Rosa Ramona Díaz has just moved to the small, un-haunted town of Ingot—the only ghost-free town in the world. She doesn’t want to be there. She doesn’t understand how her mother—a librarian who specializes in ghost-appeasement—could possibly want to live in a place with no ghosts. Frankly, she doesn’t understand why anyone would.
Jasper Chevalier has always lived in Ingot. His father plays a knight at the local Renaissance Festival, and his mother plays the queen. Jasper has never seen a ghost, and can’t imagine his un-haunted town any other way. Then an apparition thunders into the festival grounds and turns the quiet town upside down.
Something otherworldly is about to be unleashed, and Rosa will need all her ghost appeasement tools—and a little help from Jasper—to rein in the angry spirits and restore peace to Ingot before it’s too late.
Janet: I first read the title as “A Properly Haunted Place”, which is even more intriguing than the actual title. The cover blurs what is and what isn’t – tree, or forest? moon or town? and creates ambiguity about the ghostly arms’ intent. Definitely tbr!
Nafiza: Oh yes, this looks good. This looks marvelous. Both the synopsis and the cover speak to me. I AM LISTENING!
For as long as Lottie Fiske can remember, the only people who seem to care about her have been her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter-writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things and people are arriving on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless.
And then a door opens in the apple tree.
Follow Lottie down through the apple roots to another world—a world of magic both treacherous and beautiful—in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.
Janet: I read this and loved it (thanks, Nafiza!). This is a different cover, and I like it except for Lottie. She looks too perfect? The tree, the light, and the title font are perfectly beautiful, however.
Nafiza: I agree with everything Janet said. The cover is beautiful but the girl, if she is supposed to be Lottie, looks far more put together than Lottie ever is during the course of this book. Still, this is a wonderful book and I reckon people should read it.
When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.
Janet: Colour! Cheerful, rainbowy colour and an artist who is busy doing her work. The back copy is swoon-inducingly intersectional, Julia sounds fabulous, and wow I am reading this asap.
Nafiza: Was it the same best friend she tried to help with her graffiti and if so, that horrible person. But yes, I am definitely in. This sounds so awesome in so many different ways. I am definitely in.
Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?
When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.
Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.
Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.
As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.
Janet: The girl on the cover looks like she came from the 80s, and the pink words jump out obnoxiously. I’m a little bemused by the back copy, which sets Karen as the protagonists – this might not be YA – and also intrigued by the mention of panic attacks. Interesting that the body is not identified: perhaps it isn’t Amy. I’d look at the first few pages before deciding.
Nafiza: I’m a bit confused too. Hmm. I wonder if there are crossover elements to this or if I’m just dreaming up things. Still, I would look at some reviews before I decided. It doesn’t appeal to me much right now because I have read or heard of many books with the same premise but maybe it’ll have something unique in the perspective it offers. The pink colour of the font seems oddly jovial considering the darker themes. Obnoxious is the correct word.
“You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.”
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
Janet: The cover is oddly sensual, positioning the reader/viewer almost as a voyeur, gazing in on a young woman who is most definitely designed to be stared at. (The artist’s choice in Marin’s pose, clothing, body type and size… male gaze much?) The back copy doesn’t give much. I’ll pass.
Nafiza: Hm. Now that you say that Janet, I see what you are saying but honestly I wasn’t thinking of that in my initial analysis. I felt like the girl, dressed as she is, has made the choice to leave everything behind and her positioning is to illustrate her turning her back to the world. She is staring at the wilderness ahead as if she’s going to take off for it. I think it’s rather clever. However, I feel like the back copy doesn’t tell me much so I can’t decide if I want to read the book. I’ll check early reviews before making up my mind.
Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light is about a lonely young woman, recently moved to the big city, who is looking for love. What she finds is a friend and confidante who is much older and wiser than she.
Janet: The cover is definitely interesting. Could that be a library? The remote snow, the blurred buildings, the blues and light, the woman gazing longingly outside as she walks – all very promising. The back copy really doesn’t say much, although the “much older and wiser” fills my heart with foreboding. (Please, not a romantic relationship with a much older man.)
Nafiza: This is a short from Tor.com and it’s wondrously well written. It is not the usual vampire story, in fact, it makes fun of the usual vampire story. Janet, you’ll adore the prose. I love the cover and the title and the story. It’s all so delicious. But it’s not YA though it may be crossover.