What's Up in YA

Family Ghosts, Winter Holiday Reads, and More YA Book Talk: November 28, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

I hope you had a great weekend and that you’re ready to wrap up another month. It’s hard to believe December is almost here, but when I look back at my reading from the year, I am also not surprised, as things I read in March and April feel like they happened twelve years ago. Time! It’s bizarre.

Let’s dive into this week’s new books and highlight a handful of wonderfully romantic winter holiday reads.

Bookish Goods

Image of a keychain that says "I heart bookshops."

Bookshop Lovers Enamel Keychain by ziziandme

Love a good bookshop? Same. Carry that love around with you with this gold-plated enamel keychain. I dig all of the details on this one, including the sweet lil kitty in the window. $14.

New Releases

Let’s look at two hardcover books hitting shelves this week. You can find the rest of this week’s new releases in the fall roundup of new hardcovers.

cover of house of yesterday by deeba zargarpur

House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur

Looking for a book that is mostly realistic except there are ghosts? Look no further.

Sara comes from a large Afghani-Uzbeck family, but she’s feeling alone after the divorce of her parents. Her dad’s started dating someone new, and making things more awkward is the fact that her dad and mom still work together in their house flipping business. Sara’s recruited as part of their work to take photos of the before and after.

The newest project, Sumner, is not giving great vibes. Sara begins to see a ghost of her grandmother, then the ghost of a strange little girl. No one else is seeing this, and she can’t capture it on camera. Her grandmother, who struggles with memory, has been having strange conversations about having another child none of her family seems to know about. Are these comments and what Sara’s seeing related?

This is an immersive story about family, about history, and about the stories and choices immigrants sometimes have to make in order to build a new life.

never ever getting back together book cover

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

Maya and Skye are both recruited for a reality TV show, wherein they’re competing to win back the adoration of their ex-boyfriend Jordy. Jordy, brother to royalty, has captured the spotlight in his new country as an eligible bachelor, and this show is a way to really play into the public’s interests in him.

Here’s the problem: Jordy cheated on Maya with Skye, and now, the two girls are sharing the same room during the show. Maya is angry and mean toward Skye, who has no idea what she’s done to draw Maya’s ire. But as Maya opens up, she and Skye begin to develop a bond that no guy — not even someone as eligible as Jordy — could break.

And there just might be a lot of kissing and hijinks involved.

This is a fun bisexual romcom, packed with absurd situations that make it an easy, delightful read. You’re going to root for the girls and be so glad they get their HEA.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Looking for a winter holiday read with a healthy helping of l-o-v-e? Here are some titles you’ll want to pop onto your TBR.

eight nights of flirting book cover

Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds

Shira’s plan for Hannukah? Get a boyfriend. She’s hoping to finally catch the eye of Isaac, her great uncle’s assistant. The problem is that Hannah has no idea how to flirt or how to get the attention of another person romantically. That’s when Tyler — a boy Hannah once had a crush on but is now kind of her nemesis — enters. He offers to teach her how to flirt in exchange for helping him make some connections for a future career.

Only problem? Once they’re snowed in together, they might begin throwing out the plan and falling for each other.

I'm dreaming of a wyatt christmas book cover

I’m Dreaming of a Wyatt Christmas by Tiffany Schmidt

Noelle is a 14-year-old dancer who is excited about the prospect of attending a dance academy — but it might be out of the budget and out of reality with a single father whose business hasn’t yet started to thrive. Noelle is also a babysitter and she’s been given the chance to attend a week-long ski vacation with a client family as a means of babysitting the youngest child when he’s not up for the activity. It’s good money, it’s time away, and even though it conflicts with all of her favorite Christmas traditions, she knows things are not going to be what they used to be before her mom died. Her dad’s attention and presence has been waning, so she might as well stash some cash for potentially going to the dance academy (one hitch: she hasn’t told her dad yet).

Enter Wyatt.

He’s the stepson of the family Noelle is babysitting and her deep crush. He’s a dancer, too, and a student at the academy. When he shows up as a surprise on the ski trip, it’s with a secret: he wants to leave the dance academy. It’s no longer his dream or passion. While he and Noelle are not immediately smitten, feelings do develop…as does Noelle’s understanding of what it is SHE’S passionate about, too, and it might not be the future she once saw for herself.

rent-a-boyfriend book cover

Rent-A-Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Chloe hires Andrew to come with her at Thanksgiving and play the role of her boyfriend. She hopes to convince her parents that she’s found a good person to be with who isn’t the boy her parents have been attempting to arrange her with. But while building a collection of lies begins to weigh heavily on Chloe over the next few months, those told to her parents, told to her by her parents, and those she wrestles with when it comes to Real Feelings she develops for her rental boyfriend.

It’s the fake dating trope woven into a story of generational cultural differences, balancing the cute and humorous with some good meat on the bone. You’ll get to experience a nice range of winter holidays in this one, including Chinese New Year.

whiteout book cover

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nicola Yoon, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nic Stone

Set right before Christmas, this collaborative story is sure to get you in the mood for all things winter, snow, and maybe even a little love.

12 teens are out to help a friend make a giant apology, but then, Atlanta is struck by a snowstorm. Will they be able to make it happen? This is a sweet winter romance told through several voices, perspectives, and, of course, packed with feelings.

There are a number more I could have included here, including one of my favorite YA romances 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (being set up by your extended Sicilian family over Christmas break and having to endure some pretty wild dates leads to a fun read). If you’re itching for more, check out this roundup of 2022 YA holiday romances by Emily Martin from earlier this month.

I’m grabbing a cup of hot chocolate now to curl up with a sweet read and I hope you are too.

See you later this week!

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters