“I danced for the end of everything I knew and the beginning of everything I did not.” – Jennifer Saint, Ariadne
100 Morning Treats: With Muffins, Rolls, Biscuits, Sweet and Savory Breakfast Breads, and More by Sarah Kieffer
nonfiction / food / cooking.
One hundred morning treats to start your day with. These baking projects will bring delight to your family breakfast, a Sunday brunch or bake sale, a morning at the office, or kids’ soccer practice. Whatever your preference alongside your morning cup of coffee or tea—sweet or savory, buttery or flaky, hot off the griddle or taken to go—you’ll find a recipe for it here, from coffee cakes to danishes, doughnuts, scones, quick breads, quiches, and muffins galore!
Filled with more than 120 inspiring photographs, including how-tos for doughs and shaping, and instructions for prepping the night before and baking in the morning, 100 Morning Treats is truly a cookbook for all bakers and a must-have for lovers of 100 Cookies and Sarah’s inventive recipes.
“Kieffer’s ample offerings leave no sugartopped pastry untouched.” – Jessica S. Levy, Booklist
“Bestseller Kieffer presents enticing breakfast goodies in this pleasant volume… will satisfy an array of palettes… This volume is a must for bakers at all levels who want to create memorable morning meals.” – Publishers Weekly
“…I guarantee you’ll want to try every single one of the breads, muffins, and rolls in Sarah Kieffer’s latest book… Perhaps what I loved most about Kieffer’s book is the reminder that breakfast doesn’t have to be boring. Rather, it can be an opportunity to play with flavors and textures… I may not be a morning person, but thanks to 100 Morning Treats, I know that I am most definitely a breakfast person.” – Genevienve Yam, Bon Appétit
Arrangements in Blue: Notes on Loving and Living Alone by Amy Key
nonfiction / memoir.
When poet Amy Key was growing up, she looked forward to a life shaped by romance, fueled by desire, longing and the conventional markers of success that come when you share a life with another person. But that didn’t happen for her. Now in her forties, she sets out to explore the realities of a life lived in the absence of romantic love.
Using Joni Mitchell’s seminal album Blue – an album that shaped Key’s expectations of love – as her guide, she examines the unexpected life she has created for herself. Building a home, travelling alone, choosing whether to be a mother, recognising her own milestones, learning the limits of self-care and the expansive potential of self-friendship, Key uncovers the many forms of connection and care that often go unnoticed.
With profound candour and intimacy, Arrangements in Blue explores the painful feelings we are usually too ashamed to discuss: loneliness, envy, grief and failure. The result is a singular work – a beautifully-written and essential book about building a life on your own terms, which inspires us to live and love more honestly.
“…courageous… bracingly honest…” – Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle
“British poet and essayist Key takes an intimate, idiosyncratic look at single life in her evocative first memoir… Filled with lyrical turns of phrase, this insightful take on living solo will appeal to poets, dreamers, and anyone marching to the beat of their own drum. It’s a lush and moving memoir.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“[Key’s] nonfiction debut is a courageously honest meditation on her partnerless life, and her inward and outward search for all the things a soulmate was supposed to deliver. Key’s deeply introspective quest is not just a hunt for what’s missing, but for what she has overlooked… [As] Key’s book demonstrates, there should be no shame in desiring intimacy, or seeking it outside the confines of romance. And those of us who experience long-term singleness need a broader emotional palette than blue.” – Emma John, The Guardian
Atalanta by Jennifer Saint
fiction / fantasy / historical fiction.
When Princess Atalanta is born, a daughter rather than the son her parents hoped for, she is left on a mountainside to die. But even then, she is a survivor. Raised by a mother bear under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis, Atalanta grows up wild and free, with just one condition: if she marries, Artemis warns, it will be her undoing.
Although she loves her beautiful forest home, Atalanta yearns for adventure. When Artemis offers her the chance to fight in her name alongside the Argonauts, the fiercest band of warriors the world has ever seen, Atalanta seizes it. The Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece is filled with impossible challenges, but Atalanta proves herself equal to the men she fights alongside. As she is swept into a passionate affair, in defiance of Artemis’s warning, she begins to question the goddess’s true intentions. Can Atalanta carve out her own legendary place in a world of men, while staying true to her heart?
Full of joy, passion, and adventure, Atalanta is the story of a woman who refuses to be contained. Jennifer Saint places Atalanta in the pantheon of the greatest heroes in Greek mythology, where she belongs.
“[Saint] has written another captivating protagonist… the ending is so beautiful it makes every moment leading up to it worth the wait… This contemporary rendition of Greek mythology gives the heroine’s journey its due.” – Kirkus Reviews
“[A] compelling story about a powerful, observant warrior who loves a good, honorable fight and about the more dishonorable side of some well-known mythological quests.” – Leah von Essen, Booklist
“Saint continues to breathe new life into Greek myths in this exciting and intelligent reimagining of the story of warrior Atalanta… Readers familiar with the original will appreciate Saint’s thoughtful creation of an inner life for her protagonist, who struggles to reconcile her chaste upbringing with the passions Meleager inspires. For readers who can’t get enough of feminist retellings, this will more than do the trick.” – Publishers Weekly
Cold Case BC: The Stories Behind the Province’s Most Sensational Murder and Missing Persons Cases by Eve Lazarus
nonfiction / true crime / history.
In her BC bestseller Cold Case Vancouver, crime historian and reporter Eve Lazarus used investigative skills to shine a light on the city’s most baffing unsolved murders. In Cold Case BC, Lazarus casts her gaze more widely on long forgotten and unsolved murder cases throughout British Columbia. These include teenager Molly Justice, who was murdered on the outskirts of Victoria after taking the bus home from work, and a follow-up to the tragic 1953 Babes in the Woods story of two children found murdered in Stanley Park, whose names were finally revealed this year in a story broken by Lazarus herself. There’s also the tale of four police officers in the 1960s who committed a string of robberies that culminated in the biggest heist in Vancouver’s history. Their reign of terror ended with one of the officers murdering his family before killing himself. Or were they all killed by someone else?
Lazarus also looks at some of the province’s most intriguing missing person cases, such as three-year-old Casey Bohun, who vanished from her bed in the middle of the night, and the Jack family of four, who left Prince George to work in a logging camp along the infamous Highway of Tears but were never seen again.
Interviews with law enforcement, forensic experts, and family and friends of the victims add new life to these historical cases, some of which date back to World War II. The book also includes some cases that have been solved, revealing the painstaking investigative work and new forensic technology that ultimately brought about closure for victims’ families.
Meticulously researched, Cold Case BC is a fascinating true crime book that reveals startling details about the province’s criminal past.
“Lazarus not only does her due diligence as a writer and researcher, but also brings each case to life with personality and insight from those who know it best and were most impacted by the events… Lazarus treads carefully, never sensationalizing her account of the events, rather sticking closely to first-hand anecdotes or factual research… Cold Case BC offers a deep dive into some of the most puzzling crimes the province has seen, and any true crime lover is sure to lose themselves in all the details – and perhaps look at the BC cities they call home in a whole new light.” – Zoe McKenna, The British Columbia Review
The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up by Andy Cohen
nonfiction / memoir / comedy / parenting / television.
One of Andy Cohen’s most momentous years starts off with a hangover the morning after an epic New Year’s Eve broadcast. But Andy doesn’t have time to dwell on the drama, as his role as media mogul is now matched with the responsibilities, joys, and growing pains of parenthood.
This fast-paced, mile-a-minute look behind the scenes of living the so-called glamorous life in Manhattan now takes firm aim at life at home. With a three-year-old son, Ben, and a daughter, Lucy, born in May, stories of late-night parties are replaced by early mornings with Ben, drama at the playground, and the musings of a single dad trying to navigate having it all. All this is set against the backdrop of constant Housewives drama, hijinks behind the scenes at Watch What Happens Live, a revolving door of famous faces, and a worried mother (and newly minted grandmother) in St. Louis.
Buckle up, bottle up, and get ready for a laugh-out-loud and surprisingly poignant look at the ways in which family changes everything and the superficial gets very real. Watch what happens!
“…hilarious… Cohen’s unfiltered approach is hugely endearing. Equal parts astute and frivolous, this is sure to satisfy Cohen’s many fans.” – Publishers Weekly
“[Cohen] displays the relatable wit and honesty that have made him a TV star… Universal truths combine with kindness and optimism in a memoir from a single working parent who just happens to be a star.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Fans will be happy to know that Cohen’s gossipy gushing still works well, whether he’s dropping scandalous celebrity scoops or bemoaning sleep deprivation caused by teething (Lucy’s, not his). Somehow, a sweet story of a family coming together emerges amidst all the name-dropping and breathless reportage.” – Kathleen McBroom, Booklist
Independence Square by Martin Cruz Smith
fiction / mystery / suspense.
It’s June 2021, and Arkady knows that Russia is preparing to invade and subsequently annex Ukraine as it did Crimea in 2014. He is, however, preoccupied with other grievances. His longtime lover, Tatiana Petrovna, has deserted him for her work as an investigative reporter. His corrupt boss has relegated him to a desk job. And he is having trouble with his dexterity and balance. A visit to his doctor reveals that these are symptoms for Parkinson’s Disease.
This is an ingenious autobiographical conceit, as Martin Cruz Smith has Parkinson’s, and is able through Arkady to movingly describe his own experience with the disease. Parkinson’s hasn’t stopped Smith from his work, and neither does it stop Arkady. Rather than dwell on his diagnosis, he throws himself into another case.
An acquaintance has asked him to find his daughter, Karina, an anti-Putin activist who has disappeared. In the course of the investigation, Arkady falls for Karina’s roommate, Elena, a Tatar from Ukraine. The search leads them to Kyiv, where rumblings of an armed conflict grow louder. Later, in Crimea, Tatiana reemerges to complicate Arkady’s new romance. And as he gets closer to locating Karina, Arkady discovers something that threatens his life as well as the lives of both Elena and Tatiana.
Few fiction writers have better captured contemporary Russia with more insight or authenticity than Martin Cruz Smith. He does the same here for Ukraine and the events that preceded Russia’s invasion. Independence Square is timely and a uniquely personal mystery novel-meets-political thriller by a master of the form.
“…stellar… Smith’s reveal about what happened to Karina is surprising, logical, and disturbing. Renko, who made his debut in 1981’s Gorky Park, remains the archetype of an honest cop working for a corrupt regime.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“[Has] fascinating insights into the Russian character… Solid sleuthing by Arkady Renko and a good read for his fans.” – Kirkus Reviews
In Vitro: On Longing and Transformation by Isabel Zapata; translated by Robin Myers
nonfiction / memoir / health.
A meditation on in vitro fertilization that expands and complicates the stories we tell about pregnancy. Medical interventions become an exercise in patience, desire, and delirium in this intimate account of bodily transformation and disruption. In candid, graceful prose, Isabel Zapata gives voice to the strangeness and complexities of conception and motherhood that are rarely discussed publicly. Zapata frankly addresses the misogyny she experienced during fertility treatments, explores the force of grief in imagining possible futures, and confronts the societal expectations around maternity. In the tradition of Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors and Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness, In Vitro draws from diary and essay forms to create a new kind of literary companion and open up space for nuanced conversations about pregnancy.
“…lyrical… With poetic prose, sensitively translated by Myers, Zapata’s sometimes surprising perspective offers a fresh take on the pregnancy memoir. Elegant and sharp, this is worth seeking out.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“A resolute account of a personal metamorphosis, In Vitro alchemizes tender experiences into enchanting vignettes.” – Rebecca Foster, Foreword Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Unveiling a nuanced view of motherhood and fertility treatment, In Vitro will illuminate aspects of pregnancy not often discussed.” – Lupita Aquino, Today
The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks ★
Part One of this story takes place in 1947. A troubled soldier, returning from the war, meets his talented five-year-old nephew, leaves an indelible impression, and then disappears for twenty-three years.
Cut to 1970: The nephew, now drawing underground comic books in Oakland, California, reconnects with his uncle and, remembering the comic book he saw when he was five, draws a new version with his uncle as a World War II fighting hero.
Cut to the present day: A commercially successful director discovers the 1970 comic book and decides to turn it into a contemporary superhero movie.
Cue the cast: We meet the film’s extremely difficult male star, his wonderful leading lady, the eccentric writer/director, the producer, the gofer production assistant, and everyone else on both sides of the camera.
Bonus material: Interspersed throughout are three comic books that are featured in the story–all created by Tom Hanks himself–including the comic book that becomes the official tie-in to this novel’s major motion picture masterpiece.
“[A] well-turned tale of a Hollywood (maybe) success.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Neither slashing satire nor moody melodrama, this sincerely Hanksian paean to the people behind the scenes of a movie production comes to life with great characters. It’s a winner.” – Publishers Weekly
“…charming [and] spiritually revealing… a thoroughly engaging tale… This is most definitely not a novel about the magic of filmmaking; it’s a novel about the hard work of filmmaking.” – Ron Charles, Washington Post
“…superb… a heartfelt tribute to movies and the people who make them… The writing is spot-on, bringing to the novel all the passion Hanks feels about his profession… lovingly crafted, a wildly entertaining story beautifully told. If you love movies, you’ll love this book.” – David Pitt, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
Orphan Bachelors: A Memoir by Fae Myenne Ng
nonfiction / memoir / history.
In pre-Communist China, Fae Myenne Ng’s father memorized a book of lies and gained entry to the United States as a stranger’s son, evading the Exclusion Act, an immigration law which he believed was meant to extinguish the Chinese American family. During the McCarthy era, he entered the Confession Program in a failed attempt to salvage his marriage only to have his citizenship revoked to resident alien. Exclusion and Confession, America’s two slamming doors. As Ng’s father said, “America didn’t have to kill any Chinese, the Exclusion Act ensured none would be born.”
Ng was her parents’ precocious first born, the translator, the bossy eldest sister. A child raised by a seafaring father and a seamstress mother, by San Francisco’s Chinatown and its legendary Orphan Bachelors—men without wives or children, Exclusion’s living legacy. She and her siblings were their stand-in descendants, Ng’s family grocery store their haven.
Each Orphan Bachelor bequeathed the children their true American inheritance. Ng absorbed their suspicious, lonely, barren nature; she found storytelling and chosen children in the form of her students. Exclusion’s legacy followed her from the back alleys of Chinatown in the 60s, to Manhattan in the 80s, to the high desert of California in the 90s, until her return home in the 2000s when the untimely deaths of her youngest brother and her father devastated the family. As a child, Ng believed her father’s lies; as an adult, she returned to her childhood home to write his truth.
Orphan Bachelors weaves together the history of one family, lucky to exist and nevertheless doomed; an elegy for brothers estranged and for elders lost; and insights into writing between languages and teaching between generations. It also features Cantonese profanity, snakes that cure fear and opium that conquers sorrow, and a seemingly immortal creep of tortoises. In this powerful remembrance, Fae Myenne Ng gives voice to her valiant ancestors, her bold and ruthless Orphan Bachelors, and her own inner self, howling in Cantonese, impossible to translate but determined to be heard.
“…luminous… An exemplary study of the past brought into the present, spanning years and continents.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“…Ng presents a luminous memoir, finding transformative, aching authenticity in revealing difficult lives… Her exceptional storytelling elucidates and illuminates.” – Terry Hong, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“The author’s straightforward prose and the work’s staggering scope bring home the myriad ways misguided policies damaged generations of immigrant families. Readers will be rapt.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino” by Héctor Tobar ★
nonfiction / memoir / history / current events.
“Latino” is the most open-ended and loosely defined of the major race categories in the United States. Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino” assembles the Pulitzer Prize winner Héctor Tobar’s personal experiences as the son of Guatemalan immigrants and the stories told to him by his Latinx students to offer a spirited rebuke to racist ideas about Latino people. Our Migrant Souls decodes the meaning of “Latino” as a racial and ethnic identity in the modern United States, and seeks to give voice to the angst and anger of young Latino people who have seen latinidad transformed into hateful tropes about “illegals” and have faced insults, harassment, and division based on white insecurities and economic exploitation.
Investigating topics that include the US-Mexico border “wall,” Frida Kahlo, urban segregation, gangs, queer Latino utopias, and the emergence of the cartel genre in TV and film, Tobar journeys across the country to expose something truer about the meaning of “Latino” in the twenty-first century.
“…eye-opening… Timely, intelligent, and generous, this is a must-read from Pulitzer Prize–winner Tobar.” – Diego Báez, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“Beautifully written with powerful prose that packs a punch… As Isabel Wilkerson did with Caste, Tobar shows us that we all lose when we don’t recognize each other’s humanity, and the forces both subtle and enormous that shape the way we see the world.” – Lindsay Powers, Amazon
“Tobar’s travels and meditations are altogether provocative and thoroughly well thought through, his account sharply observed and elegantly written. A powerful look at what it means to be a member of a community that, though large, remains marginalized.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Pulitzer winner Tobar explores in this probing, heartfelt essay collection the promises and contradictions inherent within Latino identity… Lyrical and uncompromising, this is a powerful call for all Americans to ‘dedicat[e] our energy and our intellects to creating new ways of being in the world.’” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
The Tiffany Girls by Shelly Noble
fiction / historical fiction.
It’s 1899, and Manhattan is abuzz. Louis Comfort Tiffany, famous for his stained-glass windows, is planning a unique installation at the Paris World’s Fair, the largest in history. At their fifth-floor studio on Fourth Avenue, the artists of the Women’s Division of the Tiffany Glass Company are already working longer shifts to finish the pieces that Tiffany hopes will prove that he is the world’s finest artist in glass. Known as the “Tiffany Girls,” these women are responsible for much of the design and construction of Tiffany’s extraordinary glassworks, but none receive credit.
Emilie Pascal, daughter of an art forger, has been shunned in Paris art circles after the unmasking of her abusive father. Wanting nothing more than a chance to start a new life, she forges a letter of recommendation in hopes of fulfilling her destiny as an artist in the one place where she will finally be free to live her own life.
Grace Griffith is the best copyist in the studio, spending her days cutting glass into floral borders for Tiffany’s religious stained-glass windows. But none of her coworkers know her secret: she is living a double life as a political cartoonist under the pseudonym of G.L. Griffith—hiding her identity as a woman.
As manager of the women’s division, Clara Driscoll is responsible for keeping everything on schedule and within budget. But in the lead-up to the most important exhibition of her career, not only are her girls becoming increasingly difficult to wrangle, she finds herself obsessed with a new design: a dragonfly lamp that she has no idea will one day become Tiffany’s signature piece.
Brought together by chance, driven by their desire to be artists in one of the only ways acceptable for women in their time, these “Tiffany Girls” will break the glass ceiling of their era and for working women to come.
“…Noble transforms the mundane lives of a group of working women into an engrossing and fascinating story that brings the magic of Tiffany Glass to life.” – Patricia Smith, Booklist
To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose ★
fiction / fantasy.
The remote island of Masquapaug has not seen a dragon in many generations—until fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon’s egg and bonds with its hatchling. Her people are delighted, for all remember the tales of the days when dragons lived among them and danced away the storms of autumn, enabling the people to thrive. To them, Anequs is revered as Nampeshiweisit—a person in a unique relationship with a dragon.
Unfortunately for Anequs, the Anglish conquerors of her land have different opinions. They have a very specific idea of how a dragon should be raised, and who should be doing the raising—and Anequs does not meet any of their requirements. Only with great reluctance do they allow Anequs to enroll in a proper Anglish dragon school on the mainland. If she cannot succeed there, her dragon will be killed.
For a girl with no formal schooling, a non-Anglish upbringing, and a very different understanding of the history of her land, challenges abound—both socially and academically. But Anequs is smart, determined, and resolved to learn what she needs to help her dragon, even if it means teaching herself. The one thing she refuses to do, however, is become the meek Anglish miss that everyone expects.
Anequs and her dragon may be coming of age, but they’re also coming to power, and that brings an important realization: the world needs changing—and they might just be the ones to do it.
“[An] early contender for the best fantasy novel of 2023. It’s one of those books that you have to thrust into the hands of everyone you know, just so you’ll have people to talk about it with… Blackgoose’s worldbuilding is rich and fascinating… This novel has garden parties and classroom scenes that are more suspenseful than most books’ epic battles.” – Charlie Jane Anders, Washington Post
“The fantasy and wonder of To Shape a Dragon’s Breath started immediately… Blackgoose [has] crafted a deep culture, society, and world that felt engaging to follow.” – Aigner Loren Wilson, Lightspeed
“Blackgoose blends Indigenous history with fantastical beasts, taking themes of inequality and social agency in new directions. An excellent crossover novel for adults and young adults alike.” – Kristi Chadwick, Library Journal
“This is a classic fantasy at its finest, in which a young, underestimated outcast is introduced to a magical boarding school and all the friendships, drama, prejudice, and romance that immersion entails… a fresh take on this setup [makes] this a must-read high-fantasy series… The relationships are exciting, the queer and polyamorous representation appealing, and it’s easy to fall hard for Anequs, her world, and her love for her dragon.” – Leah von Essen, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
Unlikeable Female Characters: The Women Pop Culture Wants You to Hate by Anna Bogutskaya
nonfiction / culture / film / television / music.
Today, unlikeable female characters are everywhere in film, TV, and wider pop culture. For the first time ever, they are being accepted by audiences and even showered with industry awards. We are finally accepting that women are―gasp―fully fledged human beings. How did we get to this point?
Unlikeable Female Characters traces the evolution of highly memorable female characters, examining what exactly makes them popular, how audiences have reacted to them, and the ways in which pop culture is finally allowing us to celebrate the complexities of being a woman.
Anna Bogutskaya, film programmer, broadcaster, and co-founder of the horror film collective and podcast The Final Girls, takes us on a journey through popular film, TV, and music, looking at the nuances of womanhood on and off-screen to reveal whether pop culture―and society―is finally ready to embrace complicated women.
“[A] sharp debut… a fresh feminist appraisal of the pop culture canon.” – Publishers Weekly
“Her book’s thesis looks at who’s given the privilege of being off-putting onscreen, and it’s kind of surprising this book didn’t already exist… an awesome reconsideration of the TV and film canon and its patriarchal gaze.” – Emerson Malone, BuzzFeed
“Anna Bogutskaya’s new book, Unlikeable Female Characters, is deeply researched, with fascinating behind-the-scenes details and insightful analysis. It is also wildly entertaining, categorizing characters as bitches, sluts, witches, mean girls, angry women, trainwrecks, crazy women, psychos, and shrews.” – Nell Minnow, RogerEbert.com
Walking with Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain by Andrew McCarthy
nonfiction / memoir / travel.
When Andrew McCarthy’s eldest son began to take his first steps into adulthood, McCarthy found himself wishing time would slow down. Looking to create a more meaningful connection with Sam before he fled the nest, as well as recreate his own life-altering journey decades before, McCarthy decided the two of them should set out on a trek like few others: 500 miles across Spain’s Camino de Santiago.
Over the course of the journey, the pair traversed an unforgiving landscape, having more honest conversations in five weeks than they’d had in the preceding two decades. Discussions of divorce, the trauma of school, McCarthy’s difficult relationship with his own father, fame, and Flaming Hot Cheetos threatened to either derail their relationship or cement it. Walking With Sam captures this intimate, candid and hopeful expedition as the father son duo travel across the country and towards one another.
“A candid record of a difficult journey.” – Kirkus Reviews
“McCarthy’s depiction of the rewarding endeavor of walking the Camino with his son is both worthwhile and entertaining.” – Karen Clements, Booklist
“McCarthy shares exquisite details of their surroundings, providing historical context as they leave France’s Pyrenees, journey through Spain’s Basque Country, cross the areas of Pamplona, La Rioja, Leon, and Galicia, and end in Iberia a month later… The process of the two connecting over time is heartwarming and relatable… A sweet gem of a tale that will appeal to McCarthy fans and those who appreciate a challenging journey.” – Lisa Henry, Library Journal
When the Heavens Went on Sale: The Misfits and Geniuses Racing to Put Space Within Reach by Ashlee Vance
nonfiction / science / space / business.
With the launch of the Falcon 1 rocket in 2008, Elon Musk’s SpaceX became the first private company to build a low-cost rocket that could reach orbit. And that milestone carried major implications: Silicon Valley, not NASA or nation states, was suddenly cemented as the epicenter of the new Space Age. Start-ups and the wealthy investors behind them began to realize that the universe—ungoverned and infinite—was open for business. Welcome to the Wild West of aerospace engineering.
When the Heavens Went on Sale tells the remarkable, unfolding story of this frenzied intergalactic land grab. Through his trademark immersive reporting, Ashlee Vance follows four pioneering companies—Astra, Firefly, Planet Labs, and Rocket Lab—as they build new space systems and attempt to launch rockets and satellites into orbit by the thousands. While the public fixated on the space tourism being driven by the likes of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, these new companies arrived with a different set of goals: to make rocket and satellite launches fast and cheap, thereby opening Earth’s lower orbit for business—and setting it up as the next playing field for humankind’s technological evolution, where we can connect, analyze, and monitor everything on Earth.
Vance has had a front-row seat and singular access to this peculiar and unprecedented moment in history. When the Heavens Went on Sale travels through private company headquarters, labs, and top-secret launch locations around the world, including California, Texas, Alaska, New Zealand, Ukraine, India, and French Guiana. He chronicles it all in full color: the private jets, communes, gun-toting bodyguards, drugs, espionage investigations, and multimillionaires guzzling booze to dull the pain as their fortunes disappear.
With the most detailed and intimate reporting of Vance’s career, When the Heavens Went on Sale reveals the spectacular chaos of the new business of space, and what happens when the idealistic, ambitious minds of Silicon Valley turn their unbridled vision toward the limitless expanse of the stars. This is the most pressing and controversial technology story of our time, a tale of fascinating characters chasing unimaginable stakes as they race to space.
“The book is an illuminating romp through an industry marinated in the signature mix of starry idealism and ruthless capitalism brewed in Silicon Valley in the second half of the 20th century.” – The Economist
“[A] fantastic new book… I can highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in space, especially if you want to know how space startups work behind the public promises and marketing… [When the Heavens Went on Sale] provides real insight into these companies and the people who toil in them.” – Eric Berger, Ars Technica
“[An] exciting account… The focus on figures outside the limelight offers a fresh look at the new space race, and Vance’s feels-like-you’re-there storytelling captures the ‘spectacular madness’ of the moonshots. It’s The Right Stuff for the silicon age.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Wildflower: A Memoir by Aurora James
nonfiction / memoir / fashion.
Aurora James’s story is not a “success story.” Or at least, it shouldn’t be told that way. Having dropped out of high school, struggled with body image, and dabbled in street racing, her eventual arrest might have been her rock bottom. But as a visionary and optimist, that experience became one of many that reshaped her way of thinking about the world. After a brief modeling stint, James discovered the real power in creating for the runway and started her own business in a flea market, a sustainable fashion line showcasing traditional African design that would become an award-winning international brand. Then she founded one of the fastest-growing social justice nonprofits, the Fifteen Percent Pledge. But none of this came from a desire to “succeed.” It came from a desire to forge a new creative path–and to lift others up alongside her.
Already a rising star in fashion and the first Black American female designer to win a CFDA Award, James was inspired by the activism that swept the nation in the summer of 2020 to think bigger about how to empower Black business owners. With an idea and an Instagram post, she founded the Fifteen Percent Pledge, which challenges retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space and spending power to Black businesses. To date, more than two dozen of the world’s most recognized retailers have taken the pledge, redirecting $10 billion in revenue to Black brands.
Empowering and full of heart, Wildflower is the story of how Aurora James got to where she is now and a rallying cry for those eager to make change.
“Throughout the text, James is vulnerable and frank, cultivating a narrative voice that is both intimate and captivating; on the line level, her language is impressively lyrical. A well-written, profoundly empathetic memoir from an entrepreneur with a very bright future.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“This inspiring memoir serves as an autobiographical success story and as a prescription for change within the monolithic fashion industry.” – Joelle Egan, Booklist
“…inspiring… Wildflower is true to its name, sharing a story of someone who bloomed despite obstacles and dedicated herself to beauty inside and out even when doing so wasn’t so simple.” – Town & Country