November & December TBR: Prioritizing Backlist Releases & YA Books

Hello everyone, the year is slowly coming to an end and the last couple months of 2022 are finally here! It’s still the perfect weather for cozying up with a great book and catching up on that TBR before the year concludes. I’m glad to be chatting with you about the books that I’ve been putting off for sometime that in creating this post, hopefully will inspire me to read these that’ve been sitting on my ever-growing to-read list & we can cheer each-other on to complete those priority reads.

Here’s the TBR I’ve set for myself over the next handful of weeks to read & hopefully find time to review, with reads from debuts to favorite authors, even plenty of backlist books that I couldn’t find the right moment to get to. Being ever the mood reader, I think having this will offer me some sort of schedule to help me plan my ambitious to-read list. I’ll also be highlighting what drew me in about this book & why I’m so delighted to be reading it. Another inspiration for this list was reading posts from around the bookish community, like Caro from BookCheshireCat’s list of 2022 books she didn’t get to this year post!

One True Loves by Elise Bryant (Happily Ever Afters #2)
❥ YA Romance ― Jan. 4, 2022 ― Balzer + Bray (Harper Teen)

Summary: Lenore Bennett has always been a force. A star artist and style icon at her high school, she’s a master in the subtle art of not giving a . . . well, you know what. But now that graduation is here, she’s a little less sure. She’s heading to NYU in the fall with a scarlet U (for “undeclared”) written across her chest. Her parents always remind her that Black kids don’t have the luxury of figuring it out as they go—they have to be 110 percent prepared. But it’s a lot of pressure to be her ancestors’ wildest dreams when Lenore’s not even sure what her dreams are yet. When her family embarks on a post-graduation Mediterranean cruise, her friend Tessa is sure Lenore’s in for a whirlwind romance. But Lenore knows that doesn’t happen in real life. At least not to girls like her. Then she meets Alex Lee. After their parents bond over the Cupid Shuffle, she ends up stuck with him for the remainder of the cruise. He’s a hopeless romantic and a golden boy with a ten-year plan. In short, he’s irritating as hell. But as they get to know each other during the picturesque stops across Europe, he may be able to help her find something else she’s been looking for, even if she doesn’t want to admit it to herself: love.

Why: This year I’ve frankly, fallen back in love YA romances so nearing the end of 2021, I read Elise’s debut and found this to be such a heartfelt romcom. Even better, my sister @storiedshelves loved this book too, so we’re planning to buddy read One True Loves together before the end of the year. As someone who reads a lot of YA, it meant a lot that we could bond over this book together & the wonderful characters Elise’s created. Hopefully in time before Bryant’s third YA novel: Reggie & Delilah’s Year Of Falling, we’ll have this read!

Zyla & Kai by Kristina Forest

❥ YA Romance ― June 7, 2022 ― Kokila (Penguin Teen)

Summary: While on a school trip to the Poconos Mountains (in the middle of a storm) high school seniors, Zyla Matthews and Kai Johnson, run away together leaving their friends and family confused. As far as everyone knows, Zyla and Kai have been broken up for months. And honestly? Their break up hadn’t surprised anyone. Zyla and Kai met while working together at an amusement park the previous summer, and they couldn’t have been more different. Zyla was a cynic about love. She’d witnessed the dissolution of her parents’ marriage early in life, and it left an indelible impression. Her only aim was graduating and going to fashion school abroad. Until she met Kai. Kai was a serial monogamist and a hopeless romantic. He’d put a temporary pause on his dating life before senior year to focus on school and getting into his dream HBCU. Until he met Zyla. Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla and Kai’s perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up… Or did they?

Why: Any book Kristina Forest writes, I will definitely read! Earlier this year I caught up on her young adult releases with Now That I’ve Found You, which became an instant favorite. I’m very excited to meet Zyla, Kai and figure out the mysteries surrounding their senior year relationship! Of course I’ll also be checking out Kristina’s adult romance too (which is releasing in February).

Running by Natalia Sylvester

❥ YA Contemporary ― July 14, 2020 ― Clarion Books

Summary: When fifteen-year-old Cuban American Mariana Ruiz’s father runs for president, Mari starts to see him with new eyes. A novel about waking up and standing up, and what happens when you stop seeing your dad as your hero—while the whole country is watching. In this thoughtful, authentic, humorous, and gorgeously written novel about privacy, waking up, and speaking up, Senator Anthony Ruiz is running for president. Throughout his successful political career he has always had his daughter’s vote, but a presidential campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to sheltered fifteen-year-old Mariana and the rest of her Cuban American family, from a 60 Minutes–style tour of their house to tabloids doctoring photos and inventing scandals. As tensions rise within the Ruiz family, Mari begins to learn about the details of her father’s political positions, and she realizes that her father is not the man she thought he was. But how do you find your voice when everyone’s watching? When it means disagreeing with your father—publicly? What do you do when your dad stops being your hero? Will Mari get a chance to confront her father? If she does, will she have the courage to seize it?

Why: For years I’ve been meaning to pick up Natalia’s books & I love that Running not only follows a younger YA protagonist but also the familial relationships throughout the novel. I don’t often read political-focused contemporary stories but navigating this through a Latine / Cuban-American lens and overall sounds quite excellent!

This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi

❥ YA Contemporary ― October 13, 2020 ― Feiwel & Friends (Fierce Reads)

Summary: Rinn Olivera is finally going to tell her longtime crush AJ that she’s in love with him. Daniella Korres writes poetry for her own account, but nobody knows it’s her. Imogen Azar is just trying to make it through the day. When Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer, they’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author, and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with. And it will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.

Why: What has me so eager to pick this up is not only how much I’ve enjoyed keeping up with Aminah’s books, but the fact this is a book-related book (I love those!!)?? Not only do I also appreciate friendship-focused stories but this book sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun, seeing this group of friends save a bookstore over the course of a day.

Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories edited by Yamile Saied Méndez and Amparo Ortiz

❥ YA Horror ― September 6, 2022 ― Algonquin Young Readers

Summary: Fifteen original short stories from YA superstars, featuring Latine mythology’s most memorable monsters. From zombies to cannibals to death incarnate, this cross-genre anthology offers something for every monster lover. In Our Shadows Have Claws, bloodthirsty vampires are hunted by a quick-witted slayer; children are stolen from their beds by “el viejo de la bolsa” while a military dictatorship steals their parents; and anyone you love, absolutely anyone, might be a shapeshifter waiting to hunt. The worlds of these stories are dark but also magical ones, where a ghost-witch can make your cheating boyfriend pay, bullies are brought to their knees by vicious wolf-gods, a jar of fireflies can protect you from the reality-warping magic of a bruja—and maybe you’ll even live long enough to tell the tale. Set across Latin America and its diaspora, this collection offers bold, imaginative stories of oppression, grief, sisterhood, first love, and empowerment. Full contributor list: Chantel Acevedo, Courtney Alameda, Julia Alvarez, Ann Dávila Cardinal, M. García Peña, Racquel Marie, Gabriela Martins, Yamile Saied Méndez, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, Claribel A. Ortega, Amparo Ortiz, Lilliam Rivera, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Ari Tison, and Alexandra Villasante.

Why: It’s not often we have Latin-American focused anthologies in YA and aside from Reclaim The Stars (which I will definitely read next year), I felt inexplicably drawn in by the element of horror with this collection and recently got my library copy of this one, so I hope to pick it up sometime this month!

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (AGGGTM #2)

❥ YA Mystery ― April 30, 2020 ― Electric Monkey

Summary: Pip is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh. The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

Why: Having been unable to put down the first book in this series when I first read it, I’m so intrigued to see what happens on Pip’s journey next after solving her first case. The plot sounds like it’ll be full of intrigue, mystery & twists. You know me, I’m not much of a mystery reader but there’s something about the true crime, journalism elements of the opening novel that kept me reading till the very last page. I’ll admit, the hype for this series across other platforms (especially Booktok) has me compelled to complete the second and third books!

A Girl’s Guide To Love & Magic by Debbie Rigaud

❥ YA Contemporary ― July 26, 2022 ― Scholastic Press

Summary: Perfect for fans of The Sun Is Also a Star and Blackout, this YA novel from Debbie Rigaud is a celebration of Haitian and Caribbean culture, and a story of first love, vodou, and finding yourself, all set against the backdrop of the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. Cicely Destin, a Haitian American teen living in Brooklyn, loves the annual West Indian Day Parade that takes place in her neighborhood. The colors, clothes, tastes, sights, and sounds all celebrating Caribbean culture fill her with pride and joy. This year, the parade will be extra special: it falls on Cicely’s birthday, AND Cicely will get to hang out with her awesome aunt, Mimose, a social media influencer known for dabbling in Haitian vodou. But when Mimose’s dabbling becomes a little too real, and she seems to be possessed by a rogue spirit right before the parade, it’s up to Cicely, plus her best friend, Renee, and her crush (!), Kwame, to try to set things right. Cicely and her friends set off on a winding, thrilling scavenger hunt through Brooklyn to find the items that will undo the possession. But can Cicely help her aunt if she doesn’t fully realize her own powers just yet?

Why: Debbie’s become a favorite author of mine since her debut and the plot of this hooked me! I’ve been behind on so many books believe me, but I’d love to find time to pick this one up because there’s a certain charm to her novels that brings the characters to life from the opening pages.

Violet Made Of Thorns by Gina Chen

❥ YA Fantasy ― July 26, 2022 ― Delacorte Press (GetUnderlined)

Summary: A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove. 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.

Why: Look, YA fantasy is part of the brand here, but if there’s one blogger whose convinced me time after time to drop everything to read this book its my friend Michelle @MagicalReads7! Everytime she posted about this book I had to know more?! There’s just something about the dynamics of enemies to lovers that just compels you when its presented in fantasy novels! A morally grey witch, a cursed prince and somehow they become enemies?? sign me up! Hoping to read this one before the end of the year too, I’ve missed fantasy so much.

What books are you hoping to finish by the end of the year? Any backlist books that’ve been sitting on your TBR the longest that you want to get through perhaps in 2022 or 2023? 📚🎉


6 thoughts on “November & December TBR: Prioritizing Backlist Releases & YA Books

  1. ahh… I can’t believe it is getting close to the end of the year, eekk! But, best of luck with your reading plans! 🥰 I think going for books by authors that you’ve previously enjoyed is a good bet because if you enjoy a book, you tend to read it faster? I love that you are buddy reading with your sister, I hope you both enjoy One True Loves.
    I hadn’t heard of Our Shadows Have Claws before. Anthologies can sometimes be a hit or miss with me, but I think a horror selection would be interesting and I love that it is a Latin-American collection. Hope you love it!
    I’ve heard great things about Violet Made of Thorns too, fingers crossed!!


  2. Violet Made of Thorns is also on my TBR (I still have a Netgalley arc, oops) and I hope to get to it by the end of the year🤩


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