Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Series: Shadowshaper #1
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub Date: June 30th 2015
Format: hardcover | Source: library
Genres: young adult, urban fantasy, paranormal
Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.
Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.
Shadowshaper was imaginative and original, with an entertaining, diverse cast of characters. I loved the idea of shadowshapers and I liked how authentic the story felt culturally. Sierra was a compelling MC; I loved her voice and attitude. I also loved learning about her life at home (including her complicated relationship with her mother and grandfather) and her group of friends and artistic talents. The mystery was intriguing too and kept me turning the pages. Unfortunately the book also felt rushed, a little confusing, and had a weak villain. Still, it’s worth a read if you enjoy urban fantasy!
The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Pub Date: December 27th 2016
Format: hardcover | Source: library
Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance, magical realism
An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.
At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.
I loved this book so much! I read a couple reviews that called it a modern California fairy tale and I love that description; it sort of reminds me of Practical Magic and Chocolat (in the charming, witchy love aspects) meets Clueless (for the mix ups). The aromateurs had such an interesting history and I love that this book had such a fresh concept. It felt really unique! The characters were rich and complex, and I especially loved Mim. She was so relatable in her wish to be a normal teenager while still having this amazing gift. And the writing! The descriptions were lush and inviting, so easy to imagine the scents and smells. I’ve always had a thing about good smells, and how they relate to memories. The writing and focus on scents never felt overdone to me; it was whimsical but not cloying. And the book was romantic! SO romantic, though I loved that it focused on familial love and friendship too. I highly recommend it.
Have you read either of these books? What are some diverse titles on your TBR piles that I should make sure are on mine? Let me know in the comments!