Blended by Sharon Draper. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) MG
Piano-prodigy Isabella, eleven, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole, especially as racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police.
Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean. (HMH Books for Young Readers) Ages 13–17. SFF
During a once-in-a-generation competition to find the new empress, Mari, who hides a terrible secret, Taro, the prince who would denounce the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human outcast, will decide the fate of Honoku.
Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha) by Tasha Suri. (Orbit Books) SFF DEBUT AUTHOR
A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy. The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited. When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda. Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance.
German Calendar No December by Sylvia Ofili and Birgit Weyhe. (Cassava Republic)
Olivia Evezi’s childhood is a happy one; her days spent listening to highlife records with her father and poring over the colourful postcards her mother receives from Germany. But Olivia is a dreamer and longs for more, leaving her hometown of Warri behind to live out her Enid Blyton fantasies in boarding school in Lagos. Instead of adventure and lacrosse, however, she is met with punishments, endless chores and hazing rituals, as she struggles to overcome the terror and disdain of the seniors. Olivia’s restlessness takes her to Germany, her mother’s homeland, where she is thrown into a hidden world of workers and migrants; a world of constant vigilance, where a piece of paper can hold the key to survival.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. (Little Brown) SFF ages 12-18
When Lei, seventeen, is stolen from her home to become one of nine Paper Girls, the Demon King’s concubines, she proves to be more fire than paper.
Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu. (Carolrhoda Labs) ages 13–18. DEBUT AUTHOR
Told in two voices, Luli and Yun, raised in an orphanage to age sixteen, work together in a factory until Yun, pregnant, disappears and Luli must confront the dangers of the outside world to find her. Includes facts about China’s One-Child Policy and its effects.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (Rise of the Empress #2) by Jule Dao. (Philomel Books) SFF
Following a changeable map and clues from folktales, Princess Jade embarks on a quest to summon the Dragon Lords, defeat her evil stepmother Empress Xifeng, and bring peace to the kingdoms of Feng Lu.
Legacy of Light (Effigies 3) by Sarah Raughley. First Simon Pulse. 12-18. SFF
The Effigies must uncover the connection between Saul, Blackwell, and the Phantoms before it’s too late.
Love Like Sky by Leslie Youngblood. (Disney Hyperion) DEBUT AUTHOR
Eleven-year-old Georgie is still adjusting to leaving Atlanta for a small town, having a stepfather, and being unable to get close to her stepsister when her six-year-old sister, Peaches, suddenly becomes very ill.
The Resolutions by Mia Garcia. (Katherine Tegen Books) ages 13–up.
Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them to one another—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, find your calling outside your mom’s Puerto Rican restaurant, finally learn Spanish, and say yes to everything. But as the year unfolds, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heartbreaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.
The Storyteller (Sea and Ink #3) by Traci Chee. (GP Putnam’s Sons) ages 12-18. SFF
As Sefia and Archer watch Kelanna start to crumble to the Guard’s will, they will have to choose between their love and joining a war that just might tear them apart.
Toxic by Lydia Kang. (Entagled Publishing) ages 12-18 .SFF
Hana isn’t supposed to exist. She’s grown up hidden by her mother in a secret room of the bioship Cyclo until the day her mother is simply gone–along with the entire crew. Cyclo tells her she was abandoned, but she’s certain her mother wouldn’t leave her there to die. And Hana isn’t ready to die yet. She’s never really had a chance to live. Fenn is supposed to die. He and a crew of hired mercenaries are there to monitor Cyclo as she expires, and the payment for the suicide mission will mean Fenn’s sister is able to live. But when he meets Hana, he’s not sure how to save them both. As Cyclo grows sicker by the day, they unearth more secrets about the ship and the crew. But the more time they spend together, the more Hana and Fenn realize that falling for each other is what could ultimately kill them both.
Umbertouched (Rosemarked, #2) by Livia Blackburne. (Hyperion) ages 12-18. SFF
Zivah and Dineas prepare for battle against the Amparan Empire as Zivah struggles with the effects of rose plague.
Visionary Women Around the World (Little Leaders) by Vashti Harrison. ages 8–12. NONFICTION
Brief, illustrated bios of women creators around the world.