88 Cress

cressby Marissa Meyer, 2014

This is, in my opinion, the best installment in The Lunar Chronicles yet. Things are really starting to move along as Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne all come together to stop the impending nuptials of Emperor Kai and Queen Levana. In the process, they come across a young girl named Cress, whose blonde hair has remained uncut for as many years as she’s been imprisoned in a satellite. We are, of course, talking about the classic Rapunzel tale here, but although Cress would like to cast herself as the stereotypical damsel in distress, Meyer makes it clear that she is far more than that.

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87 A Monster Calls

amonstercallsby Patrick Ness, 2011

First, let me just say, do not read this book in public. I wish someone had given me that warning before I decided to read/listen to this during my Amtrak ride over Christmas, where I was failing miserably at not openly weeping as the story came to its close. Second, I will say that you will probably benefit from not knowing too much about the story going in, as I did not and I feel my ignorance made it just that much more affecting. Read reviews sparingly. Third, I scooped up the audio version as one of Audible’s Daily Deals and I honestly don’t know if I would have wept quite so much had I read it without the stellar performance of Jason Isaacs (aka Lucius Malfoy). I highly recommend it.

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86 The Couple Next Door

couplenextdoorby Shari Lapena, 2016

If someone handed me the manuscript for this book, I would have said, “This is a great first draft. Here are some criticisms to tighten it up and get rid of loose ends.” But, this isn’t a first draft. This is a fully published book, complete with loose ends, flimsy plot, and thoroughly ridiculous finale.

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85 The Wrath and the Dawn

wrathandthedawnby Renee Ahdieh, 2015

Let’s talk about abusive relationships. If someone threatens your safety or treats you poorly, it doesn’t matter what happened in their past. It doesn’t matter if they have an explanation for why they behave the way they do. It doesn’t matter if they, in fact, hate themselves for their behavior. It doesn’t even matter if you find you are attracted to them. You do not have an obligation to be with them.

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84 Tiny Beautiful Things

tinybeautifulthingsby Cheryl Strayed, 2012

I don’t know where to begin with this book. I suppose I should say that this book is a collection of advice columns that Cheryl Strayed wrote under the pseudonym “Sugar” for the website The Rumpus. I should also say that I did not follow that column while it was in its heyday, but I found about about it through Captain Awkward, whose advice site is compassionate and erudite and thoughtful and logical and every other fantastic thing you could expect from a writer, plus a community of commenters that add so much to every conversation. (You want to read the comments here.) I found out about Dear Sugar, and the book, through some of those comments. I should also say that reading this book while still dealing with hurt feelings from a breakup was hard and raw and necessary. And I will say that “hard” and “raw” and “necessary” are words that describe this book perfectly.

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83 Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights?

atwq4by Lemony Snicket, 2015

“Why are the snacks so terrible?” “Why are we stopping?” “What’s the rest of the story?” These are the questions that start the final installment of the All the Wrong Questions series and that last one is the one I’m still asking. What’s the rest of the story indeed, Snicket???

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82 The Sun Is Also a Star

sunisalsoastarby Nicola Yoon, 2016

I’ve long said that it doesn’t matter what a book is about – if it’s written well, I’ll love it. Nicola Yoon proves just that within the pages of a one-day teenage romance. With a plot that I’m typically inclined to hate, she offers astute commentary on immigration, interracial relationships, nationality, and what it means to be an American. Oh, and she flips gender stereotypes on their heads. (Hooray for not all girls being helpless romantics!) I adore Yoon for showing what great work can be done inside this usually fluffy genre.

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