So, today’s post is a two-parter for me. I really like the Top Ten Tuesday topic of the day, which is “Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel or Top Ten Sophomore Novels That I Loved Just As Much If Not More As The Author’s Debut” (I’ll be splitting that in half to do five of each, because they’re both such great topics), but first, I wanna talk about it being a special release day.

Why’s this? Because I don’t blurb a whole lotta books, but I blurbed two that came out today, and I’m so, so excited that they’re finally out in the world and everyone else can love them as much as I did.

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The first is YA debut How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras, about a girl named Georgia dealing with her grief after her mother’s passing. You know those books that deal with heavy topics like this, and they’re really all about how falling in love with someone else helps you get over the love you’ve lost?

Thankfully, this is so incredibly not that book.

What it is, in my words, is this:

How to Be Brave is a celebration of life, from the captivating open page to the emotional ending. Kottaras acutely and poetically depicts the painful struggle of re-finding yourself after a defining loss-and the stark effects of both success and failure along the way-in a lovely, heartfelt debut.”

And, more officially:

An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

I know it’s really frustrating when you’ve lost a parent and you see it really poorly portrayed in YA when you want to read a book with a character who actually knows what it’s like. I love this book for Getting It. I didn’t lose a parent, but thankfully, but for many months I was told I was going to (see: Behind the Scenes), and I watched my father in the hospital, preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. This book nailed so many of the emotions of that time, while really honoring life in a beautiful way.

Goodreads * B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

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You’ve probably already heard me rave about the second one ad nauseam, but whatever – can’t stop, won’t stop. For a moment, I’m going to ignore that Leah Raeder is my archnemesis and a despicable human being, and I’m just gonna talk about how much I love what she’s brought to NA, Romance, however you wanna classify it. The fact that f/f NA is on Romance shelves in bookstores, a genderqueer love interest is on Romance shelves in bookstores, is so utterly amazing. And yeah, I happen to think she words pretty good, too. Cam Girl is such a fabulous exploration of gender, of comfort in self-identity, and of reinventing yourself as you keep learning who you are and life circumstances get in your way. Or maybe I should stop talking and just share my blurb because frankly I’m stepping on it now:

“Cam Girl is a beautiful exploration of gender and sexuality that begs readers to question how well we know those closest to us,including ourselves. Raeder’s trademark sensual lyricism is in full effect here, but it’s the fraught yet tender relationship between Vada and Ellis that will have you glued to the pages until the oh-so-perfect ending.”

And more officially:

Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she’s been running from—those of others, and those she’s been keeping from herself…

Goodreads * B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

And now, my actual Top Ten Tuesday picks!

Top Five Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel

  1. Anna-Marie McLemore – I’m obsessed with the lyrical, romantic magic that was The Weight of Feathers, and knowing that her next book is going to be queer YA puts her at the top of my list. We almost never get queer YA with main characters of color by an actual queer author of color, so I am especially excited!
  2. Stephanie OakesThe Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly was one of my favorite debuts of the year, and there is no question I’ll be reading The Arsonist.
  3. Adam SilveraMore Happy Than Not was another of my favorite debuts, and Adam clearly knows how to write solid YA that breaks a heart, so I can only imagine how delightfully destroyed I’ll be by History is All You Left Me.
  4. Ashley Herring Blake – I know most people haven’t even gotten to read Suffer Love yet, as it’s out in May 2016, but A) I have and it’s great, and B) you don’t really have to in order to know I’d cut Ryan Seacrest for How To Make a Wish.
  5. Tess Sharpe – This is a little unfair because I’ve talked to Tess a lot about Somewhere Between Right and Wrong, so you may not realize how utterly incredible it’s gonna be, but we’ve all read Far From You, right? We know what she’s capable of? How can you not.

(Also Jenn Marie Thorne and Brandy Colbert okay I’m done now bye)

*Bonus: Top three Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward to Their Direct Sequel (not counting Maggie Hall and Natalie Parker because I’ve already read and loved theirs)

  1. Melissa Grey
  2. Renee Ahdieh
  3. Victoria Aveyard

Top Five Sophomore Novels That I Loved Just As Much If Not More As The Author’s Debut

  1. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  2. For Real by Alison Cherry
  3. The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi
  4. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
  5. Black Iris by Leah Raeder

What are on your TTTs today??

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