Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Rating: ★★★+.5 | 414 pages | Simon & Schuster | Historical Fiction|  Release Date: 04/24/18 

It's sort of fitting that I read this book at the end of the year because the end of this book was such a letdown.

Bellwether is a blend of historical and contemporary fiction revolving around the Wilde Family and their lasting legacy in small-town Millbank, NY 

In present-day, Charley Van Hoek is the newest curator at the Wilde House Museum who discovers the Wilde house and the ghost within it have a story to tell about the forbidden love between daughter Lydia Wilde and Jean-Philippe--a captured French Candian Officer being held at the Wilde house during the Seven Years' War. The story goes that when the star-crossed lovers tried to escape together Jean-Philippe was shot and his lantern has been seen still lightning the way and looking for Lydia ever since.

We travel back in forth in time and the historical chapters reminded why I like historical fiction, I always find it fascinating how people lived off the land and worked in the "olden days." The Wildes are a close-knit and hardworking family-- this warmth draws Jean-Philippe to them even though he is a prisoner and there is a language barrier.

The present-day chapters were full of competency porn as Charley, her friends and colleagues use their skills to track down documents and artifacts to tell the story of Lydia and the Jean-Phillipe while turning Wilde House Museum into a community gathering place--which leads to some cozy small-town scenes.

I appreciate how Kearsley directly confronts slavery in the time period. It is discussed and debated multiple times and she even gives a voice to a slave family the Wilde's "saved" from an abusive relative. Although, I still feel like having  “good” white character ignores that they are all complicit in the system.

This audiobook featured three narrators. Sarah Mollo-Christensen and Megan Tusing narrate Charley and Lydia's chapters sound very similar to one another. Tim Campbell narrates Jean-Philippe's chapters and he notably makes use of a very good French accent.

So, the ending.  *spoiler alert*   it’s revealed the story of Jean-Philippe and Lydia being star-crossed lovers and Jean-Philippe dying was fake news. An old French woman shows up and explains that the ghost story wasn’t true at all.  Jean-Philippe was released under a technicality and then he and Lydia just...lived HEA. It felt like both timelines were hurtling towards the tragic event we are told about in present-day and then it's like...no. The story just fizzles out.

I mean there was this thread throughout the book about how one of the Wilde brothers with PTSD    was left out of the family history and he was supposed to be the one who killed Jean-Phillipe...but no. IT JUST DIDN’T HAPPEN. It was a red herring and the ghost turns out not to be Jean-Philippe but  Lydia’s mother who died before the book started??? Even the prologue alluded to his death but I guess this was supposed to be when he died of natural causes?

I'm intrigued by Kearsley's format enough to want to pick up another one, but I'm not sure I will if all of her books feature red herrings like this.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Serpent & Dove Shelby Mahurin

Rating: ★★★  | HarperTeen | Fantasy | Release Date: 09/03/2019

Okay, is it just me or is this one of those books in the YA book world that people either really love or really don't like? I feel like the other books series that fall into this category are Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Raven Cycle. I like a polarizing book so I had to check this one out.

I started this having no idea what it was about, I just knew it was a YA fantasy and was stirring up some controversy. As I was reading (listening on audio) my interested was piqued as we enter Cesarine, an opulent city forged in a land once ruled by witches---who have been ruthlessly conquered by the religious and devout Le Blanc royal family.

For generations, witches have been forced into hiding or face death at the hands of the Chasseurs, witch executioners. So for Lou, a foul-mouthed impulsive young witch on the run, Cesarine is the last place she should be. When a public misstep forces her to marry Captian Reid Diggory a Chasseur officer, soon the man she fears the most becomes the only one she can trust

What I like is this is one of the books where we jump into the action at the start, then quickly watch  Lou and Reid navigate their forced marriage of convenience. I never knew what to expect and liked that it didn't feel formulaic and wasn't just about a rebellion. Lou and Reed had individual journeys and goals they wanted to accomplish.

I am strictly middle of the road with this book. I'm not a big fan of forced marriage or enemies to lovers tropes. I can see how the taboo nature of their relationship might be appealing to some readers but not so much for me.  I mean because Reid is a Chasseur, he has killed tons of women and girls because of his religious creed as Chasseur and this is something Lou has to accept about him? Not an appealing dynamic.

Now with that said I feel like there is a bit of a controversy with this book as it features a rather steamy sex scene for YA while they are two consenting people having a positive experience,  I can see how younger teens may not want to read this.

I'm just actually really curious why this YA? The perspective felt like it could have been an adult fantasy novel.  The characters are 18 but read much older, they are established in who they are and what they want. And I know when you are young a teenager a few years makes a big difference but they treated a 16-year-old character like he was much younger than them.

Readers looking for a darker YA romance with anti-heroes, snarky female characters, magic, and some witch related female-rage will enjoy the start to this unpredictable YA duology.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Wicked King and Queen of Nothing Holly Black


In 2019 I swam back into the YA fantasy audiobooks waters and I’ve had a great time. When I listen to a good fantasy audiobook I just get transported into the author’s imagination and no series has done that more for me more than Holly Black’s Folk of The Air series.

That said, I wasn’t entirely on board with the direction this series took and that mostly came down to me not shipping Jude and Cardan as much as Black wanted me to.

In Wicked King, Jude has control of the crown but she’s working against time and once again finds herself in the middle of deadly power games, deceptions, and burgeoning war. Except for this time, there is some Undersea thrown in!

Much like with The Cruel Prince I was sucked in by Black’s prose and Caitlin Kelly’s lively performance on the audiobook. Black loves faeries (seriously...she even had her ears modified to points) and her enthusiasm shows in her writing. She lingers on descriptions of food, clothes and appearances and pulls every detail out of the scene.

But this book had some serious sophomore book syndrome. I was surprised when I was 58% into it and nothing had really happened. After reading Queen of Nothing, it’s clear to me Black was using this book to set up the plot twist at the end and the events of the next book.

This book also...turns up the heat a little bit.

I’m glad I waited to read Wicked King because after that cliffhanger I hoped right into Queen of Nothing. To steal a saying from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast; this thing is on rails from page one. It reminded me of the last few seasons of the ABC show Once Upon A Time as the stakes and loyalties kept changing. Black’s plotting felt very episodic and at times...a little disjointed. While the snake thing was interesting it felt like it came out of nowhere.

I also wasn’t wild about Taryn’s plotline. It seemed like we had to go through the whole drawn-out marriage plotline just as a vehicle so they could switch places in book 3. I will say I really liked the portrayal of how Taryn fit herself into Jude’s new life. Taryn’s enjoyment of things like clothes and needlepoint weren’t treated as useless and she used those things to help Jude.

My problem with the end of this series is that Cardan’s HEA felt undeserved. I think Black tries to show in little ways that he had evolved beyond the cruel prince but it never came full circle. Especially after Jude had to give up so much to fight for her place. Black made us feel bad for him instead of showing him on an active journey to be better. This tweet sums up my thoughts about his redemption:

When Jess gets around to reading this book she’s going to be doing the I told you so dance because I was convinced Black was doing the Protagonist Journey to Villian thing with Jude and not writing a love story. I  just don’t like them as a couple. I was definitely 2.5x the love scene because I wasn’t into it.

Also, my last nitpick, at the very end when they go to the mortal world the tone of the book just felt so different. I almost felt like I was reading fanfiction. I do still kind of like the series but overall it left me feeling kind of bitter.

Why is it that in every YA fantasy after you have sex you either die or something bad happens to you? This happens every time.

Also, when Cardan breaks the crown literally all I could think about was this

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Tarnished Are The Stars by Rosiee Thor

Rating: Unrated | 384 pages | Lyrical Shine | Scholastic Press| 10/15/2019 | 

Tarnished Are The Stars is one of those rare standalone fantasy young adult novels--something I am always here for. In this futuristic Sci-fi tale three teens on opposite sides of the political spectrum of Earth Adjacent; a new Luddite Victorianesque planet settled after technology destroyed Earth. The queen rules from above in a space station where Eliza serves as the queen's personal spy, down below on Earth Adjacent the commissioner rules with one iron rule. No tech. a decree that stands even-while though his son Nathaniel's life depends on his illegal clockwork heart. Living on the outside is  Anna Thatcher known as "The Mechanic" a young mechanic and tech smuggler living in a secret village where everyone needs a clockwork hearts to survive. Anna is an outlaw and when Nathaniel decides to prove himself to his father by capturing her Nathaniel finds himself mixed up in a rebellion that will reveal deep family secrets.

This book is an easy comp to the Cinder by Marissa Meyer because as the three teens are brought together by circumstance, they have an easy banter and humorous back and forth like the Lunar Chronicles, all while they lead a  rebellion against space-dwelling overlords.

This book packs a lot and while I admire Thor's ability to tell a complete story and the representation of queer characters just having adventures; I feel like there wasn't time to get immersed in this world, plus the instalove (I know there was a whole conversation about this was on Book Twitter) was so instant it gave me whiplash. The books gets off to a solid start and while I was invested in the characters and their separate stories but it was once they converged that the pace suddenly took off.   I'm just..not sure I 100% understood the ending and it felt like the story was working backward trying to explain the world.

I found Nathaniel to be a standout male protagonist I've read in a while. So many times in fantasy the male characters are these bastons to strength and decisiveness but he really had to go through it to come into his own, a role that is oftentimes delegated to female characters. Because this is a standaloneI'm excited to see what Thor does next.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Jackpot by Nic Stone

I forgot to write a  book review for this book and I read it so long ago; so please check out the audiobook review I wrote for AudioFile magazine! This was narrated by Nic Stone and I was blown away by her performance.

Listeners will find winning humor in this audiobook as narrator and author Nic Stone provides a flawless, upbeat performance. She gives voice to Rico and Zan--teenagers on a mission to find an unclaimed winning lottery ticket that could help Rico's struggling family. Stone taps into Rico's perseverance and strength as she tries to keep her family financially afloat. To track down the winning ticket, she reluctantly ropes in Zan, whose breezy laid-back tone reflects his privileged upbringing--opposites quickly attract! Listeners get the bonus of hearing the flirtatious back-and-forth between the teens, including Zan's capricious way of mispronouncing Rico's surname. Stone also brings a delightfully over-the-top performance to the inanimate objects that act as a Greek chorus.

Psst. Don't forget to check out AudioFile Magazine's website and podcast for more audiobook content.

In Search of Us by Ava Dellaria

Rating: Unrated | 384 Pages| Contemporary YA  |  | Release Date: 2/26/2019

Angie's family has always been her and her mother Marilyn. Their bond is unbreakable but when Angie finds evidence that there might be more to the death of the father she never knew; she sets off on a road trip to L.A with her estranged ex-boyfriend to where the story of her past began. Which is where Marilyn's story starts in 1998 Los Angeles.

One of the things that intrigued me about this book was the idea of telling a story of teenagers in two different decades.  Angie's story focuses on her complicated relationship with her ex-boyfriend and her fear of love and commitment but the parts that stand out about her story are the ones that tied to her mother's.  Marilyn's story had more weight to it as she and her mother find themselves relying on the charity of an alcoholic uncle after Marilyn's burgeoning acting/modeling career hits a standstill.  Dellaria really digs into life as a teen in L.A with not much money, time to spare and big dreams.  Marilyn has ambitions outside fame and finds a kindred spirit in James her Black teenage neighbor. It's illuminating going back and forth and watching how Marilyn's dreams and hopes for the future inform Angie's present.

With that said there is a reveal about Angie's father towards the end that *slight spoiler* has to do with Marilyn's racist uncle and police brutality that I wish could have been explored more. The trauma felt so focused on Marilyn and not on the Black family that was torn apart.

In Search of Us is a tidy short YA-novel with a unique structure but the ultimate tragedy in this book didn't quite get its full due.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: ★★.5  | 9 hours 54 minutes| Fantasy YA | Henry Holt & Co| Release Date: 09/27/2016

If Six of Crows was like a Victorian heist movie then Crooked Kingdom reads like the follow-up television series. Apart from coming off as more episodic, the characters get kind of flanderized, the plot is a little bloated leaving this big finale with some hits and misses.

After narrowly escaping the ice court this band of thieves has to pull one last heist---well it's actually a handful more cons and then a heist to set things right. Crooked Kingdom keeps its signature sardonic wit and rhythmic humor that makes the characters enduring while also taking a level in badass when necessary.

I've come down on being pretty "meh" on this book. I feel like the things that made Six of Crows unique weighed down this 500 plus page book, namely the flashbacks. The flashbacks in Six of Crows were a wonderful way of introducing readers to the characters by showing not telling (except for Wylan and Jesper who get their stories told in this book for some reason ? I felt like this should have been in the first book so we understood their motivations) but here it just felt like padding.

Again, I sort of feel like the magical system in this book is still not there for me. I've read five Grisha books and if you told me the abilities a Grisha had I would not be able to tell you which Grisha order they were in. Someone, please tell me what is the difference between a Healer and Heartrender?

I'm going to get really 2019 here and say I didn't love some of the race stuff in this book. For one the fact that Wylan spends more than half the book as Kuwei felt like magical brownface to me. It was hardly central to the plot and I think if you're going to have a privileged white character become a highly othered minority then maybe focus more on the impact of that. There were a few throwaway lines but overall it wasn't even that central to the plot *Spoiler* especially considering he gets put back in the end. Also, I got real tired of Kaz reminding Jesper and Wylan (as Kuwie) that they would stick out in certain places. I mean JESPER knows. He doesn't need you to tell him.

I feel like we were introduced to several villains and antagonists, so much so that not one of them really shined.  Inej was giving a pretty compelling adversary who I wished would have shown up earlier in the books. I'm pretty sure some of this was to set up for King of Scars.

Overall, I thought the book was okay, a must-read for fans of the characters but  I found myself missing the solid focus and plotting of Six of Crows.

Friday, December 20, 2019

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Rating: ★★★+.5 | 201 pages | Saga Press | Adult Science Fiction | 7/16/2019
In recent years I’ve been picking up more adult sci-fi. I’ve seen This Is How You Lose The Time War all over the bookternet. The idea of two soldiers on opposite sides of war falling in love intrigued me and when I saw this on the shelf at my library I picked it up.

I’m going to steal the character descriptions from the book jacket because it’s kind of hard for me to describe them. Our two soldiers are Red, who belongs to the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia; and Blue who belongs to Garden, a vast consciousness embedded in all organic material.

The two soldiers exist in the far future and travel up and down the braid of time to sway past events to win the war. They’ve only caught glimpses of each other over the long years of the war, but when Blue leaves a message for Red they start a relationship that could put them both in danger.

I found the story and concept captivating and imaginative. This is a majority epistolatory novel(lla?) and all the ways El-Mohtar and Gladstone create for Red and Blue to send secret letters are so inventive. But I’ll be honest, I had a tough time reading this book. The language is very literary in a way I’m not used to so I was constantly re-reading paragraphs to unlock the meanings. I think this is book that definitely holds up to re-reads and examination

I did part of it on audio and the narrators Cynthia Ferrell and Emily Woo Zeller sounded so similar that I couldn’t always tell whose “voice” was reading the letters and it kept throwing me off. I didn’t feel like they brought anything to the performances and I almost think this works better not on audio.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone have cooked up a fascinating, creative story about love, war, and fate.

In some ways, this book felt like a much more modern send-up of Good Omens, another book penned by a SFF writing duo about two beings on opposite sides of war to control the future. Except in this book the same gendered characters get a romantic relationship.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chein (A Noodle Shop Mystery #1)

Rating: ★★   | 328 pages | St. Martin's Press | Cozy Mystery | 3/27/2018
I really don’t know how to review a cozy mystery. I picked this book up because I was in the mood for something different and I like seeing authors of color in spaces that have been traditionally very homogeneous.

Death by Dumpling felt very much like an origin story as we are introduced to Asia Village--a quaint Asian shopping center in Ohio---and Lana Lee, our 27- year-old half-English half-Tawainese protagonist. Lana is working at her family’s restaurant in Asia Village after quitting her corporate job and when she delivers the dumpling that kills the owner of Asia Village, she reluctantly joins the case to find the true murderer.

I found Chien’s breezy first-person writing enjoyable as we met the residents of Asia Village and Detective Trudeau--who I think plays a significant role in other books. The book fell a little flat for me but I’m curious to read the next book.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Crier's War by Nina Vareela

Rating: Unrated | 320 pages | HaperTeen | Fantasy| 10/01/2019 |

Automae are alchemically created "Made"  humans designed to serve as humanoid companions and servants. They were not supposed to rise up, they were not supposed to conquer humanity...but they did. It's been nearly fifty years and The Age of Automae is still on the rise, but a human rebellion is on the horizon.

The world created in Nin Vareela's Crier's War is a twist on the uncanny valley and robot apocalypse. The highly detailed world-building and the mythology was one of the best parts of the book,  but this book hinges so hard on what felt like a lukewarm forbidden romance between Crier, an Automae noble and Ayla a vengeful human girl working in secret for the resistance and motivated only by her need to kill Crier. 

Crier's War has a promising start as Ayla and Crier have an accidental run-in where Ayla witnesses Crier...cry, something Automae are not supposed to do. As Crier finds herself experiencing new emotions she decides to keep Ayla close by making her her handmaid. But the more time Crier spends with Ayla the more she begins to feel the one thing Automae aren't supposed to have; passion.

This could have been so compelling, but in a book that is about forbidden emotions ALL of the emotions felt a little muted. 

There is a lot of telling not showing, I feel like the characters don't get a chance to really form a relationship  There are a handful of moments where we as the reader are shown the two getting closer but it felt sequestered to just those moments.  I think I wanted more of the day-to-day watching how Ayla takes on the trusted and intimate role of Crier's handmaiden when she wants to kill her. 

We don't get to see them discover and face obstacles together and whenever conflict arises, instead of showing them dealing with it together, the plot quickly separates them. For example, there is a scene where Crier discovers that a forbidden Made (read: magical) object Ayla wears holds memories that are important to the history of Automae. When Crier discovers this, instead of seeing the characters deal with this revelation together; Ayla is quickly hauled away and the fact that MAJOR WORLD BUILDING SECRETS are contained in the necklace gets put in the background until later? 

I really liked the potential of Crier, she is a political-minded character but there wasn't much focus on that part.  Instead, a big part of Crier's character development is that she doesn't understand how relationships work (Automae don't have emotional relationships) but she wants to make Ayla happy so she gives her special treatment not realizing this would alienate her from the other human staff.  But considering Crier is like a genius political prodigy wouldn't she realize that wasn't a good idea? I mean wouldn't politicking prepare you for that? 
There are also a lot of folk tales in the book. The characters use fables or stories to help illustrate points and I feel like these could have been taken out so we could focus more on the relationship.  
I think one of the disconnects in the book and what a Fantasy needs is a good adversary and I honestly couldn't tell if the villain was the villain because it was done so subtly. Crier is engaged to Scyre Kinok, an ambitious Automae who wants Automae to create a culture outside of humanity. He is a very passive villain. All of the characters literally just sort of allude to the shady activities Scyre has been up to, but the whole time I sort of thought it was setting up that he wasn't the villain . . . but I guess he was ?
I really wanted to like this one. It has such good world-building and a great premise but I felt like the characters weren't put together in a compelling way. I liked that this was a story full of female characters in the forefront. This book was comped a lot fo The Winner's Curse which gave me the same unfulfilled vibes. 
We are lead to believe that Crier has a fifth pillar of passion and that's why she is able to cry and why she is falling for Ayla. But then at the end, it's revealed that it was a lie. And I get it if it's like Crier's could love "all along" but then WHY COULD SHE CRY?

 And like her name is Crier so I thought perhaps when her father Made named her Crier because of this but no, she's not special at all.  Also, there is a mad Queen who comes to visit and it's revealed that she is in love with Ayla's brother (who she thought had died) and Crier is aware of this so it seems like Autome falling in love isn't that rare? 

Monday, December 9, 2019

End of The Year Mini Reviews

Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert 

Picture Us in the Light is a quiet contemporary YA that explores the microscopic world of first-generation American Danny Cheng and his idyllic Cupertino suburb. Danny is an aspiring artist and with his supportive best friends and parents he is ready to take on senior year and head to RISD. It should all be perfect but his life begins to fall apart around him when he discovers his parents and the life they built for him aren't what they seem.

This book slowly reveals all it's secrets--some which are more predictable than others--as Danny goes searching for the secrets and sacrifices his parents made to give him a future.  I liked how in this book Danny and his classmates truly care and support each other. As a reader, you are instantly transported into the enclosed world of Cupertino that Danny is now struggling to hold on to. - Jess

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I read this very early this year and forgot to write a review! Celeste Ng's sophomore novel takes readers inside the fishbowl of the upper-middle-class town of Shaker Heights, Ohio where the presence of a single mother and nomadic artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter sets the seemingly perfect Richardson family on edge. The Richardson teens are enthralled by the non-traditional Warren family and  I personally like books that are not YA, but are about younger characters. I feel like the perspective is more reflective and there is less of a need for the characters to be earnest.

The only thing I knew for sure in this book is that it features a custody battle between a mother who abandoned her baby and the wealthy family trying to adopt her, but that's really just one of the many weaving plots in this atmospheric book. ★★ - Jess

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Told in a mix of first-person narration and podcast transcripts, Sadie is the story of the titular 19-year-old Sadie Hunter as she sets out on a journey to avenge her 13-year-old sister’s brutal murder. Summers crafts a propulsive and heartbreaking narrative that interrogates the narratives we have about missing girls. The perspective of an NPR-like podcast following in Sadie’s footsteps was a unique addition and the full cast audiobook adds a radio play quality to the audiobook.

Unpopular opinion: While I think this book is good, I think it’s an example of a book that is marketed as YA but doesn’t feel at all like YA. It’s not so much the subject matter but the perspective feels like this could have easily been an adult novel. In fact the cover blurb is by adult thriller author AJ Finn (who...has his own stranger than fiction story)  ★★- Kat

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Unrated | 432 pages | Inkyard Press | Contemporary | 09/03/2019 | unrated
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is a book that defies categorization as Alaine, an aspiring journalist and daughter of one of the biggest Black women in broadcasting, (read: Joy-Ann Ried or Melissa Harris-Perry ) begins a project to follow the history of her Haitian family. Told in diary entries, e-mails, letters and text this book takes some deeply emotional turns and dives into the complications of mother-daughter relationships and unspoken family history--with a touch of magical realism. 

Right out of the gate Alaine is an extroverted over-confident character with a story to tell,  I always enjoy seeing extroverted female characters in YA,  her confidence is somewhat well earned as she is the daughter of a psychologist and famous talk show host--who hails from Haitian royalty. When a tragic diagnosis puts her mother's career in jeopardy she and Alaine head down to Haiti, where Alaine becomes wrapped up in the possibility of setting her family free from a curse that has followed them for centuries.

We get to follow Alaine as she meets her extended family, learns about her parent's roots while also working for her aunt's start-up where she has a slight romance that I kind of could have done without, it felt like it had been placed in last minute.

This book actually strikes a pretty sweeping emotional turn and I  was sort of surprised by the dark and somber turn this book took as we learn about secrets of Alaine's mother's past and how it all comes back to the present.  It is interesting seeing Alaine, who is used to being decisive and loud, have to listen and really consider his actions as she starts looking into the curse.

This debut novel is a surprising look at how deep roots of a family tree are and the ever change tides of mother-daughter relationships.

Because of the bright colors on the cover and Alaine's spunky attitude, I thought this was going to be a bright, funny summer read. I mean hate to complain but I truly feel like this book does not have an appropriate cover. I liked this cover but it looks a lot like Terry McMillian's last book cover. I think it's something about the shades and lipstick that looks very...adult.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

20 Books We Can't Wait To Read In 2020

It's that time of the year again! Jess and I have scoured lists and publishing announcements to give you 20 of the books we can't wait to read in 2020.  You can add them to your to-read shelf from our Goodreads list

1. Displaced by Alyssa Cole
Beloved romance author Alyssa Cole is dipping her ink into the thriller genre! There isn't much out about this book out except that it is Rear Window meets Get Out.  - Kat

2. Well Played by Jen DeLuca
Well Met was one of my favorite romances of 2019 and I can't wait to see what DeLuca has in store for Willow Creek's other tavern wench! - Kat


3. A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison 1/7/2020
Wealthy golden girl Nandy Smith fights her attraction to the boy from the wrong side of the tracks when he moves in with her family. 2020 will be a banner year for Black teen romances! - Kat

4. Then, Now, Always by Mona Shroff 1/28/2020

This second chance romance features an estranged hero and heroine coming together to help their teenage daughter. - Jess


5. Of Curses and Kisses Of Curses and Kisses Sandhya Menon  2/18/2020
I enjoyed Menon's debut and Of Curses and Kisses is a Beauty and The Beast retelling where teens from two opposing families attend the same boarding school. - Jess

6. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel 2/15/2020
Station Eleven was one of my favorite reads when it first came out and I can't wait to read her latest. - Kat

7. The New David Espinoza  by Fred Aceves 2/11/2020
Aceves debut was so nuanced and quiet that I didn't think we'd hear from him again, but I'm glad to see he has another book out this one tackling steroid abuse and male body image disorders. - Jess


8. The Kingdom Of Back by Marie Lu 3/3/2020
I haven't read the blurb for this but we are big Lu fans around here so we are up for whatever she does next. - Jess

9. Only Black Girls In Town  By Brandy Colbert 3/24/2020
Brandy Colbert's YA books are a favorite on this blog! She writes the kinds of books I would have loved as a teen and I'm excited to see what she does with her debut middle grade. Also shout out to her other 2020 book, The Voting Booth - Kat

10. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Mass 3/5/2020
I haven't gotten around to reading Mass' YA series but I'm really curious to see what her adult fiction will be like - Jess

11. The City We Became by N.K Jemisin 3/24/2020
In this new series from Hugo Award-winning author N.K Jemison, 5 strangers come together to defend New York City. I'm still working through her high fantasy series but I have a feeling her urban fantasy may be more up my sleeve. - Jess


12. Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova 4/28 2020
In this Spanish Inquisition inspired fantasy a girl who can steal memories becomes wrapped up in royal politics. - Kat


13. Running by Natalia Sylvester 5/5/2020
There's been a spotlight on political activism and advocacy these past few years and I'm curious the perspective of this book about a teenage girl watching her Cuban-American father run for president. - Jess

14. Deal With The Devil by Kit Rocha 5/12/2020
Indie authors Kit Rocha make their jump to traditional publishing with this trilogy about mercenary librarians and super soldiers in a post-apocalyptic America. As you do. - Kat

15. Camp - LC Rosen 5/26/2020
Rosen's debut contemporary Jack of Hearts was such a groundbreaking portrayal of teens and sexuality and I can't wait to see what he does in this comedy about teens at a queer summer camp and toxic masculinity. - Kat

16. You Should See Me in A Crown by Leah Johnson 6/2/2020
In Leah Johnson's debut novel a girl who never felt like she belonged in the spotlight runs for prom queen to win a scholarship...and falls for the competition. -Kat

17. Now That I've Found You by Kristina Forest 6/2/2020
I loved Forest's debut and her sophomore novel about a disgraced starlet and delivery boy on an adventure through New York City sounds great. - Kat


18. A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee 7/14/2020
A Korean-American baker falls for a jaded food critic who gave her a bad review. Also, lol this cover just tickles me! -  Kat

19. Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda 7/28/2020
I really want to read more under the radar YA Fantasy and this re-telling of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai sounds fun. - Kat


20. The Bride Bet by Tessa Dare 8/15/2020
This is pretty much the only historical romance series I'm keeping up with and as long as there are books in this series they will be on this list. I feel like we haven't gotten much about Nicola and I can't wait to see what Dare has in store for her. - Kat


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