Dec 24, 2019


Book Review - Frozen Secrets, Europa Academy #1 (by Myles Christensen)

Title: Frozen Secrets
Series: Europa Academy (book #1)
Author: Myles Christensen
Genre: Science Fiction, Action & Adventure, Young Readers
Publisher: Moon Zoom Press
Release Date: January 25th, 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 298

"He has trouble following the rules on Earth, but Jupiter’s moon could kill his curiosity for good...

Thirteen-year-old Max Parker is a grounded Earthling with the soul of a space explorer. So when he learns his family is relocating to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, he readily agrees to stay out of trouble. But his promise is soon forgotten, and his snooping lands him on a shuttle doomed for a fiery disintegration.

Convinced someone sabotaged the craft to cover up the theft he witnessed, Max digs into the incident. What else could they be hiding? Dodging a series of deadly accidents, he follows the clues to an abandoned outpost and discovers a secret that could blow the lid off a moon-wide conspiracy. Can he solve the mystery before his interplanetary escapade gets him killed?"

Frozen Secrets (Europa Academy #1)
(read an excerpt on

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a "teen science fiction story perfect for readers who like spunky characters and exciting adventures in space, filled with fearless friends, high-orbit mysteries, and immersive worlds". It sounded like something I would enjoy reading so I decided to give it a go.

The Plot
In the near future, the discovery of the Catarium fusion led to the formation of the World Alliance and the beginning of an era of peace. With free energy available everywhere, humanity started to colonize the solar system and explore its resources.

When the Parker family is selected to relocate to the newly-constructed Europa City on Jupiter's moon, 13-year-old Max sees his lifelong dream of going to space come true. Not only is he one step closer to becoming an astronaut like his father, but he will also get the chance of exploring the old Europa Base where his father used to work, before the accident that took the life of 3 astronauts.

But during an orientation trip to the Faraday Industries, Max witnesses the theft of the rare compound Zeenium from a restricted section, and now the Xenon League is threatening to kill him if he keeps snooping around. Max is determined to learn the secrets of the abandoned Europa Base and solving its 14 years old mystery suddenly becomes crucial to stop the stolen Zeenium from getting into the wrong hands.

The Good
"Frozen Secrets" is the first book in the "Europa Academy" series, a science fiction thriller for young readers. It follows the adventures of the main character Max, a 13-year-old boy whose family is relocated to a newly-constructed colony on the Jupiter moon of Europa. Max starts his new life in Europa City, getting in typical teenage mischief with his best friend, making new ones among his peers and involving himself in an interplanetary intrigue of greed and power that could affect the entire solar system.

The plot is fast-paced and action-packed, filled with thrilling sequences that will keep you glued to your seat, and an intriguing mystery with plenty of twists, turns and a few red herrings to keep the suspense going throughout the book. The worldbuilding is imaginative, complex and very plausible. Even without the inclusion of technical explanations found in YA/adult novels, the detailed descriptions of futuristic technologies are more than enough to fuel a young reader's imagination: house AIs with distinctive personalities and quirks; the Mesh, a driver-assist control system to handle traffic; sports in zero-g and alien environments like Z-Ball and the Europa Iditarod sled challenge; school subjects and activities, living on a space station and off-world colony...

The characters are 3-dimentional, realistic and relatable. The young characters are diverse with distinctive personalities: Max and his friends Jonathan, Cameron, Mei Li and Elise are typical teenagers, getting into trouble when following their wild imagination and curiosity with poor judgment skills, building their personalities, exploring friendship, dealing with peer pressure and rivalry, feeling awkward around the opposite sex... but also showing emotional growth as the story progresses. The adults are more stereotypical but they serve their purpose well as support characters helping to move the plot along.

Even though it's the first book in a series, this novel seems to be a standalone with a satisfying end, no strings left unresolved and no cliffhanger. A truly enjoyable reading experience that will surely please young readers but also entertain more mature audiences.

Final Rating
"Frozen Secrets" is the first book in the "Europa Academy" series, a science fiction thriller for young readers set in future Earth and on the Jupiter moon of Europa, with thrilling action sequences and an intriguing mystery. Recommended for those who enjoy science fiction and adventure stories in space colonies.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @inventor_myles
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Children's

Myles writes exciting adventures in a variety of genres. His characters rarely avoid falling in love (or at least crushing on each other).  For each new story, he makes a music playlist to match—and inspire—his writing.

Myles studied mechanical engineering in college. He works full-time as a design engineer and freelance product development consultant. He also teaches a CAD class at BYU twice a week.

Myles enjoys inventing new products. He has licensed three card games (Toss Your Cookies, Order’s Up!, and Skiwampus) to Gamewright.


Dec 18, 2019


Book Review - The Golden Viper, The Crimson Deathbringer #2 (by Sean Robins)

Title: The Golden Viper
Series: The Crimson Deathbringer (book #2)
Author: Sean Robins
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publisher: Beyond Time - A Next Chapter Imprint
Release Date: December 30th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 225

"Kanoor has fallen.

Despite their crushing defeat on Earth, the Xortaags are back, and with a genius plan that can be the brainchild of only one man in the galaxy, they’ve conquered the Akakie homeworld.

Not being the forgive-and-forget types, the Xortaags have chosen Earth as their next target. Moreover, if they have enough time to reverse-engineer all the advanced technology they found on Kanoor, they will rule the universe forever. Now it’s up to Jim, Kurt, Oksana and Tarq to save not only humanity but also every single sentient species in the universe.

And to make things worse, an even more sinister threat (yeah, more sinister than the Xortaags) is emerging in the background.

You thought the stakes were high in The Crimson Deathbringer (with Earth conquered and 700 million people killed)? You ain’t seen nothing yet!"

The Golden Viper (The Crimson Deathbringer book #2)
(click to read an excerpt on

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I had the opportunity to review the first book in the series, The Crimson Deathbringer, and was curious to see where the story went: how the surviving characters would deal with their losses and prepare against the expected aliens' retaliation for a humiliating defeat.

The Plot
Four months have passed since the defeat of the Xortaags' invasion force and Earth is slowly recovering from the loss of 700 million people. Colonel Jim Harrison and Colonel Kurt von der Hagen, trying to move on with their lives while grieving friends and loved ones, agree to help the Akakies liberate 30 planets still under Xortaag control before their indigenous species are annihilated, taking command of a task force of new top-of-the-line starships and Vipers.

Outraged by the humiliation suffered on Earth, the Xortaags make use of the Duplicator to bring back an old foe to lead the counterstrike. But first they need to conquer the Akakies home planet of Kanoor and take possession of their advanced technology. Unable to stop the invasion, Commander Tarq returns to Earth with the remaining Akakie fleet to ask Jim and Kurt's help in defeating the Xortaags once again.

A thousand years into the future, the peaceful Volt suffer an unprovoked attack with obsolete nuclear weapons, bringing their planet and civilization to the brink of extinction. Bent on avenging the deaths and devastation at the hands of the warring carbon-based species responsible for the attack, the silicon-based Volt devise a way to time travel to the past... it won't change the present but if their enemies are destroyed in the past, the future will be avenged.

The Good
"The Golden Viper" is the second book in "The Crimson Deathbringer" trilogy, a space opera science fiction series set in the near future of 2049. This sequel expands the scope of the first book by moving the action to planets other than Earth: Kanoor, the homeworld of the insectoid Akakies; Tangaar, the homeworld of the genetically enhanced Xortaags; some of the planets conquered by the Xortaags; and Voltex, 1000 years into the future.

The plot is fast-paced, with thrilling action sequences, intrigue, espionage, and a few twists and turns to keep up the suspense. The story is once again intense, this time not with all the drama of a devastating planetary invasion but the consequences and repercussions of war: the moral dilemmas, the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, the number of casualties it takes to make them one too many, drawing a line even when fighting a ruthless enemy.

The book is filled with witty humor, brilliant one-liners and multiple pop culture references. In book #1 it was too much and out of place, the story felt goofy negating all the drama of the plot; but in book #2 it's been toned down considerably and the author found a good balance between tense events and lighthearted moments, making it a much more enjoyable reading experience.

Told in both the 1st and 3rd person, the narrative explores all the different perspectives from all sides of the conflict, this time not just the humans and the Xortaags but also the Akakies and the Volts, with all the psychological range of expected emotions and reactions. The characters are complex, 3-dimensional and believable, with realistic goals and motivations. The recurring characters - Jim, Kurt, Oksana, Maada - show emotional growth from book #1 while dealing with feeling of loss, guilt and even identity; the new characters - the defector spy Xornaa, the 3 Xortaag princes, the Volt scientist Fartaz - add an extra layer of complexity to the story and help set up the final book of the series.

Final Rating
"The Golden Viper" is the second book in "The Crimson Deathbringer" trilogy, a space opera science fiction series set in the near future of 2049, with an engaging plot, thrilling action sequences, suspense, and plenty of witty humor and pop culture references. Recommended for those who enjoy space opera novels and stories about alien invasions and resistance, with all the moral dilemmas connected with the repercussions of war.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @seanrobins300
Genre: Science Fiction

Who am I?

“Who am I? I am Spiderman.”
Well, not really, but this should tell you all you need to know about me and my writing style.

I’m a huge Marvel (plus Game of Thrones, Star Trek AND Star Wars) fan, which shows since my novel is loaded with pop culture references. If you are a sci-fi fan (I assume that you are, otherwise what are you doing here?) you will enjoy them tremendously. I even went full Deadpool in my first draft and broke the fourth wall multiple times, until my editor told it was distracting and kept taking her out of the moment. Shame. Those fourth-wall breaks were hilarious. Still, I can guarantee a few laugh-out-loud moments. Case in point: The “good” aliens in my novel are a race of pranksters, whose main goal in life is pulling other people’s legs (They have four legs, hence the slight change in the idiom). My favorite author is Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), which is probably how I ended up writing in a first-person POV with the same light-hearted, funny tone as he does. The fact that my MC’s name is Jim is purely coincidental though.

I am a university/college level English teacher, and including Canada, I have lived and worked in five different countries. I have met people from all around the world. Plus, my parents are from a different background, and so is my wife. As a result, diversity has become a major theme in my novel. My characters look like the bridge crew from Star Trek. One of my female characters even impersonated Uhura once, albeit posthumously.

Previous in the series: The Crimson Deathbringer, The Crimson Deathbringer #1 
(book review)


Dec 13, 2019


Book Review - The Lay of Lady Percival (by Jennifer R. Povey)

Title: The Lay of Lady Percival
Series: -
Author: Jennifer R. Povey
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Aitune Press
Release Date: September 20th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 322


"Rome has fallen and the eagles have flown.

Left alone with her child when her lover, Arthur, leaves these shores, Persephone finds her world changed when he returns - as war duke and then King of Britain.

She has the one thing he needs: His son.

But he will not accept her as herself.

Thus is born the legend of Percival."

The Lay of Lady Percival
(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The blurb sounded interesting with a different take on the Arthurian legends; I'd only read Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon" series so I was curious to see how this book would approach the same story.

The Plot
Rome as fallen, abandoning Britannia to its fate. In order to protect the land from the Saxons and the Norsemen, the tribes have chosen Arthur as their warlord and king. With Christianity on the rise, Arthur must deny his former lover and take on a christian bride. But when Guinevere of Wales fails to produce an heir, Arthur has no choice but to acknowledge his illegitimate son to secure the line.

Persephone is a pagan, follower of the old ways and gods, forced to give up her son Gwydion to be fostered by the King himself. There is only one way to remain by his side and protect him, even if only from afar - to prove her worth as a warrior and gain access to Arthur's court. But in a land ruled by men who condemn women to be nothing more than broodmares, Persephone must disguise herself and assume the role of a man. And so Percival is born, giving his allegiance to king Arthur in times of war against the Saxons, and in times of peace while securing a nation divided by politics and religion.

The Good
"The Lay of Lady Percival" is an historical fantasy novel set in medieval Britannia, retelling the Arthurian legends from an original perspective, told in the 3rd person through the eyes of the main character Persephone over the course of several decades.

The novel is mostly a character study as we follow the main character in her male alias Percival, through her years of service to King Arthur as one of his elite warriors during the rise and fall of his reign. The author offers a vivid description of medieval times and what it would be like to be a Knight in Camelot through times of war and peace. While not action-packed there are a few battle sequences, first with the Saxons' incursions and later on while keeping the peace and order against raiders. There is also a mystery sub-plot that is slowly unraveled throughout the story and plenty of political intrigue as Christianity forcibly spreads its influence and consolidates its power.

The author makes an effort to write in a more elaborate language better suited to a medieval setting, though every now and then some modern days slang slips through. The characters are 3-dimentional, with believable motivations and emotional growth throughout the plot. Some were familiar to me - Arthur, Guinevere, Morgan, Nimue, Vivian, Merlin, Galahad, Mordred - though with a twist and a different story from the last Arthurian series I read; others like the main character Persephone (renamed Percival), Father Cadan and Uluru (an African slave turned mercenary turned Knight of the Round Table) were original.

There is liberal mention of homosexuality (colorfully described as the Greek vice) and inclusion of people of color but not in the usual role of servitude which, again, is a fresh take and nice addition to the Arthurian legends. The author also makes use of the main character to explore more philosophical themes as Percival reflects on her place in the universe, the role of women in the new order, the slow death of the old ways and beliefs, the future of a nation with the merging of different cultures once considered foes, companionship and bonding, allegiance, grief, change, faith and the existence of god (or gods) and their purpose for creation.

Final Rating
"The Lay of Lady Percival" is an historical fantasy novel set in medieval Britannia, a retelling of the Arthurian legends from an original perspective, with political and religious intrigue and a mystery sub-plot. Recommended for those who enjoy the legends of King Arthur and stories set in medieval times.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @NinjaFingers
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Short Stories, Horror

As a fiction writer, Jennifer R. Povey has short fiction credits from a number of magazines including Analog, as well as publishers including Third Flatiron and Flame Tree Publishing. She is currently working on her fifth novel, the fourth book in the Lost Guardians series.

As a freelancer, she offers quality, human-readable web content and copy to individuals and businesses at reasonable rates. She also writes articles and guest blog posts on a variety of subjects, but specializes in material related to fiction writing, equestrian activities and travel. She also provides proofreading and basic copy editing services.

She also has a number of credits in the RPG industry, having written or co-written supplements for Fat Goblin Games, Rite Publishing, Dark Naga Games, Flaming Crab Games, Avalon Game Company, and others.

She also enjoys horseback riding, travel, role-playing games and hanging out with her highly supportive and wonderful husband, Greg.


Dec 6, 2019


Book Review - Hamartia (by Raquel Rich)

Title: Hamartia
Series: -
Author: Raquel Rich
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Thriller & Suspense
Publisher: Words Matter Publishing
Release Date: August 15th, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 344


"Grace's nine-year-old son, Jordan, is dying. First, the Metagenesis disease will tear his soul from his body, and then it will kill him. Desperate for a cure, Grace agrees to take part in an illegal clinical trial cloning souls. Supported by her best friend Kay, the two embark on the ultimate "Vegas Vacation" to the past in search of the right soul to clone, racing against time to save Jordan's life. But someone is trying to stop them and when they discover why Grace must make a choice: let her son die or kill her husband. If she kills her husband, she triggers widespread Metagenesis, sealing the fate of the human race with a new plague.

Humanity is counting on Grace choosing to let her son die."

(click to read an excerpt on

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The blurb sounded intriguing with a mix of time travel, reincarnation and soul cloning so I decided to give it a go.

The Plot
In the near apocalyptic future of 2080, where the world is no longer separated by countries, languages and laws but wealth alone, humanity is threatened with extinction by a devastating epidemic known as Metagenesis: old souls who have lived for many lives are ripped from their bodies and never reincarnated again, killing any future versions of a person.

When Gracie's 9-year-old son Jordan is diagnosed with Metagenesis, she turns to Dr. Messie in a desperate attempt to avoid euthanizing her dying son. The Messies have proven the existence of reincarnation and developed the means to time travel to those past lives; now Dr. Claudio Messie believes he has found a cure for Metagenesis by cloning a soul from a past life... but the medical research is still highly experimental and very illegal.

Grace will do anything to save her son, even travel 80 years back in time to Las Vegas in the year 2000 where she must find David Williams, her estranged soon-to-be-ex husband's past life, and clone his soul. But trying to navigate a strange world of legal gambling and fast food without drawing attention to herself is the least of Grace's problems, for while the entire world is counting on her to succeed in her mission, there are those determined to stop her. Soon Grace realizes there is more to Dr. Messie's research than she was told as she is forced to choose between saving her son or her husband.

The Good
"Hamartia" is the first novel of a science fiction and time travel thriller series, set in Las Vegas in the year 2000 and near future Toronto in 2080. The narrative is fast-paced with plenty of mystery, intrigue, suspense and unexpected plot twists and turns that will leave you guessing until literally the last page. The author plays with the concept of reincarnated souls and time travel in an original and ingenious way, that not only avoids any religious themes and philosophies but also sidesteps the expected grandfather paradox, weaving all the mysteries and twists together in a brilliant and logical manner.

Told in the first person through the eyes of the main character Grace Darthmour, the story follows her journey through time while on a secret and illegal mission to seek the past life of her soon-to-be-ex husband and clone his soul, in order to save her ailing son Jordan from dying of Metagenesis. This journey is not just physical but mostly psychological as we get to experience the main character's emotional growth throughout the plot: dealing with fears, hopes and regrets of going on a mission that could get her stranded in the past while her son is dying alone in the future, feelings of grief and guilt over her father's suicide, conflicting emotions regarding her husband Marc, unresolved issues with her estranged best friend and journey companion Kay... but also doubts, moral and ethical dilemmas connected with her mission that turns out to be more than what she was originally told.

Grace is confronted with allies and adversaries in unexpected places as she unravels not only the identity of her soulmate donor but also the reasons behind those who oppose her mission. The characters are 3-dimentional and complex, with believable flaws and virtues, emotions and motivations, and even minor secondary characters play their part in the overall plot.

This novel is one wild ride that is guaranteed to keep you glued to your seat from start to finish and eagerly wanting for the next installment.

Final Rating
"Hamartia" is the first book in a science fiction and time travel thriller series, set in Las Vegas in the year 2000 and near future Toronto in 2080, with an engaging plot filled with mystery and suspense, intrigue and plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Recommended for those who enjoy time travel tales, stories with a focus on a character's emotional growth and with moral and ethical dilemmas.

• • • •

- About the Author -

Twitter: @RaquelRiosRich
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller & Suspense

Raquel Rich is a full-time sci-fi author and occasional blogger. She loves to travel, suntan, walk her dog, and is obsessed with all things Beauty & the Beast. She despises cold weather, balloons, and writing about herself in the third person but noticed all the real authors do that. Raquel left (ok, got let go from) a career in the travel industry and rather than looking for a real job, she wrote her first book, HAMARTIA. Born and raised in Canada to Brazilian parents, she lives in the Toronto area with her family. Married to the guy she’s been with since she was fifteen (her baby daddy), her superpowers include being a mom to their two awesome grown-ass boys and one fur baby.

Raquel Rich is a proud member of Broad Universe: an international, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative genres.



Dec 3, 2019


New Monthly Book Releases - December 2019

Time to update your to-be-read list and clear some space on your shelves. These are a few of the new book releases for December 2019.

- Science Fiction -

December 3rd:

Accepting the Lance (Liaden Universe #22) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Baen)
Exiled from Liad after bombing a city to save it from The Department of the Interior’s infernal weapons and plans, Clan Korval has gone to ground on the back-water planet Surebleak, whose people are as untamed as its weather. The old Boss-controlled fiefdoms largely fell to Pat Rin yos’Phelium’s influence, but the world is restive, the influx of outworld lawyers, guns, and money a brewpot for armed dissatisfaction. Far beyond the surface of frigid Surebleak Korval’s farflung trade network needs a serious reset to recover from exile. From flagship Dutiful Passage to the experimental—if centuries old—self-aware Bechimo co-captained by the Delm’s blood-sister Theo Waitley, the clan’s ships are prowling space lanes seeking trade. Meanwhile, Old Tech from a failed universe—the ancient but revived Tinsori Light—and the machinations of the mysterious Uncle are coalescing into dangerous opportunity or nefarious trap. And the Department of the Interior is not done with Clan Korval yet. They seek a final fully reckoned revenge, with Surebleak and Korval’s ships and people everywhere in the crosshairs.

Anyone by Charles Soule (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Harper Perennial)
Charles Soule brings his signature knowledge—and wariness--of technology to his sophomore novel set in a realistic future about a brilliant female scientist who creates a technology that allows for the transfer of human consciousness between bodies, and the transformations this process wreaks upon the world. Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever… Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose - sex, drugs, crime... or worse. Anyone masterfully interweaves the present-day story of the discovery and development of the flash with the gritty tale of one woman’s crusade to put an end to the darkness it has brought to the world twenty-five years after its creation. Like Blade Runner crossed with Get Out, Charles Soule’s thought-provoking work of speculative fiction takes us to a world where identity, morality, and technology collide.

Brand of Light (The Droseran Saga #1) by Ronie Kendig (Hardcover, 400 pages,  published by Enclave Publishing)
There's a price on her head, and it has everything to do with the brand on her arm. Tertian Space Coalition has blessed every planet in the quadrants with high technology, save one: Drosero. But in spite of their tenuous treaty with the ruling clans, TSC has plans for the backward planet. And they're not alone. After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she's borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders. Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order - not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted - or cursed - with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted.

Dead Astronauts (Borne #2) by Jeff VanderMeer (Paperback, 336 pages, published by McClelland & Stewar)
A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. Three ragtag rebels waging an endless war for the fate of the world against an all-powerful corporation. A raving madman who wanders the desert lost in the past, haunted by his own creation: an invisible monster whose name he has forgotten and whose purpose remains hidden. Jeff VanderMeer's Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives--both human and otherwise--converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake: the fate of the future, the fate of Earth--all the Earths.

Down Among the Dead (The Farian War #2) by K.B. Wagers (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Orbit)
Gunrunner empress Hail Bristol must navigate alien politics and deadly plots to prevent an interspecies war, in this second novel in the Farian War space opera trilogy. In a surprise attack that killed many of her dearest subjects, Hail Bristol, empress of Indrana, has been captured by the Shen -- the most ruthless and fearsome aliens humanity has ever encountered. As she plots her escape, the centuries-long war between her captors and the Farians, their mortal enemies and Indrana's oldest allies, finally comes to a head. When her captors reveal a shocking vision of the future, Hail must make the unexpectedly difficult decision she's been avoiding: whether to back the Shen or the Farians. Staying neutral is no longer an option. Will Hail fight? Or will she fall?

Scornful Stars (Breaker of Empires #3) by Richard Baker (Paperback, 464 pages, published by Tor Books)
Richard Baker continues his new military science fiction series, Breaker of Empires, with vivid space battles and elements of politics and cultural heritage, picking up where Valiant Dust and Restless Lightning have led. Now a captain, Sikander Singh North commands the destroyer Ardent, assigned to Zerzura, a haven for piracy and the next playing-board in the Great Game. The Aquilan Commonwealth and the Empire of Dremark vie for the allegiance of local ruler Marid Pasha, a competition with stakes that reach far beyond the sector's pirate-infested limits. Sikander must stop the pirate attacks while charting his course between the ambitions of Marid Pasha, a dubious alliance with a shipping magnate, and the inexperience of Ardent’s crew... a situation that only grows more complicated when an old enemy returns.

Wild Cards X: Double Solitaire (Wild Cards #10) by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass (Paperback, 432 pages, published by Tor Books)
Aboard his grandfather's spaceship and fleeing the violent turmoil between jokers, aces, and nats that his vicious ambition spawned, Blaise is headed for a new conquest: the planet Takis. Dr. Tachyon is left behind... but he's lost more than his only way of returning to his homeworld. Blaise has stolen his body, as well--leaving Tach trapped in the pregnant body of a teenage runaway. Tachyon must sell his soul to reach Takis--and once there, confront Blaise amidst the political and military machinations of Takisian society. Treachery and treason await him. At stake is nothing less than the destiny of an entire world.

December 31st:

Dispel Illusion (Impossible Times #3) by Mark Lawrence (Paperback, 227 pages, published by 47North)
Sometimes being wrong is the right answer. Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices. Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near. Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.

Splintegrate by Deborah Teramis Christian (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Tor Books)
Deborah Teramis Christian is back with a rousing stand-alone sequel to fan favorite Mainline... One of the many charms of planet Lyndir is the Between-World, home to the licensed entertainers of the Sa'adani empire. The most famous is Kes, a professional dominatrix who has become a celebrity attraction at a palatial dungeon called Tryst. One of Kes's most devoted clients is the infamous interplanetary political operative Janus, the last man standing when his business fell apart on Selmun III, and now a major cog in Lyndir's political machine. When a high-powered imperial authority decides she wants Janus out of the way, the seductive domna Kes is the most logical avenue. She'd never betray a client's trust, but the threat to her and her Sa'adani sisters is so great that she has no choice but to assist. Imprisoned, altered against her will, and turned into a brutal weapon by the highly experimental Splintegrate cloning technology, Kes is at war with herself as everything she holds dear falls apart around her. It will take an enormous triumph of will and help from some unlikely avenues for Kes to survive the government's machinations and pursue the independence she's craved her entire life.

• • • •

- Fantasy -

December 3rd:

Blood of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #3) by Brian McClellan (Hardcover, 672 pages, published by Orbit)
As the final battle approaches a sellsword, a spy, and a general must find unlikely and dangerous allies in order to turn the tides of war in this epic fantasy tale of magic and gunpowder by acclaimed author Brian McClellan. The Dynize have unlocked the Landfall Godstone, and Michel Bravis is tasked with returning to Greenfire Depths to do whatever he can to prevent them from using its power; from sewing dissension among the enemy ranks to rallying the Palo population. Ben Styke's invasion of Dynize is curtailed when a storm scatters his fleet. Coming ashore with just twenty lancers, he is forced to rely on brains rather than brawn - gaining new allies in a strange land on the cusp of its own internal violence. Bereft of her sorcery and physically and emotionally broken, Lady Vlora Flint now marches on Landfall at the head of an Adran army seeking vengeance against those who have conspired against her. While allied politicians seek to undo her from within, she faces insurmountable odds and Dynize's greatest general.

The Case of the Spellbound Child (Elemental Masters #14) by Mercedes Lackey (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Daw Books)
The fourteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate 20th-century England. While Sherlock is still officially dead, John and Mary Watson and Nan Killian and Sarah Lyon-White are taking up some of his case-load--and some for Lord Alderscroft, the Wizard of London. Lord Alderscroft asks them to go to Dartmoor to track down a rumor of evil magic brewing there. Not more than four hours later, a poor cottager, also from Dartmoor, arrives seeking their help. His wife, in a fit of rage over the children spilling and spoiling their only food for dinner that night, sent them out on the moors to forage for something to eat. This is not the first time she has done this, and the children are moor-wise and unlikely to get into difficulties. But this time they did not come back, and in fact, their tracks abruptly stopped "as if them Pharisees took'd 'em." The man begs them to come help. They would have said no, but there's the assignment for Alderscroft. Why not kill two birds with one stone? But the deadly bogs are not the only mires on Dartmoor.

The General Zapped an Angel: Stories by Howard Fast (Paperback, 160 pages, published by Ecco)
In The General Zapped an Angel, featuring nine supremely entertaining fantasy and science fiction tales, a Vietnam general shoots down what appears to be an angel; a man sells his soul to the devil for a copy of the next day's Wall Street Journal; and a group of alien beings bestow a mouse with human thought and emotion. Fast, one of the bestselling authors of the twentieth century whose career spanned decades and genres, skewers war hawks, oil speculators, and profit-at-all-costs capitalism with wit and empathy, making these stories as relevant today as when they were first published in 1970.

The Revisionaries by A.R. Moxon (Hardcover, 512 pages, published by Melville House)
All is not boding well for Father Julius... A street preacher decked out in denim robes and running shoes, Julius is a source of inspiration for a community that knows nothing of his scandalous origins. But when a nearby mental hospital releases its patients to run amok in his neighborhood, his trusted if bedraggled flock turns expectantly to Julius to find out what’s going on. Amid the descending chaos, Julius encounters a hospital escapee who babbles prophecies of doom, and the growing palpable sense of impending danger intensifies... as does the feeling that everyone may be relying on a street preacher just a little too much. Still, Julius decides he must confront the forces that threaten his congregation—including the peculiar followers of a religious cult, the mysterious men and women dressed all in red seen fleetingly amid the bedlam, and an enigmatic smoking figure who seems to know what’s going to happen just before it does. In the end, The Revisionaries is a wildly imaginative, masterfully rendered, and suspenseful tale that conjures the bold outlandishness stylishness of Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Moore—while being unlike anything that’s come before.

This Will Kill That (This Will Kill That, #1) by Danielle K. Roux (Kindle Edition, 300 pages, published by The Parliament House Press)
District City is full of monsters. Not the kind that appear particularly vile from the outside. The kind who murder innocent people for no apparent reason. Abandoned houses are haunted by wayward spirits. Leaders of rival Colors clash over the secrets of a brutal past. After the Plague thinned out the population, Rin Morana figured people would have stopped killing each other. No such luck. Her parents disappeared, and now she is set to take over as the new Lady Morana, head of the Green faction. To be a leader, Rin must contend with her relationship to her rival, Lady Amaya, as well as her own history of violence. A series of riddles take Amaya Verity out of her isolated room in the Blue compound and into the hidden spaces of the City. Running away from captivity, Amaya takes shelter with Rin at the old Sydis house. There she meets two young men with demons of their own to contend with and abilities to match. Alan who is hiding out from his abusive ex, and Kazuki who might be the only person in the City that remembers the events of the Plague. As they dig deeper, Amaya and Rin must decide whether to fight monsters or become them.

Walk the Wild with Me by Rachel Atwood (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Daw Books)
Orphaned when still a toddler, Nicholas Withybeck knows no other home than Locksley Abbey outside Nottingham, England. He works in the Scriptorium embellishing illuminated manuscripts with hidden faces of the Wild Folk and whimsical creatures that he sees every time he ventures into the woods and fields. His curiosity leads him into forbidden nooks and crannies inside, and outside the abbey. He becomes adept at hiding to stay out of trouble. On one of these forays he slips into the crypt beneath the abbey. There he finds an altar older than the abbey's foundations, ancient when the Romans occupied England. Behind the bricks around the altar, he finds a palm-sized silver cup. The cup is embellished with the three figures of Elena, the Celtic goddess of crossroads, sorcery, and cemeteries. He carries the cup with him always. The goddess whispers wisdom in the back of his mind. With Elena in his pocket, Nick can see that the masked dancers on the May Day celebration in the local village are the actual creatures of the wood, The Green Man, Robin Goodfellow, Herne the Huntsman, dryads, trolls, and water sprites, the imaginary faces he's seen and drawn into the Illuminations. Over the course of several adventures where Elena guides Nick and keeps him safe, he learns that Little John's (the Green Man) love has been kidnapped by Queen Mab of the Faeries. The door to the Faery mound will only open when the moons of the two realms align. The time is fast approaching. Nick must release Elena so that she can use sorcery to unlock that door and Nick's band of friends can try to rescue the girl. Will he have the courage to release her as his predecessor did not?

Where Gods Fear to Go (West of West #3) by Angus Watson (Paperback, 560 pages, published by Orbit)
The action-packed finale to the West of West trilogy, an epic fantasy adventure in which a mismatched group of refugees battle animals and monsters, an unforgiving land and each other, as they cross a continent to fulfill a prophecy.

December 9th:

A Violet Fire (Vampires in Avignon #1) by Kelsey Quick (Paperback, 346 pages, published by Kelsey Quick)
In the Vampire Stratocracy of Cain, human blood is scarce. For centuries, councils have sought to assuage the blood shortage by enslaving and breeding humans, turning them into profitable supply units for the rich and the abled. Today, eighteen-year-old Wavorly Sterling is officially a supply unit, bound to serve her blood willingly to her master for the rest of her life. One of only few humans that was not bred in Cain, Wavorly knows freedom better than anyone, and she is determined to escape the clutches of her oppressors, even if by the hands of death. But surprises lay beyond every certainty, and within every doubt. Where Wavorly's hatred for both vampires and her enslavement once flowed free as blood, it merely trickles as she grows to admire her reserved, yet receptive master and savior, Anton Zein. Although warmed by comforts never felt before, danger still lurks in the castle, and a prophecy calls from beyond the walls of a lavender gate—concealing the horrific secrets lodged between handsome smirks and cinereous eyes. It will take everything within Wavorly to face her fears and her doubts; to harness the truth of her past despite what that means for her future. The only question is, will she? Set in a richly detailed world of fantasy, A Violet Fire is a gripping journey filled with passion, betrayal, lies, and the encouragement we all need to take a stand for our freedom—no matter the cost.

December 10th:

Crownbreaker (Spellslinger #6) by Sebastien de Castell (Paperback, 544 pages, published by Orbit)
A failed mage learns that just because he's not the chosen one it doesn't mean he can't be a hero in final book of the Spellslinger series. Once an outlaw spellslinger, Kellen Argos has made a life for himself as the Daroman Queen's protector. A little magic and a handful of tricks are all it takes to deal with the constant threats to her reign. But when rumors of an empire-shattering war begin to stir, Kellen is asked to commit an unimaginable act to protect his queen. Inside enemy territory, he quickly realizes something is amiss. Someone is playing a dangerous game. And to discover their secrets, Kellen will have to challenge the greatest spellcaster who's ever lived.

The Light of All That Falls (The Licanius Trilogy #3) by James Islington (Paperback, 864 pages, published by Orbit)
The Light of All That Falls concludes the epic adventure that began in The Shadow of What Was Lost, the acclaimed fantasy blockbuster from James Islington. The Boundary is whole once again, but it may be too late. Banes now stalk Andarra, while in Ilin Illan, the political machinations of a generation come to a head as Wirr's newfound ability forces his family's old enemies into action. Imprisoned and alone in a strange land, Davian is pitted against the remaining Venerate as they work tirelessly to undo Asha's sacrifice - even as he struggles with what he has learned about the friend he chose to set free. And Caeden, now facing the consequences of his centuries-old plan, must finally confront its reality - heartbroken at how it began, and devastated by how it must end.

• • • •

- Historical Fiction -

December 1st:

Once Night Falls by Roland Merullo (Paperback, 366 pages, published by Lake Union Publishing)
A harrowing historical novel of the extraordinary acts of ordinary people in Nazi-occupied Italy. Italy, 1943. Luca Benedetto has joined the partisans in their fight against the German troops ravaging the shores of his town on Lake Como. While risking his life to free his country, Luca is also struggling to protect Sarah, his Jewish lover who’s hiding in a mountain cabin. As the violent Nazi occupation intensifies, Luca and Sarah fear for more than their own lives. In the heart of their village, their mothers have also found themselves vulnerable to the encroaching Nazis. But Luca’s mother, undeterred, is devising her own revenge on the occupiers. With Mussolini deposed and Allied armies fighting their way up the peninsula, the fate of Italy hangs in the balance, and the people of Lake Como must decide how much they’re prepared to sacrifice for family, friends, and the country they love. The most trying of times will create the most unexpected heroes and incredible acts of courage in this stirring narrative as seen through the eyes of those devastated by war-torn Italy.

December 3rd:

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Ballantine Books)
This richly imagined novel tells the story behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the book that inspired the iconic film, through the eyes of author L. Frank Baum's intrepid wife, Maud. Hollywood, 1938: As soon as she learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband's masterpiece for the screen, seventy-seven-year-old Maud Gage Baum sets about trying to finagle her way onto the set. Nineteen years after Frank's passing, Maud is the only person who can help the producers stay true to the spirit of the book--because she's the only one left who knows its secrets. But the moment she hears Judy Garland rehearsing the first notes of "Over the Rainbow," Maud recognizes the yearning that defined her own life story, from her youth as a suffragette's daughter to her coming of age as one of the first women in the Ivy League, from her blossoming romance with Frank to the hardscrabble prairie years that inspired The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Judy reminds Maud of a young girl she cared for and tried to help in South Dakota, a dreamer who never got her happy ending. Now, with the young actress under pressure from the studio as well as her ambitious stage mother, Maud resolves to protect her--the way she tried so hard to protect the real Dorothy. Finding Dorothy is the result of Letts's journey into the amazing lives of Frank and Maud Baum. Written as fiction but based closely on the truth, Elizabeth Letts's new book tells a story of love, loss, inspiration, and perseverance, set in America's heartland.

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Flatiron Books)
An extraordinary story of eight boys stranded on a rock in the middle of the sea, left to fight for their survival. Every time a lad went fowling on the stacs, he came home less of a boy and more of a man. If he went home at all, that is. Every summer Quill and his friends are put ashore on a remote sea stac to hunt birds. But this summer, no one arrives to take them home. Surely nothing but the end of the world can explain why they’ve been abandoned—cold, starving and clinging to life, in the grip of a murderous ocean. How will they survive such a forsaken place of stone and sea? This is an extraordinary story of fortitude, endurance, tragedy and survival, set against an unforgettable backdrop of savage beauty.

December 10th:

Africville: A Novel by Jeffrey Colvin (Paperback, 384 pages, published by HarperCollins Publishers)
This debut novel is the richly woven story of a town settled by former slaves on the outskirts of Halifax, Nova Scotia, known as Africville, and of the Sebolt family, who moves there in the 1930s. Teenager Kath Ella Sebolt wants desperately to escape the town that she equates with deprivation and lack of opportunity. Months after her boyfriend is killed during a clash between young people in the village and Halifax constables, she moves with her infant son to Montreal. After attending college as a single mother, and ultimately marrying a white man, she discovers that as much as she tries, severing ties to her former village is not easy. Kath Ella’s son Etienne puts even more distance between himself and the village, first moving across the border to Vermont, and then farther south to Alabama, where he passes for white. Etienne’s son Warner finds his standing in his all-white community compromised by the sudden revelation that he has black grandparents. As the story comes full circle, Warner travels to Africville to get to know his black relatives. They, however, are suspicious of his motivations. The family saga unfolds against the backdrop of Africville, based on a real place that has become a symbol not only of Black Canadian identity, but also of how the human spirit remains resilient in the face of adversity, tragedy and change.

The Wicked Redhead (The Wicked City #2) by Beatriz Williams (Paperback, 432 pages, published by William Morrow Paperbacks)
In this follow-up to The Wicked City, New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams combines past and present in this delicious Jazz Age adventure featuring a saucy redheaded flapper, the square-jawed Prohibition agent who loves her, and a beautiful divorcee trying to remake her life in contemporary New York. New York City, 1998: When Ella Gilbert discovers her banker husband is cheating on her, she loses both her marriage and the life she knew. In her new apartment in an old Greenwich Village building, she’s found unexpected second love with Hector, a musician who lives upstairs. And she’s discovered something else, just as surprising—a connection to the mesmerizing woman scandalously posed in a vintage photograph titled Redhead Beside Herself. Florida, 1924: Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from Appalachia, barely survived a run-in with her notorious bootlegger stepfather. She and Oliver Anson, a Prohibition agent she has inconveniently fallen in love with, take shelter in Cocoa Beach, a rum-running haven. But the turmoil she tried to leave behind won’t be so easily outrun. Anson’s mother, the formidable Mrs. Marshall, descends on Florida with a proposition that propels Gin back to the family’s opulent New York home, and into a reluctant alliance. Then Anson disappears during an investigation, and Gin must use all her guile and courage to find him. Two very different women, separated by decades. Yet as Ella tries to free herself from her ex, she is also hunting down the truth about the captivating, wicked Redhead in her photograph—a woman who loved and lived fearlessly. And as their link grows, she feels Gin urging her on, daring her to forge her own path, wherever it leads.

December 17th:

A Trace of Deceit (Victorian Mystery #2) by Karen Odden (Paperback, 416 pages, published by William Morrow Paperbacks)
From the author of A Dangerous Duet comes the next book in her Victorian mystery series, this time following a daring female painter and the Scotland Yard detective who is investigating her brother’s suspicious death. A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder... Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago. As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.

December 31st:

The Moonshiner's Daughter by Donna Everhart (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Kensington Publishing Corporation)
Set in North Carolina in 1960 and brimming with authenticity and grit, The Moonshiner's Daughter evokes the singular life of sixteen-year-old Jessie Sasser, a young woman determined to escape her family's past... Generations of Sassers have made moonshine in the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Their history is recorded in a leather-bound journal that belongs to Jessie Sasser's daddy, but Jessie wants no part of it. As far as she's concerned, moonshine caused her mother's death a dozen years ago. Her father refuses to speak about her mama, or about the day she died. But Jessie has a gnawing hunger for the truth--one that compels her to seek comfort in food. Yet all her self-destructive behavior seems to do is feed what her school's gruff but compassionate nurse describes as the "monster" inside Jessie. Resenting her father's insistence that moonshining runs in her veins, Jessie makes a plan to destroy the stills, using their neighbors as scapegoats. Instead, her scheme escalates an old rivalry and reveals long-held grudges. As she endeavors to right wrongs old and new, Jessie's loyalties will bring her to unexpected revelations about her family, her strengths--and a legacy that may provide her with the answers she has been longing for.

• • • •

- Literary Fiction -

December 1st:

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie (Paperback, 378 pages, published by Lake Union Publishing)
Holly Banks could not have made a worse first impression on the seemingly perfect moms in her new affluent community, the Village of Primm. Turns out wearing pink piggy pajama bottoms while dropping off her kindergartener late to the first day of school wasn’t her best look. Not to mention Holly’s worried her husband may be having an affair, she can’t get her daughter to stop sucking her thumb, her hard-won film degree is collecting dust, and to top it all off, the power-hungry PTA president clearly has it in for her… To make matters even worse, Holly’s natural eye for drama lands her smack-dab in the middle of a neighborhood mystery—right as her own crazy mother shows up in Primm “to help.” Through it all, Holly begins to realize her neighbors may be just as flawed as—and even wackier than—she is, leaving her to wonder: Is there such a thing as a perfect mom?

December 3rd:

Meg and Jo by Virginia Kantra (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Berkley Books)
The March sisters--reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth--have grown up to pursue their separate dreams. When Jo followed her ambitions to New York City, she never thought her career in journalism would come crashing down, leaving her struggling to stay afloat in a gig economy as a prep cook and secret food blogger. Meg appears to have the life she always planned--the handsome husband, the adorable toddlers, the house in a charming subdivision. But sometimes getting everything you've ever wanted isn't all it's cracked up to be. When their mother's illness forces the sisters home to North Carolina for the holidays, they'll rediscover what really matters. One thing's for sure--they'll need the strength of family and the power of sisterhood to remake their lives and reimagine their dreams.

December 10th:

The Book of Science and Antiquities by Thomas Keneally (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Atria Books)
By the Booker Prize-winning author of Schindler's Ark, a bold, millennia-spanning novel about community, mortality, and what it means to be human. In a novel of breathtaking reach and inspired imagination, one of Australia's greatest writers tells the stories of two men who have much in common. What separates them is 42,000 years. Shade lives with his second wife amid their clan on the shores of a bountiful lake. A peaceable man, he knows that when danger threatens, the Hero ancestors will call on him to kill, or sacrifice himself, to save his people. Over 40,000 years later, Shade's remains are unearthed near the now dry Lake Learned in New South Wales. The sensational discovery fascinates Shelby Apple, a documentary film maker who tracks the controversies it provokes about who the continent's first inhabitants were and where Shade's bones belong. To Shelby, who will follow his own heroes to the battlefields of Eritrea and the Rift Valley where Homo Sapiens originated, Shade is a messenger from an ancient culture that lived in harmony with the land. And when mortality looms, he becomes a symbol of enduring life.

The Story of a Goat by Perumal Murugan (Paperback, 192 pages, published by Grove Press, Black Cat)
As he did in the award-winning One Part Woman, in his newest novel, The Story of a Goat, Perumal Murugan explores a side of India that is rarely considered in the West: the rural lives of the country's farming community. He paints a bucolic yet sometimes menacing portrait, showing movingly how danger and deception can threaten the lives of the weakest through the story of a helpless young animal lost in a world it naively misunderstands. As the novel opens, a farmer in Tamil Nadu is watching the sun set over his village one quiet evening when a mysterious stranger, a giant man who seems more than human, appears on the horizon. He offers the farmer a black goat kid who is the runt of the litter, surely too frail to survive. The farmer and his wife take care of the young she-goat, whom they name Poonachi, and soon the little goat is bounding with joy and growing at a rate they think miraculous for such a small animal. Intoxicating passages from the goat's perspective offer a bawdy and earthy view of what it means to be an animal and a refreshing portrayal of the natural world. But Poonachi's life is not destined to be a rural idyll--dangers can lurk around every corner, and may sometimes come from surprising places, including a government that is supposed to protect the weak and needy. Is this little goat too humble a creature to survive such a hostile world? With allegorical resonance for contemporary society and examining hierarchies of caste and color, The Story of the Goat is a provocative but heartwarming fable from a world-class storyteller who is finally achieving recognition outside his home country.

December 30th:

Time for Love by Debbie Macomber (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Mira Books)
Two women each discover that the heart is what's important. A Friend or Two - Elizabeth Wainwright, an East Coast heiress in disguise, takes a job waitressing at a Fisherman's Wharf cafe, eager to live a simpler life. One day Andrew Breed--handsome, mysterious and charismatic--walks in. He says he's a longshoreman, but his words and actions don't quite add up. Is Elizabeth falling in love with someone who's pretending to be something other than he claims? Is Andrew? The Trouble with Caasi - Caasi Crane, CEO of a West Coast hotel chain, has always taken her job seriously--and taken her most important employee for granted. But when Blake Sherrill, her very skillful, and very attractive, general manager resigns, Caasi suddenly realizes she not only needs him, she loves him. So now the question is: How can she convince Blake to stay--in Portland, on the job and, most important, with her?

December 31st:

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both. Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right. But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other. With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

• • • •

- Young Adult -

December 3rd:

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha #2) by Tomi Adeyemi (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Henry Holt & Company)
After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too. Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari's right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy's wrath. With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home. But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season. Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility. Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

Diamond & Dawn (Amber & Dusk #2) by Lyra Selene (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Scholastic Press)
Lyra Selene returns to the incandescent magic of Amber & Dusk in a second installment about the corrosions of even the most dazzling dreams, and the strength of hope amidst darkness. Mirage, triumphant in her coup of the Amber Empire, returns to the palais prepared to take her place as Empress. With the support of her friends, Luca and Lullaby, and a tentative, blossoming romance with Sunder, Mirage is on the cusp of taking hold of everything she has wanted. However, her place in the sun is not as sure as she expected; nor is it quite as bright as she imagined. When the Empress Severine's body is recovered from the battle, she is not dead after all -- in a coma, she still represents a threat to Mirage's newfound power. Worse, a distant cousin, Gavin d'Ars, Duc de Douane, appears in court to challenge both women with his blood claim, and to propose a series of trials to determine the most deserving heir. In Mirage's fight to defend her vision for the empire, she begins to splinter all of her networks. Will the battle for control leave anyone untainted?

Reverie by Ryan La Sala (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Sourcebooks Fire)
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different. As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know. This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.

Runemaker (The Runebinder Chronicles #3) by Alex R. Kahler (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Inkyard Press)
The end is here. Tenn thought the spirits wanted him to find his fellow Hunter, Aidan, to win the war against the undead. But with Aidan on the brink of self-destruction and Tenn reeling from his lover's spite, their fated convergence seems far from promising.
Especially because Aidan no longer appears to be fighting for the living. With the Dark Lady whispering commands and Tom+s guiding his hand, Aidan slips deeper into darkness. And while the world rallies for its final battle against the Dark Lady's minions, Tenn finds himself torn between saving the boy who's slipping away and fulfilling a prophecy he can't understand--one that will require him to harness the most powerful magic the world has ever seen: the Sphere of Maya. And depending on who unleashes its power, that magic could either save humanity... or erase it.

December 24th:

Daughter of Chaos (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Scholastic Inc.)
Half-witch, half-mortal sixteen-year-old Sabrina Spellman has made her choice: She's embraced her dark side and her witchy roots. Now her power is growing daily... but will it come at too high a price? Sabrina Spellman has just made the hardest decision of her life: She's leaving behind her beloved friends at Baxter High. Now it's time to follow the path of night and find her way among the witches and warlocks at the Academy of Unseen Arts. Sabrina has always been good at the school thing, but now she has a whole new world to navigate. Her power is growing daily, but it comes with a high price. She must always remember her new allegiances and the cost they have on her friends... and on herself. And then there's her new classmates. Prudence, Dorcas, and Agatha are friends, kind of, but can Sabrina trust them? And what about Nick Scratch? He's as charming as ever, but will his feelings for Sabrina last?

(sources: 1 2, Barnes&Noble, 1 2, 1 2 3 4 5)