Ummm... can we just talk about how overwhelming this October was with quality YA releases! So many sequels and stand-alones, and a combination of two YA powerhouse authors has increased my TBR pile immensely. It really proves that Autumn is the best time of the year, and not just because of pumpkin spice.
A prince ventures into the wilderness to slay a dragon and save a damsel. When he returns home with his rescued bride, he becomes king. That is how it has been in the kingdom of Harding, and how it will always be. Sound familiar? Perhaps, but it's not how this story ends. The first thing Ama knows is waking up in Prince Emory's arms as they ride toward his home. “I saved you,” he tells her, and though she has no memory of the thing he saved her from, she believes him. In his castle, as their wedding approaches, she learns to become the perfect queen: calm, obedient, gentle. Ama works at becoming small, but flashes of memory are starting to return to her, and there is more in this castle—and in her heart—than can be contained.
After 18-year-old Ali’s absentee father dies, she and her mother learn that they are about to lose their house in Russellville, Calif., to foreclosure. Ali will do anything to keep their home, even after her mom has given up, so she decides to sell the 1968 Firebird convertible she’s just inherited from her dad to raise money. Because Ali can’t drive a stick shift, she leans on her ex-boyfriend, Nico, to drive her the five hours to Crescent City, to the dealer who will buy the car. Along the way, Ali and Nico place online ads seeking people who are willing to “trade up” one possession for something more valuable, and Ali has alternating flashbacks of her complicated father and her relationship with Nico.
The world of Iwagoto is full of ghosts, kami spirits, shapeshifters, samurai, and blood mages. Yumeko, a half-kitsune (supernatural fox), has lived a sheltered life in a remote monastery. When the leader of the monks informs Yumeko that they protect part of a magical scroll, she is thrust into adventure and danger. A demon attack on the monastery spurs Yumeko into action, and she becomes determined not only to protect the scroll but to set out on a mission to find the next piece.
On Sawkill Rock, girls disappear. Not that many, and it’s not that strange; the island, with its slick cliffs and dark waters, can be treacherous. Still, the people of Sawkill tell campfire stories about a hungry monster—a monster that, for three girls, is about to become sharply real. Marion arrives on Sawkill Rock grieving her father’s death. Plain, reliable Marion holds what’s left of her family together, but when her sister vanishes, Marion begins hearing ominous warnings. Zoey’s police-chief father has been unable to find Sawkill’s missing girls, and Zoey’s been obsessed ever since her best friend disappeared seven months ago. When the disappearances accelerate, Zoey starts to dig, unearthing more than she believed possible. Then there are the Mortimer women: Sawkill royalty who raise prizewinning horses. They are beautiful and influential, and Val is no exception. But the Mortimer women harbor a dark power, and as it grows stronger, Val must decide if she’s going to give in to it or fight.
A year after 9/11, 16-year-old Shirin is starting yet another first day of school at her third high school in two years, and she’s over it. Having grown used to the misconceptions, name-calling and outright racism hurled her way for wearing a hijab, Muslim-American Shirin has developed a tough exterior and an even tougher interior. The one place she feels comfortable is in the dance studio with her brother and his break-dancing team. When Shirin joins in and perfects her power moves like crab walks and head spins, she becomes someone else—someone who isn’t afraid of being hurt. But when Shirin is paired with Ocean James in biology class, he slowly begins to chip away at the walls Shirin has constructed. Against her better judgment, Shirin lets Ocean in and slowly begins to fall for him. But the new couple soon becomes targets of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry.
Alyssa and her brother, Garrett, are normal kids in a suburb in Southern California—that is, until surrounding states shut the floodgates to the Colorado River due to prolonged drought. At first, people dismiss the news, but circumstances turn dire quickly when bottled water disappears off store shelves while the spigots remain dry. What ensues is a horrifyingly fast descent into barbarity as neighbor turns on neighbor, government intervention falls short, and society’s civil facade disintegrates. Alyssa and Garrett must travel to find new sources of water, all the while defending themselves against people crazed by thirst.