What's Up in YA

Queer Romance, A Supernatural Borderland, and More YA Book Talk: July 17, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

I took the weekend to get out of town and do one of the things that sounds like it doesn’t exist but does: went peach picking in Illinois. We have a county in the state that lies wholly surrounded by water, the Mississippi River on one side and the Illinois River on the other. Because of this, it has a unique microclimate amenable to peaches — and when I say the peaches are good, I mean they are GOOD.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with books, the answer is I learned about the place through books. Boom.

Psst: What do S.A. Cosby, Khaled Hosseini, Sarah Bakewell, and Yahdon Israel have in common? They’ve been guests on Book Riot’s newest podcast, First Edition where co-founder Jeff O’Neal explores the wide bookish world. Subscribe to hear them and stay to hear Book Riot’s editors pick the “it” book of the month.

Bookish Goods

four different styles of book page holder

Seasonal Book Page Holder by shopviktoriaus

If you’re a print reader, you might find the use of a book page holder either fun or convenient or necessary. Maybe you’ve got a collection or you’re ready for your first. In either case, how about a seasonally-themed one? I love the butterfly one here, but all of the four options are solid. Starting at $6.

New Releases

Let’s take a peek at two books hitting shelves today in hardcover you’ll want on your radar. One features a creepy motel and a Sapphic romance, while the other includes a mystery virus, a walled city, and some forbidden love.

Want the whole list of today’s new releases in YA? I’ve got you!

a guide to the dark book cover

A Guide to the Dark by Meriam Metoui

Mira and Layla are on a road trip visiting colleges when they find themselves stranded. They get a room at the Wildwood Motel and nothing seems out of the ordinary for room 9. Layla’s actually kind of charmed with its weirdness and thinks it’ll be great for photographs.

Except this is no ordinary hotel room. It’s watching them. And when the girls — who are struggling with their own feelings for one another — learn that eight people have died in the room before, they want to learn what is connecting those deaths with the weird things happening around them.

Will they survive long enough to do that, though?

under this forgetful sky book cover

Under This Forgetful Sky by Lauren Yero

St. Iago’s walls are armored as a means of protecting people from the Union of Upper Cities from a dangerous environment outside. This is where Rumi Sabzwari grew up. But now Rumi’s father has been infected with a virus by rebels, and he’s got to escape in order to hope to find a cure for his dad.

Paraíso is the ruined city where Rumi lands, and he finds himself in the care of a guide named Paz. She might be from a tough place, but they’re connecting with one another.

Except Paz is not letting on all that she might know about Rumi’s father and his illness. Their cities do not get along, and now Rumi wonders if they can ever truly be together or be truthful with each other.

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

New In Comics

How about a bonus new release section today? There are two comics that are also hitting shelves today that look fabulous. As a bonus, you can grab them in any preferred format, be it hardcover, paperback, or digital, as they’re all releasing simultaneously.

Apologies to my librarian who reads this newsletter and will probably be hearing some requests from me soon! You can extend that apology to your librarians, too.

firebird book cover

Firebird by Sunmi

If you’re in the mood for a queer Asian American romance told through a gorgeous two-color palate, you’re in luck.

Caroline Kim isn’t loving sophomore year, but that starts to change when she is given the opportunity to tutor a senior named Kimberly Park-Ocampo. Kim is everything Caroline wishes she could be: comfortable in her sexuality and popular among both the rich kids and the “not cool” kids.

Their tutoring becomes more than that quickly. They’re hanging out all of the time. So what happens when it begins to feel like more than a friendship? Is this worth pursuing or is it better kept at bay?

frontera book cover

Frontera by Julio Anta, illustrated Jacoby Salcedo

Much as he tries to fly under the radar, Mateo is caught by the Border Patrol on his trip from Mexico to the U.S. through the Sonoran Desert. He decides to take an even bigger risk and escape — now he’s lost in a desert without a clue where he’s going and without necessary water to help him survive.

Then he meets Guillermo. Guillermo is…not a person but a ghost. Mateo never believed in ghosts, but now he has no choice. What harm can it do, given the situation in which he finds himself? Guillermo’s experience helping people find their way through the desert is going to be an asset, but throughout, Mateo wonders at what cost.

Not only does the story look phenomenal, but the art does, too.

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Thursday for your paperback releases and your YA book news.

Until then, happy reading!

–Kelly Jensen, currently listening to The Art Thief on audio, which has some good YA appeal for fans of bloodless true crime.

Also if you’ve made it this far, I launched my own personal substack to slowly offboard from the sinking Twitter ship. You can give me a follow there if you’d like more!