There has been no YALC this year, no running to grab samplers from all the publisher stands, and that makes me a little sad. But YALC @ Home happened, and some of the publishers made samplers available electronically. So here is my wrap up of the ones I got my hands on. Join me in a coffee?
This week’s coffee is another Square Mile Coffee, the El Guayabo from El Salvador has tasting notes of macadamia, pear and lychee notes. It’s a deliciously light and sweet coffee and I definitely enjoyed.
Some of the samplers included books that I have either already bought or already read, so I haven’t included those here.
All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donaghue
After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace.
Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily’s gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find—even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church’s tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.
What I Thought: This one hooked me in from the first sentence. I loved the narrator’s voice, and she’s already growing on me as a character. I laughed, I felt angry, and I wanted to climb in the pages and hug her. I was sold when the tarot cards appear – I love anything with a sniff of witchery and tarot in it. Also, the blurb sounds spooky and creepy and I am all here for it.
Verdict: I have pre-ordered this. Because I need it.
The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff
Everyone talks about falling in love like it’s the most miraculous, life-changing thing in the world. Something happens, they say, and you know …
That’s what happened when I met Kit Godden.
I looked into his eyes and I knew.
Only everyone else knew too. Everyone else felt exactly the same way.
This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer – the summer when everything changes. In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter two brothers – irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.
What I Thought: So, I didn’t think this was one I would enjoy from the sampler, but I really did. I loved the setting, the family holiday house, the snippets of their family history and the characters, as well as the sense of unease that crept in right at the end.
Verdict: This is going on my list of books to acquire.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.
Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
What I Thought: Space isn’t usually my jam, and a lot of the things in the sampler didn’t hook me in. There’s a lot going on and the video / vlogging aspect didn’t really interest me. But I am very here for the friendships and the family drama in this.
Verdict: I’m intrigued. This is another I will likely pick up at some point but not immediately.
Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew
After school one day, Frankie, a lover of physics and astronomy, has her first sexual experience with quiet and gorgeous Benjamin—and gets her period. It’s only blood, they agree. But soon a gruesome meme goes viral, turning an intimate, affectionate afternoon into something sordid, mortifying, and damaging. In the time it takes to swipe a screen, Frankie’s universe implodes. Who can she trust? Not Harriet, her suddenly cruel best friend, and certainly not Benjamin, the only one who knows about the incident. As the online shaming takes on a horrifying life of its own, Frankie begins to wonder: is her real life over?
What I Thought: I loved this sampler, the narrator is brilliant, the mulitmedia (texts etc) is a thing I really enjoy in books, and I am defintiely intrigued. I’m a little concerned that this might be one of those YA books that I am very definitely too old for though.
Verdict: I am going to wait to see some more reviews, but will likely pick this up at some point.
Every Little Piece of my Heart by Non Pratt
When Sophie receives a parcel from her best friend, Freya, she expects it to contain the reason why Freya left town so suddenly, without goodbyes and without explanation. Instead, she finds a letter addressed to Win, a girl Freya barely knew – or did she? As more letters arrive for more people on the periphery of Freya’s life, Sophie and Win begin to piece together who Freya was and why she left. Sometimes it’s not about who’s gone, but about who they leave behind.
What I Thought: I already love Sophie and I need her to be okay. I love a friendship story, and this one has a big mystery in the sampler that left me wanting more. Immediately.
Verdict: I will be picking this up very soon.
Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman
Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behaviour.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn
What I Thought: The sampler for this is absolutely bonkers, in a good way. It’s a confusing start, but one that left me wanting to know more and work out what is going on. I loved the Scythe series, so I have high hopes for this one.
Verdict: I will be reading this one.
The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James
What if death is only the beginning?
When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a group of ghosts, each with a special power.
Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome Harriet into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival after decades alone. Yet Harriet is more interested in unleashing her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy
What I Thought: I mean, I knew what was going to happen in that sampler, but I still wasn’t ready for it. I love Lauren’s writing, it’s always so emotive and this was no exception. I am already hooked on this.
Verdict: Have ordered it, obvs.
The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.
Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself
What I Thought: I am on the fence with this one. Historical fiction is not usually my jam, and parts of the sampler didn’t grip me, but there’s a romance I am all here for, a tradition of shipping your daughters off to marriage with their caskets in tow, and a badass pirate. I’m intrigued, but I’m not sold.
Verdict: I will likely pick this up at some point, but there are definitely books on my TBR I want to read first.
Have you read any of these books? Are any on your TBR for this year?