The arrival of June means many things in the world of publishing. It’s Pride Month, which celebrates queer stories of all shapes and sizes. It’s the official start of summer when kids are officially on school break and adults are looking for something to read poolside or under the shade of a park tree. Everything’s a little slower, a little warmer, a little more relaxed. (Or at least, we hope that’s true.) So obviously what we all need is approximately 50 fantastic new YA book releases to while away our time, titles that run the gamut from queer romances and post-apocalyptic disasters to historical fiction and sequels shot through with magic.
While this list may only be ten titles long, trust me when I tell you that I struggled to whittle down the massive list of books hitting shelves over the next few weeks to something manageable. There’s a whole lot and they’re all really good—and some of them I may have punted over to the June fantasy list, in the interest of covering as many titles as possible, because this month is not playing around.
Here are our picks for the new YA books you should make sure you’re reading this June.
Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler
Release Date: June 7 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It; A bubbly LGBTQ romance that puts a fresh new twist on the age-old relationship trope of the high school football quarterback and the team cheer captain. The story follows Amber, whose dream of being head cheerleader is dependent on her ability to stay closeted, and Jack—short for Jaclyn—who is making history as the school’s first female quarterback, who both inevitably find their way into each other’s lives and under each other’s skin.
Adler’s sweet love story is full of charming supporting characters and bracketed by realistic explorations of prejudices, peer pressure, and other typical problems faced by young people struggling to figure out who they are.
Publisher’s Description: Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain at the end of the year, but it’s an extra-tall order to be joyful and spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. For both the team and the squad, watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose.
The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about the changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been not only replaced but outshined by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. Amber tries for some semblance of unity, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s only got a future on the squad and with her friends if she helps them take Jack down.
Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other, and if Amber can’t stand up for Jack and figure out how to get everyone to fall in line, her dream may come at the cost of her heart.
Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White
Release Date: June 7 from Peachtree Teen
Why You’ll Love It: An unfortunately timely and unapologetic ode to queer perseverance and the right to be one’s true self without apology, Hell Followed With Us is a post-apocalyptic YA horror story about a young trans boy named Benji who has been turned into a living bioweapon by the fundamentalist cult that raised him. Full of explicit gore and violence mixed with religious imagery and social justice themes, this isn’t going to be a book for everyone (or possibly even for most people). But its incandescent rage is palpable, and attention must be paid.
Publisher’s Description: Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him—the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with.
But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.
Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda and more than a few secrets of his own.
Valiant Ladies by Melissa Grey
Why You’ll Love It: As a general rule there’s not enough historical fiction in the YA publishing space, let alone YA historical fiction inspired by a real-life seventeenth-century gang of Latinx teenerages. Melissa Grey’s Valiant Ladies, a fictionalized reimagining of the story of the Valiant Ladies of Potosi is one part swashbuckling adventure and one part historical mystery, with a satisfying queer love story on top.
Crisp writing and sharp banter make the relationship between Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza, who are proper rich young ladies by day but vigilantes for justice at night, sparkle on the page.
Publisher’s Description: By day Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza are proper young seventeenth-century ladies. But when night falls, they trade in their silks and lace for swords and muskets, venturing out into the vibrant, bustling, crime-ridden streets of Potosí, in the Spanish Empire’s Viceroyalty of Peru. They pass their time fighting, gambling, and falling desperately in love with one another.
Then, on the night Kiki’s engagement to the Viceroy’s son is announced, her older brother?heir to her family’s fortune?is murdered. The girls immediately embark on a whirlwind investigation that takes them from the lowliest brothels of Potosí to the highest echelons of the Spanish aristocracy.
This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron
Release Date: June 21 from Bloomsbury
Why You’ll Love It: The highly anticipated sequel to This Poison Heart, which follows the story of a young adopted teen named Briseis with a special magical affinity for plants that allows her to both grow them and remain safe from any plant-based toxins. This Wicked Fate sees Briseis on the hunt for a fragment of the world’s deadliest plant in order to save her mother, and get the chance to meet the family she’s never known along the way.
Publisher’s Description: Briseis has one chance to save her mother, but she’ll need to do the impossible: find the last fragment of the deadly Absyrtus Heart. If she is to locate the missing piece, she must turn to the blood relatives she’s never known, learn about their secret powers, and take her place in their ancient lineage. Briseis is not the only one who wants the Heart, and her enemies will stop at nothing to fulfill their own ruthless plans. The fates tell of a truly dangerous journey, one that could end in more heartache, more death. Bolstered by the sisterhood of ancient magic, can Briseis harness her power to save the people she loves most?
Sometime in Summer by Katrina Leno
Release Date: June 28 from ??Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: The latest novel from bestselling author Katrina Leno, Sometime in Summer is a (literally) magic comic of age story that’s an ode to summertime, reading, and growing up. (If you were, at any point, a Book It! Kid, this will resonate with you, is what I’m saying.)
The charming premise involves a bookstore that can magically alter its size, a woman whose superpower is recommending books, a comet that’s reappearing after two decades, and a teenage girl struggling with adapting to big life changes that are out of control. In short: It’s a potent mix.
Publisher’s Description: Anna Lucia Bell believes in luck: bad luck. Bad luck made her best friend stop talking to her. Bad luck caused her parents’ divorce. Bad luck is forcing her mother, Miriam, to sell the family’s beloved bookstore. And it is definitely bad luck that Anna seems to be the only person in the world Miriam is unable to recommend a life-changing book.
When Anna finds out that she and her mom are spending two months in a New England seaside town called Rockport, she expects a summer plagued with bad luck too. But Rockport has surprises in store for Anna, including a comet making its first appearance in over twenty years and two new—but familiar—friends.
In what will prove to be the most important summer of her life so far, Anna learns about love, herself, and the magic that an ordinary summer can bring.
The Dream Runners by Shveta Thakrar
Release Date: June 28 from Harper Teen
Why You’ll Love It: The latest novel from the author of Star Daughter this contemporary fantasy is inspired by the nagas and garudas of Hindu mythology. In it a young girl named Tanvi is spirited away to ferry mortal dreams for the entertainment of an immortal court, in order to satisfy their cravings for human experiences. But when Tanvi begins to remember her life on earth, dark and dangerous secrets about the nagas realm of dreams begin to unfold. Lushy written and full of complex worldbuilding, it’s also a rare—and satisfying—standalone in a genre full of (occasionally unnecessary) duologies and trilogies.
Publisher’s Description: Seven years ago, Tanvi was spirited away to the subterranean realm of Nagalok, where she joined the ranks of the dream runners: human children freed of all memory and emotion, who collect mortal dreams for the entertainment of the serpentine, immortal naga court.
But when one of Tanvi’s dream harvests goes awry, she begins to remember her life on earth. Panicked and confused, she turns to the one mortal in Nagalok who might be able to help: Venkat, the dreamsmith responsible for collecting the dream runners’ wares and shaping them into the kingdom’s most tantalizing commodity. And as they search for answers, a terrifying truth begins to take shape—one that could turn the nagas’ realm of dreams into a land of waking nightmare.
The Black Girls Left Standing by Juliana Goodman
Release Date: June 28 by Feiwel & Friends
Why You’ll Love It: Juliana Goodman’s intense and emotional debut follows the story of a Black Chicago teen seeking justice for the older sister killed by an off-duty police officer. Beau’s attempt to find her sister’s killer sends her on a hunt for the crime’s only witness—Katia’s boyfriend Jordan, a gang member who went missing after her death—forces her to confront both dangerous situations and uncomfortable truths about her sister that she never knew.
Publisher’s Description: Sixteen-year-old Beau Willet has dreams of being an artist and one day leaving the Chicago projects she’s grown up in. But after her older sister, Katia, is killed by an off-duty police officer, Beau knows she has to clear her sister’s name by finding the only witness to the murder; Katia’s no-good boyfriend, Jordan, who has gone missing. If she doesn’t find him and tell the world what really happened, Katia’s death will be ignored, like the deaths of so many other Black women who are wrongfully killed.
With the help of her friend, Sonnet, Beau sets up a Twitter account to gather anonymous tips. But the more that Beau finds out about her sister’s death, the more danger she finds herself in. And with a new relationship developing with her childhood friend, Champion, and the struggle to keep her family together, Beau is soon in way over her head. How much is she willing to risk to clear her sister’s name and make sure she’s not forgotten?
This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
Release Date: June 28 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: A richly written fantasy romance about a goddess blessed girl charged with protecting her country from demons, This Vicious Grace follows the story of Alessa, a Finestra whose power is meant to amplify that of her chosen Fonte (translation: elemental magic user) and the two are destined to be partners in all things while fighting the demon horde. But Alessa has accidentally killed her first three choices and time is running out.
Political intrigue, questions of faith, and Italian-inspired lore mix with a slow-burn romance, unexpected character revelations, and a smart, capable heroine to create something sure to appeal to anyone that reads regularly in this genre.
Publisher’s Description: Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.
Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.
Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?
The Song That Moves the Sun by Anna Bright
Release Date: June 28 from Harper Teen
Why You’ll Love It: The latest novel from the author of the charming The Beholder duology, The Song That Moves the Sun is a sweeping YA fantasy romance that mixes astrology, magic, and complex female friendship.
On the hunt for a song that will rectify disharmony in the universe, two best friends will embark on a worlds-spanning journey—complete with cameos from Dante Alighieri, Beatrice, Portinari, and Marco Polo—-to put the celestial spheres to rights once more
Publisher’s Description: Best friends Rora and Claudia have never felt more like their lives are spiraling out of control. And when they meet Major and Amir—two boys from one of the secret cities of the spheres, ruled by the magic of the astrological signs—they discover they’re not alone. There is a disruption in the harmony between the spheres, and its chaos is spreading.
To find the source of the disharmony, Rora and Claudia will embark on a whirlwind journey of secrets, romance, and powerful truths—about themselves, each other, and two long-ago explorers named Dante and Beatrice, who were among the first to chart this course toward the stars.
Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noel
Release Date: June 28 from Entangled Teen
Why You’ll Love It: A troubled teen becomes gets a fresh start when she’s recruited to attend the mysterious Grey Wolf Academy—-where she’ll learn to become a time traveling thief for a reclusive tech trillionaire. Sent through time to steal artifacts and treasures, Natalie slowly starts to realize there’s more to this school’s interest in her than her quick fingers, and that its darker purpose may have something to do with her father
Publisher’s Description: My life goes completely sideways the moment I meet the mysterious Braxton. Sure, he’s ridiculously hot, but he’s also the reason I’ve been kicked out of school and recruited into Gray Wolf Academy—a remote island school completely off the grid. I never should have trusted a face so perfect.
But the reality of why Gray Wolf wanted me is what truly blows my mind. It’s a school for time travelers. Tripping, they call it. This place is filled with elaborate costumes and rare artifacts, where every move is strategic and the halls are filled with shadows and secrets.
Here, what you see isn’t always what it appears. Including Braxton. Because even though there’s an energy connecting us together, the more secrets he keeps from me, the more it feels like something is pulling us apart. Something that has to do with this place—and its darker purpose. It’s all part of a guarded, elaborate puzzle of history and time…and I might be one of the missing pieces.
Now I have all the time in the world. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that time is the one thing I’m about to run out of…fast
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.