Mary's Minute: Book Buzzwords

While at work this week, I was processing a bunch of YA books that have been in the library for a few months when I noticed one I'd never given much attention to before except to put all the requisite labels on it. The title was interesting and the cover was peculiar so I flipped it open and took a look inside to see what it was about. You know how sometimes the formatting makes the first few words of the jacket copy or each chapter bold or larger than the rest? It was like that so it was really easy to see a bold type "1913" at the beginning of the summary. I immediately lost interest, flipped the book shut, and got on with my day, not sparing that book a second thought except to wonder if anyone else has bookish buzzwords. That is, are there any genres, phrases, comparisons, etc that immediately turn you off a book? And, if you have those, what are the ones that make you immediately pick a book up? Also, have these buzzwords changed at all over time?

Once upon a time, any book that was compared to YA heavyweights like Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor & Park, etc. would sell a book to most readers by principle. I know right after I binged Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse and was awaiting the release of Breaking Dawn, I was desperate for any vampire YA I could get my hands on. Ah, 2008. 'Twas a simple time. But that led me to Richelle Mead, who became one of my all-time favorite authors. But now for a lot of readers, the words "vampires" and "dystopian" are instant turn-offs. Comparing an author's work to John Green's elicits eye rolls and derisive groans.

For some readers, negative reactions to comparisons to A-list authors stems from those authors being problematic, either in their real life or in their work. There's no end to discussions about issues with Green, Rainbow Rowell, Sarah J. Maas, Maggie Stiefvater, and JK Rowling to name a few. To others, maybe it's because they don't gel with a certain genre. Many fantasy and sci-fi fans tend to find contemporary boring and melodramatic. My friend Danielle, who used to blog at Love at First Page, is well known for despising love triangles, and if she finds out you've read a book she can't tell if the romance is geometric, she will always come looking for spoilers. If yes, boom. It's on her do not read list. And for others readers, maybe even the book's publisher can be a turn off if they've been burned before.

So I'm curious what kind of buzzwords YOU have, dear readers. Feel free to share in the comments! And to get things started, I'll share a few of mine. Keep in mind that these aren't actual rules, just guidelines. For every turn off and turn on, there's a book or five that have proven to be the exception.

Buzz words that turn me off a book:
•historical (does not matter the time period)
•religious press
•verse / "a novel in verse"
•motorcycle clubs

Buzz words that turn me on a book:
•road trip
•road trip with royalty wins bonus points
•marching band
•basically any sports romance but especially those two
•"_____ in space"

These are a few of my favorite things!
Anastasia in space? Good. Anastasia riding unicorns in space while kissing a hockey player? Good.

For some extra reading on this topic, Lauren from Bookmark Lit has a whole series about Read Bait

Waiting on Wednesday: Trouble Never Sleeps by Stephanie Tromly

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Trouble Never Sleeps
Trouble #3
by Stephanie Tromly
Coming April 24, 2018
Kathy Dawson Books

Happily Ever After gets a serious makeover in this swoony, non-stop, thrill-ride of a conclusion to the Trouble Is a Friend of Mine trilogy.

No one makes getting into trouble look as good as Philip Digby—and he looks good doing it. Now that he's back in town, he's plunged Zoe (and their Scooby Gang of wealthy frenemy Sloane, nerd-tastic genius Felix, and aw-shucks-handsome Henry) back into the deep end on the hunt for his kidnapped sister. He's got a lead, but it involves doing a deal with the scion of an alarmingly powerful family, not to mention committing some light treason. Zoe and Digby are officially together now, and she's definitely up for whatever closure this new caper might offer, even though this mystery will come with a twist neither expected.

With acerbic banter, steamy chemistry, and no small amount of sarcasm, Zoe and Digby are the will-they-or-won't-they, charismatic crime solving couple you've been waiting for.

Why I Want It:
Honestly, I was really worried we weren't getting a book 3 because it took forever for news about it to come out so I feel really privileged that I get a conclusion to this amazing series. I'm not usually one for mysteries, but the humor and sloooooowly burning ship of Zigby hooked me from the very beginning. 

Why I think you should want it:
This series is basically Veronica Mars: there's oh so much snark, plenty of swoons, a wonderful ragtag group of misfit characters, and, oh yes, plenty of mystery. You can check out my review of book 1 Trouble is a Friend of Mine, and then I definitely recommend you check out the series for yourself!

Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: young adult contemporary
Format/Source: arc, from the publisher
hardcover, purchased
Status: standalone
Links: First & Then review
Foolish Hearts blog tour

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

Waiting on Wednesday: Obsido by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

The Illuminae Files #3
by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Coming March 13, 2018
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Why I Want It:
BECAUSE I HAVE NEEDED IT SINCE JUNE 1, 2016! Because it's one of my all-time favorite series! Because I don't want to have died in vain in Gemina! I want this book. I DESERVE this book.

Why I think you should want it:
Well, if you're not already a fan of The Illuminae Files, I don't think there's much I can do to convince you to read it, but I'll try: this series is one of the most exciting, swooniest, funniest, most unique series I've ever read. The books are amazing, and the audiobooks are incredible. They're gorgeously written AND illustrated, and honestly, I'm just so impressed with the amount of work that has gone into them, from Amie and Jay, of course, to their editors and the artists (like Marie Lu!!!) and the copyeditors and audiobook producers and the full cast of narrators. Everyone who has touched these books made them into the most beautiful pieces of art, and I'm so grateful to all of them for making such a fantastic series for me to obsess over. 

If that hasn't convinced you, I reviewed Illuminae and the Illuminae audiobook and reviewed Gemina via gifs and collected a bunch of amazing Illuminae merch if you're into that sort of thing.

Waiting on Wednesday: Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

by Kristen Simmons
Coming March 6, 2018
Tor Teen

Marin is cosario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him. Sailing the ocean to chase adventure is in her blood. But these days no one cares that the island town her people call home is named after her grandfather. They have a new leader, one who promises an end to their hunger – and one who thinks that girls are meant for the kitchen or the brothel. Marin knows she's meant for more than that, and with the sudden influx of weapons on the island, and rumors of a pending deal with the enemy oil nation in her wake, she knows a big score to gain the council's favor is the only way to save her people, and herself.

Ross lives a life of privilege. As the president's son he wants for nothing, but he longs for a life of adventure. On a dare, he convinces his best friend Adam to sneak out to the Docks, the site of local race riots between the poor Shorlings and the upper class. But when Adam is arrested along with the other Shorlings, and not even the president is willing to find him, Ross finds himself taking matters into his own hands. He journeys back into the Docks, ready to make deals with anyone, even a beautiful pirate, if it means Adam's safe return.

When Marin and Ross meet in dangerous Shoreling territory he sees a way to get his friend back and she sees her ticket home. The ransom a president’s son would command could feed her people for years and restore her family’s legacy. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Marin must decide if her heart can handle handing over the only person who has ever seen her as more than a pirate.

Why I Want It:
I fell in love with Kristen's writing way back in 2013 when I binged Article 5 and Breaking Point and had to wait what felt like AGES (it was a few months) for Three. I love her books!

Why I think you should want it:
Pasifika rep! Own voices! Pirates! Boss lady pirates! Take your pick of all the amazing things!

Blog Tour: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone
Links: First & Then review

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Waiting on Wednesday: Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Pitch Dark
by Courtney Alameda
Coming February 20, 2018
Feiwel & Friends

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.

Why I Want It:
MARAUDING. SPACE. SCAVENGERS. Aliens is one of my favorite movies of all time so I'm totally down with space horror.

Why I think you should want it:
MARAUDING. SPACE. SCAVENGERS. I mean seriously, do you need more reasons???

Review: Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Rating: 4.5 stars
Release Date: December 19, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: young adult contemporary holiday romance
Format/Source: ARC, Baker & Taylor ARC program
Status: standalone

Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.

Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

Happy birthday, Mary Had a Little Book Blog!

Holy crap, you guys. When I moved to Dallas back in 2012 and started this site, I never didn't think that it would still be around five years later but I also never did think that it would still be around. I guess I just wasn't thinking forward enough. 

The past five years have been full of change, both good and bad. I've moved around some (a lot. Sorry for the rotating addresses, friends & pubs!), got two new jobs including working at my library (for which I am eternally grateful), attended some bomb-ass book events, and even moderated a few. I blurbed my first-ever book, was in the acknowledgements of a handful of books, and my book collection at least doubled its size. I met some of the best people in the world online and IRL. I joined a bookish fantasy football chat that I didn't realize then would become so ingrained in my daily life that I honestly don't know what I'd do without those friends or how I existed before I talked to them every day. In addition to the blog here and Twitter, I added Instagram to the mix and became addicted to bookish candles.

More than all that easily defined stuff, I changed a lot personally. The world at large has changed so much in five years, and the book community has changed to reflect that, both through positive growth and intense struggle. And I have personally changed as my community has. It has not been an easy five years, but I think I can say I'm a better, wiser, more aware person than I was in 2012, and for that I'm grateful.

So what's next? Well, I'm still not super forward-thinking, but... I guess I keep going. For me, it's very important that blogging always feel like it's fun and enjoyable. It takes up a lot of my time so if I ever feel like it's a chore instead of a hobby, an escape, that's not okay with me. Which is why I might take unannounced breaks, but I have no plans to call it quits permanently. Blogging here at Mary Little Had a Book Blog brings me a lot of joy. Not only do I get to share my love of books with all you lovely readers, but I get to express myself through writing, which is something I take pleasure in, even if I'm not so into fictional writing (lol. I've tried. It did not go well). As long as there are books to be read and discussed and as long as the reading and discussing are enjoyable, I'm going to be here, talking up the books I like and making recommendations.

Thank you all so much for reading my little book blog. It has meant the world over the past five years to know that someone's listening. Here's to many more years together! *hugs*

To celebrate my blogiversary right, I'm hosting a couple giveaways, one for the US & one for international peeps. Scroll to the one that's right for you. I'll also be doing a few others throughout the month so stay tuned for more free books!

US Giveaway
One winner will receive a box of books and a custom 8 oz candle from Flickering Tales. The box will include Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (signed), The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (signed), Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (signed), Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, and [edited to add] The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (signed). The candle will be designed by the winner with help from Rachael of Flickering Tales. You'll get to pick your own scent combo and the label!

Open to US only. Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST January 1. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INT Giveaway
One winner will receive as many books as $30 (USD) will get you on Book Depository, winner's choice. So you can pick an expensive book or several cheaper ones. Up to you! Open to wherever Book Depository ships for free EXCEPT the US! Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST January 1. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck!

Edited to add: US peeps, please don't enter this giveaway. I know it sounds tempting, but this is one of the few INT giveaways I've been able to hold. Please let those folks have their chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Seriously, thanks for reading everyone. I hope you have a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year. And again: stay tuned for more giveaways! I have a bunch planned!

Waiting on Wednesday: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Chaotic Good
by Whitney Gardner
Coming March 13, 2018

Cosplay, comic shops, and college applications collide in this illustrated novel, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Noelle Steveson!

Cameron's cosplay--dressing like a fictional character--is finally starting to earn her attention--attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron's family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town—her main destination for character reference—is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother's suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she's shocked at how easily she's accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her "secret identity" gets more and more entrenched, Cameron's portfolio falls by the wayside--and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Why I Want It:
I'm loving the increase in "geek" books: books that are unashamed love letters to fandom and include things like cosplay✔, cons, and gaming✔. Plus, I'm all about books that confront dudebros who think that women have to earn cred for their interests, especially when it comes to geeky hobbies or sports. And I haven't played D&D in YEARS, but it was super fun, and I'd love to read a book with a fun campaign in it.

Why I think you should want it:
ALL HAIL FEMINIST GEEKS! Plus, Whitney's writing comes highly recommended.

Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult contemporary realistic fiction
Format/Source: hardcover, from the publisher for the Instagram tour
Status: standalone

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

Waiting on Wednesday: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

A Reaper at the Gates
An Ember in the Ashes #3
by Sabaa Tahir
Coming April 24 May 22, 2018

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion—even at the cost of his humanity.

Why I Want It:
First of all, I love Helene so seeing my girl front and center on this cover? GIMME IT RIGHT EFFING NOW. I think she's even more stuck than the others—like obviously Laia wants to fight the Empire and she CAN outright rebel, and Elias is the golden boy so he just does whatever the heck he wants, but Helene... Helene already watched [spoiler: that Thing that happened in Torch] and she's just stuck being Blood Shrike for this total asshole douche of an Emperor. And Torch did NOT answer some questions I had burning from Ember and in fact, gave me MORE questions so DANG IT, I NEED ANSWERS. *bangs fist emphatically on desk*

Why I think you should want it:
This series is so cool. It's a Roman-inspired fantasy with dueling people, teen gladiators, a deadly Triwizard/Hunger Games-esque tournament where even the winners are losers, and lots of magic. Plus, it has one of the most evil and awful and fantastic love-to-hate-her villains since Voldemort/Bellatrix Lestrange. You've never rooted so hard for an evil bitch to get what's coming to her.

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: arc, ALA
Status: standalone but When Ashish Met Sweetie is its companion

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Listmania Monday: Books in Space

Welcome to a new edition of a very old feature here on Mary Had a Little Blog. The oldest feature, in fact. This is Listmania Monday, and today I have brought you a new topic: books set in space!

It should be no surprise that I adore space books, and some of these books are among my all-time favorites so I wanted to share the list of teens-in-space books that I've compiled with all of you. And I do mean teens IN space. I'm not including books where aliens have come to earth (Lux, The 5th Wave, AdaptationLorien Legacies, etc). I've also made note of future titles if you're looking for upcoming releases.

If you ever check one of my lists and see a grievous error or a book missing, please let me know! I want these lists to be used as a resource if you're ever looking for a specific kind of book or story. You can find the rest of the Listmania Monday posts at the bottom of my Review Archive at the top of the site or by clicking on the listmania label at the end of this post or at the bottom of the page.

* denotes a series. If you're not seeing a book where you expect it to be, please note that I'm going by series name, not individual book titles. That includes those 2018-2020 releases. So I'm not listing Obsidio as a 2018 release; instead I'm just marking The Illuminae Files that it has a book releasing in 2018.

Across the Galaxy - Heather Hildenbrand
Across the Universe trilogy - Beth Revis*
Alienated trilogy - Melissa Landers*
The Androma Saga (Zenith) - Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings (2019)*
Andromeda Aurora Cycle - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (2019)*
The Australia trilogy - J.P. Smythe*
Avalon duology - Mindee Arnett*

Beyond the Red trilogy - Ava Jae*
Brightly Burning - Alexa Donne

The Cage trilogy - Megan Shepherd*
Carve the Mark duology - Veronica Roth*
Cassiel Winters series - Lesley Young*
The Celestial Trilogy - Sangu Mandanna (2019)*
Century Next Door series - John Barnes*
Chaos Walking trilogy - Patrick Ness*
The Color of Rain - Cori McCarthy
A Confusion of Princes - Garth Nix
Contagion duology - Erin Bowman (2019)*
Constellation series - Claudia Gray (2019)*

Dare Mighty Things duology - Heather Kaczynski*
The Diabolic trilogy - S.J. Kincaid (2019?)*
The Disasters - M.K. England
Dove Chronicles - Karen Bao*

Empress of a Thousand Skies series - Rhoda Belleza*
Ender's Saga - Orson Scott Card*
Entangled series - Amy Rose Capetta*
The Evaporation of Sofi Snow series - Mary Weber*
Exo series - Fonda Lee*
The Exo Project - Andrew DeYoung
Extraction trilogy - Stephanie Diaz*

Feed - M.T. Anderson
The Final Six - Alexandra Monir (2020)*
Freefall - Joshua David Bellin

Heart of Iron duology - Ashley Poston (2019)*
The Honors series - Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre*
Hullmetal Girls - Emily Skrutskie

Ignite the Stars duology - Maura Milan (2019)*
Inherit the Stars duology - Tessa Elwood
The Illuminae Files - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff*

The Jupiter Pirates series - Jason Fry*

The Kaitan Chronicles - AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller*

The Last 8 series - Laura Pohl (2020)*
The Last Girl on Earth - Alexandra Blogier
Last of Her Name - Jessica Khoury
Legacy Code series - Autumn Kalquist*
Light Years series - Kass Morgan (2019)*
Linked duology - Imogen Howson*
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe - Lauren James
The Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer*

Mars One - Jonathan Maberry
A Million Worlds with You - Claudia Gray (I'm only including this one instead of the entire trilogy because I think it's the only one with actual space travel. Please correct me if this is wrong!)
Mirage trilogy - Somaiya Daud (2019)*

The Night Lily - Julie Tuovi (unknown release date)
The Nightside Saga (27 Hours) - Tristina Wright (this was supposed to be a series, but the publication of future books has been cancelled)
The Nyxia Triad - Scott Reintgen*

Once and Future series - Cori McCarthy & Amy Rose Capetta (2020)*
The 100 series - Kass Morgan*
The Other Side of the Sky duology - Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (2020)*

Paradise Reclaimed trilogy - Aubrie Dionne*
The Pioneer - Bridget Tyler*
Pitch Dark - Courtney Alameda

The Raging Ones duology - Krista & Becca Ritchie (2019)*
Red Rising Saga - Pierce Brown (2019)*

Salvage duology - Alexandra Duncan*
Satellite - Nick Lake
Sanctuary duology - Caryn Lix (2019)*
Seven Devils series - Laura Lam & Elizabeth May (2020)*
Sky Chasers series - Amy Kathleen Ryan*
Skyward series - Brandon Sanderson (2019)*
Space Runners series - Jeramey Kraatz (2019)*
Spectre War series - Margaret Fortune*
Split City series - Heather Hansen*
Star-Crossed duology - Pintip Dunn (2019)*
The Starbound trilogy - Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner*
Starflight duology - Melissa Landers*
Starglass series - Phoebe North*
Stars Fall Circle series - Abby J. Reed (2019)*
The Stars We Steal - Alexa Donne (2020)
Stitching Snow duology - R.C. Lewis*
System Divine duology - Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell (2020)*

The Taking trilogy - Melissa West*
This Splintered Silence - Kayla Olson
The Tomb - S.A. Bodeen
Toxic - Lydia Kang
Tracked duology - Jenny Martin*

Unearthed duology - Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner*

Waste of Space - Gina Damico
We're Not From Here - Geoff Rodkey
What Goes Up - Katie Kennedy
The Whitecoat's Daughter series - Olivia Cole*

Zodiac series - Romina Russell*

You might have noticed a number of missing space-y titles, and if you did: good job, nerd! I decided to list any Star Wars-specific YA and MG titles down here.

Ahsoka - E.K. Johnston
Cobalt Squadron - Elizabeth Wein
The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi? - Adam Gidwitz
Guardians of the Whills - Greg Rucka
Join the Resistance - Ben Acker & Ben Blacker
The Legends of Luke Skywalker - Ken Liu
Leia, Princess of Alderaan - Claudia Gray
Lost Stars - Claudia Gray
Most Wanted - Rae Carson
Moving Target: A Leia Skywalker Adventure - Cecil Castelluci & Jason Fry
A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy - Alexandra Bracken
Rebel Rising - Beth Revis
Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! - Tom Angleberger
Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure - Greg Rucka
Star Wars: Before the Awakening - Greg Rucka
The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure - Jason Fry

Did I leave anything out? Please let me know in the comments!

Waiting on Wednesday: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Unearthed #1
by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Coming January 9, 2018

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

Why I Want It:
Four years ago, I read one book that would become an instant favorite and introduce me to two amazing authors and a genre that I adore. I've always enjoyed space in general, but These Broken Stars was the first book that showed me how much fun YA space operas can be. Now I'm hooked! Amie and Meagan are an unstoppable duo, and as long as they're writing, I'm going to devour their work! I actually have an ARC of Unearthed, and I don't know how much longer I can keep my hands off it.

Why I think you should want it:
Amie and Meagan write amazing action and adventure that keeps your blood pumping as you read. But they also write tough girls, swoony boys, and lovely romance. Also, Unearthed was pitched as "Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft in space" so if that doesn't do it for you, I honestly don't know what will.

Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: hardcover, from my library
Status: book 3 of the To All the Boys trilogy

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Waiting on Wednesday: Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Heart of Iron
by Ashley Poston
Coming February 27, 2018
Balzer & Bray

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

Why I Want It:
I absolutely fell in love with Ash's writing and style when I read Geekerella so I knew I wanted to read more of her work. Then I discovered Heart of Iron is an Anastasia retelling AND it's set in space, and those are two of my very favorite things! Also, Ash is a boss person, and I adore her. 

Why I think you should want it:
ANASTASIA IN SPACE, Y'ALL!!! Also, I heard this book will break you in the greatest way possible. How can you NOT want to sign up for that??

Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Imprint
Genre: young adult fantasy, fairy tales
Format/Source: hardcover, purchased from SEVERAL stores
Status: part of the Grishaverse

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves. 

Waiting on Wednesday: Batman: Nightwalker

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Batman: Nightwalker
DC Icons #2
by Marie Lu
Coming January 2, 2018
Random House Books for Young Readers

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Why I Want It:
Man, I loved Batman as a kid. I adored the animated show and Batman Forever (yes, really. It was the only one of the Batman movies I watched as a kid), and I loved our broody bad boy superhero. He's not my favorite superhero now, but I also love Marie Lu. You know how people always talk about authors whose grocery lists they'd read? Yeah, Marie is on my grocery list author list. She's so talented, and I think she does an AMAZING job writing morally ambiguous characters and spotlighting the good and bad in people. My body is READY.

Why I think you should want it:
Batman is one of the most fascinating superheroes. First of all, he's a normal dude (although rich af) and not super-powered. Instead, he uses his money, connections, and intellect to fight crime. Secondly and more interestingly, he's a good guy, but he's all about the revenge. Guys like Superman and Captain America are the goody two-shoes guys who are altruistic and boy scout-y. Bruce isn't like that. He helps people, yes, but he only got into the game to avenge his parents' murder. Still, not-great intentions or no, Batman does a lot of good. I don't know much about the actual comics, but in the movies, the focus is always on adult Bruce or kid Bruce, but there's very little in the way of teenage Bruce. I think it's really interesting that Gotham is currently exploring that age and now we can add Nightwalker to the mix. Plus, it's Marie Lu. You should want to read her grocery lists too.

Mary's Minute: Fluffy Books

Today I want to talk about a beloved sub-genre of books: the fluffy book. Fluffy books are a type of  (usually) contemporary romance (although I think there can be some fluffy fantasies or historical books as well) are fun, sweet, swoony stories that just make me feel GOOD after I've read it. It's one of my absolute favorite genres, and I know many of my friends love it as well. So why am I discussing it today?

Several months ago, author Jenn Bennett (The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, Alex Approximately) had a few words to say about frequently reading reviews that called her books fluffy:

This sparked a great conversation in which many bloggers and readers spoke up about how much fluffy books mean to them and what they define fluff as, and we'll come back to that in a second because it seems that authors and readers are mixing lines of communication when using the term fluff.

I recently moderated a panel called Me + You = Fate during the Texas Teen Book Festival, which was AMAZING. We talked a lot about romance, and I was shocked to find two more authors who said they dislike their books being called fluff. Mackenzi Lee (The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue) said she doesn't like the term, but when people call her book serious, she likewise said, "well, not THAT serious!" And Jenna Evans Welch (Love and Gelato) said she didn't think her book qualified since a primary theme is grief. So I want to talk about this genre again.

 I asked Twitter a few days ago, and here a few replies to me and a few to Jenn:

(for the record, I asked how the define fluff, is it an insult, why do you like it, and who are your faves)

A couple things that stuck out to me is that for a lot of people, fluffy = little angst and also, fluffy books are the ones they most often reread. That's super important!!! Fluff has a rereadable factor!!

What makes a book "fluffy"? For me, there are a few indicators: 
  • light, easy-to-read prose (basically the complete opposite of James Joyce and pretentious literary writing)
  • emphasis on romance in the story
  • use of romance tropes like love to hate, friends to more, fake date, etc.
  • humor
  • slice of life stories
  • mc has an important hobby/interest that usually has a lot to do with the plot

There are a few other elements that are frequently found in fluffy books, but I don't think they're necessarily a requirement (especially since some of these are complete opposites). It's one of those a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square things. Travel (especially European); seasonal-specific (summer or winter holidays); celebrity love interest; royal love interest; athletes; etc.

None of these are super hard and fast other than light prose and romance, but really, what makes a book fluffy for me is if I feel good reading it. If I'm reading a book with a HUGE irrepressible smile on my face, it's probably fluff. I tend to swoon a lot because the boys are dreamy, and I always want to be the girl's best friend. For me, fluff doesn't mean no conflict or heavy topics. A book can cover topics like death, mental illness, physical illness, abuse, etc, and still be fluff to me. It entirely depends on the overall tone of the novel and how the author approaches the topic. If I'm left feeling satisfied by a story and hopeful for the characters and their futures, I'm more inclined to consider a book fluff. If I'm left feeling like life sucks and then you die and this character is fucked or the road is going to be long and hard for them when the book is over, I'm usually more inclined to consider it realistic fiction. And I don't necessarily WANT realistic fiction.

I find great comfort in fluffy books, and it's frustrating when lighter contemporary novels go temporarily out of fashion in YA. A couple years ago, I went to a professional library conference during which most publishers didn't have very many contemporary romances in their catalogs. Lots of fantasy (duh) and lots of realistic fiction, which I always consider heavier reads, but little romance. And that made me sad. I love fantasy and sci-fi, but I need them interspersed with books that are light and fun!

2017 is a garbage fire. I frequently feel like our society is completely doomed and WE are the characters who are fucked after the book ends. I don't need to read books that will leave me feeling depressed after I close the cover. I already feel depressed. I want books where I envision the character still has their best days ahead of them, even if I don't get to read about those adventures. I want to feel happy and warm and content, like a cat lazing in a ray of sunshine streaming in through a window. Like I'm curled up in a cozy blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. Like I'm lying in a hammock listening to the ocean's waves as a breeze gently caresses my face. That's how fluff makes me feel. The world might be terrible, but at least it seems like writers are creating more of these stories and publishers are publishing them. I'm grateful for that. I just want EVEN MORE, and also, I would very much like more diverse stories of all kinds.

One thing about fluff is that like just about all genres of YA, it's populated with a million stories about white cishet Christian-or-not-religious usually-middle-or-upper-class able-bodied characters. I love that we're seeing other kinds of stories like When Dimple Met Rishi and I Believe in a Thing Called Love, To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Queens of Geek and The Secret of a Heart Note but I definitely want more. It's comforting to me to read warm, sweet stories, and I bet a lot of readers would feel the same if they could see more characters like themselves on the page. So come on, writers and publishers, keep pushing!

I don't think book bloggers really write for authors, just for other readers, but if there are any authors reading this, please don't be offended when you hear readers categorize your books as fluff. We don't mean that they lack substance; instead, it's an indicator of how your book makes us feel: like rainbows and sparkles and whipped cream and sprinkles and dandelion fluff a la Beauty and the Beast and stardust and chunky cable knit and crunchy leaves. Think of it this way: do you really want a hard, flat pillow or a fluffy one? Those weird hairless cats or a fluffy kitteh? Runny (or super dry) scrambled eggs or fluffy? Thin, wimpy pancakes or fluffy? A regular, run-of-the-mill unicorn or a SUPER FLUFFY ONE?

Fluff is not an insult, and if someone is using it as one, it's probably a dude, and he is a sexist douchecanoe who sucks and doesn't understand the power of fluff. For your reference, here's a Buzzfeed listicle of amazing fluffy things. I would only change it to add books to the list.

Discussions about fluff have EXPLODED over the past few weeks. There's been a lot of discussion about how misogynistic a lot of the criticism of fluff is, but a few days ago (I'm writing this edit on Christmas), I discovered this amazing thread written by Leah of Small Queer, Big Opinions about ableism and criticism of fluff. With her permission, I'm posting the thread here for you guys. Thanks, Leah!

Books that explore the day-to-day realities of our world—including the horrifying, depressing, and hurtful ones—are important. But Leah is absolutely correct: sometimes we need to lose ourselves, to escape into a gentle, angst-free world. As I said above, the world of 2017 has been a garbage fire. Having books to comfort us, to make us smile, giggle, swoon, and sigh dreamily is an immense blessing. More than that, as Leah also points out in the full thread, it's a blessing to go into a book knowing that we're not going to be blindsided with something triggering. With a fluffy book, I know my mental health and my emotional state are in safe, gentle hands. Fluffy books are entertaining, but they're also healing. The real chicken soup for the soul.

I couldn't let you guys go without recommending some of my fluffy favorites!

The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
Alex, Approximately - Jenn Bennett
Teen Idol, Nicola and the Viscount – Meg Cabot
99 Days – Katie Cotugno
Endless Summer – Jennifer Echols
My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick
I Believe in a Thing Called Love – Maurene Goo
To All the Boys I've Loved Before – Jenny Han
The Secret of a Heart Note – Stacey Lee
Open Road Summer, The Start of Me & You – Emery Lord
The Unexpected Everything, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson
When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon
First & Then, This Adventure Ends – Emma Mills
Being Sloane Jacobs (although my boss loves Meant to Be more) – Lauren Morrill
Dumplin' – Julie Murphy
Bittersweet, The Book of Broken Hearts – Sarah Ockler
Anna & the French Kiss, My True Love Gave to Me anthology – Stephanie Perkins
Geekerella – Ashley Poston
This is What Happy Looks Like – Jennifer E. Smith
The Art of Lainey – Paula Stokes
Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans Welch
On the Fence, The Distance Between Us – Kasie West
Queens of Geek – Jen Wilde

How do you feel about fluff? Do you have any recommendations of your own? Please share in the comments!