REVIEW: The Astonishing Color of After, Emily X.R. Pan (March 20, 2018)

Today I am coming to you with another five-star read for me. I knew going in that THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER was going to be up my alley–but holy emotions, Batman, I didn’t expect to be a stuttering pool of salt water. But what’s new?

And also looooook at that B-E-A-U-tiful cover.

The 411: After Leigh’s mother dies by suicide, she is visited by a large, strange bird at night. Afterwards she comes to the impossible but amazing realization: her mother isn’t dead. She’s been reincarnated into a bird.

Leigh makes the trip to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents, with whom her parents had a falling out with due to their interracial marriage. Leigh sorts through her family history, all the while experiencing recurring visits from the bird she’s convinced is her mother.

Oh boy. Ohhhhhhh boy. This book is so beautiful.

Leigh’s mother’s depression feels achingly real–and speaking as someone who was diagnosed with depression at age 14, I connected with her so much.  Her depression and her death are not romanticized, compared as to say, 13 REASONS WHY.

I’ve only recently gotten back into reading fantasy, and I haven’t had a lot of experience with magical realism–but if all magical realism books are like this, I may have found a new favorite genre.

It makes me so intensely happy to see how much representation there is in YA lit nowadays. And if it means so much to me now at 27, I can’t even imagine how much it would have meant to 10-year-old Kate. Reading a cast of characters 90 percent Asian or of Asian-descent is still amazing to me.

And the romance is friends-to-lovers. My absolute favorite thing in the entire world. *throws all the heart-shaped confetti at Emily X.R. Pan*

NOTE: I’ve had several conversations with people who are interested in this book but are wary of the YA label. I have a lot to say in regards to this snap judgment as a whole, but for now just know:

A) Yes, the character is a teen but very mature
B) No Insta-love or love triangles if that’s not your jam
C) YA is awesome no matter your age. So just do yourself a favor and pick up the book.

** Trigger warnings for depression, suicide ideation, and suicide.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: lovers of magical realism, family intrigue, and beautiful writing
MAY I ALSO SUGGEST: anything by Anna Marie McLemore and BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE by Ruth Emmie Lang

Thank you LBYR for my galley! The Astonishing Color of After is available March 20–and is also a Book of the Month pick for March.

REVIEW: Bonfire, Krysten Ritter (Nov. 7, 2017)

Bonfire | Krysten RitterI want to know how it’s even in the realm of fairness that Krysten Ritter gets to be both a terrific actress AND writer? Bonfire is a solid debut novel for Ritter, and just happens to fall into one of my favorite genres: psychological thrillers.

Abby peaced out of her little, rural Indiana town days after turning 18 and never looked back. After years of emotional and verbal bullying, she is determined to never return. Now a big shot lawyer for an environmental protection firm, Abby is sent back to Barrens after the townspeople complain of their water being contaminated by local big shot corporation, Optimal. As Abby and her team start investigating Optimal, she soon realizes that something deeper is happening in her sleepy hometown, something that connects to the mysterious disappearance of a former classmate, and her main tormentor, Kaycee.

This was such a fast read for me, and I mean that in an entirely good way. Ritter does a good job at moving the story along while introducing new twists and turns. For a slow, isolated setting, the pace of Bonfire is continually kept fast and interesting. The ending isn’t necessarily mind-boggling or shocking, but it’s satisfactory and the novel ends the same way.

Solid 4 /5 stars for me.

Thank you Crown Publishing for letting me read. Bonfire is available now and is also a featured Book of the Month pick for November.

Kate Reads 2017: July-Sep Favorites

This year is flying by so incredibly fast. I’m still reading like mad, watching way too many tv shows, and inhaling as much pop culture as I can.

Between July and September, I read 107 books, and additional 7 were left unfinished. I feel terrible not finishing a book, partly because I’m a perfectionist and I NEED TO FINISH WHAT I STARTED, but also because in many of the cases, the writing isn’t bad. It’s no fault of the author. The story just doesn’t interest me enough to continue reading. If I get to the halfway point and continually have to ask myself, “Who cares?” that’s a sign I will typically DNF.

If you’ve missed it, here is my author page for Book Riot and I’m still on Litsy @katekrug. Let’s be friends!

My top books are in the 4-5 star range and deserve to be added to your TBR 🙂 Happy reading!

July-September Faves [in no particular order]

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

When your friends tell you that this is the most depressing book you’ll ever read, believe them. They’re being completely honest. A Little Life chronicles the lives of four friends, Willem, JB, Malcolm, and Jude, from college to old age. At the center is Jude, whose horrific past you uncover throughout the 800+ pages of misery and tears. There’s a point when I actually was doubting the believability of the book. Is it really possible that every single terrible thing you can think of happened to Jude before his 60th birthday? Regardless, Yanagihara takes exceedingly difficult subject matter and makes it readable and heart-wrenching. The 816 pages fly by. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the section, “The Happy Years.” Spoiler: They’re NOT happy.

Content warnings: Relationship abuse, childhood abuse, suicidal thoughts, graphic self-harm, and rape.

Starfish, Akemi Dawn Bowman

This book took my cold, little heart and squashed it into a pulp. I was a puddle of saltwater by the end with so many highlighted quotes on my iPad. I’m so happy that I have a published, hard copy now. And the cover is beautiful.

Kiko has always felt between two worlds—she’s half Japanese and has never learned much about her father’s heritage and culture. She experiences discrimination from classmates who don’t want to date her because she’s biracial. Her intense social anxiety also makes it difficult for her to make friends and be a “typical” high school senior. Her home life includes two brothers, a narcissistic mother, and a remarried father who seems more devoted to his new family. And there’s a friends-to-lovers romance involved. All of my favorite things. I love this book with all my heart.

An Ember in the Ashes series, Sabaa Tahir

In an alternate universe under the Martial Empire, society is split into two classes: The Scholars and The Martials. The Scholars are the lower-class, oppressed individuals, while The Martials rule the Empire and employ the soldiers, an elite group called Masks. Laia is a Scholar who goes on the hunt for her brother who is suspected of treason after their home is attacked by a group of Martials. Our other narrator, Elias, is a Mask and carries the legacy of an important Martial family, but also is reluctant to fully accept his place as a Mask.

The second book, A Torch Against the Night, introduced more characters and adds the equally kick ass Helene as a narrator. I am so pumped for the third book that is going to be released in April. Also, the paperbacks (and future hardcovers) went through a major redesign and the reason is amazing. Tahir tweeted,For the beautiful brown kids who deserve to see themselves on books:You’re heroes too. And these covers are for you.” Love love LOVE.

The Blinds, Adam Sternbergh

The residents of the small, secluded Texas town, Caesura, are an interesting bunch. All come with their memory wiped and are asked to choose new names upon entering (first name of a celebrity and last name of a vice president). Everyone in Caesura or “The Blinds,” has either witnessed a horrific crime or committed one, and this is the government’s way of creating a unique sanctuary where they live in peace. But then a suicide and murder happen in quick succession, and Sheriff Cooper starts to suspect something else is at play.

Sometimes my Book of the Month picks leave me kind of meh, but I REALLY enjoyed this one. This is definitely one of the those books where a character map is helpful, you meet a lot of people, but it’s super interesting and kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning.

This Darkness Mine, Mindy McGinnis

I really can’t say much about the plot of this book without giving away major twists, but it includes parasitic twins, a phenomenon that has exceptionally interested me after watching The Unborn a while ago.

Sasha is your stereotypical good girl: first chair clarinet, excellent student, perfect boyfriend, etc. Then things start happening that she can’t explain: a classmate, Isaac, claims to know her intimately, she has thoughts that definitely aren’t hers… and whatever you think the ending is, you’re wrong. I devoured “This Darkness Mine” in a few hours. This book is so wonderfully weird, creepy, and effed up, I loved it.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, Ruth Emmie Lang

After his parents die in a freak storm, Weylyn Grey is brought up by a pack of wolves in Michigan (just go with it…) There in the woods, he befriends Mary, the daughter of the local butcher. Those around Weylyn notice his unique presence and his seemingly magical gifts. Throughout his life, Weylyn comes to grips with his “powers” and the need to stop running from his past.

This is one of my first forays into magical realism and “Beasts” hit all the targets. Yes, you definitely need to suspend your disbelief, but Weylyn (and his friends’) emotions are so real and human, it doesn’t feel like fantasy. I’m so happy that this book got chosen for a BOTM pick because it’s amazing. Don’t let the premise deter you, “Beasts” is so well written and Lang weaves a truly touching story.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

Reading really hyped up books makes me nervous, sometimes it’s a huge let down. “The Hate U Give” does not fall into this category. It’s poignant, real, and exactly the book we need right now. I can’t wait for the movie to be released and for more people to be exposed to this book.

Starr’s life turns upside down when she witnesses her best friend, Khalil, being killed by a white cop. She’s the only witness, but not wanting to upset her life too much, Starr doesn’t release her name to the public and keeps quiet. As time goes on, Khalil’s name gets dragged through the mud. He’s called a thug and a predator and deserving of his death. Starr, who lives in a poor neighborhood, but attends a ritzy, private school, must choose between speaking her truth and remaining silent.

Pick up this book now. It’s so important.

Autoboyography, Christina Lauren

This is one of those books where I finished the ARC the day before its release and I ran to Barnes and Noble the next day for a hard copy because it’s THAT good. “Autoboyography” repeatedly broke my heart, made me laugh, healed my soul, and then broke my heart again.

While living in California, Tanner came out as bisexual and was completely supported by his family. When the family relocates back to his mother’s hometown of Provo, he is forced back into the closet due to the disapproving Mormons who populate the city (and state). That’s when he meets Sebastian, a mentor for his writing class and LDS dead set on following his church.

You’re going to cry. You’re going to get mad. You’re going to feel extremely sad about the prejudice still in today’s society. But ultimately, you’re going to feel uplifted by the eventual self-acceptance.

The Nevernight Chronicle, Jay Kristoff

Within the first few pages, you’re treated to a brutal murder interspersed with a relatively graphic sex scene, so do not be fooled, these books are decidedly NOT young adult.

Mia Corvere’s father was executed for betraying the Republic and she goes on a mission to avenge him. Part of her plan includes infiltrating the training school, The Red Church, for the assassin squad, the Blades. “Godsgrave” introduces gladiator-esque competition and then continuation of Mia’s plan to kill Scaeva and Duomo. (PS and the ending of “Godsgrave” is so completely awesome, I actually squealed in my excitement.)

The book also comes with footnotes explaining the greater history of the Republic and other information we wouldn’t know as a reader. Kristoff also has a super sarcastic and snarky voice aka I think we’d be great friends. My favorite part of the series though, has to be Mr. Kindly, a not-cat made out of shadow that follows Mia and eats her fear.

Kate Reads 2017: Apr-June Favorites

So, I’ve always been a fairly fast reader. One of the most popular things teachers would say about me in school was that I needed to “slow down.” Part of this was because I needed to be the one to finish tests and worksheets first, but also because I could devour the written word like that dude who ate 72 at the Coney Island hot dog eating contest.

The count for the last three months: 113.
That’s 226 for the 2017 as a whole. And yes, you read that right.

Oh. I became a freelancing contributor for Book Riot! I love to talk about the books I read, but I’ve found that not many share my tastes in lit… And the BR community has welcomed my dark and twisty preferences. Thanks, Rioters. I have also fully embraced NetGalley and Edelweiss. I just approved for some YA sequels I’ve been highly anticipating.

Let’s be Litsy friends! I’m @katekrug.

Also, I discovered Etsy and now my room is so much prettier and…bookier?

These lovely quote prints are by Brittney @reverieandink.

Here are my favorite books I read the last three months! These are my 4-4.5 star reads and link to Goodreads. 🙂

april-june faves [in no particular order]

Shades of Magic series, V.E. Schwab
Kell is an Antari—a magician that allows him to travel between parallel universes. The Shades of Magic series takes place in three different Londons, known as Red London, White London, and Gray London. Obviously, there’s also a Big Bad to defeat, looming threat of a hostile takeover, and a kick-ass heroine.

First, the covers are GORGE. I stupidly invested in a paperback of the first book and then had to get international versions of the final two books so they would all be softcovers, and now they don’t match. 🙁 #firstworldprobs (I may have to invest in a hardcover set, too…) Second, if the first book doesn’t completely pull you in—KEEP READING. I enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue the series…I’m SO happy I pushed through. A Gathering of Shadows is so good and A Conjuring of Light actually got a rare 5-stars in my book.


It Happens All The TimeAmy Hatvany
Amber and Tyler have been best friends since childhood, although Tyler has always hoped their relationship would become something more. A night of partying and booze leads to Tyler making a grave choice that impacts their relationship forever. The book is told from different points view, chronicling their life before, during, and how they cope after the assault.

Consent is an issue that is so important to be knowledgeable about. And I think it’s even important to get inside the head of the attacker as well as the victim. The book opens with this quote: “Violators cannot live with the truth; survivors cannot live without out it,” by Chrystine Oksana. And it sums up the plot perfectly.

Up in the Treehouse, K.K. Allen
Chloe and twin brothers, Gavin and Devon, are neighbors. They have a mutual treehouse in which they spend most of their free time. As they grow older, the three friends begin to see each other in a different light…(you get where I’m going with this, right?). In a surprise move, Chloe begins seeing bad-boy Devon, over the boy-next-door (literally), Gavin–with whom she always had a stronger connection. Then, there’s a tragedy (of course), and it tears the friends apart. And then after college Chloe comes back to town.

I’m such a sucker for friends-to-lovers romances, especially childhood friendships, and this book had me sobbing into my stuffed animal at 3:00 a.m. I actually read Under the Bleachers before this, and wasn’t completely sold on K.K. Allen, but this was so good I can’t explain. Cheesy, but not too cheesy. Not horribly graphic (if you’re picking what I’m throwing down). And I guarantee you will cry. You’re welcome.

Things I Should Have Known, Claire LaZebnik
After seeing how lonely her sister is, Chloe makes it her mission to find the perfect guy for Ivy. Ivy also happens to be on the autism spectrum. And her choice turns out to be the brother of the school jerk and know-it-all.

I got an ARC of this and was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. There’s positive!neurodiversity representation, sexual identity exploration, and really likable and relatable characters. The story is so sweet and made me want to try to be a better sister.

Final Girls, Riley Sagar
Quincy, Lisa, and Sam are “Final Girls.” Meaning, they are the sole survivors of separate, horrific massacres. The story is generally told from Quincy’s perspective as she tries to move on from That Night. Circumstances bring Quincy and Sam into each other’s lives for the first time and twisty things ensue.

Stephen King rec’d this on Twitter and I was PUMPED when I got approved on NetGalley to read this. Final Girls has everything I want in a book: psychological thriller, unreliable narrator, dark and sinister subject, and a WTF-type ending. If you’re a Book of the Month subscriber—this is an excellent pick for July.

The Clay Girl, Heather Tucker
After the suicide of her father, Ari Appleton goes to live with her aunts, finally finding a refuge in her tumultuous life. The respite is short-lived, however, and she is sent back to live with her troubled mother and five sisters. For the next decade, Ari doesn’t catch a break—losing practically everyone she cares about, save for her partner in crime, an imaginary seahorse named Jasper. (I’m already crying again.)

As previously mentioned, my stuffed bear, Marshmallow, is my constant reading partner. She collects my tears, laughs, and the occasional, “what the fuck?”. For me, reading this was like watching an adult- and super-depressing version of Toy Story 3. No matter how old Ari got, it warmed my heart that Jasper never left her and she never stopped confiding in him.

The Upside of UnrequitedBecky Albertalli
Throughout her seventeen years on Earth, Molly has known nothing but unrequited love—always in the shadow of her twin sister, Cassie (even though they’re not even interested in the same gender). Then, Cassie gets her first official girlfriend, becoming a lovesick mess, and Molly fears she’s losing her best friend. Molly laments in her loneliness until she decides that she’s going to start putting herself out there—she’s going to get her first kiss and her first boyfriend.

When I opened my first ever OwlCrate and this was the book, I was very happy. The cast of characters is SO inclusive it’s nuts: POC (including multiracial characters), body diversity, and LGBT representation all over the spectrum. I very much enjoyed this book and the related goodies I also got in my box. I even shed a few tears…but that’s no surprise.

The Sisters Chase, Sarah Healy
When Hannah Chase and her much younger sister, Hannah aka “Bunny”, are left mother-less after a tragic car accident, they take to the road to find a better life. Hannah and Bunny embark on a road trip spanning years, always leaving once a place gets “too real.” Though it all, Hannah’s goal remains the same: to create a safe haven for Bunny.

This was one of my BOTM picks for June, and my favorite of the three. You’ll probably be able to guess (at least part) of the “twist” before it’s revealed, but it doesn’t take away from the reveal and what it means to Hannah, Bunny, and others.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Sarah J. Maas
When Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, little does she know it was actually a faerie in disguise. As punishment for her actions, High Lord of the fae Spring Court, Tamlin, comes to collect her as his prisoner. Think Beauty and the Beast. And that’s just book 1. Add in a love triangle, more faerie lore, brief emotional abuse, and some steamy scenes I thought were way too much for a “YA” book, and you’ve got the ACOTAR series.

Unlike most fans, I only had to wait a few days before the third installment came out—meaning I devoured this trilogy in a week. I often don’t like the “bad boy” in a love triangle, but Rhys def grows on you. If the next books aren’t about Cassian and Nesta…I don’t know, but I need to hear more of their story. I’m excited for more stories from this world, but I’m satisfied with the ending these main characters got.

Check these gems out too: Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Melissa Bashardoust, More Than Forever, Jay McLean; Roanoke Girls, Amy Engel; everything Renee Ahdieh has written; Eliza and her Monsters, Francesca Zappia; Bad Romance, Heather Demetrios; Paper Butterflies, Lisa Heathfield; and A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Sara Barnard.

What’s next on my list: I’m only a few chapters in on two ARCs, Warcross by Marie Lu and Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic, and they’re both excellent so far. I also have started the new Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas’ other fantasy series. The second books in both of those series are en route from B&N.

Kate Reads 2017: Jan-Mar Favorites

You can believe me or not, but I’ve read a total of 88 books so far in 2017. Mostly physical copies—but I’m learning to embrace using my iPad as an eReader and not just my personal television. I haven’t really branched out in terms of what I’m reading—I’m a creature of habit and I know what I like. My faves include psychological thrillers, books that tackle controversial topics (such as abuse and mental illness), and friends-to-lovers relationships (because I’m still bitter over not getting my Dawson and Joey ending). I also won’t say to “no” to a good teen dystopia novel. 

I’ve read a lot of really good books so far and I wanted to share. I rarely give out five star ratings…those are basically reserved for my most favorites and the Harry Potter series. These are what I consider 4-4.5 stars aka ❤. And they all link to Goodreads 🙂

Some of my stacks because I’m too cool for shelves…and too afraid of IKEA

JAN-MAR 2017 FAVES [in no particular order]

The Light series, Aleatha Romig
Sara Adams wakes up in a hospital, blind and can’t remember her past. She comes to learn she’s a member of a religious and oppressive cult known as The Light.

It’s SO. GOOD. I didn’t like The Handmaid’s Tale (runs and hides) but I LOVED this series. The first book ends on a major cliffhanger and I don’t think I’ve hit “BUY” on a sequel so fast. Although Romig has said this is the end of this story, I’d be thrilled with a third installment (the second book also ends arguable ambiguous).

Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough
Louise meets David at a bar and later comes to learn he’s her new boss. Her married boss. She ends up befriending Adele, his wife and learns the secrets behind their seemingly perfect relationship.

This was my February selection from Book of the Month and it’s my favorite pick from them so far. The bookmark that came with it said, “You think you know the ending, but you don’t. I promise.” And I now promise you, it’s a doozy. I figured out the first twist and was so proud of myself and then the immediate turnaround knocked me on my ass. I stayed up until 3 on a work night to finish this baby and I have no regrets.

ForbiddenTabitha Suzuma
Growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mother, Lochan and Maya Whiteley have been forced to grow up quickly and be stand-in parents for their three younger siblings. Lochan and Maya’s relationship is more than just brother and sister and they continue to fight their feelings because they know it’s “wrong.”

This book broke my heart. Plain and simple. I read it in one night and was reduced to a weeping pile of salt water. For a topic that is so taboo, Lochan and Maya’s relaysh is so respectfully, well done. “Forbidden” won’t be and isn’t for everyone. But if you have the stomach for extremely touchy subjects and enjoy a good cry, this is your answer.

UnravelCalia Read
After a whirlwind romance with Max—a man no one seems to think is real—Naomi Carradine ends up at Fairfax mental hospital. Wanting out, she tells her story to her psychiatrist, desperate for someone to believe she isn’t “crazy.” Also woven in are her relationships with neighbor boy, Lochlan, and her best friend, Lana.

This book is a wonderful mix of all of my previously listed favorite book genres and it was so freaking good. There are so many little things mentioned throughout that make complete sense once the twist is revealed and I definitely did not see it coming. And once you look back you can see how intricately crafted Read made Naomi’s story. Plus, bonus love triangle with two guys who both  AREN’T assholes! Win!

Swear on This LifeRenee Carlino
When Emiline picks up “All the Roads Between” from new author J. Colby, the story sounds familiar. Eerily familiar. As she continues reading, Em realizes that J. Colby is her childhood best friend, Jase, and he’s written a national bestseller about her dark and dysfunctional upbringing, one she has been desperately trying to leave behind.

This was an impulse buy with my Christmas iTunes gift card and I was incredibly pleasantly surprised. I’ve read two more from Carlino this year, both of which were also good, but Swear on This Life gave me major feels. Childhood friends? Second-chance romance? Lots and lots of angst? Sign me up. This was another one that  I read in one night and ended up bawling into my stuffed bear. I need an actual physical copy in my life at some point too.

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsBryn Greenwood
Wavy is only eight when a motorcycle accident brings thug and ex-convict Kellen into her life. She’s the daughter of a meth dealer, and is raising her younger brother, Donal, by herself. Kellen, 13 years her senior, becomes the only form of stability and comfort in her life. The book spans 15 years and the evolving relationship between Kellen and Wavy.

I’m not going to lie. This book made me extremely uncomfortable. And it generally takes something major to upset me like this. This book is twisted. It’s disturbing. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. It took me a little longer to read “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” because I had to keep putting it down and collecting my thoughts. It is truly SO good, but it’s a thinker. It’ll stick with you long after you close. Wavy and Kellen are not your conventional romantic leads. Kellen is not a rich, handsome hunk with defined abs and a secret sex fetish. Wavy isn’t your naive ingenue who blindly dives into relationships. They’re both heavily broken individuals who find solace in each other. I HIGHLY recommend this book. It was so good.

The Hating Game, Sally Thorne
Coworkers Lucy and Joshua are sworn enemies and have no qualms about expressing their hatred towards each other. It makes for quite an office environment. They then both become applicants for the same job promotion and their rivalry comes to a head. But do they actually hate each other? Or is it just another game?

“The Hating Game” is the first relatively adult novel I’ve ever read (I refuse to count the horrendously written Fifty Shades books) and I loved it. If I can’t have a friends-to-lovers storyline, I will gladly take an enemies-to-lovers one.

It Ends With UsColleen Hoover
After witnessing the abusive relationship between parents, Lily resolves to never end up like her mother. She’s so happy when she meets neurosurgeon Ryle: Lily gets her fairytale relationship and marriage and it’s all too good to be true. That’s when things go south. Also in her orbit is the return of ex-boyfriend, Atlas, who is all too aware of her mother’s history.

Don’t you love when a book reaches down and strangles your soul? Because that’s exactly what “It Ends With Us” did to me. Another read-in-a-day, bawled-my-eyes-out novel.

The Royals seriesErin Watt
After the death of her mother, Ella Harper is making ends meet by working odd jobs and as a stripper. Her life changes when her father’s best friend shows up with news that he’s her legal guardian. Callum Royal and his family of five boys, are rich, spoiled, and used to having the world handed to them. While Callum takes a quick liking to her, it isn’t surprising that the sons are suspicious and hostile.

The series starts as a relatively similar Cinderella-retelling, with Ella plucked out of poverty and dropped into a world of posh prep schools and even more privileged people. Ella is a great heroine, who is not a damsel in distress. And each of the Royal sons is equally damaged and swoon-worthy (two in particular, but you learn that quickly).

History Is All You Left MeAdam Silvera
Even after a tough break-up and a cross-country move, Griffin is still convinced that he and now ex-boyfriend, Theo, will eventually find their way back to each other. That’s when he learns that Theo has died in a tragic accident…and he was also in a serious relationship with a new boy, Jackson. Deeply heartbroken, Theo realizes that the only other person who knows what he’s going through is Jackson and forms a tentative friendship.

I had heard a lot of hype about Silvera’s “More Happy Than Not,” and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. So, I was super happy that I loved “History Is All You Left Me.” It’s equal parts funny and sad, has positive and accurate OCD portrayal, and will stick with you after reading.


Really loved these tooUnder Rose-Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall; We Are the Ants, Shaun David Hutchinson; The Futures, Anna Pitoniak; Lucas, Jay McLean; My Heart and Other Black Holes, Jasmine Warga; Blurred Lines, Lauren Layne; Caraval, Stephanie Garber; Boy Toy, Barry Lygal; The Thousandth Floor, Katharine McGee; and Paperweight, Meg Haston

Yup, that’s my TBR pile…

What’s next on my list: I’m currently making my way through “Idaho,” by Emily Ruskovich. I typically have difficulty connecting to characters that are much older than me, but I’m really enjoying this so far.