New Releases: Sibling Rivalry, Treasure Hunting, and Deadly Prophecy

This is one of those beautiful weeks in publishing where there’s truly something for everyone, whether your great love is contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, historical, or even mashups of the above, but of particular note is that this is a major week for books about sibling relationships, from the sweet to the complex to the deadly, and anywhere in between. And you thought you had family drama…

She’s the Worst, by Lauren Spieller
April and Jenn aren’t particularly close, but when April sees how sad her big sister is about staying home for college, she thinks she knows exactly what’ll cheer her up: making good on their old pact to spend an epic day exploring LA. Then April learns Jenn has a secret that threatens to destroy their family, and suddenly their big day together becomes the one that will make or break their relationship for good.

The Lady Rogue, by Jenn Bennett
Theodora is a wildly curious reader and dreamer, and she’d love more than anything to join her father on one of his treasure hunts, but he’s not having it. Instead, Huck, the former keeper of her heart, gets to join him while Theodora mopes from her hotel room. Then Huck returns to her alone, soliciting her help in saving her father, and when the two learn that said father had been on a quest for Dracula’s ring, they’re forced to work together to finish his journey in Romania, aiming for a more successful ending. But they aren’t the only ones on this particular treasure hunt, and the murderous occult society seeking the very same ring will do whatever it takes to get it.

The Truth Is, by NoNieqa Ramos
Verdad may be brilliant, but she’s also a girl with a lot of questions, like “What am I?”, “What gender is that new kid?” and “How do I go on and figure this stuff out when my best friend is gone?” It’s been just about a year since the movie theater shooting that changed Verdad’s life forever, and she’s still seeing her best friend, Blanca, everywhere she goes. It’s a comfort, really, especially as she clashes with another girl at school and finds herself questioning her sexuality more deeply than ever before when Danny comes into her life. Danny has his own traumas; he’s faced with a constant barrage of transphobia and scrutiny, and he and his entire friend group are comprised of queer kids who were kicked out of their homes. Verdad can’t relate to that part…until her mom catches her with Danny and Verdad finds herself moving in with her father instead. As Verdad struggles to acclimate to her new life, relationship, lessons, and identity, it may also be time for to finally let Blanca go so she can start moving forward. The voice is strong in this complex sophomore novel, but that’ll come as no surprise to anyone who lost themselves in Ramos’s The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary.

Permanent Record, by Mary H.K. Choi
Pablo Neruda Rind is a college dropout and social media semi-savant working the graveyard shift at a Brooklyn “health food store” and sweating his piles of debt. But there’s a major bright side to his job when it introduces him to Leanna, who shows up at his bodega at five in the morning in the middle of the winter. Leanna, who’s actually a pop star. Leanna, who’s about to change Pablo’s life and have hers changed right back. This sophomore is chock-full of complex family dynamics, a delightful cast, and glimpses into the difficulties of taking the next step in life, and perfect for readers looking for something more on the side of New Adult.

Only Ashes Remain, by Rebecca Schaeffer
The undoubtedly chilling and gory sequel to Not Even Bones immediately attacks that cliffhanger ending with Nita dead-set on revenge against Fabricio, the boy who betrayed her. It isn’t just pride that drives her; now that there’s a video of her self-healing out there on the dark web, she’s a bigger target than ever, unless she can strike fear into the hearts of everyone who would come after her. Destroying Fabricio would certainly help achieve that, but can she?

Have a Little Faith in Me, by Sonia Hartl
Let me count the ways I adored this debut about a girl named CeCe who pretends to be Christian in order to follow her ex to camp and win him back, and drags her best friend Paul along for the ride. First, there’s CeCe’s palpable heartbreak in not just the loss of her boyfriend, but in not understanding what she “did wrong,” why he’d sleep with her and then leave. Then there’s Paul, who, as the son of a pastor and a former camper, has his own complex relationship with Christianity. Of course, there’s the chemistry between the two as they pretend to date in order to make CeCe’s ex jealous. But perhaps my favorite thing of all, amid the summer camp setting and the bible verse battles, is the way the book serves as sort of “emotional sex ed,” teaching the important stuff about feelings and consent that even the most thorough class rarely covers.

Red Skies Falling, by Alex London
Black Wings Beating is one of the coolest, bloodiest, and most heartbreaking fantasies I’ve read in a while, thanks to its falconry magic and the brother-sister team of Brysen and Kylee who anchor it. But London’s definitely upped his game with this sequel that has Kylee training to master communication with the deadly ghost eagle and Brysen struggling to survive in the Six Villages as the Kartami attack. Between the twists and turns among Kylee’s allies and enemies and the emotions running high between Brysen and Jowyn, every few pages had me holding my breath as the separated siblings did their best to care for each other and save their people from outside invasion. Plus, between Kylee being aroace and romance brewing between the boys, this is one of the most delightfully queer fantasies I’ve read in a while. All in all, this is my new mid-trilogy standard for excellence.

Caster, by Elsie Chapman
Some books are just inherently cool, and this fantasy mashup of Avatar: the Last Airbender and Fight Club is one of them. Aza Wu isn’t just feeling the loss of her sister on an emotional level; she’s feeling the financial pressure of Shire no longer bringing in cash from casting magic. And when corruption comes a-calling, Aza has no choice but to follow a dangerous path to what turns out to be a secret magical club that’ll have her fighting other casters for money. Competing at a deadly level isn’t Aza’s only worry, especially when she learns there were some mysterious circumstances behind Shire’s death. The stakes keep rising, the challenges keep coming, and the creativity is pretty freaking wild. If Chapman’s story was one of your favorites in the excellent Hungry Hearts collection that released earlier this year, you definitely wanna pick this one up.

We Are Lost and Found, by Helene Dunbar
No stranger to queer YA, Dunbar (Boomerang) is back with her first historical, set during the AIDS Crisis in the 1980s. Michael’s already watched his brother, Connor, get kicked out of their house for being gay. He knows if he wants to escape the same fate, he’ll have to keep his mouth shut about his identity. But he’s already feeling completely wrung out between living in a homophobic house, being overshadowed by his best friend, and constantly worrying about AIDS, and he needs an escape. He finds it in The Echo, a club where he can dance away his feelings. But then he meets Gabriel, and he has consider whether his silence is worth the cost of the boy who might become his first love.

Eclipse the Skies, by Maura Milan
The sequel to Ignite the Stars sees Ia surprising even herself by working for the Olympus Commonwealth. But what choice did she have when she found out her brother Einn was trying to destroy the universe? If she wants to see him die by her own hand, she has to help the Royal Star Force find him, no matter how contrary to her nature it is. Meanwhile, Brinn is facing public backlash against the identity she’s only just begun to claim, and it’s tearing her and her friendship with Ia apart.

Rated, by Melissa Grey
Grey’s already proven she writes a great cast with her Girl at Midnight trilogy, and she keeps it up with this varied group of students all subject to a universal ranking system that keeps them under the thumb of the administration of Maplethorpe Academy. Bex, Hana, Javier, Chase, Tamsin, and Noah might not start out having much to do with one another, but when the doors to their school are graffiti’d with “The Ratings are Not Real” and they start receiving secretive messages, they’ll have to find one another and work together to figure out who’s behind it. And yeah, if they can knock a certain troublemaker off her high horse to save one of their own and find some romance in their ranks, well, all in a day’s work in this fun Dystopian!

Butterfly Yellow, by Thanhha Lai
The Việt Nam War is nearly over when Hằng makes her way to the airport with her little brother, dead-set on getting them both to America. Then her life changes in an instant when Linh is ripped from her arms and Hằng is left behind. It’s six more years until she makes it to Texas as a refugee, and there she meets LeeRoy, an aspiring cowboy who agrees to help her try to find Linh. But their success isn’t all she dreamed it would be when the siblings are reunited and Hằng learns Linh doesn’t remember a thing, including who she is.

Five Dark Fates, by Kendare Blake
I’m not sure if there’s a more anticipated fantasy series ender this year as the world of Three Dark Crowns comes to a close and the fate of the three sisters while finally be unveiled. For now, Katharine’s still in charge, but she doesn’t have everything; Mirabella and Arsinoe have managed to form a close sisterly relationship, while she still remains on the outside. But even that isn’t as it seems, and when warning arrives from the dead queens, Katharine learns Mirabella isn’t to be trusted…something a very busy and burdened Arsinoe has already learned the hard way. The time has come for the rivalry to end for good.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back, by Adrienne Young
Tova is a Truthtongue, gifted with an ability to see into the future, which is an ability the Svell people who saved her from the shore as a child have always been happy to use. Her skin marks her as magic, but she doesn’t remember anything else about where she came from, and as war threatens to rise between the Svell and two new allied clans, it’s looking like her future isn’t all that certain either. Now they want her to cast the rune stones and see what lies ahead, in order to help them decide whether to choose war or peace…but no one expects what she sees, or the hope it brings to the girl who’s never had a true home.

The Hive, by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden
Cassie’s living in a future where social media’s under control, where cyberbullies and cybercriminals are managed by the Hive, a group that punishes online infractions with real-life lessons you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. It’s a system that’s always worked for Cassie, until a moment of weakness spurred on by grief leads her to make a joke online that goes way too far. Now she’s being hunted by the Hive, and it’s set her on the run to find other Hive outcasts who might be able to help her. Together, they’ll have to race to reveal the truth about the system before she becomes the Hive’s next victim.

There Will Come a Darkness, by Katy Rose Pool
When the Seven Prophets disappeared, leaving just one final foretelling behind, they left chaos in their wake as the people awaited the Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who might be their only path to safety. This debut is the story of a prince, a killer, a leader, a gambler, and a girl on her deathbed, any and all of whom might hold the key.

Serpent & Dove, by Shelby Mahurin
Louise le Blanc is a witch without a coven, having escaped from hers two years earlier to take refuge in Cesarine. Her magic must stay secret, because in the city of Cesarine, witches have targets on their backs, and torches are forever at the ready to prevent magic for good. Reid is one of the Church’s huntsman, charged with making sure all witches meet their ends. But he didn’t count on a witch like Lou, and he certainly didn’t count on being forced to marry her. Now both are in impossible situations, especially as real feelings grow between them, and Lou is forced to make a choice that will define the rest of her existence.

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