NOVL Hot Take: Sometimes, I much prefer standalone to super long series. Long series, of course, have their benefits: you have plenty of time spent with beloved characters and a chance to delve into intricate world-building. But there are so many things to love about wonderful standalone! They’re compact, contained, and can be devoured in one sitting. You spend a perfect amount of quality time with a character and are always satisfied by the end of the book (no sneaky cliffhangers!). Lucky for me, I work with so many PERFECT standalone at LBYR that I rounded them up for you. So here are a few standalone books you can binge in one night and not even have to use your bedside table!
Teeth in the Mist
By Dawn Kurtagich
Maybe if you don’t WANT to sleep at night, you should read Dawn Kurtagich’s books. They’re better at keeping you up than any amount of caffeine because Dawn knows how to TERRIFY you. In her brand-spanking-new novel, Teeth in the Mist, a monk makes a deal with the devil—and the repercussions will haunt generations. In the present day, Zoe explores the ruins of Medwyn Mill House in Northern Wales, where the rumors of its hauntings may or may not be true. In 1851, Roan arrives at Mill House to live with her new guardian, but after learning the house’s secrets, she must escape before she’s trapped forever. And in 1583, Hermione joins her husband as he builds a new water mill and mansion in the mountains—but after a sinister ritual leads to a tragic occurrence, she’ll need all her strength to defeat it. 3 women, centuries apart, are drawn together by this Unholy Pact, and it will be up to them to reverse it. I’m a “Halloween-in-July” kind of gal, so join me in witchy paradise with Teeth in the Mist.
The Bone Houses
By Emily Lloyd-Jones
Speaking of “Halloween-in-July,” THE BONE HOUSES COMES OUT IN SEPTEMBER! FINALLY! Ya’ll are gonna meet my favorite mapmaker-with-a-heart-of-gold and zombie-slaying gravedigger, Ellis and Ryn! Ryn only cares about two things: her family, and the family graveyard. This involves killing the occasional zombie—or bone house—that will arise from the graveyard, and making sure her family and innocent townsfolk stay safe from them. But when a mysterious mapmaker arrives in town, the bone houses begin to attack more frequently, and Ryn must go on an adventure through the forests of medieval Wales to stop them. I read The Bone Houses in one sitting on a day I was sick, and started having dreams about zombie goats. Loved every minute of it.
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
By Brandy Colbert
By now, you must know that Team NOVL loves Brandy Colbert. Her books Little & Lion and Finding Yvonne are fan favorites. And good news—we have ANOTHER spectacular, swoon-worthy contemporary from Brandy that has everything she excels at first love, family, and finding your place in the world.
Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be a perfect daughter, staying away from parties and boys and following her parents’ rules to a tee. But Dove can’t help falling in love with Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past, or bonding with her estranged aunt Carlene, who’s been in and out of drug rehab since Dove was born. This is the summer Dove’s life will be turned upside down, in the best and worst ways. And this is the summer Dove will change forever. I’d die for Birdie and Booker, and I will fight anyone that tries to hurt them.
A Match Made in Mehendi
By Nandini Bajpai
Oh what’s that? You want ridiculously cute? You want high school chaos á la TALBILB? You want dating app DRAMA? May I please direct you to this book, Nandini Bajpai’s debut YA, A Match Made in Mehendi!
16 year-old Simi doesn’t want to be a part of her Indian family’s match-making business—too bad she finds that she has the “gift” when she accidentally (and successfully) pairs her cousin and a wealthy local businessman. But Simi and her best friend Noah realize they could be using Simi’s gift to skyrocket their popularity—and so in true Gen Z fashion, they create a dating app for their school, matching the most unlikely of pairs. Of course, like any great YA, chaos and fun ensues.
We Contain Multitudes
By Sarah Henstra
“Can a book make me cry every other page, and both destroy and heal me at the same time?” This is the question I asked myself when I picked up We Contain Multitudes. And the answer is: yes. Yes, it can. Sarah Henstra’s use of metaphor and imagery combined with layered, complex, unforgettable characters make me ask two more questions: am I crying because of how beautifully written this book is, or am I crying because I just want these boys to be happy and in love???
Walt Whitman fan-boy Jo Hopkirk and ex-football star Adam Kurlansky are paired together in English class in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter they open up to each other, and begin to fall in love. But with bullying, homophobia, and devastating family secrets present in their lives, Jo and Kurl will have to face their own demons before they can ever truly be together.
We Rule the Night
By Claire Eliza Bartlett
It’s no secret that we love a good feminist fantasy at NOVL, and Claire Eliza Bartlett’s debut did not disappoint! The alternate universe of We Rule the Night is inspired by Russia during WWII, and the flight unit Revna and Linné join is based on the Night Witches, a real all-female flight unit that flew secret missions during the war. But in this world, THE GIRLS HAVE MAGIC TOO. In addition to badass, magical fighter pilots, We Rule the Night has some of the most complex, riveting female friendships I’ve ever read before. So basically, it’s everything you could ever hope and dream for.
When Revna’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded as a traitor by the Union of the North. On the front lines, Linné has just been caught disguised as a boy fighting in the army. Both are offered a reprieve from punishment: join a secret women’s military flight unit and take on deadly night missions for the Union of the North. The problem is Revna and Linné can’t stand each other—but they’ll have to learn how to fly well together, or else the enemy’s superior firepower will surely destroy them.
Amelia Westlake Was Never Here
By Erin Gough
Where can I sign the petition to have more queer, feminist rom-coms? Amelia Westlake is not just a hilarious romp with a perfect enemies-to-lovers arc, but it’s also a story that effortlessly touches on sexual harassment, privilege, classism, and consent. If you like to laugh and watch girls fall in love, but also like to smash the patriarchy, Amelia Westlake Was Never Here should be next on your TBR.
Harriet is the perfect, well-behaved Rosemead student. Will, however, is the exact opposite: troublemaker, always ready for a fight. But when their swim coach’s sexist behavior is swept under the rug again, they decide they can’t stand to the side. So they create Amelia Westlake, an imaginary Rosemead student who publishes scathing political cartoons and pulls legendary pranks to make statements about the injustices of their private school. But as intrigue and mystery surrounding Amelia Westlake grow, and tensions begin to burn between Will and Harriet, how far will they go to make a difference?