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.
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)_/¯
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On the outside, Scream All Night looks like a horror novel, but twist: it’s actually a coming of age story. The YA debut follows emancipated teen Dario, who is forced back into the family business (which just so happens to be his father’s B-horror movie film studio). Full of an eccentric cast of characters and some tough subject matter, Milman’s novel explores what happens when the monsters are found behind the camera. [Read our creator Q&A with author Derek Milman.]
Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (★★★★★)
I loved this super fast-paced science fiction story more than I ever could have imagined. Full of complex characters and shocking twists and turns, Nyxia features a definitely evil corporation who are taking young people to another planet to mine a mysterious material know as Nyxia. What could go wrong? Since this is the first book in the series, it’s focused solely on the kid’s training before arriving on Eden, a second earth-like planet inhabited by humanoid creatures known as Adamites.
The Traitor’s Kiss started off super promising, but unfortunately, things got real dumb real fast, and the story completely lost me toward the end. Set during an indistinguishable time period where everyone has to be paired by a matchmaker, this book definitely should have been a standalone novel. While things start off great with the matchmaking stuff, this far superior/way more interesting section was mostly glossed over to make way for a time jump and some nonsensical plot about spies and secret princes for no reason.
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The Elizas by Sara Shepard (★★★☆☆½)
Sara Shepard’s latest adult novel is a thriller that features some of my favorite writing mechanisms, including an unreliable narrator and a story within a story. Unfortunately, like the majority of Shepard’s young adult novels, there is a heavy reliance on doubles (no more doppelgangers or twins ever again, please!), and the novel doesn’t get really interesting until about a third of the way through … before completely losing the plot again shortly thereafter.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows (★★★★☆½)
Historical fantasy meets alternate history in this much happier and way more fantastical re-imagining of the life of Lady Jane Grey (AKA the Nine-Day Queen). Told by the trio now known as the Lady Janies, My Lady Jane follows book-loving Jane Grey, who lives in a world where some people can turn into animals. Unbeknownst to Jane, she’s going to be named next in line to the throne by her dying cousin, and she’s about to be married off to a man who is sometimes a horse. Sure it’s super wacky, but it’s also really funny and charming.
Frostblood by Elly Blake (★★★☆☆½)
I had a lot of trouble with the first 75% of Frostblood. Despite being blessedly fast-paced (the only thing that kept me going), the beginning of Blake’s book has a predictable plot that I’ve already read a million times over. Spoilers: the magical girl who can control fire is going to be the chosen one who falls in love with the attractive yet damaged man who can control ice. Thankfully, all that turned around when I got to meet the real villain of the story. Thanks for saving this entire series evil frost king!
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The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell (★★★★★)
The Disaster Artist is the unbelievably true story behind the making of The Room, the so-called worst movie ever made. Written by actor Greg Sestero — who plays The Room‘s Mark — the novel details his tumultuous friendship with the man, the myth, the enigma: Tommy Wiseau. With on-set tales that range from hilarious, to baffling, to downright awkward, this is a must-read for anyone who has ever seen the cult phenomenon that is The Room.
An uneven and pretty slow arc, the 29th volume of The Walking Dead comic suffers slightly from a few snoretastic issues. Thankfully, a brand-new character named the Princess arrives to shake things up. To make matters better, the entire collection ends with a huge emotional bang 74 issues and five years in the making. Promise.
Sometimes you just need a dumb, mindless read, and The Afterlife of Holly Chase is exactly that. This young adult tale inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol follows former socialite and failed Scrooge Holly Chase, a ghost who is now being punished for her sins in life by the workers at Project Scrooge, who force her to become the Ghost of Christmas Past. Nonsensical and predictable, I had so much fun reading this stupid book.
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Who is The Walking Dead‘s most enigmatic villain, and how exactly did he become the psychopathic dick we love to hate? Here’s Negan collects the origin story of the man, the myth, the terrible husband, including the creation of his weapon of choice: Lucille. Rushed at times, the prequel story suffers from its original format (it was released four pages at a time over 16 months and is far too short to fully explain this complex character), but won me over with some great Negan one-liners.
Touted as Supernatural meets Buffy and The Craft, Spell on Wheels is about three fashionable young witches who go on an East Coast road trip to retrieve their stolen magical belongings. While the adorable artwork and two of the side adventures were super enjoyable — I’m looking at you goat man and haunted gal pals — I didn’t find the arc as a whole entirely successful. A real shame, since fashionable witches on a road trip is basically my dream comic book series.
In real life, Eliza Mirk is a painfully shy teenager with her nose stuck in a sketch book. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the enormously popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. But when a Monstrous Sea fanfiction author moves to Eliza’s school, she’s forced to confront the real world and her self-imposed loneliness. A fun look at the world of fandom, Eliza and Her Monsters is, at its heart, a touching exploration of depression and anxiety.
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