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.
Final Girls by Riley Sager (★★★★☆½)
A decade ago, Quincy Carpenter became a final girl, the sole survivor of a horror movie-esque massacre. Struggling to move past the title, Quincy is dragged back into the spotlight when one of her fellow final girls is found dead. Deemed “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King, Riley Sager’s Final Girls is a suspenseful thrill ride that will have you guessing* until the very end.
love, and you by Gretchen Gomez (★★★☆☆½)
Much like Milk and Honey, I didn’t find love, and you nearly as fulfilling as The Princess Saves Herself in This One — both of which were recommended based on my fondness for Amanda Lovelace’s poetry. However, much like with the work of Rupi Kaur, Gomez has some really great and touching pieces toward the end of her collection.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (★★★★☆½)
Lord Henry Montague (AKA Monty) is a fashionable rake about to embark on a Grand Tour of Europe alongside his best friend and the secret love of his life, Percy. It’s the 18th century road trip novel you never knew you wanted! While I greatly enjoyed Monty’s hijinks and his slow-burn romance with Percy, I was a little thrown by the strange, almost supernatural turn the story took.