Let’s start with disclaimers. I started doing this over on my blog, so the prior quarters can be found there.
I am a mood reader, so this will be a mix of new releases, things my library hold finally dropped on, and stuff I found in the TBR.
I’m including content notes, but my memory and or reading lens may be faulty. It’s hard with content notes to provide context without detailing the entire story, so sometime it refers to a few remarks the character handles well, and sometimes not. Feel free to reach out if you want more specifics. Obviously, I enjoyed and am recommending the story, but am aware there are some days such things may not match your reading needs.
Links are to Bookshop.
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall - I really adore Alexis Hall's contemporaries. This story of a dude who is kind of a mess, but less of a mess than everyone seems to assume, who is advised to rehab his image by dating someone responsible, and so agrees only to discover the boring, responsible dude he is fake dating is not boring and very hot. Note that there is some toxic parenting, and some casually homophobic remarks directed at the main character.
The Magnolia Sword: The Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas - Sherry Thomas wrote a Mulan story and well, I had been saving it for a day I could just sink into it, and it was just amazing. Note - contains war.
Now That I've Found You by Kristina Forest - This book was a delight. A teen actress needs to rehab her image after a post of her doing a tipsy mocking impression of her now former director gets put on social media. She has a plan, it involves her retired from fame grandmother so she flies to visit her grandmother, who is apparently now hanging out with a college dude. Except grandma disappears before she can fully explain the plan and it seems hot college dude might be able to help find grandma. What will all this time together lead to?
Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson - Oh this book is so many things. Ostensibly it is the story of people with magic hands who all work for a mobster at the dawn of World War II. One of them gets a second prophetic dream, which is usually when things start to get bad. It is also a story about secrets, and the versions of ourselves that we present to the world. And of course, it's also a story about racism, classism, and the structure barriers of society. But pay no attention to that - it's about a magical mob. Note - contains historically accurate racial slurs, racism, murder, and torture.
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam - This book in verse about a teen in a juvenile detention center is just amazing.
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron - This book, for me, the pacing wonk, started slow, but I could tell we were building to something extraordinary. It's a fascinating envisioning of what a world indoctrinated into the Cinderella fairytale might look like, and the challenges and horrors that might excuse for the folks that don't neatly fit into that narrative. And what happens if you decide to try to expose the myth. Note - contains bullying and murder.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar - Oh gosh, this book is just such a relatable tale of a kid who may or may not be trying to get revenge on someone who Felix suspects of harming them and then discovering they are maybe not terrible, and the look at how friend groups shift when folks date, and how the things we let slide allow for larger transgressions, and how to navigate that and also dig deep enough into yourself to create great art.
Note: contains transphobic bullying.
I'll Be the One by Lyla Lee - This book of a fat girl trying out to sing and dance on an American K-Pop reality show is just a delight. She meets wonderful people on this journey and while yes, there is a mean judge, and yes, her mom hates everything about her doing this, the support she is able to find, and the smoochies, are amazing. Note- contains fatphobia directed at the protagonist.
Spin by Lamar Giles - I was, ahem, harassed, to get to this book and it more than lived up to what folks were telling me. An up and coming DJ is murdered and her estranged friends are the first to find the body and so of course the suspects. Told with flashbacks, this look at what led to the friends' estrangements, and the secrets their dead friend was keeping means they think they can figure this out faster than the police can. Note: contains murder.
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert - Oh gosh, this book was very much like being thirteen. This look at getting new neighbors, and thereby doubling the population of eighth grade Black girls to two, and how that shifts existing relationships, how that changes your whole lunch table was just wonderful in that ugh, why is everything about being thirteen hard kinda way.
A Song Below Water by Bethany Morrow - This book is just amazing. In a world where sirens are a known - and concerning entity - this tale of two Black girls, one a siren, one something else trying to figure out how to be themselves while the adults around them suggest they maybe just try not to draw attention to themselves is wonderful. Note - contains police brutality.