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I absolutely devoured this epic YA fantasy! Crown of Feathers follows Veronyka on her quest to become a legendary Phoenix Rider, despite her troubled relationship with her sister. On her adventures, she crosses paths with a young soldier who realizes he might be fighting for the wrong side and a phoenix rider apprentice with issues of his own. As all of the characters try to do what's right, the book builds to a stunning conclusion, big reveals, and a great setup for the sequel (which I promise is an equally fantastic read)! Unlike lots of YA, this one had a slow building plot, but the pace didn't keep the story from feeling fresh and exciting. I loved how intricately the history and mythology of the world were built into the book and how immersive the world was. Definitely read this one if you love epic fantasy, mythical creatures, family drama, badass heroes, and great writing!
It's hard for me to capture how thoroughly I fell in love with this book! Part romance and part election story, Red, White & Royal Blue tells the story of Alex, First Son of the US, and Henry, Prince of Wales, and their secret love affair amidst Alex's mother's reelection campaign. This book has it all: witty banter, beautiful love letters, timely political commentary, and an awesome squad of characters. Especially in such dark and chaotic political times, this book is a much needed breath of fresh air. Fun, flirty, and so, so smart!
The Black Flamingo is a fiercely unique book that I want to gift to all of my friends! Told in verse, Dean Atta’s brilliant coming-of-age story follows Michael, a young mixed-race gay teen trying to navigate love and family while feeling like he’s never enough for any of his communities. When he discovers drag, Michael feels like he might have finally found his place. While many of the individual poems could stand on their own, they also come together into a powerful and introspective story that offers meaningful commentary on masculinity, queerness, and race. This book is such a needed addition to the YA canon, and I can highly recommend it to anyone young or old who wants to be inspired to find beauty in their own identities. The Black Flamingo manages to be both singular and universal, and it’s the fierce, fun, moving book we all need in our lives!
This book is why science fiction exists! Riot Baby follows the relationship between two siblings—a young man indefinitely jailed in Rikers prison and his sister who has a Thing that allows her to communicate telepathically and to cause pain. But the author manages to write the dystopia here from the most dystopian parts of reality in America, giving the story an unflinching call out for our own times. This is a novel about race, and about family, justice, anger, and loss. In his author's note, Tochi Onyebuchi says he set out to "write angry, the type of angry that still leaves room for love." This book sizzles with both anger and love, and maybe even hope for an end to the dystopia.
A memoir told in essays, Here For It is a hilarious and heartfelt reflection on Thomas's life as a black, gay, and Christian man living in America. It's the most human commentary on pop culture and politics that I've read. Here For It reads like a mix between Bad Feminist and Hannah Gadsby's Netflix comedy special, but it has a voice that's entirely its own. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cry from laughing. Everyone needs to read this treasure of a book!
In this fun and colorful story, two worms are in love and decide to get married. All the other insects tell them about all the ways weddings “have always been done,” but the traditions don’t quite fit our two love bugs! This great book turns tradition on its head as Worm and Worm learn that their love is the most important thing of all. A sweet and simple story that makes a great statement!
I love The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi's lush historical fantasy! Set in 1880s Paris, the book follows an unlikely band of allies who have everything to gain and even more to lose in their hunt for an ancient and powerful artifcat. I loved the dynamic characters most of all, but there was lots here to enjoy. The romantic chemistry was electric. The banter was witty. The mystery was intricately constructed and a complete joy to watch unfold. I absolutely fell into this fun, original, and enchanting read!
Stargazing charts the friendship between two very different girls learning to be friends and it hits all the right notes. Jen Wang is truly a queen among graphic novelists! Her art and storytelling speak to such intimate parts of the characters, but with tremendous whimsy and grace. Her drawings are fun, evocative, beautiful, and playful. I cannot recommend this book (or her first, The Prince and the Dressmaker) more highly!
This book completely captured my heart! It's a story that follows Danny Cheng, a young artist heading off to college, but whose life starts unraveling as the anniversary of a tragedy at school approaches and secrets about both family and friends surface. Kelly Loy Gilbert's lyrical writing perfectly captures what it is to be in high school and come into yourself as a person. I loved how the timeline jumped between past and present, allowing relationships to beautifully unfold in nonlinear ways. Never preachy, the story touches on immigration, poverty, adoption, suicide, and coming out, leading to a stunning ending that completely moved me. Such a beautiful book!