What's Up in YA

Your YA Book News and New Books: February 25, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

We’re rounding out the second month of 2021 already, if you can believe it. The YA world has some great news and, of course, some great books for your shelves this week.

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus (paperback)

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie (paperback, series)

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

The Desolation of Devil’s Acre by Ransom Riggs (series)

Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard

Dragonfly Girl by Marti Leimbach

Girls With Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young (series, paperback)

How To Change Everything by Naomi Klein and Rebecca Stefoff (nonfiction)

The How and The Why by Cynthia Hand (paperback)

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju (paperback)

Like Home by Louisa Onome

Mazie by Melanie Crowder — if you like historical fiction, this is an utter GEM.

The Missing Passenger by Jack Heath

Prepped by Bethany Mangle

Rebelwing by Andrea Tang (paperback)

The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith

Some Other Now by Sarah Everett

The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina (paperback)

The Truth App by Jack Heath (paperback)

The Valley and The Flood by Rebecca Mahoney

YA Talk at Book Riot

Wear your love for all things young adult with this fun keychain. $15.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again on Monday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

Thanks again to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Some Other Now for making today’s newsletter possible!

What's Up in YA

What’s Your Name? 2021 YA Book Titles With Full Names

Hey YA Readers!

I’ve been SO fascinated with how book titles have shifted over the last decade+. For a while, we had the single-word title. Then we had titles with a specific cadence to them (“Blank, Blank, and Blank Blank,” for example). Fantasy titles like the “Noun and Noun of Noun” structure. We’ve seen more than those, of course, and one that’s caught my attention the last few years is the YA book title with a full name in it.

The full name on the YA book title trend peaked in about 2019, though it still continues today. Personally, I love it. It gives such a different feel than a book with a person’s role (i.e., “The Chemist’s Daughter” — this is totally made up). You get to know the character immediately.

Back in 2019, I created a Goodreads list of books that fell into this title trend, and though I haven’t updated it, others have. It’s not a small list by any means. For those who work in libraries or classrooms, this would make such a fun book list or display for readers.

Let’s take a look at some of the 2021 YA books that offer us a full name in the title. Descriptions come from Amazon, as I’ve only read one of these so far.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her?

Because it’s time people did.

The Forgotten Memories Of Vera Glass by Anna Priemaza (11/9)

Vera has a nagging feeling that she’s forgetting something. Not her keys or her homework; something bigger. Or someone. When she discovers her best friend Riven is experiencing the same strange feeling, they set out on a mission to uncover what’s going on. Everyone in Vera’s world has a special ability, a little bit of magic that helps them through the day. Perhaps someone’s ability is interfering with their memory? Or is something altering their very reality? Vera and Riven intend to fix it and get back whatever or whomever they’ve lost. But how do you find the truth when you can’t even remember what you&;re looking for in the first place? The Forgotten Memories of Vera Glass is a cleverly constructed, heartbreaking, and compelling contemporary YA novel, with a slight fantasy twist about memory, love, grief, and the invisible bonds that tie us to each other.

How Moon Fuentez Fell In Love With The Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (8/10)

When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin (10/12)

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

The Love Song of Ivy K. Harlowe by Hannah Moskowitz (6/1)

Ivy K. Harlowe is a lot of things.

She’s my best friend.

She’s the center of attention.

She is, without fail, the hottest girl in the room. Anytime. Anyplace.

She has freckles and dimples and bright green eyes, and with someone else’s energy she’d be adorable. But there is nothing cute about Ivy. She is ice and hot metal and electricity.

She is the girl who every lesbian wants, but she has never been with the same person twice. She’s one-of-a-kind but also predictable, so I will always be Andie, her best friend, never Andie, her girlfriend.

Then she meets Dot, and Ivy does something even I would have never guessed―she sees Dot another day. And another. And another.

Now my world is slowly going up in smoke, and no matter what I do, the flames grow higher. She lit that match without knowing who or what it would burn.

Ivy K. Harlowe is a lot of things.

But falling in love wasn’t supposed to be one of them…unless it was with me.

Lucy Clark Will Not Apologize by Margo Rabb (5/11)

Lucy Clark has had it. After being bullied one too many times at the boarding school her parents enrolled her in, sixteen-year-old Lucy—who has been underestimated her entire life—retaliates. But when the fallout is far worse than she meant it to be, she gets suspended and sent to New York City, where she must serve as a full-time companion to the eccentric Edith Fox.

Once in Manhattan, however, Lucy discovers the glamorous, mysterious Edith is nothing like she expected. With Edith, Lucy learns to revel in the freedom of being herself. And though Edith’s world of hidden gardens and afternoon teas is magical and beguiling, there’s one other thing about her that makes her unlike anyone Lucy has ever met…she thinks someone is trying to kill her.

And Lucy has to find out who it is.

The Mythic Koda Rose by Jennifer Nissley (7/13)

Everything Koda Rose knows about her father she’s learned from other people. Moving to New York City with her mom won’t change that, even if New York was Mack Grady’s city—where he became famous, where he wrote his music, and also where he died.

Koda has more important things on her mind. Like how she’s in love with her best friend, Lindsay, and doesn’t have the courage to tell her. Agonizing over how to confess her feelings leads Koda to explore Mack’s enigmatic history in search of answers. She tracks down her dad’s band mate and ex-girlfriend, Sadie Pasquale, and finds herself becoming rapidly obsessed with the mercurial musician.

As Koda and Sadie’s complicated bond deepens, they are both forced to grapple with the black hole Mack left behind, or get sucked in themselves.

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park (6/1)

Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:

1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)

2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)

3) Have the best last summer of high school ever

Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (7/13)

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student–the handsome Allister–and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game–one Jake is not sure he can win.

The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kat Spears (6/22)

Dane Riley’s grasp on reality is slipping, and he’s not sure that he cares. While his mother has moved on after his father’s death, Dane desperately misses the man who made Dane feel okay to be himself. He can’t stand his mother’s boyfriend, or the boyfriend’s son, whose favorite pastime is tormenting Dane. Then there’s the girl next door: Dane can’t quite define their relationship, and he doesn’t know if he’s got the courage to leave the friend zone.

An emotional novel about mental health, and dealing with grief and growing up, The Tragedy of Dane Riley is the story of a teenager looking to make sense of his feelings in the wake of tragedy, and finding the strength he needs to make life worth living.

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan (4/6)

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good by Nancy Werlin (4/6)

Planning is Zoe Rosenthal’s superpower. She has faith in a properly organized to-do list and avoids unnecessary risks. Her mental checklist goes something like this: 1) Meet soulmate: DONE! 2) Make commitment: DONE! 3) Marriage: TO COME! (after college). She isn’t sure which college yet, but it will have a strong political science department, since her perfect boyfriend, Simon, plans to “save the country,” as his sister puts it, “and the planet and everything.” Zoe will follow along, the perfect serious, supportive girlfriend. It’s good to have her love life resolved, checked off, done. But speaking of unnecessary risks, Zoe’s on a plane to Atlanta, sneaking off to Dragon Con for the second season premiere of Bleeders. The show is subject to her boyfriend’s lofty scorn, but Zoe is nothing like these colorful hordes “wearing their inside on their outside.” Once her flirtation with fandom is over, she will get back to the important business of planning a future with Simon. The trouble is, right now, Bleeders—and her fellow “Bloodygits”—may just mean the world to her. Will a single night of nerdery be enough?

Thanks for hanging out, [insert full name here]. We’ll see you later this week with your weekly roundup of YA book news and new releases.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

Thanks to Flatiron Books, publisher of Tales From The Hinterland by Melissa Albert — a sweet collection of original stories related to the bestselling The Hazel Wood series — for making this newsletter possible.

What's Up in YA

Your YA Ebook Deals This Weekend

Hey YA Readers!

Snuggle into your coziest and warmest blanket and slippers. There are a boatload of great YA ebook deals this weekend to help keep you warm.

As always, deals are active as of Friday, February 19. If you see something that catches your attention, act quick, as the deals sometimes disappear fast.

Start off with the first in Adam Silvera’s on-going fantasy series, Infinity Son, for $3.

If you love fairy tales, you’ll want to pick up Elizabeth Lim’s So This Is Love, based on Cinderella, for $1.

Need an adventure? Seafire by Natalie C. Parker, first in a just-completed trilogy, is $2. Bonus: the second book is also on sale for $2, so pick up Steel Tide, too.

Junauda Petrus’s absolutely stunning The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, celebrating Black queer love and so much more, is $3.

Readers looking for a great fantasy epic will do well with Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. $3.

The award-winning verse novel Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh is $3.

I’ve had Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love on my ereader for far too long. This read starring an asexual lead is on sale for $3.

Kristina Forest’s fabulous rom com Now That I’ve Found You is on sale for $3.

Want even more rom com fun? I Believe In a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo is $3.

Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao, which features the fake dating trope, is currently $2 — I really enjoyed this one.

Stories with disabled people front and center being heroes/heroines/superheroes are deeply lacking. If you haven’t, you’ll want to check out the awesome anthology Unbroken, edited by Marieke Nijkamp. $3.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed, a story set in 1992 Los Angeles during the Rodney King protests, is currently $2.

The first four books in Sarah J. Maas’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” are $3 each: A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruin, and A Court of Frost and Starlight.

Scratch your horror itch with Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé. $2.

Readers looking for fast paced fantasy adventure will do so well with Scott Reintgen’s Ashlords, first in a series. Grab it for $2.

On the non-fiction front, Winifred Conkling’s Votes for Women, about the struggle for women’s suffrage in the US — which does a good job of highlighting how this lacked intersectionality — is on sale for $2.

The Young Reader’s Edition of When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors is $3.

George M. Johnson’s powerful YA memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue is $3.

Akilah Hughes’s essay collection Obviously: Stories From My Timeline is $3.

Happy reading! We’ll see you again on Monday.

— Kelly Jensen, Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

Big thanks again to Wander, publisher of A Gentle Tyranny by Jess Corban for making the newsletter possible.

What's Up in YA

Your YA Book News and New Books: February 18, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s get caught up on this week’s YA book news and collection of excellent new book releases. If you’re in the US and experiencing this non-stop winter, may finding a new book to read while you’re bundled up and digging out be a comfort.

YA Book News

New YA Books

Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher

Ashlords by Scott Reintgen (series, paperback)

Bloodsworn by Scott Reintgen (series)

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas (series)

Deception by Teri Terry (series, paperback)

Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi (series, paperback)

Just Breathe by Cammie McGovern (paperback)

Miss You Love You Hate You Bye by Abby Sher (paperback)

Of Silver and Shadows by Jennifer Gruenke (paperback

Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron (series)

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (series, paperback)

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

A Shot at Normal by Marisa Reichardt

Solstice by Lorence Alison (paperback)

We Are The Fire by Sam Taylor

The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance

YA Book Talk at Book Riot

In some of Book Riot’s other newsletters, the writers share a photo of their pets. I figure during this time of year when everyone needs a little smile, why not share one of mine (well, technically two)? Meet Bear, my Flemish Giant rabbit. He is indeed bigger than some of the cats in the house.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Saturday for some epic YA ebook deals.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

Thanks again to today’s sponsor, Yen Press, publisher of Volume 1 of the Cirque du Freak manga, for making the newsletter possible.

What's Up in YA

💕 💕 YA Authors Writing Romance Novels

Hey YA Readers!

‘Tis the season of love and romance, whether that means partnered or not. In previous newsletters, I’ve talked about YA authors who’ve delivered adult novels or middle grade novels in their careers. Today, let’s take a look at YA authors who have or will be publishing adult romance novels recently/soon.

Something to note here before proceeding: this list was developed looking at writers who began their careers as YA authors and have now added romance to their oeuvre. It certainly doesn’t touch on the romance authors who’ve delivered YA books during their careers. The romances below are far straighter than representative of YA books or romance books, but as more writers expand their writing, hopefully we’ll be able to see more queer romances hitting shelves from talented queer YA authors.

Book Descriptions come from Amazon.

Trish Doller

Doller’s YA books include Something Like Normal, Where The Stars Still Shine, Start Here, and more.

Float Plan Trish Doller (March 2)

After a reminder goes off for the Caribbean sailing trip Anna was supposed to take with her fiancé, she impulsively goes to sea in the sailboat he left her, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.

Emily Henry

Emily Henry’s career has just exploded with the release of her first romance book that hit shelves last May (below) and anticipation over her forthcoming People We Meet On Vacation (May 11). But before her romance works, she wrote a handful of YA books, including A Million Junes and The Love That Split the World.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Rachel Hawkins

If immediately seeing the name makes you think of the recently-released mega-selling book The Wife Upstairs, indeed, that’s one of Hawkins’s titles. But prior to that twisty thriller, Hawkins wrote a number of YA books, including Hex Hall, Rebel Belle, Prince Charming, and more.

Later this year, Hawkins is trying her hand at romance as well, under the pen name Erin Sterling.

The Ex Hex (October 5, no cover yet)

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

Sandhya Menon

Who else is absolutely excited to see what Menon does with romance, given how fabulous her YA books are? For readers unfamiliar with her YA, you will want to grab When Dimple Met Rishi and the accompanying books in the series, as well as her newest series, beginning with Of Curses and Kisses.

Menon makes her romance debut under the pen name Lily Menon. The book released earlier this month.

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”

High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful—and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.

Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile—and monumentally more successful—didn’t already make her stomach churn.

As the two rival app developers clash again and again—and again—Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?

Suzanne Park

Park made her debut in YA just a couple of months before her romance hit shelves, and in 2021, she’ll be doing something similar in releasing a YA book and then a romance title.

Her currently-available YA book is The Perfect Escape, which will be followed by June’s release of Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous. Below is Park’s first romance, available now, and her second romance, So We Meet Again, will hit shelves in August.

Loathe at First Sight Suzanne Park

Melody Joo is thrilled to land her dream job as a video game producer, but her new position comes with challenges: an insufferable CEO; sexist male coworkers; and an infuriating—yet distractingly handsome—intern, Nolan MacKenzie, aka “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss.”

Just when Melody thinks she’s made the worst career move of her life, her luck changes. While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly Melody’s “joke” is her studio’s most high-profile project—and Melody’s running the show.

When Nolan is assigned to Melody’s team, she’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she realizes he’s smart and sexy, which makes Melody want to forget he’s her intern. As their attraction deepens, she knows it’s time to pump the brakes, even with her Korean parents breathing down her neck to hurry up and find a man.

With her project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a devastating trolling scandal. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and in love?

Rachel Lynn Solomon

Solomon has been releasing YA books for the last few years, including You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, Our Year of Maybe, and Today Tonight Tomorrow. Her first romance hit shelves in January.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio. 

 When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.  

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you later this week!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

Big thanks to today’s sponsor, Penguin Teen and Stormbreak, the final book in Natalie C. Parker’s epic adventure series, for making this newsletter possible.

What's Up in YA

Your YA Book News and New Books: February 11, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s catch up with the latest in YA news and new YA books. I hope you, like me, are enjoying so many great books hitting shelves so far this year. I know I’ve been plowing through a lot during these stretches of cold midwest weather.

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper

City of the Uncommon Thief by Lynne Bertrand

Curse of the Divine by Kim Smejkal (series)

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (series)

The Girl From Shadow Springs by Ellie Cypher

Girlhood by Masuma Ahuja (paperback nonfiction — SO good, y’all!)

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce (paperback)

In The Shadow of the Moon by Amy Cherrix (nonfiction)

Ink In The Blood by Kim Smejkal (series, paperback)

The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa (series)

The Last Confessions of Autumn Casterly by Meredith Tate (paperback)

Meltdown by Deirdre Langeland (nonfiction)

No True Believers by Rabiah York Lumbard (paperback)

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia L. Smith (reissue)

Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann

Sensational by Jodie Lynn Zdrok (paperback)

Storm From The East by Joanna Hathaway (paperback, series)

Stormbreak by Natalie C. Parker (series)

We Are The Ashes, We Are The Fire by Joy McCullough

YA Talk At Book Riot

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again on Monday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

What's Up in YA

Black Teen Cover Stars in 2021 YA

Hey YA Readers!

Over the last few years, we have finally seen better representation on YA book covers. It’s still no where near what it should be, but considering even 6 or 7 years ago that a Black or Brown teen on the front cover of a YA book was a rarity, the fact that now it’s not an anomaly is noteworthy.

On my personal book blog, I’ve been rounding up covers featuring teens of color for years, and 2021 might be where I finally have to slow down because the list has gotten so long. That, of course, is a solid problem to have.

In celebration of seeing more teens of color on YA book covers and specifically to highlight Black teens on YA book covers this month, let’s take a look at a few books to put on your 2021 TBR ASAP.

Though I have been chugging through books at a pretty good pace, I haven’t gotten far enough into 2021 releases to write descriptions any more compelling than those from the publisher. This list is not comprehensive, and all of these books are #ownvoices stories.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury (June 15, first in a series)

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris (April 6)

Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.

It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.

And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney (May 4)

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…

An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.

The Marvelous by Claire Kann (June 8)

Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen. Heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel makes her dramatic return with an announcement: she has chosen a few lucky Golden Rule users to spend an unforgettable weekend at her private estate. But once they arrive, Jewel ingeniously flips the script: the guests are now players in an elaborate estate-wide game. And she’s tailored every challenge and obstacle to test whether they have what it takes to win–at any cost.

Told from the perspective of three dazzling players–Nicole: the new queen of Golden Rule; Luna: Jewel’s biggest fan; and Stella: a brilliant outsider–this novel will charm its way into your heart and keep you guessing how it all ends because money isn’t the only thing at stake.

Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney (February 22)

Can you be a hero…if society doesn’t see you as a person?

Nubia has always been a little bit…different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian-like strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor’s cat. But, despite having similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she’s no Wonder Woman. And even if she was, they wouldn’t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she’s reminded of how people see her; as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can’t deny the fire within her, even if she’s a little awkward about it sometimes. Even if it means people assume the worst.

When Nubia’s best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all–her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class–to become the hero society tells her she isn’t.

Simone Breaks All The Rules by Debbie Rigaud (June 3, first in a series)

Simone Thibodeaux’s life is sealed in a boy-proof container.

Her strict Haitian immigrant parents enforce no-dating rules and curfews, and send Simone to an all-girls school. As for prom? Simone is allowed to go on one condition: her parents will select her date (a boy from a nice Haitian immigrant family, obviously).

Simone is desperate to avoid the humiliation of the set up — especially since she’s crushing on a boy she knows her parents wouldn’t approve of. With senior year coming to a close, Simone makes a decision. She and her fellow late-bloomer friends will create a Senior Year Bucket List of all the things they haven’t had a chance to do. On the list: kissing a boy, sneaking out of the house, skipping class (gasp!), and, oh yeah — choosing your own prom date.

But as the list takes on a life of its own, things get more complicated than Simone expected. She’ll have to discover which rules are worth breaking, and which will save her from heartbreak.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (July 13)

Jake Livingston is one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed sixteen kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles (September 21)

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure . . . especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love — whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (July 6, first in a series)

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

We Are Not Broken by George M. Johnson (September 7)

This is the vibrant story of George, Garrett, Rall, and Rasul—four children raised by Nanny, their fiercely devoted grandmother. The boys hold one another close through early brushes with racism, memorable experiences at the family barbershop, and first loves and losses. And with Nanny at their center, they are never broken. 

George M. Johnson capture the unique experience of growing up as a Black boy in America, and their rich family stories—exploring themes of vulnerability, sacrifice, and culture—are interspersed with touching letters from the grandchildren to their beloved matriarch. By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this personal account is destined to become a modern classic of emerging adulthood.

It’s beyond time to see this.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll be back on Thursday with your roundup of YA book news and new books.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

What's Up in YA

The Best YA Ebook Deals This Weekend

Hey YA Readers!

Get ready to curl up with some great reads, as there are so many fabulous titles available on the cheap in ebook format.

All of these deals are active as of Friday, February 5.

In The Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen is a really lovely book about culture and leaning into one’s passion and where those two can collide and live side-by-side. $3.

Junauda Petrus’s absolutely beautiful The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is $3.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds, a story set during the Rodney King situation in LA, is $2.

Want a swoony queer romance? Grab The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth. $3.

I dug Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao, a fake dating story with a really fabulous look at cultural traditions and more. It’s on sale for $2.

Award-winning book Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh is $3.

A Black biromantic asexual main character? Snap up Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann ASAP. $3.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, a memoir about growing up Black and queer, is $3.

Attention rom-com lovers: Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest is $3.

Ruta Sepetys’s Out of the Easy — a story set in New Orleans — is on sale for $3.

Ibi Zoboi’s remix of Pride and Prejudice, Pride, is on sale for $3.

Pick up the first book in Adam Silvera’s fantasy series, Infinity Son, for $3.

The award-winning and final book in the beloved series about the Logan family, All The Days Past, All The Days To Come by Mildred D. Taylor, is $3.

For fantasy readers, grab the first in Rena Barron’s duology Kingdom of Souls for $3.

I adored The Field Guide to the North American Teen by Ben Phillippe, a fish out of water story packed with humor. $3.

Black girl magic abounds in A Phoenix First Must Burn, an anthology edited by Patrice Caldwell. $3.

Speaking of anthologies, Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi, stories of being Black in America, is $3. I dug this collection.

Need a wilderness survival story? Mindy McGinnis’s Be Not Far From Me will fit the bill. $3.

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy, first in a fantasy duology, is $3.

Maurene Goo is a YA gem, and her book I Believe In A Thing Called Love is $3.

Brandy Colbert never disappoints, and her award-winning Little and Lion is outstanding. $3.

Dive into the history of women’s suffrage in America with Winifred Conkling’s Votes for Women. $2.

The YA adaptation of When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele is on sale for $3. It’s a must-read.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson is $3.

It’s a treasure trove of deals, y’all. Take advantage of these and know you have incredible reading ahead.

See you on Monday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

What's Up in YA

Your YA Book News and New Books: February 4, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Welcome to a new month. We’re launching February strong in the world of YA, with tons of interesting news, as well as outstanding new releases.

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

The Afterlife of the Party by Marlene Perez (paperback)

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney (paperback) — this is such a great read!

All That Glitters by Gita Trelease (first in a series, paperback)

All The Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace (series)

The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund (paperback)

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle (paperback)

Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian (series, paperback)

Everything That Burns by Gita Trelease (series)

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado — I adored this book so much.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper (paperback)

The Golden Flame by Emily Victoria

How To Build a Heart by Maria Padian (paperback) — Highly recommended!

The Life Below by Alexandra Monir (paperback, series)

Love in English by Maria E. Andreu

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson — Watson knocks it out of the park again.

Muse by Brittany Cavallaro

Muted by Tami Charles

The Obsession by Jesse Q Sutanto (paperback)

Payback by Kristen Simmons (series)

The Poetry of Secrets by Cambria Gordon

The Project by Courtney Summers — Love dark stories about sisters, cults, and older teens? Grab it.

The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz (paperback, series)

Revenge of the Sluts by Natalie Walton

Scammed by Kristen Simmons (paperback, series)

A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

Thorn by Intisar Khanani (paperback, series)

Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (paperback)

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson

YA Book Talk on Book Riot

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again on Saturday with some great ebook deals.

Psst: I’d LOVE if you’d share this newsletter with fellow YA book lovers and encourage them to subscribe. We’re so close to breaking a huge milestone in subscribers — 100K! — and I’d love to see that happen before spring.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

What's Up in YA

📚📚 11 YA Retellings For Your 2021 TBR

Hey YA Readers!

I don’t know about you, but I cannot get enough of books that take a familiar story and give it a twist. YA is especially abundant with retellings, and in 2021, there are so many fabulous-sounding remixed books hitting shelves. Some are tales which are familiar — we’ve got some nice Little Women twists — and some which are maybe less familiar.

Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive roundup, but instead, it highlights a handful of the compelling retellings/revisionings/remixes of beloved and classic stories for the modern reader. Not all of the titles here are strict retellings, as some take a piece of a classic and use it as a jumping off point for a new story (thus the twist/revisioning aspect!).

Though I am working my hardest to get on top of 2021 reading, I’ve not yet been able to get my hands on any of these (not for lack of trying!). I’m pulling publisher descriptions.

Grab that TBR and prepare for some outstanding reading.

A Clash of Steel by CB Lee (September 7) — A twist on Treasure Island

1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure―the plunder of a thousand ports―that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea―and especially those who sail it―are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Darling by K. Ancrum (June 22) — A take on Peter Pan

On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful―so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.

Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends―a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies―the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night―and make sure everyone else does, too?

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas (March 23) — A take on Peter Pan

It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into the light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road…

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, asks for Wendy’s help to rescue the missing kids. But, in order to find them, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore (March 16) — A take on The Snow Queen

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price (April 6) — A twist on Pride and Prejudice and first in a series

When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.

Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.

Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis (Available now) — A take on Romeo and Juliet

Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.

Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea―especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.

She’s Too Pretty To Burn by Wendy Heard (March 30) — A take on The Picture of Dorian Gray

The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim (July 6) — A take on The Six Swans and first in a series

Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.

So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Marrow (September 7) — A Little Women remix

North Carolina, 1863. As the American Civil War rages on, the Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island is blossoming, a haven for the recently emancipated. Black people have begun building a community of their own, a refuge from the shadow of the “old life.” It is where the March family has finally been able to safely put down roots with four young daughters:

Meg, a teacher who longs to find love and start a family of her own.

Jo, a writer whose words are too powerful to be contained.

Beth, a talented seamstress searching for a higher purpose.

Amy, a dancer eager to explore life outside her family’s home.

As the four March sisters come into their own as independent young women, they will face first love, health struggles, heartbreak, and new horizons. But they will face it all together.

That Way Madness Lies edited by Dahlia Adler (March 16) — 15 takes on William Shakespeare

West Side Story. 10 Things I Hate About You. Kiss Me, Kate. Contemporary audiences have always craved reimaginings of Shakespeare’s most beloved works. Now, some of today’s best writers for teens take on the Bard in these 15 whip-smart and original retellings!

Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining The Merchant of Venice), Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew), Lily Anderson (As You Like It), Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale), Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet), A. R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing), Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147), Joy McCullough (King Lear), Anna-Marie McLemore (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Samantha Mabry (Macbeth), Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus), Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night), Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar), Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet), and Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest).

Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin (June 1) — A take on Thelma and Louise

Love on the dark side of freedom

When Trixie picks up her best friend Lux for their weekend getaway, they’re looking to forget the despair of being trapped in their dead-end rustbelt town. The girls are packing light: a supply of Diet Coke and an ‘89 Canon to help Lux frame the world in a sunnier light; half a pack of cigarettes that Trixie doesn’t really smoke, and a knife she’s hanging on to for a friend that she’s never used before.

But a single night of violence derails their trip, and the girls go from ordinary high schoolers to wanted fugitives. Trying to stay ahead of the cops and a hellscape of media attention, Trixie and Lux grapple with an unforgiving landscape, rapidly diminishing supplies, and disastrous decisions at every turn. As they are transformed by the media into the face of a #MeToo movement they didn’t ask to lead, Trixie and Lux realize that they can only rely on each other, and that the love they find together is the one thing that truly makes them free.

I think all of these sound SO GOOD. I’m here for the micro-trend of Peter Pan retellings.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Thursday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.