I automatically love a creepy-camp scenario and Bayron’s first horror novel knocks it out of the park! Charity and her friends run the immersive horror game at Camp Mirror Lake, the site where a slasher movie was filmed years ago. The scares become all too real as her team starts to disappear without a trace and odd strangers show up at the camp. The disinterested owner is no help so Charity and her gang are left to find out what is going on – and to try to escape with their lives. Can this Final Girl save the day? This tense, scary book keeps you riveted until the last page!
You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron, (List Price: 19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547611546, June 2023)
This book was full of twist and turns and had a bit of a science-fiction vibe, which is a refreshing take on a thriller. It reminded me of Catriona Ward’s Sundial and Delilah S. Dawson’s The Violence where you have children being brainwashed in the literal sense where they no longer remember their past and are raised to be completely different people and when those repressed memories eventually start to come through, violence happens.
When I started this audiobook, I was immediately hooked when Gabby flipped out and smashed a faculty member’s head in at school. I also loved that all of the kids were able to grow as characters because they were able to confront their past lives and accept that they are who they were and are now.
I also enjoyed the mystery. I was guessing and guessing who the person was that was sending the threatening emails. I can typically guess correctly, but this book threw me for a loop!
Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong, (List Price: 18.99, Tundra Books, 9780735270923, April 2023)
Remixes of Greek mythology abound, but Kika Hatzopoulou brings a fresh entry into the trend with a murder mystery focused on the Fates. Io, a descendent of the Fates, is able to see the life threads of people around her and uses this ability in her job as a private investigator. When a surge of wraiths– individuals with maimed life threads– occurs in the city, Io must locate the culprit before the destruction spirals out of control. Threads that Bind is the next must-read for fans of Lore by Alexandra Bracken and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.
Threads That Bind by Kika Hatzopoulou, (List Price: 19.99, Razorbill, 9780593528716, May 2023)
Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
[This story] was incredibly cathartic to write—though it’s equally terrifying to release it into the world. All my books are personal, but this one’s personal in ways that are unnervingly public. So much of Imogen’s internal monologue mirrors my own questioning process. And even though Imogen isn’t a public figure, she’s internalized the same discourse that kept me tied in knots. For me—and for Imogen—even the idea of questioning felt like a step out of bounds. ―Becky Albertalli, Interview, Nerd Daily
What booksellers are saying about Imogen, Obviously
Imogen’s friends are all queer. As well as her sister. She’s made it her job to be the best ally she can be. Because she’s straight. Right? When Imogen finally goes to visit her best friend Lili at college, she finds herself right in the middle of Lili’s lie: Lili has told her friends that Imogen is her bi ex, but now they’re really good friends. So when Imogen visits, her people pleasing personality has her trying on that identity. And she may find that it fits a lot better than she thought it would.
― Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA
| Buy from Bookmiser
Tender and hopeful, this is a charming YA about friendship, first queer crushes, and sitting in the discomfort of ambiguity. Imogen is a loving and gentle protagonist who explores the more nebulous parts of coming out as a young adult: how do you know if the flutters in your stomach when you talk to a cute, obviously gay new girl means you’re queer, questioning, or just a really strong ally? (spoiler: you might be queer). What does it even mean to be “queer enough?” (spoiler: it means nothing). Albertalli draws on a lot of her own experiences as a public-facing person whose identity was scrutinized and dissected, and it results in a personal and vulnerable story about growing up and coming out.
―Gaby Iori from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books
While Imogen is straight, she is definitely an ally. She has a queer little sister and queer best friends. But since one of her friends, Lili, went to college and acquired a circle of queer friends (who all seem amazing on social media), Imogen isn’t sure where she fits anymore. And things get even more confusing when Imogen visits Lili and meets Tessa…who, along with all of Lili’s other friends, thinks Imogen is bi. And now, with possible crush feelings for Tessa, Imogen doesn’t know what to think. More of a questioning story than a coming out story, this will resonate with anyone who might have realized that they’ve been put in the wrong box — by society, by friends and family, by themselves. And Albertalli has a true gift for character’s voices that make them really come off the page.
―Melissa Oates from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction
About Becky Albertalli
Becky Albertalli is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including William C. Morris Award winner and National Book Award longlist title Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (now a major motion picture, Love, Simon); The Upside of Unrequited; Leah on the Offbeat; Love, Creekwood; What If It’s Us and Here’s to Us (cowritten with Adam Silvera); Yes No Maybe So (cowritten with Aisha Saeed); and Kate in Waiting. Becky lives with her family in Atlanta, and she’s still not tired of Oreos. You can visit her online at beckyalbertalli.com.
Imagine being in a country you know nothing about without your phone to guide you. You might be amazed at what you find, discover about an unknown place or even about yourself. This book takes you on journey through Taiwan and immerses you in the culture. I really loved the adventure of it all and the amazing graphics.
Lost in Taiwan (A Graphic Novel) by Mark Crilley, (List Price: 24.99, Little, Brown Ink, 9781368040884, May 2023)
Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Dylan and Jonah have a long history of despising each other. Their friends have long insisted that the boys secretly have the hots for each other, though. So Dylan and Jonah agree to fake date for a while, and then they can break up and go about their lives without their friends trying to get them together. Except while they’re ‘dating’, they get to know each other — that Jonah works too much because his sisters are everything to him and he doesn’t want them to be taken away, and that Dylan has a brother he hasn’t even talked to in years because of something that happened in their past. And as they open up to each other, they find that maybe friendship — or more — could actually be there after all. This is a poignant story that is as much about Dylan and Jonah’s separate trials as it is about their romance, which makes it that much more satisfying when things work out for them.
They Hate Each Other by Amanda Woody, (List Price: 18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593403099, May 2023)
Another new book by Salvatore and another five-star read. They’re three for three with this reader! Twins Alex and Olly lost a lot when their father went to prison. Their mom works all the time at three jobs, and most of their friends abandoned them. But they’re keeping together. At least, until their dad dies. Suddenly Alex is spiraling and Olly doesn’t know how to help her. Add in the complication of a half-brother they knew nothing about and it’s a recipe for disaster. Can they pull themselves out of this mess before one or all of them self-destruct?
No Perfect Places by Steven Salvatore, (List Price: 19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547611072, May 2023)
Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia
Dylan’s life revolves around his family — helping his aunt in their Chinese-Singaporian takeout restaurant, spending time with his cousins, remembering his mom. Then Theo comes into his life, with his private school and Ferrari and uber-wealthy family. The two are nothing alike, made even more obvious when Theo convinces Dylan to be his fake date at a family wedding and Dylan gets a look at the drama in Theo’s family. But there’s something real between them, and Dylan finds it harder and harder to ignore it. A super-cute romance with big YA Crazy Rich Asian vibes. And you’ll want to be sure to have snacks handy because the food sounds amazing, and you’ll definitely get hungry!
Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee, (List Price: 10.99, Underlined, 9780593569955, May 2023)
Actual chills at the ending of this novel. ACTUAL. CHILLS. Cam and Brie are the absolute cutest in this story. Cam cannot inherit as a girl, so she happily becomes Count Cam and moves to where she’ll only ever be known as a boy after her father dies. But of course she falls in love with the princess herself! After much fashion and adorable hijinks, we have an exciting happy story. This is perfect for fans of The Prince and the Dressmaker, Heartstopper, and the classic Nimona. Don’t miss out on this darling tale that’s a mix of Victorian and modern age and beautiful artwork.
The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (A Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz, (List Price: 17.99, Little, Brown Ink, 9780316538725, May 2023)
Set in NOLA, this book is full of intrigue, magic, messy family drama and mystery. This book tackles, homophobia, white supremacy, and race in a way I’ve never seen before. I love seeing Chris and Clem’s character development as they find themselves and step into their power. I enjoyed every twist and turn and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Loved it!
Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker, (List Price: 18.99, Tor Teen, 9781250825926, April 2023)
Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
This novel truly has everything: a little romance, a self-discovery journey, and a dash of murder. It’s all delightfully narrated by Bianca, whose voice is funny, endearing, and authentic. I enjoyed every page and missed the characters when I finished.
Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything by Justine Pucella Winans, (List Price: 19.99, Clarion Books, 9780358721642, April 2023)
A queer retelling of Robin Hood full of heists, heart, and Florida humidity."Steal from the rich–give to ourselves!" is Robin and her Merry Misfits’ chant as they leave their secret hideout affectionately called Nottingham deep in the north Florida wilderness for fast-speed highway robbery. Each girl has her own secrets and past, and some don’t stay buried for long. I adore classic retellings, especially if they’re gender-bent, full of found family, and set in a familiar setting. Daisy Chain is my favorite character because I enjoyed how she spoke in Shakespearean quotes and only Robin could translate. Also because of how many layers she contained that we weren’t even privy to until we arrived at the chapters in her point-of-view. Jacobson did an amazing job capturing all the nuances of each main characters’ personalities as well as the found family that made Robin Hood and his Merry Men such a beloved classic.
Robin and Her Misfits by Kelly Jacobson, (List Price: 14, Three Rooms Press, 9781953103314, April 2023)
This Delicious Death follows the story of Zoey and her three friends two years after a disease that renders half the general public "hollow" or cannibalistic monsters. Unlike zombies, however, they’re fine as long as they eat regularly and the world has created synthetic flesh for them to get their ghoul on. So going to the Desert Bloom Music Festival in the desert for one last trip before the friends go their separate ways after high school should be perfectly fine, right? Between being in love with her best friend, the glamourous Celeste and one of their friends going missing and possibly feral, this wasn’t the kind of trip Zoey was expecting. Okay, so I have to say, while i love sapphic stories, it had been hard for me to get into them for a while. This Delicious Death had me hook line and sinker from the very beginning. The world building was fascinating and the story itself was gripping. I cannot wait to sell this one in store!
This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham, (List Price: 11.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728236445, April 2023)
Magic, murder, and class struggle blend together in a satisfying start to a YA fantasy sequence. Ren and her classmates are transported to a dark realm through a magical accident. One is dead, but won’t be the last to die. As they fight for survival and a way home, their secrets are their worst enemy. Until they meet one with teeth. I can’t wait for Scott Reintgen’s follow-up.
A Door in the Dark by Scott Reintgen, (List Price: 19.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665918688, March 2023)
I wish I could put this book in a time machine and send it back to my high school youth orchestra friends in the 2000s! I’m so glad that books like this exist for teens to read now. Edward Underhill’s passion for the piano and classical music shines on every page of this book and his trans protagonist Miles who is figuring out who he is and what he stands for as he prepares to enter a big competition will capture your heart. I also loved that this book is set in Wisconsin, a state I don’t know very much about!
Always the Almost by Edward Underhill, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250835208, February 2023)
Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina