- #149: Can’t Get Enough YA, Marie Severin, Louise Simonson, Karen Berger – She Did It!

By | February 6, 2019 at 2:30 PM
Clockwise from top right:  Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips // A Girl Like That by Tanax 
Bhathena // Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi // Karen Berger (photo: Syfy) // Louise 
Simonson // Marie Severin (photo: Greg Preston/Dark Horse Comics)

Geek Girl Riot is throwing some love-confetti on YA this week, with a new book roundup and a wishlist of what adaptations we want to see next. Plus, a brand new edition of She Did It!

YA Roundup
Our resident bookworm Sam has been reading her way through every YA novel she can get her hands on—and now it’s time for us all to reap the benefits. She’s put together her list of favorite books from the last few months so get ready to update your reading list!

She Did It!: Marie Severin, Louise Simonson & Karen Berger
Sam takes a break from YA to tell us about three leading ladies in the world of comics: Marie Severin, Louise Simonson, and Karen Berger. She lays out three generations of heroines, without whom the comic book landscape would look a whole lot less colorful.

The YA We Wanna See Next
If you hadn’t guessed already, our Rioters have heart-eyes for YA—onscreen and on the page. Sherin, Sam, and Alex list the books they’d love to see adapted.

Photos: Green Chef

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GreenChef.us/GGRIOT

Tune in to Geek Girl Riot on idobi Radio every Tuesday at 11pm ET / 8pm PT for your dose of late-night geekery from our team of rioters. Til next time, see a list of everything our Rioters talked about below along with a transcript for Sam’s YA roundup. You can find the latest She Did It! here.

Reading List:

– Becoming – Michelle Obama
– A Girl Like That – Tanaz Bhathena
– Seafire – Natalie C. Parker
– 
Chaotic Good – Whitney Gardner
– Darius the Great is Not Okay – Adib Khorram
– Sometime After Midnight – L. Philips
– The Winternight Trilogy  – Katherine Arden
– Small Spaces – Katherine Arden
Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
– Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
– Eliza and Her Monsters – Francesca Zappia
– Emergency Contact – Mark H.K. Choi
– Skyward (Image Comics) – Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela
– Audrey, Wait! – Robin Benway
– Children of Blood & Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
– From Twinkle with Love – Sandhya Menon
– When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon
– Charmed

YA Roundup Transcript:

Hey Rioters, it’s Sam. As you may remember, I gave you some reading recommendations for the first half of 2018 back in the summer, so naturally I’m here to update you on all the things I’ve read since June. Well, not all the things, but quite a few—the ones I think you need to pay attention to.

Before I start, I should add a small disclaimer: in my life outside of Geek Girl Riot, I work for Penguin Random House Canada. So the majority of the books on my list are from Penguin Random House—not because I’m trying to promote one publishing house over another, but because I have more access to these particular titles.

Now, this first book is not actually YA, but it’s one I think everyone should read: Becoming by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Not gonna lie, I don’t really understand politics—American or Canadian, for that matter. But Obama’s book is easy to digest even if you’re a complete newbie when it comes to figuring out the difference between political parties. The first part of the book talks about her childhood and education; eventually, she meets her future husband and details his campaign to become president. It’s so well written, at times you’ll forget that you’re reading a memoir—the story moves you along so smoothly, it feels like fiction. But it’s an incredible, inspiring story that really happened.

On the opposite end, Tanaz Bhathena’s A Girl Like That is actually a fictional story rooted in reality. Zarin Wadia is the type of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from. She’s an orphan, a risk taker, and the subject of a lot of gossip at her school in Saudi Arabia. But when she dies in a tragic car accident, her story has to be pieced together—and the number one question is, why was Zarin alone in a car with a boy when she knew she could get in trouble with the religious police?

Continuing the trend of rule-breaking girls, Natalie C. Parker’s Seafire is a swashbuckling adventure featuring lady pirates and swordfights. That’s right, lady pirates. I feel like I could just end my description there and I’d have you hooked. I might not be a massive fan of pirates and boats, but these ladies are fierce and will literally murder you if you don’t cooperate. Parker manages to keep a tight ship in terms of the writing—yeah, there are some sword fights and commandeering of other boats, but she keeps it simple enough for anyone to understand, even landlubbers like me.

If you’re more into romcoms than adventure sequences, Whitney Gardner’s Chaotic Good features the heroine of your dreams. Cameron’s experience with cosplay comes in handy when, tired of being judged for going into her small town’s comic book shop, she decides to dress up as a boy. Suddenly, she’s accepted as just another nerdy guy, and is even invited to a weekly Dungeons & Dragons game. But when she develops a crush on one of the other players and her twin brother falls for another team member, Cameron has to decide whether it’s worth hiding her true identity or if she should just come clean and be herself.  

I read a lot of books last year written by women with female protagonists, but there was one special book written by a man with a male protagonist that really stood out. Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great is Not Okay is a bittersweet contemporary novel about finding the place where you belong. Darius has always felt like an outsider and when he goes to Iran to visit his ailing grandparents, he’s ready to feel even more lost. But being in a different country does wonders for Darius—especially after he meets his grandparents’ next door neighbour, a gentle boy who really seems to understand Darius. You can read their relationship as either “just friends” or “potential boyfriends” and either way, you’ll be wiping away tears. There’s also an interesting take on mental illness with both Darius and his dad taking antidepressants which only seem to work for one of them.

Another LGBTQ friendly book is Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips. Nate is a musical prodigy, the son of a tragic guitarist who committed suicide when Nate was little. Cameron is the heir to the record label who people say pushed Nate’s father to his breaking point. When they meet at a club, not realizing who the other is, they’re immediately attracted to each other. But then, their identities are revealed and Nate bolts—leaving Cam to search the internet for his Cinderfella. That’s right, I said “Cinderfella”—this is a Cinderella retelling starring two boys, a whole bunch of musical references, and a ridiculously cool twin sister who deserves her own spinoff.

In case you can’t tell, I tend to read a lot of contemporary novels, but I did start a fantasy trilogy that I completely fell in love with. Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy is a lush, atmospheric Russian-inspired fairy tale with a badass protagonist and an ice demon who you can’t help but swoon over. I never thought I’d see the day when I fell in love with a winter demon, but I can’t help myself. The writing is so gorgeous, you don’t even notice the page count—which is a pretty impressive feat, considering the third book is nearly 400 pages long.

This year, Katherine Arden also released her first novel for younger readers, Small Spaces, which is exactly the type of spooky middle grade I’m into. It features a broken down bus, a field full of scarecrows, a mysterious notebook, and an urban legend that might actually be true. It’s scary without being traumatizing, and the tight prose whisks you straight through to the end with barely enough time to catch your breath.

I could go on for days about all the other great books I read in 2018, but I think this is a good place to stop. As always, if you want someone to squeal over books with, tweet us at @GeekGirlRiot and let us know what you think we should add to our TBR pile.