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.
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A dark horror fantasy, Albert’s debut novel is about a fairy tale author turned cult phenomenon, and her granddaughter Alice, who has been raised as far away from everything to do with Althea Proserpine and the Tales from the Hinterland as possible. That is until her mother is kidnapped and she’s forced to learn the horrible truth of her past. From the dark fairy stories within the book, to a trip to a magical land and a journey of self-discovery, The Hazel Wood is three amazing tales all rolled up in one.
Both funny and horrifying, Grady Hendrix’s re-released novel is one giant walk down nostalgia lane, but with 100% more demonic possession. Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since a disastrous roller rink party, that is until Gretchen goes missing one night and returns possessed by a demon. With everyone else snowed by Demon Gretchen, it is up to Abby to save her bestie with the power of friendship.
The Deep Dark Fears collection is a humorous look at humanity’s strangest and darkest fears. A webcomic turned into two collected editions, Deep Dark Fears and The Creeps are unique looks at strangers’ most horrifying and baseless fears, submitted through Tumblr and illustrated by Krause himself. Get ready to feel slightly less crazy!
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The dynamic writing duo known collectively a Erin Watt are back with another poor girl falls in love with rich guy romance. This time around, 17-year-old Vaughan Bennett is forced to save her struggling family by pretending to be the girlfriend of famous pop star Oakley Ford (a Justin Bieber type). Will their fake love turn into real love? Don’t be stupid, of course it will.
Shenanigans abound in this short story set during the tail end of Cassandra Clare’s Lady Midnight. Watch as all your fan favorites act totally out of character and do incredibly rude things like propose during someone else’s engagement party. While not a necessary read, this short story does bridge the gap between events in Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows, so at least there’s that.
Set in a world where murder is commonplace and gods are real, Sarah Ahiers debut novel starts off incredibly strong, but the world building goes a bit too far when literal ghosts are introduced. Not to mention that horse named Butters. While I ultimately enjoyed the story and any non-ghostly world building, the novel was too uneven for my tastes.
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