Empire of Sand – Tasha Suri

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Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: November 13th, 2018
Publisher: Orbit
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Adult, Fantasy, Magic, War, Romance


BLURB:

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited. When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda. Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance… Continue reading

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I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Published: May 15th, 2018
Publisher: Convergent Books
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Nonfiction, Race, Social Justice, Discrimination, Religion


BLURB:

Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion. In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric–from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations. Continue reading

The Book of Essie – Meghan MacLean Weir

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The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Published: June 12th, 2018
Publisher: Knopf
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Fiction, Contemporary, Religion, Abuse, Family Drama


BLURB:

Esther Ann Hicks–Essie–is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage–and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media–through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell–Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom? Continue reading

Heretics Anonymous – Katie Henry

34659293Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Published: August 7th, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal/Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, High School, Religion, Friendship, Family Relationships, Romance


BLURB:

Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare’s—a strict Catholic school—sporting a plaid tie, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow nonbeliever at that. Only this girl, Lucy, is not just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest. But Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself. Continue reading

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

17185496The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Published: June 9th, 2015
Publisher: Dial/Penguin
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Normal/Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Religion, Mystery, Psychological, Justice System


BLURB:

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past. Continue reading

The Silver Cage – Anonymous

38193155The Silver Cage by Anonymous

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Bought
First Published: January 2018
Publisher: Self-Published
Recommended Age: 16+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Adult, M/M Romance, Dark, Faith, Self-Harm, Sexual Identity


BLURB:

A bitter, mysterious author. A young and naive journalist. A tragic past, a dark secret, and an unforgettable tale of passion and love.

WARNING: The Silver Cage is intended for mature readers; it contains graphic sensuality and strong themes including suicide, sexual identity, and self-harm.

Anonymous is a pseudonymous international bestseller. The Silver Cord, a companion novel to The Silver Cage, will be released in the first half of 2018. Continue reading

Sky in the Deep – Adrienne Young

34726469Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
First Published: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Family, Honor, War Setting


BLURB:

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago. Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family. She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating. Continue reading