Romance

The Scorpio Races

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”*

It happens every November. The Scorpio Races. Riders bring their water horses to the beach and pray that the ocean doesn’t awaken the violent magic of their steeds and cause them to turn on their masters. One such rider, Sean Kendrick, is at 19 years old the returning champion of the races on his beloved water steed Cor. He has high stakes in the race this year and can’t afford to lose, or what he loves most will be lost forever. Pitted against him is Puck Connolly; a girl who never wanted to race but has to be the first female rider in the history of the races and win or else she may lose her brother. The fates of these two riders are thrown together among the gnashing teeth, crashing waves, and stinging sand of the Scorpio Races; and they will never be the same again.

I would highly recommend The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater and published in 2011 by Scholastic Press, for ages 16+. There are a few minor profanities and off-color jokes to be wary of, as well as some high tension and gory deaths. It’s a wild novel with a rich story line and marvelous character voice; 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*excerpt taken from The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater and published in 2011 by the Scholastic Press

Coral

“A broken shell tore into the skin of her left foot. She winced and withdrew. Blood, red and angry, drip drip dripped onto the sand, dissolving in an instant. As if it never was.

Better a bleeding sole than a tortured soul.

A soul that was nothing now. Because before preluded after.

And after. Was never as it was. Before.”*

Coral, mermaid princess of the sea, is slowly succumbing to a fatal, human-originated disease: emotions. Her sister, the Crown Princess, already has been taken by its cruel waters-and Coral fears the Red Tide is coming for her next.

Brooke, teenage girl on the west coast, is close to giving up. Depression, anxiety, and trauma have pushed her to the breaking point and she’s trying a therapy home as a last resort. But if nothing will be as it was Before, what’s the point of going on?

Merrick, famous and wealthy golden boy of San Francisco, wants to escape both his father and his social status. But when his sister attempts suicide and his mom vanishes, his life is thrown upside down and he doesn’t know what else to do except escape.

When these three lives collide there can either be healing or heartache…and sometimes both exist in the same story.

I would highly recommend Coral, written by Sara Ella and published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson for mature readers 17+. A truly breathtaking and heart wrenching novel about love, loss, and mental health, this re-written fairy tale will grip your soul as you read it. There are several mature themes throughout the book including self harm, unwanted advances, and other traumatic experiences. Coral is written with a theme of hope, memorable characters, and an intriguing storyline. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

“…after will never be the same again.”*

*all excerpts taken from Coral, written by Sara Ella and published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson

A Thousand Perfect Notes

“Music is nothing unless it fills your soul with colour and passion and dreams.”*

Beck Keverich is a pianist who hates music. Every day he is forced to practice for hours in order to match his mother’s standards. She was once a famous pianist, popular and talented; but after her hands started to shake, she could no longer play; so she focused all her energy onto making her son the continuation of her legacy. Beck is barely balancing piano, taking care of his younger sister, and appeasing his mother’s rages without losing his own sanity; then to make matters worse, he gets paired up with a girl for a class assignment. August is bubbly, talkative, and determined to make friends with this angry boy who shows up to class with a hand-shaped bruise on his cheek and rusted piano strings barely holding together the broken pieces of his heart. Beck is a broken boy, but there’s hope just around the corner, if only he can make it there.   

“His skin will part like old paper and the world will see how his skeleton is made of dark wishes and macabre dreams.”**

I would highly recommend this book, A Thousand Perfect notes written by C.G. Drews, for mature readers ages 16+. This novel was published in 2018 and would fall under the contemporary romance genre. It is an emotional story about obsession, abuse, music, and love; and could affect sensitive readers. There is some minor mature language and a few violent abuse scenes to watch out for; but overall, A Thousand Perfect Notes is a beautifully written novel that is sure to tug at your emotions and leave you wanting more. 4 out of 5 stars.

“You are worth more than a thousand perfect notes.”***

*All excerpts taken from A Thousand Perfect Notes, written by C.G. Drews and published by Orchard Books

The Boy Who Steals Houses

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Featuring broken boys, waffles, stolen keys, bruised knuckles, family, lockpicks, loneliness, and caramel-The Boy Who Steals Houses, written by C.G. Drews and published in Great Britain in 2019 by The Watts Publishing Group, is a truly inspiring, deeply moving story of a lonely boy named Sammy Lou, his brother Avery, and a girl named Moxie who’s made of sharp corners and a lemonade smile. This is a story of brokenness and belonging, of bruised knuckles and pure love, of stolen houses and families who steal your heart.

If lost, please return to the De Laineys.*

I would recommend The Boy Who Steals Houses for ages 17+-there is some mature language and a few thematic elements to be wary of, including child abuse and other violence. This book is one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read, and remains among the few that have made me cry while reading. The Boy Who Steals Houses falls under the contemporary\inspirational genre and has excellent family themes, beautiful but unusual descriptions, and memorable characters. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*Excerpt taken from The Boy Who Steals Houses, written by C.G. Drews and published in Great Britain in 2019 by The Watts Publishing Group.

Cinder

Featuring cyborgs, political intrigues, deadly diseases, hidden romance, sparkly ballgowns, and a forgotten secret; Cinder-book one in the Lunar Chronicles-written by Marissa Myer and published in 2012 by Rampion Books, is a page-turning adventure about a 16-year-old mechanic girl, a handsome prince, and a possible outbreak of war with the powerful Lunar people. This novel would fall under the YA romance\sci-fi\fairytale retelling genres.
Cinder is a cyborg. She has no memory of her past, the identity of her real parents, and no idea who she really is. A man adopted her when she was eleven, and after his untimely death, she was given into the care of his wife. This woman, Adri, forces Cinder to work to provide for her and her two daughters, Pearl and Peony. As a result of her cyborg implants, Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing; she’s so good that she catches the eye of Prince Kai, who hires her to fix his android for him. He says that fixing the android is merely for sentimental reasons, but Cinder suspects that it might have something to do with the touchy situation with the Lunars-people who migrated to the moon many years before and have gained special abilities to sway and control beings they deem lesser than themselves.
After Peony, Cinder’s stepsister and only human friend, catches the dreaded plague that’s been haunting the Earth for far too long, Adri blames Cinder for it and volunteers her body for scientific research. No one survives the research long, but there’s something special about Cinder. A secret that people would kill for. A possible antidote, maybe.
Or maybe it’s something darker.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 14+. There is some mild language and one or two thematic elements to watch out for; as well as some romance and violence. Cinder is a very well written book with fairy tale aspects, sci-fi robots, and an absorbing storyline with edge-of-your-seat escapades and a thrilling plot twist. All in all, 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Ghost of Gold Creek

“My name is Misty Stevens.” *

After Misty’s mother takes one wrong step; her life changes forever. Her mother is gone, her father is impossible to understand, her best friend Lou is headed down a path that Misty can’t follow, and to top it all off, a mysterious wild horse is causing havoc among the neighboring ranches and farms.
Buried artifacts, ghost stories, emotions, and feelings for a particular boy leave Misty confused and worried for her sanity…and maybe even for her life.

All it takes is one wrong step. *

The Ghost of Gold Creek, written by Lisa Michelle Hess and published in 2019 by GlasIncPress, is a heartwarming story of love, loss, and coming of age. This book falls under the contemporary mystery romance genre.

I would recommend this book for ages 16+. There is romance, intrigue, and some thematic elements to watch out for. A well-composed story with memorable characters and compelling plot twists. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

…there is no going back, only forward. *

*All excerpts taken from The Ghost of Gold Creek, written by Lisa Michelle Hess and published in 2019 by GlasIncPress.

Romanov

My blood is my crime. *

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov is the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. Her and her family are being kept in captivity, waiting for their sentence to be passed.

If you look at it, it’s still red. If you touch it, it’s still wet. But if you listen to it, it speaks a single name in a pulsing chant.
Romanov *

Nastya is given a task by her father before they are separated-smuggle an ancient spell past the Bolshevik guards. This spell may be her family’s salvation.

Romanov *

In addition to the dangerous task of keeping a spell hidden from her captors, Nastya has the greater challenge of guarding her feelings, as a handsome young Bolshevik soldier emerges on the scene.

Romanov
For that name alone, bound to my blood like a Bolshevik is bound to the Russian Revolution, I am destined to die. *

The stakes are high. Nastya is on one side of a firing squad, the soldier Zash is on the other side. The spell is itching to be released. And the fate of Russia hangs in the balance.

Because not even royal blood can stop bullets. *

Romanov, written by Nadine Brandes and published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson, is a gripping novel with secret romance, hidden spells, and deadly intrigue. This book falls under the historical fantasy genre, and is very loosely based on the true story of the Romanov family.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 15+. There is violence, as well as some intense intrigue and romance. All in all, an excellent read with memorable characters and ancient magic. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*All snippets taken from Romanov, written by Nadine Brandes and published 2019 by Thomas Nelson.

Heartless

I listened long to your story,
Listened but could not hear.
When you chose to walk that path so overgrown,
I remained alone with my fear.

Cold silence covers the distance,
Stretches from shore to shore.
I follow in my mind your far-off journeying,
But I will walk that path no more.

Beyond the final water falling,
The Songs of Spheres recalling,
We who were never bound are swiftly torn apart.
Won’t you return to me?

Heartless, written by Anne Elizabeth Stengl, is a beautiful story of magic, love, and forgiveness. It was published in 2017 by Bethany House Publishers and is the first book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. This fantasy book is sure to warm your heart as you follow the adventures of Una, princess of Parumvir.
Una has come of age, and now suitors will be allowed to pursue her hand. She is filled with romantic ideas and notions; handsome, dashing princes; love songs in the moonlight-those kinds of things. Unfortunately, that is not what is the case when her first prince comes. Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore is as ordinary a man as could be (from her point of view, anyway). And Farthestshore is a mysterious fairy kingdom that is remembered only in ancient legends and the memories of the elders of Parumvir. Una wants absolutely nothing to do with him. However, Prince Aethelbald professes his love for her, refuses to leave Parumvir, and brings whispered tidings of danger. A Dragon is rumored to be roaming the countryside, ravaging kingdoms and destroying homes. Also, Prince Aethelbald knows something more. The Dragon’s mind is set on Princess Una. And he’s coming to Parumvir.
Una’s father, King Fidel, refuses to heed Aethelbald’s warning, and Princess Una spurns his love for the love of a more charming prince. When the dragon comes, there will be nothing to stop him. Una is alone. Will her charming prince remember her and come to her aid, or is he a false lover? Will she ever discover who her true Prince is? Or does she already know?
Stengl writes with a good amount of detail and description. The story flowed well; there were no particularly slow spots although it did move more quickly near the end. This book is a fairly easy read, and I would highly recommend it for girls (and maybe even boys?) ages 12+. A wonderful, heart-warming read, with excellent morals and virtuous themes. 4 out of 5 stars.

I listened long to your story,
Listened but could not hear.
When you chose to walk that path so overgrown,
I remained alone with my fear.

Cold silence covers the distance,
Stretches from shore to shore.
I follow in my mind your far-off journeying,
But I will walk that path no more.

Beyond the final water falling,
The Songs of Spheres recalling,
We who were never bound are swiftly torn apart.
Won’t you return to me?

Poem taken from Heartless, written by Anne Elizabeth Stengl, published in 2010 by Bethany House Publishers