I'm either reading ten books at once, or stuck in a reading slump. I gravitate towards books--YA, fiction, SFF, memoir and even culinary narratives--that look at magic, folklore, traditions, tropes and stereotypes in new and imaginative ways.
Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's Stardust and Naomi Novik's Uprooted, in her latest novel Jennifer Donnelly combines elements of the original Grimm Brothers story with the Disney version of Cinderella. This time, the tale follows the youngest stepsister, Isabelle, after Ella gets her prince. This novel is an earnest, beautiful howl and a refusal to fit into the glass slipper presented to us.
Violet Saunders is new to Four Paths -- a town whose population is rapidly decreasing as the Gray begins picking them off one-by-one. But Violet, along with Justin, May, Harper, and Isaac, are all descendants of the town founders who originally trapped the monster. I'm not saying they're the only ones who can save the day, but despite the secrets they've been burying for years, the missing hand, the grief they carry, and their magic powers -- they might be the best qualified.
The Raven Cycle meets Stranger Things in this unearthly, spine-tingling read you won't want to put down. Plus! multiple!! on-page!! multi-generational! bisexual! and queer! characters!!! My favorite book of 2019 so far.
Leah is sarcastic, dramatic, and anxious. Like, all the time. Leah is a mostly good daughter, a kick-ass drummer, and she's also bisexual. NBD. Despite her best friend Simon's (of Simon vs. Homo Sapiens Agenda) coming-out ordeal last year, she still struggles to be vulnerable with the people she loves the most.
In this companion novel, Leah faces prom, graduation, casual racism, friendship drama, and relationship drama. Ultimately a feel good story, with a focus on personal growth, Leah's story had me wanting to simultaneously hug and high-five my teenaged self.
The novel follows Marin, a college freshman who has decided to stay in her dorm room for winter break. Her best friend Mabel is traveling from California to spend a few days with Marin and try to convince her to spend the break with her family. While Mabel is visiting, readers learn about the events of the summer leading up to the girls' starting college. Calling this a narrative about love and loss would be reductive, because the story is so much more than that: found families, evolving relationships, understanding how someone you thought you knew isn't who you thought they were, and how you can still love them anyway.
When I turned to the final page, my brain was full of exclamation points and question marks. And I immediately turned back to page one. The San Francisco Chronicle describes this novel as "...a watery dream that pushes the boundaries between fiction and fantasy..."