I can’t believe it’s already July! We’re starting the month with a lot of new YA titles and a less-than-normal number of picture book and middle grade titles. I have split this week’s Spotlight into two lists so that the YA books don’t overwhelm the elementary titles. The link to the elementary and middle grade list is at the bottom of this post.
ABOUT THE SPOTLIGHT
The New Release Spotlight began in May 2016 as a way to help librarians keep up with the many new children’s and YA books that are released each week. Every Tuesday, school librarian Leigh Collazo compiles the New Release Spotlight using a combination of Follett’s Titlewave, Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. Recommended grade levels represent the range of grade levels recommended by professional book reviewers.
The titles on this week’s list are #803-#813 on The Ginormous book list.
Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight. Only problem? Duke can’t vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months door-belling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right.
And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Kirkus and Booklist starred.
- Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance
- Recommended for: Grades 7+
- Themes: voting rights, democracy, elections, discrimination, racism, African Americans, grief, death of a sibling, civic participation, interracial relationships
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
SLJ and Booklist starred. It’s also a Junior Library Guild Selection.
- Genre(s): dark fantasy, fairy tales
- Recommended for: Grades 6-12
- Themes: princesses, poison, twins, siblings, demons, confinement, monsters, curses, Persian mythology, feminist retellings
Jacaranda Abbott has always tried to keep her mouth shut. As a foster kid, she’s learned the hard way that the less she talks about her mother and why she’s in jail, the better. But when a video of Jacaranda singing goes viral, a mysterious benefactor offers her a life-changing opportunity–a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school to study musical theater. Eager to start over somewhere new, Jacaranda leaps at the chance. She pours her heart out in emails to the benefactor she’s never met.
Suddenly she’s swept up in a world of privilege where the competition is fierce and the talent is next level. As Jacaranda–Jackie to her new friends–tries to find her place, a charming boy from this world of wealth catches her eye. She begins to fall for him, but can he accept her for who she really is?
- Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance
- Recommended for: Grades 8-12
- Themes: foster teens, mother in prison, singers, viral video, scholarships, boarding school, theater, social class, competition, epistolary, teens with jobs, secrets, family problems
Debut author! Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring…maybe even stifling, since she’s being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.
Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna’s father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that’s not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn’t kill Mandy–it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.
Now Johanna has to sort through it all–the return of her absentee father, her grandparents’ lies, her part in her mother’s death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?
- Genre(s): realistic fiction
- Recommended for: 8-12
- Themes: death of a parent, absent parents, living with grandparents, shooting accidents, family secrets, forgiveness, grief, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Baptists, bullying
All These Monsters, book 1. Seventeen-year-old Clara is ready to fight back. Fight back against her abusive father, fight back against the only life she’s ever known, and most of all, fight back against scrabs, the earth-dwelling monsters that are currently ravaging the world. So when an opportunity arises for Clara to join an international monster-fighting squad, she jumps at the chance.
When Clara starts training with her teammates, however, she realizes what fighting monsters really means: sore muscles, exhaustion, and worst of all, death. Scrabs are unpredictable, violent, and terrifying. But as Clara gains confidence in her battle skills, she starts to realize scrabs might not be the biggest evil. The true monsters are the ones you least expect.
- Genre(s): science fiction, thriller, action-adventure
- Recommended for: Grades 8-12
- Themes: abusive parent, monsters, fighters, Atlanta, Georgia, Paris, France, #metoo
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there? The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
This is one of those books where the professional reviewers disagree. It’s Booklist starred, but the Kirkus isn’t positive. The author also wrote Wilder Girls, which received wide praise from professional reviewers but has only a 3.58 Goodreads rating. I struggled with Wilder Girls (only read about half).
- Genre(s): mystery
- Recommended for: Grades 9-12
- Themes: family, home, LGBT+, Nebraska, creepy stories, rural areas, grandparents, family secrets
Jonathan Lambshead stands to inherit his deceased grandfather’s overstuffed mansion―a veritable cabinet of curiosities―once he and two schoolmates catalog its contents. But the three soon discover that the house is filled with far more than just oddities: It holds clues linking to an alt-Earth called Aurora, where the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley has stormed back to life on a magic-fueled rampage across a surreal, through-the-looking-glass version of Europe replete with talking animals (and vegetables).
Swept into encounters with allies more unpredictable than enemies, Jonathan pieces together his destiny as a member of a secret society devoted to keeping our world separate from Aurora. But as the ground shifts and allegiances change with every step, he and his friends sink ever deeper into a deadly pursuit of the profound evil that is also chasing after them.
This one clocks in at 632 pages! Hand it to fans of Reeve’s Railhead (2015). A Peculiar Peril is the first book in a planned duology. Booklist starred.
- Genre(s): fantasy
- Recommended for: Grades 7-Adult
- Themes: curiosities, inheritance, alternate worlds, multiverse, magic, talking animals, Europe, good versus evil
New girl and secret witchl Iris just wants to get through her first day of school without a panic attack. The last thing she expects is to be taken in by a coven of three witches-soft-spoken Greta, thoughtful and musical Ridley, and fiery and spirited Binx. They may be the first witches Iris has met IRL, but their coven is not alone in their small northwestern town.
The Triad is the other coven at their school. When the Triad’s not using spells to punish their exes or break up happy couples for fun, they practice dark magic. The two covens have a rivalry stretching all the way back to junior high.
When tragedy strikes and one of their own is murdered, the rival covens must band together to find out who is responsible before it’s too late. Someone’s anti-witch ideology has turned deadly…and one of them is next.
- Genre(s): mystery, supernatural
- Recommended for: Grades 7+
- Themes: new student in school, anxiety, witches, covens, magic, rivalry, murder, Washington state, diverse characters
What does it mean to resist? Throughout US history, discrimination and unjust treatment of all kinds have prompted people to make their objections and outrage known. Some protests involve large groups of people, marching or holding signs with powerful slogans. Others start with quotes or hashtags on social media that go viral and spur changes in behavior. People can make their voices heard in hundreds of different ways.
This is a visual voyage of resistance through American history. Discover the artwork, music, fashion, and creativity of the activists. Meet the leaders of the movements, and learn about the protests that helped to shape the United States from all sides of the political spectrum. Examples include key events from women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, occupations by Native American nations, LGBTQ demands for equality, Tea Party protests, Black Lives Matter protests, and more.
- Genre(s): nonfiction
- Recommended for: Grades 9+
- Themes: activism. protest, LGBT+, #BLM, Black Lives Matter, women’s suffrage, voting rights, civil rights, Native Americans, discrimination, racism, prejudice, US history
Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove.
So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly…
When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her.
But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school.
- Genre(s): adventure, romance
- Recommended for: Grades 8-12
- Themes: superheroes, designer drugs, ability to fly, orphans, grandmothers, body image, teens with jobs, animal shelters, LGBT+
Flora Calhoun has a reputation for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. After stumbling upon a classmate’s body years ago, the trauma of that discovery and the police’s failure to find the killer has haunted her ever since. One night, she gets a midnight text from Ava McQueen, the beautiful girl who had ignited Flora’s heart last summer, then never spoke to her again.
Just in time to witness Ava’s death from a gunshot wound, Flora is set on a path of rage and vengeance for all the dead girls whose killer is never found. Her tunnel-visioned sleuthing leads to valuable clues about a shocking conspiracy involving her school and beyond, but also earns her sinister threats from the murderer. She has a choice: give up the hunt for answers, or keep digging and risk her loved ones’ lives. Either way, Flora will regret the consequences. Who’s next on the killer’s list?
- Genre(s): mystery, thriller
- Recommended for: Grades 7-12
- Themes: detectives, murder, gun violence, LGBT+, vengeance, high school
THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YOUNG ADULT):