Despite reports to the contrary, I did not fall off the face of the planet and forget about my blog. I did, however, find myself busier than I expected for the holidays, PLUS I had some non-YA reading I wanted to get caught up on before the end of 2018. Sometimes a girl just needs some variety in her routine, you know? Anyway, this all combined into the perfect storm of me not reading enough to justify having a separate December blog. So, I decided to just combine the December and January together. Never fear, though! I will be back to a monthly blog for February! I read five wonderful Hot Reads and one that is not a Hot Reads because it is slightly older. I also focused on reading more #OwnVoices titles these past couple of months because it is an important movement in the book world, and I like to learn about other worldviews. Without further ado, they are:

HOT READS

This novel reminded me why I loved the show “Hart of Dixie.” Southern debutante culture is so foreign to me, but something that is as American as apple pie. The main character of this book has an insider-outsider view of the whole thing, as she was not raised in the culture but paid by her grandmother to participate in it as a teenager. She was a wonderful foil for the other girls, and I loved her snark. The cutthroat nature of the debutante season was also the perfect backdrop for multiple mysteries. Barnes did a good job of swerving towards the end and surprised me, but she also left a lot of unanswered questions so I am assuming there will be a sequel. All I can say is that if you want a fun, quick read about how messed up people are against a backdrop of wealth and privilege in the South, grab this book!

I will be honest—the ending of this novel took me completely by surprise. Considering how much I read, that is not an easy feat so hat’s off to Ms. Brashear for that. This book was so different from what I expected it to be when I picked it up. It is set in the 1980s during the height of the Cold War, and the atomic bomb is as much a character in the book as the people who occupy the small Arkansas town it takes place in. This novel is a character study not only of the main character, but of the people around her, including the movie stars and director who come to town to film the movie. It did make me laugh, but it also is super dark, so I think this title is more for the older teen audience. I think that older teens and adults who enjoy a quirky read about regular people in extraordinary situations would enjoy checking this out.

This was one sequel that I had to read the moment it was released. I love Holly Black, and The Cruel Prince was my favorite book I read last year. I felt that this sequel was not quite as good as the first book, but Black still managed to create a page-turner with so many surprises. I loved that we got to see more of Cardan’s character and get a little more of his backstory. Jude is also a fascinating main character, in that she is not a good person, but as a reader I totally understand and sympathize with her. Nothing ever seems to be black and white in the world of Faerie. Black also wrote quite the cliff hanger, AGAIN, and has me questioning everyone’s motives. Now I have to wait another year to get answers, ugh! You definitely need to pick up this sequel if you enjoyed The Cruel Prince, and if you haven’t read these books yet, I highly suggest you do!

HOT READS AND #OWNVOICES

This book was so much fun to read! The entire time I felt like Kagawa took all my favorite anime’s, stirred them into a mixing bowl, sprinkled it with her own unique take, and baked a yummy book cake. I really appreciate now how rich a culture and history Japan has to have so many different stories to tell with all the same basic mythology. This book is full of adventure—there are samurai, ghosts, evil witches, demons—but it also has two main characters that share narration duties and are well-developed. The other characters do not have as much detail, but I think we may get more in the sequels. I really can’t wait to find out what happens next. If you are a fan of anime or manga, this is the book for you! I also think anyone who wants to read a fantasy title that is based on something other than the western tradition would also enjoy this title.

This book taught me so much and gave me all the feels. I felt that the first few chapters were a little slow, but then I became really invested in the emotional journey of both protagonists. The story jumps back and forth between 2017 and 1955, and it shows how the lives of queer teens have changed (and how some things have stayed the same). I had no idea there was a genre of lesbian pulp novels back in the 50s and 60s, and I did not know anything about queer culture in New York during that time. This book also provided a timely reminder of the Lavender Scare and McCarthyism, and how institutionalized hatred has real effects on the lives of real people. But it is also a book about love–between families, friends, and romantic partners. Talley did a wonderful job melding all these elements together to tell a heartwarming story. I recommend that everyone read this book.

#OWNVOICES NOVEL

This book had been on my TBR list for a while, and since I wanted to focus on #OwnVoices reads, I knew now was the time to grab it! I love classical Indian literature, and so when I saw that this novel is loosely based on the Mahabrahata, but in space, I was sold. I can tell that this series will definitely live up to the epic it is based on. I loved that the space setting was unique in that there were many different gods in this universe who actively participate in the lives of the mortals who live on planets and orbiting space stations. Mandanna’s world-building is excellent, but she did not neglect character development for it. I loved that the main character is a strong female who tries to fight destiny. Also, she has a sentient space ship! I recommend this book to fantasy and science fiction fans who are looking for something different!   

Shannon is a Teen and IT Librarian for the Kirkwood Public Library. She is new to St. Louis and enjoys exploring the city. Her hobbies include gaming of all kinds, reading fantasy and true crime books, and working on her novel and comic book series. Her favorite authors include Terry Brooks, Agatha Christie, Ann Rule, and Holly Black.