When she isn't being lured back into the bottomless pit she emerged from (the YA Fiction section), Kathryn is judging every Sci-Fi and Fantasy book in the store by their covers. She is named after Captain Kathryn Janeway of the U.S.S. Voyager (who spells her name the correct way), and if you ever have a sneaking suspicion that a book might've fan-fiction in a past life, there's a 90% chance she can tell you who it's actually about. If she isn't making up for the 6 years she stopped reading for fun, she's watching and writing about TV shows that span the vast range of "Out of This World Incredible" to " Worse Than Riverdale".
Absolutely worth the 21 book marathon I went on to refresh my memory of the Percy Jackson universe before reading this. As a lifelong fan of the series, I can confidently say that The Sun and The Star is one of the best books to come out of it, and it's so nice to see Nico Di Angelo finally get the attention from the story that he's always deserved.
If anyone can make a non-linear, slightly convoluted, and very paranormal story work, it's Olivie Blake. Masters of Death is so fun and introspective and doesn't hesitate to ask what we would give up for the thing we want the most. The entire cast of characters is a delight that will leave you simultaneously wanting more of them and loving that this is book is a standalone that allows everything to come to a very satisfying conclusion.
This is incredible not only as an examination of why Hollywood lacks so much diversity and how it has tried and consistently failed to make real, substantial change, but as a guide for how the industry can work to change for the better. A lot of the content in this is simply horrifying and at the very least this book serves as a record of multiple events that form a clear pattern of the nightmare it can be to work in a field that creates things so beloved by the general public. If you have ever done so much as watched an episode of television, you should read this book.
What's more dramatic than lesbians facing off on the softball field you ask? Lesbians facing off on the softball field but some of them are magical girls with softball specific powers! Grand Slam Romance is so fun and so messy that it feels like a love letter to all of the real life lesbian drama we know and love. (Take off the dust jacket for a surprise?)
We've had the privilege of seeing a self-righteous, unlikable, scammer main characters across media of all kinds recently, and Yellowface's June Hayward is a perfect addition to that roster. R. F. Kuang clearly has a knack for writing horrible people who think that they're the one true victim of life, and there's nothing better than seeing someone like that having the life they deserve.
Being a teenager is hard enough on its own, so what difference does a messy interpersonal relationship really make? Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me follows Freddy as she is jerked around by her on-again-off-again girlfriend who she just can't seem to cut off. Freddy is constantly facing the emotional consequences of Laura Dean's treatment of her, and Freddy's friends are hurt in turn, creating a situation where her head is constantly at odds with her heart. Tamaki's storytelling combined with Valero-O'Connell's art create paint a painfully relatable picture that is ultimately cathartic, even if the journey to the end is a tough one.
If you're familiar at all with how rabid fan culture can be, you know exactly what the title Y/N is referring to. Esther Yi does a brilliant job unraveling the obsession that some people have with their favorite celebrities and how far they'll go in their idolization of them. Pretentious and delusional, Y/N's unnamed protagonist falls in love with a K-Pop Idol under the belief that he reciprocates her feelings, and watching as things get more and more out of hand is only a fraction of the fun that this book offers.
If Frizzy has one thing to teach us, it's that the best way to fit in is by being yourself. Marlene is completely over everyone else telling her how her hair should look, but she doesn't exactly know how to take care of it in its naturally curly state. She's not about to let her peers determine how she feels about herself, but her family is a whole other story. Marlene comes face to face with the physical and social challenges that come along with curls and it is so satisfying to see her beautifully illustrated journey unfold as she seeks out her confidence.
A wonderful adventure with wonderful art! Squire follows Aiza as she follows her dreams of being a knight, not only for the glory and adventure, but to lift her family out of their second class status. As her training progresses, Aiza bears witness to the truth of war and all that it leads to. Honor and glory isn't what it seems, and it's up to her to decide if it's all worth it.
At a time when so many books are being made into movies and TV shows, it's rare that we get a book that's a good mix of both mediums. Charles Yu does an incredible job combining screenwriting and literary fiction to create an incredible purgatory-like world where everyone's life is dependant on the whims of a procedural cop show. Even more important is the history and present day that informs the journey of Willis Wu in his quest to become a main character of everyone's story.
"Hey, are you Zoe Thorogood? Why can't you be happy?" There's a lot to say about this book, but I think it's best said by the book itself. Not only is Zoe Thorogood an incredible artist, her writing perfectly captures the very specific experience of being depressed from a young age. There's some spectacular introspection throughout this entire memoir, and it's that perfect amount of self-awareness that makes this book so great.
Sure, this might be one of the thickest books you've ever seen, but do not let that intimidate you. Priory is one of the best single-volume fantasy books out there. There's in-depth worldbuilding, complex and compelling characters, and the wildest jump in the pacing from 0 to 60 that I've ever experienced. At the very least, you'll have something to brag about when you're done with all 805 pages.
She Drives Me Crazy is a super sweet sapphic rom-com that finds it's strengths where all good rom-coms do: Making simple things complicated. Scottie and Irine having to put their deep dislike of each other aside to serve their own interests gets them into some classic teen drama, and what good is a high school romance without a little bit — or a lot — of jealousy?
In short, Babel is 560 pages of intricately written devastation. It is a true expression of what it's like to have everything stripped away from you because of who you fundamentally are — whether you realize what's happening or not. The level of linguistic and historical research that Kuang put into writing this is nothing short of impressive, and whoever decides what books become classic literature should have this at the top of their roster. There will never be a time when the themes explored in this book are not relevant.
He said what he said.
Though Ace of Spades is a mystery-thriller on the surface, at its core it is a story about the purposeful, systemic discrimination and violence that Black students regularly face in academic settings. It's full of suspense, betrayal, and good old-fashioned teen drama, but it also takes inspiration from the harsh reality that is the past and present of white supremacy. It's an incredible debut novel from Àbíké-Íyímídé, and a very important one at that.
This story hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the very end. Vern's isolated upbringing launches her into a journey of epic proportions that she never wanted to be a part of. Solomon effortlessly weaves the less than savory history of the United States into every corner of this book, and I'm inclined to say that this has a very high chance of becoming a classic sometime in the not too distant future.
It is safe to say that Tasha Suri has made a beautifully intricate mark on the fantasy genre with The Jasmine Throne. If you like morally-grey protagonists, you'll love every woman in this book. There's something wonderfully visceral about every part of this book, from the magic system, to the politics, to the clashing interests of every single character, and you won’t be able to pry yourself away.
Legendborn is the gold standard for low-fantasy YA literature. Bree Matthews is one of the most lovable protagonists of all time, and Tracy Deonn puts so much care and nuance into her growth and the journey she is unwillingly launched into. This book is essential reading for everyone and undeniable proof that black female characters are the future of genre fiction.