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    Here Are All The Books We Read And Loved That Come Out This Month

    Get ready to lose yourself in these exceptional books this month.

    literary fiction

    Unsinkable Greta James

    by Jennifer E. Smith

    Jennifer E. Smith's adult debut is a voyage well worth spending your time with. Greta James has spent her career trying to prove her father wrong. While playing at bars before she had entered music stardom, her mother was always her first supporter. Her father, on the other hand, thought she should choose a more sensible life path. But after her mother's death, and Greta's subsequent onstage meltdown, she reluctantly agrees to take her mothers place on the cruise she and Greta's dad were supposed to take for their anniversary. Along the journey, she'll encounter Ben, a historian with young daughters, who is going through a separation, and becomes a kindred spirit when it comes to heartbreak. As Ben and Greta bond, her relationship with her father still feels like it's on rocky waters and they'll need to try to make peace if there's ever a path forward for them. —Rachel Strolle


    by Elaine Hsieh Chou

    Disorientation is a deeply smart, satirical novel that takes a critical look at racism in academia through the lens of our protagonist, Ingrid Yang, a 29-year-old Taiwanese American grad student who feels cornered into researching Xiao-Wen Chou for her dissertation, but could not be more bored by this. But things begin to spiral out of control for Ingrid when she discovers a note within her research, left by a name she doesn’t recognize. Upon solving this specific (albeit distracting) mystery, she begins to uncover even more secrets that she’ll be forced to reckon with. —Farrah Penn

    The Cartographers

    by Peng Shepherd

    This nerdy literary thriller, with a magical twist, explores the world of cartography. Nell Young works as a cartographer, like her father who works for the New York Public Library, and her mother, who died in a fire when Nell was a toddler. After fighting with her father over a box of discarded maps, Nell loses her position as an NYPL intern and becomes estranged from her father. Nell is working in a map printing shop when she receives news her father has died under mysterious circumstances. When Nell finds one of the old maps that had caused the rift between the two in her father’s hidden portfolio, she begins to investigate what makes this seemingly mundane map so unique. Her investigation leads her toward a dangerous organization called The Cartographers. The secrets she uncovers may lead her toward discovering the causes of not only her father’s death, but also her mother’s decades earlier. —Margaret Kingsbury


    by Eloghosa Osunde

    In this inventive debut, a disparate group of social outcasts get by in the city of Lagos, even as the criminalization of homosexuality dampens their ability to live freely. Some characters are humans, others are spirits, others seem to shift between the two. Like the work of fellow Nigerian writers, Lesley Nneka Arimah and Akwaeke Emezi (who incidentally blurbed this book), these stories eschew strict realism for magical writing in both the literal and figurative sense. —Tomi Obaro


    by NoViolet Bulawayo

    Inspired by Robert Mugabe’s fall from power in 2017, and George Orwell’s classic fable, Animal Farm, Bulawayo satirizes the dysfunctional politics that curse so many African nations in this long-awaited sophomore effort after her 2013 Booker finalist debut, We Need New Names. —Tomi Obaro

    nonfiction and poetry

    Girls Can Kiss Now

    by Jill Gutowitz

    Girls Can Kiss Now is a sharp, humorous, and deeply vulnerable essay collection that unpacks the trauma of understanding your identity during a time when pop culture (and people in general) were cutthroat and vicious, but also — with voice, humor, and flare — discusses sexuality, self-worth, and lesbian culture. I sucked down these pages like a delicious milkshake, easily enthralled by Gutowitz’s insights and relatability. You’ll certainly be entertained, but there is a certain level of tenderness and care that really makes this book shine. —Farrah Penn

    Conversations With People Who Hate Me

    by Dylan Marron

    Confronting online haters face-to-face seems like a daunting, draining task, especially when people who don’t personally know you call you things like “moron,” a “beta male,” and a “talentless hack.” But in his book, Dylan does just that. Sharing what he’s learned from having difficult conversations with strangers online, Dylan’s candid novel explores putting yourself out there, internet culture and online vitriol, accountability, and communication and conversation. —Farrah Penn

    Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head

    by Warsan Shire

    Before Beyoncé tapped this Somali British poet to write the poetry for her visual album, Lemonade, Shire was already a prolific writer, with two chapbooks, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth and Her Blue Body, under her belt. Now she’s publishing her first full-length poetry collection, which focuses, like much of her work, on the trauma of forced migration, familial violence, and secrets. This is a collection that merits slow and careful reading. —Tomi Obaro

    mystery and thrillers

    A Novel Obsession

    by Caitlin Barasch

    A Novel Obsession easily holds a place as “best book of the year” in my heart so far. It takes a sharp, thoughtful look at the depths of curiosity, obsession, and self-sabotage, and is bound to intrigue you from the very first chapter. Naomi Ackerman is a 24-year-old, privileged New Yorker who’s found the perfect guy: Caleb, a New York transplant from Wales. Things couldn’t be better between the couple — until Naomi stumbles upon Caleb’s ex, Rosemary. Rosemary seems to be the “better” version of Naomi — a successful editor — while Naomi struggles to find success as a writer. As her curiosity grows, stalking Rosemary turns to genuine friendship under false pretenses. Caleb can never find out, but Naomi can’t seem to quit manipulating Rosemary into liking her, going so far as to write her next book about her. Naomi is forced to decide what’s most important and what she’s willing to sacrifice. —Farrah Penn

    Run Rose Run

    by Dolly Parton & James Patterson

    I am generally not a thriller reader, but as a Tennessean, I will consume anything Dolly Parton produces. She is a state hero. I was delighted to find I quite enjoyed this novel, especially the most Dolly-like parts, from the inside scope of Nashville’s music scene (I live in Nashville and it’s very accurate), to a secondary character that reads like Dolly poking fun at herself. AnnieLee Keyes is a young woman on the run from a violent past, hoping to make it big in Nashville’s country music scene. On her first night singing at a random bar she stumbles into, she’s overheard by the handsome, ex-military singer, Ethan, who insists his patron — the county music legend Ruthanna — listen to her. Ruthanna helps catapult AnnieLee’s music career; however, AnnieLee’s past has not left her, and violence dogs her heels after every success. The full-cast audiobook — featuring Dolly narrating as Ruthanna — was wonderful, and my only regret is that it didn’t include Dolly singing. However, Dolly is releasing a full companion album with the same title as the book on March 4. I can’t wait to listen to it! —Margaret Kingsbury

    historical fiction

    Peach Blossom Spring

    by Melissa Fu

    In 1938 China, Meilin's life is dismantled when her husband dies in the war and she and her young son, Renshu, are forced to flee the approaching Japanese army. Meilin summons immense courage in order to save her son as they travel across a war-torn country, fueled by ancient fables offering wisdom and solace. Decades later, Renshu has settled in American as Henry, a father who refuses to talk about his traumatic past, despite the pleas from his daughter, who is desperate to understand her heritage. Spanning nearly 70 years and multiple countries, this is a moving, epic saga of a family's struggle to survive war, racism, and generational trauma. —Kirby Beaton

    Comeuppance Served Cold

    by Marion Deeds

    A deliciously fun novella set in 1929 Seattle is just what is needed for your bookshelves. Set in the height of the stock market crash, Dolly White, grifter, is hired as a lady's companion for Fiona. The rebellious daughter of a city leader who wishes to criminalize certain magickers, like shapeshifters, Fiona is supposed to be "kept under control" by Dolly. But Dolly is also there for other reasons, ones that become clear as the story moves forward. Along Dolly's journey is Violet, the widowed owner of a speakeasy, and her shapeshifter brother, Philippe and his partner, Gabe. Their paths cross as Violet is looking for revenge against her husband's murderer, the leader of which is the brother of Fiona. Beginning at the ending and following the path backwards through a magical heist, this story brings comeuppance to all. —Rachel Strolle

    Secret Identity

    by Alex Segura

    Carmen works in the comics industry in 1975 New York City. While she's in an assistant position at Triumph Comics, she's thrilled to be on track to fulfill her dream of writing a superhero book. And everything seems to be poised for her to get that chance: she's been enlisted by junior editor Harvey to help with the creation of The Lethal Lynx, Triumph's first female hero. But assuming that the story won't get to move forward if the knowledge of her involvement gets to the head honcho, Harvey asks her to keep her part a secret. And not long after the scripts are turned into the publisher, without her name, Harvey is found dead. And with the appearance of a visitor from her home in Miami, her search for the truth becomes an extremely tangled web. This comic book world noir (which features comic spreads drawn by Sandy Jarrell) is a fantastic take on a world of both powerful women and women searching for an acknowledgement of their power. —Rachel Strolle

    The Deep Blue Between

    by Ayesha Harruna Attah

    Following a violent raid, twin sisters Hassana and Husseina are separated, both forced on different journeys that will take them to new countries and cultures, but always separated by the ocean between them. We follow the twins throughout the late-18th and early-19th centuries as they try to survive these new lives: escaping from danger, finding new family, and discovering their place in the world. At night, they dream of the ocean and its connection to each other, both desperate for the moment they will finally be reunited. This sweeping saga is a heartache of grief, loss, faith, and the life-altering consequences of slavery and colonization. —Kirby Beaton

    The Tobacco Wives

    by Adele Myers

    In this coming-of-age novel set in 1946 North Carolina, we meet Maddie, an aspiring seamstress who has just arrived in Bright Leaf — the tobacco capital — to work in her aunt's shop. But when her aunt falls sick, Maddie suddenly becomes the seamstress to Big Tobacco's wealthiest wives, who generously take her in. Maddie is transfixed by the glitz and glam of this bustling city — until she discovers a dark and unsettling truth about Big Tobacco's latest initiative. Maddie has to decide whether to reveal what she knows and risk the town's livelihood, or keep this secret and risk their lives. A vibrant and warm book that feels easy to pick up and hard to put down. —Kirby Beaton

    Woman on Fire

    by Lisa Barr

    A tantalizing and thrilling novel about a painting stolen 75 years ago, and the two women determined to get it back. Journalist Jules Roth has been tasked with tracking down a painting stolen by Nazis in the 1930s: The Woman on Fire. Meanwhile in Europe, heiress art collector, Margaux de Laurent has her eyes on finding the prized portrait — by any means necessary. Luckily, Jules has her own resources, including Adam Baum, the grandson of the man who hired Jules. As the novel jumps across the world and back in time, we learn more about this elusive painting and the heated hunt to get it back. Part thriller, part historical fiction, this book will have you gripping the pages until the very end. —Kirby Beaton

    The White Girl

    by Tony Birch

    Odette Brown is a Black Indigenous woman living in the same small Australian town she's lived in her entire life. When her daughter abandons her light-skinned daughter, Odette takes her in; by the 1960s, Sissy is 13 years old and Odette's health is failing. But things take a terrifying turn when a new police officer comes to town, determined to execute on the racist law (based on true '60s-era policies) that removes light-skinned Aboriginal children from their darker-skinned families. Odette will have to protect Sissy at all costs, and hopefully even discover the truth about her missing daughter along the way. Birch draws from his Indigenous background to craft a story that's both heartbreaking and hopeful, and focuses on the strength that comes from a family's love. —Kirby Beaton

    The Wolf Den

    by Elodie Harper

    This powerful UK-imported, trilogy opener beautifully walks the line between gutting and hopeful with the story of Amara, a Greek woman sold by her impoverished mother who's been enslaved and forced into prostitution at a Pompeiian brothel. Amara can barely remember the time she went by a different name and thrived in her hometown with her doctor father, but she knows freedom is within her grasp, if she can only find the right person to help her obtain it. Using all her charm and wits, she does everything she can to maneuver her way into a future as a free woman. But the path to liberty is paved with sacrifice, and Amara's is a past not easily left behind... —Dahlia Adler

    science fiction and fantasy

    The Atlas Six

    by Olivie Blake

    If you're looking for a book you will want to talk about for a long time (and have plenty of people to talk to about it), The Atlas Six is your book. This TikTok-sensation, dark academia fantasy makes it's hardcover debut with this newly revised edition (featuring new interior art). Six candidates are recruited to potentially be initiated into Alexandrian Society by the mysterious Atlas Blakely. The society is a secret society of some of the best magical academicians in the world, and six are chosen each decade. To earn initiation, they must spend one year together, and justify their contributions. Of the six — Libby and Nicolás (can control matter with their minds), Reina (a naturalist), Parisa (a mind reader), Tristan (can see the secrets of the universe), Callum (might bring about the end of the world) — five will actually get initiated. If they survive that long. —Rachel Strolle

    Worlds of Exile and Illusion

    by Ursula K. Le Guin, intro by Amal El Mohtar

    This new edition of Ursula K. Le Guin's first three novels in the Hainish CycleRocannon's World, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions — has an introduction by award-winning author Amal El Mohtar. Like many of her future works, the novels explore the intersections of alien cultures, and establish the premise for all future books in the Hainish universe. A post-Earth human society called Hain established colonies throughout the galaxy, and now, thousands of years later, they're returning to study the planets and see how they're interacting in their new habitats, with the non-human populations. In Rocannon's World, Le Guin's debut novel, the scientist Rocannon is stranded on one of these planets and tries to survive among three alien species. Planet of Exile explores a superstitious backwater planet fearful of the farborns, while City of Illusions takes place on a depopulated Earth, where a human-like alien with cat eyes stumbles upon a human settlement. These three books set the stage for Le Guin's later award-winning novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. —Margaret Kingsbury

    The Bone Orchard

    by Sara A. Mueller

    Mueller creates an intricate and richly characterized world in her gothic fantasy debut. The Orchard House is an elite brothel where Borenguard nobility play cards and pay for women, but these are no ordinary women. Charm, the mistress of the house, and the emperor’s mistress and prisoner, is a bone witch. She separates parts of herself and creates them into the house’s concubines — Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain. She is divided within herself as well, and is both The Lady and Charm. When the emperor is poisoned, he charges Charm with discovering who murdered him and placing her own choice on the throne. With a mindlock in place, she has to complete this task in order to be truly free. —Margaret Kingsbury

    Sweep of Stars

    by Maurice Broaddus

    This first book in a new Afrofuturist space opera trilogy depicts an empire of city-states grappling with threats from within and without in the far future. The novel opens with the naming ceremony of Amachi Adisa, the adopted daughter of one of the seven founding families of the Muungano empire. These seven founding families form a tight-knit community despite their differences and vast distances apart. Immediately after her ceremony, the young Wachiru is announced as leader of his family, a surprising move for one so young. However, when an act of violence occurs, Amachi, Wachiru, and officer Maulana Buhari are forced to test their empire's utopian, nonviolent values in order to save it. —Margaret Kingsbury

    Wild and Wicked Things

    by Francesca May

    This sapphic romantic fantasy with The Great Gatsby vibes takes place after WWI. When Annie Mason’s father dies, he leaves behind an estate on Crow Island, where rumors of magic and darkness abound. Annie’s father had left her and her mother in near poverty, so Annie isn’t interested in magic — she wants to close out her father’s estate and return home to her safe life, though a part of her yearns for adventure. She rents a cottage by the sea on Crow Island, and beside it is a sprawling mansion where parties are held every night. The alluring witch, Emmeline Delacroix, lives there. When Annie witnesses a fight between Emmeline and her best friend, Beatrice, she finds herself inexorably drawn into the magic and mayhem of Crow Island. —Margaret Kingsbury


    Dating Dr. Dil

    by Nisha Sharma

    Nisha Sharma opens her new "If Shakespeare was an Auntie" romance series with this steamy delight of a take on Taming of the Shrew. Kareena dreams of love, but now has just four months to find it. If she gets engaged in that time frame, her father will give her the house he was going to sell. But after a recent experience at a bar, where she was abandoned by the guy, she's feeling like it might be impossible. Even worse, she's just gone viral for arguing with Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, after being dragged to a filming by her sister and realizing he's the man who left her. Prem is not looking for love, but with his reputation hurt after the viral argument, he's offered a deal from Kareena's meddling aunties. If he convinces Kareena he's her soulmate, they will provide the funding for his dream local community health center. As the duo begin to spend time with each other, hate slowly begins to morph into something else that neither of them anticipated. —Rachel Strolle

    A Brush With Love

    by Mazey Eddings

    A Brush With Love is an adorable, swoony, and tender debut about two dental students named Harper and Dan. Harper struggles with anxiety, and it doesn’t help that she’s wrecked waiting for placement results to see which oral surgery residency program she lands. Dan is a first-year dental student who isn’t terribly passionate about teeth, but when he meets Harper, who agrees to guide him to success, the two become close friends. But of course, those feelings of friendship begin to turn into something more. The thing is, Harper doesn’t know where life will take her when she lands her residency, so she puts a rule in place: her and Dan can only be friends. That shouldn’t be too hard...right? —Farrah Penn

    League of Gentlewomen Witches

    by India Holton

    Do you like joy? Do you like hot Irish pirates? Do you ship any Jane Austen characters or did you heavily ship CaptainSwan from Once Upon a Time? Great news if you answered yes to any of these questions, because I'm about to introduce you to your new favorite historical fantasy romance book. Charlotte belongs to The League of Gentlewomen Witches, who strive to improve the world by using magic in small ways. Her current goal is to keep the long lost (and recently discovered) amulet of Black Beryl from falling into the wrong hands. Regrettably, her path crosses with that of pirate Alex O'Riley, who she reluctantly teams up with to steal the amulet before the rest of the world gets to it. If all that isn't enough to get you hyped about this book, I shall leave you with the way the book was initially pitched to me by the publisher: knowing her boots are weapons, he tells her to step on him. —Rachel Strolle

    Mr. Wrong Number

    by Lynn Painter

    If you’re in the mood for a laugh-out-loud, sexy rom-com about an unlucky young woman who moves in with her brother (and her brother’s hot roommate) while she attempts to get her life together — look no further. Painter’s hilarious voice and vibrant characters are a breath of fresh air in this highly enjoyable romance. Olivia might be down on her luck, but after a “what are you wearing” text message from a random number turns into fun banter, she starts to enjoy the company from the anonymous person behind the screen. Colin Beck is roommates with Olivia’s brother and plans to keep his distance from his sister, but what happens when he realizes that she’s Miss Misdial — the anonymous person he’s been sexting for weeks? You’ll have to read and find out (and trust me, you’re going to want to read.) —Farrah Penn

    The Suite Spot

    by Trish Doller

    Doller's gift for building characters with the perfect combination of strength and fragility and setting them in a world that feels immersive and real is once again on full display in this companion to Float Plan, which stars that book's main character's sister, single mom Rachel, picking up and starting fresh on an island in Lake Erie. From the beginning, things aren't what she expects; the "management" position in fact requires her to essentially build a brewery inn from the ground up for its owner, sexy brooding loner Mason. But it's on Kelleys Island that Rachel learns just how much potential she has when she's starting from a solid foundation, and she isn't the only one. —Dahlia Adler

    Hook Line and Sinker

    by Tessa Bailey

    In this upcoming novel, king crab fisherman and notorious flirt, Fox Thornton helps his best friend Hannah — who is inconveniently immune to all his charms — woo the colleague that she's had a hopeless crush on for years. Only, Hannah is crashing at Fox's place for the time being, and the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to deny his growing feelings. Now, Fox has to tackle his inner demons and prove to his best friend that he's the love of her life. —Shyla Watson

    young adult

    Travelers Along The Way

    by Aminah Mae Safi

    A remixed take on the classic story of Robin Hood, Aminah Mae Safi’s foray into the genre of YA historical fantasy is absolutely brilliant with this sharply researched, incredibly funny adventure tale, which is part of Feiwel and Friends’ Remixed Classics series. The aforementioned Robin Hood in this case is a young Muslim girl named Rahma al-Hud, a solider who later receives a target on her back as the “Green Hood.” Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, Rahma begins traveling away from Akko with her sister Zeena. On their journey, they (of course) encounter a diverse group of misfits, engage in heists, and use the rich to help those in need. Though you’ll fall for the lovable characters, you’ll wind up learning about the true historic events that took place during this time within Safi’s rich and detailed world. —Farrah Penn

    Message Not Found

    by Dante Medema

    Vanessa was everything to Bailey, the type of friend that was more like a sister. So after Vanessa's death, Bailey feels completely lost. To try and find answers from the one person who can't answer, Bailey creates a chat bot of Vanessa, crafted from their extensive backlog of texts and emails. For a while, Bailey can almost forget she isn't really talking to her best friend. But when the bot starts dropping hints that something big was going on with Vanessa she didn't know about, a secret that could have contributed to her death, Bailey becomes desperate to put the pieces together. The only person who might know what happened is Vanessa's boyfriend, Mason. Dante Medema's sophomore outing is a sparkling snowglobe of grief, friendship, and heart. —Rachel Strolle

    Blood Scion

    by Deborah Falaye

    Falaye’s explosive dark YA fantasy, inspired by Yoruban lore, and for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and The Hunger Games, is a must-read. Falaye puts us in the center of the action straightaway, introducing us to Sloane, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods. But her powers, tied to this identity, mean death if she is discovered. Drafted into the Lucis army — who want to rid all Scions descended from Orisha — on the eve of her 15th birthday, Sloane realizes that being forced to serve means she might be able to take the enemy down from within. —Farrah Penn

    And They Lived

    by Steven Salvatore

    College-set YA alert! Chase Arthur is an incoming freshman with a talent for animation and an eye on the prize: an exclusive mentorship in his dream field of animation. But he's also got some other stuff on his mind, like his struggles with weight and gender identity, the father who makes it all worse, and, most of all, Jack, the boy who's got him absolutely smitten, but who struggles with his own internalized homophobia. It's a lot for Chase to navigate, who's learning he needs to come to love himself before he can love anybody else. Salvatore's sophomore book is sweet, delightful, and painfully real, with the kind of protagonist you will absolutely love rooting for. —Dahlia Adler

    Right Where I Left You

    by Julian Winters

    It's the last summer before Isaac heads off to college, and he's got a plan to spend as much time as he can with his best friend Diego — getting tickets for Legends Con and heading to Teen Pride. But a run-in with his old crush, Davi, means missing the on-sale window, leaving Isaac short two con badges. Plus, now having to spend more time with Diego, he also has to spend time with Diego's gaming buddies. And when Diego is upset by something that happens between Davi and Isaac, Isaac will have to figure out how to repair his friendship before the summer ends. —Rachel Strolle

    All That's Left in the World

    by Erik J. Brown

    If The Road were gay, funny, and romantic, while still being utterly thrilling and page-turning, it'd be Brown's debut, which follows two boys who find each other, and a path to survival, as a deadly plague destroys the world around them. Jamie and Andrew have lost everyone they love, and they know they're in danger of following in their fatal path; between the other desperate survivors and the rampant disease, things are utterly terrifying. But finding someone to click with, be with, and trust, is no small thing, and even if there are a million questions about how to move forward, one thing they do know is that they want to do it together. —Dahlia Adler

    The One True Me and You

    by Remi K. England

    In this warmhearted queer romance, Kaylee can't wait to hit up GreatCon and finally meet a whole bunch of fandom friends in person, especially since it'll be the first opportunity to really try out they/them pronouns and maybe even kiss a girl. But when a beauty pageant, taking place at the same hotel, brings her face to face with the last girl she wants around for any of those things, it puts a major damper on events. Thankfully, the pageant did bring with it one bright spot: Teagan, who's competing for the top prize but finds herself with an eye on Kaylee, too. —Dahlia Adler

    All My Rage

    by Sabaa Tahir

    Tahir packs an absolutely unforgettable punch in her first contemporary YA, which centers on former best friends Noor and Salahuddin, Pakistani Muslim kids doing their best to survive abuse, poverty, and everything else life in the desert town of Juniper, California tries to throw their way. For both of them, a way out seems impossible. Noor's uncle, who saved her from the earthquake that killed the rest of her family and their village when she was six, will never let her go to college when there's still the family liquor store to run. And Salahuddin just wants to help carry on his now-deceased mother's dream of running an inn, even though he absolutely cannot afford it, and has no support from his alcoholic father. As they make their way back to each other, first as friends, and then exploring the relationship they never gave a chance, the strength they find in each other gives them their first taste of hope in forever. But that may not be enough to overcome all the brutal obstacles that stand in their way. This is the kind of book that positively climbs into your bones and steals your breath in the very best way. —Dahlia Adler


    by V.E. Schwab

    This delightfully dark YA gothic may very well be my favorite by this prolific author. Olivia Prior is living in the wretched Merilance School for Girls when she receives a letter from an uncle she never knew she had, inviting her to his home, Gallant. Eager to leave the other girls’ abuse and the mundanity of daily life at Merilance, Olivia travels to Gallant full of hope, bringing with her the strange diary her mother gave her when she left her at Merilance as a toddler. When she arrives at Gallant, she finds no uncle waiting for her, but rather a raving cousin who wants her gone, two kind housekeepers — one of whom signs and can communicate with Olivia, who cannot speak — and a haunting mystery in the garden. Olivia’s life has always been haunted by ghouls no one else can see, and now, in this house, she sees ghouls she knows are family, and they all seem to be warning her away. With nowhere else to go, Olivia sets out to solve the house’s mystery. —Margaret Kingsbury

    Kiss & Tell

    by Adib Khorram

    It's tough to nurse a broken heart when you're in the public eye, especially as an openly gay boy band member, but it's a whole lot harder when your ex splashes the more intimate details of your history all over the news. Now everyone has an opinion on Hunter and the right way for him to perform his queerness for the masses — everyone except maybe Kaivan, the drummer in his opening band, and the one bright spot in all this. But even his new romance gets subject to both management and public opinion, and no matter what, Hunter's realizing he's never going to be able to make everyone happy. So maybe it's time he figures out what makes him happy. This thoughtful, nuanced rom-com touches on everything from sex, heartbreak, slut-shaming, racism, predators, and exploitation, for a well-rounded behind-the-scenes look at being marginalized and underage in the spotlight. —Dahlia Adler

    One For All

    by Lillie Lainoff

    I could not be more excited about this novel, the first traditionally published book with a main character with the same disability I have, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). The author also has POTS. Inspired by The Three Musketeers, the novel follows a group of girls who become the king's undercover musketeers in 17th century France. When Tania de Batz's father, a former musketeer, dies under mysterious circumstances, her mother sends her to what she believes is a women's finishing school in Paris. Having trained in swordsmanship with her father for most of her life, she's very disappointed in being sent to a women's school to learn manners. However, when she arrives at L'Académie des Mariées, she finds not a finishing school, but a secret operation where girls like Tania are trained to become musketeers. At first, her only goal is to discover who murdered her father and bring him to justice. However, as she learns more about the other three girls training to be musketeers, she begins to find the support and encouragement she's always longed for and deserved. Her fellow musketeers become more than just a backdrop to revenge; they become her family. This YA novel is an action-packed, enthralling adventure with both disability and lesbian representation. —Margaret Kingsbury

    A Thousand Steps Into Night

    by Traci Chee

    Chee’s newest YA fantasy takes place in a Japanese-inspired world filled with creatures from Japanese fairytales. Miuko is a serving girl at her father’s inn. She’s too loud, too clumsy, and too honest, and even though she knows all these things about herself, she can’t seem to change. Then one day, on the way to the village, she comes across a magical creature and is cursed. She’s slowly turning into a demon whose touch is deadly. She has to break the curse, and the only way to do so is to go on a quest that will have her confronting fox tricksters, demon princes, and evil gods. Readers will love Miuko’s vibrant character development and the fairytale setting. —Margaret Kingsbury

    From Dust, A Flame

    by Rebecca Podos

    Hannah's mom has always been a bit of a chaotic mystery, but she's been there. So when she disappears on Hannah's 17th birthday, just as a series of inexplicable body modifications start occurring to her daughter, Hannah and her brother are on their own to look for some answers. Following a clue that shows up at their door, Hannah discovers a family history she never expected, Jewish roots she never knew, and a girl who's willing to help her explore it all. But how much will she be willing to sacrifice to shed the curse that continues to afflict her? That's the question in this heartfelt page-turner about love, loss, family, tradition, and intergenerational trauma. —Dahlia Adler


    by Anna-Marie McLemore

    This lovely YA contemporary fantasy centers two neurodiverse, trans nonbinary, Mexican American teens. Bastián, who has ADHD, creates alebrijes (Mexican animal sculptures) to help calm their spinning thoughts and relieve their anxiety. However, their alebrijes come to populate Lakelore, the town’s lake, and form a magical landscape there. Lore, who has dyslexia, has just moved back to the town. They were once touched by the lake’s magic when they were a child after an incident with a bully. Lore’s family has moved after a violent incident that haunts Lore and causes them PTSD. When the lake’s magic explodes, and begins to haunt Bastián and Lore’s steps, the two must find a way to come to terms with their past traumas and embrace their unique ways of looking at the world. —Margaret Kingsbury

    The Moth Girl

    by Heather Kamins

    In this beautifully written YA novel about life with a chronic illness, Anna, a quiet girl who runs track and excels in school, is diagnosed with a rare fictional illness called lepidopsy after she passes out at a track meet and falls up instead of down. The illness causes moth-like symptoms, such as attraction to light and sugar cravings, but it also causes symptoms reminiscent of many chronic illnesses, like brain fog, fatigue, and pain. As she navigates frequent doctor visits, side effects from new medications, and her increasingly alarming condition, she experiences ableism from her family and friends who just don’t understand why she can’t be her old self anymore. Through the lens of a fictional illness, the novel depicts universal experiences of living with chronic illness. —Margaret Kingsbury

    Ready When You Are

    by Gary Lonesborough

    Jackson is an aboriginal teen enjoying the hot summer with his family on the Mish. When his aunty and cousins come to visit for Christmas, they bring Tomas, a mysterious boy with a troubled past, with them. As their friendship evolves, Jackson's own secret begins to bubble to the surface, and it becomes clear that this summer will change everything. —Rachel Strolle

    A Magic Steeped in Poison

    by Judy I. Lin

    A Magic Steeped in Poison introduces Ning, who is heading to the imperial city to participate in a competition to find the kingdom's greatest shennong-shi, masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making. For Ning, more is riding on the competition than just pride, as the winner gets a favor from the princess, one which might be the only chance for her to save her sister's life. And it's crucial she does so, because not only did they recently lose their mother to the same poisonous tea making her sister sick, but it was Ning that unknowingly brewed the poison. —Rachel Strolle

    The Lost Dreamer

    by Lizz Huerta

    This magical YA fantasy, inspired by ancient Mesoamerica, depicts a vivid, gorgeous world from two alternating perspectives. The Dreamer Indir has grown up in a matriarchal temple of dreamers, where their gift to interpret dreams and the future are honored. However, when the king dies, leaving his final dream to Indir, Indir loses her ability to enter the dream world, and when the king’s son arrives, he announces his intention to rid the dreamers of their power over the city. Meanwhile, Saya travels with her abusive mother from village to village, where her mother claims Saya’s magical powers as her own and uses them to heal and manipulate the villages they pass through. They’ve never stayed in one place for very long, but when a village woman takes Saya’s side and encourages and supports Saya to be her own person, Saya finds the courage to leave her mother. In doing so, she discovers new abilities as a dreamer and as a singer — a person whose voice is magical. I loved the audiobook narrated by Elisa Melendez and Inés del Castillo. —Margaret Kingsbury

    graphic novels and comics

    Messy Roots

    by Laura Gao

    Laura Gao's graphic memoir chronicles a coming-of-age journey, from early childhood in Wuhan, to immigrating to Texas, and to the beginnings of the current pandemic. Throughout it all, young Laura tries to navigate the distance from Wuhan and her family there, parental expectations, and the fluttery feelings emerging when around girls. —Rachel Strolle


    by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas

    Dynamite art, dynamic storytelling, and a driven heroine await you in this graphic novel. Bayt-Sajji is on the brink of war. Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a knight, and now she's finally able to enlist in the training program to become a Squire. But to do so, she'll have to hide the fact that she is a member of the Ornu people, who are considered second-class citizens. As she makes her way through training, she realizes that there is a difference between the reasons they are told they fight and the actual motives of the people at the top, and the greater good might not be as good as they claim. —Rachel Strolle

    Isla to Island

    by Alexis Castellanos

    A picture is worth a thousand words, and this nearly wordless, gorgeously illustrated, graphic novel is priceless. Marisol is a young girl living in 1960s Cuba. Though her home is vibrant and colorful, it is no longer safe. Her parents have made the difficult decision to send her away as part of Operation Pedro Pan, which airlifted thousands of Cuban minors to the U.S. Her new life in Brooklyn, by comparison, is cold, gray and unfamiliar. It is only through finding things that connect her to the things she loves that the color might return to her world. Alexis Castellanos uses color in this book in an absolutely masterful way, and this book will stick with you for a long time. —Rachel Strolle

    children's fiction

    Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa

    by Julian Randall

    Pilar Ramirez's world is shifting. Her Chicago neighborhood is gentrifying, and ever since her sister left for college, her chores have doubled. The one thing that hasn't changed, however, is the silence that surrounds the disappearance of her cousin Natasha, who vanished 50 years ago during the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Heading to the office of one of her sister's professors, who studies disappearances like her cousins, she discovers a folder with her cousins name on it...which sucks her into the blank page and to the island of Zafa. Zafa is filled with a variety of magical creatures and demons, but it also holds a magical prison where Natasha is being held. To reunite her family, she'll have to face El Cuco, the fearsome Dominican boogeyman. This middle-grade series starter is a magical adventure you'll never forget. —Rachel Strolle