Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Mail: Immigration stories, a board book about gender, an alien invasion, and more!

The books have been arriving fast and furious here in Minnesota! I return to the elementary library after a year leave soon, and I suspect I will use the week’s accumulated book mail as a treat and incentive to me as I adjust to being back at work—just get through this week and then you can open your treat mail!

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything! But I really do try!

All descriptions from the publishers.

Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil by Danette Vigilante (ISBN-13: 9781631635755 Publisher: North Star Editions Publication date: 08/17/2021, Ages 10-14)

Tia Lugo has a deadly secret.

Tia Lugo considers herself an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl. She just wants to enjoy the end of summer, which means hanging out with her best friend and neighbor, Julius, and ignoring her Puerto Rican grandmother’s embarrassing reliance on creepy candles, weird-smelling herb bundles, and eerie statues—all available for sale at the nearby botanica. But when Tia witnesses a murder late one night from her bedroom window, everything changes in an instant.

Now, Tia is terrified to tell anyone what she’s seen. What if the killer comes after her too? He knows where she lives. Even worse, Tia believes he’s sending her secret messages, reminding her to stay quiet. Desperate to keep herself and her family safe, Tia turns to the last place she ever thought she’d go: her grandmother’s favorite shopping spot, the botanica.

The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang (ISBN-13: 9780593111284 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/17/2021, Ages 9-12)

A family feud before the start of seventh grade propels Meilan from Boston’s Chinatown to rural Ohio, where she must tap into her inner strength and sense of justice to make a new place for herself in this resonant debut.

Meilan Hua’s world is made up of a few key ingredients: her family’s beloved matriarch, Nai Nai; the bakery her parents, aunts, and uncles own and run in Boston’s Chinatown; and her favorite Chinese fairy tales. 

After Nai Nai passes, the family has a falling-out that sends Meilan, her parents, and her grieving grandfather on the road in search of a new home. They take a winding path across the country before landing in Redbud, Ohio. Everything in Redbud is the opposite of Chinatown, and Meilan’s not quite sure who she is–being renamed at school only makes it worse. She decides she is many Meilans, each inspired by a different Chinese character with the same pronunciation as her name. Sometimes she is Mist, cooling and invisible; other times, she’s Basket, carrying her parents’ hopes and dreams and her guilt of not living up to them; and occasionally she is bright Blue, the way she feels around her new friend Logan. Meilan keeps her facets separate until an injustice at school shows her the power of bringing her many selves together. 

The Many Meanings of Meilan, written in stunning prose by Andrea Wang, is an exploration of all the things it’s possible to grieve, the injustices large and small that make us rage, and the peace that’s unlocked when we learn to find home within ourselves.

Being You: A First Conversation About Gender by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, Anne/Andy Passchier (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593382646 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/17/2021 Series: First Conversations, Ages 2-5)

Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.

Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion. 

While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it’s hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like race and gender from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice. 

This second book in the series begins the conversation on gender, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.

Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Eves (ISBN-13: 9781984849557 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 08/24/2021, Ages 12-17)

A sweeping adventure, set in the late 19th century, about science, love, and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Julie Berry.

Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Bertelsen dreams of becoming an astronomer, but she knows such dreams are as unreachable as the stars she so deeply adores. As a Mormon girl, her duty is to her family and, in a not too far away future, to the man who’ll choose to marry her.

When she unexpectedly finds herself in Colorado, she’s tempted by the total eclipse of the sun that’s about to happen–and maybe even meeting up with the female scientists she’s long admired. Elizabeth must learn to navigate this new world of possibility: with her familial duties and faith tugging at her heartstrings, a new romance on the horizon, and the study of the night sky calling to her, she can’t possibly have it all…can she?

Witch for Hire by Ted Naifeh (ISBN-13: 9781419748110 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 08/24/2021, Ages 14-18)

When a series of high school pranks get out of hand, teen witch Faye Faulkner is the only one who can solve the case in this spooky YA graphic novel

Faye Faulker isn’t popular, and that’s just fine by her. She spends her lunches at the Loser Table with the other social rejects, aka her best friends, and brushes off the uninspired taunts from the cool kids. But when lonely freshman Cody finds her way to Faye’s corner of the cafeteria, it sets off a peculiar chain of events . . . To Cody’s surprise, these kids aren’t so bad; an overdramatic theater nerd, a handicapable girl in a wheelchair, an overweight boy, and Faye, who comes to school every day dressed like a witch. But it’s no costume, Fay really is a witch!

While high school can be hell for many reasons, this year the ante has been raised when a series of pranks swiftly go from mischievous to downright dangerous. From the lowliest debate team nerds to the prom queen, no one is safe, not even the teachers! When things start to really get out of hand, Cody owns up to Faye: in a moment of desperation, she signed up for an online challenge that promises to grant popularity to those who follow the website’s twisted demands.

Now Faye is faced with a choice: Reveal her witchy nature to Cody and help her or stand aside and keep her secret identity safe. Despite her misgivings, Faye takes on the case, but will her powers be strong enough to solve this mystery? And will people ever stop asking her if she puts newts’ eyes in her homemade baked goods? Witch for Hire is a gothic whodunnit about resilience, magic, and the power of friendship.

Where I Belong by Marcia Argueta Mickelson (ISBN-13: 9781541597976 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12+)

An immigrant teen fights for her family, her future, and the place she calls home.

In the spring of 2018, Guatemalan American high school senior Milagros “Millie” Vargas knows her life is about to change. She’s lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, ever since her parents sought asylum there when she was a baby. Now a citizen, Millie devotes herself to school and caring for her younger siblings while her mom works as a housekeeper for the wealthy Wheeler family. With college on the horizon, Millie is torn between attending her dream school and staying close to home, where she knows she’s needed. She’s disturbed by what’s happening to asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, but she doesn’t see herself as an activist or a change-maker. She’s just trying to take care of her own family.

Then Mr. Wheeler, a U.S. Senate candidate, mentions Millie’s achievements in a campaign speech about “deserving” immigrants. It doesn’t take long for people to identify Millie’s family and place them at the center of a statewide immigration debate. Faced with journalists, trolls, anonymous threats, and the Wheelers’ good intentions—especially those of Mr. Wheeler’s son, Charlie—Millie must confront the complexity of her past, the uncertainty of her future, and her place in the country that she believed was home.

Finding Refuge: Real-Life Immigration Stories from Young People by Victorya Rouse (ISBN-13: 9781541581609 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12+)

When you read about war in your history book or hear about it in the news, do you ever wonder what happens to the families and children in the places experiencing war? Many families in these situations decide that they must leave their homes to stay alive. What happens to them?

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 70.8 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes because of war or persecution as of 2019. Over fifty percent of these people are under the age of eighteen. 

English teacher Victorya Rouse has assembled a collection of real-world experiences of teen refugees from around the world. Learn where these young people came from, why they left, and how they arrived in the United States. Read about their struggles to adapt to a new language, culture, and high school experiences, along with updates about how they are doing now and what they hope their futures will look like. 

As immigration has catapulted into the current discourse, this poignant collection emphasizes the United States’ rich tradition of welcoming people from all over the world.

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland (ISBN-13: 9781534477025 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12-18)

Jenny Han meets The Bachelorette in this effervescent romantic comedy about a teen Korean American adoptee who unwittingly finds herself at the center of a competition for her heart, as orchestrated by her overbearing, loving family.

Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new.

But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project.

The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart.

But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.

Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis (ISBN-13: 9780062937001 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 8-12)

From award-winning author Tanita S. Davis comes a nuanced exploration of the microaggressions of middle school and a young Black girl named Madalyn who learns that being a good friend means dealing with the blue skies and the rain—and having the tough conversations on days that are partly cloudy. Perfect for fans of A Good Kind of Trouble and From the Desk of Zoe Washington.

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

Award-winning author Tanita S. Davis shows us that life isn’t always clear, and that partly cloudy days still contain a bit of blue worth celebrating.

I Survived the Galveston Hurricane, 1900 (I Survived #21) by Lauren Tarshis (ISBN-13: 9781338752533 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/07/2021 Series: I Survived Series, Ages 7-10)

More than a century later, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 is still America’s deadliest disaster. Lauren Tarshis’s story of one child surviving the horrible event churns with page-turning action and bold hope.

The city of Galveston, Texas, was booming. Perched on an island off the southern coast of Texas, Galveston had been founded in the 1830s. By 1900, it was Texas’s richest and most important city. Boats loaded up with American cotton and wheat steamed from Galveston to countries around the world. Arriving ships were crowded with immigrants. The streets, paved with crushed oyster shells, sparkled like they’d been sprinkled with diamonds.

True, this glittering city was prone to flooding. But just a few years before, a weather forecaster had said the idea of a hurricane striking Galveston was absurd.

So when a storm started brewing on September 8, 1900, no one believed it would be any worse than previous storms. They gathered on the beach to cheer on the wild waves. But what started as entertainment soon turned into a nightmare as those wild waves crashed into the city. By morning, hundreds of homes were destroyed. Eight thousand people were dead. The city had all but disappeared,

In this thrilling installment of Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series, one child finds safety only to head back into the treacherous waters to make sure his neighbors are safe.

It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi (ISBN-13: 9780062741486 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 13-17)

Two exes must revisit their past after their siblings start dating in this rom-com perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon and Morgan Matson.

After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close—to keep her family together. But when Amira announces that she’s dating someone, Kiran’s world is turned upside down.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend. Maybe a new love will give Faisal a new lease on life, and Deen can stop feeling guilty for the reason that Faisal needs a do-over in the first place.

When the families meet, Deen and Kiran find themselves face to face. Again. Three years ago—before Amira and Faisal met—Kiran and Deen dated in secret. Until Deen ghosted Kiran.

And now, after discovering hints of Faisal’s shady past, Kiran will stop at nothing to find answers. Deen just wants his brother to be happy—and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Kiran from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?

Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin (ISBN-13: 9781419752650 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 12-18)

A gothic YA fantasy debut about a young woman striving to break her sister’s curse and stop the killing in her small French town

Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. But her perfumes are more than sweet scents in cheap, cut-glass bottles: A certain few are laced with death. Marie laces the perfume delicately–not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she’s trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn’t attack as a girl. She kills as a beast.

Marking Ama’s victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama. And if she can’t control her, she’ll have to cure her. Marie knows the only place she’ll find the cure is in the mansion where Ama was cursed in the first place, home of Lord Sebastien LaClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away–secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself.

Final Season by Tim Green (ISBN-13: 9780062485953 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)

From New York Times bestselling author and former NFL player Tim Green comes a gripping, deeply personal standalone football novel about a star middle school quarterback faced with a life-changing decision after his dad is diagnosed with ALS. Perfect for fans of Mike Lupica!

With two all-star college football players for brothers and a former Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman for a father, it is only natural for sixth-grade quarterback Benjamin Redd to follow in their footsteps.

However, after his dad receives a heartbreaking ALS diagnosis—connected to all those hard hits and tackles he took on the field—Ben’s mom becomes more determined than ever to get Ben to quit football.

Ben isn’t playing just for himself though. This might be his dad’s last chance to coach. And his teammates need a quarterback that can lead them to the championships. But as Ben watches the heavy toll ALS takes on his dad’s body, he begins to question if this should be his final season after all. 

Bend in the Road by Sara Biren (ISBN-13: 9781419748738 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 14-18)

A teen rock star returns home to Minnesota and finds himself falling for a local farm girl in this steamy YA romance

Seventeen-year-old Gabe’s life is a mess. His debut album—produced by his rock star dad—made him an overnight sensation, but his second album tanked, he just got dumped by his on-again, off-again girlfriend, and he’s desperate to come up with the money he needs to fix a major screwup. The only place he can be free from the paparazzi and rumors is the family farm—the farm that seventeen-year-old Juniper’s family has managed since before she was born. When Juniper learns that Gabe’s about to inherit the farm, she worries that he’ll sell it. She comes up with a plan to get close to him and stop that from happening. At first, Juniper and Gabe couldn’t be more at odds, but the more time they spend with each other, the more they grow to like each other. Can they set aside their differences to do what’s best for the farm—and each other? Or will all the drama and secrets tear them apart?

We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera (ISBN-13: 9781547603763 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 13-17)

Should you save a world that doesn’t want to save you?
Award-winning author Lilliam Rivera explores the haunting story of an alien invasion from the perspective of three Latinx teens.

Pedro, Luna, and Rafa may attend Fairfax High School together in Los Angeles, but they run in separate spheres. Pedro is often told that he’s “too much” and seeks refuge from his home life in a local drag bar. Luna is pretending to go along with the popular crowd but is still grieving the unexpected passing of her beloved cousin Tasha. Then there’s Rafa, the quiet new kid who is hiding the fact that his family is homeless.

But Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find themselves thrown together when an extraterrestrial visitor lands in their city and takes the form of Luna’s cousin Tasha. As the Visitor causes destruction wherever it goes, the three teens struggle to survive and warn others of what’s coming—because this Visitor is only the first of many. But who is their true enemy—this alien, or their fellow humans?

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Lilliam Rivera examines the days before a War of the Worlds-inspired alien invasion in this captivating and chilling new novel.

Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth by Amnesty International, Angelina Jolie, Geraldine Van Bueren (ISBN-13: 9781728449654 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 13+)

“This book is a guide for every young person who believes in a better world for all”—Malala Yousafzai

Adults are aware of their universal human rights of freedom and equality, but children often are ignorant of the rights they possess before reaching the age of majority. Enter Know Your Rights, written in partnership with Amnesty International, Angelina Jolie, and Geraldine Van Bueren.

Know Your Rights details the rights promised in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, starting with the history of child rights, and providing a clear description of the types of child rights, the young activists from around the world who fought to defend them, and how readers can stand up for their own rights.

“This is the perfect book for young people who care about the world and want to make a difference”—Greta Thunberg

Just Ash by Sol Santana (ISBN-13: 9781541599246 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 13+)

Ashley “Ash” Bishop has always known who he is: a guy who loves soccer, has a crush on his friend Michelle, and is fascinated by the gruesome history of his hometown—Salem, Massachusetts. He’s also always known that he’s intersex, born with both male and female genitalia. But it’s never felt like a big deal until his junior year of high school, when Ash gets his first period in front of the entire boys’ soccer team. Now his friends and teachers see him differently, and his own mother thinks he should “try being a girl.” 

As tensions mount with his parents and Ash feels more and more like an outcast, he can’t help feeling a deeper kinship with his ancestor Bridget Bishop, who was executed for witchcraft. She didn’t conform to her community’s expectations either; she was different, and her neighbors felt threatened by her. And she paid the ultimate price. Ash is haunted by her last recorded words: You will keep silent.

Ash realizes that he needs to find a way to stand up for who he really is, or the cost of his silence might destroy his life, too.

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu (ISBN-13: 9780062275127 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

From the acclaimed author of The Real Boy and The Lost Girl comes a wondrous and provocative fantasy about a kingdom beset by monsters, a mysterious school, and a girl caught in between them.

If no one notices Marya Lupu, is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that’s because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer.

The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn’t matter. Every young boy born in in the kingdom holds the potential for the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread. 

For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy—a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya.

Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she’s never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country’s powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself—things that threaten the precarious balance upon which Illyria is built.

Keeping It Real by Paula Chase (ISBN-13: 9780062965691 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/19/2021, Ages 8-12)

Marigold Johnson is looking forward to a future full of family, friends, and fashion—but what will she do when it all explodes in her face? When she discovers that her entire life is a lie?

Paula Chase, the author of So Done, Dough Boys, and Turning Point, explores betrayal, conformity, and forgiveness—and what it means to be family—in this stand-alone novel perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Rebecca Stead, and Renée Watson.

Marigold Johnson can’t wait to attend a special program at her family’s business, Flexx Unlimited, for teens who love fashion. But Mari quickly realizes that she’s out of place compared to the three other trainees—and one girl, Kara, seems to hate her on sight.

As tension builds and the stakes at the program get higher, Mari uncovers exactly why Kara’s been so spiteful. She also discovers some hard truths about herself and her family.

Paula Chase explores complex themes centering on friendships, family, and what it means to conform to fit in. Keeping It Real is also a powerful exploration of what happens when parents pick and choose what they shield their children from. Timely and memorable, Paula Chase’s character-driven story touches on creativity, art, fashion, and music. A great choice for the upper middle grade audience.

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl (ISBN-13: 9781728228877 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/26/2021 Series: The Grimrose Girls #1, Ages 14-18)

Four troubled friends,
One murdered girl…
and a dark fate that may leave them all doomed.

The Descendants meets Pretty Little Liars in this story of four reimagined fairytale heroines who must uncover connections to their ancient curses and forge their own paths… before it’s too late.

After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled Ariane’s death as a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.

When Nani Eszes arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events that no one could have predicted. As the girls retrace their friend’s final days, they discover a dark secret about Grimrose—Ariane wasn’t the first dead girl.

They soon learn that all the past murders are connected to ancient fairytale curses…and that their own fates are tied to the stories, dooming the girls to brutal and gruesome endings unless they can break the cycle for good.

The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath (ISBN-13: 9781641292818 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 14-17)

A genre-defying debut, this queer historical YA centers a wild and reckless trio who fly in the face of small-town tradition—full of compassion, love, and determination to live the lives of their choosing.

It’s 1904 on an island just west of Norway, and Asta Hedstrom doesn’t want to marry her odious betrothed, Nils. But her mother believes she should be grateful for the possibility of any domestic future, given her single-sided deafness, unconventional appearance, and even stranger notions. Asta would rather spend her life performing in the village theater with her fellow outcasts: her best friend Gunnar Fuglestad and his secret boyfriend, wealthy Erlend Fournier. 

But the situation takes a dire turn when Nils lashes out in jealousy—gravely injuring Gunnar. Shunning marriage for good, Asta moves with Gunnar and Erlend to their secluded cabin above town. With few ties left to their families, they have one shot at gaining enough kroner to secure their way of life: win the village’s annual horse race. 

Despite Gunnar’s increasing misgivings, Asta and Erlend intend to prove this unheard-of arrangement will succeed. Asta trains as a blacksmith; Erlend cares for recovering Gunnar. But as race day approaches, the villagers’ hateful ignorance only grows stronger. With this year’s competition proving dangerous for the trio, Asta and Erlend soon find they face another equally deadly peril: the possibility of losing Gunnar, and their found family, forever.

Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes (ISBN-13: 9781547607105 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 11/02/2021 Ages 12-17)

From lauded writer David Valdes, a sharp and funny YA novel that’s Back to the Future with a twist, as a gay teen travels back to his parents’ era to save a closeted classmate’s life.

All Luis Gonzalez wants is to go to prom with his boyfriend, something his “progressive” school still doesn’t allow. Not after what happened with Chaz Wilson. But that was ages ago, when Luis’s parents were in high school; it would never happen today, right? He’s determined to find a way to give his LGBTQ friends the respect they deserve (while also not risking his chance to be prom king, just saying…).

When a hit on the head knocks him back in time to 1985 and he meets the doomed young Chaz himself, Luis concocts a new plan-he’s going to give this guy his first real kiss. Though it turns out a conservative school in the ’80s isn’t the safest place to be a gay kid. Especially with homophobes running the campus, including Gordo (aka Luis’s estranged father). Luis is in over his head, trying not to make things worse-and hoping he makes it back to present day at all.

In a story that’s fresh, intersectional, and wickedly funny, David Valdes introduces a big-mouthed, big-hearted queer character that readers won’t soon forget.

The Ballad of Dinah Caldwell by Kate Brauning (ISBN-13: 9781645673125 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 14+)

Nothing is more dangerous than a girl with nothing left to lose.

Dinah Caldwell has been filling her father’s role since he abandoned their family four years ago. She and her grief-stricken mom run their subsistence farm deep in the Ozarks, making sure her younger brother never has to worry. Until the day Gabriel Gates, who owns everyone in Charlotte County, kills her mother to steal her family’s well.

Homeless, heartbroken, and alone, Dinah only has a single razor-sharp goal: revenge. And now that Gates has put a ten-thousand-dollar bounty on her head, she can’t trust anyone, but she also can’t take down the most powerful man in the mountains by herself.

Her only allies are Kara, Dinah’s best friend and secret crush, and Johnny, a young bootlegger who has as much reason to hate Gates as Dinah does. With their help and resources, and maybe even love, she can spark a revolution and set the whole county free—if their combined secrets don’t get them all killed first.

A-Okay by Jarad Greene (ISBN-13: 9780063032842 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 8-12)

A-Okay by Jarad Greene is a vulnerable and heartfelt semi-autobiographical middle grade graphic novel about acne, identity, and finding your place.  

When Jay starts eighth grade with a few pimples he doesn’t think much of it at first…except to wonder if the embarrassing acne will disappear as quickly as it arrived. But when his acne goes from bad to worse, Jay’s prescribed a powerful medication that comes with some serious side effects. Regardless, he’s convinced it’ll all be worth it if clear skin is on the horizon!

Meanwhile, school isn’t going exactly as planned. All of Jay’s friends are in different classes; he has no one to sit with at lunch; his best friend, Brace, is avoiding him; and—to top it off—Jay doesn’t understand why he doesn’t share the same feelings two of his fellow classmates, a boy named Mark and a girl named Amy, have for him. 

Eighth grade can be tough, but Jay has to believe everything’s going to be a-okay…right?

Blame It on the Mistletoe by Beth Garrod (ISBN-13: 9781728248974 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 13-18)

Tweet Cute meets the movie The Holiday in this funny holiday rom-com where two very different girls swap lives for a Christmas adventure.

Elle is a social medial star with the #DreamLife…or so it seems. Determined to shake up her content and gain new followers, she’s on a mission: can she find a British fan to swap with for Christmas?

Holly loves everything about Christmas. But after a mortifying mistletoe disaster with her ex, her perfect plans unravel like a bad Christmas sweater. Can Holly save the holidays when she switches places with favorite social media influencer?

Elle gets more than she bargained for when she meets the cute boy from across the street. And Holly wasn’t expecting Elle to have a handsome twin brother. This holiday is full of surprises.

Loveless by Alice Oseman (ISBN-13: 9781338751932 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 14+)

For fans of Love, Simon and I Wish You All the Best, a funny, honest, messy, completely relatable story of a girl who realizes that love can be found in many ways that don’t involve sex or romance.

From the marvelous author of Heartstopper comes an exceptional YA novel about discovering that it’s okay if you don’t have sexual or romantic feelings for anyone . . . since there are plenty of other ways to find love and connection.

This is the funny, honest, messy, completely relatable story of Georgia, who doesn’t understand why she can’t crush and kiss and make out like her friends do. She’s surrounded by the narrative that dating + sex = love. It’s not until she gets to college that she discovers the A range of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum — coming to understand herself as asexual/aromantic. Disrupting the narrative that she’s been told since birth isn’t easy — there are many mistakes along the way to inviting people into a newly found articulation of an always-known part of your identity. But Georgia’s determined to get her life right, with the help of (and despite the major drama of) her friends.

The Last She by H. J. Nelson (ISBN-13: 9781989365717 Publisher: Wattpad Books Publication date: 12/07/2021, Ages 14-17)

Ara . . . I made a mistake, we all did . . . go back to the beginning . . . it’s not too late.

As the only female to survive the devastating virus, Ara hasn’t seen another human in months—not since her father disappeared. The plague has swept away humanity, and Ara’s world is desolate, haunted by the ghosts of her former life. Her mother. Her sister. 

Kaden and his crew live by a code: stay alert, stay alive. When they catch Ara stealing from them, they are furious—and confused. She is the first girl they have seen in three years. And while Kaden knows taking her captive is wrong, he tells himself he’s doing it to protect her.

But with Ara determined to follow through on her father’s mission—Go back to the beginning. End the plague—Kaden becomes mesmerized by Ara’s will and beauty. He knows he will do anything to help her, even if it tears their worlds apart.

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray (ISBN-13: 9780063043114 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 12/14/2021 Series: Orphans of the Tide #1, Ages 8-12)

An ancient myth looms over a powerful new friendship in this debut middle grade fantasy packed with Hugo Cabret charm.

The City is the only home that Ellie has ever known. She’s always been told that there is nothing to see beyond the shores of her small, salty island.

That is, until a mysterious boy washes in with the tide, trapped inside the belly of a whale.

The citizens of the City believe he’s ruled by the Enemy—the legendary god who drowned the whole world—come again to cause untold chaos. Only Ellie believes that the boy is innocent.

To save him, Ellie must prove that he’s not who they think he is—even if that means revealing her own dangerous secret.

Fans of Wildwood and The Mysterious Benedict Society will be enthralled by this inventive and adventurous take on a modern classic.

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord (ISBN-13: 9781250783349 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 12-18)

A bighearted novel about falling in love, making a mess, and learning to let go, When You Get the Chance is the next effervescent novel from Emma Lord, New York Times bestselling author of the Reese Witherspoon YA Book Club pick You Have a Match.

Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream of becoming a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super introverted dad, who raised Millie alone since she was a baby. Not her drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not her “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm. Millie needs an ally. And when an accidentally left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do—find her mom.

But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along?

Edgewood: A Novel by Kristen Ciccarelli (ISBN-13: 9781250821522 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/18/2022, Ages 13-18)

Can love survive the dark?

No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.

When she learns her grandfather disappeared from his nursing home, leaving only a milky orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. After searching for him almost everywhere, Emeline finally succumbs to the call of Edgewood, entering the forest she has spent years trying to escape.

Emeline finds herself in the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of a life she has worked so hard to forget.

With the help of a handsome and brooding tithe collector, a surly blacksmith, and a lost childhood friend, Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.

Haunting and romantic, Kristen Ciccarelli’s Edgewood is an exciting novel from a bold, unforgettable voice in fantasy.

These Deadly Games by Diana Urban (ISBN-13: 9781250797193 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 14-18)

Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.


Are you ready?

When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a picture of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.

But then Crystal realizes that each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…

Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, is a must-read, propulsive YA thriller with deadly stakes, stunning twists, and a shocking ending you’ll never forget—perfect for fans of I Know What You Did Last Summer and One of Us Is Lying.

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz (ISBN-13: 9781250774156 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 02/22/2022, Ages 13-18)

Dana Schwartz’s Anatomy: A Love Story is a gothic tale full of mystery and romance.

Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, Beecham will allow her to continue her medical career. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books—she’ll need corpses to study.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets, and the dreaded Roman Fever, which wiped out thousands a few years ago, is back with a vengeance. Nobody important cares—until Hazel.

Now, Hazel and Jack must work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.

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