Happy release day, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US!

My second novel, The Impossibility of Us, is on sale today!

TIoU Cover

Here’s its summary…

The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village. When she meets Mati, the two quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town as well, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more. But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan. Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, The Impossibility of Us asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?


I am so fortunate to be part of the Swoon Reads family, where I feel at all times supported and celebrated. I’m grateful to Jean Feiwel and Lauren Scobell for cultivating this incredible community. Working with my editor, Kat Brzozowski, has been a dream. Her insight, wisdom, and warmth have taught me so much. And I can’t imagine doing this publication thing without my agent, Victoria Marini. Her guidance, expertise, and humor are invaluable.

Alison Miller, Temre Beltz, Riley Edgewood, and Elodie Nowodazkij are far and away the best critique partners a girl could ask for. Their combined intelligence, compassion, and generosity are inspiring. Big thanks to Rachel Simon, Jaime Morrow, and Lola Sharp for their enthusiastic beta reads of TIoU. I’m grateful to Arvin Ahmadi, Rania, and Silanur for their thoughtful feedback and generously shared personal experiences as they relate to this book. And thank you to Khalid Ahmad for his generous assistance with the Pashto translations. Thank you to my wonderful writer friends, especially Tracey Neithercott, Mandie Baxter, Liz Parker, Christina June, Jessica Love, Christa Desir, Sara Biren, Karole Cozzo, and Erin Bowman for the reassurances and celebrations. To the 2017 Debuts, thank you for sharing this journey with me. And to the authors known affectionately as the Swoon Squad, um . . . wow. What an amazing group of people!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my parents for their boundless support and infinite love, and for hand-selling my books to their friends. My brothers might not be fans of young adult romance, but they’re fans of me and really, isn’t that all that matters? 🙂 Thanks to the rest of my extended family, whose continued cheerleading means the world to me. All the hugs and kisses to my girlies for bringing me indescribable joy. And, finally, this book wouldn’t exist without my husband. His genuine excitement over my success makes me feel unstoppable. He’s still my happily ever after.

The Impossibility of Us in Review

What could have been a clichéd, tired romance novel will surprise readers with depth of character and a unique layout. The chapters alternate: Elise’s in narrative prose and Mati’s in verse. The protagonists share their cultural and language differences with each other, setting aside surrounding discrimination and prejudices. Elise learns about Afghanistan and Pashto, releases her resentment and intolerance, and finds healing as she grieves her brother’s death. Mati navigates how to fulfill his familial and faith obligations while staying true to himself and his passions. This book tackles several heavy subjects as the author explores religious and ethnic intolerance, bigotry, fear, and lack of fairness. Though Upperman uses traditional romance tropes, readers will find the story meaty, satisfying, and enlightening. This surprising and worthwhile romance is a solid choice to add to any teen collection.

Elise is passionate and caring and inquisitive, and isn’t afraid to admit—and then change—when she’s ignorant or wrong. Plenty of people could take a page out of her book on how to be compassionate humans. Elise and Mati are quickly intrigued by each other, but because of Mati’s religious beliefs and his life back in Afghanistan, it takes a while before anything physical manifests. But this just means a graze or a glance is that much more charged. And it gives them an opportunity to get to the really sexy stuff: understanding one another emotionally and connecting deeper on an intellectual level. Upperman crafted a great summer romance, combining the headiness of finding someone and falling in love over just a few months with the bittersweet of knowing summer—and possibly that relationship—has a definite end. I devoured this book in an evening and it left me with a smile by the end.
Forever YA for Kirkus

Don’t expect the same story that you read in Kissing Max Holden. Sure, the characters faced impossible odds (hence the title) like in KMH, but Upperman explored different avenues of her writing. I fell head-over-heels for the love interest, Mati. One of my favorite parts of the book was his voice. Instead of prose, he told his story through poetry. It was eloquent and beautiful, and it perfectly encapsulated Mati’s essence. Your heart will break reading this book, but it will also soar. You’ll question everything you’ve imagined about difficult relationships, look at your own self in a new light, but you’ll also fall in love.
~ Moriah’s Musings

…an adorable story about falling for a boy and realizing what love really is, while also having to deal with your respective families and addressing the prejudices that they have against one another. If you’re looking for your next beach read that will grip you and have you flipping the pages quickly, laughing, crying, gasping and even swooning, then this is definitely the book for you!
~ TeenReads

There’s a lot to love in this beachy read about a summer romance, in which the two main characters face unusual complications due to circumstance, culture, and prejudice… I found myself rooting for Mati and Elise to make things work against all odds — and while the book is filled with plenty of heartache, I found it ultimately hopeful and uplifting.
~ Novel Novice

This sophomore offering was another huge hit from Katy Upperman, and at this point I’ll read anything this lady writes.
~ Pages and Pugs (this review’s GIF game is 👌🏼)

Katy Upperman has done it again. As much as I loved her debut novel, Kissing Max Holden, The Impossibility of Us has more depth, packs more of an emotional punch, and made a visceral impact that had me wiping away tears. Upperman managed to engage my mind and my heart in this beautiful tale of friendship and first love, tolerance and acceptance. She has deftly created a story that is timely and relevant and equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful. The Impossibility of Us is one that is not to be missed.
~ Girl Plus Books

The Impossibility of Us on Sale

::   The Impossibility of Us at Amazon   ::
::  The Impossibility of Us at IndieBound  ::
::   The Impossibility of Us at The Book Depository   ::
::  The Impossibility of Us at Barnes & Noble  ::
:: The Impossibility of Us at BAM  ::
::  The Impossibility of Us at Target  ::
::  The Impossibility of Us at Powell’s  ::

Or, order from my local independent bookstore, One More Page Books. They’ll ship you a signed, personalized copy of the novel from Arlington, VA!

The Impossibility of Us Interviews

With “So Few Books”

With Buried in a Bookshelf

Upcoming Events

My Local Launch Event ⇣IMG_4749

Also ⇣
Fountain Bookstore ~ Richmond, VA
Q&A + Signing w/ Christina June
Saturday, August 25, 2018, 2:00 PM

Thank you — yes, you!

Thank you for asking about my writing, for sharing my promotional tweets/posts/images, for asking me to come to your town for a signing, for passing out my bookmarks, and for reading and reviewing Kissing Max Holden. Thank you for preordering The Impossibility of Us, for requesting it at your local library, for talking about it with the readers in your life, for complimenting its cover, its summary, and its blurbs. Thank you so much for your tireless support.



(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)



This (incredibly easy) Chocolate Cake recipe. My favorite (free!) yoga videos: Yoga With Adriene. Washi tape — I am officially obsessed. Pura Vida bracelets. This fantastic “beYOUtiful raglan t-shirt,” of which 1/4 of the price is donated to First Descents, providing free adventure experiences for cancer fighters and survivors. And a recent Pub(lishing) Crawl post by Erin Bowman, all about how to support authors before, during, and after release day.


Jessica Park’s Flat-Out Love (NA at its most adorable), and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap (one of the weirdest, most beautifully written books I’ve read in a long time). These two stories couldn’t be more different, but I loved them both, particularly Bone Gap — pure magic. Now, I’ve started All the Rage by one of my favorite authors, Courtney Summers. More about this recent release soon!



Guys, I finished Gossip Girl! I thought the series finale was quite satisfying — though I wanted more Chuck and Blair (always). I’ve just finished watching the first season of The CW’s The 100 which, as promised by many, has drastically improved since its fist few episodes. It definitely has its cheese-tastic moments, but it also has enough twists and romance to hold my attention. So far, so good. Hurry up and make season 2 available, Netflix!

Listening To

Echosmith‘s Bright, which is so damn cute. It’s the perfect theme song for my WiP, Stars Like Dust, too.

Thinking About

My Shiny New Idea! It’s in its very earliest brainstorming stages, but I’m *really* excited about it. I was at the dentist a few weeks ago and during my cleaning, two songs from the same movie soundtrack played — one of my favorite movies. I was suddenly super inspired, and I’ve been stewing over plot-ish things ever since. I’ve named my main characters, and I’ve made a mood board that’s now my computer’s desktop –> progress!


I can’t wait to randomly select the winner of my 5 Year Blog-iversary Giveaway! I’ve got YA books, notecards, a travel mug and Jelly Bellies up for grabs. If you haven’t already, enter HERE. The giveaway closes this Thursday, April 23rd at midnight, and is open internationally. Good luck!


That the people who picked up the novels my daughter and I left around our community during last week’s Rock the Drop will love the stories they scored!

Making Me Happy

My family, always. ❤

What’s currently making YOU happy?


I participated in Rock the Drop, a celebration of Support Teen Literature Day sponsored by ReaderGirlz, in 2012, 2013, and 2014. It’s been so much fun in the past, I couldn’t wait to drop books around my community this year, too.

This time around, I chose first books in dystopian and/or fantastical series — Strands of Bronze and Gold, Starters, Red Queen, and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. My little book elf and I dropped them at eateries around our town, and consumed a lot of calories in the process. 🙂 Hopefully the teens who picked these stories up will love them, and won’t be able to resist tracking down subsequent novels in these series.

Did you #RockTheDrop? 

What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, or a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: Well… I finished Ashes to Ashesthe final book in the  Burn for Burn trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I can’t comment on it yet. Let’s just say… It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had such a visceral reaction to a novel, and I’m still kind of traumatized. I also read Unlit Star by Lindy Zart, which came highly recommended and turned out to be a super emotional romance. Such a pretty cover, right? Now, I’m reading Cristin Terrill’s All Our Yesterdays and it is aMaZiNg. Totally twisty and romantic and unputdownable. I can’t wait to see how it wraps up!


What I’m Writing: Nothing! Where Poppies Bloom (which I finally wrote a summary for and posted HERE) is all revised and beautiful. It’s in my agent’s hands. I’m hoping she loves it! I’m celebrating by beta reading for some buddies, and musing my next WiP.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Watching movies… My family and I saw Dolphin Tale 2 (cute but cheesy — not as good as the first) and The Maze Runner (exciting and unpredictable — we really liked it!). Plus, my husband and I watched 12 Years a Slave, which was brutal. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll recover. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, but prepare yourself for heartbreak.

I’m keeping up with yoga, and I’m learning how to do inversions! I have never in my life tried to hold myself upside down, but I’m getting it. Don’t judge my form — I’m still practicing. Yay for progress! 🙂

I made my first pumpkin-y recipe of the season, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies. My husband: “These really do melt in your mouth.” 🙂

What Works For Me: This week I’m inspired by all of the excitement regarding intellectual freedom, diverse books, and Banned Books Week. I did a post on the topic HERE. Some of my favorite challenged/banned books? To Kill a Mockingbird, Speak, Looking for Alaska, Twenty Boy SummerThe Hunger Games, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the Harry Potter series. What are some of your favorite challenged/banned books?

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

Friday Five

1. Have you seen the If I Stay movie trailer? Oh my gosh… it is so incredibly perfect. Exactly what I was hoping for. Seriously. #AllTheFeels. If I Stay is one of my most beloved books (it’s the novel that made me want to write contemporary young adult) and I have Very Strong Opinions regarding book-to-movie adaptations, especially when it comes to YA, and especially when it comes to books I love. Please, please, please let the movie live up the the trailer’s amazingness.

2. Yesterday I Rocked the Drop, and it was awesome. My girl and I dropped three books (Jellicoe Road, The Sky is Everywhere, and If I Stay — three of my favorite contemporaries) around our town. Here’s hoping three book-loving teens find them and adore the stories as much as I do.



3. Oh, hey, I wrote some new words. I have an inkling of an idea for a sequel to another of my finished manuscripts, and I started tinkering it with it the other day. I know that sounds ridiculous (why start a sequel to a book that hasn’t sold yet?), but I’ve got these scenes in my head and they’re inspiring me (keeping me up at night, actually) and I figure… Might as well write them and get them out of my system. Problem is, the more I write, the more ideas I have, and the more inspired I feel. A real story’s starting to take shape, which is exciting, but also scary. I can write this story, invest months and months of my life in it, but there’s a chance it’ll never go anywhere; it can’t stand alone without its predecessor. But, words are words and practice is practice, right? I’m pretty sure it’s okay to write what’s inspiring, and to occasionally let go worries of whether or not a story will sell. What do you think? How much time do you spend writing only for the pure joy of it?

4. Along with Open Road Summer (adorable!), I’m reading James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle, which is pretty brilliant so far. It’s all about finding your story’s “heart and heat,” which is most often at its middle. James Scott Bell says some smart things about novel structure, but I’m even more taken by his thoughts on voice. He says, When an author is joyous in the telling, it pulses through the words. When you read a Ray Bradbury, for instance, you sense his joy. He was in love with words and his own imagination, and it showed. This, I think, is what’s at the the core of that unteachable thing we call voice. If you’re looking for a fresh take on novel structuring (plotter or a pantser), this is definitely a book worth checking out. 

5. Happy Easter weekend! My girl and I have decided to spend tomorrow at the beach, and Sunday in our jammies watching movies. She told me she hopes the Easter Bunny will bring her an American Girl sports watch, pink Peeps, and a Slinky. Good news… The Easter Bunny Mama has found and purchased all three items. That may seem indulgent (must get the kid exactly what she asks for!), but my daughter is growing up way too fast and if Peeps and a Slinky help keep the magic of childhood alive another day, then I’m happy to provide them. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

What’s Up Wednesday


“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to.And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and I thought it was incredible. A must-read if (like me) you’ve been slow to jump on the bandwagon. Incidentally, Speak has been out for fifteen years now. The fact that it’s remained relevant through a decade-and-a-half of changing YA trends says more about its quality than I ever could. I also read Tess Sharpe’s debut Far From You, which is unflinching and heart-shattering and beautifully written. Loved it. Yesterday I started Emery Lord’s debut, Open Road Summer, which several of my book besties have promised I’ll adore. So far, so good! 

What I’m Writing: Nothing. But I did hear back from my agent regarding my most recent manuscript and… She’s on board! She got the characters and the conflict and the conclusion and reading her email was just about the greatest feeling ever. Huge, hUgE, HUGE sigh of relief. Now I can start something new without the weight of anxiety I’ve been shouldering over the last few weeks. In beta reading news (ready to be super envious?) I got to read Meredith McCardle‘s latest manuscript, which is freaking fantastic. I had the privilege of reading her upcoming debut, The Eighth Guardian, last year and it totally blew me away. It comes out in less than a month (yay!) and I can’t wait for you all to read it!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve tried really hard to get into The Secret Life of the American Teenager because I love Shailene Woodley in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now. But Secret Life… NO. Not for me, guys. Not at all. I found the message much too heavy-handed, and the dialogue is absolutely cringeworthy. Looks like I’m going back to Gossip Girl. Darn. 😉

I’ve achieved another Thirty Before 35 goal! We took our first trip to the beach on Saturday, and it was beautiful. My daughter played with her buddies and I lounged and chatted with a few girl friends. We had a (sandy) picnic lunch, which is one of those things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Check!

And, much to my daughter’s embarrassment, I pulled the truck over while passing the above field of flowers the other day so I could take her picture. Just couldn’t resist all that pink against her little hippie sundress. 

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Rock the Drop, one of my favorite bookish events of the year, is tomorrow! It’s a celebration of Support Teen Literature Day during which book lovers can drop novels with “Rock the Drop” bookplates in public places for teenagers to find and read and hopefully fall in love with. I’ve rocked the drop for the last two years (2013 and 2012), and I’ll definitely be participating tomorrow. Look for photos on my Instagram feed, and here on my blog coming soon. Visit ReaderGirlz for all the details. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

November is… Picture Book Month

Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative celebrating print picture books during the month of November. Founder Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller) and Co-Founders Katie Davis (author/illustrator), Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator), Tara Lazar (author), and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator) have pulled  their worldwide connections to make this book celebration happen.

As a former elementary school teacher and current mama, I am a huge fan of picture books. Even though my girlie is capable of reading on her own now, we still love to snuggle up on the couch with a stack of colorfully illustrated stories. Our collection is pretty extensive — I’m sure you’re shocked :). Here are a few of our favorites… (Summaries from Goodreads. Covers lead to Goodreads pages.)

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler – One tiny snail longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of a whale. They go on an amazing journey, past icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and penguins, and the little snail feels so small in the vastness of the world. But when disaster strikes and the whale is beached in a bay, it’s the tiny snail who saves the day.

Bear Snores On written by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman – A whole host of different animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear snores on! See what happens when he finally wakes up and finds his cave full of uninvited guests — all of them having a party without him!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – One sunny Sunday, the little caterpillar was hatched out of a tiny egg. He was very hungry. On Monday, he ate through one apple; on Tuesday, he ate through two pears; on Wednesday, he ate through three plums–and he was still hungry. Strikingly bold, colorful pictures and a simple text in large, clear type tell the story of the hungry little caterpillar’s progress through an amazing variety and quantity of foods. Full at last, he made a cocoon around himself and went to sleep, to wake up a few weeks later wonderfully transformed into a butterfly!

Edward the Emu written by Sheena Knowles, illustrated by Rod Clement – Edward is tired of being an emu, so he decides to try being something else for a change. First he spends some time swimming with the seals. Next, he lounges with the lions. He even slithers with the snakes. But Edward soon discovers that being an emu may not be so bad after all. So he heads back to his pen, only to find a big surprise awaiting him . . .Sheena Knowles’ upbeat, rhyming text and Rod Clement’s deliciously droll illustrations are sure to make readers laugh out loud in this whimsical picture book.

Corduroy by Don Freeman – When all the shoppers have gone home for the night, Corduroy climbs down from the shelf to look for his missing button. It’s a brave new world! He accidentally gets on an elevator that he thinks must be a mountain and sees the furniture section that he thinks must be a palace. He tries to pull a button off the mattress, but he ends up falling off the bed and knocking over a lamp. The night watchman hears the crash, finds Corduroy, and puts him back on the shelf downstairs. The next morning, a little girl buys him with money she saved in her piggy bank and takes him home to her room. Corduroy decides that this must be home and that Lisa must be his friend.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – Set in picturesque Paris, this tale of a brave little girl’s trip to the hospital was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1940 and has as much appeal today as it did then. The combination of a spirited heroine, timelessly appealing art, cheerful humor, and rhythmic text makes Madeline a perennial favorite with children of all ages.

Tell me: What’s your favorite picture book?

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week begins today…

From BannedBooksWeek.orgBanned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, and many more go unreported. 

As a writer of young adult fiction that’s intended for an older teen audience, book censorship is an issue that hits close to home. Books are most often challenged by people and groups who, at their core, have the best of intentions: To protect children from explicit and/or difficult material. Still, censorship in any form is wrong. Parents have every right and responsibility to educate their children as they see fit, and to keep them from material they deem inappropriate. Librarians, teachers, religious organizations, and politicians should not.

Still, year after year, people and groups continue to challenge books, most often for the following reasons*:

1. The material is considered to be “sexually explicit.”

2. The material contains “offensive language.”

3. The material is “unsuited to any age group.”

It’s all pretty vague and subjective, isn’t it? 

Most Challenged Books of 2012*:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey – Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group.
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie – Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher – Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James – Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson – Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group.
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini – Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit.
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green – Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwart – Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence.
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls – Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison – Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence.

And, a few Classics that have been challenged at one time or another*: The Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Catcher in the Ryeby J.D. Salinger, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Ulysses by James Joyce, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and 1984 by George Orwell.

How can we stand up to book challengers?

1. By defending our right to intellectual freedom — the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular. We can talk about the danger of restraining the availability of information in our free society.

2. We can voice the importance of the First Amendment and the power of literature.

3. We can support librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to who fight to keep “inappropriate” books in library and school collections.

4. We can continue to buy, borrow, loan, read, talk about, and recommend banned and challenged books. (Twenty Boy Summer and Speak and To Kill a Mockingbird and The Hunger Games and The Grapes of Wrath and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian!)

Tell me: What’s your favorite banned book? And, how will you celebrate Banned Books Week?

*Statistics and lists borrowed from the American Library Association’s Banned and Challenged Books page. Please do visit the ALA’s site for more information.

July Reading Wrap-Up

I feel like it’s been ages since I read some of these…
July was a loooong month! 

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood – Paranormal romance is not normally my thing and witch stories, especially, don’t usually hold my interest. That said, I absolutely adore Born Wicked. Jessica Spotswood writes beautifully and even though her story has a historical setting, her protagonist, Cate, is no delicate flower. She’s smart and strong and determined — I love her. Also, I’d heard a lot about the steamy kisses in this book. They do NOT  disappoint. Born Wicked‘s ending was a heartbreaker. I can’t wait to read its follow-up, Star Cursed.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo – My heart broke a thousand times while reading this gorgeous middle grade story, and the final pages gave me chills. Edward Tulane‘s themes of giving and accepting love are relayed with such nuance, and main character Edward, a ceramic rabbit who likes fine clothing (YES), is incredibly compelling. This book’s chapters are short and its language is unembellished, but the story is so profound. If you’ve got kiddos, I highly recommend reading Edward Tulane with them.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry – Pretty much what I expected. Entertaining, sexy, and full of drama. I like a dual narration in romance novels, and Katie McGarry pulls of both Beth’s and Ryan’s voices fantastically. If you’re a fan of Pushing the Limits, you’ll like Dare You To. Noah and Echo even make a few appearances!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin – The Westing Game was an entertaining  middle grade read. The characters were interesting and the mystery was cool, but the story didn’t have the emotional impact necessary for me to fall truly in love with it. My full YA Book Club post is HERE.

The House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell – This is a strange novel. It’s very literary — beautifully written, but unconventional. The story centers around a husband and wife who live in seclusion and struggle through some intense (and graphically described) fertility issues. Their marriage is a trip — I was never quite sure what was real and what was conjured by the damaged imaginations of the characters. If you like a book that’s different and dark and surreal, The House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods might be the story for you.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken – Yowza… This book was a wild ride. It’s a dark dystopian thriller with tons of twists and turns, and a core group of four characters who I came to truly adore. Chubs, especially, won my love, and Liam is a total heartthrob.  The Darkest Minds is a complex book with heavy themes and heavy moments. It left me with plenty of questions, most of which will hopefully be answered in the next installment of this trilogy, Never Fade.

All I Need by Susane Colasanti – This book came at just the right time — I was looking for something airy and beachy and romantic, and All I Need is those things and more. It’s a fast read, dual narration, and very sweet. It reminded me a bit of Judy Blume’s Forever… in its earnestness and portrayal of two real teens just trying to make their love work. Check it out of you’re looking for a contemporary YA to set the tone for your summer.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – I love this book so, so much. Main character Josie’s life is brutal, but she experiences moments of such sincere beauty. Out of the Easy is layered with a cast of fantastically riveting characters, and its setting (gritty 1950 New Orleans) is enchanting. I urge you to pick this one up if you’re looking for a historical novel that’s equal parts mesmerizing and affecting.

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu – More on this book next week in a pending Bookanista/Debut Author Challenge post, but for now I’ll just say that OCD Love Story is outstanding — one of my favorite debuts of the year. The voice is contemporary YA perfection. Main character Bea’s struggle with OCD is gripping and distressing, yet she possesses an irresistible quirkiness that makes her a narrator you’ll want to befriend. A big ol’ recommend!

Tell me: What’s the best book you read in July?