Chloe Lukasiak Shares Three May Must-Reads

Hello there, fellow book lovers! May has *finally* arrived, and I couldn’t be more excited to tell you about three new titles I’ve been obsessing over all spring: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman, Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo, and Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith.

Since I set these three books down, I’ve been mulling over the lessons they taught me: the significance of being sad, the power of taking a pause and the importance of independence.

I can’t wait to dive deep on all of this with you! So find a fab reading spot (my recommendation: spread out on a blanket underneath a shady tree) and settle in for three amazing adventures…

In small-town New York, four teens must face a gruesome beast—and dark secrets—lurking in their seemingly normal town.

In The Devouring Gray, we’re transported to the town of Four Paths, New York. (And the name of this book is very appropriate because I definitely devoured it.) This captivating read by Christine Lynn Herman is dark and dramatic in all the ways a horror-driven book should be, and a must-read for fans of Riverdale, Stranger Things and Pretty Little Liars.

To say that Violet Saunders isn’t expecting much when her mom uproots their family of two and moves them back to her hometown of Four Paths, New York after the tragic death of Violet’s sister, Rosie, is an understatement. What Violet doesn’t know is that her ancestors actually helped build Four Paths.

Quickly enough, though, she learns of her fam’s true history *and* the reason for all the weirdness occurring in her mom’s childhood home and in the woods beyond it (think: Violet’s visions of her dead sister and frequent gruesome deaths). Under the surface of this seemingly normal place lurk dark secrets—and an even darker creature that’s threatening to take over the town and seek revenge on Violet and the teenage descendants of the town’s other ancestors. The only way to stop the beast? Violet must band together with Justin, Harper, May and Isaac (her fellow descendants) and harness the powers she’s only just discovered she possesses.

But this isn’t just a book about a beast and the teens who tame it. It’s also about all the ups and downs of being caught between adolescence and adulthood, and the validity of the feelings that come along with it—especially when those feels are as complex and nuanced as grief.

As I read about Violet’s struggle with losing her sister, I realized that she and I have a lot in common. I’m fortunate enough to have never been through losing someone so close to me, but we’re similar in that we both have a tendency to bottle up our emotions—*big* time.

And just like her, I’ve learned over the years that letting yourself feel your feelings is so important. Sometimes, I worry that I’m being weak or silly or vulnerable if I get mad or sad about something. I’m not sure where that stems from, but I’ve come to realize lately that *not* letting yourself feel your feelings or avoiding talking about them altogether is just not healthy.

Life has a lot of ups and downs. There’s a lot of sadness, sure, but there’s also a lot of happiness—and you can’t fully appreciate all the highs if you don’t let yourself fully feel the lows.

A K-pop star and paparazzi photographer meet and fall in love in one whirlwind day.

I know I’ve said time and time again that I’m a fan of fantasy novels, but swoon-worthy love stories have really started to take the cake for me lately—and Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo is definitely one of the reasons. When we arrive in Hong Kong for the meet-cute-fueled story, we’re introduced to two very different people: Lucky, a K-pop star at the height of her game (like, Taylor Swift meets BTS), and Jack, a paparazzi photographer with big dreams.

In order to get to where she is today and rise to the crazy-insane pop-star status she currently possesses, Lucky almost always has to push aside what she wants (like a burger or just five free minutes to herself) and do what her team wants (like eat a salad or tack on an impromptu hour-long autograph session to the end of a busy day).

Lucky for Lucky (pun very much intended), she has Jack there to help briefly pull her out of that work bubble. While in search of the aforementioned burger, Lucky bumps into him and the two connect instantly, bonding over Hong Kong films and jazz clubs.

Their adventure doesn’t end with their burger search, though. Jack helps her ditch her responsibilities for a day—but it’s all in the name of her general well-being. Lucky just wants a break from being Lucky.

If you’re all go, go, go all the time, it’s even more difficult to stop and appreciate everything. Even if you love work—like I do and like Lucky does—everyone needs to slow down and take a break.

I’m obviously not a K-pop super star, but as soon as I started reading about Lucky’s life—the super booked schedule, the early mornings, the routine of it all—I realized that we actually have a lot in common. I know what it’s like to operate on a schedule that doesn’t exactly feel like you have room to breathe. Some days I’ll go from a fitting to an interview to a meeting to an event to a dinner and then wake back up and do it all over again.

Don’t get me wrong—I *love* routine (seriously, it keeps me sane) and what I do (I wouldn’t change it for the world!), and each and every day I try to remind myself to live in the moment and appreciate the fact that I am where I always longed to be.

But we all need a little R&R, and this book made me appreciate that while it’s great to be busy, it’s also OK to just be. To read. To meditate. To hit the mall. To go to the beach. Whatever makes you feel the most centered. No matter what, just relax.

A princess breaks free from her fixed future—and stumbles right into the arms of an evil force attempting to weaken her new nation.

When I say that this book is intense, guys, I mean this book is intense. Set in the fictional country of Renalt, Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith introduces us to Aurelia, a princess with an affinity for blood magic (despite the fact that it’s forbidden to practice). She is set to marry the loathsome Prince Valentin, but not because she is in love with him. Instead, it’s simply to fulfill a long-held truce between Renalt and his country of Achleva.

The people of Renalt would love for Aurelia to move away: Put lightly, she’s not well-liked in the least, and her people would really prefer that she not take the throne…like, ever. Her people despise her, so much so that they attempt to assassinate her.

But they certainly don’t succeed.

After the attack on her life, Aurelia finds safety in Achleva. Instead of succumbing to a life she doesn’t love with Prince Valentin, she disguises herself as a commoner named Emilie. For the first time she begins to feel alive…to feel free. It’s something she’s never experienced before, and certainly not a feeling she wants to give up anytime soon—especially because through this freedom, she’s found herself in the arms of the brave and strong Zan.

But she’s not in Achleva simply to savor some “me time” or fall head-over-heels in love. She’s actually on a quest to save her brother, and, soon enough, she finds herself up against an evil force that’s attempting to destroy the magical wall that protects Achleva.

The best part of this book, though? Aurelia. I *love* a good strong female lead. A heroine. A kick-butt lady. I love that when things didn’t go right for her, she took matters into her own hands. She didn’t wait for someone to whisk her away to safety and tell her what to do. She made her own decisions on her own time and she tried to lead the life that she wanted, instead of leading a life that her family—who arranged her marriage—wanted her to have.

Aurelia is someone I seriously look up to, and I honestly can’t wait to see what this amazing character gets up to in books two and three of this trilogy.

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