Yesterday we summarized the Adult BOTM choices and today it’s time for the YA picks to get the same treatment! As you may recall, every month we scour the Internet for reviews and summaries of the books and reduce it down into a quick paragraph to give you enough information to help pick the best BOTM for you every month.
If you’re not already a BOTM subscriber, don’t forget about our giveaway for a free BOTM 3-month subscription! Check out all that information here!
January BOTM Picks
Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning
Published by Poppy on January 7, 2020
Friday Night Lights
meets Morgan Matson's The Unexpected Everything in this contemporary debut where swoonworthy romance meets underdog sports story.
When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she'll have to convince its coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched... Every. Single. Day.
Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he'll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the spring. But it will take more than just a flawless spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland's halls, and behind that charismatic smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.
With well-drawn characters and a charming quarterback love interest who's got brains as well as brawn, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.
At a Glance: Throw Like a Girl is a contemporary YA romance with a sports storyline, except here both the hero and the heroine are the “jock”, not just the boy! According to early reviews, the sports talk is accessible and doesn’t overwhelm the story for anyone who might not be in to sports, but it’s realistic and believable for those who are. The love story is a sweet one and the characters are super likable. This has amazing early ARC reviews and seems like it will be a fantastic and sweet romance, so this will definitely be one to check out if you are interested in that!
Spine Logo: Yes
Comparable BOTM Titles: Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins; Top Ten by Katie Cotugno
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Published by Page Street Kids on January 7, 2020
A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.
Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.
When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.
She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.
At a Glance: This is an own-voice, twisty-turny book full of political intrigue and magic. It is a standalone YA fantasy, which are sometimes hard to find, so that’s definitely exciting as well! Woven in Moonlight features a slow-burn romance, beautiful storytelling and unique worldbuilding. It is based on Bolivian politics and history, which I think is awesome — I am loving the many awesome own-voice fantasy novels coming out lately, especially in YA.
Spine Logo? Yes
Comparable BOTM Titles: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao
Ashlords by Scott Reintgen
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 21, 2020
Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders--skilled at alchemy--who must compete at The Races--the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged.
In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest--a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
At a Glance: This book is probably one of our most anticipated releases for 2020, and we are incredibly excited to see it is a BOTM choice! Ashlords follows 3 alchemist phoenix-horse riders who have to compete in a televised race on these magical horses. It’s part Hunger Games, part Scorpio Races, part Red Rising and I am 100% here for all of that! This is the first book in a duology and is apparently super fast-paced and intriguing. As an extra added bonus, if you come back to the blog next month we JUST MIGHT have an interview with the author planned!!
Spine Logo? Yes
Comparable BOTM Picks: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline; The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
Published by HarperTeen on January 21, 2020
An Indie Next List Pick!
In his first contemporary teen novel, critically acclaimed author and two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means to be a “real man.”
Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?
At a Glance: This is a contemporary YA novel from a male perspective that deals with sex-education, toxic masculinity and the flawed ways we all see ourselves. It’s own-voice and diverse, and also realistic and funny. It tackles a lot of timely topics, but from the male perspective, which often isn’t addressed in a nuanced way. The characters are flawed and not totally self-aware, but what 16-year-old is self-aware? This sounds like a great contemporary from a different perspective than we normally see.
Spine Logo? Yes
Comparable BOTM Picks: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams; Opposite of Always by Justin C. Reynolds
Oasis: A Novel by Katya de Becerra
Published by Imprint on January 7, 2020
In this young adult thriller for fans of Lost and The Twilight Zone, a group of teens are saved when they come across a mysterious oasis. But who will save them from the oasis?
Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archeological dig site in the desert with four close friends ... and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.
Their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed ... until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, and shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.
The answers turn Alif and her friends against each other, and they begin to wonder if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave ...
An Imprint Book“De Becerra’s haunting supernatural thriller will stick to readers’ skin long after the final page is turned... Suspense, gore, spooky imagery, and creepy plot developments come through via bloodcurdling nightmares, group hallucinations, and uncontrollable desires and obsessions.” —Booklist
“de Becerra successfully builds a fraught tension throughout the book that mirrors the characters’ feelings as reality leaves them behind . . . well worth the payoff.” —The Bulletin
At a Glance: This novel is described as The Twilight Zone in book form — dark and creepy, with twists and turns that will keep you guessing the entire time you are reading. Oasis has a diverse cast of characters — six friends are lost in a desert and stumble upon an oasis that sustains them — but there is way more here than meets the eye. This novel will make you think and creep you out and, really, what more can you ask from a novel?
Spine Logo? Yes
Comparable BOTM Picks: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry; The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
What About You?
Are any of these YA novels calling your name? Will you be adding anything to your box this month? We can’t wait to hear what you think!