YALC Sampler Reviews (part 2)

I started reviewing my YALC samplers earlier this week, but there were too many for one post. So here are the rest. And I promise that after this, I will stop posting about YALC.

Coffee and.... (19)

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

In the ancient West African-inspired world of Otera, a woman’s worth is tied to her purity and she must bleed to prove it. Red blood for the pure, gold blood for the demon. When sixteen-year-old Deka is found to be a demon, she is taken to the capital of Otera, where she learns how to fight against the monsters who are threatening the kingdom. But nothing is quite as it seems – both the world around Deka, and Deka herself… Set in a deeply patriarchal society, Deathless explores what it is to be a woman and a monster, alongside questions of trust, control and empowerment.

What I Thought: This book is not one I had heard of before this sampler, but you can bet it is on my radar now. The extract is building up to the ritual to determine whether the young girls in the village are pure, and so allowed to stay there. Something disturbs the ritual and Deka finds out she is not pure. I am hooked, and shooketh and I need more.

Verdict: Will 100% be buying this book. It is all the things I love.


Wicked Kindred by L.A. Weatherly

I cannot find a blurb for this anywhere on the internet, so this is what the sampler intro says: “Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Victoria Aveyard and Sally Green, this epic urban fantasy romance is Romeo and Juliet meets The Sopranos with an irresistible contemporary magical twist.  

What I Thought: This gets off to an interesting start. The main character is adamant she is not Laura, she is in some kind of religious institution and desperate to get back to her family. There’s a suggestion she might be delusional. This is exciting and I need more.

Verdict: Yes, I will be acquiring this book.


Ace of Spades by Faridah Ábíké-ĺyímídé

the sampler says: How can you play a game when the cards are stacked against you? Get Out meets Gossip Girl… Ace of Spades is an explosive and addictive new High School Thriller. 

What I Thought: A high school thriller? Yes! I love high school thrillers. This one has a mysterious new head teacher and some weird things seem to be happening for the main character. The sampler doesn’t give much away, but it’s an interesting start.

Verdict: I’m keen to hear a bit more about this one before deciding whether to get it or not, but it’s definitely on my radar.


#secrettitle by Will Hill

Set over the course of one night, this is the heart-pounding, eye-opening story of one girl’s race to rescue her father, and what happens when friends become enemies. With Will Hill’s inimitable voice, we plunge into a world of secrets and danger, in an utterly compelling story that will keep your heart racing long after the final page. 

What I Thought: I have precisely zero guesses for the title of this book. It is a creepy start: a child alone in a house getting a phone call suggesting her dad has been taken. I am hooked.

Verdict: I love Will Hill’s work and I need this book now, today, thank you.


Grief Angels by David Owen

15-year-old Owen Marlow is experiencing a great, disorienting loss after his father suddenly passed away and his mother moved them to a new town. None of his old friends knew how to confront his grief, so he’s given up on trying to make new ones. There is one guy at school who might prove to be different if he gives him a chance but lately, Owen has been overwhelmed by his sadness. He’s started to have strange, powerful hallucinations of skeletal birds circling above him. Owen tells himself that these visions are just his brain’s way of trying to cope – until one night, the birds descend and take him to an otherworldly forest. There, he is asked to go on a dangerous journey that promises to bring him the understanding he so desperately seeks – if he can survive it.

What I Thought: Loved it. The writing in this sampler is beautiful. The cover is stunning. The book tackles grief and friendship, two of my favourite things to read about, as well as the idea of masculinity, which I am also very interested in. The two perspectives we get in the extract are very different but both interesting in their own ways. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops.

Verdict: Of course I will be getting this. I will buy every book David ever writes. This one is on my pre-order list.


Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, they work together at the best pumpkin patch in the world. They say goodbye every Halloween, not to be reunited until September the following year. But this Halloween is different – Deja and Josiah are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last goodbye. Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling meh. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if instead of moping they go out with a bang? What if their last shift was an adventure?

What I Thought: I am properly picky when it comes to graphic novels, but I am a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell. This sounds like a fun read, the artwork is brilliant, and it’s set in autumn which is my favourite. I loved the two characters we were introduced to in this sampler, and I love a story about people getting ready to head of to college. This has so many things I adore in it.

Verdict: I’m curious to see how this story plays out, so I will almost certainly pick it up.


And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart. 

Al was special.
Al was talented.
Al was full of passion and light…so why did he do it?
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan begins to retrace his footsteps. And along the way, he meets Megan. Al’s former classmate, who burns with the same fire and hope, who is determined to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan learns the horrifying truth behind his brother’s suicide, one question remains – how do you survive, when you’re growing up in the age of social media?

What I Thought: In the sampler we’re introduced to the main character, reflecting on the person his brother was. There is a lot of focus on science and the stars (love this). In addition to the siblings who are all dealing with their loss in different ways, we also get the perspective of Al’s best friend. I love a grief novel, especially one where different relationships and perspectives are explored.

Verdict: I’ll definitely be looking out for this one.


The Pieces of Ourselves by Maggie Harcourt

Another one where I can’t find a blurb! The sampler introduction says : A gorgeous contemporary YA romance between two history geeks, investigating a lost WWI love affair, told in the wry, relatable and effortlessly real voice of a girl living with Bipolar II. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven … with a twist of Downton Abbey

What I Thought: This book has a main character with Bipolar II and I am all here for mental health rep in books. I don’t know that I have read any books with representation of this condition before, and for that alone I am interested. From the sampler it looks like there is going to be a potential hate – to – love story, or at least annoyance-to-love, and that is my favourite of all the romance tropes. Flora is an interesting character and I definitely want to see how she develops in the rest of the book.

Verdict: Romance isn’t my go-to genre, but I will definitely consider picking this one up.

Breathe a sigh of relief, that’s all the samplers and everything YALC 2019 related over with. Are there any books on this list you’re excited for?

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