5) Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle Keeley and his classmates are in a race against time—and each other—as they play games and solve riddles to escape from the newly built, state-of-the-art town library. This book is full of great book references, quick wits, and good old fashioned fun.
4) The Sword of Summer, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1 by Rick Riordan
This is a return to a more Percy Jackson style for Rick Riordan. His cast of characters meshes well together, and it even features a deaf elf who uses sign language to communicate. I listened to this one on audio, so it gets bonus points for not having to pronounce all those Nordic names! The hero, Magnus, thinks fast and has a smart mouth, and his Valkyrie friend, Samirah, wears the world’s most awesome hijab. Also, keep your eyes open for Annabeth. Magnus doesn’t have the last name Chase for nothing!
3) A Snicker of Magic/The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd
While these are two distinct stories, I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I lumped them together. In these magical realism tales, the towns are like characters in and of themselves. With magical ice cream in one and magical hot chocolate in the other, the sweet and poignant stories will have you flipping the pages like crazy. Also, I can neither confirm nor deny that tears were shed. On both stories. More than once. *Ahem*
2) Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (Not YA)
This is definitely not a kid’s book. But Jenny Lawson speaks frankly—and hilariously—about her experiences with mental illness. While I laughed until I cried at many of her stories (Seriously. So many!), her struggle to keep to her normal-within-abnormal really resonated with me. I have struggled with depression and anxiety, and I know how lonely and hopeless it can make someone feel. Plus, it was nice to read about someone who is more screwed up than I am. It keeps things in perspective.
1) An Ember in the Ashes/A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
This is the best series I’ve read in a very long time. Both books are utterly gripping. There are depictions of graphic violence, and there are references to rape, though we never see it “on screen,” so buyer beware on that. But Laia, Elias, and Helene are wonderfully real characters, and I find myself wondering about what happens to them even when I’m not reading the book. If a story sticks with me for days, or months, after I read it, then it’s got to be worth something. In this case, it’s worth my top spot. I can’t wait for the next one!
Don’t forget to check out SuddenButInevitable and Bronto Incognito’s lists, too!