As summer begins to wind down we have a few books of fantasy and family drama fun to helps us enjoy these last few “laying by the beach” days.
Guardians of Dawn: Zhara by S. Jae-Jones
Magic is forbidden throughout the Morning Realms. Magicians are called abomination, and blamed for the plague of monsters that razed the land twenty years before.
Jin Zhara already had enough to worry about—appease her stepmother’s cruel whims, looking after her blind younger sister, and keeping her own magical gifts under control—without having to deal with rumors of monsters re-emerging in the marsh. But when a chance encounter with an easily flustered young man named Han brings her into contact with a secret magical liberation organization called the Guardians of Dawn, Zhara realizes there may be more to these rumors than she thought. A mysterious plague is corrupting the magicians of Zanhei and transforming them into monsters, and the Guardians of Dawn believe a demon is responsible.
In order to restore harmony and bring peace to the world, Zhara must discover the elemental warrior within, lest the balance between order and chaos is lost forever.
Damned if You Do by Alex Brown
Seven years ago, Cordelia Scott’s abusive father left without a word, and life has been normal ever since. The seventeen-year-old spends her days stage managing the school play (which is going great, if anyone asks), pining over her best friend, Veronica, and failing one too many pop quizzes.
She’s never been sad that her father left, but she knows something is…missing. When her school guidance counselor, Fred, reveals during a session that he’s actually a demon, she learns that something is indeed missing: a piece of her actual soul. Why? She unwittingly made a deal with him to make her father disappear – then bargained to have the memory erased. To make matters worse, Fred is here to make another bargain: Help him with a “little” demonic problem, or she’s doomed to spend eternity in Hell with her father.
The deal? Help Fred neutralize a rival demon, who means to do more harm in her hometown than your average demon deal.
True True by Don P. Hooper
Nancy Paulsen Books
This is not how seventeen-year-old Gil imagined beginning his senior year—on the subway dressed in a tie and khakis headed towards Manhattan instead of his old public school in Brooklyn. Augustin Prep may only be a borough away, but the exclusive private school feels like it’s a different world entirely compared to Gil’s predominately Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn.
If it weren’t for the partial scholarship, the school’s robotic program and the chance for a better future, Gil wouldn’t have even considered going. Then after a racist run-in with the school’s golden boy on the first day ends in a fight that leaves only Gil suspended, Gil understands the truth about his new school—Augustin may pay lip service to diversity, but that isn’t the same as truly accepting him and the other Black students as equal. But Gil intends to leave his mark on Augustin anyway.
If the school isn’t going to carve out a space for him, he will carve it out for himself. Using Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as his guide, Gil wages his own clandestine war against the racist administration, parents and students, and works with the other Black students to ensure their voices are finally heard. But the more enmeshed Gil becomes in school politics, the more difficult it becomes to balance not only his life at home with his friends and family, but a possible new romance with a girl he’d move mountains for. In the end, his war could cost him everything he wants the most.
The Boy You Always Wanted by Michelle Quach
Francine loves her grandfather, but their time together is running out. He has one final wish: to see a male heir carry on the family traditions. Francine knows his ideas are outdated, but she would do anything for him. Her solution? Ask Ollie Tran, a family friend (and former crush, not that it matters), to pretend to be ceremonially adopted and act like the grandson A Gūng never had.
Ollie generally avoids the odd, too blunt (and fine, sort of cute) Francine, whose intensity makes him uncomfortable. So when she asks him to help deceive her dying grandpa, Ollie’s not down. He doesn’t get why anyone would go to such lengths, even for family. Especially with a backwards (and sexist, Ollie keeps stressing) scheme like this.
Francine, however, is determined to make it happen, and soon Ollie finds himself more invested in her plan—and in her—than he ever thought possible. But as the tangled lies and feelings pile up, Francine must discover what exactly she needs for herself—and from Ollie. Because sometimes the boy you always wanted isn’t what you expected.