Happy first release day of summer! There’s plenty of goodness out this month to start vacation off right, so whether you’re looking for a poolside companion, a compelling lunch break activity, a literal beach read, or something to read by flashlight after lights’ out, we’ve got you covered.
Wicked Fox, by Kat Cho
Gu Miyoung is a teenage girl with a big secret: she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who devours men’s energy in order to survive, and she’s hiding in plain sight in Seoul among people who think gumihos are nothing but an old story. But when she happens upon a boy named Jihoon being attacked by a goblin, she makes the forbidden move to rescue him, and thus loses her gumiho soul, in the form of her fox bead. Little does she know that Jihoon has found her bead, and he also knows exactly what she is, though not what it is he holds. Little by little, Jihoon and Miyoung form a friendship that begins to turn romantic, until a shaman tries to bring Miyoung back together with her bead and sets off a chain reaction that will force Miyoung to choose between Jihoon’s life and her own immortality.
Technically, You Started It, by Lana Wood Johnson
Haley is just going about her life when she gets a text from Martin Nathaniel Munroe II. But there are two cousins by that name, and the one Haley thinks she’s texting with isn’t the right one; the one she hates is. The texts are going swimmingly, though, and the pair is clicking in a way neither of them is used to, openly sharing everything from their feelings on family to their sexual orientations (Martin is bi, while Haley is questioning her demisexuality) to the ups and downs of their respective friendships. But Haley’s still got the wrong guy, made worse by the fact that Martin doesn’t know it. If they can’t figure out the right story fast, their ending is going to be an epic disaster.
Better Than the Best Plan, by Lauren Morrill
Maritza, aka Ritzy, has the summer all figured out. Her mom may have disappeared on her, but she’s got a job and friends and she knows how to take care of herself. Then her solo living situation is discovered, and because she’s just seventeen, she’s placed into foster care…with the very same woman who fostered her when she was an infant. Turns out, Kristin is as good a mom now as Ritzy imagines she was then, and Ritzy is surrounded by the promises of what her life could’ve been if her bio mom had never taken her back. There’d be this gorgeous house, this adorable boy next door…it’s a dream. But can it be her reality? And what’s more, should it be?
Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis
Take a beat and just look at those gorgeous graphics. This hybrid novel is based on Queen Elizabeth I’s exile by her sister, Queen Mary, and reimagining it via the life of Queen Eleanor of Albion once her sister takes the throne, banishing her to an island off the coast of her kingdom where she lives amid the nuns at a convent. But they’re not the only ones on the island; there’s also Margaret, a young orphan whose life changes in unexpected ways on Eleanor’s arrival. When the former queen’s life is endangered, Margaret will have to decide whether it’s worth risking her own life to save it.
Call It What You Want, by Brigid Kemmerer
Kemmerer is in rare form these days, publishing a solid contemporary every year alongside the fantasies that made her name. This year you can find her on the fantasy shelves in January with A Curse so Dark and Lonely, and opening up the summer with her third contemporary, about Rob and Megan, two teens whose lives have been blown apart. Rob was popular until his father was caught embezzling; now he’s an outcast who has to take care of his father after a suicide attempt on top of everything else. Megan has a secret she’s keeping from everyone about how she stays on top, but when her sister falters in an unmissable way, her own mistake might be too much to keep to herself. Neither knows how to open up to anyone else anymore, but when they’re paired together for a school project, they might finally learn.
Beau and Bett, by Kathryn Berla
Beauty and the Beast finds new faces in Beau, a Creole boy who takes a job working off his mother’s debt after she hits one of his classmate’s cars, and Bett, the owner of that car, who happens to be known as “The Beast” at school because of her temper. Beau’s determined to stay away from Bett while working at the Diaz Ranch, but Bett has other ideas. She’s bored and in need of company, even if it comes from Beau. But as the two spend time together, the truth behind Bett’s tough exterior—that it’s her way of protecting herself from the bullying that followed after the classmate who assaulted her was suspended—comes out, and it changes everything for a boy who thought he knew exactly who he was starting to fall for.