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Book Mail: Vampires, stand-up comedians, a lottery winner, road trips, a quinceañera, and more!

Is book mail still showing up here at the Minnesota branch of TLT? Yes. That picture above is what arrived all at once. Am I still reading a ton? Also yes. Reality has been so outrageous and upsetting lately, I’ve stuck my head in books to find some solace. Am I fulfilling my promise to seek out more digital books to be reading in advance, or be reading ever? NO. I am an old dog resistant to new tricks. I like what I like, I like doing what I like doing, and what I like doing is reading paper books. I really am going to try to do better with ebooks, and some of the book mail included here is stuff I sought out or was sent to me digitally, but I’m struggling to do this switch.

At any rate, here are a slew of new and forthcoming titles. All summaries are from the publisher.

This Will Be Funny Someday by Katie Henry (ISBN-13: 9780062955708 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/19/2021, Ages 13+)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel comes to high school in acclaimed author Katie Henry’s coming-of-age YA contemporary about a girl who accidentally falls into the world of stand-up comedy. Perfect for fans of John Green and Becky Albertalli!

Sixteen-year-old Izzy is used to keeping her thoughts to herself—in school, where her boyfriend does the talking for her, and at home, where it’s impossible to compete with her older siblings and high-powered parents.

When she mistakenly walks into a stand-up comedy club and performs, the experience is surprisingly cathartic. After the show, she meets Mo, an aspiring comic who’s everything Izzy’s not: bold, confident, comfortable in her skin. Mo invites Izzy to join her group of friends and introduces her to the Chicago open mic scene.

The only problem? Her new friends are college students—and Izzy tells them she’s one, too. Now Izzy, the dutiful daughter and model student, is sneaking out to perform stand-up with her comedy friends. Her controlling boyfriend is getting suspicious, and her former best friend knows there’s something going on.

But Izzy loves comedy and this newfound freedom. As her two parallel lives collide—in the most hilarious of ways—Izzy must choose to either hide what she really wants and who she really is, or finally, truly stand up for herself.

The Afterlife of the Party by Marlene Perez (ISBN-13: 9781640639027 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 02/02/2021 Series: Afterlife #1, Ages 14-18)

I didn’t even want to go to the party.

Seriously, I’d rather have stayed home with my librarian-witch grandmother and her mystical book club than go. But my best friend Skyler begged me. So I went.

And it was the worst party of my life. Actually, it was the last party of my life.

Not only was there something very strange about the band, but the lead singer bit me afterwards. And then took off with Skyler.

Now I’m chasing down a band of dangerous vamps with my best guy friend Vaughn—the boy I’ve been secretly crushing on forever.

But anything can happen on the road.

I thought all I wanted was for things to change with Vaughn. For him to finally see the real me. But this wasn’t what I had in mind…

Let the afterlife begin.

Muted by Tami Charles (ISBN-13: 9781338673524 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 12+)

A ripped-from-the-headlines novel of ambition, music, and innocence lost, perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Jason Reynolds!

Be bold. Get seen. Be Heard.

For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown.

So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights — plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it.

Until they’re not.

Denver begins to realize that she’s trapped in Merc’s world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must make a choice: lose her big break, or get broken.

Inspired by true events, Muted is a fearless exploration of the dark side of the music industry, the business of exploitation, how a girl’s dreams can be used against her — and what it takes to fight back.

Love in English by Maria E. Andreu (ISBN-13: 9780062996510 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 14-17)

A fresh, breakout YA novel that is layered with themes of immigration, cultural identity, and finding your voice in any language. 

Sixteen-year-old Ana is a poet and a lover of language. Except that since she moved to New Jersey from Argentina, she can barely find the words to express how she feels.

At first Ana just wants to return home. Then she meets Harrison, the very cute, very American boy in her math class, and discovers the universal language of racing hearts. But when she begins spending time with Neo, the Greek Cypriot boy from ESL, Ana wonders how figuring out what her heart wants can be even more confusing than the grammar they’re both trying to master. After all, the rules of English may be confounding, but there are no rules when it comes to love.

With playful and poetic breakouts exploring the idiosyncrasies of the English language, Love in English is witty and effervescent, while telling a beautifully observed story about what it means to become “American.” 

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman (ISBN-13: 9780061998676 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/09/2021, Ages 14-17)

An explosive new novel by the author of the National Book Award-winning Challenger Deep and the New York Times bestselling Arc of a Scythe series, about the limited ways we see our world—and how a jolt out of the ordinary can upend the universe.

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on falling into universes that are almost-but-not-really his own, each one stranger than the last.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…

Reckless, Glorious, Girl by Ellen Hagan (ISBN-13: 9781547604609 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 02/09/2021, Ages 8-11)

The co-author of Watch Us Rise pens a novel in verse about all the good and bad that comes with middle school, growing up girl, and the strength of family that gets you through it.

Beatrice Miller may have a granny’s name (her granny’s, to be more specific), but she adores her Mamaw and her mom, who give her every bit of wisdom and love they have. But the summer before seventh grade, Bea wants more than she has, aches for what she can’t have, and wonders what the future will bring. 

This novel in verse follows Beatrice through the ups and downs of friendships, puberty, and identity as she asks: Who am I? Who will I become? And will my outside ever match the way I feel on the inside?

A gorgeous, inter-generational story of Southern women and a girl’s path blossoming into her sense of self, Reckless, Glorious, Girl explores the important questions we all ask as we race toward growing up.

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le (ISBN-13: 9781534496446 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Publication date: 02/09/2021, Ages 12-18)

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants.

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.

If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.

For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.

But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.

Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?

The Secret Life of Kitty Granger by G. D. Falksen (ISBN-13: 9781541597969 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 11-18)

Sixteen-year-old Kitty Granger has always known that others consider her peculiar. She hates noise and crowds, tends to fixate on patterns, and often feels acutely aware of her surroundings even as she struggles to interpret the behavior of people around her. As a working-class girl in London’s East End, she’s spent her whole life learning to hide these traits. Until the day when she notices the mysterious man on the bus and finds herself following him, driven to know why he seems so out of place…only to accidentally uncover the location of a Russian spy ring.

When Kitty’s keen observation and quick thinking help her survive a dangerous encounter, two secret agents working for Her Majesty’s government offer her a job in their espionage operation.

Kitty’s first mission pits her against a conspiracy led by a prominent politician―who’s also a secret fascist. With help from an unusual team of fellow spies, Kitty must use her wits, training, and instincts to get out alive. And she might as well save the country while she’s at it.

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira (ISBN-13: 9780062996831 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 13-17)

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Jane the Virgin, this immediately accessible and irresistibly fun #ownvoices rom-com debut will spin readers into an unforgettable summer of late-night dancing, broken hearts, second chances, and telenovela twists.

Carmen Aguilar just wants to make her happily ever after come true. Except apparently “happily ever after” for Carmen involves being stuck in an unpaid summer internship. Now she has to perform as a party princess! In a ball gown. During the summer. In Miami.

Fine. Except that’s only the first misfortune in what’s turning out to a summer of Utter Disaster. 

But if Carmen can manage dancing in the blistering heat, fending off an oh-so-unfortunately attractive ex, and stopping her spoiled cousin from ruining her own quinceañera—Carmen might just get that happily ever after—after all.

These Unlucky Stars by Gillian McDunn (ISBN-13: 9781547605385 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 8-11)

From the highly acclaimed author of Caterpillar Summer comes a sweet and heartfelt story of a girl’s unexpected friendship that changes her forever, perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

Ever since her mother left a few years ago, Annie has felt like the odd one out in her family. Her dad and brother are practical and organized—they just don’t understand the way she thinks, in lines and color. Everywhere she turns, she feels like an outsider, even at school, so she’s been reluctant to get close to anyone.

When a “Ding-Dong-Ditch” attempt goes wrong, Annie finds herself stuck making amends with Gloria, the eccentric elderly lady she disturbed. As she begins to connect with Gloria and her weird little dog, it becomes clear that Gloria won’t be able to live on her own for much longer. But it’s this brief and important friendship that gives Annie the confidence to let people in, and see how rich life can be when you decide to make your own luck and chart your own path to happiness. 

In this heartwarming novel, acclaimed author Gillian McDunn shows us that even the most unexpected friendship has the power to change us forever.

When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them by Jesse Freidin, Robert Garofalo, Zach Stafford, Christina Garofalo (ISBN-13: 9781541586765 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 13-18)

The best medicine may not always be found at a pharmacy or in a doctor’s office. Sometimes it comes in the form of a four-legged friend.

Three well-known leaders in their fields—award-winning dog photographer Jesse Freidin, adolescent HIV+ specialist Dr. Robert Garofalo, and LGBTQ advocate and journalist Zach Stafford—offer a refreshing, beautiful, and unique portrait of HIV infused with a deep message of hope. Each extraordinary profile shows the power of the incredible bonds between humans and their canine companions, whether that means combating loneliness and stigma, discovering the importance of unconditional love, overcoming addiction, or simply having a best friend in a time of need.

When Dogs Heal shares the stories of a diverse set of people who are thriving and celebrating life thanks to the compassion and unconditional love of their dogs. 

A portion of the proceeds from this book benefits Fred Says, an organization dedicated to financially supporting HIV+ teen health care.

Between the Bliss and Me by Lizzy Mason (ISBN-13: 9781641291156 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 04/06/2021, Ages 14-17)

Acclaimed author Lizzy Mason delivers a moving contemporary YA novel about mental illness, young romance, and the impact of family history on one teen’s future, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Robin Benway, and Kathleen Glasgow.
When eighteen-year-old Sydney Holman announces that she has decided to attend NYU, her overprotective mom is devastated. Her decision means she will be living in the Big City instead of commuting to nearby Rutgers like her mom had hoped. It also means she’ll be close to off-limits but dreamy Grayson—a guitar prodigy who is going to Juilliard in the fall and very much isn’t single. 

But while she dreams of her new life, Sydney discovers a world-changing truth about her father. She knew he left when she was little due to a drug addiction. But no one told her he had schizophrenia or that he was currently living on the streets of New York City. 

She seizes the opportunity to get to know him, to understand who he is and learn what may lie in store for her if she, too, is diagnosed. 

Even as she continues to fall for Grayson, Sydney is faced with a difficult decision: Stay close to home so her mom can watch over her, or follow her dreams despite the risks?

No Way, They Were Gay?: Hidden Lives and Secret Loves by Lee Wind (ISBN-13: 9781541581623 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/06/2021 Series: Queer History Project, Ages 11-18)

“History” sounds really official. Like it’s all fact. Like it’s definitely what happened.

But that’s not necessarily true. History was crafted by the people who recorded it. And sometimes, those historians were biased against, didn’t see, or couldn’t even imagine anyone different from themselves.

That means that history has often left out the stories of LGBTQIA+ people: men who loved men, women who loved women, people who loved without regard to gender, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Historians have even censored the lives and loves of some of the world’s most famous people, from William Shakespeare and Pharaoh Hatshepsut to Cary Grant and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Join author Lee Wind for this fascinating journey through primary sources—poetry, memoir, news clippings, and images of ancient artwork—to explore the hidden (and often surprising) Queer lives and loves of two dozen historical figures.

Mia’s Life: Fan Takeover! by Mia Fizz, Lidia Fernandez Abril (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781728236001 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 04/06/2021 Series: Mia’s Life Series , #1, Ages 7-12)

YouTube star Mia Fizz wants to shake things up on her channel, and she needs some creative inspiration while she searches for the perfect birthday present for her little sister, Sienna. So she decides to let her subscribers take over her life for a week! Each day she’ll have to do one thing they suggest, and there’s no taking the easy way out: it’s got to be whatever gets the most upvotes. At first, it’s not so tough. Mia’s followers want her to wear an out-there beauty trend to the shops. She’s a little nervous, but she rocks it and her confidence grows. However, things get more complicated when her followers challenge her to join a rock climbing club that’s way outside her comfort zone—and she meets a cute boy there. When she mentions him in the next day’s video, her subscribers pose a scary idea: what if Mia talks to him? Embarrassing moments and fan encounters ensue …. But will any of these wild challenges help Mia figure out what to get Sienna for her birthday?

When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan, Robin Stevenson (ISBN-13: 9780762495009 Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 13-18)

Follow cousins on a road trip to Pride as they dive into family secrets and friendships in this contemporary YA novel — perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli.

As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts — Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria — they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.

Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.

When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia — with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow — decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.

All Kinds of Other by James Sie (ISBN-13: 9780062962492 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 14-17)

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting at a new school.

Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.

Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.

When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.

Not Our Summer by Casie Bazay (ISBN-13: 9780762472291 Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 13-18)

Five trips, two cousins, one family feud, and a summer that will change their lives forever. 

It’s bad enough that estranged cousins Becka and KJ see each other at their grandfather’s funeral, but when he leaves them a bucket list of places to visit together over the summer, so they can earn their inheritance, it seems like things are about to get much worse. 

However, with each trip the cousins complete — like riding mules into the Grand Canyon or encountering a bear and a hot tour guide at Yellowstone — they steadily learn about and begin to trust one another. That is until the truth behind Grandpa’s bucket list, and their family feud, is revealed, testing Becka and KJ far beyond their limits. 

Will they find a way to accept each other or will their grandpa’s wish to mend his divided family end up buried alongside him inside his grasshopper green?

Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton (ISBN-13: 9781645672081 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 14-17)

A hilarious and poignant reflection on what money can and cannot fix

58,643,129. That’s how many dollars seventeen-year-old Fortuna Jane Belleweather just won in the lotto jackpot. It’s also about how many reasons she has for not coming forward to claim her prize. 

Problem #1: Jane is still a minor, and if anyone discovers she bought the ticket underage, she’ll either have to forfeit the ticket, or worse…

Problem #2: Let her hoarder mother cash it. The last thing Jane’s mom needs is millions of dollars to buy more junk. Then…

Problem #3: Jane’s best friend, aspiring journalist Brandon Kim, declares on the news that he’s going to find the lucky winner. It’s one thing to keep her secret from the town, it’s another thing entirely to lie to her best friend. Especially when…

Problem #4: Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Holden, is suddenly back in her life, and he has big ideas about what he’d do with the prize money.

As suspicion and jealousy turn neighbor against neighbor, and no good options for cashing the ticket come forward, Jane begins to wonder: Could this much money actually be a bad thing?

 

Words Composed of Sea and Sky by Erica George (ISBN-13: 9780762468201 Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 13-18)

A contemporary YA summer Cape Cod romance featuring poets divided by centuries

Michaela Dunn, living on present day Cape Cod, dreams of getting into an art school, something her family just doesn’t understand. When her stepfather refuses to fund a trip for a poetry workshop, Michaela finds the answer in a local contest searching for a poet to write the dedication plaque for a statue honoring Captain Benjamin Churchill, a whaler who died at sea 100 years ago. She struggles to understand why her town venerates Churchill, an almost mythical figure whose name adorns the school team and various tourist traps. When she discovers the 1862 diary of Leta Townsend, however, she gets a glimpse of Churchill that she didn’t quite anticipate. In 1862, Leta Townsend writes poetry under the name Benjamin Churchill, a boy who left for sea to hunt whales. Leta is astonished when Captain Churchill returns after his rumored death. She quickly falls for him. But is she falling for the actual captain or the boy she constructed in her imagination?

Misfit in Love by S. K. Ali (ISBN-13: 9781534442757 Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 14-18)

In this fun and fresh sequel to Saints and Misfits, Janna hopes her brother’s wedding will be the perfect start to her own summer of love, but attractive new arrivals have her more confused than ever.

Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.

And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.

Sweet, constant Nuah.

The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.

It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.

But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.

And Nuah’s treating her differently.

Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.

Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar (ISBN-13: 9781645672579 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 14-17)

Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl. 

Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (ISBN-13: 9780593112939 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 10-14)

In this unabashedly queer middle grade debut, a week-long amusement park road trip becomes a true roller coaster of emotion when Dalia realizes she has more-than-friend feelings for her new bestie.

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding—meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino (ISBN-13: 9781645672357 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 08/10/2021, Ages 14+)

When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath the school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free. He’ll manipulate all the ink in the library books to do his bidding, he’ll murder in the stacks, and he’ll bleed into every inch of Tess’s life until his freedom is permanent. Forced to work together, Tess and Eliot have to find a way to re-trap the devil before he kills everyone they know and love, including, increasingly, each other. And compared to what the devil has in store for them, school stress suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all.

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