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WHAT WE'RE READING

Julie’s Picks

Julie’s reading habits are erratic. If it has a dragon or a spaceship—she’ll probably read it. Also lots of nonfiction science, young adult fiction, short stories, and anything labeled ‘weird.’ The words ‘genre-bending’ are music to her ears. She loves audiobooks, essays, and comic books as well. Her favorite place to read is cuddled up with her dog.

Ten Steps to Nanette

Hannah Gadsby
Hardcover/March 29, 2022
Allen & Unwin

Multi-awardwinning Hannah Gadsby transformed comedy with her show Nanette, even as she declared that she was quitting stand-up. Now, she takes us through the defining moments in her life that led to the creation of Nanette and her powerful decision to tell the truth-no matter the cost.

‘There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.’ -Hannah Gadsby, Nanette

Gadsby’s unique stand-up special Nanette was a viral success that left audiences captivated by her blistering honesty and her ability to create both tension and laughter in a single moment. But while her worldwide fame might have looked like an overnight sensation, her path from open mic to the global stage was hard-fought and anything but linear.

Ten Steps to Nanette traces Gadsby’s growth as a queer person from Tasmania-where homosexuality was illegal until 1997-to her ever-evolving relationship with comedy, to her struggle with late-in-life diagnoses of autism and ADHD, and finally to the backbone of Nanette – the renouncement of self-deprecation, the rejection of misogyny, and the moral significance of truth-telling.

Equal parts harrowing and hilarious, Ten Steps to Nanette continues Gadsby’s tradition of confounding expectations and norms, properly introducing us to one of the most explosive, formative voices of our time.

Sea of Tranquility

Emily St. John Mandel
Hardcover/April 5, 2022
Knopf

The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal–an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.

When We Were Birds

Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
Hardcover/March 15, 2022
Doubleday Books

You were never the smartest child, but even you should know that when a dead woman offers you a cigarette, the polite thing to do would be to take it. Especially when that dead woman is your mother.

The St. Bernard women have lived in Morne Marie, the house on top of a hill outside Port Angeles, for generations. Built from the ashes of a plantation that enslaved their ancestors, it has come to shelter a lineage that is bonded by much more than blood. One woman in each generation of St. Bernards is responsible for the passage of the city’s souls into the afterlife. But Yejide’s relationship with her mother, Petronella, has always been contorted by anger and neglect, which Petronella stubbornly carries to her death bed, leaving Yejide unprepared to fulfill her destiny.

Raised in the countryside by a devout Rastafarian mother, Darwin has always abided by the religious commandment not to interact with death. He has never been to a funeral, much less seen a dead body. But when his ailing mother can no longer work and the only job he can find is grave digging, he must betray the life she built for him in order to provide for them both. Newly shorn of his dreadlocks and his past and determined to prove himself, Darwin finds himself adrift in a city electric with possibility and danger.

Yejide and Darwin will meet inside the gates of Fidelis, Port Angeles’s largest and oldest cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves and a reckoning with fate beckons them both. A masterwork of lush imagination and immersive lyricism, When We Were Birds is a spellbinding novel about inheritance, loss, and love’s seismic power to heal.

All My Rage

Sabaa Tahir
Hardcover/March 1, 2022
Razorbill

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

Gallant

V.E. Schwab
Hardcover/March 1, 2022
Greenwillow Books

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

Moon Witch, Spider King

Marlon James
Hardcover/February 15, 2022
Riverhead Books

Julie says: There is a reason the first book in this trilogy was both loudly praised and loudly misunderstood- writing this unique, genre-breaking, and powerful isn’t for the faint-hearted. Someone looking for an easy read will need to look elsewhere, because this isn’t your typical Western fantasy series. It’s so, so worth the effort though. I haven’t read something this groundbreaking in ages. If anything, the second book is even better- richer, deeper, more complicated and paradoxically- more real. Take on the challenge- it’ll change you for the better.

From Marlon James, author of the bestselling National Book Award finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the second book in the Dark Star trilogy, his African Game of Thrones.

In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own.

Both a brilliant narrative device—seeing the story told in Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the perspective of an adversary and a woman—as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality, and the places where they overlap.

Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins: Caleb Widogast

Matthew Mercer
Hardcover/February 1, 2022
Dark Horse

Julie Says: Sad, powerful, brilliant. If you’re a Critter of long-standing or just now getting into the world of Exandria, don’t miss this stunning backstory for the world’s most beloved emo wizard.

In Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins: Caleb Widogast, Bren Aldric Ermendrud is chosen to attend the exclusive Soltryce Academy, preparing for an important future in service to the Empire. But nobody — least of all Bren himself — can foresee the cruelty he will endure, and the ways in which it will break and remake him. Witness the events that transform Bren into the Mighty Nein’s Caleb Widogast, and how they inform the path he’ll take in the future.

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Neil Gaiman
Paperback/January 25, 2022
William Morrow Paperbacks

Julie Says: Yes, I am a Neil Gaiman fan-girl. No, I am not ashamed of this. If you’ve ever wanted to try out one of the greatest fiction writers of this generation, you can’t go wrong with his infinitely inventive, magnificently weird, and always satisfying short stories. Presented here with the newly updated cover that I think truly represents the contents within- take a chance and stretch your reading wings with this gorgeous and unsettlingly brilliant collection.

A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night, taking one of the spectators along with it.
In a novella set two years after the events of American Gods, Shadow pays a visit to an ancient Scottish mansion, and finds himself trapped in a game of murder and monsters.

Another short story is set in a strangely altered Victorian England, the great detective Sherlock Holmes must solve a most unsettling royal murder.

Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams and nightmares.

The members of an excusive epicurean club lament that they’ve eaten everything that can be eaten, with the exception of a legendary, rare, and exceedingly dangerous Egyptian bird.

Such marvelous creations and more, including a short story set in the world of The Matrix and others set in the worlds of gothic fiction and children’s fiction, can be found in this collection, which showcases Gaiman’s storytelling brilliance as well as his entertaining (and dark) sense of humor. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most unique writers of our time.

Akata Woman

Nnedi Okorafor
Hardcover/January 18, 2022
Viking Books for Young Readers

Julie Says: Oh how I love this series! Rich in magic, folklore, and the ache of growing up as a child of two worlds. Having spent most of my life traveling and always feeling just a little out of place, these books speak to me in a profound way. Add to that my all-consuming love of inventive, original fantasy and this becomes something that transcends even my usual enthusiasm for story. Go read this series (starting with Akata Witch) and don’t say I didn’t warn you- it’s life-changing.

From the moment Sunny Nwazue discovered she had magic flowing in her blood, she sought to understand and control her powers. Throughout her adventures in Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, she had to navigate the balance between nearly everything in her life–America and Nigeria, the “normal” world and the one infused with juju, human and spirit, good daughter and powerful Leopard Person.

Now, those hard lessons and abilities are put to the test in a quest so dangerous and fantastical, it would be madness to go…but deadly not to. With the help of her friends, Sunny embarks on a mission to find a precious object hidden deep in a magical realm. Defeating the guardians of the prize will take more from Sunny than she has to give, and triumph will mean she will be forever changed.

Impact: How Rocks from Space Led to Life, Culture, and Donkey Kong

Greg Brennecka
Hardcover/February 1, 2022
William Morrow

Julie Says: Bitingly fun, informative, and easy to read. Everything I love in my nonfiction. The far-reaching and surprising links between culture and science never fail to delight me. Highly recommend for the always curious!

The Solar System. Dinosaurs. Donkey Kong. What is the missing link? Surprisingly enough, it’s meteorites. They explain our past, constructed our present, and could define our future.

Impact argues that Earth would be a lifeless, inhospitable piece of rock without being fortuitously assaulted with meteorites throughout the history of the planet. These bombardments transformed Earth’s early atmosphere and delivered the complex organic molecules that allowed life to develop on our planet. While meteorites have provided the raw materials for life to thrive, they have radically devastated life as well, most famously killing off the dinosaurs and paving the way for humans to evolve to where we are today.

As noted meteoriticist Greg Brennecka explains, meteorites did not just set us on the path to becoming human, they helped direct the development of human culture. Meteorites have influenced humanity since the start of civilization. Over the centuries, meteorite falls and other cosmic cinema have started (and stopped) wars, terrified millions, and inspired religions throughout the world.

With humor and an infectious enthusiasm, Brennecka reveals previously untold but important stories sure to delight and inform readers about the most important rocks on Earth.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo
Paperback/December 28, 2021
Dutton Books

Julie says: Dark, dreamy, and full of bittersweet hope. A very relevant historical novel with a lot of heart.

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root–that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible.

But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father–despite his hard-won citizenship–Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Winter's Orbit

Everina Maxwell
Paperback/December 28, 2021
Tor Books

Julie says: This is SO MUCH fun! I missed this when it first came out, thinking it would be dull and too-much-romance. I’m so glad I got bored and tried it anyway! There is a beautiful romance, but also political intrigue and a fascinating take on sci-fi epics. Highly recommended!

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

The Cat Who Saved Books

Sōsuke Natsukawa, Louise Heal Kawai (Translator)
Hardcover/December 7, 2021
HarperVia

Julie says: This is such a beautiful, bittersweet story! Rich, fantastical, and healing- I can’t stop recommending this to everyone who needs an escape from (waves hand around) all of this. 

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat named Tiger appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for—or rather, demands—the teenager’s help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and Tiger and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners.

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free. Through their travels, Tiger and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, unforgettable challenge—the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter…

Call Us What We Carry

Amanda Gorman
Hardcover/December 7, 2021
Viking

Julie says: If I could bottle the feelings these poems give me, I think I’d be a superhero, or at least a better person. Powerful gut-punches that sing with hope and humanity. This is everything we need right now.

Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, Amanda Gorman’s remarkable new collection reveals an energizing and unforgettable voice in American poetry. Call Us What We Carry is Gorman at her finest. Including “The Hill We Climb,” the stirring poem read at the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, and bursting with musical language and exploring themes of identity, grief, and memory, this lyric of hope and healing captures an important moment in our country’s consciousness while being utterly timeless.

White on White

Aysegül Savas
Hardcover/November 30, 2021
Riverhead Books

Julie says: Intense, riveting, and oh so vivid. This one  lulled me into complacency, and then blew me into bits. Powerful writing in such a slim volume. Psychological fiction at it’s most aching.

A “marvelous” (Lauren Groff) and riveting novel about a woman who has come undone.

A student moves to the city to research Gothic nudes. She rents an apartment from a painter, Agnes, who lives in another town with her husband. One day, Agnes arrives in the city and settles into the upstairs studio.

In their meetings on the stairs, in the studio, at the corner café, the kitchen at dawn, Agnes tells stories of her youth, her family, her marriage, and ideas for her art – which is always just about to be created. As the months pass, it becomes clear that Agnes might not have a place to return to. The student is increasingly aware of Agnes’s disintegration. Her stories are frenetic; her art scattered and unfinished, white paint on a white canvas.

What emerges is the menacing sense that every life is always at the edge of disaster, no matter its seeming stability. Alongside the research into human figures, the student is learning, from a cool distance, about the narrow divide between happiness and resentment, creativity and madness, contentment and chaos.

White on White is a sharp exploration of empathy and cruelty, and the stunning discovery of what it means to be truly vulnerable, and laid bare.

The Once and Future Witches

Alix Harrow
Paperback/September 28, 2021
Orbit

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

The Last Graduate

Naomi Novik
Hardcover/September 28, 2021
Del Rey Books

A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.

At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year–and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .

The Last House on Needless Street

Catriona Ward
Hardcover/September 28, 2021
Tor Nightfire

In a boarded-up house on a dead-end street at the edge of the wild Washington woods lives a family of three.

A teenage girl who isn’t allowed outside, not after last time.
A man who drinks alone in front of his TV, trying to ignore the gaps in his memory.
And a house cat who loves napping and reading the Bible.

An unspeakable secret binds them together, but when a new neighbor moves in next door, what is buried out among the birch trees may come back to haunt them all.

Harrow the Ninth

Tamsyn Muir
Paperback/September 14, 2021
Tordotcom

She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath—but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

Under the Whispering Door

T.J. Klune
Hardcover/September 14, 2021
Tor Books

We have signed copies!

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth

Cassandra Khaw
Paperback/October 19, 2021
Tor Nightfire

Julie’s thoughts: Spooky, thought-provoking, and beautifully told- this is exactly the kind of horror I reach for when I’m itching for something dark and dreamy. Keep the lights on while reading, and not just because the cover is terrifying!

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends, brought back together to celebrate a wedding.

A night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare as secrets get dragged out and relationships are tested.

But the house has secrets too. Lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

Effortlessly taking the classic haunted house story and turning it on its head, Nothing but Blackened Teeth is a sharp and devastating exploration of grief, the parasitic nature of relationships, and the consequences of our actions.

Certain Dark Things

Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Paperback/September 7, 2021
Tor Nightfire

Julie’s thoughts: Rich, lovely prose, and a gleaming wit define’s Silva Moreno-Garcia’s books for me. This one is all of that with a bit more blood. Perfect October reading!

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Hardcover/August 24, 2021
Harper Collins

Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.

Women of Troy

Pat Barker
Hardcover/August 24, 2021
Doubleday

Julie’s thoughts: Epic, startling, and oh so lovely to read- an ode, a poem, a fairy tale. I adored Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls and I love watching the characters grow in this sequel. This book was an absolute joy to read.

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.

But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.

Largely unnoticed by her squabbling captors, Briseis remains in the Greek encampment. She forges alliances where she can – with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, with Calchus, the disgraced priest – and begins to see the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…

The Madness of Crowds

Louise Penny
Hardcover/August 24, 2021
Minotaur Books

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds.

A Desolation Called Peace

Arkady Martine
Hardcover/March 2, 2021
Tor Books

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl

Zakiya Dalila Harris
Hardcover/June 1, 2021
Bloomsbury Publishing

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.

Dark, funny and furiously entertaining, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

Axiom's End

Lindsay Ellis
Hardcover/July 21, 2020
St. Martin's Press

Truth is a human right .

It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government–and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him–until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human–and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Fugitive Telemetry (Murderbot Diaries #6)

Martha Wells
Hardcover/April 27, 2021
Tordotcom

Having captured the hearts of readers across the globe (Annalee Newitz says it’s “one of the most humane portraits of a nonhuman I’ve ever read”) Murderbot has also established Martha Wells as one of the great SF writers of today.

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Sorrowland

Rivers Solomon
Hardcover/May 4, 2021
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Vern—seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised—flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future—outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.

White Magic by Elissa Washuta

White Magic

Elissa Washuta
Hardcover/April 27, 2021
Tin House

Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, “starter witch kits” of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning.

In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life—Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham—to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun

Shelley Parker-Chan
Hardcover/July 20, 2021
Tor Books

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.