What's Up in YA

Cold Reads + A Little More Than Magic: YA Book Talk, January 29, 2024

Hey YA Readers!

My favorite holiday is later this week, and for the first time in several years, the weather looks to be spectacular for prognostication. Will Willie see his shadow on Friday or not? Honestly, it’s hard for me to care thinking about 50 degrees in early February after this last, err, month of nonsense.

Whether or not you care about the big rodent’s day, I do know you’re here for books, and that, I’ve got in spades!

2024 is the tenth year of the Read Harder Challenge! Join us as we make our way through 24 tasks meant to expand our reading horizons and diversify our TBRs. To get book recommendations for each task, sign up for the Read Harder newsletter. We’ll also keep you informed about other cool reading challenges, readathons, and more across the bookish internet. If you become a paid subscriber, you get even more recommendations plus community features, where you can connect with a community of passionate, like-minded readers in a cozy and supportive corner of the internet. Sign up today!

Bookish Goods

round purple sticker that sys "book it alumni."

Book It! Alumni Sticker by SGBagTags

Tap the nostalgia button for a moment with this fun vinyl “Book It! Alumni” sticker. It’ll look great on your water bottle, your planner, or the paper journal you keep to track your reading. $4.

New Releases

We’ve got a roster of great new books on shelves this week. I’m going to highlight two very different ones below, and as always, you can check out the entire list here.

poemhood book cover

Poemhood: Our Black Revival: History, Folklore & the Black Experience: A Young Adult Poetry Anthology by Amber McBride, Erica Martin, Taylor Byas

Beginning with the knockout cover, this book promises to be nothing short of the kind of collection of Black poetry—both contemporary and historical—that YA readers deserve. Among some of the contributors are Kwame Alexander, James Baldwin, Ibi Zoboi, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and the poems dive into the Black experience.

these deadly prophecies book cover

These Deadly Prophecies by Andrea Tang

Tabatha Zeng is the apprentice to one of the world’s most well-known sorcerers. Though it’s been an interesting job, she definitely wasn’t anticipating how much crime-solving the role would require. So when her boss predicts his own death and that prediction comes true, Tabitha is one of the prime suspects, along with the sorcerer’s youngest son, Callum.

Tabitha and Callum want to prove their innocence and team up to get to the bottom of the murder. But can Tabitha actually trust this guy?

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

To Antarctica

Do you have settings and places that you are obsessed with? I’m assuming most of us do, whether it’s someplace real or imagined. A lot of mine tend to be very cold places, and I assume part of it is because it makes me feel better about how temporary it is in my neck of the woods (even though winter does sometimes feel 6 months long).

Antarctica is probably my favorite setting to read about, and indeed, I love every video that hits my TikTok For You page of folks on a cruise to the big white continent.

I ended my 2023 reading year with a book set in Antarctica that releases in a couple of weeks and it made me think about some other books set in the region. Let’s head south to the southernmost pole, where, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, we can revel in their summer (okay, it’s still cold, but we can imagine).

a suffragist's guide to the antarctic book cover

A Suffragist’s Guide to the Antarctic by Yi Shun Lai (Feb 13)

This book has everything: a historic setting, the Suffragist movement, a girl on an Antarctic exposition, and a survival story.

Clara Ketterling-Dunbar is part of The Resolute, a team of 28 crew members on an Antarctic exposition. It is November 1914, and the ship is stuck on ice 100 miles from the continent. How will the team survive? How will Clara figure out who she is amid a crew who is not necessarily happy there is a woman on board?

As a heads up: this book has sexual assault and harm to animals–the first is not unpunished, and the second is not out of gross cruelty but survival.

If you love survival, discussions of feminism and what it does or does not entail, and reading about the perceptions held by people around the globe about Americans in this era, don’t miss this one.

up to this pointe book cover

Up To This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

Harper thought she knew her entire life and had a plan with her best friend: they’d been ballerinas forever. When they graduated, they’d get positions in the San Francisco Ballet, a loft downtown, and they’d live their dreams. Together.

Things don’t turn out that way, though, which is how Harper ends up in Antarctica. It was some string-pulling and some creative truth-telling that got her there, but it’s an opportunity to rethink her future. To make plans and unmake some, too.

it looks like us book cover

It Looks Like Us by Alison Ames

One of the largest tech companies in the world is sponsoring an internship for teens to study climate change in Antarctica. Riley Kowalski jumps at the chance, along with three others. Riley hoped it could be a restart, as she’d had a very public panic attack at school and could not escape the ridicule of classmates.

But when the teens get to the research station, they don’t seem to be alone. Riley thinks she sees something, but she can’t be sure. Her anxiety can play tricks on her.

As their research leader experiences some bizarre physical changes, though, the teens are realizing that there is something out there and it wants to take them down.

Another YA book that offers some Antarctica is the third book in Marie Lu’s “Legend” series, Rebel.

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

Until then, happy reading!

–Kelly Jensen