What's Up in YA

A Very Queer Halloween and More YA Book Talk: August 28, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

We have finally reached the end of the longest month of the year, and I, for one, could not be more excited. September, the best month of the year, launches this week and with it, so much promise. Even if it’s pretty much the same as every other month this year — full of ups and downs — it’s still better than August (sorry, August lovers).

Let’s dive into this week’s new releases. It’s a surprise double batch of new books to get excited about.

Speaking of new 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

library scented candle

Library Book Lover Candle by GraceBloomCo

One of the things I love about this time of year is how candles add the perfect touch of light in those early mornings and evenings. I’ve actually given up on lighting them for safety reasons (toddler + animals), but I use a candle warmer to enjoy the scent. This particular library-themed candle looks like one I might need: notes of leather, woodsmoke, and coffee. $20.

New Releases

Tuesday might be one of the biggest release days for YA this year (there have been a couple before and a couple to come). I’m going to highlight two here for your TBR, then talk about two more in the next section. This will give a nice look at how many different types of YA books are hitting shelves this week.

Want the entire roundup of new hardcover releases this week? The list is here!

her radiant curse book cover

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim

In this standalone fantasy, which the description notes “[weaves] together elements of The Selection and Ember in the Ashes with classic tales like Beauty and the Beast, Helen of Troy, and Asian folklore,” we meet twin sisters Channi and Vanna. Channi was offered to the Demon Witch by her father and cursed with the face of a serpent. Vanna doesn’t see her that way, even though Vanna is herself a sought-after beauty.

Now, Vanna is to be married off in a contest that will help make the rich village suitors even richer. Channi knows she has to save her sister from the cruelest fate — and she’ll have to go to battle to do it.

night of the living queers book cover

Night of the Living Queers edited by Shelly Page and Alex Brown

This anthology is at the top of my horror reading list for the season, as it is a collection of nothing but scary stories. And these aren’t just scary stories: they’re all written by and feature queer people. The stories are all led by a BIPOC teen and their experiences on Halloween night. The contributor list is rad, too, including Alex Brown and Shelly Page, Kalynn Bayron, Ryan Douglass, Sara Farizan, Maya Gittelman, Kosoko Jackson, Em Liu, Vanessa Montalban, Ayida Shonibar, Tara Sim, Trang Thanh Tran, and Rebecca Kim Wells.

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

New Graphic Novels This Week

It’s a huge new release week, and I don’t want to short-change some of the titles hitting shelves. Last week, we had a pair of nonfiction books worth giving space to, and this week, we’ve got a pair of graphic novels.

the hills of estrella roja book cover

The Hills of Estrella Roja written and illustrated by Ashley Robin Franklin

Speaking of queer horror, this one promises to be an unapologetic romp.

Kat Fields is a college freshman with a podcast that explores paranormal happenings in Texas. When she gets an email urging her to go investigate mystery lights in Estrella Roja, that’s what she decides she’ll do on her spring break.

Marisol “Mari” Castillo is heading to Estrella Roja, too, but she’s going for her abuela’s funeral. Mari doesn’t know anyone in town, and her family has no other ties to it. So a chance meeting with Kat at a local diner convinces her to help Kat with her show.

Together, they find each other unraveling secrets not only about the town’s mysteries but about one another.

the infinity particle book cover

The Infinity Particle written and illustrated by Wendy Xu

This story follows Clementine Chang, who moves from Earth to Mars and lands an amazing job with Artificial Intelligence pioneer Dr. Marcella Lin. During her first day of work, she meets Dr. Lin’s assistant, a humanoid AI named Kye. Quickly, Clem and Kye begin to work together, and there’s chemistry building between them. This does not make Dr. Lin happy, as Kye is asserting more and more independence, and Clem herself is confused since these feelings are changing how she thinks about AI altogether. If Kye can feel feelings, Clem wonders why he can’t control his own actions. 

So what does Clem do in this situation? What led her to Mars might be what helps her allow Kye to break free from his role as AI. 

Wendy does some of my favorite art, so I’m excited to immerse myself in this.

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

Until then, happy reading!

–Kelly Jensen, currently completely submersed in Whalefall by Daniel Kraus (I can see this being a real contender for an Alex Award this year!).