Let’s do this.
The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE, IT’S FINALLY HERE! It’s only March, but I can promise you that this book is going to be on a whole lot of Best Of lists at the end of the year. It is brilliant, beautiful, and I can’t wait for you all to read it and fall in love, too. See my February 19 column for more detailed gushing.
Starred review at Kirkus and pretty much every other outlet that awards stars.
Blood Water Paint, by Joy McCullough
A fictionalized biography of Artemisia Gentileschi? IN VERSE? Sign me up! (Will it be brutal? Probably. Am I here for it anyway? Definitely. Did the Kirkus reviewer have mixed feelings? Yes. Do I care? No.)
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World, by Pénélope Bagieu
The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls, by Jessica Spotswood
My 2018 Reading Goal to read more books in translation and more short stories continues apace; both of these books will help me stay on track. Brazen is a collection of comic-style biographies of thirty-three “rebel ladies” throughout history; the subtitle of the Spotswood should make the theme of the collection clear.
The Bagieu is translated from French; starred reviews on both.
Emergency Contact, by Mary H. K. Choi
While the Kirkus review is tepid at best, this book features one of my favorite, favorite tropes: A relationship and lifeline largely built through texting. I’ll be picking it up for sure.
Damselfly, by Chandra Prasad
We get a Lord of the Flies-y book almost every year, and somehow that never gets old for me? (Neither do mysteries about people snowed in at hotels, etc. Confined space + clashing personalities + intrigue + complex power dynamics = High Tension. I am always here for that math.)
The Place Between Breaths, by An Na
When I saw that the Kirkus reviewer called this a “lyrical novel suffused with beauty and terror,” I bumped it up to the top of my TBR pile and skipped reading the rest of the review so as to avoid spoilers. Hoping to fit it in today, even! Because “BEAUTY AND TERROR”!
The Astonishing Color of After, by Emily X.R. Pan
The Price Guide to the Occult, by Leslye Walton
The only thing these two books appear to have in common is that they’ve both been on my radar for months purely because I love their cover art. But now, reading the reviews, I’m finding that they should have been on my radar due to their premises as well: The Pan is about a girl navigating life and romance after her mother’s suicide; the Walton deals with a supremely toxic mother-daughter relationship and the Kirkus reviewer promises that the story goes from “creepy to macabre to flat-out horrific.” (That description would be an immediate turn-off for many readers, I’m sure, but it’s a Literary Lodestone to me.)
Tyler Johnson Was Here, by Jay Coles
Debut novel—with more beautiful cover art—about systemic racism, police violence, family, brotherhood, community, and justice.
P.S. I Miss You, by Jen Petro-Roy
The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani
Two middle grade epistolary novels—well, The Night Diary is actually a diary in the form of letters, but CLOSE ENOUGH—that deal in depth with faith and religion.
Starred review on the Hiranandani.
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
Aru Shah and the End of Time, by Roshani Chokshi
Two new fantasy series! The Adeyemi is about a group of teens—including a girl with latent magical abilities and a PRINCESS—who are on a quest to bring magic back to their world… and possibly bring down the monarchy in the process; the Chokshi is a middle grade story that “intertwines Hindu cosmology and folklore, feminism, and witty dialogue” and sounds straight-up utterly delightful.
Starred reviews on both.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
SPEAKING OF UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL… that is the definition of this series.
If You Come Softly: Twentieth Anniversary Edition, by Jacqueline Woodson
Not new, but deserves a mention nonetheless! (Kirkus’ review from twenty years ago is somewhat mixed; it’ll be interesting to see what the book reads like today!)
As always, there are many, many more—let me know if you’re looking forward to titles I didn’t mention!
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is currently serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project committee, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.