2019 is starting to wrap up, which means it is the end of the year and the decade. This week I wanted to highlight my top ten of the year and stay tuned for next week when I highlight the top ten of the decade.
The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
Theodora’s father is a treasure-hunting, relic collector. When Theo’s dad disappears on his latest hunt and her lady’s maid takes off with all of her money, Theo needs the help of family friend/love interest, Huck to find Vlad the Impaler’s ring and save her father.
This supernatural adventure was awesome. Shifters and supes abound! I fell in love with Theo and Huck. I can’t wait for more adventures. This was like the teen steamy version of like the Mummy or Indiana Jones.
Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh
Plum is a young woman obsessed with words, who keeps mostly to herself, except when it comes to her family. When the family is desperate for money, Plum has taken on tutoring a cute neighbor dude. While he bullied her when she was younger and today he is pretty different from her, Plum is drawn to him. The various hijinks that happen throughout the book keep the reader laughing and moving along. This is a modern-day take on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen is so much fun!
Slay by Brittney Morris
Kiera is a typical honor’s student at her affluent private school. She is one a few African American students at the school and the constant code switching leaves her longing for a place where she can celebrate her race and culture. Kiera is not going to wait for the world to create this space, instead she creates an online MMORPG (think World of Warcraft mixed with a digital version of Yugi-Oh…only ten billion times cooler). This is an awesome safe space, until deadly game play starts bleeding over into the real world. The characters are well-developed, unique and feel as though they come off the page.
Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book? by Ally Carter
Ally Carter and a few of her YA author friends band together to give teen readers a how-to guide on writing and publishing their work. Carter breaks down the concepts clearly, in a way that can easily be applied to the process. I loved that she asked other authors to sound off on their own writing and publishing journey. She asked both her agent and David Levithan to give insight into the editing and sales aspects of writing. This guide is imperative for any teen (or really any) writer in your life.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
For over 300 seasons, Prince Rhen has been cursed to turn into a shape shifting monster that kills everything in his path. The only way to break the curse is to find true love. Harper is kidnapped and taken to Rhen’s alternate world, where she is his new chance at love. However, she is not interested in a guy who kidnapped her. As Harper continues to try to run away and get back home, even though Rhen is powerless to return her, she begins building friendships with the people of this new world. Will Harper and Rhen be able to find love in each other and end the curse?
I have heart eyes for both of these characters. They are strongly developed and I loved watching their story unfold.
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Set in the 1980s, Reza has recently moved in with his new step family in New York. He has always known that he was gay, though it is something he tries to deny because he knows it is a death sentence. In attempting to hide it, he begins a relationship with Judy. However, Reza can’t help but be drawn to her gay best friend Artie, who is a vocal activist in the gay community. This book is well developed and covers a time in history that I know little about.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Ben comes out to their parents as nonbinary and is quickly kicked out of their home. It is through their journey with their long absent sister that they are able to find a way to create a space for themselves in the world. This novel not only gives a voice to nonbinary readers, but it also introduces this concept to readers. Ben’s voice is so strong that it is easy to develop an emotional connection to them and understand their view of life. This real look into Ben’s life creates an empathetic space for readers.
Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson
Memoir of popular YA author and his journey with mental health and coming out. It was an emotional journey that was well-written.
Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
Set in the near future, with a dystopian twist. Mena attends The Innovation Academy, where young women are trained to become ladies. Mena doesn’t question the academy’s methods, she knows that when she gets redirected (read physically punished), it was her fault because she didn’t follow the rules. After Mena meets a boy in a convenience store, who stands up for her against the guards, Mena begins questioning her way of life.
I loved the dystopian vibe. This is a book that is not too far off from our own society that it stayed in the realm of believable and more interesting.
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus
Ellery and Ezra, fraternal twins, have always had to count on each other and take care of their drug-addicted mom. However, after their mother goes to jail for driving her car into a business, the twins are shipped off to their maternal grandmother’s. Things take a deadly turn when the twins first arrive in Echo Ridge and find another dead body. What else would you expect from a town whose biggest attraction is a horror theme park. The past begins haunting the present generation as suspects from previous murders begin coming back in town and the potential killer begins posting threats around town. How does anyone stay alive in this town?
While the summary sounds overdramatic, the book was well-done. The characters and plot were compelling. I liked this book even more than McManus’s first novel. I didn’t have the plot figured out early, because I was so invested in what was going on in the present. I buckled myself in and went along for the ride.