Things I've read and enjoyed over the past quarter. I tried to keep this to a top ten, but, well, didn't entirely succeed. Bookshop links included.
Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell - Remember how I said I hate long books about fictional politics? I - er - lied. Or maybe I hate them unless it's about a multi-planet marriage of convenience between a dude whose sunny talkative charm is underappreciated by his militaristic family and a guy who has been told his best asset is being quiet. I barreled through this. Content note: Militaristic imperialism, past abuse, and chemical torture.
Portrait of a Thief by Grace Li - It is the museum heist novel if a bunch of teens who had watched a lot of heist movies planned a heist. But it's also some appropriate college kid wrestling with legacy and diasporan identity.
Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa - I am so biased about Mia Sosa books. But stopping someone's wedding, double fake dating, DC area stuff, plus being tricked into attending a sex party, if this is the kind of bonkers sexy fun you want, this book delivers.
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton - I did the award winning full cast audio for this. It's a fascinating if tough look at a music duo who came to prominence after a racist incident that resulted in the death of a band member, and the distinct trajectories as the two grappled with being known for this thing in an industry that was also promoting the racists that attacked them. Designed like an oral history, I found this story incredibly compelling. Content note: Racism - from slurs to murder.
The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann - At this point I think I'm just a Claire Kann stan, but what if someone took some of the ingredients of "The Wedding Crasher" but also fake dating? Yes please.
The Grieving Brain by Mary Frances O'Connor - This book was a fascinating look at what we know about grief and human - and occasionally non-human brains, and why the stages model is mostly for the folks who are dying, not the folks grieving a death.
The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun - A dating show where one main character is the producer who helps facilitate the couples, except what if learning about this season's hero has him falling for said hero. Note: There is a lot of anxiety and bodily fluids in the beginning, it does get better, but very much awkward.
In the Key of Us by Mariana J. Lockington - A very cute summer music camp story, with new friends and new smoochies. Note: There is some grief, especially as one of the main characters is grappling with the loss of her mom and her aunt being pregnant, and also some racist microagressions.
D'Vaugn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins - Am I on a romance and reality show kick or is romance on a reality show kick? Who could say? Anyhoodle a TV show about fake wedding planning, you convince your families you are getting married and then take the money. You know, assuming they haven't like picked the absolutely perfect person for you to fake marry.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo - This wild book is a spin on a magical "The Great Gatsby" that manages to stick a new character in there so seamlessly that the story feels like exactly that same but fresh thing that people talk about.
The Stand In by Lily Chu - This story of someone taking a deal to be the party version of an actress in town, which of course necessitates hanging out with her grumpy childhood actor friend.
Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma is actually not like The Stand In. It's a YA about a teen who decides to try being an actress before going to college and gets cast in a modern gender bent version of Madame Butterfly that films in Beijing, the one city her parents told her never to go to. And she discovers part of the reason she was cast is that she bears a striking resemblance to a Chinese heiress. And well, hijinx ensue.
Kiss and Tell by Adib Khorram - I know, if it's not reality shows I also love music industry folks. So, what if you were in a band, and the label decided after your public breakup, the fandom needs to ship you with someone else so what if you fake dated this other kid. I know, whatever will happen?
Kings of B'More by R. Eric Thomas - This story is two friends, about to be separated by life, trying to squeeze in an epic day of fun, I just loved it.
Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki is just a wild sci-fi about demons making music deals, aliens making donuts, but also just finding the love of music in a world that has told you you were wrong. Content note: transphobia, soul bartering, sexual assault, racism.