So June may have passed but Goodreads has let me know that my list of June books to read has currently reached the beautiful quantity of 47 books — and that's only June. I may not be able to get through all of those this July so I decided it would be best to prioritize my favorite five before attempting to wade through the depths of the list. These are what I believe are June's unmissable Young Adult novels. As a disclaimer, most of them are heavy on the fantasy and historical fiction, so I apologize if that isn't your jam. And now, drumroll please…
1. My Plain JaneGiphy
After Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadow's delightful collaboration on My Lady Jane, it only seems reasonable that I join the ranks struggling to get their hands on their latest retelling. This time, it's a redo of the classical Jane Eyre and I am completely prepared for all the charm and intrigue of the original story (not to mention the swoon scenes between our favorite governess and a certain brooding employer), with that extra sprinkling of Sriracha and lemon pepper that these ladies infuse the classics with. The best part is you can be completely unfamiliar with the classic and not lose a whit of enjoyment in this retelling because it functions as a stand-alone.
2. A Reaper at the GatesGiphy
I have followed Elias and Laia from the gates of school to the doors of death and after sticking it out with them for two books, have absolutely no desire to see their lives left hanging in this third installment. Am I surprised that Sabaa Tahir chose to make this a tetralogy, rather than following the typical YA trilogy route? Yes, especially since this was originally supposed to be a one-shot but I'm sure Tahir has plenty of surprises in store with us. This series has some of the strongest characterization I've seen in YA-fiction for a while, and the Romanesque setting make it even more of a gem for readers who like some history mixed into their fantasy.
3. Smoke in the SunGiphy
The first book in this duology, Flame in the Mist, was highly anticipated mostly because it was advertised as a Mulan retelling set in Japan — what's not to love? I loved our samurai warrior girl, Mariko, in the first installment which left her in a rather sticky situation (cue the cruel author ploy known as a cliffhanger). Renee Ahdieh's writing is a must to read, not only because it is perfectly balanced with romance, intrigue, suspense and action but because the way she writes prose is so beautiful, I've actually shed tears reading it. Her tone and style are lyrical in a way that moves the story without ever feeling like you're having to force yourself through it.
4. Sweet Black WavesGiphy
Disclaimer: this book is centered around Celtic mythology and literature about which I am absolutely clueless. Really. I have no idea what's the deal with the mythological story of Tristan and Eseult, except for understanding that apparently Branwen was a somewhat significant side character in this folklore and that this is her story. But Goodreads has adequately convinced me that this is one of those books that needs to make my to-read list immediately because it is fantastical and romantic and apparently has exquisite worldbuilding (the key to writing good fantasy is to become a master worldbuilder). I'm also interested in getting a flavor of Celtic mythology, which is not my usual foray so let's see how this plays out.
5. Bring Me Their HeartsGiphy
Sara Wolf's new title screams YA-romance the way the Kung Fu Panda franchise is starting to scream money-grabbing piece of consumerism. The story of a girl who must actually go after a prince's heart to secure her own freedom — well, there's plenty of room there for literal and metaphorical entanglements. To get her own heart back from the witch she's forcibly bound to, our protagonist Zera must take the prince's heart, as long as he doesn't take hers first. It's hard to tell who's the cat and who's' the mouse but I have every hope that this story, at least, will live up to its luscious cover.