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Here are our favorite books so far for 2017!

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Conjuring of Light cover

A Conjuring of Light

by V.E. Schwab
Fantasy

Josh Corman

Staff Writer

Josh Corman is a writer and English teacher in Central Kentucky and a Contributing Editor at Panels. He also writes for Kentucky Sports Radio’s pop culture blog, Funkhouser. If he’s not reading, he’s hanging out with his wife and two young children or cheering on his beloved Kentucky Wildcats.   Twitter: @JoshACorman

If you haven’t started this stellar trilogy yet, may I introduce you to your next obsession? The conclusion to V.E. Schwab’s brilliantly inventive fantasy series starts with full-throttle action and doesn’t let up much over the course of its 600-plus pages. Replete with all the magic, intrigue, and romance that made the first two “Darker Shade” books such a treat, A Conjuring of Light delivers story, characters, and world-building to rival books like Sorcerer to the Crown, the Harry Potter series, or the work of N.K. Jemisin. Expect to cheer, curse, and wipe away a few tears as the story of the four Londons hurtles toward its end.

A Place Called No Homeland

by Kai Cheng Thom
poetry

Casey Stepaniuk

Staff Writer

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature and an MLIS. Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ+ Canadian books. She also writes a monthly column on Autostraddle recommending queer books called Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian, Litsy: CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian, Goodreads: CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian, and Facebook: Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

This debut poetry collection is simply PHENOMENAL. These poems have strong roots in oral traditions and spoken word: you can hear them in your mind and heart. These poems make you want to pump your fist in the air and yell, “fuck yeah,” or “preach!” These poems are tough and tender meditations on family, race, being trans, femininity, trauma, relationships, community, sex, books, and love. They feel alive and present, as if Kai Cheng Thom was right there in front of you. She writes: “dear white gay men: / you are neither the face / of my oppression / nor the hands /of my salvation.”

Abandon Me

by Melissa Febos
Nonfiction

Ilana Masad

Staff Writer

Israeli American, queer, chronically ill, and forever reading, Ilana Masad is a book critic and fiction writer. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Tin House, McSweeney's, Joyland Magazine, and more. She is the founder and host of The Other Stories, a podcast that features new, emerging, and established fiction writers. Twitter: @ilanaslightly Blog: Slightly Ignorant

Melissa Febos’s astonishing collection of essays is an exercise in naming and exploring the depths of love and loss in all their forms. Febos’s stirring prose–her delicately wrought sentences and stellar sense of pacing–don’t distract from the narrative arcs themselves, which is a relief, as each braided essay carries a beginning, middle, and end, even if the ends and the beginnings sometimes meet up in a kind of snake-eating-its-tale way. From formative loves to emotionally manipulative ones, from dungeons to classrooms, the breadth of experience here feels like wisdom, even as Febos admits she doesn’t, and never did, have all the answers.

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg cover

All Grown Up

by Jami Attenberg
Fiction

Rebecca Hussey

Staff Writer

Rebecca holds a PhD in English and is a professor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. She teaches courses in composition, literature, and the arts. When she’s not reading or grading papers, she’s hanging out with her husband and son and/or riding her bike and/or buying books. She can't get enough of reading and writing about books, so she writes the bookish newsletter "Reading Indie," focusing on small press books and translations. Newsletter: Reading Indie Twitter: @ofbooksandbikes

All Grown Up is a book for people who want to dive into a character’s consciousness and linger there for a while. The main character, Andrea, makes for fun company: she’s smart, self-aware (well, she’s working on this), funny, and entertaining. She’s a single woman thinking deeply about what it means to be single in a world that really wants people to be paired up. In a series of vignettes that move back and forth through time, we learn about Andrea’s friendships, relationships, ambitions, work history, therapy appointments, and her brother and sister-in-law’s baby, born with serious health problems. All this adds up to a thought-provoking meditation on what it means to be a smart, independent woman in today’s world.

All Systems Red

by Martha Wells
Science Fiction

Raych Krueger

Staff Writer

Raych has so many kids (like, two, but they’re super young, which makes it seem like there are more of them) and this really cuts into her reading time. She’s using her degrees in Early Childhood Education and English Literature to teach the toddler to read to the baby so she can get back to her trashy Victorian sensation novel, or whatever. She’s also teaching her kids to travel and eat broadly, mostly through example (Do As I Do is super important, you guys), and hasn’t gone a year without hopping on a plane since she was a teenager. She recently moved from the Canadian coast to the Canadian prairies, where it gets hella cold, and if not for the internet, she’d surely be dead. Blog: Books I Done Read Twitter: @raychraych

A sentient murderbot who has broken free from its programming and “could have become a mass murderer…but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites,” accompanies a research team to a distant planet, ostensibly to protect them but actually to be left alone long enough to watch its shows.

But then the mission goes pear-shaped! And the murderbot has to act to save its humans! And it comes to liiiiiiiiike them!

A heartwarming tale of a sarcastic underachiever-bot and its person-friends. In space!

American War cover

American War

by Omar El Akkad
Science Fiction

Ashley Bowen

Staff Writer

Ashley Bowen earned a PhD in American Studies and Public Humanities in December 2016. Her research focuses on the history of health, medicine, and social services in the period from the American Civil War to World War I. When she isn't feeling existential angst about finishing her dissertation, she works as a part-time bookseller and plans adventures as a field agent for Atlas Obscura. A Texas native now living in Washington, DC, she has been known to travel long distances for a proper breakfast taco and Dr. Pepper. Her writing appears on Book Riot, Atlas Obscura, museum blogs, and in various "serious" academic journals. Twitter: @aebowenPhD

The dystopia of American War may have felt a little too pointed a year ago. Now? It reads as an eerily prescient look into America’s future. The novel follows a woman named Sarat in the wake of a second American Civil War. El Akkad brilliantly blends US history with an imagined mythology of this second war as Sarat moves from her family’s homestead, to a refugee camp, and finally to the world outside its fences. Along the way, she has the opportunity to engage with big questions about radicalization, the environment, violence, politics, and humanity. Amazingly, the book isn’t too heavy—El Akkad managed to put real joy in these pages too.

An Extraordinary Union

by Alyssa Cole
romance

Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

Elle Burns is a freed slave with an photographic memory, currently working as a spy for Lincoln in Richmond, Virginia, posing as a mute slave for a Confederate official and his family. Malcolm is a white undercover detective for the Union, posing as a Confederate soldier. They join forces (despite some serious personality conflicts) and sparks fly, leaving them both in a fight for their country and their hearts. Forbidden love! Political intrigue! A historical romance without any dukes! It’s a must-read.

And We're Off by Dana Schwartz

And We’re Off

by Dana Schwartz
Young Adult

Jessica Yang

Staff Writer

Jessica grew up in Silicon Valley, yet somehow ended up rather inept at technology. She dreams of reading luxurious novels all day in a greenhouse, and is guilty of writing puns for money. Majoring in Japanese and English literature made her both wary and weary of the Western canon. She can be bribed with milk tea. Follow her on Twitter @jamteayang.

Long before I read And We’re Off, I followed @GuyInYourMFA and @DystopianYA on Twitter for a stream of reliably hilarious snark about YA lit and your average creative writing class. When I finally noticed who was behind the two accounts, I knew I had to read Schwartz’s upcoming YA book. I love Gilmore Girls and pretty much any mother-daughter-centric story, so And We’re Off was guaranteed to turn me into a fan. The book’s heroine, Nora, is about to jet off to Europe to study art… but then at the last second, her mother tags along for the ride. Because of this book, I laughed, I cried, I checked Twitter and laughed some more.

Kathleen Keenan

Staff Writer

Kathleen Keenan is a writer and children's book editor in Toronto. In addition to Book Riot, she has written for Reel Honey, The Billfold, and The Canadian Press. She also edits a monthly newsletter for the indie bookstore A Novel Spot. Kathleen has an MA in English with a focus on nineteenth-century fiction, and there is nothing she loves more than a very long Victorian novel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @KathleenMKeenan or find her writing even more about books at kathleenmkeenan.com.

Stacey May Fowles’s essays are about more than baseball. She writes with honesty and insight about living with anxiety and how loving something bigger than herself helps her through the worst. Fowles finds life lessons whenever she’s at the ballpark, whether she’s leaving work to go watch a potential perfect game or travelling to Florida for spring training. Covering what it’s like to be a female sports writer, how her husband was won over to the game, and why Toronto Blue Jay Josh Donaldson is everyone’s “dirtbag boyfriend,” Fowles delivers a passionate, heartfelt take on why sports matter to us—and why baseball in particular is a game of tiny miracles.

Borne

by Jeff Vandermeer
Science Fiction

Martin Cahill

Staff Writer

Martin lives in New York, just outside that sprawling metropolis everyone’s always talking about. Bookseller by day, bartender by night, freelancer at all other times, he writes whenever he can. Every so often he remembers that sleep is important. He has fiction appearing in Nightmare Magazine and Fireside Fiction. He can be found writing about books and craft beer at his blog. Tweet him about craft beer, books, Community or Locke & Key and you’ll most likely become fast friends. Blog: Craft Books Twitter: @Mcflycahill90

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer continues his tradition of intimate, intense stories set in sweeping, strange worlds. Rachel is a scavenger in a nameless city ruled by a gargantuan, flying bear named Mord. When Rachel finds an odd creature, she brings it home and names it Borne. Borne’s evolution from silent biotech to childlike sentience and beyond is captivating, as is Rachel’s relationship with him. The two work to love and understand each other but as outside forces threaten them, Rachel fears what Borne will become in response to the danger. A beautiful story of parenthood, technology, the environment, and more, Borne is a wonder and a delight.

Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren cover

Dating You/Hating You

by Christina Lauren
romance

Amanda Diehl

Staff Writer

Amanda Diehl escaped to Boston to get her MA in Publishing & Writing. Though she loves her new home in the Northeast, she will forever mourn the loss of Publix and sweet tea. As for Amanda’s voracious love of reading, she got it from her mama, though her favorite genres are romance, horror, and the occasional memoir. She reviews romance novels for Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and when she’s able to scrounge together some free time, you can find her napping in front of the TV with the latest trashy reality show or scarfing down brunch-related foods. Twitter: _ImAnAdult

A contemporary romance with battle of the sexes pranks and a headstrong heroine battling workplace sexism! Evie and Carter both work for rival Hollywood talent agencies, but their chemistry quickly gets a douse of ice cold water once their companies merge. And of course, there can only be one! Evie is one of my favorite heroines; she’s funny and relatable. Plus, Carter is a nerdy sweetie pie, five years Evie’s junior. Oh, and he knows how to rock a fitted blazer. It’s a feminist romance for the modern era and I loved every bit of it.

Defy the Stars

by Claudia Gray
Science FictionYoung Adult

Angel Cruz

Staff Writer

Angel Cruz is a professional enthusiast, living and writing in Toronto. She has been blogging about books since May 2011–her favourite genres are magic realism, contemporary fiction, and historical fiction. You can also find her at Women Write About Comics, reviewing front/backlist books and manga, as well as critically examining Asian representation in both Western and Asian media. Her copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker is paged through more often than is probably healthy. Ice cream, Broadway musicals, and Arashi are her lifeblood. Blog: Angel Cruz Writes Twitter: @angelcwrites

In the vastness of space and within the complicated breadth of humanity, sometimes you just need a really good hate-to-love novel to take you on a wild adventure. Claudia Gray provides that and more in Defy the Stars as Noemi and Abel are forced to work together, despite very different life-and-death priorities. Their not-quite-love story unravels against war, ethical questions around artificial intelligence, and what lies at the core of being human. Gray does it all with measured, gut-wrenching prose that doesn’t shy away from harsh truths and decisions. Readers would be hard pressed to deny that invitation.

Difficult Women

by Roxane Gay
Fiction

Aram Mrjoian

Staff Writer

Aram Mrjoian is a contributor at Book Riot and the Chicago Review of Books. His reviews and essays have also appeared in Necessary Fiction, The Adroit Journal blog, and The Awesome Mitten. His stories are published or forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, Limestone, The Great Lakes Book Project, and others. He is currently working toward his MFA in creative writing at Northwestern University, where he is a fiction editor at TriQuarterly. Twitter: @AMrjoian575

At this point, I don’t think anyone needs convincing of the literary greatness of Roxane Gay. This collection of twenty-one short stories spans stark realism to fabulism; flash fiction to stories of more traditional length. Each piece showcases Gay’s chiseled prose and ability to evoke a full range of emotion, at times in the course of a single sentence or paragraph. Also, as the title suggests, Difficult Women is a thematically cohesive and powerful, and explores the lives of a spectrum of women in tough circumstances. While Gay is often lauded as an essayist and novelist, her short fiction is not to be missed, in 2017 or any other year.

Exit West

by Mohsin Hamid
Fiction

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Hamid’s lyrical, timely novel is a powerful story of love and courage in the midst of war. Nadia and Saeed are two young students drawn to one another in a country on the brink of civil war. When the fighting escalates, they make the decision to flee the country together, but their future looks uncertain as they struggle to hold onto their past  – and each other – while refugees moving through unfamiliar lands. The quiet beauty of the book’s writing will make your brain hum with appreciation. It is a breathtakingly gorgeous tale about identity, uncertainty, and loyalty, and cements Hamid’s place as one of today’s most important writers.

Florence in Ecstasy

by Jessie Chaffee
Fiction

S.W. Sondheimer

Staff Writer

When not prying Legos and gaming dice out of her feet, S.W. Sondheimer is a registered nurse at the Department of Therapeutic Misadventures, a herder of genetic descendants, cosplayer, and a fiction and (someday) comics writer. She is a Yinzer by way of New England and Oregon and lives in the glorious 'Burgh with her husband, 2 smaller people, 2 cats, a fish, and a snail. She occasionally tries to grow plants, drinks double-caffeine coffee, and has a habit of rooting for the underdog. It is possible she has a book/comic book problem but has no intention of doing anything about either. Twitter: @SWSondheimer

Hannah runs to Italy to escape her past, hoping a new place, new faces, and a chance to delve into the art she has forgotten she loves will save her from it. She discovers quickly, however, it is impossible to hide from the present alive within her, the voice telling her she isn’t good enough, isn’t smart enough, isn’t important enough to deserve life and love. On the precipice of recovery she doesn’t realize it is remarkable enough she has chosen to live.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories

by Ellen Oh
middle grade

Trisha Brown

Contributing Editor

Trisha Brown grew up in Washington State and moved to Washington, DC, to work on programs that support vulnerable families. She decided to take a break in 2019, so now she’s traveling around the United States learning about different places and communities. She plans to return to her life in DC eventually, but for now she can be found chatting with people in bars and parks, catching up on sleep, and trying to keep herself from buying more books than her car and budget can handle. Find her on Instagram (@trishahaleybrown) or Twitter (@trishahaleybrwn).

An anthology created in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, Flying Lessons features maybe the most impressive line-up of authors I’ve seen in one book in recent years. I could tell you about all the awards they’ve won and the many best-seller lists on which they’ve appeared, but you should probably just read the book. The true testament to the talent of these authors is their ability to tell stories, and Flying Lessons displays a wide-range of topics and styles. It is important that this is a collection focusing on the work of authors of color. It is also important that it is a book of great stories by exceptionally gifted writers.

human-acts-cover-han-kang

Human Acts

by Han Kang
Fiction

Patricia Thang

Senior Contributor

Patricia Thang is an educator located in Los Angeles. Though a native Angeleno through and through, her heart also belongs to Tokyo, where much of her family is from. Besides books, she is an enthusiastic devourer of many things, including podcasts, television, and J-pop. She realizes there’s not enough time in the world to consume all of that content, but she’s trying anyway. Other endeavors to which she has dedicated herself include cuddling her dogs until they’re annoyed and taste-testing every vegan ice cream she can find. Twitter: @aintnopthang

A young boy named Dong-ho is violently killed during the Gwangju Uprising, which took place in South Korea in 1980. The story of this event unfolds as we hear from the various interconnected voices of those affected, both directly and indirectly, by the movement. These individual stories explore topics such as violence, politics, and grief, and span in time from the events in 1980 to today, illustrating how the effects of this popular uprising have reverberated through South Korea’s history. And all of this acts as a backdrop to Kang’s exploration of humanity, making this book beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful all at once.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

by Roxane Gay
memoir/autobiography/biographyNonfiction

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

Roxane Gay never ceases to amaze me. In her latest, a memoir structured as short bite-sized chapters, she peels away the armor that not only she has but that we all maintain to protect the most vulnerable pieces of ourselves. And in doing so, she reinvents the conversation we have about weight and bodies and eating and trauma and sexuality and culture and and and and. As one of my Book Riot colleagues said about Hunger, Gay spoils us with her honesty; I felt like she pulled out her heart and laid it before me and I wanted to pull apart my own chest in kind. Thank you, Roxane. Thank you.

Ill Will

by Dan Chaon
Mystery/Thriller

Jessica Woodbury

Staff Writer

Jessica Woodbury's professional life has taken her to prisons, classrooms, strip clubs, and her living room couch. After years as a Public Defender in the South, she now lives in Boston with her two small children. Cursed with a practical streak, she always wanted to pursue music or writing but instead majored in Biochemistry because it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. These days she does absolutely nothing with science or law and instead spends too much time oversharing on the internet. She has a soft spot for crime novels and unreliable narrators. And the strip club gig was totally as a lawyer, she swears.  Blog: Don't Mind the Mess Twitter: jessicaesquire

An unnerving story of obsession and memory that follows a psychologist helping his patient who sees signs of a serial killer everywhere. His attempts to help lead him back to the horrible crime of his childhood that he’s worked hard to forget, set in the “Satanic Panic” of the ’80s. A dark and masterful story of the ways men try ignore trauma but never leave it behind, it will surprise and shock you until the very last page.

It Happens All The Time

by Amy Hatvany
Fiction

Kate Krug

Contributor

Kate is a 2011 Drake University grad, where she received her BA in magazine journalism. A hopeless romantic with a cynical heart, Kate will read anything that comes with a content warning, a love triangle, and a major plot twist. Twitter: @katekrug Blog: http://snarky-yet-satisfying.com

Amber and Tyler have been best friends since childhood, although Tyler has always hoped their friendship would become something more. A night of partying and booze leads to Tyler making a grave choice that impacts their relationship forever. The book is told from different points view, chronicling their life before, during, and how they both cope after the assault.

Consent is an issue that is so important to be knowledgeable about. The book opens with this quote: “Violators cannot live with the truth; survivors cannot live without it,” by Chrystine Oksana. And it sums up the plot perfectly.

lincoln in the bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by George Saunders
Fiction

Jessi Lewis

Staff Writer

Jessi Lewis has her MFA in fiction and an MA in Writing and Rhetoric. She was one of the founding editors of Cheat River Review and now works to bring her own fiction, poetry and essays to eyes each month.     Twitter: @jessiwrit

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders was widely anticipated as the work of a wordsmith. It is an absolutely creative piece focusing in on Abraham Lincoln’s grief over his young son’s death. What’s interesting here is that it’s tricky to read as a collage of different pieces of text from different origins and different voices. Many of those voices are ghostly. While some might trip up a bit on the form, there is no doubt that this is a genius novel that plays into the worries of modern Americans and readers in general. There’s nothing quite like the grief of Lincoln as he holds the body of his son. It can hit you in the gut.

Love By the Books

by Té Russ
romance

Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

Carmen Jones is a literary agent who has just scored an amazing book deal. When she meets Sebastian Kincaid, there is an immediate connection, and she is delighted to discover that he owns the bookstore café where her author wrote most of his book. The pair embarks on an adorable bookish courtship, from libraries to speakeasies. In the end, it’s impossible not to fall in love with both parties in this beautiful representation of black love and family.

Midnight Without a Moon

by Linda Williams Jackson
middle grade

Karina Glaser

Contributing Editor

Karina Yan Glaser is a full-time writer and illustrator with a varied career teaching and implementing literacy programs in family homeless shelters and recruiting healthcare professionals to volunteer in under-resourced areas around the world. Karina is the New York Times bestselling author of the middle grade books, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, and an assortment of rescued animals. One of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can't go anywhere without a book. Website: www.karinaglaser.com; Twitter: @KarinaYanGlaser; Instagram: @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting

It’s 1955 and Rose Lee Carter is thirteen years old, working in the summer Mississippi heat and dreaming of life beyond the cotton fields. Her grandparents are sharecroppers, and Rose suffers from the hand of her abusive grandmother who calls her dark skin color “blacker than midnight without a moon”. When Emmett Till, a teenage boy from a neighboring community, is killed for whistling at a white woman, Rose is given the choice to join her family up north. As Rose considers the move, she discovers how her own voice might be more powerful than she ever imagined. Carefully researched and beautifully written, this book is a treasure.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

by Emil Ferris
ComicsMystery/Thriller

Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

Karen Reyes is a precocious ten year-old trying living in 1960s Chicago. Her mother is sick, her brother is dodging the draft, and their upstairs neighbor—an enigmatic Holocaust survivor named Anka—is a victim of murder. As Karen tries to solve Anka’s murder (think Harriet the Spy meets Maus) the life she’s been avoiding continues to unravel. Using B-movie horror and monster pulp magazine imagery, Karen records everything in her notebook, weaving an unnerving yet absorbing tale with illustrations both gorgeous and grotesque. Take your time with this one; you don’t want to miss a thing.

Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman
Fantasy

Leah Rachel von Essen

Senior Contributor

By day, Leah Rachel von Essen is the editor-in-chief of Chicago Booth Magazine at the University of Chicago. By night, she reviews genre-bending fiction for Booklist, and writes regularly as a senior contributor at Book Riot. Her blog While Reading and Walking has over 10,000 dedicated followers over several social media outlets, including Instagram. She writes passionately about books in translation, chronic illness and bias in healthcare, queer books, twisty SFF, and magical realism and folklore. She was one of a select few bookstagrammers named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit50 in 2022. She is an avid traveler, a passionate fan of women’s basketball and soccer, and a lifelong learner. Twitter: @reading_while

In this gorgeous black and gold volume, Neil Gaiman takes the Norse myths as we know them and retells them in his mysterious, careful writing. He has studied his characters carefully, and Thor’s strength and relative ignorance, Odin’s wisdom, and Loki’s trickery and desire for chaos, all emerge beautifully in this collection. Gaiman knows how to write folklore, and he makes the gods both terrifying and familiar, the stories haunting and funny. He has done his research, but most of all, he just knows how to tell a story, and that’s the most important piece of passing down mythology, something borne over the centuries through oral inheritance.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
memoir/autobiography/biographyNonfiction

Kim Ukura

Staff Writer

Kim Ukura is a book lover, recovering journalist, library advocate, cat mom, and lover of a good gin cocktail. In addition to co-hosting Book Riot’s nonfiction podcast, For Real, and co-editing Book Riot’s nonfiction newsletter, True Story, Kim spends her days working in communications at a county library system in the Twin Cities area. Kim has a BA in English and journalism from a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When not getting to bed before 10 p.m., Kim loves to read nonfiction, do needlework projects, drink tea, and watch the Great British Baking Show. Instagram: @kimthedork Twitter: @kimthedork

In Option B, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton professor Adam Grant explore the idea of building resilience after significant loss and setbacks. The main thread of the book is Sandberg’s experience after the sudden death of her husband, Dave Goldberg, while on vacation in Mexico. Sandberg writes movingly about finding her husband’s body, telling her children about their father’s death, and the loneliness and isolation that follows great loss. The research sections of the book on resilience research are equally as interesting, and provide a nice counterbalance to Sandberg’s personal narrative. This book is an useful, thoughtful read.

Pachinko

by Min Jin Lee
Fiction

Rincey Abraham

Contributor

Rincey is a writer and editor who always has a reaction gif ready to go. Rincey spends her free time reading (obviously), and wandering the streets of Chicago in search of good food and possibly not as good music. (She does have an affinity for pop music. Don't hold that against her.) She is also often busy taking notes on how to be more like Leslie Knope. YouTube: Rincey Reads Twitter: @rinceya

Pachinko is an epic family saga that follows four generations of a Korean family from the early 1900s through the 1980s. The family immigrates to Japan early on in the story and Min Jin Lee simultaneously explores the changing family dynamics as well as the cultural tension and discrimination against Koreans living in Japan. The characters are complex, the story runs deep, and Min Jin Lee’s writing is descriptive without being overwritten. She pulls you into this family from page one and you never want to leave them.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile Cover

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

by Laura Amy Schlitz, Brian Floca
children's

Priya Sridhar

Staff Writer

A 2016 MBA graduate and published author, Priya Sridhar has been writing fantasy and science fiction for fifteen years, and counting, as well as contributing columns to Chalkpack Magazine and drawing a webcomic for five years. She also enjoys reading, biking, movie-watching, and classical music. One of her stories made the Top Ten Amazon Kindle Download list, and Alban Lake published her novella Carousel. Priya lives in Miami, Florida with her family and posts monthly at her blog A Faceless Author. Website Twitter: @PriyaJSridhar

Princess Cora’s parents worry about her growing up the wrong way. They mandate her reading, exercise, and bathing habits. Cora wouldn’t mind, except that her parents and nanny never listen. She can’t even get a puppy. Eventually, Cora writes to her fairy godmother for help. Her godmother sends a talking crocodile, who offers to assist Cora with her problems.

This story made me laugh, and was a bright spot at the start of 2017. The art is colorful, cheerful and on-point. I look forward to seeing more works from the author and artist, to add more joy as our world seems to grow darker.

 

Queens of Geek

by Jen Wilde
romanceYoung Adult

Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

I couldn’t resist this story about Taylor: a fat, geeky, anxious aspie protagonist discovering her own amazingness, and Charlie: a Chinese-Australian bisexual (as in uses the word “bisexual”!) protagonist who ends up in an adorable, interracial F/F romance with a fellow vlogger.

On top of that, this is a love letter to fandom that takes place entirely at a convention, packed full of geeky jokes and tumblr references! It is has a well-paced plot, compelling romances, and memorable, fully-realized characters. I laughed out loud reading it, and I accidentally finished it in one day. This is so fun and heartwarming. Just lovely.

book cover of rabbit cake - white rabbit on yellow background

Rabbit Cake

by Annie Hartnett
Fiction

Rebecca Renner

Staff Writer

Rebecca Renner is a writer and editor out of South Florida. Her essays have been featured in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Glamour. A seventh-generation Floridian, Rebecca's main area of study has been the ecology, culture, and downright weirdness of her home. When not reading, hiking, blogging, traveling, exploring, or playing with her dog Daisy Buchanan (and never sleeping!), Rebecca binge watches TV shows like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and plots world domination via Twitter. Twitter: @RebeccaRennerFL Blog: https://beckyrenner.com/

In a novel full of child psychiatry, dying giraffes, naked mole rats, psychics, and world-record baking stunts, what really holds Annie Hartnett’s Rabbit Cake together is Elvis Babbitt’s clear, sweet voice. Elvis is confused and frustrated after her mother’s death, and what makes this book shine is that she is both completely believable as a child, and she is a compelling narrator. The reader feels her grief, her curious hunger for the world, and also her disbelief that a world so abundant in wonder could take her mother away.

Real Friends

by Shannon Hale
Comicsmiddle grade

Jesse Doogan

Staff Writer

Jesse Doogan writes about food, faith, books, and DIY projects, and sometimes even puts these things on her blog. She works in publishing and lives near Chicago with her cat. She tweets about all these things at @jadoogan.   Blog Twitter: @jadoogan

Real Friends is the book I wish I had as a little girl. It celebrates friendship, girlhood, and imagination, but also talks about how each of these things can trip up girls as they enter adolescence: how friendships can grow sour, how girls can be uniquely mean, and how a strong imagination can make you feel like a weirdo. Shannon Hale writes about her childhood in a way that makes you feel like you are reliving your own, and LuUyen Pham’s bright, expressive illustrations pull you into her memories. If you’ve ever felt out of place in your own small world, Shannon Hale shows you how to find a team and feel at home.

Cover for SK Ali's Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits

by S.K. Ali
Young Adult

Ardo Omer

Staff Writer

Ardo Omer has a BA in criminology and a minor in creative writing. She’s a senior writer at Women Write About Comics and Batman seeks her advice constantly. Blog: Ardo Omer Twitter: @ArdoOmer

This is a story about a Muslim and not a Muslim story.

It’ll have you cheering for Janna Yusuf, a misfit in a world filled with other misfits, saints, and monsters, as she tries to find her voice, and figure out her place in the world as a Muslim teen. It’s a refreshing contemporary, an emotional rollercoaster, and satisfying read. S.K. Ali makes a memorable debut and I’m excited to see more.

See You In The Cosmos by Jack Cheng

See You in the Cosmos

by Jack Cheng
Young Adult

Nikki VanRy

Contributing Editor

Nikki VanRy is a proud resident of Arizona, where she gets to indulge her love of tacos, desert storms, and tank tops. She also writes for the Tucson Festival of Books, loves anything sci-fi/fantasy/historical, drinks too much chai, and will spend all day in bed reading thankyouverymuch. Follow her on Instagram @nikki.vanry.

Jack Cheng’s See You in the Cosmos follows 11-year-old Alex Petroski and his dog Carl Sagan to a rocket competition to launch his self-recorded golden iPod into space. It’s a pitch-perfect blend of nerdy space travel love, what family means and becomes during our most transformative years, along with a classic West coast road trip book. I ate See You in the Cosmos up in less than a day, and I’ve been raving about it ever since.

Spaceman of Bohemia

by Jaroslav Kalfar
Science Fiction

Rabeea Saleem

Staff Writer

Rabeea is a Karachi-based writer. Her two vices are cricket and literature. Book critic for various international publications including Chicago Review of Books, Irish Times and The National. She can be reached at rabeea.reviews@gmail.com.

This book is literally out of this world! A Czech astronaut, Jakub, has been given the opportunity to go on a dangerous solo mission to Venus. This mission will offer him and his country the chance to redeem themselves and sever ties to their Communist past. The rest of the book is his experiences in space as he battles with his personal demons and isolation. He becomes friends with a giant spider who has a weakness for Nutella (can you blame him!) and oddity ensues. This book is weird, entertaining and thought-provoking in the best possible way. Spaceman of Bohemia is a spectacular voyage of relationships, ambition and the self.

Stay With Me

by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
Fiction

Adiba Jaigirdar

Staff Writer

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher. She resides in Dublin, Ireland and has an MA in postcolonial studies. She is currently working on her own postcolonial novel and hopes that someday it will see the light of day outside of her computer screen. Twitter: @adiba_j

Stay With Me is a book that has stayed with me long after I finished reading it. It tells the story of Yejide, a young hairdresser and wife in Nigeria. When she can’t get pregnant, her mother-in-law brings home a second wife for her husband. This results in a series of events that slowly chips away at Yijede’s life. The book is a brilliant exploration of motherhood, along with the pressures and expectations of motherhood that come with being a woman.

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker Cover

The Animators

by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Fiction

Teresa Preston

Staff Writer

Since 2008, Teresa Preston has been blogging about all the books she reads at Shelf Love. She supports her book habit by working as a magazine editor at a professional association in the Washington, DC, area, which is (in)conveniently located just a few steps from a used bookstore. When she’s not reading or editing, she’s likely to be attending theatre, practicing yoga, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again, or doting on her toothless orange cat, Anya. Twitter: @teresareads

I thought this was going to be a book about a supportive friend helping a self-destructive one, but it’s more than that. The book’s central characters—Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses—need each other and support each other. I was thrilled to find a book that takes women’s friendships so seriously.

The book also raises complex questions about art, as the offbeat cartoon Mel and Sharon make together draw on their own life experiences. But what happens when telling your own story means sharing others’ stories, too?

I cried a lot reading this book. It’s funny and sad and really beautiful. An excellent debut by Kayla Rae Whitaker.

the changeling by victor lavalle cover

The Changeling: A Novel

by Victor LaValle
Fantasyhorror

María Cristina García lives in New York with her favorite spouse, her favorite toddler, her favorite cat, and her second-favorite cat. When not ranking members of her household, she's catching up on Supergirl, strumming her mandolin, or trying to beat the clock on her library loans. Twitter: @MeowyCristina Blog: MeowyCristina.com

I mean, I don’t know what I’m supposed to say here. I went into this book blindly, and it made for a freakin’ awesome reading experience. So just go get at it.

Fine, I’ll spill more, but if you keep reading this blurb, then you did this to you.

I’m not gonna warn you again.

Ugh, this hurts.

Okay. This book is luminous and dark. It will scare the bejeezus out of you, and then scare out your bejeezus’ bejeezus. It is truth, even as you eventually doubt every character it introduces. The tenderness will bowl you over. You will lose sleep. And all of this goes triple for anyone who loves someone who is under the age of two.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir

by Jennifer Ryan
Fiction

Claire Handscombe

Contributor

Claire Handscombe moved from Europe to DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but actually – let’s be honest – because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan, and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives. She also hosts the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show of news and views from British books and publishing. Blog: the Brit Lit Blog. Twitter: @BookishClaire

This is the book I’ve been telling everyone to pack for their holidays this year. It’s a delightful epistolary novel, in which five women and girls narrate life in their southern English village during the Second World War. The characters are well-drawn and vibrant, and complete with at least one villain I loved to hate (and who’d have thought it’d be the midwife?). Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society.

Book Cover for The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin

The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories

by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin
Fantasy

Margaret Kingsbury

Contributing Editor

Margaret Kingsbury grew up in a house so crammed with books she couldn’t open a closet door without a book stack tumbling, and she’s brought that same decorative energy to her adult life. Margaret has an MA in English with a concentration in writing and has worked as a bookseller and adjunct English professor. She’s currently a freelance writer and editor, and in addition to Book Riot, her pieces have appeared in School Library Journal, BuzzFeed News, The Lily, Parents, StarTrek.com, and more. She particularly loves children’s books, fantasy, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and any books with disabled characters. You can read more about her bookish and parenting shenanigans in Book Riot’s twice-weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter. You can also follow her kidlit bookstagram account @BabyLibrarians, or on Twitter @AReaderlyMom.

While the genie in “Aladdin” is my favorite character from the movie, the djinn in this short story collection are far more diverse. I’d no idea so many variations of djinn existed — good or evil, kind or mischievous, religious or deviant, and everywhere in between. The sheer variation of interpretation is what makes this a superior collection, as well as, of course, the superior writing. And in terms of genre, every kind of reader will find something they like, whether you prefer realism, fantasy, mystery, or horror. I read it earlier this year, yet many of the stories still haunt me. It’s exactly what I want from a short story collection.

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
memoir/autobiography/biographyNonfiction

Sarah S. Davis

Staff Writer

Sarah S. Davis holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master's of Library Science from Clarion University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sarah has also written for Electric Literature, Kirkus Reviews, Audible, Psych Central, and more. Sarah is the founder of Broke By Books blog and runs a tarot reading business, Divination Vibration. Twitter: @missbookgoddess Instagram: @Sarahbookgoddess

For a memoir permeated by trauma, The Fact of a Body leaves its own mark on readers. It is simply unforgettable. In this debut, the author becomes engrossed with the case of a man sentenced to death for the murder and molestation of a young boy. A law student adamantly against the death penalty, Marzano-Lesnevich finds her position tested by the case as it conjures uncomfortable parallels with her past. Weaving through time, through memory, The Fact of a Body explores what can and cannot be known, what can ever be true and false, which story gets told and which gets buried.

The Fifth Letter

by Nicola Moriarty
Fiction

Jen Sherman

Staff Writer

Jen is an urban and cultural geographer who did a PhD on public libraries and reading. As a researcher, her interests are focused on libraries, reading, book retailing and the book industry more broadly. As a reader, she reads a lot of crime fiction, non-fiction, and chicklit. And board books. All the board books. You can also find her writing about books for children and babies at babylibrarians.com. Instagram: shittyhousewife / babylibrarians Twitter: @jennnigan

A warm and engaging novel about four women who have been friends since the first day of high school are now in their mid-30s. On one of their annual holidays (away from their husbands and children), secrets are revealed that change the way they view each other and themselves. The book tackles issues about marriage, parenting, fertility, loyalty, and ultimately, what does it mean to be a friend and how do friendships change over a lifetime? Can your best friend when you were twelve be your best friend when you’re 35, and if they’re not, is that okay? I’ve loved Nicola Moriarty’s other books and this one is no different—I love Moriarty’s voice, her style, and her characters. This was a great read.

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas
Young Adult

Katie McLain

Contributing Editor

Katie's parents never told her "no" when she asked for a book, which was the start of most of her problems. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Lake Forest College and is working towards a master's degree in library science at U of I. She works full time at a public library reference desk in northern IL, specializing in readers’ advisory and general book enthusiasm, and she has a deep-rooted love of all things disturbing, twisted, and terrifying. (She takes enormous pleasure in creeping out her coworkers.) When she's not spending every waking hour at the library, she's at home watching Cubs baseball with her cats and her cardigan collection, and when she's not at home, she's spending too much money on concert tickets. Her hobbies include debating the finer points of Harry Potter canon, hitting people upside the head who haven’t read The Martian, and convincing her boyfriend that she can, in fact, fit more books onto her shelves. Twitter: @kt_librarylady

EVERYONE’S been talking about this debut YA novel, and for good reason. This heartbreaking, yet infuriating story manages to tackle racism in its macro and micro forms, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, and class in a powerful and authentic way.  The characters in this book are complex with their own unique histories, and each chapter feels like a sucker punch.  Angie Thomas makes the reader step into Starr’s shoes, into Starr’s life, and ask themselves what they would do if they were in Starr’s place.  It’s a perspective changing novel, and by far one of the best that will be published this year.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Young Adult

Sonja Palmer

Staff Writer

Sonja resides in Asheville, NC where she has a job she loves at a children’s nonprofit.  When she’s not working, she probably has a book or comic in hand as she tries to read her way out of the ever-growing stack in her small apartment.  On weekends, she’s probably clambering through the mountains with her husband and dog or trying to eat too much cake while watching Great British Bake Off.

I loved this book; I loved that the writing felt spare, and honest.  These characters are so fully-fleshed out and flawed, and full of rough edges, and their problems felt messy and real and frustrating in the way that problems are. There are no easy answers here, but there is a lot about identity and family, and I cared so much about how these characters connected. It is about tragedy and confronting your history and where you are, and if you loved Aristotle and Dante, why haven’t you read this already?

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

by Heather O'Neill
Fiction

Jamie Canaves

Contributing Editor

Jamie Canavés is the Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator and Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter writer–in case you’re wondering what you do with a Liberal Arts degree. She’s never met a beach she didn’t like, always says yes to dessert, loves ‘80s nostalgia, all forms of entertainment, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. You can definitely talk books with her on Litsy and Goodreads. Depending on social media’s stability maybe also Twitter and Bluesky.

O’Neill’s writing creates a fantastical feeling that was like a vintage movie playing inside my brain and building an immersive feeling that I’ve only ever felt before with The Night Circus. Rose and Pierrot–quirky, creative, gifted, and in love—grow up in a Montreal Orphanage in the early 1900s. We follow their childhood, their being split apart as teens, then working for the wealthy as their lives closely circle each others, and their reunion. Heartbreaking and beautiful, the name Rose will forever make me want to run away to the circus. And for audiobook fans Julia Whelan does a lovely narration.

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett

The Lost Book of the Grail

by Charlie Lovett
Mystery/Thriller

Tasha Brandstatter

Staff Writer

Tasha is the least practical person you will ever meet. She grew up reading historical romance novels, painting watercolors like a 19th century debutant, and wanting to be Indiana Jones--or at the very least Indiana Jones's girlfriend. All this led her to pursue a career in the field of art history. After spending ten years in academia without a single adventure in Mesoamerica, however, Tasha decided to change her career and be a freelance writer (although she's still waiting on that adventure). In addition to writing for Book Riot, she's a regular contributor to History Colorado, the Pueblo PULP, and Opposing Views. She also runs two book blogs: Truth Beauty Freedom and Books (title inspired by Moulin Rouge, best movie ever) and The Project Gutenberg Project, dedicated to finding forgotten classics. Tasha also likes to have a drink or two and blogs about cocktails at Liquid Persuasion, as well as small town restaurants on Nowhere Bites. Blog: Truth Beauty Freedom and Books and The Project Gutenberg Project Twitter: @heidenkind

Love books about books? (Of course you do, who doesn’t.) Then you HAVE to read this novel. It blends romance, history, booknerdom, and questions about faith and religion into a literary mystery that’s not only incredibly fun but super smart. Arthur Prescott is a professor who spends most of his days holed up in the Barchester Cathedral Library on a quest to find the lost book of the Cathedral’s patron saint, Ewolda. Then a fast-talking young American named Bethany shows up and he starts to question everything he believes in.

If your idea of a good time is sifting through the shelves of an old library, this book will speak to your heart.

The Pearl Thief

by Elizabeth Wein
Young Adult

Annika Barranti Klein

Staff Writer

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

Julia Beaufort-Stuart is fifteen years old and has to solve the mysteries of her own head injury, a missing man, and missing heirloom pearls, while navigating love, class, and friendship, in this beautiful prequel to Code Name Verity. Everything about this story made my heart sing.

The Prey of Gods

by Nicky Drayden
FantasyScience Fiction

Derek Attig

Staff Writer

Derek works in graduate student career development and is (believe it or not) one of the world's foremost experts on the history of bookmobiles. Follow Derek on Twitter @bookmobility and on Instagram @bookmobility.

By the end of the first chapter of The Prey of Gods, a crab and a dolphin are having sex while a sentient robot watches, and things haven’t even gotten truly weird yet. Drayden’s debut is expansively queer and ecstatically strange. The South Africa-set story is part urban fantasy, part sci-fi thriller, and part something you’ve never seen before: demigods come to power, robots plot an uprising, a trans politician and a disabled pop star team up, queer teens explore their identities, a designer drug packs a supernatural punch, and more. Playful and sprawling and unexpected, The Prey of Gods is the most fun you can have in 2017.

cover of The Radium Girls by Kate Moore: image of five women washed in bright green

Elizabeth Allen

Staff Writer

Lifelong book lover, Elizabeth Allen managed to get a degree in something completely unrelated that she never intends to use. She’s a proud Connecticut native who lives in a picturesque small town with her black olive-obsessed toddler daughter, her prom date-turned-husband, and her two dim-witted cats Penny Lane and Gretchen Wieners. She spends her days trying to find a way to be paid to read while drinking copious amounts of coffee, watching episodes of Gilmore girls until the DVDs fail, waiting for her husband to feed her, and being obnoxiously vain about her hair. Elizabeth’s work can be found at www.blackwhitereadbooks.com, where she is currently reading and reviewing all of the books referenced in Gilmore girls. She is also the cohost of two podcasts discussing the work of Amy Sherman-Palladino (“Under the Floorboards” and “Stumbling Ballerinas”). Basically, her entire goal in life is to be a bookish Lorelai Gilmore. She clearly dreams big. Twitter: @BWRBooks

Through the window of a factory, an otherworldly cadre of women can be seen. An eerie glow emanates from their bodies as they sit hunched over timepieces. In their other hand, paintbrushes loaded with certain death.

Radium was, at one point, seen as a panacea. The news of its danger had not yet reached the manufacturers that relied so heavily on it. And when it did, companies chose to ignore it. These ghostly women of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois paid the price for this corporate greed.

Moore’s story is one of strength of spirit. These women spent their last moments on this Earth, ensuring that others would not suffer their same fate.

The Signal Flame

by Andrew Krivak
Fiction

Matt Grant

Staff Writer

Matt Grant is a Brooklyn-based writer, reader, and pop culture enthusiast. In addition to BookRiot, he is a staff writer at LitHub, where he writes about book news. Matt's work has appeared in Longreads, The Brooklyn Rail, Tor.com, Huffpost, and more. You can follow him online at www.mattgrantwriter.com or on Twitter: @mattgrantwriter

In this follow-up to the National Book Award finalist The Sojourn, Krivak evokes, with beautiful and sparse prose, the mid-century lives of blue-collar men and women as they grapple with love, grief, and forgiveness. Bo Konar and his mother Hannah absorb the loss of the family patriarch as they reel from yet another: Sam Konar, the youngest of the family, has been missing in action in Vietnam for over a year. The Signal Flame is like being inside the eye of a hurricane. It unfolds with relative calm, but death and devastation brim around the edges. Only after reading the final page are you aware of the emotional impact left in its wake.

The Upside of Unrequited

by Becky Albertalli
Young Adult

Alison Doherty

Senior Contributor

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

In this YA novel, teenage Molly has had 26 crushes and no boyfriends. When her twin sister starts dating her first girlfriend, Molly makes it her mission to change this. There’s Will, the flirtatious hipster-boy she knows she should have a crush on. But there’s also Reid, her coworker who wears too-white sneakers and Middle-earth t-shirts. Watching her try to move beyond the crush phase is hilarious, emotional, and very romantic. Molly is the pretty, fat, Zoloft-taking YA heroine of my dreams. I’m so happy to read a story about an overweight character who has some body image issues but never – not even once – is seen trying to lose weight.

Cover of These Ruthless Deeds. Red background featuring opened fan with knife attachment.

These Ruthless Deeds

by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker
FantasyYoung Adult

Amanda Kay Oaks

Staff Writer

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Amanda Kay Oaks has a BFA in Creative Writing and Literature from The University of Evansville and is a current creative nonfiction MFA student at Chatham University. An AmeriCorps alum, online tutor, and literary journal editor, Amanda considers herself a professional wearer of many hats and isn't sure what she'll do if she ever actually has only one job at a time. When she isn't working, reading, writing, or pretending to be a practiced yogi, Amanda can most likely be found snuggled up on the couch with her cat, Artemis, and a plate of cookies. She tweets T.S. Eliot quotes a little too often and tries to keep up with her personal book blog, I Write Things. Twitter: @I_Write_Things

These Ruthless Deeds is the highly anticipated sequel to These Vicious Masks. The series is frequently billed as “Jane Austen meets X-Men” and honesty I feel like that’s all anyone needs to say to convince me to read something. This sequel does not disappoint—it picks up where the action of the previous book left off and takes you on a nonstop, page-turning adventure. The witty sense of humor that completely won me over in the first book returns, along with extra drama and angst. These Ruthless Deeds is anything but predictable, and is hands down one of the best reading experiences I’ve had so far in 2017.

Want

by Cindy Pon
Science FictionYoung Adult

Eric Smith

Staff Writer

Eric Smith an author, blogger, and literary agent based in Philadelphia. When he isn’t busy trying to discover new books, he sometimes tries to write his own. Blog: Eric Smith Twitter: @ericsmithrocks

From the intense world building and the literary references that are peppered throughout, the witty banter and the polluted, corrupt sci-fi world that feels a little too close to now… it’s a book that has a little bit of everything that I love in a novel.

Readers meet a teen navigating the toxic streets of a future-set Taipei. The wealthy wear special exo-suits and have flourished, living a life of clean air and lavish delights. But those who can’t afford the tech, are left to grow sick and die on the streets. Until a young teen fed up with it all decides to break into their society disguised as one of their own.

If you’ve been looking for a diverse sci-fi adventure that’s Pierce Brown’s Red Rising meets Marie Lu’s Legend, this is it. Pick it up. You’ll adore it. I promise.

We Are Okay

by Nina LaCour
Young Adult

Kelly Jensen

Editor

Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

Unraveling over the course of a week alone in her college dorm room between the holidays, Marin’s story is a vivid exploration of raw emotion and what it feels like to be lonely. It’s about loss, about relationships with people we know and that we think we know but don’t, and about the depths and shapes grief can make. It’s also a story about love and romance, without romance playing a role in the central narrative; what we get is instead the way love takes many different forms.

Taut, well-paced, and sharp, LaCour’s latest is one that will linger long after you close the book. A quiet, literary title that packs a punch.

cover of We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

We Were the Lucky Ones

by Georgia Hunter
Fiction

Kate Scott

Staff Writer

Kate Scott is a bookstagrammer and strategic web designer serving women business owners and creative entrepreneurs. Follow her on Instagram @parchmentgirl and visit her website at katescott.co/books.

We Were the Lucky Ones is the story of one Polish Jewish family’s fight for survival during the Holocaust. Aside from the Georgia Hunter’s noteworthy skill as a storyteller, what makes this book so remarkable is that it is closely based on the experiences of her own family–so closely, in fact, that most of the names haven’t even been changed. The story ambitiously spans three generations and multiple continents as it follows the various members of fractured Kurc family. It’s a remarkable story of courage, love, and of course, luck.

when dimple met rishi cover

When Dimple Met Rishi

by Sandhya Menon
romanceYoung Adult

Beth O'Brien

Staff Writer

Beth is an east coast Canadian, born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is (unsurprisingly) obsessed with books and is a public library assistant and book blogger. When she’s not convincing all her friends to be friends with each other, she’s trying to convince them to read YA. She likes poetry and coffee and the ocean, but her true love is her cat Edith.

Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel are two 18 year-old first generation Indian-Americans from different parts of California. They are both attending Insomnia Con, a competitive summer coding program, in San Francisco. Coding is Dimple’s passion and attending this program is a big deal for her. Little does she know, her and Rishi’s parents have set in motion a plan for an arranged marriage between them. When Rishi meets her, he has his great-grandmother’s ring in his pocket. Dimple is so not on board… but maybe she and Rishi have more in common than just their culture. One of the best YA contemporaries I’ve read, When Dimple Met Rishi is hilarious and adorable.  A cute, funny, quirky romance, it balances love and independence with the weight of family expectations. ​

the cover of Winter Tide

Winter Tide

by Ruthanna Emrys
Fantasy

A.J. O'Connell

Staff Writer

A.J. O’Connell is the author of two published novellas: Beware the Hawk and The Eagle & The Arrow. All she’s ever wanted to do in life is read and write books, and so, is constantly writing at least one novel. She holds an MFA in creative fiction, but despite the best efforts of her teachers at Fairfield University's low-residency program, remains a huge dork for sci-fi, fantasy and comic books. She is a journalist and has taught journalism to college students. She blogs about feminism, the writing life, and whatever else comes into her head at www.ajoconnell.com. Blog: A.J. O'Connell Twitter: @ann_oconnell

When government agents raided Innsmouth, Mass. in 1929, Aphra Marsh and her brother Caleb were children. Now they are the last of their kind, determined to reclaim their birthright from those who stole it. Emrys’ novel, the follow-up to her short story “The Litany of Earth,” is a compassionate counterpoint to Lovecraft’s xenophobic “Shadow Over Innsmouth.” If you’re the sort of fantasy fan who finds themselves concerned for the orcs, pick this book up. If you love Lovecraft’s creations but are uncomfortable with his plots, pick this book up. You will love Aphra, Caleb, and the family they’ve cobbled together in their attempt to go home.

words-in-deep-blue

Words in Deep Blue

by Cath Crowley
Young Adult

Sarah Nicolas

Staff Writer

Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author who lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. When not writing, they can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. Find them on Twitter @sarah_nicolas.

Cath Crowley has a rare, magic ability to make all her characters come fully to life. She has an economy with words that leaves you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut. Quiet plots aren’t usually my thing, but I knew I couldn’t miss this one when Crowley’s Graffiti Moon still sticks with me so many years later. And I’m so glad I picked it up because it is such a beautiful book about grief and hope and heartbreak and love. It’s also very much about the power of words and in that respect, Cath Crowley is in a class all her own. This book is what I always knew New Adult could be.

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