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Book Review: Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, a starred review, which originally appeared in the June 2018  School Library Journal.

 

super late★Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye (ISBN-13: 9781449489625 Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Publication date: 05/01/2018)
Gr 8 Up—Cartoonist Kaye, who is transgender, reveals the many ups and downs of starting hormone replacement in this collection of strips from her webcomic Up and Out. In a “Before” section, she writes about her life before fully understanding her identity and transitioning, which helps ground the short, disconnected comics. The strips begin four months into Kaye’s decision to take hormones, and express her joy and excitement along with her impatience, frustration, dysphoria, and internalized transphobia. She describes moving home, changing her name, and coming out and explores self-image, reactions from others, misgendering, and more. Kaye shares many affirming experiences such as her parents using the right pronouns, her forays into trying out different clothes and makeup, and her reminders that she is valid no matter how she looks or is perceived, but never shies away from moments of frustration or self-loathing. The strips are like reading a diary—raw, honest, emotional, and not always uplifting. While Kaye’s feelings are complicated, she is ultimately hopeful. The simple line drawings add warmth and whimsy to the small snippets of text. Though Kaye focuses on her experiences as an adult, teens will relate to her reflections on identity and acceptance. VERDICT An important and accessible work, especially given that relatively few books tackle the process of transitioning.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA June 2018

tltbutton7It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers June 2018 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (May 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

June 2018

social intercourseSocial Intercourse by Greg Howard (ISBN-13: 9781481497817 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Beckett Gaines, a gay teen living in South Carolina, has his world turned upside-down by a jock in this laugh-out-loud novel that’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets The Parent Trap.

Beck:
The Golden Girls-loving, out-and-proud choir nerd growing up in the “ass-crack of the Bible belt.”

Jax:
The Golden Boy, star quarterback with a slick veneer facing uncomfortable truths about himself and his past.

When Beck’s emotionally fragile dad starts dating the recently single (and supposedly lesbian) mom of former bully, Jaxon Parker, Beck is not having it. Jax isn’t happy about the situation either, holding out hope that his moms will reunite and restore the only stable home he’s ever known. Putting aside past differences, the boys plot to derail the budding romance between their parents at their conservative hometown’s first-ever Rainbow Prom. Hearts will be broken, new romance will bloom, but nothing will go down the way Beck and Jax have planned.

In his hilarious and provocative debut, Greg Howard examines the challenges of growing up different in a small southern town through the lens of colorful and unforgettable characters who stay with you long after the last drop of sweet tea.

 

summer of usThe Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse (ISBN-13: 9780316391139 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

A swoon-worthy story about five best friends on a whirlwind trip through Europe, perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith.

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

Author Cecilia Vinesse delivers a romantic European adventure that embraces the magic of warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses, and the bittersweet ache of learning to say goodbye to the past while embracing the future.

 

 

mariamMariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim (ISBN-13: 9780062445735 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Three Pakistani-American teenagers, on a trip through the land of pork ribs, mechanical bulls, and Confederate flags. It’s going to be quite an adventure.

The summer after her freshman year of college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala, and religious but closeted Umar.

But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what could be a better escape than a spontaneous road trip down to New Orleans?

With the heartbreaking honesty of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ mixed with with the cultural growing pains and smart snark of When Dimple Met Rishi, this wry, remarkable road-trip story is about questioning where you come from—and choosing the family that chooses you back.

 

summer of saltSummer of Salt by Katrina Leno (ISBN-13: 9780062493620 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Magic passed down through generations. An island where strange things happen. One summer that will become legend.

Practical Magic meets Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap in this lush, atmospheric novel by acclaimed author Katrina Leno.

Georgina Fernweh waits impatiently for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has touched every woman in her family. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.

Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, falling in love, and the mystery behind one rare three-hundred-year-old bird—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

 

last summerThe Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood (ISBN-13: 9781492622192 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/05/2018)

One summer will challenge everything the Garrett sisters thought they knew about themselves—and each other in this captivating new novel by Jessica Spotswood.

As the oldest, Des shoulders a lot of responsibility for her family and their independent bookstore. Except it’s hard to dream big when she’s so busy taking care of everyone else.

Vi has a crush on the girl next door. It makes her happy and nervous, but Cece has a boyfriend…so it’s not like her feelings could ever be reciprocated, right?

Kat lands the lead in the community theater’s summer play, but the drama spills offstage when her ex and his new girlfriend are cast too. Can she get revenge by staging a new romance of her own?

Bea and her boyfriend are heading off to college together in the fall, just like they planned when they started dating. But Bea isn’t sure she wants the same things as when she was thirteen…

Told through four alternating points of view, readers will laugh, cry, and fall in love alongside the Garrett girls.

 

 

cardboardThe Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (ISBN-13: 9781524719388 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Awkward, and All’s Faire in Middle School, this graphic novel follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity.

“A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have.” —Kirkus, Starred

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters—and their own inner demons—on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be—imagine that!

The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez. The Cardboard Kingdom affirms the power of imagination and play during the most important years of adolescent identity-searching and emotional growth.

 

 

brujaBruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas Series #2) by Zoraida Cordova (ISBN-13: 9781492650652 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

 

 

dear rachelDear Rachel Maddow: A Novel by Adrienne Kisner (ISBN-13: 9781250146021 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/05/2018)

In Adrienne Kisner’s Dear Rachel Maddow, a high school girl deals with school politics and life after her brother’s death by drafting emails to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in this funny and heartfelt YA debut.

Brynn Haper’s life has one steadying force–Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

 

 

running with lionsRunning with Lions by Julian Winters (ISBN-13: 9781945053627 Publisher: Novelstream dba Interlude Press Publication date: 06/07/2018)

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie Sebastian Hughes should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing, and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood-best-friend Emir Shah shows up at summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends spark more than just friendship between them.

 

 

 

sometime afterSometime After Midnight by L. Philips (ISBN-13: 9780425291634 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Late one night in a dingy Los Angeles club, Nate and Cameron meet and discover they have much more in common than their love of an obscure indie band. But when Nate learns that Cameron is the heir to a soul-sucking record label—the very one that destroyed his father’s life—he runs away as fast as he can. The only evidence of their brief but intense connection is the blurry photo Cameron snaps of Nate’s Sharpied Chuck Taylors.

When Cameron’s sister Tess—a famous model and socialite—posts the photo on Instagram for her legions of fans, the internet just about breaks with the news of this modern fairy tale. “Anyone know the owner of these shoes?” she writes. “My Prince Charming brother is looking for his Cinderfella!” But while the viral sensation begins to bring the pair back together, their own demons and pasts might get in the way of any happily ever afters . . .

 

 

supermoonSuperMoon by H. A. Swain (ISBN-13: 9781250116277 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/12/2018)

A futuristic thriller about the colonization of and culture clashes between the Moon and Earth from H.A. Swain, the author of Hungry and Gifted.

Sol is the month between June and July on the thirteen-month Moon calendar. It’s the only time teenagers have to themselves between rigorous scientific training and their ultimate lab assignments in their colony on the Moon. Their families emigrated from Earth to build better lives; but life on the Moon is far from perfect, as Uma learns on the eve of Sol.

Uma meets an Earthen girl who becomes a fast friend, and much more. What Uma doesn’t know is that the girl is assigned to infect Uma with a plague that a rogue faction of Earthen scientists hope will wipe out Moon soldiers. Will Uma be the cause of a pandemic? Whom can she trust, and moreover, whom does she love?

 

 

final draftFinal Draft by Riley Redgate (ISBN-13: 9781419728723 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before graduation, Laila’s number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing.

A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval—and fixing her first-ever failing grade—leads to a series of unexpected adventures. Soon Laila is discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, and the beauty of temporary flings and ambiguity. But with her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

 

a love songA Love Song for Mr. Dakota by Gene Gant (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-431-9 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Reeling from his parents’ divorce, trying to care for his alcoholic mother, and ridiculed at school for being biracial, Brodie cannot afford to lose the only two people he has in his corner: his girlfriend, Fawn, and his best friend, Abel. But a family emergency takes Abel to another city, Fawn decides she needs time to herself, and Brodie is alone.

In his attractive new English teacher, Mr. Dakota, Brodie finds an unexpected ally. The young teacher is no stranger to betrayal and loneliness, and what begins as friendship soon becomes something deeper and more dangerous. Brodie’s new desires scare and confuse him, even if they’re not reciprocated. Overcome, he makes a choice that may ruin more lives than his own… if he cannot find the courage to stand on his own when doing so is the most difficult.

 

 

art ofThe Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan (ISBN-13: 9781944995652 Publisher: Amberjack Publishing Publication date: 06/19/2018)

Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and performance artist.

When Will, a popular athlete from school, discovers Mattie’s act at an underground venue, Mattie fears her secret persona will be exposed. Instead of outing her, though, Will tells Mattie a secret not even his girlfriend knows. Through a blossoming friendship, the two must find a way to express their authentic selves.

Told through the perspectives of the witty main characters, this funny and fresh debut explores the power of stage personas and secret spaces, and speaks to the uncanny ways in which friendships transform us.

 

 

unbindingThe Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara (ISBN-13: 9781510727052 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 06/19/2018)

A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.

 

my crunchy lifeMy Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-392-3 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 06/26/2018)

John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.

After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.

When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.

 

 

drum rollDrum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (ISBN-13: 9780062791146 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/26/2018)

Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat in this big-hearted middle grade novel. Not to be missed by fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever!

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings a lot of big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

Book Review: I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain by Will Walton

Publisher’s description

funeralHow do you deal with a hole in your life?

Do you turn to poets and pop songs?

Do you dream?

Do you try on love just to see how it fits?

Do you grieve?

If you’re Avery, you do all of these things. And you write it all down in an attempt to understand what’s happened–and is happening–to you.

I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is an astonishing novel about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Things in Avery’s life are not going great. He’s laid up after being injured in a car accident. His mother has (finally) gone to rehab. He’s temporarily living across the street from his home with his grandpa, whom he calls Pal, and his grandpa’s girlfriend, Babs. Things are a little weird with Luca, his neighbor and best friend—they’d made a plan to be each other’s firsts, but this seemingly simple plan is complicated by life and complex feelings. Through all of this, Avery, who writes poetry, is discovering the work of many other poets (Plath, Berryman, Sexton, O’Hara, Ginsberg, Dickinson), thanks to his English teacher, and finding his own voice and ways of processing life.

 

Walton’s novel will challenge readers. It’s a mix of narrative, poems, imagined conversations/dreams, and bits of a eulogy. As we move back and forth in time, readers will see that Avery is speaking at Pal’s funeral, but it takes a while to find out how we got there. Avery’s grief, pain, loss, fears, love, hope, passions, and identity all get expressed and explored through poetry and music. This short book packs a powerful punch as it looks at grief, love, addiction, and hope. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780545709569
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/29/2018

Book Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Publisher’s description

girl made ofFor readers of Girl in Pieces and The Way I Used to Be comes an emotionally gripping story about facing hard truths in the aftermath of sexual assault.

Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

BILLY STARS

There’s what I tweeted after I finished this book. What a powerful and memorable read. I read a LOT of books. Often, as the weeks and months pass, the details get lost to me. I’ll remember I liked something, but not necessarily all of the reasons why. Or I’ll forget characters’ names or how the book made me feel. But this book? This book will stay with me. All of it.

 

Relationships in twins Mara and Owen’s world are closely-knit. They attend an arts magnet program with all the most important people in their lives. Hannah, Owen’s girlfriend, is one of Mara’s best friends. Charlie, Mara’s very best friend, is also her ex-girlfriend (Mara is bisexual; Charlie is nonbinary). And Owen’s best friend, Alex, has always been there, but Mara finds herself turning to him more and in new, unexpected ways. When Hannah says that Owen raped her at a party they all were at, Mara is devastated. She knows her brother would never do that. But she also knows Hannah would never lie about that. She turns to their small group of friends, including both Hannah and Owen, as she tries to process what happened. Mara has her own reasons for fiercely thinking that “believe girls and women” is a good policy (beyond it just being a good policy). She’s held on to a secret for years, a secret that ruined her relationship with Charlie. Mara and Owen’s parents believe Owen when he says he didn’t rape Hannah. They urge Mara to understand the need to be united on this, to not talk to anyone about it, to make sure they all have the story straight. But Mara is sick of not talking about things. She stands by Hannah, especially when Hannah comes back to school and is repeatedly greeted with, “Hey, slut, welcome back.” Mara, Charlie, and Hannah all have truths to tell. They rely on each other, and the support of girls (particularly in their feminist group at school, Empower) to find the strength to not be silenced. 

 

This masterpiece is gutting. It’s not just the characters, the dialogue, and the writing are all wonderful—they are—but that the story is so real. So true. So common. Maybe not the specifics, but the general story. This is in incredibly important read about the aftermath of a sexual assault, about consent, rape culture, family, friendship, and feminism. A powerful, heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting read. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781328778239
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/15/2018

 

 

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA May 2018

tltbutton7It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers May 2018 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (April 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

May 2018

 

ship itShip It by Britta Lundin (ISBN-13: 9781368003131 Publisher: Freeform Publication date: 05/01/2018)

CLAIRE is a sixteen-year-old fangirl obsessed with the show Demon Heart. FOREST is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay. Claire is devastated. After all, every last word of her super-popular fanfic revolves around the romance between Forest’s character and his male frenemy. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not.

Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community-as well as with their fans-they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of their publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colorful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into? Ship It is a funny, tender, and honest look at all the feels that come with being a fan.

 

 

schooledSchooled by Jeff Adams (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-191-2 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 05/01/2018)

Codename: Winger: Book Two

Theo Reese is a high school student who’s also a secret agent. Usually those lives are kept separate, but now he must be both at once.

Theo lends his expertise to his school’s computer science club as they gear up for a competition, but his talents are also required by the covert agency he works for. Someone has stolen an encrypted key that can allow them to control the nation’s energy grids. The possibilities are catastrophic unless Theo and his team can reclaim the file.

Theo locates the file in an unexpected place—the computer science competition. As Winger, his secret identity, he must recover the file and keep his teammates safe from the unscrupulous thieves…. But can he do it without revealing his secrets? He can’t blow his cover, especially with so many of his classmates around.

 

 

queen underneathThe Queen Underneath by Stacey Filak (ISBN-13: 9781624145605 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 05/08/2018)

In a city on the brink of war, it isn’t a king that the people need to save them—but a thief queen from Under.

Yigris is a world divided—where aristocrats in Above rule from grand palaces, and thieves, sex workers, and assassins reign in the shadowy tunnels of Under. When the leaders of Above and Under are both murdered on the same night, the fissure between the two opposite worlds grows and suspicion threatens to break the tenuous peace.

Gemma, a former orphan-thief and new queen of Under, and Tollan, heir to the Above throne, must salvage a truce to rescue the city. But they soon discover that the conflict is far bigger than two murders, as the city falls into an enchanted sleep and a cage of deadly brambles slowly ensnares the streets, buildings, and tunnels of both districts. With the fate of Yigris at stake, only Gemma and Tollan have the power to prevent another civil war from tearing their world apart forever.

 

 

girl made ofGirl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (ISBN-13: 9781328778239 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 05/15/2018)
For readers of Girl in Pieces and The Way I Used to Be comes an emotionally gripping story about facing hard truths in the aftermath of sexual assault.Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

 

 

 

alphaAlpha Wave by Andrew Demcak (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-193-6 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 05/15/2018)

The Elusive Spark: Book Two

Keira Fairchild is running for her life, and she won’t make it far without someone watching her back.

Her powers helped her elude a slave trader, Holcomb, who planned to sell her to the highest bidder, and the deadly Paragon Academy. But now Keira needs some allies and some answers. Who is the imprisoned alien being who keeps contacting her in her dreams? Keira is aided by a group of teens—James, Lumen, and Paul—with powers like her own, and all of them are ready for a fight. The small group must rescue the captive alien and escape Dr. Albion, who seeks to steal their abilities and eliminate them. Survival will mean a desperate struggle, and none of them can succeed on their own.

 

 

 

love andLove & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves (ISBN-13: 9780316436724 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 05/15/2018)

A darkly funny debut for fans of Becky Albertalli, Matthew Quick, and Ned Vizzini about a nineteen-year-old girl who’s consumed by love, grief, and the many-tentacled beast of self-destructive behavior.

Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny’s life. She’s failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is. With a starkly memorable voice that’s at turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Love and Other Carnivorous Plants brilliantly captures the painful turning point between an adolescence that’s slipping away and the overwhelming uncertainty of the future.

 

 

out of theOut of the Blue by Sophie Cameron (ISBN-13: 9781250149916 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 05/15/2018)

When otherworldly beings start falling from the sky, it seems like the end of days are near—but for one girl, it’s just the beginning of an adventure that will change her life.

Jaya’s life has completely fallen apart. Her mother is dead, her dad is on an obsessive wild goose chase, and mysterious winged beings are falling from the sky. For the past nine months, none of the them have survived the plummet to Earth, but when a female being lands near Jaya—and is still alive—she doesn’t call the authorities. She hides the being and tries to nurse her back to health.

Set against the backdrop of a society trying to come to grips with the possibility of a world beyond, Out of the Blue is the story of how one unexpected turn of events can put you on a path toward healing.

 

 

nothing happenedNothing Happened by Molly Booth (ISBN-13: 9781484753026 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 05/15/2018)

IT’S MUCH ADO . . . ABOUT EVERYTHING.

This modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing takes place at the idyllic Camp Dogberry, where sisters Bee and Hana Leonato have lived their whole lives. Their parents own the place, and every summer they look forward to leading little campers in crafts, swimming in the lake, playing capture the flag and Sproutball, and of course, throwing legendary counselor parties.

This year, the camp drama isn’t just on the improv stage. Bee and longtime counselor Ben have a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that’s complicated by events that happened-or didn’t happen-last summer. Meanwhile, Hana is falling hard for the kind but insecure Claudia, putting them both in the crosshairs of resident troublemaker John, who spreads a vicious rumor that could tear them apart.

As the counselors juggle their camp responsibilities with simmering drama that comes to a head at the Fourth of July sparkler party, they’ll have to swallow their pride and find the courage to untangle the truth, whether it leads to heartbreak or happily ever after.

 

 

brightsiders1The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde (ISBN-13: 9781250189714 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 05/22/2018)

A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde’s quirky and utterly relatable novel.

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

Jen Wilde, author of Queens of Geek, which Seventeen called, “the geeky, queer book of our dreams” is back with a brand new cast of highly diverse and relatable characters for her fans to fall in love with.

 

 

anger isAnger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro (ISBN-13: 9781250167026 Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates Publication date: 05/22/2018)

Moss Jeffries is many things—considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else—someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school—he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations—it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change—but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

 

 

funeralI Felt a Funeral, in My Brain by Will Walton (ISBN-13: 9780545709569 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/29/2018)

How do you deal with a hole in your life?

Do you grieve?

Do you drink?

Do you make out with your best friend?

Do you turn to poets and pop songs?

Do you question everything?

Do you lash out?

Do you turn the lashing inward?

If you’re Avery, you do all of these things. And you write it all down in an attempt to understand what’s happened — and is happening — to you.

I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is an astonishing novel about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself.

 

 

rage to liveRage to Live by Shirley Anne Edwards (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-210-0 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 05/29/2018)

Finding the Strength: Book One

Can a young woman reveal her traumatic past to the woman who wants her to release the bubbling rage inside… her rage to live?

Charlie is attempting to start over after a horrifying, life-altering event pushed her and her family to the breaking point. Living with relatives in a different state might be her chance at something normal, something better.

Charlie may be broken, but she’s a survivor. Even retaking her senior year of high school doesn’t seem so daunting with the support of her cousins, who attend the local university. She finds herself on the road to recovery as her panic attacks vanish, thanks to the vivacious Arielle Forest, president of a popular sorority on campus and daughter of the dean. Arielle is no stranger to attention, drawing Charlie in with her positive attitude. But their new, tenuous relationship comes with a price that scares Charlie. What if Arielle can’t accept how deep Charlie’s scars run? Or the past that catches up with her? Charlie’s anxiety flares, and the temptation to add a matching scar to her right wrist is strong.

Book Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, a starred review, which originally appeared in the May 2018  School Library Journal.

 

 

they themA Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson (ISBN-13: 9781620104996 Publisher: Oni Press Publication date: 06/12/2018)

★Gr 7 Up—Genderqueer writer and illustrator Bongiovanni and cisgender writer Jimerson, longtime friends, present this educational comic guide to gender-neutral pronouns. Speaking to each other and directly addressing readers, they emphasize the importance of inclusive and respectful language. Bongiovanni brings the perspective of their lived experience, and Jimerson serves as a thoughtful ally and role-plays as someone unfamiliar with gender-neutral pronouns. Together, they offer examples and explanations of pronoun usage and discuss misgendering (using the wrong pronouns, assuming gender, and relying on faulty visual shortcuts based on a gender binary). They also model potential conversations, such as how to ask what pronouns others use. The repeated references to creating inclusive work spaces give this guide more of an adult-oriented focus; still, teens will get a lot out of it. Featuring whimsical, lively illustrations, this clear, well-organized, conversational guide also covers dealing with mistakes. A section called “For Folks Identifying with Alternative Pronouns” offers advice on coming out as nonbinary. VERDICT A great, simple look at the importance of using correct pronouns; extremely accessible to those for whom gender-neutral language is a new concept.

Book Review: The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are by Kelly Storck, Noah Grigni

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the April 2018  School Library Journal.

 

 

gender identityThe Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are by Kelly Storck, Noah Grigni (ISBN-13: 9781684030309 Publisher: New Harbinger Publications Publication date: 04/01/2018)
K-Gr 4—Written by a clinical social worker specializing in gender nonconforming youth, this comprehensive guide helps children and families explore, understand, and affirm gender identities. This workbook is designed to allow kids to read, write, and draw about themselves, either with a parent or on their own. The thorough text defines terms in context and in a glossary, discusses gender diversity internationally and through history, and includes brief biographies of children who identify in a variety of ways. Through activities, readers can write about their pronouns, pick out clothes and hairstyles that best fit them, explore their feelings about their bodies, draw self-portraits, fill out a birth certificate, and list what changes they may like to make in their lives. Information is also presented on adult helpers (therapists, parents, and school staff), being safe and comfortable at school, and how to handle questions with example answers. This valuable resource clearly explains concepts and is full of activities that are fun and illuminating. Storck constantly reinforces the ideas that gender is expansive and identities are limitless, that any identity on the gender spectrum is valid and should be affirmed, and that children should feel loved, supported, and safe as they explore their identities. Working through this book with an adult would be useful, as the reading level may be much higher than that of the readers, though the text is aimed at young children. VERDICT A sensitive and empowering exploration of identity and expression that both educates and celebrates. Collections will strongly want to consider. —Amanda MacGregor, Parkview Elementary School, Rosemount, MN

 

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA April 2018

tltbutton7It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers April 2018 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (March 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

April 2018

troublemakersTroublemakers by Catherine Barter (ISBN-13: 9781512475494 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/01/2018)

When she was three, Alena’s activist mother died. She’s been raised by her half-brother and his boyfriend in East London, which is being targeted by a lone bomber. Alena desperately wants to know about her mother, but her brother won’t tell her anything.

Alena’s played by the rules all her life, but that’s over. When she starts digging up information herself and does something that costs her brother his job and puts the family in jeopardy, Alena discovers she can be a troublemaker—just like her mother.

Now she must figure out what sort of trouble she’s willing to get into to find out the truth.

 

 

gender identityThe Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are by Kelly Storck, Noah Grigni (ISBN-13: 9781684030309 Publisher: New Harbinger Publications Publication date: 04/01/2018)

The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids offers fun, age-appropriate activities to help your child explore their identity and discover unique ways to navigate gender expression at home, in school, and with friends.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) children need validation and support on their journey toward self-discovery. Unfortunately, due to stigma and misinformation, these kids can be especially vulnerable to bullying, discrimination, and even mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. The good news is that there are steps you can take to empower your child as they explore, understand, and affirm their gender identity. This important workbook will guide you both.

In this guide, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in gender-nonconforming youth offers real tools to help your child thrive in all aspects of life. You and your child will discover a more expansive way of understanding gender; gain insight into gender diverse thoughts, feelings, and experiences; and find engaging activities with fun titles such as, “Apple, Oranges, and Fruit Bowls” and “Pronoun Town” to help your child to explore their own unique identity in a way that is age-appropriate and validating.

No child experiences gender in a vacuum, and children don’t just transition—families do. Let this workbook guide you and your child on this important journey in their lives.

 

ameliaAmelia Westlake by Erin Gough (ISBN-13:9781760127152 Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont Publication date: 04/02/2018)

Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she risks it all by creating a hoax to expose the school’s many problems – with help from notorious bad-girl Will Everheart, no less – Harriet tells herself it’s because she’s seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating.

But as Will and Harriet’s campaign heats up, it gets harder for them to remain sworn enemies – and to avoid being caught. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep their mission – and their feelings for each other – a secret?

 

 

lumberjanes 2Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks by Holly Black (ISBN-13: 9781684152162 Publisher: BOOM! Box Publication date: 04/03/2018)

The Lumberjanes short stories collected for the first time in paperback!

Join April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley as they explore their all-girls camp. From ghost ponies to strange plants, these Lumberjanes are ready to take on anything that comes their way as long as they have each other.

With stories written by Eisner Award-winner Faith Erin Hicks, and New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, these adventures are definitely something you don’t want to miss. Collecting all the Lumberjanes one-shots for the first time, Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks has a star studded cast of talent that is just too good to pass up!

Featuring Faith Erin Hicks (Nameless City, Friends with Boys), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me), Jen Wang (In Real LifeAdventure Time with Fionna and Cake: Card Wars), Christine Norrie (Hopeless Savages), Kelly Thompson (Jem & The HologramsHawkeye), and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles).

 

first girlFirst Girl by Julie Aitcheson (ISBN-13: 9781640801899 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 04/03/2018)

Some things are worth fighting for: a sense of identity, personal freedom, truth, and new love—even in a society that forbids them.

In the aftershocks of catastrophic climate change, the fundamentalist Christian group Unitas seized the opportunity to grab power in the United States. Gabi’s father, Sam Lowell, is one of the most powerful men on the Unitas council… and his sickly daughter’s hero, until Gabi discovers the horrors being carried out in the name of religion.

Gabi’s mission to expose Unitas will take her into the company of misfits and dissidents and beyond the borders of everything she knows as her life is threatened at every turn. Along the way, she uncovers her true origins and astonishing power, along with a ruthless dictatorship masquerading as a benevolent democracy that will stop at nothing—including playing God—to win the game of survival.

 

 

summer of jordiThe Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (ISBN-13: 9781510727663 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 04/03/2018)

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

 

 

lizzieLizzie by Dawn Ius (ISBN-13: 9781481490764 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 04/10/2018)
From acclaimed author Dawn Ius comes an edge-of-your-seat reimagining of one of the most chilling mysteries in modern history—Lizzie Borden.

Seventeen-year-old Lizzie Borden has never been kissed. Polite but painfully shy, Lizzie prefers to stay in the kitchen, where she can dream of becoming a chef and escape her reality. With tyrannical parents who force her to work at the family’s B&B and her blackout episodes—a medical condition that has plagued her since her first menstrual cycle—Lizzie longs for a life of freedom, the time and space to just figure out who she is and what she wants.

Enter the effervescent, unpredictable Bridget Sullivan. Bridget has joined the B&B’s staff as the new maid, and Lizzie is instantly drawn to her artistic style and free spirit—even her Star Wars obsession is kind of cute. The two of them forge bonds that quickly turn into something that’s maybe more than friendship.

But when her parents try to restrain Lizzie from living the life she wants, it sparks something in her that she can’t quite figure out. Her blackout episodes start getting worse, her instincts less and less reliable. Lizzie is angry, certainly, but she also feels like she’s going mad…

 

past tensePast Tense by Star Spider (ISBN-13: 9781443452137 Publisher: HarperCollins Canada Publication date: 04/10/2018)

How do you live after death?

Julie Nolan is a pretty average girl with pretty average problems. She’s been in love with her best friend, Lorelei, ever since they met in grade three. Only Lorelei doesn’t know about it — she’s too busy trying to set Julie up with Henry, her ex, who Julie finds, in a word, vapid.

But life gets more complicated when Julie comes home to find her mother insisting that her heart is gone. Pretty soon it becomes clear: Julie’s mom believes that she has died.

How is Julie supposed to navigate her first year of high school now, while she’s making midnight trips to the graveyard to cover her mother with dirt, lay flowers and make up eulogies? And why is Henry the only person Julie feels comfortable turning to? If she wants to get through this, Julie’s going to have to find the strength she never knew she had, and to learn how to listen to both her mom’s heart and her own.

 

 

sam andSam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn, David Levithan (ISBN-13: 9780399553844 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 04/10/2018)

The New York Times Bestselling duo behind Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily return with twins out to throw the party of a lifetime—or at least the best party of high school!

Siblings Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing parties for their friends—and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation.

The rules are simple: each twin gets to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the partiers show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right, as well…in rather surprising ways.

 

 

ace of shadesAce of Shades by Amanda Foody (ISBN-13: 9781335692290 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 04/10/2018 Series: Shadow Game Series #1)

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

 

diminishedThe Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson (ISBN-13: 9781335016416 Publisher: Harlequin Publication date: 04/10/2018)
In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.The singlebornA rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.The diminishedWhen one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died.Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

 

picture usPicture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert (ISBN-13: 9781484726020 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 04/10/2018)

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.

 

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

 

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed fa ade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

 

shadow callShadow Call by Michael Miller, AdriAnne Strickland (ISBN-13: 9780399552571 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 04/17/2018)
The rip-roaring space adventure sequel to the book that NYT bestselling author Lindsey Cummings heralded as “an explosive debut” has arrived. Full of action and romance, as if Star Wars was done in the vein of Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

His throne. Her rebellion. Their war.

Qole is the youngest starship captain in living memory on her homeworld of Alaxak and has spent her life hunting a dangerous energy source called Shadow. Alaxans distrust and evade the galaxy’s royalty as a rule, but Qole is now harboring the exiled Prince Nevarian Dracorte, along with some very conflicting feelings about it—and him.

Nev’s feelings are just as complicated, but not towards her. When it comes to Qole, he knows one thing: he’d do anything to stay with her. But when Alaxak is attacked and Nev finds himself framed for murder, he realizes the only way to help Qole and her people is to fight for the throne that should be his. To become the royal she might hate.

As for Qole, she would never have imagined herself as the leader of a rebellion. Despite that, she soon realizes that hiding from her power is no longer an option. It’s time to answer the call, even if it kills her.

 

 

obstructionThe Obstruction of Emma Goldsworthy by Sean Kennedy (ISBN-13: 9781640803879 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 04/17/2018)

It’s hard to live in Micah Johnson’s shadow, but Emma Goldsworthy is determined to make it out from under there. Emma’s studying hockey and trying to find her way at the Australian Institute of Sport, but it’s hard to keep her spirits up when her ex—who dumped Emma so she could remain in the closet—returns from an exchange program with a new American girlfriend in tow. Emma doesn’t want her ex back, but she can’t seem to convince everyone else that they’re over. Plus, there’s another girl Emma can’t stop thinking about, even though she only saw her once… while in costume. There was chemistry, but Emma doesn’t know her name, or even what she looks like.

 

 

 

leah on theLeah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (ISBN-13: 9780062643803 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/24/2018)

In this sequel to the acclaimed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—soon to be a major motion picture, Love, Simon—we follow Simon’s BFF Leah as she grapples with changing friendships, first love, and senior year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

 

 

white rabbitWhite Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (ISBN-13: 9781250085658 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 04/24/2018)

Caleb Roehrig, author of Last Seen Leaving, delivers another spellbinding YA murder mystery in White Rabbit.

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get worse, right?

Then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. He and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox. Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth, but April has something he needs. Her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to clear his sister’s name . . . or die trying.

 

 

prom toA Prom to Remember by Sandy Hall (ISBN-13: 9781250119148 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 04/24/2018)

Love it or hate it, you’ll never forget it. In this heart-warming novel, Swoon Reads star, Sandy Hall, explores a classic high school celebration, capturing every relatable and hilarious teen milestone along the way.

Cora: Dating Perfect Boyfriend Jamie. Has NO IDEA how to break up with him…

Paisley: Anti-prom. Somehow nominated her anxiety-ridden best friend for prom king…

Henry: Hates social situations. Invited to prom by the most popular girl in school. SEND HELP!

Otis: Half of one of the cutest couples in his class. Not quite ready for a post-prom hotel room…

Lizzie: Shy. Excited to go to prom. With a boy. Whose name she doesn’t know.

Cameron: Loner. Over high school. Just wants to meet the mysterious girl who’s been leaving him notes…

Jacinta: Unnamed Nerd Girl #3. Determined to become the star of her own life, starting with prom…

A Prom to Remember, from Sandy Hall (author of A Little Something Different), is a funny and cinematic look at the biggest dance of every high schooler’s life.

Book Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

Publisher’s description

summer of jordiSeventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

If you are not reading Amy Spalding’s books, you are totally missing out. Her dialogue is A+ and I always want to be best friends with all of her characters. This book was no exception.

 

17-year-old Abby has always viewed herself as the quirky, funny sidekick in her own life—the one who watches cool things happen to other people and is there for advice and clever one-liners. Because of this view of herself, she kind of can’t believe it when Mexican American Jordi Perez, who is cute, cultured, serious, and seems to have it all together, reciprocates her crush. Both girls get a summer internship together at Lemonberry, a faux vintage clothing store. Abby runs a fashion blog and Jordi takes excellent photographs. Though they’ve gone to high school together, they don’t really know each other—in fact, Abby can’t even remember Jordi’s name at first. It’s a summer full of unexpected things for Abby, who also ends up becoming best buds with Jax, a lacrosse-playing friend of her best friend’s boyfriend (Jax is convinced this makes them friends-in-law, so of course they should hang out). Jax ropes Abby into eating and rating burgers all summer as part of his dad’s new Yelp-like app. Jax is a gem of a character—funny, supportive, and so much more than the cliche that it seems like he may be. While Abby has a cool internship, a rad girlfriend, and great friends (including some unexpected new ones), it’s not all roses. Abby repeatedly mentions that she’s fat. When she says something about being fat and Jax starts to say she’s not, she points out to him that she is, which isn’t bad, but “acting like fat’s an insult is.” She’s cool with her body and her weight, for the most part, though she is a little self-conscious especially when she and Jordi start making out (a not-so-unusual feeling for anyone). Though she runs a fashion blog, she never posts pictures of herself on it. She’s particularly self-conscious about pictures of herself, not because she doesn’t like to look at them, but because she would like to avoid all of the fat-hating comments from people who may view them. It just seems easier and safer to not put herself out there. Then there’s the issue of her mother, a food blogger, who seems to constantly view Abby as a disappointment. Abby is pretty sure her mother would prefer her to be straight and thin, things she more or less says outright to her. But despite the feeling of being a disappointment to her mother, things are mostly going great… until they aren’t.

 

This book has a super wide appeal—it’s an excellent romance full of joy and happiness. Abby’s zest for fashion is contagious—my own closet is full of mostly black and extremely boring, but I loved reading about Abby’s outfits and the clothes at the shop. Though there is a fight and some fallout/heartbreak, this is a feel-good book with tons of charm, humor, and heart. This funny, sweet, summer read was the perfect thing to spend a blizzardy day off of work reading. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781510727663
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018

Book Review: Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Publisher’s description

hurricanCaroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

How great is it that we are starting to see more LGBTQIA+ main characters in middle grade books?

 

The summary up there does a fairly efficient job of presenting the major plots points of this novel. The summary doesn’t, however, convey how rich the narrative voice is or how vivid the characters are. Caroline lives on Water Island, a place she refers to as “a dumb rock.” Her mother left one year and three months ago, though Caroline isn’t particularly sure why or where she may have ended up. Caroline attends Catholic school, where she says she is “the littlest girl with the darkest skin and the thickest hair.” She’s always been the odd girl out, but the arrival of Kalinda, a new student from Barbados, changes that. The other girls don’t suddenly accept her once she and Kalinda become best friends, but they do kind of ignore her. More importantly, Kalinda seems as taken with Caroline as she is with her. Caroline can see things that other people can’t (specifically a woman in black who seems to show up all over the place, including the bottom of the sea) and suspects maybe Kalinda can, too. Also, it doesn’t take long for Caroline to realize she has a crush on Kalinda, and can only hope that maybe Kalinda could feel the same (a hope that fades after hearing Kalinda say it was disgusting, gross, and wrong when they see two women holding hands). When a letter Caroline writes to her confessing her feelings falls into the hands of the mean girls, suddenly the small bits of happiness Caroline was finding are threatened. With her feelings now exposed and their time together potentially limited, Caroline thinks it’s more important than ever to find her mother, even if that means searching the spirit world (and maybe not returning from it). Caroline has spent so long just wanting some answers, but now that she’s uncovering them, they may be too much to handle.

 

Readers will instantly be drawn in by the narrative voice, the strong characters, the various mysteries (like where is her mother, are there ghosts, what does her father know, and what will happen with Caroline and Kalinda). The setting, packed full of evocative details, add further richness to this unique story. Caroline is dealing with a lot—racism and poor treatment because of the darkness of her skin, absent parents, homophobic classmates—all things that make her feel very alone, bullied, and unloved. Though it was difficult to read how she was treated, the ending begins to provide hope that Caroline will have more people in her support network than she could have guessed. An intense look at relationships and self-discovery. Give this to introspective readers who may relate to Caroline always feeling on the fringes. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781338129304
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/27/2018