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Issue #1: Pride Edition

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the first ever periodical issue of YA Pride! After being on a semi-hiatus for the past year, we are re-launching with a brand new format and clarified focus. Instead of our usual blog post format, we will be transitioning to a quarterly online periodical.

With the change in format comes a change in content. Instead of one-off pieces, we are shifting our focus to slower, long-form, in-depth journalistic pieces, that are based on reflection, community conversation, and research.

By switching to this type of content, we hope to continue promoting and discussing fantastic LGBTQIAP+ YA literature, while also connecting present-day issues to historic fights and a larger context. This new format will also be more sustainable for college kids and recent college graduates (which our current team is entirely comprised of!) to keep up with. We are SUPER excited for this change and to keep pushing for more affirming and inclusive content in YA.

We hope you enjoy our first ever periodical. Happy Pride!

-The YA Pride Team (Vee, Daisy, and Kaitlin)

(more…)

By | June 19th, 2019|Categories: Archive|Comments Off on Issue #1: Pride Edition

LGBTQIAP+ YA Books by Asian Authors

by Kaitlin Mitchell

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, readers! Just as with our 2019 Black History Month book list, I am so happy to share that the number of books on our list of LGBTQIAP+ YA books by Asian authors has grown incredibly since last year! Here are 17 books you can pick up, preorder, or add to your 2020 tbr today!

Out Now:

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

 

Timekeeper, Chainbreaker, and Firestarter by Tara Sim

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

 

Not Your Sidekick, Not Your Villain, and Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.

Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.

 

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.

 

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

 


Summer Bird Blue
by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

 

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

 

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

The most important thing is that Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend, even if Angie can’t see how she truly feels. It’s okay that Jess is the girl on the sidelines that nobody notices. That means she’s free to watch everyone else and be at Angie’s side. But when Angie starts falling for Margot, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can already see what’s going to happen. And suddenly her gift for observation is a curse.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess finds more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences. When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

 

 

Upcoming:

 

TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL by Aminah Mae Safi (June 11, 2019)

Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.

 

SHATTER THE SKY by Rebecca Kim Wells (July 30, 2019)

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

 

I’LL BE THE ONE by Lyla Lee (2020)

Mabel Hsu at HarperCollins/Tegen has acquired, in a six-figure auction, Lyla Lee’s YA romantic comedy celebrating body positivity, I’ll Be the One. Pitched as Dumplin’ meets When Dimple Met Rishi, the book follows Skye Shin, a bisexual Korean-American teen girl who competes on a reality TV show to become the first plus-sized K-pop star, while falling in love with her competitor, Henry Cho, who happens to be a world-famous celebrity. Publication is set for fall 2020; Penny Moore at Aevitas Creative Management did the two-book deal for North American rights.

 

THE HENNA WARS by Adiba Jaigirdar (2020)

Page Street has acquired Adiba Jaigirdar’s The Henna Wars. Pitched as When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the romcom is about two teen girls with rival henna businesses who fall in love. The projected pub season is spring 2020.

Do you know a LGBTQIAP+ YA book by an Asian author that wasn’t included on this list? Tell us in the comments below, send a message to our ask box on Tumblr, or @ us on Twitter. Happy reading!

 

By | May 27th, 2019|Categories: Archive, Book Lists, Fun Things|Comments Off on LGBTQIAP+ YA Books by Asian Authors

Call for Submissions: Sexual Violence in LGBTQIAP+ YA

For Sexual Assault Awareness Month we want to shine a light on representation of sexual violence in LGBTQIAP+ Young Adult literature. Or, rather, the lack thereof– there are not very many characters in LGBTQIAP+ YA who are survivors of sexual violence.

I have wanted to do this project for a long time. Sexual violence radically impacted my teenage years and there were so few resources (especially for a queer, trans teen) to turn to. LGBTQIAP+ YA was instrumental to my process of figuring out my queer, trans identity. Unfortunately, it left me stranded with figuring out how to cope with being a queer, trans survivor. Not only did it not represent my experience, it also didn’t show me representations of sex and romance I could relate to. While I loved (and still love!) romantic and/or sexual stories, I couldn’t see myself in the characters. Who were these teens who kissed like it was nothing? Who shared their feelings with each other without shutting down? Who could make out or have sex without any long, awkward conversations about why you might completely freak out if they touched you in a certain way? I had no models for how to approach my own romantic/sexual relationships. I was really scared and confused throughout my teen years, and it would have changed so much see my experience represented in fiction.

Now, I really want to explore different ways of writing experiences of survivors and the importance of having these experiences represented in YA. While this can be an extremely difficult subject, it can also be a fun and funny one to explore, especially in community with other survivors.

So! Are you interested in being a part of this project? If so, awesome! I’m so happy you found your way here. Here are the ways you can contribute to this project:

1: choose your own adventure. For this project, you can send me basically whatever you want that touches somewhat on the subject at hand. This can be in any format. Some suggestions:

  • essay
  • paragraph or two of your thoughts
  • link to a tweet thread/tumblr post/instagram/blog post in which you’ve discussed sexual violence
  • list of things you want to see represented in sex scenes in LGBTQIAP+ YA
  • list of survivors’ experience you want to see in LGBTQIAP+ YA
  • audio recording of your thoughts
  • response to a specific sex scene in YA that you really loved or disliked
  • interview with a friend. (send me the audio, a transcript, or some key takeaways. use our questions or come up with your own!)
2: answer the questions directly! feel free to pick and choose which questions you want to answer.
  • Can you describe your experience in whatever way is comfortable to share?
  • Did you talk to anyone about what happened? Did you worry about what people would think/say/do if you told them? What types of things were you worried about?
  • What was your own internal dialogue about the experience?
  • What impact did this experience have on your relationships (of all sorts)?
  • What was it like negotiating sex and relationships before (if there was a before) and after the sexual violence?
  • If you could go back and tell your kid/teen self one thing, what would it be?
  • What helped you survive?
  • Did you see sexual violence represented in the media as a teen? If so, how was it represented?
  • What was the first time you saw a reflection of your experience? How did it change things? (Or, alternatively, have you ever seen one? and if not, what would it mean to you to see one?)
  • What would it have meant for you to see your experience represented as a teen?
  • What kinds of resources do you hope that kids and teens today are able to have?
  • Some survivors talk about having two stories: one that is polished and easy for people to understand, and another one that is messy and complicated and weird that we keep private. I feel like often, especially in YA, we only get the sanitized versions of sexual violence survival stories. Are there any specific, messier experiences you would like to see represented in YA?
  • As a survivor, what would you like to see in LGBTQIAP+ YA sex scenes? How would you like to see characters talk about sex?

HOW TO SUBMIT:

Please send all submissions to contact@yapride.org. If you would like, please feel free to include some information about yourself, a short bio, and/or social media links. (This is not required!) Submit by April 18th.

DETAILS:

  • Anonymity: You can be anonymous or use a nickname, first name, or full name. If you ever want your answers taken down or your name removed, I am happy to do that. We have removed whole posts and names from posts in the past. If that ever becomes an issue or concern, please get in touch. I am happy to remove whatever is needed.
  • BIPOC Prioritization: We will be centering voices of BIPOC contributors. If you are White, feel free to still submit, but we may not use your submission this time around.
  • Compensation: Unfortunately we are currently not able to offer monetary compensation. We are hoping to change this in the near future. If this is a deal breaker for you, we completely understand! We are more than happy, however, to link to contributors’ Patreons, Ko-Fis, Kickstarters, Paypals, and more. And we will of course link to personal websites, social media accounts, etc, if so desired. Just let us know!
  • 18+: For this project, we are only looking for submissions from people 18 years of age and older.

-Vee

By | April 15th, 2019|Categories: Updates and Announcements|Tags: |Comments Off on Call for Submissions: Sexual Violence in LGBTQIAP+ YA

Women’s History Month Book List

By Kaitlin Mitchell

Happy Women’s History Month, readers! This list is a celebration of the strength of women. Of all women. Women of color. Women of different sexual and romantic orientations. Trans women. Women with mental illnesses and disabilities.

Queer teen girls who are reading this list–this is a celebration of your strength.

Here are 20 LGBTQIAP+ YA books to celebrate Women’s History Month with. Happy reading!

Out now:

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

 

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.

 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship–one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self–even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

 

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan 

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

 

Wild Beauty Anna-Marie McLemore

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

A new kind of big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

 

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?

 

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.

 

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

 

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

 

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

 

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

 

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

A beautiful and evocative look at identity and creativity, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is a stunning debut in magical realism. Perfect for fans of The Walls Around Us and Bone Gap.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn’t ever before. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

 

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?

 

Upcoming:

THE LAST 8 by Laura Pohl (March 5, 2019)

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

 

THE WEIGHT OF STARS by K. Ancrum (March 19, 2019)

Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.

One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.

Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .

 

BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo (May 21, 2019)

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.

 

 

THE GRIEF KEEPER by Alexandra Villasante (June 11, 2019)

Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.

But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.

 

By | March 3rd, 2019|Categories: Archive, Book Lists, Fun Things|Comments Off on Women’s History Month Book List

My Kind of Story

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week Series

by Laura Pohl

I’ve always loved reading love stories.

There was nothing like opening a book to find a sweeping romance on its pages, love stories like I’d never seen before. Love stories that defied everything, society, family, even death. They were stories that made me fiercely believe in this powerful, unknown force. Stories that were impossible.

I never even stopped to consider that it’s what love always meant for me: something impossible.

It took me a while to understand my place while I was still in high school. Every single person was having high school girlfriend/boyfriend dramas. Everyone wanted someone to fall in love with. I did, too, because that’s what I read about. That’s what I knew.

Every love story I’d ever loved kept coming back to haunt me. I looked around as people fell in and out of love, and at the same time, I looked around me and felt nothing. I thought that people were cute, here and there, but there was nothing beyond that. Nothing of the shaky knees, nothing of that wild heartbeat, nothing of seeing someone and forgetting how to speak. Nothing at all.

After a while, I got used to it. I didn’t have a name for it, just thought it was somehow a part of me that had come out broken or malfunctioning. I didn’t really stop reading romances, but I realized that was something I wasn’t going to have. Maybe I didn’t have the right to one, maybe we were all born to a type of story and mine just wasn’t about romantic love.

The stories I wrote were a little different.

When I started writing them, I didn’t want them to be just about romances. I loved romances a lot, but that was all I got to read—every single YA I picked up there was another love story staring at me from the pages. Girl meets boy, boy meets girl. Sometimes there was the happy variation of girl meets girl, boy meets boy. Those were the exceptions which I devoured because they had something new and fresh about them.

They still weren’t my stories, not exactly.

I first heard the word aromantic while I was in university.

By then I’d figured out a couple more things about myself. I’d gotten used to identifying as bisexual, because I definitely felt some type of attraction to people of all genders. I just couldn’t place that attraction yet. I’d heard of asexual first, but that label didn’t exactly fit me. Aromantic, though, was like opening up a door to my house I knew all along, and finding all those childhood memories that I’d somehow left behind.

It’s not a word that’s used a lot. Half of the time, I don’t think I have it entirely figured out either. But mostly, it fits. It feels right.

When I started writing The Last 8, I knew what I wanted to write. For the first time, I wanted to write about someone like me. Someone who survived the end of the world and wasn’t worried about their significant other. Just someone trying to survive on their own. I wanted to write a story about friendship and family and surviving, and have none of these things be a romantic love story.

Clover, the main character in The Last 8, is aromantic, like me. She’s my type of story.

There were a lot of things that changed in the drafting process while I was still learning how to write and what to keep. I polished and revised this story many times, but one thing never changed—Clover wasn’t interested in a romance. She had a boyfriend, who she broke up with because she just didn’t feel the same way about him as he did. She wasn’t in love with him, never was.

I got questioned about it. I even had an offer from a publisher for the manuscript, with one condition—that I ended up changing the end so Clover “learned to love again”.

Those were their words. Learn to love again, as if there was something wrong if she didn’t love on their terms.

The most fascinating thing to me is that I can’t see The Last 8 as anything but a love story. It’s about one girl learning to love herself, to love her friends. It’s about the love I’ve always experienced—the love of friendship, of people bonding without romance, people willing to go anywhere for each other.  

Clover loves, in her terms. In my own terms.

Love isn’t just romance. We can’t keep reading romance and thinking that’s all there is. Love takes many different forms, and we should be able to read about all of them, to write them freely and without worry. Love shouldn’t be restrained to a bond between two people and being strictly romantic. I don’t want to write books that are just about kissing. I want to write much more than that.

I still love reading love stories.  But I like mine a little different—maybe they’re about a significant other. But maybe they are about family. Maybe they are about friends. Maybe they are more than just romance.

Maybe they are just about being able to love yourself.

In the end, they’re all still love stories.

THE LAST 8

A HIGH-STAKES SURVIVAL STORY ABOUT EIGHT TEENAGERS WHO OUTLIVE AN ALIEN ATTACK—PERFECT FOR FANS OF THE 5TH WAVE

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe… or who to trust.

PRE-ORDER: AMAZON | INDIEBOUND | BARNES&NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Don't forget to add The Last 8 on Goodreads!

Laura Pohl is a YA writer and the author of THE LAST 8 (Sourcebooks, 2019). She likes writing messages in caps lock, quoting Hamilton and obsessing about Star Wars. When not taking pictures of her dog, she can be found curled up with a fantasy or science-fiction book. A Brazilian at heart and soul, she makes her home in São Paulo.  

By | February 21st, 2019|Categories: Archive|Comments Off on My Kind of Story