New Release Spotlight: June 2, 2020 (YA)

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Can you believe it’s June already? As weird as 2020 has been, it has certainly flown by! I’ve once again split the Spotlight into three lists: YA (Grades 7-12), middle grades (Grades 3-7), and picture books (all grades). This is the YA list, which looks pretty awesome! I added Burn, Again Again, My Calamity Jane, and Where We Go From Here to my endless TBR list.

As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. This week’s middle grade and picture book Spotlights are linked at the bottom of this post. All have been added to The Ginormous book list also!

*Again Again by E. Lockhart

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times–while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

Booklist and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: summer, addiction, parallel timelines, Jewish, scholarship students, private school, siblings, brothers and sisters, teens with jobs, dog walkers, class projects, academic probation

Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration–museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 6+
  • Themes: Little Women, writers, adulthood, New York, publishing industry, 19th Century, classic literature, spin-off

*Burn by Patrick Ness

On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron gas station for the dragon he’d hired to help on the farm…Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.

The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe. Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit–and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.

Multiple starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): fantasy, historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: dragons, poverty, outcasts, farming, Washington state, Cold War, 1950s, biracial protagonist, discrimination, racism, prophecies

*My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Welcome to 1876 America, a place bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou—better known as werewolves.

And where there are garou, there’re hunters: the one and only Calamity Jane, to be precise, along with her fellow stars of Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, Annie Oakley and Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler.

After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s talk of a garou cure. But rumors can be deceiving—meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.

This is a stand-alone companion to My Plain Jane and My Lady Jane. Booklist and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, supernatural
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Wild West, US history, werewolves, outlaws, Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Debut author! First book in a planned duology. For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts his younger sister, Nadia, as payment to enter the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic…requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a heart-pounding course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: siblings, magic, revenge, kidnapping, brothers and sisters, assassination plots, grief, murder of a parent, competitions, marriage, refugees, strong females

The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson

When Dean Arnault’s mother decided to run for president, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone, least of all her son. But still that doesn’t mean Dean wants to be part of the public spectacle that is the race for the White House—at least not until he meets Dre.

The only problem is that Dre Rosario’s on the opposition; he’s the son of the Democratic nominee. But as Dean and Dre’s meet-ups on the campaign trail become less left to chance, their friendship quickly becomes a romantic connection unlike any either of the boys have ever known.

If it wasn’t hard enough falling in love across the aisle, the political scheming of a shady third-party candidate could cause Dean and Dre’s world to explode around them.

Pair this one with Red, White, and Royal Blue. Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): romance, realistic fiction, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: US politics, US presidential elections, LGBT+, campaign trail, children of politicians

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers.

Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment. Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: Portland, Oregon, sirens, magic, powers, family problems, secrets, high school, African Americans, prejudice, racism, American Sign Language, sisterhood, best friends

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay–Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down…until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams…or make them come true?

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: LGBT+, poverty, black girls, Indiana, musicians, financial aid, scholarships, Prom, Prom queen, competition, being in the spotlight

Where We Go from Here by Lucas Rocha and Larissa Helena (Translator)

Debut author! Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV. Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative. Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.

When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can’t help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has–had–been dating. See, Henrique didn’t disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.

That’s when Victor meets Ian, a guy who’s also getting tested for HIV. But Ian’s test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and self-acceptance.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: AIDS, HIV+, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, LGBT+, drag queens, betrayal, friendship, homophobia, prejudice

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

Debut author! In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild.

Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: Paris, France, 19th Century, French Revolution, thieves, Les Misérables, Louis XVII, alternate history

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YOUNG ADULT):

 

MORE SPOTLIGHTS THIS WEEK:

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