What YA’ Reading: New year, new series

Let’s dig into some new series and fall in love with new characters and new worlds. The keyword is new. This January I have been diving into four new series – for you – and I’m ready to tell you all about them.  

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen 

First up, is a historical fantasy set on land and in the sea. Simi, our protagonist, is a Mami Wata charged with granting safe passage to the afterlife for those who perish at sea. When a beautiful young man is tossed overboard, chains hanging from his wrists, barely clinging to life, Simi cannot let him die. 

She makes a choice to break the rules. Simi changes the course of her life and his, as well as interfering in the affairs of the Orishas with this simple act. On a quest to return him to his home and to seek absolution for her actions, we see how alive the land is with magic. 

Making a splash with her debut, author Natasha Bowen tackles the heavy subject of slavery. She takes us into a world of Orishas, Mami Watas (similar to mermaids) and more magical creatures, and she brings them to life. We see the characters act on and discuss the unspeakably abhorrent acts of inhumanity occurring on African shores. This is an incredibly powerful read, set when the epidemic of slavery was in its early stages. I recommend the audiobook for an immersive experience! 

The second book in series Soul of the Deep is anticipated to be released in fall 2022! 

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

In this gorgeous fantasy – the sophomore release from the goddess we know as Kalynn Bayron – we meet Briseis. She lives in Brooklyn with her two amazing adoptive mothers. When I say they are amazing, I mean that they are AMAZING. Briseis has magical plant powers and they just accepted it, never asked her to use it for gain or profit and their only concern is her safety. They are incredible. So, when she inherits a dilapidated house from a biological aunt, their family goes. They give Briseis space to explore her powers and her biological roots.  

For Briseis’ part, as she is our protagonist, she sees her powers grow in unexpected ways that extend to poisons. This house she inherited has secrets about her family around every corner. For instance, there is the apothecary that seems to carry more than the over-the-counter variety of plants. Not to mention the strange people who keep showing up on the property wanting things from her. Everywhere Briseis goes lately it seems like she is being followed. Things are getting more dangerous. Which, if any, of her new friends can she trust? 

Bayron has done it again! She rocked my world with Cinderella is Dead, and now she is back with another LGBTQIA+ series that will have you riveted. You may have seen this book on our “Best of 2021” lists in December because it was that good. Read it, listen to it, get it however you can! 

The next book in the series This Wicked Fate has an anticipated release date of June 21, 2022! 

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Who ordered an upgrade on The Princess Diaries? Because this more than delivered. Izumi Tanaka has grown up in Mount Shasta with her single mother. Being a Japanese-American, she spent her life feeling like she doesn’t fit in anywhere outside of her friend group. When her best friend Nora accidentally stumbles across – okay, she was snooping – a love poem from college in Izumi’s mother’s things, the dominoes begin to fall. With some excellent detective work on Nora’s part, we discover that Izumi’s father is the Crown Prince of Japan. 

One Trans-Atlantic flight later, Izumi is spending spring break in Tokyo with the royal family. She had imagined it being an opportunity to meet her father and this family that has been a missing piece of her being able to know who she is. Izumi is quickly put on a tight schedule, which she immediately disrupts with an emergency bathroom break. Rather than getting to spend quality time with the family, she spends her time gearing up to attend a royal wedding. She spends her days in etiquette lessons, learning Japanese, carefully curated press events, and small meetings with her father. Meanwhile, there’s a hint of romance brewing between Izumi and her stoic head of security. Their snarky conversations kept me laughing all the way through. 

Emiko Jean’s writing is top tier. She tells this story of a young woman discovering herself and looking for pieces of herself in other people. It’s emotional but told with enough humor and wit that it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I love how rich this story is in culture and family, both the found types and blood types. I always recommend the audiobook for books with words I’m concerned about pronouncing correctly, and for the immersion aspect. 

Book two in this series is expected to be released May 31, 2022, and is titled Tokyo Dreaming! 

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Y’all, I am excited! While I must confess I have not read this yet, I am on hold, presumably with some of you, for this. It is the first in a spinoff series from the Caraval series. Here’s what we know. It follows a protagonist, Evangeline, whose love has unexpectedly proposed to her stepsister. To call off the wedding, she bargains with the Prince of Hearts and now owes him three kisses. He chooses who Evangeline kisses and when these kisses will occur. Was it worth it? I don’t know. What I know is that Stephanie Garber writes the most falling-headfirst-into-a-dream-romances and I cannot wait to read it. 

Book two of this series The Ballad of Never After  is anticipated to be released at some point in 2022.

Check out some of these other series in progress!

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Or, for those who prefer to binge-read their series: (We see you, we gotchu too!)

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As the teen librarian, Angie organizes amazing events and online activities. She also reads a lot of YA and is eager to suggest a book you can't put down.