The year of 2021 is not over just yet, but that just means there’s even more time to prep our 2022 to-read lists, which are filled with tales of epic magic, romcoms, the paranormal, mystery and much more!
I’m delighted to be bringing 25+ Young Adult releases onto your radar! These all sound fantastic and with many of these books, I’ll be sharing a bit of my own personal thoughts on why I’m looking forward to them as well (Hopefully I will mange to coherently put my thoughts together alongside my endless gushing about how excited I am to read these 😌💖)
Enjoy perusing the list and share with me which AOC’s Young Adult releases you’re as hyped to read as I am! 📚✨
The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman (The Ivory Key Duology #1)
Summary: Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology. Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic. Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power. They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good.
Not often do I see magical fantasy books with siblings at its center. They each have their own agendas and secrets, so I’m intrigued to see how they’ll work out this quest. Also the author herself has pitched the novel as an “Indiana Jones-esque” adventure with secret societies, puzzles + ciphers!
Required Reading For The Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee
Summary: Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sites were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no? Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face-to-face with microagressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then, Clive Wilmington’s statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale’s most popular student and son to a local prominent family. Soon, Savannah is unearthing the hidden secrets of Wooddale’s racist history. But what’s the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale’s past cost Savannah her own future?
I first heard about this book after seeing J. Elle qrt the cover and am always eager for more college-set YA.
Lulu And Milagro’s Search For Clarity by Angela Velez
Summary: Overachiever Luz “Lulu” Zavala has straight As, perfect attendance, and a solid ten-year plan. First up: nail her interview for a dream internship at Stanford, the last stop on her school’s cross-country college road trip. The only flaw in her plan is Clara, her oldest sister, who went off to college and sparked a massive fight with their overprotective Peruvian mom, who is now convinced that out-of-state-college will destroy their family. If Lulu can’t fix whatever went wrong between them, the whole trip—and her future—will be a waste. Middle sister Milagro wants nothing to do with college, or a nerdy class field trip. Then a spot opens up on the trip just as her own Spring Break plans (Operation: Lose Your Virginity) are thwarted, and she hops on the bus with her glittery lipsticks, more concerned about getting back at her ex than she is about schools or any family drama. But the trip opens her eyes about possibilities she’d never imagined for herself. Maybe she is more than the boy-crazy girl everyone seems to think she is. On a journey from Baltimore all the way to San Francisco, Lulu and Milagro will become begrudging partners as they unpack weighty family expectations, uncover Clara’s secrets, and maybe even discover the true meaning of sisterhood.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book for quite some time, not only is it a new Latinx debut, but also a novel about sisterhood with a life-changing road trip? The excitement is real!
Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie
Summary: Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to. So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.
Okay as you may or may not know, before being a blogger I was an avid watcher of booktube and didn’t know of many latina booktubers until I remember discovering Rocky’s (aka BlondeWithABook) channel and loved hearing her talk about so many latine/latinx reads! Its so awesome to see her publishing a book and I can’t wait to meet Ophelia!
Only A Monster by Vanessa Len (Monsters #1)
Summary: It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place. But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down. As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . . . . she is not the hero.
Its obviously incredibly tough to narrow down all my absolute must-reads of the new year, but I’ve gotta say Len’s takes the top spot. We’ve got a monster girl, a monster hunter and a magical contemporary-fantasy London setting? Sign me up! Incredibly honored to have gotten an arc of this one EARLY *scream, you can expect a review of this one over the next couple months and an author interview!
The Turning Pointe by Vanessa L. Torres
Summary: A bold and emotionally gripping novel about a teenage Latinx girl finding freedom through dance and breaking expectations in 1980s Minnesota. When sixteen-year-old Rosa Dominguez pirouettes, she is poetry in pointe shoes. And as the daughter of a tyrant ballet Master, Rosa seems destined to become the star principal dancer of her studio. But Rosa would do anything for one hour in the dance studio upstairs where Prince, the Purple One himself, is in the house. After her father announces their upcoming auditions for a concert with Prince, Rosa is more determined than ever to succeed. Then Nikki–the cross-dressing, funky boy who works in the dance shop–leaps into her life. Weighed down by family expectations, Rosa is at a crossroads, desperate to escape so she can show everyone what she can do when freed of her pointe shoes. Now is her chance to break away from a life in tulle, grooving to that unmistakable Minneapolis sound reverberating through every bone in her body.
Something about me as a reader I never realized until recently is that I LOVE ballet books and I don’t actually know that much about the sport, but anytime a YA Contemporary mentions it as a main subject of the story, onto my tbr it goes. Also so many Latinx debuts, my HEART!
Daughters Of A Dead Empire by Carolyn Tara O’Neil
Summary: Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war—the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible—not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna’s offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war. Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now—regardless of her loyalties—Evgenia is too. Daughters of a Dead Empire is a harrowing historical thriller about dangerous ideals, loyalty, and the price we pay for change. An imaginative retelling of the Anastasia story.
Love a good historical reimagining! I’m 99% percent sure there’s a galley of this in my inbox and I’m eager to dive in.
The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta
Summary: Indir is a Dreamer, descended from a long line of seers; able to see beyond reality, she carries the rare gift of Dreaming truth. But when the beloved king dies, his son has no respect for this time-honored tradition. King Alcan wants an opportunity to bring the Dreamers to a permanent end—an opportunity Indir will give him if he discovers the two secrets she is struggling to keep. As violent change shakes Indir’s world to its core, she is forced to make an impossible choice: fight for her home or fight to survive. Saya is a seer, but not a Dreamer—she has never been formally trained. Her mother exploits her daughter’s gift, passing it off as her own as they travel from village to village, never staying in one place too long. Almost as if they’re running from something. Almost as if they’re being hunted. When Saya loses the necklace she’s worn since birth, she discovers that seeing isn’t her only gift—and begins to suspect that everything she knows about her life has been a carefully-constructed lie. As she comes to distrust the only family she’s ever known, Saya will do what she’s never done before, go where she’s never been, and risk it all in the search of answers. With a detailed, supernaturally-charged setting and topical themes of patriarchal power and female strength, Lizz Huerta’s The Lost Dreamer brings an ancient world to life, mirroring the challenges of our modern one.
I’ve had yet to see a fantasy novel set in an ancient Mesoamerican-inspired setting plus another astounding premise about seers defying the patriarchy from a Latina author? Hyped!
Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas
Summary: Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It’s the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program. It’s not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the “greater good” that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined.
Originally this was supposed to be released in 2021, but now having waited over a year the utter excitement and anticipation for this graphic novel has not left for a second! Its set in a world based on the historical Middle East and according to co-author / illustrator Sara Alfageeh’s tweet its also a “critical view of imperialism.”
Blood Scion by by Deborah Falaye (Blood Scion #1)
Summary: This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created. Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods. Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within. Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.
What first drew me to this book was of course the epic cover, but also I love how the summary doesn’t give away too much…leaving you wanting to know more (am very intrigued)!
A Magic Steeped In Poison by Judy I. Lin (The Book Of Tea #1)
Summary: I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.” For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu. When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life. But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.
When it comes to a drink of choice, mine is definitely tea and so when I saw a book centered around a magical tea-making competition how could I not read it?
Perfect Score by Angelica Monai
Summary: It’s time to HUNT A KILLER in this YA mystery series based on the bestselling subscription game! In the world of Hunt A Killer, players help PI Michelle Gray solve murders through a variety of games using clues from autopsy reports to police records, and more. Now, Hunt A Killer is making the leap to the page in this YA mystery series! Follow an original character as she investigates a brand-new case. Can she solve the crime before the killer strikes again? When aspiring PI Jolene Kelley witnesses her high school guidance counselor fall in front of a train, she’s the only one who believes his death wasn’t an accident.
A little known reader fact about me is that I don’t often dive into YA Mysteries as much as I should. So of course as I was putting together this list of reads and I came across this one, it just had to be on this list. When I was researching more into the actual plot and learned its also based off a company that makes true crime / mystery games, that sounded very cool leaving me interested to see what happens.
Flirting With Fate by J.C. Cervantes
Summary: Ava Granados will never forgive herself for being late to her beloved Nana’s deathbed. For generations, blessings have been passed to the women in her family upon death, but due to a freaky flash flood that left Ava in a fender bender with a mysterious boy, she arrived seconds too late to for Nana’s blessing—instead, all she gets is the wash of regret on her sisters’ faces. Until Nana pops up with a challenge from beyond the grave. As it turns out, Nana did give Ava a blessing, but it missed, landing with the boy from the night of the storm. If Ava can’t straighten out the mistake, Nana will linger as a ghost forever, which she’s not exactly excited about. To help her on her quest, Ava will have her two older sisters and Nana’s rather bumbling spiritual guide, Medardus, who is, of all things, the patron saint of teeth. For solitary Ava, being asked to befriend some random boy is the last thing she wants to do. She’s gotten along just fine being wary and protecting her heart; keeping people at a distance is a great way to ensure no one ever hurts you. But as Ava and the gang embark on their mission to retrieve Nana’s blessing, she starts to wonder if what she might gain by getting close to thunderstorm boy is worth the risk.
A Latina YA magical romcom, YES! Everything about this summary I approve of. I’m most excited for the sisterly bonds, adorable romance of course and the familial bonds as a whole between the sisters and their Nana. Hello, this book sounds perfect and I need a copy of it in my hands right now!!
This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves
Summary: Enrique “Quique” Luna has one goal this summer—get over his crush on Saleem Kanazi by pursuing his other romantic prospects. Never mind that he’s only out to his best friend, Fabiola. Never mind that he has absolutely zero game. And definitely forget the fact that good and kind and, not to mention, beautiful Saleem is leaving L.A. for the summer to meet a girl his parents are trying to set him up with. Luckily, Quique’s prospects are each intriguing in their own ways. There’s stoner-jock Tyler Montana, who might be just as interested in Fabiola as he is in Quique; straight-laced senior class president, Ziggy Jackson; and Manny Zuniga, who keeps looking at Quique like he’s carne asada fresh off the grill. With all these choices, Quique is sure to forget about Saleem in no time. But as the summer heats up and his deep-seated fears and anxieties boil over, Quique soon realizes that getting over one guy by getting under a bunch of others may not have been the best laid plan and living his truth can come at a high cost.
A bisexual latino / Chicano trying to get over his best friend during a life-changing summer in LA? Yes, this book just sounds great and based on the summary it also looks like it’ll focus a lot on friendship to which I can’t wait to read more about.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers drawing attention for her killer eyeliner, not for being the new kid at a mostly white, very rich, Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way. After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend, she could use the fresh start. At Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: make her mom proud, keep her brother out of trouble, and most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami. The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And talented. And confident. And cute. So cute. Yami isn’t sure if she likes Bo or if she’s just jealous of her unapologetic nature. Either way, she isn’t ready to make the same mistake again. If word got to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?
Trying to go into Reyes debut without much knowledge to keep myself surprised. However, I do know it follows Yamilet starting at a new Catholic school and tries not to fall in love, but of course things will not turn out as she expects! The cover, the premise, this looks like an absolutely delightful contemporary and so happy to see more Latinx YA!
Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda
Summary: Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Maggie Gonzalez has always been a little messy, but she’s okay with that. After all, she has a great family, a goofy group of friends, a rocky romantic history, and dreams of being a music photographer. Tasked with picking an escort for her little sister’s quinceañera, Maggie has to face the truth: that her feelings about her friends—and her future—aren’t as simple as she’d once believed. As Maggie’s search for the perfect escort continues, she’s forced to confront new (and old) feelings for three of her friends: Amanda, her best friend and first-ever crush; Matthew, her ex-boyfriend twice-over who refuses to stop flirting with her, and Dani, the new girl who has romantic baggage of her own. On top of this romantic disaster, she can’t stop thinking about the uncertainty of her own plans for the future and what that means for the people she loves. As the weeks wind down and the boundaries between friendship and love become hazy, Maggie finds herself more and more confused with each photo. When her tried-and-true medium causes more chaos than calm, Maggie needs to figure out how to avoid certain disaster—or be brave enough to dive right into it.
First heard about this one after seeing the cover on Twitter and am beyond hyped for all the Latinx debuts ahhh!! Love that it centers around a Quince plus looks like there’s gonna be lots about romance, friendship and yes need this one right now!
Deep In Providence by Riss M. Neilson
Summary: For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches over the city, every corner of Providence glows with memories of them practicing spells, mixing up potions and doing séances with the help of the magic Miliani’s Filipino grandfather taught her. But when Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver, the world they have always known is left haunted by grief…and Jasmine’s lingering spirit. Determined to bring her back, the surviving friends band together, testing the limits of their magic and everything they know about life, death, and each other. And as their plan to resurrect Jasmine grows darker and more demanding than they imagined, their separate lives begin to splinter the bonds they depend on, revealing buried secrets that threaten the people they care about most. Miliani, Inez and Natalie will have to rely on more than just their mystical abilities to find the light.
I actually had the wonderful opportunity to reveal the cover to this debut over at The Booked Shelf which was super exciting, hadn’t known about this debut until Neilson had contacted me and the summary left me captivated! I love stories that bring together the magical and contemporary, plus adding in friendship and other themes, this one looks like it will be a moving read.
Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle
Summary: Prince Jones is the guy with all the answers—or so it seems. After all, at seventeen, he has his own segment on Detroit’s popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, where he dishes out advice to the brokenhearted. Prince has always dreamed of becoming a DJ and falling in love. But being the main caretaker for his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and his little brother means his dreams will stay just that and the only romances in his life are the ones he hears about from his listeners. Until he meets Dani Ford. Dani isn’t checking for anybody. She’s focused on her plan: ace senior year, score a scholarship, and move to New York City to become a famous author. But her college essay keeps tripping her up and acknowledging what’s blocking her means dealing with what happened at that party a few months ago. And that’s one thing Dani can’t do. When the romantic DJ meets the ambitious writer, sparks fly. Prince is smitten, but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. She gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for. Three dates for the love expert to take his own advice, and just maybe change two lives forever.
A DJ who gives relationship advice and a writer who hates all things romance?? Ever since reading more of them, I realize I love stories where one of the main characters is a writer! Also, for someone who doesn’t read a whole lot of romance I sure do love adding them to my tbr.
The Darkening by Sunya Mara (The Darkening #1)
Available through The Book Depository
Release Date: July 5, 2022
Summary: Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate. Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic. Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers. Even cheat her way into his cold heart. But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.
Before reading the synopsis, I was intrigued by the pretty cover and now I love that its symbolic of the story after looking more into it. The world sounds so interesting ( a city trapped within a storm) and I desperately want to know more about these characters (a paranoid prince and a daughter of failed revolutionaries?), need to read this!
This Place Is Still Beautiful by XiXi Tian
Available through The Book Depository
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Summary: Despite having had near-identical upbringings, sisters Annalie and Margaret agree on only one thing: that they have nothing in common. Nineteen-year-old Margaret is driven, ambitious, and keenly aware of social justice issues. She couldn’t wait to leave their oppressive small-town home and take flight in New York. Meanwhile sweet, popular, seventeen-year-old Annalie couldn’t think of anything worse – she loves their town, and feels safe coasting along in its confines. That is, until she arrives home one day to find a gut-punching racial slur painted on their garage door. Outraged, Margaret flies home, expecting to find her family up in arms. Instead, she’s amazed to hear they want to forget about it. Their mom is worried about what it might stir up, and Annalie just wants to have a ‘normal’ summer – which Margaret is determined to ruin, apparently. Back under each other’s skins, things between Margaret and Annalie get steadily worse – and not even the distraction of first love (for Annalie), or lost love (for Margaret) can bring them together. Until finally, a crushing secret threatens to tear them apart forever.
Haven’t looked into the synopsis for this one but I do know it’ll really focus on two sisters, their bond and identity, which caught my attention.
Fireworks by Alice Lin
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lulu Li has her last summer before college all planned out. But her plans go awry when she learns that Kite Xu, her old next-door neighbor and childhood friend, will be returning home from South Korea. Lulu hasn’t seen Kite since eighth grade, after he left the country to pursue a career in K-pop, eventually debuting in the boy group Karnival. When Karnival announces that Kite will be taking a break from K-pop activities for mysterious reasons, the opportunity to rekindle their friendship arises. Star-struck and nostalgic, Lulu tries to reconnect with Kite. As they continue to bond and reminisce over the past, Kite’s sister, Connie, warns Lulu not to get too close to her brother. The harder Lulu tries to deny her feelings, the stronger they get. But how could a K-pop star ever fall for a nobody from home? And even if he did, is there any way for their relationship to end but badly?
I actually just learned about this one not too long ago as I was researching more debuts for this post and am so happy to see more YA Romcoms coming! There’s a childhood friend who returns and happens to be a K-Pop star, rekindling friendship and possibly something more. Also isn’t the cover so cute?
The Charmed List by Julie Abe
Available through The Book Depository
Release Date: July 5, 2022
Summary: After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia. But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.
Although I have yet to read Julie Abe’s delightful middle grade books, I’ve realized that my new favorite sub-genre is magical romcoms and mix that with a summer road-trip? This sounds amazing.
Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin
Available through The Book Depository
Release Date: July 19, 2022
Summary: Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana. Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.
Pitched as a Sapphic Filipino-inspired YA Fantasy, what drew me to this novel was the setting. Based on the summary I interpreted there’ll be a forest setting (which I enjoy) and deeper plot points I’m interested in diving into also!
Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min
Summary: A tender best friends to enemies to lovers story with AAPI leads, celebrating first love, second chances, indie rock, and transitions of all kinds. Santi has only had his heart broken one time, and it was all his fault. When he accidentally leaked his internet best friend Memo’s song, and it became an overnight hit, Memo disappeared—leaving their song’s cult fame, and Santi, behind. Three years later, Santi arrives in Los Angeles with a mission: get over the ghost of Memo. Thankfully, his new school and its wildly-talented Sunshower marching band welcome him with open arms. All except for his section leader, the prickly, proud, musical prodigy Suwa. After a disastrous first encounter, Suwa makes Santi’s life a living hell. But when Santi realizes Suwa is trans, then Suwa realizes Santi takes his identity in stride, both boys begin to let their guards down. Santi learns Suwa’s surliness masks a painful, still-raw history of his own, and as they open up to each other, their friendship quickly takes on the red-hot blush of a mutual crush. Just as Santi is feeling settled in this new life, with a growing found family and a head-over-heels relationship with Suwa, he begins to put together the pieces of an impossible truth—that Memo and Suwa might just be one and the same. But their fragile fresh start threatens to rip apart at the seams again when Suwa is offered the chance to step into the spotlight he’s owed, but has always denied himself. Now, as each of them faces the future, Santi and Suwa must finally reckon with their dreams, their pasts, and the boy who always seems to appear right at the wrong time.
I was just captivated by this novel through the summary alone. There’s a sense of nostalgia from reading the synopsis, perhaps its because in high school I too got into indie music / indie rock, but pair that with a storyline also focusing on romance and friendship? Cannot wait to check this one out!
The Witchery by S. Isabelle
Summary: THE HAUNTING SEASON IS HERE AND THE WOLVES ARE AWAKE. Haelsford, Florida is a Hellmouth. Or at least, that’s what Logan, a baby witch struggling to control her powers, thinks as she arrives to the witchtown to begin the new school year at Mesmortes Coven Academy. She is immediately taken under the wing of the infamous Red Three. Iris is a deathwitch who wants nothing more than to break the town’s curse; Jailah is one of the most powerful witches at the academy but her thirst for power may lead her down a dark path; and Thalia, the talented greenwitch, is on the run from her religious family and a past that still haunts her. Fear and prejudice still fuel the uneasy truce between humans and witches who are forced to work together when the Haunting Season begins and Wolves rise from the swamp to feed. With this approaching, two Hammersmitt boys prepare to make their first sacrifices to the witches in exchange for protection. But as they become involved with the Mesmortes witches’ plan to end the Wolves’ reign of terror once and for all, old dangers lie in wait. The cost to break the curse may be greater than any witch or human could ever know.
I haven’t read many witchy books, but what drew me to this one was the idea of a witch academy, girls with their own secrets and wolves? I must know more!
Violet Made Of Thorns by Gina Chen
Summary: Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it. But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus. Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.
The author mentioned this novel features: an antiheroine seer and golden boy prince with a love/hate trainwreck of a romance, now look I don’t read many antihero books but this sounded like something right up my alley.
How To Date A Superhero (And Not Die Trying) by Cristina Fernandez
Available through The Book Depository
Release Date: August 2, 2022
Summary: Falling for a superhero is dangerous. You have to trust that they’ll catch you. Astrid isn’t a superhero, not like the ones she sees on the news, but she has something she thinks of as a small superpower: she has a perfect sense of time. And she’s not going to waste a single second. Her plan for college is clear—friends, classes, and extracurriculars all carefully selected to get her into medical school. Until Max Martin, a nerdy boy from her high school, crashes back into her life. Things with Max were never simple, and he doesn’t keep to her schedule. He disappears in the middle of dates and cancels at the last minute with stupid excuses. When a supervillain breaks into her bedroom one night, Astrid has to face the facts: her boyfriend, Max Martin, is a superhero. Double-majoring as a premed was hard, but now Astrid will have to balance a double life. This wasn’t part of her plan.
This concept brilliantly plays with the idea of a typical superhero stories and I ADORE that? An ordinary girl tries to survive college after realizing her boyfriend is a superhero? What more can I say honestly? NEED!
The Undead Truth Of Us by Britney S. Lewis
Available through The Book Depository
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Zharie Young is absolutely certain her mother morphed into a zombie before her untimely death, but she can’t seem to figure out why. Why her mother died, why her aunt doesn’t want her around, why all her dreams seem suddenly, hopelessly out of reach. And why, ever since that day, she’s been seeing zombies everywhere. Then Bo moves into her apartment building—tall, skateboard in hand, freckles like stars, and an undeniable charm. Z wants nothing to do with him, but when he transforms into a half zombie right before her eyes, something feels different. He contradicts everything she thought she knew about monsters, and she can’t help but wonder if getting to know him might unlock the answers to her mother’s death. As Zharie sifts through what’s real and what’s magic, she discovers a new truth about the world: Love can literally change you—for good or for dead.
Something that always leaves me disappointed about zombie stories is when there’s not a whole lot of explanation to the mystery. What drew me to Lewis’s novel was that its a big part of the story and I’m so intrigued to figure out more.
What are some forthcoming YA Debuts by AOC’s your excited to read in 2022? 📚✨