New Release Spotlight: February 19, 2019

I’m back at school this week after two fabulous, restful weeks off. For the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on our middle school Battle of the Books, which is coming up in mid-March.

Congratulations to Shawna S from Colorado for winning last week’s New Release Giveaway! Shawna chose Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks as her prize. There’s a new giveaway this week, so be sure to enter at the bottom of this post!

I’ve found 14 new releases this week, pretty evenly distributed among the grade levels. Nothing sticks out to me as a must-have this week except maybe the Shaun David Hutchinson title for YA. A Place for Pops looks like an interesting companion to books like Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, and I love that “Granddad” and “Pops” are an elderly gay couple.

NOTE: Titles start with YA and go down in age to picture books at the end. Scroll to the bottom for sequels. Titles highlighted in purple are those that received two or more starred professional reviews.

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Tarot (Marissa Kennerson)

Born of a forbidden union between the Queen and the tyrannical King’s archnemesis, Anna is forced to live out her days isolated in the Tower. To pass the time, Anna imagines unique worlds populated by creatives and dreamers and weaves them into four glorious tapestries. But on the eve of her sixteenth birthday and her promised release from the Tower, Anna discovers her true lineage: She’s the daughter of a powerful magician, and the King is worried that his magical gifts are starting to surface in Anna.

PAGES: 275
GENRES: fantasy, romance
THEMES: magic, family secrets
READALIKES: The Red Queen (Aveyard), Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper (Pierce)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “She also devotes more energy to the mildly steamy “tropical island romance” subplot than the larger conflict—which she summarily and abruptly resolves. The cards predict a larger audience of romance than fantasy fans.” (Kirkus, 1 Dec 2018)

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The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried
(Shaun David Hutchinson

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly–and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead. As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.

PAGES: 305
GENRES: Supernatural? It sounds pretty realistic except for the zombie character
THEMES: LGBT+, friendship
READALIKES: Denton’s Little Deathdate (Rubin), They Both Die at the End (Silvera)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Gender, sexuality, friendship, life, and death are all sensitively explored in Hutchinson’s surreal, fresh narrative.” (Booklist starred review, 15 Oct 2018)

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Just for Clicks (Kara McDowell)

Mommy blogs are great…unless the blog happens to belong to your mom. Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much.

PAGES: 353
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: vlogging, blogging, online personas, twins
READALIKES: Can’t Look Away (Cooner), Girl Online (Zoe Sugg)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Breezy and fresh meditation on privacy and relationships in the internet age, with a likable protagonist who would rather code than braid her hair for a fashion vlog.” (Kirkus, 15 Oct 2018)

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Immoral Code (Lillian Clark)

Debut author! For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s,” it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones,” like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT–but the student loan she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father–one Robert Foster–is loaded. Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals.

PAGES: 313
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: hackers, stealing, heists
READALIKES: Enter Title Here (Kanakia), Heist Society (Carter)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Although the plot is a page-turner, the heist itself is less interesting than the nuanced friendship dynamics at play.” (Kirkus, 15 Nov 2018)

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The Great Unknowable End (Kathryn Ormsbee)

Set in 1977. Stella dreams of being a space engineer. After Stella’s mom dies by suicide and her brother runs off to Red Sun, the local hippie commune, Stella is forced to bring her dreams down to earth to care for her sister, Jill.

Galliard has only ever known life inside Red Sun. There, people accept his tics, his Tourette’s. But when he’s denied Red Sun’s resident artist role, which he believed he was destined for, he starts to imagine a life beyond the gates of the compound…

PAGES: 401
GENRES: historical fiction, magical realism
THEMES: communal living
READALIKES: Tash Hearts Tolstoy (Ormsbee), Mosquitoland (Arnold)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Drive-in showings of Star Wars, the dawn of the punk-rock explosion, the final days of Son of Sam’s reign of terror, and the death of Elvis are just some of the events firmly grounding the story in reality.” (Kirkus, 15 Dec 2018)

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The Art of Losing (Lizzy Mason)

On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her boyfriend, Mike, hooking up with her younger sister, Audrey. Furious, she abandons them both. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her now ex-boyfriend has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons.

PAGES: 336
GENRES: realistic fiction, romance
THEMES: sisters, grief, alcohol abuse, drunk driving accidents
READALIKES: Girl Made of Stars (Blake)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The interwoven stories of many kinds of love-between friends, sisters, and possible romantic partners-give this well-paced book a depth that makes it more than just another recovery tale.” (Publishers Weekly, 19 Nov 2018)

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The Afterward (E.K. Johnston)

It’s been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought home the gem are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity don’t come easily.

Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn’t meant for heroism so early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she’s earned, reputation doesn’t pay her bills. Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.

PAGES: 337
GENRES: fantasy
THEMES: F-F romance, magic, strong heroines
READALIKES: Pawn of Prophecy (Eddings), Exit, Pursued By Bear (Johnston)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Plot action, divided into “Before” and “After,” could initially make readers wonder if the book is a sequel, but the structure becomes clear after a few chapters. ” (SLJ starred review, 1 Feb 2019)

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The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away (Ronald L. Smith)

Twelve-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens. The ones who take people and do experiments. When he’s too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens–dark and foreboding. Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role-playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?

PAGES: 224
GENRES: adventure, thriller
THEMES: aliens, camping
READALIKES: See You in the Cosmos (Cheng), Hoodoo (Smith)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An eerie and layered tale with a main character to which young readers will relate, but with a less than satisfactory ending that may spoil the overall effect for some.” (SLJ, 1 Nov 2018)

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Good Enough (Jen Petro-Roy)

Before she had an eating disorder, twelve-year-old Riley was many things: an aspiring artist, a runner, a sister, and a friend. But now, from inside the inpatient treatment center where she’s receiving treatment for anorexia, it’s easy to forget all of that. Especially since under the influence of her eating disorder, Riley alienated her friends, abandoned her art, turned running into something harmful, and destroyed her family’s trust. If Riley wants her life back, she has to recover. Part of her wants to get better. As she goes to therapy, makes friends in the hospital, and starts to draw again, things begin to look up.

PAGES: 270
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: eating disorders, anorexia, friendship
READALIKES: Perfect (Friend), Tyranny (Fairfield), Everything I Know About You (Dee)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Petro-Roy, an eating disorder survivor, offers an intimate and realistic portrayal of Riley’s destructive thinking patterns as well as her victories and setbacks.” (Publishers Weekly, 19 Nov 2018)

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Marsh & Me (Martine Murray)

Joey wants more than anything to talk to someone about music, to be a part of the group. But he’s so shy, something always seems to get in the way. He escapes to a secret place on a hill, until one day he discovers that a strange girl has invaded the hill–and built a fort that looks like a spaceship. The hill is the one place he can be himself, so Joey decides he needs to stake his claim. He confronts the girl, whom he calls Marsh (short for Martian), and finds that she has been busy in her little makeshift “spaceship,” building an imaginary world.

PAGES: 171
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: music, immigration, friendship
READALIKES: Eggs (Spinelli), Blackbird Fly (Kelly), The Other Side of Summer (Gale)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Give this to fans of Wonder looking for a short read.” (SLJ, 1 Jan 2019)

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Jed and the Junkyard Wars (Steven Bohls)

Debut author! Jed is a regular kid with a normal, loving family…that is, if it’s normal for a loving family to drop their child off in the middle of nowhere and expect him home in time for Sunday dinner. Luckily, Jed excels at being a regular kid who-armed with wit and determination-can make his way out of any situation. At least until the morning of his twelfth birthday, when Jed wakes to discover his parents missing. Something is wrong. Really wrong. Jed just doesn’t realize it’s floating-city, violent-junk-storm, battling-metals, Frankensteined-scavengers kind of wrong.

PAGES: 298
GENRES: fantasy, science fiction
THEMES: automata, garbage-as-currency
READALIKES: Coraline (Gaiman), The Key (Grant)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Although the story bogs down somewhat during its chaotic middle chapters, the cliffhanger ending will keep readers eager for the next installment in this planned duology.” (Publishers Weekly, 10 Oct 2018)

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A Plan for Pops (Heather Smith, ill. by Brooke Kerrigan)

Lou spends every Saturday with Grandad and Pops. They walk to the library hand in  hand, like a chain of paper dolls. Grandad reads books about science and design, Pops listens to rock and roll, and Lou bounces from lap to lap. But everything changes one Saturday. Pops has a fall. That night there is terrible news: Pops will be confined to a wheelchair, not just for now, but for always.

GENRES: picture book
THEMES: change, grandparents, disability
READALIKES: Last Stop on Market Street (de la Peña), Drawn Together (Lê, Santant)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A positive and realistic representation of both a wheelchair user and an elderly, interracial gay male couple.” (Kirkus, 1 Dec 2018)

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Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story
(Lasley Matthew, ill. by Souva Jacob)

Inspired by the true story of Felix Pedro, a prospector who launched one of the richest gold rushes in Alaska’s history. Pedro and his pan go on an exciting adventure together–to strike gold! They hike mountains, whack through bushes, and wade through streams as they sift through dirt and gravel in search of the hidden nuggets just waiting to be found.

GENRES: picture book
THEMES: Alaska history, gold rush
READALIKES: If You Were a Kid During the California Gold Rush (Gregory, Attia), Recess at 20 Below (Aillaud)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “While the book is sure to appeal to educators, especially those teaching about the various gold rushes in western American history, the amusing adventures of Pan and Pedro hold broad appeal for read-alouds with many and varied audiences beyond the classroom.” (Kirkus, 15 Dec 2018)

This week’s sequels (YA):

This week’s sequels (Middle School):

This week’s sequels (Elementary and Picture Books):

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This list also appears on my New Releases–Weekly Board on Pinterest:


  • I am adding some of these to my order list. Especially, Good Enough. I think my kids would read the heck out of it. Thanks for doing this! I get great ideas for new buys here.


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