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)
“If I had a dollar for every writer who told me of their childhood love for the d’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths…what is it about that book?
Everyone has an illustration that’s stuck with them. For me, it’s the kraken rising up out of the ocean. And for a lot of people it was one of our first exposures to really old stories and a deep, continuous mythology. They’re unapologetically complex, internally referential, and ask a lot of young readers, visually and narratively. When you work hard to enjoy something at a young age, it leaves an impression.” ―Kiyash Monsef, Interview, Horn Book
What booksellers are saying about Once There Was
When Marjan’s father is mysteriously murdered, she discovers he was a veterinarian to the kinds of mythic creatures in the stories he once told her…and she inherited his power to care for beasts like griffons and gnomes herself. Once There Was is an emotionally rich, beautifully told story, full of adventure, mystery, and magical realism, with great Iranian-American representation, about the paradox of living—wonder and responsibility, grief and connection—that I’d love for readers of all ages to enjoy and engage with.
―Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia | Buy from Underground Books
I absolutely loved the writing in this book. Not overly stylized fantasy– well-grounded in relatable language and situations, not “high fantasy”. The relationships are tender and sweet and cover everything from friendships, to parent/caregiver, to romantic. The plot develops well, the ending is satisfying without being twee. The character development is spot on and I’ve never met a unicorn more fascinating! Monsef’s gentle treatment of the traumatic effects of grief and loss are beautiful.
―Elisa Forshey, Givens Books & Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Virginia | Buy from Givens Books & Little Dickens
Marjan is having to deal with a lot for a teenager — her mom died years ago, leaving her with a strained relationship with her dad…but now her dad’s died suddenly, too, and Marjan has to keep his veterinary practice up and running in addition to her schoolwork and basic necessities. Then Marjan finds out that her dad wasn’t just a vet, that the mythical animals from the stories he told her are real, and he would treat them when needed — and now Marjan has inherited that responsibility, as well. It’s a responsibility that Marjan isn’t sure she wants, but she decides to at least see what it’s all about. And her life changes, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better, but ultimately in the ways she needs. A story that will appeal to both middle-grade and young adult readers who love myths, about discovering the missing parts of yourself — whether you know they’re missing or not, and whether or not you want them.
― Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina | Buy from Fiction Addiction
About Kiyash Monsef
Kiyash Monsef is an Emmy Award–nominated producer and director; a writer of short stories, videos, comic books, and games; and a designer of innovative conversational and voice interface experiences. Once There Was is his first novel.
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
Tate and Penny are not quite enemies. Under other circumstances, maybe they’d be friends, but it’s hard to be friends with someone who is always there, who witnesses the worst moments of your life — and then there is that inconvenient attraction, far too strong and pervasive to ignore. I loved all the tropes, all the stubborn resistance, and I loved these two girls. Angry and resourceful, hopeful and determined. When they kissed, I cheered.
6 Times We Almost Kissed (And One Time We Did) by Tess Sharpe, (List Price: $18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316302791, January 2023)
Liselle Sambury’s Delicious Monsters is a truly harrowing work of horror and suspense. Told in alternating points-of-view set ten years apart, Delicious Monsters follows Daisy, who can see the dead, and Brittney, who runs a successful paranormal investigation series online. In the past, Daisy and her mother inherit a family mansion that is riddled with tragedy and hides a mysterious past. In the present, Brittney’s own experiences with the mansion haunt her and compel her to investigate Daisy’s story. As each girl races to find answers to the mysteries plaguing them, both will be forced to reckon with their own traumas and discover there are things far scarier than ghosts lurking in the halls– and it might just be the person right beside you. Riveting, compulsively readable, and downright terrifying, Delicious Monsters will linger with readers long past the final page. Perfect for fans of Vincent Tirado’s Burn Down, Rise Up and Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. Prepare to stay up all night reading!
Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury, (List Price: $21.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665903493, February 2023)
Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It is a story about grief, community, family and love. Chao’s writing invites you into a community that is rich in Chinese culture and traditions that you can see, smell, taste and hear. Throughout the story you get to see Kai and Liya grow as individuals and find their way back to each other in the most heartwarming way. This beautiful story is sure to tug on your heartstrings!
When You Wish Upon a Lantern by Gloria Chao, (List Price: $18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593464359, February 2023)
Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Filled with a neat balance of relatable humor and serious topics, You Truly Assumed is a memorable coming-of-age novel that touches on the struggles of three black, Muslim women and their fight to create a safe space and a voice to be heard for people just like them. You Truly Assumed is the perfect novel for teens or young adults who feel they don’t have a voice in the face of prejudice and fear, as it features funny, relatable characters and the raw effects of real events.
You Truly Assumed by Leila Sabreen, (List Price: $10.99, Inkyard Press, 9781335428646, February 2023)
Wow, what a beautifully written book that deals with a lot of complex issues while still feeling like a wonderful fantasy novel. What was so beautiful you may ask? First of all, the characters. Normally I find childhood bestfriends/lovers turned enemies to be very unbelievable but M.K. Lobb found the best way to do it. Roz and Damian were very believable characters with trauma that manifests in very different ways. PTSD isn’t always hiding in a corner or freaking out at loud noises. Second of all, the plot of which I’d say there are really two plot lines and then a third of when they finally converge together. A murder mystery and a rebellion don’t really seem to fit together until they finally do and I was excited for every second. This book didn’t feel like it was almost 400 pages because I just kept wanting to find out what happened next. Third of all, that twist. The villain of this story honestly blind-sided me. I went for the obvious choice because no one else met the qualifications for the big bad. Now don’t get me wrong, my guess was a very terrible person but they just weren’t the real villain we were looking for. This book also handled multiple POVs very well. There’s really only two POVs for this book, Damian and Roz, and they don’t spend time recapping events that happened in the other character’s chapter, they just move on with a maybe a line saying "I don’t know what they’re thinking so I’m just going to continue to solve this mystery" and that was it. Which I really appreciate. I don’t like being told things and M.K. Lobb delivered the story brilliantly.
Seven Faceless Saints by M.K. Lobb, (List Price: $19.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316386883, February 2023)
I devoured this gorgeous novel like I was one of the hungry jungle ghosts. I absolutely adore Victoria’s relationship with Mumma River and how nature speaks to her. Every moment they were in the jungle was absolutely magical. With a super unique magic system, high stakes, untrustworthy men, a lush, protective jungle, and a fierce, loyal main character, Blackwood’s Wildblood is not to be missed for YA fantasy lovers!
Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250787132, February 2023)
Kip Wilson’s novel in verse about photojournalist Gerda Tardo captures her passion for revealing truth through photography. It sweeps the reader from Gerda’s school days in Germany to the front lines in the Spanish Civil War. A compelling read.
One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson, (List Price: $17.99, Versify, 9780063251687, January 2023)
Newsflash: Lynn Painter is The Queen of the YA rom-com! She has grabbed a hold of this reader’s heart and will not let go. The Do-Over brings us Emilie Hornby, an over-achieving people pleasure who is ready for The Perfect Valentines Day. She has her checklist ready to seize her perfectly planned agenda. Things get off to a rocky start when she wrecks her car on the way to school and has to bum a ride with broody Nick Stark, her chemistry partner. Her day goes off the rails when she spots her perfect-on-paper boyfriend kissing another girl. The nerve! The only thing that could make this day worse is to have to re-live it….and the next morning she wakes up to another Valentine’s Day and so it goes. I enjoyed Lynn’s signature witty banter and sweet love story. The Do-Over will be perfect for any YA Rom Com reader and fans of closed-door romances.
The Do-Over by Lynn Painter (List Price: $19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534478862, November 2022)
Poignant, moving, and utterly captivating from the first page to the last, We Deserve Monuments is in a league of its own. Both a riveting exploration of the South’s intrinsic and rampant racism and a love story that revels in the beauty of queer Black girls, Jas Hammonds’ debut should be required reading. A beautifully rendered love story both to the family we’re born into and the family we choose, I know I will be neither the first nor the last to say that this book, and all those who see themselves reflected in its pages, deserves monuments.
We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds, (List Price: $18.99, Roaring Brook Press, 9781250816559, November 2022)
Reviewed by Mary Louise Callaghan, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The Insomniacs combines the mystery of amnesia with the thrill of a reignited friendship. Ingrid, the main character, works to figure out what she’s missing and how to solve her sudden insomnia in this twisting story. Vance, her best friend from years ago, reconnects. An intriguing read with an unexpected ending. This book explores the uncertainty and depth of relationships along with trauma. In the setting of a high schooler’s life. Overall, a super interesting read!
The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg, (List Price: $11.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250257376, October 2022)
We all know the story of the little mermaid who fell in love with a prince, made a deal with a sea witch and needs a kiss so she can remain a human. However, what do we know about the handsome prince? What is his part of this story? In the Prince of Song and Sea, Lindsey Miller shows you the life of Prince Eric. His friends, his adventures, and his curse. If you loved Littler Mermaid, you will be delighted to read Prince of Song and Sea with its familiar storyline, recognizable characters, and a deeper dive into a well-loved story.
Prince of Song & Sea by Linsey Miller, (List Price: $17.99, Disney Press, 9781368069113, October 2022)
What an incredible book! Giles rachets up the tension immediately in this story of paradise gone wrong. The staff and families living at Karloff County’s most famous resort are living happily in harmony until people start to vanish without a trace. As the world outside starts to crumble, young Jay and his friends try to find a way to get themselves and their loved ones to safety – whatever that may mean.
The Getaway by Lamar Giles, (List Price: $19.99, Scholastic Press, 9781338752014, September 2022)