Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor killed me again. I don’t know what I was expecting.

I mean, I knew she would. So.

Worth it.

Favorite quote:

And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can. (page 135)

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal is the Deadpool-esque anti-hero of Victorian times (Victorian? Steampunk?).

He’s pithy, sarcastic, and in Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, he’s neck-deep in a deal with the devil. Agreeing to trade 100 “innocent” souls in return for his own previously looted soul, Cabal finds himself in charge of a traveling carnival. There are madmen (actually), not-particularly-distressed damsels, suspicious officers of the law, and a young child’s essay. Oh, and a swoon-worthy undead brother.

And just when you think he’s got what he wanted (kind of), there’s a whole thing at the end in the basement and even though he was pretty much an ass the entire novel…your heart just hurts for him. Unbelievable.

Favorite quote:

Everybody comes to the fair to have a good time in the full expectation of being ripped off at some point. All that was different here was the scale of the loss. (page 72)

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Raise your hand if you forgot horror novels don’t necessarily have happy endings.

I don’t know why I just assumed it would? It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the storyline and the characters and how real everything felt. The version of Hex I read is an American translation and apparently the ending in the original Dutch was different (I have to know! But I can’t find anything!) so…maybe…not so awful?

I mean, it was great and horrific and chilling and again, the whole thing felt a little too realistic, but I thought maybe everything would be okay?

It wasn’t.

Favorite quote:

They looked like people who knew they had done something dreadful, something irreversible…and something they could easily live with. (page 254)

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

I don’t usually pick out novels without a sci-fi slant but Kiersten White recommended We Are Okay on Twitter and at this point…I will read whatever she says.

We Are Okay is a quick read about loss and running away. Unless you’ve experienced a sudden (or not-so-sudden) loss, it might not resonate. Mostly because your brain kind of goes offline after a shakeup like that. So while most people would think “Hmm…she loses her grandfather and runs away to college with nothing but a debit card and the clothes on her back and doesn’t tell anyone she knows what she’s done” might seem far-fetched.

But, if you get it, you recognize that you find yourself doing a bunch of weird shit you really can’t explain.

Favorite quote:

“How it all started was the first day of English, when Brother John had us analyze some stupid poem, and you raised your hand and said something so smart about it that suddenly the poem didn’t seem stupid anymore. And I knew that you were the kind of person I wanted to know. But what I didn’t know yet was that you can tell a girl you want to hang out with her because she said something smart. So I looked for an excuse to talk to you, and I found one.” (page 49)

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

I’m going to sell All Our Wrong Todays as Tony Stark meets that-kind-of-loser-you-went-to-high-school-with-who-wasn’t-exactly-terrible-but-usually-did-stupid-things-to-be-funny-but-you-kind-of-doubted-he’d-get-anywhere-in-life.

First off, the pacing of the novel is great. I felt physically exhausted after finishing it, like I was making Tom’s stupid decisions right along with him. And maybe it was because I read it all in one day and finished it at 12:30 at night, but that’s beside the point.

Sciency like The Martian but without dragging, All Our Wrong Todays blends time travel with alternate realities. The protagonist Tom is a mess, for sure, but he’s a relatable mess. A familiar mess. A mess we may have all been at one time or another.

At least we didn’t have access to time machines.

Favorite quote:

Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. (page 15)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas should rocket to the top of your Required Reading list. It’s timely, quick-paced, and gut-wrenching but not without hope. It’s not preachy, it’s real. This stuff happens, is happening, and if it seems unbelievable or impossible, you are very, very lucky.

Everyone is going to take away something different from Starr’s story. It’s hard to say “You should read this book because ______” when all I want to say is “You should read this book BECAUSE.”

Favorite quote:

I almost point out that I get a scholarship too, but nah. She’d become the first person in history to hit someone through a phone. (page 118)