The final month of 2017 is upon us, and YA has seriously saved some of the best for last. This December’s got glorious and sometimes hilarious romances, epic and sometimes queer fantasies, an amorous anthology, and more. End the year off right with one of these memorable new offerings.
The Sweetheart Sham, by Danielle Ellison (December 4)
Southern charm meets queer allyship in this South Carolina-set romance about a girl named Georgia Ann “Georgie” Monroe who poses as her best friend Will’s girlfriend in order to help him keep the secret that he’s gay. Of course, it’s while masquerading as a girl who’s already spoken for that she meets Beau Montgomery, who’s everything Georgie’s ever looked for in a boy…including too much of a gentleman to pursue a girl who already has a boyfriend. Georgie can’t let him know how she feels without betraying Will’s secret, but how will she land the potential love of her life if she doesn’t?
Foolish Hearts, by Emma Mills (December 5)
The only thing more surprising to me than how much Mills’ sophomore novel knocked me off my feet last year was the fact that I might have loved this third book even more. Claudia and Iris are stuck together for a school project, which isn’t ideal, considering Iris has hated Claudia ever since the latter overheard the former getting brutally dumped by her longtime girlfriend. But the more time they spend together, the more Claudia realizes there is to like about Iris, which is a welcome discovery, considering things with her own best friend have gotten complicated, and so has a potentially budding romance with the charismatic and charming Gideon. Once again Mills beautifully balances humor and heart with wonderful group friendship dynamics and fabulous chemistry that never overtakes the story, told from the point of view of a hilarious narrator whose intellectual IQ definitely supersedes her emotional one. If I’m being honest, this is unquestionably in my top three favorites of 2017, so, it was pretty good, I guess.
Ever the Brave, by Erin Summerill (December 5)
This sequel to Ever the Hunted has Britta just wanting to chill after saving King Adroen, but the channeler powers she used to do it have other ideas. She’s now tethered to the king, whether she likes it or not, which means she’s also untethered from Cohen, who’s busy tracking down Phelia. While on his mission with his younger brother, they encounter Lirra, who needs help with her own mystery: the abduction of Channeler girls, a problem that means Cohen’s beloved Britta is at risk. Twists, betrayals, and adventures abound as loyalties are put to the test and decisions with grave consequences must be made.
Sea of Strangers, by Erica Cameron (December 5)
The Ryogan Chronicles continue with Khya determined to save her brother. Slight problem: the only way to do that is to kill the ruler Varan, who cannot die. Khya has some work to do if she’s to figure out the secrets behind Varan’s immortality, and major choices to make about her future with Tessen, the rival who’s stolen her heart.
Rules of Rain, by Leah Scheier (December 5)
Rain’s lived a pretty rigid life thus far; she’s had to, with a single mother and her autistic brother, Ethan, seemingly relying on her to be their rock. Then she lands her crush, Liam, and her own best friend, Hope, gets interested in Ethan, and suddenly everyone has adjustments to make. Then one night rocks Rain’s world, and she realizes she isn’t the only one in the family who’s been serving as an anchor.
Plague Land, by Alex Scarrow (December 5)
Siblings Leon and Grace were having a tough enough time with the move from the United States to London before a viral plague moved north and claimed their new home city. The only way to survive is to run and take shelter with other survivors, who are few and far between after a month of the virus’s ravage. But can anyone be trusted when everyone’s fighting for their lives?
Instructions for a Secondhand Heart, by Tamsyn Murray (December 5)
Jonny’s been in desperate need of a new heart for years, but now that he’s got one, the emotions behind his new life coming at the expense of someone else’s are crushing him. He wants to know about the boy whose vital organ is pumping his blood, and no one has as much to share about the deceased as Neve…because Leo was her brother. Together, Neve and Jonny have to figure out how to move forward in their lives that have changed forever.
Cloaked in Shadow, by Ben Alderson (December 5)
Gay elven fantasy alert! Zacriah doesn’t know what he is, but he knows he isn’t a shapeshifter. So what power does the boy whose whole life is hunting and nursing his broken heart possess? When he’s thrust into a war between the three Elven continents while being forced into King Dalior’s shapeshifter army, he’ll have to figure it out and use it if he’s gonna save those he loves.
Freed by Flame and Storm, by Becky Allen (December 12)
And speaking of gay fantasy, this sequel to Bound By Blood and Sand has an f/f romance tucked in there and starring a new character as the story picks up with Jae having made history by being the first slave to break free of the magic that binds her people. Now she’s determined to free the others, but those in charge would do anything to stop her. What’s a girl to do when to save her people might be to destroy them?
The Truth Beneath the Lies, by Amanda Searcy (December 12)
With One of Us is Lying and Genuine Fraud taking spots on bestseller lists this year, it’s clear there’s a major thirst for psychological thrillers, and this sounds like one of the year’s most epic. Kayla and Betsy are each desperate to escape their surroundings, though the girls have virtually nothing in common. Kayla’s looking to get away from her mother and subsidized housing. Betsy’s new surroundings have her anxious, but not as much as the threatening man on the other end of the cell phone she keeps under her bed. Twists and turns lead readers to eventually see the connection between the two girls…and who will survive past The End.
Shadow Girl, by Liana Liu (December 19)
Mei’s summer may include a slightly atypical plan, but getting out of her cramped apartment and away from her family to spend the time living in an island mansion while tutoring a girl sounds glorious compared to the alternative. But living in luxury with the Morrison family on Arrow Island grows increasingly uncomfortable as circumstances change, secrets are revealed, a haunting creeps in, and her chemistry grows between her and Henry, her charge’s brother.
Three Sides of a Heart, ed. by Natalie C. Parker (December 19)
Say the words “love triangle” three times and a million YA readers will come out of the woodwork to tell you how much they despise them…which is why this anthology was born to turn the trope on its head in every way. From “the girl gets the girl” to polyamorous “OT3s” to “what if” to straight-up icing out the competition, noted authors from a wide-spanning variety of genres take the triangle to task for an anthology full of the unexpected.
Here, There, Everywhere, by Julia Durango and Tyler Terrones (December 19)
Zeus never wanted to leave the big city of Chicago for the far smaller town of Buffalo Hills, which is where his mother whisked them to in order to pursue her cafe-owning dreams. But meeting Rose definitely makes it seem a whole lot better. The only problem? Rose isn’t a small-town girl either, and she’s already got a foot out the door and into New York City, where she plans to pursue music. Their summer together is definitely the shot of fun they both need, but how can Zeus convince her to make it more when they’re headed apart?
Prince in Disguise, by Stephanie Kate Strohm (December 19)
If you’re not already familiar with Stephanie Kate Strohm, rom com queen, please adjust your reading list accordingly. You can start with my favorite of 2016, It’s Not Me, It’s You, or you can jump right to her newest. Either way, you’ll know you need to read whatever she does next. This time around, the romance is centered around Dylan, who’s forced to move to a Scottish manor for the remainder of the filming of Prince in Disguise, the reality show that documents the magical romance and impending nuptials between her sister and the guy who turned out to be a lord. Her determination to stay in the shadows as she always has, however, is rocked by her shocking chemistry with one of the groomsmen, Jamie; after all, these are cameras that simply cannot resist budding young love..
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily, by Laura Creedle (December 26)
Abelard and Lily are both neurodivergent—he’s on the autism spectrum and she, the narrator, has ADHD—and when each completes half of a destructive act that lands them both in trouble, sparks fly as they bond over medieval poetry. Each one has difficulties with interpersonal connection, but through romantic text messages and a lot of work and understanding, they nurture a relationship for the ages.
Before Now, by Norah Olson (December 26)
Olson’s third novel opens as Cole and Atty have made a tragic choice in an effort to stay together forever, then unfolds in reverse via Atty’s diary entries to show their path from just being two kids who bonded over electronic dance music to this point and the events that led them there, including escaping Minneapolis and leaving their families behind.
The Mind Virus, by Donna Freitas (December 26)
The Unplugged series comes to a close with Skylar once again poised to save both the App World and the Real World, having just shut down the body market opened by her sister, Jude, and created an entrance from the former world to the latter. But with how much has changed and continues to change as the citizens mesh, she’s not sure she actually made the right move. What’s more, people in the App World are dying of a virus, which is also thanks to Jude. Who will live and who will die in this action-packed, futuristic political thriller?
Love, Life, and the List, by Kasie West (December 26)
Abby’s goal of getting into her boss’s art show is crushed when her boss tells her that her art lacks the depth of an experienced life. With two of her three best friends spending the summer out of town, that leaves only Cooper behind to help her fulfill the items on the list she’s created that she hopes will improve her artistic vision. Unfortunately, Cooper is also her unrequited love, and watching him date another girl while she’s also wrestling with her mother’s agoraphobia and her father being in Afghanistan throws a wrench into her plans for them to grow together. But then, maybe growing apart is exactly what they both need.
Breaking the Ice, by Julie Cross (December 26)
Everyone who knows Haley thinks she’s got a charmed life; she is a beautiful and successful cheer captain, after all. But academics are a bigger struggle for her than people realize, and to keep herself afloat, she’s forced to take summer school in order to raise her GPA. There, she’s partnered up with Fletcher, as under-the-radar as Haley is in the spotlight. But Fletcher doesn’t want to be that guy anymore; he wants to get off the bench and get the girl, even as said girl is trying to focus all her energy on pulling her grades up. Is it possible for them to have it all?