Thank Goodness for Amazing Books
I’m not even going to try to spread sunshine on it, this year has been a rough one. However, one of the few great things that has happened is that I’ve read some incredible books. I feel like I usually find some gems here and there, but it definitely seems to me that there are more than usual that have made me say WOW these last few months. So with social distancing limiting book cons and trips to the bookstore, I am stepping up to share a few of my very favorites so far this year.
Today I’m focusing on young adult books, for readers 12 to 18. Don’t miss my middle grade book list, because there have been some fabulous titles there, too.
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Best Young Adult Books of Spring 2020
The Archer at Dawn by Swathi Teerdhala
From Goodreads: “…Long-held secrets will force Kunal and Esha to reconsider their loyalties—to their country and to each other. Getting into the palace was the easy task; coming out together will be a battle for their lives.”
If you haven’t started this great series yet, hurry and catch up! I love the characters and relationships and the political intrigue.
What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin
From Goodreads: “Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life and learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.”
WHAT UNBREAKABLE LOOKS LIKE shows an incredible (at times perhaps unbelievable) transformation that belongs to Lex. While she has great support, this journey is about her, and her power to become the woman she wants to be. It’s an empowering story, packed with hope and courage.
A Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee
From Goodreads: “Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.”
I got caught up in the story world and in the layers and layers of intrigue. Also, there are CREEPY TREES. Like, the stuff of nightmares kinds of creepy. I’m usually not into that, and it definitely came right up to the edge of what I’m comfortable reading. But they also kept me turning pages and needing to know what would happen.
Take Me With You by Tara Altebrando
From Goodreads: “Do not tell anyone about the device. Never leave the device unattended.
And then, Take me with you . . . or else.”
Four students who barely know each other, bound together by this threatening device. I loved the suspense and way the situation impacted their relationships.
Again Again by E. Lockhart
From Goodreads: “A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.”
I feel like AGAIN AGAIN delivered a thing that drew me to E. Lockhart’s writing in the first place. She has this uncanny ability to peel back the outer layers and cut straight to the core of emotions and grief and sort of reinvent the experience of reading a book
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
From Goodreads: “Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.”
COURT OF MIRACLES delivers a gritty cast of characters inspired by LES MIS and reminding readers of the power of sisterhood, loyalty, and courage.
Victoria Grace, the Jerkface by S. E. Clancy
From Goodreads: “Ever since Tori Weston and MamaBear were abandoned by her dad, finances have been tighter than a new pair of skinny jeans. As if keeping her grades up for scholarships and working every spare moment weren’t enough, Tori gets suckered into visiting a retirement home and paired with ancient resident Marigold Williams.”
A sweet, fun story about a cross-generational friendship and first love.
The Bone Thief by Breeana Shields
From Goodreads: “A deft exploration of the weight of grief and cost of revenge, Breeana Shields’s Bone Charmer duology reaches its spine-tingling conclusion in this high-octane fantasy-thriller.”
The choices that Saskia has to make are heartbreaking and I felt myself holding my breath so many times as she wrestles with which path to take and what the right thing truly is. Perfect for fans of SHADOW MAGIC by Joshua Khan.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
From Goodreads: “WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI meets SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.”
HENNA WARS was exactly the book I needed right when I read it. It’s funny and heartwarming (and at times, heartbreaking) and packed with the high of first love and the strength of a sister bond.
The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton
From Goodreads: “Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.”
If you need an uplifting story that will make you laugh and warm your heart, just go get this book right now.
The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
THE LUCKY ONES is a journey through grief. Some parts hit hard, landing some pretty sharp punches straight to your heart. Other parts can’t help but inspire hope. I think that was my favorite part– that though the story gets dark as May revisits what happened, there’s hope.
We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid
From Goodreads: “Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.”
A wide cast of characters shows the impact of one girl’s decisions and their journey through an unforgettable school lock-in.
Music from Another World by Robin Talley
From Goodreads: “A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.”
The Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa
This is the fantastic conclusion to a high-energy series that I devoured in a little over a week.
It’s a great series for fantasy lovers and of course anyone who loves manga and anime. The story is full of amazing characters and a deeply immersive story world– which is probably something we all need right now!
Girls with Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young
From Goodreads: “It’s time to fight back in this second novel in a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.”
Throughout this story, Mena continues to be faced with situations that force her to choose between revenge and justice. Sometimes the choice is whether to trust the system of society and government versus taking justice or revenge into her own hands. I loved how deeply she considers each choice and how she explores the problem of evil in her experience. I found it deep and thought-provoking.
Havenfall by Sara Holland
From Goodreads: “A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it — at any cost.”
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
From Goodreads: “Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?”
The Night Spinner by Addie Thorley
A clever, gender-flipped re-imagining of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.
I really enjoyed reading THE NIGHT SPINNER. I think fans of STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor and GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson would enjoy the bold, broad fantasy world and emotionally complex characters.
It’s My Life by Stacie Ramey
Jenna battles her parents for the right to make her own medical decisions regarding procedures for her cerebral palsy. Her only solace is in the anonymous text messages she sends to her childhood crush, Julian.
Leave it to Stacie Ramey to create still more characters that I can’t help falling in love with. I really, really needed a solid, heartfelt contemporary book, and IT’S MY LIFE totally had me covered. I love Jenna’s awkwardness and her tendency to overthink things. I love her passion and her relationship with her mom.
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
From Goodreads: “Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.”
If you’re a fan of stories like Zorro or the Scarlet Pimpernel– put WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT on your list! I think it’s also a great pick for fans of fantasy like The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.
What books would you add to this list?
Have you read any young adult books you loved this year? What are some of the favorites from high school days that still stick with you today? Share the titles with me in the comments! I’d love to know if there are great titles I’ve missed.