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When the Moon Was ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseperable. Roses grow out of Miel's wrist, and rumors say she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel's skin, and they're willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.


Why you should read it: This book is strange and gorgeous and touching. The magic woven through the story makes it feel like a dream that's connected to our world but doesn't quite take place here. There's so much nuance to both that world and the characters, and an overwhelming amount of heart. I really loved the writing—language right on the edge of flowery—crafted to fit perfectly with all that magic and strangeness. A beautiful read.

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Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the ‘bossy’ cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?


Why you should read it: God, the things this book did to my heart. It's an incredible piece of historical fiction, and Stacey Lee does a terrific job crafting both world and characters into something completely immersive. With all the tragedy in this story it would have been easy for the result to be bleak and gritty and crushing—and there ARE glimpses of terrible things—but there is also love and community and the very best aspirations of humanity striving to do better. All without ONCE feeling preachy or unrealistic. I absolutely adored this book.


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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

The only way to get her family back is to travel to a land in between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic.

At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she's not sure she can trust, but who may be Alex's only chance at saving her family.


Why you should read it: I absolutely love the characters in this book—the connections, the loyalties, the absolute heart of the story. Alex's relationship with her family is complicated and wonderful, so believable in the way it's full of both love and frustration in equal measure. Her crush on her best friend Rishi was also a high point for me; those feelings were such a lovely theme running beneath the heavier action. The world building is also excellent, and the magic beautifully portrayed. I enjoyed this enormously.
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