Sunday 4 October 2020

October Releases I'm Excited For

This is hopefully going to be a monthly feature, looking at 10 books coming out each month I'm excited for. It was REALLY hard to narrow these down (to the point I cheated a little, and added one I've already read and loved at the end).

If you're looking for a much more comprehensive guide to upcoming releases I can MASSIVELY recommend signing up for the Pop! Goes The Reader Patreon, which has saved me a ridiculous amount of time because it has pretty much everything I could ever dream of wanting to read included! 

Forget This Ever Happened by Cassandra Rose Clarke (6th Oct, Holiday House)

Sometimes there’s a town called Indianola.

And sometimes there isn’t.

June, 1993. Claire has been dumped in rural Indianola, Texas, to spend her whole vacation taking care of mean, sickly Grammy. There’s nothing too remarkable about Indianola: it’s run-down, shabby, and sweltering, a pin-dot on the Gulf Coast.

Except there is something remarkable. Memories shimmer and change. Lizards whisper riddles under the pecan trees. People disappear as if they never existed. Yesterday keeps coming unspooled, like a video tape. And worst of all, a red-lightning storm from beyond our world may just wipe the whole town off the map, if Claire and her maybe-girlfriend Julie can’t stop it.

Because reality doesn’t apply in Indianola. Indianola is not supposed to exist.

Surprising, brilliant, and, like, totally tight, Forget This Ever Happened is speculative horror at its finest, featuring an #OwnVoices Queer romance and dark, dazzling world-building.

Why I Can't Wait To Read It: As a Nineties teen myself, I love reading books set in that time period - they remind me of a world when, well, everything seemed better. (I mean, to be fair, reading books set in 2019 ALSO reminds me of a world when everything seemed better, but I mean even BETTER than that.) I'm also a huge fan of books set in our world which have a weird twist to them, and this sounds like it has that required weirdness in spades.

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz (6th Oct, Page Street Kids)

Dragons and their riders compete in an international sports tournament in this alternate contemporary world fantasy.

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner ― the only player without a dragon steed ― is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.

But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire ― a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form ― the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.

Why I Can't Wait To Read It: My Twitter timeline has been DELUGED with this for what seems like months, and why wouldn't it be? Sports, dragons, international conspiracies? SIGN ME UP!!

The Mirror: Broken Wish by Julie C Dao (6th Oct, Disney Hyperion)

Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide. She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She’s heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow.

But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner-none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it’s too late.

The Mirror: Broken Wish marks the first book in an innovative four-book fairy-tale series written by Julie C. Dao, Dhonielle Clayton, Jennifer Cervantes, and L. L. McKinney, following one family over several generations, and the curse that plagues it.

Why I Can't Wait To Read It: I always enjoy seeing different authors combine for things, and the idea of a four book series written by four different people would be intriguing enough with any quartet, but with these four on board it's definitely a must read. I haven't been reading too much fantasy recently and have been looking for more, and "the lines between hero and villain start to blur" promises the kind of gray morality I love reading about.

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D Richards (6th Oct, Sourcebooks Fire)

A “page-turning thriller that will keep readers guessing until the very end” (School Library Journal) about a road trip in a snowstorm that turns into bone-chilling disaster, from bestselling mystery author Natalie D. Richards.

She thought being stranded was the worst thing that could happen. She was wrong.

Mira needs to get home for the holidays. Badly. But when an incoming blizzard results in a canceled connecting flight, it looks like she might get stuck at the airport indefinitely.

And then Harper, Mira’s glamorous seatmate from her initial flight, offers her a ride. Harper and her three friends can drop Mira off on their way home. But as they set off, Mira realizes fellow travelers are all total strangers. And every one of them is hiding something.

Soon, roads go from slippery to terrifying. People’s belongings are mysteriously disappearing. Someone in the car is clearly lying, and may even be sabotaging the trip ― but why? And can Mira make it home alive, or will this nightmare drive turn fatal?

Girl On The Run by Abigail Johnson (6th Oct, Underlined)

A fast-paced original paperback thriller about a girl who discovers that her mother might not be who she says she is…and now someone is hunting them both.

Katelyn wants the best for her widowed mom. Surprising her with an online dating profile seems like a good idea.

It isn’t. Katelyn’s mom hasn’t just been acting overprotective all these years – she’s been hiding something. And now that anyone can find them online, Katelyn is in a desperate race against time to uncover the secrets of the past – not only her mom’s, but also her own.

As Katelyn’s world unravels, she begins to trust the guy who brought this nightmare to her door and to doubt the one person she never thought she would. Because her mom has been hiding for a reason: she’s been waiting.

Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.

Why I Can't Wait To Read Them: I've been reading far more thrillers recently than I have in years, and there's something about the adrenaline rush they give me that's really addictive. Favourites of 2020 so far include Vincent Ralph's Are You Watching, Brittney Morris's Slay, and Kit Frick's I Killed Zoe Spanos. I've been devouring Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books in rereads while I wait for another YA to catch my eye, and these two certainly have - they both sound like really intriguing plots.

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (6th Oct, Avon)

Olivia Dade bursts onto the scene in this delightfully fun romantic comedy set in the world of fanfiction, in which a devoted fan goes on an unexpected date with her celebrity crush, who’s secretly posting fanfiction of his own.

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. The world may know him as Aeneas, star of the biggest show on television, but fanfiction readers call him something else: Book!AeneasWouldNever. Marcus gets out his frustrations with the show through anonymous stories about the internet’s favorite couple, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone discovered his online persona, he’d be finished in Hollywood.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s long hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobbies from her “real life”—but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her internet critics, truth officially becomes stranger than fanfiction.

On their date, Marcus quickly realizes he wants more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But when he discovers she’s Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to keep from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?

Why I Can't Wait To Read It: The whole "Heartthrob who's a bigger fan of the source material than anyone realises" was amazingly done in Ashley Poston's Geekerella, leaving me desperate for more. I love books set in and around fandom, and romances about secret identities, so this sounds amazing.

This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi (13th Oct, Feiwel & Friends)

Set over the course of one day, Aminah Mae Safi’s This Is All Your Fault is a smart and voice-driven YA novel that follows three young women determined to save their indie bookstore.

Rinn Olivera is finally going to tell her longtime crush AJ that she’s in love with him.

Daniella Korres writes poetry for her own account, but nobody knows it’s her.

Imogen Azar is just trying to make it through the day.

When Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer, they’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author, and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with.

And it will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.

Why I Can't Wait To Read It: Aminah Mae Safi is one of the best authors I've discovered over the past few years - Not The Girls You're Looking For was wonderful, while Tell Me How You Really Feel took a premise I was desperate to read - what if Rory and Paris were the real 'meant to be' couple in Gilmore Girls - and Safi knocked it out of the park. I was always going to be incredibly excited for what she wrote next, but people trying to save a bookstore from closing? Heck yeah!

Ana On The Edge by AJ Sass (20th Oct, Little, Brown Books For Young Readers)

For fans of George and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter To The World, a heartfelt coming of age story about a nonbinary character navigating a binary world.

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.

Why I can't wait to read it: I'm a HUGE fan of both the comp titles here, and I'm always interested in reading more books with trans or nonbinary characters, so this sounds super-interesting. I also really like books about sports in general, so another big plus here.

Flying Over Water by Shannon Hitchcock and NH Senzai (20th Oct, Scholastic Press) 

N.H. Senzai and Shannon Hitchcock expertly craft the intersection of the lives of two girls-one, a Muslim fleeing civil war, the other, an American from the South – as they are forced to examine their beliefs and the true meaning of friendship in the midst of the president’s 2017 Muslim ban.

Twelve-year-old Noura Alwan’s family is granted asylum in the United States, after spending two years in a Turkish refugee camp, having fled war-torn Aleppo. They land in Tampa, Florida, on January 30, 2017, just days after the president restricted entry into the US from nations with a Muslim majority population.

Twelve-year-old Jordyn Johnson is a record-breaking swimmer, but hasn’t swum well since her mom had a miscarriage during one of her meets. Her family has volunteered to help the Alwan family through their church. She knows very few people of Arab descent or who practice Islam.

The girls’ lives intersect at Bayshore Middle School where Jordyn serves as the Alwan children’s school ambassador. Noura knows that her family is safe from the civil unrest in her home country, but is not prepared for the adversity she now faces on American soil. Jordyn is sympathetic to Noura’s situation, but there are other members of their Florida community who see the refugees’ presence to be a threat to their way of life.While the president’s Muslim ban tests the resolve and faith of many, it is friendship that stands strong against fear and hatred.

Award winners N.H. Senzai and Shannon Hitchcock have combined their talents to craft a heartrending Own Voices story told in dual perspectives.

Why I can't wait to read it: I love stories about friendship and I'm always interested to see two authors working together on a book, especially in a dual perspective story like this. This sounds like it'll be an emotional read, and I haven't read much MG contemporary recently, so I'm definitely excited to get back to it.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth (20th Oct, William Morrow)

The award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes her adult debut with this highly imaginative and original horror-comedy centered around a cursed New England boarding school for girls — a wickedly whimsical celebration of the art of storytelling, sapphic love, and the rebellious female spirit.

Our story begins in 1902, at the Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it the Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, the Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever — but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.

Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer Merritt Emmons publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, oppo­site B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern her­oines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled — or perhaps just grimly exploited — and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.

A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period-inspired illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.

Why I can't wait to read it: This has two of my favourite things about fiction - stories within stories (seriously, give me ANYTHING about people putting on a play, writing a novel, or making a film and I'm HOOKED!) and events separated by a long period of time. Throw in boarding school, a favourite setting for me ever since I was a child, and my excitement gets even stronger. 

Also, wanted to give a special shout-out to Pretty Funny For A Girl by Rebecca Elliott (1st Oct by Peachtree Publishing Company)

A candid and laugh-out-loud journey of family, friends, and fierce mistakes.

Haylah Swinton is an ace best friend, a loving daughter, and an incredibly patient sister to a four-year-old nutcase of a brother. Best of all, she’s pretty confident she’s mastered making light of every situation―from her mom’s new boyfriend to unsolicited remarks on her plus-sized figure. Haylah’s learning to embrace all of her curvy parts and, besides, she has a secret: one day, she’ll be a stand-up comedian star. 

So when impossibly cool and thirstalicious Leo reveals he’s also into comedy, Haylah jumps at the chance to ghost-write his sets. But is Leo as interested in returning the favor? Even though her friends warn her of Leo’s intentions, Haylah’s not ready to listen―and she might just be digging herself deeper toward heartbreak. If Haylah’s ever going to step into the spotlight, first she’ll need to find the confidence to put herself out there and strut like the boss she really is.

Rebecca Elliott’s hilarious and authentic narrative voice is sure to capture readers’ hearts as her plus-sized, teenage heroine navigates learning to love the body she’s in while dealing with friends, family, and boys. 

I've already read this - it came out in the UK in the first few months of the year - and it's fabulous, a stunning contemporary YA novel with great themes of Haylah developing confidence and accepting herself. Really hilarious and I can't wait for more. 

What are you especially looking forward to this month? Something on this list, or something I've overlooked? Leave me a comment, or tweet me @yayeahyeah.

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