Interview with Claire Kann – LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE

Everyone, please welcome Claire Kann to Rich in Color! Claire’s debut novel, LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE, is out in the world today. I’ve been looking forward to the book ever since it was first announced, and we’re excited to have Claire here to talk about it:

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

I absolutely love the cover of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE, and I’m delighted that Alice is black, biromantic, and asexual. Can you tell us more about Alice and what’s going on in her life at the start of the novel?

Alice is probably the most overdramatic character I’ve ever written, and I love her. She loves Netflix, eating, and living the sloth life; is funny, joyful, and caring; possesses an unfiltered and raw honesty when it comes to all of her feelings–good, bad, and the murky middle. She doesn’t hold back. At all.

LTAL takes place during Alice’s tumultuous summer between freshman and sophomore year of college as she redefines what different kinds of love mean to her–platonic, familial, and romantic–and the ways they are present in her life. She’s experiencing severe growing pains with her best friends, dealing with the fallout of a terrible breakup and the start of a new relationship she isn’t sure she’s ready for, and arguing with her parents about law school because while she doesn’t know what she wants to do, it’s certainly not that.

From the excerpts I’ve read, Alice has a very distinct (and fun!) voice. What was it like to craft her character?

In a word: hellish. Because of Alice’s aforementioned honesty, I knew every aspect of who she was before I began writing. Personalities like hers are fun to read, but not to write for me.

Ultimately, when she was the narrator, the scenes became chaotic, and large chunks of the text had to get cut. I don’t like to waste words or my time, so I had to switch the narrative to third person. At the same time, I didn’t want to override her voice with my own. It took quite a bit of time to figure out the best way to tell this story, and I ended up settling on and abusing parenthetical asides.

Has she changed much between when she first popped up in your head and the final version of the book?

Nope. Alice is the same. The only thing I did do was purposefully omit a lot of her reactions. For example, she cried a lot more on the page in initial drafts. Through several rounds of edits and bouts of writer doubt, Alice remained the only constant I could hold on to.

I loved the description of Takumi as a “knight with a shiny library-employee badge.” Tell us more about him and why he catches Alice’s eye.

Initially, Takumi catches Alice’s eye for purely aesthetic reasons. He’s extremely beautiful to her, which she begins to resent and it causes some problems between them. He loves to laugh but isn’t funny himself, is a low-key adrenaline junkie and very outdoorsy, he’s also older than Alice–already graduated from college–and is preparing to start his dream job as a teacher in the fall. Alice also resents that he appears to have his life together and all figured out, while she very much doesn’t. Keyword there is “appears.”

Very few of the YA books I’ve read have the characters already in college. Why did you choose to set the story then instead of high school?

I believe there is a difference between Teen and Young Adult books. At nineteen and in college, Alice is still a young adult figuring things out. There’s this pervasive idea that once someone turns eighteen, they’re adults and expected to act as such, including having their career path figured out. They should have spent the past four years of high school preparing for college and selected a college major that would put them on the right track to said career. I really wanted to write a story with a main character who didn’t know any of that. Alice followed her friends to college because it was the easy choice, and a year later at nineteen, still had no idea what kind of career path she wanted.

Why is it important to you to write about marginalized characters falling in love and having cute romances?

Because it’s real! It happens! Readers deserve a chance to see it, let it touch their hearts, and give them hope.

YA has systemic problem of not allowing those relationships to exist on the page. Five years ago, a book like LTAL would have had a tremendously hard time getting published, if it even got out of the query trenches. I know because I queried different books and have the detailed rejections to prove it. But YA books like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, When Dimple Met Rishi, Everything Everything, and Simon Vs.  prove that readers are not only hungry for these kind of stories, but are also willing to support them.

A cute romance can be the plot now for us. It’s finally enough.

What can you tell us about your next projects?

Right now, I’m working on my next book with my publisher, Swoon Reads. I also consider myself an online storyteller and regularly post new stories to Wattpad (@ClaireKann). There, you can find stories about everything from a teenage vampire falling in love with his fat girlfriend who can also use magic to college kids with severe god complexes. Lots of fun to be had by all.

What 2018 books by or about people of color or people from First/Native Nations are you looking forward to reading? Which ones would you recommend to our followers?

Upcoming Releases:
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, 02/06/2018
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, 04/03/2018
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, 05/08/2018
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, 06/26/2018

Pointe by Brandy Colbert
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows
Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE?

I think both the book and I would like to say thank you. Writing LTAL was a labor of hope, frustration, and fear. It means so much to me that readers can connect with Alice and her story the way they have. The support its received so far has genuinely been a transformative experience for me. I’m so happy this little book about love is allowed to exist in the world.

Claire Kann hails from the glorious Bay Area where the weather is regrettably not nearly as temperate as it used to be. She has a BA in English/Creative Writing from Sonoma State University, works for a nonprofit that you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. A sucker for instant gratification, she posts new stories regularly to Wattpad, including her novels THE SCAVENGER HUNT, which won the 2016 Watty Award:HQ Love, and #FAT GIRL MAGIC, which won the 2017 Watty Award: Riveting Reads and ranked #1 in the Paranormal category.

LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE is her debut novel, publishing in 2018 with Swoon Reads/Macmillan.

Four books for you this week

It’s good to be back! We’ve got four books on our radar this week–are any of them on your TBR? I’m personally excited for Let’s Talk About Love.

Let’s  Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Swoon Reads

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Markswoman (Asiana #1) by Rati Mehrotra
Harper Voyager

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.

When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.

Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra–and for Asiana.

But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi
Philomel Books

Narrated by Destiny, this heartbreaking — and timely — story of refugees escaping from war-torn Syria is masterfully told by a foreign news correspondent who experienced the crisis firsthand.

In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future.

In the wake of destruction, he’s threatened by Daesh fighters and witnesses a public beheading. Tareq’s
family knows that to continue to stay alive, they must leave. As they travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq must find the resilience and courage to complete his harrowing journey.

But while this is one family’s story, it is also the timeless tale of all wars, of all tragedy, and of all strife. When you are a refugee, success is outliving your loss.

Destiny narrates this heartbreaking story of the consequences of war, showing the Syrian conflict as part of a long chain of struggles spanning through time.

An award-winning author and journalist–and a refugee herself–Atia Abawi captures the hope that spurs people forward against all odds and the love that makes that hope grow.

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan
Macmillan Children’s Books

Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer, struggles with controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor. Forced to move to a new school in South London after her best friend is shamed in a scandal, Muzna realizes that the bullies will follow her wherever she goes. But deciding to stand and face them instead of fighting her instinct to disappear is harder than it looks when there’s prejudice everywhere you turn. Until the gorgeous and confident Arif shows an interest in her, encouraging Muzna to explore her freedom.

But Arif is hiding his own secrets and, along with his brother Jameel, he begins to influence Muzna with their extreme view of the world. As her new freedom starts to disappear, Muzna is forced to question everything around her and make a terrible choice – keep quiet and betray herself, or speak out and betray her heart?

A stunning new YA voice which questions how far you’ll go to protect what you believe in.

Let’s celebrate the end of the year!

With 2017 winding down to a close, it’s time for us here at Rich in Color to go on our annual hiatus. We’ll be back, refreshed and ready to promote books again, on January 15, 2018. But don’t be too sad! As is custom, we’ve pooled together our resources in order to give away a ton of YA books to our followers.

FOR U.S. RESIDENTS, we’re giving away The Day Tajon Got Shot by The Teen Writers of Beacon House, Evangelina Takes Flight by Diana J. Noble, The Cholo Tree by Daniel Chacón, This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, Want by Cindy Pon (signed copy), You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (signed copy), Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (two copies total), The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh, Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson, The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez, Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider (signed copy + swag), Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz (ARC), When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (ARC), That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim, Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter.

FOR NON-U.S. RESIDENTS, we have two winner’s choice prizes! You are eligible to enter if Book Depository ships to you.You can pick any YA book by and/or about a person of color or a person from a First/Native Nation as long as it’s on Book Depository’s site (yes, including pre-orders). If you win, we’ll order you a hardback or paperback copy of the book you chose.

The giveaway ends at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2017, U.S. Eastern Time).


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We’ll see you all in 2018!

Audrey’s 2017 Favorites

The close of the year is fast approaching, and that means it’s time for me to look back and pick my favorite 2017 YA releases. There were so many amazing books this year, and here are the ones at the top of my list. What were your favorites this year?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Balzer + Bray || Group Discussion

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and MaryBeth Leatherdale
Annick Press || Group Discussion

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous girls and women across North America resound in this book. In the same visual style as the bestselling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, intergenerational trauma, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women demanding change and realizing their dreams. Sometimes outraged, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have had their history hidden and whose modern lives have been virtually invisible.

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh
Tu Books || Review

After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.

Want by Cindy PonWant by Cindy Pon
Simon Pulse || Group Discussion

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Simon Pulse || Group Discussion

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

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.

Wild BeautyWild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
Feiwel & Friends || Review

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Author: Erika L. Sánchez
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: Available for purchase now

Summary: Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

Review: (Note: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, mentions of rape, brief descriptions of attempted suicide, homomisia, sex-shaming, fat-shaming, murder, and a semi-graphic description of an animal being slaughtered.)

This review is going to be a difficult one to write. On the one hand, there are a lot of excellent parts in Erika L. Sánchez’s debut—a prickly, angry heroine who deals with anxiety and depression, struggling to survive in the aftermath of her older sister’s death and trying to forge an identity and future for herself in spite of her parents’ demands and expectations. Mexican culture and the Spanish language permeate every corner of the book, and Julia’s opinion of and experience in Chicago are colored by all of that.

There’s also a lot of discussion about immigration, from the very real dangers and fear that compel some to risk everything to cross the border to the alienation and loneliness of being kept apart from family. At one point, Julia’s English teacher urges her to write about her parents’ undocumented status for a college entrance essay, and Julia’s immediate reaction is fear for her parents and disbelief that he would ask her to do that. Her family and community have seen lives torn apart by immigration enforcement; how can he be so cavalier about suggesting she expose her parents when there have been raids at the plant her father works in?

Julia’s anxiety and depression are also important to see on the page, both how mental illness is generally not talked about in Latinx communities and also in positive depictions of therapy and medication. This is the third YA book I’ve read in the last few years that stars a Latinx character who deals with mental illness (When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez and The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork being the other two), and it is reassuring to know that there is yet another novel out there to help Latinx teens.

Unfortunately, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter’s helpfulness will be limited by its unrepentant fat-shaming. While the sex-shaming generally gets a not-insignificant amount of pushback, either from Julia’s commentary on double standards or from a conversation with her therapist, the fat-shaming largely goes unchallenged. And it is pretty awful and omnipresent: “Amá says Paloma has a thyroid problem, and I feel bad for her, but I’ve seen her eat three tortas in one sitting. Thyroid, my ass,” or “She is always sucking her teeth at what I’m wearing or making some comment about my weight, even though she’s more floppy and misshapen than a sack of laundry,” or “Even if they’re fat, they move as if they think they’re fabulous.” That last one is a clear moment where Julia’s own internalized fat-shaming has popped up, but aside from a brief passage where Julia points out that she’s fat on the U.S. side and too skinny on the Mexican side, all of this cruelty and snark and disgust about other people’s bodies is a slap to the reader’s face. It has been a while since I’ve read a book that made me feel this awful about my own fat Latina self, so take that under advisement before you dive in.

Otherwise, IANYPMD felt unbalanced plot-wise. Based on the summary, I expected this to focus mostly on Julia, her best friend, and her boyfriend uncovering the mysteries of Olga, but Olga gets shoved aside for a good chunk of the book to grapple with Julia’s problems, and the best friend and boyfriend do almost nothing to help uncover those mysteries. This had the unfortunate consequence of giving these supporting characters too little depth to be adequate supports for Julia’s story, and Olga’s story turns more into a distraction or an afterthought than anything else. I think I would have preferred there was no mystery to Olga because of how inadequately her story was handled.

Recommendation: Borrow it someday. While I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter tackles important and timely issues related to mental health, immigration, and the Mexican-American community, the novel is kept from greatness by its pervasive fat-shaming and unbalanced plot.

5 Books from 2017 that I Still Want to Read

There were so many good books that came out this year, and now that it’s November, I find myself surprised by all of the amazing titles I haven’t gotten to yet. Here are just five 2017 books that are still on my TBR pile–here’s hoping I can get to them during the holidays!

Long Way Down Jason Reynolds
theneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali
Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers || K. Imani’s review

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tight knit Muslim community think of her then?

The Epic Crush of Genie LoThe Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
Amulet Books || Jessica’s review

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Razorbill || Crystal’s review

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Soho Teen || Crystal’s review

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

What 2017 books are still on your TBR pile? Let us know!