Bardugo’s bestselling story holds up to rereads. Thought it is a thriller full of high-stakes gambling and a hint of mystery, it is not the plot twists that make the story, but the characters. I love how they all seem a little broken–but all remain lovable. A must-read for fans of YA fantasy.
Caught with Ares in a net, Aphrodite begins spinning a tale for her husband, a tale of two romances during WWI. Hazel is a shy pianist. James is an aspiring architect heading off to the front. A chance encounter brings them together, but war may drive them apart. Meanwhile. Aubrey is a ragtime musician heading off to fight in France. And he has fallen for Colette, a Belgian girl with a tragic past. Both couples long to be reunited when the war ends, but all of them know that hope fades fast in the trenches. A beautiful and evocative romance that explores how war affects the lives of the young.
Jordan Banks wants to attend art school, not the fancy prep school his mom is in love with. And he’s a little worried about the lack of diversity. It’s difficult to be the new kid in general, but Jordan also has to deal with stuff like the teacher never getting his name right and always looking at him when financial aid is discussed. He’s not sure he’ll ever fit in. Or that he can keep his old friends if he does. A sensitive portrayal of how it feels to want to fit in at middle school, especially when you have to deal with micro-aggressions. Certain to be on many “best of” lists this year.
Isabelle has never been able to please her mother. She’s too wild. Too ugly. Too opinionated. That hasn’t kept her from trying, though. She’ll cut off her own toes to try to make her mother happy. But the prince isn’t fooled. As blood pools in Cindererlla’s glass slipper, Isabelle is sent away in disgrace. And now everyone knows just how terrible she really is. Then chance gives her the opportunity to change her fate, to reclaim the pieces of her heart she’s lost. Isabelle yearns to try. But maybe she’s too bitter and broken to get her own happily-ever-after. A provocative, fast-paced feminist fairy tale.
Nineteen-year-old Vango is about to be ordained when gunshots ring out across the plaza. The police want Vango–but so do a shadowy group of men. Unsure of why he’s being attacked, Vango flees. He will travel across Europe, by airship, by train, and by boat, in search of his past, hoping it will unlock the secrets of his present. A gripping story that joyfully combines readers’ favorite tropes and never admits that eventually this adventure might verge a little close to the ridiculous. First published in France, this story is notable for its divergence from the American YA market.
Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth
John Garth carefully chronicles Tolkien’s childhood friendships and how they sustained himself and his imagination before, during, and after WWI. This seminal work is a must-read for any fans who want to know more about Tolkien’s work and how his experiences shaped it.
Scarred by a wolf when she is seven years old, Echo Alkaev leads a lonely existence, shunned by the villagers who think she is cursed. Years later, she meets the wolf again and he strikes a bargain: he will save her father’s life is she agrees to live with him for one year. In his house under the mountain, Echo finds an enchanted library and begins to fall in love with Hal, who seems trapped in the books. But an evil force is growing and the wolf, Echo, and Hal will all be lost at the end of the year, unless Echo can find a way to break the curse. A haunting fairy tale retelling that melds elements of “Beauty and the Beast,” “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” and “Tam Lin,” Echo North has a classic feel that makes it seem almost like the original story.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (series) by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Squirrel Girl eventually became my favorite superhero because she fights, often with her fists, yes, but more often with her heart. She strives to discover why villains are acting the way they are, and then to find a solution that will satisfy them and protect others from their future villainy. In other words, she’s fighting long-term, not just punching a villain only to have them return another day. But it’s not all doing good deeds. The Squirrel Girl comics are hilarious!
In Aster’s family, girls grow up to be witches and boys grow up to be shapeshifters. But Aster wants to be a witch, too, even if he has to keep spying on the girls’ lessons. Then the boys starts disappearing. Can Aster help find them with his witch powers? This gorgeous graphic novel sensitively explores what it means to be denied the opportunity to do what you love or be who you are. The colorful illustrations will appeal to readers while the themes of acceptance and inclusion will be celebrated by librarians, parents, and educators.
The March sisters are facing a Christmas without presents as their mom works late shifts as a nurse and their father serves overseas. But they soon realize that others have it worse than they do, and that there is still plenty in life to appreciate. Together, they will face whatever life throws at them and come out stronger. A graphic novel retelling of Little Women set in modern-day New York City. This fresh contemporary effortlessly updates Little Women with modern value of inclusion, diversity, and feminism, while maintaining the relationships that are at the heart of the story.