Aug 26, 2019

 

Book Review - Strange Secrets (by Mike Russell)

Title: Strange Secrets
Series: -
Author: Mike Russell
Genre: Fantasy, Metaphysical Fiction, Anthologies
Publisher: StrangeBooks
Release Date: March 2nd, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 156




"Discover the mystery of the two-headed rose and many more Strange Secrets in this new collection of extraordinary stories by Mike Russell. ‘It can’t be real.’ ‘But it is.’ Strange Secrets invites you to discover the magical and the marvellous. Startlingly inventive and constantly entertaining, these unique, vital and vividly realised stories will take you to places you have never been before. Strange Secrets is Mike Russell’s third short-story collection."


Strange Secrets
(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 "surreal fantasy short story collection"; I enjoy anthologies, which can be as deep and meaningful as full-fledged novels, and the reviews I read mentioned the uniqueness of the stories so I decided to give it a go.
 

The Good
"Strange Secrets" is a collection of 6 short stories and 1 novelette in a bizarre and surreal reality. Each story begins with a recognizable real life setting and then takes an unexpected wacky turn that takes us to the realm of the outlandish and completely insane fantasy, feeling like an old Twilight Zone episode (or what I imagine a bad acid trip might feel like). Despite the short length typical of the genre, each story is unique, wildly imaginative and independent so the anthology doesn't feel like a variation on a single theme but instead explores different (im)possible realities. The narrative is fast paced, with straightforward dialogue, plenty of suspense and mystery, and filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end... and leave you wondering what the heck you just read. The characters aren't too developed but that's not really the point, it's the fantastical setting and the themes explored that's the main focus: the fear of love and change, of death and loss of control, the nature of identity and existence...
 

"The Constantly Empty Pool" - in a remote desert town rumored to have a pool of the purest water anyone's ever seen, Mary Lou wishes to bathe in it to wash herself clean of the filth and corruption she carries within herself... only the water cannot be drunk and cannot be touched either - rating 3/5
 

"The Puppeteer" - an elderly man in a white suit, with a small white suited wooden marionette strung to his left hand, dances a never ending jig from sunrise to sunset around his perfectly still puppet - rating 3/5
 

"Arnold's Melting Foot" - Arnold and Maureen live in a well defined world where everything has a name... until the day Arnold's reality is shattered by the existence of unnamed things - rating 3/5
 

"Missing Persons" - Tina lives in a world where death is sugarcoated, any related word is outlawed and speaking them out loud is considered a crime against life; after serving a prison sentence, Tina and fellow convict Delia are set on defying the law again to expose the truth about the Wardrobe Warehouse, a place to protect life from death, and Sixty Mount Pleasure Avenue, where people go missing and cannot be found again - rating 5/5: one of my favorite stories that shows the extent to which humans can go to deny those things they dread the most
 

"Reality" - Lisa believes everything in her life is fake and desperately wants something real; running through the fake town she lives in, to the fake beach, into the fake meadow and inside the fake palace, Lisa finds a huge pile of fake yellow seeds... all she needs to do is find the one that's real - rating 3/5
 

"Maps" - Billy's father is a brilliant cartographer inking a map of the universe that will be far far superior and replace that which it maps, only he can't outpace all the change happening around him... but all Billy wants is his mother back - rating 3/5
 

"The Forest" - Jeremy and Samantha were exploring the forest near their cottage but couldn't agree on the species of trees they saw and so they kept disagreeing; until their world was shaped by their own beliefs and they stopped seeing each other, even though they remained in the same spot... now they must find a way to share the same reality so they can see each other again - rating 5/5: the second of my favorite stories, which explores the idea that our reality and the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own perceptions and points of view, and the challenges of navigating life with people who perceive the world in different ways
 

I was undecided between giving the anthology 3 or 4 books/stars, "Missing Persons" and "The Forest" were really good and deserved the highest rating but the remaining stories were just a little too baffling and bizarre for my personal taste.
 

Final Rating
"Strange Secrets" is an anthology of 7 short stories, filled with mystery and unexpected twists in a bizarre and surreal fantasy setting. Recommended for those who enjoy odd tales that defy one's sense of reality.


• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: strangebooks.com
Twitter: @strangebookseye
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy
 

Mike Russell is a British author best known for the short story collection 'Nothing Is Strange'. He is also the author of 'Strange Medicine', 'Strange Secrets' and the novella 'Strungballs'. His most recent book is the novel 'The Exploding Book'.
 

Mike Russell was born in 1973. He grew up in the small village of Pulborough in the south of England. As a child, he enjoyed daydreaming, art and writing strange stories. As an adult, he enjoys daydreaming, art and writing strange stories.
 

Mike Russell was awarded a Bachelor of Arts from Falmouth University and a Master of Arts from the University of Central England.
 

Mike Russell’s books have been described as Strange Fiction, Weird Fiction, Weird Lit, Surrealism, Fantasy Fiction… but he just likes to call them Strange Books.
 

He is a full-time author and grows his own potatoes.
 

“For me, storytelling is a way of turning the world inside out, which I believe it desperately needs.” Mike Russell
(source: strangebooks.com)

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Aug 14, 2019

 

Book Review - The Serpent and the Eagle, Tenochtitlan Trilogy #1 (by Edward Rickford)

Title: The Serpent and the Eagle
Series: Tenochtitlan Trilogy (book #1)
Author: Edward Rickford
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Release Date: March 10th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 314


 


"Tenochtitlan, 1519. Motecuhzoma, leader of the Mexica Confederacy, rules over the largest domain in all of Mesoamerica and has every expectation that his nation will continue to reign supreme… but the arrival of strange foreigners will test that confidence.

Driven by God, gold, and glory, the uncouth interlopers are led by Hernando Cortes and command weapons that can shake the sky. They hail from a faraway land called Spain, and they may have sinister designs. Their disruptive presence demands a response, and the choice Motecuhzoma must make could elevate his nation to new heights or cause its ruin.

C
ombining the superb research of the Moundville Duology with the gripping battles of the Conqueror Series, this award-winning novel draws upon modern scholarship to recount an event still unique today: the epic collision of two civilizations separated for millennia."

The Serpent and the Eagle (Tenochtitlan Trilogy #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 novel based on a research thesis that "follows an extraordinary military campaign that toppled a seemingly invincible hegemony, established the first European foothold in the Americas, and helped usher in the era of world trade". Since I wasn't familiar with this particular event and period in history I decided to give it a try.
 

The Plot
Hernando Cortés sailed to the New World under the patronage of Governor Velázquez in search of riches and to make a name for himself. Bearing gifts to trade with the natives, he soon sets his eyes on the distant metropolis of Tenochtitlan, rumored to possess the largest amount of gold in the land. Facing violent Indians and making strategic alliances with local tribes, Cortés prepares his campaign against the ruler of the Mexica people, while dealing with harsh conditions and dissent inside his ragtag army of fortune seeker soldiers.
 

Father Gerónimo de Aguilar was enslaved by the Indians for 8 years until the day he was rescued by Cortés. Having learned to speak the Indian tongue of Yoko Ochoko, Aguilar agrees to serve Cortés as a translator when a young slave girl joins the expedition and threatens his position. After the defeat of the Potochan Indians, Malintze is given as a slave to one of Cortés' officers but soon proves her worth with her linguistic skills, willing to help the strange pale people defeat the Mexica and take revenge on those who wronged her in the past. Vitale is a New Christian, a young anonymous soldier who has never seen battle. Fleeing from the dangers of another Expulsion Edict, Vitale joins what he believes to be a trade and exploration expedition, keeping his head down to avoid being killed by Indians or Old Christian soldiers alike. Meeting a Muslim Moor slave, he forges an unlikely friendship with Solomon who opens his eyes to the true nature of those around him.
 

Great Speaker Motecuhzoma of the Triple Alliance is the supreme ruler of the New World. He fears the pale people's powerful weapons and strange ways, which pose a threat to the stability and prosperity of his empire, and when a new group arrives on the shores of his domain Motecuhzoma is advised to go to war with the teteo, the sorcerers. But that would prove taxing to his soldiers and subjugated cities, sometimes an alliance might be a better way to know your enemy.
 

The Good
"The Serpent and the Eagle" is the first volume in the "Tenochtitlan Trilogy", an historical fiction novel set in 1519 Mexico. It tells the story of the military campaign led by Hernando Cortés, the son of a poor Spanish lord determined to hoard abundant riches and make a name for himself. Accepting Governor Velazquez's patronage to explore the New World, Cortés assembles a fleet of ragtag fortune seeker soldiers and sets out to Mexico. After learning of a great city where the ruler of the Mexica people Motecuhzoma keeps the largest amount of gold, and aided by Father Aguilar and a Nahua slave girl named Malintze who serve as translators to the natives, Cortés starts planning his conquest of the capital of Tenochtitlan, defeating defying Indians and making unsteady alliances with subjugated tribes along the way.
 

The author has clearly done extensive research on this particular subject, giving a vivid and highly realistic description of this period in history. Staying true to the facts but still delivering all the drama of a fictional account, this novel is rich in details from the Spaniards lack of personal hygiene, the beliefs and rituals of the Mexica/Aztecs, the political and religious atmosphere in Europe and the Spanish court, the harsh conditions faced when exploring an uncharted territory. Well written, fast-paced and told from different perspectives, the plot is full of action, conflict, human greed, political manipulation and intrigue.
 

The characters are 3-dimensional and well developed, with realistic behaviors and motivations. Cortés, the leader of the expedition, who prefers subterfuge but has no qualms about using fear and violence as weapons to control his men and fulfill his goals; Aguilar, a broken priest after 8 years of enslavement at the hands of the Indians, forced to respect a woman his religion teaches him to despise; Malintze, a former slave girl who uses her new name and language skills to improve her position and influence the course of events; Vitale, a young soldier of Jewish origins, conflicted about his loyalties and his duties, who hides his heritage and strikes an unlikely friendship with a Muslim slave; Solomon, the Muslim slave who shakes young Vitale's world, making him question his beliefs; the Mexica/Aztec leader Motecuhzoma, forced to make hard choices in order to protect his empire from the pale people; Tezoc the "Cutter of Men", Motecuhzoma's military adviser who sees the wisdom in learning more about the enemy before committing to war but struggles to navigate the politics of the Mexica court. Each character provides a different and personal view of the clashing cultures and civilizations, giving us all sides of the story - the Spaniards, the Aztecs and all the local tribes caught in between the two giants.
 

Readers with an interest in this particular period of time will be fully satisfied with this novel, it offers all the ingredients for an enjoyable read.The only reason it didn't get a higher rating was a matter of personal taste, the realistic nature of the facts were just a little too gruesome and violent for me and the setting of the story didn't quite fit my preferences.
 

Final Rating
"The Serpent and the Eagle" is an historical fiction novel, the first in the Tenochtitlan Trilogy series, set in 1519 Mexico during the conquest of the Aztec empire by the Spaniards. Recommended for those with an interest in this period of time and this particular event.


• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: edwardrickford.com
Twitter: @edward_rickford
Genre: Historical Fiction
 

Ever since I was young, I have enjoyed writing. College gave me the chance to combine my interest in history with my passion for literature and I mainly write historical fiction now. To research The Serpent and the Eagle, I read centuries-old texts and traveled to Mexico repeatedly, even retracing Cortés’ route through central Mexico. For my writing, I have won the Grand Prize Award in the 2018 Chaucer Book Awards, the Readers’ Favorite Award, and the Deixler-Swain prize for my undergraduate thesis on the Spanish-Mexica war. 

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Aug 9, 2019

 

Book Review - Thrawn: Treason, Star Wars Thrawn #3 (by Timothy Zahn)


Title:
Thrawn: Treason
Series: Star Wars Thrawn (book #3)
Author: Timothy Zahn
Genre: Science Fiction, Media Tie In
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 352



“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."



Thrawn: Treason (Star Wars Thrawn #3)
(click to read excerpts on StarWars.com & io9.gizmodo.com)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
A Star Wars novel featuring Grand Admiral Thrawn is pretty much a no-brainer. Thrawn: Treason is also the final book in the trilogy, with the return of Eli Vanto, a character first introduced in book #1 and deeply missed in book #2.
 

The Plot
Grand Admiral Thrawn is called away from his campaign against the Rebels on Lothal by a warning from Grand Moff Tarkin: Thrawn's TIE Defender program is at risk of losing funds in favor of Director Orson Krennic's secret project Stardust. But Krennic's project is having problems of its own: one of Stardust's supply lines is facing a serious pest infestation - a flock of Grallocs, power feeding space vermin, are attacking and presumably destroying the cargo ships, putting the construction of the Death Star behind schedule. If Thrawn can solve the problem within a week's time and ensure the safety of the supply lines, he will retain the funds he needs for his TIE Defender program.
 

Caught in the middle of the political game between Tarkin and Krennic, Thrawn accepts the challenge set but soon realizes there's more to the situation than a mere alien pest control solution when he encounters the Steadfast, a Chiss warship under the command of Admiral Ar'alani where his former protégé Lieutenant Eli Vanto is now serving. Ar'alani has been investigating a threat to the Chiss Ascendancy, shadowing a ship under the control of the conquering and aggressive Grysk. Now Thrawn must not only unravel a conspiracy inside the higher military hierarchy of the Empire but also find out what the Grysk's mission deep inside Imperial Space is and the threat they might pose to the Empire and the Stardust Project.
 

The Good
"Thrawn: Treason" is the final book in the "Thrawn" trilogy, a series set in the Star Wars universe. In book #1 we were introduced to the main character Thrawn, a blue-skinned Chiss from the Unknown Regions. We followed his meteoric rise through the ranks of the Imperial Navy due to his brilliant tactical skills, despite being resented and thwarted by fellow officers and politicians alike in an alien hating Empire. We also got to know Eli Vanto, an Imperial cadet unwillingly assigned as the Chiss' translator, language tutor and aide during Thrawn's rising command career, smoothing his path through Imperial bureaucracy and xenophobia. His own analytical skills and ability to detect patterns eventually got him reassigned to the Chiss Ascendancy under the command of Admiral Ar'alani. In book #2 the Emperor dispatches both Thrawn and Darth Vader to the edge of the Unknown Regions, in order to find the source of a great disturbance in the Force felt by the Emperor, and as a test of Thrawn's loyalty to the Empire. In this second novel we're introduced to the Grysk, an aggressive race bent on galactic conquest and dominance and a threat to both the Chiss Ascendancy and the Empire.
 

Book #3 connects with the previous volumes by bringing back both Eli Vanto and the Grysk. Set right before the animated tv show "Star Wars: Rebels" season 4 finale, it also ties in with the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by including the Death Troopers and the Stardust project. Still, you don't need to watch either the animated series or the movie to follow the plot, the author provides enough details to put the reader in the right context. In "Thrawn: Treason", Grand Admiral Thrawn is challenged by Grand Moff Tarkin into helping Director Krennic solve a space vermin problem that is threatening the construction of the Death Star, in order to secure funding for his own TIE Defender program. Krennic doesn't wish to lose to Thrawn but he can't afford to ignore the delays in his secret project either, so he sets up a time limit for Thrawn's assignment and sends Assistant Director Ronan to observe and make sure Thrawn doesn't succeed in the time allotted; while in a political move of his own, Tarkin orders a skeptical Grand Admiral Savit to assist Thrawn should the need arise. Meanwhile aboard the Chiss warship Steadfast, Lieutenant Eli Vanto feels frustrated by his demotion inside the Chiss military hierarchy and the vague nature of his duties, while facing the same kind of prejudice Thrawn endured when he joined the Empire. When the Steadfast begins to track down a Grysk threat to the Chiss Ascendancy, they cross paths with Thrawn's Star Destroyer Chimaera and both Admirals join forces to solve the two mysteries.
 

The theme of treason is present throughout the whole book and not just regarding Thrawn's split loyalties between the Chiss and the Empire. Assistant Director Ronan's blind worship of his superior makes him extremely loyal to Director Krennic and the Stardust project; he's determined to bring the traitorous deserter Eli Vanto to justice and is suspicious of Thrawn for consorting with aliens, but when faced with evidence of treason within the highest ranks of the Imperial Navy that endanger the Death Star project, he must choose between the lesser evils in order to follow his superior's orders and protect the Stardust program. Chiss Admiral Ar'alani is wary of Thrawn's apparent allegiance to the Empire and isn't quite sure whether or not to trust him; while Commodore Faro must choose between her expected duties as an Imperial officer and her respect and loyalty towards her commanding officer Thrawn.
 

The story is fast-paced, with an engaging plot and intricate mystery, action-packed with thrilling military tactics and space battles, and unexpected plot twists. The characters are 3-dimensional and complex, believable and realistic. Thrawn is once again a deeply compelling character, with a tactical brilliancy that puts him several steps ahead of both his allies and opponents, earning the grudging respect of even his fiercer adversaries. In book #1 his genius was continuously stalled by political maneuvering from a xenophobic society and in book #2 by Vader's volatile temper, but in book #3 he's free to exercise his authority in any way he deems necessary to get the expected results. Assistant Director Ronan is the perfect substitute to Director Krennic in his obnoxious arrogance and fastidious ego; and both Admiral Ar'alani and Commodore Faro are strong female characters, who stand on their own with competent commanding skills, even if not with the same brilliancy as Thrawn's.
 

The Not So Good
In the first part of the book the author attempts to repeat the same plot device he used in book #1, illustrating Thrawn's mental process and analysis of his opponent's body language and movements through his own eyes and thoughts. While this method worked really well in the first volume, it failed to have the same effect this time around. Not only is it used for merely a couple of times and then dropped altogether for the remaining story but it's poorly written, giving the feeling of an afterthought just to connect with the first book in the trilogy.
 

Even though the Chiss play a big part in this book, they are mostly undeveloped as a race and a society, leaving the readers wanting for more. Also, even though it's been a year since Thrawn sent his former protégé Eli Vanto to the Chiss Ascendancy, there isn't any satisfying interaction between the two when they finally reunite; in fact, they're barely even together for more than just a few minutes. Since the plot takes place over a week, during which time all the characters are in a constant state of military alert, and Grand Admiral Thrawn isn't by nature an emotional being, I can understand why the author chose not to develop this particular interaction. Still, there is mention of Eli's need to confront Thrawn, an idea that never panned out and that was really disappointing.
 

This book isn't as good or as well put together as book #1 "Thrawn" but I found it a much more enjoyable reading than book #2 "Thrawn: Alliances"... but that's just a personal opinion.
 

Final Rating
"Thrawn: Treason" is a fast-paced, tactically intriguing and action packed novel, the last of the Thrawn trilogy series. Recommended for Star Wars fans in general and of Grand Admiral Thrawn in particular, but also those who enjoy science fiction and space opera novels with plenty of military tactics and space battles included.


About the Author (interviews)
Previous in the series: Thrawn, Star Wars Thrawn #1 (book review)
Previous in the series: Thrawn: Alliances, Star Wars Thrawn #2 (book review)

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Aug 6, 2019

 

Book Review - Secrets To Being Amazing: what confident people don't do (by Denise Wijayaratne)

Title: Secrets To Being Amazing: what confident people don't do
Author: Denise Wijayaratne
Genre: Self-Help, Psychology, Nonfiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Release Date: June 7th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 49




"Do you know someone who is so effortlessly cool, calm and collected that nothing ever ruffles their feathers? Do you find yourself wondering how they do it, so comfortable being themselves without a care in the world? Do you wish you could have even half of the confidence they have in order to erase self-doubt and stop worrying about what other people are thinking about you?

This book spills the secrets of highly confident people, not just of their natural responses and reactions to everyday situations, but also their unique thought process that sets them apart from the rest of society. It shows common behaviours that aren’t beneficial to self and the importance of self-love in building successful relationships. Amazingness Keys in each chapter will help you develop higher levels of self-confidence and ultimately revolutionise your relationships with self, family, friends, romantic partners and professional colleagues."



Secrets To Being Amazing: what confident people don't do
(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 "short book on confidence", based on personal childhood experiences at the hands of a narcissistic parent and the result of years of observing and studying other abusive people.
 

What It's About
"Secrets to Being Amazing" is a self-help book that offers thoughtful insights on issues of self-esteem and confidence. Based on personal life experiences and in-depth observation and study of other people's behaviors, the author starts from the idea that every negative action and reaction stems from deeply rooted insecurities and fears. By learning to accept and be true to ourselves, we can improve our sense of self-worth and build healthier relationships with those around us. As the author puts it: "the lessons recorded are to show the importance of loving ourselves, which leads to more self-confidence and more successful relationships with others."
 

A light and quick read, with short chapters in a clear and accessible language, it reaches out to all audiences but specially those with low self-esteem and who doubt their personal value. The author addresses issues as current as the negative impact social media can have in our lives, illustrated with easily relatable examples and analogies: how to act regardless of what others might think of us, to avoid craving the attention and approval of those around us, to be ourselves instead of a mere copy of other people, being able to say "no", to be responsible for our own happiness, to avoid being constantly on the defensive... the book isn't meant to be deeply philosophical but to invite personal introspection, and each chapter can be read on its own at any given time.
 

Final Rating
"Secrets to Being Amazing" is a self-help book, a light and quick read that offers guidance to a happier live and a healthier relationship with ourselves and those around us. Recommended for anyone with low self-esteem and self-confidence, but also anyone willing to improve their stance in life.



• • • •


- About the Author -


Denise Wijayaratne has a deep passion for classical music which led to her learning the piano from the age of 5 and becoming a classical pianist. She has, because of her interest in personal growth and emotional intelligence, spent many years researching and observing different aspects of human behaviour and how that impacts relationships. Born and raised in a Southeast Asian culture, she has also lived in Western countries for 10 years, and has learned to take the best of both worlds and apply it to life. Other activities she loves include baking, traveling and trying new experiences.

(source: goodreads.com)

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Aug 2, 2019

 

New Monthly Book Releases - August 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 August 2019.


- Science Fiction -

August 6th:

Cry Pilot (Cry Pilot #1) by Joel Dane (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Ace)
A devastated Earth. Rogue bio-weapons. And a recruit with secrets. In this explosive new military science fiction novel, a tight-knit infantry squad is thrown into battle against a mysterious enemy that appears without warning and strikes without mercy. There's only one way for a man with Maseo Kaytu's secrets to join the military: by volunteering for a suicide mission as a 'cry pilot'. He cheats the system to survive, but you can't fake basic training. Assigned to a squad of misfits, Kaytu learns how to fight, how to obey, and how to trust. Yet the more he bonds with his fellow recruits, the more he risks exposure of his criminal past. Keeping his secret is about to become the least of his problems. Kaytu discovers that his platoon is being deployed against a new kind of rogue bio-weapon. One that has torn apart every military force it's ever faced...


Galaxy's Edge:  A Crash of Fate (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel) by Zoraida Córdova (Hardcover, 250 pages, published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press)
Izzy and Jules were childhood friends, climbing the spires of Batuu, inventing silly games, and dreaming of adventures they would share one day. Then, Izzy’s family left abruptly, without even a chance to say goodbye. Izzy’s life became one of constant motion, traveling from one world to the next, until her parents were killed and she became a low-level smuggler to make ends meet. Jules remained on Batuu, eventually becoming a farmer like his father, but always yearning for something more. Now, thirteen years after she left, Izzy is returning to Batuu. She’s been hired to deliver a mysterious parcel, and she just wants to finish the job and get gone. But upon arrival at Black Spire Outpost she runs smack into the one person who still means something to her after all this time: Jules. When Izzy’s job goes wrong, the two childhood friends find themselves on the run. And all their secrets will be revealed as they fight to stay alive.


Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Grand Central Publishing)
One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author. S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle's wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos. Then Big Jim's eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn't quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies--from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim's loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis--fail to cure Big Jim's debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity's extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education. Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.


Reticence (The Custard Protocol #4) by Gail Carriger (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Orbit)
Bookish and proper Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when floating cities, spirited plumbing, and soggy biscuits collide in this delightful conclusion to NYT bestselling author Gail Carriger's Custard Protocol series. Percival Tunstell loves that his sister and her best friend are building themselves a family of misfits aboard their airship, the Spotted Custard. Of course, he'd never admit that he belongs among them. He's always been on the outside - dispassionate, aloof, and hatless. But accidental spies, a trip to Japan, and one smart and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life. Except hats. He's done with hats. Thank you very much.


The Darwin Strain (R.J. MacCready #3) by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by William Morrow)
Though the fighting has stopped and Hitler is vanquished, a dangerous new war between America and the Soviet Union has begun. Invaluable in defeating the Nazis, accidental crypto-zoologist R. J. MacCready and Yanni Thorne, an indigenous Brazilian and expert in animal behavior, are working for the Pentagon once again. Sent to a mysterious Greek island in a remote corner of the Mediterranean, they are investigating rumors about a volcanic spring with “miraculous” healing properties that the locals say is guarded by sea monsters from ancient legends. The islanders believe that, like Fatima, the spring is a gift from God. To the Greek Orthodox Church, it is a sign of a deadly evil foretold in apocalyptic texts. Alongside French and Chinese researchers—men who share their strange, blood-stained past—Mac and Yanni discover that the volcanic spring’s undersea plumes release an exotic microbe that can transform life with astonishing speed. To find the source of the Volcanic spring, Mac and Yanni must find a way to neutralize “the Dragons of Revelation”—a fearsome aquatic species also known as “Kraken,” which are preventing the scientists from exploring deep beneath the sea’s surface. Mutating at an astonishing pace, the Kraken have evolved into a chillingly high alien intelligence. As the race to possess the “miracle” microbe heats up, tensions between geopolitics, religion, and ordinary scientists confronted with the unknown escalate into chaos. Mac and Yanni know all too well that one wrong choice can easily set in motion a biological chain reaction that will reach across the decades to enhance—or destroy—everything that lives.

August 8th:


To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (Hardcover, 176 pages, published by Hodder & Stoughton)
In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of galaxy transform themselves. At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in sub-zero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to explore neighbouring exoplanets long suspected to harbour life. Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds fifteen light-years from Earth, she and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

August 13th:


Dahlia Black by Keith Thomas (Hardcover, 288 pages, published by Atria/Leopoldo Co.)
Voyager 1 was a message in a bottle. Our way of letting the galaxy know we existed. That we were out here if anyone wanted to find us. Over the next forty years, the probe flew past Jupiter and Saturn before it drifted into the void, swallowed up by a silent universe. Or so we thought… Truth is, our message didn’t go unheard. Discovered by Dr. Dahlia Black, the mysterious Pulse was sent by a highly intelligent intergalactic species that called themselves the Ascendants. It soon becomes clear this alien race isn’t just interested in communication—they are capable of rewriting human DNA, in an astonishing process they call the Elevation. Five years after the Pulse, acclaimed journalist Keith Thomas sets out to make sense of the event that altered the world. Thomas travels across the country to interview members of the task force who grappled to decode the Pulse and later disseminated its exact nature to worried citizens. He interviews the astronomers who initially doubted Black’s discovery of the Pulse—an error that critics say led to the world’s quick demise. Thomas also hears from witnesses of the Elevation and people whose loved ones vanished in the Finality, an event that, to this day, continues to puzzle Pulse researchers, even though theories abound about the Ascendants’ motivation. Including never-before-published transcripts from task force meetings, diary entries from Black, and candid interviews with Ballard, Thomas also shows in Dahlia Black how a select few led their country in its darkest hours, toward a new level of humanity.


Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh (Paperback, 544 pages, published by Gallery / Saga Press)
A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race. And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives. It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.

August 20th:


Inch by Inch (Step by Step #2) by Morgan Llywelyn (Hardcover, 272 pages, published by Tor Books)
Morgan Llywelyn continues her near-future, apocalyptic thriller trilogy with her signature depth and intimacy of character. In Inch by Inch, book two in the trilogy, the residents of Sycamore River have only just adjusted to the end of the Change. Until the morning people notice that metal starts to behave oddly. It's dissolving. The world is pushed into global war, and a small band of Sycamore River survivors only have one another. They have to survive the unthinkable.

Meet Me in the Future: Stories by Kameron Hurley (Paperback, 288 pages, published by Tachyon Publications)
When renegade author Kameron Hurley (The Light Brigade; The Stars Are Legion) takes you to the future, be prepared for the unexpected. Yes, it will be dangerous, frequently brutal, and often devastating. But it’s also savagely funny, deliriously strange, and absolutely brimming with adventure. In these edgy, unexpected tales, a body-hopping mercenary avenges his pet elephant, and an orphan falls in love with a sentient starship. Fighters ally to power a reality-bending engine, and a swamp-dwelling introvert tries to save the world—from her plague-casting former wife. So come meet Kameron Hurley in the future. The version she's created here is weirder—and far more hopeful—than you could ever imagine.


The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of "species purists" intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. Fashioning themselves as the one true "Human Republic," the Sturm cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing billions before finally being defeated and driven into the far reaches of Dark Space. Centuries of peace bred complacency. Everyone believed the Sturm had died out in the Dark. They were wrong. The enemy has returned and, with a brutal and decisive attack, knocks out almost all of humanity's defenses. Now on the brink of annihilation, humankind's only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial attack: Commander Lucinda Hardy, thrust into uncertain command of the Royal Armadalen Navy's only surviving warship. Booker3, a soldier of Earth, sentenced to die for treason, whose time on death row is cut short when the Sturm attack his prison compound. Princess Alessia, a young royal of the Montanblanc Corporation, forced to flee when her home planet is overrun and her entire family executed. Sephina L'trel, the leader of an outlaw band who must call on all of her criminal skills to resist the invasion. And, finally, Admiral Frazer McLennan, the infamous hero of the first war with the Sturm hundreds of years ago, who hopes to rout his old foes once and for all--or die trying. These five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.


The Warehouse by Rob Hart (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Bantam Press)
Gun violence, climate change and unemployment have ravaged the United States beyond recognition. Amidst the wreckage, an online retail giant named Cloud reigns supreme. Cloud brands itself not just as an online storefront, but as a global saviour. Yet, beneath the sunny exterior, lurks something far more sinister. Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life, much less that he’d be moving into one of their sprawling live-work facilities. But compared to what’s left outside, perhaps Cloud isn’t so bad. Better still, through his work he meets Zinnia, who fills him with hope for their shared future. Except that Zinnia is not what she seems. And Paxton, with his all-access security credentials, might just be her meal ticket. As Paxton and Zinnia’s agendas place them on a collision course, they’re about to learn just how far the Cloud will go to make the world a better place. To beat the system, you have to be inside it.

August 27th:


Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel) by Delilah S. Dawson (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
After devastating losses at the hands of the First Order, General Leia Organa has dispatched her agents across the galaxy in search of allies, sanctuary, and firepower—and her top spy, Vi Moradi, may have just found all three, on a secluded world at the galaxy’s edge. A planet of lush forests, precarious mountains, and towering, petrified trees, Batuu is on the furthest possible frontier of the galactic map, the last settled world before the mysterious expanse of Wild Space. The rogues, smugglers, and adventurers who eke out a living on the largest settlement on the planet, Black Spire Outpost, are here to avoid prying eyes and unnecessary complications. Vi, a Resistance spy on the run from the First Order, is hardly a welcome guest. And when a shuttle full of stormtroopers lands in her wake, determined to root her out, she has no idea where to find help. To survive, Vi will have to seek out the good-hearted heroes hiding in a world that redefines scum and villainy. With the help of a traitorous trooper and her acerbic droid, she begins to gather a colorful band of outcasts and misfits, and embarks on a mission to spark the fire of resistance on Batuu—before the First Order snuffs it out entirely.

Steel Frame by Andrew Skinner (Paperback, 700 pages, published by Solaris)
Epic tale of giant-robot battles, built around a personal story of redemption and healing. FLY HARD - Rook is a jockey, a soldier trained and modified to fly ‘shells,’ huge robots that fight for the outer regions of settled space. When her shell is destroyed and her squad killed, Rook is imprisoned, left stranded, scarred and broken. Hollow and helpless without her steel frame, she’s ready to call it quits. When her cohort of prisoners are sold into indenture to NorCol, a vast frontier corporation, Rook’s given another shell – a near-decrepit Juno, as broken as she is and decades older – and sent to a rusting bucket of a ship on the end of known space to patrol something called “the Eye,” a strange, unnerving permanent storm in space. Where something is stirring...


• • • •


- Fantasy -

August 6th:


Blood of an Exile (Dragons of Terra #1) by Brian Naslund (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Tor Books)
Bershad was supposed to die... When he was caught trying to assassinate a fellow noble, Flawless Bershad was given a death sentence. Fight monsters so that he would die serving the kingdom. But Beshad can’t die. He’s never lost a fight, the most successful dragon slayer in history but marked as a doomed man, Bershad stands apart from the world. But that is about to change. The man who sentenced Bershad to his fate has just given him an out. Kill a king and walk free forever. But Bershad could care less about the fates of kings and kingdoms, until, that is, he discovers he is the only person able to save an innocent child and, possibly, the life of every creature in Terra.


Kingmaker (The Dragon Corsairs #3) by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Tor Books)
In the exciting conclusion, Kate and Sophia and their dragon Dalgren form a desperate plan to free Phillip from prison. Thomas is crowned king and discovers a plot by King Ullr to invade Freya. Henry is forced to flee to the Aligoes where he makes a discovery that could change the fortunes of his beleaguered nation.


Monster Hunter Guardian (Monster Hunter International #6b) by Larry Correia and Sarah A. Hoyt (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Bae)
When Owen Pitt and the rest of the Monster Hunter International crew are called away to mount a month’s-long rescue mission in a monster-infested nightmare dimension, Julie Shackleford—Owen’s wife and descendant of MHI founder Bubba Shackelford—is left behind. Her task: hold down the fort and take care of her new baby son Ray. Julie’s devoted to the little guy, but the slow pace of office work and maternity leave are starting to get to her. But when a routine field call brings her face-to-face with an unspeakable evil calling itself Brother Death, she’ll get more excitement than she ever hoped for. Julie is the Guardian of a powerful ancient artifact known as the Kamaresh Yar, and Brother Death wants it. In the wrong hands, it could destroy reality as we know it. Julie would die before giving it up. Then Ray goes missing, taken by Brother Death. The price for his safe return: the Kamaresh Yar. If Julie doesn’t hand over the artifact it means death—or worse—for baby Ray. With no other choice left to her, Julie agrees to Brother Death’s demands. But when you’re dealing with an ancient evil, the devil is in the details. To reclaim her son, Julie Shackleford will have to fight her way through necromantic death cults, child-stealing monsters, and worse. And she’ll have to do it all before Brother Death can unleash the Kamaresh Yar. It’s one woman against an army of monsters. But Julie Shackelford is no ordinary woman—she’s one tough mother!


Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk (Hardcover, 496 pages, published by Forge)
No king. No rules. England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it. As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people--Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham's beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief--become intertwined. And a strange story begins to spread...


The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang (Hardcover, 560 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies. With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do. But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance. The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.


The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by DAW)
Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic. Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage. For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die. To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.


Witchy Kingdom by D.J. Butler (Hardcover, 624 pages, published by Baen)
SEASON OF THE WITCH - An encounter with her father’s goddess has not turned out to be the end for Sarah Elytharias Penn. Now, with the Imperial fist tightened around her city of Cahokia and the beastkind of the Heron King ravaging across the river, she must find a way to access the power of the Serpent Throne itself—a feat, she has learned, that her father never accomplished. To complicate her efforts, Cahokia’s Metropolitan, a beloved and charismatic priest who despises the goddess as a demon, returns from a long pilgrimage and attempts to finalize the Wisdom-eradicating reform that dogged Sarah’s father when he was king. Meanwhile, Sarah’s brother Nathaniel and her brilliant but erratic servant Jacob Hop find their steps dogged by the Emperor’s Machiavel, Temple Franklin, as they hunt in New Amsterdam for the third Elytharias sibling. As Simon Sword’s destroying storm threatens from the south and west, and New Orleans is thrown into deadly turmoil when a vodoun priest and mameluke assassins contend for ultimate power and control of the Mississippi, the chance for a unified New World teeters on the brink. Sarah Penn understands she may face a hard fate in the final reckoning. But she also knows that only she can access the power of the Throne—if she can find the Wisdom inside to unlock it.


Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #2) by Mary E. Pearson (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Henry Holt)
Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor's Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last. But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor's Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell. Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.

August 8th:


Sanctuary by V.V. James (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Gollancz)
Four women with a secret. The death that will unravel their lives. The small town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback. Daniel's death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch - and she was there when he died. Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge - or something even darker? As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching...

August 13th:


Of Ice and Shadows (Of Fire and Stars #2) by Audrey Coulthurst (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Balzer + Bray)
The long-awaited sequel to Of Fire and Stars—in which Mare and Denna travel to a new and dangerous kingdom where Denna must be trained to tame her magic by a mysterious queen who is not all she seems. Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers. Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey. But just after Mare and Denna arrive in Zumorda, an attack on a border town changes everything. Mare’s diplomatic mission is now urgent: she must quickly broker an alliance with the Zumordan queen to protect her homeland. However, the queen has no interest in allying with other kingdoms—it’s Denna’s untamed but powerful magic that catches her eye. The queen offers to teach Denna herself, and both girls know it would be dangerous to refuse. As Denna’s powers grow stronger, Mare does her best to be the ambassador her kingdom needs. Her knowledge of Zumorda and its people grows, and so too do her suspicions about the queen’s intentions. With rising tensions and unexpected betrayals putting Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerging on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?


Pale Kings (Lost Gods #2) by Micah Yongo (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Angry Robot)
When the gods return to claim their world, the Five Realms will fall, in this earth-shaking epic fantasy thriller from the author of Lost Gods. For centuries the Five Lands have been at peace, but now a nameless enemy is tearing apart their borders. When a young assassin, Neythan, is summoned to Súnam, he expects to help uncover the enemy, but is instead confronted with secrets from his forgotten childhood, all somehow linked to the ancient scroll he has always carried. As the invasion continues, and the supernatural forces responsible are unveiled, Neythan must learn the truth about the power that lies in his blood... before it is too late.


The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Hossain (Paperback, 176 pages, published by Tor.com)
When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt. Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.


The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Angry Robot)
Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman. Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?


The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3) by Anna Smith Spark (Paperback, 480 pages, published by Orbit)
A powerhouse grimdark fantasy of bloodshed, ambition, and fate, The House of Sacrifice is the thunderous conclusion to Anna Smith Spark's Empires of Dust trilogy, which began with The Court of Broken Knives. Hail Him. Behold Him. Man-killer, life-stealer, death-bringer, life’s thief. All are bound to Him, His word is law. The night coming, the sudden light that makes the eyes blind, Golden one, shining, glorious. Life’s judgement, life’s pleasure, hope’s grave. Marith Altrersyr has won. He cut a path of blood and vengeance and needless violence around the world and now he rules. It is time for Marith to put down his sword, to send home his armies, to grow a beard and become fat. It is time to look to his own house, and to produce an heir. The King of Death must now learn to live. But some things cannot be learnt. The spoils of war turn to ash in the mouths of the Amrath Army and soon they are on the move again. But Marith, lord of lies, dragon-killer, father-killer, has begun to falter and his mind decays. How long can a warlord rotting from within continue to win? As the Army marches on to Sorlost, Thalia’s thoughts turn to home and to the future: a life grows inside her and it is a precious thing – but it grows weak. Why must the sins of the father curse the child? A glorious, ambitious and bloodily brilliant conclusion that threads together a masterful tapestry of language and story, and holding up a piercing reflection on epic fantasy – and those who love it.


The Mage-Fire War (The Saga of Recluce #21) by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (Hardcover, 544 pages, published by Tor Books)
Modesitt continues his bestselling Saga of Recluce with the twenty-first book in this bestselling epic fantasy series. Once again, prejudices against the use of chaos magic force Beltur and his companions to flee their refuge in Axalt. The rulers of nearby Montgren have offered them sanctuary and the opportunity to become the Councilors of the run-down and disintegrating town of Haven. Montegren lacks any mages—white or black—making this seem like the perfect opportunity to start again. However, Beltur and the others must reinstitute law and order, rebuilt parts of the town, deal with brigands—and thwart an invading army.

August 20th:


Lies of Descent by Troy Carrol Bucher (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by Daw Books)
In this compelling fantasy from a debut author, two people must unite warring cultures to banish the gods who destroyed their homeland. The Fallen Gods' War drove the remnants of a victorious army across the ocean in search of a new homeland. A thousand years later, the lifeless continent of Draegora is largely forgotten, a symbol for the regiments that remain. Demons to some. Protectors to others. The power of their god-touched blades has forged a nation, though many resent their absolute control. Riam and Nola are unknowing descendants of the old world. When it's discovered they carry enough Draegoran blood to serve in the regiments, they are dragged away from their families to begin training. If they survive, they will be expected to enforce the laws of the covenant, to fight the Esharii tribesmen who raid along the border, and to be judge, jury, and executioners for those accused of crimes. For Riam, who welcomes his escape from an abusive father, the power to protect those who cannot defend themselves is alluring. For Nola, who wishes to return home, it is a betrayal by all she holds dear. Neither is given a choice... and neither may ever get the chance to serve. Lies of Descent begins an epic trilogy of fallen gods, betrayal, and magic--where dark motives often dwell within the true and just, and where the things most feared sometimes lead to salvation.


The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon (Paperback, 400 pages, published by 47North)
From ​the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation. Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok. Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk. Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok. What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king… but they could also destroy themselves.


Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Tor Books)
As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study. When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.


August 27th:


Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl #1) by Mara Rutherford (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by Inkyard Press)
For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine… Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land. Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave. In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.


Good Company (The Fifth Ward #3) by Dale Lucas (Paperback, 480 pages, published by Orbit)
Humans, orcs, mages, elves, and dwarves all jostle for success and survival in the cramped quarters of Yenara, while understaffed Watch Wardens struggle to keep its citizens in line. In the most dangerous district in the city, Rem and Torval have been perfecting their good cop, bad cop routine while protecting residents from the likes of drug-dealing orcs and mind-controlling elves. Now, Rem and Torval must escort a notorious thief through a dangerous forest to the nearby city from where the thief escaped. But the thief's companions are waiting, and the soldiers Rem and Torval travel with might not be so honorable.


The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga #1) by G.A. Aiken (Paperback, 304 pages, published by Kensington Publishing Corporation)
When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken. The Old King Is Dead. With the demise of the Old King, there's a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king's sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it's all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals. Luckily, Keeley doesn't have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned...

Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves #2) by Kristina Pérez (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Imprint)
Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms. Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path. Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…


• • • •


- Historical Fiction -

August 1st:


A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean (Paperback, 432 pages, published by Lake Union Publishing)
After a crushing betrayal by the man she loves, Gillian Gibbons flees to her family home for a much-needed escape, but when she finds an old photograph of her grandmother in the arms of a Nazi officer, Gillian’s life gets even more complicated. Rattled by the discovery, Gillian attempts to unravel the truth behind the photos, setting her off on an epic journey through the past… 1939. England is on the brink of war as Vivian Hughes falls in love with a handsome British official, but when bombs begin to fall and Vivian’s happy life is destroyed in the blitz, she will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves… As Gillian learns more about her grandmother’s past, the old photo begins to make more sense. But for every question answered, a new one takes its place. Faced with a truth that is not at all what she expected, Gillian attempts to shine a light not only on the mysteries of her family’s past but also on her own future. This gorgeously written multigenerational saga is a heart-wrenching yet hopeful examination of one woman’s struggle to survive.

August 6th:


First Cosmic Velocity by Zach Powers (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons)
It's 1964 in the USSR, and unbeknownst even to Premier Khrushchev himself, the Soviet space program is a sham. Well, half a sham. While the program has successfully launched five capsules into space, the Chief Designer and his team have never successfully brought one back to earth. To disguise this, they've used twins. But in a nation built on secrets and propaganda, the biggest lie of all is about to unravel. Because there are no more twins left. Combining history and fiction, the real and the mystical, First Cosmic Velocity is the story of Leonid, the last of the twins. Taken in 1950 from a life of poverty in Ukraine to the training grounds in Russia, the Leonids were given one name and one identity, but divergent fates. Now one Leonid has launched to certain death (or so one might think...), and the other is sent on a press tour under the watchful eye of Ignatius, the government agent who knows too much but gives away little. And while Leonid battles his increasing doubts about their deceitful project, the Chief Designer must scramble to perfect a working spacecraft, especially when Khrushchev nominates his high-strung, squirrel-like dog for the first canine mission. By turns grim and whimsical, fatalistic and deeply hopeful, First Cosmic Velocity is a sweeping novel of the heights of mankind's accomplishments, the depths of its folly, and the people--and canines--with whom we create family.



Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
From the author of Rust & Stardust comes this heartbreaking story, inspired by true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter. Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson's heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded." Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on. But two years later, when Ginny's best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth--its squalid hallways filled with neglected children--she knows she can't leave her daughter there. With Ginny's six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive. For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.

August 13th:


The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Putnam)
By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, "Dear Miss Sweetie." When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society's ills, but she's not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta's most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.


The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Gallery Books)
Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate. When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together. New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.


August 20th:


Tidelands (The Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Atria Books)
England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different... Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast. Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life. Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbours. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.

August 27th:

All the Forgivenesses by Elizabeth Hardinger (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by John Scognamiglio Book)
Set in Appalachia and the Midwest at the turn of the twentieth century, this exquisite debut novel paints an intimately rendered portrait of one resilient farm family's challenges and hard-won triumphs--helmed by an unforgettable heroine. Growing up on their hardscrabble farm in rural Kentucky, fifteen-year-old Albertina "Bertie" Winslow has learned a lot from her mama, Polly. She knows how to lance a boil, make a pie crust, butcher a pig, and tend to every chore that needs doing. What she doesn't know, but is forced to reckon with all too soon, is how to look after children as a mother should... When Polly succumbs to a long illness, Bertie takes on responsibility for her four younger siblings and their dissolute, unreliable daddy. Yet no matter how hard she tries to hold the family together, the task is overwhelming. Nine-year-old Dacia, especially, is resentful and stubborn, hinting at secrets in their mama's life. Finally, Bertie makes the only choice she can--breaking up the family for its own survival, keeping the girls with her, sending the boys off to their grown brothers, long gone from home. Ever pragmatic, Bertie marries young, grateful to find a husband willing to take on the care of her sisters, and eventually moves to the oil fields of Kansas. But marriage alone cannot resolve the grief and guilt she carries over a long-ago tragedy, or prepare her for the heartaches still to come. Only by confronting wrenching truths can she open herself to joy--and learn how to not only give, but receive, unfettered love. Inspired by stories told by the author's mother and aunts, All the Forgivenesses is as authentic as it is lyrical--a captivating novel of family loyalty, redemption, and resilience.


• • • •


- Literary Fiction -

August 6th:


Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Katherine Tegen Books)
Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in. Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them. Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by. One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Berkley Books)
Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son. When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley. So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

August 20th:

The World Doesn't Require You: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Liveright)
Established by the leaders of the country’s only successful slave revolt in the mid-nineteenth century, Cross River still evokes the fierce rhythms of its founding. In lyrical prose and singular dialect, a saga beats forward that echoes the fables carried down for generations—like the screecher birds who swoop down for their periodic sacrifice, and the water women who lure men to wet deaths. Among its residents—wildly spanning decades, perspectives, and species—are David Sherman, a struggling musician who just happens to be God’s last son; Tyrone, a ruthless PhD candidate, whose dissertation about a childhood game ignites mayhem in the neighboring, once-segregated town of Port Yooga; and Jim, an all-too-obedient robot who serves his Master. As the book builds to its finish with Special Topics in Loneliness Studies, a fully-realized novella, two unhinged professors grapple with hugely different ambitions, and the reader comes to appreciate the intricacy of the world Scott has created—one where fantasy and reality are eternally at war.

August 22nd:

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson (Paperback, 464 pages, published by Simon & Schuster UK)
‘I can toast to my future, but the thundercloud over my head, the threat of a storm, will follow me like a shadow wherever I go. The truth is, I have a potential bomb in my bag, and who knows when or where it will go off’. When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world. Five years later, Flo is engaged and ready to pack up her life and move to New York with her high-flying fiancé. Peggy never told Flo what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk. As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: If a test could decide your future, would you take it? An emotional, inspiring and uplifting novel about living life to the fullest, IF YOU WERE HERE will break your heart and put it back together.

August 27th:


A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Little, Brown and Company)
Parveen Shamsa, a college senior in search of a calling, feels pulled between her charismatic and mercurial anthropology professor and the comfortable but predictable Afghan-American community in her Northern California hometown. When she discovers a bestselling book called Mother Afghanistan, a memoir by humanitarian Gideon Crane that has become a bible for American engagement in the country, she is inspired. Galvanized by Crane's experience, Parveen travels to a remote village in the land of her birth to join the work of his charitable foundation. When she arrives, however, Crane's maternity clinic, while grandly equipped, is mostly unstaffed. The villagers do not exhibit the gratitude she expected to receive. And Crane's memoir appears to be littered with mistakes, or outright fabrications. As the reasons for Parveen's pilgrimage crumble beneath her, the U.S. military, also drawn by Crane's book, turns up to pave the solde road to the village, bringing the war in their wake. When a fatal ambush occurs, Parveen must decide whether her loyalties lie with the villagers or the soldiers -- and she must determine her own relationship to the truth. Amy Waldman, who reported from Afghanistan for the New York Times after 9/11, has created a taut, propulsive novel about power, perspective, and idealism, brushing aside the dust of America's longest-standing war to reveal the complicated truths beneath.


Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat (Paperback, 385 pages, published by Random House Large Print)
Rich with hard-won wisdom and humanity, set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, Everything Inside is at once wide in scope and intimate, as it explores the forces that pull us together, or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant. In these eight powerful, emotionally absorbing stories, a romance unexpectedly sparks between two wounded friends; a marriage ends for what seem like noble reasons, but with irreparable consequences; a young woman holds on to an impossible dream even as she fights for her survival; two lovers reunite after unimaginable tragedy, both for their country and in their lives; a baby's christening brings three generations of a family to a precarious dance between old and new; a man falls to his death in slow motion, reliving the defining moments of the life he is about to lose. This is the indelible work of a keen observer of the human heart—a master at her best.


• • • •


- Young Adult -

August 6th:


A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Shy in Avon-upon-Kynt. And for eighteen years, Emmaline Watkins has feared that her future held just that: nothing. But when the head of the most admired fashion house in the country opens her prestigious design competition to girls from outside the stylish capital city, Emmy’s dreams seem closer than they ever have before. As the first “country girl” to compete, Emmy knows she’ll encounter extra hurdles on her way to the top. But as she navigates the twisted world of high fashion she starts to wonder: will she be able to tailor herself to fit into this dark, corrupted race? And at what cost?


Beasts of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga #1) by Jill Criswell (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Blackstone)
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust. Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people's souls, to see someone's true essence with only a touch of her hand. When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland--one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun--Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he's been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started. As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira's life, for Reyker's soul, and for their peoples' freedom has only just begun.


House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Bantam Dell Publishing Group)
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed. Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods. Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with? When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.


Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch #2) by Sarah Henning (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Katherine Tegen Books)
“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love. Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes. Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds? Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.


The Demon World (The Smoke Thieves #2) by Sally Green (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Viking Books for Young Readers)
The epic, magical saga of royalty, romance, and violence continues. A princess. A soldier. A servant. A demon hunter. A thief. When we last saw them, this unlikely group was heading into the Northern Territory of the kingdom of Pitoria, on the run from the sadistic and power-hungry King Aloysius of Brigant. The Smoke Thieves have discovered that demon smoke is not only an illegal drug used for pleasure, but in fact, when taken by children, demon smoke briefly gives its users super-human strength. Aloysius' plan is simple and brutal: kill the demons for their smoke, and use that smoke to build an unstoppable army of children to take over Pitoria, Calidor, and then the rest of the world. The Smoke Thieves are the only ones who understand this plan—but can they stop it? Catherine, Aloysius' daughter, is seen as a traitor from all sides; Tash is heartbroken after the loss of her one friend and sees nothing left for her in the human world; Edyon is wanted for murder; March is carrying the secret of his betrayal of his new love; Ambrose is out for revenge--and all the while, the demons have plans of their own...


The Heartwood Crown (Sunlit Lands #2) by Matt Mikalato (Paperback, 416 pages, published by Wander)
After destroying the Crescent Stone, Madeline returns home, bringing Shula and Yenil with her. As her health continues to deteriorate, Madeline feels the Sunlit Lands calling her back. Meanwhile, Jason, Darius, and the rest of the inhabitants of the Sunlit Lands fight for survival and freedom. The magic that fuels the land is failing, threatening to destroy them all. Will Madeline's return save the land and its people? Matt's signature humor and epic storytelling are once again on full display in The Heartwood Crown.


August 8th:


No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Macmillan Children's Books)
'It's not my body that's holding me back. I think it's more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.' Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in. With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.

August 13th:


Bright Star by Erin Swan (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Tor Teen)
Erin Swan's YA fantasy debut, Bright Star, is an action-packed adventure tale of rebellion, romance, and finding one's voice in the heart of a storm. Paerolia has been at peace for two centuries, and all is well in the land—or so it seems. Beneath the surface, a tyrant is rising to power. A traumatic experience in Andra's childhood has left her mute and subdued, a servant in the Chief Judge’s manor. But when an assassination team, led by the secretive and alluring Kael, infiltrates the manor and makes a quick escape, she takes her chance and flees with them. Andra is thrust into the ranks of a secret rebellion—a group of outcasts and believers seeking to overthrow the Chief Judge and replace the corrupt government with new members, ones who will restore and preserve the land they love. Now, the girl who was once an outcast must somehow become the leader Paerolia needs. But she is stronger than she believes—and with the help of a fiercely loyal dragon, she may just be the one to lead them all to victory.


Mayhem and Madness: Chronicles of a Teenaged Supervillain by J. A. Dauber (Hardcover, 304 pages, published by Holiday House)
Bailey never meant to be the bad guy in the bulletproof robotic suit, but with every mission he gets closer to finding his father... and he can't stop now. Bailey is a pretty average teenager in a pretty average town. He runs track, gets decent grades, and has an unrequited crush. So what is a super-powered flying suit of computerized armor doing twenty feet under his boring suburban home? Bailey needs to know where it came from, if it belonged to his long-missing father, and most importantly, if it can be used to bring his dad back.This lightning-fast adventure inspired by classic comic book tales pushes a good kid to his limits and questions the difference between a hero and a villain. One day he's getting beat up by the captain of the football team, the next day he's robbing banks on Fifth Avenue, stealing diamonds from Tiffany's, and zooming through aerial dogfights. But how much bad is Bailey willing to do to bring his dad home safely? For fans of Iron Man, superhero stories, and dark humor.


Midnight Beauties (Grim Lovelies #2) by Megan Shepherd (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by HMH Books for Young Readers)
Ever since she discovered her affinity for magic, seventeen-year-old Anouk has been desperate to become a witch. It’s the only way to save her friends who, like Anouk, are beasties: animals enchanted into humans. But unlike Anouk, the other beasties didn’t make it out of the battle at Montélimar in one piece. With her friends now trapped in their animal forms, Anouk is forced into a sinister deal involving a political marriage with her sworn enemy, a wicked plot to overthrow London’s fiercest coven of witches, and a deadly trial of fire to become a witch. The price for power has always been steep in the world of the Haute. Now, it will cost Anouk everything.


The Last Hope (The Raging Ones #2) by Krista Ritchie and Becca Ritchie (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Wednesday Books)
Sacrifice all you have to survive. Imprisoned for weeks on an enemy starcraft, Franny, Court, and Mykal have sat with an unfathomable revelation. But as they fight to stay alive, escaping prison means trusting a young mysterious stranger. He knows everything about their lost histories, and when answers aren’t given freely, the bonded trio are forced to join a mission. One that will determine the fate of humanity. Legend says, a baby—the first of her species—has the power to cloak and teleport planets. Tasked with retrieving the infant, Court fears the baby is just a myth, and if they fail, they’ll never find the truth about their origins. As Court and Mykal grow closer, their linked bond becomes harder to hide, and dynamics change when Franny begins to fall for someone new. Vulnerable and with no choice, the hunt for the baby sends the trio on a dangerous path to Saltare-1: a water world where their enemies can’t die and survival comes at a high cost.

August 20th:


Into the Hourglass (The Evermore Chronicles #2) by Emily R. King (Paperback, 286 pages, published by Skyscape)
Everley Donovan’s mission: retrieve the hallowed sword of Avelyn stolen by the wicked Prince Killian, who slayed her family and left her for dead. Should she fail, the seven worlds will come to an end, as could time itself. And no one treasures time more than Everley, whose lifesaving clock heart cannot beat forever. She has set sail with a rogue crew for the otherworlds, where the key to dethroning the prince lies deep within the Land Under the Wave. But passage through these unknown seas—where horrors lurk and pirates rove—proves a treacherous gamble. The Land Under the Wave was not made for humans, particularly one with a fragile clock heart. Here, Everley’s tragic past resurfaces unsolved questions. Here, too, the prince has hidden secrets more precious than pearls, secrets that could fracture the future forevermore. Everley must take back her sword and break free from this watery world before her time runs out…or so will everyone else’s.


The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Dove "Birdie" Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: she quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she's on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past... whom she knows her parents will never approve of. When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family's apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded--she's also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she's known to be true is turned upside down.

August 27th:


Mind Games by Shana Silver (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Swoon Reads)
Arden sells memories. Whether it’s the becoming homecoming queen or studying for that all important test, Arden can hack into a classmate’s memories and upload the experience for you just as if you’d lived it yourself. Business is great, right up until the day Arden whites out, losing 15 minutes of her life and all her memories of the hot boy across the school yard. The hot boy her friends assure her she’s had a crush on for years. Arden realizes that her own memories have been hacked, but they haven’t just been stolen and shared… they’ve been deleted. And she’s not the only one, the hot stranger, Sebastian, has lost ALL of his memories. But how can they find someone with the power to make them forget everything they’ve learned?


Song of the Abyss (Tower of Winds #2) by Makiia Lucier (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by HMH Books for Young Readers)
Ancient grievances, long-held grudges, and dangerous magic combine in this sweeping standalone fantasy. They came in the night as she dreamt, in her berth, on a ship sailing home to del Mar. After, they would be all Reyna thought about: two carracks painted scorpion black. No emblem on either forecastle, no pennants flying above the mainmasts to hint at a kingdom of origin. Never a good sign. As the granddaughter of a famed navigator, seventeen-year-old Reyna has always lived life on her own terms, despite those who say a girl could never be an explorer for the royal house of St. John del Mar. She is determined to prove them wrong, and as she returns home after a year-long expedition, she knows her dream is within reach. No longer an apprentice, instead: Reyna, Master Explorer. But when menacing raiders attack her ship, those dreams are pushed aside. Reyna's escape is both desperate and dangerous, and when next she sees her ship, a mystery rises from the deep. The sailors--her captain, her countrymen--have vanished. To find them, Reyna must use every resource at her disposal... including placing her trust in a handsome prince from a rival kingdom. Together they uncover a disturbing truth. The attack was no isolated incident. Troubling signs point to a shadowy kingdom in the north, and for once, the rulers of the Sea of Magdalen agree: something must be done. But can Reyna be brave enough to find a way?


These Divided Shores (Stream Raiders #2) by Sara Raasch (Paperback, 560 pages, published by Balzer + Bray)
As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: He’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again. Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago. Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God? As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts... or lose their futures forever.

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