Review: “This Poison Heart” by Kalynn Bayron

Release Date: June 29, 2021
Series: This Poison Heart #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Description

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

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Feature: “Pilgrim” by Lisabelle Tay

Release Date: October 3, 2021
Publisher: The Emma Press
Genre: Poetry, Young Adult

Description

In her debut pamphlet, Lisabelle Tay leads the reader down through the underworlds of illness, motherhood and family histories. Lighting the way with her luminescent poems, the poet draws on Celtic, Classical and Chinese mythologies, appealing to the selkie, Eurydice, and Chang’e in turn as she seeks a path through the darkness – and back to the light.

Pilgrim depicts a journey and a return, moving from the expansive and mythological to the inward and personal. The pilgrim who left is not the pilgrim who returns…

Illustrated by Reena Makwana and gorgeously printed in monocolour risograph at The Holodeck, this is not a collection to be missed.

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“Kill your ex. You’ll feel better.” — The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl

Release Date: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Description

Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town–at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.

It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex–even though she is trying to kill him.

Continue reading ““Kill your ex. You’ll feel better.” — The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl”

Haunted Houses and Magic Brownies: New Young Adult SFF/H September & October 2021

Summer is waning and the season of pumpkin spice, jack o’lanterns, and 12-foot skeletons is right around the corner. Autumn brings with it a host of intriguing new young adult speculative fiction stories. We’ve got books that will give you goosebumps, books that will give you feels, and books that will make you want to jump out of your seat in excitement. Dust off that library card, friendos. Your TBR is about to grow…

Read the rest of this spotlight on Tor.com.

This Way Madness Lies: A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

Release Date: August 3, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Dark Academia

Description

The history of Dalloway School lives in the bones it was built on. Five violent deaths in the first ten years of its existence. Sometimes you can still smell the blood on the air.

It wasn’t until Felicity enrolled that she fell in love with the dark. And now she’s back to finish her senior year after the tragic death of her girlfriend. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of the five Dalloway students who died there–girls some say were witches.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no.

Dalloway’s occult lore is everywhere, and the new girl won’t let Felicity forget it. But when the past begins to invade on the present, Felicity needs to decide where she stands. The soil under her feet is bloody with Dalloway’s history. But so is the present. Is it Dalloway–or is it her?

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Review: “The Witch King” by H.E. Edgmon

Release Date: June 1, 2021
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Description

In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world. Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important–his people or his freedom.

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Death, the Dead, and the Undead: New Young Adult SFF for July and August 2021

As I write this, the air conditioner is on full blast, I have an ice cold glass of water sweating all over a coaster, and my pets have melted into furry puddles. It’s a thousand degrees outside and all I want to do is sprawl out on the couch with a good book. With more than half of summer still to go, I’ll have plenty of time for that, especially with this list of upcoming new young adult speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror. Lots of good stuff coming in July and August, and these are some of the ones I’m looking forward to the most…

Read the rest of this spotlight on Tor.com.

More Than Just a Mean Girl: A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

Release Date: June 1, 2021
Series: A Song Below Water #2
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Description

Teen influencer Naema Bradshaw has it all: she’s famous, privileged, has “the good hair”— and she’s an Eloko, a person who’s gifted with a song that woos anyone who hears it. Everyone loves her — well, until she’s cast as the awful person who exposed Tavia’s secret siren powers.

Now, she’s being dragged by the media. No one understands her side: not her boyfriend, not her friends, nor her Eloko community. But Naema knows the truth and is determined to build herself back up — no matter what.

When a new, flourishing segment of Naema’s online supporters start targeting black girls, however, Naema must discover the true purpose of her magical voice.

Continue reading “More Than Just a Mean Girl: A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow”

Review: “Written in Starlight” by Isabel Ibañez

Release Date: January 26, 2021
Series: Woven in Moonlight #2
Publisher: Page Street Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Description

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 on her journey, 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.

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