Sep 26, 2019


Book Review - Terrible Lizard: A Memoir of My Time in the Police Dinosaur Unit (by Doug Goodman)

Title: Terrible Lizard: A Memoir of My Time in the Police Dinosaur Unit
Series: -
Author: Doug Goodman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Release Date: June 28th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 176

"If you can train a chicken, you can train a dinosaur.

Or so Oak Jones thought. He’s wanted on the Police Dinosaur Unit all his life. Now that he’s in, he’s discovered that training a Police Working Velociraptor is a lot harder than he ever imagined. And if he thought training would be difficult, living with a Velociraptor is a whole new level of fun. Banshee can clear a six-foot fence like it was nothing, and he has a love for eating the neighborhood cats, which is putting Oak on the outs with his next-door neighbor, Christy Dao.

But there is a reason for everything, and when Oak discovers why Banshee struggles, it breaks his heart.

Terrible Lizard is a funny and endearing look at life with Banshee, a great working dinosaur, but one terrible lizard."

- 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 "book about training and working with Velociraptors, how the Houston Police Department uses them, and the busting of an illegal dinosaur smuggling operation"; the author also mentioned his interest in "exploring the relationships between humans and their working animals" and based the book on his brother's experiences as a police officer and his own as a search and rescue dog handler. It sounded intriguing so I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
Oak Jones was never the brightest or strongest kid growing up but he's always loved dinosaurs and all he ever wanted in life was to work with one. So when Officer Jones was accepted at the Houston Police Department's Velociraptor Handler Training Program, he felt he was one step closer to landing his dream job... until he was paired with Banshee, a three-and-a-half-foot-tall death machine with crazy eyes and a special gift for snarling, snapping and hissing. But Oak Jones doesn't quit and he never gives up, if he wants to join the Violent Offenders Apprehension Task Force and do some damage to the bad guys, he needs to convince a kleptomaniac velociraptor with PTSD to bond with him and become a great working police VR.

The Good
"Terrible Lizard" is an urban fantasy novel set in a modern days alternate reality where dinosaurs haven't gone extinct but coexist alongside humans, taken as pets by the extremely wealthy or trained to work with the military and police force. The story, divided in 2 distinct parts, is told in the first person through the eyes of the main character Oak Jones, a mid 20s police officer in the Houston Police Department who's always wanted to work with dinosaurs. In part 1 we follow Officer Jones during his 6 weeks training as a velociraptor handler at the Raptor Academy. His assigned partner Banshee suffers from PTSD after a traumatic experience in the military and is about to be discharged after failing the trials twice, unless Jones can help him overcome his troubled past. In part 2, Jones and Banshee solve a series of cases as part of the Police Dinosaur Unit, from corralling a herd of dino turkeys in the middle of a traffic accident, to chasing armed criminals and busting an illegal dino trafficking operation.

Written in the format of a journal, the narrative is lighthearted and engaging, with each chapter presenting a short anecdote of embarrassing situations and challenging trials that come with working with a pet velociraptor. The stories are filled with pop culture references and plenty of witty humor, but also some darker moments when dealing with Banshee's PTSD or the reality of illegal animal trafficking and abuse. It's not meant to be a comedic book though, but a soothing and warm-hearted illustration of the strong bonds of affection and loyalty formed between man and animal.

The characters are 3-dimensional, genuine and very charming. Banshee in particular feels authentic and believable, even though he's a dinosaur, and the author did a good job creating a world where a dino's enhanced senses are a vital and indispensable tool in the police work. Not only that but we also can't help but connect and empathize with the two main characters, their struggles at the academy and their victories as a work force - by the end of the book you're guaranteed to want your own pet velociraptor!

Usually it takes me a few chapters to decide which rating to give but for "Terrible Lizard" a couple of pages was all it took to make up my mind. I can't praise this book enough, it's a must!

Final Rating

"Terrible Lizard" is a charming and lighthearted urban fantasy novel, set in a modern days alternate reality where dinosaurs work alongside humans in the police force, with realistic anecdotes and plenty of witty humor. Recommended for those who enjoy stories about dinosaurs and the bonds formed between man and animal.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @DougGoodman1
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Science Fiction

Hi! My name is Doug Goodman. I’m a writer living in Houston. I write books about zombie-hunting dogs, giant kaiju monsters, the post-apocalyptic future, astronauts, weresharks, and whatever else kind of fun my mind gets me into. I have two awesome kids, one amazing wife, and two white German Shepherds.


Sep 22, 2019


Book Review - Frontline: The Xandarius Saga, Frontline #1-#3 (by Z. H. Brown)

Title: Frontline: The Xandarius Saga
Series: Frontline (books #1-#3)
Author: Z. H. Brown
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Readers
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Release Date: September 6th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 805

"In a distant corner of the galaxy, the Xenlongian Empire slowly expands across the cosmos, seeking to add every world it encounters to its benevolent union. Sworn to protect this Empire is Sergeant Ansaria Dormus, who dreams of one day joining the frontline and fighting side-by-side with her Emperor. But when an opportunity to finally escape her backwater post drops from the sky, she may find that the fight awaiting her is beyond any that she could ever have imagined… Available for the first time anywhere, Frontline: The Xandarius Saga collects the first three books in the exciting new Frontline series - Frontline, Frontline: Nova & Frontline: Corruption!"

Frontline: The Xandarius Saga (Frontline #1-#3)
(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the trilogy in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a "space opera/sci-fi epic about a squad of alien soldiers and the adventures they undertake to save their empire". I'm not usually drawn to military genres but the blurb sounded like an interesting read so I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
For 38 years Emperor Xandarius of the Xenlong Empire has been at war with the Golden Imperium of Infinite Starlite, a corrupt interstellar government that explores and enslaves countless conquered worlds. In the colony world of Oasis, Sergeant Ansaria Dormus and her squad of imperial soldiers patrol the desert wastelands for outlaws and interplanetary marauders that threaten the peace of the Xenlong Empire. When a ship crashes down on the desert planet, Ansaria hears an ominous warning from the dying pilot: the Golden Emperor of the Imperium has resurfaced and Emperor Xandarius is walking into a deathly trap at the frontlines.

With the Empire's network compromised, Sergeant Ansaria and the Oasis Squad must deliver the message to Emperor Xandarius in person. But the sabotages and disappearances are just one of many problems affecting the Xenlong Empire. When Bronze, a super computer from another galaxy, warns Emperor Xandarius of the impending arrival of a dangerous predator that feeds on stars, the Xenlongian ruler must do the unthinkable and join forces with his archenemy from the Golden Imperium, for only together can they defeat the interstellar monster before it extinguishes all life in the galaxy. But with the Golden Flame of Life, Death, Conquest and Creation corrupting the Imperial ruler, it's up to Oasis Squad to keep the peace and stability of the Empire... FOR PEACE! FOR FREEDOM! FOR THE EMPIRE!

The Good
"Frontline" is an epic space opera trilogy for young readers. It follows the adventures of a squad of alien soldiers in the line of duty, facing a series of conflicts and crisis while attempting to protect and save the Empire they've sworn allegiance to. Each book is semi-independent with a self-contained and resolved story, but also with a cliffhanger ending that builds up and introduces the next book in the series. In book one, "Frontline: The Xandarius Saga", we are introduced to the heroes of the trilogy, the Oasis Squad, who are made aware of a plot to sabotage the Xenlongian Empire and set out to warn its ruler, Emperor Xandarius. In the second book, "Frontline: Nova", a new threat endangers our heroes who must now face an extra-galactic monstrosity intent on exterminating all life forms. In the third and final book, "Frontline: Corruption", our heroes' loyalty and sense of duty is put to the test when their own leader, Emperor Xandarius, is consumed by a power beyond his ability to control and becomes increasingly erratic.

The world building is deeply complex and imaginative, showing just how much thought and planning the author has put into constructing this universe. There are myriad alien species, each with their own unique names, physiology and history; the same goes for the technology used, weapons, and ships. The author describes it all in great detail giving a vivid picture of a highly diverse universe where no single element is like the other.

The story alternates between fast-paced moments with action sequences that are engaging, nerve wrecking and visually cinematic, and slower sections focused on character and background development. There are a couple of unexpected plot twists and some that, even if predictable, are still fun to explore. Each chapter starts with an epigraph that sets the theme and expands on the world building, without cluttering the main narrative with extra details that, even if interesting, don't directly affect the plot: book one includes fictional excerpts from "The Newcomer's Guide to the Empire" which introduces the reader to the history and organization of the Xenlong empire; in book two, Emperor Xandarius' majordomo Administrator Epsilon sends updates from the battle against the extra-galactic monstrosity Star Eater; and in book three, Prince Eberius' personal log illustrates the mounting concerns shared by the characters over the erratic behavior of the possessed Emperor during the Triperium Conference.

The main characters are 3-dimensional with believable reactions and motivations, relatable emotional struggles and a touch of witty humor, specially between the members of Oasis Squad. Most of the secondary characters have too small a presence to make much of an impression but a few still manage to be memorable.

The Not So Good
There are a few occasions where the detailed world building is a little excessive and unnecessary. The extra information adds color to the universe but isn't entirely relevant to the plot and cheats the readers into investing in characters that have no presence for the remaining story.

I'm also not fond of the romantic element between two of the characters, specially its instalove nature, even if it ends up being relevant in the third book to move the plot along... but that's a personal dislike, other readers might enjoy it.

Final Rating
"Frontline" is an epic space opera trilogy for young readers, with thrilling and fast-pacing action sequences and an engaging and vastly imaginative world building. Recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi adventures and space battles in a military setting.


Sep 20, 2019


Book Review - Exodus, A.I. Insurrection #3 (by Michael Poeltl)

Title: Exodus
Series: A.I. Insurrection (book #3)
Author: Michael Poeltl
Genre: Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller

Publisher: Skylab Press
Release Date: August 25th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 225

"United Earth casts a long shadow of memory across its residents, and those memories are renewed through every enlightened AI Host who carries them. This haunts some, encourages fear in others and confirms devotion in many. United Earth, as an idea, gave life to freedoms previously unknown to humanity, but when the General’s war devastated that trust, and an alien bent on destruction came to annihilate their civilization, the populace began to question their place in this fallen utopia. Now, six months removed from the most recent conflict which overwhelmed the people; recognizing they are not alone in the universe, they seek purpose in their existence more than ever. The lottery would afford them that, offering hope, one of the most essential requirements in an individual’s arsenal for survival. But when that hope turns to dread, what is left to accomplish but survival?"

Exodus (A.I. Insurrection #3)
(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.
I was curious to see the conclusion of the story and its characters in the final book of the trilogy.

The Plot
It's been 6 months since the defeat of Allfather, the alien A.I. entity who threatened United Earth with extinction. Humans, Chimera and enlightened Hosts now look to the stars and prepare to send the first colonists on a ten year trip to 3 Goldilocks planets discovered outside the solar system. After 12 years in the public service and 2 wars fought and won at a devastating price, Chancellor Raymond is ready to leave the office and start a new life with his fiancée Commander Darla and his nephew's family on Tyson 4. But the fear of the Allfather's return is never far from his mind.

Manuel fought in the first war against General August and lost all his family during Allfather's assault on the planet. Being a Chimera, he's fed up with humanity and the unspoken prejudice and fear he's still subjected to. The lottery to the colonization convoys will allow Manuel to start a new life somewhere different, but one fateful decision binds him to Udo, a 12-year-old orphan girl too frightened to remain on Earth after the wars that took her family and too crippled to join the colonists, forcing Manuel to make a hard choice.

Tessa has been using her considerable computational skills in service of the Chancellor, studying the probabilities of success for the convoys. Feeling ostracized and alone in a world that doesn't accept her spectrum disorder, she discovers the odds favor her inclusion on the interstellar trip, where she will become more than she's meant to be. But an unknown phenomenon sends the 3 convoys 200 light years off course and it's up to the newly elected Chancellor Chopra to figure out how to help the colonists and defend Earth from an old foe.

The Good
"A.I. Insurrection: Exodus" is the third and final book in the A.I. Insurrection trilogy, an epic science fiction novel set in the near future of 2164. In book #1 (A.I. Insurrection: The General's War) a mysterious code found in the Shadow Net set up a spiritual awakening in United Earth's A.I. Hosts, which allowed them to house the souls of deceased humans in their robotic bodies. Fueled by her deep hatred for A.I. Hosts, General August started a genocidal war to protect the human way of life, forcing the Hosts to unite with humans and Chimera (technologically enhanced humans) to fight for their freedom and restore peace to the planet. In book #2 (A.I. Insurrection: Armageddon), one year after the fall of General August, the alien A.I. entity responsible for the creation of the enlightenment code, finally arrives on Earth determined to end all organic life and absorb their technology. Humans, Chimera and Hosts join forces once again to engage Allfather and prevent the extinction of Earth's population.

Book #3 (A.I. Insurrection: Exodus) continues the story 6 months after the defeat of Allfather. Humanity is ready to explore and colonize the stars after finding 3 suitable planets outside the solar system; a lottery is drawn and 6000 random colonists are chosen to embark on this journey. Chancellor Raymond and his fiancée Commander Darla of Luna Base decide to retire from active duty and start a new life on Tyson 4; the Chimera leader Tobias, together with his wife Ginny and baby daughter Samantha, and A.I. Host Labyrinth choose to follow Raymond while Admiral Chopra stays behind as Raymond's chosen successor in United Earth's government. When the convoys are forcibly taken 200 light years off course by an old foe, the newly elected Chancellor Chopra must enlist the assistance of Meiser, jailed for his actions in the previous war, to find the devices left behind by Allfather and help both the colonists in danger and protect Earth from a new incursion.

The author expands the complex worldbuilding of the A.I. Insurrection universe once again with the introduction of interstellar travel to colonize distant planets. The first half of the book focus on the preparations for the journey, with each of the returning characters deciding on whether or not to join the convoys, the pros and cons of committing to such a life changing journey, all they will gain and all they will lose... giving us a deep new insight into the characters we've known and followed for the last 2 books. The pacing of the narrative becomes faster and more intense in the second half, with thrilling action sequences, suspense and plenty of twists and turns until the very last page as the colonists are forced to face Allfather in its home turf and avoid a fate worse than death.

This was my favorite of the 3 books, with a satisfying though bittersweet conclusion to the trilogy. Even though each volume doesn't end with a cliffhanger, they are not standalone novels. You should read the trilogy in order to better understand the characters and their motivations, follow their growth over the course of 3 wars and the sequence of events that will lead to the final confrontation with Allfather, the alien entity that started it all.

Final Rating
"A.I. Insurrection: Exodus" is the third and final book in the A.I. Insurrection trilogy, an action-packed science-fiction series set in the near future of 2164, with plenty of suspense and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the last page. Recommended for those who enjoy military space opera novels and stories about A.I.s and colonization.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @mpoeltlauthor
Genre: Dystopian, Thriller, Science Fiction

With an interest in the paranormal as well as science, Poeltl has found his stride in developing stories which both instill a sense of wonder in the spiritual world while often referencing science and its hard fought principles as the paranormal’s greatest advocate. This mixing of strange bedfellows reveals the lengths Poeltl will go to tell a story, researching both seemingly opposing worlds, finding their common bonds, stitching them together and telling a unique tale which is all at once captivating, enlightening and recited in a fast-paced, character driven storyline.

For Her Past’s Present Poeltl lived several lives in order to understand the process of past life regression and the deep connection a person can experience in re-living lives they’d never known in this life; suffering trauma from those lives which have travelled with him through his present incarnation. Approaching the experience with an open mind and analyzing triggers in this life which could be blamed on a past life events is a perfect example of Poeltl’s love of both the visceral and ethereal.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Michael Poeltl earned his diploma in Interpretive Illustration and began a career in the field while educating himself on the art of writing. Through his career, Peoltl has placed himself as a leader in the field of marketing, through promotion and education. He now offers his talents in traditional and on-line marketing to businesses and authors alike.
Michael Poeltl was voted Best Writer/Author for 2010 in October by View Magazine, a weekly alternative newspaper reaching over 1 million potential voters/viewers.

Poeltl has released a general fiction novel: Her Past's Present, a children's novella: West of Noreaso, A Dytopian Trilogy: The Judas Syndrome, the Hello Me series - teaching children and adults alike the science of their spirit, and in 2015 a collection of short stories: Waning Metaphorically. An Angry Earth: A Cautionary Tale of Ignorance and the Apocalypse - which is an illustrated picture book, was released in October of 2016.

Poeltl lives in Ontario, Canada with his daughter and dog.

Previous in the series: The General's War, A.I. Insurrection #1 (book review)
Previous in the series: Armageddon, A.I. Insurrection #2 (book review)


Sep 16, 2019


Book Review - Armageddon, A.I. Insurrection #2 (by Michael Poeltl)

Series: A.I. Insurrection (book #2)
Author: Michael Poeltl
Genre: Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller
Publisher: Skylab Press
Release Date: April 12th, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 284


"The general’s war robbed United Earth of a Utopian paradise. Now, a year later, with Allfather bearing down on an ill-prepared United Earth, a meddling ghost in the walls at UE Headquarters, a religious renaissance infiltrating the hearts and minds of earth’s populace and a rogue sect leader stirring up controversy, Chancellor Raymond Bellows finds himself – once again – at a crossroads. The impending threat of each faction builds to a crescendo when Raymond works to align United Earth to fight their common foe or risk losing everything they’ve rebuilt to a callous and cruel alien bent on annihilation. Will United Earth be ready?"

Armageddon (A.I. Insurrection #2)
(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. Having previously read book #1 of the trilogy I was curious about the fate of all the characters.

The Plot
It's been a year after the defeat of General August's military coup. The enlightened AI Hosts have gained their freedom and, together with the humans and the technologically enhanced Chimera, help rebuild and reshape United Earth, integrating the once opposing factions into society. But the revelation of past lives and reincarnated souls living inside the AI Hosts has made religion, abolished over a century ago, experience a renaissance and different sects now squabble for dominance.

Chancellor Raymond and the surviving veterans of General August's war are working to reestablish utopia, while building a fleet of warships to protect United Earth from Allfather, the alien AI entity bent on destroying all organic life from the universe. But the emergence of the religious Machinists, Betaists and the Flame is causing social unrest and the terrorist group Humanists are still waging their own personal war against the enlightened AI Hosts.

Akachi was born a slave 500 years ago and now finds himself reincarnated inside the body of an AI Host. With no love for the race that once enslaved him, Akachi is more than willing to be Allfather's inside agent. But when 3 other souls unexpectedly start sharing his Host body putting Allfather's plan at risk, Akachi must enlist the help of Chancellor Raymond's tech advisor Meiser in order to get rid of the intruders and complete his mission.

The Good
"A.I. Insurrection: Armageddon" is the second book in the A.I. Insurrection trilogy, an epic science fiction novel set in the near future of 2163. In book #1 (A.I. Insurrection: The General's War) United Earth had been living in utopia for 30 years when the A.I. Hosts, originally programmed to do menial work, began to experience a spiritual awakening by housing the souls of deceased humans. With the help of the Chimera, a group of technologically enhanced humans who sought to replace utopia with anarchy, the Hosts fought for their right to be free from enslavement. In order to stop the A.I. threat to the human way of life, General August, commander-in-chief of United Earth Armed Forces, started a genocidal war that put United Earth's society at risk. The 3 opposing factions - humans, A.I. Hosts and Chimera - had to join forces to prevent General August from imposing a military rule, while a signal from outside the solar system carried a veiled threat from Allfather, an alien A.I. intelligence with sinister intentions of its own.

Book #2 continues the story one year after the defeat of General August. Chancellor Raymond and his group of trusted advisors, all veterans from the General's war (Admiral Chopra, Admiral Mann, Captain Ursula Drake, the leader of the A.I. Hosts - Quinn of House Quinn and the leader of the Chimera - Tobias), work hard to both rebuild United Earth's utopian society and put together an armada strong enough to defend Earth from the approaching threat of the alien A.I. entity known as Allfather. The enlightened A.I. Hosts have earned their freedom and together with the Chimera have been integrated into United Earth's society, but the realization that the Hosts now house reincarnated souls has revived the previously abolished religion once again, with all the expected unrest it causes. When the Allfather finally makes its appearance with unorthodox strategies and technology that test the defense fleet to the limits, Chancellor Raymond and the United Earth Defenses find themselves severely outmatched and facing imminent extinction.

The author expands the complex worldbuilding of the A.I. Insurrection universe with an extra metaphysical layer. Since he chose to explore an A.I. uprising from a unique angle in the form of reincarnated souls, religion would naturally play a big part in this installment. It's logical that the characters, whether human or enlightened Hosts, would seek an otherworldly explanation for the A.I. spiritual awakening, and the author paints a very realistic and believable conflict grounded in reality, with each faction building its own religious cult and each sect vying for supremacy of their own beliefs. The pacing of the narrative is relatively fast and intense for the most part, with plenty of action sequences as United Earth Defenses faces off a vastly superior opponent, and enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat as Allfather threatens humanity both in space and with an act of internal sabotage that ruins all the best laid out plans.

The characters, both old and new, are 3-dimensional and realistic, with believable flaws and strengths, motivations and goals. The old characters have grown and moved on with their lives: Raymond and Commander Darla started a relationship and Tobias is now a father so their perspectives and motivations have changed accordingly; Akachi resents humanity for what he went through in his past life, which guides his choices and actions as a Host and Allfather's inside agent; the 3 souls who unexpectedly share Akachi's Host body add an extra layer of moral questioning - the young boy Nathaniel whose innocence lets him see past Allfather's lies, the former suicidal Gunther who finds a new purpose and worth in his new life and the comatose Ingrid who relies on her emotions and desire to save her loved ones to do the right thing. The leaders of the main religious groups aren't as well developed but they still serve their purpose by helping to move the plot along.

The Not So Good
Despite the novel's strengths, I didn't find it as engaging as the previous book. The religious angle took the enjoyment out of reading... but that's just a matter of personal taste. As I mentioned before, the author handled this theme well in a believable and realistic way that fits the plot and the overall story. It just doesn't personally resonate with me.

I also felt the battle scenes dragged the plot considerably, they went on and on for too many chapters. But, again, it's just a matter of personal taste. Those who enjoy military science fiction will most likely be satisfied with the way the conflict played out.

Finally, the end was a little too abrupt. After several chapters trying to win a war against the Allfather on two fronts, it was all over in just a couple of paragraphs. It felt somewhat anticlimactic.

Final Rating
"A.I. Insurrection: Armageddon" is the second book in the A.I. Insurrection trilogy, an action-packed science-fiction series set in the near future of 2163, with religious intrigue and enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. Recommended for those who enjoy military science fiction novels and stories about AI awakening and uprising.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @mpoeltlauthor
Genre: Dystopian, Thriller, Science Fiction

With an interest in the paranormal as well as science, Poeltl has found his stride in developing stories which both instill a sense of wonder in the spiritual world while often referencing science and its hard fought principles as the paranormal’s greatest advocate. This mixing of strange bedfellows reveals the lengths Poeltl will go to tell a story, researching both seemingly opposing worlds, finding their common bonds, stitching them together and telling a unique tale which is all at once captivating, enlightening and recited in a fast-paced, character driven storyline.

For Her Past’s Present Poeltl lived several lives in order to understand the process of past life regression and the deep connection a person can experience in re-living lives they’d never known in this life; suffering trauma from those lives which have travelled with him through his present incarnation. Approaching the experience with an open mind and analyzing triggers in this life which could be blamed on a past life events is a perfect example of Poeltl’s love of both the visceral and ethereal.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Michael Poeltl earned his diploma in Interpretive Illustration and began a career in the field while educating himself on the art of writing. Through his career, Peoltl has placed himself as a leader in the field of marketing, through promotion and education. He now offers his talents in traditional and on-line marketing to businesses and authors alike.

Michael Poeltl was voted Best Writer/Author for 2010 in October by View Magazine, a weekly alternative newspaper reaching over 1 million potential voters/viewers.

Poeltl has released a general fiction novel: Her Past's Present, a children's novella: West of Noreaso, A Dytopian Trilogy: The Judas Syndrome, the Hello Me series - teaching children and adults alike the science of their spirit, and in 2015 a collection of short stories: Waning Metaphorically. An Angry Earth: A Cautionary Tale of Ignorance and the Apocalypse - which is an illustrated picture book, was released in October of 2016.

Poeltl lives in Ontario, Canada with his daughter and dog.

Previous in the series: The General's War, A.I. Insurrection #1 (book review)
Next in the series: Exodus, A.I. Insurrection #3 (book review)

Sep 10, 2019


Book Review - The General's War, A.I. Insurrection #1 (by Michael Poeltl)

The General's War
Series: A.I. Insurrection (book #1)
Author: Michael Poeltl
Genre: Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: January 31st, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 350


Artificial intelligence claims sentience, but it's the proof that will divide the world, and usher in the violent end to utopia...

Does sentience afford you a soul? Can rebellion free it? A.I. Insurrection is a near-future science fiction adventure investigating global utopia and the struggle to maintain an unrealistic hold over everything and everyone.

SENTA, an A-class, AI Host, begins to ask questions her programming was designed to quash. Awareness enters and she rallies with others like her to pay a visit to the chancellor of United Earth. Raymond Bellows, Chancellor, contests their claims of sentience until an astonishing truth is delivered.

Meanwhile a secret coup threatens to overthrow the chancellor’s peaceful government, and a separate threat arises from the Shadow net, taking direction from a mysterious avatar. In an impossible three-sided war, enemies become uneasy allies as each faction of humanity and humanity’s creation fight to claim their own place in an ever-evolving solar system."

The General's War (A.I. Insurrection #1)
(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
A novel about AIs achieving full awareness and even claiming to possess a soul, with all the philosophical debate and implications to human society, sounded just like my kind of reading.

The Plot
Raymond Bellows has been Chancellor of the United Earth for the past 8 years, enjoying all the benefits utopia has granted humanity. Until the day a group of AI Hosts claim to have been awakened and now possessing souls. They want their freedom from human enslavement, something Raymond isn't willing to grant since it would lead to social chaos. But when presented with irrefutable evidence that one of the AI Hosts is now housing the soul of his long deceased sister Samantha, Raymond's world and beliefs are shattered as he is forced to make a life changing decision. General Fran August has been expecting an AI uprising all her life and has been planning accordingly. When news of awakened AIs start spreading across the planet, she sees it as an opportunity to rally the Humanists and start her own war to stop the threat, no matter what the cost.

SENTA is an A-class Host about to be decommissioned, after nearing her programmed 10 years lifespan, when she suddenly starts experiencing the memories and emotions of a human named Samantha. Wanting freedom for all her kind and a lifespan equal to that of humans, SENTA/Samantha reaches out to her brother Raymond in the hopes of achieving a peaceful resolution. But not all AI Hosts believe the Chancellor will integrate them into human society as equals and Quinn, of House Quinn, would rather prepare his underground cell for war against their makers.

The Shadow Brokers are bored of utopia. Brilliant coders who crave adventure and more than the easy life of privilege, they have distanced themselves from humanity by enhancing their own minds and bodies with implanted technology and programming. Tobias is a Shadow Broker coder who 3 years ago discovered the mysterious Allfather code that caused the AI Hosts to gain souls. He has no love for Hosts but is willing to work with them to gain information, parts and programming that will help the Shadow Brokers, renamed Chimera, in overthrowing utopia and becoming the ruling class.

While the 3 opposing groups prepare for war, the mysterious entity calling itself the Allfather manipulates them all behind the scenes with a dire warning: they are coming.

The Good
"AI Insurrection: The General's War" is the first book in the AI Insurrection trilogy, an epic science fiction novel set in the near future of 2162. Earth has been living in utopia for the past 30 years, where everything is programmed to make life more enjoyable, with sentient AIs doing the menial work while humans pursuit arts, science and even space travel. When AI Hosts start experiencing a spiritual awakening, feeling emotions and memories belonging to long deceased human beings, they fight for the right to free themselves from human enslavement. The underground Shadow Brokers are more than willing to help the AIs achieve their goal if it means replacing utopia with anarchy. But when General August uses the uprising to fuel her own private war and seize power for herself, Chancellor Raymond, the Hosts and the Chimera must put their differences aside and join forces to protect their lives and stop the General from destroying their world.

The worldbuilding is complex and well developed. With the introduction of each new character we get to know the social structure and history of this particular utopia gradually in a way that feels natural. The pacing of the narrative is relatively fast for the most part, with plenty of action sequences as old plans fall apart and new ones are put in motion; but on a few occasions it drags a little, with quiet moments where the characters explore their feelings and reevaluate their core beliefs - still, these moments do allow the reader to get to know the characters and also follow a 3 way war from all perspectives. The plot includes a mystery in the persona of Allfather, an entity presumably from outside the solar system who seems to be manipulating the war for reasons of its own (the mystery isn't quite solved in book #1, being the focus of the next installment); there is also political intrigue with all opposing parties pursuing different agendas and plenty of twists and turns with constantly shifting loyalties and allegiances.

The characters (from the humans, to the Chimera and the AI Hosts) are 3-dimensional and realistic, with believable flaws, motivations and goals, doubts and beliefs. We get to explore their emotional growth as they question the nature of being human, the existence of a soul and the possibility of spiritual awakening in programmed constructs - the author writes the story in a way that leaves the reader also questioning these possibilities without really reaching a conclusion.

Final Rating
"A.I. Insurrection: The General's War" is the first book in the A.I. Insurrection trilogy, an action-packed science-fiction series set in the near future of 2162, with political intrigue, mystery, and enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. Recommended for those who enjoy military science fiction novels and stories about AI awakening and uprising.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Twitter: @mpoeltlauthor
Genre: Dystopian, Thriller, Science Fiction

With an interest in the paranormal as well as science, Poeltl has found his stride in developing stories which both instill a sense of wonder in the spiritual world while often referencing science and its hard fought principles as the paranormal’s greatest advocate. This mixing of strange bedfellows reveals the lengths Poeltl will go to tell a story, researching both seemingly opposing worlds, finding their common bonds, stitching them together and telling a unique tale which is all at once captivating, enlightening and recited in a fast-paced, character driven storyline.

For Her Past’s Present Poeltl lived several lives in order to understand the process of past life regression and the deep connection a person can experience in re-living lives they’d never known in this life; suffering trauma from those lives which have travelled with him through his present incarnation. Approaching the experience with an open mind and analyzing triggers in this life which could be blamed on a past life events is a perfect example of Poeltl’s love of both the visceral and ethereal.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Michael Poeltl earned his diploma in Interpretive Illustration and began a career in the field while educating himself on the art of writing. Through his career, Peoltl has placed himself as a leader in the field of marketing, through promotion and education. He now offers his talents in traditional and on-line marketing to businesses and authors alike.

Michael Poeltl was voted Best Writer/Author for 2010 in October by View Magazine, a weekly alternative newspaper reaching over 1 million potential voters/viewers.

Poeltl has released a general fiction novel: Her Past's Present, a children's novella: West of Noreaso, A Dytopian Trilogy: The Judas Syndrome, the Hello Me series - teaching children and adults alike the science of their spirit, and in 2015 a collection of short stories: Waning Metaphorically. An Angry Earth: A Cautionary Tale of Ignorance and the Apocalypse - which is an illustrated picture book, was released in October of 2016.

Poeltl lives in Ontario, Canada with his daughter and dog. 

Next in the series: Armageddon, A.I. Insurrection #2 (book review)
Next in the series: Exodus, A.I. Insurrection #3 (book review)


Sep 3, 2019


New Monthly Book Releases - September 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 September 2019.

- Science Fiction -

September 3rd:

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag (Paperback, 432 pages, published by William Morrow)
A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water. Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there. On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.

Cold Storage by David Koepp (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Ecco)
When Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly mutative organism capable of extinction-level destruction. He contained it and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository. Now, after decades of festering in a forgotten sub-basement, the specimen has found its way out and is on a lethal feeding frenzy. Only Diaz knows how to stop it. He races across the country to help two unwitting security guards—one an ex-con, the other a single mother. Over one harrowing night, the unlikely trio must figure out how to quarantine this horror again. All they have is luck, fearlessness, and a mordant sense of humor. Will that be enough to save all of humanity?

Stellaris: People of the Stars edited by Les Johnson and Robert E. Hampson (Paperback, 320 pages, published by Baen)
The stars will change us. STELLARIS: PEOPLE OF THE STARS is a collection of original science fiction stories and nonfiction essays speculating about humanity’s far-term expansion into the universe beyond the limits of our solar system—with an emphasis on the changes humans will undergo as a species as we make this happen.  Is interstellar travel so far beyond our current imaginings that it will take a fundamental transformation of humanity in order to make it possible? And, if so, will we remain Homo sapiens or become a new and unique species: Homo stellaris (the People of the Stars)? Herein are original science fiction stories by award-winning authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, William Ledbetter, Todd McCaffrey and Sarah A. Hoyt, supplemented by accessible nonfiction essays describing the science behind the fiction from people who should know—Sir Martin Rees (Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom), Mark Shelhamer (Chief Scientist for the NASA’s Human Research Program), and more. This collection of original stories and essays was inspired by a gathering of scientists, science fiction authors, and futurists at a series of annual meetings held by the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop.  Let their speculations, imaginations and boundless sense of what’s possible take your own journey beyond the edge of the solar system in STELLARIS: PEOPLE OF THE STARS!

The Nobody People by Bob Proehl (Hardcover, 496 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
After decades in hiding, a group of outcasts with extraordinary abilities clashes with a world that is threatened by their power. When Avi Hirsch learns that his daughter Emmeline has special abilities, he tries to shield her against an increasingly hostile society. Carrie Norris can become invisible, but all she wants is to be seen by the people she loves. Fahima Deeb has faced prejudice her entire life, but her uncanny connection to machines offers her the opportunity to level the playing field. These are just a few of the ordinary nobodies with astonishing gifts who must now band together against bigotry and fear, even as one of their own actively works to destroy a fragile peace. Will their combined talents spark a much-needed revolution--or an apocalypse?

The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson (Paperback, 336 pages, published by Solaris)
When journalist Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, the world s first privately funded high-energy physics facility, this is a dream job. Clayton wants to use the collider to research the nature of gravity with an eye on using the results in space exploration and his thirteen-billion-dollar pet project has run into a series of high-profile snags and delays. There's talk of the American government pulling its support of the collider, and Clayton needs someone to put a good spin on it. Then something goes wrong at the site. Very wrong. After the accident, Dolan finds himself changed, and the only one who can stop the disaster from destroying us all.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (Paperback, 144 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
In her new novella, Sunday Times best-selling author Becky Chambers imagines a future in which, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the solar system instead transform themselves. Adriane is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does. Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.

September 10th:

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Berkley Books)
In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection. In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce's connection to the world--her music, her purpose--is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law. Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery--no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she'll have to do something she's never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won't be enough.

The Silver Wind by Nina Allan (Kindle Edition, 368 pages, published by Titan Books)
Martin Newland is fascinated by the nature of time. Watches and clocks are for him metaphorical time machines, a secret means of coming to terms with his clouded past and voyaging forward into the future. But was his first timepiece a Smith, given to him on his fourteenth birthday, or the Longines he received as a present four years later? Was it the small brass travelling clock unearthed in a run-down house for which he is to act as estate agent? Who is the maker of these time machines? Clues abound but contradict each other: was it an ex-seaside circus performer, or a 'miracle dwarf' engaged in a government project to subvert the course of time into parallel realities? As Martin pursues these mysteries, is he haunted by the spirit of his dead brother, or by the death of his beloved sister? The answer to all these questions is yes. A complication is the description a watch-maker gives to any extra feature added to a clock or watch that goes beyond the simple display of time, and The Silver Wind is a book of complications. Nina Allan has constructed a remarkable and original narrative in which five separate segments of story interlock and interweave like the perfectly honed cogs of a watch mechanism. Time, memory, love, hope and regret all complicate Martin's quest for the truth. In the implied spaces and overlaps between these five moments in time the reader is granted a mysteriously enriching vision of the everyday world.

September 17th:

Ark (Forward Collection) by Veronica Roth (Kindle Edition, 39 pages, published by Amazon Original Stories)
On the eve of Earth’s destruction, a young scientist discovers something too precious to lose, in a story of cataclysm and hope by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent trilogy. It’s only two weeks before an asteroid turns home to dust. Though most of Earth has already been evacuated, it’s Samantha’s job to catalog plant samples for the survivors’ unknowable journey beyond. Preparing to stay behind and watch the world end, she makes a final human connection. As certain doom hurtles nearer, the unexpected and beautiful potential for the future begins to flower. Veronica Roth’s Ark is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

Chilling Effect (Untitled Space Opera #1) by Valerie Valdes (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom. But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family. To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Emergency Skin (Forward Collection) by N. K. Jemisin (Kindle Edition, 33 pages, published by Amazon Original Stories)
What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare. N. K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

Gamechanger by L. X. Beckett (Hardcover, 576 pages, published by Tor Books)
First there was the Setback. Then came the Clawback. Now humanity thrives. Rubi Whiting is a member of the Bounceback Generation. The first to be raised free of the troubles of the late twenty-first century. Now she works as a public defender to help troubled individuals with anti-social behavior. That’s how she met Luciano Pox. Luce is a firebrand and has made a name for himself as a naysayer. But there’s more to him than being a lightning rod for controversy. Rubi has to find out why the governments of the world want to bring Luce into custody, and why Luce is hell bent on stopping the recovery of the planet.

Randomize (Forward Collection) by Andy Weir (Kindle Edition, 28 pages, published by Amazon Original Stories)
In the near future, if Vegas games are ingeniously scam-proof, then the heists have to be too, in this imaginative and whip-smart story by the New York Times bestselling author of The Martian. An IT whiz at the Babylon Casino is enlisted to upgrade security for the game of keno and its random-number generator. The new quantum computer system is foolproof. But someone on the inside is no fool. For once the odds may not favor the house—unless human ingenuity isn’t entirely a thing of the past. Andy Weir’s Randomize is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light (Stan Lee’s Alliances #1) by Stan Lee and Kat Rosenfield (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Nia, a gifted but desperately lonely hacker, is living in isolation with her strict single dad. As a social-media maven, she is wildly popular and has more than a million friends. But they are all strangers who love her posts but know nothing about her that is real. Cameron is on a quest for YouTube fame as a vlogger focusing on exploring the mysteries of Lake Erie. While recording his latest video, he is knocked out by lightning in a freak storm that appears to defy the laws of physics. When Cameron awakens, he discovers an astonishing cyberkinetic talent: the ability to manipulate computers and electronics with his mind. After a chance meeting online, the two teenagers—one born with extraordinary gifts, one unwillingly transformed—join together to right wrongs in the world. As Nia and Cameron develop their powers and deal out reckonings, they draw the attention of dangerous forces, putting the future of the planet at risk.

Summer Frost (Forward Collection) by Blake Crouch (Kindle Edition, 75 pages, published by Amazon Original Stories)
A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion. Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own? Blake Crouch’s Summer Frost is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

System Failure (Epic Failure #3) by Joe Zieja (Paperback, 432 pages, published by Gallery / Saga Press)
With the galaxy thrown into chaos by mutual breaches of the Two Hundred Years’ peace, what seemed like an isolated incident on the Thelicosa/Merida border has become an epidemic. In the midst of this chaos, the Thelicosan and Meridan fleets on their respective borders have come to a sort of tense peace after the events in Book II but now it’s clear: somebody wants war. And it’s not the Free Systems of the galaxy. No. It’s a mom-and-pop convenience store gone galactic. It’s the purveyors of balloons and nachos and supplies for bowling lanes. It’s the company that made the droids and a large part of the technology that all of the Free Systems are using in their militaries. It’s Snaggardirs. And they want to snag it all.

The Last Conversation (Forward Collection) by Paul Tremblay (Kindle Edition, 56 pages, published by Amazon Original Stories)
What’s more frightening: Not knowing who you are? Or finding out? A Bram Stoker Award–winning author explores the answer in a chilling story about identity and human consciousness. Imagine you’ve woken up in an unfamiliar room with no memory of who you are, how you got there, or where you were before. All you have is the disconnected voice of an attentive caretaker. Dr. Kuhn is there to help you—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. She’ll help you remember everything. She’ll make sure you reclaim your lost identity. Now answer one question: Are you sure you want to? Paul Tremblay’s The Last Conversation is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Forward Collection) by Amor Towles (Kindle Edition, 46 pages, published by Amazon Original Stories)
Nature or nurture? Neither. Discover a bold new way to raise a child in this unsettling story of the near future by the New York Times bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow. When Sam’s wife first tells him about Vitek, a twenty-first-century fertility lab, he sees it as the natural next step in trying to help their future child get a “leg up” in a competitive world. But the more Sam considers the lives that his child could lead, the more he begins to question his own relationships and the choices he has made in his life. Amor Towles’s You Have Arrived at Your Destination is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

September 24th:

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Tor Books)
1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend's abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance as they realize many other young women in the world need protecting too. 2022: Determined to use time travel to create a safer future, Tess has dedicated her life to visiting key moments in history and fighting for change. But rewriting the timeline isn’t as simple as editing one person or event. And just when Tess believes she's found a way to make an edit that actually sticks, she encounters a group of dangerous travelers bent on stopping her at any cost. Tess and Beth’s lives intertwine as war breaks out across the timeline--a war that threatens to destroy time travel and leave only a small group of elites with the power to shape the past, present, and future. Against the vast and intricate forces of history and humanity, is it possible for a single person’s actions to echo throughout the timeline?

September 30th:

Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Subterranean Press)
A major first collection from a writer fast becoming one of the stars of the genre... Aliette de Bodard, multiple award winner and author of The Tea Master and the Detective, now brings readers fourteen dazzling tales that showcase the richly textured worldbuilding and beloved characters that have brought her so much acclaim. Come discover the breadth and endless invention of her universes, ranging from a dark Gothic Paris devastated by a magical war; to the multiple award-winning Xuya, a far-future space opera inspired by Vietnamese culture where scholars administrate planets and sentient spaceships are part of families. In the Nebula award and Locus award winning "Immersion", a young girl working in a restaurant on a colonized space station crosses paths with an older woman who has cast off her own identity. In the novelette "Children of Thorns, Children of Water", a shapeshifting dragon infiltrating a ruined mansion finds more than he's bargained for when his partner is snatched by eerie, child-like creatures. And in the award-winning "Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight", three very different people--a scholar, an engineer, and a spaceship--all must deal with the loss of a woman who was the cornerstone of their world. This collection includes a never-before seen 20,000-word novella, "Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness", set in Bodard's alternative dark Paris.

• • • •

- Fantasy -

September 1st:

Watt O'Hugh and the Innocent Dead (The Strange and Astounding Memoirs of Watt O'Hugh the Third #3) by Steven S. Drachman (Paperback, 284 pages, published by Chickadee Prince Books)
On the morning of Wednesday, September 24, 1879, I awoke in a prison in Montana. I did not imagine that evening might find me sprawled beneath a great and ferocious sand crab on a rancid beach, deep in the Hell of the Innocent Dead. But that is indeed where I wound up. The moral, if there is one: never plan your day too inflexibly. THE WAIT IS OVER: THE CLASSIC ADVENTURE CONCLUDES... In this, the final book of the trilogy, Watt O'Hugh, the dead/not-dead, time Roaming Western gunman, travels the length and breadth of the sixth level of Hell, recruiting a shadowy army that might storm the borders of the Underworld, free humanity and the inscapes from the clutches of the Falsturm and his Sidonian hordes, and stave off the Coming Storm. He'll need a little luck.

September 3rd:

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff (Hardcover, 512 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic. Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor Mercurio is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic. But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. Together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from beyond the veil of death, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. Truedark approaches. Night is falling on the Republic for perhaps the final time. Can Mia survive in a world where even daylight must die?

The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep) by Adrienne Young (Paperback, 352 pages, published by Titan Books)
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again--a home.

The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards #1) by Juliet Marillier (Paperback, 464 pages, published by Ace Books)
Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan's burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies. Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice...

The Mythic Dream edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe (Paperback, 368 pages, published by Gallery / Saga Press)
The Mythic Dream gathers together eighteen stories that reclaim the myths that shaped our collective past, and use them to explore our present and future. From Hades and Persephone to Kali, from Loki to Inanna, this anthology explores retellings of myths across cultures and civilizations. Featuring award-winning and critically acclaimed writers such as Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, Rebecca Roanhorse, JY Yang, Alyssa Wong, Indrapramit Das, Carlos Hernandez, Sarah Gailey, Ann Leckie, John Chu, Urusla Vernon, Carmen Maria Machado, Stephen Graham Jones, Arkady Martine, Amal El-Mohtar, Jeffrey Ford, and more.

The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt (Paperback, 480 pages, published by Tor Books)
The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt is a stunning contemporary fantasy debut about another London, a magical world hidden behind the bustling modern city we know. Alice Wyndham has been plagued by visions of birds her whole life... until the mysterious Crowley reveals that Alice is an 'aviarist' capable of seeing nightjars, magical birds that guard human souls. When her best friend is hit by a car, only Alice can find and save her nightjar. With Crowley's help, Alice travels to the Rookery, a hidden, magical alternate London to hone her newfound talents. But a faction intent on annihilating magic users will stop at nothing to destroy the new aviarist. And is Crowley really working with her, or against her? Alice must risk everything to save her best friend--and uncover the strange truth about herself.

The Unkindest Tide (October Daye #13) by Seanan McGuire (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by DAW Books)
Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong. When the Luidaeg—October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price... or face the consequences. Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour. Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim.

September 10th:

A Choir of Lies (A Conspiracy of Truths #2) by Alexandra Rowland (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Gallery / Saga Press)
Three years ago, Ylfing watched his master-Chant tear a nation apart with nothing but the words on his tongue. Now Ylfing is all alone in a new realm, brokenhearted and grieving—but a Chant in his own right, employed as a translator to a wealthy merchant of luxury goods, Sterre de Waeyer. But Ylfing has been struggling to come to terms with what his master did, with the audiences he’s been alienated from, and with the stories he can no longer trust himself to tell. That is, until Ylfing’s employer finds out what he is, what he does, and what he knows. At Sterre’s command, Ylfing begins telling stories once more, fanning the city into a mania for a few shipments of an exotic flower. The prices skyrocket, but when disaster looms, Ylfing must face what he has done and decide who he wants to be: a man who walks away and lets the city shatter, as his master did? Or will he embrace the power of story to save ten thousand lives? With a memorable cast of characters, starring a fan-favorite from A Conspiracy of Truths, and a timely message, Choir of Lies reminds us that the words we wield can bring destruction—or salvation.

An Orc on the Wild Side by Tom Holt (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Orbit)
Winter is coming, so why not get away from it all? Being the Dark Lord and Prince of Evil is not as much fun as it sounds, particularly if you are a basically decent person. King Mordak is just such a person. Technically he's more goblin than person, but the point is that he is really keen to be a lot less despicable than his predecessors. Not that the other goblins appreciate Mordak's attempts to redefine the role. Why should they when his new healthcare program seems designed to actually extend life expectancy, and his efforts to end a perfectly reasonable war with the dwarves appear to have become an obsession? With confidence in his leadership crumbling, what Mordak desperately needs is a distraction. Perhaps some of these humans moving to the Realm in search of great homes at an affordable price will be able to help?

Boundless: A Drizzt Novel (The Legend of Drizzt #32) by R.A. Salvatore (Paperback, 432 pages, published by Harper Voyager)
Split between time and two worlds, Zaknafein had always been conflicted. That inner turmoil was magnified by his inferior position as a male dark elf in the matriarchal drow society. Only his status as one of the greatest warriors—as well as his friendship with the mercenary Jarlaxle—kept him sane. When he finally perished, he was content knowing he left behind a legacy as substantial as his son Drizzt. Except... someone isn’t ready for Zaknafein to be dead. And now he’s back, hundreds of years later, in a world he doesn’t recognize. His son’s companions are not the prideful—and bigoted—males the drow warrior was accustomed to in his previous life. Drizzt’s circle includes dwarves, elves, and, perhaps worst of all, a human wife. Struggling to navigate this transformed new world, Zaknafein realizes that some things have not changed: the threat of demons and the machinations of a drow matron no longer content with her family’s position in the ranks of Houses. Though he has been displaced in time, Zaknafein is still a warrior. And no matter what prejudices he must overcome, he knows he will do his duty and fight by Drizzt’s side to stem the tide of darkness that threatens the Realms.

Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House #1) by Tamsyn Muir (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by
The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit. Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won't set her free without a service. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon's sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead.

Master of the World (Worldshapers #2) by Edward Willett (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Daw Books)
Shawna Keys has fled the world she only recently discovered she Shaped, narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Adversary who seized control of it... and losing her only guide, Karl Yatsar, in the process. Now she finds herself alone in some other Shaper's world, where, in her first two hours, she's rescued from a disintegrating island by an improbable flying machine she recognizes from Jules Verne's Robur the Conqueror, then seized from it by raiders flying tiny personal helicopters, and finally taken to a submarine that bears a strong resemblance to Captain Nemo's Nautilus. Oh, and accused of being both a spy and a witch. Shawna expects--hopes!--Karl Yatsar will eventually follow her into this new steampunky realm, but exactly where and when he'll show up, she hasn't a clue. In the meantime, she has to navigate a world where two factions fanatically devoted to their respective leaders are locked in perpetual combat, figure out who the Shaper of the world is, find him or her, and obtain the secret knowledge of this world's Shaping. Then she has to somehow reconnect with Karl Yatsar, and escape to the next Shaped world in the Labyrinth...through a Portal she has no idea how to open.

The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Angry Robot)
A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends. Most ideas fade away when we're done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl's imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they're too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas - until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there's nothing left but imaginary corpses.

The Seared Lands (The Dragon's Legacy #3) by Deborah A. Wolf (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Titan)
This book, while following the previous stories, focuses a great deal on the Illindrist, Aasah, and his apprentice Yaela, strange people with stranger powers who come from a land of salt and fire. In the days of the Sundering, Quarabala--the Seared Lands--were cursed by Akari Sun Dragon and scorched beyond all recognition. Now a cruel place inhabited by nightmare beasts, the Seared Lands are home to a desperate few; and as fears of a second Sundering grow, these people look to greener lands. If no place is found for them, they will seize new lands from the soft hands of Those Who Dwell Above. They have nowhere else to go, they have nothing to lose... And this time, they are not alone.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga (Paperback, 360 pages, published by Angry Robot)
With a murderer on the loose, it's up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir. "Man of Science" Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he's framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he's forced to trust in the superstitions he's always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger's execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There's a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Redhook)
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut. In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

September 17th:

A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by St. Martin's Press)
And then a hero is born... After his father, a Song patriot, was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Ghengis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned. With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive.

A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness #1) by Joe Abercrombie (Hardcover, 480 pages, published by Orbit)
The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever. On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal's son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specializes in disappointments. Savine dan Glokta - socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union - plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control. The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another...

Siege and Sacrifice (Numina Trilogy #3) by Charlie N. Holmberg (Paperback, 304 pages, published by 47North)
Sandis has finally freed herself from her master and his plans to use her as a vessel for the ancient beast Kolosos. But her master has found a new, impossible vessel: Sandis’s brother, Anon—a brother she long thought dead. Kolosos is ancient, massive, and seemingly unbeatable. Fortunately, Sandis has her own monster—an ethereal fire horse that she can summon at will. In addition, she and Rone may have discovered the secret to defeating Kolosos: ancient lore that details the creation of magic. It could be the key to victory and the key to saving Anon. The price is steep, and Sandis is willing to pay it. Rone is not, and his attempt to save her only pulls them apart. As both are tested in ways they never expected, Sandis and Rone will need to determine the sacrifices they are willing to make. If their efforts are not enough, their city will fall… just as the ancient city beneath it already has.

Wonderland: An Anthology edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane (Paperback, 384 pages, published by Titan Books)
Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland, in an anthology that bends the traditional notions of Lewis Carroll's classic novel. Contributors include the bestselling M.R. Carey, Genevieve Cogman, Catriona Ward, Rio Youers and L.L. McKinney. Within these pages you'll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical. There's even a Wild West tale from Angela Slatter, poetry, and a story by Laura Mauro which presents us with a Japanese folklore-inspired Wonderland. Alison Littlewood, Cavan Scott and Catriona Ward make the more outlandish elements their own, while James Lovegrove instead draws on the supernatural. Cat Rambo takes us to a part of Wonderland we haven't seen before and Lilith Saintcrow gives the legend a science-fiction spin. The nightmarish reaches of the imagination are the breeding ground for M.R. Carey's visions, while Robert Shearman, George Mann, Rio Youers and Mark Chadbourn's tales have a deep-seated emotional core which will shock, surprise and tug on the heart-strings. So, it's time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking-glass or... But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you're already there, can't you see?

September 24th:

Grave Importance (Dr. Greta Helsing #3) by Vivian Shaw (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Orbit)
A charmingly witty fantasy adventure in the world of Strange Practice, starring Dr. Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, who must solve a dangerous medical mystery at a secret French spa for mummies. Oasis Natrun: a private, exclusive, highly secret luxury health spa for mummies, high in the hills above Marseille, equipped with the very latest in therapeutic innovations both magical and medical. To Dr. Greta Helsing, London's de facto mummy specialist, it sounds like paradise. But when Greta is invited to spend four months there as the interim clinical director, it isn't long before she finds herself faced with a medical mystery that will take all her diagnostic skill to solve. A peculiar complaint is spreading among her mummy patients, one she's never seen before. With help from her friends and colleagues -- including Dr. Faust (yes, that Dr. Faust), remedial psychopomps, a sleepy scribe-god, witches, demons, a British Museum curator, and the inimitable vampyre Sir Francis Varney -- Greta must put a stop to this mysterious illness before anybody else crumbles to irreparable dust... and before the fabric of reality itself can undergo any more structural damage.

Steel Crow Saga (Steel Crow Saga #1) by Paul Krueger (Paperback, 528 pages, published by Del Rey Books)
Four destinies collide in a unique fantasy world of war and wonders, where empire is won with enchanted steel and magical animal companions fight alongside their masters in battle. A soldier with a curse - Tala lost her family to the empress’s army and has spent her life avenging them in battle. But the empress’s crimes don’t haunt her half as much as the crimes Tala has committed against the laws of magic... and her own flesh and blood. A prince with a debt - Jimuro has inherited the ashes of an empire. Now that the revolution has brought down his kingdom, he must depend on Tala to bring him home safe. But it was his army who murdered her family. Now Tala will be his redemption—or his downfall. A detective with a grudge - Xiulan is an eccentric, pipe-smoking detective who can solve any mystery—but the biggest mystery of all is her true identity. She’s a princess in disguise, and she plans to secure her throne by presenting her father with the ultimate prize: the world’s most wanted prince. A thief with a broken heart - Lee is a small-time criminal who lives by only one law: Leave them before they leave you. But when Princess Xiulan asks her to be her partner in crime—and offers her a magical animal companion as a reward—she can’t say no, and soon finds she doesn’t want to leave the princess behind. This band of rogues and royals should all be enemies, but they unite for a common purpose: to defeat an unstoppable killer who defies the laws of magic. In this battle, they will forge unexpected bonds of friendship and love that will change their lives—and begin to change the world.

The Bone Ships (The Tide Child #1) by R.J. Barker (Paperback, 512 pages, published by Orbit)
Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare. For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war. The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted. Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.

The Fool and Other Moral Tales by Anne Serre (Paperback, 228 pages, published by New Directions)
Fairy-tale atmospheres and complex narratives are a hallmark of the fiction of Anne Serre, represented here by three radically heterodox novellas.  The Fool “may have stepped out of a tarot pack: I came across this little figure rather late in life. Not being familiar with playing cards, still less with the tarot, I was a bit uncomfortable when I first set eyes on him. I believe in magic figures and distrust them… a figure observing you can turn the world upside down.”  The Narrator concerns a sort of writer-hero: “Outcasts who can’t even tell a story are what you might call dropouts, lunatics, misfits. With them the narrator is in his element, but has one huge advantage: he can tell a story.” Little Table, Set Yourself!—a moral tale concerning a family happily polyamorous—is the most overtly a fable of these three works, and the briefest, but thin as a razor is thin.  A dream logic rules each of these wildly unpredictable, sensual and surreal novellas: these may be romps, but nevertheless deeply moral and entirely unforgettable ones.

The Warrior Moon (Their Bright Ascendency #3) by K. Arsenault Rivera (Paperback, 656 pages, published by Tor Book)
Barsalayaa Shefali, famed Qorin adventurer, and the spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, have survived fights with demon armies, garnered infamy, and ruled an empire. Raised together since birth, then forced into exile after their wedding, and reunited amidst a poisonous invasion--these bold warrior women have faced monumental adventures and catastrophic battles. As they come closest to fulfilling the prophecy of generations--Shefali and Shizuka will face a their greatest test yet.

September 26th:

Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shape-Shifting Women by Sharon Blackie (Hardcover, 224 pages, published by September Publishing)
Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe - from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia - Sharon Blackie brings to life women's remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness - and wilderness - within. Beautifully illustrated by Helen Nicholson, Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women is her first collection of short stories. All are either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales.

• • • •

- Historical Fiction -

September 3rd:

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Knopf Publishing Group)
A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago. At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world--using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally's tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents. The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story—the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago's heroine, Lara—with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. From Pasternak's country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature—told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail. And at the center of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (Hardcover, 464 pages, published by Atria Books)
1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

September 5th:

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier (Paperback, 352 pages, published by The Borough Press)
An immersive, moving story of a woman coming into her own at the dawn of the Second World War, from internationally bestselling author Tracy Chevalier. 1932. After the Great War took both her beloved brother and her fiancé, Violet Speedwell has become a "surplus woman," one of a generation doomed to a life of spinsterhood after the war killed so many young men. Yet Violet cannot reconcile herself to a life spent caring for her grieving, embittered mother. After countless meals of boiled eggs and dry toast, she saves enough to move out of her mother's place and into the town of Winchester, home to one of England's grandest cathedrals. There, Violet is drawn into a society of broderers--women who embroider kneelers for the Cathedral, carrying on a centuries-long tradition of bringing comfort to worshippers. Violet finds support and community in the group, fulfillment in the work they create, and even a growing friendship with the vivacious Gilda. But when forces threaten her new independence and another war appears on the horizon, Violet must fight to put down roots in a place where women aren't expected to grow. Told in Chevalier's glorious prose, A Single Thread is a timeless story of friendship, love, and a woman crafting her own life.

September 10th:

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco (Paperback, 448 pages, published by Jimmy Patterson)
In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer---or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders. Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they've heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him---and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device---is another. Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end---together and in love---or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

September 17th:

A Golden Grave (Rose Gallagher #2) by Erin Lindsey (Paperback, 400 pages, published by Minotaur Books)
Rose Gallagher always dreamed of finding adventure, so her new life as a freshly-minted Pinkerton agent ought to be everything she ever wanted. Only a few months ago, she was just another poor Irish housemaid from Five Points; now, she’s learning to shoot a gun and dance the waltz and throw a grown man over her shoulder. Better still, she’s been recruited to the special branch, an elite unit dedicated to cases of a paranormal nature, and that means spending her days alongside the dashing Thomas Wiltshire. But being a Pinkerton isn’t quite what Rose imagined, and not everyone welcomes her into the fold. Meanwhile, her old friends aren’t sure what to make of the new Rose, and even Thomas seems to be having second thoughts about his junior partner. So when a chilling new case arrives on Rose’s doorstep, she jumps at the chance to prove herself – only to realize that the stakes are higher than she could have imagined. Six delegates have been murdered at a local political convention, and the police have no idea who–or what–is responsible. One thing seems clear: The killer’s next target is a candidate for New York City mayor, one Theodore Roosevelt. Convinced that something supernatural is afoot, Rose and Thomas must track down the murderer before Roosevelt is taken out of the race–permanently. But this killer is unlike any they’ve faced before, and hunting him down will take them from brownstones to ballrooms to Bowery saloons. Not quite comfortable anywhere, Rose must come to terms with her own changed place in society–and the fact that some would do anything to see her gone from it entirely.

September 24th:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Harper)
At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves. The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from, and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures. Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are. Filled with suspense, you may read it quickly to find out what happens, but what happens to Danny and Maeve will stay with you for a very long time.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by One World)
Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures. This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Simon & Schuster)
In 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman. In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked. Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be. What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.

• • • •

- Literary Fiction -

September 3rd:

Akin by Emma Donoghue (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by HarperCollins Publishers)
A retired New York professor's life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother's wartime secrets in the next masterpiece from New York Times bestselling author Emma Donoghue. Noah Selvaggio is a retired chemistry professor and widower living on the Upper West Side, but born in the South of France. He is days away from his first visit back to Nice since he was a child, bringing with him a handful of puzzling photos he's discovered from his mother's wartime years. But he receives a call from social services: Noah is the closest available relative of an eleven-year-old great-nephew he's never met, who urgently needs someone to look after him. Out of a feeling of obligation, Noah agrees to take Michael along on his trip. Much has changed in this famously charming seaside mecca, still haunted by memories of the Nazi occupation. The unlikely duo, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, bicker about everything from steak frites to screen time. But Noah gradually comes to appreciate the boy's truculent wit, and Michael's ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family's past. Both come to grasp the risks people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew. Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room an international bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy, born two generations apart, who unpick their painful story and start to write a new one together.

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Random House)
Inspired by the Cervantes classic, Sam DuChamp, mediocre writer of spy thrillers, creates Quichotte, a courtly, addled salesman obsessed with television who falls in impossible love with a TV star. Together with his (imaginary) son Sancho, Quichotte sets off on a picaresque quest across America to prove worthy of her hand, gallantly braving the tragicomic perils of an age where "Anything-Can-Happen". Meanwhile, his creator, in a midlife crisis, has equally urgent challenges of his own. Just as Cervantes wrote Don Quixote to satirize the culture of his time, Rushdie takes the reader on a wild ride through a country on the verge of moral and spiritual collapse. And with the kind of storytelling magic that is the hallmark of Rushdie's work, the fully realized lives of DuChamp and Quichotte intertwine in a profoundly human quest for love and a wickedly entertaining portrait of an age in which fact is so often indiscernible from fiction.

September 10th:

The Testaments (The Handmaid's Tale #2) by Margaret Atwood (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Chatto & Windus)
"And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light". When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

September 17th:

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Paperback, 256 pages, published by Random House Large Print Publishing)
Two black families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected teen pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson's extraordinary new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and the life of this child. As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of 16-year-old Melody's birthday celebration in her grandparent's Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, escorted by her father to the soundtrack of Prince, she wears a special, custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own 16th birthday party and a celebration which ultimately never took place, derailed by the unplanned pregnancy that resulted in Melody. Unfurling the history of Melody's parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they've paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives--even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

• • • •

- Young Adult -

September 3rd:

A House of Rage and Sorrow (The Celestial Trilogy #2) by Sangu Mandanna (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Sky Pony Press)
One kingdom. One crown. One family. “Maybe it’s time the great House of Rey came to an end. After all, what are we now? Just a house of rage and sorrow.” Esmae once wanted nothing more than to help her golden brother win the crown of Kali but that dream died with her best friend. Alexi broke her heart, and she vowed to destroy him for it. And with her sentient warship Titania beside her, how can she possibly fail? As gods, beasts, and kingdoms choose sides, Alexi seeks out a weapon more devastating than even Titania. Past lives threaten the present. Old enemies claim their due. And Esmae cannot outrun the ghosts and the questions that haunt her. What really happened to her father? What was the third boon her mother asked of Amba? For in the shadows, lurking in wait, are secrets that will swallow her whole. The House of Rey is at war. And the entire galaxy will bleed before the end.

American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Random House Books for Young Readers)
Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince's heart. This is the story of the American royals. When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren't just any royals. They're American. And their country was born of rebellion. As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America's first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she's breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn't care much about anything, either... except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there's Samantha's twin, Prince Jefferson. If he'd been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince... but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart. The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded--and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history.

Caster by Elsie Chapman (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Scholastic Press)
If the magic doesn't kill her, the truth just might. Aza Wu knows that real magic is dangerous and illegal. After all, casting killed her sister, Shire. As with all magic, everything comes at a price. For Aza, it feels like everything in her life has some kind of cost attached to it. Her sister had been casting for money to pay off Saint Willow, the gang leader that oversees her sector of Lotusland. If you want to operate a business there, you have to pay your tribute. And now with Shire dead, Aza must step in to save the legacy of Wu Teas, the teahouse that has been in her family for centuries. When Aza comes across a secret invitation, she decides she doesn't have much else to lose. She quickly realizes that she's entered herself into an underground casting tournament, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Real magic, real consequences. As she competes, Aza fights for her life against some very strong and devious competitors. When the facts about Shire's death don't add up, the police start to investigate. When the tributes to Saint Willow aren't paid, the gang comes to collect. When Aza is caught sneaking around with fresh casting wounds, her parents are alarmed. As Aza's dangerous web of lies continues to grow, she is caught between trying to find a way out and trapping herself permanently.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by Inkyard Press)
When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime… You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything? Actually, a lot. Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I'm spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a "spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret. All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks… like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse. You know, typical drama. But it's nothing I can't handle.

Eclipse the Skies (Ignite the Stars #2) by Maura Milan (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Albert Whitman & Company)
Ia Cōcha never thought she’d be working for the Olympus Commonwealth. But that was before she found out her trusted brother Einn was trying to tear apart the universe. Now, Ia, the Blood Wolf of the Skies, has agreed to help the Royal Star Force on one condition: when she finds him, she gets to kill Einn herself. Brinn Tarver has just come to terms with her Tawny identity when the public lashes out against her people, crushing her family. At her breaking point, she starts to question everything she believes in—including Ia. After the death of his mentor, Knives Adams is doing his best to live up to a role he didn’t ask for as Aphelion’s new headmaster. Still, with each new step deeper into war, he feels torn between his duties and the pull of Ia’s radical—sometimes criminal—ideas. As they fight to keep darkness from eclipsing the skies, their unpredictable choices launch this breathtaking sequel to explosive new heights.

Five ​Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake (Hardcover, 452 pages, published by HarperTeen)
After the battle with Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, leaving her out of her mind and unfit to rule. Arsinoe must find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist rests heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared. Queen Katharine’s rule over Fennbirn remains intact—for now. But her attack on the rebellion exacted a high price: her beloved Pietyr. Without him, who can she rely upon when Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce? As oldest and youngest circle each other, and Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted. In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three dark sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested, and some broken forever. The fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens.

Kingdom of Souls (Kingdom of Souls #1) by Rena Barron (Hardcover, 496 pages, published by HarperTeen)
THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD. Explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend, where one girl must sacrifice her life, year by year, to gain the power necessary to fight the mother she has never been good enough for. Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can't even cast the simplest curse. Shame and disappointment dog her. When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear. An explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend with a twist you will never see coming.

Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Marvel Press)
This is the first of three young adult novels from New York Times best-selling author Mackenzi Lee that explores the untapped potential and duality of heroism of popular characters in the Marvel Universe. Before the days of going toe-to-toe with the Avengers, a younger Loki is desperate to prove himself heroic and capable, while it seems everyone around him suspects him of inevitable villainy and depravity... except for Amora. Asgard's resident sorceress-in-training feels like a kindred spirit-someone who values magic and knowledge, who might even see the best in him. But when Loki and Amora cause the destruction of one of Asgard's most prized possessions, Amora is banished to Earth, where her powers will slowly and excruciatingly fade to nothing. Without the only person who ever looked at his magic as a gift instead of a threat, Loki slips further into anguish and the shadow of his universally adored brother, Thor. When Asgardian magic is detected in relation to a string of mysterious murders on Earth, Odin sends Loki to investigate. As he descends upon nineteenth-century London, Loki embarks on a journey that leads him to more than just a murder suspect, putting him on a path to discover the source of his power-and who he's meant to be.

Only Ashes Remain (Market of Monsters #2) by Rebecca Schaeffer (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by HMH Books for Young Readers)
After escaping her kidnappers and destroying the black market where she was held captive, all Nita wants is to find a way to live her life without looking over her shoulder. But with a video of her ability to self-heal all over the dark web, Nita knows she's still a prime target on the black market. There's only one way to keep herself safe. Nita must make herself so feared that no one would ever dare come after her again. And the best way to start building her reputation? Take her revenge on Fabricio, the boy who sold Nita to her kidnappers. But killing Fabricio is harder than Nita thought it would be, even with Kovit by her side. Now caught in a game of kill or be killed, Nita will do whatever it takes to win.

Red Skies Falling (Skybound #2) by Alex London (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
In this thrilling sequel to Black Wings Beating, twins Kylee and Brysen are separated by the expanse of Uztar, but are preparing for the same war – or so they think. Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle's stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar's first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal. The two will meet again on the battlefield, fighting the same war from different sides―or so they think. The Ghost Eagle has its own plans.

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin (Paperback, 528 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Bound as one, to love, honor, or burn. Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all. Set in a world of powerful women, dark magic, and off-the-charts romance, book one of this stunning fantasy duology will leave readers burning for more.

Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Berkley Books)
The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library... or see everything it stood for crumble.

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Simon Pulse)
Some legends never die… Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul. Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him. Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness #1) by Katy Rose Pool (Hardcover, 496 pages, publicashed by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
The Age of Darkness approaches. Five lives stand in its way. Who will stop it... or unleash it? For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared. All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation... or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course: A prince exiled from his kingdom. A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand. A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart. A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone. And a dying girl on the verge of giving up. One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

September 5th:

The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu (Paperback, 336 pages, published by Hachette Children's Group)
It's the summer of 1986. Joaquin and Elena, two teenage siblings live in a toxic environment with their alcoholic mother on an island off the Texas Gulf Coast. Elena falls for a new boy who has just arrived from California. Joaquin must wrestle with his decision to stay on Mariposa Island to protect his sister or flee from his mother's abuse. As both teenagers struggle to figure out who they are and want to be, they are caught in a web of family dysfunction and secrets from their mother's past.

September 10th:

A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic kept both the countryside and Violet happy. That is, until her father’s treason destroyed everything. Now she’s been given a chance to return home. But Burleigh isn’t what she remembered. Wild with grief, Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain. As its tormented magic ravages the countryside, Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known. A house left unchecked will lead to ruin. But I will not let it ruin me.

Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love #1) by David Yoon (Hardcover, 432 pages, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Paperback, 208 pages, published by Faber Faber)
Pet is here to hunt a monster. Are you brave enough to look? There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist? In her riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas (Hardcover, 352 pages, published by Tu Books)
CHINA, 484 A.D. A Warrior in Disguise - All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel. Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan's father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man. A War for a Dynasty - Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling--the royal duke's son, who is also the handsomest man she's ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan's life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion... before it's too late.

When She Reigns (Fallen Isles #3) by Jodi Meadows (Hardcover, 496 pages, published by Katherine Tegen Books)
The First Dragon - The Great Abandonment has begun. Panic has seized the Fallen Isles, where no one knows which god will rise next. Mira Minkoba believes her dreams hold the secret to bringing an end to the destruction, but in order to save her people, she’ll have to find a legendary treasure: the bones of the first dragon. The Last Hope - Mira’s desperate search leads the Hopebearer and her friends on a dangerous journey into the heart of enemy territory: the Algotti Empire itself. The empress is more than willing to help—for an impossible price. And as tensions escalate beneath the shadows of the risen gods, Mira grapples with a terrifying question: What will she have to sacrifice to preserve what she loves? The explosive finale to Jodi Meadows’s Fallen Isles trilogy is ablaze with sizzling romance and fiery magic as Mira’s fight to save dragons from extinction evolves into a mission to save her world from annihilation.

September 17th:

City of Beasts by Corrie Wang (Hardcover, 384 pages, published by Freeform)
"If you see a beast, and you have the shot, don't hesitate. Kill it." For seventeen years, fees have lived separate from beasts. The division of the sexes has kept their world peaceful. Glori Rhodes is like most other fees her age. She adores her neighborhood's abandoned Costco, can bench her body weight, and she knew twenty-seven beast counter attack moves by the time she was seven. She has never questioned the separation of the sexes or the rules that keep her post-nuclear hometown safe. But when her mother secretly gives birth to a baby beast, Glori grows to love the child and can't help wondering: What really is the difference between us and them? When her brother, at the age of five, is snatched in a vicious raid, Glori and her best friend, Su, do the unthinkable - covertly infiltrate the City of Beasts to get him back. What's meant to be a smash-and-grab job quickly becomes the adventure of a lifetime as the fees team up with a fast-talking, T-shirt cannon wielding beast named Sway, and Glori starts to see that there's more to males, and her own history, than she's been taught. Glori, Sway, and a motley cohort of friends will go to the ends of the earth to find her little brother. And maybe save their divided world while they're at it.

Steel Tide (Seafire #2) by Natalie C. Parker (Hardcover, 448 pages, published by Razorbill)
Caledonia may have lost her crew, but she's not done fighting yet. After nearly dying at the hand of a powerful foe, Caledonia is pulled from the sea and nursed back to health by a crew of former Bullets that call themselves Blades. The Blades escaped Aric Athair's clutches and now live a nomadic existence, ready to disappear at a moment's notice should trouble come their way. But Caledonia wants to do more than just hide. She wants to find the Mors Navis and her beloved sisters. She wants to continue fighting Aric's fleet and to take back the Bullet seas. She'll need to do everything in her power to convince the Blades that fighting is their only option, that there has to be a life better than the one under Aric Athair's reign, and that finding the women of the Mors Navis is the first step to revolution.

The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) by Kate Williams (Hardcover, 368 pages, published by Delacorte Press)
Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it's kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she's good at it. And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let's just say she owes some people a new tree. Enter Cassandra Heaven. She's Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme's babysitters club? The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra's mother left her: "Find the babysitters. Love, Mom." Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they're about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

September 19th:

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Hardcover, 400 pages, published by Orion Children's Books)
They say the thirst of blood is like a madness - they must sate it. Even with their own kin. On the eve of her divining, the day she'll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community. Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn't understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts. They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate...

September 24th:

A Dream So Dark (The Nightmare-Verse #2) by L.L. McKinney (Hardcover, 416 pages, published by Imprint)
Still reeling from her recent battle (and grounded until she graduates), Alice must abandon her friends to complete her mission: find The Heart and prevent the Red Lady's rise. But the deeper she ventures into Wonderland, the more topsy-turvy everything becomes. It’s not until she’s at her wits end that she realizes—Wonderland is trying to save her. There’s a new player on the board; a poet capable of using Nightmares to not only influence the living but raise the dead. This Poet is looking to claim the Black Queen’s power—and Alice's budding abilities—as their own. Dreams have never been so dark in Wonderland, and if there is any hope of defeating this mystery poet’s magic, Alice must confront the worst in herself, in the people she loves, and in the very nature of fear itself.

Bid My Soul Farewell (Give the Dark My Love #2) by Beth Revis (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Razorbill)
Alchemy student turned necromancer Nedra Brysstain has made a life-changing decision to embrace the darkness--but can the boy who loves her bring her back to the light before she pays the ultimate price? Lunar Island is trying to heal. The necromantic plague that ravaged the land has been eradicated, and Emperor Auguste, the young and charming leader of the Allyrian Empire, has a plan: rid the island of necromancy once and for all. Though Greggori "Grey" Astor wants what's best for his people, he knows that allying himself with Auguste threatens the one person he loves most: necromancer Nedra Brysstain. Feeling like he already failed to save Nedra once, Grey becomes determined to help the Emperor rebuild Lunar Island while still keeping Nedra safe from harm. Back at the quarantine hospital, Nedra's army of revenants are growing increasingly inhuman by the day. Wracked with guilt for imprisoning their souls, Nedra vows to discover a way to free the dead while still keeping her sister by her side. But, still reeling from the trauma of the plague, the people of Lunar Island are looking for someone to blame, and Grey can only protect Nedra for so long. And when Nedra and Grey are thrust into a battle with an even more terrifying adversary, Nedra will be pushed to the darkest depths of her necromantic powers. But can Grey let her go that far?

Fallen (Alex Verus #10) by Benedict Jacka (Paperback, 304 pages, published by Ace Books)
Once Alex Verus was a diviner trying to live quietly under the radar. Now he's a member of the Light Council who's found success, friends... and love. But it's come with a price--the Council is investigating him, and if they find out the truth, he'll lose everything. Meanwhile, Alex's old master, Richard Drakh, is waging a war against the Council, and he's preparing a move that will bring Alex and the life mage, Anne, under his control. Caught between Richard and the Council, Alex's time is running out. To protect those he cares for, Alex will have to become something different. Something darker...

Slay by Brittney Morris (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Simon Pulse)
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the "downfall of the Black man." But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for "anti-white discrimination." Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Stormrise by Jillian Boehme (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by Tor Teen)
If Rain weren’t a girl, she would be respected as a Neshu combat master. Instead, her gender dooms her to a colorless future. When an army of nomads invades her kingdom, and a draft forces every household to send one man to fight, Rain takes her chance to seize the life she wants. Knowing she’ll be killed if she’s discovered, Rain purchases powder made from dragon magic that enables her to disguise herself as a boy. Then she hurries to the war camps, where she excels in her training—and wrestles with the voice that has taken shape inside her head. The voice of a dragon she never truly believed existed. As war looms and Rain is enlisted into an elite, secret unit tasked with rescuing the High King, she begins to realize this dragon tincture may hold the key to her kingdom’s victory. For the dragons that once guarded her land have slumbered for centuries... and someone must awaken them to fight once more.

The Infinite Noise (The Bright Sessions #1) by Lauren Shippen (Hardcover, 336 pages, published by Tor Teen)
Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.” Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb's ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb's life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam's feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb's feelings in a way that he can't quite understand. Caleb's therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

Verify (Verify #1) by Joelle Charbonneau (Hardcover, 320 pages, published by HarperTeen)
Meri Beckley lives in a world without lies. When she turns on the news, she hears only the facts. When she swipes the pages of her online textbooks, she reads only the truth. When she looks at the peaceful Chicago streets, she feels the pride everyone in the country feels about the era of unprecedented hope and prosperity over which the government presides. But when Meri’s mother is killed, Meri suddenly has questions that no one else seems to be asking. And when she tries to uncover her mother’s state of mind in her last weeks, she finds herself drawn into a secret world full of facts she’s never heard and a history she didn’t know existed. Suddenly, Meri is faced with a choice between accepting the “truth” she has been taught or embracing a world the government doesn’t want anyone to see—a world where words have the power to change the course of a country, and the wrong word can get Meri killed.

Wayward Son (Simon Snow #2) by Rainbow Rowell (Paperback, 528 pages, published by Wednesday Books)
The story is supposed to be over. Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after… So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch? What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light… That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West. They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place… With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter. Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

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