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Friday, January 19

Recently Read | November + December 2017

Friday, January 19

Although I didn't complete my Goodreads goal of 100 books—more on that later, in my upcoming 2017 reading recap—I finished out the year with some great books.

What did I read during the months of November and December?

Top Read

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I didn't exactly mean to sleep on reading The Hate U Give—it was published way back in February 2017—but I knew that we were reading it for the Forever Young Adult Book Club in November, so it kept getting pushed down (my immense) TBR list. I should have known, however, that it would end of being one of my favorite reads of the year. The hype is valid y'all.

The Hate U Give is a timely and extremely important novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and cases of police violence. But it also shines light on the normality of a black family that lives in a non-gentrified part of a city with a father who one once involved in a gang. Never does the book feel like it's a stereotype; the Carter family is messy, but also one of the most loving and loyal families I've ever read about.

Since it's publication, The Hate U Give has seen backlash, thanks to Thomas' inclusion of curse and slang words, and "ripped from the headlines" events, that some find offensive, but I applaud Thomas for not shying away from the truth. If you haven't already read this book, don't be like me—read it ASAP.

Honorable mentions

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. Meet Cute is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of "how they first met" from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour's beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard's glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon's imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno's story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick's charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

I'ma hopeless romantic, and a huge sucker for cute stories about how two people find each other. Enter Meet Cute, a collection of 14 stories that are all about those first butterfly moments, or the moments before those first butterflies even take flight. It's a super fluffy read, and was a perfect way to cap off 2017. (It was my official last read of the year!)

The best part of these stories, for me, was the diversity of the couples. Four of the 14 feature two ladies, and quite a few others feature non-white main characters. And, if you're curious, my fave stories were “Oomph” by Emery Lord, about two girls who meet in the airport security line; “The Dictionary of You and Me” by Jennifer L. Armentrout, about a "missing" library book; and “The Department of Dead Love” by Nicola Yoon, which is a sort of science fiction take on romance and destiny. The only stories I didn't really enjoy, however, were the two written in second person POV. But they just read weird; their actual plots weren't bad.

Sixteen-year-old Princess Leia Organa faces the most challenging task of her life so far: proving herself in the areas of body, mind, and heart to be formally named heir to the throne of Alderaan. She's taking rigorous survival courses, practicing politics, and spearheading relief missions to worlds under Imperial control. 

But Leia has worries beyond her claim to the crown. Her parents, Breha and Bail, aren't acting like themselves lately; they are distant and preoccupied, seemingly more concerned with throwing dinner parties for their allies in the Senate than they are with their own daughter. 

Determined to uncover her parents' secrets, Leia starts down an increasingly dangerous path that puts her right under the watchful eye of the Empire. And when Leia discovers what her parents and their allies are planning behind closed doors, she finds herself facing what seems like an impossible choice: dedicate herself to the people of Alderaan—including the man she loves—or to the galaxy at large, which is in desperate need of a rebel hero ...

A long time ago, in a city kinda far away, I read a large majority of the Star Wars Extended Universe books—and I loved them all. Getting to read about these iconic characters outside of the movies was delightful, and I came to know them all pretty well. Cut to a few years ago, when Disney bought Lucasfilm and decided to de-canonize the Extended Universe books ... I was bummed, to say the least. But there is a bright side: New books to read, and new stories about my favorite characters to get lost in.

Leia, Princess of Alderaan, tells the story of Leia before she got involved in the rebellion. It expands on some of the events that went into making Leia the strong female character we all know and love, and—no spoilers—introduces a character from The Last Jedi, giving them some background that actually made me like them more.

Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

Love grows such strange things.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of
The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play
Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.

Lily Anderson's The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You—a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing—was one of my top books of 2016, so I was excited to read Not Now, Not Ever, a "sequel" of sorts, this time based on Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

Once again, Anderson sucked me in with many nerdy references that don't seem like name-dropping and realistic and delighful characters I'd love to be friends with.

Other reads


The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley | By Your Side by Kasie West | Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff | No Limits by Ellie Marney | Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer


Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (Paper Girls #1) by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson | Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley


Pride & Prejudice & Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz | Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Have you read any of these books? If not, what have you read lately that you'd recommend?

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