February is a packed month of book releases and there’s many reasons to celebrate. Whether you want to honor the past with reading selections for Black History Month or curl up with some rom-coms for Valentine’s Day, there’s so many opportunities to read widely this month. We hope you spend a lot of time with a new favorite book or exploring a much-loved bookstore or library–it’s a good time for it!
This Time It’s Real by Ann Liang
A fake-dating/celebrity romance for fans of Meg Cabot? I’m in. I can’t wait to read this rom-com set in in Beijing by undergraduate university author Ann Liang!
Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Eliza Lin’s essay about meeting the love of her life unexpectedly goes viral, her entire life changes overnight. Now she has the approval of her classmates at her new international school in Beijing, a career-launching internship opportunity at her favorite magazine…and a massive secret to keep.
Eliza made her essay up. She’s never been in a relationship before, let alone in love. All good writing is lying, right?
Desperate to hide the truth, Eliza strikes a deal with the famous actor in her class, the charming but aloof Caz Song. She’ll help him write his college applications if he poses as her boyfriend. Caz is a dream boyfriend–he passes handwritten notes to her in class, makes her little sister laugh, and takes her out on motorcycle rides to the best snack stalls around the city.
But when her relationship with Caz starts feeling a little too convincing, all of Eliza’s carefully laid plans are threatened. Can she still follow her dreams if it means breaking her own heart?
Release Date: February 7, 2023, via Scholastic Press. Order Here.
When You Wish Upon A Lantern by Gloria Chao
I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I first saw the colorful gorgeous cover. This YA romance celebrates Chinese American culture and hopefully new and established readers of Gloria Chao will love it as much as it deserves!
Synopsis: Liya and Kai had been best friends since they were little kids, but all that changed when a humiliating incident sparked The Biggest Misunderstanding of All Time–and they haven’t spoken since. Then Liya discovers her family’s wishing lantern store is struggling, and she decides to resume a tradition she had with her beloved late grandmother: secretly fulfilling the wishes people write on the lanterns they send into the sky. It may boost sales and save the store, but she can’t do it alone . . . and Kai is the only one who cares enough to help. While working on their covert missions, Liya and Kai rekindle their friendship–and maybe more. But when their feuding families and changing futures threaten to tear them apart again, can they find a way to make their own wishes come true?
Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah
If you enjoyed Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power or Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, you’ll love this haunting tale of a town known for disastrous windstorms, fields of sunflowers, and missing women.
Synopsis: The town of Bishop is known for exactly two things: recurring windstorms and an endless field of sunflowers that stretches farther than the eye can see. And women–missing women. So when three more women disappear one stormy night, no one in Bishop is surprised. The case is closed and their daughters are left in their dusty shared house with the shattered pieces of their lives… until the wind kicks up a terrible secret at their mothers’ much-delayed memorial.
With secrets come the lies each of the girls is forced to confront. After caring for the other girls, Delilah would like to move on with her boyfriend, Bennett, but she can’t bear his touch. Whitney has already lost both her mother and her girlfriend, Eleanor, and now her only solace is an old weathervane that seems to whisper to her. Jude, Whitney’s twin sister, would rather ignore it all, but the wind kicks up her secret too: the summer fling she had with Delilah’s boyfriend. And more than anything, Bo wants answers and she wants them now. Something happened to their mothers and the townsfolk know what it was. She’s sure of it. Bishop has always been a strange town. But what the girls don’t know is that Bishop was founded on blood–and now it craves theirs.
The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa
Give me all the pirate fantasy books. Seriously. If it has pirates in it, I want to read it. A diverse cast, inviting found family and a Caribbean locale, make this one of my anticipated reads of the month!
Synopsis: On Mar León de la Rosa’s sixteenth birthday, el Diablo comes calling. Mar is a transmasculine nonbinary teen pirate hiding a magical ability to manipulate fire and ice. But their magic isn’t enough to reverse a wicked bargain made by their father, and now el Diablo has come to collect his payment: the soul of Mar’s father and the entire crew of their ship. When Mar is miraculously rescued by the sole remaining pirate crew in the Caribbean, el Diablo returns to give them a choice: give up their soul to save their father by the harvest moon, or never see him again.
The task is impossible–Mar refuses to make a bargain, and there’s no way their magic is a match for el Diablo. Then Mar finds the most unlikely allies: Bas, an infuriatingly arrogant and handsome pirate–and the captain’s son; and Dami, a gender-fluid demonio whose motives are never quite clear. For the first time in their life, Mar may have the courage to use their magic. It could be their only redemption–or it could mean certain death.
The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest
I’m incredibly excited about Kristina Forest’s adult fiction debut. Her YA romance is some of the sweetest that the age group has to offer and I know that her penchant for relatable and loveable characters will carry over here too.
Synopsis: Shy, bookish, and admittedly awkward, Lily Greene has always felt inadequate compared to the rest of her accomplished family, who strive for Black excellence. She dreams of becoming a children’s books editor, but she’s been frustratingly stuck in the nonfiction division for years without a promotion in sight. Lily finds escapism in her correspondences with her favorite fantasy author, and what begins as two lonely people connecting over email turns into a tentative friendship and possibly something else Lily won’t let herself entertain–until he ghosts her without a word.
Months later, Lily is still crushed, but she’s determined to get a hold of her life, starting with finding a date to her sister’s wedding. And the perfect person to help her is Nick Brown, her charming, attractive new neighbor, who she feels drawn to for reasons she can’t explain. But little does she know, Nick is an author–her favorite fantasy author. Nick, who has his reasons for using a pen name and pushing people away, soon realizes that the beautiful, quiet girl from down the hall is the same Lily he fell in love with over email months ago. Unwilling to complicate things even more between them, he agrees to set her up with someone else, though this simple favor between two neighbors is anything but–not when he can’t get her off his mind…
Release Date: February 28, 2023, via Berkley Books. Order Here.
Isha, Unscripted by Sajni Patel
I love the concept behind this woman’s fiction novel: aspiring screenwriter and black sheep of the family, Isha will do anything to make her dreams come true, including chasing down a high-profile and wildly successful actor: Matthew McConaughey. Sounds hilarious, right?
Synopsis: Isha Patel is the black sheep of the family. She doesn’t have a “prestigious” degree or a “real” career, and her parents never fail to remind her. But that’s okay because she commiserates with her cousin, best friend, and fellow outcast, Rohan. When Isha has a breakthrough getting her script in front of producers, it doesn’t go according to plan. Instead of letting her dreams fall through the cracks, Rohan convinces her to snag a pitch session with an Austinite high-profile celeb: the one and only Matthew McConaughey, who also happened to be her professor at the University of Texas years ago–he has to remember her, right?
Chasing Matthew McConaughey isn’t easy. Isha needs a drink or two to muster up courage, and she gets a little help from the cutest bartender she’s ever encountered. But when the search for the esteemed actor turns into a night of hijinks and unexpected–albeit fun–chaos, everything falls apart. Isha’s dreams seem farther than ever, but she soon realizes who she really needs to face and that her future may just be alright, alright, alright.
Release Date: February 28, 2023, via Berkley Books. Order Here.
Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury
Horror YA fans should definitely have Liselle Sambury’s latest on their radar. The book follows two girls a decade apart and the creepy house they live in. With thriller and chilling elements, I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about this book and I can’t wait to check it out.
Synopsis: Daisy sees dead people–something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…
A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most–Daisy’s or her own? As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.
Release Date: February 28, 2023, via Margaret K. McElderry. Order Here.
Nightbirds by Kate J. Armstrong
A dazzling fantasy romance where the magic of women is outlawed, this novel features political intrigue and a secret sect of lady magic users who gift their magic for a price.
Synopsis: The Nightbirds are Simta’s best-kept secret: Girls with a unique and powerful magic they can gift with just a kiss. Some would kill to possess them; the church would kill them outright. But protected by the Great Houses, the Nightbirds are well-guarded treasures. As this Season’s Nightbirds, Matilde, Æsa, and Sayer will spend their nights bestowing their gifts to well-paying clients. Once their season is through, they’re each expected to marry a Great House lord and become mothers to the next generation of Nightbirds before their powers fade away.
But as they find themselves at the heart of a political scheme that threatens not only their secrets, but their very lives, their future suddenly becomes uncertain. When they discover that there are other girls like them and that their magic is far more than they were told, they see the Nightbird system for what it is: a gilded cage. Now they must make a choice–to remain kept birds or take control, remaking the city that dared to clip their wings.
Release Date: February 28, 2023, via Nancy A. Paulsen Books Order Here.