YA – Snow & Poison

De La Cruz, Melissa. Snow & Poison. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2023. 978-0-593-32668-8. $19.99. 288 p. Grades 9-12.

The year is 1861. Lady Sophie of Bavaria has a lot of change coming her way. Her father, Duke Maximillan, is preparing for his wedding, and on the same night, Sophie will become a member of high society. After the wedding, Sophie does her best to befriend her new stepmother, Claudia, although mysterious things seem to happen when she’s around. When Sophie meets Prince Phillip of Spain at a ball, the two have an immediate connection. Unfortunately, Phillip’s father will only allow him to marry a princess, and Sophie is heartbroken when he must return to Spain. She tries to find comfort in Claudia, but rumors about her past and magic use persist to swirl around the castle. As Sophie attempts to discover the truth about Claudia, she also finds herself at the center of a war between kingdoms and does what she can to protect her family, her home, and her heart.

THOUGHTS: Snow & Poison is a twist to the familiar story of Snow White & the Seven Dwarves. In this version, most of the aspects of magic and fantasy have been removed, and this retelling is loosely based on some of the stories that inspired the original Snow White fairy tale. I haven’t read as many Snow White adaptations, and this one would be enjoyed by any reader that loves fairy tales, romances, and mysteries. 

Historical Fiction      

YA – Cinder & Glass

De La Cruz, Melissa. Cinder & Glass. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2022. 978-0-593-32665-7. $19.99. 336. Grades 7-12.

Cenderillon is a young girl who loves her father very much. After the death of her mother, they only had each other until her father remarried. After the marriage, Cinderillion moves with her new family to Versailles, on the grounds of the palace, since her father is one of the King’s favorite advisors. Her stepmother and stepsisters are not particularly fond of her, but after her father dies unexpectedly, they become especially cruel and begin to call her Cinder. She becomes a servant in her own home and becomes isolated from one of her only friends, a boy in the palace named Auguste. When Cinder miraculously makes it to the ball in honor of Prince Louis, she catches his attention and finds herself in a competition to win the Prince’s hand. Cinder must make some tough decisions that will determine the path of her future: Does she marry the Prince to escape her cruel family, or will she find love elsewhere?

THOUGHTS: Cinder & Glass is “Ever After” meets The Selection in this new twist on the Cinderella fairy tale. I would suggest recommending this one to students looking for something similar to Kiera Cass’s Selection series although this is a stand alone novel.

Historical Fiction           Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

YA – An Arrow to the Moon

Pan, Emily R. X. An Arrow to the Moon. Little, Brown, and Company, 2022. 978-0-316-46405-5. $18.99. 400. Grades 9-12.

Luna Chang and Hunter Yee each come from a family that hates the other, and although they are forbidden to see each other and try to keep their distance, they become friends and then more. As they begin to spend more time together, they notice that each has special, almost supernatural abilities: Luna is followed by a group of fireflies, and her breath can heal Hunter when he’s hurt or having an asthma attack. Hunter has a special relationship with the wind, and when he aims, especially with his bow and arrow, he never misses. As graduation nears, Luna realizes her life is not as perfect as it seems, and Hunter continues to feel trapped within his. Each family has secrets, and as the lies unravel and some dangerous truths are revealed, their world begins to crack and their lives fall apart. Will their love be enough to save them, or will it destroy them?

THOUGHTS: An Arrow to the Moon has been described as a “Romeo and Juliet retelling” mixed with Chinese mythology, specifically the Chinese legend of Chang’e and Houyi. The families are Taiwanese immigrants, although Hunter’s family consider themselves to be simply Chinese. This brings up a conversation between the characters about cultural identities and the struggles of immigration. Readers also may make connections to the characters as they experience family struggles and the realities of growing up. This title falls into the fantasy genre as magical realism, and it would be a perfect suggestion for readers looking for a love story with just a touch of magic.

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

An Arrow To The Moon is a dual perspective young adult novel that follows Luna and Hunter, who both attend the same high school and at the beginning of the novel don’t interact with each other due to their parents being enemies. As the novel unfolds, Hunter and Luna become closer and closer, until they can no longer deny that they are in love with each other. They are able to keep this a secret from their parents, but there are other weird things happening in their town. Luna has fireflies that seem to follow her around, Hunter can aim perfectly with a bow and arrow, and the town has a massive crack going through the middle of it. As the reader follows the characters, the reasons become clear and Hunter and Luna are going to have some hard choices to make that will not only affect them but their families.

THOUGHTS: This is a unique take on a young adult Romeo and Juliet retelling, especially with the addition of Chinese mythology. This book will have the reader rooting for Luna and Hunter from the beginning until the very end. This is a great addition to any high school collection.

Romance          Mary McEndree, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Everything Leads to You

LaCour, Nina. Everything Leads to You. New York: Dutton, 2014. 978-0-525-42588-5. 307p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.
18-year-old Emi is an aspiring production designer living in L.A. and trying to get over her first love.  When she attends the estate sale of a deceased movie star in search of props, she and her best friend, Charlotte, come across a letter written by the famous star.  They decide to track down the intended recipient of the letter.  This is how they meet Ava, and it doesn’t take long for Emi to develop a crush on her.  As Emi and Ava spend more time together, Emi’s heart begins to heal.  She soon learns that life is not a Hollywood fairy tale, but she wouldn’t want it any other way.  People are lovable in spite of their flaws, and heartbreak and hurt simply make the joys and triumphs of life even more beautiful.  This is a beautiful love story with a message that we all need to remember.
Realistic Fiction   Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area HS
Because the main protagonist of the story is a lesbian, this would be a great addition to LGBT collections.  In addition, the behind-the-scenes look at how movies are made will appeal to fans of Amy Finnegan’s Not in the Script and Lauren Conrad’s L.A. Candy series.  This would also be a great title to hand to anyone who is simply looking for a well-written, realistic love story.