Best New Books: Week of 6/7/22

“Uniqueness is wasted on youth. Like fine wine or a solid flossing habit, you’ll be grateful for it when you’re older.” – Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays

After the Lights Go Out by  John Vercher


Xavier “Scarecrow” Wallace, a mixed-race MMA fighter on the wrong side of thirty, is facing the fight of his life. Xavier is losing his battle with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), or pugilistic dementia—a struggle he can no longer deny. Through the fog of memory loss, migraines, and paranoia, Xavier does his best to keep in shape while he waits for the call that will reinstate him after a year-long suspension.

Until then, he watches his diet and trains every day at the Philadelphia gym owned by his cousin-cum-manager, Shot, a retired champion boxer to whom Xavier owes an unpayable debt. Xavier makes ends meet by teaching youth classes at Shot’s gym and by living rent-free in the house of his white father, whom Xavier has been forced to commit to a nursing home because of the progress of his end-stage Alzheimer’s. Dementia has revealed a shocking truth about Sam Wallace, and Xavier finally gains insight into why his Black mother left the family when Xavier was young.

As Xavier battles his aging body and his failing brain, each day is filled with challenges and setbacks. Then Xavier is offered a chance at redemption: a last-minute comeback fight in the largest MMA promotion. If he can get himself back in the game, he’ll be able to clear his name and begin to pay off Shot. But with his memory in shreds and his life crumbling around him, can Xavier hold onto the focus he needs to survive? After the Lights Go Out is a haunting, unflinching look at the aftermath of a career in MMA—as Xavier forgets everything around him, you’ll want to remember every single word.

Description from Goodreads.

“…explosive… expertly captures the brashness and discipline of combat sports as well as the harsh realities of the fighting life, delivering all of it in a swiftly paced triumph complete with a surprising one-two punch of a conclusion. This is simply brilliant.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The fight-game story is enough to drive most novels, but this one goes way beyond that. The scenes involving Xavier and his father are agonizing in their soul-shattering horror; the portrait of the Black nursing-home worker who absorbs Sam’s abuse is breathtaking in its complexity; and Xavier’s internal battle as his brain functions fail him brings home the quintessential noir emotion of powerlessness. This is a difficult novel to read, but there is a deep and sustaining humanity at its core.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by  Kate Khavari

Fiction / Mystery / Historical Fiction.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] delightful new novel… Perfect for fans of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” – CrimeReads

“An exciting debut with a determined protagonist whose future is sure to contain romance and mystery.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Khavari is off to a promising start.” – Publishers Weekly

Brown Neon: Essays by  Raquel Gutiérrez

Nonfiction / Memoir.

Part butch memoir, part ekphrastic travel diary, part queer family tree, Raquel Gutiérrez’s debut essay collection Brown Neon gleans insight from the sediment of land and relationships. For Gutiérrez, terrain is essential to understanding that no story, no matter how personal, is separate from the space where it unfolds. Whether contemplating the value of adobe as both vernacular architecture and commodified art object, highlighting the feminist wounding and transphobic apparitions haunting the multi-generational lesbian social fabric, or recalling a failed romance, Gutiérrez traverses complex questions of gender, class, identity, and citizenship with curiosity and nuance.

Description from Goodreads.

“Poet Gutiérrez meditates on geography, gender, creativity, and love in her lyrical debut collection… Written with energy, critical acumen, and raw emotion, this is as memorable as it is original.” – Publishers Weekly

“A tribute to the power of art to provoke and challenge its viewers, the essays of Brown Neon are timely and affecting as they consider the nuances of queer Latinx life in the American Southwest.” – Foreword Reviews

“How do we map the terrains of love, land, and art? Gutiérrez engages these questions through stories of the borders that bind and those that break… A bold and brave debut collection from an intriguing new literary voice. A probing, tender reckoning with space, place, and identity.” – Kirkus Reviews

Counterfeit by  Kirstin Chen ★


Money can’t buy happiness… but it can buy a decent fake.

Ava Wong has always played it safe. As a strait-laced, rule-abiding Chinese American lawyer with a successful surgeon as a husband, a young son, and a beautiful home–she’s built the perfect life. But beneath this façade, Ava’s world is crumbling: her marriage is falling apart, her expensive law degree hasn’t been used in years, and her toddler’s tantrums are pushing her to the breaking point.

Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s enigmatic college roommate from Mainland China, who abruptly dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Now, twenty years later, Winnie is looking to reconnect with her old friend. But the shy, awkward girl Ava once knew has been replaced with a confident woman of the world, dripping in luxury goods, including a coveted Birkin in classic orange. The secret to her success? Winnie has developed an ingenious counterfeit scheme that involves importing near-exact replicas of luxury handbags and now she needs someone with a U.S. passport to help manage her business–someone who’d never be suspected of wrongdoing, someone like Ava. But when their spectacular success is threatened and Winnie vanishes once again, Ava is left to face the consequences.

Swift, surprising, and sharply comic, Counterfeit is a stylish and feminist caper with a strong point of view and an axe to grind. Peering behind the curtain of the upscale designer storefronts and the Chinese factories where luxury goods are produced, Kirstin Chen interrogates the myth of the model minority through two unforgettable women determined to demand more from life.

Description from Goodreads.

“Trust us — Counterfeit is riveting, and a perfect beach read.” –

“Propulsive and captivating… A provocative story of fashion, friendship, and fakes (in more ways than one), with characters that both subvert and capitalize on the model-minority myth. No surprise that the sly feminist caper was the subject of a fierce eight-way bidding war for TV rights.” – Vogue

“Chen has written a fast-paced, character-forward story of two very different Asian American women seemingly inadvertently falling into a collaboration to build a global counterfeit handbag empire… Ingeniously constructed, this cinematic novel of friendship, ambition, and wanting more out of life will leave you guessing until the end.” – Oprah Daily

“If you appreciate a good caper, you’ll want to pick up Kirstin Chen’s novel about two Asian American women who turn a counterfeit handbag scheme into a big business. The book is written as a confession, which helps readers get to know protagonists Ava and Winnie, and how their lives detoured toward crime. Counterfeit is fast-paced and fun, with smart commentary on the cultural differences between Asia and America.” – Time

Cult Classic by  Sloane Crosley ★

Fiction / Mystery / COMEDY / SUSPENSE / Fantasy / ROMANCE.

One night in New York City’s Chinatown, a woman is at a work reunion dinner with former colleagues when she excuses herself to buy a pack of cigarettes. On her way back, she runs into a former boyfriend. And then another. And… another. Nothing is quite what it seems as the city becomes awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past.

What would normally pass for coincidence becomes something far stranger as the recently engaged Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship but the fact that both her best friend and her former boss, a magazine editor turned mystical guru, might have an unhealthy investment in the outcome. Memories of the past swirl and converge in ways both comic and eerie, as Lola is forced to decide if she will surrender herself to the conspiring of one very contemporary cult.

Hilariously insightful and delightfully suspenseful, Cult Classic is an original: a masterfully crafted tale of love, memory, morality, and mind control, as well as a fresh foray into the philosophy of romance. Is it possible to have a happy ending in an age when the past is ever at your fingertips and sanity is for sale? With her gimlet eye, Sloane Crosley spins a wry literary fantasy that is equal parts page-turner and poignant portrayal of alienation.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] suspenseful and funny book about finding love in a cultish place.” – Entertainment Weekly

“I was hooked from the first chapter. Cult Classic is easily the funniest fiction I’ve read this year. Crosley brings the same offbeat humor she utilized to acclaim in her nonfiction to this novel that defies easy categorization. Riotously funny, suspenseful, weird, and insightful, it’s a unicorn of a book that’s a perfect summer read if you’re looking for something that’ll make you laugh while keeping you on your toes.” – BuzzFeed

“Like your favorite rom-com meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind… Crosley casts a spell with lightning wit, devilish dialogue, and walloping truths about how little reason there is to anything resembling love.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A witty and fantastical story of dating and experimental psychology in New York City… thoroughly hilarious [and] sharply perceptive… Crosley has found the perfect fictional subject for her gimlet eye.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Exalted by  Anna Dorn

Fiction / Comedy.

Emily Forrest runs the hottest astrology account on Instagram, @Exalted, but astrology is on the outs, and her finances are dwindling. Emily doesn’t even really believe in astrology, despite her gift for deciphering the moons and signs, until she comes across a birth-chart that could potentially change her mind. Beau Rubidoux’s chart has all the planets in their right places—it is exalted.

She decides that Beau could potentially be the love of her life and begins following him around Los Angeles in hopes of getting close to him and catching his eye.

Meanwhile, in Riverside, CA, Dawn Webster has been dumped once again. At 48, she is forced to return to the diner where she started waiting tables at 18. With no girlfriend, no career, and her only son gone to Hollywood, the once-vivacious Dawn is aimless and alone. Persona non-grata at the local lesbian bar, she guzzles cheap champagne and peruses @Exalted to feel seen. When Dawn spots her son’s estranged father one day during a work break, she decides to track him down and reshape the flailing course of her life.

Told from Emily and Dawn’s alternating points of view, Exalted is a deliciously dark novel that explores desire, the projection of love, and what we’re really searching for when we keep scrolling. Anna Dorn’s signature wit and biting social commentary takes readers across Southern California until Emily and Dawn’s shocking connection is finally revealed.

Description from Goodreads.

“A brutally funny and observant ride through astrology culture, love, and self-discovery.” – Nylon

“Like the planets of the zodiac, the two women orbit each other, leading to a toe-curlingly awkward finale that’s as funny as it is cringeworthy. Ultimately, this is a story about seeking—money, fame, fate, and most importantly, human connection; with prose as delightfully moody as its heroines, it’s cynical yet strangely uplifting.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Dorn returns with a hilarious and surprising chronicle of astrology packed with sharp cultural commentary… The narrative conveys a deep knowledge of astrology, which the characters skewer with sharp-witted observations (‘Freud,’ Emily claims, ‘is just Astrology for men’). Compulsively readable, this consistently shocks and delights.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Fruiting Bodies: Stories by  Kathryn Harlan


In stories that beckon and haunt, Fruiting Bodies ranges confidently from the fantastical to the gothic to the uncanny as it follows characters—mostly queer, mostly women—on the precipice of change. Echoes of timeless myth and folklore reverberate through urgent narratives of discovery, appetite, and coming-of-age in a time of crisis.

In “The Changeling,” two young cousins wait in dread for a new family member to arrive, convinced that he may be a dangerous supernatural creature. In “Endangered Animals,” Jane prepares to say goodbye to her almost-love while they road-trip across a country irrevocably altered by climate change. In “Take Only What Belongs to You,” a queer woman struggles with the personal history of an author she idolized, while in “Fiddler, Fool, Pair,” an anthropologist is drawn into a magical—and dangerous—gamble. In the title story, partners Agnes and Geb feast peacefully on the mushrooms that sprout from Agnes’s body—until an unwanted male guest disturbs their cloistered home.

Audacious, striking, and wholly original, Fruiting Bodies offers stories about knowledge in a world on the verge of collapse, knowledge that alternately empowers or devastates. Pulling beautifully, brazenly, from a variety of literary traditions, Kathryn Harlan firmly establishes herself as a thrilling new voice in fiction.

Description from Goodreads.

“Harlan crafts gorgeous prose… Her stories twist away from expected endings… and offer nuanced emotional insights… Original, deftly told stories that chart coming-of-age in perilous times for our planet.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[An] enticing debut… Harlan’s prose is beautiful and vivid, and each story has elements of beauty and horror… Harlan captures the essence of the collection: much splendor and quite a bit of squirm. This is well worth diving into.” – Publishers Weekly

The Gatekeeper by  James Byrne

Fiction / Suspense.

A highly trained team of mercenaries launches a well-planned, coordinated attack on a well-guarded military contractor – but they didn’t count on one thing, the right man being in the wrong place at the right time.

Desmond Aloysius Limerick (“Dez” to all) is a retired mercenary, and enthusiastic amateur musician, currently in Southern California, enjoying the sun and sitting in on the occasional gig, when the hotel he’s at falls under attack. A skilled team attempts to kidnap the Chief legal counsel of Triton Expeditors, a major military contractor – in fact, Petra Alexandris is the daughter of the CEO – but their meticulously-planned, seamlessly executed scheme runs into the figurative ‘spanner-in-the-works,’ Dez himself.

After foiling the attack, and with nothing better to do, Dez agrees to help Alexandris with another problem she’s having – someone has embezzled more than a billion dollars from her company and left very few tracks behind. But Dez is a gatekeeper – one who opens doors and keeps them open – and this is just a door of another kind. And the door he opens leads to a dangerous conspiracy involving media manipulation, militias, an armed coup, and an attempt to fracture the United States themselves. There’s only one obstacle between the conspirators and success – and that is Dez, The Gatekeeper.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fans of action-packed thrillers will enjoy getting to know this charming new hero.” – Publishers Weekly

“Gripping and compelling… this one is a true keeper.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“In a genre packed with burly, think-on-your-feet heroes, Dez is something new and fresh. He leaps off the page and into our imaginations.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by  Clare Pooley

Fiction / COMEDY.

Every day Iona, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu. Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Constant-Reader and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do.

Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver.

This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more. It turns out that talking to strangers can teach you about the world around you–and even more about yourself.

Description from Goodreads.

“A soothing story where bad things happen yet are overcome, and friendship leads the way to personal acceptance and rebirth.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Pooley’s grasp on the constraints and longings of the human condition proves immensely entertaining. Readers will be charmed by this uplifting, hopeful story rife with tender insights. Traveling with Iona Iverson is a literary journey well worth taking!” – Shelf Awareness

“[A] joyous tale about serendipitous friendship and seizing each day with vigor. The epitome of a feel-good book that is also laugh-out-loud hilarious… In a time when our differences so often divide us, Pooley’s novel is like a reassuring hug, assuring readers that our differences can strengthen relationships and should be embraced and celebrated. A not-to-be-missed read in the mode of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

I Only Cry with Emoticons by  Yuvi Zalkow

Fiction / Comedy.

Saul doesn’t get why he’s misunderstood. At his high-tech day job, he hides in the bathroom writing a novel about his dead grandfather and wonders why his boss wants to fire him. He tells his almost ex-wife about a blind date and wonders why she slams the door in his face. He aches with worry for his seven-year-old son, who seems happier living with his mom and her new man.

When the blind date becomes a complicated relationship, and Saul’s blunders at work threaten the survival of the company, Saul has to wake up and confront his fears.

I Only Cry with Emoticons is a quirky comedy that reveals the cost of being disconnected—even when we’re using a dozen apps on our devices to communicate—and an awkward man’s search for real connections, on and offline.

Description from Goodreads.

“A refreshingly zany story about the pitfalls of modern technology and the importance of chasing dreams.” – Kirkus Reviews

James Patterson by James Patterson: The Stories of My Life by  James Patterson

Nonfiction / MEmoir / Biography / Writing.

How did a boy from small-town New York become one of the world’s most successful writers?

· On the morning he was born, he nearly died.
· Growing up, he didn’t love to read. That changed.
· He worked at a mental hospital in Massachusetts, where he met the singer James Taylor and the poet Robert Lowell.
· While he toiled in advertising hell, James wrote the ad jingle line “I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid.”
· He once watched James Baldwin and Norman Mailer square off to trade punches at a party.
· He’s only been in love twice. Both times are amazing.
· Dolly Parton once sang “Happy Birthday” to James over the phone. She calls him J.J., for Jimmy James.
· Three American presidents have invited him to golf with them.

These are the stories of James Patterson’s life: the most anticipated memoir of 2022.

Description from Goodreads.

“A brisk, entertaining read.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[This] uncut look into the famed author’s mind is sure to intrigue his many fans—and critics.” – Publishers Weekly

Just By Looking at Him by  Ryan O’Connell

Fiction / Comedy.

Elliott appears to be living the dream as a successful TV writer with a doting boyfriend. But behind his Instagram filter of a life, he’s grappling with an intensifying alcohol addiction, he can’t seem to stop cheating on his boyfriend with various sex workers, and his cerebral palsy is making him feel like gay Shrek.

After falling down a rabbit hole of sex, drinking, and Hollywood backstabbing, Elliott decides to limp his way towards redemption. But facing your demons is easier said than done.

Candid, biting, and refreshingly real, Just by Looking at Him is an incisive commentary on gay life, a heart-centered, laugh-out-loud exploration of self, and a rare insight into life as a person with disabilities.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] frothy, spicy story… Fans of O’Connell’s very particular writing style will find a familiar biting humor in the novel.” – Hollywood Reporter

“…hysterical… O’Connell’s revelatory and charming humor adds dimension to a character who is unapologetic about his spiraling behavior despite claiming to know better. O’Connell leaves nothing on the table, and the result reads like a zippy, traffic-dodging trip up the 101 on a blinding afternoon.” – Publishers Weekly

The Kingdom of Sand by  Andrew Holleran


The Kingdom of Sand is a poignant tale of desire and dread—Andrew Holleran’s first new book in sixteen years. The nameless narrator is a gay man who moved to Florida to look after his aging parents—during the height of the AIDS epidemic—and has found himself unable to leave after their deaths. With gallows humor, he chronicles the indignities of growing old in a small town.

At the heart of the novel is the story of his friendship with Earl, whom he met cruising at the local boat ramp. For the last twenty years, he has been visiting Earl to watch classic films together and critique the neighbors. Earl is the only person in town with whom he can truly be himself. Now Earl’s health is failing, and our increasingly misanthropic narrator must contend with the fact that once Earl dies, he will be completely alone. He distracts himself with sexual encounters at the video porn store and visits to Walgreens. All the while, he shares reflections on illness and death that are at once funny and heartbreaking.

Holleran’s first novel, Dancer from the Dance, is widely regarded as a classic work of gay literature. Reviewers have described his subsequent books as beautiful, exhilarating, seductive, haunting, and bold. The Kingdom of Sand displays all of Holleran’s considerable gifts; it’s an elegy to sex and a stunningly honest exploration of loneliness and the endless need for human connection, especially as we count down our days.

Description from Goodreads.

“Timely and pressing… has the wit and keen, often biting observations of gay life that made me fall in love with Holleran’s books all those years ago. [It] is Andrew Holleran at his best.” – The Advocate

“[A] majestic and wistful rumination on ageing, loneliness, and mortality… This vital work shows Holleran at the top of his game.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Holleran is terrific at description… Thanks to [his] brilliant gift for characterization, the narrator and Earl come alive on the page, commanding readers’ attention to what is a splendid, remarkably good book.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Last Call at the Nightingale by  Katharine Schellman

Fiction / Mystery / Historical Fiction.

New York, 1924. Vivian Kelly’s days are filled with drudgery, from the tenement lodging she shares with her sister to the dress shop where she sews for hours every day.

But at night, she escapes to The Nightingale, an underground dance hall where illegal liquor flows and the band plays the Charleston with reckless excitement. With a bartender willing to slip her a free glass of champagne and friends who know the owner, Vivian can lose herself in the music. No one asks where she came from or how much money she has. No one bats an eye if she flirts with men or women as long as she can keep up on the dance floor. At The Nightingale, Vivian forgets the dangers of Prohibition-era New York and finds a place that feels like home.

But then she discovers a body behind the club, and those dangers come knocking.

Caught in a police raid at the Nightingale, Vivian discovers that the dead man wasn’t the nameless bootlegger he first appeared. With too many people assuming she knows more about the crime than she does, Vivian finds herself caught between the dangers of the New York underground and the world of the city’s wealthy and careless, where money can hide any sin and the lives of the poor are considered disposable… including Vivian’s own.

Description from Goodreads.

“Excellent… Vivian proves to be a most imaginative sleuth. Readers will eagerly await her return.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“As with the Nightingale club, the mystery plot crosses lines of class, gender, and ethnicity. This novel plays with our expectations and keeps our attention on every fast-moving page. Highly recommended.” – Historical Novels Review

“Readers will love Last Call at the Nightingale for its twisting plot, its flair for historical detail and its inclusive cast of appealing characters. Schellman’s author’s note on historical accuracy broadens the appeal of this engrossing jaunt into murder and dangerously good times. Don’t look away, as the surprises keep coming until the final page.” – Shelf Awareness

More Than You’ll Ever Know by  Katie Gutierrez ★

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

The dance becomes an affair, which becomes a marriage, which becomes a murder…

In 1985, Dolores “Lore” Rivera marries Andres Russo in Mexico City, even though she is already married to Fabian Rivera in Laredo, Texas, and they share twin sons. Through her career as an international banker, Lore splits her time between two countries and two families—until the truth is revealed and one husband is arrested for murdering the other.

In 2017, while trawling the internet for the latest, most sensational news reports, struggling true-crime writer Cassie Bowman encounters an article detailing that tragic final act. Cassie is immediately enticed by what is not explored: Why would a woman—a mother—risk everything for a secret double marriage? Cassie sees an opportunity—she’ll track Lore down and capture the full picture, the choices, the deceptions that led to disaster. But the more time she spends with Lore, the more Cassie questions the facts surrounding the murder itself. Soon, her determination to uncover the truth could threaten to derail Lore’s now quiet life—and expose the many secrets both women are hiding.

Told through alternating timelines, More Than You’ll Ever Know is both a gripping mystery and a wrenching family drama. Presenting a window into the hearts of two very different women, it explores the many conflicting demands of marriage and motherhood, and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

Description from Goodreads.

“A masterful work of suspense.” – PopSugar

“A fantastic debut… This is a sweeping novel, unflinching and evocative in its engrossing study of love, motherhood, sex, Mexico, journalism and more.” – Washington Post

“Katie Gutierrez’s debut novel burrows straight to the heart of our cultural true crime fixation through an intense emotional dance between two seemingly different women… More Than You’ll Ever Know has all the ingredients necessary for a good thriller. But beyond the novel’s well-executed, suspenseful structure, Gutierrez also clearly understands her characters, where they’ve come from and what they want and need… Gutierrez has crafted detailed, vulnerable portraits of women searching for clues to their own survival. In the process, she unearths some truly compelling insights about our cultural obsession with true crime.” – BookPage

“Gutierrez handles her debut novel’s multiple timelines, Texas and Mexico settings, and alternating viewpoints with aplomb, and crafts an enthralling story that not only explores the human fascination with true crime but also deftly plumbs the depths of marriage and motherhood. Mystery fans beguiled by Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and women’s fiction readers who adored Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will equally fall under the spell of this totally transporting tale.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Mother Ocean Father Nation by  Nishant Batsha

FIction / historical fiction.

On a small Pacific island, a brother and sister tune in to a breaking news radio bulletin. It is 1985, and an Indian grocer has just been attacked by nativists aligned with the recent military coup. Now, fear and shock are rippling through the island’s deeply-rooted Indian community as racial tensions rise to the brink.

Bhumi hears this news from her locked-down dorm room in the capital city. She is the ambitious, intellectual standout of the family–the one destined for success. But when her friendship with the daughter of a prominent government official becomes a liability, she must flee her unstable home for California.

Jaipal feels like the unnoticed, unremarkable sibling, always left to fend for himself. He is stuck working in the family store, avoiding their father’s wrath, with nothing but his hidden desires to distract him. Desperate for money and connection, he seizes a sudden opportunity to take his life into his own hands for the first time. But his decision may leave him vulnerable to the island’s escalating volatility.

Spanning from the lush terrain of the South Pacific to the golden hills of San Francisco, Mother Ocean Father Nation is an entrancing debut about how one family, at the mercy of a nation broken by legacies of power and oppression, forges a path to find a home once again.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] gut-wrenching journey through the complex intersection of family, identity, and the long arm of history.” – Booklist

“The author does a good job connecting the dots between his characters’ stories and the negative consequences of colonialism.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Mutual Friend by  Carter Bays

Fiction / Romance / Comedy.

It’s the summer of 2015, and Alice Quick needs to get to work. She’s twenty-eight years old, grieving her mother, barely scraping by as a nanny, and freshly kicked out of her apartment. If she can just get her act together and sign up for the MCAT, she can start chasing her dream of becoming a doctor… but in the Age of Distraction, the distractions are so distracting. There’s her tech millionaire brother’s religious awakening. His picture-perfect wife’s emotional breakdown. Her chaotic new roommate’s thirst for adventure. And, of course, there’s the biggest distraction of all: Love.

From within the story of one summer in one woman’s life, an epic tale is unearthed, spanning continents and featuring a tapestry of characters tied to one another by threads both seen and unseen. Filled with all the warmth, humor, and heart that gained How I Met Your Mother its cult following, The Mutual Friend captures in sparkling detail the chaos of contemporary life, a life lived simultaneously in two different worlds–the physical one and the one behind our screens–and reveals how connected we all truly are.

Description from Goodreads.

“A whip-smart comedy of manners for the era of buzzing gadgets.” – Washington Post

“Funny, sad, and deeply wise, this one-of-a-kind book will renew your faith in humanity—and make you really want to put down your phone.” – Real Simple

“This is a rare thing: an original, intelligent novel that’s not just a perfect summer beach read, but one that deserves serious awards consideration as well. Put down your phone and pick it up… A major accomplishment.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Nightcrawling by  Leila Mottley ★


Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent–which has more than doubled–and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed.

One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.

Rich with raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before.

Description from Goodreads.

“Leila Mottley is a name to pay attention to… Nightcrawling will make you desperate, it will make you awed, it will make you read anything that Mottley should ever choose to write.” – CrimeReads

“Fast money, crooked cops, and dire consequences are at the forefront of Mottley’s electric debut novel… Striking prose and unforgettable characters—including a young Black woman in relentless pursuit of justice—make for a shocking page-turner and timely reflection.” – Elle

“Lush, immersive… It’s Kiara’s intense, anguished interiority rendered in lovely and poetic exposition that drives this evocation of an underclass and the disposable women just trying to survive… The acute observations are more remarkable still considering the author is herself a promising Oakland teen.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“So compelling that one cannot put it down… Amazing… Unforgettable… Through Kiara, Mottley gives voice to countless Black women and girls who remain invisible, vulnerable, and dehumanized by a system that deems them disposable… We need Kiara’s story, but more importantly, we need young writers like Leila Mottley… This isn’t just a story about a survivor of sexual abuse or the myriad ways we ask Black girls to assume adult responsibilities. It is not a story of crashed dreams or grief or the impact of prison sentences, although all those things are here. It is, instead, a testimony to hope, resilience, and love.” – Liber

Nora Goes Off Script by  Annabel Monaghan

Fiction / Romance.

Nora’s life is about to get a rewrite…

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it’s her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne’er do well husband Nora’s life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it’s the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story–the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.

Description from Goodreads.

“…funny and charming…” – Southern Living

“Irresistible… With pitch-perfect characters full of foibles and flaws, the work taps into genuine feelings as the characters fall in love. This is a winner.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Warm, witty and wise, Nora Goes Off Script tells the truth about all of love’s ups and downs: family love, friendship love, romantic love that comes to a wrenching end—and love that triumphs so beautifully, you’ll still be smiling over it long after you’ve put the book down.” – BookPage

Nuclear Family by  Joseph Han


Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawaiʻi seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho’s Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college and working for her parents, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying—and failing—to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales.

No one knows that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who feverishly wishes to cross the divide and find the family he left behind in the north. As Jacob is detained by the South Korean government, Mr. and Mrs. Cho fear their son won’t ever be able to return home, and Grace gets more and more stoned as she negotiates her family’s undoing. Struggling with what they don’t know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades.

Set in the months leading up to the 2018 false missile alert in Hawaiʻi, Joseph Han’s profoundly funny and strikingly beautiful debut novel is an offering that aches with histories inherited and reunions missed, asking how we heal in the face of what we forget and who we remember.

Description from Goodreads.

“A richly imagined, era-straddling saga exploring several generations of a Korean American clan.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Such a beautiful, original book… It’s a gorgeous meditation on loss and memory, a painful and haunting novel about the legacies of war and the violence of separation.” – BookRiot

“An entrancing, boldly satisfying debut from Joseph Han. It feels both massive, grand on a global scale, and also small and intimate; a deeply personal story of a family trying to keep their small business open when their son suddenly causes the eyes of the world to turn on them. Nuclear Family is a knock-out.” – The Advocate

Ordinary Monsters by  J.M. Miro ★

Fiction / fantasy / Historical Fiction.

England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness —a man made of smoke.

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a lifetime of brutality, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When two grizzled detectives are recruited to escort them north to safety, they are forced to confront the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.

What follows is a journey from the gaslit streets of London, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh, where other children with gifts—the Talents—have been gathered. Here, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of the force that is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.

With lush prose, mesmerizing world-building, and a gripping plot, Ordinary Monsters presents a catastrophic vision of the Victorian world—and of the gifted, broken children who must save it.

Description from Goodreads.

“Charles Dickens meets Joss Whedon in Miro’s otherworldly Netflix-binge-like novel.” – Washington Post

“This grim but poignant debut showcases a bleak Victorian England, engaging characters, and the desire to belong.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] sweeping historical fantasy that takes readers on an epic, continent-spanning journey… The labyrinthine plot risks becoming convoluted, but Miro retains masterful control over the details throughout. Marlowe and the diverse group of companions he accumulates—including other mysteriously powered children like him—are fascinating and easy to care about, and the prose shifts nimbly from thrilling fight scenes to quiet moments of connection… [readers] will be richly rewarded.” – Publishers Weekly

“A fast-paced novel whose action and intrigue make short work of its daunting page count… the world is intricate and the characters finely drawn… Epic in scope and size, this book sets itself up for many sequels to come.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by  Cat Sebastian

Fiction / Romance / Historical Fiction / Mystery.

Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, just shot her husband. Of course, the evil, murderous man deserved what was coming to him, but now she must flee to the countryside. Unfortunately, the only person she can ask for help is the charismatic criminal who is blackmailing her–and who she may have left tied up a few hours before…

A highwayman, con artist, and all-around cheerful villain, Rob Brooks is no stranger to the wrong side of the law or the right side of anybody’s bed. He never meant to fall for the woman whose secrets he promised to keep for the low price of five hundred pounds, but how could he resist someone who led him on a merry chase all over London, left him tied up in a seedy inn, and then arrived covered in her husband’s blood and in desperate need of his help?

As they flee across the country–stopping to pick pockets, drink to excess, and rescue invalid cats–they discover more true joy and peace than either has felt in ages. But when the truth of Rob’s past catches up to him, they must decide if they are willing to reshape their lives in order to forge a future together.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] whirlwind novel that combines the very best of romance and mystery.” – PopSugar

“Their friendship and romance are emotionally satisfying, with both Marian and Rob determined to make it in the world on their own terms… the sharp writing and likable band-of-thieves vibe is its own reward… Sebastian’s hallmark witty banter and charming characters will keep readers invested…” – Kirkus Reviews

“[It] shines with a pair of intoxicatingly audacious leads who so successfully blend good nature with criminal intention that readers will root for the success of every bad idea, including their unlikely romance… Sebastian’s clever mix of Gilbert and Sullivan–esque plot, Robin Hood morality, and contemporary gender dynamics make a stunningly successful combination.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Rise of the Snake Goddess by  Jenny Elder Moke

Fiction / Young Adult / Mystery / Suspense / Fantasy.

Sam Knox’s second adventure takes her to the island of Crete, just off the coast of Greece, where she discovers the ancient Snake Goddess’s golden girdle in the depths of a cave shrine that has been buried for decades. After having been belittled by her archaeology professor throughout her first college semester, Sam knows this triumph will prove her worth in the field, but before she can take credit for the find, the girdle is stolen and the island is hit with a series of earthquakes that don’t feel quite geological.

Soon Sam, Bennett and Jo are embroiled in a wild hunt―one that takes them to tiny island shops, a glamorous auction party and a near fiery death―to find the girdle before someone can use it to raise an ancient goddess from her slumber. The final battle features gryphons, a labyrinth, the minotaur of legend and lots of snakes. Lots.

Description from Goodreads.

“Billed as the heir apparent to Indiana Jones, Samantha is a witty and wise adventurer, and it feels as though Moke is building towards an eventual greater purpose for her heroine.” – Booklist

“Another action-packed, romance and mythology filled mystery… Themes of wealth, power, and chauvinism are skillfully woven throughout the story while readers are provided with a cast of characters they will easily find themselves rooting for!” – School Library Connection

“Sam’s response to misogyny and classism propels the book’s action but also, in the deft hands of the author, provides readers with insights into the complexities of identity, self-awareness, and right action. While never becoming preachy, the book also thoughtfully explores issues related to the ethics of the acquisition and ownership of antiquities… Another satisfying supernatural adventure featuring an intrepid solver of puzzles.” – Kirkus Reviews

Shifty’s Boys by  Chris Offutt

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

Mick Hardin is an Army CID officer home on leave, recovering from an IED attack and flirting with prescription painkillers, when a body is found in the center of town. It’s Barney Kissick, the local heroin dealer, and the city police see it as an occupational hazard. But when Barney’s mother, Shifty, asks Mick to take a look, it seems there’s more to the killing than it seems. Mick should be rehabbing his leg, signing his divorce papers, and getting out of town–and most of all, staying out of the way of his sister Linda’s reelection as Sheriff–but he keeps on looking, and suddenly he’s getting shot at himself.

A dark, pacy crime novel about grief and revenge, and the surprises hidden below the surface, Shifty’s Boys is a tour de force that confirms Chris Offutt’s Mick Hardin as one of the most appealing new investigators in fiction.

Description from Goodreads.

“In just two relatively short novels, Chris Offutt has made me a dedicated fan of this series which I will eagerly read as each new episode comes out. Write faster, Chris.” – Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

“This is country noir at its most powerful, combining cracking action with crystalline portraits of rough-hewn but savvy characters tragically forced to become ‘retribution killers’ to stop yet another cycle of violence.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Another excellent Mick Hardin thriller set in rural eastern Kentucky… Come for the thriller, by all means; it delivers nicely. But stay for, and linger in, the marvelous incidentals and atmospherics: arguments about mall names; lore about snakes and birds and mushrooms; descriptions of a local shade-tree tinkerer’s Slinky-like version of a perpetual motion machine. Terrific characters; taut suspense. Another winner from Offutt.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

So Happy for You by  Celia Laskey

Fiction / Comedy / Suspense.

Robin and Ellie have been best friends since childhood. When Robin came out, Ellie was there for her. When Ellie’s father died, Robin had her back. But when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honor, she is reluctant. A queer academic, Robin is dubious of the elaborate wedding rituals now sweeping the nation, which go far beyond champagne toasts and a bouquet toss. But loyalty wins out, and Robin accepts.

Yet, as the wedding weekend approaches, a series of ominous occurrences lead Robin to second-guess her decision. It seems that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. Perhaps even Ellie herself.

Manically entertaining, viciously funny and eerily campy, So Happy for You is the ultimate send-up to our collective obsession with the wedding industry complex and a riveting, unexpectedly poignant depiction of friendship in all its messy glory.

Description from Goodreads.

“A force of dark humor, captivating in its boldness and its portrayal of a friendship torn apart by tradition. For readers of satire and thrillers with an added dose of dystopia.” – Booklist

“The sweet spot of dystopia… grounded in sufficient reality for the reader to pose the question, could this really happen?” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] campy, captivating and slightly creepy exploration of the complexities of female friendships and the wedding industrial complex.” – E!

Tracy Flick Can’t Win by  Tom Perrotta ★

Fiction / Comedy.

Tracy Flick is a hardworking assistant principal at a public high school in suburban New Jersey. Still ambitious but feeling a little stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job.

Energized by the prospect of her long-overdue promotion, Tracy throws herself into her work with renewed zeal, determined to prove her worth to the students, faculty, and School Board, while also managing her personal life—a ten-year-old daughter, a needy doctor boyfriend, and a burgeoning meditation practice. But nothing ever comes easily to Tracy Flick, no matter how diligent or qualified she happens to be.

Among her many other responsibilities, Tracy is enlisted to serve on the Selection Committee for the brand-new Green Meadow High School Hall of Fame. Her male colleagues’ determination to honor Vito Falcone—a star quarterback of dubious character who had a brief, undistinguished career in the NFL—triggers bad memories for Tracy, and leads her to troubling reflections about the trajectory of her own life and the forces that have left her feeling thwarted and disappointed, unable to fulfill her true potential.

As she broods on the past, Tracy becomes aware of storm clouds brewing in the present. Is she really a shoo-in for the Principal job? Is the Superintendent plotting against her? Why is the School Board President’s wife trying so hard to be her friend? And why can’t she ever get what she deserves?

In classic Perrotta style, Tracy Flick Can’t Win is a sharp, darkly comic, and pitch-perfect reflection on our current moment. Flick fans and newcomers alike will love this compelling novel chronicling the second act of one of the most memorable characters of our time.

Description from Goodreads.

“The heroine of Perrotta’s Election returns in this sharp and perfectly executed story of frustrated ambition… This is the rare sequel that lives up to the original.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Combining narrated chapters with short first-person ‘testimonies’ by five of the characters, the plot unfolds with the you-are-there feel of a documentary, or mockumentary perhaps… the ending is a shocker. Nobody told this master of dark comedy there are things you can’t make jokes about. Watch him try.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[Perrotta] tells the story through a web of different characters and perspectives. It’s a book populated with middle-aged people disappointed in what life has brought—and yet, Tracy Flick Can’t Win is an oddly uplifting read. Perrotta’s great gift is that he lets his love for his characters, flaws and all, shine through, and Tracy emerges as a much richer, more sympathetic character than in the earlier book; she has grown, as has her creator… I was rooting hard for Tracy Flick to, finally, win.” – Seattle Times

“In this culturally savvy sequel to his enduring best-seller, Election, and its wildly popular film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, Perrotta again tells a smart, entertaining story from multiple perspectives, oral-history style. The breeziness of the pacing provides tart counterpoint to weightier themes of adultery, ambition, atonement, and revenge which Perrotta handles with a deft but determined satiric touch.” – Booklist

We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power by  Caleb Gayle

Nonfiction / History.

In We Refuse to Forget, award-winning journalist Caleb Gayle tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full citizens. Thanks to the efforts of Creek leaders like Cow Tom, a Black Creek citizen who rose to become chief, the U.S. government recognized Creek citizenship in 1866 for its Black members. Yet this equality was shredded in the 1970s when tribal leaders revoked the citizenship of Black Creeks, even those who could trace their history back generations–even to Cow Tom himself.

Why did this happen? How was the U.S. government involved? And what are Cow Tom’s descendants and other Black Creeks doing to regain their citizenship? These are some of the questions that Gayle explores in this provocative examination of racial and ethnic identity. By delving into the history and interviewing Black Creeks who are fighting to have their citizenship reinstated, he lays bare the racism and greed at the heart of this story. We Refuse to Forget is an eye-opening account that challenges our preconceptions of identity as it shines new light on the long shadows of white supremacy and marginalization that continue to hamper progress for Black Americans.

Description from Goodreads.

“An illuminating look at racial dynamics within [the] Creek Nation… Sharp character sketches, incisive history lessons, and Gayle’s autobiographical reflections as a Jamaican American transplant to Oklahoma make this a powerful portrait of how white supremacy ‘divides marginalized groups and pits them against each other.’” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Wicked Beauty by  Katee Robert

Fiction / Romance / Fantasy.

In Olympus, you either have the power to rule… or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize… or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?

Description from Goodreads.

“Readers will enjoy this continuation of the ‘Dark Olympus’ series.” – Library Journal

Wicked Beauty is a story of power and control, influence and administration, determination and competition, friendships, relationships, family and love. The action packed premise is captivating; the romance is passionate and sensual; the characters are determined and charismatic.” – The Reading Cafe

“Katee Robert reliably puts out an entertaining book, and I would put this in her top 5 best books.” – Cannonball Read

The Woman in the Library by  Sulari Gentill ★

Fiction / Mystery / suspense.

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

Description from Goodreads.

“Brace yourself for twists and turns when picking up this thriller, which features a story within a story.” – BookBub

“The ever-brilliant Sulari Gentill dazzles in her new The Woman in the Library… you’ll have to figure this out for yourself. And you will cheer along the way.” – BookTrib

“This thrilling excursion into metafiction from Australian author Gentill wittily examines the writing process itself… This elegantly constructed novel is intelligent, funny, and profound. Who could ask for more?” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[The Woman in the Library] is a mystery-within-a-mystery, with the clues in Freddie’s story becoming more intriguing as Leo’s advice becomes more sinister. The two story lines work together beautifully, amping up the suspense before reaching a surprising conclusion.” – Booklist

Woman of Light by  Kali Fajardo-Anstine ★

Fiction / Historical fiction.

“There is one every generation–a seer who keeps the stories.”

Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930’s Denver on her own, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

Written in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s singular voice, the wildly entertaining and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multigenerational western saga. Woman of Light is a transfixing novel about survival, family secrets, and love, filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are just as special, memorable, and complicated as our beloved heroine, Luz.

Description from Goodreads.

“A transporting story of the importance of family history told in a luminescent style.” – Good Housekeeping

“Fajardo-Anstine brings to life in sensory-rich details… a lush, immersive historical novel.” – Kirkus Reviews

“An entrancing book about the stories we carry, the ones we need to keep telling. Fajardo-Anstine has given us another stunning cast of characters to root for.” – Literary Hub

“Impossible to put down… Fajardo-Anstine’s compelling writing paints a convincing portrait of a city in flux, haunted by white violence, and portrays a complex female friendship, a vivid love story (or three), and a story of family and memory in the American West.” – Booklist


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