Just some recent favorites!
Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan: I grew up going to Walt Disney World roughly once a year, and I’m still a total Disney nerd, and at one point I seriously considered moving to Orlando so I could work at WDW. So how could I not be drawn to a YA contemporary about a group of teens who work at an amusement park (especially when the story includes a queer romance angle)? Back in the day I was part of an unsuccessful online push to keep Disney World from shutting down Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and I’m still bitter about the Frozenification of Epcot’s Maelstrom attraction, so I had serious sympathy for Lou and her attempts to save her beloved Magic Castle Funland from closing. And how darling is that cover?
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno: A lightly magical YA contemporary set on the Gulf Coast of southern Florida? HI I NEED IT IN MY LIFE. I live in South Florida myself, right on the Gulf Coast, and I wish my city could be as bright and colorful and lively as Rosa’s beloved Port Coral. I’ve seen this book described as Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic, and the best elements of both are definitely present here. I envied Mimi’s Florida room/greenhouse–if only I could figure out how to make gardening and herb cultivation work like she does in this climate. I read part of this book by candlelight during a blackout caused by a roaring thunderstorm, and it was the most Florida thing ever. Absolutely lovely.
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim: I took a brief break from YA for this one. Natalie’s a talented chef with an opportunity to reopen her grandmother’s San Francisco Chinatown restaurant and a habit of quitting and running away when things get serious or complicated. The recipes and luscious descriptions of her cooking made me so hungry, and her emotional journey was extremely relatable. The depiction of her late mother’s mental illness is handled with sensitivity, and the touches of magic and fantasy throughout the narrative are utterly charming. This book is a delight that’ll leave you with a craving for perfect dumplings.