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What's Up in YA

A Bloodthirsty Forest, Fat Girls on Book Covers, and More YA Book Talk: December 5, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

I’m in the thick of cramming in horror reads for the upcoming discussions for the 2023 Summer Scares slate. It’s been fun to dive into all things scary as we stare down the end of another year. One is less frightening than the other, and I’ll let you choose which is which.

Let’s dive into this week’s new books and talk about a few cool book covers featuring body diversity coming in 2023.

Bookish Goods

Image of a black and white sticker. It reads "team whoever the villain is."

Team Whoever The Villain Is sticker by MeaggieMoos

I love rooting for a villain sometimes, don’t you? That’s especially true in an enemies to lovers romance. $3.50.

New Releases

Let’s look at two hardcover books hitting shelves this week. You can find the rest of this week’s new releases in the fall roundup of new hardcovers.

Note that we are really at the end of publishing season, so there are few titles to highlight…meaning the diverse options are also sparse this time of year.

lumara book cover

Lumara by Melissa Landers

Nathaniel is a Mystic, and no mortal has ever been allowed inside his secret magical community. But the wedding of his cousin is primed to be the event of the year, and he’s asked Talia, his girlfriend, to join him. It will be the first time a mortal has been allowed inside.

Talia, who does not believe in the world of the Mystic, almost didn’t date Nathaniel at all after learning about his heritage. She doesn’t want to go to the wedding, but ultimately, decides to do it. Immediately, she regrets all her ill thoughts when she sees what a wonderful world it is.

That is, until a wedding guest falls into a coma and she’s pointed to as the one responsible. How does she prove her innocence while also helping find the culprit?

the poison season book cover

The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford

Leelo has always lived in Endla, a community circled by a bloodthirsty forest and poisonous lake, both meant to deter outsiders. While Leelo has loved and appreciated her community, she’s disheartened to know if her little brother does not gain the ability of enchanted song — a key magical power — he’ll be exiled.

As Leelo walks along the lake, she finds an outsider nearly drowning. And even though she knows she is not supposed to save him, she does. Now, Leelo is questioning everything she thought she knew about Endla as she begins to fall more and more in love with this off-limits outsider.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

In my 15 or so years of writing about YA books, there have been so many leaps made in terms of representation. It is still deeply behind reality, but it is much better than it once was…which I know is hard for a lot of people to imagine.

One area where this is especially true is in representation of body size on YA book covers. Specifically, fat female-presenting characters have been more prominent in the last five or so years. In 2023, this is only going to continue to be true. Here are a few of the upcoming year’s fat girls on YA book covers for your own TBR needs.

There will be many who disagree with these bodies being fat. That’s fine. The reality is the “average” body type on YA is in and of itself rare, as lithe and thin ideals are the cover standard. Know that “fat” in some of these examples may simply mean average size. Interestingly, some of the average bodies presented here are for stories about self-described fat characters.

It’s also worth noting that male-presenting fat bodies on YA covers continue to be extremely rare. Where representation of female-presenting bodies on YA covers has improved, there’s still a major gap in being more body inclusive all around.

I’ve simply linked to the book descriptions via Amazon here, so you can explore. There’s something cool about seeing all of these covers with little text that hammers home the point. I’ve credited designers where possible (here’s my regular plea: publishers, put your cover designer and artist info on the pages where you put info about the books).

daughters of oduma book cover

Daughters of Oduma by Moses Ose Utomi (February 7)

firebird book cover

Firebird by Sunmi (June 6); Cover art by Sunmi

her good side book cover

Her Good Side by Rebekah Weatherspoon (May 30); Design by Theresa Evangelista, Illustrations by Poppy Magda

highly suspicious and unfairly cute book cover

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert (January 3)

love letters for joy book cover

Love Letters for Joy by Melissa See (June 6); Cover art by reendoodles

no boy summer book cover

No Boy Summer by Amy Spalding (April 25); Cover Art by Jeff Ostbergt

out of character book cover

Out of Character by Jenna Miller (February 7); Cover design by David DeWitt and art by Nicole Rifkin

then everything happens at once book cover

Then Everything Happens at Once by M-E Girard (January 31); Cover illustrated by Adams Carvalho and designed by Joel Tippie

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Thursday for your (scant, ngl!) paperback releases and your YA book news.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, reading all of the horror YA right now from years past.

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What's Up in YA

A World-Saving Pickpocket, This Year’s Best YA, and More YA Book News and Talk: December 1, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

Welcome to December. Let’s dive right on in to this week’s new books and YA book news.

Bookish Goods

I'd Rather Be Reading sweatshirt

I’d Rather Be Reading Bookish Sweatshirt by AriellaSkyDesigns

Looking for the perfect ugly sweatshirt for your next holiday party (or because you like them)? This bookish take is perfect. $35 and up, sizes up to 5XL.

New Releases

You likely know the drill by now: usually on Thursdays, I highlight two new paperback releases. This week, and likely in future weeks through the end of the year, we’ll see fewer and fewer books hitting shelves, but more, we’ll see fewer paperbacks among them. Wrestling up two to talk about that aren’t titles within a series is challenging this week, so I’m sharing one paperback and one hardcover (that wasn’t shared on Monday).

You can grab the full list of paperback books out this week over here!

Note that you may need to toggle to the paperback edition of Master of One from the link.

master of one book cover

Master of One by Jaida Jones and Dani Bennett

Described as Six of Crows meets The Cruel Prince, this fantasy adventure follows a pickpocket named Rags captured by a sorcerer who wants to take over the world. Rags is tasked with capturing ancient relics of the fae world…but come to find out, those “relics” are people. Rags and his newfound allies will need to work their magic in order to take down the sorcerer. Sinister sorcery + queer romance.

We Deserve Monuments cover

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

I try not to highlight titles here that are also being advertised in the newsletter — the more titles you get to know about the better — but this one sounds so good that it’s getting a shout out here, too.

Avery’s been forced to move from her home in DC to the home of her ailing grandmother in small town Bardell, Georgia. Avery’s mother and grandmother have a challenging relationship, but every time Avery tries to learn about why, she’s met with hostility herself. As Avery begins to befriend two locals, she starts to learn about the dark racist history of the community…and how her family is connected to it. She’s got to decide how much she pushes to learn about the secrets her family is suppressing and whether or not it’s worth upsetting the community. It’s a story about racism, trauma, coming out, and so much more.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

YA Book News

With the slowdown in publishing, both in new books and book news, I hope you’re taking some time to get cozy and settle into that massive TBR. I know I am!

We’ll see you on Saturday with some rad YA book deals. Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

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What's Up in YA

Family Ghosts, Winter Holiday Reads, and More YA Book Talk: November 28, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

I hope you had a great weekend and that you’re ready to wrap up another month. It’s hard to believe December is almost here, but when I look back at my reading from the year, I am also not surprised, as things I read in March and April feel like they happened twelve years ago. Time! It’s bizarre.

Let’s dive into this week’s new books and highlight a handful of wonderfully romantic winter holiday reads.

Bookish Goods

Image of a keychain that says "I heart bookshops."

Bookshop Lovers Enamel Keychain by ziziandme

Love a good bookshop? Same. Carry that love around with you with this gold-plated enamel keychain. I dig all of the details on this one, including the sweet lil kitty in the window. $14.

New Releases

Let’s look at two hardcover books hitting shelves this week. You can find the rest of this week’s new releases in the fall roundup of new hardcovers.

cover of house of yesterday by deeba zargarpur

House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur

Looking for a book that is mostly realistic except there are ghosts? Look no further.

Sara comes from a large Afghani-Uzbeck family, but she’s feeling alone after the divorce of her parents. Her dad’s started dating someone new, and making things more awkward is the fact that her dad and mom still work together in their house flipping business. Sara’s recruited as part of their work to take photos of the before and after.

The newest project, Sumner, is not giving great vibes. Sara begins to see a ghost of her grandmother, then the ghost of a strange little girl. No one else is seeing this, and she can’t capture it on camera. Her grandmother, who struggles with memory, has been having strange conversations about having another child none of her family seems to know about. Are these comments and what Sara’s seeing related?

This is an immersive story about family, about history, and about the stories and choices immigrants sometimes have to make in order to build a new life.

never ever getting back together book cover

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

Maya and Skye are both recruited for a reality TV show, wherein they’re competing to win back the adoration of their ex-boyfriend Jordy. Jordy, brother to royalty, has captured the spotlight in his new country as an eligible bachelor, and this show is a way to really play into the public’s interests in him.

Here’s the problem: Jordy cheated on Maya with Skye, and now, the two girls are sharing the same room during the show. Maya is angry and mean toward Skye, who has no idea what she’s done to draw Maya’s ire. But as Maya opens up, she and Skye begin to develop a bond that no guy — not even someone as eligible as Jordy — could break.

And there just might be a lot of kissing and hijinks involved.

This is a fun bisexual romcom, packed with absurd situations that make it an easy, delightful read. You’re going to root for the girls and be so glad they get their HEA.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Looking for a winter holiday read with a healthy helping of l-o-v-e? Here are some titles you’ll want to pop onto your TBR.

eight nights of flirting book cover

Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds

Shira’s plan for Hannukah? Get a boyfriend. She’s hoping to finally catch the eye of Isaac, her great uncle’s assistant. The problem is that Hannah has no idea how to flirt or how to get the attention of another person romantically. That’s when Tyler — a boy Hannah once had a crush on but is now kind of her nemesis — enters. He offers to teach her how to flirt in exchange for helping him make some connections for a future career.

Only problem? Once they’re snowed in together, they might begin throwing out the plan and falling for each other.

I'm dreaming of a wyatt christmas book cover

I’m Dreaming of a Wyatt Christmas by Tiffany Schmidt

Noelle is a 14-year-old dancer who is excited about the prospect of attending a dance academy — but it might be out of the budget and out of reality with a single father whose business hasn’t yet started to thrive. Noelle is also a babysitter and she’s been given the chance to attend a week-long ski vacation with a client family as a means of babysitting the youngest child when he’s not up for the activity. It’s good money, it’s time away, and even though it conflicts with all of her favorite Christmas traditions, she knows things are not going to be what they used to be before her mom died. Her dad’s attention and presence has been waning, so she might as well stash some cash for potentially going to the dance academy (one hitch: she hasn’t told her dad yet).

Enter Wyatt.

He’s the stepson of the family Noelle is babysitting and her deep crush. He’s a dancer, too, and a student at the academy. When he shows up as a surprise on the ski trip, it’s with a secret: he wants to leave the dance academy. It’s no longer his dream or passion. While he and Noelle are not immediately smitten, feelings do develop…as does Noelle’s understanding of what it is SHE’S passionate about, too, and it might not be the future she once saw for herself.

rent-a-boyfriend book cover

Rent-A-Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Chloe hires Andrew to come with her at Thanksgiving and play the role of her boyfriend. She hopes to convince her parents that she’s found a good person to be with who isn’t the boy her parents have been attempting to arrange her with. But while building a collection of lies begins to weigh heavily on Chloe over the next few months, those told to her parents, told to her by her parents, and those she wrestles with when it comes to Real Feelings she develops for her rental boyfriend.

It’s the fake dating trope woven into a story of generational cultural differences, balancing the cute and humorous with some good meat on the bone. You’ll get to experience a nice range of winter holidays in this one, including Chinese New Year.

whiteout book cover

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nicola Yoon, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nic Stone

Set right before Christmas, this collaborative story is sure to get you in the mood for all things winter, snow, and maybe even a little love.

12 teens are out to help a friend make a giant apology, but then, Atlanta is struck by a snowstorm. Will they be able to make it happen? This is a sweet winter romance told through several voices, perspectives, and, of course, packed with feelings.


There are a number more I could have included here, including one of my favorite YA romances 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (being set up by your extended Sicilian family over Christmas break and having to endure some pretty wild dates leads to a fun read). If you’re itching for more, check out this roundup of 2022 YA holiday romances by Emily Martin from earlier this month.

I’m grabbing a cup of hot chocolate now to curl up with a sweet read and I hope you are too.

See you later this week!

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

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What's Up in YA

Raw Witch Powers, Murder Swapping, and More YA Book Talk and News: November 24, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying a nice meal today. If you’ve got the day off, may it be relaxing. If you don’t have it off, may you find some time to carve out to relax.

I just got back from a weekend away and kickstarted my reading again. I finished four books while gone — one on audio and three print/digital titles — and I plan on spending my time today getting even more reading in. (& I’m excited to tell you about a couple of the books I read this week in next week’s newsletter.)

Let’s dive in.

Bookish Goods

four page holders with plant leaves inside them

Pressed Plant Page Holder by CasualCraftyCreation

Whether you’re in the market for a page holder or are looking for an easy and practical gift for your own holiday list, these pressed plant options keep a little greenery right at your fingers. There are a lot of fun (and practical!) shapes to choose from. $13.

New Releases

It’s a holiday week here in the U.S., during the season when publishing is already winding down for the year, so the range of titles from which to choose to highlight is small. Last week, I pulled a hardcover into the usual paperback roundup but this week, I don’t really have that option either in order to ensure this isn’t an all-white highlight real. Both books here are worth reading, but note that the lack of author diversity is because of how few books are hitting shelves right now.

You can grab the full list of paperback books out this week over here!

Note that you may need to toggle to the paperback edition from the link.

a rush of wings book cover

A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth

When Rowenna’s mother dies, she takes with her the training that Rowenna needs to unlock her magical talents. But when a stormy night brings with it a shipwreck and Rowenna rescues Galen, it appears her mother has come back from the dead.

Her mother, though, is anything but. She’s infused with evil and turns Galen, as well as Rowenna’s brothers, into swans. She’s also taken Rowenna’s voice. Desperate to save her brothers, Galen, and herself, Rowenna travels to a nearby town, desperate to break the curse.

But how can she use her raw magic for her own needs if strangers keep trying to take it from her?

you owe me a murder book cover

You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook

Kim’s boyfriend has dumped her for another girl, and now, Kim is stuck on a class trip to London with both of them. Kim wishes he was dead so she did not have to deal with him.

Nikki, who is Kim’s seat mate on the flight, listens to her story. They have a quick bond and Nikki jokes about them swapping murders. It’s fun and games until Kim’s ex-boyfriend dies mysteriously, and now, Nikki is blackmailing Kim until she upholds her end of the bargain (one she never actually made).

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

YA Book News

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Saturday for your YA book deals.

Until then, happy reading.

— Kelly Jensen, currently blowing through Now Is Not The Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson, which has excellent YA crossover appeal.

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What's Up in YA

Fairy tales Retold, A Real-Life Historical Criminal, and More YA Book Talk: November 21, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s dive into all things new books this week, highlighting both the new releases hitting shelves in hardcover and a host of YA nonfiction books that came out throughout the month. These would make some delicious reads for those of you with a long weekend — or a random Thursday off — this week.

Bookish Goods

gray sweatshirt with the word "bookish" in white text.

Bookish Sweatshirt by iprintasty

This is a really straightforward sweatshirt, but its simplicity is its beauty. Grab a “bookish” crewneck in several colors for the perfect winter reading uniform piece — I’m a big fan of the navy one. ~$40, up to size 5XL.

New Releases

Let’s look at two hardcover books hitting shelves this week. You can find the rest of this week’s new releases in the fall roundup of new hardcovers.

at midnight book cover

At Midnight edited by Dahlia Adler

Adler’s third anthology features yet another star-studded contributorship. This time, 15 different writers offer up twists on beloved fairy tales ranging from Rumpelstiltskin to Puss in Boots to The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and more. Among the contributors are Malinda Lo, Alex London, Stacey Lee, and Tracy Deonn.

other side of the tracks book cover

Other Side of the Tracks by Charity Alyse

Bayside and Hamilton are racially-divided towns, and no one crosses the tracks. When Zach, who is white, moves to Bayside and pursues his dreams of music by visiting the historic jazz music shop in Hamilton, he meets Capri. Capri, who dreams of Broadway, lives in Hamilton and knows that even if she and Zach are connecting in a powerful way, their relationship could raise eyebrows.

When a white Bayside cop kills the star of the Hamilton football team — who happens to be best friends with Capri’s older brother — everything will be put to the test.

Pass this along to readers who love The Hate U Give and All American Boys.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

November in Nonfiction

How about a look at a handful of new YA nonfiction that hit shelves this month? It’s a nice collection of original titles, as well as titles adapted from adult books for teen audiences. Whether you like history, biography/memoir, or adventure, there’s something here — a nice way to celebrate nonfiction November.

Two books that also hit shelves this month but aren’t included below are the young reader edition of Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Monique Gray Smith, as both were highlighted in the October 24 edition of the newsletter.

Black internet effect book cover

Black Internet Effect by Shavone Charles

The number of people of color who are leaders in the tech field — let alone the number of women of color specifically who fall into this category — continues to remain abysmally small. Charles’s book is about her rise through companies like Google and Twitter and how she landed herself on Forbes’s list of 30 under 30. Not only does she share her story, but she highlights how other young women of color can, and should, continue to demand space in these powerhouse STEM fields.

dreaming in code book cover

Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully (new in paperback)

Perfect for the younger YA readers and those middle grade readers itching for YA books is this biography of Ada Byron Lovelace. Raised by her mother in isolation from her father, the poet Lord Byron, Ada grew up being tutored by some of the brightest people in England. When she was 17, Ada met Charles Babbage, and together, the two of them developed several ideas and concepts that still impact computer programming today.

Pass this along to readers who want STEM books featuring rad women leaders…and frankly, it never gets old thinking about how Lovelace is the daughter of Lord Byron.

hanged book cover

Hanged!: Mary Surratt & the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln by Sarah Miller

Miller writes some of the most compelling YA nonfiction with a criminal beat to it, and this one sounds like no exception. Mary Surratt has the distinction of being the first woman hanged in the United States. Her supposed crime? Being the individual behind the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln, his vice president, the secretary of state, and General Grant. Surratt is a complex woman from an equally complex background, and this book offers both that insight and the question of whether she was guilty as charged or in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(I cannot recommend Miller’s take on the Lizzie Borden murders enough, either, so pop The Borden Murders on your TBR, too, if true historical crime is your jam.)

the other side book cover

The Other Side by Juan Pablo Villalobos (new in paperback)

How much do you know of the stories of migrant teens who leave their homes in Central America for a new life in the United States? This book offers their voices and perspectives. Weaving together the stories of 11 Central American teens, it follows their paths from the decision to flee, the challenges they experienced, and the fears and hopes they have in America. An honest look at the refugee crisis and how it directly impacts young people.

Thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Thursday for some paperback talk, some YA news, and more.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, currently catching up on her podcast listening.

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What's Up in YA

Bisexual Retellings, Rivals-to-Romance, and More YA Book Talk and News: November 17, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

I’m gearing up — quite literally — for a long weekend in northern Wisconsin. One of my yoga teachers hosts a biannual retreat, and I’ve been needing to get away for a couple of days and focus entirely on me and my well-being. I’m super looking forward to what will be some cold hiking in one of my favorite places in the country, a massage, yoga and meditation, journaling, and plenty of time around a fire with some books and hot chocolate in the evening. Is there anything cozier?

Let’s dive into some more of this week’s new YA books and this week’s YA book news.

Bookish Goods

orange plaid book sleeve

Orange Plaid Book Sleeve by CPickeringCo

Looking for a new book sleeve to protect your ereader or current read? If I weren’t already into the cover I have for my ereader, I’d definitely be tempted by this orange plaid option. $13.50 and up, depending on size.

New Releases

I’m changing it up a little bit this week. Usually on Thursdays, I highlight two new paperback releases. This week, and likely in future weeks through the end of the year, we’ll see fewer and fewer books hitting selves, but more, we’ll see fewer paperbacks among them. Wrestling up two to talk about that aren’t titles within a series is challenging this week, so I’m sharing one paperback and one hardcover (that wasn’t shared on Monday).

Briar Girls cover

Briar Girls by Rebecca Kim Wells — in paperback

Lena was cursed by a witch before she was born, leading her to a secret: she can kill with the touch of her skin. But when she and her father are forced from their lives of isolation, they end up in a village near the Silence, a forest that reportedly lures people in who are never again seen.

But when Miranda stumbles out of the Silence and meets Lena, she tells her about Gather, a city within the forest with magic. Miranda is on a search for someone who can wake the sleeping princess of Gather, who she believes holds the secret to liberating Gather from their tyrant leader. Miranda offers Lena a chance to break free from her own curse, so long as she helps find someone to wake the princess.

Lena’s on it…but the more she discovers about Gather and Miranda, the more she sees she’s been lied to about her own past. Dive into a fantastical bisexual retelling of The Sleeping Beauty.

the lies we tell book cover

The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao

Social activism + enemies-to-lovers + thriller + college campus setting, this one is checking all of the boxes for so many readers.

Anna is moving into the dorms across town to attend Brookings University; she’s still close to her parents’ home and their struggling bakery. She’s determined to not only do well in school but to investigate a crime that happened on campus and claimed the life of her former babysitter.

When Anna encounters middle school rival Chris, whose family opened a bakery near the one her parents run, she’s wary. But a vandal who hit his family’s bakery left a racist tag and it matches something in Anna’s other investigation.

After a threat against Anna, she realizes that her connections with Chris might be what helps her get to the bottom of the death of her former babysitter, the vandalism at Chris’s family’s bakery, and a series of other local racist events.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

YA Book News

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Saturday with some great YA book deals.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, currently packing Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales….and yes, even as someone who doesn’t listen to Taylor Swift, the song is in my head.

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Native Horror, Black Prep Schools, and More YA Book Talk: November 14, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

Somehow, someway, we’re half way through November. This year has not flown by for me, but this month certainly is.

Let’s take a gander at some of the new books on shelves this week, as well as two Native YA titles for your TBR.

Bookish Goods

acrylic mushroom bookmark

Forest Mushroom Bookmark by BlackCatCommodity

Despite the fact it feels like winter is here in many parts (we’ve finally broken through the unseasonably warm weather here in the upper midwest), it is still fall. As someone who loves the mushroom aesthetic, it’s hard to resist this fun, autumnal acrylic bookmark.

New Releases

Let’s look at two hardcover books hitting shelves this week. You can find the rest of this week’s new releases in the fall roundup of new hardcovers.

briarcliff prep book cover

Briarcliff Prep by Brianna Peppins

This is the second contemporary Black YA prep/boarding school book I can think of that published this year (the first being Seton Girls) and I am here for this! More, this one features a 14 year old lead.

Avielle LeBeau is just starting Briarcliff Prep, a historically Black Boarding School. She’s excited to fit in with kids who look like her and get her, and she’s eager to follow in her family’s legacy. But when Avielle discovers a secret about her sister’s boyfriend, she realizes she has to make a choice that could change everyone’s life: keep the secret or tell her sister and potentially ruin their sibling relationship.

the 9:09 project book cover

The 9:09 Project by Mark H. Parsons

For readers looking to fall into a thoughtful and evocative book about grief and healing, this is one to have on your radar.

Jamison’s mother died two years ago. He, his little sister, and his dad are all coping in their separate ways, but when Jamison comes close to completely forgetting the date of his mom’s birthday, he worries that he’s losing the memory of someone he holds dear.

This is his reason for picking up the Nikon camera his mother gave him as a gift, and he decides to take photos on the street at the same time every single night. The simple routine is anything but, and Jamison discovers an incredible world around him and it helps him keep the memory of his mother alive and reconnect more deeply with his dad and sister.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

In the first newsletter this month, Erica offered up two Native YA books in honor of Native and Indigenous Peoples’ Month. Let’s look at two more, as publishing (thanks in no small part to leaders like Cynthia Leitich Smith) is slowly catching up with the incredible storytelling by Native writers.

Both of these are newer releases, having hit shelves this year.

man made monsters book cover

Man Made Monsters by Andrea L. Rogers (Cherokee)

This horror short story collection looks incredible, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Following a family from their ancestral lands in Georgia to World War I, the present, and the future, Rogers delivers a series of horror stories ripe with the classic horror creatures like vampires and zombies, as well as real life horrors like colonization and intimate partner violence. Interspersed are, of course, legends of Cherokee horror, and each story includes a beautiful illustration by Cherokee artist Jeff Edwards.

the summer of bitter and sweet book cover

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson (Métis)

Lou’s not preparing for the best summer ever. She’s going to be working at the family’s ice cream shop alongside her ex-boyfriend and King, her former best friend who disappeared for several years.

Things only get more complicated when Lou receives a letter from her biological father, who is in jail. He’s desperate to meet her but Lou would prefer he stay in prison for the rest of their lives.

But feelings are coming up around King and the ice cream business is struggling…and now Lou realizes she might need to face her father, even if it is the last thing she wants to do.

*Note: what we think of as “America” in reference to Native American Heritage Month is a colonizer distinction, thus why I’ve included a Canadian author on this list.

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Thursday for your paperback releases, as well as your YA book news.

In the meantime, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.

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Friendship Breakups, Adaptationpalooza, and More YA Book Talk and News: November 10, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

If you’re in an area where the clocks change, I hope you’re finding your groove in the new distribution of daylight. It’s been tougher for me than usual — but I have found a nice rhythm of crawling into bed when I’m done with my responsibilities for the day and reading for long stretches of time (which is, for me, a whole hour or so!). I’m trying to really lean into the seasons at this point in my life, and I think that this wintering season will bring so much good reading.

Let’s dive into this week’s paperback releases and YA book news.

Bookish Goods

image of a cozy book mug

Booklovers Ceramic Mug by AppleCrispCo

One of the things I’ve done to prepare for this season is stock up on my favorite teas and splurge on a new seasonal mug. Maybe you’d like to add a new mug to your collection, too, and if so, this one has all of the cozy reader vibes. $13.

(If you’re curious, the one I picked up isn’t bookish but it is pretty dang cute. Bonus is it is big and comes with a strainer!).

New Releases

Welcome to paperback releases out this week. This is but a sample of what’s hitting shelves; you can grab the full list of paperback books out this week over here!

Note that you may need to toggle to the paperback edition from the link.

muse book cover

Muse by Brittany Cavallaro

This one is pitched as American Royals meets The Winner’s Curse and is set in a reimagined American monarchy.

It’s 1893 and Claire’s father is a highly sought-after inventor, though he believes his magic comes through the touch of his daughter to whatever it is he is creating. This means she’s under his eye nearly all the time.

The province is preparing for war, and Claire is preparing to leave, despite her best friend begging her to stay and fight in the resistance. But her father’s invention doesn’t work as planned at the World’s Fair and Claire is taken captive by a young ruler who believes she has the magic to help him become more powerful as a leader.

Now Claire has a rare opportunity she never saw coming: does she help build a new world or does she burn everything down?

when we were them book cover

When We Were Them by Laura Taylor Namey

Willa, Luz, and Britton were the best of friends at 15, at 16, and at 17, through good times and bad. Then, Willa ruined it all at 18.

Now it’s the week of graduation and Willa cracks open a memory box from the times they spent together. She begins to wonder what could end what they had, then realizes that, without them, she has no idea who she herself is.

So often I see YA readers talk about the lack of friendship stories — and there are actually many of them, though they’re overshadowed by stories with a romantic arc — and this is a solid entry into the world of friendship (and friendship breakup) YA.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

YA Book News

Adaptation news continues to be the biggest news in the world of YA, and this week isn’t any different.

  • The way this piece is written is pretty annoying and click-baity, but if you’ve watched or are curious about The Bastard Son & Devil Himself, know it’s based on a YA novel.
  • Roshani Chokshi’s A Crown of Wishes will be adapted into a live-action series from Disney.
  • The adaptation of I Wish You All The Best now has its lead. Want to know more about this adaptation and see some photos from the filming? You’re in luck!
  • A fascinating dive into the world of Anne of Green Gables adaptations, including several YA takes on the story (my personal favorite book inspired by the classic is the crossover title Ana of California).
  • An important read about Kit Connor — one of the stars of Heartstopperbeing forced to come out as bisexual. There has been a lot of powerful discourse in the YA world about people being forced out and/or being told they’re not truly the identity they say they are when forced to come out. It is especially brutal to see it happening to a teenager.
  • I love a deep dive into older YA titles, and this look at Baby-Sitter’s Nightmares is a fun one.

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Saturday with some YA book deals.

Until then, get cozy and happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargrpur.

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What's Up in YA

A Walled City, An Atlanta Whiteout, Self-Care, and More YA Book Talk: November 7, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

I’m finally finding my way again with reading — life sometimes makes it less of a priority, and then all of a sudden, the time and space opens up to fully invest again. I’ve got a pile of YA to read through that’s been stacking up, so I’m hopeful to keep at it.

Let’s take a look at this week’s new hardcover releases, as well as talk about some self-care books for teens.

Bookish Goods

Image of an enamel pin featuring a brown cow reading in bed

Librocubicularist Pin by thecleverclove

It is a cow. Reading a book. In bed. LOOK AT THE BUNNY SLIPPERS, TOO. This enamel pin is way too dang cute. $12.

New Releases

Let’s look at two hardcover books hitting shelves this week. You can find the rest of this week’s new releases in the fall roundup of new hardcovers.

the q book cover

The Q by Amy Tintera

Maisie Rojas, 17, has spent her life inside the Q. The Q is a post-pandemic quarantine zone, where security walls seal off the perimeter. She is a lieutenant for one of the Q’s leading families.

Lennon Pierce is the son of a U.S. presidential candidate. Kidnapped by enemies of his father, he’s dropped into Q. While given a temporary antidote to the disease, if he’s not out within 48 hours, he’ll become infected and forced to remain within the city’s walls.

Maisie is responsible for getting Lennon out, and what begins is a compelling adventure full of danger and a clock counting down the time way too fast.

whiteout book cover

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nicola Yoon, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nic Stone

If you loved this star-studded author lineup’s Blackout, you’ll be wanting to grab this one ASAP.

12 teens are out to help a friend make a giant apology, but then, Atlanta is struck by a snowstorm. Will they be able to make it happen? This is a sweet winter romance told through several voices, perspectives, and, of course, packed with feelings.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

It is nonfiction November, so expect to see a few roundups here this month featuring all things YA nonfiction. This week, I was inspired by another new release hitting shelves.

Let’s take a look at a few books for teens that focus on self-care. You’ll note none of these are about what the media portrays as self-care: there aren’t bubble baths and manicures (those are fine, but they’re also consumerist, which is antithetical to many reasons why self-care matters).

luminary book cover

Luminary: A Magical Guide to Self-Care by Kate Scelsa

This book looks like so much fun and hits shelves this week. It’s a guide to mystical practices for self-care, offering ways to fulfill one’s heart and replenish one’s magic. It has advice and insight from several different practitioners touching on everything from tarot to astrology, energy work, and more. It’s a highly designed book packed with art and illustrations, making it super approachable and fun.

you are more than magic book cover

You Are More Than Magic: The Black and Brown Girls’ Guide to Finding Your Voice by Minda Harts

It is crucial to acknowledge who self-care can leave out, and it’s also important to acknowledge that self-care comes in so many different forms. This book, which is about helping Black and Brown teens find, hone, and use their voice, does a fantastic job of both empowering these teens and showing them the reasons why caring for themselves and their unique perspectives and experiences matters. Harts covers topics like building friendships and relationships, setting boundaries, being a self-advocate, negotiating, and more.

That’s all for me for today. As always, thanks so much for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Thursday.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, who is excited to get her hands on Whiteout this week.

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What's Up in YA

Rivals Who Fall for One Another, Found Family, and More YA Books and News: November 3, 2022

Happy November, YA Readers!

It’s hard to believe we are in the final few weeks of the year. Or maybe it isn’t hard to believe and you, like me, are kind of relieved to see this year come to an end.

Let’s take a look at this week’s best YA paperback releases, alongside all of the YA news you can use. I hope your new month is treating you as best it can.

Bookish Goods

new classics of YA tshirts

New “Classics” YA Tee by MissFairchildCreates

I love every single thing about this T-shirt. It’s up for pre-order now, so grab one. It features sketches of some of the best YA authors out there right now, including Nicola Yoon, Adam Silvera, Elizabeth Acevedo, and more. $35, size small – 4 XL.

New Releases

Welcome to paperback releases out this week. This is but a sample of what’s hitting shelves; you can grab the full list of paperback books out this week over here!

Note that you may need to toggle to the paperback edition from the link.

Because of the virtue of these being paperback releases, there are not any paperback books out this week (in my records!) that are by authors of color. Expect this to happen periodically through the end of the year as publishing winds down its fall season. It’s not necessarily a bad thing — sometimes books remaining in hardcover for a longer period of time is a good thing!

the midnight girls book cover

The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska

This one is going to be short and sweet, y’all.

It’s a snow-covered kingdom.

Two rivals are secretly competing for the heart of the price.

Except…in the midst of their rivalry, they might be falling for one another.

the reckless kind book cover

The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath

A queer historical YA book about teens who choose a life outside the norms of their small-town? Yes please!

In 1904, Asta is against marrying Nils, to whom she’s been betrothed. Her parents believe she should feel lucky to be married, as she is partially deaf, has an odd appearance, and is strange. Asta wants instead to run away with her friends who are more like her and live as a performer in the village theater.

When Nils lashes out against one of Asta’s friends, she decides things are officially over. She and her two friends move to a secluded cabin and are determined to make their off-grid life work…by winning the annual horse race put on by their village. None of them have experience, but that doesn’t matter. Their determination and drive are going to help them plan their lives out exactly as they wish.

They’ll just have to avoid death.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

YA Book News

Thanks, as always, for hanging out. We’ll see you on Saturday for some YA book deals.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Twitter.