It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance.
Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.
Daven McQueen’s Juniper Jones is a character for all ages in this sweet coming of age story set in 1950s Alabama.
Daven McQueen grew up outside of Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Brown University, where she earned a B.A. in literary arts and economics. When she’s not writing, Daven can be found tap dancing, embroidering, cooking, and eating dessert. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts and works in education.
A spellbinding novel of bloodlines, self-discovery, and redemption by the author of the Washington Post bestseller The Vine Witch.
Abandoned as a child in turn-of-the-century Paris, Yvette Lenoir has longed to uncover the secrets of her magical heritage and tap her suppressed powers. But what brave and resourceful Yvette has done to survive the streets has made her a fugitive. With a price on her head, she clings to a memento from her past—what she believes to be a grimoire inherited from the mother she never knew. To unlock the secrets of her past, Yvette trusts in one woman to help solve the arcane riddles among its charmed pages.
Elena Boureanu is the vine witch of Château Renard, noted for its renowned wines. Even as she struggles with her own bloodline—and its poisonous threat to her future—Elena can’t ignore a friend on the run. Joined by a cunning thief, the proprietor of an enchanted-curio shop, and a bewitching black cat, Elena and Yvette are determined to decode Yvette’s mysterious keepsake. But what restless magic will be unleashed? And what are Yvette and Elena willing to risk to become the witches they were destined to be?
Luanne G. Smith is the author of THE VINE WITCH, a fantasy novel about witches, wine, and revenge set in early 20th century France, and the forthcoming second book in the series, THE GLAMOURIST. She’s lucky enough to live in Colorado at the base of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, a glass of wine at the end of the day, and finding the magic in everyday life.
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retellings, Fantasy
You have the blood of kings and rebels within you, love. Let it rise to meet the call.
Isabelle of Kirklees has only ever known a quiet life inside the sheltered walls of the convent, where she lives with her mother, Marien. But after she is arrested by royal soldiers for defending innocent villagers, Isabelle becomes the target of the Wolf, King John’s ruthless right hand. Desperate to keep her daughter safe, Marien helps Isabelle escape and sends her on a mission to find the one person who can help: Isabelle’s father, Robin Hood.
As Isabelle races to stay out of the Wolf’s clutches and find the father she’s never known, she is thrust into a world of thieves and mercenaries, handsome young outlaws, new enemies with old grudges, and a king who wants her entire family dead. As she joins forces with Robin and his Merry Men in a final battle against the Wolf, will Isabelle find the strength to defy the crown and save the lives of everyone she holds dear?
Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. She was a finalist in the 2017 Austin Film Festival Podcast Competition, and studied children’s writing with Liz Garton Scanlon.
When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jenny lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two children.
Her debut novel, HOOD, about the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marien, will release from Disney/Hyperion in Spring 2020. She is represented by Elizabeth Bewley of Sterling Lord Literistic.
by Lev A.C. Rosen Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Release Date: May 26th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Queer
From the author of the acclaimed Jack of Hearts (and other parts) comes a sweet and sharp screwball comedy that critiques the culture of toxic masculinity within the queer community.
Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.
This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.
But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?
Lev Rosen is the author of books for all ages. Two for adults: All Men of Genius (Amazon Best of the Month, Audie Award Finalist) and Depth (Amazon Best of the Year, Shamus Award Finalist, Kirkus Best Science Fiction for April). Two middle-grade books: Woundabout (illustrated by his brother, Ellis Rosen), and The Memory Wall. His first Young Adult Novel, Jack of Hearts (and other parts) was an American Library Association Rainbow List Top 10 of 2018. His books have been sold around the world and translated into different languages as well as being featured on many best of the year lists, and nominated for awards.
Lev is originally from lower Manhattan and now lives in even lower Manhattan, right at the edge, with his husband and very small cat. You can find him online at LevACRosen.com and @LevACRosen
CAMP has been optioned by HBO Max to be turned into a feature film for the streaming service. Academy Award winner Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Milk) will produce through his Dan Jinks Company, and Kit Williamson (creator, director, and star of the Emmy-nominated series EastSiders) will write the screenplay.
by Maggie Platt Publisher: Ambassador International Release Date: April 17th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Allegory
What if the nine Fruit of the Spirit and the Seven Deadly Sins were locked in a battle for control?
Abandoned as infants, Tovi and her twin brother were raised by an eclectic tribe of warm, kind people in a treehouse village in the valley. After her brother’s sudden disappearance Tovi questions her life and her faith in an invisible King. Ignoring her best friend Silas’ advice, she decides to search for her brother in the kingdom on top of the mountain.
Above the cloud, the Council of Masters receives their orders. Tovi and her brother are the objectives. King Damien has a plan and Tovi is the key. The Council of Masters want her, but will she remain unscathed?
Amidst the glamour of the kingdom above the cloud Tovi is torn between her own dark desires and unanswered questions. It starts with a snake and a crown. When the ring is complete, will her life be over?
Murky black eyes shining with reflected fire searched the mural for anything he could have missed. In the half-light of bracketed torches, the ruby on King Damien’s finger looked as black as his hair.
As he studied the images all around him, a dozen stealthy and agile guards stood at attention in the glittering throne room on the other side of the stone wall. Each guard wore a simple black bodysuit with attached gloves and held two long swords, one in each hand. There were sheathes crisscrossing their backs, but they would only stow the swords when the king was no longer in their presence.
Warm light from the domed glass ceiling made everything in the enormous outer chamber appear golden. The chains of chandeliers reached up into the heights, and a brightly painted mural covered every inch of the walls. It was this same mural that the king pondered, but his eyes fell on the darker portions, the hidden stories on the other side of the wall that were kept in deepest secret.
There were terrible mysteries waiting here, prophecies recorded with paint and brushes on upright stone slabs. King Damien had tortured and killed his own people in efforts to understand, and he felt growing frustration that he still had no answers. He could not let this forecasted future come to pass.
The king was alone, hidden within a protected corridor in the center of his vast palace. He wore the customary clothing for the mountain kingdom’s royal men: black trousers, shiny black shoes, black leather gloves, and a crisp white shirt. The back of his shirt had a large circle cut out of the fabric, exposing intricate black designs that covered his skin. Most of the markings were the size of a fist, and there were seven of them forming a large ring from his shoulders to his waist. Hissing snake. Pointed crown. Unbalanced scales. Heavy chains. Thorny rose. Sharp diamond. Twisted flames. Taking up the center of this wreath was a much larger image — a highly-detailed heart, strangled by ragged veins.
His palatial estate sat on top of a low, squat mountain in the very center of the known world. Mount Damien — named for him — was encircled by a thick layer of cloud separating the civilized peak from the wild frontiers on the slopes below. When looking out from the palace’s highest tower, the city looked as if it floated in a sea of white cotton with brief glimpses of greener lands beneath. Most of the mountain’s inhabitants had never ventured below the clouds.
King Damien looked closely at a troubling span of the mural. It was the same spot he had obsessed over a million times before. It portrayed four warriors atop his mountain with victory in their expressions and armies coming behind them. The next scene was a barren landscape, with nothing but a small mound of rocks where Mount Damien used to be. Then, the mural stopped.
With each year of his reign, more of the painted prophecies came to pass. All that was left was this last corridor behind the curtain. Would these final scenes come to be, too? Had he done enough to stop these conquerors? What if he had been wrong about their identities? How exact were these paintings, and did he have the power to change them?
He had a nagging suspicion that he had missed something. He daily paced along this wall looking for any hint that would lead him to answers. His middle-aged son and heir, Prince Ajax, sometimes joined him, but he didn’t share his father’s enthusiasm for deciphering the future.
The future. Damien hated the thought of the future. He hated how little he could control without knowing for certain the identities of those four conquerors and if he had really put an end to them. But how could he ever learn these things when the artist who painted the scenes left the mountain nearly fifty years ago? It was enough to drive him mad.
It was in this madness that he had created a bit of a game. Six months had passed since he gathered seven of his most powerful up-and-coming leaders, named them the Council of Masters, and sent them below the cloud to the land of Adia, where the painting prophet had fled. The rules were simple. They must brand an Adian with the symbol of their specific expertise and bring the victim back to the mountain. The first to do so would earn a large chest filled with gold, a fortune that could fund the most lavish lifestyle for several years.
They didn’t need to know that there were many deeper reasons for bringing an Adian above the clouds. He longed to interrogate one and find out if there were more prophecies, to find out if there were more murals, to find out if Adwin was still in Adia. Even more so, he salivated over the thought of Adwin himself coming to the mountain to retrieve the victim. Could he finally have Adwin in his grasp after all these years?
The click of heels against tile made his ears perk, and the king quickly passed through the thick red curtain that separated the dark corridor from the glittering throne room. He squinted at the sudden onslaught of light. The guards let him pass before reclaiming their positions.
He moved toward the center of the room and pondered the seven young people as they entered. They were his kingdom’s finest weapons. Formidable. Hardened. Lethally clever.
The three men wore the same white shirt as the king, but their trousers and gloves were gray instead of black. The four women wore loosely draped gowns of varying gray hues with gloves to match. All seven looked beautiful, uneasy, and dangerous.
Damien addressed them quietly, each syllable articulated and precise. “I must admit I’m disappointed. Six months and you bring me nothing from Adia. Is the task too difficult?”
They remained silent, staring back.
“I asked you a question,” he declared, his vision going dark for a split second as the veins in his eyes pulsed. “Do you think the task is too difficult? Too much for you?”
“No, Your Majesty,” they responded in unison.
“Maybe the reward has been too small?”
“No, Your Majesty.”
“Well, I am a gracious king. You do not ask for more incentive, yet I am prepared to offer it. If mere gold does not entice you, would an entire kingdom suffice?” He allowed the words to sink in before going on, enjoying the play of emotions as these young weapons tried to understand. He ascended three marble steps and sat on his emerald-encrusted golden throne. His son, Prince Ajax, sat just below him to the left. Ajax’s son was not present, so the seat on the king’s right remained empty.
“If you are the first to mark an Adian and bring the fool to this mountain,” Damien continued, shifting forward for a better view of their faces, “You will be the rightful king or queen of Adia. I will send my armies to defeat that rebellious land, and I will place you as the crowned ruler. It would all be yours.”
That would get their attention. None of their demeanors had changed a bit, but he had always been good at reading stony faces. Hunger and greed glowed in many of their eyes, terrified panic in a few. Some of them were growing soft.
He stood from his throne and approached them once more, starting with the far end of the line. Xanthe had long lemon-yellow hair with one thick aqua stripe that reached from scalp to tip. She was tall and slender, with excellent posture that betrayed the hours and hours her mother spent turning her into a perfect young woman. Xanthe’s eyes were intensely purple, and they were dull and cold as they stared at the far wall. She was betrothed to the king’s grandson, Prince Jairus, who was not in the room. As Damien drew near, Xanthe took a sharp breath and lifted her chin, but her gaze remained unfocused and distant.
“What’s wrong, Xanthe?” the king asked with over-exaggerated concern, stroking her smooth cheek with his wrinkled finger. “Don’t you want to rule your own kingdom one day?”
“Of course, Your Majesty,” she replied with no sign of emotion. “But not Adia.”
“Not Adia?” Damien prodded, poison creeping into his voice. “Why not Adia?”
“I will be this mountain’s queen one day when Jairus is king. I have no need for another kingdom.”
“If you were truly invested you would want both. So, you will not continue in this quest. You may leave.”
“Your Majesty, I didn’t say —”
“You will not go back,” he ordered forcefully. “Leave us.”
Xanthe’s eyes locked on the king and flashed with hatred as she turned to leave.
“Is there anyone else who would like to leave these ranks? This Council of Masters?”
No one moved.
“That’s what I thought.” Damien sauntered along the line, eyeing each weapon and looking for signs of cowardice. He took an especially long time examining Eryx. He was huge — an excellent athlete and fighter. He had recently shaved his head, which added to his menacing aura. He towered at least six inches over the next tallest Master, and his highly-defined and powerful body was crisscrossed with white scars, trophies of his time in the fighting ring. “What about you, Eryx? Enjoying this game?”
With great articulation but no fervor, he answered, “It’s not a game, Your Majesty.”
“Oh? Isn’t it?” Damien asked with feigned innocence.
“‘Game’ is too trivial for this assignment, Your Majesty. Your orders are law.”
Damien loved the words, but he hated the monotonous delivery. “Hmm. Thank you for this passionate speech, Eryx. You will do well to use this spirit and zeal in the next fight.”
“You haven’t put me in a fight for years!” Eryx bellowed, a sudden fire lit in his tone. “It is below my status as Master.”
“You argue with me?” Damien asked softly and dangerously, standing toe to toe and looking up into Eryx’s face. “You will fight when I tell you to. You will prove you are still able to harness your power. Now, off with all of you. You have much work to do.”
His eyes bounced to each of them in turn as they filed through the door. Without looking at his son, he asked, “Ajax, what are your thoughts? Who is leading this race?”
“You already know I don’t care for your stunts, Father. You should just send the armies now if defeating Adia is what you’re after.”
“That’s just it,” he said softly, dreamily, as he imagined a better world. “Defeating Adia is only a small part of what I’m after. Yes, I want their land. Yes, I want its rich resources and fertile soil and clean waters. But I want so much more. I want Adwin to quake in fear at the mere mention of my name. I want him to hurt. I want him to break.”
“Adwin? This is about Adwin? Wouldn’t defeating Adia make him ‘quake’ as you call it?”
This snapped the king back to attention. Sternly he asked, “How old are you, Ajax?”
“In forty-nine years, you still have not learned. We could burn every tree and building in his village to the ground, and it would not shake him nearly as much as marking one of his beloved Adians with my symbols.”
“I doubt that very much. But you didn’t answer my question. Why have you never mentioned to me that this silly game is about Adwin?”
“My son, when will you discover that everything is about Adwin?”
Maggie Platt is a writer, traveler, cancer survivor, and dreamer. Her greatest joys are being Auntie M to her amazing nieces and nephew and sitting with students and friends over cups of coffee and deep conversations. She works at her alma mater, Anderson University in Indiana, and she lives in a cozy little cottage nearby where students come to sit on her couch just to laugh, cry, and talk about life.