Fal's July 2023 pick
Wolfsong by T.J. Klune is a gorgeous, breathtaking read.
Ox, our narrator and main character is a beautiful voice to follow along--he struggles with self-worth and experiences the world differently than a majority of those around him. Abandoned by his father at twelve, he lives by the cruel words his father left him with, thinking them to be a last bit of advice. But when he meets Joe, a ten-year-old boy who just moved into this backwater town, this boy who crawls all over him upon their first meeting with shining eyes and an excited stream of chatter, who brings him back to meet his family, Ox’s life slowly starts change, and with it, so does his worldview, and over time, the words his father left him with, start to sting a bit less.
This book will have you running with the wolves, with descriptions so vivid, you feel the wind on your face. You hear their song as clear as day, you feel their immense love, their pain, their bond. This book makes your chest ache with longing, delight, sadness, and everything in between. Klune gives us found family and shows us in more ways than one, that blood doesn’t make a pack.
Fal's June 2022 pick
Game of Strength and Storm is a mesmerizing read filled with witty characters and fantastical creatures taking place in a world reminiscent of the myths.
The “Game” mirrors that of the twelve Herculean labors, and two girls face off against each other, each with a different burden on their shoulders. One fights for her father’s freedom, the other desires power. Bad blood runs between both competitors, and it doesn’t take long for the fight to turn ugly. They race to finish six impossible tasks—the one who completes the most labors first, will win her wish.
Toss in a slow-burn romance where the love interest is a complex but gentle soul who stands against his own family just to help the girl he loves. And while his sister may see his act as a betrayal, he just wants a happy ending where he can save his sister from herself and help repair the pain his family inflicted on his love years ago.
A fast-paced tale of hate and pain, love and forgiveness, this will be a novel readers won’t be able to put down.
Fal's April 2022 pick
Aiza is an Ornu living in the camps made for her people when the Empire took over their land. With the tattoo on her arm giving away her identity, she faces discrimination and crulety, and longs for a chance to prove herself to the Empire and earn her citizenship. The only way for her to do so, is to become a knight's squire and when the Empire comes knocking, she answers their call, hiding the fact she is of Ornu blood. She quickly makes friends and eagerly throws herself into training with hopes of not only earning her citizenship but also of becoming a hero. When she faces the risk of the frontlines, she finds aid in an unlikely source. But when Aiza's forced to reveal her identity, she realizes there's more at stake than she could have ever dreamed of, and she must figure out whether her dreams of citizenship and fame are worth more than the lives of her own people.
Squire is a fast-paced graphic novel that explores the meaning of identity and values while also delving into the world of war while using a prominent heroine readers won't soon forget.
Fal's March 2022 pick
Messy Roots follows Chinese immigrant Laura Gao as she struggles to figure out who she is. It's a wonderful coming-of-age tale about a girl trying to adjust to life in the States while simultaneously trying to keep true to her roots.
All her life, Laura has been told to blend in, keep her head down, and "fit in." As Laura grows however, she starts to find that no matter what she does, she'll never be "American enough," something that's hammered even more in when the pandemic hits the United States. So, she stops trying. She breaks free from the confroms of being born Chinese, moving halfway across the country to figure out her path without her family dictating her every move.
As she makes her way through college, Laura struggles with not being "American enough" while also not being "Chinese enough" as well as figuring out her sexual orintation. When she finally has an "answer," all her questions and fear morph into the form of a rabbit—a brilliant reference to the Chinese God, Tu'er Shen, who protects homosexual people, including Laura who identifies as queer.
All in all, this is a lovely tale about finding and being true to yourself even when you come from two different worlds.
Fal's January 2022 pick, 1 of 2
Garlic, the garlic, is always doubting herself and her place when she keeps making errors in her everyday life. Kind words from friends only do so much, when the words of those who belittle her are so much louder. When rumors of a terrifying vampire reach the ears of her and her peers, Garlic finds herself being the one to investigate. But where she expects to find a horrifying monster, she finds only another lonely soul who feels just as outcasted as she…
Witty and charming, this book shows in more ways than one to not be so quick at judging those one does not understand. It also portrays how it feels to be the underdog and showcases the anxiety and the insecurity one can feel when they feel as if they have no place in the world. However, it does make sure to give a fluffy conclusion, properly illustrating that there is a place for everyone, and will leave readers with a smile on their face.
Fal's January 2022 pick, 2 of 2
this is where it ends is a heartbreaking novel that revolves around a school shooting and the four characters who find their lives forever altered because of one boy’s actions. The narrative switches between these characters, and whether it’s by love, hate, or blood, they’re all connected to each other and to the shooter himself.
In an age where school shootings are becoming alarmingly common, this book does a fantastic job of showcasing the horror, the fear, and the devastation. More importantly, it shows just how fast one’s life can change and how there truly is no warning for the unimaginable.
There is no happy ending for this book, but there is a hopeful one. A brutal novel with a horrifying truth, it’s a beautiful read that will leave readers thinking about its contents for a long, long time.
Please note – this book is not for the faint-hearted, and the contents of this novel can be triggering to some.
Fal's December 2021 pick
If This Gets Out follows boy band members, Ruben and Zach, in their struggle to figure themselves and each other out as they explore same-sex love in the showbiz industry while dealing with teen angst and young love. Told from two different perspectives, the story illustrates the complex feelings of Ruben, who’s been fighting with management to let him publicly out of the closet for years, and Zach, who struggles with his newly discovered sexual orientation and the romance that blossoms between the two.
A coming-of-age LGBTQ+ romance that not only highlights the struggles of being queer in the music industry, but also delves into darker topics such as substance abuse and strained parental relationships, and the struggle of letting one’s voice be heard.
This book takes its audience through the ups and downs of being in love, with relatable and loveable characters that will have readers in stitches from tears and laughter alike and feeling just as triumphant as our characters when the tale comes to a close.
Fal's August 2021 pick, 1 of 2
Set in Kenyon’s vibrant world of Dark-Hunters, where gods create monsters of men to protect humanity from a cursed race of vampire-like beings, STYXX follows the story of the twin of the leader of the Dark-Hunters, showing how “a simple smile can hide profound pain.”
As a prince of Ancient Greece, Styxx should have lived the perfect life. But as one knows, when Gods of old get involved, twisting truth with lies and lies with truth, it’s the humans who suffer. Secluded in the castle with a mother who’s waiting to stab another knife in his back, a sister who scorns the very air he walks on, and a father who never wanted him, Styxx is haunted by memories of a lost twin and the love they shared. On top of everything else, Styxx is cursed with the ability to hear the thoughts of others, and as a result, he has never had a moment’s peace.
Until he meets her.
A blind fisher girl with secrets of her own, her thoughts are a complete mystery to him. She offers comfort and love, two things he has never truly known. In the nightmare of his life, she is the only thing to keep him sane.
But when tragedy strikes and Styxx finds himself facing an eternity without her, will their love be able to defy even the gods themselves?
TW: Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, Substance Abuse
Fal's August 2021 pick, 2 of 2
Snarky, slightly obnoxious thirteen-year-old Elliot Schafer’s world broadens when he’s brought to the borderlands, a world that borders his own yet is filled with fantastical creatures and magic. There, he befriends the lovely elf maiden, Serene-Heart-In-The-Chaos-Of-Battle, and the popular borderland native, Luke Sunborn. The three become an odd trio of friends, Elliot running his mouth to fight for them, and them fighting for Elliot when his mouth gets him in trouble.
Together, they attend the four-year institution meant to create warriors, except Elliot is a pacifist, refusing to touch a blade, using unorthodox ways to prove that fighting isn’t always the only way to win a war.
As Elliot grows from bratty thirteen-year-old to outspoken seventeen-year-old, secrets of his past are finally unearthed, and his jaded heart finds love in the place he least expects.
In Other Lands is a fantastic coming-of-age tale that turns gender on its head, explores teenage angst in all its dramatic glory, and shows that even the greatest friendship can overcome the greatest heartbreaks.
Fal's August 2021 pick
In The Ravenous Dark follows the story of Rovan Ballacra, who at the tender age of seven, was introduced to the horror of bloodmages and the spirits bound to them when she watched them murder her father. With the same power coursing through her veins, she does what she can to keep it hidden, and she manages to do so until she’s nineteen and watching her friend plummet to her death. In a desperate attempt to save her, Rovan reveals who and what she is, which lands her in the king’s service, forcibly bound to a spirit of her own.
From there, it becomes a battle for her to figure out a way to escape the king’s clutches, but her scheming only leads her to discover a secret even more vile than she could have ever thought, and it’s up to her to put an end to everything. Alongside her is the beautiful princess Lydea, the unfairly handsome spirit Ivrilos, and fellow bloodmage Japha who is the first to reach out their hand when Rovan’s world falls apart.
A YA pansexual romance with twists and turns at every corner, this will leave readers on the edge of their seat. A.M Strickland not only creates a stunning world to get lost in, she also creates a family of misfits to love.
Fal's December 2020 pick
What happens when a murderess decides she wants to be a queen? She sets off to the place to win the king’s heart of course! Tricia Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us is a witty tale that will surprise you when you least expect it with a memorable main character that will have you crying with laughter at her many antics. A charming YA romance between a villainous girl and her not-so-wicked Shadow King.