What's Up in YA

Murder, Warrior Women, and More YA Book Talk: September 18, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

Shana Tovah to all of you who are in the midst of the High Holidays. May this be a sweet New Year.

This week’s YA book talk is a good one. We’re going to hang out in the present for a bit with our new books, then we’re going to travel back in time to solve some murders (maybe do some murders, too — hard to say).

But before we get there, did you know that Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive? During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler plus 5 mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required! (My piece for this month centers on the increase of book prices over the last 5 years, and previously, I wrote about the publishing power of Barbie!).

Bookish Goods

cozy notepad

Cozy Notepad by KellyLouUK

It is probably fair to say most of us do not NEED a new notepad but that is not to say we do not WANT one. This notepad has all of the fall bookish vibes you could ever want. $5.25.

New Releases

We’ve got two powerhouse books hitting shelves this week among so many other powerhouse books hitting shelves this week – seriously, it’s the season of abundance. You can tap here for the entire slate of new releases this week.

all the fighting parts book cover

All The Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr

Amina Conteh is a loud, proud 16-year-old who is not afraid to say what she needs to say. This…gets her in trouble, as she’s sent to volunteer at her family’s church with Pastor Johnson after cursing out a classmate.

But that pastor is not who people think he is, and when he sexually assaults Amina, she begins to shut down. Her grades fall, her once outspoken nature disappears, and she worries no one would support her if she told the truth. So when that pastor is arrested for another crime, can Amina find her voice and share what happened to her?

This debut novel written in verse takes on a huge, meaty contemporary topic. It’s being compared to Tiffany D. Jackson and to Elizabeth Acevedo.

champion of fate book cover

Champion of Fate by Kendare Blake

Welcome to the first book in a new duology by bestselling author Kendare Blake!

Aristene, the legendary order of mythical hero makers, are women warriors. Sure, the men may get credit for their heroics, but it is the Aristene who get them to that place.

Reed was orphaned as a child and was raised by the order. She’s now on the path to becoming initiated. All she needs to do is show her skills by helping her first hero succeed on the battlefield. Winning grants her entry. Losing will mean being kicked out of the only place she has ever known.

Reed’s hero-in-training is Hestion. He’s annoying, but also intriguing. As they prepare for their battle alliance, though, Reed and Hestion might be feeling something more than a strategic partnership. How can they navigate the roles they’re working toward with the feelings they cannot deny?

(Also, did you know it has been TEN YEARS since Blake’s debut, Anna Dressed in Blood? It feels like a blink of an eye – if you haven’t read it, you should!)

Riot Recommendations

I’d love to dig deep into this trend at some point, but I’ve not had the time or space to do so – at least not yet. There’s been a really fascinating rise in historical mysteries in the last year and into the coming year. It’s not the genre that’s interesting. Instead, it’s the setting: all of these historical mysteries are set in the 1920s and 1930s, an era rife for exploration in YA. It’s noteworthy, too, how many of these titles are by or about people of color, giving stories to people during this time that too often do not get centered in the era.

Let’s take a look at some of the recent releases, as well as take a peek at some to get on your TBR for the near future.

kill her twice book cover

Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee (April 23, 2024)

In 1932, Lulu Wong is queen of the silver screen and she is impossible not to recognize in the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles. She is their pride and joy. May, Gemma, and Peony Chow are major fans of the actress, who was their former classmate before her career exploded.

So when the sisters discover Wong’s body in a stable, they know something very, very bad has happened. The police are not interested in helping and refuse to believe that anything foul occurred. Indeed, the police and other government bodies across the city think this might be validation for their plan to demolish Chinatown to make way for a new train depot– the place must be corrupt.

The Chow sisters aren’t buying it and now, they’re going to solve this murder themselves. They’ll just need to keep themselves safe, as that killer is still on the loose.

a starlet's secret to a sensational afterlife book cover

A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife by Kendall Kulper

Henrietta is 18, ready to begin her life as a star in Los Angeles in 1934. No one believes she’ll make it but she’s gotten her lucky break. Now, she’s on a major publicity tour, with an actor the studio believes would make for a fine fake boyfriend while she’s promoting the film. The actor, Declan, is a brooder, but Henrietta thinks she has more in common with him than not. They’re both harboring some pretty big secrets. He’s got an immunity to injury, and she…can talk to ghosts.

When a beautiful actress goes missing, the two have to team up to solve the disappearance. Then, they uncover a whole lot more about Hollywood’s seedy underbelly…and themselves.

Kulper also published a mystery set in the 1920s last year you could add to this list called Murder for the Modern Girl.

suddenly a murder book cover

Suddenly A Murder by Lauren Muñoz

I’m fudging this one a tiny bit and only because the setting is not precisely the 1920s, but it is set during a 1920s-themed party. It fits the theme.

Izzy Morales, her best friend Kassidy, and five more of their friends are going to celebrate the end of high school by attending a 1920s-themed party at a fancy manor called Ashwood. All seems well until Kassidy’s boyfriend is found dead, and now the police are saying that he was murdered at the event.

Every one of the attendees is now a suspect. None can leave the Manor until the killer is found.

Will any of them get out alive?

Thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Thursday with your YA paperback releases this week, as well as your YA book news.

Until then, happy reading!

–Kelly Jensen, currently reading Family Style by Thien Pham