Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (★★★★☆)
Super adorable and simultaneously super sad, Dumplin’ tells the story of Willowdean Dickson, a self-professed “fat” southern girl dealing with the death of her Dolly Parton-loving aunt, her former beauty queen mom’s hard to live up to expectations, and a best friend who is pulling away from her. To make matters worse, she is falling for a boy at work … a boy she doesn’t think she deserves. Desperate to fulfill her deceased aunt’s dreams, Will — the definitely not beauty pageant type — enters the Miss Clover City pageant, changing her life forever.
Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch (★★★★☆)
Despite being incredibly dumb, Tarnished is the compulsively readable follow up to Perfected, which takes place in a world where young women are genetically engineered as pets for the wealthy. Tarnished takes an even darker turn than its predecessor, exploring the tragic fate of unwanted pets. Is it good? Absolutely not. Is it fun? Sort of. Will you keep reading regardless? Of course you will.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (★★★★☆½)
Described as The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation, Red Clocks follows four very different women (a wife and mother, a barren teacher, a pregnant teen, and a mysterious homeopath) who live in a not-so-distant future where abortion is illegal, in-vitro fertilization is no more and single people are no longer allowed to adopt. Perfect for our current political climate, Zumas’ novel is a frightening and very feminist look at the dangers of life legally beginning at conception.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (★★★★☆½)
The lives of the four Gold siblings are irrevocably changed when they visit a fortune teller in 1969; a fortune teller who reveals the exact date of their deaths. What follows is an in-depth exploration of the family over the next five decades, from innocent Simon who decides to live his truth in San Francisco, to Klara who follows her dreams of being a magician, elder brother Daniel who is struggling with the curse he brought upon his family, and Varya, who is dealing with it all through her longevity research.
A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan (★★★★☆)
In anticipation of Kirsty Logan’s The Gloaming, I finally got around to reading A Portable Shelter, her book of interconnected short stories. Simultaneously fantastical and horrific, Logan’s collection of fairy tales for a new generation contain everything from dragons to werewolves, selkies, witches, circus animals and ghost girls.
Son of the Dawn by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan (★★★★★)
Shadowhunter creator Cassandra Clare is back with another series of short stories. This time around, the ten stories take place in Shadow Markets around the world, and have one connective thread: a regular market visitor known as Brother Zachariah. In the first tale in the new series, the disturbingly attractive Silent Brother helps bring a very young Jace to the New York Institute. Hells yes.
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (★★★★★)
I didn’t think I would enjoy a novel about vikings, but I am so here for this young adult viking novel! Eelyn lives in a violent world where two rival clans battle to satisfy an ancient rivalry between the gods, but can age old prejudices be set aside to deal with a threat that could destroy both clans forever? Full of romance, spectacular world building, and badass female warriors, Young’s debut novel finally deals with a world where monsters were the real monsters all along.
Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer (★★★☆☆½)
Lexa Hillyer’s young adult re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale features not one but two princesses: the famed Aurora, who has no sense of touch and is mute, and her half sister Isabelle, who is blind. Unfortunately for these unique heroines (who had their senses tithed by faeries when they were young), the story plods along with seemingly no purpose, and I found myself ultimately hoping for more faerie POVs and less chapters about the sisters.