Seeing as it’s halfway through May, it’s time for me to make a list of my most anticipated new releases! This is an especially exciting season for contemporaries, but there’s also a lot of great sequels hitting shelves as well. Though I haven’t read the first books for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, ACOTAR, or The Shadow Hunters series (need to get on that), I can tell from my Instagram feed all these releases are VERY exciting. I’ve also tried to find six books you may not have heard a ton about already (though some highly awaited stories found their way on here as well). So without further ado…let’s cut to the books!
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
I’m a huge fan of Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology, so her newest release had to be included on this list. It’s being marketed as a reimagining of Mulan, though reviews I’ve read have said the synopsis makes it seem more like the Disney flick than the story really is. Not that I’m complaining either way, as it sounds absolutely amazing. It follows protagonist Mariko, daughter of a samurai and betrothed to marry into the royal family. She’s a gifted alchemist, but none of that matters as an only daughter. Tragedy strikes however when en route to the imperial palace her convoy is intercepted by the Black Clan. Left as the only survivor and disguised as a boy, Mariko’s desire for revenge will lead her to infiltrate the Clan from inside- and kill those who’ve placed a target on her back. Oh, and there’s a romance (which is hopefully as well written as the one in TWatD). There’s so many amazing plot elements going on here I don’t even know where to begin, other than to say I’m extremely excited to check this one out and immerse myself in the rich world’s Ahdieh creates.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
I’ve talked about When Dimple Met Rishi A LOT this year. It’s appeared on my Hottest YA Release Jan-June post, my write up on 2017 Diverse Reads, as one of my picks for Most Anticipated Debuts, and I even did a whole Waiting on Wednesday theme for it. And now I’m going to talk about it some more here. Because it just seems that cute, that quirky, and that one of a kind. At this point I’m pretty much an old pro at describing what Menon’s debut is all about, so here goes: protagonist Dimple is attending a summer camp with the intention of furthering her career in computer coding…but her parents have actually sent her to meet the “Ideal Indian Husband” they’ve arranged her a marriage with. Rishi (aforementioned future husband) is all about this, and firmly believes in the tradition and possibility of love. Obviously the two very different personalities clash, but could romance still brew? I really hope so, as I have a feeling Menon has a knack for writing clever scenes with top notch dialogue. She’s given herself a humorous rom com platform to work off of, so fingers crossed it’s everything I hope it’ll be.
The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye
I enjoyed the first book in Evelyn Skye’s debut series, The Crown’s Game, but I did have some things that held me back from loving it. The plotting could be slow in parts, and at times the world felt very borrowed from other fantasies. The ending though was perfection for me, and has piqued my interest in continuing on with Pasha, Vika, and Nikolai. All three characters have closed their arcs from the previous installment and two have, at least in theory, received everything they could possibly want. However this fantastical version of imperial Russia is full of secrets, and people from the past will continue to haunt the three. If you’re interested in reading the first book, all you really need to know is that it’s about magic and a Wizards of Waverly Place style battle. Definitely worth checking out. Hopefully Skye has grown a lot as a writer, and she can carry the momentum forward for a great read.
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
I could barely get through Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, so I’m probably setting myself up to hate this one too. Nonetheless, Ramona Blue is going on this list. My main reason for this is that bloggers who also disliked the former are raving about Murphy’s exploration of sexuality and resilience in her latest release. We follow protagonist Ramona, who has known for years that she is a lesbian. This isn’t exactly accepted in rural Mississippi, but Ramona has bigger problems to worry about. She’s her family’s most stable source of income, a large burden just made harder by her sister Hattie’s pregnancy. When her childhood best friend, Freddie, returns she rediscovers her love for swimming…while also harboring romantic feelings for him. Is this attraction a one time thing, or does she like girls and guys? This is a new LGBTQ+ perspective I’ve yet to read from, and one that Murphy will need to handle with special care. If done deftly though Murphy could redeem herself as an author I want to read more from.
It’s Not Like a Secret by Misa Sugiura
One of my picks for the 2017 Read Diverse Challenge, It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, is the perfect summer contemporary. This debut by Misa Sugiura follows Japanese-American Sana Kiyohara, a recently uprooted teen very much in the closet. Sana can’t fathom telling her family the truth, until she meets Jamie. Unlike anyone she’s ever met before, Jamie inspires her to finally own up to who she is. What Sana couldn’t expect though is everything that comes after, including her rapidly deteriorating home life. Sugiura has pretty much wrote a book about all the most classic growing pains that come with teen years, so I definitely think this story has the “relatable” aspect down. Her biggest challenge (along with all contemporaries, really) will be making Sana and Jamie stand out. If she can do both of these things, I think it’ll be a great read!
That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim
Contemporary numero cuatro on this list is That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim. It’s very similar to another book I loved when I younger (though this one is targeted at an older YA audience), Does My Head Look Big In This?, both of which follow a character’s decision to wear a hijab. I know next to nothing about the history of Pakistan and almost as little about Islam, both of which are part of protagonist Shabnam’s exploration of “first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true”. In interviews Karim has said her intention with this story was to defy stereotypes and portray strong Muslim women such as Shabnam, her best friend Farah, and their mothers. Reviewers have praised Karim for her refusal to shy away from bigotry and prejudices in Shabnam’s life, but also the message of tolerance. I can’t wait to read this one!
What books are on your May tbr? Any from my list? Let me know in the comments!
–Keep Calm and Read On