The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli

upside of unrequitedI knew I’d like this book. Correction: I knew I’d love this book. Becky Albertalli’s debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was pure magic (I’m shocked I didn’t review it when it came out). But I didn’t just love this book – I love, love, LOVED (add in a million heart eye emojis) it. I know as a writer I should probably have better, more specific words, but I don’t. My love of this book, of these words that Becky Albertalli wrote, transcends my ability to describe it. The story was that good and, perhaps more specifically, that perfect for me.

The story starts with 17-year-old Molly saying she’s had 26 crushes and no boyfriends (you and me both, girl). When her twin sister Cassie starts dating her first girlfriend, Molly vows to be less careful. She should probably be less careful with the new girlfriend’s flirtatious, hipster-boy best friend, Will. But there’s also Reid, her new coworker with too-white sneakers, Middle Earth (correction Middle-earth) t-shirts, and an awkward affinity for Renaissance Fairs. Who Molly totally doesn’t like. Because she can talk to him. And she can never talk to her crushes. That’s how this is supposed to work, right?  Continue reading

We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour

28243032When it came time to think of my favorite read of March, two books instantly came to mind. One I already reviewed (and by reviewed I mean gushed over) on this blog. The other is We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour. Gosh, this book is beautiful. With full, nuanced characters and an emotional, nonlinear, sparse pacing my emotions were running high while reading the story of eighteen-year-old Marin. After a family tragedy, Marin leaves her California beach town to head to college in New York City two weeks early. She doesn’t say goodbye or offer explanations to anyone in her life, not even her best friend Mabel.

In the present of the story, Mabel is coming to visit Marin during winter break. They haven’t talked since the summer. Mabel has questions. Marin wants to avoid thinking about anything having to do with her old life.  Continue reading

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas has received no shortage of praise. It’s been #1 on the New York Times YA bestseller list for two weeks in a row and received eight starred reviews (which I didn’t even know was possible!). John Green called the book “a classic of our time.” Kirkus said the book was “necessary” and “important,” while Publisher’s weekly wrote that it was “heartbreakingly topical.” I could go on and on and on and on an on, etc. My point is there are far better and more insightful reviews of this book that spell out why it is so important and so good in equal measure. In fact, I would check out my friend Charlotte’s review and Amanda at The Bookcraft’s review; both discuss race and representation in a way that I cannot. Still, despite all the voices currently singing the praise of this book, I want to add my thoughts to the masses.

I. Loved. This. Book.

Continue reading

The Careful Undressing of Love, by Corey Ann Haydu

the-careful-undressing-of-loveI’m a big Corey Ann Haydu fan. I know I’ve written here about my love for OCD Love Story and Life By CommitteeI started reading her because I wanted to read books from alumni of my MFA program, but soon she became a must-read author for me. I’ve also met Corey a few times, and she’s always been delightful. All of these factors, plus the drop-dead beautiful cover, made me extra excited to open this book on my flight to LA earlier this week. It wasn’t a surprise that I quickly lost myself in the nuanced characters, smooth writing style, and world building. The book is set in an America where recent history has followed a different path. After terrorist attacks, people are obsessed with superstition and commemorating victims. The book jacket can explain the story setup better than me: Everyone who really knows Brooklyn knows Devonairre Street girls are different. They’re the ones you shouldn’t fall in love with. The ones with the curse. The ones who can get you killed. Lorna Ryder is a Devonairre Street girl, and for years, paying lip service to the curse has been the small price of living in a neighborhood full of memories of her father, one of the thousands killed five years earlier in the 2001 Times Square Bombing. Then her best friend’s boyfriend is killed, and suddenly a city paralyzed by dread of another terrorist attack is obsessed with Devonairre Street and the price of falling in love. Continue reading

History Is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera

history-is-all-you-left-meI wasn’t sure if right now was the right time to read Adam Silvera’s new book History Is All You Left Me. I’ve been steering  clear of super sad books recently. Between, Silvera’s last book More Happy Than Not  (not a cheerful-feel good story) and the description of the book, I knew this book would be beyond super sad. See for yourself: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.  Continue reading

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

the-smell-of-other-peoples-housesI *may* have recently joined a YA book club that is totally out of my league. I mean, I did join the book club. Now, I just need to keep going and not 100% embarrass myself. This week, we got together to discuss The Smell of Other People’s Houses, by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. It’s not a typical YA read, at least not for me. Set in 1970s Alaska, the book follows four alternating teenage narrators. Stealing from the back cover: Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger. Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Continue reading

Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake

three-dark-crownsI’ve been been reading more and more fantasy this year – I think maybe because now I’m writing contemporary? A friend recommended Three Dark Queens, by Kendare Blake, when I was putting together this list of 100 books about sister relationships for Book Riot. The list turned me on to a lot of good books about sisters that I hadn’t read before, but so far this one has been my favorite. And I’m not alone! I’ve been delighted to see this title pop up on several “best of 2016” lists. It’s darker and a little scarier than what I normally read, but the characterization, suspense, and world building totally won me over!

The book switches perspectives between the three young queens: triplets borns once a generation on the island of Fennbirn who are equal heirs to the throne and possessors of magical powers. The triplets are separated from ages six to sixteen when they fight to the death. The last sister standing wins the crown. Mirabella is a powerful elemental, controlling the weather with fierce power. Katharine is raised by poisoners, who expect her to eat the deadliest poisons without being affected. Arisnoe is a naturalist, meaning she should be able to control plants and animals. Continue reading