What to read if you are trying to fill the Euphoria void

I know we are all still reeling from Season 2’s finale of Euphoria and everyone wants more immediately. Here are some books that will give you the same feelings while we wait (hopefully not as long as last time) for a new season. Check out these titles!

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizinni:

Mental health and the struggles that teenagers face are big themes in Euphoria and Vizinni captures those things beautifully in this story following a suicidal teen into a mental hospital. Craig meets other patients including a transgender sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio as he works through the events that led him there. The author’s own experience in a psychiatric hospital elevates the story just as Sam Levinson’s own battle with addiction impacts the show.

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky:

Much like Euphoria’s narration from Rue, this book walks readers through the halls of high school through Charlie’s letters as he deals with the hilarity and devastation that can come with growing up – especially if you have trauma from when you were younger to work through. Exploring sex, drugs, and the search for the perfect song to feel infinite, this book is full of heart, even if it’s one that’s been cracked and bandaged back together a time or two.

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis:

This book follows Mickey, an injured high school softball player who gets hooked on painkillers, in a captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis. Much like Rue, Mickey alienates herself from friends and family along her journey to find a high from something other than the sport she can no longer play. If you want to read about the balance between addiction and hope, take a look at this book.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert:

If you love Rue and her relationship with Gia, and find yourself rooting for them to have a happy ending, you’ll fall in love with Birdie Randolph’s journey as she navigates love and changing family dynamics. Birdie strives to be the perfect daughter, but things shift when she falls in love with a boy with a troubled past at the same time her estranged aunt Carlene moves into her family’s apartment after spending time in and out of addiction treatment centers. As she gets closer to them, secrets are revealed, which turns everything she knows to be true upside down.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera:

Euphoria is known for taking viewers on an emotional roller coaster every episode much like this book confronting race, class, and sexuality during one charged summer in the Bronx. In the month’s after his father’s suicide, Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness again until he meets Thomas. As his relationship with Thomas grows stronger, tensions from his friends and girlfriend also rise. In order to escape the tension, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. This story takes you from laughing out loud to full-on sobs and back again so definitely be prepared with a box of tissues.

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver:

If you found yourself connecting to Jules, especially in her special episode where we delved into her story through her therapy session, you’ll love connecting with Ben De Backer as they find themselves. After coming out to their parents as nonbinary and being kicked out of the house, they find acceptance and the beginning of a new life while living with their estranged sister A growing relationship with the charismatic Nathan Allen who takes them under his wing, they finally start to enjoy the last half of senior year. Finding acceptance and young love are the themes of this poignant look at hope in the face of adversity.

Tweak and We All Fall Down by Nic Sheff:

Two books, both memoirs, follow Nic Sheff as he details his life from the first drug he takes to where he is today. Tweak gives a brutally honest account of his days as an addict and the emotional and physical toll he took on himself and his loved ones along the way. We All Fall Down focuses on his continued efforts to stay clean and gives an eye-opening account of rehab stays, relapses, and difficult realizations. Eventually inspiring the film A Beautiful Boy, these books provide a heart-wrenching story of addiction and hope without other storylines to distract from the reality of getting sober.

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins:

For those who loved the ensemble cast of high schoolers trying to find their own paths, you’ll love this story following four high school seniors as they strive towards their varying ideas of perfection. Whether that perfection is about looks, love, or the ability to live up to expectations, these characters have to decide what they are willing to give up in order to achieve their goals. Following their journeys and how they intersect feels very much like sitting down to watch a new episode or maybe sitting in the audience at Lexi’s play. While this book can stand on its own, if you love it, check out the first book in the Impulse series as well.

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Books some of my favorite Top Chef contestants should read while prepping their ingredients

I’ve been rewatching a lot of Top Chef lately in preparation for the new season to start soon, and I’ve been talking to a few of my fellow readers who are also avid TC fans about what books we’d recommend to some of our favorite chefs through the seasons. Maybe they can pop in some ear buds while they’re prepping ingredients and listen to an audiobook! Special thanks to my friend Isabelle for her invaluable contributions and geeking out about the show with me!

Richard Blais (seasons 4 and 8): Recursion by Blake Crouch because Richard is a mad scientist who is always willing to try new things, much like this neuroscientist in a fight to save the world.

Dale Talde (seasons 4 and 8): A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman because in Dale’s first season he was grumpy and hard to like, but when he came back for All Stars and to be a judge, he absolutely grew on me and was easy to love.

Michael (season 6) and Bryan (seasons 6 and 17) Voltaggio: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante because the book chronicles a competitive but supportive, entwined friendship. Plus, it is set in Italy!

Jen Carroll (seasons 6, 8 and 17): Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa because it features a female protagonist who has lived multiple lives – she’s a little prickly, but absolutely leaves an impression.

Beverly Kim (season 9): Heaven by Mieko Kawakami because the book has a nuanced take on bullying — Bev was treated very poorly by a lot of the other contestants during one of my least favorite seasons of the show.

Brooke Williamson (season 10 and 14): Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid because both have extremely strong California surfer vibes.

Stephanie Cmar (seasons 10, 11 and 17): Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell because Stephanie was so open and vulnerable about her grief over losing her brother and the book is an exploration of pain and catharsis.

Shirley Chung (seasons 11 and 14): The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan because a lot of Shirley’s journey in New Orleans was about connecting with her family roots.

Melissa King (seasons 12 and 17): A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki because it is by a Zen Buddist priest, and Melissa always has a very cool and confident exterior.

Carrie Baird (season 15): Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine because both Carrie and the author are warm, inventive and passionate about Colorado. Plus short stories seem like the fancy toast of the literary world!

Eric Adjepong (seasons 16 and 7): Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi because Eric spoke so passionately about representing food from the African diaspora, even naming his spot in restaurant wars Middle Passage, and the book follows the family legacy from two sisters in eighteenth century Ghana.

Dawn Burrell (season 18): In the Shadow of the Mountain by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado because it tells the story of a high-powered Silicon Valley executive who left that life to become a climber, conquering Everest, and Dawn was an Olympain who is now a celebrated chef.

Maria Mazon (season 18): Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia because it’s filled with so much heart, just like Maria. Plus she is passionate about Mexican cooking, and the book is set in Mexico City.

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Audiobooks to listen to when driving home for the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or maybe not, depending on what your holiday season looks like. 

For us bookworms, it can be a LOT of stimulation, and not enough time reading! If you’re like me, you recharge alone, meaning that reading time is pretty essential to your ability to fully function with your family. 

It’s also hard to get that quality reading time when you’re driving to and from different houses… or is it? With audiobooks, you can get that quality reading while you commute, or even slip an earbud behind your ear and cover it with your hair during family dinner — hey, I won’t judge!

Regardless of your situation, here are some audiobook recommendations to help you relax and recharge this holiday season!

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Narrated by the queen herself, this profound poetry is bound to entertain as you go from point A to point B!

Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, this beautifully designed volume features poems in many inventive styles and structures and shines a light on a moment of reckoning. Call Us What We Carry reveals that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.

Follow Amanda on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

This one is also narrated by the author, and an author we know and love! Ann’s newest collection is a stunning exploration of self, and the world around us. 

“Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart.

At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a surprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both.

A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.

From the enchantments of Kate DiCamillo’s children’s books (author of the upcoming The Beatryce Prophecy) to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

A great audiobook for you and your YA readers in the family! One of the top reads of 2021, and for a good reason!

For fans of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange, Angeline Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, is a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community.

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team.

Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. But the search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars. At the same time, she grows concerned with an investigation that seems more focused on punishing the offenders than protecting the victims.

Now, as the deceptions—and deaths—keep growing, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go for her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

Follow Angeline on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

This is one of my favorite books of the year! Jodi Picoult explores the pandemic in a way that shocks readers and educates us on a particular part of the pandemic that we as readers have not otherwise experienced in literature. 

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

In the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

Follow Jodi on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead 

I mean, it’s Colson Whitehead, do I really need to say more? There’s no doubt you’ll be entertained by this immaculate writer!

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the “Waldorf of Harlem”—and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem. But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.

Follow Colson on Twitter.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

This novella is the perfect read for a shorter car ride, and one that is bound to give you ALL. THE. FEELS! 

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man, faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. Already an international bestseller, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers.

Follow Claire on Twitter.

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

If you’re looking for a HOLIDAY specific read, this is the one for you! Especially if you loved the movie The Holiday!

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell—both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over.

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

Follow Maggie on Instagram and Twitter.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty 

If family drama is your thing (and not particularly your own!), this is the book to give you all of the dysfunctional family vibes. 

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father? This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

Will by Will Smith

This beloved actor gives us his life story, and it’s one of resilience. Whoever is riding in the car with you will be glad you brought Will on the road!

Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that will likely never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells it astonishingly well. But it’s only half the story. 

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over. 

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

Follow Will on Instagram and Facebook.

Anti-hero fantasy books to read before Witcher season 2

Toss a coin to your witcher because Season 2 of The Witcher is fast approaching. And we’re all ready for the new adventures of our anti-hero, Geralt. But just before we get into the new season, here’s a few anti-hero fantasy stories to keep your blood pumping before the premiere:

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski: For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf. Geralt of Rivia, the cunning hunter known as the Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world for good–or for evil. As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all. And the Witcher never accepts defeat.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter: The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick: Arenza Lenskaya is a liar and a thief, a pattern-reader and a daughter of no clan. Raised in the slums of Nadezra, she fled that world to save her sister. Renata Viraudax is a con artist recently arrived in Nadezra. She has one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune. But the deeper she is drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, the more she realizes her masquerade is just one of many. And as corrupt magic begins to weave its way through the city’s streets, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled–with Ren at their heart.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian — leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies. Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules. Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it. Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult. Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht: The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning. These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.

The Unbroken by CL Clark: Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought. Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne. Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab: Kell is one of the last Antari–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes–Red London–and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Book recommendations based on your favorite Christmas movie

It’s the time of year when I just want to lie around reading and watching Christmas movies, so I’ve matched some of my seasonal favorite films with books!

If you like Elf,

Read Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s overwhelmingly sweet. You’ll want to rewatch and reread.
Follow Casey on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like While You Were Sleeping

Read The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Falling for the brother of the person you were initially interested in? How often does this happen?
Follow Mia on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you like It’s A Wonderful Life,

Read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Both explore what life would be like in different realities, for better or worse.
Follow Matt on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,

Read This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Too much family time can be catastrophic and hilarious, whether it’s for Christmas or for a funeral.
Follow Jonathan on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Die Hard

Read Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

A hero who isn’t exactly clean cut, in a heist-type situation that may end badly.
Follow S.A. on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Happiest Season

Read The Perks of Loving A Wallflower by Erica Ridley

Sapphic romances in which the women in love are forced to hide their relationships by circumstances beyond their control.
Follow Erica on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Read A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman

Exploring why a grumpy loner is the way that he is.
Follow Fredrik on Instagram.

If you like Home Alone

Read Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

In both the book and the movie, you’ll wonder how a young boy has so many tricks up his sleeve.
Follow Eoin on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like Last Holiday,

Read A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Facing terminal diagnoses, these women decide to take their lives into their own hands.
Follow Alix on Instagram and Twitter.

If you like The Holiday

Read The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Both of these convinced me that switching houses with someone would solve all my problems!
Follow Beth on Instagram.

If you like The Best Man Holiday,

Read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

All the feelings of being a grown up disappear when we reunite with old friends.
Follow Meg on Instagram and Twitter.

Books Forward BFFs December Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

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Books to read if you can’t stop watching Spider-Man movies

With the new Spider-Man movie on the horizon, we are, of course, thinking about what books you might like. Whether you’re an original fan of Tobey Maguire, get emotional with Andrew Garfield, venture into the Spider-Verse with Shameik Moore’s Miles Morales, are a Tom Holland supporter, or if you’re first in line for tickets whenever an awkward teen dons the spidey suit, you’ll find something to love on this list.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days. When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune–and control of the OASIS itself.
Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he’s beset by rivals who’ll kill to take this prize. The race is on–and the only way to survive is to win.

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara. A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts. But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right? After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.” Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy–he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand. Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist–who seems to know a lot more than she lets on–and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly…. When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her. But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school. But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts–risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life. Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat

Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. Then an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, who have sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns. Will is thrust into a world of magic, where he starts training for a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark. As London is threatened and old enmities are awakened, Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected–she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way–and stop more girls from being sacrificed.