Book review: The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

Title: The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

Publisher: Erewhon

Publication date: 15 September 2020

Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy

Page extent: 400 pages

Rating:

Synopsis: An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

The Scapegracers is a the gayest, witchiest book in the world and I loved every second of it. Whilst it is more of a slowburn plotwise, the focus on the characters and this deep connection that is formed between the four witches in the new coven was so brilliant. It completely subverts the mean girl trope and I found it one of the most refreshing and exciting portrayals of female friendship that I’ve read in a long time.

The Scapegracers follows Sideways, a lesbian witch who is invited to perform her magic at a party organised by three popular girls who want their party to be the spookiest in memory at the school. But instead of just getting a killer cool bit of magic out of it, the new coven finds friendship and support like never before. The four of them team up to help Sideways with her new crush, as well as fight off the modern day witchhunters who want to take their magic from them.

The Scapegracers is a slow book, I won’t deny it. There isn’t a clear enemy or plot across the book as you would expect from a YA fantasy novel. Instead, this book is more of an exploration of friendship with a side of fantasy as the girls investigate and try out their new powers. And whilst I wasn’t expecting that, I loved this surprise! The Scapegracers has one of the best portrayals of female friendship I’ve ever seen. Clarke has taken the trope of mean, popular school girls, and thrown everything you think about them into the bin. Here, these girls are so supportive, so badass and the way they take Sideways into their group is so incredibly beautiful and heartwarming. It’s done so well that I found myself tearing up when Sideways is just in awe that these beautiful, loving people want to be her friend because she’s so fucked up from being so alone. I also loved that these girls were allowed to embrace their femininity if they wanted and it was amazing because they can still be badass witches too? So often, YA fantasy has to feature “girls who aren’t like other girls”, ones who need to throw away their femininity in order to be cool and kick butts with magic. But The Scapegracers is just the opposite of that in every way: here are these girls who love make up, who wear tight dresses, who flirt, but can still kick butts with magic. More of this in fantasy please!

I also want to praise the casual queerness in the book which was so great to see. We have a lesbain main character, bisexual and queer side characters, and Sideways has two dads! And that leads me to my second favourite part of this book: Sideways is so. fucking. gay. She is such a clueless lesbian, it is amazing. I loved her pure awed joy when interacting with Madeline, which lead to lines like this: “Hell, if Madeline offered to beat me up, I’d probably weep with joy and give her a hearty tip when she was done” and “She wanted my number in a potentially gay way. Oh God, I wanted to die.” I couldn’t help but laugh at her, she’s such a great character who is a complete mess when she has a crush and it was so great to see.

I enjoyed the bringing of witchhunters into the modern world. Although it was only a small section, I loved finding out about the history of these witchhunters, it was so fascinating how they came to be and how they track witches. The reason I didn’t give this a full of five stars is because it did slow quite a lot, particularly in the middle of the book, when the witchhunters seemed to disappear. I think they could have been a bit more prominent to add a sense of tension and urgency to the book as they were a great, creepy villain!

All in all, I really loved this book! I’ve been having a bad run with YA fantasy this year, but because this was so different to what I expected from YA fantasy, it resulted in something so much better than I hoped for! The Scapegracers is a really lovely look at female friendships and had such a kickass group of queer witches, so much casual queerness, and a clueless lesbain crushing so bad it made for the funniest lines. Highly recommend this one!

Blog tour and review: Iron Heart by Nina Varela

Hi everyone,

I’m here today with such an exciting post, it’s my stop on the blog tour for Iron Heart! Iron Heart is the sequel to the incredible sapphic science fantasy novel Crier’s War. Thank you so much to Shealea at Caffeine Book Tours, HarperTeen and Nina Varela for allowing me to scream excitedly about this book on this tour! You are in for such a treat with this sequel! Do check out the rest of the tour stops all week long, you can view the tour schedule here.

Title: Iron Heart

Author: Nina Varela

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication date: 08 September 2020

Genres: Young Adult | Fantasy | Science Fiction

Rating:

Synopsis:

An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill . . . but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era…and the ultimate change of heart.

You can purchase your own copy of Iron Heart at Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, IndieBound, or your own favourite local bookshop!

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Bio: Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays, short fiction, poetry, and novels. In May 2017, she graduated magna cum laude from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a BFA in Writing for Screen & Television. Crier’s War was her debut, and this is the sequel. She is originally from Durham, North Carolina, where she grew up on a hippie commune in the middle of the woods. She now lives in Los Angeles.

You can keep uptodate with Nina Varela at the following links: website, Goodreads, Instagram and Twitter

Please note that this review will contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Crier’s War. All quotes are from an advanced reader’s copy so may be changed in the final copy.

Ummmm so where on earth do I start with this book?! It’s probably one of my favourite sequels ever! I love it even more than Crier’s War, it went in a direction I never really expected and oh my god, it’s so, so gay. I am in love.

Iron Heart picks up where Crier’s War left off: Ayla and Benji are on their way to Varn to ally with the Mad Queen; Crier is betrothed to Scyre Kinok and waiting to be married. Meanwhile, Scyre Kinok’s alternative to Heartstone continues to wreck havoc on his followers and Crier and Ayla must find find a way to stop him.

All I have to say is wow. I wasn’t sure what we were going to expect in this sequel, but it certainly wasn’t what we got. But I loved it! I’m going to attempt to talk about this in some semblance of an order so here are some headings to assist.

Things got dark

This is probably the main element giving me the ‘I did not expect this’ vibe. But Iron Heart got so dark, it almost had a horror vibe at times which is of course why I’m so absolutely in love with this!! Let’s start with the shades, these creepy, terrifying creatures: goodness they are horrific! I absolutely adore the kind of ‘creature that is quite clearly dead but yet still fights on and on and will never, ever stop’. There is just something so spinechillingly creepy about it. Varela’s descriptions were so fantastic. They are definitely creepy and gross, and there is a MAJOR content warning for body horror. But I found the way the shades were described with their broken limbs, black veins and caved in heads, just so disgustingly fantastic!

The plotline surrounding the Iron Heart and how Heartstone was made also got rreeeal dark and I absolutely loved it. It was so unexpected, I was shook. There’s a moment in a room where Crier just freezes as she realises the truth and then you freeze when you realise what she’s realised, it was just amazing. Where Crier’s War was perhaps a little lighter, based within the safety of the palace, now that Ayla and Crier have left the confines of the palace, they are faced with a world darker than even I, someone who reads a lot of dark books, had anticipated.

Things got real gay

Crier oh Crier my sweet, sweet Crier. The love she has for Ayla is seriously unmatched. This Automa is literally fighting to the death and all she can think about is Ayla. It is so funny but also so sweet and tender. Meanwhile there’s Ayla who’s refusing to think about Crier at all even though she’ll see random day to day objects like a hairbrush or a bathtub and immediately think about Crier. The way these two are so constantly in the other’s thoughts was just adorable and so so beautiful. And their reunion scene is one of my favourites in the book. The horror and shock and disbelief is hilarious to read and also it’s just really really gay. There are so many moments of soft queer yearning and longing and glancing looks and holding hands and constantly checking back to make sure the other is okay, I love them to pieces. This book just gives us sapphic joy and I love it.

Other characters

I loved that we got to spend a bit more time with characters we didn’t get to see as much of in the first book, particularly Queen Junn of Varn, the Mad Queen, the Bone Eater. We saw her briefly in Crier’s War but she plays a much more important role in this book. I love seeing female monarchs kicking butts and ruling shit and Junn, as a queen who had to take the throne whilst still a teenager, is that to a tee. She’s had to build this air of ferocity and madness in an attempt to get people to fear her because it’s the only way they’d listen to a young woman. I also appreciated getting to see more of Storme and hear his backstory finally about how the heck he survived the village raid and made it to Queen Junn’s court. There’s also some really sweet anecdotes about the relationship between Junn and Storme, and despite it being such a small part of the book, the hidden story of how they met is really touching and beautiful. I’m still not a Benji fan however. Benji, can you seriously stop harassing Ayla for being in love with Crier, WHO WOULDN’T LOVE HER.

Alchemy

We also get a deeper look into alchemy in this book! I really loved the extra worldbuilding details added thanks to our time spent in Queen Junn’s court. I really love small worldbuilding details in fantasy, so there were some really interesting alchemy creations that I appreciated, like the little birds that flew about to stop intruders. We also got a better look at alchemy in the search for Yora’s heart, that mysterious substance from the first book which we learned powered the very first Automa. I would still have liked to see more of this, but that’s because I’m a big fan of very intricate and detailed adult fantasies and so love exploring new and exciting sciences or magics or religions – I always want more of it!

So all in all, I really loved Iron Heart! I enjoyed Crier’s War but loved this sequel even more. The darkness was unexpected but that’s part of what made me love this book as it provided such a deadly, tense atmosphere for the book. And finally, of course Crier and Ayla’s relationship continued to be both the sweetest and gayest relationship in YA and I will love them forever.

46 young adult science fiction books you can read instead of books by old, white racists!

Hi everyone,

Happy September! With the start of this month comes the last of my SFF extravaganza posts! I have loved bringing you all these new books each week and it has really reminded me of how amazing a genre we have – and you don’t have to read a single book by a cishet white man to enjoy it! For the last week, we’ve got a genre which I feel doesn’t get as much hype as other areas of SFF: YA science fiction! It’s definitely a smaller sector than YA fantasy but there are some absolutely amazing gems in this list and I hope you can find some books you’d like to read!

Why I’m doing this

You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.

This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the recent Hugo Awards, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.

If you’re interested, do check out the other posts in this series!

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

This is one of my favourite YA scifis. It’s definitely more of a quiet, slice of life scifi, following three teens at the end of the world who just want to find their families. It’s just such a peaceful and hopeful book, which sounds odd given it’s a book about the world ending in 7 days, but it works so well and it just made me really happy!

Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

I’m definitely starting this list off very hopefully, because here is another very hopeful, totally cheesy alien invasion scifi! Aliens invaded earth and have outlawed creative expression. When a music-loving alien catches Ellie with her secret library, he blackmails her to help find him music (and then save the world)! This is a cute and hopeful scifi as an alien and a human work together to save humanity.

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both. 

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

MY FAVOURITE BOOK EVER EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I cannot express how much I adore this book. It’s set in a world ravaged by a virus where if you survive, you wake up with strange powers. This book is just so tremendously powerful. It wrecks me every time I read it. Very heavy content warnings though, which you can read in full on Lee’s website here.

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

This scifi has such an amazing setting – well, amazing in that the author describes it incredibly well, not amazing in knowing that the earth flooded and London is now underwater because humanity sucks. But this starts with a subversible race and then takes you on an adventure underwater across the UK on the hunt for the main character’s father, who was arrested several years ago for a crime he didn’t commit.

In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures swim through the ruins of London. Trapped in the abyss, humankind wavers between fear and hope–fear of what lurks in the depths around them, and hope that they might one day find a way back to the surface.

When sixteen-year-old submersible racer Leyla McQueen is chosen to participate in the prestigious annual marathon, she sees an opportunity to save her father, who has been arrested on false charges. The Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. But the race takes an unexpected turn, forcing Leyla to make an impossible choice.

Now she must brave unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a guarded, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If Leyla fails to discover the truths at the heart of her world, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–or worse. And her father will be lost to her forever.

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

I can’t believe I let this book languish on my shelf for 8 months before reading it, because it’s so fantastic!! This is a scifi inspired by the Mahabharata and set in space! There’s just so much excellent betrayal in this book, which causes so much pain and heartbreak but I loved every second!

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Another series from Mandanna, this one involving clones who are created to replace someone if they ever die which just sounds so fucked up and wonderful.

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment is more dystopian than scifi, but it’s just such a brilliant book I wanted to include it on this list. It’s set in a near future US where Muslim Americans are put into internment camps. This book is tense and gripping novel, and a really difficult but powerful read. It’s about rebellions and finding hope to fight back even in the darkest of places.

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

This is another more hopeful scifi, set at the end of the world with the last two teenagers on earth as they spend their days exploring the ruins of London. And oh my god, THAT TWIST.

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice…

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

How cool does this sound: a ship that can sail across time!! To any place, any time, real or imagined, as long as there is a map for it. HOW COOL?!?

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, anby place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams

Stay in an evil cult where medicine is outlawed with a diabetic brother who will die without insulin or risk the viral pandemic wiping out the population on the outside? What would you do?

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.

Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.

Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?

As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?

Malice by Pintip Dunn

I never really noticed how many virus outbreak books there were until we were in the middle of one… This one has a bit of twist though, because it hasn’t actually happened yet because a voice from the future is warning them.

What I know: a boy in my school will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

What I don’t know: who he is.

In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

The Last 8 follows, you guessed it, EIGHT teens who survive an alien attack and are now holed up in the former Area 51.

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.

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

This has one of my favourite covers on this list, it’s GORGEOUS! This dystopian scifi tackles issues around capitalism and class through the eyes of a matriarchal society.

At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

Rebelwing by Andrea Tang

It sounds terrifying but increasingly more likely in our world let’s be honest: BLACK-MARKET-MEDIA SMUGGLING! And then combine that with sentient cybernetic dragons and you have something amazing.

Business is booming for Prudence Wu.

A black-market-media smuggler and scholarship student at the prestigious New Columbia Preparatory Academy, Pru is lucky to live in the Barricade Coalition where she is free to study, read, watch, and listen to whatever she wants. But between essays and exams, she chooses to spend her breaks sweet-talking border patrol with her best friend, Anabel, in order to sell banned media to the less fortunate citizens of the United Continental Confederacy, Inc.

When a drop-off goes awry, Pru narrowly escapes UCC enforcers to find that her rescuer is, of all things, a sentient cybernetic dragon. On the one hand, Pru is lucky not to be in prison, or worse. On the other, the dragon seems to have imprinted on her permanently, which means she has no choice but to be its pilot.

Drawn into a revolution she has no real interest in leading, Pru, Anabel, and friends Alex and Cat become key players in a brewing conflict with the UCC as the corporate government develops advanced weaponry more terrifying and grotesque than Pru could have ever imagined.

Spellhacker by M.K England

Another plague?!? Seriously who knew how many virus novels there were. In this one, we combine science fantasy with a heist and an earthquake that releases a magical plague.

From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.

Rebel Soul by Axie Oh

This is military science fiction is set in Neo Seoul in the aftermath of a massive war, and follows a soldier trying to prove himself to the state working on the supersoldier program, but then falls in love with the partner he’s supposed to be reporting on.

After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.

Want by Cindy Pon

Another book I can see definitely happening in the very near future, where rich people can afford to buy suits that protect them from viruses and pollution and help them live longer. Apparently every scifi novel is officially terrifying to me WHY DOES THE WORLD FUCKING SUCK. Want follows Jason who tries to take down the company who create the special suits by infilitrating the company.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

The criminal mastermind wrecking havoc on the Olympus Commonwealth is actually a 17 year old girl who they’ve captured and are now forcing her to work for them to prove their might to their empire.

Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cōcha is a seventeen-year-old girl.

A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.

Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

This university is the best in the galaxy but to go there, Binti must give up her family and live in a place with strangers who do not respect her culture. And, the deadly race at war with the university might kill her before she even gets there.

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson

An encounter with homeland security which ends in hospital with no memory of what happened, and suddenly there’s a deadly virus sweeping the country. And if Bird remembers what happened that night, it might unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Not Your Sidekick by C.B Lee

Superhero scifi time! And in this one, the daughter of two superheros gets an internship with the town’s supervillain, what could possibly go wrong when her parents find out?

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.

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

On the Edge of Gone follows an autistic heroine preparing for a comet blast to hit Earth, who fears she won’t be allowed to stay on a ship leaving Earth. And even if she does get a spot, what about her family?

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee is the author of one of my favourite adult fantasy series and I can’t wait to read her YA scifi! It’s about a famous sportsperson who plays a weightless combat sport called zeroboxing!

A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

This future novel is set is 2172 where climate change and nuclear disasters have destroyed most of the world. In Nigeria, a civil war rages with supersoldiers with bionic limbs and artifical organs to protect from the climate but a pair of sisters dream of peace.

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Compass Rose by Anna Burke

Pirates! Ships! Set in the 26th century! With a person who has a compass inside her!

Rose was born facing due north, with an inherent perception of cardinal points flowing through her veins. Her uncanny sense of direction earns her a coveted place among the Archipelago Fleet elite, but it also attracts the attention of Admiral Comita, who sends her on a secret mission deep into pirate territory. Accompanied by a ragtag crew of mercenaries and under the command of Miranda, a captain as bloodthirsty as she is alluring, Rose discovers the hard way that even the best sense of direction won’t be enough to keep her alive if she can’t learn to navigate something far more dangerous than the turbulent seas. Aboard the mercenary ship, Man o’ War, Rose learns quickly that trusting the wrong person can get you killed—and Miranda’s crew have no intention of making things easy for her—especially the Captain’s trusted first mate, Orca, who is as stubborn as she is brutal.

This swashbuckling 26th century adventure novel is smart, colorful and quirky, yet it manages to deliver a healthy dose of heart, humor, and humility on every single page.

The Weight of the Stars by K.Ancrum

This is a little on the light side of scifi, more contemporary with a side of scifi but I love it so much I had to put it on this list! K.Ancrum is one of my autobuy authors, she has a way of writing the most beautiful and heartbreaking novels. The Weight of the Stars is about a teen who’s mother went to space and she stays up late listening to a radio trying to hear a message; and the girl who broke her arm and now helps her listen. It has queer found family at its best!!

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…

In K. Ancrum’s signature poetic style, this slow-burn romance will have you savoring every page.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

This science fantasy is set in a star system dominated by a brutal empire and the woman who is kidnapped by the regime and taken to the royal palace to act as a body double for the princess.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Convergence by Marita Smith

Marita Smith is a local Aussie author who just so happens to be very cool: her day job is as a mycologist!!! (A mushroom grower). Convergence is about a scientist searching for the gene that will allow humans to communicate with animals. And when she stumbles onto it, she has to find the individuals with the genetic mutation before a corporation turns them into lab rats.

For scientist Robyn Greene, her laboratory is a second home. Here she searches for the ancient gene that is supposed to enable humans to communicate with animals. After years of failure, she’s beginning to wonder if the gene is a myth. But when she stumbles across a strange genetic mutation, Robyn’s world turns upside down. The man posing as her boss is, in fact, an operative of the mysterious international organisation, the MRI. Worse, they have dark plans to exploit her discovery.

In a race against time, Robyn must track down the individuals with this rare gene before the MRI turns them into lab rats. But when she meets the three teenagers, she realises that protecting them from the MRI is not only about saving their lives. Fletcher, Ariana and Eli are capable of more than anyone realises; they are part of an ancient cycle designed to keep the Earth in balance. A terrible future awaits the planet if the MRI gains control of Robyn and her research before she’s figured out the kindred ties that bind these teenagers.

Dreadnought by April Daniels

OWNVOICES TRANS SUPERHERO STORY *pterodactyl screech*

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

This YA space opera follows the crew of a small cargo ship across the galaxy, when the sister of the captain is kidnapped by a crime syndicate that holds people hostage is cryostasis. BUT there is also something to do with PSYCHIC CATS yes you read that right, PSYCHIC CATS. Please take my money.

A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure.

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds

This contemporary scifi is an extraodinarily fun time travel novel, which follows Jack who keeps reliving the same months over and over again from when he first meets a girl called Kate at a party to when she dies months later from a chronic illness.

Debut author Justin A. Reynolds delivers a hilarious and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the people we choose, and the moments that make a life worth reliving.

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

This is a wonderfully soft contemporary YA about two boys who become friends through letters as they can never meet: one who has an electronic pacemaker, and the other is allergic to electricity and has seizures if in contact with it.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

This book is a mesh of all the best parts of science fiction, fantasy and contemporary, following a Mexican American teen who finds her mother when an alien spacecraft crashes in front of her carrying her mother on board (after she disappeared in an ICE raid three years earlier).

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.

It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Arthurian legend but in SPACE!!!

I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.


When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

I love a good video game book and this one is all about virtual reality and the coder who wants to win a competition to meet the foudner of the world’s biggest VR platform so she can find out if he killed her father.

For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.

But she can’t code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.

Until now. Because WAVE, the world’s biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal’s dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.

What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers–or is it the attention–she’s wanted for years?

Future releases

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

This book has a pansexual main character and if that alone doesn’t make you want to read this, it also has a princess who needs to compete in a race to win the throne she doesn’t want! (Release date: 29 September)

A deadly competition for the throne will determine more than just the fate of the empire in this riveting duology opener, perfect for fans of The Hunger GamesAurora Rising, and Three Dark Crowns.

Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?

But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.

Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

This military scifi is set in the last free nation in the world and follows a soldier ready to fight against the mutant beast army of the Federation with the possible spy (or alternatively savior) for her country. (Release date: 29 September)

A broken world.
An overwhelming evil.
A team of warriors ready to strike back.

#1 New York Times-bestselling author Marie Lu is back with an adrenaline-laced novel about the lengths one warrior will go to fight for freedom and those she loves.

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left…with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.

Loyalty is life.

White Fox by Sara Faring

I only want to read spooky, creepy books right now (apparently I’m in the Halloween mindset a little early this year), but this book is one of those and I can’t wait to read it! It’s comped to Black Mirror and I’ll read pretty much anything compared to that show. (Release date: 22 September)

After their world-famous actor mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances, Manon and Thaïs left their remote Mediterranean island home—sent away by their pharma-tech tycoon father. Opposites in every way, the sisters drifted apart in their grief. Yet their mother’s unfinished story still haunts them both, and they can’t put to rest the possibility that she is still alive.

Lured home a decade later, Manon and Thaïs discover their mother’s legendary last work, long thought lost: White Fox, a screenplay filled with enigmatic metaphors. The clues in this dark fairytale draw them deep into the island’s surreal society, into the twisted secrets hidden by their glittering family, to reveal the truth about their mother—and themselves.

Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

This is one of my most anticipated releases of 2021!! It’s a look at the future of climate change in South Asia with a streetrat revolutionary and a hacker son of a politician, black-market robotics, cyborgs living in poverty, literally everything about this sounds amazing. (Release date: 19 January)

A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.

The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction. 

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

STAR WARS MEETS DOCTOR WHO I REPEAT STAR WARS MEETS DOCTOR WHO. This is the YA debut of Hugo-award winning author Charlie Jane Anders and I am so excited to read it!!

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes a thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war—Anders’s long-awaited YA debut.

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson

This scifi is all about a boy in need of a liver transplant, but his new liver comes with a side effect: time travel! And then he falls for the brother of his dead donor who doesn’t really want anything to do with him as he is still getting over the death of his brother. But he’s also falling for the boy he visits in 1969… (Release date: 2 February)

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I adore Akemi Dawn Bowman so I am SO EXCITED for this scifi!! It’s about a girl who gets murdered on her way to a graduation party and wakes up in the Infinity, where human conciousness goes when their body’s die. But in the afterlife, the virtual assistant on Earth, Ophelia, is now queen and foreces humans to serve her as she served them in real life. (Release date: 6 April)

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity. 

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Joan He wrote one of the most incredible debut novels I’ve ever read (Descendant of the Crane) thus I am unbelievably excited for her second novel! This time she’s delving into the world of scifi with a sister trapped on an island with no memory except that she needs to find her sister; and the STEM prodigy in the last unpolluted place on Earth who doesn’t know if she wants to help the last of humanity. (Release date: 4 May)

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The Metropolis—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

There’s not much info on Goodreads it, but the author’s website says this is “A queer, female-led Firefly crew meets the bass-pumping cyberpunk atmosphere of Altered Carbon.” HOW EPIC?! DOES THAT SOUND?! (Release date: October 2021)

Mari Kesselring and Kelsy Thompson at Flux have bought Claire Winn’s YA sci-fi debut, City of Shattered Light, a high-stakes adventure pitched as a queer, female-led Guardians of the Galaxy meets Escape from New York. Heiress Asa flees her controlling father to prevent her sister’s mind from being wiped—but must ally with Riven, a gunslinging smuggler bent on clawing her way up the criminal hierarchy, to outwit a monstrous AI and save Asa’s sister and their city.

No Frills by Erin Elizabeth Grammar

Fashion and blood infections and fantasy and science! WITH A BI, SOCIALLY ANXIOUS GIRL!! (Release date: 13 October)

Inspired by comic books and magical girls, debut author Erin Elizabeth Grammar’s NO FRILLS blends fantasy and science fiction with pop culture.

When eighteen-year-old bi, socially anxious Harajuku fashionista Holly Roads is infected by blood that bestows destructive strength, she strikes a deal with a trigger-happy, demoted CIA prodigy: Capture the mutant his mad scientists accidentally unleashed upon San Francisco in exchange for the cure for her powers.

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hanu Mikuta

Colossal mechas and two girls on opposite sides of a war WHO FALL FOR EACH OTHER? This sounds like the sapphic enemies to lovers of my dreams.

Zoe Hana Mikuta’s Gearbreakers is an electric YA debut novel about colossal mechas, a tyrannical regime, and two girls on opposite sides of a war who discover they’re fighting for a common purpose—and falling for each other…

WOW and that’s the series complete! There’s a mammoth 287 books across this series which is like enough books to last me for the next 3 years. I hope you have loved these lists and been able to expand your TBR!

Book review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Title: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: 25 August 2020

Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Magicians

Page extent: 464 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Where Dreams Descend was one of my most anticipated books of the year: the combination of Moulin Rouge x Phantom of the Opera, two of my absolute favourite pieces of media, was so powerful. But ultimately, as lush as this was at times, I hate to admit I was a little bored. It was always going to be a very tough ask to stand up to literally two of my favourite films of all time. But unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot for a lot of the book, instead the majority of the book are just detailed descriptions of Kallia’s show. Which was amazing the first time! And the second time! But by the end, I was just a bit underwhelmed because that’s all there was.

Where Dreams Descend follows Kallia, a showgirl magician who is running away from her master, Jack, the owner of the house she performs at. She runs to Glorian, an odd city that seems to hate magic and has forgotten everything about its past. But Glorian is trying to put itself back on the map and so is holding a competition to find a magician to be the star of a circus. Kallia, enters herself and vows to win at all costs, as the only woman in the competition. But Jack isn’t keen on letting her go…

I love a good story about theatre, performance, dance, performing magicians! As a theatre nerd in my school days, the setting of this book was so perfect. Between Kallia’s time as a showgirl with Jack, and then her experiences as a magician, I really enjoyed the lush and detailed prose around these (at least the first few times….) I also liked exploring Glorian, this old dead city with an intriguing layout and lots of old dusty buildings to explore. That is completely my jam. Did I wish we had more of it? Yes. The worldbuilding was limited – it almost felt like having the city forgetting everything about their past was kind of an easy way out to avoid actually having to worldbuild?

When we get to the characters, we have three main players:

  • Kallia: a powerful magician and performer who adores the spotlight. I did really appreciate the way Angeles made Kallia so ambitious, even to the detriment of others, as I think that’s a trait we still don’t see much of in female characters. Give us more ambitious female characters, because this was so much fun to see!
  • Jack: the mysterious, brooding master. We don’t get much time with Jack and that made me struggle to understand his goals: I still have no idea why he was so obsessed with Kallia because we spent so little time with him.
  • Demarco: Demarco felt the most fleshed out to me of these three, and he felt like a much more complex figure. He’s got a secret to hide, a missing sister he’s trying to find, no one knows why he no longer uses magic, so he’s this tense and stressed out figure who really makes sense. I also love how flustered Kallia made him, it was a very cute trait!

The side characters however were my favourites. I particularly liked the grouchy old seamstress who helps out with Kallia’s costumes; Aaros, Kallia’s trusty sidekick, he’s just such a loyal and caring character and I felt he really shone; and Lottie, a journalist and also apparently the only person who can actually get shit done. #TeamLottie

However, the lack of a plot or any resolution to anything is something I really struggled with. For most of the book, it’s just scene after scene of Kallia in her dressing room preparing for a show, Kallia performing in said show, Kallia passing out from magic. And repeat. There needs to have a plot or something that’s driving the story onward. In Where Dreams Descend, odd things are happening with magicians from the competition disappearing and more, but no one cares? Instead everyone brushes past it very quickly and we just have another three chapters focusing on yet another Kallia performance. There was just no point to anything? And so because of the repetitive nature, I just found it quite boring. And I am devastated that I felt this way because I thought I would adore this. We find out nothing about what’s actually happening in the city ever? We eventually meet the villain in the last pages and then it just ends? I assume there will be a second book exploring the “villain”….but I just felt that almost 500 pages of almost nothing but Kallia dancing and performing magic could easily have been edited down and condensed and we could have had more interaction and mystery that engaged with the actual villains who are driving on the plot.

So ultimately this was a disappointment to me. I was so excited for this, it’s pretty much my dream pairing of Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera. And whilst I did initially enjoy the lush, unhurried nature of Kallia’s magic and performance, the lack of a plot and repetitive nature of this book really impacted my enjoyment. But as always, even though I was a little disappointed, you might love it! If you like the sound of very detailed prose, with a focus on magic shows, dance, performance, and a side of mystery, I would definitely recommend you read this one to see for yourself!

81 diverse young adult fantasy books to read instead of books by old white racists!

Hi everyone,

We’re back for Week 2 of my SFF extravaganza! Throughout August, I’m going on a tour of the genre every Thursday on my blog and every day on Instagram to celebrate the amazing, diverse books and authors we have in SFF! If you’d like to find out more about why I’m doing this, do check out my explanation below (which I copied over from last week, I’m sorry but oh my was I exhausted after finishing this list). BECAUSE! Today, I have a whopping 81 diverse YA fantasy books for you to read instead of books by old white racists!

Why I’m doing this

You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.

This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the Hugo Awards last weekend, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.

You can check out the first post of this series, where I brought you 63 diverse adult fantasy books, here!

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

A Count of Monte Cristo retelling with a female lead! Hell yes.

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo. 

Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is so far the only Anna-Marie McLemore book I’ve read (I know, I’m the actual worst). But it’s such a lovely fairytale retelling! It combines a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale The Red Shoes along with the 1518 dancing plague.

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Two wives of one man fall in love with each other instead of him? All while tearing down a corrupt government? With an exploration of immigration dynamics reminiscent of the American/Mexico border?

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?

The Afterward by E.K Johnston

This is a very quiet fantasy that deals with what happens after the quest, specifically what happens when you fall in love with your fellow quest knight but now have to go back to normal society and marry a man to pay for the debts you acrued at knight school.

It has been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought the gem home are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity do not come easily.

Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn’t meant for heroism this early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she has earned, her reputation does not pay her bills. With time running out, Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.

Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar, pick pocket, thief, she lived hand to mouth on the city streets until fortune–or fate–pulled her into Kalanthe’s orbit. And now she’s quite reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her recognizable, which makes her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn’t much of a choice at all.

Both girls think their paths are laid out, but the godsgem isn’t quite done with them and that new golden age isn’t a sure thing yet.

In a tale both sweepingly epic and intensely personal, Kalanthe and Olsa fight to maintain their newfound independence and to find their way back to each other.

Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist

Dark f/f fantasy with a ghost romance?!? This is one of my favourite YA fantasies! It also has some really great depression rep, and looks at how magic isn’t always a good thing to have.

With a touch, Lexi can sense how and when someone will die. Some say it’s a gift. But to Lexi it’s a curse—one that keeps her friendless and alone. All that changes when Lexi foresees the violent death of a young woman, Jane, outside a club. But Jane doesn’t go to the afterlife quietly. Her ghost remains behind, determined to hunt down her murderer, and she needs Lexi’s help. In life, Jane was everything Lexi is not—outgoing, happy, popular. But in death, all Jane wants is revenge. Lexi will do anything to help Jane, to make up for the fact that she didn’t—couldn’t—save Jane’s life, and to keep this beautiful ghost of a girl by her side for as long as possible.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

Following an f/f ghost romance is this f/f witch romance! This book is so much fun, it’s about a girl who offers herself up to be the yearly sacrifice to the Witch Queen after she accidentally caused him to be chosen, but then she falls in love with the witch herself! How perfect does that sound?~

The Wicked Deep meets A Curse So Dark and Lonely in this gripping, dark fairy-tale fantasy about two girls who must choose between saving themselves, each other, or their sinking island city.

Every year on St. Walpurga’s Eve, Caldella’s Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.

Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen’s attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice.

Queen Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city.

When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas’s freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella’s streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

The Wicker King by K.Ancrum

K.Ancrum is one of my autobuy authors. I love The Wicker King which is about a teen with degenerative hallucinatory disorder who has visions that take the form of a fantasy world. I also highly recommend buying hard copies of Ancrum’s work because they always have very cool page designs!

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

EEEEEEE one of the most wellknown f/f YA fantasies ever is Varela’s Crier’s War, with the sequel Iron Heart (which I’m on the blog tour for, I’M SO EXCITED!!) coming very soon.

Impossible love between two girls —one human, one Made.
A love that could birth a revolution.


After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, Designed to be the playthings of royals, took over the estates of their owners and bent the human race to their will.

Now, Ayla, a human servant rising the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging the death of her family… by killing the Sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier, who was Made to be beautiful, to be flawless. And to take over the work of her father.

Crier had been preparing to do just that—to inherit her father’s rule over the land. But that was before she was betrothed to Scyre Kinok, who seems to have a thousand secrets. That was before she discovered her father isn’t as benevolent as she thought. That was before she met Ayla.

Set in a richly-imagined fantasy world, Nina Varela’s debut novel is a sweepingly romantic tale of love, loss and revenge, that challenges what it really means to be human.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

This is one of my favourite YA fantasies, He is one of the authors I am most excited to see grow because they have the biggest twists and turns in any YA, EVER. Yes I said ever. This book is so fucking good, it’s about a princess who has to turn to magic in a kingdom where it’s outlawed to try find out who murdered her father.

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Not only does this have one of my favourite book covers of 2020, it also has a genderfluid pirate!!! That’s all you need to know right?

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

When I first read this book, I started it to read a little before bed and one page in had to stop because I knew I wouldn’t stop reading until I reached the end, no matter the fact I desperately needed sleep. That’s how good this is!!

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 demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isobel Sterling

More f/f witchy goodness?! We have been blessed with queer witches recently and this one is so much fun and has my two absolute favourite magics: blood magic and elemental magic.

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

This is an incredible Silk Road inspired fantasy world with lots of women being badass and independent!

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences. 

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner

Mermaids are sapphic okay? In Ice Massacre, each year male warriors are sent to battle the mermaids who would lure sailors to their death. But they keep getting killed. So this year, the island decides to send female warriors instead cause women get shit done, and also appear to be resistant to the lure of mermaid’s voice.

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.

For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

This fantasy is all about witchdoctors, or rather the girl who was bormn into a family of very powerful witchdoctors but who doesn’t seem to have magic and so trades away years of her life to get some.

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

This book is just a few week’s away from release, and it is sure to get a lot of interest. It’s comped to Moulin Rouge and The Phantom of the Opera, and follows a female magician as she tries to win a magic competition in the very male dominated field of performance magic.

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

This is such a fun fantasy, it’s so fast paced and action filled that I absolutely sped through. There’s such an interesting magic system, with the main character being a soulguide! There’s also a really great friendship which is the centre of this book which made. areally lovely change from all the romance heavy YA I’ve been reading.

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

From the author who coined the ownvoices term comes this science fantasy about a girl who protects a princess and the boy who lives inside her head.

Amara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he’s yanked from his Arizona town into Amara’s mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He’s spent years as a powerless observer of Amara’s life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive–and discover the truth about their connection.

The Extraordinaries by T.J Klune

Klune is one of my favourite authors and this is his YA debut and it is so great. It’s so funny, has an ordinary teenager trying to become a superhero, it’s filled with fandom love and has ownvoices ADHD rep!

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut. 

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

This wonderful Persian inspired fairytale about princess who is poisonous to the touch also has an amazing bi/pan heroine, monster girlfriends and enemies to lovers!

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

French revolution but make it sapphic?! Yes please. This is such a fun science fantasy set during the French revolution, with a rag team team of queer disasters who try to save people from the guillotine.

Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?

In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi is an author who literally gives me chills almost every single line. Their prose is absolutely incredible. In their young adult book Pet, Jam lives in a world where the monsters have been defeated. So when her mother’s painting comes to life and claims there’s a monster in Jam’s best friend’s house, Jam doesn’t know what to do.

Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question — How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.

Beyond the Black Door by A.M Strickland

This lush dark fantasy is all about soulwalking, and a mysterious door which Kamai was told never to open. So obviously, she opens it…

Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom…

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

This Frozen x Mad Max fantasy is absolutely amazing, it has this incredible world where twins goddesses rule two realms, one a frozen nightware, and one a scorching desert.

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Necromancy is one of my absolute favourite magics and Chupeco’s The Bone Witch series has a bone witch who accidentally raises her brother from the dead.

In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price.When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles and make a powerful choice.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

This is a beautiful fantasy inspired by Korean mythology all about a gumiho (a nine-tailed fox!) And I absolutely loved the complicated mother-daughter relationship in this one.

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s. 

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Here they be motherfucking dragons! Yes this is the only way I plan to introduce books with dragons for the entirity of this series. But this one also has a bi heroine who does bi things and a really cool dragon magic system based on scents!

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?

Thorn by Anna Burke

This is a sapphic Beauty and the Beast retelling!!! EXCITE!

On a cold day deep in the heart of winter, Rowan’s father returns from an ill-fated hunting trip bearing a single, white rose. The rose is followed by the Huntress, a figure out of legend. Tall, cruel, and achingly beautiful, she brings Rowan back with her to a mountain fastness populated solely by the creatures of the hunt. Rowan, who once scorned the villagers for their superstitions, now finds herself at the heart of a curse with roots as deep as the mountains, ruled by an old magic that is as insidious as the touch of the winter rose. Torn between her family loyalties, her guilty relief at escaping her betrothal to the charming but arrogant Avery Lockland, and her complicated feelings for the Huntress, Rowan must find a way to break the curse before it destroys everything she loves. There is only one problem―if she can find a way to lift the curse, she will have to return to the life she left behind. And the only thing more unbearable than endless winter is facing a lifetime of springs without the Huntress.

Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo

In addition to that INCREDIBLE cover, this also has an incredible story about twin goddesses who are separated at birth and who grow up thinking they’re human!

A gruesome war results in the old gods’ departure from earth. The only remnants of their existence lie in two girls. Twins, separated at birth. Goddesses who grow up believing that they are human. Daughters Of Nri explores their epic journey of self-discovery as they embark on a path back to one another.

Strong-willed Naala grows up seeking adventure in her quiet and small village. While the more reserved Sinai resides in the cold and political palace of Nri. Though miles apart, both girls share an indestructible bond: they share the same blood, the same face, and possess the same unspoken magic, thought to have vanished with the lost gods.

The twin girls were separated at birth, a price paid to ensure their survival from Eze Ochichiri, the man who rules the Kingdom of Nri. Both girls are tested in ways that awaken a mystical, formidable power deep within themselves. Eventually, their paths both lead back to the mighty Eze.

But can they defeat the man who brought the gods themselves to their knees?

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Westworld x The Handmaid’s Tale? Could there be a more incredible pairing?! This historical Western fantasy follows five girls who run away from their lives as housemaids and futures as prostitutes after one of them accidentally kills a man.

Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this stunning fantasy adventure from debut author Charlotte Nicole Davis.

Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst

THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS

The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Okay faceshifting is such a cool form of magic, and in Nocturna we have a faceshifter who hasn’t seen her own face in years who accidentally releases a terrible ancient power.

Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

So I believe this book is often compared to Six of Crows, but as I haven’t read SoC I definitly think you should read this one instead. But it’s 1800s France which is like the BEST fun and a rag tag team need to hunt down an ancient artifact!

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C Lee

Chinese folklore comes to life and Ivy league hopeful Genie must learn how to fight them (whilst also acing her SATs).

Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

VAMPIRES IT’S VAMPIRES DO YOU WANNA READ ABOUT VAMPIRES THAT AREN’T RACIST! Check this out if you’re considering buying Midnight Sun and then BUY THIS INSTEAD.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

This retelling inspired by A Thousand and One Nights follows a Caliph who takes a new bride every night but has her stranguled by morning and the girl who volunteers to be the next bride and get revenge after her best friend is killed by the Caliph.

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Cinderlla retelling! But it’s gay!!

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C Morrow

I haven’t read many books with mermaids or other water creatures until very recently, but they all seem to be amazing? I’m loving all of them so much? This contemporary fantasy follows a secret siren who must keep her identity hidden in the wake of a siren murder trial.

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown

Not much makes me happier than two people falling in love but they have to murder each other, SUCH A GOOD TROPE. Give me that lovers to enemies shit.

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

More queer witches! We are having such a good year for books about queer witches. I had a rough start to the year with YA fantasy, I was really not enjoying the genre hugely BUT then I read like 4 books about queer witches and I’m back in love with the genre!

A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Newest coolest magic is the ability to steal memories! And in Incendiary, Renata was kidnapped by the King and forced to steal the memories of her own people. But now she’s working for the rebel spies and needs to prove that she’s on their side whilst tricking the King into thinking she’s still loyal.

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

Diamond City by Francesca Flores

ASSASSINS, assassins everywhere!

Good things don’t happen to girls who come from nothing…unless they risk everything.

Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn’t want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.

Full of action, romance and dark magic, book one of Francesca Flores’ breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

I’ve seen so many reviews hail this book as one of the best YAs of the year, it looks so exciting! Raybearer has one of my favourite tropes, where you must DESTROY the person you’re supposed to LOVE. Seriously, nothing beats this trope. Lovers/friends to enemies is seriously the greatest.

The epic debut YA fantasy from an incredible new talent—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir.

Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love. 

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

This cover is just so gorgeous!! Any book that claims it’s like STARDUST (which, I’ll admit I haven’t read the book as I’m not the biggest fan of Neil Gaiman’s work, but the film is AMAZING), is already incredible. But then it’s also inspired by Hindu mythology about the daughter of a star and a mortal!

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.

Caster by Elsie Chapman

Underground magic fighting ring?! Yes fucking please.

Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Fight Club in this action-packed fantasy about a secret, underground magic fighting tournament.

If the magic doesn’t kill her, the truth just might.

Aza Wu knows that real magic is dangerous and illegal. After all, casting killed her sister, Shire. As with all magic, everything comes at a price. For Aza, it feels like everything in her life has some kind of cost attached to it. Her sister had been casting for money to pay off Saint Willow, the gang leader that oversees her sector of Lotusland. If you want to operate a business there, you have to pay your tribute. And now with Shire dead, Aza must step in to save the legacy of Wu Teas, the teahouse that has been in her family for centuries.

When Aza comes across a secret invitation, she decides she doesn’t have much else to lose. She quickly realizes that she’s entered herself into an underground casting tournament, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Real magic, real consequences. As she competes, Aza fights for her life against some very strong and devious competitors.

When the facts about Shire’s death don’t add up, the police start to investigate. When the tributes to Saint Willow aren’t paid, the gang comes to collect. When Aza is caught sneaking around with fresh casting wounds, her parents are alarmed. As Aza’s dangerous web of lies continues to grow, she is caught between trying to find a way out and trapping herself permanently. 

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

MORE QUEER WITCHS *pterodactyl screech* and this one has ancient Celtic mythology?! And a bisexual heroine?!? WHO HAS OCD?! This is like the perfect pitch for me.

Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.

And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.

With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that’s impossible to put down. 

Dreadnought by April Daniels

This is the trans superhero novel of your dreams! When the superhero Dreadnought dies in front of Danny, he passes over his powers to her. As she gains the magic, she also gains the body she’s always wanted. But now she has to deal with her father’s transphobia all whilst trying to protect the city from Dreadnought’s murderer.

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

This brings a whole new twist to my favourite trope of needing to kill someone you love, because this is all about two SISTERS who have to fight to the death to be crowned Queen.

An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.

Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C Dao

This beautiful fairytale is about a noblewoman who cruelly rejects a poor apprentice, who then gets trapped in his flute by an evil witch, and now they have to find a way to break the curse.

From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

This is an East Asian fantasy inspired from The Evil Queen legend, and I am SOLD! Evil Queens are my jam. (This is also set in the same world as Song of the Crimson Flower!)

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress—and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins—sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan

Here they be steampunk dragons?!

When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.

Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.

With incredibly vivid world building and fast-paced storytelling, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is great for readers who are looking for something fresh in epic fantasy.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

I’m pretty sure like 50% of this list is just queer witches and I am SO HAPPY it is. This witchy read is all about a bruja who accidentally vanishes her family…

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 Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

The Tiger at Midnight is inspired by ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology and it has assassins! And romance!

A broken bond. A dying land. A cat-and-mouse game that can only end in bloodshed.

Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology, the first book in Swati Teerdhala’s debut fantasy trilogy captivates with electric romance, stunning action, and the fierce bonds that hold people together—and drive them apart.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Okay we all know this fantasy, it was one of the biggest YAs of 2019 but I couldn’t leave it off the list! It’s amazing! These characters are all so amazing, I ❤️ Nazir Prince of Death.

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.


Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Almadea and Valynne E Maetani

This Japanese fantasy is all about a girl, Kira, training to be a priestess at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, which is attached by yokai demons so Kira has to enlist the help of 7 shinigami (DEATH GODS!)

Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.

The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig

VAMMMPIRES. There’s really not enough vampires on this list, please publishing, let vampires come back!!! I BEG YOU.

The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.

Future Releases

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clark

Blessed is 2020 with the QUEER WITCHES!!! I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one, and oh my god, it’s so fucking good. It’s so fucking gay, there is the best badass group of best friends in this coven, it completely twists the mean girls trope into this amazing supportive coven. I LOVE IT. (Release date: September 15)

An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

This books just sounds like the most fun in the world. It’s about a thief who is forced to find an ancient relic but the relic is an actual real like fae prince! (November 10)

Sinister sorcery. Gallows humor. A queer romance so glorious it could be right out of fae legend itself. Master of One is a fantasy unlike any other.

Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He’s stolen into noble’’s coffers, picked soldier’s pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he’s caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.

But Rags could never have guessed this “relic” would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there…

With the heist and intrigue of Six of Crows and the dark fairy tale feel of The Cruel Prince, this young adult fantasy debut will have readers rooting for a pair of reluctant heroes as they take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other.

Ruinsong by Julia Ember

SAPPHIC PHANTOM OF THE OPERA I REPEAT SAPPHIC PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (Release date: November 24)

In Julia Ember’s dark and lush LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy Ruinsong, two young women from rival factions must work together to reunite their country, as they wrestle with their feelings for each other.

Her voice was her prison…
Now it’s her weapon.

In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

This looks to be one of the biggest YA books of the year, it’s about a trans boy who wants to prove himself a brujo by summoning a ghost, but then he accidentally summons the school’s resident bad boy who wants some help tying up some loose ends in the world of the living. (Release date: September 1)

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave. 

Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia

Two of the best Latinx authors are teaming up to bring us a contemporary YA about a beauty pageant and a girl who’s made of stardust! (Release date: September 22)

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.

Legendborn by Tracey Deonn

King Arthur retellings have been waiting for this queer Black one!! It has secret societies, a magical war, and flying demons! (Release date: September 15)

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight. 

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

This just sounds like such a beautiful book about a girl destined to wander the desert alone, with only lines of poetry magically strewn across the desert for company. (Release date: September 16)

From the award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life.

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Fresh off of Anger Is a Gift’s smashing success, Oshiro branches out into a fantastical direction with their new YA novel, The Stars Around Us.

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

This is pretty much the only sports book I’ve ever wanted to read, because it’s about dragon racing!! (Release date: October 6)

Experience the World Cup with dragons in this debut fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which riders and their steeds compete in an international sports tournament.

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.

But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.

Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

This is dark chaotic lesbian fantasy I’ve always wanted! In Beyond the Ruby Veil, Emanuela kills the only person in her city who can create water and now she has to find out how to get water back before the whole city dies of thirst. (Release date: October 13)

A dark, queer YA fantasy that’s perfect for fans of the Three Dark Crowns series and Wicked Saints. After Emanuela Ragno kills the one person in Occhia who can create water, she must find a way to save her city from dying of thirst.

Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.

But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.

When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people-no matter what it takes.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

This wonderful sapphic book is a retelling of a Portugese legend about a princess who turns food to flowers. It’s also inspired by real-life saint Yzabel of Aragon! (Release date: December 1)

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

We seem to be on a roll with really amazing dragon books recently, and 2021 looks to be just the same! This one is all about dragon slaying! (Release date: June 8)

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

A Jamaican inspired fantasy about witches and the daughter of a queen who might die to strengthen her mother’s power?!? (Release date: April 20)

Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

Deadly, fierce, magnetically addictive: this Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut is a thrilling journey where dangerous magic reigns supreme and betrayal lurks beneath every word.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

A half god, half human trying to save her neighbourhood and sister! (Release date: February 23)

In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry—and with evil sinking its claws into humans and gods alike, she’ll have to unearth the magic of her true identity to save both her worlds.

‘Make a way out of no way’ is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghazan–a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghazan’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghazan—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

Sweet and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Sapphic YA fantasy! I….do not know anything else about this but I do not need to! (Release date: March 9)

In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Girls of Paper and Fire, a witch cursed to never love meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic, and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don’t kill each other first..

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones is definitely going to have one of the best covers of 2021!! It’s so pretty. It’s about a society where girls are cut in a blood ceremony to see if there blood is pure (red) or impure (gold), which means they are demons. (Release date: February 9)

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

This just sounds so unbelievably powerful and epic, inspired by Africa’s child soldier crisis following a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods!

Inspired by Africa’s child soldier crisis and set in a West African fantasy world, the novel follows a young Scion—the all but extinct descendants of the ancient Orisha gods—who is drafted into the very military that has hunted her kind for centuries. Stealing the opportunity to uncover what happened the night her mother disappeared, she will do anything to learn the truth —even if it means becoming the killer the army demands.

A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

Ummmmm nine magical siblings anf a creepy house and forest? Yes please.

A contemporary YA fantasy about nine magical siblings who live in a secluded house cut off from the rest of the world by a sinister forest with their enigmatic caretaker, who is grooming them for a dark and mysterious purpose. Publication is set for fall 2021.

The Drowning Summer by Christine Lynn Herman

A creepy thriller about the murder of three teens who were drowned and found with sand dollars over their eyes?! This sounds weird and amazing.

Deirdre Jones at Little, Brown will edit The Drowning Summer by Christine Lynn Herman, author of The Devouring Gray duology. This YA contemporary fantasy follows two Long Island teenagers and fledgling mediums as they investigate a murder that rocked their small town six years earlier when three teenagers were found drowned with sand dollars laid over their eyes. Publication is set for Spring 2022; Kelly Sonnack at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency negotiated the deal for North American English rights.

The Dust Alphabet by Rebecca Podos

Sapphic Jewish fantasy?! About a Jewish demon?? Sooooold.

Jordan Brown at HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray has acquired North American rights to The Dust Alphabet by Lambda Literary Award-winning author Rebecca Podos, a contemporary YA fantasy about identity, faith, and fate. On her 17th birthday, Hannah is cursed by a sheyd (a Jewish demon) as the price for a desperate bargain that her mother made long ago. To break the spell, she and her brother must track down their mother’s estranged family and discover a legacy they never dreamed of—one that traces back to the famous Golem of Prague. Publication is set for 2021.

The Coldest Touch by Isobel Sterling

SAPPHIC VAMPIRES beat all other vampires!!

THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN author Isabel Sterling’s THE COLDEST TOUCH, about a mortal girl who feels the death of anyone she touches and the vampire assigned to recruit her, as they team up to stop a paranormal killer and realize they might be falling in love, to Julie Rosenberg at Razorbill, for publication in fall 2021, by Kathleen Rushall at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (NA).

Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin

A queer reimagining of Thelma & Louise?!

Author of BURRO HILLS Julia Lynn Rubin’s TROUBLE GIRLS, a queer, modern re-imagining of Thelma & Louise where after stabbing a would-be rapist to death, two best friends go on the run in a journey that grows darker and deadlier with each new disastrous decision they make, to Sylvan Creekmore at Wednesday Books, in a very nice deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2021. 

Of Blood and Briars by Rebecca Kim Wells

From the author that made dragons real bi, I can’t wait to read her next series! And it has someone who is cursed to kill everyone she touches which sounds so dark and wonderful.

Catherine Laudone at Simon & Schuster has bought Of Blood and Briars, a queer YA fantasy by Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter the Sky). Cursed to kill all those she touches, Lena endures an isolated life on the run from her fellow humans. But when an enigmatic stranger offers to help her break the curse in exchange for her aid in waking a princess hidden in an enchanted forest, Lena embarks on a quest to win her freedom, no matter the cost. Publication is slated for fall 2021; Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world rights.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Yessss more murdering people you love! I love this particular type of pain! It hurts so good.

After failing to come into her powers, 16-year-old Voya—a Black witch living in near-future Toronto—is forced to choose between losing her family’s magic forever, a heritage steeped in centuries of blood and survival, or murdering her first love, a boy who is supposedly her genetic match.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

A retelling of The Snow Queen about two teens who are sexually assaulted at the same party by the one and only Anna-Marie McLemore? Yes this will wreck me. (Release date: March 16)

“An unforgettable story of trauma and healing, told in achingly beautiful prose with great tenderness and care.” —#1 New York Times-bestselling author Karen M. McManus

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

This is the YA I’m most excited for in 2021, it just sounds SO AMAZING. It’s about the only female emperor in Chinese history and has a polyam relationship?!?

Peter Phillips at Penguin Teen Canada has acquired two books in a YA duology by debut author Xiran Jay Zhao, pitched as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale, and inspired by East Asian myth. The first book, Iron Widow, follows 18-year-old Wu Zetian as she avenges her sister’s murder in a patriarchal military system where male pilots of giant magical mecha are treated like celebrities, while female pilots must serve as their concubines. 

In the Ravenous Dark by A.M Strickland

Blood magic + queer = immediate add to the TBR!

In the Ravenous Dark is a dark fantasy with LGBTQIA+ relationships, featuring a teen girl whose blood magic abilities put her at the center of a kingdom in turmoil — and bound to an undead guardian meant to control her power.

The Witch King by H.E Edgmon

This is probably my second most anticipated YA fantasy of 2021! This ownvoices trans story is about a witch and a fae prince! Oh and I believe it has friends to enemies to lovers WHICH IS AMAZING.

The fantasy duology tells the story of witch and angry trans boy Wyatt Croft, who wants nothing to do with his mediocre magic or his betrothal to fae prince Emyr North, but his plans to change his fate are shattered when the kingdom is threatened by a coup and Emyr comes to claim him.

Okay wow I am tired but. Ihave finally finished! I apologise if there are a ton of spelling errors, I could not bring myself to do a thorough proof read of this. I hope you found some new books to read! See you next week where I’ll be diving into the world of horror!

Book review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isobel Sterling

Title: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isobel Sterling

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication date: 28 May 2019

Genre: Young adult | Fantasy |Witches

Page extent: 336 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

This book has been on my TBR for so long, and I don’t know why I hadn’t picked it up yet but just add that to the list of reasons why I hate myself because this so good?! It’s so cute and funny, full of very fun (and very queer) relationships, all mixed up in a delicious barrel of blood magic and elemental magic which are the TWO BEST KINDS OF MAGIC. Anyway I’m mad at myself for not reading this sooner because I enjoyed this so much!

These Witches Don’t Burn follows elemental witch Hannah in the aftermath of a very bad breakup. But when Hannah starts seeing signs that a blood witch has come to town, she must team up with her ex to hunt them down because no one else believes her. Enter new hot cutie Morgan, just who Hannah needs to complicate her life more!

I’m going to start by getting my one major peeve about this book out of the way quickly: why oh why oh why oh why do so many YA books insist on plot that hinges off parents and other responsible adults making an environment so toxic and terrifying for a child that they would rather BE KILLED BY A BLOOD WITCH than talk to you about the situation?

Okay short mini rant over, onto the good stuff! I didn’t expect this to be as funny as it was (I have no idea why, maybe because I don’t really associate fantasy with humour?) But Hannah has such a great voice, she’s funny and sarcastic (my favourite form of humour) and thus I loved her. She gets so angry at her ex, I thought their relationship was perfect, it really exemplified the kind of messy awkward breakups that happen in high school. Victoria, as set up as the brooding evil ex, is obviously therefore my favourite. I mean Morgan is fine, she was a nice enough character if a little bland and lacking something defining I could talk about right now. But Victoria was just so fucking confident and powerful and kind of a little mean, but also very obviously still had feelings for Hannah which makes her vulnerable (and thus more dangerous). Which just made her such a perfect character for me!

The whole environment of this book was just very cute and very fun. The pacing was excellent, there’s lots of action, there’s lots of fires and magic and witchy coven meetings. I particularly liked the odd little bits of magic we got to see that really helped build this world up: for example, the binding rings or tattoos used to keep children from accidentally revealing their magic, to the very cool air bubble things that can be used to send messages, to more traditional witchy things like pentagrams and blood magic animal sacrifices. (Gotta love that blood magic).

This was such a fun read, I had such a great time reading it. Whilst I’m still mad that I didn’t read this earlier, it does mean I don’t have to wait for the sequel because it’s already out!

Book review: The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

Title: The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia

Publication date: 2 June 2020

Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Witches

Page extent: 304 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: Every year on St. Walpurga’s Eve, Caldella’s Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.

Convinced her handsome brother is going to be taken this year, Lina Kirk enlists the help of the mysterious Thomas Lin, her secret crush, and the only boy to ever escape from the palace after winning the love of a queen. Working together they protect her brother but draw the queen’s attention.

Queen Eva cast away her heart when her sister died to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won’t make the same mistake. With the tide rising higher than ever before and the islander’s whispering that Eva’s magic is failing, she’s willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city.

When Thomas is chosen as sacrifice, Lina takes his place and the two girls are forced to spend time together as they wait for the full moon. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, the two girls find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella’s streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

The Dark Tide was a fun, sapphic, enemies to lovers romp of a book. I absolutely flew through it, and whilst I think every single man in this book was complete trash, the two main women were so great and their romance was lovely.

The Dark Tide is set on a small island town, Caldella, ruled by witches. Each year, the Witch Queen must sacrifice a man she loves to the Dark Tide, in order to prevent the ocean from flooding the entire island. This year, Lina thinks her brother, Finlay, will be chosen and she will do anything to stop that. She enlists the help of Thomas, the only person who has ever survived the Dark Tide, because he made the previous queen fall in love with him and she sacrificed herself instead. But when Lina and Thomas attempt to save Finlay, Thomas is chosen instead. Filled with quilt and the naivety of first love, Lina bargains herself to save Thomas and she becomes this year’s sacrifice.

The Dark Tide was such a fun read. The pacing was great and I really flew through the book because I couldn’t stop reading. There’s lots of fast paced action which really keeps the plot moving quickly. I thought the exploration of sacrifice, and the darkness brought to the story from the emphasis on love (because a sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice unless a person is losing something – or in this case, someone) was terrific. It was exactly the kind of dark fantasy I love to read, there’s a constant pull between Eva’s feelings for Lina and her duty to drown Lina to save all her family and the citizens of the island under her protection. Sheer perfection thank you very much.

One of the best things about The Dark Tide were the two main characters: Lina, this year’s sacrifice and Eva, the Witch Queen. We get POV sections from both of them and whilst I loved Eva the most (hello fellow introvert who gets exhausted around people), Lina’s POV is just as good. Lina does feel very naive at times and very young, she is so obsessed with being a hero and having an epic love story that could rival the ones told in books and tales and she lives in this completely fairytale world. I really loved that slice of desire and danger she had, it took what could have been a fairly standard, bland, naive girl into someone who was much more interesting. The way she was almost happy and gleeful at times was so great and gave a touch of darkness to her POV, as she almost seemed to enjoy throwing her life away as a sacrifice because it meant she was living in one of her fairytales.

But Eva, our Witch Queen who detests people, how I love you. I love how cold and distant she is (she cut out her heart!). This contrasted with the way she is slowly fascinated and irritated by Lina in turn, it’s so fun to watch Lina get a rise out of this seemingly heartless witch. And their romance! Wow. It was so fierce and I can’t even really put into words how much I loved their relationship. The only downside was that because it is a little more of a slowburn, I didn’t get enough of the two of them together!

From my favourite characters to my least favourites: litrally every single man. God they were all complete trash and unfortunately, I did think this hindered the success of this book. For so much of this book, Lina is head over heels for Thomas….but there’s literally not a single reason why?! He’s so so bland and his only trait is he’s willing to give up women so he can live. Seems like a catch, right?

Finlay, Lina’s brother, is unfortunately just as one note. But even worse in my mind, his one note is aggression: he’s an aggressive angry person who Lina is actually scared of because he rages at the slightest thing and actually seriously injured her once in his rage….and yet Lina’s family is trying to force her to forgive him? Sorry but you do not have to forgive and love folks just because they’re family. If they’re abusive, gtfo. I detested Finlay the whole way through. But somehow Lina is willing to do everything for this person she’s scared of?

Lina’s feelings towards these two main male characters just didn’t make sense and I think the book would have been strengthened if more work had gone these two so they weren’t so one note. I think this bothered me more with Finlay than Thomas. With Thomas, I get that Lina is portrayed as this young and naive girl who wants a fairytale romance, so it makes sense that she’s drawn to the quiet, brooding boy with so much history and story behind him. I could forgive that. But I really needed to see more of her brother, see why on earth he was worth saving? He needed to be more than this awful, angry person. The way his actions were always framed as trying to make it up to Lina for breaking her ankle, when he continued to lose his temper and scare her, felt very manipulative and reminiscent of domestic abuse relationships and it’s not ever really addressed.

All in all I really enjoyed this dark YA fantasy! The sapphic romance is wonderful, I adored Eva, and found the book very easy and fun to read. Whilst the boys are very one note and I struggled with understanding why Lina was willing to give up everything for them, it just made me appreciate Eva and Lina’s relationship more because it really highlighted how full of emotion and fierce they were together.

Book review: The Extraordinaries by T.J Klune

Title: The Extraordinaries by T.J Klune

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication date: 14 July 2020

Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy

Page extent: 405 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Well I’m extraordinarily in love with this book. It was everything I wanted it to be and more, which, of course it was because T.J Klune is an absolute genius and I will read everything he writes from now till ever. This had me laughing out loud on one page and sobbing the next. It is a brilliantly fun take on the superhero genre, has wonderfully open and honest portrayals of grief, discusses ADHD so personally it reverberates on every page, has an absolutelyfuckingadorable romance, a killer friendship group, lots of funny fandom anecdotes that brought back so much nostalgia, and a tender and warm message about being extraordinary when you’re ordinary.

The Extraordinaries is set in a world where superheros exist (though here they’re called Extraordinaries). In Nova City, Shadow Star protects the city from the evil villain PyroStorm. In this city is Nick, Shadow Star’s greatest fan and fanfic author of the most popular fanfic about the Extraordinaries. When he runs into Shadow Star in an alley, Nick decides he wants to become an Extraordinary himself and so begins his plan to turn himself into a superhero, much to the consternation of his friends.

I don’t quite know where to start with reviewing this book because I loved everything so much. It was warm and cosy and so funny, I can’t remember the last time I laughed this much at a book. Nick is just a brilliant and adorable character. He’s open and honest about his ADHD in such a relatable and funny way (and I just want to shout out that this is own voices ADHD rep too!) Nick is just an absolute precious gem, his complete blindness when it comes to his feelings for Seth is adorable, his realisation journey is so cute. Seth is quite possibly even more adorable than Nick, with his bowties (bowties are cool), cravats and a big secret he can’t possibly tell Nick. Alongside Gibby, Jazz and Owen, this is a friendship group that sounds like it must be some of the most fun. They’re all so hilarious in their own ways, so brilliantly, openly queer and pretty much everything I want in a rag tag team of misfits. Gibby is a butch lesbian who won’t take shit from anyone and has the most deadpan ringers; Jazz is sweet and kind and then she turns around and knocks you out of the park with a revelation; Owen is flirty and arrogant and popular (and his dad is the richest man in the city), but he can be so vulnerable at times when Nick gets through his walls.

Alongside the hilarity of these characters, there are several moments that had me almost sobbing. The book deals openly with grief, Nick having lost his mum fairly recently and Seth having lost both his parents when young. With his Dad’s job as a policeman, Nick is filled with anxiety about losing his Dad as well, and there are scenes so raw and gutrenching I thought it would tear me apart. I’m very glad I was in a different room from my partner when reading this because he always thinks it’s funny how emotionally invested I get in books!

I loved the sass towards the superhero genre as well. It flowed throughout the book, from the ridiculous villain speeches, to the need for capes. I also very much appreciated the fandom and fanfic references and excerpts throughout, this felt so nostalgic. I was completely brought back to my teenage days sneaking around writing fanfic, right down to the tags they used on Nick’s fanfic excerpts, it was all so reminiscent.

Everything about this book was just brilliant. T.J Klune astounds me with every book I read, I don’t think there’s another author out there who can quite make me laugh and cry as much as he does. It’s a fun, fresh, fandom enthusiastic take on the superhero genre with the most adorable romance. I read the majority of this book (the last 70%) in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. I sincerely hope we get more books in this series as soon as possible because I will follow these characters for years!

Book review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Publisher: Flatiron books

Publication date: 7 July 2020

Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy

Page extent: 336 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Fairytale retelling? Check. Descent to villainy? Check. Sapphic slowburn romance? Check. Monster girlfriend? Double check. Girl, Serpent, Thorn was every bit as magical as I wanted it to be. It has such a wonderful fairytale vibe to it, with picturesque forests and carved out mountains, and I want nothing more than to read f/f villain monster romances forever.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is inspired by Persian mythology and tells the story of Soruya, a girl poisonous to the touch. To protect her family’s reputation, she has been hidden away, alone and untouched, for all her life. When a young man begins to see who she is beyond her poisonous skin, she vows to rid herself of her curse, no matter the cost.

One of my favourite parts of this story was discovering all the mythology. Bashardoust goes into a detailed authors note at the end of the book to speak about her inspiration, but throughout the book, I just loved getting to see more of the mythology of Persia. From the creation stories, inspired by Zoroastrian beliefs, to the divs, demons who want to destroy the world, the world is magical. I would’ve loved to hear even more about the creation story and the origins of the divs, but that’s probably because I came to this book after The Unspoken Name, a large fantasy book that has intricately detailed religion and hence am dying to read some more books like that.

I found Soruya’s character particularly well written. There’s something so familiar about her. I think we have all felt that edge of resentment, have felt the awful emotions and thoughts it evokes in you, and so I found her incredibly relatable and understandable. Her actions made so much sense. And that made it very easy to root for her (whether you want her to be good or evil!) My favourite character however was Parvaneh. I have a thing for wings okay. I just loved her energy! She seems at times so mischievious (trying to work up Soruya’s anger), but also so full of regrets for her past. Her relationship development with Soruya is brilliant – I loved how both are so hesitant and yet so passionate at the same time. Both have been trapped by their circumstances, but together they’re able to explore freedom and just, this is the f/f content we need and we deserve!!! Bear in mind this is VERY slowburn. For the first 50% of the novel I was literally that John Travolta gif going WHERE IS THE F/F I WAS PROMISED.

The only real issue I had with this book was the enemy. I found their reveal abundantly obvious from literally their first moment on page and so I spent half of the novel going are we seriously meant to belief this?! I wish it had been so much less obvious because if it had been a shock, that would have been one of the most epic plot twists off all time. Sadly, because of this, I did feel a bit meh about the first half of the novel because I was dying to just get the reveal over with already. But after it happens, everything picks up and the story starts speeding forward with lots of drama and action and plenty of naive, foolish plans from Soruya.

Most of all, I loved the change in Soruya and her growth from a girl terrified of hurting someone with her poison, to someone who embraces her differences and learns to see their power. Sapphic goddess win. Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a wonderful YA fantasy, and seriously, I hope Bashardoust writes more monster girlfriends in future, cause this shit is good.

30 Days of Pride: Contemporary YA

Hi everyone,

I can’t believe there’s only four days left of Pride month and that I’ve actually managed to post every day…. I’ve spoken a lot over the past month about fantasy and science fiction because that is by far the genre I read most. But last year, I also fell in love with YA contemporary, thanks in part to two incredible books which introduced me to the genre (Darius the Great is Not Okay and Deposing Nathan). Thanks to these two books, I was introduced to this whole new genre that I’ve found so much fun to explore! So today’s post is all about some of my favourite YA contemporaries and some of the ones I hope to read during the rest of 2020.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

It’s no secret that this is one of my favourite books of all time, thanks in part to how personally I connected with Darius. This book follows Darius, a teen living with depression, as he visits his grandparents in Iran one summer. It’s a book about depression and losing people to depression through ways other than suicide, it’s about family and friendship, and is just such a beautiful story, it had me sobbing, I love it so fucking much.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Anger is a Gift is a heavy and very difficult read, and follows Moss after his father was killed by a police officer. Six years later, Moss has been left with horrific anxiety and panic attacks. But he’s sick of the way his school is treating him and his classmates like criminals, so they decide to fight back.

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Today’s list has so many yellow covers and I’m very here for it. Late to the Party is a recent 2020 release about Codi, a teen who’s not exactly the most adventurous, having never been to a party and would rather spend time with her two best friends inside watching Netflix. But when she decides to crash a party and catches one of the popular kids, Ricky, kissing another boy, an unexpected friendship is formed. Ricky introduces Codi to a new wild summer, as well as a cute girl called Lydia. But Codi doesn’t tell her best friends anything…

By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

Yellow cover number 2!! And this one even comes with bees. By Any Means Necessary is about the impact of gentrification, class and cultural identity. It follows Torrey who, on his first day as a college freshman, gets a call that his uncle’s bee farm has been foreclosed. Torrey has to decide whether to save his uncle’s farm or to escape the neighbourhood that’s slowly killing him.

All the Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman

Beware a very heavy content warning for suicide in this one folks. All the Things We Never Said is a very difficult read, following three teens who sign up to MementoMori, an online service that matches you up with others wanting to commit suicide, and plans your death for you. Mehreen, a depressed, anxious, Muslim teen; Cara, a lesbian wheelchair user; and Olivia, sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend, are matched with each other and MemontoMori starts giving them tasks to prepare. But the three girls bond with one another, and as they get closer to the day of their deaths, they begin to want out of the pact. But MemontoMori won’t let them stop. As I said, do not read this book if you are not in the headspace to handle the content. It’s a very dark book, but one about the power of friendship and the strength of survival.

Camp by L.C Rosen

I still haven’t read L.C Rosen’s first YA (Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)), but I’ve heard so many good things but L.C Rosen’s sex-positive, funny writing that I really need to get onto both Jack of Hearts and his newest, Camp. Camp is a comedy critiquing toxic masculinity in the queer community, and follows Randy, a queer teen who tries to ‘man’ himself up to get his crush to fall for him.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

A book I finished only last weekend, The Gravity of Us is a sweet contemporary romance set in a world still enthralled by the space race, with NASA preparing for an expedition to Mars. Cal’s father is on the team of astronauts for the mission, and so his family must uproot their lives to move to Texas. But in Texas, Cal begins to fall for fellow astronaut son, Leon, and the longer he stays there, the more it seems like there are secrets being kept from the astronauts and Cal must find a way to reveal them without hurting those he loves.

Look by Zan Romanoff

Look feels like such a current book! God, I feel like that statement makes me sound so old, pretending to know what’s current with the kids… It follows social media influencer, Lulu, after a video of her making out with another girl is accidentally posted and her boyfriend breaks up with her as a result. Look is a coming-of-age story for the social media world, full of commentary on presentation versus who you really are.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

A beautiful book about grief, We Are Okay follows Marin who hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since she moved to university. But her best friend, Mabel, has had enough and is coming to visit. This is such a soft, touching book about friendship, loneliness, complicated queer relationships, and coping with grief.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

I just picked this book up from my library and I’m very excited to give it a go, not least because of how cool this bright yellow cover is. Juliet Takes a Breath follows Puerto Rican Juliet as she spends a Summer interning with her favourite feminist author and coming out, to herself and her family. And an update at the time of scheduling: I have read this now! I’ll have a full book review coming in July, but this had such a great voice and managed to make a book that could be very preachy, not preachy at all.

Are any of your contemporary favourites on this list? Let me know your favourites in the comments! As this is a pretty new genre to me, I am certain I will have missed A TON.