In Manatee’s Best Friend, which comes out on August 3, Becca Wong Walker is a 12-year-old girl who must overcome shyness and the unexpected spotlight of a viral video to help save her manatee friends from boating dangers. While finding her voice, Becca also learns to make new human friends.
TORN UP is about grief, surviving the day, and hoping you aren’t ruining your life (or someone else’s) as you navigate your way through it. We can do some pretty unsavory things when we are dealing with a huge, personal loss. In this book, I put it all out there – I am shameless in my account.
My books is a collection of stories that are a mixture of the real and the fabulist. They range from 700 words to well over twenty pages. Thematically, the stories are linked by the desire of the narrators to find meaning in life, meaning in love, meaning in the ceaseless meandering of their minds. It’s a book that’s about restlessness, about wondering if the life we are living is the right one or whether we’ve made some crucial mistake along the way, missed a conversation or an opportunity that would have put us on a different path.
A lot of the stories revolve around the difficulty of finding and remaining in a loving and supportive relationship while retaining a robust sense of self. The stories tend to be more in the realm of seeking than in finding concrete answers. I should mention here that some of them are humorous. The world may not be all that funny, but it certainly needs humor to keep it afloat, and I have some narrators who are interested in the dark comedy of negotiating existence.
Sixteen-year-old Honor Augustine never set out to become a felon. As an academic all-star, avid recycler, and dedicated daughter to her PTSD-afflicted father, she’s always been the literal embodiment of her name. Coloring inside the lines is what keeps Honor’s chaotic existence orderly. But when she discovers her father’s VA benefits drying up, coupled with a terrifying bank letter threatening the family’s greenhouse business–Honor vows to find a solution. She just doesn’t expect to find it on the dry erase board of English lit–“Nature’s first green is gold.” The quote by Frost becomes the seed of an idea. An idea that–with patience and care–could germinate into a means of survival. Maybe marijuana could be more than the medicinal plant that helps quiet her father’s demons. Maybe, it could save them all.
REA AND THE BLOOD OF THE NECTAR is the story about Rea Chettri, an introverted but curious girl from Darjeeling, India, whose life gets turned on its head on the night of her twelfth birthday. After a fight with her twin brother Rohan, Rea discovers that he has gone missing. Her Amma is distraught and blames Rea for his disappearance. So, she takes matters into her own hands. Ordinarily, Rea prefers her own company (often feeling misunderstood by others) but this time she asks her neighbor Leela for help. Together, they visit the village fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling quest to find Rohan. In the shade of night, they portal into an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. There, Rea and Leela meet Xeranther, an Astranthian barrow boy, and Flula, a pari, and with their help Rea must battle evil creatures, confront a ruthless villain, and find out why Rohan has been captured.
Parting The Veil, debuting this November from Lake Union Publishing, is a suspenseful Gilded Age gothic romance featuring a headstrong American heiress, Eliza Sullivan, who arrives in rural England to collect an inheritance from a recently-deceased aunt and start a new life apart from her grievous past. At a summer solstice ball, she meets an eccentric viscount who lives on the neighboring estate, Malcolm Winfield. Despite the dark rumors surrounding Malcolm, Eliza is taken in by his melancholy charm. Drawn together by their similar, tragic pasts, they fall in love–lust, actually–and elope. Shortly after Eliza arrives at Havenwood Manor, her new husband’s estate, mysterious things begin happening. Strange whispers in the shadows. Forbidden rooms. And Malcolm’s mercurial moods, as changeable as night and day. As Eliza delves deeper into Malcolm’s troubling history, the disturbing secrets gain a frightening power, and Eliza begins to wonder if she’s married man or monster. Discovering the truth may cost her everything.
Sisters In Arms tells the story of the African-American women who served in the U.S. Women’s Army Corps during World War Two. It follows two women who “Answer America’s Call” when their lives aren’t going as planned. Both wind up in the first Women’s Army Corps (WAC)’s Officer training class. They eventually become a part of the 6888th Postal Battalion, which, in real life, was the only all-Black WAC battalion deployed overseas during the war.
Erin’s book follows the misadventures of a teenage girl who trains to become an escape artist (think Harry Houdini or Dorothy Dietrich). Her training and performances lead to several unlikely friendships. My teenhood certainly could’ve been worse but, looking back, I think I spent a lot of it just skating by and laying low, waiting for the day I could leave my high school and head to college. THE ART OF ESCAPING is about doing the opposite of that. Mattie, the main character, takes a chance on herself and finds her people in the process.
TONIGHT WE RULE THE WORLD, is similar to Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK but with a boy protagonist: it follows the journey of a twelfth grade boy–Owen–whose life is upended when word gets out that he was sexually assaulted by one of his classmates. The book is presented in two timelines: one where we follow Owen’s journey throughout school beforehand, and the other dealing with the aftermath/fallout among the local media, classmates, Owen’s mission-driven father, and Owen’s girlfriend.
DAUGHTER OF SPARTA is a reimagining of the myth of Daphne and Apollo, in which they must work together to save Olympus and all of Greece. Nine pieces of power have been stolen from Olympus, and Daphne is tasked with traversing the dangerous and unforgiving world of ancient Greece in order to return them. They come across some of your favorite myths and legends from Greek mythology, and often turn those stories on their heads.
Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue and a touch of magic.
Sluts and Whores is a short story collection full of magic, angst, and hope. It challenges damaging stereotypes of sex workers by placing a variety of characters into unexpected, and often magical, scenarios.
Everyone in Sam’s family wants her to say their name for her first word. To convince her, Mama sings, Papa tells a story, and Nana draws. Even their neighbor Mr. Theotopolous gets in on the action by performing an epic poem. Sam has something to say, something urgent, but how can she make her family stop thinking about themselves and listen? She may have to take drastic measures!
A Tip for the Hangman is a historical fiction novel-slash-spy adventure about the Elizabethan poet and playwright Christopher “Kit” Marlowe. When the novel begins, Kit is a graduate student on scholarship at Cambridge, trying to skate by with his degree and pursue his passion for poetry. However, all his plans go out the window when he is approached by Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I’s spymaster. Kit, always a bit disreputable at the best of times, is recruited to be one of the queen’s spies. His first mission: infiltrating the household of the queen’s treacherous cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.
Kit is a more successful spy than anyone expected, and he finds himself drawn deep into the uncertain world of espionage, conspiracy, and high treason. But as he becomes enmeshed in the very plots he sought to uncover, he realizes that everything he worked so hard to attain—including the trust of the man he loves—could vanish before his eyes.
WENCH, is a YA fantasy adventure that follows a tavern wench who, after losing the rights to her inn due to bureaucratic error, goes on a quest to get it back. Along the way she becomes the accidental wielder of a powerful–and unreliable–magical object that everyone in the kingdom, from the street thieves all the way up to the Queen, would do anything to get their hands on.