A whole slew of books just as the school year is starting. After my bank recovers from Back-to-School shopping, maybe I’ll pick up a few of these.
Neverwraith by Shakir Rashaan
Being the new kid is always gonna land you in it.
Yasir Salah isn’t like the other guys in his new suburban Georgia high school. Lately, he can feel something shifting in his body. Raw. Edgy. Volatile . Like his eyes changing colors and heat on his skin when some alpha bro comes for him…or how just a grin from the gorgeous, untouchable girl at school sends vibrations shooting through his entire body.
Only it’s not just being at a new school. It’s a new town. New rules. New flow . And everything feels way smaller than his ex-life in Atlanta. All he can do is what he’s been keep a low profile and try to not be noticed…and keep his anger under control.
But they never warned him.
They never told him what he is.
And they sure as hell didn’t tell him that the world is gonna need him.
All You Have to Do by Autumn Allen
In ALL YOU HAVE TO DO, two Black young men attend prestigious schools nearly thirty years apart, and yet both navigate similar forms of insidious racism.
In April 1968, in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Kevin joins a protest that shuts down his Ivy League campus…
In September 1995, amidst controversy over the Million Man March, Gibran challenges the “See No Color” hypocrisy of his prestigious New England prep school…
As the two students, whose lives overlap in powerful ways, risk losing the opportunities their parents worked hard to provide, they move closer to discovering who they want to be instead of accepting as fact who society and family tell them they are. — Cover image and summary via Goodreads
Sign of the Slayer by Sharina Harris
High school is supposed to be about studying, socializing, and marching-band practice. Not fighting vampires. Then one night flipped my world inside out―now, my life sucks. But it isn’t all bad. I’m at a slayer academy, learning things like the real origin of vamps and how to make serious weapons out of thin air.
Every last one of them will pay for what they did. I’m doing great.
Until I come face-to-face with the actual vampire prince…and I’m not sure of anything anymore. Vampires are supposed to be soul-sucking demons. But Khamari is…something else. He’s intelligent and reasonable―and he seems to know things about me that could change everything.
He’s also hiding something big, even from his own kind. And when a threat from an ancient evil is so extreme that a vampire will team up with a slayer to take it down, it isn’t just my need for revenge that’s at stake anymore.
It’s the whole damn world.
My Father the Panda Killer by Jamie Jo Hoang
Crown Books for Young Readers
San Jose, 1999. Jane knows her Vietnamese dad can’t control his temper. Lost in a stupid daydream, she forgot to pick up her seven-year-old brother, Paul, from school. Inside their home, she hands her dad the stick he hits her with. This is how it’s always been. She deserves this. Not because she forgot to pick up Paul, but because at the end of the summer she’s going to leave him when she goes away to college. As Paul retreats inward, Jane realizes she must explain where their dad’s anger comes from. The problem is, she doesn’t quite understand it herself.
Đà Nẵng, 1975. Phúc (pronounced /fo͞ok/, rhymes with duke) is eleven the first time his mother walks him through a field of mines he’s always been warned never to enter. Guided by cracks of moonlight, Phúc moves past fallen airplanes and battle debris to a refugee boat. But before the sun even has a chance to rise, more than half the people aboard will perish. This is only the beginning of Phúc’s perilous journey across the Pacific, which will be fraught with Thai pirates, an unrelenting ocean, starvation, hallucination, and the unfortunate murder of a panda.
Told in the alternating voices of Jane and Phúc, My Father, The Panda Killer is an unflinching story about war and its impact across multiple generations, and how one American teenager forges a path toward accepting her heritage and herself.
I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me by Jamison Shea
Henry Holt and Co.
There will be blood.
Ace of Spades meets House of Hollow in this villain origin story.
Laure Mesny is a perfectionist with an axe to grind. Despite being constantly overlooked in the elite and cutthroat world of the Parisian ballet, she will do anything to prove that a Black girl can take center stage. To level the playing field, Laure ventures deep into the depths of the Catacombs and strikes a deal with a pulsating river of blood.
The primordial power Laure gains promises influence and adoration, everything she’s dreamed of and worked toward. With retribution on her mind, she surpasses her bitter and privileged peers, leaving broken bodies behind her on her climb to stardom.
But even as undeniable as she is, Laure is not the only monster around. And her vicious desires make her a perfect target for slaughter. As she descends into madness and the mystifying underworld beneath her, she is faced with the ultimate continue to break herself for scraps of validation or succumb to the darkness that wants her exactly as she is—monstrous heart and all. That is, if the god-killer doesn’t catch her first.
From debut author Jamison Shea comes I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me , a slow-burn horror that lifts a veil on the institutions that profit on exclusion and the toll of giving everything to a world that will never love you back.
The Infinity Particle by Wendy Xu
Quill Tree Books
Clementine Chang moves from Earth to Mars for a new start and is lucky enough to land her dream job with Dr. Marcella Lin, an Artificial Intelligence pioneer. On her first day of work, Clem meets Dr. Lin’s assistant, a humanoid AI named Kye. Clem is no stranger to robots—she built herself a cute moth-shaped companion named SENA. Still, there’s something about Kye that feels almost too human.
When Clem and Kye begin to collaborate, their chemistry sets off sparks. The only downside? Dr. Lin is enraged by Kye’s growing independence and won’t allow him more freedom. Plus, their relationship throws into question everything Clem thought she knew about AI. After all, if Kye is sentient enough to have feelings, shouldn’t he be able to control his own actions? Where is the line between AI and human?
As her past and Kye’s future weigh down on her, Clem becomes determined to help him break free—even if it means risking everything she came to Mars for.
The Lightstruck (The Darkening #2) by Sunya Mara
Vesper Vale sacrificed everything to save her city from the cursed storm. After becoming a vessel of The Great Queen, Vesper awakes from a slumber three years after her life altering choice.
What she finds isn’t a home freed from the terror of the storm, but one where its citizens are besieged by the even more sinister force of The Great King and his growing army of the lightstruck—once regular citizens who are now controlled by the ominous light encroaching on the city. And the people are all looking to Vesper, now revered as a goddess after her sacrifice, as their city’s only hope.
To save the rings from the Great King, Vesper must contend with the obligations of being a deity to her people and the growing chasm between her and Dalca, the prince she swore never to love. Haunted by the guilt of their past choices and faced with the pressures of a city near ruin, Vesper and Dalca find themselves torn between the growing factions within the city and the royal court.
But in order to save her city from the light, Vesper must face the power most outside of her control—the goddess within.
A Tall Dark Trouble by Vanessa Montalban
Twin sisters Ofelia and Delfi know better than to get involved with magic. Their Mami has seen to that. After all, it was magic that cursed their family, turning love into a poison. Romance is off the table for the Sanchez women. They’ve seen the curse take hold enough times to know how that road ends. And yet. Sometimes a girl catches feelings and just can’t help herself.
When Ofelia and Delfi begin having premonitions of a series of murders, the sisters know it is time to embrace their magical inheritance to get to the bottom of the mystery and save innocent lives. Teaming up with their best friend Ethan and with brooding detective-in-training Andres, the sisters set out to learn the truth. They just need to make sure Mami doesn’t find out what they’re up to.
Meanwhile, in 1980 Cuba, Anita struggles with a different magical conflict. Her mother, Mama Orti, is a bruja who belongs to a secret coven of elders and Anita knows she will be forced to join the coven herself one day. She sees no escape, though the thought of staying and letting this future claim her is terrifying. Ofelia, Delfi, and Anita’s stories collide as each woman steps into her power and embraces who she truly is, refusing to be subdued by any person, coven, or curse.
In this stunning YA contemporary fantasy, debut author Vanessa Montalban explores the interlocking struggles of three generations of women in one family. An unputdownable debut for anyone who roots for magic, sisterhood, and love.
House of Marionne by J. Elle
17 year-old Quell has lived her entire life on the run. She and her mother have fled from city to city, in order to hide the deadly magic that flows through Quell’s veins.
Until someone discovers her dark secret.
To hide from the assassin hunting her, and keep her mother out of harm’s way, Quell reluctantly inducts into a debutante society of magical social elites called the Order that she never knew existed. If she can pass their three rites of membership, mastering their proper form of magic, she’ll be able to secretly bury her forbidden magic forever.
If caught, she will be killed.
But becoming the perfect debutante is a lot harder than Quell imagined, especially when there’s more than tutoring happening with Jordan, her brooding mentor and— assassin in training.
When Quell uncovers the deadly lengths the Order will go to defend its wealth and power, she’s forced to choose: embrace the dark magic she’s been running from her entire life or risk losing everything, and everyone, she’s grown to love.
Still, she fears the most formidable monster she’ll have to face is the one inside.
Brimming with ballgowns and betrayal, magic and mystery, decadence and darkness, House of Marionne is perfect for readers who crave morally gray characters, irresistible romance, dark academia, and a deeply intoxicating and original world.
Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim
Knopf Books for Young Readers
One sister must fall for the other to rise.
Channi was not born a monster. But when her own father offers her in sacrifice to the Demon Witch, she is forever changed. Cursed with a serpent’s face, Channi is the exact opposite of her beautiful sister, Vanna—the only person in the village who looks at Channi and doesn’t see a monster. The only person she loves and trusts.
Now seventeen, Vanna is to be married off in a vulgar contest that will enrich the coffers of the village leaders. Only Channi, who’s had to rely on her strength and cunning all these years, can defend her sister against the cruelest of the suitors. But in doing so, she becomes the target of his wrath—launching a grisly battle royale, a quest over land and sea, a romance between sworn enemies, and a choice that will strain Channi’s heart to its breaking point.
Weaving together elements of The Selection and Ember in the Ashes with classic tales like Beauty and the Beast, Helen of Troy, and Asian folklore, Elizabeth Lim is at the absolute top of her game in this thrilling yet heart-wrenching fantasy that explores the dark side of beauty and the deepest bonds of sisterhood.
Never a Hero (Monsters #2) by Vanessa Len
Despite all of the odds, Joan achieved the impossible. She reset the timeline, saved her family – and destroyed the hero, Nick.
But her success has come at a terrible cost.
She alone remembers what happened. Now, Aaron, her hard-won friend – and maybe more – is an enemy, trying to kill her. And Nick, the boy she loved, is a stranger who doesn’t even know her name. Only Joan remembers that there is a ruthless and dangerous enemy still out there.
When a deadly attack forces Joan back into the monster world as a fugitive, she finds herself on the run with Nick – as Aaron closes in.
As the danger rises – and Nick gets perilously closer to discovering the truth of what Joan did to him – Joan discovers a secret of her own. One that threatens everyone she loves.
Torn between love and family and monstrous choices, Joan must find a way to re-gather her old allies to face down the deadliest of enemies, and to save the timeline itself.
Vanessa Len’s stunning Only a Monster trilogy continues with this second installment, a thrilling journey where a secret past threatens to unravel everyone’s future.