In The Club

In The Club System Check

Do you know what’s going to be hot in the club in 2017? You and your Nintendo Switch. I mean, think about it: you’re going to have the hottest new handheld, with your copy of new Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I mean, at that point, why bother even going to the club, right? Might as well be at home, beaming Link through your tv for maximum enjoyment.

Well, at least that’s what I thinking when I wrote this! Your mileage may vary.

Kissing Books

5 Lesbian and Gay Holiday Romances to Read This Season (dev)

The holidays are a complicated time for many people, but since we’re all readers, I’m sure we can all relate to curling up with a book during cold weather or looking for some escape from family bonding time. There’s a big draw for holiday romances because for some, they really help bring in that warm and fuzzy holiday spirit, the kind of feeling only match by a hot mug of tea or cocoa (preferably with a little splash of an alcohol of your choosing). These lesbian and gay holiday romances will be sure to match that wintry coziness for both readers new to the genre or simply want to add more holiday romances to their collection. As a note, I did have some trouble finding romances that include asexual and transgender characters, so if you know of any you’d love to recommend, leave a comment!

Unwrap These Presents by VariousUnwrap These Presents edited by Astrid Ohletz and R.G. Emanuelle

I always recommend anthologies to readers who are just dipping their toes into a new genre, but anthologies are also a great way for readers, in general, to try a variety of authors at one time. Not all the stories may be winners, but you’re bound to walk away with a few favorites and some new authors to check out. Unwrap These Presents is a collection of lesbian holiday romances with a pretty diverse cast of characters. With twenty-three stories, there are heroines of all sizes who celebrate more than just Christmas! As a bonus, proceeds of the anthology will go toward the Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK and the Ali Forney Center in New York City, which are both organizations which help homeless LGBT youth.

Let It Snow by Heidi CullinanLet It Snow by Heidi Cullinan

Let It Snow is the first book in Cullinan’s Minnesota Christmas series, so if you are a fan of gay romance and snowy, Midwest settings, you may want to binge read these books. This is also an opposites attract, city-mouse-country-mouse romance between a pretty adorable stylist, Frankie and a gruff, former Minneapolis lawyer named Marcus. The story has so many layers beneath its cozy, winter cover and is more than just a saccharinely sweet holiday romance (which is one of the reasons I’m so picky about holiday books). There’s also a bit of an age difference between Frankie and Marcus, so if that’s not your bag, I highly recommend giving one of the other Minnesota Christmas books a try.

A Family for Christmas by Jay NorthcoteA Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote

A shy hero. A workplace crush. A fake relationship. If any of these things appeal to you, pick this up, immediately! Zac has no real family to speak of, growing up in a series of foster homes. So when coworker, Rudy, invites him to spend the holidays with him and his family, the potential to have a real holiday surrounded by Christmas spirit is a temptation he can’t resist. But when Rudy’s mom assumes her son has found some happiness with a new boyfriend, the two men don’t have the heart to tell her the truth. As someone who rarely has a good holiday season with family and is dating someone whose family is bursting with holiday cheer, I really understood Zac’s internalized struggle about fitting in and not being good enough. But I promise that Rudy’s family hijinks temper Zac’s broodiness and angst.

Under a Falling Star by JaeUnder a Falling Star by Jae

Adorable, holiday hijinks ensue in this lesbian romance! Austen is the new secretary at a gaming company in Portland and her first assignment is to decorate the company tree. But when the topper on the tree falls and hits another employee, Dee, in the head, Austen is worried she already might be out of the job. Dee instantly blames her attraction to Austen on her head trauma because, whether or not Austen is aware, Dee is the second in command at the company. And of course, workplace relationships between a boss and an employee never turn out well. This romance is perfect for those who like their romances sweet and a little bit silly.

Whiteout by Elyse SpringerWhiteout by Elyse Springer

This holiday romance isn’t coming out until after the holidays, but with snow still on the ground in parts of the world in January when it releases, I’m counting it because oh. em. gee. Springer puts a different spin on the typical Hallmark movie-esque quality of holiday romances by throwing in some good, ol amnesia! Noah wakes up in a cabin with no memory of what happened and who the attractive man is who’s taking care of him. As his memories slowly begin to come back, he starts to realize who his caretaker is and how Noah wound up in this scenario. It’s twisty and mysterious and reminds me a little bit of if M. Night Shyamalan wrote gay romance. I should also note that this is the first book in the Seasons of Love series. The next book, Thaw, features a lesbian romance between a librarian and a supermodel and I’m all sorts of excited!

True Story

A Reading List for Understanding the Media in 2016 (dev)

A few years ago, I was teaching a digital journalism course at a local college. It was a dream job in a lot of ways: I had a small group of enthusiastic students and the freedom to choose my own readings. We examined the news, and how it was reported, as it happened. And because the digital landscape was constantly changing, so was the course. I was always reading and changing the syllabus.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how I’d update my syllabus to account for 2016. How would I teach my student my students to deal with a media landscape in which any fact can (and will be) disputed? In which reporters are targeted? With a president-elect who lies often and blatantly? With implicit bias in major news organizations, and fake news churned out by small ones?

This reading list (much of which is my own TBR) grew out of that. It has all the information I wish I could teach my former students, were I teaching this year: history, context, racial bias in the media, ethics, an examination of why people hate the press, and essays about the media’s role in a digital and contentious world.

For a background in digital media:

online-news-by-stuart-allanOnline News: Journalism and the Internet, by Stuart Allan –  I actually did assign this book to my class, and you should know something: it’s dry and my students haaaaated it. BUT (and this is the important “but” I’d give my students when they started to complain about their reading) it provides an essential history of news and the Internet, going back to the Oklahoma City bombing. If you want to understand how the news got online, and how that changed the industry and how we think of news,  this book delivers.

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky – This book’s not so much about media as it is about using the Internet to organize, but its focus on the Internet makes it an important resource for anyone who wants to understand the Internet’s influence on the news. It’s a little dated (MySpace is mentioned), but it is an exploration of how the Internet has changed the way we connect with one another, and that includes the media.

The Master Switch, by Tim Wu – This book, also not strictly about the news, is a slightly more jaded examination of the Internet. Wu focuses on the information industry’s history, pointing out that all information industries, from the telephone to the Internet, start in a lawless, free, chaotic state, until a corporation clamps down and privitizes. This book may point at the future of the Internet and the media.

For an understanding of media distrust:

Getting It Wrong: Debunking the Greatest Myths in American Journalism, by W. Joseph Campbell – The media’s mandate is the truth, but so many of its own stories aren’t true. In this second edition, W. Joseph Campbell examines the biggest media-driven myths — from Watergate to the Internet age — describing how these myths “feed stereotypes, distort understanding about the news media, and deflect blame from policymakers.” (It may sting a little to read this if you’re a journalist, but hey, hydrogen peroxide only stings when it’s working, right?)

trust-me-im-lying-by-ryan-holidayTrust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, by Ryan Holiday Why yes, the media is often manipulated. Why yes, it’s easy for someone who knows how. I feel a little queasy about putting this book by media strategist Ryan Holiday on the list, but any student of media should know the press’s weak points.

Why Democracies Need an Unloveable Press, by Michael Schudson – Everybody looooves to hate the media. This was true way before this election, it was true before the Internet was a thing, and it’s probably been true since the first newspaper was published back in Rome. This book, by sociologist Michael Schudson, addresses the relationship between the media and democracy and examines what public knowledge is, and what it should be.

Understanding racial bias in the news:

Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media, by Pamela Newkirk – This book is from 2002, a time when — although there were a number of black reporters in newsrooms — they often faced resistance from editors and their papers when they tried to tell stories that challenged the white mainstream narrative. Newkirk tells stories of racial struggle within newsrooms across the country, as black reporters tried to challenge stereotypes, depict African-American communiteis fairly and honestly, and simply do their jobs. This book may be 14 years old, but it’s just as relevant as ever.

race-baiter-by-eric-deggansRace-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation , by Eric Deggans — Veteran journalist Eric Deggans’s 2012 book is tailor-made for this year. Deggans examines the way that today’s media courts readers and clicks by exploiting their prejudices. While Newkirk writes about news organizations suffering from entrenched racial prejudices, Deggans writes about the news organizations that deliberately weaponize them, and the consequences of those articles.

News For All The People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, by Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres – It’s no secret that the media is responsible for shaping our cultural narrative, and that means that the media disseminates prejudices and images that contribute to racial oppression. This book examines the history of race and news from the colonial age to segregation, to the present day, and tells the stories of Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American journalists.

Guidelines for 21st century journalism:

the-new-ethics-of-journalism-by-kelly-mcbrideThe New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century, edited by Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel – I’m reading this book, which was put out by Poynter, right now. The book’s goal is to come up with guiding ethical principals for the 21st century, but the essays themselves — which examine the role of media in the Internet age — (for example,  how do you report in a “post-fact” age?) are the most interesting part.

The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom,by Joel Simon – Few discussions of journalism focus on the threat to journalists themselves. This book, put out by the Columbia Journalism Review, discusses the danger that individual journalists are in across the globe, by governments, militants, and terrorists, among others. The threat to journalists is also a threat to journalism, because when reporters are surveilled, threatened or killed, public information suffers. Joel Simon proposes 10 priorities for combating this new censorship and a global free-expression charter

Swords and Spaceships

Welcome to Swords and Spaceships! (DEV)

Binti by Nnedi OkoraforWomen took top honors in this year’s Hugo Awards, with awards in each of the four fiction categories going to women authors. Three of the awards in the fiction categories went to women of color, and authors of African descent took the award in the longest fiction categories: N.K. Jemisin received the Best Novel award for The Fifth Season, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti received the award for Best Novella. These results bear heavy significance on their own: women who write science fiction and fantasy have historically faced many trials in receiving recognition for their work. The same can be said for people of African descent. The fact Jemisin’s and Okorafor’s works have received a Hugo award is amazing, and important for those reasons alone.

This victory has an additional significance. For the second year in a row, one of two right-wing networks of authors has attempted to game the Hugo Awards ballot with a slate of work that, they claim, calls back to recognition of more traditional, conservative science fiction. The leaders of these groups have been widely recognized as bigots. Their slate of recommended works this year was weak, haphazard, and the work of many of the authors therein has been recognized as not deserving of the award because, frankly, it just isn’t good enough.

These cabals and their supporters oppose the existence of writers like Okorafor and Jemisin, and consider their work to be representative of everything that is wrong with the genre’s direction. They view the genre’s increased focus on prioritizing the voices of those who have been historically marginalized as a threat to their own success, as if the groups that they represent have not dominated the awards and controlled avenues to success in the genre for decades.

The Fifth Season by N. K. JemisinThe news of this win comes on the heels of a report showing that, at least at the short fiction level, black authors of science fiction and fantasy are just not being published. Until very recently, the only black authors featured on lists of recommended science fiction and fantasy books were Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, or Nalo Hopkinson. Despite claims to the contrary, black readers have always looked to speculative fiction as a way of dealing with the social and political realities of their lives. And black writers have always used speculative fiction to wrestle with a world that marginalizes and threatens them. Black readers and writers of speculative fiction have also always had to deal with the reality that mainstream speculative fiction publishing and fandom was not built for us or by us, and because of this, the two institutions struggle to recognize the brilliance of our works and voices.

But with this award win, both black readers and black writers are validated. Hugo award winners are not decided by a distant panel of “experts.” They are decided by the reading public, people who love these books enough to make their voices heard. Readers of all races, cultures, and ethnicities came together not just to deal a blow to alt-right ideologues and their temper tantrums, but also to uplift the work that they, rightfully, considered the most powerful, most significant, most relevant work to have been produced in a year full of powerful, significant, relevant works of speculative fiction.

And these books are written by black women. Jemisin and Okorafor used the earth and stars to write stories that speak to their experiences and histories as complete humans. Readers for years to come will be able to find these books more easily, and lose themselves in the truths and realities that they contain. These books and these authors’ names will now be prefaced forever more with “Hugo Award Winning,” and when new readers encounter them in libraries, when new writers begin to aspire, they will be comforted by the fact that these books have been vetted and found to meet the exacting standards of thousands readers and writers just like them. Jemisin and Okorafor’s Hugo Award win is a win for all readers of speculative fiction, but most especially for black ones.

Riot Rundown The Stack

Riot Rundown 090416 The Gentleman (DEV)

the gentlemanToday’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by The Gentleman by Forrest Leo.

A funny, fantastically entertaining debut novel, in the spirit of Wodehouse and Monty Python, about a famous poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil–then recruits a band of adventurers to rescue her. Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, this debut novel The Gentleman by Forrest Leo is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé’s beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.


The Girl Who Drank the Moon Giveaway

This giveaway is sponsored by The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

girl who drank the moonMoonlight is magic—ask anyone you like.

A girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon must unlock the dangerous magic buried deep inside her in order to save her life, her family, and even the community that once left her to die. Kelly Barnhill, acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy, delivers another coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a classic. Shelf Awareness calls The Girl Who Drank the Moon “utterly spellbinding,” and the Minneapolis Star Tribune says Barnhill   is “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman.”

We have 10 copies of The Girl Who Drank the Moon for 10 lucky Riot Readers! Just complete the form below to enter. Entries are limited to the United States and will be accepted until 11:59pm, Tuesday, August 16th. Winners will be randomly selected.

New Books

New Books! – April 26, 2016

Happy Tuesday! I know there are a lot of happy people out there today because The Raven King, the fourth and final book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, is now available! Congratulations and happy reading if you’re one of those people. On this week’s episode of the All the Books! Rebecca and I talked about some great new releases, such as Sleeping Giants, Real Artists Have Day Jobs, and Panther. I have a few more great titles for you below, and as always, you can find a big list in the All the Books! show notes. And stay tuned next week for another “First Tuesday” mega-list! Now, are you ready? LET’S DO THIS.

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Liquid Cool by Austin Dragon.

The debut, action-packed (and funny) cyberpunk detective novel! It’s cyberpunk reimagined—sci-fi meets the detective thriller in an ever-raining Metropolis with dark skies, colossal skyscrapers, and hover-cars above, with grimy, flashy streets below. Uber-governments and mega-corporations fight for control of the fifty-million-plus super-city, but so does crime. So watch out for tech-tricksters, analog hustlers, and digital gangsters—psychos, samurais, and cyborgs aplenty. Welcome to the high-tech, low-life world of the Liquid Cool series.

5-STAR REVIEWS: “Lots of shooting, lots of crazy maniacs, lots of action and fun!”  “Cool and Smooth.”

Emperor of the Eight Islands: Book 1 in the Tale of Shikanoko by Lian Hearn
Hearn, the author of the awesome Tales of the Otori series, is back with a new fantastic series set in medieval Japan. At the beginning of the tale is a young future lord, sent into hiding with a mountain wizard by his scheming uncle who wants the boy’s land for himself. What follows is magical adventures on battlefields, and in forests and castles, involving both man and beasts. This story is a rich tapestry of magic, superstition, and ancient history, all wonderfully realized. And all four books in the series will be available over the next few months, so we won’t have to wait long to find out how it ends!

Backlist bump: Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Book 1) by Lian Hearn.

The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories  by Joan Aiken
Joan Aiken stories handpicked by Small Beer Press and Aiken’s daughter and with an introduction by Kelly Link?!! I couldn’t read this fast enough! Aiken, probably best known for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, wrote over 100 books, including 28 story collections. HOLY CATS. These selected stories are wildly inventive, fantastical, and funny, and certainly for fans of Link. I am so delighted this exists.

Backlist bump: The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken

The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and the Search for the Meaning of the World’s Strangest Syndromes by Frank Bures 
The title alone sold me on this book, but the insides are pretty great, too! Bures investigates “culture-bound” syndromes, which are cultural myths and superstitions leading people to believe things that other cultures might consider strange. This is a weird, fascinating look at some of those syndromes around the world.

Backlist bump: The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist’s Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic
by Wade Davis by Jim C. Hines

YAY, BOOKS! That’s it for me. If you want to learn more about books (and see lots of pictures of my cats), or tell me about books you’re reading, you can find me on Twitter at MissLiberty, on Instagram at FranzenComesAlive, or Litsy under ‘Liberty’! (OMG I am OBSESSED with Litsy.)

Stay rad!


The Goods

25% Book Riot Originals!

Wear your booknerd pride on your sleeve! Get select Book Riot original gear 25% off this week. T-shirts and tote bags and mugs and more!

25 percent book riot goods

library week

What's Up in YA

Sexual Assault Awareness Month and YA Lit, Upcoming Superhero Novelizations, and More YA News

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Future Shock.

Good April, YA fans!

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks in the YA bookternet. Maybe part of it has to do with this being a huge release season — we’re seeing tons of books hitting shelves each Tuesday (and sometimes Thursday) and will through the end of May — and it may have to do with some big industry-related trade shows happening now. There’s surprisingly little news to talk about, so this week’s newsletter will take a bit of a different approach, with a quick round-up of links at the end.

As you may or may not know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is a topic that’s covered really well in the YA internet, and it’s a topic that not only generates worthwhile discussion in April, but it lingers throughout the year.

Here’s the out for anyone who needs it — and feel zero shame taking it: sexual assault and rape are the topic at hand for the bulk of this newsletter. If you want to skip to the round-up of other news, hop down to the *** below.

It’s been really difficult to grasp the importance of the topic of sexual assault lately, especially following the not guilty verdict of the Jian Ghomeshi case, wherein the victims of assault were called liars by the judge for not coming forward soon enough and not recalling specific details of the trauma they incurred. Of course, that is one case of hundreds each year, and it’s one case that highlights precisely why victims choose not to speak up or out. It’d be easy to name many more without even thinking too hard about it.

I’d like to take the opportunity with this newsletter to talk about and highlight some of the incredible young adult books that explore issues relating to sexual assault and rape culture. The only way that we’re able to make change as a culture is to talk about it, as well as make real effort in understanding the short- and long- term effects of such violence against victims. The bulk of these books are available now, though forthcoming titles have been noted with publication dates. All descriptions are from Goodreads and titles are listed alphabetically. This is a very white, straight list — which is worth an entire newsletter in and of itself — and the bulk of the books on this list involve female victims (though not all). Note that this is not comprehensive. Likewise, I highly recommend checking out this recent NPR piece about the value YA lit has in teaching teens about consent and sex.

All The Rage 
by Courtney Summers: The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

Asking for It 
by Louise O’Neill: Emma O’Donovan is eighteen, beautiful, and fearless. It’s the beginning of summer in a quiet Irish town and tonight she and her friends have dressed to impress. Everyone is at the big party, but all eyes are on Emma.

The next morning Emma’s parents discover her in a heap on the doorstop of their home, unconscious. She is disheveled, bleeding, and disoriented, looking as if she had been dumped there in a hurry. She remembers nothing from the party.

That day several devastating photos from the party are posted online and go viral, eventually launching a criminal investigation and sending the community into tumult. The media descends, neighbors chose sides, and people from all over the world want to talk about her story. Everyone has something to say about Emma, whose life has been changed forever by an unthinkable and all-too-common act of sexual violence, but all she wants is to disappear.

Exit, Pursued By A Bear by E. K. Johnston: Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook: Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

Faking Normal by Courtney C Stevens: Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

The Gospel of Winter 
by Brendan Kiely: As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s.

by Chris Lynch: Keir Sarafian knows many things about himself. He is a talented football player, a loyal friend, a devoted son and brother. Most of all, he is a good guy.

And yet the love of his life thinks otherwise. Gigi says Keir has done something awful. Something unforgivable.

Keir doesn’t understand. He loves Gigi. He would never do anything to hurt her. So Keir carefully recounts the events leading up to that one fateful night, in order to uncover the truth. Clearly, there has been a mistake.

But what has happened is, indeed, something inexcusable.

by Joshua C. Cohen: The football field is a battlefield.

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on – and off – the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy – including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

Some Boys 
by Patty Blount: When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But…Ian doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country, written by a lovely author who promotes white-guilt in her free time.

The Way I Used To Be 
by Amber Smith: Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year.

What We Saw 
by Aaron Hartzler: Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

Wrecked by Maria Padian (October 4 — get this on your radar!): Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible–especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.

* I had the chance to read an early copy of this one, and it’s such a powerful look at rape culture, campus culture, and it allows space for growth, change, and learning — told from a male and female POV, it’s a nice look at the wide-ranging impact of a sexual assault.

I would be remiss in not highlighting this interview I had the privilege to do with Laurie Halse Anderson in 2014, where we talked about rape culture and YA books, on the 15th anniversary of her ground-breaking classic Speak.


The round-up of forthcoming YA titles in the second quarter of 2016 should hit Book Riot in the next week or so, which should explain why there are fewer stories to share in this newsletter (so many books are hitting shelves! Everyone is busy reading!). But here’s a look at some of the highlights:

And let’s wrap up with a few pieces from the Book Riot archive:

  • Dig into some YA books featuring …geeks!
  • A handy flowchart to YA books that are light on sex and violence, so they’re safe “green light” bets for any type of reader (some people might call them “clean reads,” but that’s a highly problematic label — books aren’t dirty or clean, but rather, they have different reader appeal).
  • This piece from 3 years ago (!!) about why YA lit matters to all readers is worth ending on, since it succinctly captures why the books named in this newsletter are important.

As always, thanks for rocking out with us at Book Riot, and keep YA-love in your heart. Thanks for your comments, your questions, and your feedback — see you again in two weeks!

New Books

New Books! – April 19, 2016

Happy Tuesday! It’s that time again: NEW BOOKS! On this week’s episode of the All the Books! Rebecca and I talked about some great new releases, such as The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Into the Black, and The Lie Tree. I have a few more great titles for you below, and as always, you can find a big list in the All the Books! show notes. Ready? LET’S DO THIS.

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry.

Some say she grants wishes. Some say her touch kills. One boy is drawn into her enchanted world.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives in Puerto Rico, where he’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, Isabel. When letters from Isabel begin appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers—and finds himself lured into her strange and magical world. But the more entangled Lucas becomes, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life. Nova Ren Suma, bestselling author of The Walls Around Us, calls A Fierce and Subtle Poison “a breathtaking story in which myths come to frightening life and buried wishes may actually come true.”

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
This is a modern day retelling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, with Liz as a magazine editor and Jane as a yoga instructor, who decide to return to their Cincinnati family home when their father becomes ill. At home, Mrs. Bennet wonders how to find her eldest daughters love, as the younger Bennet girls do CrossFit and study for college. And then they meet Chip, from the reality show Eligible, and neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy. You know how it goes from there: Brooders will brood, sparks will spark, and schemers will scheme. I found this book to be a delight.

Backlist bump: Go watch Clueless.

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift 
A new Graham Swift novel is cause for a national holiday! He is such a phenomenal writer. This is a dazzling, sexy novella about Jane, a maid in an English country house and her affair with the heir of a neighboring home. It moves back and forth in time between the 1924 and Jane’s life at the end of the century, detailing all of Jane’s emotions and memories beautifully. Swift really is a marvel. He’s an absolute master with language. Fans of Ian McEwan will doubly love this.

Backlist bump: Waterland by Graham Swift

The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey
It’s 22000 B.C. And what does that angel have in his pocket? Oh, it’s just a doomsday box, a small cube that can bring about mankind’s utter destruction. Wait, scratch that – he had it in his pocket. But now it’s lost. Now jump back to 2015: A professional thief has been hired to retrieve a small box for a mysterious client. Any guesses as to what it is? Yep, it’s the doom box! Unfortunately, he doesn’t know what it does until after he delivers it. Good thing he’s a professional thief! Kadrey, of Sandman Slim fame, delivers a fun, apocalypse-looming romp, full of thrills and laughs.

Backlist bump: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

YAY, BOOKS! That’s it for me. If you want to learn more about books (and see lots of pictures of my cats), or tell me about books you’re reading, you can find me on Twitter at MissLiberty, on Instagram at FranzenComesAlive, or Litsy under ‘Liberty’! (OMG I am OBSESSED with Litsy.)

Stay rad!