Thrash, Maggie. Honor Girl.

Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2015.

This “graphic memoir” is the author’s first book, but she pretty much hits it out of the park. It’s the 1990s (I think) and 15-year-old Maggie, an Atlanta native and daughter of a federal judge, is spending the summer at the same Kentucky camp where she’s gone every year since she was little (as did her mother and her grandmother). She has friends there but she’s not really one of the popular girls. But this summer is different. This is the summer she’s blindsided by falling in love with tall, blonde Erin, a 19-year-old counselor.

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Cherryh, C. J. Emergence.

NY: DAW, 2018.

Cherryh’s “Foreigner” epic, which first appeared a quarter-century ago, is now somewhere north of 7,000 pages and this 19th volume (and the end of an internal story arc) picks up within days of where the previous book left off. I can’t begin to summarize the various plotlines, there are now so many, but the theme continues to be political and diplomatic rather than action — although there’s some of that, too.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Fifth Season.

NY: Orbit Books, 2015.

I finally read Jemisin’s earlier “Inheritance” trilogy a few months ago and enjoyed it immensely. I’m pleased to discover that the first volume of her more recent “Broken Earth” trilogy is of equally high quality. There’s a reason it won the Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula and several other major awards. The author’s worldbuilding skills are fully on display and the characters and the setting will rope you into the story from the first page.

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Reck, Jared. A Short History of the Girl Next Door.

NY: Knopf, 2017.

Matt Wainwright is fifteen years old and a high school freshman in south-central Pennsylvania, and he’s also six-foot-three (he comes from a tall family), so he plays basketball. He’s good at it, too, and one of his two big goals is to make the varsity team his sophomore year, after Liam Branson, the current star, has graduated. Right across the street in their cul-de-sac from Matt lives Tabby Laughlin, the same age as him, and whom he has basically grown up with, ever since they were infants and Matt’s mom babysat Tabby.

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Kay, Elliott. Poor Man’s Fight.

NY: Skyscrape, 2015.

This space opera epic is the debut work by an author I discovered through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. It was a free read and I wasn’t expecting a lot — but I was surprised and delighted at how good it is. It includes some of the most hair-raising, throat-grabbing, headlong, blood-and-guts adventure writing I’ve read in years. It will remind you a little of Heinlein, and a little of Corey, and when you reach the 80% point, you should plan on putting the rest of your life on hold for awhile, because you aren’t going to want any interruptions.

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Buxbaum, Julie. What to Say Next.

NY: Delacorte, 2017.

This is a much deeper and more thoughtful examination of high school romance than most I’ve seen. David Drucker is a very high-functioning borderline autistic whose life has long been made hell by classmates sneering at him as a “retard,” when he actually has the highest IQ of any kid in the school. He copes with the outside world by wearing headphones that surround him with music as he walks from one class to another, and by referring regularly to his notebook of rules and character sketches of everyone he interacts with.

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Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona.

NY: Harper, 2015.

EXPLOSIONS! SCIENCE! SHARKS! NERDS! SYMBOLISM! Yep, that’s the kind of graphic novel this is. It won a bunch of awards, not only from other artists but from its (mostly) teenage readers, as well. Lord Ambrosius Goldenloin is the Official Hero here and Lord Ballister Blackheart is the Bad Guy, but neither of them is really terrible — even though the former hacked off the latter’s arm back when they were students together. Now, Ambrosius works for the Institution while Blackheart tries to keep the kingdom’s growing police state from impinging on its subjects any further.

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Holm, Jennifer & Matthew Holm. Swing It, Sunny.

NY: Scholastic, 2017.

This is a sequel to this sister/brother team’s Sunny Side Up (2015), and it’s pretty good. It’s set in the closing months of 1976 and Sunny, now starting middle school, misses her older brother, Dale, who has been sent away to a military boarding school for his own (and everyone else’s) good. The story is episodic, going from the start of school to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s — all the landmarks in an adolescent’s calendar

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Audley, Anselm & Elizabeth Edmondson. A Matter of Loyalty.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2017.

Elizabeth Edmondson doesn’t seem to be a very widely known author, but she’s a very good one — for all that I only discovered her stuff myself through Kindle Unlimited. She’s done a number of “suspense-romance” novels and then the “Classic English Mysteries” of which this is the third installment — and also, unfortunately, the last, since the author died in the middle of the first draft.

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Robinson, Peter. Sleeping in the Ground.

NY: Morrow, 2017.

Robinson’s first-rate mystery series featuring DCI Alan Banks of Yorkshire has always been heavy on police procedural details when it comes to crime-solving, and this 24th episode is no exception. Banks is coming home from the funeral of a woman he hasn’t seen in forty years — the first girl he was every really in love with, back in college — when he gets word there’s been a shooting at a country wedding on his patch.

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