If you're like me, you're constantly struggling to decide what book to read next, because there are so many great choices out there, with new amazing books being published every week.
I used to work in a bookstore for 3 years and was constantly surrounded by amazing reading material that I just wanted to recommend to anyone and everyone who would listen to me. So here is my moment to do that.
I put together a list of some of my favorite go-to recommendations, and some new ones I am excited about in 2019, each celebrating girl power in all of its glory. I love books that encourage young readers, especially girls, to get involved, not be afraid to speak up, rebel, and persist in these evolving times.
These are a few amazing young adult novels that empower me, and I hope they will do the same for you.
1. "The Belles" by Dhonielle Clayton
In this masterful work of fantasy and intrigue, the main character Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, living in a city called Orléans. Here, Belles are groomed to be commodities and they control beauty, helping average people who are born gray to become beautiful. Camellia seeks to be the favorite Belle, who is chosen by the Queen to live at the royal palace as the most talented Belle in the land. But there is a dark side Cam soon uncovers. She is forced to decide which side she wants to be on, in this spell-binding romp of a fantasy story that delves deep into beauty ideals and societal pressures put on females.
2. "Girls of Paper and Fire" by Natasha Ngan
One of 2018's most anticipated release of the year, this LGBTQ+ novel features a diverse cast of characters, and a strong and cunning heroine determined to resist her oppressors. The main character Lei comes from the lowest caste in her society, the Paper Caste. She along with 8 other girls are picked to serve the King of Ikhara as his courtesans, and they are known as the "Paper Girls." But things are not as they seem to the public eye, and Lei soon finds out she has the power to fight back and demand her freedom as well as her right to true love on her terms. This adrenaline ride of a novel will not disappoint, as you will find it very hard to put this empowering book down.
3. "Sky in the Deep" by Adrienne Young
If you love the attitude of Wonder Woman and the television show "Vikings" this is the book for you! Eelyn was raised to be a warrior, and knows how to fight to survive. When a village she is staying in is raided by an enemy clan, she becomes desperate to protect her family at all costs. Eelyn is faced with having to trust and put her faith in someone else's hands, all while fighting for her family and for her neighbors. This book is packed with a vivid narration, along with a strong-willed main character fighting for her family., that makes this 2018 release impossible to forget.
4. "Furyborn" by Claire Legrand
This stunning 2018 fantasy story, the first in a trilogy, follows two fiercely independent women, Rielle and Eliana. These two women are centuries apart, yet hold the power to either save or destroy the world in their hands. They both are called to fight in a cosmic war, a thousand years apart. We follow Eliana as she joins a rebel captain to find her mother, and we follow Rielle as she has to endure elemental trials to prove her true power. Their stories intersect in a beautiful way, showcasing the power of female friendships. I am already anticipating the sequel, "Kingsbane" that will be released later this May. This is a trilogy you do not want to miss.
5. "Moxie" by Jennifer Mathieu
This next recommendation is very special to me, as I got the pleasure of meeting this brilliant author, Jennifer Mathieu, when I used to work at a bookstore. I met her on her 2017 release day of this book when she came in to our store to sign all the copies we had. She was so sweet and kind, and I truly feel like her writing is always fun and creative. "Moxie" is full of spunky characters and female empowerment. Vivian the main character uses her voice to create change in her Texas high school, as she speaks up about the sexist dress codes and harassment that goes unpunished everyday. Vivian is a true inspiration to so many women readers, young and old, and I am so glad someone is writing about these important issues still in our culture today. I highly recommend "Moxie" to anyone looking for a creative, fun, and inspiring read.
6. "The Nowhere Girls" by Amy Reed
Here is another book about young women creating social change and making waves in their high school. Three misfit girls band together to avenge the rape of a classmate of theirs. There's something so inspiring about reading a story featuring young people using their voice in a way that creates change. Stories like this one influence others to do the same. This is a story that teaches that you should never underestimate the power of a passionate voice and that we are stronger in numbers. There is never a limit to what people can do, when they care enough to speak up.
7. "Alanna: The First Adventure" by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce is a legendary influence of creating strong female characters and addicting fantasy series for decades. So it is no surprise I felt inclined to include this beloved classic medieval story. This is the first book in the four book Song of the Lioness series, set in a land where all girls are forbidden to become knights. The main character Alanna of Trebond sets out to become a knight, disguising herself as a boy named Alan and risking her life for her dream. Tamora Pierce is an author I highly recommend, and "Alanna" is the perfect book to start with.
8. "Sawkill Girls" by Claire Legrand
"Sawkill Girls" is another story about the power of friendship and young women banding together, mixed with magical realism that makes this a book you don't want to miss. Marion, Zoey, and Val are all quite different, yet their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock. Here at Sawkill, mysterious things have been happening for centuries, and girls have been known to disappear by the hands of an unknown evil. No one has tried to defeat this evil, until now...
9. "Seafire" by Natalie C. Parker
A vengeful young woman sets out to defeat the enemies who killed her family. And also, she's the Captain of an all female pirate ship. What more do you need to know? In all seriousness, this is an action-packed adventure story with females at the helm this time. (no pun intended) Caledonia Styx is the captain of her own ship with a crew of women and girls who lost their families just like Caledonia did, because of a vicious and bloodthirsty army of men. Now it is their turn to fight back against Aric Athair and his army, and these ladies will not go down without a fight, as they charter the bracing waves and avenge their families.
10. "Only Ever Yours" by Louise O'Neill
In the vein of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," this dystopian novel packs a punch. Louise O'Neill creates a nightmare world in her novel where women are bred in schools, and there they are taught the arts of pleasing men with the hopes of one day graduating and becoming "companions." A companion's soul purpose is to live to please her husband and to give birth to as many sons as she can, until she is no longer useful. She essentially becomes a "plaything." The girls who don't graduate to become companions suffer the worst fate as concubines, with no hope for their future without a husband. This novel follows two best friends as they both are in school to be picked as companions, yet are forced to compete against each other for a husband. Their friendship gets tested and strained throughout the novel, as they both are fighting for the companion role they believe they "need" to survive, but not one they "want."
11. "Once and Future" by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta
This book is an honorable mention, as it comes out on March 28, 2019, and is on the top of my list for books to buy next. This is a feminine King Arthur retelling, with the King Arthur character being a young woman named Ari Helix. How cool is that? This book takes many aspects from the original King Arthur tale such as the sacred sword Excalibur and the wise wizard Merlin, and blends them with new aspects such as a tyrannical government and oppressive corporation. Also, Merlin is a teenager in this novel because he has aged backwards. Well as an Arthurian legend nerd, I am beyond ready to see how this female retelling is fleshed out by two up and coming female authors.
12. "Sherwood" by Meagan Spooner
Another honorable mention and new 2019 Spring release I am anticipating, is "Sherwood" by Meagan Spooner. This is a feminist Robin Hood retelling. Yes, you read that right. I am living for all of these retellings that are hitting the shelves this year. This novel follows Marian who was betrothed to marry Robin of Locksley. But, after Robin dies, Marian is struggling to find her voice and to save the people of Locksley. She is told she has to marry someone else, and to sit and watch as her people sufffer, with nothing she can do. Well, all of that changes as she puts on Robin's green cloak and his sword and bow, and becomes a masked figure of hope and justice to the people of her land. Her people need a savior to help them out of their oppression, and Marian may just be the right girl for the job.