Happy bookmail day! Here’s what came in recently. Thanks to the publishers who sent advanced reader copies.
Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale — Viking Books for Young Readers; May 24, 2022
Heated competition leads to even hotter romance in this YA summer rom-com for fans of Sandhya Menon and Emma Lord!
Seventeen-year-old, high-achieving Kavya Joshi has always been told she’s a little too ambitious, a little too mouthy, and overall just a little too much. In one word: besharam.
So, when her nemesis, Ian Jun, witnesses Kavya’s very public breakup with her loser boyfriend on the last day of junior year, she decides to lay low and spend the summer doing what she loves best-working part time playing princess roles for childrens’ birthday parties. But her plan is shot when she’s cast as Ariel instead of her beloved Belle, and learns that Ian will be her Prince Eric for the summer. [Cue the combative banter.]
Exhausted by Kavya and Ian’s years-long feud, their friends hatch a plan to end their rivalry by convincing them to participate in a series of challenges throughout the summer. Kavya is only too eager to finally be declared the winner. But as the competition heats up, so too does the romantic tension, until it escalates from a simmer to a full-on burn.
The Black Queen by Jumata Emill — Delacorte Press; January 31, 2023
Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High–but now she’s dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller.
Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating.
Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy–her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.
No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t face the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova–and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk.
Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her.
But Tinsley has an agenda, too.
Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury (Blood Like Magic #1) — Margaret K. McElderry Books; June 15, 2021
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love–she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
After years of waiting for her Calling–a trial every witch must pass to come into their powers–the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees–and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy–and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc–how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
Blood Like Fate by Liselle Sambury (Blood Like Magic #2) — Margaret K. McElderry Books; August 9, 2022
In the spellbinding sequel to Blood Like Magic, Voya fights to save her witch community from a terrible future in this “poignant, smart, and wholly unique” (Tracy Deonn, New York Times bestselling author of Legendborn) novel that’s perfect for fans of Legendborn and Cemetery Boys.
Voya Thomas may have passed her Calling to become a full-fledged witch, but the cost was higher than she’d ever imagined.
Her grandmother is gone.
Her cousin hates her.
And her family doesn’t believe that she has what it takes to lead them.
What’s more, Voya can’t let go of her feelings for Luc, sponsor son of the genius billionaire Justin Tremblay–the man that Luc believes Voya killed. Consequently, Luc wants nothing to do with her. Even her own ancestors seem to have lost faith in her. Every day Voya begs for their guidance, but her calls go unanswered.
As Voya struggles to convince everyone–herself included–that she can be a good Matriarch, she has a vision of a terrifying, deadly future. A vision that would spell the end of the Toronto witches. With a newfound sense of purpose, Voya must do whatever it takes to bring her shattered community together and stop what’s coming for them before it’s too late.
Even if it means taking down the boy she loves–who might be the mastermind behind the coming devastation.
Born Andromeda by K.M. Watts — Interlude Press – Duet Books; November 15, 2022
Born Andromeda, the action-packed YA debut from K.M. Watts, is perfect for fans of Aurora Rising, Daughter of the Pirate King, and Crown Chasers.
Being eighteen is difficult, especially when you’re a cyborg and heir to the entire kingdom of the Moon. Disillusioned with royal life, Princess Andromeda dreams of nothing but freedom and adventure outside the protective dome of royalty. But when her parents arrange her marriage to an Earthen prince, she is forced to put her kingdom before her dreams of independence. While traveling to Earth, Andromeda’s ship is attacked by galactic pirates led by her father’s sworn enemy, the Lord Captain Bran. Taken prisoner, Andromeda realizes that her captors are unaware of her true identity and sees an opportunity: To best her enemies, she may have to join them.
The Girl by Victory Witherkeigh — Cinnabar Moth Publishing; December 6, 2022
The parents knew it had been a mistake to have a girl. At birth, the girl’s long, elegant fingers wriggled and grasped forward, motioning to strangle the very air from her mother’s lungs. As she grew older, she grew more like her father, whose ancestors would dream of those soon to die. She walked and talked in her sleep, and her parents warded themselves, telling the girl that she was evil, unlovable, their burden to bear only until her eighteenth birthday released them.
The average person on the streets of Los Angeles would look at the girl and see a young woman with dark chocolate eyes, curly long hair, and tanned skin of her Filipina heritage. Her teachers praised her for her scholarly achievements and extracurricular activities, from academic decathlon to cheer.
The girl knew she was different, especially as she grew to accept that the other children’s parents didn’t despise them. Her parents whispered about their pact as odd and disturbing occurrences continued to happen around her. The girl thought being an evil demon should require the skies to bleed, the ground to tremble, an animal sacrifice to seal the bargain, or at least cause some general mayhem. Did other demons work so hard to find friends, do well on their homework, and protect their spoiled younger brother?
The demon was patient. It could afford to wait, to remind the girl when she was hurt that power was hers to take. She needed only embrace it. It could wait. The girl’s parents were doing much of its work already.
Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of the Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Arc of the Scythe #3.5) — Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; November 8, 2022
The New York Times bestselling Arc of the Scythe series continues with thrilling stories that span the timeline. Storylines continue. Origin stories are revealed. And new Scythes emerge!
There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease, or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control.
Neal Shusterman–along with collaborators David Yoon, Jarrod Shusterman, Sofía Lapuente, Michael H. Payne, Michelle Knowlden, and Joelle Shusterman–returns to the world throughout the timeline of the Arc of a Scythe series. Discover secrets and histories of characters you’ve followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.
Gleanings shows just how expansive, terrifying, and thrilling the world that began with the Printz Honor-winning Scythe truly is.
I Guess I Live Here Now by Claire Ahn — Viking Books for Young Readers; May 24, 2022
In this glittering city where the latest trends are born, Melody finds herself swept away by luxury, romance, and family drama… but is this a place she could ever call home?
Thanks to a tiny transgression after school one day, Melody is shocked to discover that her parents have decided to move her and her mom out of New York Ciy to join her father in Seoul–immediately! Barely having had the chance to say goodbye to her best friend before she’s on a plane, Melody is resentful and homesick.
But she soon finds herself settling into their super-luxe villa, meeting cool friends at school, and discovering the alluring aspects of living in Korea–trendsetting fashion, delectable food, her dad’s black card, and a cute boy to explore the city with. Life in Seoul is amazing, until cracks begin to form on its glittering surface…
Claire Ahn’s charming debut lets you hear every beat of a K-pop bop, taste every savory bite of Korean barbecue, bathe in the glow of Seoul’s neon lights, and feel every high and low of Melody’s emotional journey across the world and within her heart.
I Will Find You Again by Sarah Lyu — Simon & Schuster BYR; March 14, 2023
All the Bright Places meets Ace of Spades in this smart, twisty teen thriller about a girl who can’t stop pushing herself to be the best–even after losing her best friend and the love of her life.
Welcome to Meadowlark, Long Island–expensive homes and good schools, ambition and loneliness. Meet Chase Ohara and Lia Vestiano: the driven overachiever and the impulsive wanderer, the future CEO and the free spirit. Best friends for years–weekend trips to Montauk, sleepovers on a yacht–and then, first love. True love.
But when Lia disappears, Chase’s life turns into a series of grim snapshots. Anger. Grief. Running. Pink pills in an Altoids tin. A cheating ring at school. Heartbreak and lies. A catastrophic secret.
And the shocking truth that will change everything about the way Chase sees Lia–and herself.
It Sounds Like This by Anna Meriano — Viking Books for Young Readers; August 2, 2022
A sweet and nerdy contemporary YA novel set in the world of marching band perfect for fans of Late to the Party, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega and Kate in Waiting.
Yasmín Treviño didn’t have much of a freshman year thanks to Hurricane Humphrey, but she’s ready to take sophomore year by storm. That means mastering the marching side of marching band–fast!–so she can outshine her BFF Sofia as top of the flute section, earn first chair, and impress both her future college admission boards and her comfortably unattainable drum major crush Gilberto Reyes.
But Yasmín steps off on the wrong foot when she reports an anonymous gossip Instagram account harassing new band members and accidentally gets the entire low brass section suspended from extracurriculars. With no low brass section, the band is doomed, so Yasmín decides to take things into her own hands, learn to play the tuba, and lead a gaggle of rowdy freshman boys who are just as green to marching and playing as she is. She’ll happily wrestle an ancient school tuba if it means fixing the mess she might have caused.
But when the secret gossip Instagram escalates their campaign of harassment and Yasmín’s friendship with Sofia deteriorates, things at school might be too hard to bear. Luckily, the support of Yasmín’s new section–especially introverted section leader Bloom, a sweet ace and aro-spectrum boy–might just turn things around.
League of Liars by Astrid Scholte (League of Liars #1) — G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR; February 22, 2022
In this fantasy thriller, four teens charged with murder and caught up with the illegal use of magic band together to devise the ultimate jailbreak. Perfect for fans of Six of Crows and How to Get Away with Murder.
Ever since his mother was killed, seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck has had one goal–to see illegal users of magic brought to justice. People who carelessly use extradimensional magic for their own self-interest, without a care to the damage it does to society or those around them, deserve to be punished as far as Cayder is concerned. Because magic always has a price. So when Cayder lands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apprentice under a premier public defender, he takes it. If he can learn all the tricks of public defense, the better he’ll be able to dismantle defense arguments when he’s a prosecutor. Then he’ll finally be able to make sure justice is served.
But when he meets the three criminals he’s supposed to defend, it no longer seems so black and white. They’re teenagers, like him, and their stories are . . . complicated, like his. Vardean, the prison where Cayder’s new clients are incarcerated, also happens to be at the very heart of the horrible tear in the veil between their world and another dimension–where all magic comes from.
League of Liars is a dark and twisty mystery set in a richly-drawn world where nothing is as it seems, rife with magic, villains and danger.
Lying in the Deep by Diana Urban — Razorbill; May 2, 2023
A juicy mystery of jealousy, love, and betrayal set on a Semester at Sea-inspired cruise ship, with a diverse cast of delightfully suspicious characters who’ll leave you guessing with every jaw-dropping twist.
After being jilted by her ex-boyfriend and best friend, Jade couldn’t be more ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime–11 countries in 4 months, all from the luxurious Campus on Board ship–and to wedge an entire globe between her and the people who broke her heart.
But when Jade discovers the backstabbing couple are also setting sail, her obsession with them grows and festers, leading to a shocking murder. And as their friends begin to drop like flies, Jade and her new crush must race to clear her name and find the killer they’re trapped at sea with….before anyone else winds up in body bags.
My Name Is Magic by Xan Van Rooyen — Tiny Ghost Press; September 27, 2022
Taika Turunen has no magic.
Despite coming from a long line of powerful Finnish mages, and their name literally meaning magic, Taika can’t perform the simplest of spells.
Forced to attend Myrskyjärvi International School for the Magically Gifted on account of their mom being principal, Taika has a hard time fitting in. Sometimes, they wonder if not having magic has something to do with the fact they’re neither a girl nor a boy and if they’re fated to be “Taika the Talentless” forever.
Life goes from bad to worse when Natalie, Taika’s former BFF, is mysteriously absent from class, only to appear to Taika as a liekkiö, a spirit begging for their help. As more students go missing, Taika must take the lead in a race against time to save friends old and new before a powerful group of chaos mages can unleash the legendary Sampo, an artefact capable of either saving the world’s waning magic or destroying everything Taika holds dear.
To rescue Natalie, Taika will have to journey to the liminal space between worlds where they’ll be forced to battle mythical monsters and their own dwindling self-esteem. In doing so, Taika might just discover that magic-and love-comes in many different forms.
For fans of witchcraft and wizardry looking for a new, inclusive magic school to attend, My Name Is Magic, is a story about finding strength from within and potential where you least expected it.
Retro by Sofía Lapuente & Jarrod Shusterman — Simon & Schuster BYR; January 24, 2023
What starts off as a light-hearted competition to live without modern technology for a year turns into a fight for survival in this unputdownable young adult thriller by New York Times bestselling author Jarrod Shusterman and debut author Sofía Lapuente.
It was never meant to happen this way.
Things were never supposed to get this out of hand.
After a cyberbullying incident at her school goes viral, Luna Iglesias finds herself at the heart of a brewing controversy. When the social media company Limbo–who are also implicated in the scandal–sweeps in with an offer that sounds like an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and receive a scholarship to the college of her dreams, she’s happy to jump on the new trend. It’s called the Retro Challenge, where contestants live without modern technology, wear vintage clothes, party as if the future weren’t already written, and fall in love as if they were living in a movie.
At first, the challenge is fun. But then things get dangerous. Kids start disappearing, including Luna’s friends. There are voices in the woods. Bloodred markings on the trees. And Luna increasingly begins to wonder if all these strange happenings are connected with the Retro Challenge.
Secrets. Lies. Betrayal. The weight of her family on her shoulders. There’s so much on the line for Luna, not to mention she’s falling in love with the last guy she expected. Unless she can figure out the truth behind who’s sabotaging the challenge, the next person to disappear may be Luna herself.
Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen (Skin of the Sea #2) — Random House BYR; September 27, 2022
The stunning sequel to New York Times bestseller Skin of the Sea, in which the world must pay the price for one mermaid’s choice, and a dark force reverberates across realms. Perfect for anyone eagerly anticipating the live-action The Little Mermaid.
To save those closest to her, Simi traded away everything: her freedom, her family, and the boy she loves. Now she is sworn to serve a new god, watching over the Land of the Dead at the bottom of the ocean.
But when signs of demons begin to appear, it’s clear there are deeper consequences of Simi’s trade. These demons spell the world’s ruin . . . and because of Simi, they now have a way into the human realm.
With the fate of the world at stake, Simi must break her promise and team up with a scheming trickster of a god. And if they succeed, perhaps Simi can also unbreak her heart along the way, and find herself again.
¡Viva Lola Espinoza! By Ella Cerón — Kokila; April 11, 2023
A debut young adult novel that’s Pride & Prejudice with a dash of magic, about a booksmart teen who spends the summer in Mexico City, meets two very cute boys, attempts to learn Spanish, and uncovers a family secret that changes her life forever.
Lola Espinoza is cursed in love. Well, maybe not actually cursed — magic isn’t real, is it? When Lola goes to spend the summer with her grandmother in Mexico City and meets handsome, flirtatious Rio, she discovers the unbelievable truth: Magic is very real, and what she’d always written off as bad luck is actually, truly . . . a curse. If Lola ever wants to fall in love without suffering the consequences, she’ll have to break the curse. She finds an unlikely curse-breaking companion in Javi, a seemingly stoic boy she meets while working in her cousin’s restaurant. Javi is willing to help Lola look into this family curse of hers, and Lola needs all the help she can get. Over the course of one summer — filled with food, family, and two very different boys — Lola explores Mexico City while learning about herself, her heritage, and the magic around us all.
Wicked Little Things by Justin Arnold — Tiny Ghost Press; November 15, 2022
Join a coven.
Catch a killer.
Get a makeover…?
When his cousin is murdered, recently outed 16 year old Dane Craven, is forced to return to his unbearably small hometown of Jasper Hollow. It would be easy enough for him to keep his head down if it weren’t for three inescapable facts.
One, Dane is a witch with fiery powers he has little ability to control.
Two, Dane thinks he’s responsible for the death of his cousin.
And three, he’s already been claimed by a coven of fashion forward ‘mean girls’ desperate to give him a makeover.
Being the gay best friend to a trio of teenage witches was never high on Dane’s list of aspirations, but fortunately for him these girls have the necromantic powers he needs to figure out who killed his cousin. Plus, he could do with some new clothes.
While on the hunt for his cousin’s killer, Dane discovers life in Jasper Hollow isn’t all bad. There’s the cute boy who works at the local coffee shop and enjoys long walks in the woods, for one.
But when the rabbit-faced killer comes for Dane, he’ll be forced to come to terms with who he is and where he belongs before it’s too late for him and everyone in Jasper Hollow.
Wicked Little Things is a spooky, campy, horror complete with mystery, romance, and a whole lot of sass. It’s Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets Caleb Roehrig’s The Fell of Dark.