters

Inside cover blurb:

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.”

-from publisher


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This book totally blindsided me, in the best way possible!

It started out kind of slow and I fully expected it to be just another paranormal romp- the kind of book that’s pretty bad, but still fairly entertaining.

But holy moly, Odd & True kicked it into high gear! This book has it all: feminism, (dis)ability, class struggle…The historical fiction angle only served to better highlight these issues. It totally worked for me. And I was pleasantly surprised that it’s set in the western US. Our states don’t usually get any love in monster stories!

Admittedly there were some slow points along the way and I lost interest during some of the flashbacks that explain the sisters’ history, but I loved the balance of supernatural vs. real world struggle.

Definitely read this book if you are looking for a story where young women kick butt, both physically and metaphorically.

Thank you to Cat Winters and Abrams Kids for sending me this ARC!

Plus: A socially conscious, historical fiction story about monster hunting sisters. Need I say more?

Minus: I felt like the writing didn’t live up to how much I liked the story overall, but it might not be an issue for other readers.

If you like this book, try:


Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman- A Western-style historical fiction about a young woman who shoots first and asks questions later on her quest to avenge her father’s murder.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Inside cover blurb:

“Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.”

-from publisher


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Just when you thought a series you were reading out of obligation is finally ending…oh goodie, there’s going to be more.

I loved Sarah J. Maas because I loved Throne of Glass. So naturally I started reading the Court of Thorns and Roses books too. And I even liked them. Or the first one anyway. But the second one, I found rather slow and fairly dull.

And when I got A Court of Wings and Ruin and found that it was 700 pages…I almost cried. This book actually took me an entire month to read.

I just can’t make myself care anymore. And when things finally got interesting and it seemed like SOMETHING WOULD FINALLY HAPPEN i.e. huge battle between Hybern and the other courts- nope, everything turns out hunky dory. So disappointing.

Plus: The monsters/dark magic were by far the most interesting part of the book- the Bone Carver, the Weaver, and some smoky monster that might be related to the one from Lost? And the Cauldron seems pretty cool, I’d rather read a book about it.

Minus: All the love triangles and boring court politics…And why does there even need to be another book?? I thought things seemed resolved enough, just let a series end for once!

Try this instead:


Tithe by Holly Black- Holly Black is the Faerie Queen! If you need some magic in your life, read any of her books. Tithe is the first book in a trio about faeries in a modern setting.


Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Inside cover blurb:

“‘Troubled.’ That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.”

-from publisher


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Sometimes I think I’ve seen everything in YA…but Aftercare Instructions made me realize I haven’t read many YA books in which the protagonist is pregnant, let alone one about an abortion.

This is Pipkin’s first novel which kind of blows my mind because she does such a masterful job balancing the despair and hope of this story. And the formatting is awesome, switching back and forth between Genesis’ current experience and a play detailing all of the events leading up to her decision to abort her pregnancy.

The thing that really hooked me was just the overall premise. Whose boyfriend would/could ever leave them like that?? And Pipkin made me wait until the very end of the book to find out, so I have to give her props on that. She definitely kept me hooked.

I do find that I’m still a little conflicted about some elements of the story because I felt like, as a reader, my issues with the characters’ relationships were not resolved. But such is life and as long as Genesis has her resolution, I stand with her.

This is something fresh, timely, and ultimately very needed in YA.

Plus: Extremely important subject matter, fantastic mode of storytelling. If I had to describe this book in one word it would be “clever.”

Minus: Wrapped up a little too quickly perhaps? I definitely still have some questions I would like answered.

If you like this book, try:


Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow- The main character, like Genesis, struggles to put her life back together after a series of devastating events. Both books highlight the strength and resiliency of young women.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Inside cover blurb:

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants. “

-from publisher


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I am not ashamed to say that I will always read a new Sarah Dessen book. Girl knows how to deliver!

She has got the formula down: main character emotionally closed off due to a previous relationship, boy who comes barreling into her life and shaking up her routine, plus great friendships and kooky jobs. It is just downright COZY.

And I like that this one deals with timely issues. I’m not going to give away the twist, but Dessen is a master of bringing in just the right amount of tragedy and loss to ground her sweeping love stories.

To me, a Sarah Dessen book is always like a great big hug and if you need a beach read, this makes a perfect one.

Plus: I really like the wedding planner theme, it just works so well with the characters and their personal relationships (or lack thereof). And her supporting characters are always fantastic! I want to be friends with William and Jilly too.

Minus: Books like this are obviously pretty unrealistic in a lot of ways. But if you suspend your disbelief, I promise you are in for a sweet, fantastic treat.

If you like this book, try:

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins- This is technically part of a trio, so you could read any of them. Stephanie Perkins, like Sarah Dessen, is a queen of YA romance.

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

Inside cover blurb:

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.”

-from publisher


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This book made me sleepy. It’s kind of a miracle I finished it really. But then again I took it camping with me and it was the only book I had so…

The Edge of Everything is one of those books that’s on the edge of being good, but it drastically missed the mark for me. A supernatural bounty hunter sounds super cool! If that’s what the book were really about. Why not make the whole book about the Lowlands?? I would be so on board for that.

But instead we get a love story that’s almost Twilight-esque in some ways (doomed relationship, a love interest with manners from the 1800s). And did I mention that they only meet like twice before deciding they’re in love? Ugh.

I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this book is what a middle aged man thinks teen girls want to read about and I don’t think I’ll be reading any follow ups.

Plus: So much potential to be cool… I enjoyed X’s mentor the best, maybe we could get a book about her instead.

Minus: Painful dialogue. Boring main characters. Uninteresting plot.

Maybe try this instead:


Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick- One of my all-time favorites. If you’re gonna to do a YA paranormal romance, you gotta own it.