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20 2020 Middle Grade Books To Have On Your Radar

Just like with my YA list from earlier this week, this list could have easily been much longer. Why oh why do we ever have to do anything other than read? I could easily fill every single waking hour with reading.

Also just like my YA list, this list is heavy on the contemporary fiction. It’s what I like best. I’m not saying there are no good fantasy or sci-fi or whatever books—this is just my personal list of anticipated reads.

Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are excited to read in 2020!

All descriptions from the publishers or Goodreads summaries.

Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome (ISBN-13: 9780823444427 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 01/07/2020)

Behind every bad boy is a story worth hearing and at least one chance for redemption. It’s 1946 and Lymon, uprooted from his life in the Deep South and moved up North, needs that chance.

Lymon’s father is, for the time being, at Parchman Farm—the Mississippi State Penitentiary—and his mother, whom he doesn’t remember all that much, has moved North. Fortunately, Lymon is being raised by his loving grandparents. Together, Lymon and his grandpops share a love of music, spending late summer nights playing the guitar.

But Lymon’s world as he knows it is about to dissolve. He will be sent on a journey to two Northern cities far from the country life he loves—and the version of himself he knows. In this companion novel to the Coretta Scott King Honor wining Finding Langston, readers will see a new side of the bully Lymon in this story of an angry boy whose raw talent, resilience, and devotion to music help point him in a new direction.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (ISBN-13: 9780062875853 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/14/2020)

From debut author Janae Marks comes a captivating mystery full of heart, as one courageous girl questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right—even in the face of great opposition. A perfect book for fans of Front Desk and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook!

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (ISBN-13: 9781338129335 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 02/04/2020)

In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy’s grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.

It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy-that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?”

But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.

The Thing About Jellyfish meets The Stars Beneath Our Feet in this story about loss, grief, and finding the courage to discover one’s identity, from the author of Hurricane Child.

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh (ISBN-13: 9781250171115 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 02/04/2020)

Kat Leyh’s Snapdragon is a magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself.

Snap’s town had a witch.

At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online—after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.

They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic—and a connection with Snap’s family’s past.

Parked by Danielle Svetcov (ISBN-13: 9780399539039 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/04/2020)

Rebecca Stead meets The Westing Game in this scrappy, poignant, uplifting debut about family, friendship, and accepting help enough to help yourself.

Twelve-year-old Jeanne Ann has doubts when her mom spends their savings on an old orange van and bundles them off to San Francisco to chase Mom’s dream of working as a chef. There, they camp on the street while her mother looks for a job she never gets. Before long, Jeanne Ann realizes that this van is the closest thing she has to a home.


Across the road, twelve-year-old Cal watches the homeless community parked just beyond his big house. Cal’s mom is busy with the upscale restaurant she owns, but they’ve always been close—until Cal does something his mom just doesn’t understand.


Then Cal and Jeanne Ann meet. Cal is too tall and too weird and too rich and wears all his feelings on the outside of his skin, and he just wants to help. Jeanne Ann is smart, she is funny, she is stubborn—hers is a royal-looking chin, in Cal’s opinion—and she does not want his help. But a quirky, meaningful friendship develops. And as it does, the pair is buoyed by a remarkable cast of nuanced, oddball characters who let them down and lift them up.


Debut novelist Danielle Svetcov nails heartbreak and hope, and pulls it off with a kind of kid-speed levity and warmth that make the funny parts of this story cathartic and the difficult parts all the more affecting.

Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith (ISBN-13: 9781328841612 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 02/11/2020)

A delightfully creepy novel from a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner imbued with magic and seafaring mythology. Lemony Snicket and Jessica Townsend meet Greenglass House, with a hint of Edward Gorey thrown in.

When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human—and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world?

Another delightfully creepy tale from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award–winning author, Ronald L. Smith.

Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk! by Greg Howard (ISBN-13: 9780525517528 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/11/2020)

In this heartfelt and hilarious new novel from Greg Howard, an enterprising boy starts his own junior talent agency and signs a thirteen-year-old aspiring drag queen as his first client.

Twelve-year-old Mikey Pruitt—president, founder, and CEO of Anything, Inc.—has always been an entrepreneur at heart. Inspired by his grandfather Pap Pruitt, who successfully ran all sorts of businesses from a car wash to a roadside peanut stand, Mikey is still looking for his million-dollar idea. Unfortunately, most of his ideas so far have failed. A baby tornado ran off with his general store, and the kids in his neighborhood never did come back for their second croquet lesson. But Mikey is determined to keep at it.

It isn’t until kid drag queen Coco Caliente, Mistress of Madness and Mayhem (aka eighth grader Julian Vasquez) walks into his office (aka his family’s storage/laundry room) looking for an agent that Mikey thinks he’s finally found his million-dollar idea, and the Anything Talent and Pizzazz Agency is born!

Soon, Mikey has a whole roster of kid clients looking to hit it big or at least win the middle school talent show’s hundred-dollar prize. As newly out Mikey prepares Julian for the gig of a lifetime, he realizes there’s no rulebook for being gay—and if Julian can be openly gay at school, maybe Mikey can, too, and tell his crush, dreamy Colton Sanford, how he feels.

Full of laughs, sass, and hijinks, this hilarious, heartfelt story shows that with a little effort and a lot of love, anything is possible.

A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner (ISBN-13: 9780374312732 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 02/25/2020)

A heartfelt and relatable novel from Phil Bildner, weaving the real history of Los Angeles Dodger and Oakland Athletic Glenn Burke—the first professional baseball player to come out as gay—into the story of a middle-school kid learning to be himself.

When sixth grader Silas Wade does a school presentation on former Major League Baseball player Glenn Burke, it’s more than just a report on the inventor of the high five. Burke was a black gay baseball player in the 1970s—and for Silas, the presentation is his own first baby step toward coming out as gay.

Soon he tells his best friend Zoey, but the longer he keeps his secret from his baseball teammates, the more he suspects they know something’s up. Kids get pulled from the team, fingers point at Silas, and he stages one big cover-up with terrible consequences. Was it a mistake to share his truth?

A High Five for Glenn Burke is Phil Bildner’s most personal novel yet, and drives home the message that there’s no one way to come out—and there’s a place in the field for everyone.

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte (ISBN-13: 9781338255812 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/03/2020)

Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting Own Voices story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century.

Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there — including Mary — are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.

But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary’s brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island’s prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a “live specimen” in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability. It will make you forever question your own ideas about what is normal.

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes (ISBN-13: 9780316493802 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/03/2020)

From award-winning and bestselling author, Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers, one who presents as white, the other as black, and the complex ways in which they are forced to navigate the world, all while training for a fencing competition.

Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, he feels as if he is constantly swimming in whiteness. Most of the students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbed the “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey. Quiet, obedient.

When an incident with “King” Alan leads to Donte’s arrest and suspension, he knows the only way to get even is to beat the king of the school at his own game: fencing. With the help of a former Olympic fencer, Donte embarks on a journey to carve out a spot on Middlefield Prep’s fencing team and maybe learn something about himself along the way.

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman (ISBN-13: 9781984837356 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/10/2020)

Like Ruta Sepetys for middle grade, Anne Blankman pens a poignant and timeless story of friendship that twines together moments in underexplored history.

On a spring morning, neighbors Valentina Kaplan and Oksana Savchenko wake up to an angry red sky. A reactor at the nuclear power plant where their fathers work—Chernobyl—has exploded. Before they know it, the two girls, who’ve always been enemies, find themselves on a train bound for Leningrad to stay with Valentina’s estranged grandmother, Rita Grigorievna. In their new lives in Leningrad, they begin to learn what it means to trust another person. Oksana must face the lies her parents told her all her life. Valentina must keep her grandmother’s secret, one that could put all their lives in danger. And both of them discover something they’ve wished for: a best friend. But how far would you go to save your best friend’s life? Would you risk your own?

Told in alternating perspectives among three girls—Valentina and Oksana in 1986 and Rifka in 1941—this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match for the power of true friendship.

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim (ISBN-13: 9780525554974 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/17/2020)

One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.

On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura—and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung (INFO TK Publication date: Fall 2020)

Mike Jung’s The Boys in the Back Row, is a story of comic nerds, band geeks, and one grand misadventure in the name of friendship. It will release in Spring 2020.

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert (ISBN-13: 9780316456388 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/24/2020)

Award-winning YA author Brandy Colbert’s debut middle-grade novel about the only two black girls in town who discover a collection of hidden journals revealing shocking secrets of the past.

Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros (ISBN-13: 9780062881687 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/31/2020)

Efrén Divided is a not-to-be-missed debut middle grade novel for readers who love Front Desk or Merci Suárez Changes Gears—or for anyone working toward a more loving world—about family, friendship, and tearing down the walls being built between us.

Efrén Nava’s Amá is his Superwoman—or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved.

But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn’t return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México.

Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega (ISBN-13: 9781338280128 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/07/2020)

Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.

For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.

Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.

With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough (ISBN-13: 9781534438491 Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Publication date: 04/14/2020)

A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel.

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?

Rick by Alex Gino (ISBN-13: 9781338048100 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/21/2020)

From the award-winning author of George, the story of a boy named Rick who needs to explore his own identity apart from his jerk of a best friend.

Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that . . . understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

As they did in their groundbreaking novel GEORGE, in RICK, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world . . . and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi, Laura Shovan (ISBN-13: 9780358116684 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 05/12/2020)

A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth-graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends? 

Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone (ISBN-13: 9781984816436 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/07/2020)

In this debut middle-grade girl-power friendship story, an eighth grader starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school and sparks a rebellion.

Molly Frost is FED UP…

Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top when she had to keep her sweatshirt wrapped around her waist.

Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn’t, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit.

Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F.

Because it’s impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips.

Because girls’ bodies are not a distraction.

Because middle school is hard enough.

And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and soon her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what’s right, and they’re not backing down.

20 2020 YA Books To Have On Your Radar

Like many of you (I’m guessing), I keep multiple reading-related lists. I keep track of what I read each year. I keep track of what ARCs I’ve gotten and hope to read. I keep track of what books I either want to get when they come out or hope to track down as ARCs but haven’t yet. There’s the list of 2019 LGBTQIA+ books. Look, I like lists. Even just listing my lists was fun for me. So anyway, I scanned through all my various relevant lists and pulled together this new list (yay!) of 20 YA books I can’t wait to read. In some cases, it’s because I liked the author’s previous work. In some cases, it’s a debut that’s caught my attention. In some cases, it’s just that I like reading my friends’ work. My list could have easily been much longer.

Isn’t it exciting to be able to look forward to SO MANY GOOD BOOKS in 2020?!

Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are excited to read in 2020!

All descriptions from the publishers or Goodreads summaries. Some books are still lacking full information, but I’ve seen enough to know that I am looking forward to reading them!

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding (ISBN-13: 9781419738661 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 01/07/2020)

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott, Loveis Wise (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781368045247 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 01/14/2020)

Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls.

This collection features forty-nine powerful poems, four of which are tribute poems inspired by the works of Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Phillis Wheatley.

This provocative collection will move every reader to reflect, respond-and act.

Layoverland by Gabby Noone (ISBN-13: 9781984836120 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/21/2020)

Two teens, one stuck atoning for her sins and one destined for heaven, fall in love in purgatory in this darkly hilarious and heartfelt rom-com, perfect for fans of The Good Place.

Beatrice Fox deserves to go straight to hell.

At least, that’s what she believes. Her last day on Earth, she ruined the life of the person she loves most—her little sister, Emmy. So when Bea awakens from a fatal car accident to find herself on an airplane headed who knows where, she’s confused, to say the least.

Once on the ground, Bea receives some truly harrowing news: she’s in purgatory. If she ever wants to catch a flight to heaven, she’ll have to help five thousand souls figure out what’s keeping them from moving on.

But one of Bea’s first assignments is Caleb, the boy who caused her accident, and the last person Bea would ever want to send to the pearly gates. And as much as Bea would love to see Caleb suffer for dooming her to a seemingly endless future of eating bad airport food and listening to other people’s problems, she can’t help but notice that he’s kind of cute, and sort of sweet, and that maybe, despite her best efforts, she’s totally falling for him.

From debut author Gabby Noone comes a darkly hilarious and heartfelt twist on the afterlife about finding second chances, first loves, and new friendships in the most unlikely places.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed (ISBN-13: 9780062937049 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/04/2020)

A book about the power of love and resistance from New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed.

YES

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone) Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybeit’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey (ISBN-13: 9781534432871 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 03/03/2020)

A sly, witchy dark comedy about four teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann (ISBN-13: 9781534419353 Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/17/2020)

In the tradition of Girl, Interrupted, this fiery historical novel follows four young women in the early 20th century whose lives intersect when they are locked up by a world that took the poor, the disabled, the marginalized—and institutionalized them for life.

The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded is not a happy place. The young women who are already there certainly don’t think so. Not Maxine, who is doing everything she can to protect her younger sister Rose in an institution where vicious attendants and bullying older girls treat them as the morons, imbeciles, and idiots the doctors have deemed them to be. Not Alice, either, who was left there when her brother couldn’t bring himself to support a sister with a club foot. And not London, who has just been dragged there from the best foster situation she’s ever had, thanks to one unexpected, life altering moment. Each girl is determined to change her fate, no matter what it takes.

We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid (ISBN-13: 9781335146762 Publisher: Inkyard Press Publication date: 04/07/2020)

Central International School’s annual lock-in is legendary. Bonds are made. Contests are fought. Stories are forged that will be passed down from student to student for years to come.

This year’s lock-in begins normally enough. Then a group of students led by Marisa Cuevas stage an ecoprotest and chain themselves to the doors, vowing to keep everyone trapped inside until their list of demands is met.

Some students rally to their cause…but others are aggrieved to watch their own plans fall apart.

Amira has trained all year to compete in the school decathlon on her own terms. Peejay intended to honor his brother by throwing the greatest party CIS has ever seen. Kenji was looking forward to making a splash at his improv showcase. Omar wanted to spend a little time with the boy he’s been crushing on. Celeste, adrift in a new country, was hoping to connect with someone—anyone. And Marisa, once so certain of her goals, must now decide how far she’ll go to attain them.

Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder (ISBN-13: 9780525553021 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/14/2020)

Part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life, this debut graphic novel is extraordinarily comforting and engaging.

From before her mother’s first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing—but also often funny—details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom’s closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the “I’ve got to tell Mom about this” instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it.

Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan (ISBN-13: 9780525516286 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/21/2020)

From the author of Hot Dog Girl comes a fresh and funny YA contemporary romance about two teens who fall in love in an indie comic book shop.

Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life.

Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them—that is, when they’re even paying attention.

They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible . . . unless they manage to keep it a secret.

Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (ISBN-13: 9780062820259 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/12/2020)

From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (ISBN-13: 9781624149689 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 05/12/2020)

Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.

As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.

The Mall: A Novel by Megan McCafferty (ISBN-13: 9781250209955 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 06/09/2020)

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.

This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi (ISBN-13: 9781250242341 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/09/2020)

Rinn Olivera is finally going to tell her longtime crush AJ that she’s in love with him.

Daniella Korres writes poetry for her own account, but nobody knows it’s her.

Imogen Azar is just trying to make it through the day.

When Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer, they’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author, and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with.

And it will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ISBN-13: 9781534440241 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 06/16/2020)

The Hating Game meets Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by way of Morgan Matson in this unforgettable romantic comedy about two rival overachievers whose relationship completely transforms over the course of twenty-four hours.

Today, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood (ISBN-13: 9780316492355 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 08/04/2020)

For fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, a sweetly funny YA debut about falling in love, family expectations, and being a Renaissance Man.
Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.

When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man, a school-wide academic championship, it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her…the more he learns from her…the more he cooks for her…the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.

In this young adult debut full of depth and heart, author Syed M. Masood will have readers laughing, sighing, tearing up, and shouting “YES!” at the top of their lungs.

All Our Worst Ideas by Vicky Skinner (ISBN-13: 9781250195425 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 08/11/2020)

When Amy, on her way to becoming valedictorian of her graduating class and getting accepted to her dream school, gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she takes a job at a record store to ease the pain. She needs a distraction, badly.

Oliver, Amy’s record store co-worker, isn’t so sure about Amy—his complete opposite—but what he is sure of is his decision not to go to college. He just can’t figure out how to tell his mother.

As they work late-night shifts at the record store, Amy and Oliver become friends and then confidantes and then something more, but when Amy has a hard time letting go of what she thought was her perfect future with her ex, she risks losing the future she didn’t even know she wanted with Oliver.

The Whitsun Daughters by Carrie Mesrobian (ISBN-13: 9780735231955 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/25/2020)

From a critically acclaimed author, a twisty and gorgeously written YA ghost story about young women separated by centuries but connected by a desire to control their futures.

“How quickly everything in the world disintegrates. Everything but the loneliness of young women.”

So begins The Whitsun Daughters, a story of three contemporary teenage girls—sisters and cousins—in a small Midwestern town, narrated by the ghost of a young woman who, over a century earlier, lived and loved on the same small patch of farmland the girls now call home.

The book follows both the present-day story of the three Whitsun girls and the story of Jane Murphy a century earlier as they fight to assert their own desires in worlds determined to ignore and minimize them. The Whitsun girls struggle with an unplanned pregnancy. Jane is determined to defy her arranged marriage and have both the baby she carries and the young man she loves.

The Whitsun Daughters leaves readers with a profound sense of the unbreakable thread connecting generations of young women who sought and continue to seek control their destinies.

Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass (ISBN-13: TK Publisher: Flux Expected publication date: 09/15/2020)

A gay teen’s summer vacation becomes a nightmare when his religious zealot family has him kidnapped and taken to a conversion camp on a forgotten island. There, he teams up with other kidnapped LGBTQ+ teens to uncover the camp’s dark secrets.

The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson (ISBN-13: TK Publisher: HarperTeen Expected publication date: 2020)

David Linker at HarperCollins has bought We Are the Ants author Shaun David Hutchinson‘s The State of Us, the story of Dean and Dre—the 16-year-old sons of the Republican and Democratic candidates for President of the United States—who fall in love on the sidelines of their parents’ presidential campaigns. The book is planned for summer 2020; Katie Shea Boutillier at Donald Maass Literary Agency brokered the deal for world rights.

I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan (ISBN-13: TK Publisher: Albert Whitman Expected publication date: 2020)

Ten years after witnessing her best friend’s kidnapping, a teen copes by anonymously launching a podcast to help solve missing persons cases, but when a new abduction is revealed to have links to the original case, she has to decide how much she is willing to reveal to discover the truth.

The Tween ARC Party: The Tween an friends look at some upcoming 2015 book releases

The other day I was getting ARCs organized for 2015 when The Tween and her Bestie were over. We had an impromptu ARC party where the tweens went through each physical arc I had on the premises and sorted them into Oh My Goodness I Want to Read piles and the Meh ones. They’re looking at covers, reading back covers, and of course we have to take into account their personal reading preferences (which leans toward speculative). And yes, I totally use every tween and teen that comes into my house as an information resource. I’m not even ashamed.

This is the pile we began with . . .

The stack on the left is January 2015 titles, which you can see I have the most of (probably from a combination of TLA and ALA).

Their favorite cover was this . . .

They liked the combination of music and space. Unmade is the second book and conclusion to Entangled by author Amy Rose Capetta.

Unmade Publisher’s Description: The galaxy-spanning conclusion to Amy Rose Capetta’s acclaimed sci-fi debut, Entangled.

Cadence is in a race against time and space to save her family and friends from the Unmakers, who are tracking the last vestiges of humanity across the cosmos. As the epic battle begins, Cade learns that letting people in also means letting them go. The universe spins out of control and Cade alone must face the music in the page-turning conclusion to Entangled. Coming January 13th from HMH Books for Young Readers. (YA)

The Tween actually has already read this book, interestingly enough. The week before winter break was the school Scholastic Book Fair and The Tween had chosen 3 books to purchase at the preview: The Spider Ring, The Land of Stories book 3, and The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke. She purchased and read both The Spider Ring and The Neptune Project within 2 days. She highly recommends both. The Neptune Project is out now and The Spider Ring comes out in January and is about a girl who inherits a ring to control spiders.

The Spider Ring Publisher’s Description: A powerful ring. A dangerous web.

When Maria inherits a strange, spider-shaped ring from her grandmother, she doesn’t realize she’s also inheriting a strange power — the power to control spiders and have them do whatever she wants. This is a pretty cool thing when it comes to fetching objects from another room . . . or if Maria wants to use the spiders to get back at some mean kids in her class.

But the power comes with a price. Maria has attracted the attention of the Black Widow — who is trying to collect all the spider magic for herself. The Black Widow is not going to let anything stand in her way — especially not Maria.

The story of the ring is being woven like a web — and Maria is going to have to do everything she can to not get trapped within it. Coming January 27th from Scholastic Press (though if your school has a Scholastic Book Fair you can buy it now). Author Andrew Harwell. (MG)

In 2013 my family listened to and loved Pie by Sarah Weeks, so The Tween was very excited to see Honey. Also, she is a huge dog person so it gets bonus points for the dog on the cover. This is another ARC she read in a day and raved about.

Publisher’s Description: For a girl like Melody and a dog like Mo, life can be both sticky and sweet.

Melody has lived in Royal, Indiana, for as long as she can remember. It’s been just her and her father, and she’s been okay with that. But then she overhears him calling someone Honey — and suddenly it feels like everyone in Royal has a secret. It’s up to Melody and her best friend, Nick, to piece together the clues and discover why Honey is being hidden.

Meanwhile, a dog named Mo is new to Royal. He doesn’t remember much from when he was a puppy . . . but he keeps having dreams of a girl he is bound to meet someday. This girl, he’s sure, will change everything.

In HONEY, Sarah Weeks introduces two characters — one a girl, one a dog– who are reaching back further than their memories in order to figure out where they came from and where they’re going. It’s a total treat from beginning to end.

Coming January 2015 from Scholastic Press (MG)

As you can see from the picture above, The Tween is a huge Paris fanatic. She even dressed up one year as the Eiffel Tower and you can see the remnants from that homemade costume on the wall. Plus, she got awesome Paris pajamas for Christmas that she can sit back and read this upcoming Lisa Schroeder title, My Secret Guide to Paris.

Publisher’s Description: From the author of the Charmed Life and It’s Raining Cupcakes series comes a novel of family, friends, and a Paris adventure that readers will never forget!

Nora has always wanted to see Paris, thanks to her Grandma Sylvia’s stories. But when Sylvia suddenly passes away just months before their planned trip, Nora thinks she’s lost everything.

Nora still dreams of Paris–and when she finds her own name on a set of clues to a Parisian scavenger hunt packed away in her grandmother’s room, along with plane tickets, Nora knows that Sylvia still wants her to go, too.

At last, Nora sets off on the adventure–and mystery–of a lifetime. What did Grandma Sylvia want her to find in Paris? Why do all the clues insist that Nora’s mother be with her? And could the key to healing and forgiveness be found at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Coming February 24th from Scholastic Press (MG)

As you can see, they put a lot of books in their TBR pile. The Bestie (on the left) felt like she was most interested in Vivian Apple at the End of the World. The Tween seemed particularly interested in Hell Hole by Gina Damico as her next read.

Vivan Apple at the End of the World Publisher’s Description: Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed “Rapture,” all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn’t looking for a savior. She’s looking for the truth. Coming January 8th from HMH Books for Young Readers. Written by Katie Coyle. (YA)

Hellhole Publisher’s Description: A devil is a bad influence . . .

There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder. Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high.

With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out. Coming January 6th from HMH Books for Young Readers. Author Gina Dimaco. (YA)

As they read, I’ll have them check in with us all and share their thoughts. Let me know what’s on your 2015 TBR in the comments, I want to make sure I’m not missing something I need to be reading.

Take 5: Titles to Look for in 2015 from Macmillan

The Macmillan Children’s Winter catalog for 2015 is now up on Edelweiss. I spent some time last night going through it to get a look at what is coming out and what I think my teens will be dying to read. Plus, I found several that I myself am dying to read. 
 
Printz winner Marcus Sedgwick has a new titles called The Ghosts of Heaven coming with four linked stories that it says travels back to the cave painting of old, the witch hunts, and ends up in futuristic space. It’s an interesting concept that I am definitely going to check out, though these types of books have always been harder sells I have found.

The sequel to Sekret by Lindsay Smith is coming in April 2015. It’s title is Skandal and I am looking forward to reading it.

The third book in the Unremembered saga by Jessica Brody will hit the shelves in February with the title Unchanged.

Coming in March is Marie Rutkoski’s sequel to The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime.

And here are five more titles that made it onto my TBR list. All descriptions provided are the publisher’s description and none of the covers are final.

This Side of Home by Renee Watson

“Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

In her inspired YA debut, Renée Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.”

Karen’s Thoughts: It seems like the rally cry for more diverse books is being heard. I’m really looking forward to reading this title for several reasons, including the look at the transition from high school to college, which I think a lot of high school readers have a lot of curiosity about, and the look at identity both in terms of a person’s childhood neighborhood changing and the look at twins trying to navigate growing into more distinct individuals. The Mr. is a twin, fraternal not identical, so I always find twin stories interesting to read.

Coming in February 2015 from Bloomsbury

Soulprint by Megan Miranda

“Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.”

Karen’s Thoughts: This is right up my alley! Also, Fracture by Megan Miranda was really good so I am excited to read more from her. This sounds like it would be a great addition to any Teen Tech Week lists and a good companion read with Sophie Jordan’s Uninvited, which also looks at the ethics of being able to predict what people might do in the future and whether or not we can – or should – protect ourselves from that.

Coming in February from Bloomsbury

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

“13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.”

Karen’s Thoughts: I have always been a fan of Emily Dickinson and novels that explore the inner lives of their protagonists. This has the potential to be a very powerful read. Also, it sound like a good companion read to Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez.

Coming in February 2015 from Bloomsbury

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

“It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.” 

Karen’s Thoughts:  I know it’s shallow, but this is a beautiful cover and I hope it is the actual cover. Starting over after loss can be a difficult thing and this has the potential to be a moving, powerful story.

Coming in March 2015 from Bloomsbury

Cut Me Free by J. R. Johansson

“Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn’t as lucky. Now she’s trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she’d have to experience alone. She’s hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment–without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

Karen’s Thoughts: Sometimes you just need a good thriller. Hopefully this title will deliver because the description sounds really good.

Coming in January 2015 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

Take 5: 5 ARCs I Picked Up at ALA That I Can’t Wait to Read

This year at ALA Annual I learned lots of things, met lots of people, and came back with a ton of ideas I wanted to pitch. But in the end, it always comes back to the books for me and I saw lots of great ones. From rain that will kill you to a book that asks you to determine the truth from the lies, here are 5 of the ARCs I picked up at ALA 2014 that I am dying to read asap. All the descriptions are publisher’s descriptions, but they are intriguing. You’ll also want to check out these 5 fall YA lit titles that I have read and Highly Recommend.

H2O by Virginia Bergin

It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.

They don’t believe it at first. Crowded in Zach’s kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach’s parents’ frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, “It’s in the rain! It’s fatal, it’s contagious, and there’s no cure.”

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who’s been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby’s only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he’s even still alive.

Coming October 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire. ISBN: 9781492606543

Karen’s Note: End of the world scenarios? Sign me up. With real world concerns about today’s water supply and environmental issues, this is a timely read. It also sounds like it would make a good pairing with Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.

Press Play by Eric Devine

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.


Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.

Coming October 2014 from Running Press Teens. ISBN: 9780762455126 

Karen’s Note: Eric Devine is an excellent author who writes powerful, gritty stories from the male point of view. He also has written several posts for us here at TLT and wrote a chapter in the upcoming booking The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. He has a heart for getting guys to read and you should definitely check him out. 

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla’s life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive… or survive.

Coming October 2014 from Walker Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9780802737564

Karen’s note: If you haven’t yet read CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst, you really should rectify that quickly. CONJURED is a bizarre and twisted in every epically awesome way possible retelling of the Pinocchio story with circuses, serial killers, and a teenage girl who can’t remember who she is and when she does it may be deadly.

There Will be Lies by Nick Lake

New from Printz winner Nick Lake—the ultimate thrill ride about the lies others tell us . . . and the lies we tell ourselves.

Shelby Jane Cooper’s world is the town of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she’s home-schooled, hits balls at the batting cage, visits the library, and sees The Boy. Life in her city in the desert is one big routine, like ice-cream-for-dinner Fridays: normal.

But in four hours, she’ll be struck by a car, and that’s when normal ends.

Barely recovered from the accident, Shelby is inexplicably whisked away by her mother—away from the hospital, her home, and everything she loves—on a manic road trip to the Grand Canyon.

Shelby’s mother says that everything’s fine. But with mile after mile falling fast behind them, Shelby starts to question everything she knows about her life and tries to piece together what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can ultimately trust.

Master storyteller Nick Lake hooks readers from page one in this emotional rollercoaster which rockets from one dramatic twist to the next until the book’s shocking conclusion.

Coming in January 2015 from Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781619634404

Karen’s Note: Everything about this sounds good. Sign me up. The cover has not yet been revealed for this title.

Sublime by Christina Lauren

True love may mean certain death in a ghostly affair of risk and passion from New York Times bestselling duo Christina Lauren, authors of Beautiful Bastard. Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of Shatter Me calls Sublime “a beautiful, haunting read”.

When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed…

Coming October 2014 from Simon &Schuster. ISBN: 9781481413701

Karen’s Note: Sometimes I am shallow, but I think this is a pretty cover. And I know that tons of my readers will be lining up for this one. Beautiful and haunting are some of my favorite book descriptors so I am in.

And Now for a Giveaway

I accidentally picked up two copies of THERE WILL BE LIES by Nick Lake while at ALA. Or perhaps the Tween picked one up. However it happened, I accidentally got two which means someone else didn’t get one so I am going to give one of mine away. You can enter to win two ways: 1) Leave a comment here with follow back information like an email or Twitter handle and/or 2) Tweet about the giveaway – helping to spread the word – and copy and paste a link to your tweet in the comments. We’ll accept entries until this Sunday, the 13th, at Midnight. Open to U.S. residents.

What upcoming releases are you looking forward to? Share in the comments. I would hate to miss a great book!   

Coming Soon: a Taste and Tease

I was the only one of the TLT’ers to be able to go to ALA Midwinter, and I shared a lot of other bloggers’ frustrations with the ARC drops as I was wearing multiple hats- not only was I going as a rep for Teen Librarian Toolbox (so much so that I made That Guy tell SoHo and Zest Books that he was Karen, much to their hysteria) but I was also running the Rainbow Project meetings. So I missed out on some ARCs that I *really* wanted (*cough* The S-Word *cough*) but hopefully the reps will send them when they do get back to their offices.  And three books that I’ve been on the edge of my seat to read (Doctorow’s Homeland, Meyer’s Scarlet, and Lu’s Prodigy are either out or coming out next week.  BUT, I do have a top 6 of the ARCs that I am SUPER excited about that I thought I’d share with y’all…


ARC available on Netgalley, on sale August

On Sale June 2013, haven’t seen it *yet* on Netgalley or Edleweiss

On sale June 2013, egalley on Edleweiss

On sale February 19, short stories by Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Margaret Sthol, Melissa Marr, and more

on sale May 2103, back cover says there will be a  *keynote and signing at Texas Library Association Conference*

On sale June 2013, says there’s an ebook prequel promotion as well

Were you at Midwinter in Seattle?  What did you pick up and what are you excited to see coming out this spring/summer?  Share in the comments!