Review: The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

As a mom of a very strong girl, who doesn’t like to read, I try to find books that I think she would like. It’s my job, ya know? When I requested this book I wasn’t sure what it was even about. I’ve a cover snob, so that’s what caught my eye. And let me tell you, I am so glad it did.

The moment I finished reading I sat back and smiled. Huge. I’ve been very picky with my YA selections this year. But let me tell you, they’ve been very good selections. This one has just been added to my Teen Rec list. The concept of this story was so unique, and from the very first sentence I was sucked in.

Fie is a part of the Crow caste, which are undertakers and mercy killers. Like I said, unique. When she unknowingly helped the prince and his body double fake their own deaths, she must help them complete their mission or else face an almost certain death. Crows are treated so badly, even though they’re so important. Fie isn’t happy about this new mission because as the saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished,” nothing turns out the way she hoped. This isn’t your typical fantasy where the girl is the strongest and most powerful and the boys are along for the ride. While she is strong, it’s not overly so. Everyone has their place in this book and it was perfect.

The dynamic between Prince Jasimir, Hawk Tavin and Fie was just wonderful. Snarky attitudes lead to friendships which leads to so much more. They hope for a change in their world and will do anything for it. I loved watching them work together for the greater good. They had to look beyond just themselves and things of the generations to come. I couldn’t stop reading. Margaret Owen has created this wonderful story that keeps you flipping pages till you forget the world around you.

I am now dying for the next book. This leaves you happy but wanting more. They haven’t quite finished their true mission. If you have a teen in your life, or you’re a huge fan of YA books, then I highly recommend you grab this book.

~Melpomene

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Review: Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman

17155735Never one to shy away from reading about difficult topics, it was with great anticipation that I began this book by Alyssa Brugman. And let me just say that “difficult” is putting it mildly. But in this case, that’s not a bad thing.

The story centers around 15 year old Alex Stringfellow as she tries to reconcile who she is with what her family wants her to be. You see, she’s been raised as a boy. Dressed like a boy, enrolled in school as a boy, even given hormones to help the process along. But Alex has always felt in her heart that’s she’s a girl. So begins her journey to claim both her independence and her identity.

This is a story about many things. It’s about gender identity, sexual preference, family conflict, and fitting in. It wasn’t an easy read, but life isn’t easy. It’s an important story to hear as the author’s words takes us deep into Alex’s world as she struggles to find her place in the world. A great read about a contemporary subject handled with love and care by a skilled author!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Alex As Well

Review: How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

20140629-113045-41445247.jpgA teenage boy is gunned down in the middle of a bad neighborhood. Was he a gang member? Was he armed? Why was the shooter, who happens to be white, released without being charged? These are all questions brought to light in the first several chapters of this thought-provoking book by Kekla Magoon.

The story is told from multiple perspectives. We hear from almost everyone involved. There are the boys Tariq, the victim, grew up with. Most of them have given in to the allure of gang life. There’s Tariq’s family, including his little sister Tina. We have a well-known reverend who has come to town to help shed light on what really happened while at the same time advancing his political career. There’s the shopkeeper who spoke with Tariq right before his death. And there’s the shooter himself. The only person we don’t hear from is Tariq, but he’s dead. Sometimes when a story is told by so many different people it gets convoluted and loses my interest, but not in this case.

So this is the kind of book that’s sure to evoke deep emotion in some people, controversy among others. At first glance, it’s hard to find sympathy for many of the main characters. They are, after all, hardened gang members who deal in drugs and death. But if the reader takes the time to think a little deeper about the story, this is really a commentary on how our society views and treats members of certain racial and economic classes. And although the book certainly does bear some similarity to the fairly recent Trayvon Martin case, incidents like the one described in the book are sadly common enough that the author could have been writing about any one of them. A great read for those willing to go into the story with an open mind.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: How It Went Down