Jul 29, 2019


Book Review - Advent (by Cat Kydd)

Title: Advent
Series: -
Author: Cat Kydd
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Readers
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 152


"Life as one of the wealthiest teenagers in New York City seems like a dream. Except, according to Andrew Slater, his existence is closer to a nightmare. Living in the luxury apartment, 740 Park Avenue, and being enrolled in the prestigious Jasper High is a realm he cannot comprehend. Dealing with his father's abusive nature, the staff and student's disapproval of him, and his father's loathing towards his only friend, Andrew's life is an unrelenting struggle. However, when he begins to see a mysterious, red-haired girl in his dreams and in his reality, he begins to delve into a world he could not have possibly imagined."

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a "science fiction, action/adventure story, with elements young adult novels possess - teen lead characters [and] coming of age elements". The blurb sounded interesting: a teenage boy haunted by dreams of hooded figures watching him from a distance and a mysterious red-haired girl who asks him to go with her to the future in order to save the world; and since the author assured me there were none of the usual romantic elements typical of the young adult genre I decided to give it a go.

The Plot
15-year-old Andrew Slater may live a life of privilege and luxury but it's not a happy one. Abused at home by his overbearing stepfather, despised and bullied at the prestigious Jasper Academy, watched by mysterious hooded figures through his window since a young age and plagued by dreams of a red-haired girl in bizarre clothes, Andrew doesn't believe in his self-worth and the only saving grace in his life is his friend Kysten.

Until the day his nightmares become real. After a violent incident at school he runs away from home, only to be caught and attacked by the stalking hooded figures. Saved at the last minute by Ava, the red-haired girl from his dreams, he is given the choice to follow her to the future - the ruler of Reservoir City, King Alters, believes Andrew is the only one capable of defeating the Harbingers, a violent subversive group intent on destroying the peace of the future world.

The Good
"Advent" is a young readers fantasy and action-adventure novel, with a few science-fiction elements included. It introduces the main character in modern days New York but soon moves to the near future in a setting that is part futuristic and part medieval. The book follows the adventures of Andrew Slater, a wealthy 15-year-old boy who is abused at home by a violent stepfather and bullied at a prestigious school where he doesn't fit in. After being attacked by a group of hooded figures determined to kill him, Andrew is rescued by Ava, a mysterious girl he keeps seeing in his dreams, and taken to the future where the ruler of the realm asks for his help to defeat the Harbingers, an underground subversive group who wants to destroy the peaceful kingdom. Together with Ava and James Cross, another knight in the king's army, the 3 teenagers set out for the surrounding forest in order to find and stop the Harbingers before they cause any more harm to the citizens of Reservoir City.

The worldbuilding is set in a future with a strong medieval feel to it. Reservoir City is described as a mix of futuristic buildings and NeoRenaissance architecture and the people wear a bizarre blend of Victorian, Renaissance and Gothic clothing. The technology is interesting: the teleportation device Exodus, the Rapture pill that takes the body back to a time when it was the healthiest, the Dreamcatcher which can manipulate people’s thoughts and actions in their dreams, Ava's laser weapon Nightwind, a machine that can revive dead people... but there is also a strong medieval component with soldiers dressed as knights fighting with knives and swords, a castle with stony rooms and even the Harbinger's stronghold filled with robotic machinery in adorned caverns lit by torches. The action is fast-paced with a few plot twists, some predictable and some unexpected.

The Not So Good
Even though "Advent" is meant to be a Young Adult novel, it fits more into the Young Readers category. The story is interesting and has a lot of potential but it needs some polishing in order to appeal to an older audience.

The worldbuilding is peculiar (in a interesting way) with the mix of futuristic and medieval elements but it's only superficially described, it could use a little more development. There is an attempt at exploring the main character Andrew, his mother Mary and stepfather John in depth, but the majority of characters are mostly one-dimensional whose only function is to deliver background information. The language is disorienting and redundant, at times too elaborate followed by simplistic dialogs with frequent repetition of ideas and words. And there are too many plot holes in the narrative, making the story confusing and even conflicting at times, with too much left unexplained (and not for the sake of building suspense). It's the main reason the novel lost a book/star in the final rating.

Final Rating
"Advent" is a young readers action-adventure fantasy novel with science-fiction elements, set in a distant future but with a strong medieval feeling. Recommended for those who enjoy adventure stories about quests to save endangered kingdoms.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: catkyddbooks.home.blog
Genre:  Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction

Cat Kydd’s first novel, Advent, had been formulating in her brain when she first experienced New York City at the age of sixteen. Since her visit, she began to put her vision to paper and completed her novel two years later. In addition to her writing, she is also a graphic and web designer for musical artists and a singer-songwriter who records, writes and performs her own original material. She currently lives in Dallas, Texas.


Jul 24, 2019


Book Review - Eve of Ascension, The Fall of The Ascendancy #1 (by Daniel McMillan)

Title: Eve of Ascension
Series: The Fall of The Ascendancy (book #1)
Author: Daniel McMillan
Genre: Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic
Publisher: Vector11 Studio
Release Date: June 1st, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 270


When an attempt at establishing a World Government seems destined to fail, the global elite seek refuge on a space station and crash an asteroid into the Earth to "bring the population down to a more manageable level".

Once the world was sufficiently healed from the Cataclysm, the elite reappeared and established The Ascendancy. They offered refuge in twelve new cities around the globe - all survivors had to do in exchange was give everything they could for the betterment of the government.

Baxter Clarke grew up in the city of Enswell, enjoying the highest comforts the Ascendancy provided thanks to his brilliant father's contributions. But when Baxter discovers a connection that upsets the balance he has been familiar with all his life, he finds himself in a situation he never dreamed possible.

Now, with the fate of the Ascended attached to a device stolen from a government agency, he will have to run for his life and leave the city to save his people and rise to be the man he was meant to be."

Eve of Ascension (The Fall of The Ascendancy #1)
(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a dystopian sci-fi novel and the premise of the story sounded interesting: a technologically advanced society built on lies and one young man who discovers the truth and must decide what to do with it.

The Plot
After the Great Cataclysm that scorched the planet and almost drove humanity to extinction, the governing elite built 12 domed cities and offered shelter and resources to anyone who settled in and pledged their loyalty to The Ascendancy, creating a new social order where the more a citizen contributes to the whole the more they ascend and enjoy the comforts and privileges offered. Those who chose to keep their freedom and live off the land instead were renamed the Sylvans, despised for their nonconformity to the elite and taken as slaves to run the waste and water treatment facilities that provide the Ascended with all their basic needs and amenities.

In the city of Enswell, Candace Clarke believes the purpose of life is to ascend as high as one can by whatever means necessary so your descendants will make it even further. Her husband's scientific discovery of the Gates gave the Clarke family prominence and her son's academic achievements and contributions will be the next step to reach even higher levels, if she plays her cards right. William Clarke is mostly devoted to his work and research on the Gates, but one chance encounter in his youth shocked him from his complacency when he discovered The Ascendancy had been lying to its citizens in order to maintain the status quo. Baxter has enjoyed the privileges and comforts of his family's position all his life and at the age of 26 is the youngest Ascended to achieve the Award of Excellence. But Baxter craves something real, meaningful experiences and organic feelings not dictated by computer protocols and algorithms.

In the village of Nylen, Shawan and Aellana Forander are members of the Luminants, an underground movement fighting to bring individuality back to the Ascended and end the tyranny of the Ascendancy. Even though they never pressured their children to join the dangerous life of the rebel movement, 22-year-old Raishann has fully embraced the cause and just started to go on Luminant missions with her parents. But 19-year-old Timoth is tired of being on the losing side and wants a better existence among the powerful and superior, with all the luxuries and safety provided by the Ascendancy - he wants to rise.

The Good
"Eve of Ascension" is the first book in "The Fall of The Ascendancy" series, a dystopian sci-fi novel set in the distant future. After an asteroid collided with Earth causing massive destruction and drastically reducing the world population, the survivors split in two groups: the Ascended who lived in 12 technologically advanced domed cities under the rule of The Ascendancy, and the Sylvans - the people of the woods - who chose to live off the land in the wilderness, scavenging for lost technology and usable goods to trade. The novel follows two families living in this dystopian world: the Clarkes, a prestigious family in the ascendancy social structure - Candace is a firm believer of the reward system that governs The Ascendancy, but William started questioning the status quo after finding the truth behind their privileged existence and their son Baxter is about to come face to face with the Ascendancy's lies; and the Foranders, a Sylvan family and members of the Luminants, an underground movement bent on freeing both Sylvans and Ascended from the rule of the Ascendancy with the help of an insider named Shadaar - Shawan, Aellana and their daugther Raishann are fully committed to the cause but the younger son Timoth has serious misgivings, yearning for all the benefits given to the Ascended instead.

The world building is complex and the author paints a vivid description of both societies and their contrasting ways, beliefs and social structure: on one side the communal society of the Sylvans, living a simple and harsh life in the wild in mobile villages, where love is a free and personal choice and even parenting is a collective endeavor shared between all adults; on the other the Ascended, with all the technological advancements at their disposal but with their lives manipulated by false propaganda and mood stabilizers, where each individual has to fend for himself to get enough A-Points (ascension points) to climb up the social ladder and even love is prearranged by computer algorithms to maximize loyalty. The futuristic technology sounds believable with O-Bots (officer robots - killing machines in charge of security), augmentations (memory expansion, processing speed, visual and auditory enhancements, implanted device interfaces...), self-forming houses and wardrobe controlled by nanobots, and even though the idea of the Gates (portals that allow instantaneous travel between distant points) is used frequently in the sci-fi and fantasy genres the author still managed to give it a fresh twist. The narrative is fast-paced with plenty of thrilling action sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat, specially in the second half of the book, and surprising plot twists.

The characters are 3-dimensional, realistic and with believable reactions. The author explores the thoughts, feelings and motivations of each of the various characters in depth: Candace who will stop at nothing to ascend; Baxter, torn between what he's been taught to believe all his life and the reality he's forced to face; Timoth who wants more than a life of poverty and fear, skeptical of the Sylvans' beliefs and envied of all the luxury enjoyed by the Ascended... even the secondary characters add to the story and help build the world of "Eve of Ascension" as we follow Laena Reisatra (a Sylvan girl who is taken during one of the Ascendancy's raids) during her captivity inside one of the Ascendancy's waste treatment facilities, and all the political shady maneuverings and backstabbing of Chancellor Marshall and his advisors Doyle Morgan and Michael Burke to ascend and maintain the status quo.

The Not So Good
"Eve of Ascension" is a fascinating world and the plot is thrilling and engaging but the narrative suffers from too much exposition at times. It is a complex world and for the most part the author managed to present all the detailed information in a natural and organic way, but there are a few moments when it feels forced and repetitive. It's the reason the novel lost one book/star in the final rating.

I could go without the instalove between two of the main characters as well... but that's a personal quirk of mine, most readers will probably enjoy the plot device, it does serve its purpose in adding an extra level of conflict into the story.

Final Rating
"Eve of Ascension" is the first installment in "The Fall of The Ascendancy" series, a dystopian sci-fi novel set in the distant future, with plenty of thrilling action sequences, plot twists but also thought-provoking moments. Recommended for those who enjoy futuristic stories about dystopian societies, political maneuvering and oppressive governments.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: www.vector11studio.com
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Daniel McMillan was born in Scarborough, Ontario, and grew up in Iroquois Falls, Ontario.

From an early age, Daniel had a strong love of science and science fiction, and he always questioned the status quo based on his own observations about the world. He saw, even as a child, that there was a disconnect between what he had been taught about life, and what he saw happening around him. He searched voraciously for answers to the disparity and began writing stories from the observations he made and things he learned.

Dan has spent his entire life studying science but, as a young man, he shifted his focus toward the human services industry with a strong desire to help others. While working toward his degree in Developmental Services, he began noticing that a lot of what he had learned about science overlapped with psychology and spirituality. He verified, through his own learning, what Einstein meant when he said that "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very pervasive one."

But, having continued writing throughout his life, Daniel found that he could not stop. He has returned to his love of science fiction, and "Eve of Ascension", his first Sci-Fi Thriller, is now scheduled to launch on June 1st, 2019.
(source: goodreads.com)


Jul 17, 2019


Book Review - Her Crown of Fire, Molten Crown #1 (by Renee April)

Title: Her Crown of Fire
Series: Molten Crown (book #1)
Author: Renee April
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Write Plan
Release Date: November 1st, 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 314

"In the dull, everyday world, seventeen-year-old Rose Evermore struggles to plan beyond her final year of high school. But when fire suddenly obeys her every command and her dreams predict the future, she becomes hungry for more of this strange power.

Under her dreams’ guidance, Rose lands in the fantasy realm of Lotheria–with a tagalong. Tyson, her best friend since childhood, winds up there with her, just as confused and a hell of a lot more vulnerable. In Lotheria, Rose is welcomed and celebrated as a fire mage at the Academy, while the very un-magical Tyson is forced into hiding under threat of death from the headmasters of Rose’s new school.

As Rose’s talent in fire magic draws unwanted attention and Tyson struggles to transition from high school student to blacksmith, Rose must find a way to return Tyson to their own world before the headmasters discover and execute him–no matter the cost."

Her Crown of Fire (Molten Crown #1)
(excerpt not yet available)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The blurb sounded interesting: a girl who can suddenly control fire sent to a school of magic in a medieval setting; since the publisher assured me there were none of the typical romantic elements of an YA novel, which I really dislike, I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
Rose Evermore is a 17-year-old senior at Narralong High. A loner by nature, Rose has a shaky relationship with her mother, an unknown father and no plans for her future. As if that wasn't bad enough, she's now being haunted by disturbing dreams of dead birds and premonitions, and an irresistible attraction to fire, which she not only seems impossibly impervious to but can also control at will.

After feeling an overwhelming pull towards the river, Rose dives into the deep waters accidentally dragging her best friend Tyson along. When they resurface they find themselves no longer in Narralong but in the strange land of Lotheria, a feudal nation ruled with an iron grip by the Council of Three, where mages have a high standing in the community, commoners struggle to survive and humanborn non-magi are sentenced to death.

As a skilled fire mage, Rose is enlisted at the Stanthor Academy against her will, resenting the rules set by the Headmasters and the indentured servitude expected of her after graduation. But as a humanborn non-magi Tyson is in mortal danger, unless Rose learns to control her powers and find a way to return to The Other, their home. When Rose is caught in the middle of Lotheria's civil war between the northern rebels and the southern rulers, pledging her allegiance to the Halvers leader Kaya might be the only way to save her friend. But the Halvers are feared for a reason, and Kaya's obsession for revenge against the Headmasters' rule might cost Rose more than she bargained for.

The Good
"Her Crown of Fire" is a young adult fantasy novel, the first book in the "Molten Crown" series. It follows the adventures of Rose Evermore, a 17-year-old high school girl who finds herself transported to the magical world of Lotheria with his best friend Tyson, a medieval world ravaged by civil war under the rule of tyrannical mages. Forced to join the Stanthor Academy for mages, she must learn to control her fire power to protect Tyson who, as a humanborn non-magi, risks death if found by the Headmasters.

The worldbuilding is complex and imaginative. Even though the author doesn't describe the world of Lotheria in great detail, she gives enough information to deliver a vivid picture of the setting: a realm divided into different regions with their own unique people, traditions and rivalries; a land ravaged by civil war where the northern races defy the rule of the southern regions; a civilization built on social classes, with the mages at the top of the food chain and the non-magi struggling to eke out a meager existence, where relations between the different classes is not just discouraged but strictly prohibited and punishable; a land ruled by the 2 Academy Headmasters who thrive and prosper by exploring the non-magi and through indentured servitude of their own students. The magic associated with fire and runes (the powers controlled by the main character Rose) are fascinating and the existence of soulmates between the mages and the nature of Halvers as a consequence of losing one's companion is well thought-out. The plot is fast-paced with enough magical action sequences and mystery to keep us engaged throughout the plot - fair warning though, not all questions are answered in this first volume. 

The characters are 3-dimensional, with realistic personalities and believable reactions. The main character Rose shows the biggest development throughout the plot: from a sassy teenager resentful of her situation, to someone who stands up for those considered beneath her station; a girl torn between her desire to protect his friend and return him home to The Other, and her growing attachment to the magical realm of Lotheria; someone who faces loss and the fear of her own powers but still struggles to make a difference.The secondary characters: Rose's best friend Tyson, her Lotherian mage friends Petre, Orin and Amisha, the non-magi Markon and his daughter Laela, Craige the blacksmith, Rune Master Arno and History Master Jettais, the stable-boy Thompson, the Academy Headmasters Netalia and Iain, the Halvers leader Kaya... each adds a new layer to the narrative and impacts the main character on her personal journey.

The Not So Good
Even though the novel is about a group of teenagers learning to control their powers in a school for mages, the themes explored are clearly mature. There is injustice and tyranny, violence and war, loss and despair and none of the characters are unaffected by any of it. There were times when I seriously considered dropping the book, it made me feel too angry and frustrated to fully enjoy the story. But that's a personal reaction, other readers might enjoy this particular realism.

Final Rating
"Her Crown of Fire", the first book in the "Molten Crown" series, is a young adult fantasy novel, set in the medieval fantasy realm of Lotheria. Fast-paced with plenty of action sequences, an engaging mystery surrounding the characters and also a touch of sassy humor from the main character. Recommended for those who enjoy epic fantasy stories with magical powers.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: www.reneeapril.com
Twitter: @reneeapril92
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Renee April is the author of the young adult fantasy novel, Her Crown of Fire. In addition to being an avid reader and writer, she streams games badly on Twitch and acts as dungeon master for her D&D group. As a result, she spends far too much time in fantasy realms. She can be found on various writing sites such as Wattpad and Goodreads, but usually lurks on Twitter to hand out bad advice and genuine sympathies.


Jul 12, 2019


Book Review - The Nibiru Effect, Will Save #1 (by G. Sauvé)

Title: The Nibiru Effect
Series: Will Save (book #1)
Author: G. Sauvé
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Action-Adventure, Young Adult
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Release Date: January 14th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 417

"A cryptic dream. A strange symbol. A magical ring.

Will’s life will never be the same.

Lured away from his life at the orphanage by the promise of a family reunion, fifteen-year-old Will Save unwittingly embarks on an adventure through time and space.

Catapulted into the distant past. Struggling to survive a dinosaur-infested land. Plagued by a mysterious shapeshifting ability. These are only some of the challenges Will faces as he battles mythical creatures in a desperate attempt to save a race of prehistoric humanoids from a deadly plague.

Avalon is obsessed with altering the course of history. If she succeeds, Will’s entire life will come crumbling down around him. Desperate to protect those he loves and reunite with his long-lost mother, he must accept his destiny and become the saviour everyone believes him to be.

Can he live up to his name and save the world?

Find out in this action-packed, pulse-pounding first installment in a brand-new YA series about courage, love, and destiny."

The Nibiru Effect (Will Save #1)
(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a "YA time travel fantasy novel"; the blurb sounded intriguing: a time travel adventure set in prehistoric times with dinosaurs and shape-shifting abilities so I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
Will Save has been an orphan all his life and stopped hoping for his parents to return for him. But when he's given a package on his 15th birthday containing a strange looking ring and a letter from his mother, Will doesn't hesitate to follow the written instructions so he can be reunited with his family again.

Avalon has made a mistake and in order to correct it she needs to alter the past to change the future, no matter what the cost. Kara and Jonn have been tasked by the Atlantean Council to capture Avalon before she can reshape the timeline, unrelentingly chasing her through time and space.

Will is on his way to meet his parents when he's caught in the middle of a shootout. Accidentally getting in the way and choosing the wrong side, Will finds himself transported back through time to the Mesozoic Era. Will just wants to get back to his own time, but first he must join forces with Kara and Jonn to find Avalon and recover the ring she stole, the only thing that will help him return home. Easier said than done when he must also avoid being eaten by the prehistorical beasts that roam the dangerous landscape, learn to control the mysterious shape-shifting ability he now seems to possess and save the local Korrigans and Arkanes from dying of a deadly plague.

The Good
"The Nibiru Effect" is a young adult science fiction novel, with time travel and fantasy elements, plenty of action sequences and full of witty humor. The first book in the "Will Save" series and told in the first person through the eyes of the main character, it follows the adventures of 15-year-old Will Save, an orphan who is unwillingly thrown back in time to the Mesozoic Age after a chance encounter with a group of time travel quarreling Atlanteans. Trapped in the Jurassic world, Will must face dinosaurs, giant insects, dragons and even an unexpected shape-shifting ability, while trying to find a way back to his own time.

The story is fast-paced and packed with thrilling action sequences and a few plot twists. Will is a magnet for trouble, getting himself in constant danger and barely getting out of it alive in his long journey to capture Avalon and recover his stolen ring. The mysteries surrounding each of the characters are slowly unraveled throughout the plot, though a few remain for the next installments, keeping us engaged. The worldbuilding is complex with vivid descriptions of the Atlantean city and technology, the Jurassic world and the indigenous color-shifting humanoid races - the Korrigans and the Arkanes.

The characters are 3-dimensional and complex, with realistic personalities, believable actions and good character development: from Will, a typical teenager at times cocky and arrogant but mostly insecure and clumsy; to Jonn, a seasoned soldier with emotions and motivations that run deep; Kara, mature for her age and with great empathy for those around her; the Korrigan Korri, who excels at running away from trouble and yet is curious enough to explore the world... there is more to each character than meets the eye and, as the story progresses, each one faces their own fears and weaknesses, learning to rely on one another in order to survive in the unforgiving environment. There's only a hint of a romantic interest between the two teenagers and it's developed in a natural way, which is a welcome change from the usual instalove plot device in young adult novels.

Final Rating
"The Nibiru Effect" is the first book in the "Will Save" series, an action-packed young adult science fiction novel, with plenty of witty humor and an engaging mystery, set in the Jurassic Era. Recommended for those who enjoy time travel stories in a setting filled with dinosaurs and other prehistorical beasts.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: gsauve.ca 

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction

G. Sauvé had an unusual childhood. He grew up in a straw bale house. He was homeschooled. And he didn’t have a TV until he was a teenager. No wonder he fell in love with the written word at such a young age. He wrote his first book at fifteen (it sucked), and he now resides in Montréal, where he spends his days writing (much improved) novels and making bad puns.

Pronunciation: G. So-vey
(source: gsauve.ca)


Jul 7, 2019


Book Review - Convenience Store Woman (by Sayaka Murata)

Convenience Store Woman
Series: -
Author: Sayaka Murata
Genre: Literary Fiction, Cultural Japan
Publisher: Grove Press
Release Date: June 12th, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 176

"Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers' style of dress and speech patterns so she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life but is aware that she is not living up to society's expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko's contented stasis—but will it be for the better?"

Convenience Store Woman
(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I have a fascination for Japanese culture so that was a given. But also, a story about a social misfit, a woman at odds with the world and yet at peace with herself, who has trouble conforming to social norms and expectations, felt very relatable.

The Plot
Keiko Furukura is a 36-year-old social misfit who struggles to understand the ways of the world and society's accepted values and expectations. Working at  Hiiromachi Station Smile Mart gives her purpose and structure; by following the "manual", a set of specific rules that tell her how to behave as a convenience store worker, she can pretend to be a normal person just like everyone else.

For all her life Keiko's family has been trying to cure her of her abnormal condition to better fit in, while her friends keep pressuring her to follow the expected normal course of life: get a real job, get married and have children. But the store has been Keiko's life for the past 18 years and she finds fulfillment in her work, even if it's generally considered to be a low-paying dead-end job, a mere stepping stone for better career positions.

Shiraha is a misogynistic job hopper, who firmly believes society hasn't changed since the Stone Age, and a leecher who's looking to marry a woman that will support him so he can spend his whole life doing nothing. Still, Keiko believes they can help each other out - Shiraha has his own reasons to hide from society, and by pretending to be in a relationship her family and friends will be satisfied that she has been cured and is in fact a normal person. Keiko's proposal seems to benefit them both until Keiko starts questioning her life choices and who she truly is.

The Good
"Convenience Store Woman" is a short novella set in modern days Japan. Told in the first person through the eyes of the main character Keiko Furukura, it follows the life of a 36-year-old single woman who's been working at a 24/7 convenience store for 18 years to the disapproval of her social circle. Because she doesn't share and follow society's accepted values and expectations, Keiko mimics those around her in order to pass as normal, but her family and friends keep pressuring her to follow the expected route: find a high paying job, get married and have children. After meeting a co-worker who is as much an oddball has she is, Keiko comes up with a plan to make their lives easier - to pretend to be in a relationship that will convince people that she is normal.

It's not an action-packed story but a character study novella instead, thought-provoking, with plenty of dry humor and a fast-paced plot. Despite being a short book, it offers a deep insight into Japanese culture in general and the atmosphere and daily routines of a typical convenience store as we follow the main character's path of self-discovery. Keiko is 3-dimensional, complex, believable and very relatable - even though "Convenience Store Woman" is meant as a satire on social and family expectations placed specifically on Japanese women, it could easily take place anywhere in the western world.

The novella explores themes of social conformity and alienation, the power social norms and expectations have on people and the difficulties in navigating them, the desire to be normal and accepted by one's social circle even at the expense of one's happiness and comfort, what it means to be normal and following one's own path.

Final Rating
"Convenience Store Woman" is a satirical character study novella about social conventions and expectations in modern days Japan, fast-paced, thought-provoking and with plenty of quirky dry humor. Recommended for those with an interest in Japanese culture and stories about human behavior, people who struggle to fit in and face social and family expectations as an outsider.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @sayakamurata
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Short Stories

Sayaka Murata (in Japanese, 村田 沙耶香) is one of the most exciting up-and-coming writers in Japan today.

Murata was born in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, Japan in 1979. As a child she often read science fiction and mystery novels borrowed from her brother and mother, and her mother bought her a word processor after she attempted to write a novel by hand in the fourth grade of elementary school. After Murata completed middle school in Inzai, her family moved to Tokyo, where she graduated from Kashiwa High School (attached to Nishogakusha University) and attended Tamagawa University.

She debuted in 2003 with Junyu (Breastfeeding), which won the Gunzo Prize for new writers. In 2009 she won the Noma Prize for New Writers with Gin iro no uta (Silver Song), and in 2013 the Mishima Yukio Prize for Shiro-oro no machi no, sono hone no taion no (Of Bones, of Body Heat, of Whitening City). Convenience Store Woman won the 2016 Akutagawa Award. Murata has two short stories published in English (both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori): "Lover on the Breeze" (Ruptured Fiction(s) of the Earthquake, Waseda Bungaku, 2011) and "A Clean Marriage" (Granta 127: Japan, 2014). In 2016, Vogue Japan selected her as a Woman of the Year.

Throughout her writing career Murata has worked part-time as a convenience store clerk in Tokyo which gave her the inspiration to write Convenience Store Woman (Conbini Ningen).


Jul 2, 2019


New Monthly Book Releases - July 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 July 2019.

- Science Fiction -

July 1st:

Aftershocks (The Palladium Wars #1) by Marko Kloos (Paperback, 288 pages, published by 47North)
Across the six-planet expanse of the Gaia system, the Earthlike Gretia struggles to stabilize in the wake of an interplanetary war. Amid an uneasy alliance to maintain economies, resources, and populations, Aden Robertson reemerges. After devoting twelve years of his life to the reviled losing side, with the blood of half a million casualties on his hands, Aden is looking for a way to move on. He’s not the only one. A naval officer has borne witness to inconceivable attacks on a salvaged fleet. A sergeant with the occupation forces is treading increasingly hostile ground. And a young woman, thrust into responsibility as vice president of her family’s raw materials empire, faces a threat she never anticipated. Now, on the cusp of an explosive and wide-reaching insurrection, Aden plunges once again into the brutal life he longed to forget. He’s been on the wrong side of war before. But this time, the new enemy has yet to reveal themselves… or their dangerous endgame.

July 2nd:

Across the Void by S.K. Vaughan (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Skybound Books)
Commander Maryam “May” Knox awakes from a medically induced coma alone, adrift in space on a rapidly failing ship, with little to no memory of who she is or why she’s there. Slowly, she pieces together that she’s the captain of the ship, Hawking II; that she was bound for Europa—one of Jupiter’s moons—on a research mission; and that she’s the only survivor of either an accident—or worse, a deliberate massacre—that has decimated her entire crew. With resources running low, and her physical strength severely compromised, May must rely on someone back home to help her. The problem is: everyone thinks she’s dead. Back on Earth, it’s been weeks since Hawking II has communicated with NASA, and Dr. Stephen Knox is on bereavement leave to deal with the apparent death of his estranged wife, whose decision to participate in the Europa mission strained their marriage past the point of no return. But when he gets word that NASA has received a transmission from May, Stephen comes rushing to her aid. What he doesn’t know is that not everyone wants May to make it back alive. Even more terrifying: she might not be alone on that ship. Featuring a twisting and suspenseful plot and compelling characters, Across the Void is a moving and evocative thriller that you won’t be able to put down.

Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
New York Times bestselling author Harry Turtledove reveals a new side of his potent imagination in a gripping speculative novel about the End of Days--and a discovery in the Middle East that turns the world upside down. What would happen if the ancient prophecy of the End of Days came true? It is certainly the last thing Eric Katz, a secular archaeologist from Los Angeles, expects during what should be a routine dig in Jerusalem. But perhaps higher forces have something else in mind when a sign presaging the rising of the Third Temple is located in America, a dirty bomb is detonated in downtown Tel Aviv, and events conspire to place a team of archaeologists in the tunnels deep under the Temple Mount. It is there that Eric is witness to a discovery of such monumental proportions that nothing will ever be the same again. Harry Turtledove is the master at portraying ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events, and what is more extraordinary than the incontrovertible proof that there truly is a higher force controlling human destiny? But as to what that force desires... well, that is the question.

Marque of Caine (Tales of the Terran Republic #5) by Charles E. Gannon (Paperback, 512 pages, published by Baen)
It’s been two years since Caine Riordan was relieved of his command for following both his orders and his conscience. Now he’s finally received the message he’s been waiting for: a summons to visit the ancient and enigmatic Dornaani. And this time, making direct contact is not just professional, but personal: the Dornaani still have his mortally-wounded love, Elena Corcoran, in their unthinkably advanced medical facilities. But instead of arranging a swift reunion, Riordan’s new Dornaani hosts are not only disinterested in human affairs, but are in such social disarray that they have lost track of Elena’s surgical cryocell. Riordan must blaze his own trail through dying and dangerous worlds to find the mother of his child, her fate as uncertain as the true agenda of the Dornaani leaders. However, as new clues and new threats push Caine’s quest beyond the edge of known space, he discovers that the Dornaani empire is not merely decaying; there are subtle signs that its decline is being accelerated from without. Which means that rescuing Elena is just half the mission: Riordan must report that the Dornaani collapse is not only being engineered, but that it is the prelude to a far more malign scheme: To clear a path for a foe bent on destroying Earth.

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Four edited by Neil Clarke (Paperback, 624 pages, published by Night Shade)
Keeping up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more—a task accomplishable by only the most determined and voracious readers. For everyone else, Night Shade Books is proud to introduce the latest volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy Award–winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers. The best science fiction scrutinizes our culture and politics, examines the limits of the human condition, and zooms across galaxies at faster-than-light speeds, moving from the very near future to the far-flung worlds of tomorrow in the space of a single sentence. Clarke, publisher and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed and award-winning magazine Clarkesworld, has selected the short science fiction (and only science fiction) best representing the previous year’s writing, showcasing the talent, variety, and awesome “sensawunda” that the genre has to offer.

Tyger Burning by T.C. McCarthy (Paperback, 336 pages, published by Baen)
Humanity had just begun its first tentative steps towards conquering the Solar System when the aliens came and took it all away. Then they disappeared, leaving only wreckage in their wake. They have given us 100 years to get ready for the next phase of their invasion. They expect us to fight fair. But if one man can learn to control his combat implants, humanity might just have a hope for a free future… Maung is used to being hunted. As the last "dream warrior," a Burmese military unit whose brains are more machine than grey matter, everyone wants him dead—punished for the multiple atrocities his unit committed during war. But when an alien race makes its presence known on Earth and threatens to annihilate mankind, it gives Maung a chance to escape. Maung abandons his family on Earth to hide in the farthest reaches of the Solar System. There he finds love, his fellow Burmese countrymen exiled to labor on a prison asteroid, and the horrors of a war long since finished. Maung also discovers a secret weapon system - one lost for almost a generation and which may help his people redeem themselves while at the same time saving the human race. War will come. But with Maung's discoveries and 100 years to prepare, maybe the Earth can be ready...

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig (Hardcover, 800 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world's last hope. In the tradition of The Stand and Station Eleven comes a gripping saga that weaves an epic tapestry of humanity into an astonishing tale of survival. Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead. For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

July 9th:

Mission Critical edited by Jonathan Strahan (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Solaris)
New anthology from the critically-acclaimed editor of Engineering Infinity. SPACE IS DANGEROUS. The greatest threat, to those who dare venture among the stars, isn’t from aliens, or enemy nations, or cosmic forces from outside reality, but from the simple things on which our lives in space are built: the engines and control systems, the machines that provide our atmosphere, our gravity, even our food and water. Mission Critical tells the stories of when the machines go wrong.

Null Set (Cas Russell #2) by S.L. Huang (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Tor Books)
Math-genius mercenary Cas Russell has decided to Fight Crime(tm). After all, with her extraordinary mathematical ability, she can neuter bombs or out-shoot an army. And the recent outbreak of violence in the world’s cities is Cas’s own fault—she’s the one who crushed the organization of telepaths keeping the world’s worst offenders under control. But Cas’s own power also has a history, one she can’t remember—or control. One that's creeping into her mind and fracturing her sanity... just when she’s gotten herself on the hit list of every crime lord on the West Coast. And her best, only, sociopathic friend. Cas won’t be able to save the world. She might not even be able to save herself.

The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Algonquin Books)
If the grid went down, how would you find someone on the other side of the country? How would you find hope? After a global economic collapse and failure of the electrical grid, amid escalating chaos, Carson, a high school teacher of history who sees history bearing out its lessons all around him, heads west on foot toward Beatrix, a woman he met and fell hard for during a chance visit to his school. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be delivered from hardship if they can find their way to the evangelical preacher Jonathan Blue, who is broadcasting on all the airwaves countrywide. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Beatrix and her neighbors turn to one another for food, water, and solace, and begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could, in fact, be a promising beginning. But between Beatrix and Carson lie 3,000 miles. With no internet or phone or postal service, can they find their way back to each other, and what will be left of their world when they do? The answers may lie with fifteen-year-old Rosie Santos, who travels reluctantly with her grandmother to Jonathan Blue, finding her voice and making choices that could ultimately decide the fate of the cross-country lovers. The Lightest Object in the Universe is a story about reliance and adaptation, a testament to the power of community and a chronicle of moving on after catastrophic loss, illustrating that even in the worst of times, our best traits, borne of necessity, can begin to emerge.

July 16th:

Earth (The Grand Tour #23) by Ben Bova (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Tor Books)
A wave of lethal gamma radiation is expanding from the core of the Milky Way galaxy at the speed of light, killing everything in its path. The countdown to when the death wave will reach Earth and the rest of the solar system is at two thousand years. Humans were helped by the Predecessors, who provided shielding generators that can protect the solar system. In return, the Predecessors asked humankind's help to save other intelligent species that are in danger of being annihilated. But what of Earth? With the Death Wave no longer a threat to humanity, humans have spread out and colonized all the worlds of the solar system. The technology of the Predecessors has made Earth a paradise, at least on the surface. But a policy of exiling discontent young people to the outer planets and asteroid mines has led to a deep divide between the new worlds and the homeworld, and those tensions are about to explode into open war.

Howling Dark (Sun Eater #2) by Christopher Ruocchio (Hardback, 688 pages, published by DAW Books)
Hadrian Marlowe is lost. For half a century, he has searched the farther suns for the lost planet of Vorgossos, hoping to find a way to contact the elusive alien Cielcin. He has not succeeded, and for years has wandered among the barbarian Normans as captain of a band of mercenaries. Determined to make peace and bring an end to nearly four hundred years of war, Hadrian must venture beyond the security of the Sollan Empire and among the Extrasolarians who dwell between the stars. There, he will face not only the aliens he has come to offer peace, but contend with creatures that once were human, with traitors in his midst, and with a meeting that will bring him face to face with no less than the oldest enemy of mankind. If he succeeds, he will usher in a peace unlike any in recorded history. If he fails... the galaxy will burn.

The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction edited by Neil Clarke (Paperback, 600 pages, published by Night Shade)
On July 20, 1969, mankind made what had only years earlier seemed like an impossible leap forward: when Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the moon, and Neil Armstrong the first person to step foot on the lunar surface. While there have only been a handful of new missions since, the fascination with our planet’s satellite continues, and generations of writers and artists have imagined the endless possibilities of lunar life. From adventures in the vast gulf of space between the earth and the moon, to journeys across the light face to the dark side, to the establishment of permanent residences on its surface, science fiction has for decades given readers bold and forward-thinking ideas about our nearest interstellar neighbor and what it might mean to humankind, both now and in our future. The Eagle Has Landed collects the best stories written in the fifty years since mankind first stepped foot on the lunar surface, serving as a shining reminder that the moon is and always has been our most visible and constant example of all the infinite possibility of the wider universe.

The Redemption of Time by Baoshu (Hardcover, 272 pages, published by Tor Books)
At the end of the fourth year of the Crisis Era, Yun Tianming, riddled with cancer, chose to end his life. His decision was the first step in a journey that would take him to the end of the universe and beyond. His brain was extracted from his body, flash frozen, put aboard a spacecraft and launched on a trajectory that will intercept the Trisolarian First Fleet in a few centuries. It is a desperate plan, almost certain to fail. But there is an infinitesimal chance that one day Tianming may, somehow, be able to send valuable information back to Earth. And so he does. His broadcasts from the Trisolarian fleet reveal the secrets of faster than light propulsion and the ultimate defence of black domains. This is Tianming's story. It reveals what happened to him when he was intercepted by the Trisolarians. It reveals the true nature of the struggle that has created the universal 'dark forest', and the ultimate fate of the Universe...

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Paperback, 208 pages, published by Gallery / Saga Press)
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

July 23rd:

Medusa in the Graveyard (The Medusa Cycle #2) by Emily Devenport (Paperback, 304 pages, published by Tor Books)
Oichi Angelis, former Worm, along with her fellow insurgents on the generation starship Olympia, head deeper into the Charon System for the planet called Graveyard. Ancient, sentient, alien starships wait for them--three colossi so powerful they remain aware even in self-imposed sleep. The race that made the Three are dead, but Oichi's people were engineered with this ancient DNA. A delegation from Olympia must journey to the heart of Graveyard and be judged by the Three. Before they're done, they will discover that weapons are the least of what the ships have to offer.

Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan (Kindle Edition, 320 pages, published by Titan Books)
Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mold their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked in an exam--Charlie will step into your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. In London 2022 her skills are in demand, though they still only just pay the bills. Hired by a celebrity whose nights are haunted by a masked figure who stalks her through a bewildering and sinister landscape, Charlie hopes her star is on the rise. Then her client sleepwalks straight off a tall building, and Charlie starts to realize that these horrors are not all just a dream...

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Orbit Books)
Sally Jensen--once a famous astronaut--thought her days in space were over. She was wrong. The object entered our solar system, slowed down off the rings of Saturn, and began a steady approach towards Earth. No one knows what its purpose is. It has made no attempt at communication and has ignored all of NASA's transmissions. Having forsaken manned flight, the space programs of the world scramble to enlist forcefully-retired NASA legend Sally Jensen--the only person with the first-hand operational knowledge needed to execute a mission to make contact. With no time to spare she must lead a crew with no experience farther than mankind has ever traveled, to a visitor whose intentions are far from clear... and who, with each passing day, gets closer to home.

Treason (Star Wars: Thrawn #3) by Timothy Zahn (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Del Rey)
Grand Admiral Thrawn faces the ultimate test of his loyalty to the Empire in this epic Star Wars novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn. “If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.” Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive. Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets. As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

July 30th:

Dark Age (Red Rising Saga #5) by Pierce Brown (Hardcover, 784 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place? Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile, has returned to the Core. Determined to bring peace back to mankind at the edge of his sword, he must overcome or unite the treacherous Gold families of the Core and face down Darrow over the skies of war-torn Mercury. But theirs are not the only fates hanging in the balance. On Luna, Mustang, Sovereign of the Republic, campaigns to unite the Republic behind her husband. Beset by political and criminal enemies, can she outwit her opponents in time to save him? Once a Red refugee, young Lyria now stands accused of treason, and her only hope is a desperate escape with unlikely new allies. Abducted by a new threat to the Republic, Pax and Electra, the children of Darrow and Sevro, must trust in Ephraim, a thief, for their salvation—and Ephraim must look to them for his chance at redemption. As alliances shift, break, and re-form—and power is seized, lost, and reclaimed—every player is at risk in a game of conquest that could turn the Rising into a new Dark Age.

Death Goddess Dance (The Mythos War #3) by Levi Black (Hardcover, 288 pages, published by Tor Books)
In Red Right Hand, Charlie Tristan Moore became the unwilling acolyte of The Man In Black, a treacherous elder god also known as Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. In Black Goat Blues, Charlie fought her way past bloodthirsty gods and demons to rescue her lover’s stolen soul, only to put all of Creation at risk. Now she must stop the Man In Black from achieving his ultimate goal: freeing his dread father, Azathoth, from endless confinement to feast upon humanity for all eternity. But before she can confront her inhuman mentor for the final time, Charlie must make her way to the heart of a hellish, otherworldly prison—and call upon the darkest powers at her command.

Iron Gods (The Spin Trilogy #2) by Andrew Bannister (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Tor Books)
In the depths of space, a beacon has awakened. And an ancient technology has begun to stir. As its memory returns, with it comes a terrifying knowledge—a grave warning about the future of the Spin that has been concealed for ten thousand years. Ten thousand years after the events of Creation Machine, the Spin is in decline and the beleaguered slave economy of the Inside is surrounded by rebel civilizations. A group of escapees from the vast forced-labor unit known as the Hive have stolen the last of the Inside's ancient warships and woken it from an enforced trance that had lasted for millennia. And someone has destroyed a planet that didn't exist, and halfway across the Spin, something has gone wrong with the sky.

Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War (Star Trek: Discovery) by John Jackson Miller (Paperback, 432 pages, published by Pocket Books/Star Trek)
A shattered ship, a divided crew—trapped in the infernal nightmare of conflict! Hearing of the outbreak of hostilities between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, Captain Christopher Pike attempts to bring the U.S.S. Enterprise home to join in the fight. But in the hellish nebula known as the Pergamum, the stalwart commander instead finds an epic battle of his own, pitting ancient enemies against one another—with not just the Enterprise, but her crew as the spoils of war. Lost and out of contact with Earth for an entire year, Pike and his trusted first officer, Number One, struggle to find and reunite the ship’s crew—all while Science Officer Spock confronts a mystery that puts even his exceptional skills to the test… with more than their own survival possibly riding on the outcome…

The Hound of Justice (The Janet Watson Chronicles #2) by Claire O'Dell (Paperback, 288 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
Dr. Janet Watson and former covert agent Sara Holmes, introduced in the acclaimed A Study in Honor, continue their dangerous investigation into the new American Civil War with the help of fresh allies, advanced technology, and brilliant deduction in this superb reimagining of Sherlock Holmes. It’s been two months since Dr. Janet Watson accepted an offer from Georgetown University Hospital. The training for her new high-tech arm is taking longer than expected, however, leaving her in limbo. Meanwhile, her brilliant friend and compatriot, Sara Holmes, has been placed on leave--punishment for going rogue during their previous adventure. Neither is taking their situation very well. Then an extremist faction called the Brotherhood of Redemption launches an assassination attempt on the president. The attempt fails but causes mass destruction—fifty dead and hundreds more injured, and Holmes takes on the task of investigating the Brotherhood. Holmes is making progress when she abruptly disappears. Watson receives a mysterious message from Holmes’s cousin Micha and learns that her friend has quit the service and is operating in the shadows, investigating clues that link the Brotherhood to Adler Industries. She needs a surgeon, Micha tells Watson. She needs you. Reunited once more, Dr. Watson, Holmes, and Micha embark on a mission through the deep South to clear Holmes’s name, thwart the Brotherhood’s next move, and most important, bring their nemesis to justice for the atrocities she’s committed in the New Civil War.

The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury (Paperback, 272 pages, published by Simon Schuster)
From “one of science fiction’s grand masters” (Library Journal), a new reissue of Ray Bradbury’s The Toynbee Convector: a collection of twenty-two stories, including the continuing saga of H.G. Well’s time traveler and his Toynbee Convector, a ghost on the Orient Express, and a bored man who creates his own genuine Egyptian mummy. The world’s only time traveler finally reveals his secret. An old man’s memory of World War I conjures ghostly parachutists. An Egyptian mummy turns up in an Illinois cornfield. A lonely Martian prepares to face his doom. From the iconic author of Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man, The Toynbee Convector is a true cause for celebration. The twenty-two classic tales in this special Ray Bradbury collection begin in the familiar rooms and landscapes of our lives, in common thoughts and memories, and then take off into the farthest reaches of the imagination. “The fiction creates the truth in this lovely exercise in utopian dreaming” (Publishers Weekly)—stunning stories that could only come from the brilliant mind of Ray Bradbury.

• • • •

- Fantasy -

July 2nd:

Crowfall (Raven's Mark #3) by Ed McDonald (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Ace Books)
In the third gritty installment of the Raven's Mark series, Blackwing Captain Ryhalt Galharrow finds that all power comes with a price... A sorcerous cataclysm has hit the Range, the final defensive line between the republic and the immortal Deep Kings. Tormenting red rains sweep the land, new monstrosities feed on fear in the darkness, and the power of the Nameless, the gods who protect the republic, lies broken. The Blackwing captains who serve them are being picked off one by one, and even immortals have learned what it means to die. Meanwhile, the Deep Kings have only grown stronger, and they are poised to deliver a blow that will finally end the war. Ryhalt Galharrow stands apart from it all. He has been deeper into the wasteland known as the Misery than ever before. It has grown within him--changed him--and now the ghosts of his past, formerly confined to the Misery, walk with him everywhere. They will even follow him--and the few surviving Blackwing captains--on one final mission into the darkness.

Dragonslayer (Dragonslayer #1) by Duncan M. Hamilton (Paperback, 304 pages, published by Tor Books)
In his magnificent, heroic, adventure fantasy, Dragonslayer, Duncan M. Hamilton debuts the first book in a fast-moving trilogy: a dangerous tale of lost magics, unlikely heroes, and reawakened dragons. Once a member of the King's personal guard, Guillot dal Villevaurais spends most days drinking and mourning his wife and child. He's astonished--and wary--when the Prince Bishop orders him to find and destroy a dragon. He and the Prince Bishop have never exactly been friends and Gill left the capitol in disgrace five years ago. So why him? And, more importantly, how is there a dragon to fight when the beasts were hunted to extinction centuries ago by the ancient Chevaliers of the Silver Circle? On the way to the capitol city, Gill rescues Solène, a young barmaid, who is about to be burned as a witch. He believes her innocent... but she soon proves that she has plenty of raw, untrained power, a problem in this land, where magic is forbidden. Yet the Prince Bishop believes magic will be the key to both destroying the dragon and replacingthe young, untried King he pretends to serve with a more pliable figurehead. Between Gill's rusty swordsmanship and Solène's unstable magic, what could go wrong?

Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Ace Books)
Tomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster...and spy. As Tomas's power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series. People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become--until they can't take it anymore. And when they rise up...may the gods help their oppressors. When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen's Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined. Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen's Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling. In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people's champion... or just a priest of lies.

Protect the Prince (Crown of Shards #2) by Jennifer Estep (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room. Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre. But dark forces are at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, Evie’s immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes her wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen. But Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s... well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her. Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

The Big Book of Classic Fantasy edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Paperback, 848 pages, published by Vintage)
Unearth the enchanting origins of fantasy fiction with a collection of tales as vast as the tallest tower and as mysterious as the dark depths of the forest. Fantasy stories have always been with us. They illuminate the odd and the uncanny, the wondrous and the fantastic: all the things we know are lurking just out of sight--on the other side of the looking-glass, beyond the music of the impossibly haunting violin, through the twisted trees of the ancient woods. Other worlds, talking animals, fairies, goblins, demons, tricksters, and mystics: these are the elements that populate a rich literary tradition that spans the globe. A work composed both of careful scholarship and fantastic fun, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy is essential reading for anyone who's never forgotten the stories that first inspired feelings of astonishment and wonder.

The Heart of Hell by Wayne Barlowe (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Tor Books)
Sargatanas has Ascended and the doomed, anguished souls have found themselves emancipated. Hell has changed… hasn’t it? The demons, wardens of the souls, are free of their inmates… And the damned, liberated from their terrible torments, twisted and bent but thankful that they are no longer forced to be in proximity to their fearsome jailors, rejoice. But something is stirring under the surface of Hell’s ceaseless carnage… and into this terrible landscape come three entities: Lilith, the former First Consort to Beelzebub and her Sisters of Sargatanas trying to find a way to save Hannibal… again; Boudica, a brick no more, forever in search of her lost daughters; Adramalik, the former Grand Master of the Priory of the Fly reduced to serving a new lord, Ai Apaec, and seeking his destiny as Prince of Hell. Each will come across new terrors, new infernal monstrosities, all beyond even their imaginations, untouched by what Sargatanas wrought. Is there something older than Hell? Something no demon, born of Heaven or Hell, ever suspected? What new horror, what rough beast, its hour come round at last… could possibly be hidden in Hell?

Unsung Heroine (Heroine Complex #3.5) by Sarah Kuhn (Kindle Edition, 129 pages, published by DAW Books)
This new installment in the smart, snarky, and action-packed Heroine series follows personal superhero trainer Lucy Valdez and friends Aveda Jupiter and Bea and Evie Tanaka as they combat a new supernatural threat. Lucy Valdez is many things: fight trainer/bodyguard to superheroines, fabulous vintage fashion plate, undisputed karaoke queen at local joint, The Gutter. She is also one of the toughest fighters in all of San Francisco without superpowers. So why can't she seem to confess her feelings to her longtime crush Rose Rorick, head of the San Francisco Police Department's Demon Unit? Well.... actually, she knows why. She's afraid Rose won't like the real Lucy, the Lucy underneath all the fabulous bravado. (She is still fabulous underneath that bravado--just in a different way.) When a mysterious new karaoke star rises up at The Gutter and eclipses her, Lucy finds her confidence further shaken--and when strange, seemingly supernatural happenings threaten both this new star and The Gutter's very existence, she must rise to the challenge and investigate alongside Rose. Will Lucy be able to vanquish the demonic threat to her beloved karaoke haven, confess her true feelings to Rose, and reclaim her karaoke throne?

July 4th:

Beneath the Twisted Trees (The Song of the Shattered Sands #4) by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Paperback, 540 pages, published by Gollancz)
The fourth book in The Song of Shattered Sands series—an epic fantasy with a desert setting, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action. When a battle to eradicate the Thirteenth Tribe goes awry, the kingdoms bordering the desert metropolis of Sharakhai see the city as weak and ripe for conquest. Çeda, now leader of the Shieldwives, a band of skilled desert swordswomen, hopes to use the growing chaos to gain freedom for Sehid-Alaz, the ancient, undying king of her people. Freeing him is only the beginning, however. Like all the people of her tribe on that fateful night four centuries earlier, Sehid-Alaz was cursed, turned into an asir, a twisted, miserable creature beholden to the kings of Sharakhai—to truly free her king, Çeda must break the chains that bind him. As Sharakhai’s enemies close in and the assault on the city begins, Çeda works feverishly to unlock the mysteries of the asirim’s curse. But danger lies everywhere. Enemy forces roam the city; the Blade Maidens close in on her; her own father, one of the kings of Sharakhai, wants Çeda to hang. Worst of all, the gods themselves have begun to take notice of Çeda’s pursuits. When the combined might of Sharakhai and the desert gods corner the survivors of the Thirteenth Tribe in a mountain fastness, the very place that nearly saw their annihilation centuries ago, Çeda knows the time has come. She was once an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai. She has been an assassin in dark places. A weapon poised to strike from the shadows. A voice from the darkness, striving to free her people. No longer. Now she's going to lead. The age of the Kings is coming to an end...

July 9th:

Age of Legend (The Legends of the First Empire #4) by Michael J. Sullivan (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Grim Oak Press)
Each culture has its own myths and legends, but only one is shared, and it is feared by all. After years of warfare, humanity has gained the upper hand and has pushed the Fhrey to the edge of their homeland, but no farther. Now comes the pivotal moment. Persephone’s plan to use the stalemate to seek peace is destroyed by an unexpected betrayal that threatens to hand victory to the Fhrey and leaves a dear friend in peril. Her only hope lies in the legend of a witch, a forgotten song, and a simple garden door.

Ash Kickers (Smoke Eaters #2) by Sean Grigsby (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Angry Robot)
With ex-firefighter Cole Brannigan in command of the Smoke Eaters, the dragon menace is under control. Thanks to non-lethal Canadian tech, the beasts are tranquilized and locked up, rather than killed. But for Tamerica Williams, this job filled with action and danger, has become tediously routine. When a new threat emerges, a legendary bird of fire - the Phoenix - it's the perfect task for Williams. But killing the Phoenix just brings it back stronger, spreading fire like a plague and whipping dragons into a frenzy. Will it prove to be too much excitement, even for adrenalin-junkie Williams?

David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Paperback, 360 pages, published by Abaddon)
Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.

Eye Spy (Valdemar Family Spies #2) by Mercedes Lackey (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Daw Books)
In this second installment of the Family Spies series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, the children of Heralds Mags and Amily must follow in their parents' footsteps to protect the realm. Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife, Amily, the King’s Own Herald, are happily married with three kids. Their daughter, Abidela, dreams of building upon her parents’ legacy by joining the Artificers, hoping to offset her seeming lack of a Gift. But when Abi senses the imminent collapse of a bridge only moments before it happens, she saves countless lives, including that of her best friend, Princess Katiana. The experience, though harrowing, uncovers her unique Gift—an ability to sense the physical strains in objects. Intrigued by the potential of her Gift, the Artificers seek to claim her as their own—but so do the Healers. Through training with both of them, Abi discovers unique facets of her Gift, including a synesthetic connection to objects that allows her to “see” as well as feel the strains. Her Gift may also grant her a distinct advantage as a spy—there won’t be a building in the entire kingdom of Valdemar with a secret room that she doesn’t know about. With the help of her mentors, she must hone her gift to uncover the hidden secrets in the depths of Valdemar.

The Sum of All Shadows (Bravo Shaw #4) by Eric Van Lustbader (Kindle Edition, 352 pages, published by Forge Books)
For millennia, Lucifer—the Sum of All Shadows—has been biding his time, rebuilding his influence. At long last, he is ready to enact his ultimate revenge: to reverse the bitter humiliation of the Fall by leading the annihilation of heaven. To combat the ultimate destroyer, Bravo and Emma Shaw have recovered the lost Testament, raced around the world, and battled adversaries both human and other. Now, caught between enemies and friends and potential enemies, they must find the lost treasure of King Solomon’s alchemical gold and cross not only the world but even time itself to stop the infernal army. But even if they are successful, their lives may still be forfeit...

July 16th:

The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall (Paperback, 240 pages, published by Tor.com)
She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman. In The Border Keeper, debut author Kerstin Hall unfolds a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal. Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war. The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly personal—a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) by Evan Winter (Hardcover, 544 pages, published by Orbit)
The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He's going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn't get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He'll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

July 23rd:

Desdemona and the Deep (Dark Breakers #3) by C.S.E. Cooney (Paperback, 224 pages, published by Tor.com)
In Desdemona and the Deep, the spoiled daughter of a rich mining family must retrieve the tithe of men her father promised to the world below. On the surface, her world is rife with industrial pollution that ruins the health of poor factory workers while the idle rich indulge themselves in unheard-of luxury. Below are goblins, mysterious kingdoms, and an entirely different hierarchy. A goblin market narrative that’s also a steep drop into an uncanny, richly painted underworld, C.S.E. Cooney combines 1920s luxury with deeply felt questions of identity and justice that strike at the heart of who we are, human or otherwise.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Del Rey)
The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore. The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true. In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Jade War (The Green Bone Saga #2) by Fonda Lee (Hardcover, 608 pages, published by Orbit Books)
In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis. On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years. Beyond Kekon's borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon's most prized resource, could make them rich - or give them the edge they'd need to topple their rivals. Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival - and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon. Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

The Adventure of the Innsmouth Mutations (Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu #3) by Lois H. Gresh (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Titan Books)
Both Fitzgerald and Moriarty travel to Innsmouth, the stronghold of the cult of the Old Ones. Holmes and Watson follow them across the ocean and discover a structure designed to enable the Old Ones to flood into our world and  unleash horrors that--unless stopped--will annihilate all of humanity. Yet when it is destroyed people continue to mutate and go mad. Cthulhu rises over Devil Reef, ready to unleash his minions. In an epic battle--logic vs. brawn--Holmes must defeat Cthulhu and permanently seal the deadly dimensions.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Redhook)
For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can't quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob -- a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life -- hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life's duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world... and for once, it isn't Charley's doing. There's someone else who shares his powers. It's up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.

The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar (Paperback, 332 pages, published by Tachyon Publications)
A bold experiment has mutated a small fraction of humanity. Nations race to harness the gifted, putting them to increasingly dark ends. At the dawn of global war, flashy American superheroes square off against sinister Germans and dissolute Russians. Increasingly depraved scientists conduct despicable research in the name of victory. British agents Fogg and Oblivion, recalled to the Retirement Bureau, have kept a treacherous secret for over forty years. But all heroes must choose when to join the fray, and to whom their allegiance is owed—even for just one perfect summer’s day. From the World Fantasy and Campbell award-winning author of Central Station comes a sweeping novel of history, adventure, and what it means to be a hero.

The Wolf's Call (Raven's Blade #1) by Anthony Ryan (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by Ace Books)
Peace never lasts. Vaelin Al Sorna is a living legend, his name known across the Realm. It was his leadership that overthrew empires, his blade that won hard-fought battles - and his sacrifice that defeated an evil more terrifying than anything the world had ever seen. He won titles aplenty, only to cast aside his earned glory for a quiet life in the Realm's northern reaches. Yet whispers have come from across the sea - rumours of an army called the Steel Horde, led by a man who believes himself a god. Vaelin has no wish to fight another war, but when he learns that Sherin, the woman he lost long ago, has fallen into the Horde's grasp, he resolves to confront this powerful new threat. To this end, Vaelin travels to the realms of the Merchant Kings, a land ruled by honor and intrigue. There, as the drums of war thunder across kingdoms riven by conflict, Vaelin learns a terrible truth: that there are some battles that even he may not be strong enough to win.

July 25th:

The House of Sundering Flames (Dominion of the Fallen #3) by Aliette de Bodard (Paperback, 288 pages, published by Gollancz)
The multi-award-winning author of The House of Shattered Wings and The House of Binding Thorns concludes her Dominion of the Fallen saga, set in a Paris devastated by a magical war. The great magical Houses of Paris – headed by Fallen angels and magicians – were, however temporarily, at peace with each other. Until House Harrier was levelled by a powerful explosion. Now that peace has become chaos, tearing apart old alliances and setting off a race in which each House hoards magic and resources to protect itself against another such blast. Thuan, the Dragon head of the divided House Hawthorn, is still consolidating his power when war comes to his doorstep. Aurore – exiled from and almost beaten to death by House Harrier – sees her moment to seek power in order to protect her family, even if she must venture back to her destroyed former home to get it. And Emmanuelle finds herself alone in the middle of it all, driven to protect others, trying to piece together what has happened, and hoping – eventually – to make sense of it all. None of them know what destroyed House Harrier, though... and when they do uncover that fiery, destructive magic then divided Houses, old enemies and estranged friends will all have to make a decision: stand together, or burn alone...

July 30th:

And Then There Were Dragons (Shades of Hell #2) by Alcy Leyva (Paperback, 280 pages, published by Black Spot Books)
For Amanda Grey, stopping the all-encompassing Apocalypse fated to plunge our entire existence into never-ending darkness... just kind of sucked. Sure, she had managed to capture every demon set loose on New York City. And yes, she ended up thwarting an evil angel’s plans to destroy humanity. But she also lost her sister, her apartment, and—oh yeah—Amanda Grey totally died and got her soul banished to hell as a result. Luckily, she’s not the type to take that kind of thing lying down. This book thrusts Amanda Grey into a whole new world of weird as she ventures out into the fiery wastelands, decrepit cities, and Olive Gardens of the afterlife in search of her sister and her own redemption. As the penultimate entry in the Shades of Hell Series, Amanda will be coming face-to-face with the truth behind the demon Shades, as well as a destiny she sure as hell didn't ask for.

An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose #1) by Charlaine Harris (Paperback, 336 pages, published by Pocket Books)
Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life. As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.

Relics: The Edge by Tim Lebbon (Paperback, 336 pages, published by Titan Books)
A diseased town--long hidden beneath a lake--rises from the depths to become a focus of the war between humankind and the Kin. There exists a secret and highly illegal trade in mythological creatures and their artifacts. Certain individuals pay fortunes for a sliver of a satyr's hoof, a gryphon's claw, a basilisk's scale, or an angel's wing. Embroiled in the hidden world of the Relics, creatures known as the Kin, Angela Gough is now on the run in the United States. Forty years ago the town of Longford was the site of a deadly disease outbreak that wiped out the entire population. The infection was contained, the town isolated, and the valley in which it sits flooded and turned into a reservoir. The truth--that the outbreak was intentional, and not every resident of Longford died--disappeared beneath the waves. Now the town is revealed again. The Kin have an interest in the ruins, and soon the fairy Grace and the Nephilim leader Mallian are also drawn to them. The infection has risen from beneath silent waters, and this forgotten town becomes the focus of the looming battle between humankind and the Kin.

The Ascent to Godhood (Tensorate #4) by J.Y. Yang (Paperback, 160 pages, published by Tor.com)
The Protector is dead. For fifty years, the Protector ruled, reshaping her country in her image and driving her enemies to the corners of the map. For half a century the world turned around her as she built her armies, trained her Tensors, and grasped at the reins of fate itself. Now she is dead. Her followers will quiver, her enemies rejoice. But in one tavern, deep in rebel territory, her greatest enemy drowns her sorrows. Lady Han raised a movement that sought the Protector's head, yet now she can only mourn her loss. She remembers how it all began, when the Protector was young, not yet crowned, and a desperate dancing girl dared to fall in love with her.

• • • •

- Historical Fiction -

July 9th:

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by William Morrow)
The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires? Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love. Then Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, and the resulting coverup reeks of royal privilege. Benedict Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unpick Thorpe’s complicated family history: a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen. The stories of two unforgettable women thread together in this extraordinary epic of espionage, sacrifice, human love, and human courage, set against a shocking true crime... and the rise and fall of a legendary royal couple.

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess (Hardcover, 256 pages, published by Henry Holt and Co.)
A propulsive tale of ambition and romance, set in the publishing world of 1980’s New York and the timeless beaches of Cape Cod. In the summer of 1987, 25-year-old Eve Rosen is an aspiring writer languishing in a low-level assistant job, unable to shake the shadow of growing up with her brilliant brother. With her professional ambitions floundering, Eve jumps at the chance to attend an early summer gathering at the Cape Cod home of famed New Yorker writer Henry Grey and his poet wife, Tillie. Dazzled by the guests and her burgeoning crush on the hosts’ artistic son, Eve lands a new job as Henry Grey’s research assistant and an invitation to Henry and Tillie’s exclusive and famed "Book Party"— where attendees dress as literary characters. But by the night of the party, Eve discovers uncomfortable truths about her summer entanglements and understands that the literary world she so desperately wanted to be a part of is not at all what it seems. A page-turning, coming-of-age story, written with a lyrical sense of place and a profound appreciation for the sustaining power of books, The Last Book Party shows what happens when youth and experience collide and what it takes to find your own voice.

July 15th:

Moctu and the Mammoth People: An Ice Age Story of Love, Life and Survival by Neil Bockoven (Paperback, 375 pages, published by Waldorf Publishing)
Set in Paleolithic Italy 45,000 years ago, Moctu and the Mammoth People is a compelling thriller about a strong, young, dark-skinned Cro-Magnon boy named Moctu who must fight his rival for leadership of his tribe and the right to mate the beautiful and talented Nuri. Moctu and his tribe have confrontations with the “Pale Ones,” a fierce group of Neanderthals that some call the People Eaters. What follows is a gripping story of Moctu and his people’s fight for survival - from internal tribal conflict to birthing babies to hunting Mammoths to interspecies warfare and interbreeding.

July 23rd:

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Crown Publishing Group)
An emotionally raw and resonant story of love, loss, and the enduring power of friendship, following the lives of two young women connected by a home for "fallen girls," and inspired by historical events. In turn-of-the-20th century Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is an unprecedented beacon of hope for young women consigned to the dangerous poverty of the streets by birth, circumstance, or personal tragedy. Built in 1903 on the dusty outskirts of Arlington, a remote dot between Dallas and Fort Worth's red-light districts, the progressive home bucks public opinion by offering faith, training, and rehabilitation to prostitutes, addicts, unwed mothers, and "ruined" girls without forcibly separating mothers from children. When Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride meet there--one sick and abused, but desperately clinging to her young daughter, the other jilted by the beau who fathered her ailing son--they form a friendship that will see them through unbearable loss, heartbreak, difficult choices, and ultimately, diverging paths. A century later, Cate Sutton, a reclusive university librarian, uncovers the hidden histories of the two troubled women as she stumbles upon the cemetery on the home's former grounds and begins to comb through its archives in her library. Pulled by an indescribable connection, what Cate discovers about their stories leads her to confront her own heartbreaking past, and to reclaim the life she thought she'd let go forever. With great pathos and powerful emotional resonance, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls explores the dark roads that lead us to ruin, and the paths we take to return to ourselves.

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (Paperback, 384 pages, published by William Morrow Paperbacks)
Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances. Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy. James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

July 30th:

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Dutton Books)
From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City's creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home--a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine's Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom. Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.

• • • •

- Literary Fiction -

July 2nd:

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (Paperback, 656 pages, published by Random House Large Print Publishing)
Smart and juicy, a compulsively readable novel about a group of friends and families that is nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the community. This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children in modern America, exploring the conflicts between achievement and potential, talent and privilege. Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. Seen through the lens of four families who've been a part of one another's lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group's children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate. It's a humorous, keenly observed, timely take on ambitious parents, willful kids, and the pursuit of prestige, no matter the cost.

July 9th:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Berkley Books)
The author of Other People's Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings delivers a quirky and charming novel chronicling the life of confirmed introvert Nina Hill as she does her best to fly under everyone's radar. Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own... shell. The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all--or mostly all--excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is? Nina considers her options. 1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.) It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

July 16th:

Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction by Chuck Klosterman (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Penguin Press)
Microdoses of the straight dope, stories so true they had to be wrapped in fiction for our own protection, from the best-selling author of But What if We're Wrong? A man flying first class discovers a puma in the lavatory. A new coach of a small-town Oklahoma high school football team installs an offense comprised of only one, very special, play. A man explains to the police why he told the employee of his local bodega that his colleague looked like the lead singer of Depeche Mode, a statement that may or may not have led in some way to a violent crime. A college professor discusses with his friend his difficulties with the new generation of students. An obscure power pop band wrestles with its new-found fame when its song "Blizzard of Summer" becomes an anthem for white supremacists. A couple considers getting a medical procedure that will transfer the pain of childbirth from the woman to her husband. A woman interviews a hit man about killing her husband but is shocked by the method he proposes. A man is recruited to join a secret government research team investigating why coin flips are no longer exactly 50/50. A man sees a whale struck by lightning, and knows that everything about his life has to change. A lawyer grapples with the unintended side effects of a veterinarian's rabies vaccination. Fair warning: Raised in Captivity does not slot into a smooth preexisting groove. If Saul Steinberg and Italo Calvino had adopted a child from a Romanian orphanage and raised him on Gary Larsen and Thomas Bernhard, he would still be nothing like Chuck Klosterman. They might be good company, though. Funny, wise and weird in equal measure, Raised in Captivity bids fair to be one of the most original and exciting story collections in recent memory, a fever graph of our deepest unvoiced hopes, fears and preoccupations. Ceaselessly inventive, hostile to corniness in all its forms, and mean only to the things that really deserve it, it marks a cosmic leap forward for one of our most consistently interesting writers.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Hardcover, 224 pages, published by Doubleday Books)
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men." In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

The Book Charmer (Dove Pond #1) by Karen Hawkins (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Gallery Books)
Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler. If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

Unforeseen: Collected Short Stories of Molly Gloss by Molly Gloss (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Gallery / Saga Press)
From bestselling and award-winning author Molly Gloss comes her first complete collection of short stories—including three never-before-published original tales! Award-winning and critically acclaimed author Molly Gloss’s career retrospective collection, Unforseen, includes sixteen celebrated short stories that have never been published together before and three new stories. This collection includes: “Interlocking Pieces”, “Joining”, “Seaborne”, “Wenonah’s Gift”, “Personal Silence”, “Lambing Season”, “Downstream”, “Verano”, “The Visited Man”, “Unforeseen”, “The Grinnell Method”, “The Presley Brothers”, “Dead Men Rise Up Never”, “Eating Ashes”, “Personal Silence”, “A Story”, “Little Hills”, “The Everlasting Humming of the Earth”

July 30th:

Chances Are... by Richard Russo (Paperback, 464 pages, published by Random House Large Print Publishing)
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning Richard Russo--in his first stand-alone novel in a decade--comes a new revelation: a gripping story about the abiding yet complex power of friendship. One beautiful September day, three sixty-six-year-old men convene on Martha's Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn't have been more different then, or even today--Lincoln's a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin' age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971. Now, forty-four years later, as this new weekend unfolds, three lives and that of a significant other are displayed in their entirety while the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo's trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are... also introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader's heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga of how friendship's bonds are every bit as constricting and rewarding as those of family or any other community.
For both longtime fans and lucky newcomers, Chances Are... is a stunning demonstration of a highly acclaimed author deepening and expanding his remarkable achievement.

• • • •

- Young Adult -

July 2nd:

Immunity (Contagion #2) by Erin Bowman (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Harperteen)
They thought their nightmare was over, but Thea, Coen, and Nova’s rescue was only the beginning. After being imprisoned on a ship they thought was their ticket to safety, it’s clear that the threat they left behind isn’t as distant as they’d hoped—and this time the entire galaxy is at risk. Now that threat is about to be unleashed as an act of political warfare. To prevent an interstellar catastrophe, the survivors must harness the evil they faced on the planet Achlys and learn to wield the only weapon they have left: themselves.

Impossible Music by Sean Williams (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Clarion Books)
Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.

Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury #2) by Tracy Banghart (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers)
Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi's sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina--polite, submissive Serina--is its leader. Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they'll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how. Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place. The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart's unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.

The Beckoning Shadow (The Beckoning Shadow #1) by Katharyn Blair (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Katherine Tegen Books)
Vesper Montgomery can summon your worst fear and turn it into a reality—but she’s learned the hard way that it’s an addicting and dangerous power. One wrong move and you could hurt someone you love. But when she earns a spot in the Tournament of the Unraveling, where competitors battle it out for a chance to rewrite the past, Vesper finally has a shot to reverse the mistakes that have changed her forever. She turns to Sam Hardy, a former MMA fighter who’s also carrying a tragedy he desperately wants to undo. However, helping heal Sam’s heart will mean breaking her own, and the competition forces her to master her powers—powers she has been terrified of since they destroyed her life.

July 9th:

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Tor Teen)
A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author. In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found. When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She'll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won't be exciting, but she'll cope, right? Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don't talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind. To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried...

Serafina and the Seven Stars (Serafina #4) by Robert Beatty (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Disney-Hyperion)
Serafina and Braeden make an epic return in the hotly anticipated fourth installment of Robert Beatty's #1 New York Times best-selling Serafina series. Serafina, the Guardian of Biltmore Estate, has won battle after battle against the dark forces encroaching on her home. Now, tranquility has returned to Biltmore. Serafina doesn't trust it. She patrols the grounds night and day, hardly sleeping, uncertain of her place after her best friend Braeden Vanderbilt's departure for boarding school in New York. When Mr. Vanderbilt, the kind master of Biltmore, asks Serafina to move upstairs into one of the house's grandest rooms, she's sure it's to keep an eye on the guests who have arrived for the estate's annual hunt. But as Serafina investigates, she becomes more and more unsettled by what Biltmore has become-a place haunted by nameless terrors where no dark corridor is safe. Even worse, she begins to doubt her own senses. Is Braeden really hundreds of miles away, or did he return to Biltmore for one strange night before vanishing? Is the bond between them truly broken or is it stronger than ever? Then Serafina witnesses a crime that turns her world upside down. How can all that once seemed good and worthy of protection now be evil? And how can she guard those around her when she can't even be sure of the truth of her own heart?

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Simon Pulse)
Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don’t have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms. When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia’s cynicism is met with Billy’s sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are cropping up around them—maybe even because of them. And as the two grow closer and confront bigger truths about their pasts, they must also deal with such inconveniences as a narcissistic rock star, a war between unicorns and dragons, and eventually, of course, the apocalypse.

The Storm Crow (The ​Storm Crow #1) by Kalyn Josephson (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by SourcebooksFire)
In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life... until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything. That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother's death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost. But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

The Traitor's Kingdom (The Traitor's Circle #3) by Erin Beaty (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Imprint)
Unlikely alliances are forged and trust is shattered in the stunning conclusion to The Traitor’s Trilogy. A new queen under threat. An ambassador with a desperate scheme. Two kingdoms with everything to lose. Once a spy and counselor to the throne, Sage Fowler has secured victory for her kingdom at a terrible cost. Now an ambassador representing Demora, Sage is about to face her greatest challenge to avoid a war with a rival kingdom. After an assassination attempt destroys the chance for peace, Sage and her fiancé Major Alex Quinn risk a dangerous plot to reveal the culprit. But the stakes are higher than ever, and in the game of traitors, betrayal is the only certainty.

Titans (Titans #1) by Kate O'Hearn (Hardcover, 496 pages, published by Aladdin)
Fifteen years ago, Olympus was destroyed and the Olympians were resettled on Titus. Since then Earth has been declared a quarantined world. Neither Titans nor Olympians are allowed to visit and under no circumstances are humans allowed on Titus. The Titans and Olympians are keeping the peace. But the deep-seated mistrust still lingers, so when a human ends up on Titus, he could be the spark that reignites the war… Astraea is a Titan, granddaughter of Hyperion, and now a reluctant student at the brand-new school, Arcadia. She just knows that it’s going to be awful, and that there is no way that Titans and Olympians will ever get along! At least she’s got her best friend, a winged-horse named Zephyr, to keep her company. Then the night before the first day of school, Astraea hears her parents discussing something terrifying: a human has been spotted on Titus. But that’s not possible. All routes to Earth via the Solar Stream have been closed—no one can travel between the two worlds…or can they? When Astraea and Zephyr get detention on their first day—for fighting with a centaur—they’re sent to the orchards to harvest nectar. There they discover a human boy named Jake. How he got to Titus is a mystery to him and to them. They have to get him home before anyone else discovers him. But what the trio uncovers is something much bigger than one human boy. It’s a scheme to take down the rulers of this world, conquer it, and then do the same across the galaxy. Can a group of kids stop the invaders? Or is Titus, like Olympus before it, doomed?

July 16th:

Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yes and Michael Dante DiMartino (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Amulet Books)
F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Rhus Children's Books)
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job. Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise. And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

July 23rd:

Soul of Stars (Heart of Iron #2) by Ashley Poston (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Balzer + Bray)
Once, Ana was an orphaned space outlaw. Then she was the Empress of the Iron Kingdom. Now, thought dead by most of the galaxy after she escaped from the dark AI program called the HIVE, Ana is desperate for a way to save Di from the HIVE’s evil clutches and take back her kingdom. Ana’s only option is to find Starbright, the one person who has hacked into the HIVE and lived to tell the tale. But when Ana’s desperation costs the crew of the Dossier a terrible price, Ana and her friends are sent spiraling through the most perilous reaches of the Iron Kingdom to stop the true arbiter of evil in her world: an ancient world-ending deity called the Great Dark. Their journey will take the sharp-witted pilot, Jax, to the home he never wanted to return to, and the dangerous fate he left behind. And when Robb finds out who Jax really is, he must contend with his own feelings for the boy he barely knows, and whether he truly belongs with this group of outcasts. When facing the worst odds, can Ana and her crew of misfits find a way to stop the Great Dark once and for all?

July 30th:

Shatter the Sky (Shatter the Sky #1) by Rebecca Kim Wells (Hardcover, 304 pages, publishyed by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold. If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground… With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow #1) by Margaret Owen (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Henry Holt)
A future chieftain. Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime. A fugitive prince. When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns. A too-cunning bodyguard. Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

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