Set in Melbourne, Australia, I Hope This Doesn’t Find You by Ann Liang features Sadie Wen and Julius Gong, two teens who are on a trajectory to future success. Having researched the highest-paying job and the most in-demand degrees, Julius plans to be a lawyer and Sadie a data analyst. Both young people attend Woodvale Academy, a selective high school for gifted students and populated predominantly by other young Asians. At Woodvale, “dreams, [like astronaut, playwright, and artist] are shattered and hobbies are traded for more stable, lucrative, practical careers” (130). Sadie has perfect grades and is the MVP in every sports team she isRead More →

Set in Oahu, Hawaii, in 1941, Heroes by Alan Gratz is a novel about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Two thirteen-year-old boys: Stanley Summer and Frank McCoy, whose fathers are pilots for the U.S. Navy, bond over their love of comic books. The two see the fleet of ships on Battleship Row as a metaphor for superheroes: the Justice Society of America. Frank is a writer and Stanley an illustrator. Together, they invent characters, write their origin stories, and draw them into situations where they emerge as heroes. However, Frank feels a bit like a fraud. Ever since The Incident in Florida, their last militaryRead More →

Jumata Emill writes a killer murder mystery with his new young adult novel, Wander in the Dark. It will lead readers down circuitous paths as they attempt to follow the clues and resolve the murder of Chloe Danvers. Set in New Orleans at the time of mardi gras in February, the novel features the family drama of Marcel and Amir Trudeau. The two teen brothers are estranged, however, because their father, Martin Trudeau is himself guilty of adultery. Now the famous chef is married with a second family who seems to have it all in Amir’s eyes: connections, cash, and closeness. When Marcel invites AmirRead More →

In her historical mystery The Voice Upstairs, Laura E. Weymouth tells a riveting ghost story with plot twists that keep the reader intrigued and engaged until the surprising ending. Under the influence of Weymouth’s pen, Wilhelmina Price (aka Wil) and Edison Summerfield (aka Ed) serve as protagonists and the voices that carry the story, which is set in 1920s England, forward. Triggered by her mother’s passing, Wil develops a death sense, which enables her to see a soul leave a body prior to death. She can also slip into the shadowland—the world between life and death—where she can lend her body and voice to aRead More →

Set in Colorado, Backcountry by Jenny Goebel tells the story of thirteen-year-old Emily Walker. Daughter of a mom with grit and determination who tells her to play it safe and an athletic dad who tells her to go for it, Em is a lead attacker for the Impalers’ volleyball team. Strong, adventurous, and Identifying as an athlete, Em feels like she has to compete with Dad’s real estate clients for attention. Because a bad appraisal or inspection often takes precedence over Emily and her mother, Emily believes that her dad only pays attention to her life when she is winning tournaments and trophies. When EmilyRead More →

Guilt is the glue that keeps Rana’s immigrant family together. In the Muslim world that Rana is from, the goal is to become a dutiful wife. However, that is a version of womanhood that Rana can’t live up to. She’s gay but keeps her sexual identity secret. Because she’s suffering from the loss of one of her best friends, Louie who died a mysterious death, Rana quits basketball and carbo loads her pain. As she shrinks into herself, her teacher Ms. Murillo tries to draw her out, telling her that her opinion matters and offering her meditation as a way to open up to possibility:Read More →

With By Any Other Name, Erin Cotter writes a historical fiction novel about William Shakespeare’s London, sharing ample allusions to his work and plays. The story opens in 1593 London at the Rose Theater, where young Will Hughes is aging out of the theater because his voice is changing and he will no longer be able to play the female parts. To further complicate his life, the plague is making its way through the city, and theaters will close until it passes. As a result, his patron, Christopher Marlowe (Kit) encourages him to find another home. Home. The word makes Will’s breath catch. At eightRead More →

On par with The Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis is a thrilling page-turner with all the ingredients of a good spy novel. Although Rosalyn (Ross) Quest is only seventeen years old, she is a master thief, having acquired her experience through her family-run business of thieving. Living on the remote island of the Bahamas, Ross seeks social contact with people beyond her family. In fact, she seeks escape. While the heists provide their own brand of exhilaration, Ross feels isolated. She sees her options as staying locked up in the family industry where trusting people outside the familyRead More →

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim is a fantasy blended with elements of both English and Asian folklore. While Lim tells a tale of two sisters and their unbreakable bond, she also relates key truths about human nature—those that regard greed, treachery, and trust. The only time Channari Jin’aiti feels truly alive, truly free, and truly awake is when she is in the jungle. Since her sister Vanna was born, Channi has hunted the Demon Witch who has taken the body of a tiger as her vessel and searches for the dragon pearl. “The Channi of the jungle and the Channi who lives in herRead More →