Leah Rodriguez’s March 2017 TBR: Leigh Bardugo, Angie Thomas, and More

leah rodriguez march 2017 tbr jennifer niven all the bright placesPaperback Paris

My YA craze is back and won’t go away until I’ve read all the books I missed out on. It’s been a hectic few weeks here, but I’ve managed to set up a productive reading schedule after starting my new job, even though I am in danger of becoming a hermit for the rest of my life. Alas, it’s a wonderful way to go out; crazy cat lady life, here I come! YA books are perfect for fast-paced reading, so I’m barreling through the stacks of books lying around my house for my March 2017 TBR. Not quite so leaning Tower of Pisa anymore.

Is it just me, or have a ton of great books been published lately? I know I’m definitely late to the game having only just now gotten around to reading Leigh Bardugo‘s Grisha trilogy, but I’m halfway through the first book, and I’m loving it. There has been a lot of chat about Angie Thomas‘s new book The Hate U Give, which concerns the growing Black Lives Matter movement. I’m thrilled to get to review it for you along with the rest of the buzzworthy  YA novels I’ve chosen for this month.

Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo

leah rodriguez march 2017 tbr
Henry Holt and Company / Alanah Torralba

Synopsis: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

Thoughts: I am LOVING this book. I’ve never been too keen on fantasy series, but Bardugo’s writing, character development, and plot pacing are stunning. I guess some writers just have an intuitive sense of what works when it comes to world building. Several people have told me that the rest of the series does not disappoint, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Alina and Mal.

Caraval, Stephanie Garber

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Flatiron Books / Protege Production Co.

Synopsis: Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s 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 becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Thoughts: So many book bloggers and YA reading circles have been raving about Stephanie Garber’s new novel, and I couldn’t resist the temptation of potentially finding something new to love. Novels that involve circuses or carnival life tend to appeal to me, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the hype is about.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

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Balzer + Bray/ Joe Ellis for The Clarion-Ledger

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gang banger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

Thoughts: When I heard this book was coming out, I had no doubt that it was going to be embraced by young readers. Surely enough, it holds an average 4.73 star rating on Goodreads, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. So many people have been yearning for pieces of art or social commentary that will help them make sense of the senseless; Angie Thomas must offer some semblance of this in her debut novel.

All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven

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Knopf/ Simon & Schuster

Synopsis: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Thoughts: The synopsis had me at “Eleanor and Park meets The Fault in Our Stars.” If it lives up to that high standard, than the YA world has a new classic on its hands. Also, one of our other writers included this novel on a list of books that best deal with mental illness, and I was interested in exploring the recommendations.

Tell Me Three Things, Julie Buxbaum

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Delacorte Press / Julie Buxbaum

Synopsis: Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her step monster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Thoughts: So I love any books that involve the main character going to prep school and learning how to deal with things. Pretty much everything about the book’s description and what I’ve heard from others make it sound like a great read.

Stranger Things Happen, Kelly D. Link

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Small Beer Press / Kelly Link

Synopsis: The eleven stories in Kelly Link‘s debut collection are funny, spooky, and smart. They all have happy endings. They were all especially written for you. A Best of the Year pick from Salon.com, Locus, The Village Voice, and San Francisco Chronicle. Includes Nebula, World Fantasy, and Tiptree award-winning stories.Goodreads

Thoughts: This is my one and only non-YA book this month. Short stories are my favorite pieces of fiction. Junot Diaz, Lorrie Moore, and Raymond Carver are some of my favorites, and I’ve heard that Kelly Link deserves to be among those recognized for their incisive, witty, and perfectly crafted stories. I have no doubt that she’ll be one of my favorite writers once I finish this collection.

Have you read any of the books on this list?!

Tell us which books you’re most looking forward to reading in the comments below!
Be sure to keep up with the Paperback Paris Team’s monthly TBRs!

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Leah Rodriguez
the authorLeah Rodriguez
Contributing Writer

Reader. Writer. Cat enthusiast.
Trying to put that BA in English to good use.