The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (★★★★☆½)
This super original novel — Walker’s sophomore follow up to The Age of Miracles — explores a mysterious illness that quickly infects residents of an allegedly cursed college town in California, trapping the infected in a perpetual state of sleep. With a premise that’s as intriguing as her first novel (if you’re not in the know, it’s set in a world where the earth’s rotation begins to gradually slow down), it’s no surprise that I was immediately hooked. Pick up The Dreamers for the unique story, stay for the beautiful prose.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (★★★★☆½)
True crime enthusiast Stevie is determined to solve the decades-old murder and kidnapping at the prestigious Ellingham Academy boarding school. With a story that alternates between the present day and the events of 1936, when Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped, Johnson’s new series is a fun-page turner full of a lovable cast of weirdos and several intriguing mysteries to solve. The only downside? The book ends on a major cliffhanger that will leave you wanting so much more.
My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Robin (★★★★☆)
Much like Hot Tub Time Machine, you know exactly what you’re getting with this graphic novel. Starring a cutesy girl named Nora who happens to be dating a bear, My Boyfriend is a Bear is a surprisingly adorable story with even more adorable artwork from artist Cat Farris. A little weird at times (for obvious bear on human reasons), this graphic novel may be a metaphor for prejudices and the way that opposites attract … but also might not be a metaphor at all? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (★★★★☆½)
Everyone’s favorite smutty couple is back in this lengthy novella that bridges the gap between ACOWAR and the next — as of yet untitled — book in the ACOTAR series. While it was great to hang out with all my friends again, I think Maas spent too much time setting tiny things into motion for her next trilogy (wasn’t there enough of that in ACOWAR?) when all I wanted was 200 pages of Feysand fan fiction.
Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau (★★★☆☆½)
I had high hopes for Dividing Eden, a young adult novel whose premise promised to focus on an epic, backstabbing rivalry between two royal twins fighting over one throne. Unfortunately, the rivalry was far from believable thanks to a main character who suddenly becomes a murderous monster after one five-minute conversation at a party. It’s not really character development if it develops from nowhere.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (★★★★☆½)
Michelle McNamara is the queen of compulsively readable true crime. Sadly, she suddenly passed away before she could finish the first (of what should have been many) nonfiction books, leaving the novel to be finished by her two researchers. Despite this setback, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark still feels like a mostly complete look at the rapist and serial-killer McNamara dubbed the Golden State Killer. And a unique glimpse at the true crime author who was obsessed with discovering his identity.
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 Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace (★★★★★)
Lovelace’s second –and in my opinion superior — poetry collection in the Women Are Some Kind of Magic series is a love letter to feminism and all the nasty women of the world. Once again split into four parts (The Trial, The Burning, The Firestorm and the Ashes), this time around Lovelace takes aim at a broken patriarchal system through the lens of a witch hunt, inspiring and motivating readers through her quotable poetry.
Opal: A Raven Cycle Story by Maggie Stiefvater (★★★★☆½)
This short story follow up to The Raven King focuses on Ronan (the best raven boy), Adam (the okayest raven boy) and their dream made sort of love child Opal as the trio plans to create a brand-new Cabeswater. Told from Opal’s perspective, this is the coda The Raven Cycle deserved, now with 100% more adorably domestic Ronan/Adam moments.
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (★★★★☆½)
Every summer in the town of Sparrow three accused witches return from the dead to seek their revenge, taking over the bodies of three young girls and luring men to their deaths. Moody, suspenseful and atmospheric, The Wicked Deep is set in the seemingly magical town of Sparrow (they sell cakes that make you forget), whose dark past is now a successful tourist attraction. One room facing the haunted ocean please!