Hispanic Heritage Month Recommendations

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15. This year, the theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” Honor diverse voices, unique perspectives, and rich cultural traditions through the following book recommendations. Ask your librarian for more recommendations! The descriptions of each book are provided by the publisher.

Adult Fiction

More Thank You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez

The dance becomes an affair, which becomes a marriage, which becomes a murder…

In 1985, Lore Rivera marries Andres Russo in Mexico City, even though she is already married to Fabian Rivera in Laredo, Texas, and they share twin sons. Through her career as an international banker, Lore splits her time between two countries and two families—until the truth is revealed and one husband is arrested for murdering the other.

In 2017, while trawling the internet for the latest, most sensational news reports, struggling true-crime writer Cassie Bowman encounters an article detailing that tragic final act. Cassie is immediately enticed by what is not explored: Why would a woman—a mother—risk everything for a secret double marriage? Cassie sees an opportunity—she’ll track Lore down and capture the full picture, the choices, the deceptions that led to disaster. But the more time she spends with Lore, the more Cassie questions the facts surrounding the murder itself. Soon, her determination to uncover the truth could threaten to derail Lore’s now quiet life—and expose the many secrets both women are hiding.

Told through alternating timelines, More Than You’ll Ever Know is both a gripping mystery and a wrenching family drama. Presenting a window into the hearts of two very different women, it explores the many conflicting demands of marriage and motherhood, and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

_______________________________

Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

There is one every generation, a seer who keeps the stories.

Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930s Denver, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished, and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

Written in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s singular voice, the wildly entertaining and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multigenerational western saga. Woman of Light is a transfixing novel about survival, family secrets, and love—filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are just as special, memorable, and complicated as our beloved heroine, Luz.

_______________________________

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 percent but she can’t seem to find her own. . . until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.

Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream—all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

_______________________________

Velorio by Xavier Navarro Aquino

Set in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Xavier Navarro Aquino’s unforgettable debut novel follows a remarkable group of survivors searching for hope on an island torn apart by both natural disaster and human violence.

Camila is haunted by the death of her sister, Marisol, who was caught by a mudslide during the huracán. Unable to part with Marisol, Camila carries her through town, past the churchyard, and, eventually, to the supposed utopia of Memoria.

Urayoán, the idealistic, yet troubled cult leader of Memoria, has a vision for this new society, one that in his eyes is peaceful and democratic. The paradise he preaches lures in the young, including Bayfish, a boy on the cusp of manhood, and Morivivi, a woman whose outward toughness belies an inner tenderness for her friends. But as the different members of Memoria navigate Urayoán’s fiery rise, they will need to confront his violent authoritarian impulses in order to find a way to reclaim their home.

Velorio—meaning “wake”—is a story of strength, resilience, and hope; a tale of peril and possibility buoyed by the deeply held belief in a people’s ability to unite against those corrupted by power.

_______________________________

Violeta by Isabel Allende

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family with five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses everything and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting times of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life is shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately not one, but two pandemics.

Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.

_______________________________

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

It’s Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother’s house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby’s first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge: Amadeo’s mother, Yolanda, reeling from a recent discovery; Angel’s mother, Marissa, whom Angel isn’t speaking to; and disapproving Tíve, Yolanda’s uncle and keeper of the family’s history. Each brings expectations that Amadeo, who often solves his problems with a beer in his hand, doesn’t think he can live up to.

The Five Wounds is a miraculous debut novel from a writer whose stories have been hailed as “legitimate masterpieces” (New York Times). Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that will linger long after the final page, bringing to life their struggles to parent children they may not be equipped to save.

_______________________________

A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Combining the haunting power of Toni Morrison’s Beloved with the evocative atmosphere of Phillippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s groundbreaking novel illuminates a little discussed aspect of history—the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade—witnessed through the experiences of Pola, an African captive used as a breeder to bear more slaves.

A Woman of Endurance, set in nineteenth-century Puerto Rican plantation society, follows Pola, a deeply spiritual African woman who is captured and later sold for the purpose of breeding future slaves. The resulting babies are taken from her as soon as they are born. Pola loses the faith that has guided her and becomes embittered and defensive. The dehumanizing violence of her life almost destroys her. But this is not a novel of defeat but rather one of survival, regeneration, and reclamation of common humanity.

Readers are invited to join Pola in her journey to healing. From the sadistic barbarity of her first experiences, she moves on to receive compassion and support from a revitalizing new community. Along the way, she learns to recognize and embrace the many faces of love—a mother’s love, a daughter’s love, a sister’s love, a love of community, and the self-love that she must recover before she can offer herself to another. It is ultimately, a novel of the triumph of the human spirit even under the most brutal of conditions.

_______________________________

A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande

A forgotten war. An unforgettable romance.

The year is 1846. After the controversial annexation of Texas, the US Army marches south to provoke war with México over the disputed Río Grande boundary.​

Ximena Salomé is a gifted Mexican healer who dreams of building a family with the man she loves on the coveted land she calls home. But when Texas Rangers storm her ranch and shoot her husband dead, her dreams are burned to ashes. Vowing to honor her husband’s memory and defend her country, Ximena uses her healing skills as an army nurse on the frontlines of the ravaging war.

Meanwhile, John Riley, an Irish immigrant in the Yankee army desperate to help his family escape the famine devastating his homeland, is sickened by the unjust war and the unspeakable atrocities against his countrymen by nativist officers. In a bold act of defiance, he swims across the Río Grande and joins the Mexican Army—a desertion punishable by execution. He forms the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a band of Irish soldiers willing to fight to the death for México’s freedom.

When Ximena and John meet, a dangerous attraction blooms between them. As the war intensifies, so does their passion. Swept up by forces with the power to change history, they fight not only for the fate of a nation but for their future together.

Heartbreaking and lyrical, Reyna Grande’s spellbinding saga, inspired by true events and historical figures, brings these two unforgettable characters to life and illuminates a largely forgotten moment in history that impacts the US-México border to this day.

Will Ximena and John survive the chaos of this bitter war, or will their love be devoured along with the land they strive to defend?

_______________________________

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Carlota Moreau: A young woman growing up on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is either a genius or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and, in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

_______________________________

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

_______________________________

Trust by Hernan Diaz

An unparalleled novel about money, power, intimacy, and perception

Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth—all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.

Hernan Diaz’s TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another—and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.

At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.

_______________________________

Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera

The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.

As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.

A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice.

_______________________________

Bindle Punk Bruja by Desideria Mesa

Boardwalk Empire meets The Vanishing Half with a touch of earth magic in this sexy and action-packed historical fantasy set in the luminous Golden Twenties from debut author Desideria Mesa, where a part-time reporter and club owner takes on crooked city councilmen, mysterious and deadly mobsters, and society’s deeply rooted sexism and racism, all while keeping her true identity and magical abilities hidden—inspired by an ancient Mexican folktale.

Yo soy quien soy. I am who I am.

Luna—or depending on who’s asking, Rose—is the white-passing daughter of an immigrant mother who has seen what happens to people from her culture. This world is prejudicial, and she must hide her identity in pursuit of owning an illegal jazz club. Using her cunning powers, Rose negotiates with dangerous criminals as she climbs up Kansas City’s bootlegging ladder. Luna, however, runs the risk of losing everything if the crooked city councilmen and ruthless mobsters discover her ties to an immigrant boxcar community that secretly houses witches. Last thing she wants is to put her entire family in danger.

But this bruja with ever-growing magical abilities can never resist a good fight. With her new identity, Rose, an unabashed flapper, defies societal expectations all the while struggling to keep her true self and witchcraft in check. However, the harder she tries to avoid scrutiny, the more her efforts eventually capture unwanted attention. Soon, she finds herself surrounded by greed and every brand of bigotry—from local gangsters who want a piece of the action and businessmen who hate her diverse staff to the Ku Klux Klan and Al Capone. Will her earth magic be enough to save her friends and family? As much as she hates to admit it, she may need to learn to have faith in others—and learning to trust may prove to be her biggest ambition yet.

_______________________________

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

When Isabel Perez travels to Barcelona to save her sister Beatriz, she discovers a shocking family secret in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s new novel.

Barcelona, 1964. Exiled from Cuba after the revolution, Isabel Perez has learned to guard her heart and protect her family at all costs. After Isabel’s sister Beatriz disappears in Barcelona, Isabel goes to Spain in search of her. Joining forces with an unlikely ally thrusts Isabel into her sister’s dangerous world of espionage, but it’s an unearthed piece of family history that transforms Isabel’s life.

Barcelona, 1936. Alicia Perez arrives in Barcelona after a difficult voyage from Cuba, her marriage in jeopardy and her young daughter Isabel in tow. Violence brews in Spain, the country on the brink of civil war, the rise of fascism threatening the world. When Cubans journey to Spain to join the International Brigades, Alicia’s past comes back to haunt her as she is unexpectedly reunited with the man who once held her heart.

Alicia and Isabel’s lives intertwine, and the past and present collide, as a mother and daughter are forced to choose between their family’s expectations and following their hearts.

_______________________________

Twice a Quinceañera by Yamile Saied Méndez

One month short of her wedding day—and her thirtieth birthday—Nadia Palacio finds herself standing up to her infuriating, cheating fiancé for the first time in . . . well, ever. But that same courage doesn’t translate to breaking the news to her Argentinian family. She’s hyperventilating before facing them when she glimpses a magazine piece about a Latina woman celebrating herself—with a second quinceañera, aka Sweet 15! And that gives Nadia a brilliant idea . . .

With a wedding venue already paid for, and family from all over the world with plane tickets, Nadia is determined to create her own happily-ever-after. Since the math adds up perfectly, she’ll celebrate her treintañera, her double quinces. As the first professional in her family, raising a glass to her achievements is the best plan she’s had in years. Until she discovers that the man in charge of the venue is none other than her college fling that became far more than a fling. And he looks even more delicious than a three-tiered cake . . .

Full of exuberant heart, Twice a Quinceañera is a pure delight for every woman who needs to be her own biggest fan—and who dreams of a second chance at first love.

_______________________________

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

Cara Romero thought she would work at the factory of little lamps for the rest of her life. But when, in her mid-50s, she loses her job in the Great Recession, she is forced back into the job market for the first time in decades. Set up with a job counselor, Cara instead begins to narrate the story of her life. Over the course of twelve sessions, Cara recounts her tempestuous love affairs, her alternately biting and loving relationships with her neighbor Lulu and her sister Angela, her struggles with debt, gentrification and loss, and, eventually, what really happened between her and her estranged son, Fernando. As Cara confronts her darkest secrets and regrets, we see a woman buffeted by life but still full of fight.

Structurally inventive and emotionally kaleidoscopic, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water is Angie Cruz’s most ambitious and moving novel yet, and Cara is a heroine for the ages.

_______________________________

Paradais by Fernanda Melchor, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes

Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasizes about seducing his neighbor—an attractive married woman and mother—while Polo dreams about quitting his awful job as the gated community’s gardener and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. Faced with the impossibility of getting what they think they deserves, Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.

Written in a thrilling torrent of prose by one of our most exciting new writers, Paradais explores the explosive fragility of Mexican society—fractured by issues of race, class, and violence—and how the myths, desires, and hardships of teenagers can tear life apart at the seams.

_______________________________

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela

In this contemporary debut novel—an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity —Andrés, a gay Latinx professor, returns to his suburban hometown in the wake of his husband’s infidelity. There he finds himself with no excuse not to attend his twenty-year high school reunion, and hesitantly begins to reconnect with people he used to call friends.

Over the next few weeks, while caring for his aging parents and navigating the neighborhood where he grew up, Andrés falls into old habits with friends he thought he’d left behind. Before long, he unexpectedly becomes entangled with his first love and is forced to tend to past wounds.

Captivating and poignant; a modern coming-of-age story about the essential nature of community, The Town of Babylon is a page-turning novel about young love and a close examination of our social systems and the toll they take when they fail us.

_______________________________

Valley of Shadows by Ruby Ruiz

A visionary neo-Western blend of magical realism, mystery, and horror, Valley of Shadows sheds light on the dark past of injustice, isolation, and suffering along the US-Mexico border.

Solitario Cisneros thought his life was over long ago. He lost his wife, his family, even his country in the late 1870s when the Rio Grande shifted course, stranding the Mexican town of Olvido on the Texas side of the border. He’d made his brooding peace with retiring his gun and badge, hiding out on his ranch, and communing with horses and ghosts. But when a gruesome string of murders and kidnappings ravages the town, pushing its volatile mix of Anglo, Mexican, and Apache settlers to the brink of self-destruction, he feels reluctantly compelled to confront both life, and the much more likely possibility of­ ­death, yet again.

As Solitario struggles to overcome not only the evil forces that threaten the town but also his own inner demons, he finds an unlikely source of inspiration and support in Onawa, a gifted and enchanting Apache-Mexican seer who champions his cause, daring him to open his heart and question his destiny.

As we follow Solitario and Onawa into the desert, we join them in facing haunting questions about the human condition that are as relevant today as they were back then: Can we rewrite our own history and shape our own future? What does it mean to belong to a place, or for a place to belong to a people? And, as lonely and defeated as we might feel, are we ever truly alone?

Through luminous prose and soul-searching reflections, Rudy Ruiz transports readers to a distant time and a remote place where the immortal forces of good and evil dance amidst the shadows of magic and mountains.

_______________________________

The Devil Takes You Home: A Barrio Noir by Gabino Iglesias

From an award-winning author comes a genre-defying thriller about a father desperate to salvage what’s left of his family—even if it means a descent into violence.

Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same.

The Devil Takes You Home is a panoramic odyssey for fans of S.A. Cosby’s southern noir, Blacktop Wasteland, by way of the boundary-defying storytelling of Stephen Graham Jones and Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

_______________________________

The Girls in Queens by Christine Kandic Torres

An unforgettable debut novel about the furious loyalty of two Latinx women coming of age in Queens, New York, an emotionally resonant novel infused with the insight, power, and poignancy of Angie Cruz’s Dominicana, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn, and Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends.

Growing up in the ’90s along Clement Moore Avenue in Queens, Brisma and Kelly are two young Latinas with an inseparable bond, sharing everything and anything with each other. The girls are opposites: Brisma is sweet, sensitive, and observant, whereas Kelly is free-spirited, flirtatious, and bold. But together, they binge on Sour Patch Kids, listen to Boyz II Men cassette tapes, and dance to Selena and Mariah Carey where no one can see them.

In high school, their friendship starts to form cracks when Brisma finds herself in a relationship with Brian, a charismatic baseball star. Brisma is thrilled to finally have something—someone—to herself. But Kelly wasn’t built to be a third wheel.

Years later, the Mets begin a historic run for the playoffs, and Brisma and Kelly—now on the cusp of adulthood—reconnect with Brian after years of silence. But then Brian is charged with sexual assault. Brisma and Kelly find themselves on opposite sides of the accusation, viewing their past and past traumas from completely different vantage points, and the two lifelong friends will have to decide if their shared history is enough to sustain their future.

Told in alternating timelines, Christine Kandic Torres’s incredible debut explores the unbreakable bonds of friendship, complications of sexual-abuse allegations within communities of color, and the danger of forgetting that sometimes monsters hide in plain sight.

_______________________________

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by María Gainza

New York Times Notable author María Gainza, who dazzled critics with Optic Nerve, returns with the captivating story of an auction house employee on the trail of an enigmatic master forger

In the Buenos Aires art world, a master forger has achieved legendary status. Rumored to be a woman, she specializes in canvases by the painter Mariette Lydis, a portraitist of Argentinean high society. But who is this absurdly gifted creator of counterfeits? What motivates her? And what is her link to the community of artists who congregate, night after night, in a strange establishment called the Hotel Melancólico?

On the trail of this mysterious forger is our narrator, an art critic and auction house employee through whose hands counterfeit works have passed. As she begins to take on the role of art-world detective, adopting her own methods of deception and manipulation, she warns us “not to proceed in expectation of names, numbers or dates . . . My techniques are those of the impressionist.”

Driven by obsession and full of subtle surprise, Portrait of an Unknown Lady is a highly seductive and enveloping meditation on what we mean by “authenticity” in art, and a captivating exploration of the gap between what is lived and what is told.

_______________________________

After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez

Opposites attract in this rivals-to-lovers romance from Lush Money author Angelina M. Lopez

Guapo pobrecito her grandmother calls him. The “poor handsome man.”

Professor Jeremiah Post, the poor handsome man, is in fact standing in the way of Alejandra “Alex” Torres turning Loretta’s, her grandmother’s bar, into a viable business. The hot brainiac who sleeps in one of the upstairs tenant rooms already has all of her Mexican American family’s admiration; she won’t let him have the bar and building she needs to resurrect her career, too.

Alex blowing into town has rocked Jeremiah to his mild-mannered core, but the large, boisterous Torres clan is everything he never had. He doesn’t believe Alex has the best interest of her family, their community, or the bar’s legacy in mind. To protect all three, he’ll stand up to the tough and tattooed bartender with whom he now shares a bedroom wall—and resist the insta-lust they both feel.

But when an old enemy threatens Loretta’s and the surrounding neighborhood, Alex and Jeremiah must combine forces. It will take her might and his mind to save the home they both desperately need.

_______________________________

A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña

Natalie Caña turns up the heat, humor and heart in this debut rom-com about a Puerto Rican chef and an Irish American whiskey distiller forced into a fake engagement by their scheming octogenarian grandfathers.

Kamilah Vega is desperate to convince her family to update their Puerto Rican restaurant and enter it into the Fall Foodie Tour. With the gentrification of their Chicago neighborhood, it’s the only way to save the place. The fly in her mofongo—her blackmailing abuelo says if she wants to change anything in his restaurant, she’ll have to marry the one man she can’t stand: his best friend’s grandson.

Liam Kane spent a decade working to turn his family’s distillery into a contender. But just as he and his grandfather are on the verge of winning a national competition, Granda hits him with a one-two punch: he has cancer and has his heart set on seeing Liam married before it’s too late. And Granda knows just the girl…Kamilah Vega.

If they refuse, their grandfathers will sell the building that houses both their businesses. With their futures on the line, Kamilah and Liam plan to outfox the devious duo, faking an engagement until they both get what they want. But soon, they find themselves tangled up in more than either of them bargained for.

_______________________________

Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

Beatriz Herrera is a fierce woman who will take you down with her quick wit and keen intellect. And after the results of the 2016 election worked hard to erase her identity as a queer biracial woman, she’d be right to. Especially if you come for her sweet BFF cousin, Hero. Beatriz would do anything for her, a loyalty that lands Beatriz precisely where she doesn’t want to be: spending a week at the ridiculous Cape Cod mansion of stupid-hot playboy Ben Montgomery. The same Ben Montgomery she definitely shouldn’t have hooked up with that one time… The things we do for family.

White and wealthy, Ben talks the talk and walks the walk of privilege, but deep down, he’s wrestling with the politics and expectations of a conservative family he can’t relate to. Though Beatriz’s caustic tongue drives him wild in the very best way, he’s the last person she’d want, because she has zero interest in compromising her identity. But as her and Ben’s assumptions begin to unravel and their hookups turn into something real, they start wondering if it’s still possible to hold space for one another and the inescapable love that unites them.

This retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is both razor-sharp and swoon-worthy: the perfect love story for our time.

_______________________________

West Side Love Story by Priscilla Oliveras

A heart-stirring romance of star-crossed love, feuding familias, and the bonds of sisterhood by USA Today bestselling author Priscilla Oliveras.

Two familias in Texas, both alike in dignity, rivalries, and passion…

Having grown up in the nurturing household of Casa Capuleta, Mariana will do anything for familia. To solve her adoptive parents’ financial problems amid their rapidly changing San Antonio comunidad, Mariana and her younger sisters are determined to win the Battle of the Mariachi Bands. That means competing against Hugo Montero, their father’s archnemesis, and his band and escalating a decades-old feud. It also raises the stakes of Mariana’s forbidden attraction for a certain dark-eyed mariachi who sets her heart racing.

To Angelo Montero’s familia, Mariana is also strictly off-limits. But that doesn’t stop him from pursuing her. As their secret affair intensifies and the competition grows fierce, they’re swept up in a brewing storm of betrayals, rivalries, and broken ties. Against the odds, they vow to bring peace. But sacrifices must be made and consequences weighed for two star-crossed lovers to make beautiful music together.

_______________________________

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa

The USA Today bestselling author of The Worst Best Man is back with a hilarious rom-com about two strangers who get trapped in a lie and have to fake date their way out of it…

Just weeks away from ditching DC for greener pastures, Solange Pereira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin on a random couple’s big day. It’s an easy gig… until Solange stumbles upon a situation that convinces her the pair isn’t meant to be. What’s a true-blue romantic to do? Crash the wedding, of course. And ensure the unsuspecting groom doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life.

Dean Chapman had his future all mapped out. He was about to check off “start a family” and on track to “make partner” when his modern day marriage of convenience went up in smoke. Then he learns he might not land an assignment that could be his ticket to a promotion unless he has a significant other and, in a moment of panic, Dean claims to be in love with the woman who crashed his wedding. Oops.

Now Dean has a whole new item on his to-do list: beg Solange to be his pretend girlfriend. Solange feels a tiny bit bad about ruining Dean’s wedding, so she agrees to play along. Yet as they fake-date their way around town, what started as a performance for Dean’s colleagues turns into a connection that neither he nor Solange can deny. Their entire romance is a sham… there’s no way these polar opposites could fall in love for real, right?

 

Young Adult Fiction

Lakelore by Anna-Maria McLemore

In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake – but can they keep their worlds above water intact?

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.

_______________________________

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

A powerful contemporary YA for fans of The Poet X and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.

_______________________________

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

Había una vez . . .

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children — among them Petra and her family — have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet — and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard — or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Donna Barba Higuera presents us with a brilliant journey through the stars, to the very heart of what makes us human.

_______________________________

No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado

You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.

They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent. But they’re still lies…

Golden-haired Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and tons of followers. Her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.

Except it’s all fake.

“Max” is actually Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic 17-year-old living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous about her existence—just bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with best friend Hari’s unrequited love.

But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with fans, even finding a real friend (or more?—Is Kat into girls!?) in a gorgeous Fat follower named Elena. But the closer Elena and “Max” get, the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade. “Max” is the first time people have really listened to what Kat has to say—and after a lifetime of invisibility (including ice-cold indifference from her parents) can she really give that up?

But when one of Kat’s posts goes viral and gets back to the girl she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world—real and fake—comes crashing down around her. Can she escape the web of lies she’s woven without hurting the people she loves?

This insightful, provocative novel—hilarious and raw by turns—is the second book from Crystal Maldonado, author of smash-hit New England Book Award Winner Fat Chance, Charlie Vega. Brilliantly plotted, deeply sensitive, and rich in voice, No Filter and Other Lies deftly addresses FOMO, first love, one-sided love, frayed family ties, raced exclusion on social media, queer awakenings, and learning to live with—and love—yourself.

Because the most powerful lies are the lies we tell ourselves.

_______________________________

The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta

A stunning YA fantasy inspired by ancient Mesoamerica, this gripping debut introduces us to a lineage of seers defiantly resisting the shifting patriarchal state that would see them destroyed—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir.

Indir is a Dreamer, descended from a long line of seers; able to see beyond reality, she carries the rare gift of Dreaming truth. But when the beloved king dies, his son has no respect for this time-honored tradition. King Alcan wants an opportunity to bring the Dreamers to a permanent end—an opportunity Indir will give him if he discovers the two secrets she is struggling to keep. As violent change shakes Indir’s world to its core, she is forced to make an impossible choice: fight for her home or fight to survive.

Saya is a seer, but not a Dreamer—she has never been formally trained. Her mother exploits her daughter’s gift, passing it off as her own as they travel from village to village, never staying in one place too long. Almost as if they’re running from something. Almost as if they’re being hunted. When Saya loses the necklace she’s worn since birth, she discovers that seeing isn’t her only gift—and begins to suspect that everything she knows about her life has been a carefully-constructed lie. As she comes to distrust the only family she’s ever known, Saya will do what she’s never done before, go where she’s never been, and risk it all in the search of answers.

With a detailed, supernaturally-charged setting and topical themes of patriarchal power and female strength, Lizz Huerta’s The Lost Dreamer brings an ancient world to life, mirroring the challenges of our modern one.

_______________________________

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s New York Times-bestselling paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

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

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true 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 off 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.

_______________________________

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie

A teen girl navigates friendship drama, the end of high school, and discovering her queerness in Ophelia After All, a hilarious and heartfelt contemporary YA debut by author Racquel Marie.

Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love—and sexuality—never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.

_______________________________

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her?

Because it’s time people did.

A sensitive, funny, and painfully honest coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

_______________________________

High Spirits: Short Stories on Dominican Diaspora by Camille Gomera-Tavarez

High Spirits is a collection of eleven interconnected short stories from the Dominican diaspora, from debut author Camille Gomera-Tavarez.

It is a book centered on one extended family – the Beléns – across multiple generations.

It is set in the fictional small town of Hidalpa – and Santo Domingo and Paterson and San Juan and Washington Heights too.

It is told in a style both utterly real and distinctly magical – and its stories explore machismo, mental health, family, and identity.

But most of all, High Spirits represents the first book from Camille Gomera-Tavarez, who takes her place as one of the most extraordinary new voices to emerge in years.

 

Nonfiction

High-Risk Homosexual by Edgar Gomez

This witty memoir traces a touching and often hilarious spiralic path to embracing a gay, Latinx identity against a culture of machismo—from a cockfighting ring in Nicaragua to cities across the U.S.—and the bath houses, night clubs, and drag queens who help redefine pride

I’ve always found the definition of machismo to be ironic, considering that pride is a word almost unanimously associated with queer people, the enemy of machistas . . . In a world desperate to erase us, queer Latinx men must find ways to hold on to pride for survival, but excessive male pride is often what we are battling, both in ourselves and in others.

A debut memoir about coming of age as a gay, Latinx man, High-Risk Homosexual opens in the ultimate anti-gay space: Edgar Gomez’s uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was sent at thirteen years old to become a man. Readers follow Gomez through the queer spaces where he learned to love being gay and Latinx, including Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a “high-risk homosexual.”

With vulnerability, humor, and quick-witted insights into racial, sexual, familial, and professional power dynamics, Gomez shares a hard-won path to taking pride in the parts of himself he was taught to keep hidden. His story is a scintillating, beautiful reminder of the importance of leaving space for joy.

_______________________________

Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood by Danny Trejo

On screen, Danny Trejo the actor is a baddie who has been killed at least a hundred times. He’s been shot, stabbed, hanged, chopped up, squished by an elevator, and once, was even melted into a bloody goo. Off screen, he’s a hero beloved by recovery communities and obsessed fans alike. But the real Danny Trejo is much more complicated than the legend.

Raised in an abusive home, Danny struggled with heroin addiction and stints in some of the country’s most notorious state prisons—including San Quentin and Folsom—from an early age, before starring in such modern classics as Heat, From Dusk till Dawn, and Machete. Now, in this funny, painful, and suspenseful memoir, Danny takes us through the incredible ups and downs of his life, including meeting one of the world’s most notorious serial killers in prison and working with legends like Charles Bronson and Robert De Niro.

An honest, unflinching, and “inspirational study in the definition of character” (Kevin Smith, director and actor), Trejo reveals how he managed the horrors of prison, rebuilt himself after finding sobriety and spirituality in solitary confinement, and draws inspiration from the adrenaline-fueled robbing heists of his past for the film roles that made him a household name. He also shares the painful contradictions in his personal life. Although he speaks everywhere from prison yards to NPR about his past to inspire countless others on their own road to recovery and redemption, he struggles to help his children with their personal battles with addiction, and to build relationships that last.

Redemptive and painful, poignant and real, Trejo is a portrait of a magnificent life and an unforgettable and exceptional journey that proves “though we may fall down at some point in our lives, it’s what we do when we stand back up that really counts” (Robert Rodriguez, filmmaker and producer).

_______________________________

Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire & Revolution in the Borderlands by Kelly Lytle Hernández

Bad Mexicans tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers—and American dissidents—to their cause. Determined to oust Mexico’s dictator, Porfirio Díaz, who encouraged the plunder of his country by U.S. imperialists such as Guggenheim and Rockefeller, the rebels had to outrun and outsmart the swarm of U. S. authorities vested in protecting the Diaz regime. The U.S. Departments of War, State, Treasury, and Justice as well as police, sheriffs, and spies, hunted the magonistas across the country. Capturing Ricardo Flores Magón was one of the FBI’s first cases.

But the magonistas persevered. They lived in hiding, wrote in secret code, and launched armed raids into Mexico until they ignited the world’s first social revolution of the twentieth century.

Taking readers to the frontlines of the magonista uprising and the counterinsurgency campaign that failed to stop them, Kelly Lytle Hernández puts the magonista revolt at the heart of U.S. history. Long ignored by textbooks, the magonistas threatened to undo the rise of Anglo-American power, on both sides of the border, and inspired a revolution that gave birth to the Mexican-American population, making the magonistas’ story integral to modern American life.

_______________________________

Nationally bestselling author Julissa Arce interweaves her own experiences with cultural commentary in a powerful polemic against the myth that assimilation leads to happiness and belonging for immigrants in America. Instead, she calls for a celebration of our uniqueness, our origins, our heritage, and the beauty of the differences that actually make us Americans.

“You sound like a white girl.” These were the words spoken to Julissa by a crush as she struggled to find her place in America. As a brown immigrant from Mexico, assimilation had been demanded of her since the moment she set foot in San Antonio, Texas, in 1994. She’d spent so much time getting rid of her accent so no one could tell English was her second language that in that moment she felt those words–you sound like a white girl–were a compliment. As a child, she didn’t yet understand that assimilating to “American” culture really meant imitating “white” America—that ‘sounding like a white girl’ was a racist idea meant to tame her, change her, and make her small. She ran the race, completing each stage, but never quite fit in, until she stopped running altogether.

In this dual polemic and manifesto, Julissa dives into and tears apart the lie that assimilation leads to belonging. She combs through history and her own story to break down this myth, arguing that assimilation is a moving finish line designed to keep Black and brown Americans and immigrants chasing racist American ideals. She talks about the Lie of Success, the Lie of Legality, the Lie of Whiteness, and the Lie of English – each promising that if you obtain these things, you will reach acceptance–you won’t be an outsider anymore. Instead, Julissa deftly argues, these demands leave her and those like her in a purgatory – neither able to secure the power and belonging of whiteness nor find it in the community and cultures whiteness demands we leave behind.

Here Julissa offers a bold new promise: Belonging only comes through celebrating yourself, your history, your culture, and everything that makes you uniquely you. Only in turning away from the white gaze can we truly make America beautiful. An America where difference is celebrated, heritage is shared and embraced, and belonging is for everyone. Through unearthing veiled history and reclaiming her own identity, Julissa shows us how to do this.

_______________________________
Solito by Javier Zamora

Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago—“one day, you’ll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.”

Javier Zamora’s adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone amid a group of strangers and a “coyote” hired to lead them to safety, Javier expects his trip to last two short weeks.

At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents’ arms, snuggling in bed between them, and living under the same roof again. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside fellow migrants who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.

A memoir as gripping as it is moving, Solito provides an immediate and intimate account not only of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also of the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments. Solito is Javier Zamora’s story, but it’s also the story of millions of others who had no choice but to leave home.

_______________________________

Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism by Laura E. Gómez

Who are Latinos and where do they fit in America’s racial order? In this “timely and important examination of Latinx identity” (Ms.), Laura E. Gómez, a leading critical race scholar, argues that it is only recently that Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Central Americans, and others are seeing themselves (and being seen by others) under the banner of a cohesive racial identity. And the catalyst for this emergent identity, she argues, has been the ferocity of anti-Latino racism.

In what Booklist calls “an incisive study of history, complex interrogation of racial construction, and sophisticated legal argument,” Gómez “packs a knockout punch” (Publishers Weekly), illuminating for readers the fascinating race-making, unmaking, and re-making processes that Latinos have undergone over time, indelibly changing the way race functions in this country.

Building on the “insightful and well-researched” (Kirkus Reviews) material of the original, the paperback features a new afterword in which the author analyzes results of the 2020 Census, providing brilliant, timely insight about how Latinos have come to self-identify.

Young Adult Series: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,’ Neeve said. ‘Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.’
― Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys is the first book in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Stiefvater has created a gorgeously written world for her characters that will leave you wanting to learn more. She leaves hints in books that you pick up later that will leave you wondering at the way that Stiefvater constructs these books.

Blue Sargent has grown up in a family of clairvoyants. For as long as she can remember, her house has been full to bursting with random cousins, aunts, and friends of her mothers who all have some version of clairvoyance. Blue, however, doesn’t have any abilities. Instead she is like a battery – she makes other people’s talents stronger. Blue amplifies the powers of others. That’s why her mother takes her with to the churchyard on St Mark’s Eve to note the names of the soon-to-be dead walking past. In that freezing churchyard, Blue meets Gansey for the first time and her life is changed.

Blue discovers that Gansey is one of the rich students who attends Aglionby, a local private school. She has no desire to learn what is going to happen to that Raven Boy, what they call the Aglionby Boys, as her association with them can only mean trouble.

Despite her declaration to stay away from Gansey and the other Raven Boys, their paths continue to cross. When Blue realizes that Gansey is more than his good looks and family money, she finds herself drawn into a quest that has consumed Gansey and his friends for years. The problem: for as long as she can remember, Blue has been told that she will cause her true love to die. If she kisses her true love, he will die. This has never been an issue for Blue until she starts hanging around with the Raven Boys. Their life is strange and sinister and full of more mystery than she ever thought possible.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Raven Cycle series

  1. The Raven Boys (2012)
  2. The Dream Thieves (2013)
  3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (2014)
  4. The Raven King (2016)
  5. Opal (2018) – a novella that takes place after the events of The Raven King

Related to The Raven Cycle series, Stiefvater has written the Dreamer Trilogy which delves more into Ronan Lynch:

  1. Call Down the Hawk (2019)
  2. Mister Impossible (2021)
  3. Greywaren (2022)

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

Samira Ahmed is an author who knows how to rip at your heart strings. So far, I have read two of her young adult fiction titles and they have decimated me, but in a way that had me thinking about the state of the world. Three years ago, I read Internment and had such a devastating book hangover after I finished that I knew I needed to read whatever she published next (Internment is set in a futuristic United States when Muslim-Americans are forced into internment camps. It tells the story of Layla Amin, a seventeen-year-old who leads a revolution against those complicit in silence). Samira’s latest soul-wrenching title is Hollow Fires. I’m still reeling from this book, yet I believe it’s a necessary read especially in today’s climate.

Hollow Fires is a powerful novel that tells the story of the evil that lives around us every day and how alternative facts created by the privileged bend the truth of a narrative to their will and desire. It’s a story of silent complicity, as well as outright and hidden racism. It’s about the will of a young journalist desperate to uncover the truth of what actually happened to a missing boy. If you enjoyed Sadie by Courtney Summers or Dear Martin by Nic Stone, I highly recommend you read this book.

Safiya Mirza wants to become a journalist. She is currently the editor of her private school’s newspaper, reporting on the facts of what is happening at her school, despite the administration wishing to push their own biases onto the paper. Safiya is a scholarship student, growing up in vastly different ways compared to her privileged classmates. Her desire to report only the facts and leave out any personal feelings changes the moment she finds the body of a murdered boy.

Jawad Ali was only fourteen years old. His public school had a makerspace where he was allowed to take recycled materials and repurpose them for whatever he wanted. Having had his current project approved by his teacher, Jawad built a cosplay jetpack to add to his Halloween costume. He brought the finished project to school to show his teacher and friends. One of his teachers mistook his jetpack for a bomb and alerted the police, which led to Jawad being arrested, labeled a terrorist, and eventually kidnapped and murdered. After his arrest, Jawad was cleared by the police, but his school still suspended him. His peers labeled him ‘Bomb Boy’ and his life as he knew it was changed forever.

Safiya is devastated after discovering Jawad’s body. His presence, voice, and smell are haunting her throughout the investigation, leading her to seek out the entire truth about Jawad’s murder and those who killed him because of their hate-fueled beliefs. Jawad was a person whose life was worth remembering exactly how he lived it and not how the media have spun it. Racist acts have been sprouting up all over Safiya’s school, as well as at her mosque and her parents’ store. Concerned they could be related to Jawad’s disappearance and with a lack of confidence in the local police department, Safiya begins an investigation of her own with the help of her friends and Jawad’s voice in her ear.

This book is also available in the following format:

The Counselors by Jessica Goodman

Jessica Goodman is a bestselling young adult author who has been on my radar for awhile. The Counselors  is her third young adult thriller. As soon as I saw the descriptionI knew I had to give it a read. This book is a summer camp murder mystery. As a frequenter of many Girl Scout camps (and a true crime fan), I was fascinated by the premise of murder happening at a summer camp. Let’s get into it!

Goldie Easton grew up at Camp Alpine Lake. It’s the only place where she really feels safe. Goldie has been involved with camp since before she was old enough to be a camper. Her parents have been working there for as long as she can remember. Camp Alpine Lake helps keep the tiny town of Roxwood in business by providing money, jobs, and a sense of importance to the area. The campers are rich kids whose very wealthy families drop them at camp for eight weeks while paying a hefty tuition. Very few Roxwood locals get to reap the benefits of camp, prompting animosity between the town and camp, but Goldie is one of the chosen locals who gets to escape each summer.

Goldie may be a townie, but the minute she sets foot at camp, she feels comfort and that camp is where she is supposed to be. Having aged out of being a camper, Goldie is now a counselor. This year, she anxiously awaits her best friends’ arrival. She has known Ava and Imogen for years and can’t wait for them to be counselors together. The downside: Goldie has a horrible secret hanging over her though that threatens to destroy the close bonds the three have formed over their years together at camp.

Goldie’s secret isn’t the only one at camp this summer though. The longer camp goes on, the more she realizes that others aren’t telling the truth. Everything is thrown into the open when a teen is found dead in the lake by camp one night. The instant she hears the news, Goldie believes that this death could not have been an accident. One reason: Ava was out at the lake the same night the teen died, but refuses to talk about it or admit she was there. Why would Ava lie? Goldie is determined to find the truth. When she starts asking questions though, Goldie doesn’t find answers. Her questions instead bring up betrayals, deadly lies, danger, and destroyed relationships. The truth could lay waste to Goldie’s family, friends, and the one safe place she knows.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

If you’re ever curious what to read next, ask a librarian! My last read came courtesy of a conversation I had with our teen librarian, who gave me lots of recommendations of what to read next. The Marvelous by Claire Kann is the story of six teens locked together in a mansion, forced to compete for a life-changing cash prize in a competition run by a young, yet reclusive, heiress.

Jewel Van Hanen is a celebrity that everyone thinks they know everything about. She recently created the immensely popular video-sharing app called Golden Rule. You see – Jewel is an heiress turned actress turned social media princess who created a platform free of bullying. Her motives seem pure. Everything changes when Jewel mysteriously disappears for a year. No one has heard from her or seen her.  Her activity on the app stops.

Now all of a sudden Jewel is back with an announcement: she will be holding one more Golden Weekend. She has chosen a few Golden Rule used to join her for a weekend at her private estate, all expenses paid. The chosen have an idea what to expect as there have been nine Golden Weekends before (even though not much is known about those). When they show up, Jewel shatters their expectations. The guests are now players in a competition that takes place all over the estate. They will face challenges and obstacles the likes of which the players have never seen. Jewel has designed this last Golden Weekend to test them to see how far they are willing to go to win.

This book is also available in the following format:

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson is a young adult novel described as a mix between Veronica Mars and Agatha Christie. I agree! This book is rumored to be the first in a new series and honestly, I hope that is true.

Alice Ogilve is having a rough go of it. Last summer, her boyfriend Steve dumped her. After that, she disappeared for five days. Alice eventually showed back up, but where she went and what happened to her during those five days is a mystery, mostly because Alice refuses to talk about it. To add insult to injury, Steve started dating one of Alice’s best friends, Brooke, last summer. Well Brooke is now Alice’s EX-best friend. Alice’s ex-friends aren’t talking to her, the entire Castle Cove community is upset, and Alice is marched into her home on house arrest and can’t leave due to her actions.

Flash forward to the present: Brooke is missing. She’s vanished and people are saying that she’s doing the same thing that Alice did last summer, only Alice knows Brooke would NEVER just disappear. There must be a sinister reason behind her sudden disappearance.

Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. She would love to disappear like Alice did, except she would take her mom with her and escape Castle Cove forever. Unlike Alice though, Iris doesn’t have the money or the means to disappear. When Brooke’s grandmother comes into town offering a large reward for any information about Brooke’s whereabouts, Iris decides to figure out the truth about what happened to Brooke. Iris and Alice begin investigating on their own, fueled by the police’s belief that Steve is the culprit. The two have doubts, so they set out to discover who is really responsible.

In order to get justice, and to secure the reward money, they must figure out who is behind Brooke’s disappearance. Alice has a secret weapon: she spent her house arrest reading the complete works of Agatha Christie, so she has the master to help her solve this mystery. The more the two dig, the more they realize that Castle Cove is full of secrets, but the amount of danger the two have put themselves in is worse than they could imagine.

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Lauren Blackwood is a Jamaican American writer who writes romance-heavy fantasy. Her debut young adult novel, Within These Wicked Wallsdefinitely falls into that category. This fantasy novel is a New York Times bestseller as well as Reese Witherspoon’s Fall 2021 Young Adult book club pick.

“If I look at all the bad in my life along with the good, the bad would bury the good in a landslide. My spirit, my will to live, would shrivel and die. So, instead, I choose to be thankful for what little good I have.”
― Lauren Blackwood, Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls is a young adult fantasy novel that has definite horror elements.  Andromeda is a debtera without a license. Debtera are exorcists hired by households to cleanse them of the Evil Eye. Her mentor, however, threw her out before she was able to earn her license, leaving Andromeda to scrounge for work. Her only option is to find a patron and she has her eyes set on a job that has proven deadly. Andromeda wants Magnus Rochester, a handsome young heir, to be her patron. He is a rich, well-connected person who, if she completes this job, will be able to vouch for her abilities to other potential clients.

The downside: Magnus is rude and demanding  with a long list of rules that must be followed. He’s also eccentric in ways that don’t make sense until Andromeda gets to know him. The more time Andromeda spends in the house, the more she realizes that this job is nothing like anything she has ever done before. There are manifestations throughout the house, some benign while others are horrifying. While Andromeda works to cleanse the house, she discovers that Magnus is hiding more than she has ever been trained for. Death may be the only option to free the house, but Andromeda is determined to rid the house of evil before any more innocent blood is shed.

This book is also available in the following format:

Young Adult Reads: The Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an acclaimed writer of more than a dozen young adult novels. She wrote her first novel when she was 19 and sold her first five novels when she was still in college. Jen holds advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science, as well as graduate degrees from Cambridge University. She was a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge as well. Jen also received her PhD from Yale University in 2012. In case you aren’t impressed enough already, Jen has written multiple pilot scripts for television networks. She is also considered a leading expert on the psychology of fandom as well as the cognitive science of fiction and the imagination. In addition to her work as an author, Jen is an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma where she teaches in both Psychology and Professional Writing.

Author photograph © Kim Haynes Photography

“Everything’s a game, Avery Grambs. The only thing we get to decide in this life is if we play to win.”
― Jennifer Lynn Barnes, The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games is the first book in the series of the same name. This book was recommended to me by our teen librarian and oh, she was so right that I would enjoy this book! Let’s dive in.

Avery Grambs is brilliant. Her mind has helped her survive high school so far and if she’s lucky, she will hopefully win a scholarship and escape the crappy town where she lives. All of her plans change when she is called to the office to find a dapper young man telling her that her life is about to change.

Flying off to Texas with her older sister Libby, Avery finds herself ensconced in the lives of the mysterious Hawthorne family. Avery soon learns that billionaire Tobias Hawthorne has left Avery virtually his entire fortune – and his family almost nothing. Avery didn’t even know Tobias Hawthorne, so why would he leave his entire billion dollar fortune to her? Avery must live in Hawthorne House for a year in order to inherit, a rule that doesn’t seem like much at first, but the longer she stays, the more daunting it becomes.

Hawthorne House is massive – full of secret passages, as well as riddles, puzzles, and codes hidden everywhere. The entire Hawthorne family also lives in Hawthorne House and they are not pleased. They see Avery as an unnecessary interloper, but also as a sort of clue to the inner workings of Tobias Hawthorne’s last wishes. Avery frequently finds herself butting heads with the four Hawthorne grandsons: handsome, dangerous, magnetic, and brilliant boys who all thought they would inherit billions one day. They see her as a con-woman, a teenager who must have known their grandfather. Others see her as a puzzle to be solved. After all, Tobias Hawthorne’s deep love of puzzles, riddles, and codes permeated every part of his living life, so adding them to his will seems exactly like something he would do. Avery is thrust into a dangerous world of wealth of privilege where in order to survive, she will have to play Tobias’s game.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Inheritance Games series

    1. The Inheritance Games (2020)
    2. The Hawthorne Legacy (2021)
    3. The Final Gambit (2022)

A Phở Love Story by Loan Le

Loan Le’s debut novel, A Phở Love Story, reads a bit like a happy ending Romeo & Juliet (in fact that story is mentioned many times by the characters throughout this book).

Bảo Nguyen and Linh Mai are high school seniors who work at their families’ Vietnamese restaurants. Sounds perfect, right? Oh so wrong. It turns out that their familes are in a years’ long feud even though their restaurants are across the street from each other.

Bảo is average and not that interesting – his words. He goes to school and isn’t particularly amazing at anything in general. He is reliable, his grades average, and he isn’t quite sure what he wants to do with his future.

Linh loves art. She desperately wants to have a career in it. For as long as she can remember, Linh has been an artist. The only issue is that her parents do not believe that art is a stable enough career choice. Her parents rely on her to help them with their restaurant almost every day, so on top of her school work and her art projects, Linh spends hours at the restaurant.

Even though the Mai and Nguyen’s restaurants are across the street from each other, the two families do not interact. In fact they are incredibly competitive. When one does a contest, so does the other. Rumors swirl about each respective restaurant. The feud between the two families seems very complicated to Bảo and Linh, but their parents won’t discuss why it exists.

One day, a chance encounter between Linh and Bảo results in sparks. They find themselves working close together and despite their family history and their initial desire to steer clear of each other, there is an undenable attraction. The more they get to know each other, the more they wonder why it took so long for them to meet and become friends. The tensions between their parents has the power to destroy their budding relationship. Bảo and Linh will have to decide what they want and how far they are willing to go for love and answers.

This book is also available in the following format:

Young Adult Mystery Reads: Jane Austen Murder Mysteries by Tirzah Price

Tirzah Price grew up on a farm in Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on and never outgrew her love for YA fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a former bookseller and librarian. Now, she’s a senior contributing editor at Book Riot, and co-host of the Hey YA podcast. When she’s not writing, reading, or thinking about YA books, she splits her time between experimenting in the kitchen and knitting enough socks to last through winter. She lives in Iowa.

Tirzah is pronounced TEER-zuh. Pronouns are she/her.

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.’ – Tirzah Price, Pride and Premeditation

I was introduced to Tirzah Price through her Jane Austen Murder Mysteries. The first book in the series is Pride and Premeditation. What first drew me to this book was honestly the cover – the cover looked cross-stitched (there’s a knife and pistols hidden within the illustrations)! As soon as I started reading, I knew I would enjoy this title (this book reminded me strongly of the Lady Janies series by Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, and Cynthia Hand – check those out if you haven’t yet!).

Ok! Let’s talk about Pride and Premeditation. This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but with additional murder mystery elements. Lizzie Bennett is an aspiring lawyer who hopes to one day work at her father’s firm. When a murder happens amongst London’s high society, Lizzie believes that solving this case will prove to her father that she should be hired to work with him. After she meets the accused, Lizzie’s hopes are dashed when she makes the acquaintance of Mr. Fitzwillian Darcy, the heir to the prestigious law firm Pemberley Associates. Despite Darcy’s protestations and because of her lack of belief in his defense strategy, Lizzie decides to solve the murder on her own. The more she digs into the case, the more complicated it becomes. The more time she spends with Darcy, the more confused she finds her feelings. Lizzie isn’t sure what to do with either of those things, but she knows that she must find answers for the accused man. She knows he is innocent, but finding the truth may result in her injury or even death.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Jane Austen Murder Mysteries

  1. Pride and Premeditation (2021)
  2. Sense and Second-Degree Murder (2022)
  3. Manslaughter Park (2023)