What's Up in YA

Not Your Grandma’s Holly Hobbie: YA Book Talk, August 14, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

August is the November of summer, isn’t it? You’re kind of in a weird holding pattern between seasons, trying not to let one season be wished away while also eager to start fresh in a new one. For anyone working or attending school, August is either back to school or preparing for back to school, which doesn’t help.

One thing that maybe does help? Books. Because books can help any time, can’t they?

Let’s have some fun this week and talk about two exciting — and very different — new books and then hit the high seas.

Looking for even more books? Delighting velocireaders since 2017, Book Riot’s New Release Index will keep you in the know about all the latest books. New books for days. Subscribe today — you won’t be able to read them all, but it’s fun to try! 

Bookish Goods

annotation kit

Annotation Kit by ChelsisBookshelfShop

I am not a big annotation person when it comes to reading, but I know it’s become hugely popular among so many readers. This handy little annotation kit is perfect if you love to make notes and mark passages as you go. Choose your color palette and get paper tabs, a highlighter, highlighting strips, and a guide to all things annotation. $10.

New Releases

It’s another great week of new releases. Here are two very different ones, and you can check the entire list of YA hardcover releases on the site.

holly horror book cover

Holly Horror by Michelle Jabès Corpora

This is the first in a horror series and it is a haunted Holly Hobbie story. Evie’s parents have divorced and moving to Ravenglass, Massachusetts, is what she hopes will help realign her life. Unfortunately, that hope doesn’t last long, as Evie discovers people call her new home the Horror House, as it is where Holly Hobbie disappeared.

But has Holly really vanished? That’s hard to say, as Evie experiences several weird happenings, odd shadows, and eerie situations that lead her to believe that the girl is still there. She’s just taken on a different form.

forgive me not book cover

Forgive Me Not by Jennifer Baker

YA books about the juvenile justice system are still too far and few between and they remain some of the ones I find stick with me. I’m so looking forward to Baker’s debut which sounds like a knockout.

Violetta made a mistake driving drunk and causing a crash that killed her sister. It’s not just grief she’s dealing with; she’s incarcerated and now, her future lies in the hands of her family. If they forgive her, she can get out of the system.

But they won’t forgive her.

Now she has two options: she can remain in the juvenile justice system for some untold amount of time or she can participate in the Trials, which would help her get out again. The Trials are a challenge, but she knows that enduring them will allow her to see her family again and seek their forgiveness.

In the end, though, Violetta has to decide whether their grief and forgiveness are more important than honoring and coping with her own grief…and forgiving herself.

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

Ahoy, Matey!

It is International Pirate Month and what better way to celebrate than with some YA pirate books? We’ve written about pirates several times before, so this is primarily some of the newer pirate offerings out there in the YA world.

Some of these pirates arrrrrr(e) going to be good. Some of them not so good. That’s the beauty of pirate lit.

Let’s set sail.

cover of a clash of steel by c.b. lee

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

Part of the “Remixed Classics” series, Lee’s contribution to these reimagined classics is a fresh exploration of Treasure Island. The story, set in 1826 in the South China Sea, follows Xiang and Anh, two girls determined to unlock a legendary treasure on the water. Bonus: this is a queer retelling packed with adventure — something that YA doesn’t quite have enough of today.

in deeper waters book cover

In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens

Prince Tal grew up sheltered away, keeping his forbidden magic hidden, and now, he’s finally on the long-awaited tour of his family’s kingdom. Two days into the coming-of-age tour, though, he finds his first adventure: there’s a prisoner on a burning and abandoned vessel.

The prince is responsible for keeping an eye on Athlen, the prisoner they’ve pulled aboard. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes. But when Athlen dives overboard, Prince Tal suddenly feels responsible. Athlen might die at sea.

So Tal is, of course, surprised to run into Athlen when he is back on land. Maybe they’re meant to be together in some capacity. It’s fate, right?

Wrong. Tal’s been taken prisoner by pirates who are determined to find out what his rumored secret powers are in order to take down the kingdom.

isles of the gods book cover

The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman

Selly’s been ditched by her father at the port of Kirkpool, but she’s not going to stay put this winter. Instead, she’s going to follow her dad…and that seems to be a thing she is capable of, until a handsome prince hops aboard her ship and takes over. He needs to arrive on the Isle of the Gods unseen to perform a ritual. Selly is not happy about this, and she refuses to give in to this prince’s demands, even though he is extremely easy on the eyes.

It seems like it won’t be a terrible cruise, except for their bickering. But then it turns very dangerous, very quickly, and both the prince and Selly need to use their skills to fend off a couple of gods who are awakening from a deep slumber.

This is the first in a new series.

The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall 

This story follows an orphan-turned-pirate who falls in love with Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a high-born imperial daughter, aboard the Dove. The problem, besides their differing classes? Evelyn is being sent to the Floating Islands in an arranged marriage…at least, she was until the ship’s captain decides to take all of the wealthy passengers captive.

If you love magic, the high seas, and characters who refuse to live by the rules of their social class, this one’s for you.

a pirate's life for she book cover

A Pirate’s Life for She: Swashbuckling Women Through the Ages by Laura Sook Duncombe 

Let’s take a leap into some nonfiction. This YA nonfiction title offers an array of real lady pirates throughout history. There are 16 different lady pirates showcased, highlighting the realities of their lives on the high seas. Get to know historical pirates from Alfhild to Cheng I Sao, Grace O’Malley, and more.

Want more? You’ll love these 8 other YA pirate reads.

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

Until then, happy reading!

–Kelly Jensen