Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 Diverse Reading Challenge: January Update

I think I did rather well for my first month of Read.Sleep.Repeat's 2017 Diverse Reading Challenge!
I've already reviewed some of these books, while others have reviews in the works, and still others I simply savored.


Anyway, here we go!

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera: Latinx, #ownvoices

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu: neurodiverse main character

Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana: Latinx, #ownvoices

Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina: Latinx, #ownvoices

Flying Lessons and Other Stories ed. by Ellen Oh: All the things?  (review to come)

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: West Asian, #ownvoices

And I'm adding my Diversity Bingo 2017 card here as well: I've got a long way to go, but I have a bunch of ideas for books!

I'm moving next month (ahhhhh!), but I'm going to try and read as much as possible.


The Tommyknockers

I've read many reviews that state, rather unequivocally, that this is a bad book.  I disagree.  It's certainly not the best thing I've read by King, and yeah, it doesn't make sense, and yeah, it really needed an editor, but King always manages to present incredibly creepy situations and vignettes.  The Tommyknockers has a fascinating premise, but gets bogged down in disconnected details that cause the novel to swell to almost 700 pages.

From what I've read, King was on a lot of coke while writing this, and I think that explains the lack of editing, the frenzied jumps in narration, and the general lack of caring if anything makes sense or not.  I certainly don't condone drug abuse or say that quality control can be ignored if you are, as my father would put it, "gooped up on gop."  And yet.   There is something in the manic pace of The Tommyknockers that gives insight into the mind of a drug addict, and even explores what it is like to create while under the influence.

Ostensibly, this is a story about aliens.  When I think of Stephen King, I don't think aliens.  I think eldritch horrors or the mundane become monstrous.  His strength is in portraying the horror that lurks underneath the veneer of normalcy, and I think that's part of why The Tommyknockers isn't a great book.  Aliens are too out there.  But the story is saved from going completely off the rails by its grounding in good ol' rural Maine (ayuh) and some set pieces that are truly, flesh-crawlingly creepy.

Warning:  Here be spoilers aplenty!

Bobbi Anderson is happy with her life, even though she's not successful in the popular use of the term.  After inheriting her granddad's farm in Haven, Maine, she's spent more than a decade in the rural community, writing westerns.  Her companion is a beagle named Peter, and if her old lover and former professor Jim Gardener comes up for a visit, well, so much the better.  But life is pretty good.  Until she falls over something on the forest floor.

It's not a rock or a root or anything natural.  It's smooth and strangely alluring.  Bobbi is compelled to dig it up.  Soon, her entire life revolves around the excavation of this object, which quickly reveals itself to be a massive flying saucer.  The more time she spends in the presence of the object, the stranger Bobbi becomes.  She buys bucketloads of batteries and constructs cold-fusion engines for her water heater and levitating pickup trucks.  Peter retreats from the brink of death, his cataract shrinking and his youthful energy returning.  Soon, the influence of the alien vessel reaches beyond Bobbi's farm.  All of the inhabitants of Haven become affected.

And now, a brief lesson on how to tell if you have been corrupted by strange alien energy/mind waves:

  • Have your teeth started falling out?
  • How about your hair?  Is it falling out in clumps?
  • Do you sleep?
  • Do you have a compulsion to go dig up a giant flying saucer?
  • Are you forgetting things?
  • Have you found your house littered with gadgets that you don't remember making?
  • Are you bleeding from one or more bodily orifices?
  • Are you forgetting things?
  • Have you developed telepathy?

Meanwhile, Jim Gardener joins a poetry tour of New England in order to make some much-needed cash.  It's a thankless job that requires him to work with someone he truly hates, but eh, you can't fall much lower.  Who's going to hire a guy that shot his wife in the face (it's okay, his ex-wife is still alive).  Who's going to hire an alcoholic who goes on benders so epic that entire weeks are lost to him?  Who's going to hire a guy who got arrested by the Feds for bringing a concealed weapon to an anti-nuclear power protest?

After a sort of mental breakdown after a college poetry reading, Gardener contemplates suicide, but suddenly senses that Bobbi, his old flame, is in very serious trouble.  So, instead of jumping into the ocean, he heads up to Haven, where he finds Bobbi emaciated, exhausted, and strangely cagey about Peter's death.  Quickly, he realizes that the eerie green light flashing in Bobbi's shed, the half-buried ship, and the townspeople's strange and homicidal behavior is all connected, so he keeps himself in a state of perpetual inebriation.  This, along with a large metal plate in his skull, renders him mostly immune to the effects of the alien ship.  He does not "become" like all of the other Havenites.

As the "becoming" progresses, more people start dying under suspicious circumstances.  The last 70% of the book is a chronicle of a mishmash of characters doing random things, all while Bobbi and her buddies keep "becoming."  The day is saved at the very last minute by the arrival of every Federal agency ever, and by Jim Gardener, whose corpse ends up on the spaceship as it zooms back into space.

A lot of the story just doesn't make sense, because it really should have been cut.  Like how the air in Haven is toxic to outsiders and causes transformations, but there's also some sort of weird radiation from the ship that causes the same transformations.  Is it one or the other?  Both?  Gardener goes on long tirades about The Evil of Nuclear Power and lets Bobbi and her friends continue building their amazing machines because it might save the world from Evil Nuclear Power.  Why does the presence of metal in human bodies prevent the spaceship from affecting them?

However, some characters and situations are exquisitely weird and creepy.  Bobbi's hated Sissy, an indomitable force of nastiness, marches into town with a head full of metal teeth.  The town constable consoles herself in her childless, widowed state with a house full of dolls, and then the dolls start talking to her.  And the revelation of what is inside the shed is expected, but no less terrifying.  Poor Peter.

All in all, this was a fun book to read while traveling, but it's not a crucial read.  Skip this in favor of Revival or The Stand or 'Salem's Lot.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Written In The Stars

My heart has broken twice over while reading Written in the Stars.  Once when I felt Naila's hopelessness as she was drugged and tricked into an arranged marriage and raped by her husband, and once when I realized how Naila might not be able to return home in this new version of reality that we are living in.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I've made it back from ALAMW and am quite pleased with the results of the YMAs (Youth Media Awards).  That's another post, but now I've got more books to add to my reading list.  Plus, I picked up LOADS of ARCs for summer reading and for myself, and I couldn't help diving into a few of them already.

Plus, there was my usual traveling strategy of reading a Stephen King novel on the plane.  I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but the creeping dread and horror distracts me from other things, like the unholy discomfort of the plane seat, probably designed by a member of the Spanish Inquisition.

Anyway, here's what I'm reading right now (some more actively than others!):

Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh.  This is the first anthology from the We Need Diverse Books movement/nonprofit and I was so happy to be able to attend a panel on the genesis of this book.  It's wonderful.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.  I'm almost done with this and I'm actually quite excited to see the film, as I think that the book naturally lends itself to cinema.  Also, I quite like ChloĆ« Moretz.

The Tommyknockers by Stephen King.  Most of the reviews on Goodreads of this are bad, bad, bad.  I've read some awful dreck in my time, so I'm just amused by it.  From what I've heard, this is the last novel he wrote before getting clean and sober, and I would imagine that drugs and alcohol would mess with an author's ability to keep things together.

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed.  This has been on my to-read list for at least a year, but hearing Saeed speak about her experiences and the background of this novel catapulted it into my active reading list.  That, and the fact that she signed it for me!

And I'm still reading An Ember in the Ashes, Want by Cindy Pon, and Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.  Just not as actively.  I have to bang through them quickly, though!  So many things to read!  So many wonderful, diverse, lovely books!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ALAMW17! See you in Atlanta!

I'll be leaving for Atlanta tomorrow morning for a trip to ALA Midwinter combined with a mini-vacation.  I've never been to Atlanta before, and I must go to the aquarium.  I only bought myself an exhibits pass, but if you see me in the Exhibit Hall, feel free to say hi!  I'll be tweeting a lot, too!

Have a fabulous weekend, and GO PACK GO!

Kill the Beast! Kill the Beast! Maybe not?

This book has a very pretty cover but a rather awkward title.

Binary confusion seems to be the running undercurrent of The Beast Is An Animal, with interesting fantasy elements and surprisingly complex characters combatting a dismal sense of pacing and the obligatory romance.  As I read, I kept thinking, "Oh, now I'm loving this!" and then I would turn the page and think, "No!  What is this?  Stop!"  Overall, the ideas were very interesting, and ironically, the book would have benefited from a stronger editor (the author is an editor).  The beast is an animal, the author is an editor, and the plot is kind of a mess.


I cannot dismiss The Beast Is An Animal out of hand, because I really enjoyed parts of it, and I can see the potential in it.  It also led me down an internet rabbit-hole about Welsh and Welsh spelling--but more on that later.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I have lots of books on my bookshelves that are begging to be read, so I'm trying to add those into my usual jam-packed reading routine.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.  I checked this out so many times from the library and never read it, so I decided to see if owning it would make me actually crack it open.  I am enjoying it very much so far.  I like the lack of infodumping.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.  I KNOW, OKAY?  I haven't read this but it's a (signed!) ARC that I kind of forgot I had and I was worried it wouldn't stand up to my expectations.  So far, it's holding up nicely.  Also, I had no clue my copy was signed.  Did I have Sabaa sign it and then forget about it?  Unforgivable!

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.  One of my favorite fantasies is Clare B. Dunkle's The Hollow Kingdom, and this is quite reminiscent of that.  I am, horror of horrors, not a huge fan of Labyrinth.

Want by Cindy Pon.  Literally a story about Haves and Have-nots, this is set in future Taiwan.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mini-Review: The Wages of Sin

Kaite Walsh's debut historical mystery The Wages of Sin is a slick, enthralling mashup of Jane Eyre and the Barker and Llwellyn series.

In London, Sarah Gilchrist had everything a young lady of position and wealth could ask for--dresses, ball invitations, and an admiring suitor.  But when she is raped by the man who supposedly loves her, society casts her out while simultaneously forgiving the rapist as just being a man.  After being raped, her family sends her to an asylum, just in case she were to be pregnant (which would be her fault, of course, because women who are raped are obviously responsible.  Victorians: they sucked).  Sarah endured  unimaginable "treatments" for her crime of being female.  And now, since she can fall no further, she's decided to pursue her true interest: medicine.

It's the end of the 19th century, and universities in the United Kingdom have finally agreed to grant degrees to female students.  Sarah travels to Edinburgh, Scotland to attend the University there, and is a member of the first class of female medical students.

But don't think that the university teaches men and women equally.  Due to their supposedly delicate constitutions, classes for women are taught separately from the men.  The professors sometimes flat-out refuse to teach the female classes.  And despite having chaperones to "protect their virtue," the female students are subject to monstrous harassment from the men.  As the cherry on top, one of Sarah's classmates has singled her out for abuse and taunting about her precarious social status.

So, it's actually a relief when she can leave the university grounds and head to her volunteer work at St. Giles's Infirmary for Women and Children, where she learns from Dr. Fiona Ledbetter.  Although St. Giles's is in a nasty part of town, Sarah's Aunt Emily approves of anything that keeps her niece away from men.  Bonus, all society ladies give a little golf-clap for performing charity work.

Most of the patients at the infirmary are prostitutes.  A girl named Lucy comes in and begs for an abortion, but Fiona refuses.  Something about the girl touches Sarah's heart, but there's really nothing they can do.  And so imagine her shock when Lucy's body ends up as a cadaver in one of her medical classes.  Sarah discovers that Lucy has been murdered, and is determined to find the killer.  At the same time, she has to continue passing her classes and not ticking off one of her more mercurial professors, Merchiston.

But as she digs deeper into the hell of Edinburgh's brothels, she notices Merchiston drunkenly frequenting the house where Lucy worked.  And he does have a temper ... but he is also dashingly dark and brooding and magnetic.  But is he a murderer?  The chemistry between both of them was very well done, and reminded me a lot of Jane and Mr. Rochester, but without the wife in the attic.

The mystery resolves nicely, if a bit predictably, and I almost wish I hadn't read this as an advance copy because now I want the second one in the series.  I hope that Sarah ends up beaning her awful aunt and uncle on the head with a bedpan or something.  Sarah does make some rather cringeworthy mistakes, and is rather a hothead, but I liked her very much as a character.  She possesses something that even her fellow female medical students mostly lack: compassion.

Walsh completely nails the atmosphere of bleak and dirty Dublin at the end of the 19th century (I intend no offense to my Scottish friends).  The muck and filth and rampant disease are portrayed without hesitation, and Sarah often finds herself covered in effluvia--and not during her dissection classes.  Victorian society's hypocrisy when it comes to sexuality comes to the fore when we find that it's completely acceptable for well-to-do men to frequent brothels, but completely unacceptable for a young woman to "ruin" herself by being raped.  I often reflect on the fact that although I very much enjoy reading books set in the 19th century, I would never, ever, ever wish to live back then.

This is an excellent debut--it comes out in March, so preorder now or ask your library to buy a copy!

I received an advance copy of this title from Edelweiss.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What Girls Are Made Of

"Sugar and spice and everything nice / that's what little girls are made of."

This rhyme was obviously written by a man who likes his ladies subservient, bland, and about as threatening as a wobbly blancmange pudding.  The kind of man who takes advantage of girls every chance he gets, and then blames them for being easy or loose or just too tempting.

I did not think that Elana K. Arnold's writing could surpass the pitch-black brilliance of Infandous, but, well, here we are.  I am once again stunned.  This has some of the most frank yet sensitive talk about Pap smears, birth control, abortion, and sex that I've ever read.  Arnold ruthlessly exposes the injustices and cruelty that girls rationalize as normal, and leaves the reader just a little bit broken inside.

Nina loves Seth.  She must, right?  She's his girlfriend.  She's had sex with him.  Against her own better judgment, she's fallen for him.  Seth is gorgeous and sly and ... he's a really awful boyfriend.

Nina's mother has told her that there is no such thing as unconditional love.  With a snap of her fingers, she could stop loving her daughter.  Nothing is promised or absolute.  Everything is loss.  The loss of all the babies before Nina, and the loss of all the babies who came after.

But when Nina refuses to pass some sort of obscure Seth man-test--when she refuses to shed her own skin completely in order to be subsumed by him, he casts her aside.  And Nina is pregnant.

Nina is very lucky--she is a girl who can afford to make informed choices.  And her choice to have a medical abortion, her choice to get an implant as birth control, and her choice to ask herself what she wants and what she desires model the choices that all women should have.  We don't.  For so many people on this earth, the worst thing they could be is not a Nazi or a terrorist or a murderer or a rapist: it's a woman.  We are held to an impossible double standard and punished for our existence.

Interspersed with Nina's personal narrative is her English project: a chronicle of female saints.  Unfortunately, in order to be a saint, you have to be dead, and generally the gruesomer said death, the saintlier the saint.  Nina chronicles the women who defied patriarchal norms by choosing their own beliefs over the desires of a man.  By honoring their own bodies.  By affirming their faith.  And soon, this chronicle is not only about women who have lived and died, but about a girl who was cocooned in a shell, half-grown and underdeveloped.  Viewed as a delicacy to be consumed by men.

With one crack of the egg, everything changes.  With one choice, we can be reborn.  Wobbly on our spindly legs at first, wet and weak-looking.  But we feather our nests with lessons learned and choices dared, and we grow.  And we fly.

There is no one right way to be a girl.  I might not have made some of the choices Nina did, but that doesn't make her wrong or me wrong.  We are both girls, finding out what we are made of.

I received an ARC of this title from Edelweiss.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Stone-Cold Heart of P.J. Penza

At the end of 2016, Amazon was running a sale on former bestsellers.  I snagged two Kindle books that had been on my to-read list for a few years and figured why not?

In that glorious haze of Buying Stuff That's On Sale (you know what I mean, don't you?  That funny adrenaline rush?), I conveniently forgot that I generally do not enjoy bestsellers.  And in the past year, it's become quite clear to me that I like books that are quirky, bizarre, experimental, and mind-bending.  I also love vaguely trashy fantasy and super-epic space opera, but that's neither here nor there in this conversation, as we are talking about Bestsellers.

One of the books that I purchased was Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which I recall being popular.  I also remember lots of my coworkers reading it and loving it.  Unfortunately, I mixed this one up in my mind with Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, and went in expecting a magical store.  Whoops.  There is no magical store in this book, merely a homey and charming indie bookshop on a homey and charming island in New England run by a cranky widower named A.J. Fikry.

Oh dear.  This is like a Hallmark original.  My teeth hurt from the saccharine overdose.

Said Mr. Fikry ruins his first appointment with a new book rep because he is rude and highly judgmental of books that he deems subpar, which seem to be most of them.  Said book rep happens to be an attractive young woman named Amelia, who has been having bad luck with online dating.  Oh, I wonder where this will lead?

A.J.'s life has been pretty awful lately.  His wife died in a car crash, and now someone's just stolen his priceless copy of Tamerlane by Edgar Allan Poe.  His sister-in-law Ismay is unhappily married to a novelist who is also a serial cheater, and people just don't seem to be reading books the way they used to.

One day A.J. returns to his shop after a run and the door is open.  He hasn't bothered locking it since the theft.  Inside is a little girl who informs him in her forward two-year-old way that her name is Maya.  Maya's mother, a former collegiate athlete, abandoned her in the bookstore to keep her out of the foster system and then drowned herself.  How is A.J. supposed to take care of a baby when he can't take care of himself?  Thankfully, he has Google.

But what about the legality of the situation? you ask.  Bless, we can't have a cantankerous-intellectual-saved-by-love-of-a-child book if the state just swooped in and took Maya away.  A.J. finds himself caring for the little girl and he keeps her, and the town on the island lets out a collective AWWWWWW and comes back to his bookstore.  Maya grows up and speaks in sentences no other six year old would ever utter, and A.J. pursues a clumsy romance with Amelia, the book rep.

At this point I was halfway in and I wanted to throw this out of a window; unfortunately, it's on my iPad and I cannot afford to toss that two stories down in subzero temperatures.  So I did the next best thing: I skimmed to the end, confirmed what I knew in my cold, cold heart would happen, and angrily picked up my laptop and started writing this review.

Yep, this book definitely has it all: dead wives, abandoned babies, new fathers, and *drumroll* cancer.  Now, why authors are so enamored of cancer as a plot device is completely beyond me.  Cancer is the worst thing in the world, and I feel rather confident stating that without hyperbolic intent.  Cancer is not a romantic way to end your hero's life after making sure he falls in love with life again because of a charming little girl and a wonderful woman.  NO.  Cancer is a vile murderer with no chance at redemption.

Note: Zevin seems to think that people in New England talk as in they are actually in England, and so you've got people manning the till and being "completely mad" for something or other.  I am very surprised that no one ended up in hospital.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry pushes no literary boundaries.  It is basically every Nicholas Sparks book ever but with a brown male lead instead of a white one, and more bookish snobbery.  I wish I had actually considered what I like in a book before purchasing this one simply because lots of other people liked it.  So, if you are looking for "the feel-good hit of the season (of 2014, technically)," you will probably enjoy this.  But if you need something more substantial, look elsewhere.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Education of Margot Sanchez

It is a good and healthy thing for a teen not to know who she is or what she will become.  Locking yourself into an identity or a single way of being when young isn't tenable for the rest of your life.  It's totally and completely normal to feel lost, directionless, or torn in many different directions as a teen.  Note that I didn't say it was also fun--this part of being a teen is really scary.  Actually, I'm pretty sure that figuring out who you are and what you want is a human issue, not just a teen one, but that's a story for another day.  For now, we're talking about teens and teen literature.

So having a teen narrator who is confused and conflicted is authentic and true.  But having a teen book that is confused and conflicted creates a difficult reading experience.  Unfortunately, The Education of Margot Sanchez is the latter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

DNF: Vigilante

Are vigilante books a new micro-trend in YA lit?  Don't get me wrong, I love a good vigilante story.  See: all the superhero comics ever for an example (except Spider-Man.  I strongly dislike Spider-Man.  He is a wuss).  It's funny how books with rather unique themes come out around the same time.  I think it's a bit unfair, since naturally, comparisons will be drawn.  However, in the case of Vigilante versus The Female of the Species, McGinnis' book is the clear winner.  Vigilante looks and feels, well, silly by comparison.

To be clear, this issue at hand in Vigilante--rape--is most certainly not silly.  It is very, very serious.  However, the manner in which Vigilante's main character, Hadley, deals with her best friend Magda's rape and suicide undermines the book's potential to be a talking point for many teens.

After being gang-raped at a party by the school's local posse of hot dudes, Magda has been a target for constant humiliation.  No one believes that she didn't want it--even when pictures of her body being violated turn up on the internet.  Even her best friend, Hadley, who helps her scrape the graffiti off her locker, assumes that Magda's rape was a result of making a "stupid decision."  It's too much.  It's too much to have an entire town against you.  And Magda feels like she doesn't have a choice.

A few months after Magda's suicide, Hadley starts her senior year alone.  She blames the four guys who raped Magda for her death, and will do anything to get revenge.  Feeling the need to be able to physically defend herself, Hadley learns aikido, and helps the police detective who worked on Magda's case start a self-defense course for girls.  The conversations between the girls at this class were simultaneously touching and brutal, and had the book continued in this vein, I would heartily recommend it.

But it doesn't.  Alas.  After posting a picture of Jason, one of Magda's rapists, passed out at a party with "rapist" written across his face in lipstick, Hadley revels in his humiliation.  And then she decides to take it even further.  Wearing a pink ski mask, she tracks and attacks the remaining three rapists, earning the moniker "the Pink Vigilante."

Wait, what?  Had I, as a four year old, been more inclined to play superhero than princess, Pink Vigilante is probably the name I would have come up with.  But in this story, it just sounds ridiculous and infantile. She prides herself on being a "stalker."

To make things even more awkward, Hadley is in love with Magda's older brother, Gabriel.  And now that Magda's dead, both of them feel ... better ... about pursuing each other.  Ugh, that is so wrong.  I feel skeeved out just writing it.  But for all of her talk about standing up for other girls and not being intimidated by guys, Hadley allows Gabriel to physically restrain her and threaten her after she attacks the second rapist.  Gabriel pins her to the wall and angrily tells her that she can't keep doing these things because she'll get hurt.  And then they have a sexy, sexy makeout session, because being threatened is ... romantic?  NO IT IS NOT.  This is a vortex of Unhealthy Relationships, and none of it is called out by any of the characters.  Even at the end, the legend of the Pink Vigilante lives on, as others literally take up the mantle (okay, fine, ski mask) and do vaguely illegal things to mete out the justice that the police can or will not.

There are also several prolonged, very intense assault scenes that serve little purpose in the narrative but for shock value.

This had the potential to explore how girls talk about rape, blame, and shame, but instead veered off into penny dreadful territory.  Alas.

I received an ARC of this title from Netgalley.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bad Romance

Upon reflection, I do not harbor as much ill-will towards this book now as I did when I first finished it.  In the heat of the moment, some parts of the book (or lack therof) really bothered me.  However, after letting this marinate in my brain for about a week, I feel more equivocal.  I can see the good and the not-so-good in it.  I'm growing in my ability to weigh the positives and negatives of a book in my brain instead of having a knee-jerk reaction.  At least, I think I am.

I am very glad that YA lit is taking on abusive relationships.  Abuse by a romantic partner has been taboo for so long, and society's reaction--still!--is to blame the victim.  After millennia of being gaslit, women* simply assume that this behavior is normal.  That a partner telling you to whom you can speak and where you can go is protective, not controlling.  That you should be grateful that he cares.  That you should be grateful you have a partner at all.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Books I'm Desperate to Read: 2017 Edition

Well, I mostly-sort-of-kinda-oh-my-goodness-noooooooooo made it through the dumpster fire of 2016.  Happily, on the book front, it's a bright future.  I feel like if the 2017 books that I've already read set a pattern for all the other ones, I might actually rekindle a bit of hope as a reader.  But first!  The 2017 books I am dancing with impatience to read.  You know, like the pee dance, but for books.

This is in no particular order, because ranking is HARD and also kind of mean.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee.  I shamefacedly admit that I have not yet read Lee's first book, but I am a dutiful follower and rabid fan of her Twitter feature Bygone Badass Broads.  

Girl out of Water by Laura Silverman.  Surfer girl gets unceremoniously uprooted to Nebraska?  Yes please!

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston.  Three words: Celtic gladiator princess.  

Empress of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza.  We just need more epic YA sci-fi.  Full stop.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.  Horror of horrors, I've only seen Labyrinth once, and I felt bad at the end because I would have probably stayed with Jareth.  Helloooo?

Hunted by Meagan Spooner.  I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings.

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves.  1) The cover and 2) I rebel.

After the Fall by Kate Hart.  I'm getting more and more into contemporary YA, and this seems to fit the bill nicely.  

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole.  TIME TRAVEL, YOU GUYS!!!

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy.  Partially because I loved Dumplin' and partially because I'm curious about the relationship in the book (and no, I'm not taking it off of my list because the synopsis was poorly worded.  Synopses suck.)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhiya Menon.  My friends have been raving about this one.  Rom-com with Indian leads and an arranged marriage?  Hello, yes, please, and thank you.

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert.  Um, because it's Brandy Colbert???

History Is All You Left Me and They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera.  See above reason for Brandy Colbert.

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi.  There was much rejoicing when I found out that my beloved Star-Touched Queen would have a companion!

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis.  One of my favorite authors tackles fantasy.  *fistpump*

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts.  The synopsis for this reads like it's had far too much to drink, but I am very down with the idea of out-of-wedlock royal-ish kids banding together.  

Want by Cindy Pon.  Sci-fi eco-thriller set in China?  Yes, indeedy.

And the ones I've already read and most heartily recommend are:

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (review here)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (review here)
What Girls Are Made Of by Elena K. Arnold (review TK)
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (review TK)