New and Notable YA Releases – February

Always the Almost by Edward Underhill

Sixteen-year-old trans boy Miles Jacobson has two New Year’s resolutions: 1) win back his ex-boyfriend (and star of the football team) Shane McIntyre, and 2) finally beat his slimy arch-nemesis at the Midwest’s biggest classical piano competition. But that’s not going to be so easy. For one thing, Shane broke up with Miles two weeks after Miles came out as trans, and now Shane’s stubbornly ignoring him, even when they literally bump into each other. Plus, Miles’ new, slightly terrifying piano teacher keeps telling him that he’s playing like he “doesn’t know who he is”—whatever that means.

Then Miles meets the new boy in town, Eric Mendez, a proudly queer cartoonist from Seattle who asks his pronouns, cares about art as much as he does—and makes his stomach flutter. Not what he needs to be focusing on right now. But after Eric and Miles pretend to date so they can score an invite to a couples-only Valentine’s party, the ruse turns real with a kiss, which is also definitely not in the plan. If only Miles could figure out why Eric likes him so much. After all, it’s not like he’s cool or confident or comfortable in his own skin. He’s not even good enough at piano to get his fellow competitors to respect him, especially now, as Miles. Nothing’s ever been as easy for him as for other people—other boys. He’s only ever been almost enough.

So why, when he’s with Eric, does it feel like the only person he’s ever really not been enough for…is himself?

 

And Other Mistakes by Erika Turner

Aaliyah’s home life has never been great, but she thought she’d survive her last years of high school with at least her friendships and cross-country stardom intact. That is, until junior year struck: she got outed by a church elder and everything came undone — including Aaliyah.

Now, senior year is about to start and she is determined to come back faster and wiser. No more letting other people define her. No more losing herself to their expectations.

Except… well, with new friends, old flames, nosy school counselors, and teammates who don’t trust her yet, the route already feels rough. And what’s with the new girl, Tessa, who gives Aaliyah butterflies every time she looks at her? Regardless, everything is fine. She’ll be fine. Because this is the year to prove to everyone—and most of all, herself—that she’s more than her mistakes. After all, even Aaliyah can’t outrun everything.

 

The Beauty Trials by Dhonielle Clayton

Sophia, the dangerous and erratic former queen, has been imprisoned, restoring peace to Orléans. Now her sister, Charlotte, sits on the throne and has decided to invoke the ancient tradition of the Beauty Trials―a series of harrowing tests meant to find the true ruler of Orléans. Edel, who has always aspired to be more than a Belle, decides to enter and, after promising to bind her arcana to keep from having an unnatural advantage, joins a few dozen other hopefuls intent on becoming the next Queen of Orléans.

But the Trials are far worse than any of them bargained for. As the women are put through tasks that test their strength, confidence, composure, and bravery, many perish, and Edel is mysteriously attacked by one of the other competitors―forcing her to use her powers just to survive. Will her subterfuge cost her the crown, or is there a larger conspiracy at play?

 

Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury

Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…

A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?

As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.

 

The Girl that Can’t Get a Girlfriend by Mieri Hiranishi

Mieri is an awkward, nerdy college student with no dating experience, and her previous crushes on fellow butch women have all ended in disaster. That all changes when she meets Ash and has her feelings returned for the first time—but when first love turns to first heartbreak, Mieri will do everything possible to win Ash back. Based on true events, this is a hilarious and heart-wrenching story about love, loneliness, and the true meaning of finding one’s own happy ending.

 

 

I’ll Take Everything You Have by James Klise

In the summer of 1934, Joe Garbe arrives in Chicago with one goal: Earn enough money to get out of debt and save the family farm. Joe’s cousin sets him up with a hotel job, then proposes a sketchy scheme to make a lot more money fast. While running his con, Joe finds himself splitting time between Eddie, a handsome flirt on a delivery truck, and Raymond, a carefree rich kid who shows Joe the eye-opening queer life around every corner of the big city.

Joe’s exposure to the surface of criminal Chicago pulls him into something darker than he could have imagined. When danger closes in—from gangsters, the police, and people he thought were friends—Joe needs to pack up and get lost. But before he can figure out where to go, he has to decide who he wants to be.

 

My Flawless Life by Yvonne Woon

At the most elite private school in Washington, DC., whenever anyone has a problem that they need to go away, they hire Hana Yang Lerner.

Hana is a fixer. She knows who to call, what to say, and how to make sure secrets stay where they belong–buried. She can fix anything. Except her own life, which was destroyed when her father, senator Skip Lerner, was arrested for an accident that left one woman nearly dead.

Now Hana’s reputation is ruined and her friends are gone. So when she gets a job from an anonymous client called “Three” to follow her former best friend, Luce Herrera, Hana realizes this might be her way of getting back her old life.

But the dangerous thing about digging is that you never know what you’ll unearth. As Hana uncovers a dark truth about her supposedly flawless classmates, she’s forced to face a secret of her own.

 

Project Nought by Chelsey Furedi

Ren Mittal’s last memory in the year 1996 is getting on a bus to visit his mystery pen pal Georgia. When he wakes up in 2122, he thinks he might be hallucinating…he’s not!

Tech conglomerate Chronotech sponsors a time-travel program to help students in 2122 learn what history was really like…from real-life subjects who’ve been transported into the future…and Ren is one of them.

In 2122, Ren’s life in the 1990s is practically ancient history–and Ren’s not sure how to feel about that. On top of it all, he learns that his memory will be wiped of all things 2122 before he’s sent back to the ’90s. Adding to Ren’s complicated feels, he’s forming a crush on his student guide, Mars.

And when he crosses paths with the absolute last person he expected to see in the future, he has a bigger problem on his hands: What if Chronotech isn’t the benevolent organization they claim to be, and he and his fellow subjects are in great danger?

 

These Infinite Threads by Tahereh Mafi

With the heat of a kiss, the walls between Alizeh, the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom, and Kamran, the crown prince of the Ardunian empire, have crumbled. And so have both of their lives.

Kamran’s grandfather, the king of Ardunia, lays dead, the terrible secret of his deal with the devil exposed to the world. Cyrus, the mysterious copper-haired royal, has stolen Alizeh away to Tulan, the neighboring kingdom where he rules. Cyrus has made his own deal with the devil—one that would require Alizeh to betray her feelings for Kamran if she’s to reclaim the Jinn throne.

Alizeh wants nothing to do with Cyrus, or his deal with Iblees. But with no means of escaping Tulan, and with the tantalizing promise of fulfilling her destiny as the heir to the Jinn, she’s forced to wonder whether she can set aside her emotions—and finally become the queen her people need.

Kamran, meanwhile, is picking up the pieces of his broken kingdom. Facing betrayal at every turn, all he knows for certain is that he must go to Tulan to avenge his grandfather. He can only hope that Alizeh will be waiting for him there—and that she’s not yet become queen of Tulan.

 

Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood

Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Kidnapped at the age of six and manipulated by the Exotic Lands Touring Company, she’s worked as a tour guide ever since with a team of fellow Wildbloods who take turns using their magic to protect travelers in a Jamaican jungle teeming with ghostly monsters.

When the boss denies Victoria an earned promotion to team leader in favor of Dean, her backstabbing ex, she’s determined to prove herself. Her magic may be the most powerful on the team, but she’s not the image the boss wants to send their new client, Thorn, a renowned goldminer determined to reach an untouched gold supply deep in the jungle.

Thorn is everything Victoria isn’t – confident, impossibly kind, and so handsome he leaves her speechless. And when he entrusts the mission to her, kindness turns to mutual respect, turns to affection, turns to love. But the jungle is treacherous, and between hypnotic river spirits, soul-devouring women that shed their skin like snakes, and her ex out for revenge, Victoria has to decide – is promotion at a corrupt company really what she wants?

 

Spy x Family by Tatsuyo Endo

Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!

Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!