The Coming Out Soon or Actually Out Now Edition:
Shannon Hale's PRINCESS ACADEMY: PALACE OF STONE. I was trying to explain to my mom just what I love so much about all of Shannon's books. And besides the fact that her writing has this timeless grace to it that I marvel over, what I love the most is that she writes girls in such an honestly empowering way. It isn't taking over traditionally male roles as being strong, or denying femininity as being strong, which so often is our shorthand for Really Strong Female Character*. It is discovering who they are and figuring out how to use themselves--their hopes, their fears, their passions, their strengths, AND THEIR MARVELOUS BRAINS--to make the world around them a better place.
You don't have to have read PRINCESS ACADEMY, but of course you ought to. I read it a few years ago and dropped many of the details, as I am wont to do, and it didn't impact my reading of PALACE OF STONE or leave me confused.
*I am not bashing these tropes. I enjoy many of these stories. I just really, really appreciate what Shannon writes.
Speaking of Really Awesome Strong Girls, CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein. This book is gutting in the best way possible. It's funny and heart-wrenching and so breathtakingly smartly written. The two main characters are ones that stick in that space between your lungs and your heart. Marvelous, marvelous book. WWII spy drama! True love between friends! Women pilots! YOU WANT THIS BOOK.
Speaking of books you want, THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater. When I read SCORPIO RACES last year I'll admit it caught me off guard. I'd enjoyed the Shiver series, but wasn't prepared for what a wonder SCORPIO RACES was. It was crafted in a way not many novels I've read lately are. Every detail, every character, the simple but brutal mythology that felt like it could very well be real. Violence and magic and history woven around struggles to put food on the table, plus horse racing where THE HORSES MIGHT ACTUALLY EAT YOU.
Wait, I was supposed to be talking about THE RAVEN BOYS. Well, suffice it to say, this is another book that disgusted me with its utter storytelling superiority. I'm really starting to hate Ms Stiefvater and my inevitable "Why couldn't I have written this book it is amazing and I love everything about it and why why why do you do this to me Maggie why WHERE IS THE NEXT BOOK?" reaction.
(Hi, Maggie. I like you very much. Please stop pummeling my brain with your magical books that make me weep with writerly envy.)
Speaking of magical books that pummel your brain, BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore. It was everything I didn't know I wanted it to be. I love that this book was a fantasy novel that took place in one city, focused on one girl, trying to rebuild a kingdom torn apart by the worst imaginable abuse from its former king--her own father. Cashore writes such smart fantasy, and even though the plot of this book wasn't as "big" as her previous companion novels, GRACELING and FIRE, I think I loved it all the more for that. If you haven't discovered Cashore, her books are some of my very favorite YA fantasy novels.
And speaking of kingdoms torn apart, GRAVE MERCY by R.L. LaFevers. I know I mentioned it before I read it--assassin nuns! COME ON--but now that I've read it, it bears another mention. Such a fascinating mythology, and the period details were so fun. I can't wait for the companion novel. All I'm saying is, if the love interest isn't a certain knight presumed dead on the battlefield, I will have to call up Ms LaFevers and read her the riot act. Or at least demand some short stories written just for me.
So, those are the books off the top of my head. Some books I haven't read yet but can't wait to get my hands on are:
THE DIVINERS, by Libba Bray (roaring twenties! evil spirits! New York!)
DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT, by Laini Taylor (I. need. more. Karou.)
ASK THE PASSENGERS, by A.S. King (loved PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ)
THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH, by Maureen Johnson (sequel to THE NAME OF THE STAR, which I thought would be out in September but isn't out until next year and I am a very sad panda about it)
UNSPOKEN, by Sarah Rees Brennan (girl sleuth! plus Sarah is super smart and says things I like on tumblr!)
And now your turn, my lovelies: what can't you wait to read? What have you read recently that you love so much you want everyone else in your life to read it, too?