Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
King Ulises has been on the throne for one year, the throne intended for his older brothers who were murdered years ago, along with his father, by emissaries of a rival kingdom. His friend Elias lost his mapmaker father in the same attack. When Ulises’ cousin Mercedes comes across a strange map that seems to have been drawn by Elias’ father, the three friends suspect there is more to the story than they have been told, and leave on a quest to uncover the riddles hidden in the map.
The clues within the map lead the three friends on a journey of intrigue and secrets. Suspense builds as various members of the court deflect the trio’s questions or try to thwart their investigations. Meanwhile each of the three is coming to an understanding of their own place as adults in the kingdom, discovering inner strengths and passions and reaching toward their own futures.
This sweeping adventure tale, with its fast-paced plot and broad cast of characters, will appeal to those who enjoy historical fantasy authors such as Tamora Pierce, Megan Whelan Turner or Catherine Fisher, or intricate stories of family secrets such as Sky in the Deep.
–Cathy Rettberg and Molly Dettmann
The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer Nielsen
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Kestra is the exiled daughter of a high ranking Dominion official. Simon is Kestra’s former servant and a rebel sworn to destroy that same government. They are reunited when Simon is tasked with kidnapping Kestra and forcing her to recover the Olden Blade, the only weapon that can kill their immortal ruler. Sneaking around her family home, Kestra uncovers secrets, spies, and clues to the blade’s whereabouts. While their quest for the blade brings them closer, hidden motivations and shifting alliances threaten to tear them apart.
Kestra’s inner strength shines in this novel. As the girl no one loves but everyone uses, she still is able fight for what she wants. Her journey through the kingdom opens her eyes to the hardship suffered by the citizens under the Dominion’s reign and helps her grow from a spoiled child to a thoughtful and freethinking person. Secrets and lies are frequent and hard-hitting making this compelling book difficult to put down.
Nielsen’s intricate world-building and fast-paced story line make this a great choice for fans of Truthwitch, An Enchantment of Ravens, and Game of Thrones.
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
HMH Books for Young Readers / HMH
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
After her twin brother is accused of rape by one of her best friends, high school junior Mara must grapple with her feelings about who to believe, while reliving a similar incident of her own.
With more and more survivors of sexual assault and rape coming forward in a world of #MeToo, Girl Made of Stars tackles what happens when the one being accused is someone unthinkable. Mara is the founder of her school’s feminist club, but after something as horrifying as her brother Owen raping her best friend happens, even Mara’s convictions waiver. Blake does an excellent job of tackling such a situation in a realistic way that is gripping and heartbreaking from the start. The story also has an added layer as the rape causes Mara to face her own experience with sexual assault that she has not told anyone about. The focus on the victims and believing and supporting survivors, even in unthinkable circumstances, makes this a powerful read that will resonate with readers well after they finish it.
Fans of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie, All the Rage by Courtney Summers, or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson will connect with Girl Made of Stars.