Surprise! We’re dropping 2021 covers throughout today!
Get ready for not one, not two, but FIVE new reads to add to your 2021 TBR. And did we mention? We snatched an excerpt for each of these new reads for you to get an early taste of each one!
First up, prepare your eyes for From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn, and read an excerpt below!
From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn – Coming May 11, 2021
Cover Artist: Marcos Chin; Designer:
Once upon a time, a beautiful princess lived in the magical kingdom of Los Angeles. Always alone, she belonged to no one—and no one belonged to her. She dreamed of one day finding someone who shared her passions, a handsome prince obsessed with monstrous mythical creatures and exploring all the weirdest corners of her kingdom.
Or alternately, she dreamed of kicking ass and winning the regional judo championship, which came with a really awesome trophy.
Neither of these things happened, so she revealed herself to be a nure-onna (an actual monstrous mythical creature), transformed into a snake, and ate everyone’s faces off.
Never argue with the Nikkei Week Queen of Little Tokyo.
Auntie Suzy gifted me with this advice when I was six, and I probably should’ve taken it to heart. But “never” sounds like a long time when you’re six, and I must have known deep down that there would be so many things I’d want to argue about.
“Ugh, Rika-chan, why won’t you just stop fighting with me!” My sister Belle—the current Nikkei Week Queen of Little Tokyo—gives me an impressively regal glower. “You have the worst temper in the whole entire world.”
“False,” I say, even though it’s kind of true. “I’m actually suppressing my kaiju-temper extra hard because I’m trying not to fight with you. Even though you’re the one who’s blocking my bedroom door and waving random bits of fabric in my face.”
“It’s a scarf!” she retorts, flapping the floaty bit of cloth she’s been trying to tie around my neck for the last five minutes. “And you need it.”
“I do not need a scarf,” I retort, batting her hands away. “We live in LA—no one ever needs a scarf.”
“It’s decorative,” she insists, her face screwing into that look that means I’m being a total pain the ass.
I would argue—see, again with the arguing—that she’s the one being the pain in the ass, since she’s keeping me from what I actually need to do. I have to get over to the dojo, where my fellow judoka are preparing for our big martial arts demonstration today. We always put on a show at the parade that kicks off Nikkei Week, the annual festival in Los Angeles’s downtown neighborhood of Little Tokyo celebrating all things Japanese and Japanese American.
I’m really trying not to deploy my temper—Auntie Och calls it “Rika-chan’s kaiju,” or giant monster, after all the Japanese creature movies she watches on “the YouTube,” holding her phone screen way too close to her face. I’d swear her tone sounds almost . . . admiring? But the truth is, my temper always gets me in trouble. It’s somehow even more monstrous than Godzilla or Mothra or any of the titans rampaging across Auntie Och’s screen, destroying entire miniature cities. It’s one of the snarling beasts in the Japanese folklore stories I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid, clawing through my blood and rattling against my rib cage, dying to escape and gobble up those who insist on provoking it.
Like the guy who thought it would be funny to “pretend choke” me after I tapped out during a sparring session in judo. I was only eight, so I bit him—and almost got kicked out of the dojo over it. Or the anime-obsessed white girls who frequent my Aunties’ katsu restaurant and order me to speak to them in “an authentic Japanese accent.” I once dumped a full can of Coke on Queen Becky, the Ultimate White Girl Who Just, Like, Loves Asian Culture, and it felt so good—until that particular Becky’s mother started an online petition to shut down the restaurant, and Auntie Suzy wearily explained to me the need for our family to appear “respectable.” (That one . . . did not happen when I was eight, by the way. That was last week.)
I don’t want to be in trouble all the time, so I try to keep my kaiju-temper leashed.
But my kaiju-temper doesn’t care about what I want.
Next up is…
Curses by Lish McBride – Coming July 20, 2021
Cover/jacket designer: Kristie Radwilowicz; Illustrator: Tara Phillips
House of Cravan Country Seat, 1883
Merit Cravan, only heir to the barony of Cravan and current absentee from her own betrothal ball, locked herself in her room. Then pushed a dresser in front of the door, just in case. The dresser was heavy, and pushing it left her dress askew and her carefully curled and pinned updo a tangled mess by the time she was done.
“You come out this instant, young lady.” Lady Zarla punctuated her demand with a moment of consistent but quiet thuds on the stout wooden door.
“No, mother.” Merit started yanking out the hairpins one by one, massaging her scalp. Her hair had a natural wave to it, but the maid had spent so much time heating and curling it that she no longer recognized the texture.
“Stop being such a child!” Her mother’s voice through the door was fierce but low, because fairyborn aristocracy wouldn’t be so uncouth as to yell.
“You stop being such a child!” As a retort, it lacked flair, and in many ways only supported her mother’s argument. Merit hadn’t considered herself to be a child for several years. As the only heir, she’d had to pack up her childhood early and assume certain responsibilities. And yet at this exact moment, that was exactly how she felt. Small. Young. Scared. “I told you to cancel it.” Her words were calm, but the pins in her fist shook. She didn’t love him, though that puny fact would not signify with her mother. “He’s old enough to be my father.” If her betrothed were a few years older, he’d be old enough to be Lady Zarla’s father.
“He said he’d wait until you were eighteen. Honestly, Merit. Fairyborn gentlemen of his ilk don’t grow on trees.”
“He can wait forever!” Merit yelled, throwing her pins at the door. Her mother gasped at the slip in Merit’s decorum, and Merit did not care. No, she did not. And if she kept saying she didn’t care, eventually it would be true, wouldn’t it?
“Godling Verity, we are graced with your presence.” Lady Zarla’s voice had completely altered, her tone now reverent and careful.
Merit put a hand over her mouth, muffling the sound that wanted to come out. In the mess of things, she’d completely forgotten—her mother had hired a fairy godling to gift the union. Godling Verity was temperamental, even for her kind—any perceived slight would be blown entirely out of proportion. Merit slid down the wall, pulled her knees up to her chest, and wrapped her arms around them.
“Is there a problem?” The godling’s words held the crisp bite of authority. Merit didn’t think anyone had argued with Godling Verity in her entire life. No sane person would.
“Lady Merit is indisposed.” Even through the door Merit could tell that Lady Zarla was holding on to her composure by her fingernails. “She’ll be back out in a moment.”
Fear spiked through Merit, but so did determination. She had already chosen the boy she would marry, and he was most certainly not the paunchy, gray-haired baron waiting for her in the ballroom. “I won’t,” Merit yelled without thinking. “I’m not coming out!”
It was the last straw. Her mother smacked the door with her hand. “You want to wait for your fortune hunter, you beastly girl? Want him to come back and profess his love? Well he’s not coming. Not tonight, not ever. You will grow up and do as I say! Merit!” She banged on the door some more. “Get out here right this minute!”
Merit’s fingers slid over the beautiful beading of her skirt. She’d been so excited about this dress when she’d first seen the sketch. The exquisite detail, the sweetheart neckline, the deep purple of the fabric. It was the kind of dress her mother would wear—the dress of a woman, not a girl. Months ago, before she’d actually met her betrothed and the reality had set in, before she’d fallen for Jasper, she’d touched the swatch of fabric the dressmaker had brought and looked forward to this moment. As if donning the dress would wave a magic wand, making her into a sure and steady adult. Now the hem was torn, the beading ruined.
“He will come back for me.” Merit was no longer sure if she was trying to convince her mother or herself.
A beat of silence then, a hesitation that told her that her mother was struggling with herself. “Fine. Wonderful. If he comes back for you—for you, not your money or your title, you’re welcome to him. You’ll have my blessings. But he won’t come back, Merit.”
Her capitulation surprised Merit. It was too easy. “How are you so sure? You don’t even know him.”
“Because I made him an offer, and he took it. Took the coin and ran. He wanted your family’s money. Not you.”
Merit choked back a sob. The dull blade of betrayal sliced through her. Her mother was wrong; she had to be wrong. Jasper loved her. He loved her. He’d promised.
Lady Zarla smacked the door again. “Merit! You are the heir to one of the oldest and most respected baronies in this land, and you will act like it! Now, come out here before the guests start talking!”
Merit’s entire body trembled, but she made no move to open the door. Her mother was lying. She had to be. He would never—only it didn’t sound like her mother was lying, did it?
Merit heard a new sound then, the faint buzzing of wings. Her pulse sped up.
“You refuse to honor your mother’s choice?” Godling Verity crooned oddly, as though she was pleased by Merit’s disobedience.
Merit swallowed her fear. Her doubt. Even if her mother was right, she couldn’t marry her betrothed. The thought of his hands on her made her want to curl up and die. “I refuse.” The words rasped out of her throat, but the godling heard. There was no doubt about that.
Something tapped against the door—Merit would realize later it was Godling Verity’s wand. “Beastly girl is right. You will get your gift from me this night.” The hum of wings grew louder. “As you are still young, I will be generous and give you a chance to learn from your folly.” Merit could almost see the cold smile on her face. “If love appears, we will bow to your will. If not, it will be as your mother says. You will marry someone of her choosing by your eighteenth birthday.”
Merit placed her hands flat on the floor, trying to quiet the trembling of her body. It didn’t stop the fear slicing up her spine. For a second, she wavered. But then she thought again of her betrothed—of his greedy eyes on her, his clammy hands when he grasped her fingers and planted a dry kiss on her knuckles. “If I don’t?”
“Then you will become a beast in truth. Do you still refuse?”
Merit closed her eyes. “Yes.”
There was a flash, then a whoosh, and Merit felt like her world tipped sideways and split in half. She didn’t remember anything else until one of her mother’s footmen removed the door at its hinges. When she opened her eyes, it was to see the footman faint dead away, the heavy door in his hands clattering to the floor.
Then her mother screamed.
Next up is…
Living Beyond Borders edited by Margarita Longoria – Coming August 17, 2021
Illustrator: Luisa Rivera; Designer: Kristie Radwilowicz
Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sanchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Laura Perez, Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordáz, and Anna Meriano.
I Want to Go Home
I want to go home.
I can still see it, still feel it
The cuts and bruises on my knees,
the dirt under my fingernails,
and the sweat in my hair
from countless days and nights
of picking naranjas from my backyard tree
BBQs where I would go outside
to pick the chile piquín for the pico de gallo
and my tíos sat outside drinking Tecate and Modelo
while my dad cooked the fajita
of chasing light bugs
o luciérnagas, como dice mi abuelo
I want to go home.
A place you have never stepped foot on
but call it your land
A place you know nothing about
but say you have more right to
A piece of paper
And it is yours?
Because it is now “technically” legal
The gringos trick us
Promise us better
All for what?
To kill mi abuelo’s abuelo
For a price
Because it is fair
Because it is now yours?
I want to go home.
The barrio where I was raised
A stucco home
with three bedrooms and one bath
Chickens and cabritos in the back
Our own natural lawn mowers
At five years old
when I helped place the now cracked tiles
in our new house
Where I swept the dirt off the concrete porch
not two inches above the ground
and played in the six-inch puddle of water on the edge of the house,
where the land indented from years of our makeshift driveway
I want to go home.
You say it is yours
because it is America’s land
because it is on dirt
that is exactly the same on the other side of the river
with a different name
The cactus plants that housed the tortoises
The aloe vera that I would cut for sunburns
The leaves from the Mexican olive trees that I would collect
None of which you know how to use
I want to go home.
The place where I met every friend
My first day of school
and the boy next to me gave me a toothy grin
and ten years later asked me to prom
You say I don’t belong
because it is your choice to make
where every memory is
where all my love is
where my life waits
I want to go home.
Next up is…
The Summer of Lost Letters by Hannah Reynolds – Coming June 15, 2021
The doorbell rang in the middle of a storm.
The rain pounded against the eaves, nearly drowning the chimes out. Sheets of water streamed across the living room’s French doors, distorting the yard and forest into shifting blurs of green and brown. March in New England might officially be springtime, but in reality it was chilly and wet and dark.
I sat curled on the sofa, reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The combination of gothic novel and weather had me on edge, despite the room’s bright lights and my steaming mug of peppermint tea. Mom and Dad wouldn’t be home for hours; they’d gone to a town hall meeting, which basically counted as a date night in their world. My brother, Dave, was sleeping over at his best friend’s house. Mom had worried about leaving me home alone, but I’d shooed her and Dad away; my parents deserved a night out. Besides, I liked having the house to myself.
Most of the time.
The chime sounded again while I stayed frozen on the couch, book clutched in both hands, heart racing. No one had ever accused me of being sensible (“You have a tad of an overactive imagination,” Dad often said, holding his thumb and forefinger a hair’s breadth apart)—but honestly, who wouldn’t at least consider whether a doorbell during a storm heralded a serial killer?
Best not be a sitting duck for my prospective murderer. I padded through the house toward the front door, positioning my back against the wall as I craned my neck to peer out a window.
A USPS truck lingered in the driveway, headlights cutting through the rain, and a figure dashed toward the cab and leaped inside. The truck backed away and sped into the dark.
Anxiety draining out of me, I opened the inner door to the mudroom, a small, chilly space filled with umbrellas and boots. My toes curled as they hit the cold stone floor. I quickly unlocked the outer door, and wet wind lashed at me. The trees in the front yard bowed back and forth under the gust. A rain-splattered box sat on the stoop. I grabbed it and retreated inside, locking both doors and carrying the box to the living room.
Dr. Karen Cohen, 85 Oak Road, South Hadley, Massachusetts, the address read. Mom. The sender: Cedarwood House.
Made sense. O’ma’s nursing home had told us they’d be sending over a box of her stuff recently found when cleaning out her closet. I could wait for Mom to come home before opening it. Which a less nosy, more respectful daughter would do.
Got the box of O’ma’s stuff! I texted. Will let you know if it contains secret riches.
I slit the packing tape with a key from the kitchen odds-and-ends drawer. The box flapped open to reveal a cursory note from the nursing home and a brown-paper-wrapped package. Now I hesitated. This had been O’ma’s, this twine-tied bundle, something she’d packed away so long ago it had been forgotten. Carefully, I tugged the brittle bow loose, then unfolded the brown paper. At the core lay the treasure: a pile of envelopes, all addressed to Ruth Goldman. O’ma’s maiden name.
Bright curiosity cut through me. A hundred things could be inside. We knew so little about O’ma’s life, especially from before she met O’pa. Ruth Goldman instead of Ruth Cohen. Who had she been?
Next up is…
Eat Your Heart Out by Kelly deVos – Coming June 29, 2021
The following pages contain satire! This book is set at a terrible fat camp run by the world’s worst scientists, whose behavior and schemes are more extreme versions of what we see in today’s diet culture. By villainizing these ideas and the industry as a whole, and by having these courageous, kickbutt campers blow up the system on their own terms, I hope you’ll see how damaging fatphobia is to everyone. Because when you create a culture where people can be dehumanized for trivial reasons like body size, everyone’s human dignity is in jeopardy. I intend for this read to be inclusive and affirming, and hope you read with care if these topics are ones close to your heart.
Sneak Peek Excerpt
Miller drives slow. I don’t blame him. He has the defroster on full blast and the windshield wipers going fast, and it is still almost impossible to see out into the morning. We’re headed north. Occasionally, I recognize something. The Hotel Monte Vista. The observatory. After a few minutes, we are creeping up Highway 180 through a green blur of Douglas firs and piñon pines.
My phone vibrates in my pocket. I pull it out and check the screen.
National Weather Service Alert: blizzard warning in this area in effect until further notice. Prepare. Avoid Travel. Check media.
Next to me, Vivian is also staring at her phone. We’ve all gotten the same warning.
When we pull up to the camp, I am relieved that Miller is driving. I know I would have sped right by the camp’s road sign. I’ve been here a few times before and usually the place is bustling. But now, everything is quiet. Still.
We barely make the turn from the highway onto the dirt road when something gray streaks in front of us. Fast. A silhouette. Of a person. Maybe a woman.
But it was so fast.
Nobody could run like that in the snow.
Miller slams on the brakes and barely avoids hitting the thing. Whatever it is.
The sharp stop sends us into a skid. The girl in the back screams. Right in my fucking ear. We slide slowly along the icy road, spinning 180 degrees, until the side of the van hits a tree. I knock hard into Vivian. She makes an ooof sound and smashes into the leather-covered door. The van rocks from side to side a couple of times.
A ton of snow from the tree we hit lands hard on the hood.
But it settles. It is quiet again. Only the sound of the snow hitting the metal roof.
I can breathe again.
Everything is okay.
We probably saw a bear. A small one. That has to be it.
Miller will call the camp office, and they’ll send somebody for us.
I try to relax.
There is another scream.
But this time it isn’t the girl.
It came from outside the van.
Something is out there.
Did you miss our first round of 2021 cover drops? Check them out here!