Happy bookmail day! Here’s what came in recently.
Ab(solutely) Normal: Short Stories that Smash Mental Health Stereotypes edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter & Rocky Callen—Candlewick Press; April 11, 2023
Channeling their own experiences, sixteen exceptional authors subvert mental health stereotypes in a powerful and uplifting collection of fiction.
A teen activist wrestles with protest-related anxiety and PTSD. A socially anxious vampire learns he has to save his town by (gulp) working with people. As part of her teshuvah, a girl writes letters to the ex-boyfriend she still loves, revealing that her struggle with angry outbursts is related to PMDD. A boy sheds uncontrollable tears but finds that in doing so he’s helping to enable another’s healing. In this inspiring, unflinching, and hope-filled mixed-genre collection, sixteen diverse and notable authors draw on their own lived experiences with mental health conditions to create stunning works of fiction that will uplift and empower you, break your heart and stitch it back together stronger than before. Through powerful prose, verse, and graphics, the characters in this anthology defy stereotypes as they remind readers that living with a mental health condition doesn’t mean that you’re defined by it. Each story is followed by a note from its author to the reader, and comprehensive back matter includes bios for the contributors as well as a collection of relevant resources.
With contributions by: Mercedes Acosta, Karen Jialu Bao, James Bird, Rocky Callen, Nora Shalaway Carpenter, Alechia Dow, Patrick Downes, Anna Drury, Nikki Grimes, Val Howlett, Jonathan Lenore Kastin, Sonia Patel, Marcella Pixley, Isabel Quintero, Ebony Stewart, Francisco X. Stork.
The Chaperone by M Hendrix—Sourcebooks Fire; June 6, 2023
Like every young woman in New America, Stella knows the rules: Deflect attention. Abstain from sin. Navigate the world with care. Give obedience. Embrace purity. Respect your chaperone.
Stella can’t go out by herself, or spend time with boys except at Visitations. Girls in New America must have chaperones at all times until they marry, so Stella’s lucky that Sister Helen is like a friend to her. When Sister Helen dies suddenly, she’s devastated, especially when the Constables assign Stella a new chaperone just days later.
Sister Laura is… different. She leaves Stella alone and knows how to get into the “Hush Hush” parties where all kinds of forbidden things happen. As Stella spends more time with Sister Laura, she begins to question everything she’s been taught. What if the Constables’ rules don’t actually protect girls? What if they were never meant to keep them safe?
Once Stella glimpses both real freedom and the dark truths behind New America, she has no choice but to fight back against the world she knows. She sets out on a dangerous journey across what was once the United States, risking everything.
City of the Dead by James Ponti (City Spies #4)—Aladdin Paperbacks; February 7, 2023
Codename Kathmandu, better known as Kat, loves logic and order, has a favorite eight-digit number, and can spot a pattern from a mile away. So when a series of cyberattacks hits key locations in London while the spies are testing security for the British Museum, it’s clear that Kat’s skill for finding reason in what seems like randomness makes her the perfect candidate to lead the job.
And while the team follows the deciphered messages to Egypt and the ancient City of the Dead to discover who is behind the attacks and why, Kat soon realizes that there’s another layer to the mystery.
With more players, more clues, and involving higher levels of British Intelligence than ever before, this mission is one of the most complex that the group has faced to date. And it’s also going to bring about a change to the City Spies…
First Year Orientation edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith—Candlewick Press; April 4, 2023
Sixteen acclaimed authors–including a National Book Award nominee, a New York Times best-selling novelist, and a beloved actress–join forces for a cross-genre YA anthology of linked short stories about the first days of college.
Jilly cannot believe her parents keep showing up at all of her orientation events. (Except, yes, she can totally believe that.) Isaac wants to be known as someone other than the kid who does magic and has an emotional support bunny. Lilly is stuck working at the college bookstore during orientation (but maybe new friends are closer than they appear). Hira, meanwhile, just wants to retire from ghost hunting once and for all, but a spirit in the library’s romance section has other ideas. For their sophomore effort, the contributing editors behind the critically acclaimed Battle of the Bands admit us to opening day at a fictional college, with a collection that makes an ideal high school graduation gift or “summer-before” read. This colorful array of stories spans genres and moods–from humorous to heartfelt to ghostly–tackling with sensitivity, humor, and warmth what it feels like to take those first shaky steps into adulthood.
With stories by: Adi Alsaid, Anna Birch, Bryan Bliss, Gloria Chao, Jennifer Chen, Olivia A. Cole, Dana L. Davis, Kristina Forest, Lauren Gibaldi, Kathleen Glasgow, Sam Maggs, Farah Naz Rishi, Lance Rubin, Aminah Mae Safi, Eric Smith, Phil Stamper
Four Found Dead by Natalie D Richards—Sourcebooks Fire; May 2, 2023
The last show has ended, but the nightmare is just beginning.
Tonight, Riverview Theaters is closing forever, the last remaining business in a defunct shopping mall. The moviegoers have left, and Jo and her six coworkers have the final shift, a shift that quickly takes a dark turn.
First a stranger arrives with a chilling accusation. Then the power goes out and their manager disappears, along with the keys to the lobby doors and the theater safe, where the crew’s phones are locked each shift. The crew’s tension turns to terror when Jo discovers the dead body of one of her co-workers.
Now their only chance to escape the murderer in their midst is through the dark, shuttered mall. With its boarded-up exits and disabled fire alarms, the complex is filled with hiding places for both pursuer and pursued. In order to survive this night, Jo and her friends must trust one another, navigate the sprawling ruins of the mall, and outwit a killer before he kills them all.
Harvest House by Cynthia Leitich Smith—Candlewick Press; April 11, 2023
Deftly leading readers to the literary crossroads of contemporary realism and haunting mystery, Cynthia Leitich Smith revisits the world of her American Indian Youth Literature Award winner Hearts Unbroken. Halloween is near, and Hughie Wolfe is volunteering at a new rural attraction: Harvest House. He’s excited to take part in the fun, spooky show–until he learns that an actor playing the vengeful spirit of an “Indian maiden,” a ghost inspired by local legend, will headline. Folklore aside, unusual things have been happening at night at the crossroads near Harvest House. A creepy man is stalking teenage girls and young women, particularly Indigenous women; dogs are fretful and on edge; and wild animals are behaving strangely. While Hughie weighs how and when to speak up about the bigoted legend, he and his friends begin to investigate the crossroads and whether it might be haunted after all. As Moon rises on All Hallow’s Eve, will they be able to protect themselves and their community? Gripping and evocative, Harvest House showcases a versatile storyteller at her spooky, unsettling best.
I Have Something to Tell You: A Memoir for Young Adults by Chasten Buttigieg—Atheneum Books for Young Readers; May 16, 2023
The young adult adaptation of the moving, hopeful, and refreshingly candid memoir by the husband of a former Democratic presidential candidate about growing up gay in his small Midwestern town.
Growing up, Chasten Glezman Buttigieg didn’t always fit in. He felt different from his father and brothers, who loved to hunt and go camping, and out of place in the rural, conservative small town where he lived. Back then, blending in was more important than feeling seen.
So, when Chasten realized he was gay, he kept that part of himself hidden away for a long, painful time. With incredible bravery, and the support of his loved ones, Chasten eventually came out–and when he did, he learned that being true to himself was the most rewarding journey of all.
Finding acceptance and self-love can seem like a tremendous challenge, but it’s never impossible. With honesty, courage, and warmth, Chasten relays his experience of growing up in America and embracing his identity, while inspiring young people across the country to do the same.
The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim—Salaam Reads; January 3, 2023
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Pride and Prejudice in this delightful and heartfelt rom-com about a Bangladeshi American teen whose meddling mother arranges a match to secure their family’s financial security–just as she’s falling in love with someone else.
Zahra Khan is basically Bangladeshi royalty, but being a princess doesn’t pay the bills in Paterson, New Jersey. While Zahra’s plans for financial security this summer involve working long hours at Chai Ho and saving up for college writing courses, Amma is convinced that all Zahra needs is a “good match,” Jane Austen style.
Enter Harun Emon, who’s wealthy, devastatingly handsome, and…aloof. As soon as Zahra meets him, she knows it’s a bad match. It’s nothing like the connection she has with Nayim Aktar, the new dishwasher at the tea shop, who just gets Zahra in a way no one has before. So, when Zahra finds out that Harun is just as uninterested in this match as she is, they decide to slowly sabotage their parents’ plans. And for once in Zahra’s life, she can have her rossomalai and eat it too: “dating” Harun and keeping Amma happy while catching real feelings for Nayim.
But life–and boys–can be more complicated than Zahra realizes. With her feelings all mixed up, Zahra discovers that sometimes being a good Bengali kid can be a royal pain.
Monstersona by Chloe Spencer—Tiny Ghost Press; February 14, 2023
There’s a little monster in all of us.
After her parents’ divorce, 16 year old Riley Grishin is forced to move from Portland, Oregon all the way to Little Brook, Maine, a small town that serves as the headquarters for Titan Technologies, an international tech laboratory. Having left her friends and father behind, Riley spends most of her days running through the woods with her dog Tigger, and eavesdropping on her classmates-in particular, the gorgeous, but very strange, Aspen Montehugh.
On the night of the homecoming game, Riley wakes up to find her town on fire, terrorized by an unseen monster. With flames spreading rapidly, Riley and Tigger have no choice but to pile into her beat-up pickup truck and flee. Speeding out of town, they come across the only other survivor: Aspen.
When Riley and Aspen finally reach safety, they realize something far more sinister is afoot. According to the news, all other Titan Tech laboratories on the East Coast have been attacked. And even worse, they’re being followed by an SUV with blacked out windows. With all air travel grounded, Riley has no way to fly back to her dad, so she and Aspen embark on a cross country road trip, all the while pursued by men with guns, mad scientists, and the monstrous truth. Slowly, Riley realizes something’s not quite right with Aspen, which puts her feelings for her-and her own humanity-to the ultimate test.
Thelma and Louise meet Godzilla in this queer sci-fi adventure, that will appeal to fans of Erik. J Brown’s All That’s Left In The World and Charlotte Nicole Davies’ The Good Luck Girls.
Never Trust a Gemini by Freja Nicole Woolf—Walker Books Us; May 9, 2023
Cat Phillips has her head in the stars, but her romantic fantasies may ruin her shot at real-life love in this sweet and funny lesbian story.
It’s Libra Season, and Cat Phillips is ready to run headfirst into love. The only problem is that her crush is on her best friend, Alison Bridgewater, who is more interested in chatting with boys. Maybe Cat should take this as a sign to get over Alison, even if that means dating the musically challenged Jamie Owusu. After all, a new boyfriend is the best cleanse, at least according to Cat’s friends. Unfortunately, having a boyfriend is a lot harder than Cat expected. And then Morgan Delaney swoops in with her green glasses, enigmatic smile, and talent for teasing Cat in ways that make her feel überlicious. But Morgan is a Gemini, and there’s no way that’s in Cat’s horoscope. Will Cat finally get the girl of her dreams? Or is there a chance there’s more to life than Alison Bridgewater? The stars align for the cast of this energetic romp full of comedic misunderstandings and sparkling language.
Retro by Sofía Lapuente & Jarrod Shusterman—Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; January 24, 2023 (Read the first two chapters here!)
What starts off as a lighthearted 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.
The Severed Thread by Leslie Vedder (The Bone Spindle #2)—Razorbill; February 7, 2023
Which threads of fate will hold–and which will break?
Clever, bookish Fi and her brash, ax-wielding partner Shane are back in this action-packed sequel to the bestselling The Bone Spindle, the gender-flipped Sleeping Beauty retelling, perfect for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and The Cruel Prince.
Fi has awakened the sleeping prince, but the battle for Andar is far from over. The Spindle Witch, the Witch Hunters, and Fi’s own Butterfly Curse all stand between them and happily ever after.
Shane has her partner’s back. But she’s in for the fight of her life against Red, the right hand of the Spindle Witch who she’s also, foolishly, hellbent on saving.
Briar Rose would do anything to restore his kingdom. But there’s a darkness creeping inside him–a sinister bond to the Spindle Witch he can’t escape.
All hopes of restoring Andar rest on deciphering a mysterious book code, finding the hidden city of the last Witches, and uncovering a secret lost for centuries–one that just might hold the key to the Spindle Witch’s defeat. If they can all survive that long…
Set in a world of twisted fairytales, The Severed Thread combines lost ruins, ride-or-die friendships, and heart-pounding romance.
The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade—Sourcebooks Fire; June 27, 2023
Sometimes people are lost from you, no matter how much you wish they weren’t and before you can even begin to know how big of a hole they’ll leave behind.
Sutton going missing is the worst thing to happen to Casey, to their family. She’s trying to help find her sister, but Casey is furious. She knows Sutton is manipulative, meanwhile everyone paints a picture of her perfection. People don’t look for missing Black girls–or half-Black girls–without believing there is an angel to be saved.
When Sutton reappears, Casey knows she should be relieved. Except Sutton isn’t the same. She remembers nothing about while she was gone–or anything from her old life, including how she made Casey miserable. There’s something unsettling about the way she wants to spend time with Casey and watch her goldfish swim for hours.
What happened to Sutton? The more Casey starts uncovering her sister’s secrets, the more questions she has. Did she really know her sister? Why is no one talking about the other girls who have gone missing in their area? And what will it take to uncover the truth?
The Stranded by Sarah Daniels—Sourcebooks Fire; January 3, 2023
The Hunger Games meets Station Eleven in a gripping near-future dystopian: love triangles, betrayals and fights for freedom in a world turned upside-down…
Welcome to the Arcadia.
Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States–a leftover piece of a fractured USA.
For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.
Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.
When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever…
Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions edited by A. R. Capetta & Wade Roush—MITeen Press; October 11, 2022
In a mind-bending MITeen anthology, ten top YA authors use emerging technologies to explore startling new realities.
What does the future hold? Ten speculative short stories by leading young-adult authors imagine what the world could be through the lens of technologies emerging today. When the modification industry transforms how humans look, sound, and interact, a nonbinary teen braves the “reinvention room” to accept a gift from the dead. In an accidental city in space, a young apprentice holds neighborhoods together with braided carbon filaments until distraction and inspiration arrive in the wake of a visitor. Entitlement-fueled drug use alters the landscape of white privilege, robots remember the Earth, and corporate “walkers” stroll for unknown subscribers–until one hacks the system. In tales buzzing with possibility, hope, innovation, anger, and tenderness, Tasting Light offers a dazzling challenge to connect with open minds, hearts, and senses in a fast-changing world.
With stories by: William Alexander, K. Ancrum, Elizabeth Bear, A.R. Capetta, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, A.S. King, E.C. Myers, Junauda Petrus-Nasah, Wendy Xu.
That Self-Same Metal by Brittany N Williams (Forge & Fracture Saga #1)—Amulet Books; April 25, 2023
A stunning YA fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Holly Black and Justina Ireland, about a Black girl (and sword expert) fighting a Fae uprising in Shakespearean London
Sixteen-year-old Joan Sands is a gifted craftswoman who creates and upkeeps the stage blades for William Shakespeare’s acting company, The King’s Men. Joan’s skill with her blades comes from a magical ability to control metal–an ability gifted by her Head Orisha, Ogun. Because her whole family is Orisha-blessed, the Sands family have always kept tabs on the Fae presence in London. Usually that doesn’t involve much except noting the faint glow around a Fae’s body as they try to blend in with London society, but lately, there has been an uptick in brutal Fae attacks. After Joan wounds a powerful Fae and saves the son of a cruel Lord, she is drawn into political intrigue in the human and Fae worlds.
Swashbuckling, romantic, and full of the sights and sounds of Shakespeare’s London, this series starter delivers an unforgettable story–and a heroine unlike any other.
This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham—Sourcebooks Fire; April 25, 2023
From the author of the New York Times bestselling My Dearest Darkest comes another incredible sapphic horror. When four best friends with a hunger for human flesh attend a music festival in the desert they discover a murderous plot to expose and vilify the girls and everyone like them. This summer is going to get gory.
Two years ago, a small percentage of the population underwent a transformation known as the Hollowing. Those affected were only able to survive by consuming human flesh. The people who went without quickly became feral, turning on their friends and family. Luckily, scientists were able to create a synthetic version of human meat that would satisfy their hunger. As a result, humanity slowly began to return to normal.
Cut to Zoey, Celeste, Valeria, and Jasmine, four hollow girls living in Southern California. As a last hurrah before graduation they decide to attend a musical festival in the heart of the desert. They have a cooler filled with seltzer, vodka, and Synflesh… and are ready to party.
But on the first night of the festival Val goes feral and ends up killing and eating a boy in one of the bands. As other festival guests start disappearing around them the girls soon discover someone is targeting people like them. And if they can’t figure out how to stop it, and soon, no one at the festival is getting out alive.
Time Out by Sean Hays, Todd Milliner, & Carlyn Greenwald—Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; May 30, 2023
Heartstopper meets Friday Night Lights in this keenly felt coming-of-age story about a teen hometown hero who must find out who he is outside of basketball when his coming out as gay costs him his popularity and place on the team.
In his small Georgia town, Barclay Elliot is basically a legend. Here basketball is all that matters, and no one has a bigger spotlight than Barclay. Until he decides to use the biggest pep rally in the town’s history to come out to his school. And things change. Quickly.
Barclay is faced with hostility he never expected. Suddenly he is at odds with his own team, and he doesn’t even have his grandfather to turn to the way he used to. But who is Barclay if he doesn’t have basketball?
His best friend, Amy, thinks she knows. She drags him to her voting rights group, believing Barclay can find a bigger purpose. And he does, but he also finds Christopher. Aggravating, fearless, undeniably handsome Christopher. He and Barclay have never been each other’s biggest fans, but as Barclay starts to explore parts of himself he’s been hiding away, they find they might have much more in common than they originally thought.
As sparks turn into something more, though, Barclay has to decide if he’s ready to confront the privilege and popularity that have shielded him his entire life. Can he take a real shot at the love he was fighting for in the first place?
The Warning by Kristy Avcevedo—Sourcebooks Fire; June 6, 2023
The end is coming. What would you do? The first in a fast-paced and gripping YA dystopian series for anyone who’s ever felt like their life–their world–is on the brink of destruction.
Like most high school seniors, Alexandra Lucas is caught between living in the moment and an unknown future. Her anxiety disorder doesn’t make that any easier. But she’s coping–until her train stops on the way home from a concert with her boyfriend. At first, she’s worried about breaking curfew. Then terror echoes through their train car.
A mysterious doorway has appeared beside the tracks, and a hologram claiming to be a human from the future shares a sinister warning. A comet is on a collision course with earth. All life there will end in six months’ time. To survive, people must step through one of the many portals that have opened around the world.
The holograms claim to offer safety. But how can anyone be sure? Stay or go–everyone must make their own choice. Alex’s family, her friends, her boyfriend all have different ideas. Alex is only sure of one thing: she wants to decide for herself. But every decision comes at a price.
We Don’t Swim Here by Vincent Tirado—Sourcebooks Fire; May 2, 2023
Bronwyn is only supposed to be in rural Hillwoods for a year. Her grandmother is in hospice, and her father needs to get her affairs in order. And they’re all meant to make some final memories together.
Except Bronwyn is miserable. Her grandmother is dying, everyone is standoffish, and she can’t even go swimming. All she hears are warnings about going in the water, despite a gorgeous lake. And a pool at the abandoned rec center. And another in the high school basement.
Anais tries her hardest to protect Bronwyn from the shadows of Hillwoods. She follows her own rituals to avoid any unnecessary attention–and if she can just get Bronwyn to stop asking questions, she can protect her too. The less Bronwyn pays attention to Hillwoods, the less Hillwoods will pay attention to Bronwyn. She doesn’t get that the lore is, well, truth. History. Pain. The living aren’t the only ones who seek retribution when they’re wronged. But when Bronwyn does more exploring than she should, they are both in for danger they couldn’t expect.