New Releases: Heartbreak, Monsters and Oddities, Oh My!

Summer may be considered the slow season when it comes to publishing, but don’t tell these awesome new releases that. The first week of July is packing some real heat in the form of heroes, villains, oddities and monsters. But there’s also the first blush of summer romance, and plenty of friendship drama, too, from contemporary to courtly.

Symptoms of a Heartbreak, by Sona Charaipotra
This contemporary drama, an #ownvoices solo debut from the co-author of Tiny Pretty Things, is thoughtful and warmhearted. “Girl Genius” Saira is an Indian American girl who happens to be the youngest doctor in the country. Interning at a pediatric oncology ward (in the same hospital where her overbearing mom works) isn’t easy, but Saira has never faced a challenge she couldn’t overcome. But then she falls in love with a teen cancer patient. Does she have what it takes to change the boy’s outcome? Perfect for fans of Grey’s Anatomy or The Mindy Project.

The Best Lies, by Sarah Lyu
Remy and Elise were made for each other, their friendship intense and vital. Where Remy shrinks from her family’s abuse, Elise is all about getting even. Where Remy is prepared to go through life as quiet as a shadow, Elise demands to be seen. The line between friendship and obsession becomes blurred when Remy’s boyfriend Jack winds up dead at Elise’s hand. Was Elise justified in ending Jack’s life, as she claims? Can Remy trust herself to shine a light on the truth, if the truth means losing Elise?

Teen Titans: Raven, by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator)
You don’t have to be well-versed in the comics to appreciate this elegant graphic novel. Meet Raven, a teen girl who moves to New Orleans after her foster mother dies in a car crash. Raven has lost more than a family member; her memories of the accident have vanished, along with basic information about who she used to be. If amnesia, a new school, new friends, and a new foster sister weren’t enough to deal with, she’s also discovered a new ability: she can hear other people’s thoughts, and her own thoughts have a bad habit of coming true. Raven’s memories may hold the answers, but what if recovering them makes things worse?

The Odd Sisters, by Serena Valentino
Book six in the Disney Villains series promises to answer readers’ questions about the mysterious, dastardly Odd Sisters, who have spent the previous five installments altering the lives of Disney’s most famous baddies. Where did the sisters come from? What do they want?  And will they be forced to answer at last for their crimes against the Beast, Ursula, the Wicked Queen, and more?

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun, by Guillermo del Toro, Allen Williams (illustrator), Cornelia Funke
When Ofelia and her mother move to a forest in Spain to live with Ofelia’s new stepfather (whom Ofelia doesn’t trust), the young teen discovers a world beyond imagining, full of sprites and magical fauns. She also learns about her true identity, that of a reincarnated princess whose underground kingdom is ready for her return. Although inspired by the darkly beautiful, award-winning 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth, with Funke (Dragon Rider; The Thief Lord) at the helm this becomes much more than an adaptation; the book includes stunning black-and-white illustrations and additional short stories that enrich the movie.

Queen of Ruin, by Tracy Banghart 
In last year’s duology opener Grace and Fury, sisters Serina and Nomi were separated, imprisoned and subjugated in a fantasy world of royal courts, enslaved women, and prison islands. Reunited with Serina at last on Mount Ruin, Nomi is shocked to discovered that her previously docile sibling has become the leader of a fierce resistance. Should the sisters head for safe harbor now that they’re together, or take the fight to its source in the hopes of freeing other oppressed women and girls?

Destroy All Monsters, by Sam J. Miller 
When they were twelve, something happened to best friends Solomon and Ash that would forever alter their perception of reality. But when Ash loses her memory in a fall, Solomon’s the only one who remembers what occurred, and that knowledge is destroying him from the inside out. Simon’s coping mechanism is to live in the Darkside, a fantasy world of his own creation where he can retreat to keep the monsters at bay. By the time they’re sixteen, Darkside has become just as dangerous as the world Solomon wants to escape, and Ash must find a way to reach him, no matter how painful it is to revisit the past.

Warhead: The True Story of One Teen Who Almost Saved the World, by Jeff Henigson  
Set in the mid-1980s, at the height of the Cold War, this debut memoir reveals how Jeff, a 15-year-old newly diagnosed with brain cancer, used his Starlight Foundation wish to visit Moscow. His goal? Meet Mikhail Gorbachev and plan a course for nuclear disarmament. Bonus points if he can leave behind a legacy for his tough-to-please dad to admire. Within this extraordinary framework, Jeff is also a regular teen whose growing pains and coming of age journey feel relatable and important.

The Beckoning Shadow, by Katharyn Blair
Vesper is a Harbinger, with special powers that let her unravel and conjure a person’s worst fears. She knows, because she brought her own to life, nearly destroying her family and her former life (as a cheerleader, no less) when she set fire to her old home. Now she’s on the run with a group of other Oddities, trying to salvage what she can. But will their participation in the tournament mean a new reality? Or the end of life as they know it?

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