8 Buzz Books for Fall/Winter 2019 [Netgalley Buzz Books]

Buzz Books Fall Winter 2019

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the 8 books featured.

Legacy and the QueenLegacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew, created by Kobe Bryant (9/3)

GAME. SET. MAGIC.

Game – Tennis means life and death for the residents of the magical kingdom of Nova, and for twelve-year-old Legacy, it’s the only thing getting her through the long days taking care of the other kids at the orphanage. That’s all about to change when she hears about Silla’s tournament.

Set – Silla, the ruler of Nova, hosts an annual tournament for the less fortunate of her citizens to come and prove themselves and win entrance to the Academy, where they can train to compete at nationals. The prize is Silla’s favor and enough cash to keep open the orphanage, and Legacy has her heart set on both. 

Magic – What Legacy has yet to know is that the other players have something besides better skills and more money than she does. In Nova, tennis can unlock magic. Magic that Silla used to save the kingdom long ago and magic that her competitors have been training in for months already. 

Now, with the world turned against her and the orphanage at stake, Legacy has to learn to use her passion for the game to rise above those around her and shine.

Cover: While I like the cover, it doesn’t make me want to read it.  I quite like the concept though, just not a big tennis person. 6/10

Premise:  I like magical competitions as much as the next girl, but I’m not into a magic/tennis tournament hybrid. WHO ASKED FOR THIS. And, I’m sorry, but I just have a hard time taking this seriously when Kobe Bryant isn’t even listed as an author–they’re not even pretending that he made much of a contribution here. He was probably just like, “What if we have a tennis tournament but…it’s MAGIC.” 2/10

Excerpt: Immediate info-dumping and the tennis aspect sits as weird as I’d feared. 2/10

TBR?: No

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The Last True Poets of the SeaThe Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (10/1)

The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.

But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece-the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

Cover: Like…I like it, but I’m getting serious The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe vibes. I literally thought this was a sequel until I saw that it was by a different author. 7/10

Premise: I am definitely intrigued by the premise. I like books with family legacies/curses and I also like the shipwreck hunting aspect of it. I hope that there are some flashbacks to Fidelia as well. 7/10

Excerpt: I like the quick back and forth between Violet and her uncle. It keeps the story moving, fills the reader in on some information, and doesn’t bog the writing down. I’m having a hard time deciding, though, whether Violet is going to be an enjoyable level of snarky, or if it’ll end up being too much. 7/10

TBR?: Yes.

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CoralCoral by Sara Ella (11/12)

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Cover: The cover intrigues me and I really like the color contrast between the artwork and the title. I’m always down for a good fairytale retelling but I feel like there have been some duds lately. 7/10

Premise: Meh. I read one book where emotions were considered a disease and that was enough for me. I’m not really interested in revisiting that concept. On the other hand, it sounds like there could be some good mental health rep in here, so that’s something. 3/10

Excerpt: It’s a little too lyrical…is that the right word? The writing feels like it’s trying too hard to be beautiful and the story gets lost in it. 3/10

TBR?: No.

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I'm Not Dying With You TonightI’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal (10/1)

Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

Cover: This cover is pretty good, but doesn’t necessarily grab me. 5/10

Premise: This book sounds like it’s probably pretty intense. The summary gives some information, but I’m still not 100% what this book is going to be about. 6/10

Excerpt: I like when two authors write for different POVs. It makes the characters authentically sound like different people because it’s actually written by different people. The writing is nothing special, but it is extremely readable. I’d want to see what people say about this one. 6/10

TBR?: Maybe.

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Dear Haiti, Love AlaineDear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite (9/3)

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Cover: This cover is great–I really like it. The title font is awesome and I love all the red. 8/10

Premise: This sounds so fun! And Haiti isn’t a country I know a lot about. I really like the epistolary format as well and I get the sense there could be a really great mother/daughter dynamic in this one? 8/10

Excerpt: I like the writing even if it doesn’t read like I would expect an epistolary novel to. It reads more like a normal book, so I’m not sure the epistolary format is actually adding anything to it yet. 8/10

TBR?: Yes.

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Harvey Comes HomeHarvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson (9/19)

A dog’s world is a world of scents, of adventure. When a runaway West Highland Terrier named Harvey wanders out of his old life guided only by his nose and his heart, lives begin to converge.

Austin, a young volunteer at Brayside retirement home, quickly finds that the audacious Harvey inspires Mr. Pickering, a bitter resident coping with memory loss, to tell stories of his childhood. Moved by the elderly man’s Dust Bowl recollections of grinding poverty and the perseverance of his friends and family, Austin begins to trade his preconceived notions for empathy. But is it enough to give him the resolve to track down Harvey’s original owner?

Cover: Beyond the puppy, this cover really holds zero appeal for me. 2 points for the good doge. 2/10

Premise: I don’t have anything against reading middle grade, but I personally don’t read a lot. The premise makes this sound like a pretty young book, so I probably wouldn’t pick it up. 2/10

Excerpt: I do like that part of the book is written more from the dog’s perspective (though still in 3rd person). 3/10

TBR?: No.

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Scars Like WingsScars Like Wings by Erin Stewart (10/1)

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. 

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. 

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

Cover: Another cover that reminds me of another book. This time I’m getting serious Death Prefers Blondes vibes. I still like it though, the contrasting colors are fun. 7/10

Premise: It sounds interesting since I’ve never read a book featuring a burn victim before. I’m just not sure if I’ll like it if the main character is too angry. It makes me tired when characters are SUPER angry at the world. 5/10

Excerpt: I find the writing to be super compelling and I like the character’s mixture of snark with her other emotions. I also think (and hope) that her relationship with her aunt will prove to be really interesting. 8/10

TBR?: Yes.

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Home GirlHome Girl by Alex Wheatle (9/3)

New from the winner of the Guardian Children’s Book Award: Home Girl is the story of Naomi, a teenage girl growing up fast in the care system. It is a wholly modern story which sheds a much needed light on what can be an unsettling life – and the consequences that can follow when children are treated like pawns on a family chessboard.

Cover: I’m not as much a fan of photos for covers compared to illustrations. Also, something about this cover has a low-budget, self-published feel to it. 0/10

Premise: Seems like it could be a really important story, but we’re really not given much to go off of. Just from this premise, I probably wouldn’t pick it up. 3/10

Excerpt: The flow is fast-paced with a lot of British slang, some of which I didn’t really understand. I can see the appeal, but I’ll probably pass on it. 4/10

TBR?: No.

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Let me know in the comments what you’ve heard about these books and which ones you’ll be adding to your TBR!

Non-fiction Mini-Reviews

Since starting my new job at the library, I’ve begun reading more and more outside of my usual YA books (it’s just so hard to say “No” to books when I’m surrounded by them all day). I’ve even been reading non-fiction! Here are some short reviews for a couple of the non-fiction books I’ve been reading lately.

35901186The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
This book was fantastic! I originally heard Kirk’s episode about the Tring heist on This American Life. I was worried the book would be repetitive since I already knew the gist of the story, but it has a ton of additional information (as promised).

I’m not sure if this is the author’s intent, but I really just feel so mad at the fly-tying community and at Rist. There’s just very little remorse to be found and a wild disregard for what these birds really mean on a scientific (and just basic human ethics) level.

Overall, I found this to be a quick read especially for a non-fiction book. It’s a quirky true crime story that I think a lot of people will find fascinating. What’s true? What’s a lie? And where are the rest of those bird skins??? 4/5

We Were Eight Years in PowerWe Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
While I may not agree with all his points, I appreciate Coates’ writing and apparent passion. It feels trite to say, but this topic obviously means a lot to him, and that comes through with every single word in every single essay. He’s asking hard questions–questions that may not have a satisfying answer. And while he accepts that fact, he still feels that those questions need to be asked, and I agree.

I only have a couple of criticisms. The first is that his writing was hard for me to absorb at times. The language he chooses and the way he strings sentences together didn’t always translate in my head. That being said, I still could get the gist of what he was saying, but the lyricalness of his writing was sometimes lost on me.

The second is that as a POC who is not black, I felt a little bit like a third party reading this book. The focus of his essays is on black vs white relations in the United States. At times, it felt like Coates had blinders on to any other race that might exist in America. While I understand why his viewpoint here is so narrow, it made me feel a bit like an outsider while reading. He just kept talking about what this group of people did to this other group of people without mentioning where MY group of people fit in. 4/5