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K. Eason's Pick of the Month, Stars for Cole, Doore, Mihalik, Solomon, plus Roberts's "Rise of Magicks" Finale | SF/Fantasy Reviews, Sept. 2019

Barbara’s Picks (Sara Paretsky, Anne Perry), Plus More Mysteries Leaning Toward the Historical: Mystery Previews, Apr. 2020, Pt. 1 | Prepub Alert

Celebrate Banned Books Week with Penguin Random House

PREMIUM

The Words Between Us

Fans of Jenny B. Jones and Courtney Walsh will be drawn to this engaging, heartfelt story.
PREMIUM

A Transcontinental Affair

Marred by stereotypes, including a derogatory term for a Native American woman, as well as improbable plotlines, Daynard’s (A More Perfect Union) novel may have limited appeal for die-hard fans of historical romances set in the frontier West.
PREMIUM

From Hell to Breakfast

Fans of magical realism and unreliable narrators might enjoy this sophomore effort from Tifft (The Long Fire), but the story leaves readers with more questions than answers. The narrative style alternates between first person and stream of conscience and at times is hard to follow. Recommended only for larger collections or where the author’s previous work circulated well.

Barbara’s Picks (Jemisin, McMillan, Zigman, & More), Plus Friendship, Love, & Fantasy: Pop Fiction, Mar. 2020, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

Return to Gilead with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments

Romance Revs Up, with Rom-Coms, Cozy Christmas Tales, and Paranormal Twists | Romance, Sept. 2019

PREMIUM

The Best American Mystery Stories 2019

Recommended for readers of psychological mysteries and thrillers as well as genre aficionados seeking the standout stories of the year.

The Last Train to London

With its well-developed characters and race-against-the-clock plot, this fantastic novel should have broad appeal, especially with fans of historical fiction and thrillers. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]

Wonderland: An Anthology

This collection is not to be missed. Highly recommended for Wonderland aficionados as well as general fans of fantasy, sf, and horror.

Authors In Their Own Words: Penguin Random House Library Marketing’s ALA Annual 2019 Author Luncheon

Spotlight on Johnson's Debut and Steiner's Latest, with Archer, Barclay , Crombie, Ellett, Meyer, Perry, Sveistrup, & Others | Mystery & Suspense, Sept. 2019

The Testaments

 If The Handmaid’s Tale chills to the marrow, its sequel surges along with a sort of dark ebullience, absorbing as a thriller and ultimately hopeful even as it highlights the dangers that always lie in wait. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]

Barbara’s Picks (Louise Erdrich, Lily King, James McBride, Hilary Mantel, & More), plus Debuts, English-Language Debuts, and Other Award-Worthy Works: Literary Fiction, Mar. 2020, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

PREMIUM

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

Readers will learn about transplanation as they cheer on Ailsa as she starts a job and a relationship, chooses a career path, and deals with the complexities of family.
PREMIUM

The Imaginary Corpse

This special and distinct novel will be enjoyed by fans of genre-bending tales and literary mashups, excellent for admirers of Jasper Fforde or Neil Gaiman.
PREMIUM

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Harrow’s expressive debut depicts humankind’s resistance to change, repression of the “other,” and the desperation of the privileged when their prosperity is threatened. Fans of C.S. Lewis will be drawn to this magical coming-of-age tale and allegorical commentary on social justice.

System Failure

A great introduction to space opera for novices and a fun time for all. This novel can be read as a stand-alone, but starting with the previous two books in the series will offer the best experience.
PREMIUM

Blood Sugar

Neither horror nor noir but an eye-opening look at what some have to do to survive. Recommended for larger collections.
PREMIUM

The Girl with the Leica

This novel presents a chance to highlight Gerda’s story, her daring and accomplishments, and might have finally removed her from under Capa’s shadow. Instead, Strega Prize winner Janeczek (Bloody Cow), and translator Goldstein, deliver a work filled with impenetrable prose, scant action, and an unsatisfying portrait of a woman with a brief, if eventful and interesting life.

PREMIUM

Fortuna

Merbeth’s space opera takes off in new directions after her previous postapocalyptic books (Bite; Raid). High energy, high stakes, and lots of high notes will give readers who enjoy Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera a new volume on which to crash-land.
PREMIUM

The True Bastards

French’s sequel to The Grey Bastards, a 2018 LJ Best Book, continues the half-orcs’ penchant for rough rides, foul language, and heady action sequences. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]
PREMIUM

One Dark Wish

Danger abounds in this steamy second entry in Wray’s “Deadly Force” series (after Every Deep Desire) that is unfortunately marred by too many plot twists, making it difficult even for familiar readers to keep everything straight.

Authors In Their Own Words: Penguin Random House Library Marketing’s BookExpo Librarian Breakfast 2019

Aurora Blazing

This second book in the “Consortium Rebellion” trilogy (after Polaris Rising) is another exciting, action-driven read. Strong female characters, a slow-burn romance, and interplanetary adventures will draw in both sf and romance readers, especially fans of Ilona Andrews, Becky Chambers, and Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut” series.

The Killing Light

This final volume of the “Sacred Throne” trilogy (after Queen of Crows) will wreck your emotions in the worst and best ways. Writing intelligent, intense prose, Cole delivers vivid worldbuilding in a story brimming with religious and military fervor and ruthless action, offering a stunning conclusion to Heloise’s journey.

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery

Wickedness and white magic, edgy prose, and celebrated authors make this a magical volume that twists and shapes the witch archetype into fascinating, dark tales.

The Deep

This slim story packs a huge punch. Beautiful and stark in its pain, this emotional journey is one that all readers should take, in order to remember the atrocities of slavery. [See “Fall Fireworks,” LJ 8/19.]

The Impossible Contract

Doore’s second novel (after The Perfect Assassin) continues the lush worldbuilding and inclusive characters of the first, while establishing exciting action- and emotion-filled sequences that will keep readers engaged.
PREMIUM

Watt O’Hugh and the Innocent Dead: Being the Third Part of the Strange and Astounding Memoirs of Watt O’Hugh the Third

Genre mashup devotees should get some good laughs and thrills from this Western/adventure/sf/fantasy blend. Fans of Doctor Who may adapt easily to the timey-wimeyness, and readers of Richard Kadrey’s “Sandman Slim” series who long for more atypical excursions to hell will enjoy as well.
PREMIUM

The Rise of Magicks

The final volume of “The Chronicles of the One” (Of Blood and Bone; Year One) is a full fantasy, postapocalyptic version of Roberts’s tried and true storytelling mastery. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]

The Name of All Things

The second of Lyons’s “Chorus of Dragons” series (after The Ruin of Kings) carries on the epic settings, memorable characters, and broad mythological foundations. Lyons is creating a complex and wonderful series that will immerse and delight.
PREMIUM

The Merry Viscount

What begins as a typical snowbound-at-Christmas tale evolves into an emotionally driven reflection on how love can help overcome past traumas. Perfect for readers looking for a more thoughtful holiday story.

Bringing Down the Duke

Dunmore’s debut is chock-full of verve, history, and passion, introducing a heroine who knows her worth and is determined not to be held back by her past. This series opener provides many opportunities for future installments, which will comfort readers as they reach the enthralling denouement.
PREMIUM

The Lady and the Highwayman

Eden’s latest entry in the “Victorian” series (after Ashes on the Moor) is a joy to read, filled with adventure, suspense, two characters longing for love but protective of their secrets. Two original penny dreadfuls interspersed throughout make this story even more impressive.
PREMIUM

How To Cross a Marquess

Ashford’s third book in the series (after A Lord Apart) reveals that distance and time and perhaps a nudge from the right person at the right moment can set us on a new path toward happiness. Plenty of peril and intrigue keep the pages of this satisfying Regency romance turning.
PREMIUM

No Judgments

As in Cabot’s previous adult romances (e.g., The Boy Is Back), our heroine’s wit and humor and determination to stay the course shines through in this breezy story that is a pure delight to read.
PREMIUM

Well Met

DeLuca turns in an intelligent, sexy, and charming debut romance sure to resonate with Renaissance Faire enthusiasts and those looking for an upbeat, lighter read.
PREMIUM

The Scotsman Who Swept Me Away

Series fans will appreciate this next chapter in the adventures of the seven MacEnroy brothers and the women who love them, especially as Howell (“Murrays” series) moves the story to a New England coast setting.

Royal Holiday

Filled with delightful, swoon-worthy dates and many laughs, this affectionate, cross-continent holiday romance is perfect for cozying up with on a cold winter’s night. Fans of this popular series will be clamoring for this latest entry.
PREMIUM

The Blacksmith Queen

This new series opener from Aiken (“Dragon Kin” series) is a bit bumpy in its worldbuilding, but readers looking for a fantasy romance that doesn’t take ­itself too seriously will enjoy.
PREMIUM

Wolf Rebel

Exceptional worldbuilding and a thriller atmosphere will appeal to paranormal readers of Jennifer Ashley and Stephanie Tyler. Romantic suspense fans will be drawn to the ardent relationship between the reformed werewolf hunter and SWAT officer fighting the demons of her past.
PREMIUM

Don’t You Forget About Me

McFarlane (After Hello) uses Georgina’s voice to explore how humor is used to mask pain as well as to help understand and get through it. Successful as both a romantic comedy and an insightful look into finding one’s voice, this is a story readers will flock to for the laughs and remember for its realness.
PREMIUM

Restless Rancher

Series fans will enjoy this look into Austin’s life, along with more appearances from Noah, Roxy, and other residents of Wild Rose Ranch. Ryan delights with exciting twists and one hot, protective cowboy. Readers may struggle to believe how easily this couple overcomes each hurdle set in their way, but if they hang on, they will be eager to return to Wild Rose Ranch. Especially recommended for fans of Linda Howard.
PREMIUM

All the Better Part of Me

This honest coming-of-age romance will resonate with those who are discovering their own sexual identity, while Sinter and Andy’s flirtatious, tentative romance should please all lovers of the genre.
PREMIUM

The First Lady and the Rebel

This page-turner will please those who enjoy Civil War–era settings. This may also appeal to readers of Higginbotham’s previous historicals (Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower), though they are set much earlier and for the most part in England.
PREMIUM

Paper Chains

By turns delightful and heartrending, this is a lovely read for fans of Marian Keyes and Jane Green.
PREMIUM

More to Life

NAACP Award–winning Billingsley returns to the characters of her 2003 debut, My Brother’s Keeper, with this engaging and relatable story of one woman’s midlife realization that it’s never too late to live your best life.

The Giver of Stars

Rich in history, with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place, this book will fit well in any library’s fiction collection. For fans of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants or Catherine Marshall’s Christy. [See Prepub Alert, 4/15/19; “Fall Fireworks,” LJ 8/19.]

Olive, Again

Strout, who won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge (2008), wrote that Olive forced her way back into Strout’s consciousness long after the author thought she was done with her. Olive demanded Strout write these new stories. Of course Olive did that. It’s so…Olive. Thank goodness Olive prevailed. Exquisite. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/19.]
PREMIUM

Fly Already

Originally written in Hebrew, the pieces in this fine collection lose nothing in translation; the wit and humanity of each tale survive intact. Ideal reading for short bursts of time or short attention spans. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]

Frankissstein: A Love Story

As the subtitle declares, this is a love story, paralleling the relationship between Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley and that between Ry and Victor. The forthright description of nonbinary choice forms a replete example of embracing transgender experience, and both Victor Stein and Victor Frankenstein are finally shown to be illusory characters, adding spookiness. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/19.]
PREMIUM

Lost in the Spanish Quarter

By focusing on Heddi’s relationship with Neapolitan language and culture, the book is similar to Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station in suggesting that while immersion in a different environment can be challenging, it facilitates growth and change. While the narrative could have used some tightening and more editing, it will appeal to students and adults interested in all that college, first love, and new experiences bring to one’s life.
PREMIUM

The Sacrament

Olafsson deftly braids present and past events as Sister Marie Joseph grapples with her recollections of Halla while ensnaring herself in the investigation. The sister’s first-person voice seems dry and dispassionate, but the novel confounds our expectations, sifting through memory, as it evolves into a low-simmering psychological thriller. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 6/10/19.]

PREMIUM

Reinhardt’s Garden

Subverting the conventions of the late 19th–early 20th century novel of the obsessed European venturing into the jungle, Haber (Deathbed Conversions) has crafted a knowing (and perhaps at times too knowing) parody of the genre. Combine its brevity with its main character’s mania and almost religious elevation of melancholy, and the book might best be described as Heart of Darkness viewed in a fun house mirror.

PREMIUM

Nothing To See Here

Wilson further cements himself as a chronicler of peculiar families while reminding us that, then again, aren’t they all? [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]
PREMIUM

Husband Material

A story for chick lit fans looking for something a bit different and more serious than the usual offerings. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]
PREMIUM

Never Too Soon

The second title in Christy’s “Anaya’s World” series (after Anytime Soon) has a solid, relatable, character-driven story of the emotional dynamics within family and friends.

The Innocents

Similar to Crummey’s Sweetland as it delves into the minutiae of life on a northerly island, this novel can be tough going at times, but fans of narrative travel writing will appreciate Crummey’s descriptive flourishes. The relentless bleakness is alleviated by the cinematic depiction of the surrounding wilderness, with Crummey’s prose recalling that of Jim Crace in its strange, archaic terminology and sense of timelessness, and the conclusion is strangely moving.

PREMIUM

On Swift Horses

Debut novelist Pufahl’s sharp, gritty details of 1950s San Diego and Las Vegas effectively draw the reader into her protagonists’ struggles to bring meaning to their lives, however different their experiences. [See Prepub Alert, 11/5/19.]
PREMIUM

She Was Like That: New and Selected Stories

These stories from National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Walbert are poignant and compelling; each is complete in itself but will leave the reader wanting more. Recommended for all short story readers. [See Prepub Alert, 3/15/19.]

PREMIUM

Lies in White Dresses

For those who enjoyed the author’s previous novels, as well as readers of women’s fiction and fans of Melanie Benjamin, Jennifer Chiaverini, and Meg Waite Clayton.
PREMIUM

The Sisters of Summit Avenue

Cullen’s (Mrs. Poe) complex story of a family torn apart by jealousy, betrayal, and misunderstanding will resonate with all readers. Courageous and heart-wrenching, it is a tribute to mothers, daughters, and sisters that’s not to be missed.
PREMIUM

Here I Am!

A wide range of readers from late adolescence on will find this compelling story of one youngster’s adventure full of psychological depth and rich characterization.

PREMIUM

The Stylist Takes Manhattan

An excellent addition to library collections, especially where the first book was popular.
PREMIUM

The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr

Readers misled by the title to expect a less disturbing love story will certainly be disappointed.

Death in Focus: An Elena Standish Novel

Obvious comparisons to Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs are warranted, but this novel also hearkens back to Helen MacInnes’s classic spy thrillers and Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels. At turns heartbreaking and action-packed, this gripping and superbly written story proves Perry still has what it takes. [See Prepub Alert, 2/25/19.]
PREMIUM

Ain’t Nobody Nobody

This debut novel is most notable for Ellett’s supremely witty prose and the oddball but deeply relatable characters. Readers looking for a fresh, offbeat voice in the mystery genre will find it here.

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D

Director and author Meyer puts his own stamp on the Holmes and Watson tradition, basing his story on historic events with contemporary relevance, as lies become accepted as truth by means of willful ignorance. Holmes enthusiasts will relish this well-crafted novel.
PREMIUM

Iced in Paradise

Featuring family loyalties, surfing, and a distinct lifestyle, this character-driven, atmospheric mystery may appeal to new adults and those readers interested in Hawaiian culture.
PREMIUM

A Bitter Feast

This superbly entertaining crime novel will delight mystery fans who crave character-rich, classically composed mysteries in the style and manner of those written by the late, great P.D. James. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/19.]

Ice Cold Heart

The tenth Monkeewrench novel is as intense and fast paced as its predecessor, The Guilty Dead, and includes the best elements for crime fiction readers: an intricate plot weaving multiple story lines. Though the backstory is disturbing, fans of the compelling series will appreciate the focus on Roadrunner and a glimpse of his past.
PREMIUM

The Man That Got Away

The precise wordplay and convoluted crime plot of this 1950s British blackish comedy will please fans and attract more readers to the series.
PREMIUM

Remembering the Dead

With a mystery involving a poet’s chair and Irish Travelers, the award-winning author of Murder on the Hour focuses on the culture of Wales in her latest cozy. The charming characters will appeal to Jane K. Cleland’s readers.
PREMIUM

Pretty Guilty Women

Readers searching for their next binge read or book club selection will want to seek out this title from “Hex Files” series author LaManna.
PREMIUM

Missing Person

Lotz’s (The White Road) clever novel includes a judicious use of formats such as messaging transcripts and web comments to move along the plot while providing insights into the Missing-Linc.com crew. Suggested for fans of authors such as Ruth Ware, Jennifer McMahon, Gillian Flynn, and Nic Joseph.

Elevator Pitch

Fans of psychological thrillers and the author’s previous books will love this. Warning: it might leave some readers a bit uncomfortable next time they enter an elevator. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/19.]
PREMIUM

A Legacy of Murder

The serious tone of the mystery is alleviated by the humor of an ongoing feud among local pubs in this second “Kate Hamilton” mystery (A Dream of Death). Readers will appreciate Kate’s growth as a character in this atmospheric story. Fans of Jane K. Cleland’s books featuring another antiques dealer involved with a police officer will want to try this series.
PREMIUM

Murder at Whitby Abbey

Although set centuries apart, Clark’s tenth medieval mystery (following Murder at Meaux) and Cora Harrison’s 1920s-set “Reverend Mother” series share similarly rich details of religious and political life. Readers who favor the political tensions and historical aspects of Ellis Peters’s “Brother Cadfael” mysteries will further appreciate this leisurely paced story.

Nothing Ventured

Following the success of the historical “Clifton Chronicles,” Archer launches a series set in the 1980s. As he says, it’s the story of a detective, not a detective story. Archer’s numerous fans will appreciate another dramatic, character-driven mystery set in the world of art, police work, and court trials. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]

Molten Mud Murder

There’s a strong sense of place, history, and Maori culture in this compelling debut novel. The mystery combines forensic investigation with the rich details of a fascinating culture. Fans of Kathy Reichs’s mysteries will appreciate the forensics, while Jane Harper’s readers will enjoy the rich culture.

The Starless Sea

In the end, Morgenstern proves wrong one of her villains, who proclaims that a story is like an egg; break it, and it’s lost. Her stories flow together as they flow forward and will enthrall a wide range of readers. Highly recommended. [Prepub Alert, 4/22/19.]

The Chestnut Man

Sveistrup creates a plot so intricately woven that even a seasoned crime reader won’t guess the ending. This book is the best kind of terrifying.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

Exquisitely written with complex characters, sardonic wit, and immersive worldbuilding. Highly recommended for all readers.

My Dark Vanessa

A deeply relevant debut that the author has been writing since age 16, drawing on her own experiences, and the reading enlightens even as it chills. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/19.]

The Good Cop

Strongly recommended for all readers interested in this era or in a free press. Fans of Rebecca Cantrell’s “Hannah Vogel” series will recognize the bleak atmosphere.
PREMIUM

Death of a Gigolo

There’s a solid mystery buried in the over-the-top humor in this sequel to Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge. Fans of Mary Daheim and Tamar Myers will appreciate the comedy.
PREMIUM

Chances Are…

Pulitzer Prize winner Russo returns with a bittersweet tale of longtime friendship and lost love that has a surprising--and surprisingly satisfying--ending. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/19.]
PREMIUM

Cantoras

Multi-award-winning Uruguayan American author de Robertis (The Gods of Tango) offers a story both personal and political, presenting the lives of five beautifully crafted individuals while making the torments of a repressive regime very real. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]
PREMIUM

The Nobodies

While some suspension of disbelief is needed, the point comes across that following your passion, regardless of the risks involved, isn’t always easy, but worth it in the end. A solid read for the new adult crowd, among others.
PREMIUM

Call upon the Water

Historian and author (Tides of War) Tillyard’s lyrical novel aptly recounts the dour days of Cromwell, the promise of the Restoration Era, and everyday life during those times, offering something for history buffs and romantics alike.

Dominicana

This stirring immigration story is Cruz’s breakout book; it should be heralded alongside Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.
PREMIUM

The Memory Police

This vague but haunting dystopia draws overt inspiration from classic surveillance-state novels such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, as well as The Diary of Anne Frank, but its quiet horror and magical realism most recalls Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.
PREMIUM

gods with a little g

Hassman’s second novel, after her award-winning debut, Girlchild, is witty, irreverent, inventive but above all hopeful with memorable characters who remain with readers long after the novel is finished.
PREMIUM

The Other Side

Hickman (Deadly Satisfaction) weaves the stories of three independent women with modern relationship troubles, albeit with some extraordinary coincidences. Readers who enjoy strong female characters with supportive friendships will be delighted, if also surprised, by the abrupt cliff-hanger ending, ensuring there will be a sequel.
PREMIUM

Stellaris: People of the Stars

Recommended for fans of hard sf who enjoy speculation on human expansion into the galaxy.

Spaceside

Butler’s wry commentary on the military establishment, corporate skullduggery, and life in general feels honest and real. Highly recommended for military sf lovers, who will savor his perspective and probably want to buy the man a drink.
PREMIUM

An Orc on the Wild Side

Holt has taken over the satirical fantasy novel from writers such as Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, with a dose of Kurt Vonnegut tossed in. For readers who do not take their fantasy stories too seriously, or appreciate them a bit silly, this is a gem.
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