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

Ten YA Books that don’t *need* more smooching

Happy Tuesday, friends. I struggled with this week’s topic. Because I’m generally a fan of anything and everything romantic, I thought I’d write about books that could have used more smooching. I know a lot of people wish YA didn’t have as much romance (if you are such a person here is a list for you), but I’m the opposite. If I feel a little meh about a book, usually I think there could have been more romance or more specifically more smooching. But it felt really mean to call out those books, so instead here are ten deeply romantic YA books that don’t *need* more smooching – however I wouldn’t complain if they did have more because I’m so in love with the characters! Long live romance! And have great weeks everyone! 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

The Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon

sun-is-also-a-starThis book got me out of a serious, post-election reading slump and is exactly what I wanted/needed to be reading. The Sun Is Also A Star switches between the perspectives of Natasha, Daniel, and the universe (including a few of his many inhabitants). Natasha is a science obsessed girl who doesn’t believe in love, destiny, or fate. She’s an undocumented immigrant brought to The United States from Jamaica at age eight. In twelve hours, her family will be deported. Daniel is the child of Korean immigrants. He has always been the good son. He wants to be a poet, but his parents want him to go to Yale and become a doctor. When the two meet by chance, the attraction and connection between them is undeniable – although logical Natasha does her best to deny it. The book takes place over twelve hours as they get to know each other and try to keep Natasha’s family from being deported.  It is a detailed, emotional, romantic story that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I started and finished it in one sitting.  Continue reading

The Graces, by Laure Eve

28818369Everyone I’ve talked to either loves or hates The Graces, by Laure Eve. I’ll admit it’s an unusual book, but I fall into the like/love group for sure. At first, I worried the book would be too much about the Grace siblings and not enough about the girl narrating the story. Reading the book description you will see why: Everyone said the Graces were witches.They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.All I had to do was show them that person was me. Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on? It’s all about the Graces and very little about River. All we know about her is that she’s obsessed with the family. But as I got swept up in this story, that eventually changed.  Continue reading

Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older

22295304Last March, I went to a We Need Diverse Books panel at The New School where Daniel José Older. I was incredibly moved by all the speakers, but knew in particular I wanted to read Shadowshaper because of Older’s insightful comments about representation, artistic responsibility, and craft. These insights shined through in the story of Sierra Santiago, a teenage girl in Brooklyn who discovers that people have been connecting spirits with the murals in her neighborhood in an act called shadowshaping. But all is not right in the spiritual world. The murals are weeping and disappearing. Her grandfather, who’s suffered from a stroke, won’t stop apologizing to her. Soon it becomes very clear that Sierra, herself, is in danger and she doesn’t even know why.

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The Last Time We Were Us, by Leah Konen

26116496Liz Grant is preparing for the perfect summer. Things are finally supposed to be easy. She’s friends with a new popular crowd. She’s about to become the girlfriend of the richest and most handsome boy in her small North Carolina town. Her sister’s getting married. But then Jason Sullivan gets released from juvie early. They were best friends as children. He ditched her in middle school, then got arrested for attacking and disfiguring the older brother of Liz’s new beau. Liz has never known what to believe about Jason’s arrest, but the rest of the town and her own family have no such qualms. With lots and lots and lots of romance (which obviously is my favorite), this story shows Liz struggling between what she believes to be true and what everyone around her wants.

I was drawn to the book because of the premise, I was totally hooked because of the fantastic feminist undertones woven in and out of the story. Also, of course, the smoochy, swoony scenes didn’t make me like it any less.  Continue reading