Belle’s Favorite Books That You Need

Happy New Years from the Central Standard Time Zone!

It’s crazy how fast 2021 had gone and all that happened within it. It feels like just yesterday I had started high school, and now I’m wrapping up my first semester of college. Looking back on it all, I’m happy to have made it through another year, and to celebrate, I’m bringing you a book recommendations post with some of my all time favorite books.

I’ve got backlisted titles, 2021 and 2022 releases, and more. I hope that, if something on this list is to capture your eye, you do consider picking up a copy so that we may start the new year off right by supporting our lovely authors.
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44280883All Boys Aren’t Blue

by George M. Johnson
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released on April 28th, 2020
Young Adult Non-Fiction—Memoir

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In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores their childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting their teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with their loving grandmother, to their first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

NOTE: I have edited the synopsis to acclimate the author’s pronouns, as the publisher has not yet done so.


44280883As She Fades

by Abbi Glines
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Released on April 3rd, 2018
New Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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On the night of her high school graduation, Vale McKinley and her boyfriend Crawford are in a terrible car accident that leaves Crawford in a coma. They were supposed to spend the summer planning for college, for a bright future full of possibility. Together. Instead, Vale spends long days in the hospital, hoping Crawford will awaken.

Slate Allen, a college friend of Vale’s brother, has been visiting his dying uncle at the same hospital. When he and Vale meet, she can’t deny the flutter of an illicit attraction. She tries to ignore her feelings, but she’s not immune to Slate’s charm. Slowly, they form a cautious friendship.

Then, Crawford wakes up . . . with no memory of Vale or their relationship. Heartbroken, Vale opts to leave for college and move on with her life. Except now, she’s in Slate’s territory, and their story is about to take a very strange turn.


44280883Bookish and the Beast

by Ashley Poston
Published by Quirk Books
Released on August 4th, 2020
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance, Retellings > Beauty and the Beast

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In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe.

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.


DELETEDeep in Providence

by Riss M. Neilson
Published by Henry Holt
Releasing on May 31st, 2022
Young Adult Fiction—Urban Fantasy

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For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches over the city, every corner of Providence glows with memories of them practicing spells, mixing up potions and doing séances with the help of the magic Miliani’s Filipino grandfather taught her.

But when Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver, the world they have always known is left haunted by grief…and Jasmine’s lingering spirit. Determined to bring her back, the surviving friends band together, testing the limits of their magic and everything they know about life, death, and each other.

And as their plan to resurrect Jasmine grows darker and more demanding than they imagined, their separate lives begin to splinter the bonds they depend on, revealing buried secrets that threaten the people they care about most. Miliani, Inez and Natalie will have to rely on more than just their mystical abilities to find the light.


44280883Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From

by Jennifer De Leon
Published by Atheneum
Released on August 18th, 2020
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary

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First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.

Fifteen-year-old Liliana is fine, thank you very much. It’s fine that her best friend, Jade, is all caught up in her new boyfriend lately. It’s fine that her inner-city high school is disorganized and underfunded. It’s fine that her father took off again—okay, maybe that isn’t fine, but what is Liliana supposed to do? She’s fifteen! Being left with her increasingly crazy mom? Fine. Her heathen little brothers? Fine, fine, fine. But it turns out Dad did leave one thing behind besides her crazy family. Before he left, he signed Liliana up for a school desegregation program called METCO. And she’s been accepted.

Being accepted into METCO, however, isn’t the same as being accepted at her new school. In her old school, Liliana—half-Guatemalan and half-Salvadorian—was part of the majority where almost everyone was a person of color. But now at Westburg, where almost everyone is white, the struggles of being a minority are unavoidable. It becomes clear that the only way to survive is to lighten up—whiten up. And if Dad signed her up for this program, he wouldn’t have just wanted Liliana to survive, he would have wanted her to thrive. So what if Liliana is now going by Lili? So what if she’s acting like she thinks she’s better than her old friends? It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.

But then she discovers the gutting truth about her father: He’s not on one of his side trips. And it isn’t that he doesn’t want to come home…he can’t. He’s undocumented and he’s been deported back to Guatemala. Soon, nothing is fine, and Lili has to make a choice: She’s done trying to make her white classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. Done changing who she is, denying her culture and where she came from. They want to know where she’s from, what she’s about? Liliana is ready to tell them.


DELETEDon’t Read the Comments

by Eric Smith
Published by Inkyard Press
Released on January 28th, 2020
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.


44280883I Killed Zoe Spanos

by Kit Frick
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released on June 30th, 2020
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller

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This gripping thriller follows two teens whose lives become inextricably linked when one confesses to murder and the other becomes determined to uncover the real truth no matter the cost.

What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?


44280883In the Key of Nira Ghani

by Natasha Deen
Published by Running Press Kids
Released on April 9th, 2019
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary

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Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.

As if fighting with her parents weren’t bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie “Mac,” take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira’s much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily’s attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira’s trusted trumpet “George” remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn’t until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she’s not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.

A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.


JYLBDJust Your Local Bisexual Disaster

by Andrea Mosqueda
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Releasing on May 24th, 2022
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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In this voice-driven young adult debut by Andrea Mosqueda, Maggie Gonzalez needs a date to her sister’s quinceañera – and fast.

Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Maggie Gonzalez has always been a little messy, but she’s okay with that. After all, she has a great family, a goofy group of friends, a rocky romantic history, and dreams of being a music photographer. Tasked with picking an escort for her little sister’s quinceañera, Maggie has to face the truth: that her feelings about her friends—and her future—aren’t as simple as she’d once believed.

As Maggie’s search for the perfect escort continues, she’s forced to confront new (and old) feelings for three of her friends: Amanda, her best friend and first-ever crush; Matthew, her ex-boyfriend twice-over who refuses to stop flirting with her, and Dani, the new girl who has romantic baggage of her own. On top of this romantic disaster, she can’t stop thinking about the uncertainty of her own plans for the future and what that means for the people she loves.

As the weeks wind down and the boundaries between friendship and love become hazy, Maggie finds herself more and more confused with each photo. When her tried-and-true medium causes more chaos than calm, Maggie needs to figure out how to avoid certain disaster—or be brave enough to dive right into it.


DELETEPerfect on Paper

by Sophie Gonzales
Published by Wednesday Books
Released on March 9th, 2021
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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In Perfect on Paper: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back.

Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.

Darcy Phillips:
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.

However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.

Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.

Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?


44280883Tell Me How You Really Feel

by Aminah Mae Safi
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Released on June 11th, 2019
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.


44280883The Awakening of Malcolm X

by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released on January 5th, 2021
Young Adult Fiction—Historical

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The Awakening of Malcolm X is a powerful narrative account of the activist’s adolescent years in jail, written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz along with 2019 Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe award-winning author, Tiffany D. Jackson.

No one can be at peace until he has his freedom.

In Charlestown Prison, Malcolm Little struggles with the weight of his past. Plagued by nightmares, Malcolm drifts through days unsure of his future. Slowly, he befriends other prisoners and writes to his family. He reads all the books in the prison library, joins the debate team and the Nation of Islam. Malcolm grapples with race, politics, religion, and justice in the 1940s. And as his time in jail comes to an end, he begins to awaken — emerging from prison more than just Malcolm Little: Now, he is Malcolm X.

Here is an intimate look at Malcolm X’s young adult years. While this book chronologically follows X: A Novel, it can be read as a stand-alone historical novel that invites larger discussions on black power, prison reform, and civil rights.


DELETEThe Last Wish of Sasha Cade

by Cheyanne Young
Published by KCP Loft
Released on October 2nd, 2018
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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The day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world — the best friend in the whole world — has died of cancer. Raquel can’t imagine life without her. She’s overwhelmed and brokenhearted.

And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from the afterlife?

In fact, Sasha has planned an elaborate scavenger hunt for Raquel, and when she follows the instructions to return to Sasha’s grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There’s a secret attached to this boy that only Sasha—and now Raquel—knows.

This boy, Elijah, might be just what Raquel needs to move on from her terrible loss. But can Raquel remain true to herself while also honoring her friend’s final wish?


DELETEThe Mirror Season

by Anna Marie-McLemore
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Released on March 16th, 2021
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Urban Fantasy, Retellings

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When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season

Graciela Cristales’s whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.


DELETEThe Obsession

by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Released on February 2nd, 2021
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller

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A classic sort of love story… except somebody might wind up dead.

Nobody knows Delilah like Logan does. Nobody. He makes sure of it by learning everything he can through her social media and watching her through a hidden camera he has trained on her house. Some might call him a stalker. Logan prefers to be called “romantic.”

But after Logan sees Delilah killing her abusive stepfather, he realizes there’s still more about her to discover. His sweet, perfect Delilah isn’t so perfect after all.

Delilah knows she should feel guilty, but all she feels is free. She’s so over the men in her life controlling her. Except Logan saw what she did, and he won’t let her forget it.

Delilah is done being the victim. And she refuses to be a character in Logan’s twisted fantasy. If Logan won’t let her go… she’ll make him.


44280883The Raging Ones

by Krista and Becca Ritchie
Published by Wednesday Books
Released on August 14th, 2018
Young Adult Fiction—Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.


44280883The Sandcastle Empire

by Kayla Olson
Published by Harper Teen
Released on June 6th, 2017
Young Adult Fiction—Sci-Fi > Dystopian

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When all hope is gone, how do you survive?

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves. But their solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.


44280883The Sky Blues

by Robbie Couch
Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released on April 6th, 2021
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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Sky’s small town turns absolutely claustrophobic when his secret promposal plans get leaked to the entire school in this witty, “earnest, heartfelt” (Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author), and ultimately hopeful debut novel for fans of What if it’s Us? and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Sky Baker may be openly gay, but in his small, insular town, making sure he was invisible has always been easier than being himself. Determined not to let anything ruin his senior year, Sky decides to make a splash at his high school’s annual beach bum party by asking his crush, Ali, to prom—and he has thirty days to do it.

What better way to start living loud and proud than by pulling off the gayest promposal Rock Ledge, Michigan, has ever seen?

Then, Sky’s plans are leaked by an anonymous hacker in a deeply homophobic e-blast that quickly goes viral. He’s fully prepared to drop out and skip town altogether—until his classmates give him a reason to fight back by turning his thirty-day promposal countdown into a school-wide hunt to expose the e-blast perpetrator.

But what happens at the end of the thirty days? Will Sky get to keep his hard-won visibility? Or will his small-town blues stop him from being his true self?


41NzbUX8v9LWeathering with You

by Makoto Shinkai
Published by Yen Press
Released on December 17th, 2019
Young Adult Fiction—Urban Fantasy, Romance

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Longing to escape his island home, a boy named Hodaka runs away during his first summer of high school to find a new life in Tokyo. As rain falls for days on end and Hodaka struggles to adjust, he meets a girl named Hina who holds a mysterious power: With a single prayer, she can part the clouds and bring back the sun. But her power comes at a price, and as the weather spirals further and further out of control, they must choose what future they truly want for themselves.

Written concurrently with production of the 2019 film Weathering With You, this novel comes straight from director Makoto Shinkai, the mind behind 2016’s hit your name.!


54618808._SY475_XOXO

by Axie Oh
Published by Harper Teen
Released on July 13th, 2021
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance

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Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.

Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.

When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

2 thoughts on “Belle’s Favorite Books That You Need

    1. Bookish & the Beast is definitely one of my favorite contemporaries, and the male MC is bisexual (which is something I can identify with 😅), so I highly suggest it! And yes, I’m so glad to hear you loved XOXO! That book was amazing. 🥰

      Like

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