Apr 24, 2019


Book Review - Master and Apprentice (by Claudia Gray)

Title: Master and Apprentice
Series: Star Wars Disney Canon Novel
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Media Tie-In
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release Date: April 16th, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 335

"An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future in the first canon Star Wars novel to take place before the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

A Jedi must be a fearless warrior, a guardian of justice, and a scholar in the ways of the Force. But perhaps a Jedi’s most essential duty is to pass on what they have learned. Master Yoda trained Dooku; Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn; and now Qui-Gon has a Padawan of his own. But while Qui-Gon has faced all manner of threats and danger as a Jedi, nothing has ever scared him like the thought of failing his apprentice.

Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master, but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn’t Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council—knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master.

When Jedi Rael Averross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit, and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon’s mind. As Qui-Gon’s faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan’s faith in him is tested—just as a threat surfaces that will demand that Master and apprentice come together as never before, or be divided forever."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
A Star Wars novel about a young Obi-Wan Kenobi... that was pretty much a given!

The Plot
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi have yet to forge a strong master-apprentice bond. With mismatched personalities and views of the Force that keep them out of sync, Qui-Gon Jinn believes he is not the right master to bring forward all the potential he senses in his Padawan. Obi-Wan Kenobi believes he has failed as a student; as a strict follower of rules and procedures, he struggles to understand Qui-Gon's unorthodox free-spirited approach to the role of a Jedi and his unpopular interest in ancient prophecies. When the Jedi Council offers Qui-Gon a seat, the Jedi Master sees it as an opportunity to bring a much needed fresh perspective to the Council and to transfer his apprentice to a more appropriate master.

In the distant world of Pijal, young Crown Princess Fanry is about to take the throne as the new Queen and sign a treaty with the powerful Czerka Corporation, which will open a new hyperspace corridor in the region and connect several isolated planets with the rest of the galaxy. When a group of political dissidents known as the Opposition escalate their terrorist attacks to stop the treaty, Jedi Knight Rael Averross, on a long mission as Lord Regent to Pijal, contacts the Jedi Council for help.

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to Pijal on their last mission together to settle the dispute and ensure the treaty is signed. Haunted by a Force vision of blood and disaster connected to the forthcoming coronation, Qui-Gon Jinn enlists the help of two jewel smugglers. Pax Maripher only wants to make a profit with the Kohlen crystals found on the moon of Pijal but Rahara Wick, an escaped former slave of the Czerka Corporation, is more than willing to hinder the corporation's plans for the system, even if it means risking her own hard-won freedom.

The Good
"Master and Apprentice" is a Star Wars novel set a few years before the events of The Phantom Menace. It follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi on what they believe will be their last mission together as master and apprentice, before Qui-Gon Jinn accepts his new position in the Jedi Council. The assignment will be their last chance to overcome their differences and develop a true master-apprentice relationship.

Two subplots run parallel to the main narrative. In the Pijal royal court, Jedi Knight Rael Averross, a misfit among the Jedi Order haunted by the death of his former Padawan, takes it upon himself to protect and groom the young Princess as a way to atone for his past mistake. Aboard the smuggler ship Meryx, two small-time jewel thieves make a living by selling one planet's worthless minerals as another planet's valuable jewels. Pax Maripher's only interest is to make a profit of the kohlen crystals found on the moon of Pijal while trying to keep his relationship with pilot Rahara Wick strictly on a professional level. Rahara just wants to make a new start after escaping from a lifetime of slavery at the hands of the Czerka Corporation.

The novel is fast-paced, with thrilling action sequences (all the expected and typical conflicts of the Star Wars universe, from lighsaber engagements to speeder chases and space battles) and an intriguing mystery with a twist I did not see coming. But also philosophical musings about good and evil, the nature of the Force and the true mandate of a Jedi, their limitations and shortcomings in a galaxy where evils like the enslavement of sentient beings still run rampant.

The characters, both familiar and new, are 3-dimensional and complex, with realistic behaviors, believable reactions and emotional growth throughout the plot. The author nails the voices of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi perfectly: the novel explores Qui-Gin Jinn's interest in ancient prophecies (the basis for his belief in the prophecy of the Chosen One during the events of The Phantom Menace), the reasons he clashes with the Jedi Council to the point of refusing a seat in the Council, and his connection to the Living Force - the here and now of present situations; we get to see Obi-Wan Kenobi's penchant to follow the rules and regulations set by the Jedi Council, why he hates to fly and prefers a connection with live mounts instead (as illustrated in the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith).

The author makes good use of ancient prophecies to give nods and hints to events depicted in the movies (from the Prequel Trilogy, to Rogue One and even Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker) and bring some of the elements from the books of the old Expanded Universe (now renamed Legends) back; through the use of flashback chapters, the novel also gives us a glimpse of Count Dooku's background, his conflicted personality and displeasure with the Jedi Order.

Final Rating
"Master and Apprentice" is an engaging science fiction / space opera novel set in the Star Wars universe, with fast-paced adventure, thrilling action sequences, philosophical musings and an intriguing mystery with a plot twist. Recommended for fans of the Star Wars franchise in general and the duo Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in particular.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: www.claudiagray.com
Twitter: @claudiagray
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance

Claudia Gray is a pseudonym. I would like to say that I chose another name so that no one would ever learn the links between my shadowy, dramatic past and the explosive secrets revealed through my characters. This would be a lie. In truth, I took a pseudonym simply because I thought it would be fun to choose my own name. (And it is.)

I write novels full-time, absolutely love it, and hope to be able to do this forever. My home is in New Orleans, is more than 100 years old, and is painted purple. In my free time I read, travel, hike, cook and listen to music. You can keep up with my latest releases, thoughts on writing and various pop-culture musings via Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, GoodReads, Instagram or (of course) my own home page.

If you want to contact me, you can email me, but your best bet is probably to Tweet me. I don’t do follows on Twitter, but I follow everyone back on Tumblr, Pinterest and GoodReads. 

Apr 19, 2019


Book Review - Destructive Salvation (by Jay Deans)

Destructive Salvation
Series: -
Author: Jay Deans
Genre: Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller
Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing
Release Date: January 12th, 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 412


In 2032, revolutionary advancements in genetics and microtechnology have blessed humanity with a non-destructive, universal cure for cancer. But after witnessing the death of the cure’s creator, Detective Thaddeus Rainer embarks on a perilous investigation to discover why his former best friend was being targeted. Rummaging deeper through the skeletons of his friend’s biotech company, Thaddeus soon realizes that curing cancer was just the beginning. But if harnessing this cured disease renders organ donation obsolete at the risk of creating murderous, regenerating super soldiers, what other miracles - and horrors - lay within the rest of its untapped potential?

And how far would someone go to unleash them?"

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a "futuristic sci-fi techno-thriller [meant] to inspire a better direction for cancer treatment"; it sounded intriguing so I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
After a disastrous humanitarian mission to China that ended with a nuclear accident that killed thousands, Adam Reese left the army and tried to turn his life around. Hired by MedMoirai for a full-time research position in the cancer division, Adam is obsessed with finding a miracle cure that will replace the traditional destructive therapies, ineffective in fighting a disease that has gone rampant. But when MedMoirai reassigns him to Project Regen, Adam realizes that the Council has been using his research to produce
virtually invincible genetically altered super soldiers, with reprogrammed memories and unstoppable regenerative abilities. Adam sets out to expose the biotech company's illicit experiments but he can't do it alone and there's only one man he can trust to help him.

Detective Lieutenant Thadeus Rainer is an impulsive and unorthodox police officer, who tends to ignore orders and protocols if it gets the job done. Consumed by guilt over his part in the failed mission to China, Thadeus joined the police force and distanced himself from his family and closest friends. Until his estranged best friend Adam asks for his help in taking down MedMoirai. Now Thadeus must race against the clock to collect the hidden holospheres that hold the incriminating evidence, encoded to his own DNA and past memories, while eluding  the Triads and genetically enhanced soldiers.

The Good
"Destructive Salvation" is the first volume in a series of hard science-fiction techno-thriller novels,  set in the near future of 2036. The main plot follows police detective Thadeus Rainer in his search for incriminating evidence against MedMoirai, a biotech company responsible for the breakthrough discovery of an effective non-destructive cure for cancer. With the help of a holographic AI version of his dead friend Adam Reese, a former MedMoirai scientist who discovers the illicit use of his research in the creation of genetically altered super soldiers, Thadeus must evade the underworld of the Chinese gang Triads and a team of enhanced soldiers sent to kill him, while he gathers all the proof hidden by his friend. In a secondary plot, Rick and Anna Sorvino must deal with the harsh reality of their young daughter's leukemia, with MedMoirai's revolutionary but still experimental cancer treatment being their last hope for a permanent cure.

The worldbuilding is complex, with believable futuristic technology and medical breakthroughs: holospheres, holographic personal assistant AIs, self-driving cars, bulletproof nanotech armor, micronites that can reprogram a cell's damaged DNA, nanotech multi-strain vaccines, virtually indestructible self regenerating soldiers... The story is, for the most part, fast-paced with engaging and thrilling action sequences and a building mystery; the author also makes good use of the riddles encoded in the holospheres Thadeus needs to gather to provide the background story for the main characters and plot, since the devices can only be activated through the memories of Thadeus' past life.

The author's aim is to raise awareness of the grim reality of current cancer treatment and the devastating effects it has on the quality of life of patients and caretakers alike. The novel explores various related themes, from ethical dilemmas in the field of scientific research and the moral responsibility to take into account the long term consequences of medical experimentation, the adverse impact a profit-based society has in the evolution of the human species, the benefits of researching and implementing non-destructive therapies in the treatment of cancer and other debilitating diseases, the abuse of medical research and genetic manipulation for military uses and political agendas.

The Not So Good
The author makes full use of his professional background to provide the plot with both a real scientific base for the workings and treatment of cancer, and credibility to the various futuristic medical technologies. Even though it adds value to the story as a whole, the plot suffers from an overuse of technical jargon; unless you're a specialist in the field or have a personal interest in the subject, the overabundance of details slows down the narrative considerably at times, reading almost like a scientific treaty on cancer. It's the reason the novel lost a book/star in the final rating, not only did the exposition go way over my head but I found myself frequently losing interest and skipping over the technical details.

Final Rating
"Destructive Salvation" is a hard science-fiction techno-thriller novel set in the near future, with a fast-paced and action-packed plot and philosophical musings on the dangers of unethical and profit-oriented medical research. Recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi mystery thrillers and stories about medical research and genetic engineering, with special interest in the field of of cancer treatment.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Genre: Science Fiction, Hard Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller

A graduate of both Western University's Medical Sciences and University of Waterloo Pharmacy, Jay Dean's passion for cure discovery began in the classroom between studies. Harnessing his other talents - such as his ARCT in Piano Performance and his Second-Degree Black Belt in Shorin Ryu Karate - Jay fuses artistry and science in the hopes that his contribution towards grounded medical fiction will inspire the next generation of cures.

Jay currently resides in Ontario, Canada.
(source: "Destructive Salvation")


Apr 10, 2019


Book Review - Traveller Inceptio, Traveller #1 (by Rob Shackleford)

Title: Traveller - Inceptio
Series: Traveller (book #1)
Author: Rob Shackleford
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd
Release Date: February 28th, 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432

"If you were sent 1000 years into the past, would you survive?

Traveller - Inceptio describes how the Transporter is accidentally invented and becomes public knowledge when it sends a subject 1000 years into the past.

A Special Forces team of Travellers is then selected and trained with the intent to send them to Saxon England to explore what could be a very dangerous period of history.

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller - Inceptio reveals how Travellers discover they need a lot more than technology to survive the trials of early Eleventh Century life."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as "a gentle Sci-Fi that blends the genres of Historical Fiction and Action / Adventure"; it sounded promising and since I hadn't read any books set in the Saxon era and culture I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
Phil Walker is a graduate engineering student working on his PhD and a chance of a good job. When he joins Mel, Allen and Craig on a doctoral research project, their goal is to develop a revolutionary security scanning system for their sponsor Heldguard Security. But when Phil's surfer buddy Yeti accidentally bumps into the prototype scanner, displacing wires and reattaching them in the wrong order, they end up with the discovery of a lifetime instead - a time travel machine that goes 1000 years back in time. Soon their discovery attracts the attention of international intelligence organizations, intent on taking control of the team's research.

Professor Adrian Taylor believes the newly discovered Transporter can be used to study the 11th century culture and society up close, a time of conflict and instability throughout the globe still mostly unknown to historians. The British, US and Australian governments fund Project Traveller, a joint initiative to send skilled researchers back in time to Saxon Aengland, and a Special Forces team is assembled in secluded Welbeck Abbey to undergo specialized training that will allow them to blend in and survive in the past.

Meanwhile, after a narrow escape from a pack of wild wolves, traveler Michael encounters a lone monk praying in the ancient forest. Believing Michael to have been sent by God in answer to his prayers, Brother Oeric offers shelter in his monastery and leads the traveler to the nearby village of Giolgrave. Michael is introduced to Abbott Aldfrig of the Benedictine Order and the village's leader, the thegn Godric, and soon is accepted by the small Saxon community as one of their own. When the Abbott asks Michael to help bring a valuable psalter from the city of Snotengaham, Michael leads a small party of monks and the thegn's eldest son Eadric through a land threatened by incursions from the violent Danes.

The Good
"Traveller Inceptio" is the first book of an epic historical fiction trilogy with sci-fi/time travel and action/adventure elements. Set both in present days and in 11th century England, the novel follows 3 distinctive sets of characters: the Australian graduate students who unintentionally create a device to travel 1000 years back in time; the team of multinational Special Forces soldiers selected to study the Saxon culture, undergoing specialized training in England and New Zealand to blend in and survive in that era; and a lone traveler named Michael who is accepted into a small Saxon community, learning their ways and protecting the villagers from the Viking incursions. The alternating plot-lines are mostly independent but also somewhat interconnected: the graduates' fortuitous discovery leads to Project Traveller and the training the special forces go through is put to good use during the mission we follow into the past. The author manages to keep the true identity of the traveler Michael concealed for most of the plot, even throwing a couple of brilliant red herrings along the way to keep us guessing who he might really be.

The novel is highly descriptive with vivid details that show a profound knowledge of the different cultures depicted in the plot, mostly the (British) Saxon but also the (Australian) Aboriginals and the (New Zealand) Maori: from their customs and rituals to their language, social structure and religious beliefs in both the old pagan gods and the Christian teachings, what they ate and how they dressed (or, in one case, didn't). It's not an action-packed story, though there are some gripping action sequences at the end of the book, but the detailed account in no way slows down the flow of the narrative, quite the opposite, as we get drawn and immersed in the lives of all the characters.

"Traveller Inceptio" is mostly a character-driven novel, following the different characters in their respective sub-plots, their personal stories and journeys, their relationships with one another and the group/community they belong to, their emotions and motivations. The characters and 3-dimentional and complex, believable and relatable: the Australian graduates (Phil, Mel, Allen and Craig) working through the challenges of completing the doctoral project, dealing with the consequences of their accidental discovery and the steps they take to protect their research; the Special Forces team (Hunter, Osborne, McFee, McAlister, Poxon, Hurley, Morris, Leishman, Kitchener and Anderson) as they go through unorthodox training in ancient languages, traditional Saxon skills, hunting and combat techniques with swords and archaic weapons; the traveler Michael, his growing emotional attachment to the Giolgrave community and the conflict between the parameters of his initial mission and the need to protect the villagers; the Giolgrave community - the Benedictine monks providing spiritual guidance to the villagers, the thegn Godric burdened with the responsibility for the security of his community, his eldest son Eadric facing the challenges of adulthood, the healer Tatae protecting the ancient knowledge passed down through generations of medicine women, Yffi and his hunters with their bond to the ancient forest and deep respect for the old pagan ways... each and every character is captivating and goes through deep emotional growth throughout the plot.

The Not So Good
Fair warning: there is a very disturbing rape scene. If you're particularly sensitive to the subject you might want to skip this chapter.

The battles between the Vikings and the Saxon are very realistic and extremely graphical, as are some of the encounters with the wild life. It's the reason the novel lost a book/star in the final rating, it was too violent and goreish for my taste. You will need a strong stomach to read the last couple of chapters.

Final Rating
"Traveller Inceptio" is a vividly engaging epic historical fiction novel with science fiction and action/adventure elements, set both in modern days and 11th century Saxon era. Recommended for those who enjoy time travel stories, in particular those that don't deal with the Grandfather Paradox, and adventures set in ancient cultures.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: robshackleford.com
Twitter: @robshackleford
Genre: Historical Fiction, Action & Adventure, Children's Books

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford, has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included customs officer, scuba instructor, college teacher and roles in too many places.

With degrees in arts and business, he is mad keen on travel, scuba diving, family history, martial arts, astronomy and playing djembe and congas.

Rob is a father of two and lives on the Gold Coast.
(source: amazon.com)


Apr 3, 2019


Book Review - Osiris, Derek Cross Series Book #1 (by Jeffrey Thomas)

Title: Osiris
Series: Derek Cross Series (book #1)
Author: Jeffrey Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery and Thriller
Publisher: Theatre of the Mind Books, LCC
Release Date: March 13th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 274

"Captain Derek Cross is a military commander, trying to come to grips with his past. A father killed in the line of duty, an estranged best friend, and a colonist he killed all weigh heavily on his mind. After a botched mission to Ganymede, during which nearly half his unit is killed, he’s given a choice – travel to another solar system to help establish a new colony, or accept a discharge from the military. Things go from bad to worse when, en-route to the site of the new colony, he’s awakened from cryogenic sleep by Dr. Elena Brown, the mission's medical officer, to find that the colony ship has been hijacked. All of Captain Cross’ skills are put to the test as he tries to protect the nearly four hundred sleeping colonists – colonists who have no idea they’re in danger. Protecting the most technologically advanced ship ever created, Osiris, and its passengers is one thing, but earning Elena’s trust is another thing entirely."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. The blurb caught my interest - a colony ship on its way to another star system and a main character with some heavy emotional baggage.

The Plot
In the year 2136 planet Earth is on the verge of environmental collapse. Polluted air and water, food scarcity and epidemic infections are taking a toll on the population. Humanity starts looking to the stars for a way out and discovers a viable planet in the Alpha Centauri system. A crewed ship would normally take 12 years to reach the system but with the invention of the flux drive that journey is shorten to a mere 6 months of transit and Project Osiris is set in motion. Its mission: to take 400 colonists and start a new life on planet Avalon.

Captain Derek Cross was in command of the 609th Counterinsurgency Force of the United States Marine Corps, sent to the Jupiter moon of Ganymede to settle a mining colony revolt. But after the mission went terribly wrong with the loss of 1/3 of his unit, Captain Cross is given a choice - to be discharged from the Marine Corps or accept reassignment to Project Osiris and lead a military contingency to planet Avalon and safeguard the colonists. Haunted by his recent failure, Captain Cross sees Project Osiris as a way to start anew and reconnect with his estranged best friend JT.

Doctor Elena Brown is a senior medical officer and flight physician assigned to the converted cargo ship Osiris. After detecting a flaw in the cryogenic sleep system that would shut down most chambers in lander D during the long interstellar voyage, effectively killing the sleeping occupants, and unable to find a cause for the malfunction, Dr. Brown volunteers to stay awake during the entire trip to reboot the faulty system. But on the 5th month of the journey Dr. Brown realizes she's not the only one awake. She deeply distrusts military personnel on principle for their training and purpose, but with a team of hostiles on the loose intent on taking over Project Osiris and threatening the lives of the colonists, Dr. Brown has no choice but to wake Captain Cross and trust he will keep them all alive.

The Good
"Osiris" is an action-packed science fiction novel with a mystery-thriller element, set in a future where Earth is facing ecological disaster with epidemics and famine running rampant and humanity has established mining colonies throughout the solar system to provide the planet with useful resources. The story takes place in the year 2136 when, after discovering a viable planet in the nearby Alpha Centauri system, several governments fund Project Osiris to give humanity a chance for a new start. With the development of a new propulsion system that allows faster than light speed travel by Samson Industries, an old cargo ship is converted into the first high-speed colonization spacecraft with the purpose of sending 400 colonists to the planet Avalon. The plot follows the journey of the 2 main characters, Captain Derek Cross (commander of the military security contingent) and Doctor Elena Brown (the colony's senior medical officer) as they reluctantly join forces to stop an hostile force from taking control of the ship Osiris and the colonization mission.

The worldbuilding and the futuristic technologies are well imagined and the author provides enough contextual information to get a good sense of this future reality. I specially enjoyed the self-forming tableware which changes shape at the touch of a button, the VTOLs (Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicles) that function as both space shuttles and cars depending on whether you're traveling in space or on a road (called skyways) on Earth, and the propulsion system (flux drives) that allows a spacecraft to move faster than light by crossing between different universes. Also well-thought-of were the (realistic) impact of long term social isolation on a person and the (imaginary) side effects of the flux drives on the environment and human body. The first half of the book focus on introducing the characters, their personal history and reasons to join Project Osiris, while the pace picks up in the second half with thrilling action sequences.

The characters are 3-dimentional, believable and with good development throughout the story: Captain (newly promoted to Major) Derek Cross facing his guilt over the failed mission to Ganymede and the loss of his unit, his need to follow in his father's footsteps, his attempts at reconnecting with his estranged guardian and best friend JT, his conflict between his military duties and personal beliefs in more diplomatic and less violent solutions; Doctor Elena Brown determined to save lives even if it means staying awake and in social isolation for 6 months, her conflict between her deep rejection of military people and all they stand for but having to accept and trust Captain Derek to save the sleeping colonists; JT, and ex-marine field mechanic, still trying to look after his friend Derek and play the older brother figure even after their falling out; and Frederick Samson, a terrific antagonist, so smooth and collected on the surface but secretly following a devious plan years in the making - I really enjoyed following this character throughout the whole plot, the way the author had the character set each step of his plan was pure genius!

The Not So Good
Despite the rich wordbuilding and imaginative background details, the author didn't quite nail the delivery of all that extra data. Even if at times it fits naturally within the story, most of it feels forced and out of place, slowing down the pace and getting in the way of the narrative. There is also a tendency for repetition, pieces of the same information being delivered over and over again. Its the main reason it lost a book / star in the final rating.

Final Rating
"Osiris" is an action-packed science fiction thriller set in a future where humanity begins exploring and colonizing planets outside our solar system. Recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi stories with military, space exploration and colonization elements.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: www.jeffreythomas.net
Twitter: @penfiction
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction

I’m Jeffrey Thomas. I’m a former Research Scientist and currently an IT Systems Engineer. I enjoy reading and writing fiction – mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and finally decided that I wanted to start publishing my work. I’ve written a number of articles for various publications, and have a number of novels in various stages of completion.

In my other persona, Kojak Durham, I have a blog here, and make videos on YouTube where I discuss other loves of my life – such as all things science and technology. I enjoy doing product review videos and lifestyle videos for ‘regular people’. As a self-described ‘regular guy’, I don’t spend every waking moment doing one thing like so many other online personalities do. I talk about all sorts of topics that relate to just about anyone. I love music – both listening and playing (guitar, pennywhistle, djembe, piano, you name it), movies, cooking, gardening, and computers – after all, I am a full-time computer engineer. I also like to make things – everything from a custom bed frame with built-in LED reading lights, to a folding garage workbench, to a portable speaker system.


Apr 1, 2019


New Monthly Book Releases - April 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 April 2019.

- Science Fiction -

April 2nd:

Finder by Suzanne Palmer (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Daw Books)
Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder. His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia's Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He'll slip in, decode the ship's compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand. Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a gas-giant-harvesting colony called Cernee. But Fergus' arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger's enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly--and inconveniently--invested in the lives of the locals. It doesn't help that a dangerous alien species thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following Fergus around. Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he's called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling (Paperback, 432 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane. Instead, she got Em. Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too... As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, her control giving way to paranoia and anger, Gyre severs her connection with Em and the outside world. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head. But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

April 4th:

Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Head of Zeus)
Mimi is a 'waste girl', a member of the lowest caste on Silicon Isle. Located off China's southeastern coast, Silicon Isle is the global capital for electronic waste recycling, where thousands like Mimi toil day and night, hoping one day they too will enjoy the wealth they’ve created for their employers, the three clans who have ruled the isle for generations. Luo Jincheng is the head of one of these clans, a role passed down from his father and grandfather before him. As the government enforces tighter restrictions, Luo in turn tightens the reins on the waste workers in his employ. Ruthlessness is his means of survival. Scott Brandle has come to Silicon Isle representing TerraGreen Recycling, an American corporation that stands to earn ungodly sums if they can reach a deal to modernize the island’s recycling process. Chen Kaizong, a Chinese American, travels to Silicon Isle as Scott’s interpreter. There, Kaizong is hoping to find his heritage, but finds more questions instead. The home he longs for may not exist. As these forces collide, a dark futuristic virus is unleashed on the island, and war erupts between the rich and the poor; between Chinese tradition and American ambition; between humanity’s past and its future.

April 9th:

Available Light (Star Trek TNG) by Dayton Ward (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Pocket Books/Star Trek)
Section 31, the covert organization which has operated without accountability in the shadows for more than two centuries, has been exposed. Throughout the Federation, the rogue group’s agents and leaders are being taken into custody as the sheer scope of its misdeeds comes to light. Now Starfleet Command must decide the consequences for numerous officers caught up in the scandal—including Admirals William Ross, Edward Jellico, Alynna Nechayev, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard who, along with many others, are implicated in the forced removal of a Federation president. Meanwhile, deep in the distant, unexplored region of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must put aside personal feelings and political concerns as they investigate a massive mysterious spacecraft. Adrift for centuries in the void, the ship is vital to the survival of an endangered civilization which has spent generations searching for a world to sustain what remains of its people. Complicating matters is a band of marauders who have their own designs on the ancient ship, with only the Enterprise standing in their way...

Escape From The Arcadians (Asteroids #1) by Mike McCoy (Paperback, 518 pages, published by Blaster Tech)
An Asteroid storm is coming. Life and the world we know will never be the same. Millions of people will die. Colonel Cruikshank has worked to keep the coming apocalypse secret while creating underground cities for the, “Few and the Fortunate.” Rick Munday, a struggling astrophysicist from Cal Tech is invited to a seminar. He is kidnapped and taken to the Utopian city of New Arcadia where he learns that the asteroid storm has already begun. Rick escapes New Arcadia in hopes of saving his family only to end up in the middle of Nebraska. Rick and new friends he meets along the way attempt to thwart the efforts of the Arcadians and save thousands more souls, all while dodging meteors and being chased by the evil Captain Kobalt.

We Are Mayhem (Black Star Renegades #2) by Michael Moreci (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
Though the ragtag group of misfits known as the Black Star Renegades won a decisive battle by destroying Ga Halle's War Hammer, the war is far from over. In response to losing the crown jewel of its fleet, the evil Praxis empire has vengefully reinforced its tyranny across the galaxy--but its rule won't be had so easily. Led by hotshot pilot Kira Sen, a growing rebel force stands in the way of Praxis's might. Not only do they possess the will to fight for galactic freedom, they also possess the ultimate ace in the hole: The mythical Rokura, the most powerful weapon ever known. Too bad Cade Sura hasn't figured out to use it. As Kira wages an increasingly bloody war against Praxis, Cade is left with only once choice: With Ga Halle scouring every star system for the coveted weapon, Cade embarks on a dangerous mission into uncharted space to discover the Rokura's origins. Only then can he learn how it can be wielded. Because if he doesn't, all hope for the galaxy might be lost.

April 16th:

Atlas Alone (Planetfall #4) by Emma Newman (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Ace Books)
Six months after she left Earth, Dee is struggling to manage her rage toward the people who ordered the nuclear strike that destroyed the world. She's trying to find those responsible, and to understand why the ship is keeping everyone divided into small groups, but she's not getting very far alone. A dedicated gamer, she throws herself into mersives to escape and is approached by a designer who asks her to play test his new game. It isn't like any game she's played before. Then a character she kills in the climax of the game turns out to bear a striking resemblance to a man who dies suddenly in the real world at exactly the same time. A man she discovers was one of those responsible for the death of millions on Earth. Disturbed, but thinking it must be a coincidence, Dee pulls back from gaming and continues the hunt for information. But when she finds out the true plans for the future colony, she realizes that to save what is left of humanity, she may have to do something that risks losing her own.

Big Cat: And Other Stories by Gwyneth Jones (Paperback, 240 pages, published by Newcon Press)
Big Cat and Other Stories gathers together the author's finest work from the past decade and features a brand new story, "Stella and the Adventurous Roots," which inspired the cover image. It includes tales that revisit the world of Bold as Love and also the Aleutian Universe (White Queen etc), as well as venturing into brand new possible tomorrows. Full of passion, vivid imagination, and portent, this collection showcases a master storyteller at her best.

Knight: A Chronicle of the Sibyl's War (The Sibyl's War #2) by Timothy Zahn (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Tor Books)
Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philadelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship called the Fyrantha. Now she is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with the aliens and their ship, and no one is happy. Competing factions control different parts of the Fyrantha with the humans and other sentient aliens caught in the middle. But Nicole is done being bullied, and now she has a plan to take control of the ship. She just has to outsmart war profiteers and slavers to do it.

Master and Apprentice (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel) by Claudia Gray (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future. A Jedi must be a fearless warrior, a guardian of justice, and a scholar in the ways of the Force. But perhaps a Jedi's most essential duty is to pass on what they have learned. Master Yoda trained Dooku; Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn; and now Qui-Gon has a Padawan of his own. But while Qui-Gon has faced all manner of threats and danger as a Jedi, nothing has ever scared him like the thought of failing his apprentice. Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master, but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn't Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council—knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master. When Jedi Rael Averross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit, and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon's mind. As Qui-Gon's faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan's faith in him is tested—just as a threat surfaces that will demand that Master and apprentice come together as never before, or be divided forever.

Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan (Paperback, 224 pages, published by Tor.com)
Greg Egan's Perihelion Summer is a story of people struggling to adapt to a suddenly alien environment, and the friendships and alliances they forge as they try to find their way in a world where the old maps have lost their meaning. Taraxippus is coming: a black hole one tenth the mass of the sun is about to enter the solar system. Matt and his friends are taking no chances. They board a mobile aquaculture rig, the Mandjet, self-sustaining in food, power and fresh water, and decide to sit out the encounter off-shore. As Taraxippus draws nearer, new observations throw the original predictions for its trajectory into doubt, and by the time it leaves the solar system, the conditions of life across the globe will be changed forever.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Thirteen edited by Jonathan Strahan (Paperback, 672 pages, published by Solaris Books)
A librarian helps a desperate student find the door into a book; Sir Thomas Moore’s head is stolen and a messy rescue ensues; a mother sells a piece of her memory so her daughter can afford an education. Science fiction is the story of what if and what comes next. It’s more playful, more inclusive and more entertaining than it has ever been before and as the world falls apart around us, it offers us a chance to understand how things could be better, or just how a great story can get us through another night. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Thirteen brings together the very best clashes between zombies and unicorns, robots and fairies, spaceships and more in a definitive volume that takes us everywhere from the distant future and the moons of our own solar system, to one last visit to Earthsea...

Winds of Marque (Blackwood & Virtue #1) by Bennett R. Coles (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
The first novel in an exciting science fiction series—Master and Commander in space—a swashbuckling space adventure in which a crew of misfit individuals in the king’s navy are sent to dismantle a dangerous ring of pirate raiders. In a dense star cluster, the solar winds blow fiercely. The star sailing ship HMSS Daring is running at full sheet with a letter of marque allowing them to capture enemy vessels involved in illegal trading. Sailing under a false flag to protect the ship and its mission, Daring’s crew must gather intelligence that will lead them to the pirates’ base. Posing as traders, Daring’s dashing second-in-command Liam Blackwood and brilliant quartermaster Amelia Virtue infiltrate shady civilian merchant networks, believing one will lead them to their quarry. But their mission is threatened from within their own ranks when Daring’s enigmatic captain makes a series of questionable choices, and rumblings of discontent start bubbling up from below decks, putting the crew on edge and destroying morale. On top of it all, Liam and Amelia must grapple with their growing feelings for each other. Facing danger from unexpected quarters that could steer the expedition off course, Blackwood and Virtue must identify the real enemy threat and discover the truth about their commander—and their mission—before Daring falls prey to the very pirates she’s meant to be tracking.

April 18th:

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Jonathan Cape)
Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever – a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma. Ian McEwan’s subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions: what makes us human? Our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart? This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control.

April 23rd:

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Orbit Books)
When a beloved family dog is stolen, her owner sets out on a life-changing journey through the ruins of our world to bring her back in this fiercely compelling tale of survival, courage, and hope. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts. My name's Griz. My childhood wasn't like yours. I've never had friends, and in my whole life I've not met enough people to play a game of football. My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs. Then the thief came. There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you. Because if we aren't loyal to the things we love, what's the point?

Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton (Hardcover, 256 pages, published by Hodder & Stoughton)
Meet Emily - she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind's deepest secrets and even fix your truck's air con, but unfortunately, she can't restart the Sun. She's an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to. So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions - college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra. As the sun's death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it's not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere #3) by Meg Elison (Paperback, 332 pages, published by 47North)
In the wake of the apocalypse, Flora has come of age in a highly gendered post-plague society where females have become a precious, coveted, hunted, and endangered commodity. But Flora does not participate in the economy that trades in bodies. An anathema in a world that prizes procreation above all else, she is an outsider everywhere she goes, including the thriving all-female city of Shy. Now navigating a blighted landscape, Flora, her friends, and a sullen young slave she adopts as her own child leave their oppressive pasts behind to find their place in the world. They seek refuge aboard a ship where gender is fluid, where the dynamic is uneasy, and where rumors flow of a bold new reproductive strategy. When the promise of a miraculous hope for humanity’s future tears Flora’s makeshift family asunder, she must choose: protect the safe haven she’s built or risk everything to defy oppression, whatever its provenance.

William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future! by Ian Doescher (Paperback, 176 pages, published by Quirk Books)
In the iconic film by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, teenaged Marty McFly travels back in time from the 1980s to the 1950s, changing the path of his parents’ destiny... as well as his own. Now fans of the movie can journey back even further—to the 16th century, when the Bard of Avon unveils his latest masterpiece: William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future! Every scene and line of dialogue from the hit movie is re-created with authentic Shakespearean rhyme, meter, and stage directions. This reimagining also includes jokes and Easter eggs for movie fans, from Huey Lewis call-outs to the inner thoughts of Einstein (the dog). By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be convinced that Shakespeare had a time-traveling DeLorean of his own, speeding to our era so he could pen this time-tossed tale.

April 30th:

Wild Cards IX: Jokertown Shuffle (Wild Cards #9, The Rox Triad #2) edited by George R.R. Martin (Paperback, 512 pages, published by Tor Books)
A dangerous superpowered gang rises to power and threatens the citizens of New York City. Bloat, the boy-governor of the Rox, wanted to make Ellis Island a safe haven for Jokers, and made a choice to recruit the Jumpers, superpowered teen outcasts who could steal a man's body in the blink of an eye. But under the leadership of Dr. Tachyon's psychotic grandson, the Jumpers grow more vicious and uncontrollable every day, becoming the greatest threat the Wild Cards have ever faced...

• • • •

- Fantasy -

April 2nd:

The War Within (The Great God’s War #2) by Stephen R. Donaldson (Hardcover, 576 pages, published by Berkley Books)
It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository's magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. Their alliance was sealed with the marriage of Bifalt to Estie, the crown princess of Amika. But the peace--and their marriage--has been uneasy. Now the terrible war that King Bifalt and Queen Estie feared is coming. An ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. That horde will slaughter every man, woman, and child in its path, destroying both Belleger and Amika along the way. With their alliance undermined by lingering hostility and conspiracies threatening, it will take all of the monarchs' strength and will to inspire their kingdoms to become one to defend their land, or all is lost...

April 3rd:

Goddess Claiming (Gods and Guardians #2) by Heather Hildenbrand (Kindle Edition, 227 pages, published by Amazon Digital Services LLC)
One would think surviving a run-in with the Goddess of Night would earn a girl some kind of respect… Elidi has gone to Tegwood — to train for ascension. Unfortunately, The Eggther pack hasn’t exactly rolled out the red carpet. When Elidi’s attacked, the elders make one thing clear: The only way they’ll extend their protection is if she banishes her Vargar guardian and takes the bond with one of their own. But Elidi’s done being pushed around by gods and guardians who think they know better. Nothing can stop a goddess ascended.

April 4th:

Ghosts of Gotham by Craig Schaefer (Paperback, 446 pages, published by 47North)
Irresistibly drawn to mysteries, if only to debunk them, reporter Lionel Page exposes supernatural frauds, swindlers, and charlatans. His latest case is an obsession—at least for an ancient and wealthy heiress: verify the authenticity of a lost Edgar Allan Poe manuscript circulating through New York City’s literary underworld. But the shrewd Regina Dunkle offers more than money. It’s a pact. Fulfill her request, and Lionel’s own notorious buried past, one he’s been running from since he was a child, will remain hidden. As Lionel’s quest begins, so do the warnings. And where rare books go, murder follows. It’s only when Lionel meets enigmatic stranger Madison Hannah, his personal usher into the city’s secret history, that he realizes he’s being guided by a force more powerful than logic…and that he isn’t just following a story. He is the story. Now that the true purpose of his mission is revealing itself in the most terrifying ways, it may finally be time for Lionel to believe in the unbelievable.

Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3) by Mark Lawrence (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman. The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat. Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep. Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war. The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her. A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

Seven Blades in Black (Grave of Empires #1) by Sam Sykes (Paperback, 608 pages, published by Orbit Books)
Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of magical warfare. The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, is where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun and a list of names she intended to use both on. But vengeance is a flame swift extinguished. Betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head. All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both. Vengeance is its own reward.

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K. J. Parker (Trade Paperback, 384 pages, published by Orbit Books)
A siege is approaching, and the City has little time left to prepare. The people have no food and no weapons, and the enemy has sworn to slaughter them all. Their only chance rests with a colonel of engineers - a despised outsider, a genius, a master of military and political strategy with the wrong color skin. He is the City's only hope. But nobody, rich or poor, wants to take orders from a jumped-up Milkface. Saving the City from itself might be more difficult than surviving the coming siege.

The Scribbly Man (The Children of D’Hara #1) by Terry Goodkind (Hardcover, 160 pages, published by Head of Zeus)
From the internationally bestselling author of the Sword of Truth series comes a new Richard and Kahlan novella. "They are the monsters under the bed when you are little, the shape just caught out of the corner of your eye when you thought you were alone, the shadow of something in a dark corner that surprises you and then isn't there. They stop you dead with a knot of unexpected terror in the pit of your stomach. We have all seen fleeting glimpses of them. Never long enough to see them as I saw them, but it was them. I recognized it the instant I saw it. We've all seen flashes of them, the dark shadow just out of sight. They could briefly terrify us before but never hurt us because they came from so far distant. They were never able to fully materialize in our world so we saw only transient glimpses of them, the shape of them if the light was just right, if the shadows were deep enough... if you were afraid enough. I think that the star shift has brought us closer to their realm so that they now have the power to step into our world and hurt us." — Kahlan Amnell

April 9th:

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Albert Whitman Company)
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her. Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 35: Bestselling Anthology of Award-Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories edited by L. Ron Hubbard (Paperback, 450 pages, published by Galaxy Press, LLC)
The 35th collection of winners of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future competition features expertly crafted stories and art, spanning the gamut from hard core sci-fi to epic fantasy. Stories so fresh and new, they're 5–10 years ahead of the curve—the future is literally here and now. Each year, the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests’ blue-ribbon judges search the world to discover and introduce to you the very best new talent in sci-fi and fantasy. Created by L. Ron Hubbard, whose commitment to help new writers and artists gave rise to the annual Writers of the Future anthologies—a launching pad for writers and artists who are sure to command our attention for decades to come. Wondrous and powerful tales from some of the world’s best new writers and illustrators.

Tor.com Publishing Editorial Spotlight #4: A Selection of Novellas edited by Ann VanderMeer (Kindle Edition, 176 pages, published by Tor.com)
Tor.com Publishing Editorial Spotlight #4 is a curated selection of novellas by editor Ann VanderMeer. This collection includes: Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska and The Warren by Brian Evenson."Liz Ziemska has fashioned a beautiful story about one famous survivor and the magic and mathematics he’s brought to the world."—Karen Joy Fowler on Mandelbrot the Magnificent. "A creepy, mind-bending quest of identity and mystery, told with a master's skill. No one explores inner landscapes quite like Brian Evenson."—Jeff VanderMeer on The Warren.

April 16th:

A Time of Blood (Of Blood & Bone #2) by John Gwynne (Paperback, 512 pages, published by Orbit Books)
Defy the darkness. Defend the light. Drem and his friends flee the battle at Starstone Lake to warn the Order of the Bright Star. They’ve witnessed horrors they’ll never forget, such as magic warping men into beasts. But worst of all, they’ve seen a demon rise from the dead – making it even more powerful. Now Fritha, the demons’ high priestess, is hunting Drem’s party. Concealed in Forn Forest, Riv struggles to understand her half-breed heritage. She represents the warrior angels’ biggest secret, one which could break their society. And when she’s found by the Ben-Elim’s high captain, he swoops in for the kill. As demonic forces multiply, they send a mighty war-host to overthrow the angel’s stronghold. This could decimate the fractured Ben-Elim. And their allies in the Order may be too overwhelmed to send aid – with Fritha and her monstrous beasts closing in. Like heroes of old, Drem and the Bright Star’s warriors must battle to save their land. But can the light triumph when the dark is rising?

All My Colors by David Quantick (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Titan Books)
It is March 1979 in DeKalb Illinois. Todd Milstead is a wannabe writer, a serial adulterer, and a jerk, only tolerated by his friends because he throws the best parties with the best booze. During one particular party, Todd is showing off his perfect recall, quoting poetry and literature word for word plucked from his eidetic memory. When he begins quoting from a book no one else seems to know, a novel called All My Colors, Todd is incredulous. He can quote it from cover to cover and yet it doesn't seem to exist. With a looming divorce and mounting financial worries, Todd finally tries to write a novel, with the vague idea of making money from his talent. The only problem is he can't write. But the book - All My Colors - is there in his head. Todd makes a decision: he will "write" this book that nobody but him can remember. After all, if nobody's heard of it, how can he get into trouble? As the dire consequences of his actions come home to both Todd and his long-suffering friends, it becomes clear that there is a high - and painful - price to pay for his crime.

Amnesty (The Amberlough Dossier #3) by Lara Elena Donnelly (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Tor Books)
The revolution has come and gone, with Amberlough City striving to rebuild itself from the ashes. The Ospies have been ousted, and the very face of the nation has been changed in the process. Now, a rising politician is determined to bring Amberlough’s traitors to justice. Including double agent Cyril DePaul. Everyone believes Cyril deserves to suffer for his crimes... except an old lover and an estranged sister. Soon, they become entangled in another web of high-stakes politics, underground crime, and personal deceit. Only the most extreme actions can save them from the iron reach of the law, before it is too late.

Differently Morphous by Yahtzee Croshaw (Paperback, 392 pages, published by Dark Horse Comics)
A magical serial killer is on the loose, and gelatinous, otherworldly creatures are infesting the English countryside. Which is making life for the Ministry of Occultism difficult, because magic is supposed to be their best kept secret. After centuries in the shadows, the Ministry is forced to unmask, exposing the country's magical history - and magical citizens - to a brave new world of social media, government scrutiny, and public relations. On the trail of the killer are the Ministry's top agents: a junior operative with a photographic memory (and not much else), a couple of overgrown schoolboys with godlike powers, and a demonstrably insane magician. But as they struggle for results, their superiors at HQ must face the greatest threat the Ministry has ever known: the forces of political correctness...

Fire Season (Eric Carter #4) by Stephen Blackmoore (Paperback, 304 pages, published by Daw Books)
Los Angeles is burning. During one of the hottest summers the city has ever seen, someone is murdering mages with fires that burn when they shouldn't, that don't stop when they should. Necromancer Eric Carter is being framed for the killings and hunted by his own people. To Carter, everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl coming after him, after he defied the mad wind god in the Aztec land of the dead. But too many things aren't adding up, and Carter knows there's more going on. If he doesn't figure out what it is and put a stop to it fast, Quetzalcoatl won't just kill him, he'll burn the whole damn city down with him.

Myths and Mortals (Numina Trilogy #2) by Charlie N. Holmberg (Paperback, 288 pages, published by 47North)
Sandis has escaped Kazen’s grasp, but she finds herself unmoored, reeling from her thief friend Rone’s betrayal. Kazen has been hurt but not stopped, and he’ll do anything to summon the monster that could lay waste to the entire world. Sandis knows she must be the one to stop him, but with her own trusted numen now bound to another, and finding herself with no one she can trust, she is in desperate need of allies. Rone seems determined to help her, but Sandis has no intention of letting him get close to her again. What she doesn’t know is how much Rone gave up to protect her. Or how much more he is willing to give up to keep her safe. As chaos mounts, Sandis must determine whom to trust. After all, the lines between enemy and ally have never been less clear…and corruption lurks in the most unlikely of places.

Nest of the Monarch (Dark Talents #3) by Kay Kenyon (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Gallery / Saga Press)
Kim Tavistock, undercover in Berlin as the wife of a British diplomat, uncovers a massive conspiracy that could change the course of the war—and she’s the only one in position to stop it in the electrifying conclusion to the Dark Talents series. November, 1936. Kim Tavistock is in Berlin on her first Continental mission for SIS, the British intelligence service. Her cover: a sham marriage to a handsome, ambitious British consul. Kim makes the diplomatic party circuit with him, hobnobbing with Nazi officials, hoping for a spill that will unlock a secret operation called Monarch. Berlin is a glittering city celebrating Germany’s resurgence, but Nazi brutality darkens the lives of many. When Kim befriends Hannah Linz, a member of the Jewish resistance, she sets in motion events that will bring her into the center of a vast conspiracy. Forging an alliance with Hannah and her partisans, Kim discovers the alarming purpose of Monarch: the creation of a company of enforcers with augmented Talents and strange appetites. Called the Progeny, they have begun to compel citizen obedience with physical and spiritual terror. Soon Kim is swept up in a race to stop the coming deployment of the Progeny into Europe. Aligned against her are forces she could never have foreseen, including the very intelligence service she loves; a Russian woman, the queen of all Talents, who fled the Bolsheviks in 1917; and the ruthless SS officer whose dominance and rare charisma may lead to Kim’s downfall. To stop Monarch and the subversion of Europe, she must do more than use her Talent, wits, and courage. She must step into the abyss of unbounded power, even to the point of annihilation. Does the human race have limits? Kim does not want to know the answer. But it is coming.

No Country for Old Gnomes (Tales of Pell #2) by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Del Rey)
The Skyr is a rich, verdant land claimed by both halflings and gnomes. For centuries, the halflings have worked to undermine gnomish power structures and seize total control--through legal means, certainly, but more insidiously through their extensive organized crime network. Now, threatened with being pushed out entirely, the gnomes are desperate and ready to fight back. Gustave the Goat King faces his first test as a leader: Can he bring peace to a fraught region or will a civil war consume the entire kingdom?

The Binding by Bridget Collins (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by William Morrow)
Imagine you could erase grief. Imagine you could remove pain. Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret. Forever. Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored. But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

The Master of Dreams (Dreamscape #1) by Mike Resnick (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Daw Books)
Eddie Raven isn't quite sure what's happening to him--and he's in a race to find out before it kills him. His adventures begin with a shooting in a very strange shop in Manhattan--but soon he finds himself the owner of a very familiar bar in Casablanca. By the time he adjusts to that reality, he's suddenly become one of several undersized people helping a young woman search for a wizard. And after confronting the wizard, he somehow finds himself in Camelot. But as he rushes to solve the mystery of his many appearances, a larger threat looms. Because someone or something is stalking him through time and space with deadly intent...

The Window and the Mirror (Oesteria and the War of Goblinkind #1) by Henry Thomas (Hardcover, 320 pages, published Rare Bird Books)
A captured soldier must escort a mysterious girl to a distant city to broker peace between two peoples poised on the brink of war. Left to die in a deep chasm, his commander stumbles on to a dark and powerful secret: how to harness the energy of men’s souls and bend them to his will. Is this the secret that Goblinkind has been hiding from the race of men? That all the shiny trinkets of the fabled Goblincrafters are powered by the trapped souls of humans? For Mage Imperator Rhael Lord Uhlmet, the lure of such power is irresistible, even if he must start a war to attain it.

Upon a Burning Throne (Burnt Empire Saga #1) by Ashok K. Banker (Hardcover, 688 pages, published by John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
In a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without an emperor. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legendary Burning Throne and pass The Test of Fire. Imbued with dark sorceries, the throne is a crucible—one that incinerates the unworthy. Adri and Shvate pass The Test and are declared heirs to the empire… but there is another with a claim to power, another who also survives: a girl from an outlying kingdom. When this girl, whose father is the powerful demonlord Jarsun, is denied her claim by the interim leaders, Jarsun declares war, vowing to tear the Burnt Empire apart—leaving the young princes Adri and Shvate to rule a shattered realm embroiled in rebellion and chaos... Welcome to the Burnt Empire Saga.

April 19th:

The Unicorn Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman (Paperback, 288 pages, published by Tachyon Publications)
Unicorns: Not just for virgins anymore. Here are sixteen lovely, powerful, intricate, and unexpected unicorn tales from fantasy icons including Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carrie Vaughn, and more. In this volume you will find two would-be hunters who enlist an innkeeper to find a priest hiding the secret of the last unicorn. A time traveler tries to corral an unruly mythological beast that might never have existed at all. The lover and ex-boyfriend of a dying woman join forces to find a miraculous remedy in New York City. And a small-town writer of historical romances discovers a sliver of a mysterious horn in a slice of apple pie.

April 23rd:

Hope for the Best (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #10) by Jodi Taylor (Paperback, 480 pages, published by Headline Publishing Group)
The tenth book in the bestselling Chronicles of St Mary's series which follows a group of tea-soaked disaster magnets as they hurtle their way around History. If you love Jasper Fforde or Ben Aaronovitch, you won't be able to resist Jodi Taylor. You can't change History. History doesn't like it. There are always consequences. Max is no stranger to taking matters into her own hands. Especially when she's had A Brilliant Idea. Yes, it will mean breaking a few rules, but - as Max always says - they're not her rules. Seconded to the Time Police to join in the hunt for the renegade Clive Ronan, Max is a long way from St Mary's. But life in the future does have its plus points - although not for long. A problem with the Time Map reveals chaos in the 16th century and the wrong Tudor queen on the throne. History has gone rogue, there's a St Mary's team right in the firing line and Max must step up. You know what they say. Hope for the best. But plan for the worst.

Ragged Alice by Gareth L. Powell (Paperback, 208 pages, published by Tor.com)
In Gareth L. Powell's Ragged Alice a detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people's souls. Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. As soon as she was old enough, she ran away to London and joined the police. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at first to be a simple hit-and-run, but which soon escalates into something far deadlier and unexpectedly personal—something that will take all of her peculiar talents to solve.

Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Saga Press)
It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a girl with a strange clan power. Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, then rescue Kai and make things right between them. Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods and, ultimately, the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.

The Prophet of the Termite God (Antasy #2) by Clark Thomas Carlton (Ebook Edition, 384 pages, published by HarperCollins Publishers)
The powerful Antasy saga continues with The Prophet of the Termite God! Once an outcast, Pleckoo has risen to Prophet-Commander of the Hulkrish army. But a million warriors and their ghost ants were not enough to defeat his cousin, Anand the Roach Boy, the tamer of night wasps and founder of Bee-Jor. Now Pleckoo is hunted by the army that once revered him. Yet in all his despair, Pleckoo receives prophecies from his termite god, assuring him he will kill Anand to rule the Sand, and establish the One True Religion.And war is not yet over. Now, Anand and Bee-Jor face an eastern threat from the Mad Emperor of the Barley People, intent on retaking stolen lands from a vulnerable and chaotic nation. And on the southern Weedlands, thousands of refugees clamor for food and safety and their own place in Bee-Jor. But the greatest threats to the new country come from within, where an embittered nobility and a disgraced priesthood plot to destroy Anand… then reunite the Lost Country with the Once Great and Holy Slope. Can the boy who worked in the dung heap rise above the turmoil, survive his assassins, and prevent the massacre of millions?

April 30th:

Cruel Fate (Cainsville #5.6) by Kelley Armstrong (Hardcover, 200 pages, published by Subterranean Press)
Three years after discovering that her biological parents are convicted serial killers, Olivia finally has her life back, and it’s better than ever. She loves her new job, as investigator for notorious defense attorney Gabriel Walsh. She has Gabriel, too, as they settle in together, dividing their time between Chicago and Cainsville. Olivia’s also settled into her role as the legendary Mallt-y-Nos to Cainsville’s fae population. The only dream unfulfilled is seeing her father freed from jail, where he’s been wrongly imprisoned for over twenty years. Now that wish is finally coming true. Todd Larsen is a free man. Someone, however, doesn’t want him to stay that way. Todd may have been in prison for crimes he didn’t commit, but there’s one he did—the murder of a serial killer, whose death launched the chain of events that led to Todd’s incarceration. Before Todd can settle in with Olivia and Gabriel, the body of his one and only victim surfaces, along with planted clues directing the police to their doorstep. Does someone have a personal grudge against Todd? Or is it a fae targeting Olivia with the one threat she can’t ignore? Olivia needs to find out who’s behind this, before her father is ripped from her again… for good this time.

Tor.com Publishing Editorial Spotlight #5: A Selection of Novellas edited by Jonathan Strahan (Kindle Edition, published by Tor.com)
Tor.com Publishing Editorial Spotlight #5 is a curated selection of novellas by editor Jonathan Strahan. This collection includes: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt, Boe by Kij Johnson, Passing Strange by Ellen Klages, Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Proof of Concept of Gwyneth Jones and Time Was by Ian McDonald. "A remarkable accomplishment that repays rereading."—Pamela Sargent on The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe. "Ellen Klages's love for queer San Francisco is evident in every line: its history, its mystery, and its people in all their variety and glory. I smiled as I read. You will, too."—Nicola Griffith on Passing Strange. “Kiernan’s writing—starkly visual, tongue in cheek and disturbingly visceral—carries the day.”—The New York Times on Agents of Dreamland. "A delicious portrayal of what it feels like when that nagging voice in your head telling you something is wrong is in fact your only ally."—The Washington Post on Proof of Concept. "With echoes of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine and replete with the inimitable scent of used bookstores, Time Was weaves an exquisite spell of love, war and quantum physics that is timeless in its appeal. A scientific romance in the most evocative sense of the word."—Nina Allan.

Warrior Prime (Ink Mage Legacy) by Victor Gischler (Paperback, 362 pages, published by 47North)
Peyne Erlich’s mission from the king is to learn everything he can about the rival kingdom’s magical ink mage warriors. What he finds is Zayda Yond. Ever since Zayda was sold into servitude by her financially destitute father, her masters have taught her a punishing lesson: erase the past. Collared with an unmovable band of exotic metal, she faces a future of slavery. She’s also become an ink mage, marked with a tattoo that enables her to experience the world as no one else can—a powerful honor, yet one out of her control. Now, Zayda dreams only of escape. She gets her chance when a scuttled ocean passage leaves her in a longboat, and in the company of another lone survivor, Peyne, a foreign envoy—spoiled, noble, a libertine, and a gambler. He’s also a skilled fighter. And when they make it to land, in wild and unfamiliar jungle territory, he’s the only person Zayda can trust. Then come rumors of a lost desert city said to hold the key to removing Zayda’s collar. Shadowed by enemies who want to use her power to win their own war, Zayda must fight for her freedom—whatever the cost. And Peyne will do anything to help her.

• • • •

- Historical Fiction -

April 2nd:

King of Kings (Ballantyne #6) by Wilbur Smith (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Zaffre)
Cairo, 1888. A beautiful September day. Penrod Ballantyne and his fiancee, Amber Benbrook, stroll hand in hand. The future is theirs for the taking.But when Penrod's jealous former lover, Lady Agatha, plants doubt about his character, Amber leaves him and travels to the wilds of Abyssinia with her twin sister, Saffron, and her adventurer husband, Ryder Courtney. On a mission to establish a silver mine, they make the dangerous journey to the new capital of Addis Ababa, where they are welcomed by Menelik, the King of Kings. But Italy has designs on Abyssinia, and there are rumours of a plan to invade... Back in Cairo, a devastated Penrod seeks oblivion in the city's opium dens. When he is rescued by his old friend, Lorenzo De Fonseca, now in the Italian army, and offered the chance to assess the situation around the Abyssinian border, Penrod leaps at the chance of action.With storm clouds gathering, and on opposing sides of the invasion, can Penrod and Amber find their way back to one another - against all the odds?

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly (Paperback, 800 pages, published by Random House Large Print Publishing)
It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the Tsar's Winter Palace, the famous ballet. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia's Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their estate outside the city. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller's daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their home. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya's letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend. From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic estates of the countryside to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian migrs there to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

April 4th:

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee (Kindle Edition, 320 pages, published by Oneworld Publications)
The heart-rending story of survival and endurance in Japanese-occupied Singapore. Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only three survivors, one of them a tiny child. In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced there still haunts her. And in the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he could never have foreseen. Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, and heralds the arrival of a thrilling new literary star.

Metropolis (Bernie Gunther #14) by Philip Kerr (Paperback, 392 pages, published by Quercus)
Berlin, 1928, the dying days of the Weimar Republic shortly before Hitler and the Nazis came to power. It was a period of decadence and excess as Berliners - after the terrible slaughter of WWI and the hardships that followed - are enjoying their own version of Babylon. Bernie is a young detective working in Vice when he gets a summons from Bernard Weiss, Chief of Berlin's Criminal Police. He invites Bernie to join KIA - Criminal Inspection A - the supervisory body for all homicide investigation in Kripo. Bernie's first task is to investigate the Silesian Station killings - four prostitutes murdered in as many weeks. All of them have been hit over the head with a hammer and then scalped with a sharp knife. Bernie hardly has time to acquaint himself with the case files before another prostitute is murdered. Until now, no one has shown much interest in these victims - there are plenty in Berlin who'd like the streets washed clean of such degenerates. But this time the girl's father runs Berlin's foremost criminal ring, and he's prepared to go to extreme lengths to find his daughter's killer. Then a second series of murders begins - of crippled wartime veterans who beg in the city's streets. It seems that someone is determined to clean up Berlin of anyone less than perfect. The voice of Nazism is becoming a roar that threatens to drown out all others. But not Bernie Gunther's...

April 9th:

In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Algonquin Young Readers)
After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club. Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

Naamah by Sarah Blake (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Riverhead Books)
A wildly imaginative novel of the reluctant heroine who rescued life on earth. With the coming of the Great Flood—the mother of all disasters—only one family was spared, drifting on an endless sea, waiting for the waters to subside. We know the story of Noah, moved by divine vision to launch their escape. Now, in a work of astounding invention, acclaimed writer Sarah Blake reclaims the story of his wife, Naamah, the matriarch who kept them alive. Here is the woman torn between faith and fury, lending her strength to her sons and their wives, caring for an unruly menagerie of restless creatures, silently mourning the lover she left behind. Here is the woman escaping into the unreceded waters, where a seductive angel tempts her to join a strange and haunted world. Here is the woman tormented by dreams and questions of her own—questions of service and self-determination, of history and memory, of the kindness or cruelty of fate. In fresh and modern language, Blake revisits the story of the Ark that rescued life on earth, and rediscovers the agonizing burdens endured by the woman at the heart of the story. Naamah is a parable for our time: a provocative fable of body, spirit, and resilience.

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Atria Books)
All love stories are ghost stories in disguise. When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams. However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle’s story of Ada and Hugh’s ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights. As the mystery of Ada and Hugh’s relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert’s own marriage—including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn’t—things from beyond the grave. Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.

The Peacock Emporium by Jojo Moyes (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Penguin Books)
In the sixties, Athene Forster was the most glamorous girl of her generation. Nicknamed the Last Deb, she was also beautiful, spoiled, and out of control. When she agreed to marry the gorgeous young heir Douglas Fairley-Hulme, her parents breathed a sigh of relief. But within two years, rumors had begun to circulate about Athene's affair with a young salesman. Thirty-five years later, Suzanna Peacock is struggling with her notorious mother's legacy. The only place Suzanna finds comfort is in The Peacock Emporium, the beautiful coffee bar and shop she opens that soon enchants her little town. There she makes perhaps the first real friends of her life, including Alejandro, a male midwife, escaping his own ghosts in Argentina. The specter of her mother still haunts Suzanna. But only by confronting both her family and her innermost self will she finally reckon with the past--and discover that the key to her history, and her happiness, may have been in front of her all along.

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Berkley Books)
In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life--and heart--to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost. As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...

April 30th:

Cape May by Chip Cheek (Hardcover, 256 pages, published by Celadon Books)
Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn. The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences. Erotic and moving, this is a novel about marriage, love and sexuality, and the lifelong repercussions that meeting a group of debauched cosmopolitans has on a new marriage.

Park Avenue Summer by Renée Rosen (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Berkley Books)
New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine. Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown's world, a woman can demand to have it all.

• • • •

- Literary Fiction -

April 2nd:

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Harper)
An utterly wonderful debut novel of love, crime, magic, fate and a boy’s coming of age, set in 1980s Australia and infused with the originality, charm, pathos, and heart of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The mind can take you anywhere you want to go. Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail, and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim—a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes—who watches over Eli and August, his silent genius of an older brother. Exiled far from the rest of the world in Darra, a seedy suburb populated by Polish and Vietnamese refugees, this twelve-year-old boy with an old soul and an adult mind is just trying to follow his heart, learn what it takes to be a good man, and train for a glamorous career in journalism. Life, however, insists on throwing obstacles in Eli’s path—most notably Tytus Broz, Brisbane’s legendary drug dealer. But the real trouble lies ahead. Eli is about to fall in love, face off against truly bad guys, and fight to save his mother from a certain doom—all before starting high school. A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be. Powerful and kinetic, Trent Dalton’s debut is sure to be one of the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novels you will experience.

Stay Up with Hugo Best by Erin Somers (Hardcover, 272 pages, published by Scribner)
An incredibly timely, terrifically witty and moving debut about a young writer's assistant on a late night comedy show and what transpires when she accepts an invitation from its enigmatic host to spend a long weekend at his mansion in Connecticut. June Bloom is a broke, cynical twenty-nine-year-old writer's assistant on the late-night comedy show, Stay Up with Hugo Best. Hugo Best is in his sixties, a beloved icon of TV and humor, and a notorious womanizer. After he unexpectedly retires and a party is held for his now unemployed staff, June ends up at a dive bar for an open-mic night and prepares for the sad return to the anonymous comedian lifestyle. What she’s not prepared for is a run-in with Hugo at that dive bar. Nor for the invitation that swiftly follows: Hugo asks June to come to his mansion in Greenwich for the long Memorial Day weekend. “No funny business,” he insists. June, in need of a job and money, confident she can handle herself, but secretly harboring the remains of a childhood crush on the charming older comedian and former role model, accepts. The exact terms of the visit are never spelled out, but June is realistic and clear-eyed enough to guess. Even so, as the weekend unfolds and the enigmatic Hugo gradually reveals himself, their dynamic proves to be much more complicated and less predictable than she expected. At once hilarious and poignant, brilliantly incisive and terrifically propulsive, Stay Up with Hugo Best is an incredibly timely exploration of sexual politics in the #MeToo age, and the unforgettable story of one young woman’s poignant stumbling into adulthood.

The Editor by Steven Rowley (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Putnam)
After years of struggling as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally gets his big break when his novel sells to an editor at a major publishing house: Jackie Kennedy. Jackie, or Mrs. Onassis as she's known in the office, has fallen in love with James's candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book's forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can't bring himself to finish the manuscript. With her shrewd drive and intuition, Jackie pushes James to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. But when a long-held family secret is revealed, he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page...

Women Talking by Miriam Toews (Hardcover, 240 pages, published by Bloomsbury Publishing)
One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm. While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape? Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.

April 9th:

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Hardcover, 257 pages, published by Henry Holt and Co.)
In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley. The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—though it’s not false, either. It takes until the book’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place—revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence. As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.

April 16th:

Normal People by Sally Rooney (Hardcover, 272 pages, published by Hogarth)
A wondrous and wise coming-of-age love story from the celebrated author of Conversations with Friends. At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other. Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

April 23rd:

Dawn by Selahattin Demirtaş (Hardcover, 176 pages, published by Sjp for Hogarth)
Written from behind bars, DAWN is the unforgettable story collection from one of Turkey's leading politicians, and most powerful oppositional voices. From the dynamic political force 'who has evoked comparisons to President Obama' (New York Times), Selahattin Demirtaş' stories capture the voices of ordinary people living in extraordinary times - from cleaning ladies and teenage laborers, bus drivers and factory workers, from a violent demonstration in Ankara to a five-year-old girl's attempt to escape war-torn Syria by boat. With Demirtaş' trademark wit, warmth and humor, and seasoned by the vernacular of everyday speech, DAWN paints a remarkable portrait of life behind the headlines in Turkey and the Middle East - in all its hardship and adversity, freedom and hope.

April 30th:

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by William Morrow)
The British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters—Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina—were never close and barely got along growing up, and now as adults, have grown even further apart. Rajni, a school principal is a stickler for order. Jezmeen, a thirty-year-old struggling actress, fears her big break may never come. Shirina, the peacemaking "good" sister married into wealth and enjoys a picture-perfect life. On her deathbed, their mother voices one last wish: that her daughters will make a pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites. After a trip to India with her mother long ago, Rajni vowed never to return. But she’s always been a dutiful daughter, and cannot, even now, refuse her mother’s request. Jezmeen has just been publicly fired from her television job, so the trip to India is a welcome break to help her pick up the pieces of her broken career. Shirina’s in-laws are pushing her to make a pivotal decision about her married life; time away will help her decide whether to meekly obey, or to bravely stand up for herself for the first time. Arriving in India, these sisters will make unexpected discoveries about themselves, their mother, and their lives—and learn the real story behind the trip Rajni took with their Mother long ago—a momentous journey that resulted in Mum never being able to return to India again. Powerful, emotionally evocative, and wonderfully atmospheric, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a charming and thoughtful story that illuminates the bonds of family, sisterhood, and heritage that tether us despite our differences. Funny and heartbreaking, it is a reminder of the truly important things we must treasure in our lives.

• • • •

- Young Adult -

April 2nd:

Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi (Paperback, 368 pages, published by HarperCollins)
The gripping fifth installment in the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Shatter Me series. Will Juliette’s broken heart make her vulnerable to the strengthening darkness within her? Juliette’s short tenure as the supreme commander of North America has been an utter disaster. When the children of the other world leaders show up on her doorstep, she wants nothing more than to turn to Warner for support and guidance. But he shatters her heart when he reveals that he’s been keeping secrets about her family and her identity from her—secrets that change everything. Juliette is devastated, and the darkness that’s always dwelled within her threatens to consume her. An explosive encounter with unexpected visitors might be enough to push her over the edge.

Defy the Fates (Constellation #3) by Claudia Gray (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Hot Key Books)
Hunted and desperate. Abel only has one mission left that matters: save the life of Noemi Vidal. To do that, he not only has to escape the Genesis authorities, he also must face the one person in the galaxy who still has the means to destroy him. Burton Mansfield's consciousness lives on, desperate for a home, and Abel's own body is his last bargaining chip. Alone in the universe. Brought back from the brink of death, Noemi Vidal finds Abel has not only saved her life, but he's made her into something else, something more. Not quite mech, yet not quite human any longer, Noemi must find her place in a universe where she is utterly unique, all while trying to create a world where anyone--even a mech--can be free. The final battle between Earth and the colony planets is here, and there's no lengths to which Earth won't go to preserve its domination over all humanity. But together, the universe's most advanced mech and its first human-mech hybrid might have the power to change the galaxy for good.

The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con #2) by Ashley Poston (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Quirk Books)
The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston. Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year's ExcelsiCon isn't her last, she'll consider her career derailed. When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That's easier said than done when the girls step into each other's shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these "princesses" race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Wednesday Books)
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war. In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Wednesday Books)
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

April 9th:

Alien: Echo by Mira Grant (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Imprint)
An original young adult novel of the Alien universe. Olivia and her twin sister Viola have been dragged around the universe for as long as they can remember. Their parents, both xenobiologists, are always in high demand for their research into obscure alien biology. Just settled on a new colony world, they discover an alien threat unlike anything they’ve ever seen. And suddenly the sisters’ world is ripped apart. On the run from terrifying aliens, Olivia’s knowledge of xenobiology and determination to protect her sister are her only weapons as the colony collapses into chaos. But then a shocking family secret bursts open—one that’s as horrifying to Olivia as the aliens surrounding them. The creatures infiltrate the rich wildlife on this virgin colony world—and quickly start adapting. Olivia’s going to have to adapt, too, if she’s going to survive...

Love & Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by HarperTeen)
The Weyward family has been haunted by a curse for generations—if a Weyward falls in love before their seventeenth birthday, the person they love dies. Sam doesn’t plan to fall for anyone in the nine weeks before his birthday. He’ll spend his time working at the Eezy-Freeze with his dad; cooking up some midsummer magic with his grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother (the Grands); and experimenting with drag with the help of the queens at the Shangri-La, the local gay club. But when a new guy comes to town, Sam finds himself in trouble when they strike up a friendship that might be way more than that. As Sam’s birthday approaches and he still hasn’t quite fallen in love, the curse seems to get more powerful and less specific about who it targets. A mysterious girl Sam talks to on the phone late at night and a woman he’s only seen in a dream might have the answers he’s been looking for—but time is running out to save the people he cares about.

Riverland by Fran Wilde (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Amulet Books)
When things go bad at home, sisters Eleanor and Mike hide in a secret place under Eleanor’s bed, telling monster stories. Often, it seems those stories and their mother’s house magic are all that keep them safe from both busybodies and their dad’s temper. But when their father breaks a family heirloom, a glass witch ball, a river suddenly appears beneath the bed, and Eleanor and Mike fall into a world where dreams are born, nightmares struggle to break into the real world, and secrets have big consequences. Full of both adventure and heart, Riverland is a story about the bond between two sisters and how they must make their own magic to protect each other and save the ones they love.

The Fall of Crazy House (Crazy House #2) by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Little, Brown and Company)
Escape is just the beginning. Twin sisters Becca and Cassie barely got out of the Crazy House alive. Now they're trained, skilled fighters who fear nothing--not even the all-powerful United regime. Together, the sisters hold the key to defeating the despotic government and freeing the people of the former United States. But to win this war, will the girls have to become the very thing they hate?

The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Magnus Bane, a centuries old High Warlock, has taken possession of one of the great relics of the supernatural world, a powerful spell book of dark magic known as The Book of the White and there are many who want to claim it for themselves. After the Mortal War where the part-human and part-angel Shadowhunters teamed with the part human-demon Downworlders to fight against the incursion of an army of demons, Magnus and his new lover, the mortal Alec Lightwood celebrate their survival and victory by escaping the supernatural battlefield of New York City by touring the world, but the world won’t leave them alone.

The Sword and the Dagger by Robert Cochran (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Tor Teen)
When empires clash, a Princess, a Knight, and an Assassin embark on the quest of a lifetime. During the time of the Crusades, an unlikely trio—a Christian princess, her affianced prince, and a Muslim assassin—embarks on a quest to the court of the most fearsome warrior the world has ever known, Genghis Khan. A rousing tale of adventure and romance about three young people who must grapple with fundamental issues of loyalty, friendship, faith, honor, and courage against the backdrop of conflicts that still resonate today.

Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by HarperTeen)
The Bear and the Nightingale meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy from the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore. When Katya loses control of her power to freeze, her villagers banish her to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev. Expecting punishment, she is surprised to find instead that Sasha is just like her—with the ability to summon fire. Sasha offers Katya friendship and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it. But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies are organizing an army of people bent on taking over the entire world. Together, Katya’s and Sasha’s powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will Katya and Sasha lose everything they hold dear? Inspired by Russian mythology, this lushly romantic, intensely imaginative, and fiercely dramatic story is about learning to fight for yourself, even when the world is falling down around you.

April 16th:

Earth to Charlie by Justin Olson (Hardcover, 256 pages, published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers)
A high school outcast spends his life hoping to be abducted by aliens in this funny, quirky novel about finding your footing in a world that sometimes feels like Mars. Convinced his mother has been abducted by aliens, Charlie Dickens spends his nights with an eye out for UFOs, hoping to join her. After all, she said the aliens would come back for him. Charlie will admit that he doesn’t have many reasons to stick around; he doesn’t get along well with his father, he’s constantly bullied at school and at work, and the only friend he has is his 600-pound neighbor Geoffrey, and Geoffrey’s three-legged dog, Tickles. Then Charlie meets popular, easy-going Seth, who shows him what real friendship is all about. For once, he finds himself looking around at the life he’s built, rather than looking up. But sooner than he expected, Charlie has to make a decision: should he stay or should he go?

Nyxia Uprising (The Nyxia Triad #3) by Scott Reintgen (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Crown Books for Young Readers)
In the highly anticipated Nyxia Triad series finale, Emmett and the Genesis team must join forces with a surprising set of allies if they’re ever to make it home alive. Desperate to return home to Earth and claim the reward Babel promised, Emmett and the Genesis team join forces with the Imago. Babel’s initial attack left their home city in ruins, but that was just part of the Imago’s plan. They knew one thing Babel didn’t. This world is coming to an end. Eden’s two moons are on a collision course no one can prevent. After building eight secret launch stations, the Imago hoped to lure Babel down to their doomed planet as they left it behind. A perfect plan until the Genesis team’s escape route was destroyed. Now the group must split up to survive the hostile terrain and reach another launch station. As both sides struggle for the upper hand, the fight leads inevitably back into space, where Emmett, his crewmates, and their new allies will fight one final battle for control of the Genesis ships. Win this time, and they’ll survive Babel’s twisted game once and for all. As the Imago world falls, this is the last chance to rise.

The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Amulet Books)
Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

April 23rd:

The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy #1) by Swati Teerdhala (Hardcover, 496 pages, published by Katherine Tegen Books)
Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha. Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile. Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices. Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology, the first book in Swati Teerdhala’s debut fantasy trilogy captivates with electric romance, stunning action, and the fierce bonds that hold people together—and that drive them apart.

April 30th:

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Rock the Boat)
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch… A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm. A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates. A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder. An alien warrior with anger management issues. A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering. And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy. Nobody panic.

King of Fools (The Shadow Game #2) by Amanda Foody (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Inkyard Press)
Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all... On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake. Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth. As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive... Or die as legends.

(sources: io9.Gizmodo.com, Goodreads.com 1 2 3 4 5 6 7,
Tor.com 1 2 3 4 5 6, Barnes&Noble 1 2 3, BookBub.com 1 2 3)