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Gender Queer: A Memoir By Maia Kobabe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781549304002
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Oni Press - May 28th, 2019

Dez's July 2023 pick (1 of 2)

"Some people are born in mountains while others are born by the sea. Some people are happy to live in the place they were born, while others must make a journey to reach the climate in which they can flourish and grow!"

Maia's autobiography (Gender Queer) is eir journey of self-identity, which includes the confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, dealing with gender dysmorphia, finding your group of people, and being out and open of who you are. The book started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual but, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

"I don't want to be a girl. I don't want to be a boy either. I just want to be myself."

I probably wouldn't have read this book if it wasn’t required by my Freshman Seminar class. But I'm so glad I did, and I can’t thank that teacher enough. Autobiographies aren’t usually my jam, but this book was phenomenal. As a queer gender-fluid person, I have never felt this side of me be so represented in a book. I felt like I wasn’t alone, that it wasn’t just me with these struggles. This book showed that it is okay to question and not know the answer. After I finished this book, I immediately bought the book and gifted it to another person, who I felt would need it. This book is a brilliant and raw exploration of identity and self. With a much-needed voice and perspective in the area of gender expression and discussion.

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Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1) By Rebecca Yarros Cover Image
ISBN: 9781649374042
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Entangled: Red Tower Books - May 2nd, 2023

Dez's July 2023 pick (2 of 2)

I've been excited by the rise of new adult fantasy romances sweeping bookshelves and this book is taking the reading world by storm.

If you’re a fan of brutal war games, smart-talking dragons, tension and unstoppable women with knives, Fourth Wing is the book for you. Please read it, I can’t recommend it enough and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Violet Sorrengail was supposed to join the Scribe Quadrant. Instead, her mother, General Sorrengail of the Navarre army, forces her to join the Riders Quadrant. With more candidates than there are dragons to ride, Violet needs to keep her wits about her. As the competition intensifies, and the selection process becomes increasingly more brutal, only one thing is certain: in the Basgiath War College, you either graduate…or die.

Dear Rebecca Yarros: You have broken my heart completely, but you have also healed it in less than 500 pages. I needed this book more than I could have ever thought. Violet, like Rebecca Yarros herself, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: a degenerative condition which affects connective tissues in the human body. Underestimated by everyone she encounters, including her own mother and supposed best friend, Violet proves time and time again that she’s not to be messed with—that she has what it takes to survive. Violet didn't have to become physically the strongest person in the Riders Quadrant to thrive, and following her as she figured out how her own gifts could help her survive was as inspiring as it was exciting. Though I do not have EDS, I am disabled/live with chronic pain and I see myself in Violet. I can see myself in her when she pushes through the pain, when she keeps fighting even though everything is against her, and when she knows she must get stronger to even be on the same level as everyone else. She has to learn the hard way who is really going to help her fly or who will allow her to wither and die. The disability representation in this book was just the icing on the cake, in making this my all-time favorite book. With dragons, tension, enemies to lovers, fantasy, magical elements, LGBTQ+ characters, academic setting, and beautiful world building, this book somehow pulled me out of a reading slump while simultaneously putting me right back in.

The sequel is scheduled to be released on November 7th, and honestly, it can’t come fast enough.

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Pucking Around: A Why Choose Hockey Romance By Emily Rath Cover Image
ISBN: 9798987793367
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Emily Rath Books - April 24th, 2023

Dez's May 2023 pick

Pucking Around is the perfect start to the Jacksonville Ray Series. This book follows Rachel Price in a new job as the physical therapist for the new NHL expansion team, the Jacksonville Rays. Her life is turned upside down with a series of unexpected events that occurred within the first 48 hours with the new team. A very memorable meeting with Caleb, Rachel’s new team equipment manager, at the airport. Then her past comes back to haunt her, with a reunion with Jake, her one-night stand in Seattle (read prequel That One Night). Bring in the stubborn and injured team goalie, Ilmari, she is in over her head with these hockey hunks. Realizing she can’t be with any of them because she is the team's doctor, is difficult. Yet their connection is still explosive and there is really no fighting it.

I have not fallen for a book this hard or this fast in years. Emily Rath has outdone herself again. I am a sucker for Why Choose books and this Why Choose Hockey Romance is now one of my all-time favorites. The writing was stunning. The relationships felt organic. And the characters kept me coming back for more every time I had to put it down. The poly, bi, and queer representation was excellent, as was the communication and respect between characters. One of the things that I appreciated most is that in true polyamory fashion, two of the guys have their own love story transpiring during Pucking Around, that is part of the greater relationship. The way that Emily Rath navigates the growth of the greater relationship, and its components only serves to enrich it and make Pucking Around more interesting.

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Broken Bonds By J. Bree Cover Image
By J. Bree
Likely available, but must be ordered by email/phone
ISBN: 9798746932150
Published: Independently Published - June 30th, 2021

Broken Bonds is such a fresh and engaging take on the fated mates concept. The book has a little bit of magic, a lot of danger and suspense, love-hate chemistry, a group of protective alpha men, a central mystery that kept me on my toes, and a heroine that I have fallen in love with. Oli was on the run for years after her parents died in an accident until she was caught and brought back to her bonds (her fated mates). Her bonds hate her for leaving and assume she is gift-less all while Oli hides her gifts to protect them. She must navigate her new surroundings and new relationships, all while running from her past, in hopes of it never catching up.

"That might be your truth, but it's not mine."

This line right here embraces the entire theme of Broken Bonds. Everyone has their truth, their opinion, and reason for doing things, but it doesn't make it everyone's truth. This book and the whole series has amazing world building and so much character development for Oli and all her bonded! Each book had such a good cliffhanger that kept me going back for more! I absolutely loved getting to see each of Oli’s relationships develop and learning about the guys' pasts! J Bree is such a fantastic world builder- she has such a keen ability to create an entire ecosystem of interesting characters, unique circumstances, and dramatic dynamics that draw you in. Her writing tied me up in knots, gave me all the feels, and left me craving more.

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The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) By Holly Black Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316310314
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - December 4th, 2018

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered, and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. When first arriving in Faerie she is naive but as time passes she realizes how cruel the world she lives in, really is. 10 years later she still is an outcast human, living in the world of the fey. To gain a place amongst them she must face the politics of the fey leaders, her adoptive father General Madoc, and her bully Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. With a possible civil war threatening to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and even Faerie itself.

This Young Adult book stole my heart from the very first chapter. Holly Black is a master of world building. She created this detailed beautiful but dangerous world. Each character is masterfully written and incredibly in depth. She manages to stealthily turn this beautiful world upside down from right under our noses and even the characters' noses, leaving everyone in suspense. The Cruel Prince has everything, from strong female protagonists, enemies to lovers, plot twists, politics, spies, backstabbing, and betrayals. This would be a perfect read for someone looking for YA Fantasy with a little romantic twist thrown in. 

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Caraval By Stephanie Garber Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250095268
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - May 1st, 2018

Scarlett has always dreamed of traveling from her tiny island to see the Caraval, a magical, far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show. When her father announces that she is to be married off, she believes that dream is over. But her long-dream of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor and her sister, Tella, she is whisked away to the show. As soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind, Legend. It turns out that this Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless ends up participating in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in this game. Whether Caraval is real or not, she must find her sister before the five nights of the game are over and her sister disappears forever.

Caraval is another must read for Young Adult enthusiasts. I read this book so incredibly fast! This book, along with the whole series, has beautiful writing, plot line, and characters. This book captures your heart and throws it into the game alongside the characters. Between the twists, turns, betrayal and plot twists, this magical world draws you into the twisted reality of the Caraval Game. This book will leave you not knowing up from down, left from right, and who is friend and who is foe.

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Gild By Raven Kennedy Cover Image
ISBN: 9798691989070
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Independently Published - October 1st, 2020

Gild is a beautiful reimagining of King Midas and his golden touch. This book is an age-old tale, one ripe with emotional complexity and psychological extremes. This story takes place in a realm called Orea, where there are six kingdoms, and King Midas rules over the sixth kingdom, Highbell. In his Golden Castle is the caged woman, Auren. She is Midas’s favored, his prized possession, his ring to rule all rings, his pet… you get the picture. Auren is a woman learning to step out of her situation and see a truth she doesn’t want to face. Abused, manipulated, and trained with conditional safety, she is an example of what we fear, what we know, and how the potential for growth and freedom tempts us all. With King Midas coming up with a plan to take over the fourth kingdom, the most powerful of them all, Auren must face her fears and become something greater than what she is.

The hardest part of this book is what makes this a story worthy of telling, and something that is far too relatable to most. Manipulation, wanting love, adoration, greed, desire…. it's a condensed snapshot of the human condition, and it just plain hurts. Just a quick PSA, this book is not a story for everyone, and the trigger warnings need to be heeded. Emotional scars are deep within the main character(s), and Raven Kennedy is the kind of author that can make those scars sing – and for certain readers, that’s a warning to stay away. That said, Gild is an amazing read full of depth and potential with characters you can’t help but fall in love with and cheer for. 

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House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) By Sarah J. Maas Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635577020
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - March 2nd, 2021

The book follows Bryce Quinlan, a half fey living the life of a party girl by night, and hard worker by day. Everything is perfect, until the leader of the rebels in the city gets released and in one night her life is turned upside down. She now is seemingly all alone in her journey. Fast forward two years, the city rebels have shut the Hel up, but people are, again, dying in precisely the same gruesome way. Could it be that the rebels were not responsible for what happened two years ago? Thankfully, that’s exactly what Bryce and the help of Hunt Athalar, an enslaved rebel angel, are assigned to find out. And you bet your arse nothing is as it seems.

This book is so amazing there is no need to look it up, no need to look at the inside cover or reviews. Trust me on this one. This book pulled me in and kept me hooked. With some of the most heartbreaking discoveries it only takes a few pages to get attached and fall in love with these characters. With a more mature storytelling House of Earth and Blood sets itself apart from Sarah J. Maas’s earlier works, bringing in a detailed urban/high fantasy and noir atmosphere of mystery, drugs, sex, war, and epicness all in one book. With a refreshing twist on the Chosen One trope while exploring the power of sacrifice and unflinching trust in love. This book needs to be on your TBR (to be read) immediately.

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Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) By Sarah J. Maas Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639731077
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - February 14th, 2023

Kingdom of Ash is the heartbreaking end to the Throne of Glass series. Aelin has been captured by the Queen of the Fae and is being held captive. For Aelin there is no yielding to Maeve to stop the torture because yielding will doom those she loves. With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. But as war looms on the horizon, they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final book of the Throne of Glass series.

This book will leave you speechless. I will not be able to properly express this book and even this series. Your heart and life will forever be changed. This book and this series are a must read for anyone remotely interested in fae, fantasy, romance, and/or magic. With a strong female protagonist and amazing characters, this book will leave you wanting another 10 books in the series.

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Heroes of Olympus, The, Book Four: House of Hades, The-Heroes of Olympus, The, Book Four (The Heroes of Olympus #4) By Rick Riordan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781423146728
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Disney Hyperion - October 8th, 2013

At the end of Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy have tumbled into the depths of Tartarus, with one final thing to say to their 5 companions, “Meet them at the mortal side of the Doors of Death.”. If they can fight their way through Gaea's forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven of them will be able to seal the Doors on both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. There is a catch though there is a possibility of Percy and Annabeth being stuck in Tartarus when they shut the doors. But they have no choice. If the demigods don't succeed, Gaea's armies will never die. On top of that they have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

I will forever be a fan of Rick Riordan. All the Percy Jackson Books hold a special place in my heart. BUT THIS BOOK, this book broke me (In a very good way). With Annabeth and Percy in Tartarus you follow them in their heart wrenching journey to hopefully reunite with their friends. They have faced so many hardships at their young age and this is just another bump in these Demigods paths. This book has everything you need for a perfect book. Adventure, Check! Friendship, Check! Little bit of romance, Check! Action, Check! And characters you're too attached to, Check!