Best New Books: Week of 8/15/23

“Books may well be the only true magic.” – Alice Hoffman

Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson by Sally H. Jacobs

nonfiction / biography / sports / history.

AltheaIn 1950, three years after Jackie Robinson first walked onto the diamond at Ebbets Field, the all-white, upper-crust US Lawn Tennis Association opened its door just a crack to receive a powerhouse player who would integrate “the game of royalty.” The player was a street-savvy young Black woman from Harlem named Althea Gibson who was about as out-of-place in that rarefied and intolerant world as any aspiring tennis champion could be. Her tattered jeans and short-cropped hair drew stares from everyone who watched her play, but her astonishing performance on the court soon eclipsed the negative feelings being cast her way as she eventually became one of the greatest American tennis champions.

Gibson had a stunning career. Raised in New York and trained by a pair of tennis-playing doctors in the South, Gibson’s immense talent on the court opened the door for her to compete around the world. She won top prizes at Wimbledon and Forest Hills time and time again. The young woman underestimated by so many wound up shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth II, being driven up Broadway in a snowstorm of ticker tape, and ultimately became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated and the second to appear on the cover of Time. In a crowning achievement, Althea Gibson became the No. One ranked female tennis player in the world for both 1957 and 1958. Seven years later she broke the color barrier again where she became the first Black woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).

In Althea, prize-winning former Boston Globe reporter Sally H. Jacobs tells the heart-rending story of this pioneer, a remarkable woman who was a trailblazer, a champion, and one of the most remarkable Americans of the twentieth century.

“Finally, tennis trailblazer Althea Gibson gets her due in this riveting biography… For tennis fans, it’s a must-read.” – Town & Country

“…comprehensive and elegantly written… fascinating… An essential book about an incomparably authentic American pioneer and the times in which she lived.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Thoroughly researched and movingly told, this warts-and-all portrayal of Gibson’s life is a winner.” – Publishers Weekly

August Wilson: A Life by Patti Hartigan

nonfiction / biography / history / theater.

August WilsonAugust Wilson wrote a series of ten plays celebrating African American life in the 20th century, one play for each decade. No other American playwright has completed such an ambitious oeuvre. Two of the plays became successful films, Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis; and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Fences and The Piano Lesson won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Fences won the Tony Award for Best Play, and years after Wilson’s death in 2005, Jitney earned a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

Through his brilliant use of vernacular speech, Wilson developed unforgettable characters who epitomized the trials and triumphs of the African American experience. He said that he didn’t research his plays but wrote from “the blood’s memory,” a sense of racial history that he believed African Americans shared. Author and theater critic Patti Hartigan traced his ancestry back to slavery, and his plays echo with uncanny similarities to the history of his ancestors. She interviewed Wilson many times before his death and traces his life from his childhood in Pittsburgh (where nine of the plays take place) to Broadway. She also interviewed scores of friends, theater colleagues and family members, and conducted extensive research to tell the story of a writer who left an indelible imprint on American theater and opened the door for future playwrights of color.

“An authoritative portrait of a defiant champion of Black theater.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Wilson was always a poet; his last words to his daughter were, ‘It is beautiful. It is beautiful.’ As is this invaluable biography.” – Raúl Niño, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Masterful… With painstaking research, stylistic verve, and an eye both admiring and exacting, Ms. Hartigan has pieced together the man behind the 20th Century Cycle, bringing Wilson to furious, complicated life… An epic account.” – Isaac Butler, Wall Street Journal

“There probably won’t be a better-written biography of the great playwright August Wilson than theater critic Hartigan’s remarkable book… This brilliant biography is a vital purchase.” – David Keymer, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

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The Bee Sting by Paul Murray


The Bee StingThe Barnes family is in trouble. Dickie’s once-lucrative car business is going under―but rather than face the music, he’s spending his days in the woods, building an apocalypse-proof bunker with a renegade handyman. His wife Imelda is selling off her jewelry on eBay, while their teenage daughter Cass, formerly top of her class, seems determined to binge-drink her way through her final exams. And twelve-year-old PJ is putting the final touches to his grand plan to run away from home.

Where did it all go wrong? A patch of ice on the tarmac, a casual favor to a charming stranger, a bee caught beneath a bridal veil―can a single moment of bad luck change the direction of a life? And if the story has already been written―is there still time to find a happy ending?

Longlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize.

“One of the best books I’ve ever read in my life… It’s when you read a book and you just think–how perfect… It’s so authentically done that I still feel these people are real… I feel about this book the way I felt about The Secret History when I first read it… I am in awe of this writer.” – Róisín Ingle, The Irish Times

“Trust Paul Murray to make 650 pages feel too short. Seriously… Murray unspools the lives of four relatively ordinary people with such brilliant specificity and extravagant empathy, in cool-water prose mixed with his trademark wry darkness, that it’s difficult to let them go at the end.” – Emily Temple, Literary Hub

“A triumph from Irish writer Paul Murray, even better than his 2010 cult story of school life, Skippy Dies… Murray excels at the confusions and comedy of young adulthood, and the intensity of teenage friendship. We see that again here… The Bee Sting deserves all the praise I am heaping on it. It is generous, immersive, sharp-witted and devastating; the sort of novel that becomes a friend for life.” – John Self, Financial Times

“Like Murray’s Skippy Dies, this is a tour de force, beautifully written (a cat was ‘so black it looked like a hole in the universe’) and perfectly apposite in its tone. It is, in sum, utterly fascinating and unforgettable.” – Michael Cart, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

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Codename Charming by Lucy Parker

fiction / romance.

Codename CharmingPetunia De Vere enjoys being the personal assistant to lovable, bumbling Johnny Marchmont. But the job has its share of challenges, including the royal’s giant, intimidating bodyguard, Matthias. Pet and Matthias are polar opposites–she’s spontaneous and enthusiastic, he’s rigid and stoic–but she can sense there’s something softer underneath that tough exterior…

For Matthias Vaughn, protecting others is the name of the game. But keeping his royal charge out of trouble is more difficult than he imagined because everywhere Johnny goes, calamity ensues, and his petite, bubbly assistant is often caught in the fray. Matthias hates the idea of Pet getting hurt and he’s determined to keep everyone safe, even if it means clashing with his adorable new coworker.

When a clumsy moment leads to a questionable tabloid photo, the press begins to speculate that Pet is romantically involved with Johnny. To put an end to the rumors, the royal PR team asks Pet and Matthias to stage a fake relationship and the two reluctantly agree. But as they spend more time together outside of work, they begin to wonder what real emotions this pretend connection might uncover. Especially when a passionate kiss leaves both of their heads spinning…

“[A] contemporary romance that expertly balances heat and heart… Wacky humor prompts giggles in many places, but Parker also infuses her characters with impressive emotional depth. This is a solid choice for any beach bag.” – Publishers Weekly

“Parker returns with an endearing and equally humorous follow-up to Battle Royal with a serious but gentle bodyguard, an adorably sunny assistant, and a cast of secondary characters who deserve books of their own.” – Kellie Tilton, Library Journal

“…Parker blithely continues to wage her brilliantly executed charm campaign with readers by delivering a grumpy-sunshine love story that radiates delightfully acerbic wit, smoldering sexual chemistry, and swoon-worthy sweet romance.” – John Charles, Booklist

Fever House by Keith Rosson

fiction / horror / mystery.

Fever HouseWhen leg-breaker Hutch Holtz rolls up to a rundown apartment complex in Portland, Oregon, to collect overdue drug money, a severed hand is the last thing he expects to find stashed in the client’s refrigerator. Hutch quickly realizes that the hand induces uncontrollable madness: Anyone in its proximity is overcome with a boundless compulsion for violence. Within hours, catastrophic forces are set into motion: Dark-op government agents who have been desperately hunting for the hand are on Hutch’s tail, more of the city’s residents fall under its brutal influence, and suddenly all of Portland stands at the precipice of disaster…

But it’s all the same for Katherine Moriarty, a singer whose sudden fame and precipitous downfall were followed by the mysterious death of her estranged husband—suicide, allegedly. Her trauma has made her agoraphobic, shackled within the confines of her apartment. Her son, Nick, has moved home to care for her, quietly making his living working for Hutch’s boss.

When Hutch calls Nick in distress, looking for someone else to take the hand, Katherine and Nick are plunged into a global struggle that will decimate the walls of the carefully arranged life they’ve built. Mother and son must evade both crazed, bloodthirsty masses and deceitful government agents while exorcising family secrets that have risen from the dead—secrets, they soon discover, that might hold the very key to humanity’s survival.

“[A] mix between horror and crime thriller run through what Rosson calls a ‘literary strainer’… a modern-meets-classic horror story that keeps the stakes high until the very last sentence.” – Michelle Kicherer, San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] stellar supernatural thriller… Sophisticated characterizations—even brutish Holtz and Reed are imbued with a degree of sympathy—distinguish this page-turner. The result should win Rosson a legion of new fans.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Rosson’s wildly imaginative new novel is a thrill-a-minute joyride that will keep readers guessing up to the final page… Rosson’s writing is propulsive and sucks readers in, spitting them out battered and bloodied but overjoyed at the journey they’ve have been on.” – Jeremiah Paddock, Library Journal

The Golden Girls: A Cultural History by Bernadette Giacomazzo

nonfiction / television / sociology / history.

The Golden GirlsOver the course of seven years and 180 episodes, The Golden Girls altered the television landscape. For the first time in history, Americans (and, later, the rest of the world) were watching sexagenarians–and one octogenarian–leading active, vital lives. These were older women who had careers, families, lovers, and adventures, far from the matronly television characters of the past.

In The Golden Girls: A Cultural History, Bernadette Giacomazzo shows why this iconic sitcom is more than just comedy gold. She examines how, between all the laughs and the tales of St. Olaf, these women tackled tough issues of the time–issues that continue to resonate in the twenty-first century. From sexual harassment, ageism, and PTSD to AIDS, inter-racial relationships, and homosexuality, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia weren’t afraid to take on topics which were once considered taboo.

This first-ever cultural history of The Golden Girls explores how the show forever changed the world’s perception of what it means to grow older, and showed us the healing power of friendship, community, and sisterhood. It gave the voiceless a new voice and unveiled all the possibilities of what “family” can mean–no matter one’s race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation.

“An essential read for The Golden Girls fans and media studies scholars alike.” – Claire Sewell, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] rewarding deep dive into the titular 1980s comedy series… Pop culture fans will rejoice.” – Publishers Weekly

The Great Transition by Nick Fuller Googins

fiction / science fiction.

The Great TransitionWhat happens after we save the world?

In the near future, humanity hasn’t avoided the worst of climate change—wildfires, rising oceans, mass migration, and skyrocketing inequality have become the daily reality. But just when it seems that it can’t get any worse, remarkably, a movement of workers, migrants, and refugees inspires the world to band together, save the planet, and rebuild a society for all. This is The Great Transition.

Teenager Emi Vargas was born post-Transition, into a utopia compared to the world known by previous generations. Her parents both suffered and sacrificed, playing pivotal roles in The Great Transition, but now their marriage is deteriorating. And when Emi’s mother goes missing amidst a shocking new political upheaval, Emi’s illusion of comfort and safety is shattered.

Alternating between Emi’s suspenseful search for her mother in the present and The Great Transition when her mother and father battled climate devastation and fell in love, this astonishing debut is a remarkable story of struggle, change, and hope.

The Great Transition sets itself apart through its visionary scope and possibility for change… Urgent but hopeful… an important read for those ready to advocate for future generations.” – Michael Welch, Chicago Review of Books

“[A] smart debut… Googins overlays an affecting family story on the speculative material… Climate fiction fans will enjoy this.” – Publishers Weekly

“A beautiful story about rebuilding and sacrifice, in the name of love and in the face of disaster. This hopeful rendition of climate fiction will tug at heartstrings you didn’t even know you had.” – Alden Zeff, Indie Next

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Holler Rat: A Memoir by Anya Liftig

nonfiction / memoir.

Holler RatAnya Liftig grew up with a foot in two very different worlds: While her mother’s upbringing was so rural that the other kids called her “holler rat,” her father came from a comfortable, upper-middle-class Jewish family. Liftig spent school years in affluent Connecticut and summers in the holler. Shaped by the experience, she would go on to win a scholarship to Yale and become an acclaimed artist, using provocative performances to explore the contradictions and unanswered questions of her life. But when the world Liftig was building for herself shattered, she was forced to reconcile where she’d come from with who she was and who she wanted to be.

In Holler Rat, Liftig masterfully interweaves family lore from her Appalachian childhood with her performance art pieces and scenes of the yearlong period in which her life fell apart, and plumbs the cathartic self-reckoning that followed. She takes us from her Mamaw’s porch to Yale; from the site of a violent family land feud to a pre-gentrified Bushwick loft; and from a devastating childhood leg injury to having 243 raw eggs pelted at her in the name of art. In visceral, beautiful prose that ranges from raunchy and outrageous to sobering and tragic, Holler Rat is the origin story of an unconventional artistic life and a captivating account of the stumbling blocks, sacrifices, and discoveries along the way.

“[A] searing debut memoir… This often somber account is buoyed by Liftig’s genuine love for her family, and draws on age-old questions of nature vs. nurture without devolving into cliché. Readers put off by the sermonizing of Hillbilly Elegy may find this glimpse at Appalachia more illuminating.” – Publishers Weekly

“Liftig tackles a lot of compelling material in this memoir: her early childhood, her family history, her time at Yale, her artistic career, infertility struggles, and a failed marriage. But what stands out is her exploration of Ganderbill, how her mother’s family is tied to this land, her mother’s experiences as the one who left to pursue higher education, and Liftig’s own connection to the holler and her mother’s family.” – Jillian Law, Booklist

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The Invisible Hour by Alice Hoffman 

fiction / historical fiction / fantasy.

The Invisible HourOne brilliant June day when Mia Jacob can no longer see a way to survive, the power of words saves her. The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier, but it seems to tell the story of Mia’s mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community—an oppressive cult in western Massachusetts where contact with the outside world is forbidden, and books are considered evil. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her?

Through a journey of heartbreak, love, and time, Mia must abandon the rules she was raised with at the Community. As she does, she realizes that reading can transport you to other worlds or bring them to you, and that readers and writers affect one another in mysterious ways. She learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine, and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you.

As a girl Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die?

“Hoffman keeps up her flair for the fantastical with this enchanting tale…” – Publishers Weekly

“Hoffman summons all of her extraordinary storytelling magic to whisk us back to Hawthorne’s world, turning our ardor for books into a force that transcends time… a lush and suspenseful homage to the transporting and lifesaving power of books.” – Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Hoffman writes with her usual blend of magic and New England pragmatism, penning an ode to the power of fiction in all of our lives.” – Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly

“Alice Hoffman has outdone herself with this book. It’s a love letter to readers and book lovers everywhere. I wanted to race though this book because the story is so compelling, but I made myself savor every word. This one has my heart.” – Karen Schwettman, Indie Next

Letters from My Sister by Valeria Fraser Luesse

fiction / historical fiction.

Letters from My SisterAt the turn of the twentieth century, sisters Emmy and Callie Bullock are living a privileged life as the only daughters of a wealthy Alabama cotton farmer when their well-ordered household gets turned upside down by the arrival of Lily McGee. Arrestingly beautiful, Lily quickly–and innocently–draws the wrong kind of attention. Meanwhile, Callie meets a man who offers her the freedom to abandon social constraints and discover her truest self.

After Lily has a baby, Callie witnesses something she was never meant to see–or did she? Her memory is a haze, just an image in her mind of Emmy standing on a darkened riverbank and cradling Lily’s missing baby girl. Only when the sisters are separated does the truth slowly come to light through their letters–including a revelation that will shape the rest of Callie’s life.

“[A] beautiful new book…” – Southern Living

“A nuanced and heartwarming tale of sisterly love and community, based partly on the author’s family history, from a master of Southern fiction similar to Lisa Wingate or Lauren K. Denton.” – Christine Barth, Library Journal

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Lion & Lamb by James Patterson & Duane Swierczynski

fiction / mystery / suspense.

Lion & LambThey can catch a killer—if they don’t kill each other first. Veena Lion and Cooper Lamb are rival PIs working the same intense headline-making case. Philadelphia is in a state of shock over the fate of two hometown heroes: Eagles starting quarterback Archie Hughes, and his even more famous wife, Grammy-winning singer Francine Hughes.

One spouse is murdered. The other is suspect #1.

Even before the case hits the courtroom, it’s the hottest ticket in town.

For the defense: Cooper Lamb, private investigator to the stars.

For the prosecution: Veena Lion, a sleuth so bright she’s got to wear shades.

Between them, they know every secret in Philadelphia. Together, they prove how two wrongs can make a right. They are Lion & Lamb.

“Patterson fans who read anything with his name on it will need no convincing for this one, while those who have found the quality of his recent output to fluctuate depending on the strength of his cowriter can be reassured that this is a well-crafted legal thriller.” – David Pitt, Booklist

“[An] easygoing mystery from bestseller Patterson and Marvel comics writer Swierczynski… This is a fun ride.” – Publishers Weekly

More Perfect by Temi Oh

fiction / science fiction / fantasy.

More PerfectUsing the myth of Eurydice as a structure, this riveting science fiction novel is set in a near-future London where it has become popular for folks to have a small implant that allows one access to a more robust social media experience directly as an augmented reality. However, the British government has taken oversight of this access to an extreme, slowly tilting towards a dystopian overreach, all in the name of safety.

“The story of Moremi and Orpheus has classical antecedents but with a satisfying eye for the future.” – Regina Schroeder, Booklist

“The best canonical sci-fi puts the thinnest veil on reality to show us just how close we are to the world we fear. The London you encounter in Temi Oh’s More Perfect is grittily familiar – making the near future she paints queasily plausible, including the brain implant that is being forced on citizens and the political chaos this foments. It weaves an intriguing tapestry of references, from the classical story of Eurydice to the neuroscience of consciousness, set against a drumbeat of dread.” – Alison Flood, New Scientist

“While the pacing leaves time for the reader to sink into emotions, the plotting is tightly crafted, weaving science fiction, mythology, and more to tell a tale that feels pertinent right now. An emotional tale exploring light and dark and the gray areas in change and progress.” – Kirkus Reviews

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New Adult by Timothy Janovsky

fiction / romance / comedy.

New AdultWhy can’t we skip to the good part?

Twenty-three-year-old Nolan Baker wants it all by the time he’s thirty. Too bad he’s single, barely able to cover his own expenses, and still paying his dues at a prominent NYC comedy club. When faced with his perfect sister’s wedding, Nolan takes it as a wakeup call. It’s time to quit comedy and make good on his practical dreams—most importantly, asking Drew Techler, his best friend, to be his date.

But right as Nolan is about to give it all up, he’s asked to fill a last-minute spot for a famous comedian. Score! He crushes his set, but stands Drew up, misses his sister’s big day, and disappoints his entire family. After major blowouts with everyone he loves, Nolan desperately wishes on a set of gift “magical healing crystals” to skip to the good part of life. When he wakes the next morning, it’s seven years later, he’s a successful comedian, and he has everything he always thought he wanted. Everything, that is, except his friends and family, none of whom are taking his future self’s calls.

With nowhere else to turn, Nolan sets out to find the only person he trusts to help. Except Drew is all grown up now, too. He’s hot, successful… and hates Nolan’s guts. As Nolan works to get back to his younger self—and the life he so carelessly threw away—he’ll have to prove he’s not the man everyone thinks they know in order to regain Drew’s trust, friendship, and maybe, ultimately, his heart.

“Janovsky’s flair for perfectly timed comic moments and dryly humorous dialogue is brilliantly married to a whimsically inventive plot.” – John Charles, Booklist

“Janovsky has as sure a touch with classic romance tropes as ever, and it’s a joy to watch his flawed hero grow. Readers will be charmed.” – Publishers Weekly

“Timothy Janovsky continues to gift us with incredible queer rom-coms that will make you smile in every single chapter.” – Silvana Reyes Lopez, Book Riot

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The Secret to a Southern Wedding by Synithia Williams

fiction / romance.

The Secret to a Southern WeddingIt’s been years since Dr. Imani Kemp has returned home to Peachtree Cove, Georgia. As Tallahassee’s most sought-after OB-GYN, she doesn’t have much time for anything else. But when her mom announces she’s marrying a man she just met on a dating app, Imani knows she has to put a stop to it immediately. Let her mom be hurt again after the disastrous way her last marriage ended? Absolutely not. Always her protector, Imani won’t rest until her mom sees reason. She just never expected sparks to fly with the groom’s son…

After his mother’s tragic death, Cyril Dash and his father relocated to Peachtree Cove to escape the gossip and speculation. Now, in this quirky small town, they’ve made a new life for themselves, and after years of grief, his dad has finally found happiness again. And Cyril refuses to let Imani threaten that. The more determined he is to prove the strength of his dad’s love, the more drawn he is to this beautiful, complicated woman who’s determined to call off the wedding.

But when Cyril’s heartbreaking past comes to light, destiny won’t be denied. Because the secret to this southern wedding is you never know how far you’ll go in the name of love.

“Second chances, older couple cuteness, and quirky small-town romance goodness collide in Williams’ new book…” – Erica Ezeifedi, Book Riot

“Williams launches her Peachtree Cove series with a pitch-perfect small-town romance focused on forgiveness, second chances, and new beginnings… It’s a joy to watch Imani’s walls fall down, and readers will swoon over sensitive Cyril. The older couple are equally endearing, and the charm of Peachtree Cove only enhances the proceedings. Readers will eagerly look forward to revisiting this quaint community.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher 

fiction / fantasy / horror.

ThornhedgeThere’s a princess trapped in a tower. This isn’t her story.

Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?

But nothing with fairies is ever simple.

Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He’s heard there’s a curse here that needs breaking, but it’s a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…

“Another splendid addition to the Kingfisher canon, Thornhedge reminds you that true fairy tales have teeth.” – Christina Ladd, Geekly Inc

“T. Kingfisher’s delicate, bittersweet style of fantasy is like nothing else on shelves at the moment and, as a result, she’s an author whose work I would read without knowing one single fact about it. But, in case you need facts, this Sleeping Beauty retelling with a twist is a perfect blend of sharp-edged humor and horror-tinged heart.” – Lacy Baugher Milas, Paste

“This marvelously fractured fairy tale takes a well-known and well-loved story and turns it completely around, into a story about love not being enough, duty not being sufficient, and love and joy being found in the unlikeliest of people and places.” – Marlene Harris, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Kingfisher continues her hot streak with this equally haunting, heartfelt, and darkly humorous horror riff on Sleeping Beauty… The slow reveal of Toadling’s connection to the princess, and what the princess actually is, fashions a subtle and satisfying horror story, while Kingfisher’s trademark wit and compassion transforms Sleeping Beauty into a moving meditation on guilt, grief, and duty, as well as a surprisingly sweet romance between outsiders. There are no false notes here.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Tides of Fire by James Rollins

fiction / suspense / action / science fiction.

Tides of FireThe Titan Project—an international research station off the coast of Australia—discovers a thriving zone of life in an otherwise dead sea. The area teems with a strange bioluminescent coral that defies science, yet holds great promise for the future. But the loss of a military submarine in the area triggers a brutal attack and sets in motion a geological disaster that destabilizes an entire region.

Massive quakes, volcanic eruptions, and deadly tsunamis herald a greater cataclysm to come—for something is stirring miles under the ocean, a threat hidden for millennia.

As seas turn toxic and coastlines burn, can Sigma Force stop what has been let loose—especially as an old adversary returns, hunting them and thwarting their every move For any hope of success, Commander Gray Pierce must search for a key buried in the past, hidden deep in Aboriginal mythology. But what Sigma could uncover is even more frightening—something that will shake the very foundations of humanity.

“There’s plenty of brisk action in this undersea yarn… A solid Sigma Force adventure that’s sure to please thriller fans.” – Kirkus Reviews

“If ever there was a question as to who would take over the throne vacated by the late Michael Crichton, Tides of Fire puts that discussion to rest once and for all… it’s James Rollins, and second place isn’t even close… Packed with double servings of sophisticated, cutting-edge tech, science, action, hateable bad guys, and good guys you can’t help but cheer on, Tides of Fire is another masterpiece from James Rollins and a real contender for best thriller of 2023.” – Ryan Steck, The Real Book Spy

Tilly in Technicolor by Mazey Eddings

fiction / young adult / romance.

Tilly in TechnicolorTilly Twomley is desperate for change. White-knuckling her way through high school with flawed executive functioning has left her burnt out and ready to start fresh. Working as an intern for her perfect older sister’s start up isn’t exactly how Tilly wants to spend her summer, but the required travel around Europe promises a much-needed change of scenery as she plans for her future. The problem is, Tilly has no idea what she wants.

Oliver Clark knows exactly what he wants. His autism has often made it hard for him to form relationships with others, but his love of color theory and design allows him to feel deeply connected to the world around him. Plus, he has everything he needs: a best friend that gets him, placement into a prestigious design program, and a summer internship to build his resume. Everything is going as planned. That is, of course, until he suffers through the most disastrous international flight of his life, all turmoil stemming from lively and exasperating Tilly. Oliver is forced to spend the summer with a girl that couldn’t be more his opposite—feeling things for her he can’t quite name—and starts to wonder if maybe he doesn’t have everything figured out after all.

As the duo’s neurodiverse connection grows, they learn that some of the best parts of life can’t be planned, and are forced to figure out what that means as their disastrously wonderful summer comes to an end.

“[A] sweet, uplifting rom-com… will appeal to readers looking for both a coming-of-age story and a romance with well-developed and relatable neurodivergent main characters.” – Marija Lukic, Booklist

“Eddings, who shares both characters’ diagnoses, brings clarity, humor, insight, and empathy to their challenges… An inclusive, optimistic message deepens this charming romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Via Tilly and Oliver’s titillating alternating first-person POVs, Eddings—who is both autistic and has ADHD—organically develops a heartwarming rom-com about two teens who often feel out-of-step with their peers finding balance with each other.” – Publishers Weekly

Toy Fights: A Boyhood by Don Paterson

nonfiction / memoir.

Toy FightsDon Paterson is one of our most acclaimed contemporary poets, possessed of “an infinite sensitivity to the world” (Zadie Smith). But his current standing gives few hints of his hilariously misspent youth. An indifferent student prone to obsessions (with girls at school and… origami), Paterson nevertheless made clear early on his immense gift for observation. In Toy Fights, he vividly re-creates the customs of the Scottish working class, from the titular childhood game (“basically twenty minutes of extreme violence without pretext”) to the virtues of the sugary sweet known as tablet. When American pop culture arrived, Paterson fell hard for the so-called outlaw sound; by his teens, he was traveling with his father, a Stetson-wearing “country” musician, and becoming guitar-mad himself. A memoir of family, music, and highly inventive profanity, Toy Fights is an unforgettable account of the years we all spend in rehearsal for real life.

“[A] raucously funny picaresque laced with hard-earned wisdom.” – Publishers Weekly

“The prose is fizzing-brained, hyperbolic, and it has a hyperbolic effect: It makes you want to delete everything you’ve ever written and start again, this time telling the truth.” – James Parker, The Atlantic

“This memoir is gritty, direct, and alternately doggedly sincere and uproariously hilarious. A uniquely compelling, expressive memoir packed with explosive asides and raucous insight.” – Kirkus Reviews

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The Trade Off by Sandie Jones

fiction / suspense / mystery.

The Trade OffFor Stella, deputy editor of The Globe, the choice has always been clear. It doesn’t matter how low she has to stoop―getting the best story is what she’s built her reputation on.

For Jess, The Globe’s rookie reporter, the story stops when the truth does. But she knows that the dirty tricks of the tabloids will be hard to overturn.

And when a celebrity is hounded by The Globe and pays the ultimate price, Jess wonders just how much Stella and the paper are responsible.

Determined to show the world what the tabloid is capable of, Jess will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth, but she needs to watch her back, because someone else is prepared to kill to bury it.

“[An] eye-opening, harrowing, intense read for fans of fast-paced thrillers.” – Emily Melton, Booklist

“Jones unapologetically stares down the ugliness of the modern media and its coldblooded exploitation of celebrities to benefit those truly in power, as well as the rampages of fake news… [she] reminds us that there’s a lot to be outraged about these days.” – Kirkus Reviews

Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas

fiction / horror / historical fiction.

Vampires of El NorteAs the daughter of a rancher in 1840s Mexico, Nena knows a thing or two about monsters—her home has long been threatened by tensions with Anglo settlers from the north. But something more sinister lurks near the ranch at night, something that drains men of their blood and leaves them for dead.

Something that once attacked Nena nine years ago.

Believing Nena dead, Néstor has been on the run from his grief ever since, moving from ranch to ranch working as a vaquero. But no amount of drink can dispel the night terrors of sharp teeth; no woman can erase his childhood sweetheart from his mind.

When the United States attacks Mexico in 1846, the two are brought abruptly together on the road to war: Nena as a curandera, a healer striving to prove her worth to her father so that he does not marry her off to a stranger, and Néstor as a member of the auxiliary cavalry of ranchers and vaqueros. But the shock of their reunion—and Nena’s rage at Néstor for seemingly abandoning her long ago—is quickly overshadowed by the appearance of a nightmare made flesh.

And unless Nena and Néstor work through their past and face the future together, neither will survive to see the dawn.

Vampires of El Norte is a chilling horror story, an immersive love story, and a gripping tale of a tumultuous & dangerous moment in history.” – Crime by the Book

“Set in 19th-century Mexico, this vibrant novel combines historical fiction, horror, and romance to tell a thrilling story.” – Migdalia Jimenez, Shelf Awareness

“Cañas’ latest is a lush, supernaturally infused historical romance mixing vaqueros, vampires, and the Mexican-American conflict of 1846–48… Cañas delivers a horror novel full of expressive, sumptuous prose and enlightening historical details.” – Lucy Lockley, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“The setting is well-realized and, combined with the folkloric elements and Mexican-American conflict, results in a refreshing read from a growing subgenre: colonial Gothic/Western horror. I look forward to more offerings in this… vein.” – Bethany Latham, Historical Novel Society

The Witch is Back by Sophie H. Morgan

fiction / romance / fantasy / comedy.

The Witch Is BackThere’s nothing wrong with being a wallflower. Not to Emmaline Bluewater, anyway. Emma may have been born into witch society, but her days of trying to fit in where she doesn’t belong are over—they ended seven years ago, when the man she’d hoped to marry left town without a word. She’s much happier now, living a delightfully mundane human life in Chicago and running her bar, Toil and Trouble.

Until Bastian Truenote walks through the door and announces that he wants her back.

Bastian had his reasons for leaving—even if he can’t tell Emma what they are. Now, to win Emma’s heart, he’s got to face down an adorably goofy dog familiar, a best friend who’s all too eager to hit him with a carefully aimed hex, and a woman who’s far from the meek witch he remembers.

Magical contracts aren’t easily broken, but as far as Emma’s concerned, not even a marriage of convenience will have her falling under Bastian’s spell again…

“Morgan distinguishes her steamy witch rom-com with impressive twists on romance tropes that will bewitch fans of the genre.” – Hazel Ureta, Library Journal

“With this tongue-in-cheek paranormal rom-com, Morgan draws readers into a world of magical mayhem… watching the endearingly awkward protagonists navigate witchy high society is a joy. This is sure to win Morgan some new fans.” – Publishers Weekly

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