New Releases: Boat Trips, Oscar Wilde, and Princesses in Love

This week features a new historical YA by master of the genre Stacey Lee, as well as contemporary reads about brotherly bonding; an aspiring medical student who is deaf; and a courtship centered on a shared affection for Oscar Wilde. Lastly, follow-ups to Grim Lovelies, Of Fire and Stars, and The Raging Ones will satisfy your sequel-craving hearts.

The Downstairs Girl, by Stacey Lee
Lee has made a name for herself as a must-read author of YA historical fiction, having tackled the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (Outrun the Moon) and the Oregon Trail of 1849 (Under a Painted Sky) with vigor and aplomb. Girl depicts the story of Jo Kuan, an adopted Chinese-American hatmaker turned lady’s maid in Atlanta in the 1890s. Jo is much more than a servant to an ill-mannered, rich young woman; she writes a progressive-minded advice column under the moniker “Aunt Sweetie” for the local newspaper, while also digging into her biological family’s past. Should she keep her nom de plume a secret, knowing that not everyone will take kindly to the truth? Or is exposure worth the risk if it means having a voice in societal change? As with her previous novels, Lee knocks this one out of the park.

Gut Check, by Eric Kester
Journalist and college athlete Kester (That Book About Harvard) makes his YA debut with a subject near and dear to his heart: football. Misfit Wyatt knows he’ll never get another opportunity to bond with his star quarterback brother, Brett, before Brett heads to college unless he joins the high school football team (even if that means playing the mascot at first). He also knows that his hard-drinking father, and pretty much all the other men living in Grayport, Massachusetts, need something to take pride in now that the town’s fishing industry has been decimated. But just when things are looking up, Brett suffers a concussion and swears Wyatt to secrecy.

The Silence Between Us, by Alison Gervais
Aspiring medical student Maya has always felt confident in her academic abilities at Pratt School for the Deaf, so when her family moves to a new town, where she must acclimate to a hearing school, she hates being viewed differently. Then she meets Beau, the overachieving student body president who learns ASL in order to communicate with Maya in a new way. Romance blossoms between them, but so does friction when Maya declines a cochlear implant and Beau doesn’t get why. Her pride in being Deaf is part of who she is–will she and Beau ever truly bridge the gap in their understanding of one another?

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart, by R. Zamora Linmark (August 13)
Linmark’s debut uses prose, haikus, lists, prayers, and imaginary conversations to tell a story of first love and first heartbreak in a fictional developing Pacific Island nation called South Kristol. When bookish seventeen-year-old Ken Z meets handsome Ran at a ritzy shopping mall far from his usual stomping grounds, the two boys form a connection over their shared appreciation of Oscar Wilde. A whirlwind courtship ensues, only to be abruptly severed a few weeks later when Ran seemingly loses interest and disappears. Ken struggles with the age-old question: Is it truly better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

Start Here, by Trish Doller
Doller’s third contemporary is just as insightful and emotional as her previous two. When Willa and Taylor’s mutual best friend, Finley, dies before the trio can embark on their planned sailing trip of the Great Loop, the girls are left behind in their grief. Soon they face a difficult task: discovering whether their friendship has a future without Finley as the linchpin holding it together. The list of clues Finley provided take Willa and Taylor from Ohio to Key West, but it’s their journey of rediscovery that matters most, as they come to terms with who they are and what the future means to them now.

Midnight Beauties, by Megan Shepherd
In last year’s Paris-set Grim Lovelies, Anouk (an animal magicked into human form to serve the witches who secretly run the world) had three days to prove she didn’t kill her creator. In the conclusion to this addictive duology, Anouk has a new mission: save the friends who are stuck in their animal forms or lose them forever. Standing in her way are a forced marriage, a series of trials to prove her potential as a witch, and a conspiracy to wipe out a powerful coven. So, you know, nothing much.

Of Ice and Shadows, by Audrey Coulthurst
It’s been three years since Of Fire and Stars, in which Coulthurst introduced readers to Princess “Denna” Dennaleia and the woman she loves, Princess “Mare” Amaranthine (who just happened to be the sister of Denna’s betrothed). Fans will eagerly devour the sequel, in which Denna accepts an invitation to learn how to use her illegal fire powers before they consume her—and everything she holds dear. With Mare’s homeland under attack, and delicate alliances on the brink of collapse, the young women’s partnership has never been more vital.

We Are the Ghosts, by Vicky Skinner
If you loved Carrie Arcos’s Out of Reach (as well you should!) you’ll be instantly intrigued by Ghosts, which also depicts a sister’s search for answers about her wayward brother’s disappearance. A year ago, Ellie was devastated when her brother Luke abruptly left without explaining why. And when she learns that he’s died in a car accident, she feels lonelier than ever. Perhaps enlisting Luke’s best friend and former girlfriend, as well as a boy Ellie used to be close to, on a road trip to retrace Luke’s steps will provide the closure everyone is determined to find.

The Last Hope, by Krista & Becca Ritchie
In last year’s sci-fi series opener The Raging Ones, characters learn their death dates on the day they’re born. So when Franny, Mykal, and Court beat the odds by living past their respective “expiration dates,” it puts a target on their backs. In Hope, the trio must not only escape the brig, but locate a chosen one with the alleged powers to hide and teleport planets. Romance, adventure, and serious surprises await you in this exciting duology conclusion.

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