I thought I’d list for you my favorite reads that were published in or before 2018. I know not everyone has access to ARCs, but more importantly, we should be showing backlist books some love.
If Jenn wrote a phonebook, I would buy it. She writes the most magical and authentic contemporaries that I have ever read. I don’t even need to read the synopsis to know that I’ll love the book. Starry Eyes is no exception. Friends to enemies to lovers? SIGN ME UP. I loved the MC’s banter in this one and the aspect of finding their way back to each other, even if they’re not quite who they were at the start.
Anna-Marie writes the most magical books around. There are always aspects of large, close-knit families, periods on the page, and strong females. Gender is explored throughout all of the books, from gender non-conforming to trans characters. I love the aspects of Latino culture. Also, this book has forever ruined swans for me. I’m honestly terrified they’re going to come and try to turn me into a swan. Blanca & Roja is a story of two sisters, learning to be who they are and not who they are supposed to be. It’s a story of strong women doing anything and everything for the people they love.
The Song of Achilles is one of my favorite books on the entire planet. When I saw Madeline Miller was reimagining classic greek characters again, I was over the moon. Instead of the witch who gets blamed for like half of Odysseus problems, we get a glimpse at a feminist version of Circe instead. The writing was rich and lavish as always, making me fall in love with history all over again. It’s a story of finding out who you are and how far you’ll go to defend those you love.
This was Hocus Pocus but with actual murder. The cover is absolutely stunning and so are the words inside of it. I love YA’s recent trend of reimagining witches and I could read a million witch books and never be satisfied. I can’t get this book out of my head. It had the most well-executed mystery I have ever read in my entire life. It challenges the idea of forgiveness and the idea of what makes a person good. I would recommend you drop everything you think you’re going to read and pick this one up instead.
This book will crush your heart into a million little pieces and you’ll thank Courtney for it. The dual perspectives between West and Sadie were perfect and they corresponded so well together. They didn’t blend together seamlessly and we would often be missing parts of Sadie’s side but it was always for a reason. West gave us the outside perspective, the perspective we would have as readers of the case or, in this case, readers of the book. Sadie broke my heart into a million pieces and I was instantly rooting for her. Her perception gives us insight into what actually happened and what West gets right and wrong. The devotion Sadie had to her sister was heartbreaking. Sadie has one goal throughout this book. She was going to go kill the bastard who killed her sister, whether she made it back or not. But does she succeed?
This book was everything teenagers need when it comes to
sex ed, specifically queer teens. Jack doesn’t just tackle specific problems to the LGBTQ+, but also sex in general. He’s promoting being comfortable in and with your body, whether you want sex all the time or don’t want it at all. I was so excited to see BDSM and asexuality talked about and named on the page. However, It’s not all about sex and there’s an underlying mystery going on. Who is trying to control what Jack does and says? How he behaves? There’s a high school full of suspects and an advice column getting more hits and questions than they could’ve imagined they’d ever get.
This is a harrowing look at sexual assault/rape and how it affects not only the victim/survivors life but of all of those around them. This is a deep dive into regret, blame, and grief. She feels guilty for being raped as if somehow it was her fault. She regrets pushing away those important to her. She blames her Uncle for abandoning her and her rapist for leaving her with such a gaping hole. She also has to grapple with moving back to the town where it all happened, after her estranged Uncle comes to claim her from the foster care system. What does this all mean for Grace? And is everything as it seems to be?
This book was nothing like I expected it to be. This is witchy, demony goodness. There are strong girls learning just how strong they are and what they’ll give up to save those they love. There’s a town that may or may not be sentient. There are beautiful horses and a vicious family who has been ruling the island for as long as the residents can remember. Oh, and a demon may or may not be walking the Earth. Who knows. I guess you’ll have to read it to find out.
I’m not usually gravitated towards adult books but this one was a must read. I’m a sucker for stories about journalists, as I am one myself. This felt like the story we would be hearing about if Marilyn Monroe hadn’t died. This has way more twists and turns than I had expected, not to mention there are canon gay characters in it. I loved the tales of Evelyn and what she had to give up to make it in this industry. Our MC Monique is at a crossroads in her life and Evelyn is going to change her life in ways she never could have imagined. There’s forbidden love, the glamour of old Hollywood, and a twist that no one will see coming.
Last but not least, Giant Days. I’ve gotten really into comics in the last year or so and Giant Days continues to be my favorite series. The girls are in college and around the same age as me. Their struggles are painfully relatable and each girl nearly shoots off the page with how real their characterization is. I’m so excited to see where this comic goes next year and what hijinks the girls get themselves stuck in next.