Is the world a mess right now? Yup. Are a lot of us about to have more time in our hands? Also yup. Should we use at least some of that time to read new books and support indie bookstores? HELL TO THE YUP.
(I have had a lot of caffeine and I always have a lot of feelings about books.)
I am admittedly not quite as good as I should be about writing actual reviews of the books that I love unless they’re Star Wars which is bad because there are so many good books out there! With everything happening, a lot of authors and independent bookstores are going to be hurting for a bit so I thought the least I could do was tell you about some of the books being released in the first half of this year that I’ve either read and loved OR that I’m excited for. To make it even easier, I’m putting order links by each title. One is so you can buy them directly through One More Page which is an indie bookstore near me in the DC area that I love with all of my heart. The other is for IndieBound which lets you either support the entire network of indie stores OR sends you to the website for a store near you based on your zip code.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE
Okay on to the books starting with…
2020 Releases I Read And Loved!!!
Rebelwing by Andrea Tang – Order here! Or here!
This book was everything I ever needed but never realized. It has the following: an Asian protagonist, a mecha dragon, a badass mom, takes place AFTER the revolution with a focus on the next gen, and a good soft boy. And I cannot emphasize the bit about the mecha dragon enough. Dragons are already great but then Andrea Tang went and wrote about a ROBOT DRAGON that you psychically link with and BE STILL MY PACIFIC RIM LOVING HEART. Despite me going on about the mecha dragon, Rebelwing is actually the perfect young adult book for someone who might be curious or hesitant about diving into the science fiction world. Its protagonist, Prudence Wu, is a prep school student with a smuggling side hustle and she definitely did not ask to imprint on this GIANT MECHANICAL DRAGON and I love her a lot!!! This was one of those books I could not put down due in great part to how awesome the core cast was. Please go read it!
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim – Order here! Or here!
You want a Count of Monte Cristo re-imagining? BOY DO I HAVE A BOOK FOR YOU. This book came out in early January and I’d been waiting for it FOR MONTHS and it was the best almost birthday present! You need to know two things about this book: 1) I love Amaya and her knives with all of my heart. 2) Cayo is a mess but also a good soft boy and I love him too. I love a good revenge story with a diverse cast and this one delivers in spades. A friend mentioned Six of Crows in her review and I think that if you liked that duology, you’ll probably like this book too. The sequel isn’t out until next year and until then, I am d y i n g.
Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian – Order here! Or here!
Ember Queen is the final book in a trilogy so the good news is that if you haven’t heard of these books before, you can get all three right now and not have to deal with the agonizing waiting between books! The first book, Ash Princess, was one of those I picked up for the neat cover but didn’t necessarily have high expectations for and then ended up loving to hell and back and then loved the more I thought about it. Theo’s been a prisoner in what was once her mother’s court for years and has adapted and done what she must to survive. Everything changes when the secret rebellion against their conquerors makes contact with her. It’s tricky to talk about the last book without spoiling the first two but just trust me on this one.
The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett – Order here! Or here!
Ekata really just wants to go study and have absolutely nothing to do with all of this court intrigue or her ridiculous and somewhat murderous family. She’s so close to being free of all of this when her entire family are stricken by some strange sleeping sickness which means she’s now the new duke of Kylma Above. Aaaaaaand she’s also now engaged to a badass warrior women who was a potential bride for her brother the heir. Also there are merpeople. Listen, it sounds like a lot but it’s a super fun ride. Ekata hates just about everything she’s having to deal with as the Temporary Duke and she’s not one of those sudden hidden political genius types which I appreciated. Inkar, her bride, is a delight and shines on every single page she’s on. Basically, if you want a book with a heaping amount of political intrigue, merpeople, or two girls falling in love… let me just shove this book your way.
Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller – Order here! Or here!
If you want a book about two girls who fight for what they believe in and for what they want AND a book with a truly beautiful last line, this is the book for you. Annette and Emilie swap places so that they can go study magic and medicine respectively. Miller created a world where magic is supposed to operate along a gender binary and simultaneously challenges that idea with her own characters and how she handles it is fascinating. Related, this book has a TON of LGBTQ+ representation including a biromantic ace girl! I could treasure this book forever simply based on its delightful ace representation.
2020 Releases I’m Excited For But Haven’t Read Yet
We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia – Order here! Or here!
This is the sequel to last year’s We Set the Dark On Fire which is a book I described as being the one for you if you wanted a book about rebellion, that looks at the roles women are expected to fill, and girls who love other girls. I really need to know what happens next to Carmen and Dani.
Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland – Order here! Or here!
This is another sequel book and honestly, if you haven’t read Dread Nation yet, what are you waiting for? Civil War era but with zombies and girls who are trained to fight back against them! (It’s more complicated than that obviously.) Also, I’ll just be over here making heart hands at Katherine.
A Phoenix First Must Burn (anthology) – Order here! Or here!
The cover copy calls it “16 stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope” and I think that sums it up really nicely. The list of authors includes Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Patrice Caldwell, Dhonielle Clayton, J. Marcelle Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, L. L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi and if that doesn’t peak your interest, I don’t know what will.
Upcoming Releases You Can Pre-Order NOW!!!
Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (4/7) – Order here! Or here!
If you have followed me on Twitter for even a hot second, you should know how excited I am for this book. And they were roommates! There was only one bed! (Actually, there were two but they both pretended the other one didn’t exist.) Space hijinks! Chaos girl with a rainbow umbrella! Good boys who need to JUST KISS ALREADY!!!! Gal and Ettian are best friends at the military academy and then everything goes to hell and Ettian finds out that Gal’s actually the heir to the Umber Empire… aka the empire that conquered and destroyed his home. Now they’re on the run and everyone’s after them and listen, this book made me audibly shriek with glee several times and the ending made me yell a lot and I REALLY LOVE THIS BOOK AND THESE TWO BOYS AND SEQUEL WHEN???
Sword in the Stars by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta (4/7) – Order here! Or here!
Another sequel, this book is King Arthur in Space but Gay and also with Ladies!!! If you haven’t read Once & Future yet, GET ON THAT. And then go pre-order this one.
Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova (4/28) – Order here! Or here!
I read this book in one sitting by a pool in Miami and it was a good thing my schedule was clear that day because it was impossible to put down! The story is set in a fantasy world inspired by Inquisition era Spain and follows Renata, a young woman whose magic was once used against her own people but who’s now a part of the rebellion against the crown. The world building in this series is fantastic and I adored Ren as a main character. Oh and the twist? Ohhhhh that twist was so good but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (5/12) – Order here! Or here!
I know nothing about this book except that several very reliable sources told me I need to buy it. It’s about a princess who’s been cursed to be poisonous to the touch and I am very much intrigued.
The Unstoppable Wasp: Built on Hope by Sam Maggs (5/26) – Order here! Or here!
If you’re not familiar with Nadia Van Dyne via her comic series from the last few years… first of all, please go fix that. They are the teenage girl superhero science squad you never knew you needed. The series never failed to make me feel happy and that’s why I’m super excited to get my hands on this YA book featuring Nadia especially since Sam Maggs wrote it!
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (6/2) – Order here! Or here!
This is another one of those books that I will not shut up about on Twitter. Lesbian necromancers in space!!! Seriously, what more do you need to know? If you haven’t read the first book Gideon the Ninth yet, please go fix that right now and then preorder this one as soon as you pick your jaw back up off the floor. I finished this book and had to lie on the ground for a while and contemplate my life because it was SO GOOD and Tamsyn Muir is so much smarter than me and I will go to my grave with a certain line from this book burned into my brain.
Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston (6/2) – Order here! Or here!
What? You thought I’d make it through this list without mentioning some Star Wars? Oh you sweet summer child! Queen’s Peril is the book of my heart and is all about Padmé and her handmaiden in the time before and during The Phantom Menace. It’s another one of those books I read entirely in one sitting and then spent the entire rest of the night overwhelmed by the feels. I still haven’t recovered enough to write a proper review and have thus far only managed one in gifs.