Queer Middle Grade Books Coming Out in 2023 That I’m Excited About

This is a little late but who cares? Time isn’t real and you still have plenty of time to read all of these!

Every year around this time I like to talk about upcoming queer middle grade books.

Just as a quick disclaimer – I use a fairly loose definition for “Queer MG” that I wouldn’t necessarily use for YA or Adult books. When talking about middle grade, I often include books where the main character isn’t queer, but someone significant in their life is, like a best friend or sibling, or an adult like a parent or teacher.

I believe all kids should see their lives reflected in books, including those with queer families and I don’t want kids to think queer people disappear after the age of 18. Queer kids seeing queer adults as role models is super important so that’s why I include those in these posts.


Glitter Boy by Ian Eagleton

Release date: February 1st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Eleven-year-old James loves dancing, poetry and Mariah Carey. His teacher, Mr Hamilton, is getting married to his boyfriend, and it looks like James will be part of a surprise choir performance at the wedding. But James’ father seems very uncomfortable about the plan, and a lot of other things – like any mention of Mr Hamilton, and James’ dancing, and the way James talks about his new friend Joel.

Meanwhile, a different boy has been harassing James at school, calling him gay, and it’s getting worse every day. James can find relief with his wonderful Nan, but she’s been having worrying falls, and James can’t tell anyone, or she might be sent to a care home. The secrets start building up, and James is starting to lose his characteristic spark. Will he find the strength to let the truths come out?

The part where I talk: I believe this is a UK based author/book! That’s cool.

Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros

Release date: February 21st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): The little beachside town of San Pancras is not known for anything exciting, but when Zach Darlington buys a mysterious ring at the local flea market, his quiet little hometown is turned topsy-turvy by monsters straight from Jewish folklore and a nefarious secret society focused on upholding an apocalyptic prophecy.

Zach discovers that the ring grants him strange powers, and he’s intrigued; maybe he can use the ring’s strengths to halt the slew of anti-Semitic and homophobic bullying he’s experiencing at school. But soon the ring brings unexpected visitors—Ashmedai, King of Demons, in the guise of a preteen boy named Ash, and the local chapter of the Knights of the Apocalypse, a secret society intent on completing a creepy prophecy that will bring three monsters to Earth to start the events of the end of times.

Now responsible for the ring and its consequences, will Zach and his friends, with the help of Ash, be able to stop the Apocalypse and save the world?

The part where I talk: It’s super cool that this is based on Jewish folklore!!

The House That Whispers by Lin Thompson

Expected release date: February 28th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Eleven-year-old Simon and his siblings, Talia and Rose, are staying the week at Nanaleen’s century-old house. This time, though, it’s not their usual summer vacation trip. In fact, everything’s different. It’s fall, not summer. Mom and Dad are staying behind to have a “talk.” And Nanaleen’s house smells weird, plus she keeps forgetting things. And these aren’t the only things getting under Simon’s skin: He’s the only one who knows that his name is Simon, and that he and him pronouns are starting to feel right. But he’s not ready to add to the changes that are already in motion in his family.

To make matters worse, Simon keeps hearing a scratching in the walls, and shadows are beginning to build in the corners. He can’t shake the feeling that something is deeply wrong…and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it—which means launching a ghost hunt, with or without his sisters’ help. When Simon discovers the hidden story of his great-aunt Brie, he realizes that Brie’s life might hold answers to some of his worries. Is Brie’s ghost haunting the old O’Hagan house? And will Simon’s search for ghosts turn up more secrets than he ever expected?

The part where I talk: I am personally SUPER excited about this one. I love a ghost story.

Cameron Battle and the Escape Trials by Jamar J. Perry (Cameron Battle #2)

Expected release date: February 28th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): After his first adventure as the Descendant, Cameron can’t sit through seventh grade classes. Especially when his mother is still trapped in Chidani and his father is still missing. But he encounters a particularly nasty bully in his new school, and it doesn’t take long for Cameron and his trusty friends Zion and Aliyah to realize that the troubles of Chidani won’t stay away for long.

With the Book to guide them, Cameron and his crew end up transported to Chidani sooner than anticipated–and the gods and goddesses they encounter don’t intend to make Cameron’s journey easy. Can he finally outwit and outlast the villainous god set on destroying their worlds?

The part where I talk: I like seeing a series with a queer main character! We don’t have a ton of those in middle grade.


The Ojja-Wojja by Magdalene Visaggio and Jenn St-Onge

Expected release date: March 7th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Welcome to Bolingbroke. It’s a small town just like any other . . . or so eighth graders Val and Lanie think. They’re the best of best friends—they love the same comics, they watch the same shows, and they’re always there for each other. Which is important when you’re queer, like Lanie, or on the spectrum, like Val, and just don’t seem to fit in anywhere.

When a school project about their hometown’s supernatural history leads to a for-real ghost sighting, Val and Lanie realize Bolingbroke might not be as boring as they’d always thought. But after a run-in with the resident middle school queen bee (who also happens to be Lanie’s former friend), they decide to take things to the next level . . . and accidentally summon the Ojja-Wojja, a demonic presence connected to a slew of mysterious tragedies throughout Bolingbroke’s sordid history.

Now all heck has broken loose. With the whole town acting weird and nowhere left to turn, it’s going to be up to Val, Lanie, and their small group of friends to return things to normal—if “normal” is even something they want to return to.

Note: I think this is falling right in the line between MG and YA, but I’m gonna count it. This is also a graphic novel.

The Sister Split by Auriane Desombre

Expected release date: March 14th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Autumn is looking forward to summer vacation. She and her best friend plan on going to all the best ice cream places their stomachs can handle–and in NYC, the possibilities can’t get any sweeter.

Linnea is still not over the fact that her dad has found love after her parents’ divorce. Luckily, she can take out all her feelings on the tennis courts for a winning summer.

But then Autumn and Linnea discover the news: their parents are getting married. Autumn will be moving to the suburbs to live with her soon-to-be stepdad and stepsister, which means kissing the fun summer with her best friend goodbye. For Linnea, she knows her dream of getting her parents back together is officially over.

Devastated, the two of them come up with an idea: if they can split up their parents, their lives can go back to normal. As Autumn and Linnea secretly try to sabotage everything from date nights to wedding planning, the two of them discover that having a sister is not the worst thing after all . . . but will they learn about love in a whole new way?

The part where I talk: This sounds so cute! 

Camp Quiltbag by Nicole Melleby and A. J. Sass

Expected release date: March 21st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Twelve-year-old Abigail (she/her/hers) is so excited to spend her summer at Camp QUILTBAG, an inclusive retreat for queer and trans kids. She can’t wait to find a community where she can be herself—and, she hopes, admit her crush on Laura Dern to kids who will understand.

Thirteen-year-old Kai (e/em/eir) is not as excited. E just wants to hang out with eir best friend and eir parkour team. And e definitely does not want to think about the incident that left eir arm in a sling—the incident that also made Kai’s parents determined to send em somewhere e can feel like emself.

After a bit of a rocky start at camp, Abigail and Kai make a pact to help each other find their footing, all while navigating crushes, their queer identities, and a competition pitting cabin against cabin.

Dear Mothman by Robin Gow

Expected release date: March 21st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Halfway through sixth grade, Noah’s best friend and the only other trans boy in his school, Lewis, passed away in a car accident. Lewis was adventurous and curious, always bringing a new paranormal story to share with Noah. Together they daydreamed about cryptids and shared discovering their genders and names. After his death, lonely and yearning for someone who could understand him like Lewis once did, Noah starts writing letters to Mothman, wondering if he would understand how Noah feels and also looking for evidence of Mothman’s existence in the vast woods surrounding his small Poconos town. Noah becomes determined to make his science fair project about Mothman, despite his teachers and parents urging him to make a project about something “real.”

Meanwhile, as Noah tries to find Mothman, Noah also starts to make friends with a group of girls in his grade, Hanna, Molly, and Alice, with whom he’d been friendly, but never close to. Now, they welcome him, and he starts to open up to each of them, especially Hanna, who Noah has a crush on. But as strange things start to happen and Noah becomes sure of Mothman’s existence, his parents and teachers don’t believe him. Noah decides it’s up to him to risk everything, trek into the woods, and find Mothman himself.

The part where I talk: Look I was sold on Mothman alone. The story here only makes me want to read it more.

Calling the Moon edited by Aida Salazar and Yamile Saied Méndez

Expected release date: March 28th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): An essential, highly relatable collection of short fiction and poems around the topic of menstruation, written exclusively by authors who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color

For Angela, it came on the basketball court—while playing on the boys’ team. For Penny, it came on a school field trip to the lake (making for some cringeworthy moments of humor). And to Layla’s disappointment, it came at the start of her first fasting Ramadan, meaning that she won’t be able to fast after all. Whether it spurs silence or celebration, whether the subjects are well prepared or totally in the dark, the young people in these sixteen stories find that getting a period not only brings change to their bodies, it also brings joy, sorrow, self-discovery, and yes, sometimes even gifts.

Edited by Aida Salazar and Yamile Saied Méndez and featuring BIPOC contributors who are some of the most talented authors in middle-grade fiction today—including two-time 2021 Newbery Honoree Christina Soontornvat, Erin Entrada Kelly, Ibi Zoboi, and Saadia Faruqi—My New Gift offers coming-of-age stories and poetry ranging from funny to heartbreaking to powerful, all of them reassuring readers that they are not alone in their period journey.

The part where I talk: I mentioned this one in last year’s post, but it got pushed back to 2023 so I actually get to talk about it twice! Which is very cool.


Starting From Scratch by Jazz Taylor

Expected release date: April 4th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): From the author of Meow or Never, a story about blended families, anxiety, and how a fresh start can be just what you need… even when you least expect it.

Janie believes there’s a best way to do everything. When she sticks to a schedule, she and her mom can tackle anything. But Janie’s perfect schedule — and her life — are getting shaken up this year. Her new stepmom, Keisha, is moving in, along with her daughter, Makayla.

Worst of all? Makayla brings a cat with her. And Janie hates cats.

Even though it’s hard, Janie tries to welcome Makayla to her new school. And honestly, she maybe does too good a job. Soon, Makayla is volunteering with Janie’s beloved Sunshine Club, and Janie’s friends all love her. The only one who pays any attention to her anymore is Makayla’s nosy cat. It feels like her new sister is taking over! What’s a gal to do with a copycat in her life?

The part where I talk:love these books. I love casual queer rep in a book like this, where it’s just about cats and cute. It’s really nice to see how normal it is.

Jude Saves the World by Ronnie Riley

Expected release date: April 18th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Twelve-year-old Jude struggles with some things: focusing at school, feeling like everything rests on their shoulders, not being able to come out as nonbinary to their old-fashioned grandparents. But Jude doesn’t struggle with Dallas, their best friend in the whole world. Their person.

Jude and Dallas’s world changes when they learn Stevie, a girl in their class, has been ousted from the popular clique at school. Worried it had something to do with Stevie’s rumored crush on another girl, Jude reaches out to see if Stevie is okay. Stevie quickly becomes an important friend to Jude and Dallas, whose unwavering acceptance of her is a stark contrast to the tests and dysfunction she experienced with her former friend group.

As their friendship deepens and the three open up to each other, Stevie’s unconditional and open acceptance when Jude comes out to her motivates them to create a queer safe space in their community. Jude has the courage and determination it takes to create the first Diversity Club in their community, but will they be able to find the support they need to make it happen?

The part where I talk: There also seems to be some fat rep in this which I am very excited about!

Drew Leclair Crushes the Case by Katryn Bury (Drew Leclair #2)

Expected release date: April 18th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): After breaking school rules the last time she solved a mystery, Drew Leclair has a new mission: get good grades, stay under the radar, and do not get suspended.

But when Drew finds out that there’s a thief breaking into the P.E. lockers and leaving behind cryptic ransom notes, it’s hard to resist cracking a new case. Especially when one of the victims is her best friend Shrey’s crush, and he’s practically begging her to get involved.

Can Drew catch the thief red-handed while staying out of trouble? And what does it mean when everyone around Drew is obsessing over crushes and the upcoming Wonderland dance, and Drew would rather work on her latest crime board?

The part where I talk: I loved the first Drew Leclair book and I’m super excited about this one!


Ellie Engle Saves Herself by Leah Johnson

Expected release date: May 2nd, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Ellie Engle doesn’t stand out. Not at home, where she’s alone with her pet fish since her dad moved away and her mom has to work around the clock. Not at the bakery, where she helps out old Mr. Walker on the weekends. And definitely not at school, where her best friend, Abby—the coolest, boldest, most talented girl in the world—drags Ellie along on her never-ending quest to “make her mark.” To someone else, a life in the shadows might seem boring, or lonely. But not to Ellie. As long as she has Abby by her side and a comic book in her hand, she’s quite content.

Too bad life didn’t bother checking in with Ellie. Because when a freak earthquake hits her small town, Ellie wakes up with the power to bring anything back to life with just her touch. And when a video of her using her powers suddenly goes viral, Ellie’s life goes somewhere she never imagined—or wanted: straight into the spotlight.

Surviving middle school is hard enough. Surviving middle school when paparazzi are camped out on your front lawn and an international pop star wants you to use your powers on live TV and you might be in love with your best friend but she doesn’t know it?

The part where I talk: So I have this theory that all fictional characters named Hazel or Ellie are queer. Also this sounds really freaking cool and I can’t wait to read it.

The Dog Knight by Jeremy Whitley and Bre Indigo

Expected release date: May 1st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Frankie knows who they are. They’re a drummer, they’re nonbinary, and they’re… the Dog Knight?

One day Frankie is a relatively normal middle schooler, with relatively normal challenges, like finding the perfect outfit to wear during their drum solo during the upcoming band concert. The next, they save a friendly golden retriever from bullies and suddenly find themselves in a giant magical doghouse, with a funny looking helmet, talking to a group of dog superheroes called the Pawtheon about a job offer.

If Frankie can prove that they possess the six dog virtues of loyalty, kindness, honesty, justice, stubbornness, and smell, they will be named the Dog Knight and be given the power to fight alongside the Pawtheon and save the world from the forces of chaos.

Maybe there is more to Frankie than they thought?

Note: This is a graphic novel.

Sam Makes a Splash (The House on Sunrise Lagoon #1) by Nicole Melleby

Expected release date: May 9th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): If you want to get to know eleven-year-old Samantha Ali-O’Connor, you need to know three things:

One, she isn’t the only one of her siblings who is adopted, but she is the only one whose name isn’t inspired by the ocean.

Two, she and Harbor always compete with each other to be the best Oldest Sibling—and just about everything else.

And three, she is determined to prove she’s a real Ali-O’Connor by taking over the family business, repairing and chartering boats.

Except there’s a Capital-P Problem: Her mothers have been Serious Whispering about selling the business before summer’s end! Sam needs to come up with a plan, quick, before Harbor finds out. And before Sam loses her chance to inherit the business and be an Ali-O’Connor forever. 

Marina in the Middle (The House on Sunrise Lagoon #2) by Nicole Melleby

Expected release date: May 9th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): If you want to get to know Marina Ali-O’Connor, you need to know three things:

One, despite her name, Marina is secretly afraid of the ocean.

Two, she wanted to be one of the Oldest Siblings, but is stuck smack dab in the middle.

Three, she’s pretty certain she’s the Extra Ali-O’Connor kid, the forgotten one.

When Boom, a budding filmmaker exactly Marina’s age, moves in across the lagoon, she decides that Marina’s quest to become someone’s favorite Ali-O’Connor would make a perfect documentary. So they get to work, coming up with ways to calm Marina’s anxiety. But when each plan goes a little bit wrong, Marina begins to wonder if she’ll ever feel like she belongs or if she’ll always be lost in the middle.

Note: Both these books come out on the same day. This is a queer parents middle grade, along the lines of the Misadventures of the Family Fletcher. 

The Beautiful Something Else by Ash Van Otterloo

Expected release date: May 16th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): It’s exhausting trying to be the perfect daughter. Still, getting good grades without making any waves may be the only way to distract from the fact that Sparrow Malone’s mother is on the verge of falling apart. Which means no getting upset. No being weird. No standing out for the wrong reasons.

But when Mom’s attempts to cope spiral out of control, Sparrow is sent to live with Aunt Mags on a sprawling estate full of interesting, colorful new neighbors. And for the first time, trying to fit in doesn’t feel right anymore. Even Sparrow’s shadow has stopped following the rules.

As Shadow nudges Sparrow to try all the scary, exciting things Mom has always forbidden, Sparrow begins to realize something life-changing: They don’t feel like a girl. Or a boy. And while this discovery is exciting, now Sparrow must decide whether to tell everyone—their new family and friends, not-so-secret crush, and, most importantly, their mom—the truth, especially if it means things change forever.

Skating on Mars by Caroline Huntoon

Expected release date: May 30th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Life isn’t easy on twelve-year-old Mars. As if seventh grade isn’t hard enough, Mars is also grappling with the recent death of their father and a realization they never got to share with him: they’re nonbinary. But with their skates laced up and the ice under their feet, all of those struggles melt away.

When Mars’ triple toe loop draws the attention of a high school hot shot, he dares them to skate as a boy so the two can compete head-to-head. Unable to back down from a challenge, Mars accepts. But as competition draws near, the struggles of life off the rink start to complicate their performance in the rink, and Mars begins to second guess if there’s a place for them on the ice at all.

Skating on Mars is a tender examination of grief and a hopeful middle grade tale of self-discovery.

The Song of Us by Kate Fussner

Expected release date: May 30th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Love at first sight isn’t a myth. For seventh graders Olivia and Eden, it’s fate. Olivia is a capital-P Poet, and Eden thinks she wants to be a musician one day, but for now she’s just the new girl. And then Eden shows up to Poetry Club and everything changes.

Eden isn’t out, and she has rules for dating Olivia: don’t call. Don’t tell her friends. And don’t let anyone know they’re together.

But when jealousy creeps in, it’s Olivia’s words that push Eden away. While Eden sets out to find herself, Olivia begins a journey to bring Eden back—using poetry. Both Olivia and Eden will learn just how powerful their words can be to bring them together . . . or tear them apart forever.

The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro

Expected release date: May 2nd, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Percy Jackson fans, rejoice! Nico and Will have a book of their own!

As the son of Hades, Nico di Angelo has been through so much, from the premature deaths of his mother and sister, to being outed against his will, to losing his friend Jason during the trials of Apollo. But there is a ray of sunshine in his life–literally: his boyfriend, Will Solace, the son of Apollo. Together the two demigods can overcome any obstacle or foe. At least, that’s been the case so far . . .

Now Nico is being plagued by a voice calling out to him from Tartarus, the lowest part of the Underworld. He thinks he knows who it is: a reformed Titan named Bob whom Percy and Annabeth had to leave behind when they escaped Hades’s realm. Nico’s dreams and Rachel Dare’s latest prophecy leave little doubt in Nico’s mind that Bob is in some kind of trouble. Nico has to go on this quest, whether Mr. D and Chiron like it or not. And of course Will insists on coming with. But can a being made of light survive in the darkest part of the world? and what does the prophecy mean that Nico will have to “leave something of equal value behind?”

The part where I talk: These are so popular that y’all probably know about this one, but it’s still worth mentioning lol.


Will on the Inside by Andrew Eliopulos

Expected release date: June 6th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Will loves playing center midfield on his middle school soccer team. This year, though, Will hasn’t felt like himself; his stomach has been bothering him, and he has no energy at all. When his new doctor diagnoses him with Crohn’s disease, Will hopes that means he’ll start feeling better soon and he can get back to playing with his team before the season ends.

But Will’s new medicines come with all kinds of side effects, Forced to sit out afternoon practice, Will finds himself hanging out with a kid at school, Griffin. This could be a real problem, seeing as Griffin just asked Will’s best friend to the spring dance. As in, guy friend. What would Will’s teammates say if they knew the whole story? Not to mention Will’s friends at church.

With all these changes happening faster than he can process them, Will knows that he has a lot to figure out about who he really is on the inside.

Code Red by Joy McCullough

Expected release date: June 13th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Ever since a career-ending injury, former elite gymnast Eden has been feeling lost. To add insult to actual injury, her mom has been invited to present at her middle school’s career day, which would be fine except Mom’s company produces period products like pads and tampons. Having the whole school hear about it is total humiliation. And when Eden gets into a fight with a boy who won’t stop mocking her for it, she and her classmate Maribel both end up getting suspended.

Mom’s corporate executive job means she doesn’t have time to look after Eden while she’s suspended, so Eden is sent to volunteer at the food bank Maribel’s mom runs. There, she meets new friends who open her eyes to period poverty, the struggle that low-income people with periods have trying to afford menstrual products. Eden even meets a boy who gets periods. Witnessing how people fight for fair treatment inspires Eden to join the advocacy work.

But sewing pads to donate and pushing for free access to period products puts Eden at odds with her mom. Even so, Eden’s determined to hold onto the one thing that’s ignited her passion and drive since gymnastics. Can she stand her ground and make a real difference?


Buzzing by Samuel Sattin and Rye Hickman

Expected release date: July 18th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Isaac Itkin can’t get away from his thoughts.

As a lonely twelve-year-old kid with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), everything from studying to looking in the mirror becomes a battle between him and a swarm of unhelpful thoughts.

The strict therapy his mother insists on doesn’t seem to be working, but when a group of friends invites him to join their after-school role-playing game, the thoughts feel a little less loud, and the world feels a little brighter.

But Isaac’s therapist says that exposure to games can have negative effects on kids with OCD, and when his grades slip, his helicopter mother won’t let him play anymore. Now Isaac needs to find a way to prove to himself, to his mother, and to the world that the way to quiet the noise in his head may have been inside him all along.

Note: This is a graphic novel.


Gallowgate by K. R. Alexander

Expected release date: August 1st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Sebastian Wight is cursed. As a boy with the forbidden ability to traverse the lands of the dead, he must not only harness his newfound powers to fight the monster that stalks him, but also to navigate a creepy world of hunting ghosts and ghouls with his eccentric classmates.

And that’s only the start of his concerns.

There’s also the tangled on a boy who barely looks at him twice… and the deadly family history that brought him to the halls of Gallowgate Academy in the first place.

For Sebastian Wight, fighting the dead might be hard… but it’s dealing with the living that may bring him down.

The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet by Jake Maia Arlow

Expected release date: August 1st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Twelve-year-old Al Schneider is too scared to talk about the two biggest things in her life:

1. Her stomach hurts all the time and she has no idea why.
2. She’s almost definitely 100% sure she likes girls.

So she holds it in…until she can’t. After nearly having an accident of the lavatorial variety in gym class, Al finds herself getting a colonoscopy and an answer–she has Crohn’s disease.

But rather than solving all her problems, Al’s diagnosis just makes everything worse. It’s scary and embarrassing. And worst of all, everyone wants her to talk about it–her overprotective mom, her best friend, and most annoyingly her gastroenterologist, who keeps trying to get her to go to a support group for kids with similar chronic illnesses. But, who wants to talk about what you do in the bathroom?

The part where I talk: Seriously, two queer middle grade books about Crohn’s within a month. What are the odds?


The Otherwoods by Justine Pucella Winans

Expected release date: September 12th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Some would call River Rydell a ‘chosen one’: born with the ability to see monsters and travel to a terrifying spirit world called The Otherwoods, they have all the makings of a hero. But River just calls themself unlucky. After all, it’s not like anyone actually believes River can see these things-or that anyone even believes monsters exist in the first place. So the way River sees it, it’s better to keep their head down and ignore anything Otherwoods related.

But The Otherwoods won’t be ignored any longer.

When River’s only friend (and crush) Avery is kidnapped and dragged into The Otherwoods by monsters, River has no choice but to confront the world they’ve seen only in their nightmares-but reality turns out be more horrifying than they could have ever imagined. With only their cat for protection and a wayward teen spirit as their guide, River must face the monsters of The Otherwoods and their own fears to save Avery and become the hero they were (unfortunately) destined to be.

Alex Wise vs. the End of the World by Terry J. Benton-Walker

Expected release date: September 26th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Alex Wise feels like his world is ending. His best friend, Loren, is leaving town for the summer, his former friend and maybe sort of crush Sky hasn’t spoken to him since he ditched Alex on first day of sixth grade, and now his mom is sending him and his annoying younger sister, Mags, on a cruise with the dad who abandoned them. And, as if things couldn’t get worse, a creepy shadow monster may or may not be stalking him.

But none of this could prepare Alex for the actual end of the world. Too bad that is exactly what’s coming, after the definitely-real Shadow Man kidnaps Mags and she is possessed by the ancient spirit of Death–one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Luckily (depending on who you ask), Alex is possessed as well by a powerful god who imbues Alex with their powers in an effort to stop the Horsemen…if he can figure out how to use them. So begins an epic battle between good and evil: Alex, Loren, a grumpy demi-god, and Alex’s fourth grade teacher vs. Death, Pestilence, Famine, War, and the waves of chaos and destruction they bring to LA and soon the rest of the globe. Just your average summer vacation.

Alex is more used to being left behind than leading the way, but now he’s the only one who can save his sister–and the world. That is, if he can unlock his new powers and and see himself as the hero he is.


The Mossheart’s Promise by Rebecca Mix

Expected release date: October 1st, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): When 12-year-old fairy Ary Mossheart sets out in search of a cure for the mold eating her mother alive, she makes a horrifying discovery: her entire world is actually trapped inside of a giant, rotting terrarium they were meant to leave 100 years ago.

Worse, her former childhood-chosen-one Gran knew about the terrarium, and lied.

Now, Ary has only five days to find the exit—or they’ll be trapped for good. Coming Fall 2023 from Balzer & Bray.

Just a Pinch of Magic by Alechia Dow

Expected release date: October 10th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Wini’s family of enchanters runs a little bakery, but with the prices of magical ingredients skyrocketing, they’re going under. Desperate to save her family’s business, Wini takes a risk by casting a (sort of illegal) spell that would allow them to gather their own supply of their most needed magical ingredient: Love. But the spell doesn’t work. And Wini soon discovers that it didn’t just not work, it backfired. Badly. Now the whole town is in danger, and the Enchantment Bureau is sniffing around for whoever cast the wayward spell.

It’s just been Kal and her dad for as long as she can remember. They’ve weathered everything together, including Kal’s mental health struggles. But just as they’re about to move to a new town for a fresh start, Kal’s grandfather—who mysteriously vanished years ago—has suddenly reentered their lives with a desire to make amends. He joins them in opening their bookstore in the new town, but Kal can’t help but wonder if he has anything to do with the whispers around her new home about wicked magic. And it’s not just the whispers of the magical books in their shop.

When Wini and Kal cross paths—both hoping for the chance to finally make a friend without worrying about their family histories following them—the girls bond over being fellow outcasts. Together they search for the solution to fixing the magic gone awry in their beloved town—and just maybe get their dads to go out on a date.

The part where I talk: I love the way this one looks! It looks so cute and I love that it’s fantasy.

Elle Campbell Wins Their Weekend by Ben Kahn

Expected release date: October 17th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): All Elle Campbell wants to do is meet their hero, non-binary icon Nuri Grena. Well, okay, they’d like a bit more than that — they’d like to learn how to do cat eye makeup, for queen bee Casey to stop critiquing their outfits, and for the finale of Elle’s favorite show to have been less terrible. But meeting Nuri means the most of all.

So when Elle learns that Nuri is coming to town for book signing on Saturday, Elle is thrilled. It’s the perfect chance to meet their hero! Elle’s never been happier since they came out as non-binary, but they have a lot of questions — questions only Nuri can answer.

But Elle’s dreams are dashed when an altercation with a surly substitute teacher lands Elle in Saturday detention. Elle is ready to give up until their two best friends come up with a plan to bust them out of school. A plan so outrageous, it just might work.

Yet that’s just step one. The kids also have to make their way across town with no money, no phones… and no driver’s licenses. But they refuse to give up — even if that means “borrowing” scooters from elementary school loan sharks, or winning a laser tag tournament with a cash prize.

Sir Callie and the Dragon’s Roost by Esme Symes-Smith

Expected release date: November 7th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Thanks to Callie and their friends, Helston seems to be changing for the better: Boys are allowed to explore their magic, and girls are permitted to train as warriors. Callie is an official Helston page, Willow in on track to become king, and Elowen and Edwyn are finally safe and free of their father. Everything is…perfect.

Except it isn’t.

Not in Helston, where every step forward is accompanied by a storm of opposition. Even Queen Ewella and Sir Nick are struggling against the wave of fear and anti-magical sentiment growing daily, while the encroaching threat from across the bridge looms.

Callie isn’t foolish; they notice the suspicious glances thrown Neal’s way and hear the doubtful murmurs following Willow. They know what people think about them, too. Tolerance is not the same as acceptance, and when the fragile peace finally shatters, Callie and their friends have no choice but to leave their home and run.

On the other side of the bridge, old secrets are revealed and new allegiances are formed that will throw into question everything Callie thought they knew about their world. Including what it means to be a hero. 

Unknown Date

Identical by Bones Leopard

Expected release date: Spring 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Andrea Colvin at Little, Brown has bought, in a preempt, Bones Leopard’s middle-grade graphic novel, Identical, about twins Blue and Tally, who are identical in every way, except Blue is hiding a secret—they are nonbinary—and they worry that revealing this to Tally will irrevocably change their relationship.

Publication is scheduled for spring 2023. Maria Vicente at P.S. Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world rights.

Lulu Sinagtala and the Tagalog Gods by Gail D. Villanueva

Expected release date: Fall 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Megan Ilnitzki at HarperCollins has acquired Lulu Sinagtala and The Tagalog Gods by Gail D. Villanueva (My Fate According to the Butterfly). In book one of this middle grade fantasy duology, 11-year-old bisexual and epileptic Lulu discovers that the Philippines she thought she knew is actually full of magical creatures and meddling gods.

When Lulu and her sister set out to rescue their kidnapped mother, the girls find themselves fighting a powerful enemy—a vengeful evil spirit whose centuries-old grudge could end the world. Publication for book one is set for fall 2023; Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Birch Path Literary negotiated the deal for North American rights.

Reel Love by Nilah Magruder

Expected release date: Fall 2023

Summary (from Bleeding Cool because goodreads doesn’t have one yet): Carytoonist Nilah Magruder based in Western Maryland. has auctioned her upcoming graphic novel Reel Love, acquired by Polo Orozco at Random House, competing with bids from six other publishers.

Reel Love is based on the author’s own experiences embracing being asexual and this middle grade graphic novel follows 12-year-old Nilah, who goes on a summer trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains where she develops a passion for fishing, meets a boy, and learns there’s no getting away from growing up and from facing her questions about identity and love.

Five Second Violation by George M. Johnson

Expected release date: Winter 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Grace Kendall at FSG has bought, in an exclusive submission, Five Second Violation, the debut middle grade novel by George M. Johnson (All Boys Aren’t Blue), which follows two Black boys who are star players on their school’s basketball team, and the aftermath of their friendship when one of them outs the other as gay. Publication is planned for winter 2023.


Lunar Boy by Jacinta Wibowo and Jessica Wibowo

Expected release date: 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Lunar Boy follows Indu, a boy from the moon who deals with culture shock, familial struggles, and first crushes when his mother marries and moves them to Earth.

Note: This will be a graphic novel and you can read more information about the authors and the book here, and check out a comic about the character here.

And that is every queer middle grade book coming out in 2023 I personally know about so far! Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments and tell me what ones you’re excited about.

Also, I am going to take a hiatus for March. I was already on semi-hiatus, but I need a little break. I will see you all in April!

Peace and cookies,



Can’t Wait Wednesday (216): I can’t with how pretty this cover is

can't wait wednesday three

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

Into the Light by Mark Oshiro

Release date: March 28th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): It’s been one year since Manny was cast out of his family and driven into the wilderness of the American Southwest. Since then, Manny lives by self-taught rules that keep him moving—and keep him alive. Now, he’s taking a chance on a traveling situation with the Varela family, whose attractive but surly son, Carlos, seems to promise a new future.

Eli abides by the rules of his family, living in a secluded community that raised him to believe his obedience will be rewarded. But an unsettling question slowly eats away at Eli’s once unwavering faith in Reconciliation: Why can’t he remember his past?

But the reported discovery of an unidentified body in the hills of Idyllwild, California, will draw both of these young men into facing their biggest fears and confronting their own identity—and who they are allowed to be.

The part where I talk: This sounds really good. It’s giving off cult vibes and I do love me a cult vibe. This sounds really unique and I’m very interested in checking it out.

What are y’all looking forward to reading this week?

– Laina

Can’t Wait Wednesday (215): Vultures? + A Middle Grade Moment

can't wait wednesday three

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

Release date: March 28th, 2023 by Tor

Summary (from goodreads): “Mom seems off.”

Her brother’s words echo in Sam Montgomery’s ear as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives alone.

She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam’s excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.

But stepping inside, she quickly realizes home isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white. Her mom jumps at the smallest noises and looks over her shoulder even when she’s the only person in the room. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.

To find out what’s got her mom so frightened in her own home, Sam will go digging for the truth. But some secrets are better left buried.

The part where I talk: Last year, I read two different “Come home as an adult to take care of parent/parent’s house” books and I liked them both. One was even from this author, who I also read two books from, and enjoyed both of. That leads me to believe I’d really like this. 

Also this cover is really cool honestly.

And now for a middle grade moment!

Good Different by Meg Eden Kuyatt

Release date: March 7th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Selah knows her rules for being normal.

She always, always sticks to them. This means keeping her feelings locked tightly inside, despite the way they build up inside her as each school day goes on, so that she has to run to the bathroom and hide in the stall until she can calm down. So that she has to tear off her normal-person mask the second she gets home from school, and listen to her favorite pop song on repeat, trying to recharge. Selah feels like a dragon stuck in a world of humans, but she knows how to hide it.

Until the day she explodes and hits a fellow student.

Selah’s friends pull away from her, her school threatens expulsion, and her comfortable, familiar world starts to crumble.

But as Selah starts to figure out more about who she is, she comes to understand that different doesn’t mean damaged. Can she get her school to understand that, too, before it’s too late?

The part where I talk: This is an ownvoices book and I think for middle grade books about autistic characters because middle grade has a rough history of not centering autistic voices. I also think the idea of a MG book about masking is very unique and I’m very intrigued by this overall. And books in verse are cool.

So, what are you looking forward to this week?

– Laina

Can’t Wait Wednesday (214): Gotta love a murder podcast though

can't wait wednesday three

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

A Long Stretch of Bad Days by Mindy McGinnis

Release date: March 14th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): Lydia Chass doesn’t mind living in a small town; she just doesn’t want to die in one. A lifetime of hard work has put her on track to attend a prestigious journalism program and leave Henley behind—until a school error leaves her a credit short of graduating. Undeterred, Lydia has a plan to earn that credit: transform her listener-friendly local history podcast into a truth-telling exposé. She’ll investigate the Long Stretch of Bad Days: a week when Henley was hit by a tornado and a flash food as well as its first—and only—murder, which remains unsolved.

But Lydia needs help to bring grit to the show. Bristal Jamison has a bad reputation and a foul mouth, but she also needs a credit to graduate. The unexpected partnership brings together the Chass family—a pillar of the community—and the rough-and-tumble Jamisons, with Bristal hoping to be the first in her family to graduate. Together, they dig into the town’s worst week, determined to solve the murder.

Their investigation unearths buried secrets: a hidden town brothel, lost family treasure, and a teen girl who disappeared. But the past is never far, and some don’t want it to see the light. As threats escalate, the girls have to uncover the truth before the dark history of Henley catches up with them.

The part where I talk: I have read a couple Mindy McGinnis books and enjoyed them both, and I’d really like to check out more. I’ve also found myself enjoying podcasts as an element in books more and more, and this sounds really good. 

What are you all looking forward to reading this week?

– Laina

2023 Reading Goals

It’s that time of the year again!

I’ve mentioned this a lot, but I’m kind of an indecisive person and I really struggle to make media choices like at all. Like I have several streaming services and yet a lot of the time I’ll just watch mindless youtube videos because picking a show or movie is too hard. So I find reading challenges really useful for helping me read purposefully.

My goodreads goal is always 52. I like it being one a week

I also really enjoy doing the FOLD reading challenge. I find it challenges me a lot and I’ve read some really interesting books from it, and discovered a lot about what I like and don’t like to read.

So here are those prompts:

I already have ideas for what I want to read for some of these, and I’m quite excited!

I also really enjoy doing the Nerd Daily Reading Challenge. It’s really fun to try and fit what I read into the prompts.

Starting in 2021, I also began giving myself a small list of books to choose from every five months. January to May, and June to October. Since my goodreads tbr can guy a little overwhelming, I found it really helped to organize things that way.

So here are my middle grade options:

Some of these are from last year, because I never read them, so I decided to keep them on the list.

Here are my YA options:

My adult options:

And finally, a small selection of graphic novels I’d like to check out:

So, that’s what I’m going to be working on this year.

What are your 2023 reading goals? Link me up and I’ll come check them out!

– Laina

Can’t Wait Wednesday (213): That’s a lot of bugs but I’m still into it

can't wait wednesday three

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

She is a Haunting by Trang Tranh Tran

Release date: February 28th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, she has one goal: survive five weeks pretending to be a happy family in the French colonial house Ba is restoring. She’s always lied to fit in, so if she’s straight enough, Vietnamese enough, American enough, she can get out with the college money he promised.

But the house has other plans. Night after night, Jade wakes up paralyzed. The walls exude a thrumming sound, while bugs leave their legs and feelers in places they don’t belong. She finds curious traces of her ancestors in the gardens they once tended. And at night Jade can’t ignore the ghost of the beautiful bride who leaves her cryptic warnings: Don’t eat.

Neither Ba nor her sweet sister Lily believe that there is anything strange happening. With help from a delinquent girl, Jade will prove this house—the home her family has always wanted—will not rest until it destroys them. Maybe, this time, she can keep her family together. As she roots out the house’s rot, she must also face the truth of who she is and who she must become to save them all.

The part where I talk: I initially found out about this from entering a Goodreads giveaway and dang I wish I had won. I love a haunted house story and this one sounds excellant. It sounds really creepy. And queer! 

What are y’all looking forward to this week?

– Laina

2022 Reading Challenge Finale/2022 Wrap Up Post

I meant to have this post done a couple days ago but I got busy so it’s going to be today.

Well, I definitely finished my Goodreads goal this year!

Here’s my thoughts on that: It was kind of too many?

Like, I read a lot, but I felt so much pressure from my tbr this year, especially from my library books. I feel like I had too many books to read and I didn’t venture into my owned books enough. (Which we’ll come back to.) I’m going to have to watch that next year.

Now, I did do the FOLD Reading Challenge and I always enjoy that. I didn’t love all the books I read, but I always feel like I enjoy how the challenge pushes me to expand what I’m reading.

And here’s what I read:

Row 1: The Pump by Sydney Hegele writing as Sydney Warner Brooman, Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh, Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

I liked Silver in the Wood a lot, didn’t really like the other two.

Row 2: Cane Fire by Shani Mootoo, Breath Tracks by Jeannette Armstrong, No Filters and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado, A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Cane Fire was about the same as any other poetry I read, since I’m not a big poetry person, and A History of My Brief Body wasn’t really my jam. Breath Tracks and No Filters were both great and I liked them both a lot.

Row 3: Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq, The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold, The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

The Year I Flew Away was really sweet. The other two weren’t great for me.

Row 4: The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas, The Snow Collectors by Tina May Hall, The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon, Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

The Hacienda was disappointing to me because I really wanted to like it but didn’t, but I really liked the other three. The Snow Collectors was weird, but good, and The Ex Talk was a really fun romance.

I also did the 2022 Daily Nerd Challenge, which is fun!

  1. Book With Red Spine: The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
  2. Debut Author: Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
  3. Bookstore Recommendation: Revelator by Daryl Gregory
  4. Title Starts with “F” or “S”: Friend Me by Sheila M. Averbuck
  5. Mystery or Middle Grade: See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
  6. New York Times Bestseller: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
  7. Set in Summer: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
  8. Bought Based on Cover: Pick Up Sticks by Sarah Ellis (Or I assume I bought it based on the cover… since I bought it as a kid. I don’t buy books that often!)
  9. An Anthology: Take the Mic edited by Bethany C. Morrow
  10. Recommended by Family/Friend: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
  11. Part of a Series: A Spoonful of Murder by J. M. Hall
  12. 2022 Movie Adaptation: No Exit by Taylor Adams
  13. Reviewed by Nerd Daily in 2022: Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
  14. Author Starting With “R”: Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney
  15. A Retelling: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  16. YA or Sci-Fi: Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
  17. Released in February 2022: No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado
  18. Under 350 Pages: On Cue by Cristy Watson
  19. Four Word Title: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
  20. Fantasy or Romance: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
  21. A Book You Never Finished: Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
  22. Purple on Cover: Dawn Undercover by Anna Dale
  23. Reread: The Report Card by Andrew Clements
  24. Recommended on Social Media: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
  25. Protagonist Starts With B: Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja
  26. Standalone: Off the Record by Camryn Garrett
  27. 2022 TV Adaptation: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  28. An Author New to You: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
  29. Released in July 2022: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
  30. #ownvoices Author: Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
  31. A Questionable Cover: Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart (Seriously.)
  32. Author Starting With “G”: Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain
  33. A Book Gifted to You: Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner
  34. Protagonist Starting With T: Bad Apple by Laura Ruby
  35. In Your TBR Pile: A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian
  36. Non-Fiction or Audiobook: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten
  37. #Booktok Recommendation: The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  38. Published in Your Birthday Month: The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley
  39. Setting Where You’d Rather Be: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
  40. Written by Your Fave Author: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
  41. Features a Journey: Drowned Country by Emily Tesh
  42. Start a New Series: Drew Leclair Gets a Clue by Katryn Bury
  43. Number in Title: Seventh Grade Tango by Elizabeth Levy
  44. Released Before You Were Born: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  45. Picked at Random: The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
  46. Quoted by an Author You Like: Hide by Kiersten White
  47. Illustrated Cover: The Pump by Sidney Hegele
  48. One Word Title: Sleepless by Terri Clark
  49. Bought on Holidays: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager (I don’t go on vacation so I cheated with this one by picking a book I was reading on A holiday… close enough.)
  50. Book With Blue Spine: To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
  51. Multiple Perspectives: This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel
  52. BIPOC Author: Confessions by Kanae Minato

Now, let’s talk about backlist/owned books.

I kind of sucked at this!

  1. A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian
  2. Dawn Undercovere by Anna Dale
  3. Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja
  4. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  5. The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
  6. Pick Up Sticks by Sarah Ellis
  7. The Graduation Of Jake Moon by Barbara Park
  8. Seventh Grade Tango by Elizabeth Park
  9. The Report Card by Andrew Clements
  10. Bad Apple by Laura Ruby
  11. Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

I only read 11 books that I owned, and I DNFed 11, too, and I’m only keeping 6 of these. I definitely need to do better at that in 2023.

Time for a pie chart!

Compared to previous years, it’s kind of amazing how many more adult books I read this year than last year! I read more adult than YA!

I am pretty proud of how well-rounded this chart is, though it does confirm I need to watch read more non-fiction.

I also made all the books I read rainbow. Because I can.

It just felt right.

I think that’s everything?

Looking at my January 2022 post and my May check-in posts, of the books I said I wanted to read, I dnfed these:

My library just didn’t have these:

And I didn’t read these:

Some of them I may read in 2023, some I may read in the far future, we will see!

As for favourites…

I think that’s everything! I’m currently working on my 2023 goals post, so check back in soon for that.

What do you think of the books I read? Anything you would recommend? Of the books I didn’t read, would you recommend any? Let me know in the comments.

– Laina

2022 Reading Challenge Update (October-December)

You can check out my whole 2022 reading goals post here! This is my “quarterly” (but not really because time is fake) update and I will be posting my full reading challenge wrap-up in a couple days. Tune in for that!

October’s prompt was horror or gothic novel by a BIPOC author and I read:

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Published: May 3rd, 2022 by Berkley
Genre: Adult Gothic Horror
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 337 plus acknowledgements and author’s note
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library

Summary (from goodreads): In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness. Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.

The part where I talk: Sadly I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to.

November’s prompt was a debut novel from a small press.

The Snow Collectors by Tina May Hall

Published: February 12th, 2020 by Dzanc Books
Genre: Gothic… futurism?
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 221 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library

Summary (from goodreads): Haunted by the loss of her parents and twin sister at sea, Henna cloisters herself in a Northeastern village where the snow never stops. When she discovers the body of a young woman at the edge of the forest, she’s plunged into the mystery of a centuries-old letter regarding one of the most famous stories of Arctic exploration—the Franklin expedition, which disappeared into the ice in 1845.

At the center of the mystery is Franklin’s wife, the indomitable Lady Jane. Henna’s investigation draws her into a gothic landscape of locked towers, dream-like nights of snow and ice, and a crumbling mansion rife with hidden passageways and carrion birds. But it soon becomes clear that someone is watching her—someone who is determined to prevent the truth from coming out.

The part where I talk: This was weird. I think I liked it. Will talk more about it soon.

December’s prompt was a romance novel featuring a character of faith and I read:

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Published: January 26th, 2021 by Berkley
Genre: Adult Romance
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 336 plus acknowledgements and such
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library

Summary (from goodreads): Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

The part where I talk: I really liked this. It was a lot of fun.

And the bonus prompt was a graphic novel by a BIPOC author, and I read:

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

Published: October 5th, 2021 by Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 213 plus about the author/illustrator
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library

Summary (from goodreads): When Becca transfers to a high school in an elite San Francisco suburb, she’s worried she’s not going to fit in. To her surprise, she’s immediately adopted by the most popular girls in school. At first glance, Marley, Arianna, and Mandy are perfect. But at a party under a full moon, Becca learns that they also have a big secret.

Becca’s new friends are werewolves. Their prey? Slimy boys who take advantage of unsuspecting girls. Eager to be accepted, Becca allows her friends to turn her into a werewolf, and finally, for the first time in her life, she feels like she truly belongs.

But things get complicated when Arianna’s predatory boyfriend is killed, and the cops begin searching for a serial killer. As their pack begins to buckle under the pressure—and their moral high ground gets muddier and muddier—Becca realizes that she might have feelings for one of her new best friends.

The part I talk: I also liked this!! It was pretty good.

I’m not going to update my other challenges because we’re going to have a post on that in a couple days, but I wanted to squeeze this one in first.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

– Laina

2022 Reading Challenge Update (July-September)

You can check out my whole 2022 reading goals post here! As usual, I’ll be doing quarterly updates, as I find that easiest for me, because time is fake. Or I was supposed to. Time being fake doesn’t mean time didn’t get away from me. Just roll with it.

Also as usual, I’ve been doing the Fold Reading Challenge this year.

July’s prompt was a novel set in or written by an author from Northern Canada and I read:

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

Published: September 25th, 2018 by Penguin Books Canada
Genre: Magical Realism?
Binding: Paperback 
Page Count: 189 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library

Summary (from goodreads): Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.

A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents’ love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us.

When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.

The part where I talk: This was not for me, at all.

August’s prompt was an audiobook by a Caribbean author and I didn’t listen to an audiobook because I only rarely enjoy those and I was not in the mood for one. We’re not setting ourselves up to fair here. So I physically read:

The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold

Published: February 1st, 2021 by Versify
Genre: Middle grade magical realism/fantasy
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 245 plus an ad for other books by the publisher
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library

Summary (from goodreads): It’s 1985 and ten-year-old Gabrielle is excited to be moving from Haiti to America. Unfortunately, her parents won’t be able to join her yet and she’ll be living in a place called Brooklyn, New York, with relatives she has never met. She promises her parents that she will behave, but life proves to be difficult in the United States, from learning the language to always feeling like she doesn’t fit in to being bullied.

So when a witch offers her a chance to speak English perfectly and be “American,” she makes the deal. But soon she realizes how much she has given up by trying to fit in and, along with her two new friends (one of them a talking rat), takes on the witch in an epic battle to try to reverse the spell. 

The part where I talk: I liked this! It was cute.

September’s prompt was a book by a BIPOC author from Australia or New Zealand and I read:

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

Published: This edition is from 2003, but the book was originally published in 1987
Genre: I wanna say magical realism?
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 152
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library

Summary (from goodreads): Eight-year-old Kahu craves her great-grandfather’s love and attention. But he’s focused on his duties as chief of the Maori in Whangara, New Zealand—a tribe that claims descent from the legendary “whale rider.” In every generation since the whale rider, a male has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir—there’s only Kahu. She should be next in line for the title, but her great-grandfather is blinded by tradition and sees no use for a girl.

Kahu will not be ignored. And in her struggle she has a unique ally: the whale rider himself, from whom she has inherited the ability to communicate with whales. Once that sacred gift is revealed, Kahu may be able to reestablish her people’s ancestral connections, earn her great-grandfather’s attention—and lead her tribe to a bold new future.

The part where I talk: I wanted to specifically read from a Maori author for this challenge as I realized I hadn’t really read a lot of Maori voices. I didn’t personally vibe with this book, but it was a good look at places my reading is lacking, so that’s good.

I’ll see you for the next update post in like two weeks!

– Laina

Can’t Wait Wednesday (212): Oh deer

can't wait wednesday three

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

Once a Queen by Sarah Arthur

Release date: February 7th, 2023

Summary (from goodreads): When fourteen-year-old Eva Joyce unexpectedly finds herself spending the summer at the mysterious manor house of the English grandmother she’s never met, troubling questions arise. Why the estrangement? What’s with the house’s employees and their guarded secrets? Why must Eva never mention trains, her father, or her favorite childhood fairy tales?

After strange things start happening in the gardens at night, Eva turns to the elderly housekeeper, gardener, and the gardener’s great-grandson, Frankie, for answers. Astonishingly, they all seem to believe the fairy tales are true–that portals to other worlds still exist, though hidden and steadily disappearing. They suspect that Eva’s grandmother was once a queen in one of those worlds.

But Eva’s grandmother denies it all. After a horrific family tragedy when she was young, her heart is closed to the beauty and pain of her past. It’s up to Eva, with Frankie’s help, to discover what really happened, whether family relationships can be restored, and if the portals are closed forever. As she unravels generational secrets, Eva wrestles with the grief of a vanishing childhood–and the fear that growing up means giving up fairy tales forever.

The part where I talk: As an eternal Susan Pevensie stan, this really appeals to me. I also really like that this seems to be a YA book with a younger protagonist. You don’t see as many YA books with main characters who are just fourteen.

What are you all looking forward to reading this week?

– Laina