Author: Erin Stewart Publication date: March 15, 2022 Genre: YA contemporary My rating: 4.5/5 stars
By turns painfully real and softly hopeful, The Words We Keep is a striking exploration of the effects of mental illness not just on an individual, but on an entire family. It addresses the pervasiveness of mental health struggles across all types of individuals–social butterflies, high-achieving academic types, and nonconformist artists. And it does so through the eyes of anxious girl doing her best not to come unraveled even as her world seems to be falling apart around her. I couldn’t get over how much this story resonated with my own memories of high school and college–through those years of my life, so much of this main character’s experience could have been my own–and I sincerely hope this book is picked up by students working their way through high school today, as the stakes and anxieties have only gotten higher the past few years. Read on for a full review, as well as some quotes from this book that I really appreciated.
Author: Robbie Couch Publication date: April 6, 2021 Genre: YA contemporary My rating: 3/5 stars
Cute, diverse, and full of both the best and the worst of small-town life, The Sky Blues is an ode to friendship, young love, and the importance of being yourself. While I wouldn’t call it a perfect read, it is a fast, fun read that will certainly appeal to younger YA fans, especially fans of “leaked romantic feelings” stories like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Stick with this post past the review, and you’ll find info on how you could win a copy of this book for yourself!
Author: Fredrik Backman Publication date: September 8, 2020 Genre: contemporary literary fiction My rating: 5/5 stars
When I picked up this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it–a lot of popular titles kind of miss the mark for me, so perhaps my wariness was justified. But let me tell you: this one COMPLETELY lives up to the hype. This narrative is warm, wise, and witty, alternating emotional sucker-punches with laugh-out-loud commentary on the ridiculousness modern life, and it is one of my favorite reads of this year so far.
Author: Tami Charles Publication date: February 2, 2021 Genre: YA contemporary novel-in-verse
Hello! Super excited to be hosting a stop on the tour for Muted by Tami Charles. I’m about halfway through this book right now, and…wow. It’s great so far, and I can’t wait to get through the rest of it. I have a feeling I’m going to be emotionally gutted by the end (in a good way!). Stick around with this post to get some general info on the book, and be sure to come back here in a couple days for my review!
Author: Angie Thomas Publication date: January 12, 2021 Genre: YA contemporary/recent historical My rating: 5/5 stars
Going into this book, I knew I would love it. Angie Thomas is a phenomenal writer and both of her first two books blew me away. But y’all, I did not expect it to be this phenomenal. Writing a prequel can be a risky move, so I was a little skeptical about how this one would work out–but this one was flawlessly executed, fusing both pain and joy in the experiences of a Black teenage boy who finds himself unexpectedly a father. I know it’s only February, but I think it’s safe to say this book will wind up in my top ten reads of this year. Just…wow.
Hey, y’all! I know, I know, two posts in one day–you’re getting double your dose of K-Specks content, I guess? This post isn’t a review, as I haven’t been able to read this book yet (law school is killing me, schedule-wise!) but TBR and Beyond Tours is hosting a tour for the title now, and I definitely wanted to highlight this powerful upcoming release about the aftermath of abuse and sexual assault.
Author: Phil Stamper Publication date: March 4, 2020 Genre: young adult, contemporary, LGBTQIA+, romance My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Once again, I’m finding myself in a position where I’m a little too worn out to write full reviews, but I do have thoughts I want to share on books! To that end, I present you with this mini-review of a cute, if not remarkable, queer YA contemporary (with a splash of romance, a ton of commentary on media, and a hefty dose of outer space).
As I mentioned before, I’ve been digging into a lot of middle-grade books this month, including quite a few on audiobook. You know the drill: mini-reviews are all coming up next. This time, we have a contemporary told from the point of view of a gorilla who lives in a mall (currently one of my favorite books of the year), a touching novel-in-verse about a girl who immigrates to the US from Syria, and a cute-and-spooky book that is loosely part Coco and part Ghostbusters.
Up first: the book that OH MY GOD I WAS NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR.
Author: Don Zolidis Publication date: May 5, 2020 Genre: young adult, contemporary fiction, realistic fiction My rating: 4/5 stars
Speech team kids, rejoice: finally, the art of competitive public speaking has crept into mainstream consciousness enough for us to get a whole book about forensics! (For those of you who haven’t taken part in the wild experience that is high school or college speech team, “forensics” is another term for speech team. Seriously, their national organization is the NFL–the National Forensics League. I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to.)
Regardless of whether you did speech or not, you could probably guess that speech culture is…well, not the most positive. And so Don Zolidis, known in the real-world forensics community for his wide range of hilarious plays, often used in competition, has now written a book that leans into the toxic speech team culture with a team of hilarious, sarcastic, scheming social outcasts who want to change things for the better.
Author: Sophie Gonzales Publication date: March 3, 2020 Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance, LGBTQ+ My rating: 5/5 stars
Cute, queer, and oh-so-diverse, this might be my favorite book I’ve read this year thus far. Only Mostly Devastated is essentially a gay retelling of Grease, only with more humor (and emotions), broader social awareness, healthier relationships, and none of the “change the most fundamental aspects of your personality just to please a boy” nonsense that fills the end of the original musical. In other words, it is everything the world of light, contemporary YA thrives on, and I am so here for it.