July is shining bright, not just because it’s bringing summer to its peak, but also for the books it’ll be putting on the shelves. Authors like Anuk Arudpragasm and Jasmine Guillory, who have already given gems like The Story of a Brief Marriage and The Proposal respectively, are returning with shiny new novels. Debut authors like Aamna Qureshi and Rachel Yoder are stepping in with a romantic fantasy and a satirical literary fiction respectively; and some books like She Who Became the Sun has already pulled in fans of queer, epic historical fantasy. Here are forty of the best books releasing in the month of July 2021. ✨
N A V I G A T E
01. Reputation by Lex Croucher
02. The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler
03. Too Good to Be Real by Melonie Johnson
04. Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler
05. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
06. Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne
07. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
08. Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna
09. What We Devour by Linsey Miller
10. Everyone in This Room Will Someday be Dead by Emily R. Austin
11. If You, Then Me by Yvonne Woon
12. Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev
13. Xoxo by Axie Oh
14. The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
15. Flash Fire by T.J. Klune
16. A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
17. China Room by Sunjeev Sahota
18. While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
19. Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma
20. A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasm
21. The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam
22. When All the Girls Are Sleeping by Emily Arsenault
23. Magma by Thora Hjortleifsdottir
24. Have We Met? by Camille Baker
25. The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison
26. The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi
27. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
28. Afterlove by Tanya Byrne
29. These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan
30. Isn’t It Bromantic? By Lyssa Kay Adams
31. For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
32. The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters
33. Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
34. Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
35. After the Ink Dries by Cassie Gustafson
36. Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin
37. Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
38. They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman
39. When We Were Strangers by Alex Richards
40. The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh
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Reputation by Lex Croucher
Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgina has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. During a dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances: a wealthy member of the in-crowd who lives a life she couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dreams. Lonely and vulnerable Georgina is introduced to a new world of drunken debauchery, mysterious young men, and the upper echelons of Regency society in this hilarious historical romance.
The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler
Lexa Thomas never quite fit in —having grown up in a family of blondes; she’s neither white enough nor Asian enough. Visiting her father in Taiwan as a child, she thought she finally found a place where she belonged. But that was years ago and even there, some never truly considered her to Taiwanese. When her estranged father dies unexpectedly, leaving the wealth of her Taiwanese family with her, she travels from America to confront them about betrayals.
Too Good to Be Real by Melonie Johnson
Julia is ready to give up on love. As a writer for a popular website, while she searches for the ultimate pitch to impress her boss, she stumbles upon a resort offering guests a chance to live out their romantic comedy dreams. Who would’ve guessed that Julia literally falls into a not-quite-meet-cute involving an aggressive seagull and an adorably awkward guy named Luke? But secrets are harbored and could their love be real when they haven’t even been honest.
Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler
Stevie has never made a true friend, never fallen in love; it’s hard to care for someone when you’re moved from city to city by your father’s unrelenting job. Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything —the death of Shane’s dad, the bitter separation of Drew’s parents. When Stevie meets the two, life should go on as normal. But a coin toss alters the course of their year in this YA contemporary about missed opportunities and second chances.
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret: forbidden magic runs through her veins. She usually conceals it well but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. Raikama, her stepmother, has dark magic of her own and she banishes the young princess as a consequence. She also turns her brothers into cranes and warns Shiori to remain silent. On her journey, while searching for her brothers, she uncovers a conspiracy and must trust the very boy she fought so hard not to marry —in this YA fantasy.
Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne
Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy, so she keeps scaring his new girlfriends away. She’s desperate to make it onto her school’s cricket team because that’s her favorite sport and uses cricket matches to distract her Daddy. But when the coach announces that girls can’t try out for the team, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidently summons a bigger problem —in this magical, heartfelt adventure inspired by Caribbean mythology.
Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
Olivia is an expert at falling in love…and at being dumped. The last breakup has left her an outcast at school and at home, but she’s determined to turn over a new leaf. A crush-free weekend at Farmland Music and Arts Festival with her best friend is just what she needs. Toni is still reeling in the wake of the loss of her musician-turned-roadie father; she’s heading back to the music festival that changed his life, hoping she’s find her own way forward too. Both the girls need to then join forces in this queer YA contemporary romance.
Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna
Kiki’s anxiety has recently been getting out of control but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing; her sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, when these characters spring to life right out of the pages, Kiki ends up falling into the mystical world she drew and discovers a band of rebel kids who protect the kingdom. She must now overcome her fear to save both worlds from the evil god she created in this MG fantasy.
What We Devour by Linsey Miller
Lorena has a secret: she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has been hiding as an undertaker in a small town, and is contend being married to her best friend, Julian, despite living an unfulfilled life. But when the Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal —a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown— in this dark fantasy with an asexual main character.
Everyone in This Room Will Someday be Dead by Emily R. Austin
Gilda, an atheist lesbian cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church. Abruptly, she’s hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace. In between trying to memorize the lines and hide her new girlfriend, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend —impersonating Grace. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances around Grace’s death, Gilda may have to reveal the truth in this humorous literary fiction.
If You, Then Me by Yvonne Woon
Xia is stuck in a lonely, boring loop. Her only escapes are Wiser, an artificial intelligence app she designed, and a mysterious online crush she knows only as ObjectPermanence. When one day Xia enrolls at the Foundry, an app incubator for tech prodigies in Silicon Valley, anything seems possible. Flirting with Mast, a classmate working on AI too leads to a date. Then Xia receives a shocking message from ObjectPermanence: he is at the Foundry too. Xia is stuck between two choices in this YA contemporary romance.
Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev
Yash Raje is California’s first serious Indian gubernatorial candidate and has always got what he wants —control the feelings, control the world. But when a hate-fueled incident at a rally injures his friend, Yash blacks out with panic. Desperate to keep his condition under the wraps, his family turns to his sister’s best friend, India —California’s foremost stress management coach. He’ll not let that one magical night or this rekindling passion destroy his dreams but exposing the secrets might save him in this retelling of Sense & Sensibility.
Xoxo by Axie Oh
Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets the mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, she allows him to take her on a night of adventure —before he disappears without a word. Three months later, when Jenny arrives in South Korea with her mother, she’s shocked to discover Jaewoo in the same arts academy she’s enrolled in. Also, he’s a member of a big K-pop band and strictly forbidden from dating. Now Jenny must make a tough choice in this YA romance.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
Jake is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his popular older brother. To make matters worse, Jake can see the dead and most are harmless. But then Jake meets Sawyer: a troubled teen that shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost has plans for his afterlife —plans that include Jake. As bodies turn up in his neighborhood, his school becomes a survival game in this YA horror with a gay protagonist.
Flash Fire by T.J. Klune
Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams in The Extraordinaries, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determined who is virtuous and who is villainous. But all he wants to do is finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic. As a sequel to a YA superhero contemporary, the story continues to highlight the LGBT+ community and represents neurodiversity through a hilarious and wholesome story.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. It’s been centuries since they wandered into the wilderness, never to be seen again —have faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot; there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot can’t go back till this question is answered: “What do people need?” And so a new, queer, speculative fiction series begins.
China Room by Sunjeev Sahota
Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. Married to three brothers in a single ceremony, she and her now-sisters spend their days in the family’s “china room”, sequestered from contact with the men —except when the mother-in-law summons them to the darkened chamber at night. When a young man arrives at his uncle’s house in 1999 Punjab from a small town of England, and discovers the abandoned farmstead, two unforgettable characters seek to free themselves.
While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Ben has never bothered with serious relationships, but when he lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna, it’s hard to keep it professional. Anna is gorgeous and he can’t help flirt a little. Anna wants to make herself a household name and while she waits for her next movie, this campaign may be a good distraction —but she didn’t expect to be distracted by Ben. When lighthearted banter turns serious and Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, they reveal truths and search for a Hollywood ending in this adult romance.
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma
A family betrayal costs Radha her biggest Kathak dance competition of her life. Now, she has left her Chicago home to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the arts academy, she is determined to leave performing in the past and reinvent herself. Jai is captain of Bollywood Beats dance team, an overachiever, and tight on family funds. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year; so a YA desi love story begins in the midst of dance and food.
A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasm
A telephone call informs Krishan that his grandmother’s caretaker, Rani, has died under unexpected circumstances. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an impassioned yet aloof activist Krishan fell in love with years before. As Krishan makes the long journey from Colombo to the Northern Province of the country for Rani’s funeral, he recounts the legacy of Sri Lanka’s thirty-year civil war and lays bare the imprints of an island’s past.
The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam
Asha is a brilliant coder and is poised to revolutionize artificial intelligence when she is reunited with her high school crush, Cyrus. He inspires her to write a new algorithm and before she knows, they’re married and gone to work at an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia. The platform creates a sensation but will the two survive the pressures of sudden fame, or will she become overshadowed by the man everyone is calling the new messiah?
When All the Girls Are Sleeping by Emily Arsenault
Windham-Farnswood Academy is beautiful, prestigious, and historic: the perfect place for girls to prep for college. But every student knows all is not as it seems. Each January, the Winter Girl comes knocking —a spirit who haunts the old senior dorm, and this year is no exception. For Haylely, this month marks the one-year-anniversary of the death of her ex-best friend, Taylor. When a disturbing video of the latter surfaces and looks like Taylor was actually murdered, a psychological suspense story commences.
Magma by Thora Hjortleifsdottir
Twenty-year-old Lilja is in love. As a young university student, she is quickly smitten with the intelligent, beautiful young man from school who reads Latin and cooks vegetarian meals. She even moves in with him and as her desire to please her partner is fueled even more, his quiet and pervasive manipulations start to unravel her. This debut, through harrowing prose, follows a woman trying to be the perfect lover while the violence in her relationship continues to go undetected.
Have We Met? by Camille Baker
After losing her best friend to cancer, Corinne’s life is in flux. She has moved back to Chicago and is making her next career move; she has no time for love —until a mysterious dating app called Met suddenly appears on her phone. With it, an invitation for Corinne to reconnect with four missed connections from her past. One of them, Met says, is her soul mate. When she’s also been introduced to a really great guy outside the app’s influence, and is torn between tapping yes to the next match or give in to these growing feelings.
The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison
Guillermo is getting a fresh start: new town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship and more sparks. Regal needs a fresh perspective; being a good girl all the time has worn her down. When she finds understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.
The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi
In a Pakistan-inspired world, crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather is blamed for a deadly assault, the tribes call for his head. Ambassador Asfandyar, a foreigner spy, won’t bow to her every whim and instead talks circles around her. But she has to make him her ally to expose those truly responsible for the attack, while a mysterious illness spreads, imperialists push hard on her borders, and she sorts through her growing feelings for the ambassador.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. The Zhu family’s eighth-born son is given a fate of greatness and the family’s clever and capable second daughter receives nothingness, as expected. When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, the son succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion, Zhu takes the chance to claim her brother’s abandoned greatness.
Afterlove by Tanya Byrne
The last thing Ash hears is the windshield’s glass breaking into a million pieces like stars. This New Year’s Eve, Ash gets an RSVP from the afterlife: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city and will be tasked with escorting souls to the afterlife. But she’s determined to see her first love Poppy again —death being the only thing separating them— in this sapphic ya contemporary romance.
These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan
Brie hates the Fae but when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of Unseelie court to pay a debt, she’ll do whatever to get her back including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from another dangerous court. When her only choice to access the court is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, she soon finds herself falling for him. She also accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits, and the mysterious leader’s seductive charm becomes hard to resist. What unfolds is a sexy, action-packed YA fantasy.
Isn’t It Bromantic? By Lyssa Kay Adams
Elena, the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, escaped danger by marrying her childhood friend, Vladmir, and moved to USA. Vlad is finding it difficult to keep this one-sided relationship going. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more: he’s ready to create his own sweeping romance —in this fourth installment of Bromance Book Club.
For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
Teddy has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy. He says his wife couldn’t be more proud —though no one has seen her in a while. Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more like murder or the student digging deep into Teddy’s personal life. This sneaky thriller set in a private school will bring together interfering parents, overeager students, and one teacher who just wants to teach them a lesson.
The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters
Natasha’s sister is missing; her car was found abandoned on the edge of a local nature preserve called Bend but as the case goes cold, Natasha’s loss turns to burning anger. Della’s family has channeled magic from the Bend for generations but when Natasha appears on her doorstep, Della knows it will take more than simple potions —because the beast responsible for this disappearance is her own mother, turned into a monster by magic gone wrong.
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home. But the experience wasn’t according to her imagination: two years later, she discovers a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck…and her canines look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work, dismisses her fear from faraway. She soon struggles to keep her alter identity a secret, as her temptation to give in to her new dog peaks —in this satirical fairy tale that will make you want to howl in laughter and recognition.
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
A woman, who got offered a job in The Hague to work at an International Court as an interpreter, recently left New York after the death of her father. Her love is separated from his wife but still entangled in the marriage. Her friend witnessed a random act of violence that the interpreter becomes obsessed with as she befriends the victim’s sister. And she’s pulled into explosive political fires. Her views on power, love, and violence are tested, both in her personal intimacies and in her role at the Court —in this adult literary fiction.
After the Ink Dries by Cassie Gustafson
Erica is a webcomic artist who wants to fit in new high school. Thomas is an aspiring songwriter and reluctant lacrosse goalie. After an electric first kiss at a match, both are excited to see where their new relationship takes them. But the next morning, after a drunken house party, Erica wakes up half-clothed, discovers names —of Thomas’ lacrosse friend— drawn in Sharpie in intimate places on her body, and gets devastated. She now seeks to uncover the truth while keeping her humiliation from leaking out.
Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin
In this spellbinding conclusion to the Serpent & Dove trilogy, the four characters are bent on vengeance more than ever before, after a heartbreaking loss. But one of them, Lou, is no longer the Lou they thought they knew. Darkness has settled over her, and this time it will take more than love to drive it out. Evil is seeking a foothold in this stunning fantasy take on French witches and forbidden love.
Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
Ellerie lives in a quiet town in the mountain range —five narrow peaks stretch into the sky, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. Visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that monsters have returned. As more strange activities plague the town, Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.
They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman
Stela and Ellie are sisters and talented runners —for Stella, cross-country running is her life and she won’t let anything get in the way of being the best, but Ellie also lets herself have fun: she has friends, she goes to parties. When new girl Mila —a top runner— comes to town, both view her as a threat. But soon Ellie is drawn to her in search of a friendship and even shares her darkest secret with Mila. Then suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns in this YA mystery-thriller.
When We Were Strangers by Alex Richards
Evie is devastated in the wake of her father’s sudden death. But she knows something her mother doesn’t: her dad, on the day of his heart attack, was planning to move out. Soon she learns the reason too; he had been dating his twenty-two-year-old receptionist, Bree. To distract herself, she signs up for a summer photography class, but with a telephone lens, she caves to her curiosity, and stalks Bree. When an emergency forces Evie to help Bree, she learns there’s more to the story than she ever knew.
The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh
Harper, a food stylist, has been on a self-imposed man ban after a horrible breakup. Her latest gig is her best friend’s wedding and she received praise throughout. When the Best Man, Manny —a handsome Anglo-Indian doctor— belittles her hard work, she wants to stab him. But decides something better: to lead him on the entire wedding and then humiliate him in sweet revenge. When Manny shows up in New Zealand a week later, while Harper is on her first International job, and steps in to help after an unfortunate disaster, the man-ban seems to be breaking.
what book are you most excited for this month? 💛