Tiny Pretty Things duology by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. Back when TPT released, there weren't that many reviews nor hype for it which is why it got lost in the endless backlog in my tbr. Then one of my good friends read it a few months ago and this particular line from Sue's review was what pulled me in: "Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton redefines the term unlikable heroines." WHAT? Ballet? Unlikable heroines? WHERE DO I SIGN UP was my immediate reaction. The first book is extremely brutal (and can be triggering, so please proceed with caution when reading), but it offers such great voices set in a cutthroat, lush ballet world. The sequel is even better and I cried buckets. There are some romantic elements, for those of you interested, my personal OTP is in the second book. Overall, this duology is poignant, beautiful, emotionally and mentally brutal, mysterious and on top of that it tackles so many important issues such as eating disorder, racism, sexual identities, bullying, abuse and more. If I could recommend these books a thousand times over, I would.
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Last year I finally devoured the Gallagher Girls books. Kudos to Eri for pushing them on everyone! This year I have read a few books with similar vibes, the first two books of The Naturals series among them. Naturals is a term for a group of naturally gifted teenagers who are recruited by the FBI to solve cold cases. Of course, there will be all sorts of maybem that will push our beloved Naturals to further develop their talent and will cause heartbreak, confrontations with their pasts and more. The second book was, like in Tiny Pretty Things duology, even better than the first and I absolutely can't wait to read the last two installments.
Map of Fates by Maggie Hall. If you're looking for a Da Vinci code sort of book about teenagers, look no further! It may have some clichéness going on here and there, but they're still very entertaining. As much as I enjoyed The Conspiracy of Us, Map of Fates steps it up about 100 degrees: the mystery deepens; there are some pretty darn epic plot twists, even higher stakes and, honestly, if you're into all the upper YA scenes, welllllll ;) If you thought The Conspiracy of Us had a few hot scenes in certain chapters, you have no idea what's in store for you in the sequel! *fans self* Also, I think it should be mentioned that this trilogy could be read solely for Stellan Korolev; no shame whatsoever. Super duper extra excited for the final installment!
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I read an ARC of this (which I still haven't reviewed rip, but I willll! Until then you can view my picspam here muhaha) and I already own a hardcover as well, because, let's be honest, I'm a trash for Victoria Schwab's writing, world building and characters. Her latest features a monster of a boy, who's longing to be human, and a human girl, looking for acceptance and approval from her father, a monstrous human. It's all about what makes a monster in its core; how thin is the line between good and bad. Plus the main characters are kinda sorta amazing.
Vicious by V.E, Schwab (Victoria Schwab). This book is extremely facinating and thought-provoking. It has villains and ... well, more villains; at some point not even so much morally ambiguous characters, but true villains and people who get caught up in the war between two ex best friends who now have supernatural powers. It's slow paced, but definitely worth the read, because it tackles Schwab's signature theme: what is truly good and evil, is there such, how do they differ from each other and how do magic and power corrupt one's soul.
A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes. This spin-off series is a definite must read for all Falling Kingdom fans. While FK books have been enjoyable (especially all the parts regarding my smol too-precious-for-this-world children Cleo and Magnus), three books into the series, they haven't hit me with extreme love. ABOS&T was a surprising read for me, because I enjoyed it more than the original series, while it has been the opposite for most people. It has an interesting concept where we're reading from three POVs: Crystal, a girl in modern day Toronto looking for a way to save her sister who has fallen into a coma after touching a magical book; Farrell, a heir in a powerful family and an extremely morally ambiguous character also in modern day Toronto; Maddox, a "ghost whisperer" in ancient Mytica (the world in which FK books take place). As you can probably guess, their lives become interwined, so it all unravels from there.
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. I've always been sceptical of hype books, and will probably continue this path, but Marchetta was one of the authors I was scared to discover. Last year, however, I picked up all of her contemporaries except Alibrandi and loved them, so the natural step was to explore Josie's story as well. It's authentic, poignant and wonderful; full of culture, family secrets, a heartfelt bond between a mother and a daughter; it's about exploring a tentative relationship between a father and a daughter, finding oneself and experiencing love and loss for the first time. Marchetta is the queen of capturing teen voices and writing heartfelt stories and Looking for Alibrandi is no exception.
George by Alex Gino. I sincerely cannot voice how important this book is and how essential it is for everyone to read George, including adults. This tale shows how often we dismiss children's voices, thinking they don't know, and how we want to (and do!) put labels on them, thinking we know better. It's a beautiful story about gender identity, acompanied by a well-written, endearing friendship between two girls. Don't let the Middle Grade label push you away, this book is so, so important and, even in its simple narrative, wonderfully thoughtful. (If you're interested, my friend Christina wrote a short, great review that you can read here. Couldn't have said it all any better myself!)
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens. This was on my TBR even before it was released. For some reason I never got around purchasing it until a sale this spring, even though the ARC reviews were great. It's a poignant novel about stories that people are too afraid and unready to tell; it's a tale about coping, healing, moving forward and more. The friendships in this book are quite messy, yet realistic and endearing. I must warn you, and this is not a spoiler, because it's mentioned very early on, that this is a book about rape and a victim coming to terms with the fact that she was raped; that she isn't at fault that it happened, but the person who took advantage of her, is. There is also physical abuse and mentioning of suicidal thoughts, so please proceed with caution if these are triggering for you. I would wholeheartedly recommend Faking Nromal and, if you do read it, don't leave the author's note without attention. It's just as important as the fictional story between these beautiful covers.
This is it for the first roundup! What do you think? Should there be more of these kinds of posts or would you be more interested in traditional reviews? How about these books? Have you read any? If so, what were your thoughts? Let me know below :)