Expanding Horizons: New Adult Lit

Today we're going to tackle a rather new topic for Read My Breath Away: New Adult.

I love my YA, don't get me wrong. I think I always will. But lately I've been thinking that maybe I should read some stories that are centred around the stage that I'm in in my life right now as I start thinking about my last year of university and what lies beyond. This is where you guys come in.

I have a couple of NA experts in my life, so a lot of the recommendations I've gotten so far have come from them. I'm really excited about the titles they've put forward but I also wanted to put the call out generally to see if there are any fantastic NA that have slipped by my experts.

I really want to read NA that has substance. I know a lot of them seem to focus significantly around dark, troubled relationships and sex. I want NA with more than that. Obviously I have no issue with reading sex in my books if I'm taking this leap, but I don't want that to be the only thing carrying the book. Also, I really don't want abuse romanticized, which I've heard can be an issue in some NA, so please don't steer me towards those. You will have a very unpleasant Jess on your hands if you do that to me.

So far, I have a few lined up for me. One that I've been meaning to read for AGES is Cora Carmack's Losing It (and I hope I love it because she's got lots more to dive into afterwards). At the insistence of rec-ing ball Dahlia, I picked up Unteachable by Leah Raeder (and I have a good feeling I'll be reading more of what Leah puts out because I've heard nothing but great things about Black Iris as well) and I also recently bought Dahlia's own NA debut, Last Will and Testament. The Ottawa bloggers each got a copy of Ann Aguirre's I Want It That Way (hello earworm!) at our meetup -- thanks Harlequin! And from my NA Expert #1, Emilie, I borrowed Karina Halle's Where Sea Meets Sky, which I can't wait to dig into mostly because it's set in New Zealand. Two others on my radar are Boomerang by Noelle August (I see you, Veronica Rossi) and Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St. John Brown.

Last Will and Testament (Radleigh University, #1) 

All of these are NA books that I'm planning to read soon as part of my efforts to read a little more in my age zone (even though I don't really like the way that sounds... YA forever!!!)

Have you read and loved any of these? Do you have any other NA faves that you can recommend? Lay 'em on me!


Underrated YA: "Genre Novel" Edition

Part Two!

I've talked about this before but in response to this crazypants Buzzfeed list, today I'm going to tell you about some actual underrated YA (in my humble opinion, anyway) that you should probably go get your hands on ASAP. This follows along the lines of Twitter's response to the same article which took place under #quietYA.

Note: Since I'm being all adamant about the fact that I want to shed light on truly underrated books here, I've put some rules in place for myself. 1, Nothing that's been on the NYT Bestseller list (because guys, that's not underrated). 2, Nothing that currently has a fancy (major) "Award Winner/Nominee" medal on its cover (like for the Morris Debut Award - sorry, In the Shadow of Blackbirds and Charm & Strange! I still love you!) because that can definitely help with exposure. 3. Nothing that I've seen talked about constantly on social media/blogs within my slice of the book world because I figure you're all exposed to similar chatter and then those books aren't really underrated to you anymore, are they?

When I started writing this, I realized that I had so many recs there was no way I could have fit all the books I wanted to rec into one post. So I decided to turn this into a mini-series type deal, hence the second part of the title. This is part two and will cover (my interpretation of) "Genre novels," so in this case: fantasy, paranormal(ish - no straight paranormal here, actually), sci-fi, and magical realism novels. I already featured historical fiction here and I'm also going to have an installment for contemporary novels.

With all that said, here are my genre fiction picks!

The Archived and The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
Most people know V.E. Schwab for her adult titles (with major crossover appeal), Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic. While those books absolutely deserve their hype, people who ignore her true YA stuff, especially this duology (to hopefully one day be a full trilogy) are truly missing out not only on more of her incredible storytelling but also on some wonderful characters and a truly unique idea.
(My review of The Unbound here)

Pantomime by Laura Lam
I haven't had a chance to read its sequel, Shadowplay, yet but I'm sure when I do it'll go right on this list as well. But on Pantomime for now: this is a book with a circus (which is such a fun and interesting setting, by the way), magic, and a protagonist working through finding their place and identity. This book is different from pretty much anything else I've read and I really recommend it.
(My review here)

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
All you people who are flailing over her newest release, The Walls Around Us, and wondering who this wonderful author is need to get the heck on the backlist train! 17 & Gone is Suma's third book (I believe) and wow, is it ever a doozy. I wrote an entire post about how this book made me reflect on the way my depression and social anxiety affected me throughout high school and continues to affect me now in university. It played with my mind and truly got into my heart, all with Suma's wonderful prose that seems to be a staple in her work.
(My review here)

Nil by Lynne Matson
Teens dropped on an island paradise that might actually be somewhat sentient and turns out to be far from paradise? A year each to try and escape before their time runs out? Sounds like ingredients for an exciting and suspenseful and unique sci-fi, right? RIGHT. Throw in some fun and really enjoyable characters and some fantastic female agency in Charlie and I call Nil a total winner!
(My review here)

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
I feel like a lot of things about the description of this one might scare people off... strong magical realism, a generational aspect, etc, but it's actually a beautiful and compelling read that explores themes in family and religion, and looks at when devotion turns obsessive in a very memorable way. This is not the kind of book I'm normally drawn to but it really surprised me and I'd love to see more people give it a shot!
(My review here)

Did I miss one that would be on your list of underrated genre fiction? Are any of these on your TBR?