Now this is how you bring in the summer! Hugely anticipated sequels to some of my favorite fantasies? Check. A number of make-you-melt romances, perfect for reading on the warm grass? Check. Brand-new voices sure to make a splash? Check. Underrepresented voices in seriously cool settings? Checkity check. We’ve got the perfect reading list for your summer here, and it’s only month one, so get cracking! (And a fun note for this Pride month: about a third of these titles have a queer main character or love interest.)
Social Intercourse, by Greg Howard (June 5)
Beck is by no means psyched to see his dad dating star quarterback Jaxon’s mom. For one thing, wasn’t she a lesbian? But more importantly, Jaxon used to bully Beck—pretty low-hanging fruit when it comes to an out-and-proud gay kid in South Carolina. Jaxon isn’t exactly thrilled about it either; he’d like to see his moms get back together. Whether they want to or not, the two boys will have to work together if they wanna split their parents up, even if being near each other brings up some inconvenient feelings. Like how wildly attractive Beck finds Jaxon, while also learning he’s more than a meathead. Or like the fact that Jaxon’s attracted to guys, which is something Beck decidedly did not know, especially since Jaxon’s dating the hottest girl in school. Or the fact that they are completely falling for each other, and while they might be meant to be, whether or not their parents are still remains to be seen.
Save the Date, by Morgan Matson (June 5)
Charlie’s thrilled her sister’s wedding is uniting all four siblings again, especially since their family home is about to go up for sale: it’s the perfect distraction from everything she’s looking to avoid. But nothing pans out as she’d hoped or expected, and the magical reunion is turning into something of an unmitigated disaster. It’s three days of misery, but it also may be exactly what Charlie needs to move on with her life, embrace her future, and accept that things changing might not be the worst thing. Oh, and yeah, there’s a cute boy, because Morgan Matson would never let us down in that regard, God bless.
Bruja Born, by Zoraida Córdova (June 5)
As a diehard Labyrinth Lost fan, I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting for this followup, and not only does it not disappoint, it might even surpass my wild love for the first Brooklyn Brujas fantasy. There’s just something about oldest sister Lula, a healer who makes a reckless choice when tragedy strikes and accidentally sort of maybe turns her (ex?) boyfriend (and a whole lot more people) into a murderous zombie, forcing everyone in her family to put their lives on the line (again!) in order to clean up her mess and set the process of death back to rights.
Smoke in the Sun, by Renée Ahdieh (June 5)
The sequel to the New York Times–bestselling Flame in the Mist revisits Mariko as she has no choice but to put herself in grave danger in order to rescue Okami after his arrest in the Jukai forest. With a few well-placed lies intimating the Black Clan took her against her will, she uses her position as Raiden’s fiancé to spy within Heian Castle and uncover who might have wanted her killed. While everyone else sees a young girl deeply involved in her own wedding planning, Mariko digs deeper and deeper into the castle’s secrets. But it’s a more tangled web than she imagined, and the more she learns, the greater the threat to her, Okami, and the entire empire at large.
The Art of French Kissing, by Brianna Shrum (June 5)
Kissing, cooking, and competition: that’s what some of my favorite books are made of. Shrum goes hard with the enemies-to-lovers romance between aspiring chefs Carter Lane and Reid Yamada, who are fighting to the death over a culinary scholarship at a summer competition in Savannah. But all the snark and sabotage in the world can’t hide the chemistry between these two, and it’s every bit as delicious and delightful an experience as you want it to be.
Invisible Ghosts, by Robyn Schneider (June 5)
Rose doesn’t only believe in ghosts, she communicates with one every day. Being able to see her brother Logan again, even if it means putting the rest of her social life on hold, is a gift she never expected—not since an accident took him at fifteen. But when Jamie moves back to her town, back into her friend group, back into her life, Rose becomes increasingly aware of what she’s been missing, and the life she could have if she stopped clinging to Logan’s ghost. Which one is she more prepared to give up? If you’ve read Schneider’s previous work, you know this one’s probably gonna rip all our hearts out, but isn’t it worth the pain?
Fat Girl on a Plane, by Kelly DeVos (June 5)
Would I buy this book based on the title alone? Absolutely I would. Does it get all the more intriguing when you learn it’s told in alternating timelines, one in which the main character is a fat fashionista struggling to gain acceptance in a world that seeks to shame her and one set after the humiliating event behind the book’s title pushes her to lose weight in order to force the world to treat her like an actual person? Sure does, especially as the main character finds skinniness can’t quite buy happiness. (Though it sure does seem to get lots of other stuff.)
The Summer of Us, by Cecilia Vinesse (June 5)
If you mashed up Anna and the French Kiss with Wanderlost and made it half really gay, you’d have Vinesse’s fun, angsty, dramatic sophomore novel told from the perspectives of two best friends traveling around Europe. As if making trains and sharing hostels isn’t enough, the rest of their party consists of Jonah, Aubrey’s boyfriend who just not quite doing it for her anymore; Gabe, who unfortunately kinda is, or at least that’s what their kiss before the trip would suggest; and Clara, with whom Rae is unfortunately madly in love, despite being certain she’s straight. It’s tricky situations all around for gallivanting through some of the world’s most romantic cities, but romantic relationships aren’t the only ones on the line, especially with Aubrey and Rae preparing for some serious physical distance.
Whisper of the Tide, by Sarah Tolcser (June 5)
The sequel to the critically lauded Song of the Current brings us back to Caro and Markos after a brutal tragedy has taken place. They’re painfully aware of the target on Markos’s back, and it doesn’t help that he utterly lacks a military. So when the offer of one comes, it seems like Markos’s only option is to accept the Archon’s offer…though it comes with mandated marriage to his daughter. Which means Markos has to make a choice: his and Caro’s love? Or his people and throne?
Always Forever Maybe, by Anica Mrose Rissi (June 5)
Rissi’s made a name as both a children’s lit author and the editor of some of my favorite YAs, but this is the first time she’s mashed those skills up into authoring a YA herself, and I am extremely ready for it. Betts and Aiden have instant chemistry, the kind that makes everything else in the world disappear behind the hearts in their eyes. It’s even sending Betts’s best friendship with Jo to the back burner. And how could it not? Jo obviously wouldn’t understand the nuances of their relationship; she’d read way too much into Aiden’s possessiveness and jealousy. And really, things are just fine there…aren’t they?
City of Bastards, by Andrew Shvarts (June 5)
Like Shvarts’ debut, Royal Bastards, this sequel is fun as hell. Life should be chill for Tilla now, or at least as chill as it can be when your father is the greatest traitor of all time, your brother is dead, and you’ve had to leave home. The safety of returning to Princess Lyriana’s home and getting to start university, not to mention having her boyfriend, Zell, local, sure isn’t bad. But when her friend is found dead in what Tilla is certain is a staged suicide, she wants answers. Unfortunately, those answers are dangerous, terrifying, and deadly, and if Tilla and her friends thought they knew betrayal and destruction before, what happens next will blow both their minds and yours. The stakes are jacked all the way up in this sequel, while still maintaining Tilla’s fabulous voice, and I am counting down the minutes until book three.
Dear Rachel Maddow, by Adrienne Kisner (June 5)
Rachel Maddow is Brynn’s guiding light, a fact that was cemented not just by watching her show daily, but by the fact that when she wrote to Ms. Maddow for a school project, the TV host actually responded. Now writing to her has become how Brynn deals—with her breakup with Sarah, with her brother’s death, with her academic struggles, and with her overly passive parents. She doesn’t send the letters, but just writing them helps her cope. Then the time comes for her to take action, even though it puts her personal life at risk, and the time for dealing with things quietly and at the comfort of her own desk is over. It’s time for her to imagine Rachel Maddow’s advice, and, for once, run with it.
Little Do We Know, by Tamara Ireland Stone (June 5)
Hannah and Emory were neighbors and the best of friends until a brutal argument tore them apart. Now, though it has been months since they last spoke, they need each other more than ever as Emory prepares for college without her boyfriend, Luke, and Hannah struggles with a crisis of faith brought on by their fight. Then one night changes everything: Hannah finds Luke in his car outside her house, having just had an accident, leaving all of them with questions whose answers may further tear their world apart.
The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls, by Jessica Spotswood (June 5)
If you’re a fan of Spotswood’s historical fantasy series, you know the magic she can weave with sisters, and if you’re a fellow Wild Swans fan, you know what she can do with quiet, romantic contemporary. Take those skills, her consistent feminist bent, and a Stars Hollow–esque setting and you’ll have her sweet and charming newest, which follows four orphaned sisters through a summer that changes everything. There’s Des, who’d like to focus on something other than taking care of her family and their bookstore for once, and finds the perfect person to inspire her to do it; Vi, who’s got a crush on the (taken) girl next door (who doesn’t like girls…does she?); Kat, whose idea of coping with her ex and his new girlfriend is to embark on a fauxmantic revenge scheme that seriously messes with her heart; and Bea, whose future has always been carved in stone…and who’s finally facing the fact that it isn’t the one she wants anymore. The summer will change their lives, their loves, and what comes next.
Sweet Black Waves, by Kristina Pérez (June 5)
This take on Tristan and Iseult focuses on orphaned Branwen, best friend and lady-in-waiting to Princess Essy of Iveriu. Branwen’s loyal to the crown, of course; it’s utterly by accident that she saves a guy from the enemy kingdom. And she certainly didn’t mean to fall for him, especially given how powerful he is. But fallen for him she has, despite his being of the people who killed her parents. When political planning twists both him and Essy in its grasp, Branwen has her own feelings to contend with as she manipulates the situation using both trickery and her newfound magic. Will Branwen stand by Essy? Will she follow her heart? Will she put peace above all? Only one way to find out.
Running With Lions, by Julian Winters (June 7)
It’s always exciting to get a new voice in queer YA, especially when it’s an author of color, and especially when they write fun, delightful, inclusive romance, so I’m extra psyched that Winters’ debut is finally here! Sebastian is extremely ready for his senior year, and for another year spent as soccer goalie. But he’s as shocked as everyone else to see a new member on the team this year—Emir Shah, whom Sebastian knows from childhood. The guys don’t expect him to be particularly good, and while he surprises them with his talent, he’s still too prickly for them to befriend. But Sebastian won’t give up trying, and the more time they spend together, the clearer it becomes that there’s something sparking between them.
Final Draft, by Riley Redgate (June 12)
You know those books that just kind of feel like gamechangers? Redgate’s meditation on how much of ourselves we feel compelled to give up for our art is just such a book, and all I can say is get ready to be put through the emotional wringer in the best way. (I laughed, cried, and squee’d while reading this one, which I’m not sure I knew was possible for a single book.) Laila is thrown for a huge loop when her beloved creative writing teacher’s health issues pull him out of her classroom and he’s replaced by a celebrated tough-as-nails writer who demands her students bleed on the page. Suddenly, Laila’s no longer the class’s shining star, and the only way to give Nazarenko what she wants is to keep pushing herself further and further out of her comfort zone, no matter the cost. (Bonus? Once again, Redgate comes through with on-page pansexual rep.) This is not only one of my favorite reads of the year so far, but also one of the most interesting. If Redgate weren’t already firmly on my Writers to Watch list (she was), she certainly would be now.
Sometime After Midnight, by L. Philips (June 12)
The author of one last year’s cutest gay romances returns with a new one combining Cinderella, social media, and #AlexFromTarget. Nate and Cameron hit it off fast and furious at a club one night, but when Nate learns Cameron’s father is responsible for destroying his own father’s life, he takes off, leaving Cameron with nothing put a picture of his Sharpie-decorated Chucks. Cameron is determined to find the guy who piqued his interest, and his sister is equally determined to use her own social media following to track Nate down. She posts the photo on Instagram, and soon the internet is swept up in the romantic whirlwind fairytale. But finding Nate is only step one; dealing with what divided them to begin with is a whole other #issue.
All That I Can Fix, by Crystal Chan (June 12)
Being mixed-race in a small town already means Ronney has way more eyes on him than he’d like, especially given that his suicidal father, pill-addicted mother, and brilliant sister make for a tough-to-navigate life. But even the small-town-ness of his life gets upended when the owner of an exotic zoo lets all the animals out and then kills himself, unleashing havoc on the area and giving Ronney way more responsibilities to deal with, from keeping his sister calm to stopping his fame-craving best friend from selfie-ing with every creature he can find. The media and gun rights advocates are everywhere, and everything’s a mess; can Ronney hold it together for himself and everyone else?
The Fall of Innocence, by Jenny Torres Sanchez (June 12)
Eight years ago, Emilia was attacked in the woods behind her elementary school, and she’s been suffering for it ever since. She has done her best to block out the memories, but it’s impossible to escape the effects of trauma, the recollection of what it felt like to choke on her own blood, or the feeling that it’s the crows who watched over her that day who saved her and continue to do so. Still, she’s doing her best to move on and forget Jeremy, the boy responsible for the attack, and enjoy life with her family and boyfriend. Then she learns new information about the identity of her attacker, and everything Emilia’s been burying is forced to the surface.
Freshmen, by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison (June 12)
The British import originally known as Freshers is finally hitting American shores, introducing readers to college freshmen Luke, who has just broken up with his longtime girlfriend, and Phoebe, who has been obsessed with Luke for approximately ever. Though their initial first sighting is a little lacking (Luke remembering Phoebe’s name, given how long they’ve gone to school together, would’ve been nice), they quickly click over their shared adventure of helping a drunk girl. Soon, they’re hooking up, and life is good…until they find themselves in the middle of a rumor-filled, battle-of-the-sexes-esque mess.
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Reaper at the Gates, by Sabaa Tahir (June 12)
It’s hard to find sequels more anticipated than installments in Tahir’s increasingly intense Ember series, but the wait is finally over for readers looking to reunite with Helene, Elias, and, of course, Laia. While Emperor Marcus grows more and more unhinged, and the Commandant uses his instability to her advantage, it’s up to Blood Shrike Helene to keep everyone in the Empire, including her sister, safe. Meanwhile, Elias remains trapped in his role as Soul Catcher, caught between the living and the dead, while Laia searches for a way to destroy the Nightbringer, facing obstacles and threats she never expected. Sound like a whirlwind of fierce, dramatic fury and general badassery? Well, what else would you possibly expect from this series??
Not the Girls You’re Looking For, by Aminah Mae Safi (June 19)
One of my most anticipated YA debuts in years, Safi’s tale of a girl with a foot in multiple worlds as an Arab American Muslim is one I imagine many of us who straddle cultures will find incredibly relatable. Between Islamophobia from white classmates, pressure to adhere even more to Islam from her family, and just straight up being a teenager who wants to party and hook up and everything that comes with it, Lulu just might snap. And when she does, there’s no telling how many people she’ll hurt in the process. Featuring cultural exploration and a friendship-centric storyline, this is the kind of book YA perpetually needs, and considering all the great early buzz, it sounds like Safi was exactly the author to write it.
Chemistry Lessons, by Meredith Goldstein (June 19)
I’m always here for books about girls in STEM, and MIT-bound Maya is all about science, just like her mother was. In fact, it’s her mother’s research that Maya picks up when she’s dumped by her boyfriend, Whit, because if a project on the effects of pheromones can’t help get him back, what will? In order to do the experiment right, she enlists her mother’s old lab assistant, who insists Maya experiment with two other subjects first. Maya wants to do things right, but her scientist’s brain has a little trouble grasping that things get a little more complicated when you’re working with very human, very breakable hearts.
The Art of Escaping, by Erin Callahan (June 19)
Mattie dreams of being an escape artist, but it’s a dream she keeps secret from everyone, even her best friend, Stella. Then Stella leaves for the summer, and left to her own devices, Mattie decides it’s time to finally see what she can do. She hunts down Miyu, who has family roots in escapology, and convinces her to become her trainer. But when a popular athlete from Mattie’s high school stumbles upon her practicing, she’s sure that’s the end of it all. There’s no way Will would keep her secret…unless he had one of his own.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, ed. by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman (June 26)
One of my most anticipated anthologies in the history of ever, this collection brings together fantastic Asian authors who’ve been making major waves in fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary both in and out of YA to tell stories in those genres inspired by myths and legends from all over the continent. Been missing Lori M. Lee since her fabulous Gates of Thread and Stone series? Find her twisting up a Hmong folktale. Been dying to see what the award-winning Alyssa Wong can bring to YA? Check out her take on the Chinese hungry ghost festival. Yearning for more of your favorite New York Times bestsellers, like Renée Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, Aisha Saeed, Julie Kagawa, and Melissa de la Cruz? Find all of them here. Dying to see more wildly accomplished but new-to-YA voices, like Preeti Chhibber, Aliette de Bodard, Shveta Thakrar, and E.C. Myers? Got you covered. And yes, there are plenty of other favorites, too, like Tiny Pretty Things coauthor Sona Charaipotra, Enter Title Here author Rahul Kanakia, Want author Cindy Pon, and, of course, Prophecy author Ellen Oh and Along the Indigo author Elsie Chapman. Good luck not finding a story or twelve to be obsessed with!
Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller (June 26)
The road trip YA jumps to the next level in Spieller’s fun, artsy, heart-filled debut, which stars an artist named Dessa who travels around the country with her family of nomads and their caravan, ruled by the mantra “Always keep moving.” But Dessa isn’t sure she wants to keep moving. Now that she has been rejected from every college to which she’s applied, and finally has a chance at an internship that feels like the only thing that could create a positive turn in her future, she wants to settle down, learn all she can, and experience a life that’s a little less transient. Shaking up the plan doesn’t sit well with her family—or with Cyrus, the caravan member she’s been crushing on hard who seems to be reciprocating her feelings.
Learning to Breathe, by Janice Lynn Mather (June 26)
Indira tries hard to live by her grandmother’s rules, but she is her mother’s daughter, and trouble seems to find her wherever she goes…including to her aunt’s home in Nassau, where she’s been sent to live. Now she has an unwanted pregnancy to hide, no support, no money, and no guidance outside of hand-me-down pregnancy books. She’s desperate for somewhere she can be safe and nurtured, and when she stumbles onto a yoga retreat, she may find in it not just the home she’s been seeking, but the family she and her fetus so badly need.
The Game of Hope, by Sandra Gulland (June 26)
YA has been rocking historical fiction lately, and this newest about Hortense de Beauharnais, set in 1798 France, looks to be no exception. Hortense is still grieving the loss of her father, who was beheaded in the French Revolution, but as a student in a boarding school for aristocratic girls, she’s surrounded by others in the same position. In fact, Hortense would be a thoroughly common girl—crushing on an officer, writing music, painting—but for one thing: her mother is Josephine, who recently married Napoleon, who’s on the verge of becoming Emperor.
The Life and Death Parade, by Eliza Wass (June 26)
When Kitty’s boyfriend, Nikki, dies a year after a psychic told him not to expect a future, she knows she has to track the psychic down. But it isn’t the psychic she finds; it’s Roan, a member of the so-called Life and Death Parade, a traveling group of supposed seers, who agrees to contact Nikki in order to bring his family some peace. Complicated twists and turns abound, especially when Kitty learns that not only was the psychic a member of the group, but her own deceased mother was as well. Now more than ever Kitty is determined to discover the truth behind what happened to Nikki, but she may not be at all ready for what she finds.