Tag Archives: Favorites

Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors of 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors of 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors of 2023

2023 was such a wild year for me, reading-wise. I feel like I spent all year struggling to throttle back my review commitments while simultaneously wildly self-sabotaging every time a publisher sent me a new catalog offering review copies of books I desperately wanted to read. Too many good books is one of my favorite problems to have– except when it adds real stress to my life. It is a wonderful problem to have because you’ve discovered new authors you love, which I absolutely did. In fact, today, I’m sharing a list of the best new-to-me authors of 2023.

Note: Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, participants share a list of their top ten books in a particular topic. This week’s topic is the best books we read in 2023 by authors who were new to us.

Also note: This post contains affiliate links that don’t cost you anything to use but help to support my blog when you use them for your shopping.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors of 2023

Ellen O’Clover – The Seven Percent of Ro Devereux

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: THE SEVEN PERCENT OF RO DEVEREUX is a debut novel, so Ellen O’Clover isn’t just new to me; she’s new to young adult readers everywhere. Ha. The tricky relationships and friends-to-enemies-to-lovers trope hooked me from the first chapter and had me reading all the way to the end. It’s also got a STEM girl whose dating app goes viral and lands her a chance at her dream job. Waiting for the relationship to turn the corner from enemies to lovers was agony for me in this book. I think readers who like Emma Lord or Jenn Bennett will love this one.

Published January 17, 2023 | My Review


Tim Probert – The Girl and the Galdurian and Shadow of the Bird

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: I’m pretty sure I saw another blogger raving about how great this series is, and I just had to check it out. The illustrations are so whimsical and fun– and the story is just the same! Bea (the girl) has anxiety, which the author represents in the panels as a cloud surrounding her and separating her from her allies. I loved that visual representation and the encouraging way that Bea’s partner, Cad, offers her his friendship and support. I’m a pretty hardcore fan of this series and already pre-ordered the third book, which should be out in April.

Published 2020 (Book 1) and 2022 (Book 2) | The Girl and the Galdurian Review | Shadow of the Bird Review


F. T. Lukens – Spell Bound

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: I had completely missed out on this author’s work before the offer to review this book came my way via the publisher. Looking at the cover, it’s probably not the first book I’d grab off the shelf, but once I started reading… I knew Lukens was going to be an author I needed to add to my auto-buy list. Basically, this is about two apprentices who work for two rival sorcerers. They’re responsible for handling calls about hexes or cursed objects, and they decide to team up when one’s mentor goes missing. I loved the back-and-forth between these two characters and the weird/wild magical world Lukens created here. I think I already bought their other books, and I really want to read them.

Published April 4, 2023 | My Review


Hanna Alkaf – Hamra and the Jungle of Memories

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: This is another book that I read based on another blogger’s recommendations. (I need to keep better track of where these recs come from.) The description of this Malaysian folklore-based reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood had me so curious. And once I got into the book– the writing and rich setting absolutely swept me away. This isn’t Hanna Alkaf’s first book, either, so she’s another author whose backlist is calling to me even as I watch for news of upcoming books.

Published March 28, 2023 | My Review


Claribel Ortega – Witchlings and The Golden Frog Games

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: I bought a copy of GHOST SQUAD when it came out, but I still hadn’t managed to read it when I saw an invitation to a blog tour from Rockstar Book Tours for THE GOLDEN FROG GAMES. Tour participants also received a PDF version of the first book in the series, so I figured I’d start there and review both. I loved the village and all the pageantry surrounding becoming a witchling and part of a coven. It felt fresh and clever and reminded me a bit of CATTYWAMPUS by Ash Van Otterloo, which I also loved. I heard another book influencer talk about the way that Ortega writes middle grade without ever talking down to readers, and I totally agree. The books feel young, as they should, and yet bear a wisdom beyond the years of the characters that never interferes with the joy of reading them.

Published 2022 (Book 1) and 2023 (Book 2) | Witchlings Review | The Golden Frog Games Review


M. R. Fournet – Brick Dust and Bones

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: I’m a pretty squeamish reader, so I don’t read a lot of horror, but there is something about this book. Maybe it’s the old New Orleans setting with its fog of ghostly, dangerous creatures. Maybe it’s the sweet, determined main character who is absolutely in over his head but can’t stop until he finds a way to save his mom. It could also be the poignant writing that I couldn’t stop thinking about, even when the book ended. This is another debut novel, and still one more author whose books I’m anxiously anticipating. Because the cover is a little extra creepy, I went into this book thinking I’d just sample a chapter or two, and before I knew it, I’d been carried away all the way to the last page. I’m super excited for the sequel, which should be out this summer.

Published July 18, 2023 | My Review


Francesca Zappia – Katzenjammer and Greymist Fair

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: I’ve been aware of Francesca Zappia’s books since 2015, but for some reason, I’d never read any until last year. KATZENJAMMER is a pretty surreal book, maybe somewhere in the vein of Nova Ren Suma or A. S. King? I loved the storytelling, though, and the way Zappia made me feel what the characters were experiencing and think about things in a different way. When I saw GREYMIST FAIR, I had just finished reading KATZ, so I was really curious how this author would do a more traditional fantasy story. I loved the way the story is split into parts, and each one reveals more about what’s happening in this small, isolated village. If you like darker fairytale stories, closer to the original Grimm Brothers tales, definitely grab GREYMIST FAIR.

Published 2022 (Katzenjammer) and 2023 (Greymist Fair) | Katzenjammer Review | Greymist Fair Review


S. Jae Jones – Zhara: Guardians of the Dawn

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: This is another author I’ve been aware of for a long time, and yet somehow never managed to read until last year. (Insert facepalm.) I actually own a copy of WINTERSONG, which is the author’s debut and looks fabulous. Anyway. This year, I dove into this beautiful, intense series opener about a girl with forbidden magic that may be the key to saving her world. I am guessing, based on the title of this and the sequel, that each book will focus on a different character with a different kind of magic, and they’ll all have to work together somehow to save the world. I’m really excited to read the sequel, AMI, which will be out later this year.

Published August 1, 2023 | My Review


Aden Polydoros – Wrath Becomes Her

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

My thoughts: I’ve now read at least four books that explore the Jewish folklore about the creation of a golem, and each one is SO different. It’s been really cool to see how different authors write about it. Aden Polydoros is another author that had been on my radar for a long time, but I just hadn’t managed to read it until last year. And, wow, I’m so glad I did! While this is probably the darkest version of the folklore stories that I mentioned, I loved the depth of heart and feeling that Polydoros brought to the page here. It’s got this terrible sadness– kind of the way FRANKENSTEIN does– and a strange kind of beauty emerges out of that sorrow. I don’t know. I’m not explaining it well, but it’s a story that will definitely stick with me.

Published October 10, 2023 | My Review


Abigail Johnson – Every Time You Go Away

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: This is one of the last titles released by Inkyard Press, which was one of my favorite imprints, so it’s extra sad that I only just discovered one of their authors. Looking over my list so far, there’s so much fantasy on here that it’d be easy not to realize how much I love a good, solid contemporary romance. This one centers on an aspiring jewelry artist and wheelchair user who has long been in love with her best friend. The one who keeps disappearing whenever his mom shows up to rip him away from his grandparents’ house. It’s achingly sad and yet so sweet and hopeful. I loved it and would love to read more by Abigail Johnson.

Published December 5, 2023 | My Review

Darcy Little Badger – Elatsoe

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

My thoughts: Thank you, Backlist Reading Challenge, for helping me finally get to read this book! I bought ELATSOE when it came out, and I heard so many amazing things about it. Before finally getting to read this novel, I read a short story by Darcy Little Badger in the anthology MERMAIDS NEVER DROWN, and I really enjoyed the writing and how much character development was packed into so few pages. I finally read ELATSOE, and though it wasn’t love at first page, I definitely got swept away in this reimagining of modern-day America with magic and magical creatures. I loved the back-and-forth between the past and present and how the tales of Elatsoe’s six-great grandmother connected to the dangers she and her family faced in the present.

Published August 25, 2020 | My Review


What are the best new-to-you authors you read in 2023?

Did you discover any new authors last year that have become favorites? How did you find out about them?

If you’ve read books by any of the authors on my list, please let me know. I’d love to hear what you thought about them.

Best Young Adult Books I Read From Summer 2023

At the start of the summer, I had all these grand plans of lists to share and updates to post… and then reality hit like a stack of overdue library books. Don’t get me wrong– I had a great summer, but it was a much busier summer than I predicted. Between family responsibilities, work, and my out-of-control review calendar (Yep, I’m still struggling to say yes to fewer books. It was much easier before I knew so many irresistible books were coming out!), most of my glorious plans went out the window.

Now that school is back in session, I’m ready to catch up a bit on things I missed. One such thing was a most-anticipated summer release post. Obviously, now that summer is done, I’ve read my summer books. The good news is that instead of telling you about books I haven’t read yet that might be amazing, I’m here to talk about the books that lived up to my anticipation. Here are 24 of the best young adult books I read from summer 2023.

Best Young Adult Books I Read From Summer 2023

Andy and the Extroverts by Jessica K. Foster

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Concerned about Andy’s isolation and refusal to make new friends, her parents force her to attend leadership camp. There, Andy must navigate actual outdoor activities and enthusiastic camp counselors… without her morning coffee. This delivered all the fun summer camp vibes I was looking for.

Published: May 16, 2023 | My Review


Limitless Roads Café by Samantha Picaro

Amazon | Goodreads

What you need to know: When the café where Kinsey works faces permanent closure, she reluctantly teams up with her former best friend and the girl who landed a prized internship in order to plan a fundraiser to keep the café’s doors open. A main character with autism by an author with autism. I loved the commentary on ableism and the centering of multiple characters with disabilities. Great summer job vibes.

Published: May 30, 2023 | My Review


Always Isn’t Forever by J. C. Cervantes

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: After the tragic loss of her perfect boyfriend, Hart, Ruby can’t figure out how to move on. When a cosmic mix-up leaves Hart’s soul trapped inside the body of the school bully, he’s determined to find a way to convince Ruby to give him another chance. The cover copy compared this one to YOU’VE REACHED SAM by Dustin Thao. A sweet second-chance-at-love story.

Published: June 6, 2023 | My Review


Borrow My Heart by Kasie West

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: When Wren overhears a boy being bullied for getting catfished, she decides to pretend to be the girl he was supposed to meet. Fake dating, secrets, summer romance, dogs… what’s not to love in Kasie West’s latest novel?

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review


Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Torn between spending the summer in NYC with her dad or in LA with her mom, Natalya lives out both lives and summer romances in alternating chapters in the book. A SLIDING DOORS rom-com perfect for a poolside afternoon.

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review


Something Close to Magic by Emma Mills

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: An overworked baker’s apprentice with an outdated magical skill, a bounty hunter with a perfect memory for details, a troll with zero patience for nonsense, and a prince known for his well-intentioned follies embark on a quest to unmask a plot against the crown. Something about this book gave me THE PRINCESS BRIDE vibes in the best way. My top favorite book of the summer!

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review


You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: At a theme park celebrating slasher films, a true killer strikes, leaving Charity and her friends scrambling to escape before the killer strikes again. Honestly, is there anything Kalynn Bayron can’t write? I ate this one up in one sitting.

Published: June 20, 2023 | My Review


Ode to My First Car by Robin Gow

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: After Claire totals her first car, she feels adrift. In letters to her car, she shares her blossoming feelings for her best friend and her quest for romance and autonomy from her watchful parents. A powerful novel in verse.

Published: June 20, 2023 | My Review


The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A missing sister returns, but her behavior is… odd. Casey can’t figure out if Sutton is playing a game or truly processing trauma. Unraveling her sister’s secrets takes Casey on a journey into a darkness she may not be ready to face. A brilliant debut on sisterhood, family connections, and power. Another summer favorite for me.

Published: June 27, 2023 | My Review


Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story by Sarah Myer

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A Korean-American girl adopted by white parents faces bullying and racism growing up in a mostly white, rural Maryland town. Evocative illustrations and honest storytelling make this one a must-read.

Published: June 27, 2023 | My Review


Manslaughter Park by Tirzah Price

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: A queer retelling of MANSFIELD PARK by Jane Austen wrapped inside a murder mystery. This is my second read from this series, and it was such a blast to read.

Published: June 27, 2023 | My Review


A Song of Salvation by Alechia Dow

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: A reincarnated god tasked with saving her people, a pilot filling the void of familial rejection with dangerous missions, and a podcast celebrity who’ll do anything to speak truth to power embark on a quest to save the universe from total destruction. Dow’s writing is always immersive, and her stories engaging. This one is no exception!

Published: July 11, 2023 | My Review


Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: Summer camp for Deaf and blind campers and a sweet romance. I loved getting immersed in Deaf culture and Lilah’s journey of self-acceptance. Perfect summer camp romance vibes.

Published: July 11, 2023 | My Review


A Warning About Swans by R. M. Romero

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: SWAN LAKE meets THE LAST UNICORN by way of the Brothers Grimm. A girl with a cloak that transforms her into a swan who must guide spirits to their resting place. A boy who will use her power to make dreams real. An artist who paints truths no one else can see. A lush, fantastic novel in verse by the author of THE GHOSTS OF ROSE HILL.

Published: July 11, 2023 | My Review


All That’s Left to Say by Emery Lord

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Leave it to Emery Lord to write a book that turned me inside out emotionally and kept me coming back to every page for more. Powerful, raw, and honest. Have your tissues ready.

Published: July 18, 2023 | My Review


Clementine and Danny Save the World (And Each Other) by Livia Blackburne

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A teen blog writer and a boy trying to save his family’s tea shop. Rivals to lovers romance. This one pretty much had me at “You’ve Got Mail with a YA twist.”

Published: July 18, 2023 | My Review


All Alone with You by Amelia Diane Coombs

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: A grumpy-sunshine/rivals-to-lovers story packed with great lines and a salty mentor character. This was one of the most fun books I read this summer.

Published: July 25, 2023 | My Review


Their Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A girl enters a strange, elite competition that promises to grant the winner the life of her dreams. Creepy, eerie, and filled with rock-solid writing.

Published: July 25, 2023 | My Review


House of Roots and Ruin (Sisters of the Salt #2) by Erin A. Craig

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: The youngest sister from HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS leads this perilous journey to an estate tangled with dangerous, disturbing secrets and a slowly blossoming tale of first love. I liked this one better than the first book in the series.

Published: July 25, 2023 | My Review


The Reunion by Kit Frick

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Four teens gather in a family reunion at a Mexican resort. One of them will not make it home afterward. Filled with secrets and lies, this one kept me on my toes until the very last page.

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


Guardians of Dawn: Zahra by S. Jae Jones

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A girl with forbidden magic may be the only one who can stop an outbreak of demon possession among her people. A beautiful East Asia-inspired fantasy landscape with fantastic characters. I loved it!

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


Secrets Never Die by Vincent Ralph

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Five friends with secrets they’re desperate to keep. An unknown person poised to reveal them. Great stakes and tension with characters I enjoyed. A good pick if you’re looking for a Halloween read.

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me by Jamison Shea

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: Tired of her talent being overlooked, Laure makes a deal with an ancient god of blood– all of her in exchange for the power she needs to rule the Paris ballet. I enjoyed seeing the tense horror elements blended with the high-stakes, high-pressure ballet world. This author is either a former dancer or did their research really well!

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


Infinity Particle by Wendy Xu

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A young inventor joins a colony on Mars working with a pioneering Artificial Intelligence scientist. There, she falls for an AI and begins exploring questions of freedom and autonomy. Breathtaking illustrations and a moving story.

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review

What Were Your Favorite Young Adult Books of Summer 2023?

So, these are simply the best young adult books I read from summer 2023. What are yours? Did you read any great books over the summer this year? Are there great books I should add to my reading list? Leave a comment and let me know!

Top Ten Tuesday: Super-Fun Summer Camp Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Super-Fun Summer Camp Books

It’s Top Ten Tuesday again! This week’s theme is best books for summer, which is a perfect chance to talk about beach reads… but I’m not much of a beach girl? I burn way too easily. So, instead, let’s talk about another favorite summer activity: summer camp!

Whether it’s the story of a first-time camp experience or simply the tale of camp attendance as a means to an end, excellent summer camp books capture the immersive experience of being away from home. They spin stories of unexpected friendships and wacky inside jokes. They remind us to celebrate being in nature and being part of a team or group.

I’ve included six middle-grade books and twelve young adult books in this list, so technically it’s my top eighteen, but I couldn’t help it. They’re all great books that made me feel big summer camp vibes.

Note: Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl in which bloggers share their top ten favorites in the week’s theme. Check out this week’s list of posts about summer reading!

Also: This post contains affiliate links that don’t cost anything for you to use but help support this blog. Thank you for shopping with them!

Super-Fun Summer Camp Books: Middle Grade

Here are six middle-grade books featuring summer camp adventures. From LARPing to twins swapping places to discovering a hidden world of magic, all these books immersed me in summer camp feelings and celebrated the unexpected friendships and adventures that a few weeks away from home inevitably bring.

Monster Camp by Sarah Henning

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: A girl signs up for what she thinks is a LARPing (live-action roleplaying) camp only to discover the other campers are actually monsters. Totally fun. The camp setting makes this a perfect summer read, but the monster elements would make this a good fall/Halloween season read, too.

Release Date: May 9, 2023


Mirror to Mirror by Rajani LaRocca

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: A richly written novel in verse about twin girls who’ve grown apart and dare one another to switch places at summer camp. One twin has undiagnosed anxiety. I loved the relationship between the sisters in this one.

Release Date:


Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) B. B. Alston

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review to Come

What you need to know: Men In Black meets Percy Jackson, but better. Amari learns her missing brother was part of a supernatural organization (think FBI plus magic) which she joins after learning it can help her discover what happened to him.

Release Date: January 19, 2021


The Girls of Firefly Cabin by Cynthia Ellingsen

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Four girls meet for the first time when they’re assigned to Firefly Cabin. Will secrets, competition, and other classic summer camp adventures bind them together as friends or tear their cabin apart? Perfectly captures and celebrates summer camp experiences.

Release Date: May 28, 2019


Chirp by Kate Messner

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Not all summer camps are sleep-away– here’s one celebrating day camp for a girl whose family has just moved to a new town. Discusses grooming and consent in a clear, age-appropriate way. Great family elements.

Release Date: February 4, 2020


Ways to Grow Love (A Ryan Hart Story) by Renée Watson

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: The second book in the Ryan Hart series. Ryan braves her nerves about summer camp and changing friendships. A perfect blend of the power of resilience, friendship, and summertime fun.

Release Date: April 27, 2021

Super-Fun Summer Camp Books: Young Adult

Julieta and the Romeos by Maria E. Andreu

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: An elite writing summer intensive challenges Julieta to post her writing publicly. A mysterious collaborator begins contributing to the story. She’s determined to figure out which of the three boys she’s maybe interested in could be her online partner. Perfect for fans of Kasie West or Jennifer E. Smith.

Release Date: May 16, 2023


You Don’t Have a Shot by Racquel Marie

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads | Review

What you need to know: Soccer camp! Rivals to lovers! A layered story exploring romance, pride, and perfectionism. I loved the relationships between characters, and the descriptions of the soccer practices and games made me feel like I was right there on the sidelines.

Release Date: May 9, 2023


Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads | Review to Come

What you need to know: First love and Deaf pride… at summer camp. A book about embracing identity and finding the friends you didn’t know you needed. This one is at the top of my summer reading list.

Release Date: July 11, 2023


It Looks Like Us by Alison Ames

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads | Review

What you need to know: Summer camp… horror! A research trip to Antarctica turns deadly when an unidentified something tries to kill the retreat members. One of the best books I read last year, and I’m not a big horror girl. Check my review for content warnings.

Release Date: September 13, 2022


Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: A homeschooled girl whose parents decide she needs more experience with peers attends the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy in exchange for their permission for her early admission to Oxford. Competitive antics and rivals-to-lovers romance ensue. Great for fans of Lily Anderson.

Release Date: July 26, 2022


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: An intense summer program for aspiring web developers. A suitor in a potential arranged marriage. A girl who couldn’t be less interested in romance. All the fun of Sandhya Menon’s fluffy romance… at summer camp!

Release Date: May 30, 2017


You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: When a DNA service reveals a younger sister, Abby signs up for summer camp to meet her unknown sibling. Packed with secrets about to burst and an adorable friends-to-lovers romance. My favorite of Emma Lord’s books so far.

Release Date: January 12, 2021


Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Jesus camp… but not from a religious perspective. This one tackles issues concerning consent, celebrates girl friendships, and delivers a simmering summer romance.

Release Date: September 3, 2019


Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Ballet camp! In Paris! Plus, a sweet romance and a quest to prove family lore that says her relative sat for a painting by Edgar Degas. Perfect for fans of Jenna Evans Welch.

Release Date: April 6, 2021


No Place Like Here by Christina June

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads | Review

What you need to know: A girl desperate to escape from under her controlling father’s thumb. A rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. Awkward, cute, and fun.

Release Date: May 21, 2019


Last Summer at Eden by Christina Hergenrader

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I remember it being a fun read packed with references to camp songs and the emotional highs and lows of being in close quarters with strangers for weeks. It’s a Christian book and has a faith-positive message.

Release Date: March 1, 2017


The Honeys by Ryan LaSala

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review to Come

What you need to know: This is one from my current summer reading list! When his twin sister dies after running all the way home from her summer camp experience, he vows to go to the camp himself and find out what happened to her. Looks creepy and intense. I’m excited about it.

Release Date: August 2, 2022


The Honeys by Ryan LaSala

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review to Come

What you need to know: Another one that just came out! A bookish girl forced into summer leadership camp. Girl friendships and an unexpected summer romance that may demand she learn to stand up for herself and, well, lead.

Release Date: May 16, 2023


What are your favorite summer camp stories?

Do you have favorite stories about summer camp? What books feel like summertime to you? Leave a comment and let me know! I would love to chat about them.

10 Incredible Graphic Novels to Read This Year

10 Incredible Graphic Novels Coming Out in 2023

Graphic novels are a book form that sneaked up on me. I think the first one I read for review here (which blew me away) was ESTRANGED: THE CHANGELING KING by Ethan Aldridge. Once I feasted my eyes on that incredible story, I knew there was no going back. Since then, I’ve built a list of graphic novel writers and artists whose work is too good to be missed. Here are the ones with books coming out this year.

Notably absent is Tim Probert, whose third book in the Lightfall series I’m eagerly anticipating. I haven’t seen any release news on it yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be out in 2024.

10 Amazing Graphic Novels to Read This Year

Moth Keeper by K. O’Neill

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Beautiful, fantasy-filled illustrations. A story of friendship, magic, hope, and community. By the author of the Tea Dragon series.

Published: March 7, 2023 | Ages: 10 to 14.


Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty, Michael Moreci, and Braeden Sherrell

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Missing children, a girl secretly living in a mansion basement, a mysterious man in a black cloak only she can stop. The graphic novel version of the bestselling middle-grade adventure.

Published: April 4, 2023 | Ages: 8 to 12.


Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What You Need to Know: A novel-in-verse/graphic novel about body image, shame, and the power of art and friendship. This one made me cry.

Published: May 2, 2023 | Ages: 8 to 12.


Squire & Knight by Scott Chantler

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What You Need to Know: I think the author said he pitched this as “T.H. White plays Dungeons and Dragons with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.” Which is brilliant and pretty accurate! I loved the characters and attention to detail in the panels.

Published: May 9, 2023 | Ages: 8 to 12.


Constellations by Kate Glasheen

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What You Need to Know: When a drunken accident lands Claire in rehab, they reluctantly begin to learn about addiction and recovery. A tender, vulnerable journey of identity and acceptance. This is another one that made me cry!

Published: May 23, 2023 | Ages: 14 up.


Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story by Sarah Myer

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A Korean-American transracial adoptee uses art and fandom to overcome racist bullying. A memoir graphic novel. A powerful, unforgettable story.

Published: June 27, 2023 | Ages: 14 up.


Infinity Particle by Wendy Xu

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A moving speculative novel exploring the line between AI and human by the author of TIDESONG and co-creator of MOONCAKES.

Published: August 29, 2023 | Ages: 14 up.


Deephaven by Ethan Aldridge

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Words I like about this graphic novel description: gothic middle grade, nonbinary main character, boarding school with secrets. By the author of the ESTRANGED duology and LEGEND OF BRIGHTBLADE, and also my favorite graphic novel author.

Published: September 5, 2023 | Ages: 10 to 14.


Wingborn (Wingbearer #2) by Marjorie Liu and Grace Kum

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: The Wingbearer series continues, delivering new adventures of this gorgeous, emotive fantasy. The first book in the series is a favorite in my house.

Published: November 21, 2023 | Ages: 8 to 12.


Heartstopper: Volume Five by Alice Oseman

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: The fifth installment of Nick and Charlie’s love story. With Nick heading to university next year, are things about to change? A sweet story of love and friendship.

Published: December 12, 2023 | Ages: 14 up.


What are your favorite graphic novels?

If you are a graphic novel reader, leave a comment telling me about your favorite author. Have you read any of the books on this list? What graphic novels are you most looking forward to this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays

Check out other blogs posting about middle-grade books today on Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays at Always in the Middle with Greg Pattridge.

14 Underhyped YA Books Worth Reading

14 Underhyped YA Books Worth Reading

I was emailing with an author of one of my favorite books from last year, and I realized it’s been a while since I shared a list of the books that I loved that just didn’t seem to get the hype they deserved. Some of these were published during the early days of Covid, when authors canceled book signings, school visits, and other bookish events. A few of these underhyped YA titles are from the ancient days before the pandemic changed life as we knew it. Others were published more recently– perhaps a victim of Barnes & Noble’s switch to carrying mostly paperbacks? I’m not sure what the deal is, but I am sure these books deserve more attention than they received thus far.

This list includes books that were published at least 90 days ago (usually much more than that) which have fewer than 500 ratings on Goodreads as of April 2023.

Note: This post contains affiliate links which do not cost you anything to use but which help support this blog. Thank you for using them to do your book shopping!

The Minus-One Club by Kekla Magoon

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: After losing his sister in a car accident, Kermit gets invited to a grief support group of sorts, where he finds love and friendship, until the group faces a crisis that could undo them all. Such great storytelling here.

Published January 17, 2023 | 145 Goodreads ratings


How We Ricochet by Faith Gardner

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review to Come

What you need to know: After Betty and her family survive a shooting incident, she wrestles with why it happened. She builds a friendship with the brother of the shooter, trying to learn about the boy who tried to kill her sister and mother. An unforgettable, timely story.

Published May 24, 2022| 144 Goodreads ratings


Shades of Rust and Ruin by A. G. Howard

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: Twin sisters. A family curse. An incredible boy who should be off-limits. Inspired by “Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti. I am hooked on this one.

Release Date: September 6, 2022 | 361 Goodreads ratings


It Looks Like Us by Allison Ames

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: A high school team visiting an Antarctic research station. An unknown, shapeshifting infection pursuing them one by one. Scary books aren’t my usual go-to, but I couldn’t put this one down. Ace main character. Also, there’s an obnoxious billionaire named Anton Rusk. This was a spark of joy that I didn’t know I needed.

Release Date: September 13, 2022 | 460 Goodreads ratings


The 9:09 Project by Mark H. Parsons

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: A boy grieving the loss of his mother. A project: capturing pictures of ordinary people on the street. As the photos show him a deeper world, he begins to forge connections with new friends and reconnect with his memories of his mother.

Release Date: November 15, 2022 | 143 Goodreads ratings


Belittled Women by Amanda Sellet

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: From Goodreads: “Lit’s about to hit the fan.” (This book had me at that line.) A girl whose mother is obsessed with the Alcott classic navigates her frustration at feeling boxed in by the classic story. This is exactly the rom-com I need in my life.

Release Date: November 29, 2022 | 288 Goodreads ratings


Malcolm and Me by Robin Farmer

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Set against Watergate and the post-civil rights era. A coming-of-age tale of truth-telling, faith, family, forgiveness, and social activism featuring a 13-year-old Philly native with the soul of a poet.

Available November 17, 2020 | 164 Goodreads ratings


We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: A town full of secrets. A love-story fan-fic written by two unlikely friends. A murder: the boy they’ve written about. Twisty and suspenseful. Great characters. I was on the edge of my seat.

Release Date: July 12, 2022 | 259 Goodreads ratings


Don’t Call Me a Hurricane by Ellen Hagan

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: A novel in verse. From Goodreads: “An affecting and resonant YA novel in verse that explores family, community, the changing ocean tides, and what it means to fall in love with someone who sees the world in a different way.” This book totally delivered on that promise.

Release Date: July 19, 2022 | 187 Goodreads ratings


Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: This one pretty much had me at “THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR meets JUMANJI.” Unique and entertaining. I loved this one.

Release Date: June 7, 2022 | 244 Goodreads ratings


We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: An alien invasion. Unlikely allies and friendships. A post-pandemic Los Angeles. Eerie and beautifully written.

Release Date: October 5, 2021 | 262 Goodreads ratings


For This Life Only by Stacy Kade

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: Faith and questions about faith in a non-preachy way. A sweet romantic relationship. This one stuck with me even years after I read it.

Release Date: August 30, 2016 | 326 Goodreads ratings


The Splendor by Breeana Shields

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: I couldn’t put this one down. Juliette and Henri are the kind of characters that hit like an arrow to the heart: vulnerable, desperate to save/protect the people they love, wounded, and smart.

Published September 28, 2021 | 426 Goodreads Ratings


Away We Go by Emil Ostrovski

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | My Review

What you need to know: A highly deadly, highly contagious illness affecting teens forces afflicted teens to live in a sort of boarding school. It’s heartbreaking and filled with some of the smartest exploration of love and identity. Still a favorite.

Release Date: April 5, 2016 | 458 Goodreads ratings


What are your favorite underhyped young adult books?

Have you read any of the books on my list? (If so, help out the authors by jumping on over to Goodreads or a retail site to leave a review!)

What are your favorite underhyped young adult books? Leave a comment and let me know what I need to add to my reading list!

21 Underhyped Middle Grade Books Worth Reading

21 Underhyped Middle Grade Books Worth Reading

I recently realized it’s been a while since I shared a list of the books that I loved that just didn’t seem to get the hype they deserved. Some of these middle grade books were published during the early days of Covid, when authors canceled book signings, school visits, and other bookish events. A few of these underhyped middle grade titles are from the ancient days before the pandemic changed life as we knew it. Others were published more recently– perhaps a victim of Barnes & Noble’s switch to carrying mostly paperbacks? I’m not sure what the deal is, but I am sure these books deserve more attention than they received thus far.

In any case, all of these books are ones I absolutely loved and have continued to champion in the months and years since they were published. If you haven’t read them, please use the links to add them to your reading list or shopping cart. If you have read them, please take a moment and leave a rating and/or review to help these authors out!

Note: This post contains affiliate links which don’t cost anything for you to use, but which help support my blog. Thank you for shopping with them!

21 Underhyped Middle Grade Books Worth Reading

The Firebird Song by Arnée Flores

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: One of my favorite books of the year. Unforgettable, hopeful, and beautifully told.

Published June 8, 2021 | 190 Goodreads Ratings


Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini by Betsy Uhrig

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: A reluctant reader critiques his aunt’s book, testing the stunts, discovering ghosts, and making new friends along the way. Hilarious and heartfelt.

Published September 22, 2020 | 209 Goodreads ratings.


Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: OMG. This book is hilarious and so sweet. I can’t say it any better than this clip from Goodreads: A dead body. A missing will. An evil relative. The good news is, Great Grammy has a plan. The bad news is, she’s the dead body.

Published April 20, 2021 | 221 Goodreads ratings.


Glitter Gets Everywhere by Yvette Clark

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: New friends and heartbreaking grief. New York City. Family relationships. I laughed and cried. So good.

Published May 4, 2021 | 397 Goodreads ratings.


The Other Side of Luck by Ginger Johnson

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Lyrical prose. Friendship, grief, and magic. Gorgeous storytelling. I’m so glad I read this one.

Published August 10, 2021 | 109 Goodreads ratings.


The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe by Tricia Springstubb

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Quirky, unforgettable characters. Friendship, birds and found family.

Published June 1, 2021 | 86 Goodreads ratings.


Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution by Sherri Winston

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: A talented violinist with a gorgeous ‘fro she calls “the wooly mammoth” faces discrimination in her music program and finds a way to speak up about it. I loved the music references and relationships in this book.

Published: September 6, 2022 | 119 Goodreads ratings.


The Other Side of the River by Alda P. Dobbs

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: The follow-up to THE BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA. A young Mexican girl building a new life in America in the early 1900s. Beautifully written and engaging.

Release Date: September 6, 2022 | 100 Goodreads ratings.


The Vanquishers by Kalynn Bayron

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Inspired by BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and THE WATCHMEN. Vampires were supposed to be vanquished decades ago… but it looks like they’re back. Looks fantastic.

Release Date: September 20, 2022 | 279 Goodreads ratings.


Ghostcloud by Michael Mann

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: A kidnapped boy is forced to work in a power plant. Then he discovers a ghost who may be able to help him escape. Looks fresh and fun.

Release Date: September 27, 2022 | 162 Goodreads ratings.


Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: A hopeful (and at times heartbreaking) story of a young girl who decides to build a submarine and sail it across the Chesapeake Bay.

Published April 7, 2020 | 282 Goodreads ratings.


Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: Three friends. Hundreds of rubber duckies. A town enthralled with its upcoming bratwurst competition. I laughed out loud!

Published April 14, 2020 | 269 Goodreads ratings.


Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: The cover copy calls this one “folksy” and “fresh” and it totally is! I loved the southern feel of the town and characters, and the exploration of identity and magic in this book.

Published August 4, 2020 | 399 Goodreads ratings.


The Prince of Nowhere by Rochelle Hassan

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: Anonymous letters lead a girl and a shapeshifting boy/crow on a journey to save their world in a mysterious place called Nowhere. This one totally blew me away. I loved Roda and Ignis so much.

Published: May 3, 2022 | 267 Goodreads ratings


Upstander by James Preller

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: Bullying. Secrets. An older brother’s drug use. A girl’s heartfelt quest to find her voice and speak up. A fierce, moving read that deserves way more than 55 ratings.

Published May 11, 2021 | 55 Goodreads ratings.


The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: Identity issues and mental health challenges. A girl’s desperate quest to understand why she’s so angry all the time and how to be herself safely. Powerful storytelling by an incredible author.

Published May 10, 2022 | 329 Goodreads ratings.


Eleanor, Alice, and the Roosevelt Ghosts by Dianne K. Salerni

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: Roosevelt cousins uncover family secrets in a world in which ghosts exist and can become deadly. A hauntingly perfect blend of fantasy and historical fiction. I devoured this one.

Published September 1, 2020 | 178 Goodreads ratings.


Nowhere Better Than Here by Sarah Guillory

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review to Come

What You Need to Know: A girl desperate to save her small Louisiana town torn apart by coastal flooding. Sweet southern fiction blended with bold activism. One of my favorite recent reads.

Published September 20, 2022 | 109 Goodreads ratings.


Flip Turns by Catherine Arguelles

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: A girl dealing with unwanted attention from a boy, an attack against her family’s business, and the pressure of competition on her swim team. Adventurous, family-oriented, and fun.

Published September 13, 2022 | 86 Goodreads ratings.


The Plentiful Darkness by Heather Kassner

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What you need to know: I read this book earlier in the year, and can’t stop thinking about it. It’s got some spooky magic, unforgettable characters, and possibly the best exploration of grief I’ve ever seen in a novel.

Release Date: August 3, 2021 | 237 Goodreads ratings.


Elsie Mae Has Something to Say by Nancy Cavanaugh

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads | Review

What You Need to Know: A vibrant deep south setting in the Okefenokee Swamp. A family business in jeopardy. Brilliant summer friendships. One of my all-time favorite middle grade books.

Published September 5, 2017 | 242 Goodreads ratings.


What are your favorite underhyped middle grade books?

Have you read any of the underhyped middle grade books on my list? Are any of these your favorites, too? What are your favorite middle grade books that deserve a lot more hype than they received? Leave a comment and let me know!

If you’ve read any of the books on this list, please take a moment and leave a rating and/or review on Goodreads or Amazon. This really helps authors, especially authors like these, whose books have been out for a bit.