Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
The deliciously trope-tastic story of Millie, dedicated geology nerd and recently-heartbroken high school student, who decides to go to a posh boarding school in Scotland (definitely not because of the aforementioned heartbreak). She’s looking forward to a completely new start—but then Millie ends up rooming with the most obnoxious, arrogant, annoying girl…who also happens to be an actual, real-life princess (and really, really pretty). Forced together, Millie and Princess Flora become reluctant friends…and maybe something more. But Millie’s world is so different from Flora’s—can they really work as a couple? This is the queer enemies-to-girlfriends rom-com of your dreams and it’s SO MUCH FUN.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Ben De Backer has been wanting to come out to their parents as nonbinary for months. They finally convince themselves it’ll be okay—and it all goes horribly wrong. Desperate, suddenly homeless, and with nowhere else to go, Ben ends up living with their estranged sister and her husband. After that disastrous coming out and with a new home and new school hanging in the balance—plus some crippling anxiety— Ben is determined to stay in the closet and under the radar. But a new friendship (and maybe more) test Ben’s resolve—is it worth risking everything again for the chance at a new and better home? Heartbreaking, thoughtful, and wonderful.
You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
Ariel Stone is determined to get into Harvard, which means that he has to have the most perfect grades, pull off being valedictorian (despite some stiff competition), and fit in as many volunteer hours and impressive extracurriculars as possible. So when a bad math grade sends him spiraling, he ends up with a tutor: his little sister’s best friend’s brother, Amir Naeem. But then he starts to develop feelings for Amir and Ariel panics. How can he possibly be a good boyfriend while still keeping up his grades, being a supportive best friend and big brother, acting like a good Jewish son, and actually sleeping more than four hours a night? And how much is he willing to sacrifice for academic perfection? Ariel’s anxiety is relatable and heartbreaking, and his story well-written.
The Afterward by E.K. Johnston
The heroic quest is over, the world is saved, and everyone is supposed to live happily ever after now, right? But life post-quest is more complicated than that—old debts and commitments don’t just go away because you’re a hero, especially if you’re an unlikely one. This is the story of two of the questers: Olsa, thief, and Kalanthe, soon-to-be knight. Their world seems determined to shunt them back to their old, separate paths and it’s not clear that their desire to stay together will be enough. With all the things that make classic fantasy such fun plus the addition of a truly diverse cast, their adventure is one worth joining.
SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson
I didn’t know it was possible to be even more astounded by Laurie Halse Anderson, but this book proved me wrong. A memoir-of-sorts written in verse, SHOUT shows the path that lead her to writing Speak—her own assault, the fault lines in her loved ones, a world where women are always threatened. Frank and gentle and angry and sisterly all at once, this book is for the unseen who have had to patch themselves back together on their own. Incredible and devastating.
There are so many titles I can’t wait to put in readers’ hands as a bookseller!
The Art of Losing (Lizzy Mason, February 19, Soho Press): When Harley’s little sister Audrey hooks up with Harley’s boyfriend, Mike, she’s furious. But after Audrey is nearly killed in an accident because Mike was driving drunk, Harley’s feelings are complicated. How can you feel angry at someone who almost die—who can’t even remember what she’s done? Lizzy’s debut is a beautiful story about growth and mistakes, consequences and love. It’s going to be an obvious rec for fans of Sarah Dessen.
If You’re Out There (Katy Loutzenhiser, March 5, Balzer&Bray): It’s happened to everyone—one day, you’re close to someone. The next, they’re impossible to pin down. And it doesn’t matter whether the relationship is romantic or platonic: it’s the worst. And that’s what Katy’s debut is about—all the questions left in the wake of when one friend ghosts another. It’s too real. Readers are going to love it.
The Light At the Bottom of the World (London Shah, Fall 2019, Disney-Hyperion): Everything about London’s debut excites me. Submersible racing! A post-disaster world! England! A tough, cool heroine! A father in need of saving! Readers are going to DEVOUR THIS ONE WHOLE.
I Wanna Be Where You Are (Kristina Forest, June 4, Roaring Brook Press): I am obsessed with ballet, with any kind of a competition or audition set-up, and with road trips, and this book HAS THEM ALL. Add to that an annoying but cute neighbor along for the ride, and I am SO SOLD. I get the feeling everyone who swooned over TATBILB is going to lose their heart here, too.
THE DEVOURING GRAY by Christine Lynn Herman: I’m not even going to fluff this up–I’m just flat out excited for this one. This book gives off hardcore Riverdale vibes, but it’s so much better because magic and more badass characters and a setting that could quite literally kill them. I’ve been screeching at everyone I can to pre-order this book since it became available, and this is no exception. Everyone needs this story in their lives. Everyone.
BLOODWITCH by Susan Dennard: Sooz is one of my all-time favorite authors. I picked up Truthwitch back in 2016 and I’ve been sucked into the world of the Witchlands ever since. Bloodwitch is book three in the series and bound to be just as action-packed and tension-filled as the first two. Actually, I expect it will be even more so, considering who the focus is. I think we’re all dying to know how a certain bloodwitch is going to handle things, when our beloved thread-sisters will find each other again, and exactly what the Nubrevnan prince plans on doing now.
WICKED SAINTS by Emily A. Duncan: Broody heroes (and villains)? Check. Morally grey characters? Check. Magic that’ll leave you with chills? Check, check, check. This story will take readers on an emotional rollercoaster up until the very end. And even then it’ll leave you breathless, desperately wishing for book two already. A fresh fantasy in a world teetering on the edge after years of war, Wicked Saints is ready to grab you by the soul and never let go.
SOUL OF STARS by Ashley Poston: I’m normally a harder sell on sci-fi but Heart of Iron gripped me from page one. This sequel is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 because if it’s anything like book one it’ll leave me with whiplash from some of my favorite twists, turns, and characters I’ve read in a long, long time.
GILDED WOLVES by Roshani Chokshi: Everything about this book, from the description to the cover to the teasers Roshani has given us just oozes mysterious beauty. No one does worldbuilding like Roshani. No one. A treasure-hunt adventure through Paris with lush and vivid settings and characters alike? Sign me up.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Thoroughly enchanting in every way, Sorcery of Thorns is for anyone with ink-stained fingers and dreams of living parchment and leather. Rogerson’s visceral storytelling creates a world of Great Libraries, magical conspiracies, and a demon father-figure who will steal your heart. Elisabeth and Nathaniel are a perfectly matched pair of gutsy, reckless leap takers, and I loved their clumsy meet-cute; or rather, meet-scare.
The Lovely War by Julie Berry
Julie Berry has truly outdone herself in this lush historical drama of The Great War with notes of The Illiad. Framing the novel as the trial of unfaithful Aphrodite by her husband Hephasteus, Aphrodite summons godly witnesses to tell the story of two pairs of star-crossed lovers during World War I. You’ll be equally engrossed with Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Collette, as well as their Olympian counterparts. It’s an incredibly beautiful novel that I can’t say enough about.
Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan
I don’t wanna say that Emily Duncan is the next Leigh Bardugo… but she definitely is and I am gobsmacked that Wicked Saints is her debut. Brutal, beautiful, and astonishing, Wicked Saints is easily the best debut of 2019. Duncan’s intricate world of saints, heretics, blood magic, and old gods leaps off the page and straight into your subconscious, haunting you long past the last earth-shattering chapter. I absolutely cannot rave about it enough.
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Atmospheric horror at its very best, THE DEVOURING GRAY has tangled world building, emotionally complex characters, and a haunting premise. I wanted to live in Four Paths even though I knew it was haunted! Fans of The Raven Boys and Sawkill Girls will be enthralled with this novel.
Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
When her affluent father divorces her mother, biracial Nevaeh is forced to face her Harlem roots for the first time, moving in with her extended family. Not to be outdone, her Jewish father forces a bat mitzvah on her instead of a sweet sixteen party. Ultimately, this adversity changes Nevaeh for the better, helping her find her unique voice and fight her own selfishness. Nevaeh discovers strength in spoken word poetry, an upbeat Rabbi, and a swoonworthy boy named Jesus, along with her newfound family. Color Me In is a spectacular debut about the power of change that I would highly recommend to anyone who loved The Poet X or American Street.
1. ONCE & FUTURE by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy: “It’s King Arthur in SPAAACE! Following the latest incarnation of the legend, ONCE & FUTURE pits bighearted Ari and a teenaged Merlin against the biggest bad of all: capitalism. The vibrant ensemble cast and the to-die-for queer romance make this a must read.”
2. WICKED SAINTS by Emily A. Duncan: “If THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE and DRAGON AGE had a really goth book baby about blood magic, a girl who hears the gods in her head, Slavic politics, and boys who are Bad News, this would be it! Officially the most metal YA book of spring 2019.”
3. WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power: “It is NOT a LORD OF THE FLIES retelling, but five minutes in, and you’ll understand the confusion. At an isolated girls’ boarding school, ‘nice’ ended when the quarantine started, and no one is as trustworthy as they seem. Prepare yourself for some gore, some psychological horror, and, uh, interesting wildlife.”
WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power – I was lucky enough to read a galley of this book recently and it blew me away. The vibes of Stephen King or Stranger Things meets girl power and a spooky island all bundled up in a government conspiracy.
HELLO GIRLS by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry – I loved Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes novels and can’t wait to see what she and Henry have put together! Plus, who doesn’t love a YA power-collab?
THE DEVOURING GRAY by Christine Lynn Herman – This book sounds so creepy and mysterious and wonderful. I love to see more legendary family stories in YA, too!
KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo – I don’t think there’s a single YA reader out there who doesn’t know about this one, but it’s worth mentioning because I am so. freakin. excited.
DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS by Nina Moreno – The rep in this book has my heart so full. I love contemporary books with traces of magic, and the curse of the Santos women with modern day high school sounds fantastic. And who doesn’t love a book to make you laugh AND cry?