Booklist: Read-a-Likes for Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

This piece originally appeared on the YALSA Hub blog in 2018.

You can also shop the list at Bookshop.

Are you ready to go big or go home with self-proclaimed fat girl, reluctant beauty queen, and all-around icon Willowdean Dixon of Dumplin’ fame? Have you read Julie Murphy’s delightful novel about Willowdean and its companions Puddin’ and Dear Sweetpea already? Have you seen the Netflix movie? Are eagerly waiting for Pumpkin? If the answer to any of those questions is “Yes!” then look no further for some read-a-likes to keep you busy while you wait for that next installment.

If You Want More Beauty Queens (Reluctant or Otherwise!):

  1. The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander: Austin is almost as tired of waiting for someone else to pull her into the annual Christmas parade as she is of being the butt of Dean Ottmer’s jokes and Austin has a surefire way to fix both her problems: become a hood ornament/Sweetheart in the No-Jesus Christmas Parade.
  2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: What happens when a plane filled with 50 beauty queens crashes in the middle of nowhere? Definitely not anything you’d expect as the remaining contestants turn their beauty-pageant honed skills to surviving on a hostile island and unearthing a massive conspiracy. Then the sexy pirates show up!
  3. Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg: Lexi has a Great personality with a capital “G” making her the witty girl everyone likes. The only problem is Lexi is tired of being that girl. Turns out a change in appearance can do a lot to improve a girl’s social status. But family problems and new friends (and crushes) force Lexi to ask some tough questions about herself and do some things that even a Great personality won’t make easy.
  4. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: Prom season is always hectic in Campbell and competition is always fierce. Liz knows most people in Campbell don’t see her as prom queen material. The better question is if Liz is ready to step out of the ensemble and use her solo to convince them otherwise.

If You Want More Fat Positive Stories:

  1. To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin: Savannah is marking time until she graduates and starts college. It’s just another year before she’ll be in college like her sister, but that feels like an eternity as she tries to deal with her mom’s constant pressure to diet more and eat better not to mention figuring out the whole getting into college thing. Cute new guy George could be the perfect distraction. But only if both of them can learn how to focus on the now instead of worrying about what happens next.
  2. The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burgers in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding: Abby Ives is seventeen, gay, and totally obsessed with all things fashion–especially growing her plus-size style blog as a way to break into the fashion industry. Abby’s clear plans for her future get very complicated when she starts interning at a local boutique. Suddenly Abby is competing for a job with Jordi Perez–the girl she also starts dating–and traveling across LA helping lacrosse bro Jax find (and eat) the best burgers.
  3. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson: When her best friend and two other students die under mysterious circumstances, Mila Flores does the obvious thing: resurrect the girls to get their help to find the killer.

If You Want A Fun Ensemble Cast:

  1. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli: Turns out it’s way easier to keep the beat in drumming than it is in real life. Leah thought she had the hang of both but with high school almost over, Leah is struggling to stay on track with her friends–especially when she still hasn’t figured out the right way to tell all of them that she’s bisexual and one friend in particular that she’d like to be a lot more than friends. (This one also counts is a great fat-positive book but how can I not include Leah and friends in a section about an ensemble cast?)
  2. The Truth Commission by Susan Juby: After years of being fodder (along with her parents) for her sister Kiera’s best-selling graphic novel series, The Diana Chronicles, Normandy Pale is ready to come into her own. She’d like to be known for her own strengths and accomplishments instead of constantly being compared to her hapless counterpart in the Chronicles. But it turns out it’s hard to stop being a muse. Especially when you never asked to be one.
  3. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert: Suzette and her brother Lionel have been “Little” and “Lion” for years. Technically they’re step-siblings and their family gets a lot of strange looks sometimes since they’re all Jewish but Suzette and her mom are black while Lionel and his father are white. They’ve never let that change how close they are. That was before Lionel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Suzette was sent across the country to an East coast boarding school while he got treatment. Now it’s summer and Suzette is home in Los Angeles where she expects everything to be familiar and easy. Instead, Suzette soon realizes that it’s going to be harder to go back to being Little and Lion than she thought.

If You Want A Sweet Romance:

  1. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo: Clara Shin is good at two things: getting into trouble and making people laugh. When her latest joke goes too far ending in a fight and a fire, even Clara’s usually laid-back father Adrian knows that things have gone too far. Clara’s plans for a laid-back summer and a vacation with her Instagram-famous influencer mom are cancelled. Instead Clara gets to look forward to working on her dad’s food truck, the KoBra, to pay back the school for fire damage. Worse, she’ll be working with her nemesis Rose.
  2. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills: Claudia is certain that working with Iris on the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for extra credit is going to be torture. But somewhere between bombing her audition and shopping for materials to help with costume production, something funny happens. Suddenly instead of sticking to what she knows and keeping her head down, Claudia’s world is starting to get bigger. Soon Claudia realizes that appearances can be deceiving as she discovers a boy band obsession, the ineffable Gideon Pruitt, and perhaps most surprisingly of all an unexpected friendship with the last person she expects
  3. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: Amanda Hardy is new to Lambertville, Tennessee and nervous about starting at a new school for her senior year. She isn’t sure what to expect when she moves in with her father who she hasn’t seen in a few years. She isn’t sure if this town will be any kinder to her than the hometown she had to leave. Grant Everett sorely tests Amanda’s resolve. He is funny, kind, and no one Amanda ever thought she could be with. Getting closer to Grant makes Amanda feel safe and known. So much so that she wonders if it might be time to let Grant see all of her–including the secrets from her past.

If You Want More Feminist Heroines:

  1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: Xiomara Batista finds her voice and a way to finally be seen when she discovers her high school’s slam poetry
  2. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: Viv doesn’t know what to expect when she distributes the first issue of her zine, Moxie, in secret to her classmates. In the pages of her zine she calls out sexist jokes, harassment, and unfair dress codes and asks girls at the school to join her in protests that quickly gain momentum and help the Moxie movement take on a life of its own. As the stakes rise for what the zine and the Moxie girls are fighting for, Vivian has to decide how far she’s willing to go for what she believes.
  3. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: In the midst of a difficult year Gabi finds solace in an unlikely place. Gabi always knew she liked writing and poetry. She just didn’t realize discovering the poetry within herself (and around her) would have the power to change everything.

Booklist: Activism Starts With You: Novels to Inspire Empathy

This piece originally appeared at Teen Services Underground in 2017.

You can also find the list at Bookshop.

It’s been a wild and sometimes scary ride lately with the political climate changing in the wake of the 2016 United States Presidential election, the current health crisis and, unfortunately, racism and hatred spreading wildly. Two of the best ways to combat this negativity are to get informed and to nurture your empathy. That’s where this booklist comes in with titles about young activists.

  • The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah: Michael agrees with everything he hears at the anti-immigrant rallies he’s dragged to with his parents. Until he meets Mina who is clever, funny, and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. As Mina and Michael grow closer they’ll have to decide where they stand and who they want to be in the face of rising tensions and issues that are anything but simple.
  • Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali: Janna Yusuf is the daughter of the only divorced mother at her mosque. She loves Flannery O’Connor. And she has no idea what to think when her best friend’s cousin–one of the so-called “saints” in the Muslim community–tries to assault her.
  • The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu: M. T. gets good grades. She has a best friend and the promise of romance on the horizon. What M. T. doesn’t have is any plans for college. Because M. T. has been hiding something since she was a child. She’s an undocumented immigrant.
  • The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg: Jane feels like her life is over when her family moves to suburbia. Then she meets three other girls, all named Jane, and they form a secret gang to deploy art attacks throughout their town.
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: Set in post-9/11 San Francisco, Marcus is on a quest to hack his city from the sinister clutches of Homeland Security.
  • Refugee by Alan Gratz: Separated by miles and decades, the stories of three refugees–Josef, a Jewish boy fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s; Isabel, a girl hoping to escape the riots and unrest that plague Cuba in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015, whose homeland is being destroyed by violence and destruction–come together in surprising ways during the course of their harrowing journeys.
  • How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon: When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into chaos. Tariq was black and the shooter is white. In the aftermath of the shooting Tariq’s friends, family, and larger community struggle to make sense of the tragedy. But when everyone has something to say, and no two accounts seem to agree, no one is sure how they can ever agree on how it really went down.
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: In the pages of her new zine “Moxie” Vivian calls out sexist jokes, harassment, and unfair dress codes in her Texas high school and asks girls to join her in protests that quickly gain momentum and help the Moxie movement take on a life of its own. As the stakes rise for what the zine and the Moxie girls are fighting for, Vivian has to decide how far she’s willing to go for what she believes.
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: The Nowhere Girls are everygirl. But they start with three outsiders–Grace, Rosina, and Erin–as they band together to resist the sexist culture at their high school and to get justice for Lucy, a girl run out of town after accusing the popular guys at school of gang rape.
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely: Rashad is accused  of stealing and brutally beaten by a police officer. Quinn witnesses the beating and recognizes the cop as his best friend’s older brother. The entire thing was caught on camera, but even with that footage, it becomes clear that no one agrees on what happened and Quinn is going to have to choose a side.
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Justyce McAllister is at the top of his class and bound for the Ivy League. None of which matters to the police officer who handcuffs him only to release Justyce hours later without charges or remorse. Haunted by the incident and the pressures he faces both from his old neighborhood and his prep school, Justyce starts writing a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King. But even Dr. King’s teachings are put to the test when Justyce and his best friend end up at the center of a night that ends with shots fired and a media firestorm.
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: Virginia, 1959. Sarah is one of the first black students to attend her newly integrated high school. Meeting Sarah and working with her on a school project forces Linda–a white girl–to confront hard truths about her family’s anti-integration beliefs.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Starr Carter watches her friend Kahlil die at the hands of a police officer and faces intimidation from both the police and a local drug lord as they try to find out what happened that night.
  • The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne: Daisy’s efforts to support her best friend, Hannah, when she comes out as a lesbian spiral out of control as Daisy challenges the school’s ban on same-sex dates at school events. When the local story goes national Daisy is the accidental face of a movement.
  • Seeking Refuge: A Graphic Novel by Irene N. Watts and Kathryn Shoemaker: Marianne is eleven-years-old in 1938. She is one of the first two hundred children rescued during Kindertransport and evacuated to England in December. In 1939 her journey continues as she is evacuated to Wales. Shuffled from home to home, Marianne will need courage and resilience to reach the end of her journey.
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew: The previously untold origin story of the Green Turtle–a heroic crime fighter who first hit the scenes in the 1940s–the first Asian American superhero.

Booklist: Activism Starts With You: Nonfiction Books to Inspire and Instruct

This piece originally appeared at the YALSA Hub Blog in 2017.

You can also find the list at Bookshop.

It’s been a wild and sometimes scary ride lately with the political climate changing in the wake of the 2016 United States Presidential election, the current health crisis and, unfortunately, racism and hatred spreading wildly. It’s hard to know where to start when you can’t vote and may not be old enough to work. The best first step: Getting information. These books can help teens do just that as you get informed and inspired.

  • Strike! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner: A carefully researched account of the 1965 strike and the ones that followed as migrant Filipino American workers fought to negotiate a better way and set off one of the longest and most successful strikes in American history.
  • Yes You Can! Your Guide to Becoming An Activist by Jane Drake and Ann Love: This book includes accounts of the founding of organizations like Amnesty International and Greenpeace along with practical steps for social change including how to run meetings, write petitions, and lobby the government.
  • It’s Getting Hot in Here: The Past, Present, and Future of Climate Change by Bridget Heos: With so many people denying its impacts, it’s more important now than ever to know the full story about climate change. This book features real talk about global warming and ways we can all help by taking action.
  • The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip M. Hoose: The true story of the teenage boys whose acts of sabotage (and eventual arrests) helped spark the Danish resistance during WWII.
  • Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen: An essay and art-filled guide to what it means to be a feminist from forty-four unique voices.
  • We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson: In May 1963 4,000 African American children and teenagers marched in Birmingham, Alabama where they were willingly arrested to help fill the city’s jails. These young marchers were crucial to the desegregation of Birmingham–one of the most racially violent cities in America at the time.
  • The March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell: These graphic novels share Lewis’ firsthand account of his lifelong involvement in the fight for human rights including his key role in the Civil Rights movement from his early years in a segregated classroom through the 1963 March on Washington.
  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks: The true story of three of the most important scientists of the twentieth century–women who risked their lives pursuing their research and protecting the primates they studied.
  • Queer There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager: Queer author and activist Prager delves into the world’s queer history and heritage through the lens of these twenty-three trailblazers.
  • This Land Is Our Land: The History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne: This book follows the changing reception immigrants to the United States have faced from both the government and the public from 1800 through the present.
  • You Got This! Unleash your Awesomeness, Find your Path, and Change your World by Maya Penn: Everything you need to know to find your passions, reach your potential, and speak up from teen entrepreneur, animator, eco-designer, and girls rights activist Maya Penn.
  • Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz: This book highlights forty women from around the world and from all walks of life along with their varied accomplishments and contributions to world history.
  • The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin: In 1944 hundreds of African American servicemen in the Navy refused to work in unsafe conditions after Port Chicago explosion. Fifty of those men were charged with mutiny. This is their story.
  • Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson: A step-by-step guide to identifying social issues, getting informed, and taking action.
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of A War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana: In her memoir Uwiringiyimana discusses her survival of the Gatumba massacre and her move to America where she began to recover through healing and activism.
  • I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb: Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Her story started when the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley and she fought for her right to an education but that’s only the beginning.

This list is by no means comprehensive. If I’ve missed any key titles, please share them in the c

Top Ten: 2019

Sometimes it’s really hard to look back on a year and figure out which books are my favorites–even when I’m only looking at books I reviewed here on the blog instead of all of the books I read. 2019 wasn’t like that. Instead, it turned out to relatively easy to choose my standout favorites. These are books that made my world bigger and my heart more full; they’re books that took my completely by surprise in the best possible ways:

You can click the titles above to find my reviews or shop the titles over on my Amazon page.

Honorable Mention: The Backlist

I have been playing catch up with review writing for the better part of two years so here are some backlist titles I could have mentioned last year (or earlier) but didn’t get written up on the blog in time to be properly featured on a best of list:

Top Ten: 2018

This is my annual list of favorite books that I read and reviewed this year. Some of my favorite reads didn’t make the cut because I haven’t had time to write and post reviews BUT that just means I’ll have even more books to talk about next December.

You can click the titles above to find my reviews. This list can also be found on my Amazon Influencer page here:

Honorable Mention: The Sequels

Sequels are a strange thing because citing them as a favorite isn’t always about one book so much as the series that comes before. Some of these (The Darkest Legacy and Dramatically Ever After) can definitely be read on their own but if you’re intrigued I’d still say start at the beginning.

  • Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black (a total cheat since this one won’t release until next month!)
  • The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
  • The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Top Ten: 2017

This is my annual list of favorite books that I read and reviewed this year.

This year was filled with marvelous bookish surprises. I didn’t know what to expect from so many of these books and they almost universally left me dazzled and delighted.

Jane, Unlimited and Where Futures End pushed and pulled at the limits of how a story can be told.

In a Perfect World, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Lucky in Love and The Keeper of the Mist were unapologetic love stories filled with optimism.

Words in Deep Blue, Speak Easy, Speak Love, and The Fashion Committee inspired and moved me while surprising me with inventive twists.

Caraval, The Diabolic and All the Crooked Saints introduced me to new worlds while Wayfarer, The Reluctant Queen, Thick as Thieves, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean gave me the chance to revisit familiar characters and places.

Not a day has gone by that I haven’t been thinking about Vincent and Theo: The Van Go Brothers or The Careful Undressing of Love.

You couldn’t find two books that were more different than Moxie and Places No One Knows. And yet if I had to pick two defining books for 2017, these would be my choices. Moxie is everything I want to see happen on a large scale–empowered young women, solidarity, and positive change–while Places No One Knows is a quiet reminder to speak up for what matters and to take care of yourself.

You can click the cover photos to read my reviews.

Top Ten:

(Actually top twelve but I do what I want.)

    • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
    • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
    • In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

      • Caraval by Stephanie Garber
      • Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
      • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

    • The Careful Undress of Love by Corey Ann Haydu
    • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
    • The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby

    • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
    • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
    • Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Honorable Mentions: Books Published in 2016

      • The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier
      • Where Futures End by Parker Peeveyhouse
      • Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Honorable Mentions: Sequels

I don’t like listing sequels in my top ten because usually you have to read the preceding books first. These are no exception but they are still fantastic and were definitely favorites of the year.

      • Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
      • The  Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst
      • Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
      • The Empress by S. J. Kincaid (I haven’t reviewed this one yet so I am sneakily directing you to my review of the first book)
      • Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

Top Ten: 2016

This is my annual list of favorite books that I read and reviewed this year.

Break Me Like a Promise and This Raging Light were the two books that were most impactful to me and the two I most desperately needed to read this year. I haven’t stopped thinking about The Star-Touched Queen and In Some Other World, Maybe since I finished them. Passenger has become a defining book of key moments of this year and last (which is why I have three copies of it). Bookishly Ever After, Iron Cast, Tell Me Three Things, Three Dark Crowns, My Lady Jane, and The Museum of Heartbreak were all delightful surprises this year. Hands down, The Anatomy of Curiosity is one of the most inspiring books I have read. Ever.

You can click the cover photos to read my reviews. Since it’s 2016, I’m giving myself ten slots plus up to six honorable mentions. Alphabetical by author because picking favorites any more specifically is too hard.

Top Ten:

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel BandeiraPassenger by Alexandra BrackenTell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani ChokshiIn Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen

  • Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
  • Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  • In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen

This Raging Light by Estelle LaureThe Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter HapgoodBreak Me Like a Promise by Tiffany SchmidtIron Cast by Destiny SoriaThe Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff

  • This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
  • The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
  • Break Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt
  • Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
  • The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff

Honorable Mentions:

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoThree Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  • Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi HeiligThe Museum of Heartbreak by Meg LederThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

  • The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
  • The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab


This list is also a Pinterest board.

Top Ten: 2015

Here’s my list of favorite books reviewed here on the blog in 2015. You can click the cover photos to read my reviews. Since it’s 2015, I’m giving myself 15 slots plus a few honorable mentions. Alphabetical by author because picking favorites any more specifically is too hard.

Top Ten:

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackThe Scorpion Rules by Erin BowLove and Other Perishable Items by Laura BuzoThe Truth Commission by Susan Juby

  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  • Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
  • The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

Winterspell by Claire LegrandThe Start of Me and You by Emery LordLock & Mori by Heather W. PettyI am Princess X by Cherie PriestTonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

  • Winterspell by Claire Legrand
  • The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
  • Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  • Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany SchmidtThe Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus SedgwickA Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria SchwabRebel Mechanics by Shanna SwendsonBlack Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

  • Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
  • The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  • Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
  • Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Honorable Mentions:

The Game of Love and Death by Martha BrockenbroughWalk on Earth a Stranger by Rae CarsonBlackfin Sky by Kat EllisThe Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

  • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
  • Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
  • Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis
  • The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

This list is also a Pinterest board.

14 for 2014

Here’s my list of favorite books from 2014.

(I’m limiting myself here to books that I’ve reviewed on the blog this year. For more favorites, check out this year’s End of Year Survey.)

Top Ten:


The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiIn the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle ZevinTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillAnd We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

  1. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  2. In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
  3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  4. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  5. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  6. The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  7. The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton
  8. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
  9. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
  10. The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The UnboundThe Strange Maid by Tessa GrattonThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudIllusions of Fate by Kiersten WhiteThe Vanishing Season

Honorable Mentions:

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah ZettelBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterMortal Heart by Robin LaFeversThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

  1. Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel
  2. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
  4. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Shout out to Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld and Clariel by Garth Nix which were both very close to making the final cut! (And to Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo–I don’t think I’m getting my review of it written by the end of 2014 so watch for it on my 2015 list!)

This list is also a Pinterest board.

Gilmore Girls Read-a-Likes

You might have heard that the much loved TV series Gilmore Girls has made its way to Netflix. If, like me, you don’t have Netflix (or if you have already re-watched the entire series), these books might help you capture some of the happy feelings from the series. If you don’t feel like reading this whole list I’ve discovered that in my mind I consider fantasy titles great read-alikes for this series in general. (Thanks to my friend Kristin for suggesting this list idea!)

If you want books with a quirky ensemble of characters:


  • Heist Society by Ally Carter: Time is short and the job is monumental but Kat has a crack crew and, hopefully, enough talent to pull off an impossible heist (and maybe right a few wrongs along the way).
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley: As Ed walks Lucy through Shadow’s art, the night that promised to be a disaster turns into something else. In a city filled with missed connections and opportunity, Ed and Lucy are right where they’re supposed to be
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters, which everyone knows means Sophie is doomed to failure should she ever set out to seek her fortunes. Sophie is resigned to her fate–living obscurely, and less than successfully, working in the family hat shop. Except that this is not a traditional fairy tale and events soon intervene to set Sophie on a very unexpected course indeed for an eldest daughter.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Only one rider can win on race day–if they can stay alive long enough to finish the course–and the stakes for both Sean and Puck couldn’t be higher but as this unlikely pair trains side-by-side they might find a greater prize than anything from the race purse.
  • Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White: Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, an enigmatic young lord. Armed with only her wits, Jessamin will have to navigate the murky waters of Alben politics and magic–not to mention the uncharted territory of her own heart.

If you want books with witty banter:


  • Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg: Both Macallan and Levi are pretty sure they’re better as friends than anything else. Except they can’t help wondering if the complications that come with being more than friends might just be worth it.
  • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: Sixteen-year-old Francesca Spinelli has a lot of limitations on her life. The worst might be her forced transfer to St. Sebastian’s, a former boy’s school that’s trying to turn co-ed.
  • Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: If every town has a story, so does every resident. Kami’s own story has caused her a fair bit of trouble over the years and not a few friends. That’s what happens when your best friend seems to be an imaginary boy you talk to in your head.
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab: Someone wants to hide something about the Coronado. And perhaps about the Archive too. If Mac can’t solve the mystery that remains the entire Archive could collapse.
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: As Blue and these improbable raven boys find each other things start changing for them and their small town. Together they could unearth untold magic and power, as long as they can find it first–and control it.

If you want books with a sweet romance:


  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: No one was ever supposed to see Lara Jean’s love letters except for Lara Jean. They were never meant for anyone else. With all of her feelings laid bare for these five boys, Lara Jean isn’t sure how to go back to the girl she used to be before the letters were delivered.
  • Enchanted by Alethea Kontis: In a land as ripe with magic as Sunday’s, it isn’t particularly surprising to meet a talking frog. The real surprise comes when he shows an interest in Sunday’s stories and quickly becomes her dear friend. And maybe something else.
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: It takes a cross-country tour but over the course of one unforgettable summer Reagan will learn that mistakes aren’t forever,  even if friends are, and home doesn’t always have to be somewhere to leave.
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: With uncertain plans for college and the future looming,  Josh and Isla will have to learn to be apart before they have any chance of staying together.
  • The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith: Lucy and Owen don’t have a lot in common to start with. They don’t even know much about each other. Still their relationship plays out across the miles in the form of postcards and sporadic emails. Although both Lucy and Owen try to move on they soon realize an unfinished something keeps pulling them back to each other.

If you want books with an awesome family:


  • Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr: What starts as an innocuous email about whether to buy a microwave or a mini-fridge turns into a series of emails that might lead to friendship and a few other insights during a summer filled with possibility.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Dash and Lily don’t have much in common but somehow they connect on the papers bound in that red notebook. Will these two misfits make sense in person? Only time will tell if their fledgling relationship can survive Lily’s family, Dash’s friends, some comical disasters and, of course, the holiday season in New York City.
  • The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman: The harder Katie clings to her memories of City life, the more Michaela adapts to life in Fir Lake, leaving Katie to wonder what happens when your home doesn’t feel like a home and your best friend starts to look like someone you don’t know.
  • Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson: Scarlett Martin and her family live in the Hopewell Hotel in the heart of New York City. That might sound like a dream come true but just ask Scarlett about her fifteenth birthday and it’s easy to see the sometimes harsh realities that owning and running a hotel can really entail.
  • Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson: With the help of some unlikely friends, Sloane starts working her way through the list her best friend left behind when she disappeared with no notice. Apple picking at night should be easy. Dancing until dawn might actually be fun. Kissing a stranger could go either way. Skinny dipping? Stealing something? Those might take a little more work

If you want books about smart characters:


  • When It Happens by Susane Colasanti: At the beginning of the year Sara and Tobey don’t really know each other. By the end, Sara and Tobey might have a whole new beginning together.
  • Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan: Love is a word found in many languages. And with so many things around her changing, Josie is about to get a crash course in the true meaning of the word
  • The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski: Darcy always wanted to be part of something, to belong somewhere. But she may have more than she bargained for with a mysterious boy named Conn and infiltrating an even stranger group called the Shades.
  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: With a chance at real friends and something that makes her truly happy, Elise might be able to change herself after all.
  • Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin: It starts with a coin toss. If Naomi had picked tails she never would have gone back for the camera. She wouldn’t have tripped on the stairs and hit her head. There would have been no ambulance and no amnesia. Naomi would remember her boyfriend and whatever it was they had in common. She’d remember the lives her parents have been living. She would remember her best friend Will and why he calls her Chief and keeps making her mix tapes. But Naomi picked heads.