March is such a miracle of wonders! We’ve got so many epically amazing books coming out this month, it’s out of control.
We also have some really stunning new releases like Children of Blood and Bone by debut author Tomi Adeyemi, and The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. Best of all, we have some amazing Aussie YA titles such as White Night by Ellie Marney and P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones.
Read on for staff reviews for six of these fantastic new releases.
Reviews by Sarah McDuling
Obsidio is the final book in the Illuminae trilogy and oh my gosh, what a spectacular finale!!!!
I love this series so much, it’s such a wild, crazy-amazing thrill ride of awesomeness. Every book is packed full of witty banter, lovable characters, a riveting plot that moves along at breakneck speed, and so much raw emotion that it’s not unusual to find yourself laughing at the beginning of a chapter and then crying by the end. I did so much laugh/crying during Obsidio and can’t wait to read it all over again!
Obsidio brings The Illuminae Files to an absolutely perfect and incredibly satisfying conclusion. The characters from previous books are all brought together on the planet of Kerenza, along with a cast of compelling new characters. Our two star-crossed heroes are Asha and Rhys, a couple with a complicated history who now find themselves on opposite sides of a violent conflict.
There are so many things to praise about this series. The creative narrative format provides a truly unique reading experience. The plot unfolds via a collection of emails, documents, diagrams, comic strips, IM chats, video transcriptions and sketches. It really feels as though you are being transported into a vividly imagined world. It’s as though the reader becomes a fly on the wall, privy to private conversations between characters and top secret files. The result is a truly visceral storytelling event – you don’t just read these books. You live them. (I mean, hopefully you live. The death toll in this series is notoriously high!)
Punchy, poignant, high-octane, thoughtful, dynamic, hilarious, heartbreaking, and ridiculously entertaining – I cannot recommend this series enough. I could easily produce about a million more adjectives in praise of these books. And talk about a satisfying ending – I was so utterly blown away by Obsidio I felt like bursting into a round of applause when I got to the end.
Live a life worth dying for and read these books. Trust me, you will love every word. And every picture. And map. And diagram. And artwork. You’ll love it all!! Learn more.
The Belles is the kind of book that brims with gorgeous, lyrical writing and lavish, opulent imagery… yet at the same there is a sinister darkness at the heart of this story. It’s a bit like a delicious three-tiered cake decorated in immaculate flowers made of delicate spun-sugar, and when you cut it open it oozes with deadly poison. (Apologies for the heavy-handed imagery but that’s the effect of this book – it has me thinking in fanciful metaphors!)
Our main character, Camellia, is one of a select group of girls in the kingdom of Orleans, trained to become a Belle. The Belles are gifted with a magical ability to create beauty… an ability that is prized in Orleans because the people are born with wrinkled grey skin and blood red eyes. It takes the talent of a Belle to transform people into beings of exquisite beauty – but at what cost?
Camellia Beauregard wants nothing more than to be chosen as the Queen’s Favourite and thus follow in the footsteps of her mother. And yet, once she arrives at the royal court she finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew. Beneath the dazzling facade of Orleans lies a terrible secret and as the truth is slowly uncovered, a cunning and manipulative villain is revealed.
This is a spectacular read that explores the nature of beauty and the lengths people will go to get it. Wonderfully original and beautifully realised, the world building in this book is next level, the characters are vividly drawn, and the writing is lush and enchanting. The plot is a bit of a slow burn but rest assured there is an epic payoff. The first two thirds of this book are like a decadent fairytale dream, utterly charming and luxuriantly lovely. And then the final third unfolds with a dizzying dip into horror and suspense. It’s both addictive and distressing and at the same time… very much like I imagine it must feel to eat a delicious slice of cake laced with poison!
This is the perfect read for anyone who has ever found themselves bemoaning society’s obsession with beauty and wondering whether the fashion industry, cosmetic corporations and entertainment industry might actually be working together as part of an evil empire with a secret mission to make sure no one is ever happy with they way they look? Also, anyone who just really enjoys glittering YA fantasies with awesome characters and lovely writing. Learn more.
I love everything Ellie Marney writes. Her Every series is a firm favourite of mine which I have already read twice and will no doubt revisit again and again. No Limits, a spin-off from the Every series, was a pure delight to read. She just has the most amazing ability to write emotionally fraught thrillers that deliver action and suspense alongside rich character development and touching romance. It’s a winning combination and honestly, I can’t get enough!
White Night is the story of Bo, a sixteen-year-old country boy who is just beginning to think about life after high school and trying to figure out what kind of future he wants. He has a close-knit family and his main concerns revolve around chores, footy and hanging with his friends.
Rory is the new kid in school, a “feral” girl from the nearby commune, Garden of Eden. Bo and Rory strike up an unlikely friendship that quickly develops into a strong attraction. Bo is drawn into Rory’s world, curious about the people of Eden and their ideals about living off the grid. But is Eden really the perfect utopia that it seems to be?
There is an unmistakable ring of truth to this novel. At no point did I doubt how easily people can fall under the sway of a cult. The appeal of a place like Eden is so well depicted, you can absolutely understand why Bo is attracted to the lifestyle. Rory’s struggles trying to assimilate in school and extend herself beyond the borders of Eden are also portrayed with heartbreaking care and real authenticity. This level of authenticity is what I have come to expect from Ellie Marney’s writing. All of her books feel firmly grounded in a reality – no matter how many incredible turns the plots may take – and her characters are always so well rounded, endearing and larger than life.
White Night is both a gripping thriller as well as a thoughtful coming of age novel. It explores a range of issues such as family dynamics, social activism, cult mentality, and bullying. Most importantly, it’s also a cracking good pageturner!
Another awesome #LoveOzYA read that is bound to please fans of Melina Marchetta, Will Kostakis, and Lili Wilkinson. Learn more.
Letters to the Lost was one of my favourite contemporary YA reads of 2017. I was delighted when I heard that Brigid Kemmerer was writing a sequel and downright ecstatic when I realised the sequel would be about Rev – my favourite supporting character from Letters to the Lost.
For anyone who hasn’t yet read Letters to the Lost, it’s not totally necessary to read it before More Than We Can Tell. It is, however, totally necessary to read it at some point in your life! These two books each serve well as standalone novels and you could easily read them out of order. I just highly recommend that you read them both because they are amazing.
More Than We Can Tell is the story of Rev, who some readers may remember as Declan’s mysterious best friend in Letters to the Lost. As an outcast who insists on wearing long sleeved hoodies – even in the dead of summer – Rev is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. He hates to have his photograph taken, he’s into MMA, looks like the poster child for juvenile delinquency, and yet possesses an almost zen-like sense of calm. He is devoted to his adopted parents, but struggles sometimes to communicate with the people closest to him. When his biological father tracks him down at the same time as his parents decide to foster a troubled young boy – Rev’s calm control is shattered and he finds himself plunged back into the trauma of his childhood.
This is also the story of Emma, a girl with her own set of problems. Emma’s life seems pretty charmed from the outside. Her parents are wealthy and she is a talented coder who has built her own multiplayer online role-playing game. Beneath the surface, however, Emma is spiralling into crisis. Emma’s parents fight constantly. She clashes with her mother who doesn’t understand why Emma spends so much time online and refuses to take her interests seriously. Emma has always been able to escape the pressures of her homelife via the online world she created, but when that world is invaded by a troll whose constant harassment and threats become increasingly disturbing, she feels she has no-one to turn to.
This is the story of two young people grappling with issues of family and identity. It’s a powerful book that dives headfirst into issues of child abuse, foster care, adoption, divorce, harassment, and online predators. It is also a deeply touching story of first love and the bonds of friendship and family. It made me cry more than a few times, but it also made my heart sing.
Highly recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen, Emma Mills and Stephanie Perkins. Learn more.
Reviews by Tanaya Lowden
Children of Blood and Bone is one of the most anticipated and hyped young adult releases of the year. This book is pretty much everywhere on social media at the moment, and it’s difficult to avoid seeing glowing praise and adoration for it. I am adding to this praise, as Children of Blood and Bone not only met all of my expectations, but well and truly exceeded them. This book is fantastic, and potentially (since it’s only March) one of the best YA books of the year!
In the world of Orisha, magic has been banished and many majis brutally murdered under the orders of a ruthless king. Told in the alternating perspectives of Zelie, a daughter of a slaughtered maji, and Inan and Amari, the children of the ruthless king, Children of Blood and Bone is the story of Zelie’s quest to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy.
Children of Blood and Bone is detailed, complex, fast-paced and action packed. As soon as I started reading I did not want to stop. The story was refreshing, constantly moving and it compellingly revealed twists and turns throughout. I never felt bored, as both the writing and the plot were so wonderfully written and complemented each other perfectly.
I was simply enchanted by the West-African inspired fantasy world and, in particular, I found the magic system to be intriguing and unique. The magic is based off of ten maji clans, each gifted by the ten gods above a different power over the land (e.g. maji of water, maji of health and diseases, maji of time). I definitely can’t wait to see how these powers are further explored in the sequel.
At the heart of this book are the characters. I love them all, for not only are they complex and flawed, but also endearing and lovable. Their interactions and growing relationships with each other were such a joy to read, and their character development felt realistic and almost relatable. They’re the kind of characters that you just want to protect from all the bad things in the world, even though you know that’s impossible.
There’s so much more I could say about Children of Blood and Bone because it really was just that wonderful. Definitely read this book if you love YA fantasy! Learn more.
Poignant, perfect and pretty are just three of the words I could use to describe this book. Poignant, for the writing is elegant and emotive; perfect because the story and characters are portrayed so empathetically; and pretty because look at that gorgeous cover.
P is for Pearl is a lovely story about a girl discovering what it means to belong. 17-year-old Gwen is no stranger to grief, having lost both her mother and brother during her childhood. When a strange disturbance occurs at the cafe she works at, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family all those years ago.
This is a heavily character driven novel, and whilst at times this can make a book feel boring, this is far from the truth with P is for Pearl. I was enchanted by the clouded mystery surrounding the deaths of Gwen’s mother and brother. I so desperately wanted to know what had happened to them, and why it was affecting Gwen so much. These revelations were life changing to Gwen, and a pivotal example of how our memories can quite often be very different from the truth.
The characters in this novel were so delightfully written. Even if you have not experienced the level of grief that Gwen has, she was such a relatable character. She was conflicted and uncertain about her future after school, she was content with her hobbies, happy with her friends, she felt misplaced amongst her family, she was questioning her feelings for the boy she liked. All these aspects of Gwen make this novel as much a coming-of-age story as it is a story about dealing with grief.
The relationships Gwen had were so lovely too. The scenes with her half-sister were endearing; those with her step-brother were unexpectedly surprising; the moments with her friends were realistic and genuine; and the parts with the boy Gwen was developing feelings for captured that first love sweetness we all can relate to.
For me though, the true standout in this novel is easily the writing. This story is so lusciously written, with elegant and moving descriptions. The small town community setting in coastal Tasmania was so vividly depicted and brought to life, and I loved how truly Australian this book felt.
P is for Pearl is a moving and stunning contemporary #LoveOzYA release. A definite must read! Learn more.
About the Contributor
Tanaya has been a lover of books for as long as she can remember. Now, her book collection is a little out of control, mostly consisting of YA fiction and pretty hardcovers. When she’s not reading, she spends a lot of her time taking photos of books for her bookstagram account, @prettypagesblog. She also has a love of Disneyland, bullet journaling and cats.
Follow Tanaya: Twitter