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Book Mail: New books from David Yoon, Kristin Cashore, Malinda Lo, and more

Physical book mail has been trickling in here and I’m still working on my commitment to read more digital ARCs. I don’t know why it’s so hard to for me to think about switching to mainly reading this way (which is what it seems like I will need to do if I want to be reading books ahead of their publication dates), but it’s definitely my 2021 personal project. This post includes a few books I only have as digital copies, so I guess they’re maybe not technically “book mail,” but creating a post called “book mail and digital files” seems like a big bummer. Anyway. Here’s what has shown up here, in some form or another, and what’s now in my TBR.

All summaries from the publisher.

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon: 9781984812230 | PenguinRandomHouse.com:  Books

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon (ISBN-13: 9781984812230 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/17/2020, Ages 14-17)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Frankly in Love comes a sweet contemporary YA rom-com where a case of mistaken identity kicks off a string of (fake) events that just may lead to (real) love.

When Sunny Dae—self-proclaimed total nerd—meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom—with its electric guitars and rock posters—for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

From New York Times bestselling author David Yoon comes an inventive new romantic comedy about identity, perception, and how hard it can feel sometimes to simply be yourself.

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy by Melissa de la Cruz (ISBN-13: 9781250311214 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 12/01/2020 Series: The Chronicles of Never After , #1, Ages 10-14)

Real life and fairy tales collide in Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy, book one in the new middle-grade Never After series from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz. 

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens. 

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent—he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence

Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir (ISBN-13: 9780593178317 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 12/29/2020 Series: DC Icons Series, Ages 12-17)

In this thrilling origin story of Black Canary, Dinah Lance’s voice is her weapon. And in a near-future world where women have no rights, she won’t hesitate to use everything she has—including her song—to fight back.

Dinah Lance was eight years old when she overheard the impossible: the sound of a girl singing. It was something she was never meant to hear—not in her lifetime and not in Gotham City, taken over by the vicious, patriarchal Court of Owls. The sinister organization rules Gotham City as a dictatorship and has stripped women of everything—their right to work, to make music, to learn, to be free.

Now seventeen, Dinah can’t forget that haunting sound, and she’s beginning to discover that her own voice is just as powerful. But singing is forbidden—a one-way route to a certain death sentence. Fighting to balance her father’s desire to keep her safe, a blossoming romance with mysterious new student Oliver Queen, and her own need to help other women and girls rise up, Dinah wonders if her song will finally be heard. And will her voice be powerful enough to destroy the Court of Owls once and for all?

Winterkeep (Signed Book)

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore (ISBN-13: 9780803741508 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/19/2021 Series: Graceling Realm Series, Ages 14-17)

The highly anticipated next book in the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Graceling Realm series, which has sold 1.3 million copies.

For the past five years, Bitterblue has reigned as Queen of Monsea, heroically rebuilding her nation after her father’s horrific rule. After learning about the land of Torla in the east, she sends envoys to the closest nation there: Winterkeep—a place where telepathic foxes bond with humans, and people fly across the sky in wondrous airships. But when the envoys never return, having drowned under suspicious circumstances, Bitterblue sets off for Winterkeep herself, along with her spy Hava and her trusted colleague Giddon. On the way, tragedy strikes again—a tragedy with devastating political and personal ramifications. 

Meanwhile, in Winterkeep, Lovisa Cavenda waits and watches, a fire inside her that is always hungry. The teenage daughter of two powerful politicians, she is the key to unlocking everything—but only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.

Wider than the Sky

Wider than the Sky by Katherine Rothschild (ISBN-13: 9781641291132 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 01/19/2021, Ages 14-17)

In the wake of sudden tragedy, twin sisters uncover a secret that rips open their world. Katherine Rothschild explores the pain and power of forgiveness in a stunning debut novel that will shatter your heart and piece it back together, one truth at a time. 

Sixteen-year-old Sabine Braxton doesn’t have much in common with her identical twin, Blythe. When their father dies from an unexpected illness, each copes with the loss in her own way—Sabine by “poeting” (an uncontrollable quirk of bursting into poetry at inappropriate moments) and Blythe by obsessing over getting into MIT, their father’s alma mater. Neither can offer each other much support . . . at least not until their emotionally detached mother moves them into a ramshackle Bay Area mansion owned by a stranger named Charlie.

Soon, the sisters unite in a mission to figure out who Charlie is and why he seems to know everything about them. They quickly make a life-changing discovery: their father died of an HIV- related infection, Charlie was his lover, and their mother knows the whole story. The revelation unravels Sabine’s world, while practical Blythe seems to take everything in stride. Once again at odds with her sister, Sabine chooses to learn all she can about the father she never knew. Ultimately, she must decide if she can embrace his last wish for 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (ISBN-13: 9780525555254 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/19/2021, Ages 14-17)

Acclaimed author of Ash Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the 1950s.

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. 

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed (ISBN-13: 9780593109724 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/09/2021, Ages 14-17)

We Were Liars meets Speak in this haunting, mesmerizing psychological thriller—a gender-flipped YA Great Gatsby—that will linger long after the final line

On wealthy Commodore Island, Fern is watching and waiting—for summer, for college, for her childhood best friend to decide he loves her. Then Ivy Avila lands on the island like a falling star. When Ivy shines on her, Fern feels seen. When they’re together, Fern has purpose. She glimpses the secrets Ivy hides behind her fame, her fortune, the lavish parties she throws at her great glass house, and understands that Ivy hurts in ways Fern can’t fathom. And soon, it’s clear Ivy wants someone Fern can help her get. But as the two pull closer, Fern’s cozy life on Commodore unravels: drought descends, fires burn, and a reckless night spins out of control. Everything Fern thought she understood—about her home, herself, the boy she loved, about Ivy Avila—twists and bends into something new. And Fern won’t emerge the same person she was.

An enthralling, mind-altering psychological thriller, Tell Me My Name is about the cost of being a girl in a world that takes so much, and the enormity of what is regained when we take it back.

Bones of a Saint

Bones of a Saint by Grant Farley (ISBN-13: 9781641291170 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 03/16/2021, Ages 14-17)

Set in Northern California in the late ’70s, this timeless coming-of-age story examines the nature of evil, the art of storytelling, and the possibility of redemption.

Fifteen-year-old RJ Armante has never known a life outside his dead-end hometown of Arcangel, CA. The Blackjacks rule as they have for generations, luring the poorest kids into their monopoly on petty crime. For years, they’ve left RJ alone, but now they have a job for him: prey upon an old loner in town.

In spite of the danger, RJ begins to resist. He fights not only for himself, but for Charley, his younger brother, who is disabled. For Roxanne, the girl he can’t reach, and the kids in his crew who have nothing to live for. Even for the old loner, who has secrets of his own. If RJ is to break from the Blackjacks’ hold, all of Arcangel must be free of its past.

Kisses and Croissants

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau (ISBN-13: 9780593173572 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 04/06/2021, Ages 13-17)

As sweet as a macaron from Laduree, with writing as crisp as a freshly baked baguette, this romantic novel set in Paris about an American ballerina and a charming French boy is parfait for fans of American Royals and Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Sixteen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve. 

In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love.

Kate in Waiting

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli (ISBN-13: 9780063073920 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 14+)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and rom-com queen Becky Albertalli comes a buoyant new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life, and, yes, theater.

Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.  

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.

Some Girls Do

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan (ISBN-13: 9780593112533 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 12-17)

In this YA contemporary queer romance from the author of Hot Dog Girl, an openly gay track star falls for a closeted, bisexual teen beauty queen with a penchant for fixing up old cars.

Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school’s code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her overbearing mother. The two are drawn to each other and can’t deny their growing feelings. But while Morgan—out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start—doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?

Amanda’s favorites of 2020

My underused 2020 planner and my favs of 2020 and every year, The Good Boy Squad

Yes, it’s list time. 

What follows are my favorite 2020 books that I reviewed here at TLT and excerpts of my reviews. This was a ROUGH year (understatement, I know) full of stress and grief and change and despair. Everyone who debuted during this terrible year, congratulations. Everyone who published anything this year, congratulations. Anyone who wrote anything this year, congratulations. Anyone who simply survived this year, congratulations.

It’s hardly unique to say that 2020 has zapped my ability to concentrate AND that it’s worked hard to ruin reading for me. Why escape into fiction when you could doomscroll endlessly? As a result, I wrote more Post-It-style reviews than I usually do, and some of those books ended up being my favorites of the year. Longer reviews are excerpted and linked back to the original review.

I pretty much exclusively read contemporary fiction, which my list reflects. These are the YA books that most stuck with me this year.  Even though I’m a voracious reader, I’m sure I missed a lot of great 2020 books. I always enjoy reading the many lists that crop up this time of the year, but I also always want more variety and to hear from more people. So here’s my list—will you share yours with us too? Leave us a comment or hit me up on Twitter where I’m @CiteSomething. 

Books appear on this list in order of publication date.

Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis by K. R. Gaddy (ISBN-13: 9780525555414 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/07/2020 Ages 12-17)

Here’s the thing: I knew absolutely nothing about the Edelweiss Pirates beyond at some point having heard that name and knowing that they were an anti-Nazi resistance group. I absolutely devoured this book. Get this one up on your displays about youth activism and youth movements.

The action, rebellion, resistance, sabotage, and survival of these young people is extraordinary. Some of them were as young as 13, which, as the parent of a 13-year-old, was mind-blowing. For me, though, the most interesting part of all of this is how little I know or have ever read about these groups, yet have read so many things over the years about the White Rose group, which was made up of older, upper-middle class young people. The Edelweiss Pirates were leftist, young, working class kids. In fact, they weren’t even officially recognized as a resistance movement until 2005. The stories of these brave children need to be more well-known and further underscore just how much children and young adults have always led the way in political activism and resistance against evils. A deeply affecting book. (Full review here.)

Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden (ISBN-13: 9781681198040 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/14/2020 Ages 13-17)

17-year-old Savannah is hearing a lot of messages in 1919 Washington D.C. In the wake of WWI and the Spanish Flu, “onward and upward” is the motto of the times. She also hears a lot about being “a credit to the race” and “lifting as we climb.” Politically, there is a lot going on, particularly around the issue of women’s suffrage and the role that black women are allowed to play in that (and the issue of whether white women are considering them at all). Savannah feels a bit frustrated and disenchanted, embarrassed by the excess of the social circles her family is part of and curious about the wider world. Her uncle, a photographer, encourages her to find a challenge, a passion, a purpose. He urges her to stop just being an observer. When Savannah learns about a local school for girls, she begins to get involved helping there and, through her new contacts (many of whom are considered to be a “more radical element”), has her eyes opened to not just what is happening around the country but to what is happening in her very own city.


This complex story will put readers right in the middle of all the action and introduces a wide swath of ideas and perspectives. Set just over 100 years ago, the quest for social justice and real change makes for a powerful and still (always) relevant topic. An author’s note, historical photographs, notes, and sources all provide further context for Savannah’s story and her awakening in this engaging and unique read.
(Full review here.)

Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry (ISBN-13: 9781616208967 Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers Publication date: 03/24/2020 Ages 14-18)

Only two months and a few dozen books into 2020 and I’m ready to call something one of my favorite books of the year? Yes, yes I am. This stunning book is easily the best thing I’ve read so far this year.

The power and beauty of this book is in the lovely writing and the magnificent, unforgettable characters. This is a story about what happens when girls become ghosts, when girls become animals. This is about what happens when girls embrace anger, when girls attack, when girls grow sick of the imprints men leave upon them. This is about aching, desperate, trapped, screaming girls. This is a warning and a celebration of what happens when girls become feral, become hunters, when girls decide they are not sorry. This haunting story is about sisterhood and death, about power and pain, and about confronting men and boys who are meddling cowards and abusers. A fierce story of heartbreak, grief, connection, and the complications of the human heart. Absolutely not to be missed. (Full review here.)

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson, Omar Mohamed, Iman Geddy (ISBN-13: 9780525553908 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/14/2020, Ages 10-14)

POST-IT SAYS: Phenomenal. Such a moving look at life in a refugee camp. Full of as much love and hope as it is of pain and despair, this is a powerful and unforgettable story. Required reading.

Amazon.com: Dancing at the Pity Party (9780525553021): Feder, Tyler: Books

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder (ISBN-13: 9780525553021 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/14/2020 Age Range: 12 – 17 Years)

Grief is a weird thing. It changes all the time, it’s intensely personal while also being so universal, and you have to still try to live your regular life while hauling it around. Feder’s book captures all of that and so much more.

When Tyler’s mother feels some abdominal pain, no one knows that indicates their lives will be forever changed. She’s eventually diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, and eventually that diagnosis morphs to stage 4 uterine cancer. They all try to remain optimistic, but it isn’t long before it’s very clear to Tyler and her family that her mother will not survive this. As her mother undergoes treatment and begins to fade, Tyler is still going to college and trying to compartmentalize her life enough to power through each day. Eventually, of course, as we know this is a dead mom memoir, the cancer spreads, hospice is called, and her mother dies.

While this is about watching someone you love die and life after loss, it’s also just a really beautiful love letter to her mom. Her mom seems like she was awesome. I was worried this book would wreck me, but that wasn’t the case. I mostly just nodded my head in recognition at her feelings, admired the close relationship Tyler and her mother had, and appreciated the candid, warm, cathartic feel of the whole thing. The mileage varies on everyone’s grief, but this story full of so much love and honesty will be a comfort to many. (Full review here.)

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (ISBN-13: 9780062882769 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/05/2020, Ages 14-17)

POST-IT SAYS: Quite possibly one of the most perfect books ever written. Sad, beautiful, powerful, and bittersweet, this story of family bonds broken and discovered will leave you crying. Just lovely.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (ISBN-13: 9780062820259 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/05/2020 Ages 14-17)

Black, queer, and trans Felix explores love, friendship, and possibly retribution in this powerful #OwnVoices story of identity and self-worth. Seventeen-year-old Felix Love hopes the summer art program he’s attending will help raise his grades and increase his chances of getting a full scholarship to attend Brown. Surrounded by a diverse and mostly queer group of artist friends, Felix navigates complicated relationships, including transphobia and harassment from his own friends, from his loving but still learning father, and from an anonymous bully. Bent on revenge, Felix begins catfishing his top suspect, only to encounter some uncomfortable and surprising revelations about not just his potential tormentor, but his own feelings. Coping with the abandonment of his mother and feeling like he isn’t worthy of love, Felix also grapples with the unsettling feeling that his identity still isn’t the best fit. It’s only after a lot of research that he discovers the label “demiboy” and begins to feel a sense of comfort that extends to how he works through and untangles his various complex relationships, both romantic and platonic.

Full of warmth, love, and support, this is an important story and an essential purchase. (Full review here.)

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (ISBN-13: 9780062990297 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/26/2020, Ages 14+)

POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely perfect and beautiful and unforgettable, just like Michael. A powerful and affirming exploration of identity, sexuality, gender, and relationships. One of my favorite reads of 2020 so far.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (ISBN-13: 9781338503265 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/02/2020 Age Range: 12 – 17 Years)

It’s probably not enough to just write a little love note, like, “Dear book, I love you. Love, Amanda,” and consider this review done, is it? Or maybe it is. It gets across the point—I love this book. It’s cute, sweet, and fun while still dealing with serious and upsetting things. It made me remember all the best things about high school romances—the many firsts, the excitement, the joy, the fun.

The best thing about this book is how REAL it feels. Liz and friends all mess up. They make bad choices, hurt each other, apologize, and learn what true friendship looks like. The connection and acceptance and support that eventually shines through in this story shows all the best parts of high school and the best parts of people. As Liz fumbles her way toward the prom court, she learns that maybe playing the game differently is the key to it all. And with the encouragement of her friends and the eventual support of her peers, Liz comes to understand that if they won’t make space for you, demand it.

A smart, fun, and sweet look at navigating the unexpected moments and at celebrating being yourself. (Full review here.)

Amazon.com: Punching the Air (9780062996480): Zoboi, Ibi, Salaam, Yusef:  Books

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (ISBN-13: 9780062996480 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/01/2020 Age Range: 14 – 17 Years)

This incredible novel in verse is definitely one of my top reads of 2020. The reality is that books about racism, the criminal justice system, and the prison industrial complex will always be both timely and timeless. But, I do think that at this particular time in history, maybe more people than ever will be drawn to this story and open to really sitting with what they learn from what happens to Amal and how it affects him.

Perhaps no page is more moving, more devastating, than the one where, on the day of his conviction, Amal memorizes his inmate number, his crime, and his time, and forgets his school ID number, his top colleges, and his class schedule. Stripped of his humanity, Amal becomes just another number in the school-to-prison pipeline. We see people fail Amal again and again, but also, surprisingly, we see people really see him for who he is and push him to retain his identity (an artist, a poet) while in prison. These people include other inmates who appreciate his talents, a corrections officer who understands his need to create art, and a teacher who visits and tells Amal she’s a prison abolitionist.

A deeply moving, profound, and infuriating look at how we fail Black boys, at the miscarriage of justice, at racist systems, and so much more. An essential purchase. (Full review here.)

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (ISBN-13: 9780593108970 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-17)

POST-IT SAYS: A stunning, heartbreaking look at what it means to be haunted. Readers will ache with Mila as she tries to be hopeful about her future while unable to heal from her traumatic past. Just lovely.

Grown by Tiffany D Jackson (ISBN-13: 9780062840356 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-17)

POST-IT SAYS: Profound. Possibly one of the most powerful and gripping books I’ve ever read. A horrific look at abuse, manipulation, gaslighting, and ambition. You need to read this.

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (ISBN-13: 9780525556206 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020 Age Range: 12 – 17 Years)

Iloh writes, “when you start growing/further away from/what used to be home/you go looking for somewhere/that lets you be/what’s inside your head.”

I’m not sure I’ve read any better lines in any book this year. There is nothing Ada wants more than to be the person inside her head. She’s always been drawn to dance, but her practical father never saw the point in pursuing it. A chance encounter with Kendra, another dancer, provides connection and the encouragement to follow her desire.

A hopeful, beautifully written, deeply affecting story of what we endure and overcome in the journey to become ourselves. (Full review here.)

Thoughts & Prayers by Bryan Bliss (ISBN-13: 9780062962249 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/29/2020 Age Range: 14 – 17 Years)

I finished this book feeling both so, so angry and so, so hopeful. Angry because of the state of things and hopeful because of the awe-inspiring resiliency of humans. Angry that school shootings happen and hopeful that expanded conversations and movements regarding gun violence may one day lead us to a better, safer place. Angry as I think back to every library I’ve worked at, whether school or public, and had moments of fear, had lockdown drills, had spots picked out where I would hide, where I would shove kids. I finished the book angry at some characters, hopeful because of others, and really just profoundly sad that this fictional story is the true story of so many schools, so many communities, so many children.

These are teenagers in pain. We watch them remember to breathe, pretend to be fine, try to feel “normal,” and fall apart. Their stories are filled with pain, fear, rage, and grief. But no one is any one thing, no matter what our trauma or seemingly defining moment may be. The characters change, grow, and heal. They need help and they get help. They are not okay, and readers see that that’s okay. They have supportive teachers, parents, and friends. There is talk of therapy and trauma-informed practices. The characters show what is possibly the only true and universal part of grief and trauma: that healing and progress are not linear. In Bliss’s capable hands, we see their stories as intensely personal and individual while also being part of a larger narrative, a shared experience. We see them as broken and scarred but also as brave, fighters, warriors. They are survivors. They are coping. They are made-up characters, but their stories are those of thousands upon thousands of teenagers who live through these school shootings. A deeply empathetic, emotional, and infuriating story full of unforgettable characters (Dr. Palmer, I love you!). This affecting story is not to be missed. (Full review here.)

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe (ISBN-13: 9780062824141 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/13/2020 Age Range: 13 – 17 Years)

Senior year ends up holding many surprises, the biggest (and best) being Corinne, his upstairs neighbor and the most intense girl in his class. She blackmails Henri into helping her revamp her image as someone less uptight and socially awkward, hoping it will improve her college recommendation letters. And while Henri is game, he has no idea what he’s in for. Turns out that Cori is not just brilliant but totally and bluntly honest, hilarious, and almost always gets what she wants (usually thanks to a series of note cards to study from and exceedingly detailed multi-point plans). What starts as a weird transaction between the two turns into a real friendship (and more) as they get to see each other beyond the labels, preconceived ideas, and Smiles. But Henri messes it all up (and I mean ALL of it) when he makes a terrible choice that he justifies as evening the playing field but really is just SO. BAD.

This book has everything going for it. The conversational tone, the standout characters, the excellent (and rocky) romance… everything. I’m a fast reader. Generally my approach is that I have to read as fast as I possibly can so I can keep flying through my TBR pile. But if I take the time to slow down, to make sure I’m really reading and not just skimming, to be sure I’m enjoying every well-crafted sentence and clever exchange, then I know I am loving a book. I stretched this one out over three afternoons, just so I could keep dipping back into Henri and Cori’s world. A completely satisfying, engaging, and memorable read. (Full review here.)

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen (ISBN-13: 9781984851598 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 10/13/2020 Age Range: 12 – 17 Years)

This book is beautiful in every sense of the word and in every aspect of its presentation. The art is dynamic and full of detail, the shifting color palette works so well, the writing is spectacular, and the emotional heart of the story is stunning. Is this just a list of gushing love and appreciation instead of an actual professional-sounding book review? YES.

This is a story about immigrants, about shared language and connection, about a life left behind, about fitting in, about family, about being yourself, and about love. Tiến learns about the power of stories, about happy endings, about stories changing when they need to. The book ended abruptly but perfectly, leaving me crying and wishing everyone had the love and support Tiến has.

Beautiful and moving, this book will stick with me. I hope it gets the attention it deserves. Go add it to your library queue or order it from your local indie now. (Full review here.)

Super Fake Love Song

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon (ISBN-13: 9781984812230 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/17/2020, Ages 14-17)

Here’s my favorite line from the book: Sunny and Cirrus are talking and she says, “It begs the question, What person isn’t just a made-up thing in the first place? Is it the fakery that makes us real? Is anything real?” And while that may sound like the kind of eye-roll-inducing conversation we all had as teens and thought was so deep, guess what? It is deep. Is there anything innate about our personalities or are we all just amalgamations of our interests and influences and ideals and emulations etc? And in Sunny’s case, is he actually faking being “cool” and interesting or is he indeed cool and interesting? Is changing our personalities and interests really in any way being “fake” when there’s nothing any more “real” about our previous identities or personalities or interests?

As I said in my review of Yoon’s previous book, I’m a hard one to make laugh, as a reader. Cry, sure, at the drop of a hat. But laugh? Rarely. But with this book, I laughed and laughed. I made note of brilliant lines. I went back and read clever conversations. I got completely sucked into the story and felt right there with the characters. I was shoving my fist right in there with theirs and shouting, “To metal!” I can’t say enough positive about this really smart, empathetic, and hilarious look at identity, friendship, preconceived notions, high school, and missteps. One of my very favorite reads this year. (Full review here.)

Take 5: Resources You Should Know

Today I am sharing with you a list of 5 resources that I’m finding helpful, inspiring, or just plain fun. From book lists to science mavens, these are some great resources that you’ll want to consult if they are new to you. Share some of your favorite resources with us in the comments.

Afoma Umesi Blog

This blog is a treasure trove of booklists for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. If you find yourself doing collection development or reader’s advisory, you’ll want to check this website out regularly. The lists are divided into fun categories like siblings and has a solid focus on diversity and inclusion. Afoma Umesi is a Black woman who has dedicated her life to reading and has a medical degree. I have found these lists to be invaluable and I appreciate the work she does to create them.

Raven the Science Maven

“Raven Baxter, also known as Raven the Science Maven, is an internationally acclaimed science communicator and molecular biologist who works to progress the state of science culture by creating spaces that are inclusive, educational, and real.” Raven is fun and educational, combining science with music and cultural awareness and relevance to help bring more kids into STEM education. You’ll definitely want to check out her videos and share them.

2021 YA Releases at Bookshop

Rec it Rachel has been putting together yearly YA release databases for a couple of years now. Each year the format changes just a bit, but this is the second year at Tumblr. You can also buy the books through Bookshop, which supports Indie Bookstores, who definitely need our help during the pandemic.

the21ders.com

Here’s a website dedicated to highlighting middle grade and young adult authors that have debut novels in the year 2021. It can be hard for debut authors to get on the radar and this website will help you find them.

Goodreads list of YA Novels of 2021

I am not a personal user of Goodreads, but I do find their yearly roundup of new YA releases in list form to be quite helpful. They also provide a pretty comprehensive list broken down by each month. It’s a crowd sourced site so there are often errors, which people try to keep fixed, so it’s not a perfect resource but again, a useful one. The 2021 list already has more than 600 new YA books listed.

I hope that you find something new here, or a new way of looking at what we do. If you have a source to share, please drop us a comment.

Book Mail: New and forthcoming titles for all ages

Book mail is still arriving here at the Minnesota branch of TLT, just not in the same quantity as it used to, pre-pandemic. One of my 2021 goals is to try to switch more of my reading to digital, which is not my preferred way but is clearly what needs to be done if I’m going to keep up with forthcoming books. As always, I’m grateful for all the publishers who send so much good book mail my way. Everything I get goes back out the door in some fashion. If you follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething), you see all the giveaways I do there. Be on the lookout for more soon!

All descriptions from the publishers.

The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless

The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless by Charlotte Markey (ISBN-13: 9781108718776 Publisher: Cambridge University Press Publication date: 09/10/2020, Ages 12-17)

It is worrying to think that most girls feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and that this can lead to serious problems including depression and eating disorders. Can some of those body image worries be eased? Body image expert and psychology professor Dr. Charlotte Markey helps girls aged 9-15 to understand, accept, and appreciate their bodies. She provides all the facts on puberty, mental health, self-care, why diets are bad news, dealing with social media, and everything in-between. Girls will find answers to questions they always wanted to ask, the truth behind many body image myths, and real-life stories from girls who share their own experiences. Through this easy-to-read and beautifully illustrated guide, Dr. Markey teaches girls how to nurture both mental and physical heath to improve their own body image, shows the positive impact they can have on others, and enables them to go out into the world feeling fearless!

Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1

Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1 by Veera Hiranandani, Christine Almeda (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593096901 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 6-8)

Written by Newbery Honor-winner Veera Hiranandani, with all-new illustrations by Christine Almeda!

Phoebe G. Green has never given much thought to food, but when a new French classmate enters the cafeteria with a lunchbox full of unusual foods, a new love is born. Spunky and likable, Phoebe is a budding foodie who’s sure to win over your heart—and stomach!

Phoebe loves her pet fish, Betty #2 (named after Betty #1, may she rest in peace), making lists, and her best friend Sage. But when Camille, a tall French girl, arrives at school with unusual lunches, Phoebe can’t seem to think about anything else, including her friendship with Sage. Thanks to Camille, Phoebe discovers goat cheese, butter lettuce, and cilantro (although she’s convinced that’s not a real word). She’s determined to get invited to her new friend’s house for dinner to see what other mysterious food Camille eats. But what about Sage? Can Phoebe make a new friend and keep an old one?

Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf by Hayley Krischer (ISBN-13: 9780593114117 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 14-17)

Ali Greenleaf and Blythe Jensen couldn’t be more different.

Ali is sweet, bitingly funny, and just a little naive. Blythe is beautiful, terrifying, and the most popular girl in school. They’ve never even talked to each other, until a party when Ali decides she’ll finally make her move on Sean Nessel, her longtime crush and the soccer team’s superstar. But Sean pushes Ali farther than she wants to go. When she resists—he rapes her.

Blythe sees Ali when she runs from the party, everyone sees her. And Blythe knows something happened with Sean; she knows how he treats girls. Even so, she’s his best friend, his confidant. When he tells her it was a misunderstanding, she decides to help him make things right.

So Blythe befriends Ali, bringing her into a circle of ruthless popular girls, and sharing her own dark secrets. Despite the betrayal at the heart of their relationship, they see each other, in a way no one ever has before.

In her searing, empowering debut novel, Hayley Krischer tells the story of what happened that night, and how it shaped Ali and Blythe forever. Both girls are survivors in their own ways, and while their friendship might not be built to last, it’s one that empowers each of them to find justice on their own terms.

The Infamous Frankie Lorde 1: Stealing Greenwich

The Infamous Frankie Lorde 1: Stealing Greenwich by Brittany Geragotelis (ISBN-13: 9781645950264 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 10-14)

A pre-teen international thief turns over a new leaf (sort of) to right the societal wrongs in her snooty new town in this upper middle grade series starter for fans of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls and Heist Society, Stuart Gibb’s Spy School, and Ocean’s 8.

Being the protégé (and daughter) of the man responsible for some of the world’s biggest heists has given Frankie Lorde a unique perspective. And a special set of skills. She can spot an FBI agent in a second, pick a lock in two, and steal a Bugatti in three. (Even if she’s technically too young to drive it.) Frankie and her dad are a team, and their jobs are the stuff of international awe.

And then Dad is arrested.

Sent to live with her uncle, who she barely knows and who is, ironically, a cop, Frankie is forced to navigate an entirely foreign world: suburbia. She has to go to middle school, learn what kids her age wear and eat and do for fun—and, alas, it doesn’t involve lifting expensive watches. 

But life in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the richest towns in America, also opens her eyes to a startling reality, and seeing the stark contrast of the the super-rich and the super-not-rich who support the community living side-by-side gives Frankie an idea. What if she were to put her less-than-legal know-how to good use, turning the tables and evening the score . . .?

Fresh, fun, and timely, Stealing Greenwich introduces a smart, slick young criminal mastermind with a heart of gold who is sure to become a darling for middle grade set.

Closer to Nowhere

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins (ISBN-13: 9780593108611 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 10-13)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s poignant middle grade novel in verse about coming to terms with indelible truths of family and belonging.

For the most part, Hannah’s life is just how she wants it. She has two supportive parents, she’s popular at school, and she’s been killing it at gymnastics. But when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, pranks Hannah constantly, and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. Nothing is how it used to be. She knows that Cal went through a lot after his mom died and she is trying to be patient, but most days Hannah just wishes Cal never moved in.

For his part, Cal is trying his hardest to fit in, but not everyone is as appreciative of his unique sense of humor and storytelling gifts as he is. Humor and stories might be his defense mechanism, but if Cal doesn’t let his walls down soon, he might push away the very people who are trying their best to love him.

Told in verse from the alternating perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is a story of two cousins who are more alike than they realize and the family they both want to save.

Concrete Kids by Amyra León: 9780593095195 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Concrete Kids by Amyra León, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593095195 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/13/2020 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

In Concrete Kids, playwright, musician, and educator Amyra León uses free verse to challenge us to dream beyond our circumstances — and sometimes even despite them.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. 

Concrete Kids is an exploration of love and loss, melody and bloodshed. Musician, playwright, and educator Amyra León takes us on a poetic journey through her childhood in Harlem, as she navigates the intricacies of foster care, mourning, self-love, and resilience. In her signature free-verse style, she invites us all to dream with abandon—and to recognize the privilege it is to dream at all.

Taking on the Plastics Crisis

Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223338 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/13/2020 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

In this personal, moving essay, youth activist Hannah Testa shares with readers how she led a grassroots political campaign to successfully pass state legislation limiting single-use plastics and how she influenced global businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. Through her personal journey, readers can learn how they, too, can follow in Hannah’s footsteps and lower their carbon footprint by simply refusing single-use plastics.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, youth activist Hannah Testa, the founder of Hannah4Change, chronicles both her personal and political mission to save the Earth’s oceans by limiting single-use plastic products.

Kwame Alexander's Free Write: A Poetry Notebook

Kwame Alexander’s Free Write: A Poetry Notebook by Kwame Alexander (ISBN-13: 9781728222189 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 11/03/2020, Ages 8-14)

From the Newbery-Medal winning author of The Crossover and The Undefeatedcomes an exciting , interactive, poetry notebook—empowering kids to express themselves in verse.

Have you ever written a poem? How about rap lyrics or a letter or even a list? ‘Cause those can all be poetry too. Wanna give it a try? Bestselling author and poet extraordinaire Kwame Alexander created this super-fly notebook just for YOU! It’s bursting with cool activities, sizzling poetry starters, inspirational quotes, and lots of space to create. So grab your pen or pencil ’cause it’s time to give your words FLOW and RHYTHM and RHYME.

Incredible stories. Award-winning storytellers. Epic adventure, mystery, and fun? We’ve got it all in Ghostwriter, the extraordinary new series from the Emmy-award winning hit Apple TV+ show, created by your friends at Sesame Workshop.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha (ISBN-13: 9781682815090 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 12/01/2020, Ages 14-18)

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain for years.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers intofood.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

A Curse of Roses includes themes, imagery, and content that might be triggering for some readers. Discussions of religious-based self harm, religious-based eating disorders, and religious-based internalized homophobia appear throughout the novel.

Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty)

Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty) by Diana Ma (ISBN-13: 9781419749964 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 12/01/2020, ages 13-18)

The first book in an epic and romantic YA series following the fictionalized descendants of the only officially recognized empress regent of China

Gemma Huang is a recent transplant to Los Angeles from Illinois, having abandoned plans for college to pursue a career in acting, much to the dismay of her parents. Now she’s living with three roommates in a two-bedroom hovel, auditioning for bit roles that hardly cover rent. Gemma’s big break comes when she’s asked to play a lead role in an update of M. Butterfly filming for the summer in Beijing. When she arrives, she’s stopped by paparazzi at the airport. She quickly realizes she may as well be the twin of one of the most notorious young socialites in Beijing. Thus kicks off a summer of revelations, in which Gemma uncovers a legacy her parents have spent their lives protecting her from—one her mother would conceal from her daughter at any cost.

Be Dazzled

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala (ISBN-13: 9781492682691 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 14-18)

Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making—for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything—and everyone—else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store—or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Crown of Bones

Crown of Bones by A. K. Wilder (ISBN-13: 9781640634145 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 14-17)

Raise. Your. Phantom.

In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come…

A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen.
A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms.
A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea.
And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.

My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.

Clues to the Universe

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li (ISBN-13: 9780063008885 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston (ISBN-13: 9780062975164 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/19/2021, Ages 8-12)

Artemis Fowl meets Men in Black in this exhilarating debut middle grade fantasy, the first in a trilogy filled with #blackgirlmagic. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the Percy Jackson series, and Nevermoor.

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Unchosen

Unchosen by Katharyn Blair (ISBN-13: 9780062657640 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/26/2021, Ages 14-17)

Katharyn Blair crafts a fiercely feminist fantasy with a horrifying curse, swoon-worthy sea captains, and the power of one girl to choose her own fate in this contemporary standalone adventure that’s perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and Seafire, and for anyone who has ever felt unchosen.

For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.

The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.

The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.

Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.

When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.

The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.

But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.

Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning.

Bump

Bump by Matt Wallace (ISBN-13: 9780063007987 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/26/2021, Ages 8-12)

A moving and triumphant middle grade contemporary debut from award-winning author Matt Wallace about a heroic young girl—who dreams of becoming a pro wrestler—learning to find courage and fight for what she loves. Perfect for fans of Kelly Yang, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds’ Track series!

MJ knows what it means to hurt. Bruises from gymnastics heal, but big hurts—like her dad not being around anymore—don’t go away. Now her mom needs to work two jobs, and MJ doesn’t have friends at school to lean on.

There is only one thing MJ loves: the world of professional wrestling. She especially idolizes the luchadores and the stories they tell in the ring. When MJ learns that her neighbor, Mr. Arellano, runs a wrestling school, she has a new mission in life: join the school, train hard, and become a wrestler.

But trouble lies ahead. After wrestling in a showcase event, MJ attracts the attention of Mr. Arellano’s enemy at the State Athletic Commission. There are threats to shut the school down, putting MJ’s new home—and the community that welcomed her—at risk. What can MJ do to save her new family?

Can't Take That Away

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore (ISBN-13: 9781547605309 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 03/09/2021, Ages 12-17)

An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration.

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice. 

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights—and they refuse to be silenced. 

Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore’s Can’t Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

The Prison Healer

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni (ISBN-13: 9780358434559 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 12-16)

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.
 
When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.
 
Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.
 
But no one has ever survived.
 
With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.
 
From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.
 

ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse: Cooke, Stephanie, Costa,  Mari: 9780358168997: Amazon.com: Books

ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse by Stephanie Cooke, Mari Costa (ISBN-13: 9780358164586 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 07/06/2021, Ages 8-12)

A witch named Abby and her three friends—a wolf-girl, a ghost, and a pumpkinhead—band together to try and save their supernatural town from an invasion of rabid (but adorable!) chaos bunnies in this enchanting middle-grade graphic novel for fans of Making Friends, The Okay Witch, and Lumberjanes.

It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making, and playing board games with her best friends—a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl, and a ghost. But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?

In this deliciously humorous, cozy, and bewitching graphic novel, sometimes the most of powerful magic comes from our connections to family and friends (but kicking bunny butt is great, too).

New Books Alert: The latest in YA and MG fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels

Look, it feels silly to be sad about things that are maybe less important than all of the REALLY important stuff going on right now, but I am sad that there are fewer galleys being printed, fewer books being sent out for review, and that more review copies are being offered only digitally. For some people, that may be great, but that’s not my preferred way to read, so all of these factors will likely impact what books I consider for review and what I actually get read. All of this is to say that every day book mail appears on my front step it really feels like a joyful gift. And there’s not much joy these days. I am grateful, as always, to the many people reviewing and sharing books on Twitter and various blogs, because while I may be seeing less books in person, you all are keeping me informed and interested. So thank you. And thank you, as always, to the publishers who keep me in books.

All descriptions from the publishers.

Unexpected Super Spy (Planet Omar Series #2)

Unexpected Super Spy (Planet Omar Series #2) by Zanib Mian, Nasaya Mafaridik (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593109243 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/29/2020, Ages 8-12)

Omar is back with a big mystery to solve in the second installment of this imaginative, highly-illustrated middle-grade series.

When Omar hears that his family’s favorite mosque is at risk of shutting down due to lack of funds, he knows he has to do something. And with the help of his best friend Charlie and another unlikely ally, a great idea is born—a school talent contest!

Omar and his friends are super excited about their plan, that is until Omar’s sister, Maryam, decides she and her friends are going to raise money, too, and the competition is on. The boys’ talent show is a huge success but disaster strikes right at the end—all the money goes missing. Omar has no choice but to become a super spy to track down a foe much more wily than his sister.

Omar’s amazing imagination brings the second story in his adventures to life as he navigates more of life’s ups and downs. From sibling brawls to speaking to the scary principal and becoming a community activist, bold illustrations and cheeky dialogue show how Omar perseveres through serious and silly adversity.

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter by Brea Grant, Yishan Li (Artist) (ISBN-13: 9781644420294 Publisher: Six Foot Press Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 12-18)

Angsty teenager Mary Shelley is not interested in carrying on her family’s celebrated legacy of being a great writer, but she soon discovers that she has the not-so-celebrated and super-secret Shelley power to heal monsters, just like her famous ancestor, and those monsters are not going to let her ignore her true calling anytime soon.

The Shelley family history is filled with great writers: the original Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, the acclaimed mystery writer Tawny Shelley, cookbook maven Phyllis Shelley…the list goes on and on. But this Mary Shelley, named after her great-great-great-great-great grandmother, doesn’t want anything to do with that legacy. Then a strangely pale (and really cute) boy named Adam shows up and asks her to heal a wound he got under mysterious circumstances, and Mary learns something new about her family: the first Mary Shelley had the power to heal monsters, and Mary has it, too. Now the monsters won’t stop showing up, Mary can’t get her mother Tawny to leave her alone about writing something (anything!), she can’t tell her best friend Rhonda any of this, and all Mary wants is to pass biology.

Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy

Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy
by Kenneth C. Davis
(ISBN-13: 9781250205643 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 12-18)

From the bestselling author of the Don’t Know Much About® books comes a dramatic account of the origins of democracy, the history of authoritarianism, and the reigns of five of history’s deadliest dictators. 

What makes a country fall to a dictator? How do authoritarian leaders—strongmen—capable of killing millions acquire their power? How are they able to defeat the ideal of democracy? And what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

By profiling five of the most notoriously ruthless dictators in history—Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein—Kenneth C. Davis seeks to answer these questions, examining the forces in these strongmen’s personal lives and historical periods that shaped the leaders they’d become. 

Meticulously researched and complete with photographs, Strongman provides insight into the lives of five leaders who callously transformed the world and serves as an invaluable resource in an era when democracy itself seems in peril.

Alone in the Woods

Alone in the Woods by Rebecca Behrens (ISBN-13: 9781492673378 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 8-12)

From the author of The Disaster Days comes a thrilling survival story, and lost in the woods children’s book, about two former best friends who must work together to stay alive after getting lost in a remote national forest.

Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends…until they aren’t. Jocelyn’s not sure what happened, but she hopes the annual joint-family vacation in the isolated north woods will be the perfect spot to rekindle their friendship.

But Alex still isn’t herself when they get to the cabin. And Jocelyn reaches a breaking point during a rafting trip that goes horribly wrong. When the girls’ tube tears it leaves them stranded and alone. And before they know it, the two are hopelessly lost.

Wearing swimsuits and water shoes and with only the contents of their wet backpack, the girls face threats from the elements. And as they spend days and nights lost in the wilderness, they’ll have to overcome their fractured friendship to make it out of the woods alive.

We Were Restless Things

We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu (ISBN-13: 9781728216591 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 14-18)

From debut author Cole Nagamatsu comes an atmospheric contemporary fantasy about three teens coming of age in the wake of a mysterious death.

Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles away from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a strange accident, and in the months since, his friends and family have struggled to make sense of it. But Link’s close friend Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find. And what’s more, someone claiming to be Link has been contacting her, warning Noemi to stay out of the forest.

As these secrets become too heavy for Noemi to shoulder on her own, she turns to Jonas, her new housemate, and Amberlyn, Link’s younger sister. All three are trying to find their place—and together, they start to unravel the truth: about themselves, about the world, and about what happened to Link.

Unfolding over a year and told through multiple POVs and a dream journal, We Were Restless Things explores the ways society shapes our reality, how we can learn to love ourselves and others, and the incredible power of our own desires.

The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World

The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World by Lucinda Robb, Rebecca Boggs Roberts (ISBN-13: 9781536214543 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 10/27/2020, Ages 12-17)

Do you have a cause you’re passionate about? Take a few tips from the suffragists, who led one of the largest and longest movements in American history.

The women’s suffrage movement was decades in the making and came with many harsh setbacks. But it resulted in a permanent victory: women’s right to vote. How did the suffragists do it? One hundred years later, an eye-opening look at their playbook shows that some of their strategies seem oddly familiar. Women’s marches at inauguration time? Check. Publicity stunts, optics, and influencers? They practically invented them. Petitions, lobbying, speeches, raising money, and writing articles? All of that, too. 

From moments of inspiration to some of the movement’s darker aspects—including the racism of some suffragist leaders, violence against picketers, and hunger strikes in jail—this clear-eyed view takes in the role of key figures: Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, Ida B. Wells, Alice Paul, and many more. Engagingly narrated by Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts, whose friendship goes back generations (to their grandmothers, Lady Bird Johnson and Lindy Boggs, and their mothers, Lynda Robb and Cokie Roberts), this unique melding of seminal history and smart tactics is sure to capture the attention of activists-in-the-making today.

The Girl Who Wasn't There

The Girl Who Wasn’t There by Penny Joelson (ISBN-13: 9781492698852 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 11/03/2020, Ages 14-18)

For fans of Karen M. McManus and Kara Thomas comes this riveting new young adult crime thriller packed with mystery and suspense, from the acclaimed author of I Have No Secrets

Nothing ever happens on Kasia’s street. And Kasia would know, because her chronic illness keeps her stuck at home, watching the outside world from her bedroom window. So when she witnesses what looks like a kidnapping, she’s not sure whether she can believe her own eyes…

There had been a girl in the window across the street who must have seen something too. But when Kasia ventures out to find her, she is told the most shocking thing of all: There is no girl.

Malcolm and Me: A Novel

Malcolm and Me: A Novel by Robin Farmer (ISBN-13: 9781684630837 Publisher: SparkPress Publication date: 11/17/2020, Ages 14-17)

Philly native Roberta Forest is a precocious rebel with the soul of a poet. The thirteen-year-old is young, gifted, black, and Catholic—although she’s uncertain about the Catholic part after she calls Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite for enslaving people and her nun responds with a racist insult. Their ensuing fight makes Roberta question God and the important adults in her life, all of whom seem to see truth as gray when Roberta believes it’s black or white. 

An upcoming essay contest, writing poetry, and reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X all help Roberta cope with the various difficulties she’s experiencing in her life, including her parent’s troubled marriage. But when she’s told she’s ineligible to compete in the school’s essay contest, her explosive reaction to the news leads to a confrontation with her mother, who shares some family truths Roberta isn’t ready for. 

Set against the backdrop of Watergate and the post-civil rights movement era, Malcolm and Me is a gritty yet graceful examination of the anguish teens experience when their growing awareness of themselves and the world around them unravels their sense of security—a coming-of-age tale of truth-telling, faith, family, forgiveness, and social activism.

This Is How We Fly

This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano (ISBN-13: 9780593116876 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 12/15/2020, Ages 12+)

A loose retelling of Cinderella, about a high-school graduate who—after getting grounded for the whole summer—joins a local Quidditch league and finds her footing, perfect for fans of Dumplin’Fangirl, and everyone who’s read and adored Harry Potter. 

17-year-old vegan feminist Ellen Lopez-Rourke has one muggy Houston summer left before college. She plans to spend every last moment with her two best friends before they go off to the opposite ends of Texas for school. But when Ellen is grounded for the entire summer by her (sometimes) evil stepmother, all her plans are thrown out the window. 

Determined to do something with her time, Ellen (with the help of BFF Melissa) convinces her parents to let her join the local muggle Quidditch team. An all-gender, full-contact game, Quidditch isn’t quite what Ellen expects. There’s no flying, no magic, just a bunch of scrappy players holding PVC pipe between their legs and throwing dodgeballs. Suddenly Ellen is thrown into the very different world of sports: her life is all practices, training, and running with a group of Harry Potter fans. 

Even as Melissa pulls away to pursue new relationships and their other BFF Xiumiao seems more interested in moving on from high school (and from Ellen), Ellen is steadily finding a place among her teammates. Maybe Quidditch is where she belongs. 

But with her home life and friend troubles quickly spinning out of control—Ellen must fight for the future that she wants, now she’s playing for keeps. 

Filled with heart and humor, Anna Meriano’s YA debut is perfect for fans of Dumplin’ and Hot Dog Girl.

The Nightmare Thief

The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance, Federica Fenna (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781728215341 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 8-14)

In the tradition of Natalie Lloyd and Ingrid Law comes a whimsical debut about a girl, her family’s dream shop, and a nightmare thief determined to change the course of her life as she knows it.

Maren Partridge loves working in her family’s dream shop where she can hand-craft any dream imaginable. The shop has only one rule. Dreams cannot be given to a person without their consent. Maren has no problem with this—until her sister, Hallie, has an accident that leaves her in a coma. Maren’s certain she can cure Hallie with a few well-chosen dreams. And when no one is watching, she slips her a flying dream.

But a strange new customer from the shop has been following Maren and knows what she did. Now she’s laid the perfect trap to blackmail Maren into creating custom nightmares for a dark and terrible purpose. As Maren gets drawn further into the sinister scheme, she must make a choice: to protect her family or to protect the town from her family’s magic.

Every Single Lie

Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent (ISBN-13: 9781547605231 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 14-18)

In this gripping YA novel about social media bullying and half-truths, one girl’s shocking discovery of a dead baby in her high school locker room rocks an entire community.

Nobody in sixteen-year-old Beckett’s life seems to be telling the whole story. Her boyfriend Jake keeps hiding texts, which could mean he’s cheating on her. Her father lied about losing his job and so much more before his shocking death. And everyone in school seems to be whispering about her and her family behind her back.

But none of that compares to the day Beckett finds the body of a newborn baby in a gym bag—Jake’s gym bag—on the floor of her high school locker room. As word leaks out, rumors that Beckett’s the mother take off like wildfire in a town all too ready to believe the worst of her.

Beckett soon finds herself facing threats and accusations both heartbreaking and dangerous. Nobody believes her side of the story, and as the police investigation unfolds, she discovers that everyone has a secret to hide and the truth could alter everything she thought she knew.

A page-turning thriller set in a small Southern community, Every Single Lie is a jaw-dropping, twisty must-read for fans of Sadie.

As Far As You'll Take Me

As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper (ISBN-13: 9781547600175 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 02/09/2021, Ages 13-17)

The author of The Gravity of Us crafts another heartfelt coming-of-age story about finding the people who become your home—perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli

Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he’s excited to start his new life—where he’s no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents’ disapproval. 

From the outside, Marty’s life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he’s made new friends, he’s getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he’s even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can’t keep up the facade. He hasn’t spoken to his parents since he arrived, he’s tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn’t even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?

The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)

The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel (ISBN-13: 9781728220987 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 13-17)

From New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel comes a dark psychological contemporary about a grieving teen sent to a mysterious boarding school where nothing is quite what it seems.

When Moira Dreyfuss’s parents announce that they’re sending her to boarding school, Moira isn’t fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she’s been too much trouble since her best friend Nathan died—and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the strange headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn’t interested in getting over Nathan’s death, or befriending her fellow students.

On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside…and learn that they’re not so isolated after all. There’s another, very different, Castle School nearby—this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.

Moira knows something isn’t right about the Castle School—about either of them. But uncovering the truth behind the schools’ secrets may force Moira to confront why she was sent away in the first place.

Field of Screams

Field of Screams by Joel Sutherland (ISBN-13: 9781728225944 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

Will they escape before it’s too late?

Darius and Ryan are excited to visit Scarecrow Farm. It’s always been a spooky good time—the perfect spot to go on Halloween.

But when they arrive, it’s nothing like they remember. The place looks run-down, and Darius can’t shake the feeling that they shouldn’t be there. When the two boys get lost in the corn maze, they start to panic—especially when they meet something terrifying hidden among the corn.

Can Darius and Ryan escape before they become the latest victims of the maze?

The Nightmare Next Door

The Nightmare Next Door by Joel Sutherland (ISBN-13: 9781728225883 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

The new neighbors are not who they seem…Siblings Matt and Sophie aren’t thrilled when their parents move them away from the country to a boring neighborhood in a new development.The only house that stands out is the one next door—an old stone farmhouse whose owners have refused to sell to developers. They even have a horse in the pasture. And Sophie hopes the owners will let her ride it if she helps take care of it.But something is not quite right about their new neighbors, and Matt and Sophie are determined to find out what exactly is wrong with the house next door.

Night of the Living Dolls

Night of the Living Dolls by Joel Sutherland (ISBN-13: 9781728225913 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

Zelda is staying at her late grandmother’s house when she rediscovers the doll she was given. It’s old-fashioned and frayed, and Zelda doesn’t think much of it.Until she realizes the doll is alive and is looking for revenge…

Ghosts Never Die

Ghosts Never Die by Joel Sutherland (ISBN-13: 9781728225852 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

Everyone in Evie’s east-coast school is obsessed with Kill Screen, one of the scariest, most intense video games on the market! But no one has ever beat the game and many believe there must be a defect in the last level, making victory impossible to attain.When Evie finally figures out how to defeat the final ghost, the Wisp, her work is far from over, for as the first person to ever complete Kill Screen, she’s unwittingly unleashed the Wisp into our world.

The Gifted, the Talented, and Me

The Gifted, the Talented, and Me by William Sutcliffe (ISBN-13: 9781547604203 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 10/13/2020, Ages 12-17)

Fifteen-year-old Sam is not a famous vlogger, he’s never gone viral, and he doesn’t want to be the Next Big Thing. In fact, he’s ordinary and proud of it. None of which was a problem until Dad got rich and Mom made the whole family move to London. Now Sam’s off to the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented, where everyone’s busy planning Hollywood domination or starting alt-metal psychedelica crossover bands. Sam knows he’ll never belong, even if he wanted to — but can he find himself on his own terms?

The League of Super Feminists

The League of Super Feminists by Mirion Malle, Aleshia Jensen (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781770464025 Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly Publication date: 10/13/2020, Ages 14-18)

This primer on feminism and media literacy teaches young readers why it matters

The League of Super Feminists is an energetic and fierce comic for tweens and younger teens. Cartoonist Mirion Malle guides readers through some of the central tenets of feminism and media literacy including consent, intersectionality, privilege, body image, inclusivity and more; all demystified in the form of a witty, down-to-earth dialogue that encourages questioning the stories we’re told about identity. Malle’s insightful and humorous comics transport lofty concepts from the ivory tower to the eternally safer space of open discussion. Making reference to the Bechdel test in film and Peggy McIntosh’s dissection of white privilege through the metaphor of the “invisible knapsack,” The League of Super Feminists is an asset to the classroom, library, and household alike.

Knights and princesses present problems associated with consent; superheroes reveal problematic stereotypes associated with gender; and grumpy onlookers show just how insidious cat-calling culture can be. No matter how women dress, Malle explains, there seems to always be someone ready to call it out. The League of Super Feminists articulates with both poise and clarity how unconscious biases and problematic thought processes can have tragic results.

Why does feminism matter? Are feminists man-haters? How do race and feminism intersect? Malle answers these questions for young readers, in a comic that is as playful and hilarious as it is necessary.

You Have a Match: A Novel

You Have a Match by Emma Lord (ISBN-13: 9781250237309 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 12-18)

A new love, a secret sister, and a summer she’ll never forget.

From the beloved author of Tweet Cute comes Emma Lord’s You Have a Match, a hilarious and heartfelt novel of romance, sisterhood, and friendship…

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents — especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

Yesterday Is History

Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson ( ISBN-13: 9781492694342 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 14-18)

Andre Cobb hopes his luck is finally turning around. After being sick for as long as he can remember, he’s finally gotten the liver transplant he desperately needed. Now his life can finally begin. But weeks after the operation, he feels shaky and ill, passes out, and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…the past.

Somehow, he’s slipped through time to the 1960s version of his neighborhood in Boston. While there he meets Michael, who he is instantly connected to. Michael is everything Andre is not. He’s free-spirited, artistic, and open to all of life’s possibilities.

But just as suddenly as he arrived, Andre slips back to present-day Boston. As he tries to figure out what happened, the family of his donor reaches out to let him know his new liver may have side effects… of the time travel variety. They task their youngest son, Blake, with the job of helping Andre figure out the ins and outs of his new ability.

As Andre trains with Blake, he can’t help but feel attracted to him. Blake understands Andre in a way no one else ever has. But every time Andre journeys to the past, he’s drawn back into to Michael’s world.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs and more importantly who he wants to be before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and changes his fate for good.

The Project

The Project by Courtney Summers (ISBN-13: 9781250105738 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 13-18)

The next pulls-no-punches thriller from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author Courtney Summers, about an aspiring young journalist determined to save her sister from a cult.

“The Unity Project saved my life.”

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

“The Unity Project murdered my son.”

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its charismatic and mysterious leader, Lev Warren, he proposes a deal: if she can prove the worst of her suspicions about The Unity Project, she may expose them. If she can’t, she must finally leave them alone.

But as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members, and spends more time with Lev, it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

Welcome to The Unity Project.

Love Is a Revolution

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson (ISBN-13: 9781547600601 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 13-17)

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Renée Watson comes a new YA—a love story about not only a romantic relationship but how a girl finds herself and falls in love with who she really is. 

When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He’s perfect, except . . . Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary. 

In Love Is a Revolution, plus size girls are beautiful and get the attention of the hot guys, the popular girl clique is not shallow but has strong convictions and substance, and the ultimate love story is not only about romance but about how to show radical love to the people in your life, including to yourself.

Amelia Unabridged: A Novel

Amelia Unabridged: A Novel by Ashley Schumacher (ISBN-13: 9781250253026 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 02/16/2021, Ages 12-18)

Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future in this unforgettable debut novel sure to entice fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer E. Smith

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

Ashley Schumacher’s devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.

Okay, Universe: Chronicles of a Woman in Politics

Okay, Universe: Chronicles of a Woman in Politics by Valérie Plante, Delphie Côté-Lacroix, Helge Dascher (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781770464117 Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly Publication date: 03/01/2021, Ages 14+)

A story about political organizing and the power of community

Valérie Plante stood up to the patriarchal power system of her city, took down an incumbent, and became the first woman elected Mayor of Montreal. Her origin story comes alive in Okay, Universe. This captivating graphic novel—created in a true collaboration with Governor-General Award-winner Delphie Côté-Lacroix—follows her journey from community organizer and volunteer to municipal candidate, and the phone call from the local social justice political party that changed her life forever.

Okay, Universe is the first time Plante has told her story, and she has chosen an art form that is not just emblematic of the city of Montreal and its love of the arts and bande dessinée, it’s an art form that is accessible to all readers and perfectly suited to her message. With patience, determination, and the strength of will to remain true to her core beliefs, Okay, Universe details the inspiring political campaign where slowly but surely she gained the trust of a neighbourhood fighting for affordable housing, environmental protections, and equal opportunities. Okay, Universe demystifies the path to success, simultaneously showing the Mayor’s inextinguishable commitment to creating positive change in the world and educating about the vitality of political engagement.

Down Comes the Night: A Novel

Down Comes the Night: A Novel by Allison Saft (ISBN-13: 9781250623638 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 13-18)

A gorgeously gothic, deeply romantic YA debut fantasy about two enemies trapped inside a crumbling mansion, with no escape from the monsters within.

Honor your oath, destroy your country.

Wren Southerland is the most talented healer in the Queen’s Guard, but her reckless actions have repeatedly put her on thin ice with her superiors. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate to cure his servant from a mysterious disease, she seizes the chance to prove herself.

When she arrives at Colwick Hall, Wren realizes that nothing is what it seems. Particularly when she discovers her patient is actually Hal Cavendish, the sworn enemy of her kingdom.

As the snowy mountains make it impossible to leave the estate, Wren and Hal grow closer as they uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear. But choosing love could doom both their kingdoms.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched, gothic, romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Slingshot: A Novel

Slingshot: A Novel by Mercedes Helnwein (ISBN-13: 9781250253002 Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group Publication date: 04/27/2021, Ages 13-18)

An exciting debut contemporary young adult novel perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Mary H. K. Choi

Acidly funny and compulsively readable, Mercedes Helnwein’s debut novel Slingshot is a story about two people finding each other and then screwing it all up. See also: soulmate, friendship, stupidity, sex, bad poetry, and all the indignities of being in love for the first time.

Grace Welles had resigned herself to the particular loneliness of being fifteen and stuck at a third-tier boarding school in the swamps of Florida, when she accidentally saves the new kid in her class from being beat up. With a single aim of a slingshot, the monotonous mathematics of her life are obliterated forever…because now there is this boy she never asked for. Wade Scholfield.

With Wade, Grace discovers a new way to exist. School rules are optional, life is bizarrely perfect, and conversations about wormholes can lead to make-out sessions that disrupt any logical stream of thoughts.

So why does Grace crush Wade’s heart into a million tiny pieces? And what are her options when she finally realizes that 1. The universe doesn’t revolve around her, and 2. Wade has been hiding a dark secret. Is Grace the only person unhinged enough to save him?

Post-It Note Reviews: Voting, bands, ghosts, and more!

It’s hardly unique to say that 2020 has zapped my ability to concentrate AND that it’s worked hard to ruin reading for me. Why escape into fiction when you can doomscroll endlessly? Despite some days where concentrating on a book feels impossible, I am still reading. And these short post-it reviews are currently perfect for me, as longer form thoughts are hard to conjure up.

All descriptions are from the publishers. The handwritten post-it reviews are transcribed after the descriptions.

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (ISBN-13: 9781368053297 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 07/07/2020, Ages 12-18)

From Stonewall Award-winning author Brandy Colbert comes an all-in-one-day love story perfect for fans of The Sun is Also A Star

Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election? 

Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight. 

Only problem? Duke can’t vote. 

When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. 
And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy. 

Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change—but some things are just meant to be. 

(POST-IT SAYS: Excellent character-driven story about activism, grief, and connection. I want to be Marva’s best friend. It’s election season—get this front and center on your displays!)

All Together Now by Hope Larson (ISBN-13: 9780374313654 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 08/04/2020)

All Together Now is New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Hope Larson’s pitch-perfect graphic novel follow-up for fans of All Summer Long, music lovers, and anyone navigating the ups and downs of friendship.

Middle-schooler Bina is having the best time playing in her new band with her friends, Darcy and Enzo. But both the band and her friendships begin to crumble when Darcy and Enzo start dating, effectively relegating Bina to third-wheel status. 

To make matters worse, Bina’s best friend, Austin, starts developing a crush on her . . . one she is not sure she reciprocates. Now Bina must follow her heart. Can she navigate its twists and turns before the lights come up and the music starts playing?

(POST-IT SAYS: Really captures how complicated middle school relationships can be. Will especially speak to artists and musicians. Can be read on its own, though new readers will surely seek out book #1. Smart, honest, and engaging.)

Warm Blood Vol. 1 by Josh Tierney (ISBN-13: 9781733168700 Publisher: Buno Books Publication date: 05/19/2020)

The popular high-school mystery webcomic comes to print for the first time in this special edition from Buno. Join our hero Penny, a quiet girl who dreams of becoming a video game developer, as she navigates her first year at Greenwood High. There she must contend with a string of bizarre murders, potentially evil twins, rumors of shadow monsters, and a strange presence lurking just outside her window.

Helping Penny through it all are her friends, including her anime loving best buds from elementary school, a 4th wall smashing girl she meets on her first day, and a sweet awkward girl eager to be her BFF, and who happens to be very handy with a baseball bat. Josh Tierney is the creator of the Eisner, Harvey, Shuster, and Diamond-Gem nominated “Spera” series of fantasy graphic novels and co-creator of the sci-fi mini-series Halo-Gen. His projects are created in collaboration with artists from around the world.

Warm Blood includes work by Josh Tierney, Afu Chan, Saskia Gutenkunst, Joysuke, Winston Young, Naomi Franquiz, Marina Julia, Olivier Pichard, Jane Bak, Vlad Gusev, e jackson, Leiana Nitura, Blakely Inberg, Eva Eskelinen, F. Choo, Cleonique Hilsaca, Thomas Rouzière, Sandrine Han Jin Kuang, Mathilde Kitteh, Shanen Pae, Stephen Rodgers, Sara DuVall, Cat Sukiman, Xulia Vicente, Nuno Plati, Heikala, Crista Castro, Irma Kniivila, Stephanie Son,Cristina Rose Chua, María Ponce Esparcia, Kat Lyons, Gaby Epstein, and nims.

(POST-IT SAYS: If you like extremely strange, surreal, almost theater of the absurd-style stories, you’ll enjoy this. Loved all the different art styles. Weird in all the best ways.)

Stranger Things: Zombie Boys by Greg Pak, Valeria Favoccia (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781506713090 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Publication date: 01/21/2020)

Following the events of season one of Netflix’s pop-culture sensation Stranger Things, our main characters struggle with returning to normal life after overcoming supernatural horror.

School is back in session in the normally quiet town of Hawkins, Indiana. Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will are still grappling with the traumatic encounters with the Demogorgon and the Upside Down in season one of the hit Netflix series. As tensions rise and fractures begin to form in the group, a new kid shows up to AV club with a Betamax Camcorder and an idea. The new Spielberg-wannabe friend, Joey Kim, wants to make a horror movie about a local legend, but when he sees Will’s drawings, he discovers that his new friends are local legends.

Written by best-selling author Greg Pak (Mech Cadet YuThe Incredible HulkStar Wars: Age of Rebellion) and drawn by Valeria Favoccia (Assassin Creed: ReflectionsDoctor Who: The Tenth Doctor).

(POST-IT SAYS: An original story that doesn’t take place in the TV show. Not fantastic, but I love the show and am reading all the additional material. Graphic novel fans will probably enjoy this quick read about a zombie movie.)

A Gift for a Ghost by Borja Gonzalez (ISBN-13: 9781419740138 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 05/05/2020, Ages 14-18)

An untalented punk band and a parallel dimension—what could go wrong? 

In Borja González’s stunning graphic novel, two parallel stories reflect and intertwine in a tale of youthful dreams and desires. In 1856, Teresa, a young aristocrat, is more interested in writing avantgarde horror poetry than making a suitable marriage. In 2016, three teenage girls, Gloria, Laura, and Cristina, want to start a punk band called the Black Holes. They have everything they need: attitude, looks, instinct . . . and an alarming lack of musical talent. They’ve barely started rehearsing when strange things begin to happen. As their world and Teresa’s intersect, they’re haunted by the echo of something that happened 160 years ago.

(POST-IT SAYS: Beautiful art and a mysterious, quirky story make this quick read compelling. Quiet, sad, and creative characters provide real depth in this tale that is more told via the illustration clues than the words.)

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781779504210 Publisher: DC Comics Publication date: 05/12/2020, Ages 12 up)

The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan?

Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang (American Born ChineseBoxers and SaintsThe TerrificsNew Super-Man) and artist Gurihiru (Avatar: The Last AirbenderThe Unstoppable Wasp) bring us a personal retelling of two different immigrants finding ways to belong.

(POST-IT SAYS: How can you pass up a book with this title? Superman tackles white supremacy, racism, and his own worries about his own identity. Definitely read the back matter, too!)

Unexpected Super Spy (Planet Omar Series #2) by Zanib Mian, Nasaya Mafaridik (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593109243 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/29/2020, Ages 8-12)

Omar is back with a big mystery to solve in the second installment of this imaginative, highly-illustrated middle-grade series.

When Omar hears that his family’s favorite mosque is at risk of shutting down due to lack of funds, he knows he has to do something. And with the help of his best friend Charlie and another unlikely ally, a great idea is born—a school talent contest!

Omar and his friends are super excited about their plan, that is until Omar’s sister, Maryam, decides she and her friends are going to raise money, too, and the competition is on. The boys’ talent show is a huge success but disaster strikes right at the end—all the money goes missing. Omar has no choice but to become a super spy to track down a foe much more wily than his sister.

Omar’s amazing imagination brings the second story in his adventures to life as he navigates more of life’s ups and downs. From sibling brawls to speaking to the scary principal and becoming a community activist, bold illustrations and cheeky dialogue show how Omar perseveres through serious and silly adversity.

(POST-IT SAYS: Great new series that every library needs! Fun and funny with a light mystery. Many illustrations and font styles will keep readers turning pages. Omar is British Pakistani and Muslim.)

Puppy Problems by PAIGE BRADDOCK (ISBN-13: 9780593117439 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 5-8)

A goofy new puppy rocks the world of a high-strung dog and a snarky cat in this hilarious graphic novel for early readers.

Crackers is a rescue dog who’s a bit on the nervous side, but pretty comfy at home with Butter, a very plump cat who—like all cats—is all about himself. The two pets have a good life: big backyard, nice couch, good eats, and an owner who goes to work every day so they can pretty much do what they want.

Enter Peanut, a brand-new puppy with big floppy ears, unabashed energy, and no appreciation for the quiet life. The little dog is a chowhound who dips into everybody’s food bowl. He drools, he chews up stuff, he doesn’t get how stairs work, and he’s afraid of the dark. Yowl! Not to mention he’s hogging their owner’s lap. Even the squirrels in the yard are laughing at this goofy little canine.

Butter and Crackers have had it! This puppy has to go! But when the backyard gate is left open (the cat’s idea, of course!) and Peanut wanders out and gets lost, the older animals remember what it was like to be alone—and lonely. Butter and Crackers to the rescue!

Kids will laugh-out-loud at Paige Braddock’s funny, endearing art and dialogue. (She also cleverly never shows “our human,” the animals’ owner, as anything more than a pair of hands or unintelligble speech balloons.) This is a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance, with the funniest combination of pets to ever hit the page.

(POST-IT SAYS: What’s not to love?! Graphic novel! Animals! Pet adoption! A doxie! Really cute and fun. The little animals have huge personalities! I can’t wait for more installments!)

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (ISBN-13: 9780593108970 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-17)

Nina LaCour delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, the much-anticipated follow-up to the Printz Award-winning We Are Okay

★ “Gripping; an emotion-packed must-read.” –Kirkus, starred review
★ “Moving, unsettling, and full of atmospheric beauty.” –SLJ, starred review 


Mila is used to being alone.

Maybe that’s why she said yes. Yes to a second chance in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a teaching job and a place to live on an isolated part of the Northern California coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home—a real home. The farm is a refuge, but it’s also haunted by the past. And Mila’s own memories are starting to rise to the surface.

Nina LaCour, the Printz Award–winning author of We Are Okay, delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, a modern ghost story about trauma and survival, chosen family and rebirth.

(POST-IT SAYS: A stunning, heartbreaking look at what it means to be haunted. Readers will ache with Mila as she tries to be hopeful about her future while unable to heal from her traumatic past. Just lovely.)

The Tiny Mansion by Keir Graff (ISBN-13: 9781984813855 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/08/2020, Ages 8-12)

In this pitch-perfect middle grade adventure, twelve-year-old Dagmar must endure a summer living off-the-grid with her family in a tiny home.

The last thing twelve-year-old Dagmar wants is to spend her summer vacation squished into a tiny house with her dad, her stepmom, and her annoying five-year-old half brother. But after a sudden financial setback, her family is evicted from their Oakland apartment, and that’s just where they end up, parked among the towering redwoods of Northern California.

As Dagmar explores the forest around their new and (hopefully) temporary home, she discovers they are living next door to an eccentric tech billionaire and his very unusual extended family. There’s his brother, a woodsman who sets dangerous booby traps all over the place, and his sister, a New Age animal lover who meditates to whale songs in an isolation tank. And then there’s the billionaire’s son, Blake, who has everything he could ever wish for—except maybe a friend.

But when a wildfire engulfs the forest, everyone—rich and poor, kid and adult—will have to work together to escape. And with both families at risk of losing everything, it turns out it’s not the size of the home but the people you share it with that matters.

(POST-IT SAYS: Given the months of quarantine I’ve spent watching various tiny homes shows, this grabbed my interest. Unique setting/living situation, strong characters, and lots of whimsy. Good fun with a message.)

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi (ISBN-13: 9780593202876 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 14-17)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda goes to Italy in Arvin Ahmadi’s newest incisive look at identity and what it means to find yourself by running away.

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy—he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.

(POST-IT SAYS: Loved the format—traditional narrative mixed with the monologues from interrogation. An emotional read with vivid characters that tells an important story of identity, culture, acceptance, and family. A great read.)

Field of Screams by Joel Sutherland

The Nightmare Next Door by Joel Sutherland

Ghosts Never Die by Joel Sutherland

Night of the Living Dolls by Joel Sutherland

(HAUNTED SERIES Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

Summary of Fields of Screams: Will they escape before it’s too late?

Darius and Ryan are excited to visit Scarecrow Farm. It’s always been a spooky good time—the perfect spot to go on Halloween.

But when they arrive, it’s nothing like they remember. The place looks run-down, and Darius can’t shake the feeling that they shouldn’t be there. When the two boys get lost in the corn maze, they start to panic—especially when they meet something terrifying hidden among the corn.

Can Darius and Ryan escape before they become the latest victims of the maze?

(POST-IT SAYS: The kids at my school love “scary” books, so I see these as popular, easy recs. Fast-paced, spooky reads that are sure to be a hit with fans of Goosebumps. Satisfying twists and creepiness. Wide appeal.)

Post-It Note Reviews: Quick looks at new YA and MG graphic novels, fiction, and nonfiction

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes follow the description.

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge (ISBN-13: 9781419742002 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 04/07/2020, Ages 13-18)

A bold and original YA graphic novel about one teen’s battle to understand her mental illness—and find her creative genius

Sometimes, the world is too much for Mona Starr. She’s sweet, geeky, and creative, but it’s hard for her to make friends and connect with other people, and her depression seems to take on a vivid, concrete form. She calls it her Matter.

The Matter seems to be everywhere, telling Mona she’s not good enough and that everyone around her wishes she’d go away. But with therapy, art, writing, and the persistence of a few good friends, Mona starts to understand her Matter and how she can turn her fears into strengths.

Heartfelt, emotionally vulnerable, and visually stunning, The Dark Matter of Mona Starris a story about battling your inner doubts and fears—and finding your creative genius.

(POST-IT SAYS: Really nice addition to the field of YA books about mental health. Emphasis on self-care, connection, therapy, art, and hope. Really gets at how depression and anxiety can feel. A quiet, introspective story many will relate to.)

Parachutes by Kelly Yang (ISBN-13: 9780062941084 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/26/2020, Ages 14-17)

Speak enters the world of Gossip Girl in this modern immigrant story from New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang about two girls navigating wealth, power, friendship, and trauma.

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California.

Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. But Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course when her debate coach starts working with her privately.

As they steer their own distinct paths, Dani and Claire keep crashing into one another, setting a course that will change their lives forever. 

(POST-IT SAYS: A devastating read about privilege, identity, sexual assault, socioeconomics, and speaking up. An important look at rape culture and a smart, intersectional addition to #metoo books based on the author’s own experience.)

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera (ISBN-13: 9781547603732 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 13-17)

Acclaimed author Lilliam Rivera blends a touch of magical realism into a timely story about cultural identity, overcoming trauma, and the power of first love.

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria—and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

Featuring contemporary Afro-Latinx characters, this retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice is perfect for fans of Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper.

(POST-IT SAYS: I don’t mind instalove, so this Latinx reenvisioning of the Greek myth worked for me. Great imagery and writing, but the uneven pacing and rushed ending detract from the overall success of the book. Still, a satisfying read about love, mental health, and culture.)

Like Spilled Water by Jennie Liu (ISBN-13: 9781541572904 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 13-18)

Nineteen-year-old Na has always lived in the shadow of her younger brother, Bao-bao, her parents’ cherished son. Years ago, Na’s parents left her in the countryside and went to work in the city, bringing Bao-bao along and committing everything to his education.

But when Bao-bao dies suddenly, Na realizes how little she knew him. Did he really kill himself because of a low score on China’s all-important college entrance exam? Na learns that Bao-bao had many secrets and that his death may not be what it seems. Na’s parents expect her to quit her vocational school and go to work, forcing Na to confront traditional expectations for and pressures on young women.

(POST-IT SAYS: A quick but powerful read. Unique setting of community college in China and compelling explorations of expectations, culture, and education. A poignant look at pressures and disappointments and identity.)

She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics . . . and the World by Caitlin Donohue (ISBN-13: 9781541579019 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 13-18)

In a complicated political era when the United States feels divided, this book celebrates feminism and female contributions to politics, activism, and communities. Each of the forty-four women profiled in this illustrated book has demonstrated her capabilities and strengths in political and community leadership and activism, both in the United States and around the world. Written in an approachable, journalistic tone and rounded out by beautiful color portraits, history, key political processes, terminology, and thought-provoking quotes, this book will inspire and encourage women everywhere to enact change in their own communities and to pursue opportunities in public affairs.

(POST-IT SAYS: A well-rounded collection that includes women of all political backgrounds and will introduce readers to many names they may not encounter in other such collections. Visually appealing, easy to browse, and packed with information.)

How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done by Leslie Josel (ISBN-13: 9781541581616 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 13-18)

With distance learning, teens are having to manage their time and attention now more than ever.

Procrastination is especially tough for young adults. Getting started is overwhelming, it’s hard to get motivated, not knowing how long things take messes up planning, and distractions are everywhere. We are all wired to put things off, but we can learn tools and techniques to kick this habit. This book is a user-friendly guide to help teens get their tasks done. Simple, straightforward, and with a touch of humor, it’s packed with practical solutions and easily digestible tips to stay on top of homework, develop a sense of time, manage digital distractions, create easy-to-follow routines, and get unstuck. In her breezy, witty style, internationally recognized academic and parenting coach Leslie Josel opens the door to a student’s view of procrastination, dives deep into what that really looks like, and offers up her Triple Ts—tips, tools and techniques—to teach students how to get stuff done…now.

(POST-IT SAYS: Sharing this because it’s good to know about as a potential resource. Charts, time charts/worksheets, personal stories, and lists help break up intimidatingly thorough looks at various areas of procrastination. My own teenager could use this… but he’d never read it.)

Undecided, 2nd Edition: Navigating Life and Learning after High School
by Genevieve Morgan
(ISBN-13: 9781541597792 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 14-18)

For high school students all over the country, deciding what to do after graduation can be overwhelming. How do you know if college is your best choice? If it is, how do you plan for student loans? If it’s not, what are your other options?

That’s where Undecided comes in! This updated and revised edition provides a comprehensive overview of the choices available after high school, from traditional four-year colleges and trade schools to military service and gap years. Teens can choose a career path and get advice on how to succeed. Checklists, anecdotes, brainstorming activities, and journal exercises lead to well-informed decisions. Find a future that works for you!

(POST-IT SAYS: Really nice because it gives equal time and value to the many post-high school paths. Asks readers to put a lot of thought into their options, desires, and decisions. The information and aspects to consider may help make the future less overwhelming. Good for students and caregivers.)

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp (ISBN-13: 9781492636113 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-18)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp comes a shocking new thriller about a group of friends tied together by a game and the deadly weekend that tears them apart.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.

FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

Are you ready to play?

(POST-IT SAYS: A thriller-ish story populated by a great diversity of characters (trans, autistic, disabled) who use the game as a backdrop to explore their own issues, feelings, and the mystery of what’s happening at the cabin.)

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz (ISBN-13: 9780525552864 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/14/2020, Ages 8-12)

This middle-grade graphic novel for fans of Roller Girl and Smile introduces Jamila and Shirley, two unlikely friends who save each other’s summers while solving their neighborhood’s biggest mysteries.

Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighborhood—until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley’s a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends.

Then this kid Oliver shows up begging for Shirley’s help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he’s sure it was stolen! That’s when Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: She’s the neighborhood’s best kid detective, and she’s on the case. When Jamila discovers she’s got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born.

The mystery of the missing gecko turns Shirley and Jamila’s summer upside down. And when their partnership hits a rough patch, they have to work together to solve the greatest mystery of all: What it means to be a friend.

(POST-IT SAYS: Graphic novels need zero help to move off the shelves, but this is a good one to know about because of the diverse characters and the fast-paced detective element. A great, fun look at independence and friendship.)

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram (ISBN-13: 9780593108239 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/25/2020, Ages 13-17)

In this companion to the award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Darius suddenly has it all: a boyfriend, an internship, a spot on the soccer team. It’s everything he’s ever wanted—but what if he deserves better?

Darius Kellner is having a bit of a year. Since his trip to Iran, a lot has changed. He’s getting along with his dad, and his best friend Sohrab is only a Skype call away. Between his first boyfriend, Landon, varsity soccer practices, and an internship at his favorite tea shop, things are falling into place.

Then, of course, everything changes. Darius’s grandmothers are in town for a long visit, and Darius can’t tell whether they even like him. The internship is not going according to plan, Sohrab isn’t answering Darius’s calls, and Dad is far away on business. And Darius is sure he really likes Landon . . . but he’s also been hanging out with Chip Cusumano, former bully and current soccer teammate—and well, maybe he’s not so sure about anything after all.

Darius was just starting to feel okay, like he finally knew what it meant to be Darius Kellner. But maybe okay isn’t good enough. Maybe Darius deserves better.

(Link to my review of the first book, Darius the Great is Not Okay)

(POST-IT SAYS: Really lovely, perfect sequel. Looks at dating, consent, depression, family, and daily life. A very character-driven and beautifully written story. Shows that just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, everything changes. I love Darius!)

The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg (ISBN-13: 9781338325034 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/01/2020 Ages 14-18)

Two teenagers, strangers to each other, have decided to jump from the same bridge at the same time. But what results is far from straightforward in this absorbing, honest lifesaver from acclaimed author Bill Konigsberg.

Aaron and Tillie don’t know each other, but they are both feeling suicidal, and arrive at the George Washington Bridge at the same time, intending to jump. Aaron is a gay misfit struggling with depression and loneliness. Tillie isn’t sure what her problem is — only that she will never be good enough.

On the bridge, there are four things that could happen:

Aaron jumps and Tillie doesn’t.

Tillie jumps and Aaron doesn’t.

They both jump.

Neither of them jumps.

Or maybe all four things happen, in this astonishing and insightful novel from Bill Konigsberg.

(POST-IT SAYS: The unique format of following all the possible paths will grab readers’ attention. Konigsberg’s excellent writing and compassionate telling of a story that he intimately relates to make for a moving and realistic look at mental health and hope.)

New Books Alert: Thrillers, sequels, nonfiction, poetry, and more!

There is very little that has been making me feel anything other than MEH these days, but spying some book mail waiting for me on the front steps always gives me a lift. The pandemic has revealed an endless list of things we took for granted that may not ever return to the way they were, and one of those things is definitely getting near daily deliveries of ARCs. It feels like an extra nice treat when books show up now.

That said, here’s what has shown up at the Minnesota branch of TLT. All descriptions from the publishers.

Harrow Lake

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis (ISBN-13: 9781984814531 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/25/2020, Ages 12-17)

A can’t-put-down, creepy thriller about the daughter of a horror film director who’s not afraid of anything—until she gets to Harrow Lake.

Things I know about Harrow Lake:
1. It’s where my father shot his most disturbing slasher film.
2. There’s something not right about this town.

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker—she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s quickly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot. The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map—and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone—or something—stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.

Darius the Great Deserves Better

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram (ISBN-13: 9780593108239 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/25/2020, Ages 12-17)

In this companion to the award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Darius suddenly has it all: a boyfriend, an internship, a spot on the soccer team. It’s everything he’s ever wanted—but what if he deserves better?

Darius Kellner is having a bit of a year. Since his trip to Iran, a lot has changed. He’s getting along with his dad, and his best friend Sohrab is only a Skype call away. Between his first boyfriend, Landon, varsity soccer practices, and an internship at his favorite tea shop, things are falling into place.

Then, of course, everything changes. Darius’s grandmothers are in town for a long visit, and Darius can’t tell whether they even like him. The internship is not going according to plan, Sohrab isn’t answering Darius’s calls, and Dad is far away on business. And Darius is sure he really likes Landon . . . but he’s also been hanging out with Chip Cusumano, former bully and current soccer teammate—and well, maybe he’s not so sure about anything after all.

Darius was just starting to feel okay, like he finally knew what it meant to be Darius Kellner. But maybe okay isn’t good enough. Maybe Darius deserves better.

The Radium Girls: Young Readers' Edition: The Scary but True Story of the Poison that Made People Glow in the Dark

The Radium Girls: Young Readers’ Edition: The Scary but True Story of the Poison that Made People Glow in the Dark by Kate Moore (ISBN-13: 9781728210346 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 10-16)

The acclaimed national bestseller about America’s glowing girls and their brave fight for justice, now adapted for young readers

Amidst the excitement of the early twentieth century, hundreds of young women spend their days hard at work painting watch dials for troops overseas using glow-in-the-dark paint made with radium. They are well paid and consider themselves lucky—until they begin to fall mysteriously ill. As the corporations try to cover up a shocking secret, these determined shining girls suddenly find themselves at the center of a historic and deadly scandal.

Written with a captivating voice and galloping pace, The Radium Girls illuminates the courage and tenacity of these incredible women, whose determination to fight back led to life-changing regulation, advanced nuclear research, and ultimately saved countless lives.

This enthralling and accessible young readers’ edition of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller includes all-new material including a glossary, timeline, dozens of bonus photos, and more.

The Bridge

The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg (ISBN-13: 9781338325034 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 14-18)

Two teenagers, strangers to each other, have decided to jump from the same bridge at the same time. But what results is far from straightforward in this absorbing, honest lifesaver from acclaimed author Bill Konigsberg.

Aaron and Tillie don’t know each other, but they are both feeling suicidal, and arrive at the George Washington Bridge at the same time, intending to jump. Aaron is a gay misfit struggling with depression and loneliness. Tillie isn’t sure what her problem is — only that she will never be good enough.

On the bridge, there are four things that could happen:

Aaron jumps and Tillie doesn’t.

Tillie jumps and Aaron doesn’t.

They both jump.

Neither of them jumps.

Or maybe all four things happen, in this astonishing and insightful novel from Bill Konigsberg.

Like Spilled Water

Like Spilled Water by Jennie Liu (ISBN-13: 9781541572904 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 13-18)

Nineteen-year-old Na has always lived in the shadow of her younger brother, Bao-bao, her parents’ cherished son. Years ago, Na’s parents left her in the countryside and went to work in the city, bringing Bao-bao along and committing everything to his education.

But when Bao-bao dies suddenly, Na realizes how little she knew him. Did he really kill himself because of a low score on China’s all-important college entrance exam? Na learns that Bao-bao had many secrets and that his death may not be what it seems. Na’s parents expect her to quit her vocational school and go to work, forcing Na to confront traditional expectations for and pressures on young women.

She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics . . . and the World

She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics . . . and the World by Caitlin Donohue (ISBN-13: 9781541579019 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 13-18)

In a complicated political era when the United States feels divided, this book celebrates feminism and female contributions to politics, activism, and communities. Each of the forty-four women profiled in this illustrated book has demonstrated her capabilities and strengths in political and community leadership and activism, both in the United States and around the world. Written in an approachable, journalistic tone and rounded out by beautiful color portraits, history, key political processes, terminology, and thought-provoking quotes, this book will inspire and encourage women everywhere to enact change in their own communities and to pursue opportunities in public affairs.

Meme

Meme by Aaron Starmer (ISBN-13: 9780735231924 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/08/2020, Ages 14-17)

A tense, psychological thriller for the internet age about the destructive combination of self-important goals and self-serving plans.

Cole Weston—former friend, former boyfriend—has become dangerous, erratic. Something needs to be done. Getting rid of Cole is practically a public service. So high school seniors Holly Morse, Grayson Hobbs, Logan Bailey, and Meeka Miller devise a plan. Kill Cole. Bury him in the woods behind Meeka’s house. Bury him deep, deep in the ground along with four old cell phones, wiped except for their video confession as insurance that no one will ever betray the group. Everything is perfect, until the meme appears. It’s a screenshot from their confession… a confession that’s supposed to be entombed with Cole forever in the cold Vermont dirt.

The Tiny Mansion

The Tiny Mansion by Keir Graff (ISBN-13: 9781984813855 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/08/2020, Ages 8-12)

In this pitch-perfect middle grade adventure, twelve-year-old Dagmar must endure a summer living off-the-grid with her family in a tiny home.

The last thing twelve-year-old Dagmar wants is to spend her summer vacation squished into a tiny house with her dad, her stepmom, and her annoying five-year-old half brother. But after a sudden financial setback, her family is evicted from their Oakland apartment, and that’s just where they end up, parked among the towering redwoods of Northern California.

As Dagmar explores the forest around their new and (hopefully) temporary home, she discovers they are living next door to an eccentric tech billionaire and his very unusual extended family. There’s his brother, a woodsman who sets dangerous booby traps all over the place, and his sister, a New Age animal lover who meditates to whale songs in an isolation tank. And then there’s the billionaire’s son, Blake, who has everything he could ever wish for—except maybe a friend.

But when a wildfire engulfs the forest, everyone—rich and poor, kid and adult—will have to work together to escape. And with both families at risk of losing everything, it turns out it’s not the size of the home but the people you share it with that matters.

Sources Say

Sources Say by Lori Goldstein (ISBN-13: 9780593117408 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/08/2020, Ages 12-17)

Two exes. One election. All the drama.

For fans of Becky Albertalli and Morgan Matson comes a funny, heartfelt novel about feuding exes running for class president and the scandal that makes the previously boring school election the newest trending hashtag.

At Acedia High, student council has always been a joke. Nobody pays attention. Nobody cares.

But that changes when someone plasters the halls with Photoshopped images of three “perfect tens”—composites of scantily clad girls made from real photos of female students at the school. Quickly dubbed the “Frankengirls,” the scandal rocks the student body. And the two presidential candidates, budding influencer Angeline Quinn and charming jock Leo Torres, jump on the opportunity to propose their solutions and secure votes. Fresh from a messy public breakup, Angeline and Leo fight to win, and their battle both mesmerizes and divides the school.

The election fills the pages of The Red and Blue, the school newspaper run by Angeline’s sister, Cat. The Quinn sisters share a room and a grade but little else, and unlike her more sensationalist sister, Cat prides herself on reporting the facts. So when a rival newspaper pops up—written by an anonymous source and the epitome of “fake news”—Cat’s journalistic buttons are pushed. Rumors fly, secrets are leaked, and the previously mundane student election becomes anything but boring.

Even If We Break

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp (ISBN-13: 9781492636113 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-18)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp comes a shocking new thriller about a group of friends tied together by a game and the deadly weekend that tears them apart.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

Are you ready to play?

Watch Over Me

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (ISBN-13: 9780593108970 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-17)

Nina LaCour delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, the much-anticipated follow-up to the Printz Award-winning We Are Okay

★ “Gripping; an emotion-packed must-read.” –Kirkus, starred review
★ “Moving, unsettling, and full of atmospheric beauty.” –SLJ, starred review 


Mila is used to being alone.

Maybe that’s why she said yes. Yes to a second chance in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a teaching job and a place to live on an isolated part of the Northern California coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home—a real home. The farm is a refuge, but it’s also haunted by the past. And Mila’s own memories are starting to rise to the surface.

Nina LaCour, the Printz Award–winning author of We Are Okay, delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, a modern ghost story about trauma and survival, chosen family and rebirth.

Puppy Problems

Puppy Problems by Paige Braddock (ISBN-13: 9780593117439 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 4-8)

A goofy new puppy rocks the world of a high-strung dog and a snarky cat in this hilarious graphic novel for early readers.

Crackers is a rescue dog who’s a bit on the nervous side, but pretty comfy at home with Butter, a very plump cat who—like all cats—is all about himself. The two pets have a good life: big backyard, nice couch, good eats, and an owner who goes to work every day so they can pretty much do what they want.

Enter Peanut, a brand-new puppy with big floppy ears, unabashed energy, and no appreciation for the quiet life. The little dog is a chowhound who dips into everybody’s food bowl. He drools, he chews up stuff, he doesn’t get how stairs work, and he’s afraid of the dark. Yowl! Not to mention he’s hogging their owner’s lap. Even the squirrels in the yard are laughing at this goofy little canine.

Butter and Crackers have had it! This puppy has to go! But when the backyard gate is left open (the cat’s idea, of course!) and Peanut wanders out and gets lost, the older animals remember what it was like to be alone—and lonely. Butter and Crackers to the rescue!

Kids will laugh-out-loud at Paige Braddock’s funny, endearing art and dialogue. (She also cleverly never shows “our human,” the animals’ owner, as anything more than a pair of hands or unintelligble speech balloons.) This is a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance, with the funniest combination of pets to ever hit the page.

How It All Blew Up

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi (ISBN-13: 9780593202876 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 14-17)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda goes to Italy in Arvin Ahmadi’s newest incisive look at identity and what it means to find yourself by running away.

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy—he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.

Every Body Looking

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (ISBN-13: 9780525556206 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 12-17)

Every Body Looking is a heavily autobiographical novel of a young woman’s struggle to carve a place for herself–for her black female body–in a world of deeply conflicting messages.

Told entirely in verse, Ada’s story encompasses her earliest memories as a child, including her abuse at the hands of a young cousin, her mother’s rejection and descent into addiction, and her father’s attempts to create a home for his American daughter more like the one he knew in Nigeria.

The present-tense of the book is Ada’s first year at Howard University in Washington D.C., where she must finally confront the fundamental conflict between who her family says she should be and what her body tells her she must be.

Undecided, 2nd Edition: Navigating Life and Learning after High School

Undecided, 2nd Edition: Navigating Life and Learning after High School by Genevieve Morgan (ISBN-13: 9781541597792 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 14-18)

For high school students all over the country, deciding what to do after graduation can be overwhelming. How do you know if college is your best choice? If it is, how do you plan for student loans? If it’s not, what are your other options?

That’s where Undecided comes in! This updated and revised edition provides a comprehensive overview of the choices available after high school, from traditional four-year colleges and trade schools to military service and gap years. Teens can choose a career path and get advice on how to succeed. Checklists, anecdotes, brainstorming activities, and journal exercises lead to well-informed decisions. Find a future that works for you!

How to Do It Now Because It's Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done

How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done by Leslie Josel (ISBN-13: 9781541581616 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 13-18)

Procrastination is especially tough for young adults. Getting started is overwhelming, not knowing how long things take messes up planning, and distractions are everywhere. We are all wired to put things off, but we can learn tools and techniques to kick this habit. This book is a user-friendly guide to help teens get their tasks done. Simple, straightforward, and with a touch of humor, it’s packed with practical solutions and easily digestible tips to stay on top of homework, develop a sense of time, manage digital distractions, create easy-to-follow routines, and get unstuck. Author Leslie Josel, an academic/life coach for teens, will guide readers in taking back their time and tackling responsibilities.

Wishes and Wellingtons

Wishes and Wellingtons by Julie Berry (ISBN-13: 9781728223254 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/13/2020, Ages 8-11)

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Julie Berry comes a brand new middle-grade fantasy adventure full of humor and heart.

Be careful what you wish for …

Maeve Merritt chafes at the rigid rules at her London boarding school for “Upright Young Ladies.” When punishment forces her to sort through the trash, she finds a sardine tin that houses a foul-tempered djinni with no intention of submitting to a schoolgirl as his master.

Soon an orphan boy from the charitable home next door, a mysterious tall man in ginger whiskers, a disgruntled school worker, and a take-no-prisoners business tycoon are in hot pursuit of Maeve and her magical discovery.

It’ll take all of her quick thinking and sass to set matters right. Maeve Merritt is one feisty heroine you won’t soon forget.

First published as an Audible Original in 2018

The Ravens

The Ravens by Kass Morgan, Danielle Paige (ISBN-13: 9780358098232 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 11/03/2020, Ages 14-18)

From New York Times best-selling authors Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige comes a thrilling, dark contemporary fantasy about a prestigious sorority of witches and two girls caught up in its world of sinister magic and betrayals.

At first glance, the sisters of ultra-exclusive Kappa Rho Nu—the Ravens—seem like typical sorority girls. Ambitious, beautiful, and smart, they’re the most powerful girls on Westerly College’s Savannah, Georgia, campus.

But the Ravens aren’t just regular sorority girls. They’re witches.

Scarlett Winter has always known she’s a witch—and she’s determined to be the sorority’s president, just like her mother and sister before her. But if a painful secret from her past ever comes to light, she could lose absolutely everything . . .

Vivi Devereaux has no idea she’s a witch and she’s never lived in one place long enough to make a friend. So when she gets a coveted bid to pledge the Ravens, she vows to do whatever it takes to be part of the magical sisterhood. The only thing standing in her way is Scarlett, who doesn’t think Vivi is Ravens material.

But when a dark power rises on campus, the girls will have to put their rivalry aside to save their fellow sisters. Someone has discovered the Ravens’ secret. And that someone will do anything to see these witches burn . . .

Love & Olives

Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch (ISBN-13: 9781534448834 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 11/10/2020, Ages 13-18)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato comes a Mamma Mia–inspired tale about a teen girl finding romance while trying to connect with her absent father in beautiful Santorini, Greece.

Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.

But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.

And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (ISBN-13: 9781681199443 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 10-14)

From Children’s Literature Legacy Award-winning author Nikki Grimes comes a feminist-forward new collection of poetry celebrating the little-known women poets of the Harlem Renaissance—paired with full-color, original art from today’s most talented female African-American illustrators.

For centuries, accomplished women—of all races—have fallen out of the historical records. The same is true for gifted, prolific, women poets of the Harlem Renaissance who are little known, especially as compared to their male counterparts. 

In this poetry collection, bestselling author Nikki Grimes uses “The Golden Shovel” poetic method to create wholly original poems based on the works of these groundbreaking women-and to introduce readers to their work. 

Each poem is paired with one-of-a-kind art from today’s most exciting female African-American illustrators, including: Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Cozbi Cabrera, Pat Cummings, Nina Crews, Laura Freeman, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, April Harrison, Ekua Holmes, Keisha Morrison, Daria Peoples-Riley, Andrea Pippins, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

Legacy also includes a foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, and poet biographies, which make this a wonderful resource and a book to cherish.

Written in Starlight

Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez (ISBN-13: 9781645671329 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 01/26/2021, Ages 14+)

An adventerous South American Tomb Raider! This hotly anticipated companion to Woven in Moonlight follows an outcast Condesa, as she braves the jungle to forge an alliance with the lost city of gold.

If the jungle wants you, it will have you…

Catalina Quiroga is a Condesa without a country. She’s lost the Inkasisa throne, the loyalty of her people, and her best friend. Banished to the perilous Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows her chances of survival are slim, but that won’t stop her from trying to escape. Her duty is to rule.

While running for her life, Catalina is rescued by Manuel, the son of her former general who has spent years searching for allies. With his help, Catalina could find the city of gold that’s home to the fierce Illari people and strike a deal with them for an army to retake her throne.

But the elusive Illari are fighting a battle of their own—a mysterious blight is corrupting the jungle, laying waste to everything they hold dear. As a seer, Catalina should be able to help, but her ability to read the future in the stars is as feeble as her survival instincts. While searching for the Illari, Catalina must reckon with her duty and her heart to find her true calling, which is key to stopping the corruption before it destroys the jungle completely.

Post-It Note Reviews: Toxic masculinity, Somali refugees, surprise siblings, and more!

Look, even on my best days, my anxiety is a mess, so it’s no surprise that during this nightmare year of 2020 I am a wreck. I vacillate between not being able to concentrate enough to read and ONLY wanting to read so I can stay distracted from reality. Here are quick reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes follow the description.

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles (ISBN-13: 9780062349194 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/21/2020, Ages 14-17)

Two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means to be a “real man.”Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

(POST-IT SAYS: Really great, funny, incisive look at toxic masculinity, sex, misogyny, entitlement, and what it means to be a good guy. Lots of character growth and lots to discuss here. Authentic and far funnier than I expected!)

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson, Omar Mohamed, Iman Geddy (ISBN-13: 9780525553908 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/14/2020, Ages 10-14)

Heartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

(POST-IT SAYS: Phenomenal. Such a moving look at life in a refugee camp. Full of as much love and hope as it is of pain and despair, this is a powerful and unforgettable story. Required reading.)

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (ISBN-13: 9780062882769 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/05/2020, Ages 14-17)

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

(POST-IT SAYS: Quite possibly one of the most perfect books ever written. Sad, beautiful, powerful, and bittersweet, this story of family bonds broken and discovered will leave you crying. Just lovely.)

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (ISBN-13: 9781984815682 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/11/2020, Ages 10-14)

A candid and fierce middle grade novel about sisterhood and sexual abuse, by Newbery Honor winner and #1 New York Times best seller Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

“Fighting Words is raw, it is real, it is necessary, a must-read for children and their adults—a total triumph in all ways.” —Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf—her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.

(POST-IT SAYS: A brutal but profound read. Will make so many children feel seen and less alone. Wonderful foster parent/situation rep and full of as much love as hurt. A raw story told in an unforgettable voice.)

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (ISBN-13: 9780593113523 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/18/2020, Ages 10-13)

Nnedi Okorafor’s first novel for middle grade readers introduces a boy who can access super powers with the help of the magical Ikenga.

Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?


Award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed for her Akata novels, introduces a new and engaging hero in her first novel for middle grade readers set against a richly textured background of contemporary Nigeria.

(POST-IT SAYS: Vibrant Nigerian setting, lots of mystery and magic, and unique characters (especially the villains!) make for a widely appealing story. Much of the tale hinges on anger and grief. A solid read.)

Far From Normal by Becky Wallace (ISBN-13: 9781645670568 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 14-17)

From Stealing Home author Becky Wallace comes a Devil Wears Prada-inspired YA romance, in which “normal girl” Maddie must repair the image of Major League Soccer’s bad boy to ace her internship. A perfect read for fans of Morgan Matson and Miranda Kenneally.

Maddie McPherson is sick of Normal—both her hometown of Normal, Illinois and being the ‘normal’ sibling. But when she lands a summer internship with a sports marketing firm, she finally has a chance to crawl out of her genius brother’s shadow. Not to mention, a glowing letter of recommendation could secure her admission to her dream college.

But Maddie’s nickname is “CalaMaddie” for a reason, and when the company tasks her with repairing the image of teen soccer phenom Gabriel Fortunato, she wonders if she’s set herself up for embarrassment. Gabriel is a tabloid magnet, who’s best-known for flubbing Italy’s World Cup hopes. As Maddie works with him to develop “pleasant and friendly” content for social media, she also learns he’s thoughtful, multi-talented, and fiercely loyal—maybe even to a fault. Falling for a footballer is exactly how CalaMaddie would botch this internship, but with the firm pressuring her to get the job done, perhaps her heart is worth risking?

(POST-IT SAYS: A quick and relatively light romance that also has a lot to do with career ambitions and independence. Well-executed with an easy, wide appeal.)

Doodleville by Chad Sell (ISBN-13: 9781984894717 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/09/2020, Ages 8-12)

For fans of Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward and Raina Telgemeier’s Smile comes an inventive new story from Cardboard Kingdom creator Chad Sell about a group of young artists who must work together when one of their own creations becomes a monster.

Drew is just a regular artist. But there’s nothing ordinary about her art. Her doodles are mischievous . . . and rarely do they stay in Doodleville, the world she’s created in her sketchbook. Instead, Drew’s doodles prefer to explore the world outside. But after an inspiring class trip to the Art Institute of Chicago—where the doodles cause a bit too much trouble—Drew decides it’s time to take her artistic talents to the next level.
Enter the Leviathan—Levi, for short. He’s bigger and better than anything Drew has ever created before. He’s a monster, but a friendly one. That is, until Levi begins to wreak havoc on Drew’s other doodles—and on the heroes her classmates have dreamt up.


Levi won’t be easily tamed, and it seems there is a link between the monster’s bad behavior and Drew’s feelings. With the help of her loyal art club friends, will she be able to save Doodleville—and Levi—before it’s too late?

(POST-IT SAYS: Young artists will especially enjoy this tale of art gone wild and art club friendships. Secondary characters are really great and help temper Drew, who can be a bit much.)

New Books Alert: Book set in Nigeria, a prep school, a prison, a performing arts school, the world of K-pop, and more!

It’s been pretty quiet on the book mail front here. With so many places being shut down during the pandemic, much of the reading to be done has moved to being digital. Thank goodness I’m starting to get a few paper books again, as I’m not a fan of reading on electronics. Who knows what the future holds (truly at this point, who knows what tomorrow holds), but I really hope we don’t lose paper ARCs.

Interested in what you see here? Be sure to order from your local indie store! Two of my favorite stores are The Red Balloon in St. Paul, MN and The Children’s Book Shop in Brookline Village, MA.

As always, reminder that 100% of what I get in book mail goes back out the door to find new homes with teachers, librarians, and young readers. Keep at eye on my Twitter (@CiteSomething) and maybe you’ll see some of these books ready for new homes soon!


All descriptions from the publishers.

They Wish They Were Us

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman (ISBN-13: 9780593114292 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/04/2020, Ages 14-17)

Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying with a dash of The Secret History in this slick, taut murder mystery set against the backdrop of an exclusive prep school on Long Island.

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player—a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

Fighting Words

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (ISBN-13: 9781984815682 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/11/2020, Ages 10-12)

A candid and fierce middle grade novel about sisterhood and sexual abuse, by Newbery Honor winner and #1 New York Times best seller Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

“Fighting Words is raw, it is real, it is necessary, a must-read for children and their adults–a total triumph in all ways.” –Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf–her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.

Dating Makes Perfect

Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn (ISBN-13: 9781682814970 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 08/18/2020, Ages 14-18)

The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.

Until now.

In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of the dating practice that they didn’t get in high school.

In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must practice fake dating in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course—and organized based on their favorite rom-coms. ’Cause that won’t end in disaster.

The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, infuriating, and way too good-looking. Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. And her parents love him.

If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.

Vicious Spirits

Vicious Spirits by Kat Cho (ISBN-13: 9781984812377 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/18/2020 Ages 12-17)

New romance and dangers abound in this companion to the crowd-pleasing Wicked Fox.

After the events of Wicked Fox, Somin is ready to help her friends pick up the pieces of their broken lives and heal. But Jihoon is still grieving the loss of his grandmother, and Miyoung is distant as she grieves over her mother’s death and learns to live without her fox bead. The only one who seems ready to move forward is their not-so-favorite dokkaebi, Junu.

Somin and Junu didn’t exactly hit it off when they first met. Somin thought he was an arrogant self-serving, conman. Junu was, at first, amused by her hostility toward him until he found himself inexplicably drawn to her. Somin couldn’t deny the heat of their attraction. But as the two try to figure out what could be between them, they discover their troubles aren’t over after all. The loss of Miyoung’s fox bead has caused a tear between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and ghosts are suddenly flooding the streets of Seoul. The only way to repair the breach is to find the missing fox bead or for Miyoung to pay with her life. With few options remaining, Junu has an idea but it might require the ultimate sacrifice. In usual fashion, Somin may have a thing or two to say about that.

In Vicious Spirits, Kat Cho delivers another beguiling and addictive read full of otherworldly dangers and romance.Show Less

Ikenga

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (ISBN-13: 9780593113523 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/18/2020, Ages 10-12)

Nnedi Okorafor’s first novel for middle grade readers introduces a boy who can access super powers with the help of the magical Ikenga.

Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?


Award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed for her Akata novels, introduces a new and engaging hero in her first novel for middle grade readers set against a richly textured background of contemporary Nigeria.

Punching the Air

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi, Yusef Salaam (ISBN-13: 9780062996480 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 14-17)

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo. 

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. 

The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

Never Look Back

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera (ISBN-13: 9781547603732 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 13-17)

Acclaimed author Lilliam Rivera blends a touch of magical realism into a timely story about cultural identity, overcoming trauma, and the power of first love.

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria—and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

Featuring contemporary Afro-Latinx characters, this retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice is perfect for fans of Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper.

Sing Like No One's Listening

Sing Like No One’s Listening by Vanessa Jones (ISBN-13: 9781682631942 Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 12-16)

A moving story of grief and healing – sure to be a pure joy for any musical theater aficionado.

Nettie Delaney has just been accepted into a prestigious performing arts school—the very same school her superstar mother attended. With her mother’s shadow hanging over her, Nettie has her work cut out for her—and everyone is watching. To make matters worse, Nettie hasn’t been able to sing a single note since her mother died. Whenever she tries, she just clams up. But if Nettie’s going to survive a demanding first year and keep her place in a highly coveted program, she’ll have to work through her grief and deliver a showstopper or face expulsion.

All may not be lost, however, when Nettie stumbles upon a mysterious piano player in an empty studio after class. Masked behind a curtain, can Nettie summon the courage to find her voice? Or will the pressure and anxiety of performing come crashing down?

All about finding and raising your voice, and not throwing away your shot, Vanessa Jones’s well-crafted journey of grief and healing will pull readers along with its strong narrative voice and satisfying sense of mystery.

Miss Meteor

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia, Anna-Marie McLemore (ISBN-13: 9780062869913 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 14-17)

A gorgeous and magical collaboration between two critically acclaimed, powerhouse YA authors offers a richly imagined underdog story perfect for fans of Dumplin’ and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history.But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands.So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Shine

Shine by Jessica Jung (ISBN-13: 9781534462519 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/29/2020, Ages 14-18)

Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl by way of Jenny Han in this knock-out debut about a Korean American teen who is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of one of the most influential K-pop girl groups of all time, Girls Generation.

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?

For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.

Get ready as Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Korea’s most famous girl group, Girls Generation, takes us inside the luxe, hyper-color world of K-pop, where the stakes are high, but for one girl, the cost of success—and love—might be even higher. It’s time for the world to see: this is what it takes to SHINE.

Pretty Funny for a Girl

Pretty Funny for a Girl by Rebecca Elliott (ISBN-13: 9781682631478 Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company Publication date: 10/01/2020, Ages 12-16)

A candid and laugh-out-loud journey of family, friends, and fierce mistakes.

Haylah Swinton is an ace best friend, a loving daughter, and an incredibly patient sister to a four-year-old nutcase of a brother. Best of all, she’s pretty confident she’s mastered making light of every situation—from her mom’s new boyfriend to unsolicited remarks on her plus-sized figure. Haylah’s learning to embrace all of her curvy parts and, besides, she has a secret: one day, she’ll be a stand-up comedian star.

So when impossibly cool and thirstalicious Leo reveals he’s also into comedy, Haylah jumps at the chance to ghostwrite his sets. But is Leo as interested in returning the favor? Even though her friends warn her of Leo’s intentions, Haylah’s not ready to listen—and she might just be digging herself deeper toward heartbreak. If Haylah’s ever going to step into the spotlight, first she’ll need to find the confidence to put herself out there and strut like the boss she really is.

Rebecca Elliott’s hilarious and authentic narrative voice is sure to capture readers’ hearts as her plus-sized, teenage heroine navigates learning to love the body she’s in while dealing with friends, family, and boys.

These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (ISBN-13: 9781534457690 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 11/17/2020, Ages 14-18)

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley (ISBN-13: 9780062409263 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 12/01/2020, Ages 14+)

Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Nina LaCour, this #ownvoices romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley has something for everyone: backstage rendezvous, deadly props, and a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to True Love.

Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.

What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.

Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.

Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.