Beyond the Buzz: Reading Recommendations from Wendy Darling (+Giveaway)


Welcome to the Beyond the (Latest) Buzz series, where I’m asking YA & kidlit librarians as well as book bloggers to share books they think deserve more attention. Read on to see what titles blogger Wendy Darling from The Midnight Garden wants to share with us today… 

Scroll down for an announcement of the giveaway winner!

Guest post by Wendy Darling

It’s easy to catch someone’s attention with a gorgeous cover, a bestseller stamp of approval, or a splashy marketing campaign. But some of the books I’ve loved best over the past few years have been hidden gems, so I was pleased when Nova invited me to write about books that I felt deserved to find a wider audience.

The following books, both YA and beyond, are ones that have surprised me and moved me in unexpected ways. They all feature young women at a crucial point in self-discovery, so they’re titles that I am constantly recommending to open-minded YA readers who want to try something a little different.

UltravioletUltraviolet by R. J. Anderson (Carolrhoda Lab)

What if you were locked in a mental institute because you were accused of murdering your classmate? That is where Alison Jeffries’ story begins, but the mystery behind her friend’s missing body takes you to unimaginable places as you get to know the remarkable heroine. Written in gorgeous prose, this book is filled with unexpected twists and turns, and might even remind you of beloved speculative authors such as Madeleine L’Engle.

a-certain-slant-of-light-book-coverA Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (Graphia)

Helen is a ghost who has inhabited different human bodies for over a hundred years. This unusual story is slow, sad, and involves questionable ethics that often makes it a fairly polarizing read. I love the originality of the concept and the keenness of the emotion, however, as well as the complex, literary style of the author’s writing.

the reapers are the angelsThe Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (Holt Paperbacks)

In a post-apocalyptic world, survivors wander the earth in search of food…and doing their best to avoid zombies. The interesting thing is, this isn’t your typical genre thriller—it’s certainly gruesome in parts, with tricky dialect and violent imagery–but it’s also touched with unexpected beauty and deep feeling.

There’s a thrill of discovery that comes with every book that moves us as readers, but when the stars align for a book that hasn’t gotten as much attention, it’s especially satisfying to be able to share them with friends. Thanks so much to Nova for giving us the opportunity to spread the love!

Have you read and loved these books? Chime in and tell us what you think in the comments! 


One commenter on this post won a Hidden Gem!

a-certain-slant-of-light-book-coverthe reapers are the angelsUltraviolet 

Wendy hand-picked one lucky winner from the comments below, and the winner is…

Courtney Leigh!

Who said: 

As many have said, these all look like books I’d severely enjoy, but your description of A Certain Slant of Light snagged my attention above the other two. “This story…involves questionable ethics that often makes it a fairly polarizing read.”

I will read any and all YA, but the ones that tend to stick with me and force me to think about them long after I finish the last sentence are the ones where there is no hero or heroine. Where the main character makes bad, misguided, even cruel choices. I want to find out if they change or learn or regret. I want to know how they come to terms with themselves, if they ever do. I want to see all the inescapable repercussions.

But wait! Then you throw in a ghost and a “complex, literary style”? I am absolutely sold. Even if I don’t receive the giveaway, I will be purchasing this book. Thanks for all the recs!

Congrats, Courtney! You won a copy of A Certain Slant of Light! Thank you to Wendy for offering up the giveaway—and to everyone who entered!

Wendy Darling never stopped reading children’s and young adult books, and believes you shouldn’t either. If you’re a kindred spirit, please feel free to connect with her on her blog The Midnight Garden, GoodReads, Twitter, and Facebook.


Want more in the Beyond the (Latest) Buzz series?

Here are the posts in the series so far:

  • YA/middle-school librarian Jennifer Hubert Swan recommends Better Than Running at Night and Every Time a Rainbow Dies
  • YA librarian Kelly Jensen recommends a whole host of books including Sorta Like a Rock StarFirst Day on EarthFrost, and more
  • Youth services librarian Liz Burns recommends The President’s Daughter, Flora Segunda, and All Unquiet Things
  • YA librarian Angie Manfredi recommends Rats Saw God
  • YA librarian Abby Johnson recommends the top five books she read this year: The Berlin Boxing Club; Blizzard of Glass; Dogtag Summer; Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have; and A Girl Named Faithful Plum 
  • Book blogger Kari Olson from A Good Addiction recommends books including Freefall, I Swear, Like Mandarin, and more
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