Carla M. Lee (carlamlee) wrote,
Carla M. Lee

[books] Recommendations

It is one of those times of year when people look for ideas of things to buy other people. And sometimes those people want to buy books, for themselves or for other people. So here are some of the books I've read this year which I think you might like. (These books have all already been published. I could recommend the awesome books I've read which are not yet available, but that just seems cruel.)

We'll do ten for now, but I have a number of others to add later if I have time.

1) Mayra Lazara Dole, Down to the Bone (YA)
I know I've recommended this before, but I can't get enough of it. I read it for the first time earlier this year and I've probably read it thirty times since, no exaggeration. It's an incredible book and Laura, the main character, is fantastic and interesting. I loved her even when she's being a real jerk, snapping at her friends or trying to fake being something she's not, because she's so sympathetic and vibrant and interesting. I absolutely adore her. She's a Latina lesbian trying to deal with being a lesbian, various relationships which are falling apart around her, her own ideas of about being gay, and so much more. Laura's best friend, Soli, is beyond awesome. I love the way family isn't just blood, it's also about the family you choose, which is one of my favorite ideas ever. I am impatiently waiting to read more by Dole, who is just incredible. I will never be done recommending this book.

2) Jodi Lynn Anderson Peaches series: Peaches, The Secrets of Peaches, Love and Peaches (YA)
These are sweet, sometimes heartbreaking stories about friendship and love, family responsibility and being true to yourself, following what's expected of you and making your own path. I read the third one, Love and Peaches, this year, but the three of them go together well. They remind me of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books.

3) Allison Rushby, The Dairy Queen (Adult)
I was surprised by how sweet and touching this book ended up being, and though it is a romance, there is a lot more about the internal growth of the women than about their romances. There are also some fantastic, fabulous friendships between the women. I really enjoyed the Australian setting by an Australian author, too.

4) Grace Dent Les Bambinos Dangereuses series: LBD: It's a Girl Thing, LBD: Live and Fabulous, LBD: Friends Forever(YA)
I read the third book of the series, LBD: Friends Forever!, this year. These books are super cheesy and fun British teen stories about three girls who have strong friendships and who get into silly, often unbelievable scrapes which are such entertaining, light-hearted fun I love reading them. I'm also pleased with the way love isn't presented as something that has to last forever but can be this momentary sweet thing.

5) Malin Alegria, Estrella's Quinceañera (YA)
I love Estrella - called Star at her very white private school - who is struggling to figure out what she wants from the world and who she is as she grows up. She doesn't feel true to herself in either the rich, white world of her private school where she isn't being honest with her new friends, but she also doesn't feel like she belongs with her family because she feels like they still treat her like a child. Estrella is a very sympathetic, interesting, and fun character and I found myself rooting for her through her mistakes and growth.

6) E.M. Crane, Skin Deep (YA)
This book was beautiful and wonderful and heartbreaking and very satisfying. I love the cross-generation friendship and Andrea, the main character, was wonderful. (I do get tired of high school hate, but the story is worth reading despite that.)

7) Tanita S. Davis, A La Carte (YA)
The main character, Lainey, wants to be a t.v. chef because there aren't enough black or vegetarian chefs, and the book has recipes threaded through it which are great. Lainey has a complicated relationship with her mother. The boy she loves twists her up. She struggles with her weight and her hair and wants to find balance in her life and ways to achieve her goals. Her relationship with her grandmother was wonderful to read, and the pain and joy and complications of family love was amazing.

8) Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout, Girl v. Boy (YA)
The main character, Luisa, starts writing an anonymous column in her school newspaper which is supposed to be about the school's fundraising efforts (if they win, they get extra vacation time, but even more, their school is very poor and they want to beat the richer schools). The school is having its own competition which has pitted the girls against the boys, and Luisa and an anonymous male columnist are a part of this. As they write back and forth, however, the articles end up arguing about whether the boys are being sexists, whether the girls want too much emotionally, whether one side pushes too much for sex or withholds sex too much, etc., a back and forth battle of the words which gets more and more vicious. Because of the column, Luisa and friends become more involved with school activities and start dating, and it's all very interesting. Luisa has to face her own snobbery and biases against people, and it ends up being a really powerful story about secrets and consequences and the power of the written word.

9) Jim Fusilli, Marley Z and the Bloodstained Violin (YA)
Marley Z is an independent, intelligent, good hearted, awesome detective who is close to her family and smart about the world and savvy and has agency and no matter what, doesn't let herself down. I think this kid is fantastic and I want to read more about her.

10) Michele Dominguez Greene, Chasing the Jaguar
This is a really fun book about a Latina girl who develops psychic powers when she turns fifteen, so as she's preparing for her Quinceañera, she's also trying to learn to control her powers and solve a mystery to save the life of another teen girl.

What books are you buying these days?

And now to have some breakfast. Yum.

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