Alethea Kontis | WYPR

Alethea Kontis

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and fix your past? Even just one tiny little thing you regret? It's certainly a tempting proposition. But how might that one tiny thing change everything else in the landscape of your life? In Jennifer Honeybourn's The Do-Over, that's exactly what Emelia O'Malley is about to find out. And fair warning: Make sure you're paying attention on page one, because this story moves FAST!

Before I begin this review in earnest, I would first like to bestow upon Miss Amanda Sellet several Bonus Points for the most puntastic title of 2020 (Get it? "BUY the Book"). And then I shall implore you, Dear Reader, to brew a cup of your favorite tea and settle in while I tell you the tale of this most intriguing and delightful tome about the misadventures of a teen who grew up steeped in classic literature — and little else.

I started reading Jessica Pennington's Meet Me at Midnight on an empty beach in Florida, near where I live on the Space Coast. There are rarely many people at the Canaveral National Seashore, and I thought it would be a fitting place to celebrate a new "summer at the lake" title. That beach is closed now. Looking back, this book and that sand feel like they happened a lifetime ago, in a different world. But that doesn't make Meet Me at Midnight less wonderful in any way!

I'm not sure I know anyone around my age who doesn't have a special place in their heart for the 1992 film The Cutting Edge, where a spoiled figure skater is forced to team up with a smarmy injured hockey player and sparks fly. When I saw Sara Fujimura's skating book pop up on my radar, all I could think was, "Toe Pick!" I anticipated a similar enemies-to-lovers story, and I was totally on board.

Hannah Capin's most recent book, Foul is Fair, opens with a sensitive content warning and a dedication to every girl who wants revenge. I ask that readers here please keep that in mind for the length of this review, should you elect to continue.

As soon as I opened to the title page of A Castle in the Clouds, something seemed familiar. I saw Romy Fursland's translator credit, and then flipped back to Kerstin Gier's bio. She was indeed the German author of the fabulous Ruby Red trilogy, books I read many years ago. While A Castle in the Clouds is far more of a cozy mystery than a sweeping historical fantasy like the Ruby Red series, its precocious main character and huge, quirky supporting cast make this new novel just as enjoyable.

The holiday season that You've Got Mail was released, I saw it in the theater with my grandmother. Now that she's gone, I rewatch the silly, heartwarming Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic every year right around this time. Tiana Smith's How to Speak Boy was absolutely the perfect book to dovetail right into my tradition.

I know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but I had a few reservations about reviewing a book called Crying Laughing, just based on the title. By and large, I am not a fan of stories that make me cry. I don't mind getting teary by the last chapter because I've fallen in love with the characters and someone has just made a grand gesture or said the perfect thing — that's different. Those books don't typically have the word "Crying" just right there in the title.

The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a sad one, told by scholars and poets throughout the ages and painted by many a lovelorn Pre-Raphaelite. For those unfamiliar with the story, here it is in a nutshell: Orpheus falls in love and marries Eurydice, who is promptly bitten by a snake and dies. Orpheus travels all the way to the underworld to plead his case to Hades, who tells Orpheus that he will release Eurydice on one condition. Orpheus must walk straight out of the underworld, with his wife behind him, but he must under no circumstance turn around.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed your Fall! If you blinked, you might have missed it. Yes, folks, the Hallmark Channel is primed and ready, the shelves at Michael's are fully stocked, and even in the publishing industry, the halls are decked for Christmas!

It's that time of year again. Fall is right around the corner. Pumpkin spice fills the air. Kids are going back to school, the days are getting shorter, and books are getting heavier. The pie-in-the-sky, read-them-in-one sitting summer-blockbuster releases now make way for complex novels filled with luscious prose, years of history, and serious issues. Books just like Maika and Maritza Moulite's Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of The Silence Between Us, as I had yet to review a book for this column featuring a deaf protagonist. I was doubly delighted to know that the story had been written by someone who is herself part of the deaf community — Alison Gervais suffered permanent hearing loss at a very young age, and is hard of hearing. Even the book's cover image is #OwnVoices, designed by deaf artist Nancy Rourke. I was absolutely ready to lose myself in a good book that both respected and celebrated deaf culture, and I was not disappointed.

Humor is incredibly subjective. It's unique to each person. So much so that my very first fiction writing teacher instructed us to never even attempt it. Instead of accepting the challenge this was probably meant to be, I took the lesson to heart. I already knew I had a strange sense of humor.

I must say, I really am enjoying this trend of contemporary novels starring young women who are 100% body positive. Laura Dockrill's My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant fits squarely into that category, pulling no punches right from the jump.

In the opening scene, our snarky, self-confident plus-size main character Bluebelle (aka "BB") is visiting the doctor after experiencing her first asthma attack. She immediately runs up against a judgmental nurse who callously informs her that many of her problems would be solved by losing weight.

I was 13 the year Doogie Howser, MD debuted on television, and I loved every minute of it. That charming, mischievous character played by Neil Patrick Harris would have fit right into my group of misfit, too-smart-for-their-own-britches friends. These days, I'm all about Grey's Anatomy. There's just that compelling magic surrounding doctor dramedies that pulls me in every time. Sona Charaipotra's new Symptoms of a Heartbreak falls right in line with the best of those, but it's specifically targeted to a YA audience.

There are a million books out there about intelligent young people who overcome insurmountable odds and triumph over adversity, all on their own. These far outnumber the books about young people that start out this way. I was happy to find that Lauren Morrill's Better Than the Best Plan is one of them.

The summer I sprained my ankle to within an inch of its life, I'd been in the middle of a Grey's Anatomy rewatch binge. The friend who took me to the ER was highly amused at the coincidence. He prompted me to spout some random medical jargon, but the only thing in my mind was "STAT!" Days later, when the pain fog had lifted from my brain, I laughed out loud at the memory. "STAT!" was what Paris Geller once yelled in a hospital during an episode of Gilmore Girls because she was distraught and couldn't think of anything else to say.

There is a "Dear Reader" in the front of my advance copy of I Wish You All the Best, in which Mason Deaver explains that they are telling the story they needed to read when they were 15 (Deaver uses they/them pronouns). Authors typically say this sort of thing when we write the books of our heart. But the book Deaver needed to read was a particularly important one, one that explored nonbinary gender issues and queer life in a way that was gentle, yet real. I'm pleased to say that they accomplished that goal with flying colors, and the literary world is a better place for it.

My friend Chris happened upon me reading There's Something About Sweetie in a coffee shop and introduced her presence by laughing. "For a second, I thought that was you on the cover," she said.

Books about rapturous, all-consuming first love are prevalent in young adult literature. But what about that last year before graduation, realistically? What about all those heartbreaking decisions that must be made when one or both parties go away to college? What happens to that beautiful teenage love then?