Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Inside cover blurb:

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous year 1977 in New York.

After a freezing winter, a boiling hot summer explodes with arson, a blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam, who is shooting young people on the streets seemingly at random.

Not only is the city a disaster, but Nora has troubles of her own: her brother, Hector, is growing more uncontrollable by the day, her mother is helpless to stop him, and her father is so busy with his new family that he only calls on holidays.

And it doesn’t stop there. The super’s after her mother to pay their overdue rent, and her teachers are pushing her to apply for college, but all Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. There is a cute guy who started working with her at the deli, but is dating even worth the risk when the killer especially likes picking off couples who stay out too late?


Extremely readable historical fiction novel. The pop culture references are fun. But even with its historical setting, it feels fresh and modern. Nora is an extremely relatable character, facing very real issues that still plague teens today.

Plus: Such good historical fiction, with great parallels to modern issues. All around a very socially aware book which I so appreciate! And it’s a story focused on friendship which seems to be so rare.

Minus: The ending seems a little abrupt, but that also fits with the book’s overall theme of uncertainty.

If you like this book, try:

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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Inside cover blurb:

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.


I had been waiting for this book for so long! Only to be painfully let down. This book basically reminded me of a teenage-goblin version of 50 Shades of Grey. That bad. Nothing drew me in, I didn’t care about the characters, and people went around saying things like “You’re the monster I choose.” Nope, I’m out.

Plus: Read it, they said. It’s like Labyrinth, they said. Well at least the cover is pretty.

Minus: Goblin fanfiction. (Which isn’t inherently a negative, I might point out…)

 Read this instead:

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The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

As I Descended by Robin Talley

Inside cover blurb:

“Something wicked this way comes.”

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.


All around decent book, I thought the Macbeth theme was well done. I like the competitive boarding school twist and the strained, secretive relationship between Lily and Maria. Some of the supernatural elements seemed a bit odd, but it was admittedly spooky.

Plus: Gay Shakespeare! What more do you  need really?

Minus: I don’t have anything specific to critique, I was just left wanting more from this book in a vague way.

If you like this book, try:

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Ophelia by Lisa Klein

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Inside cover blurb:

“Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.”

-from publisher


As soon as I started reading this book, I thought to myself, “This one is gonna make me ugly cry.” There were no tears when I did end up finishing it, but man did it hit me right in the feels. This book is so beautiful and so important. Particularly for those who are unaware of the issues trans people face: read this book and open your heart to what it has to say.

Plus: Can I say everything? Definitely read the afterward too, it’s worth it and addressed some questions/concerns I had about the book.

Minus: This book will likely challenge you…but that’s actually a great thing!

If you like this book, try:

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Beast by Brie Spangler- A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast with an LGBT twist. Beast also doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, so be prepared for a challenging read.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Inside cover blurb:

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.


I really underestimated this book. The beginning was a bit slow going, but I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. And utterly delighted that the narration alternated between the sisters. Awesome concept, three sisters vying for the throne since birth, each with a unique magical gift (which are really cool themselves). FANTASTIC ENDING. Can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Plus: The queens are all awesome in their own way, such unique and strong personalities. And the deceptions!! So much trickery, even I didn’t see the twists coming.

Minus: Some bits near the middle were kind of a drag to get through, but it was definitely worth it at the end.

If you like this book, try:

The Graces by Laure Eve