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PREMIUM

Nighthawking

The sequel to Firewatching is a confusing, complex book that culminates in a cliff-hanger. Even readers of the previous book will have a difficult time connecting the story line from the previous novel.
PREMIUM

Dune: The Duke of Caladan

Recommended for readers who feel compelled to complete their knowledge of this world, fans who want to know everything there is to know before the next movie version, and libraries where previous continuations of this series have proven popular.
PREMIUM

Rafael

The 28th novel in Anita Blake’s world centers on a supporting male character who does not necessarily advance the plot but gives space to see more of Rafael and his rodere.
PREMIUM

What Waits for You

The sequel to One Day You’ll Burn is graphically violent with too much psychobabble and a disappointing ending in which the serial killer solution is an afterthought.

Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women

The preconceived notions of both the authors’ identities and of the limitations of the horror genre itself will be smashed to pieces, to the delight of readers. With the inclusion of biographies and photographs introducing each of the contributors, readers will gain a full appreciation of the authors, obtain insight into their influences, and learn of their other works. Do not be surprised if readers request more works by these unquiet women.

Unfollow Me

Social media and a killer story intertwine in British author Duckworth’s (The Rival) all-too-real portrayal of what might happen when your intimate family details are just a click away for all the world to see. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Voidbreaker

Recommended for readers with an interest in fantasy, fiction, magic, battle scenes, romance, and religiously driven moral debates.
PREMIUM

The Blood Is Still

The issue-oriented second novel featuring Rebecca Connolly, after Thunder Bay, delves into pedophilia, drug dealing, and newspapers’ struggles to stay relevant. Despite the themes and violence, the writing is lyrical and thoughtful.
PREMIUM

The Dark Archive

The seventh novel (after The Secret Chapter) keeps Irene’s story moving forward with revealed secrets and worldbuilding. Blending fantasy, mystery, and a hint of romance, Cogman continues to produce a solid series.
PREMIUM

Queen of None

Barron’s (These Marvelous Beasts) novel blends human earthiness with the mystical elements we have come to expect from Arthurian legends, allowing readers to feel as though they could slip from the mundane to the fantastical at any moment. While a bit disjointed at times, this work ably captures the essence of King Arthur’s court and those who inhabited it.
PREMIUM

The Brass Queen

A delightful gaslamp fantasy that will please readers of Gail Carriger and Kate Locke.

The Downstairs Neighbor

Fans of British mysteries will love this debut. The setup of the characters is leisurely, but once the story gets rolling, it is difficult to put down. This is one that readers may not figure out fully, if at all, in advance of the denouement, but the author ties all the secrets together in a most satisfying reveal.

Fireheart Tiger

Nebula and Locus Award winner de Bodard (The House of Sundering Flames) crafts a story of love, power, and what burns within. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Methuselah’s Legacy

This book will challenge and entertain readers who enjoy a hearty dose of philosophical-based sf.
PREMIUM

Situation Normal

Richardson’s (Constellation Games) new space opera is a satirical look at war, politics, megabrands, and cultural division. Seamlessly blending serious subject matter with humor, this book shines a light on today’s issues in a way that will have readers laughing one minute and wanting to cry the next.
PREMIUM

A Fatal Lie

Following A Divided Loyalty, the latest in the series is a complicated investigation that bogs down halfway through as Rutledge chases too many lies and missing people. Despite the slow pace, fans of the series will want Todd’s latest historical mystery.
PREMIUM

Dealbreaker

While the future technology is fascinating and the premise of the novel is intriguing, the author has chosen to make the characters almost mechanical to the point of being artificial in nature and speech and, possibly, unappealing to their target audience. However, the first novel was well received and, for those sf junkies who enjoy everything technological, this will be a welcome return to Beckett’s world.
PREMIUM

Pickard County Atlas

Thornton’s debut rural noir is grim, with a foreboding atmosphere and a story that does not grow more hopeful. Fans of Laura McHugh’s The Wolf Wants In may appreciate this dark book.
PREMIUM

The Wicked Hour

Blanchard (Trace of Evil) presents a bewitching police procedural in this second “Natalie Lockhart” novel, but readers may be at a disadvantage if they have not read the first book, as the segue is choppy. Though Natalie is well drawn, peripheral characters, especially a love interest, are not fully developed. Still, the setting and musical topic are excellent, and the dramatic conclusion satisfies. For fans of Erica Spindler.
PREMIUM

The Mask Falling

Existing fans will cheer, while those new to the series should absolutely start with book one.
PREMIUM

Speculative Los Angeles

As with any anthology, the contents vary. Speculative fiction is a bit of a catchall term that may not be especially meaningful to readers. This particular collection seems geared toward an audience fond of dystopian short stories or longtime fans of Akashic’s “Noir” series wanting to branch out.

Best Short Stories 2020

Best World Literature of 2020

Best Romance of 2020

Best SF & Fantasy of 2020

Best Pop Fiction of 2020

Best Horror of 2020

Best Literary Fiction of 2020

Best Crime Fiction of 2020

PREMIUM

The Con

DeLuzio gives an up close and personal look at the sometimes feared, often mocked sf convention, only this one just might have real aliens in attendance. The double entendre title highlights the book’s deeper theme: How do we define what is real and what is fantasy? Some readers may be confused by the sf references and gaming jargon, but the quirky cast of characters and their relatable geekiness more than make up for it. Includes short stories “Troll Bridge” and “Do You See What I See?”

The Wrong Family

This book rates a 10 out of 10 on the creepiness scale. Readers will be peering over their shoulders with trepidation as their paranoia levels soar. Suspense fans will love being frightened by this twisty plot. Fisher’s (The Wives) goosebump-inducing book will spook readers long after the final pages are turned.
PREMIUM

XX

The combination of hard sf elements and Hughes’s background as a cartoonist create a vivid, expansive reading experience. This will especially interest readers who are excited by hybrid novels that blend traditional and illustrative formats.
PREMIUM

A History of What Comes Next

Neuvel’s intriguing first-contact story is set through centuries of manipulation and pursuit. It’s a promising start to what looks to be a dark and exciting trilogy.

The Burning God

An incredible end to this epic trilogy. Mixing historical parallels of Chinese history, the themes of war, politics, and colonialism are balanced with terrific, flawed characters and amazing worldbuilding.
PREMIUM

Persephone Station

This enjoyable and thrilling read features excellent worldbuilding and lively characterizations. The engaging crew and well-drawn plot will have readers hoping this will become a series.
PREMIUM

We Could Be Heroes

Chen’s (A Beginning at the End) writing wraps hard topics with heartfelt and humorous prose, creating a delightful novel of the steps and missteps of power, friendship, and trust.
PREMIUM

D (A Tale of Two Worlds)

Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White), an award-winning writer of short stories, fiction, and nonfiction, has created a thoroughly engaging young adult crossover fantasy that occasionally breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the reader midstory. Clever and enjoyable, this Narnia-like work will delight any fantasy buff.
PREMIUM

The Children’s Train

Ardone’s first English-language translation is recommended to fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and for libraries where those are popular.
PREMIUM

All Girls

An important take on sexuality and #MeToo from the perspective of the young, including many references to pop culture and social media.

Big Girl, Small Town

With echoes of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine crossed with the 1990s-set British sitcom Derry Girls, this debut is recommended for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh, Emma Donoghue, and Sally Rooney.
PREMIUM

Hadley and Grace

Redfearn’s latest (after In an Instant) starts as a domestic drama but quickly morphs into an unexpected Thelma & Louise–style adventure. The quickly moving story and well-drawn characters will keep readers turning pages even if the madcap road chase and happy ending seem unlikely.

A Certain Hunger

You won’t soon forget Dorothy or her delicious insights, but fair warning: This book might turn you into a vegetarian, if you aren’t already. (Though as Dorothy herself acknowledges, “It’s surprisingly easy to overcome moral qualms, if you give in to the appetite.”)
PREMIUM

Land of Big Numbers

Told in a straightforward journalist’s style, Chen’s stories are filled with individuals facing hardships of varying degrees, with no happy endings to be found She delves into the human psyche to ponder just how far individuals will go tolerate duress. Not light reading, but this collection may be of interest to those looking for book group titles addressing the challenges of finding success, happiness, love, and contentment.
PREMIUM

The Orchard

Though Hopen presents a somewhat formulaic story of the journey from child to adult, he renders it compelling by inserting discussions of Jewish and other religious traditions and making mental health—or lack thereof
PREMIUM

Shipped

For fans of Helen Hoang and Sophie Kinsella, this charming romp at sea will make readers wish to stay with the characters well after the story’s end.
PREMIUM

Don’t Look

Although prolific Ivy’s (The Intended Victim) latest is formulaic, readers will still eagerly turn the pages to see if their suspicions about the killer’s identity are correct and to insure Kir and Lynne will find their happily ever after. The physical romantic scenes are few and far between, as the focus of the plot is on the emotional connection between the two main characters and the elements of suspense.
PREMIUM

Notorious

Spencer (“Outcasts” series) kicks off the “Rebels of the Ton” books with two Regency rebels trying to navigate polite society while staying true to themselves. Packed full of fiery exchanges and passionate embraces, this is for those who prefer their Regencies on the scandalous side.
PREMIUM

How To Fail at Flirting

With a deeper emotional punch than expected, Williams’s banter-filled romance makes her an author to watch.
PREMIUM

Musser, Elizabeth. Promised Land

There is a lot going on in this book, including an unusual plot and strong characterization. Faith elements are interwoven in a subtle but clear way. Fans of Michele Phoenix and Lauren K. Denton will appreciate this distinctive story of the human journey.

Unnatural Resources

This straightforward account of the trail of pillage, rape, and murder left by multinational companies dramatizes a recurrent archetype in literature about Africa, as well as an economic failing too rarely addressed. Therese’s shame in her dirty dress and her dignity as she treks across the land in search of her people make this novel a worthy contribution to the growing pool of migrant literature.
PREMIUM

The Transatlantic Book Club

Recommend this enjoyable family story to fans of the late Maeve Binchy.
PREMIUM

The Center of Everything

In this exquisitely nuanced, beautifully constructed novel, Harrison (“Jules Clement” mystery series) draws the reader into young Polly’s filtered understanding of her world, rich with happily married couples, vs. the uncertain reality of the adult Polly, coping with memory loss while slowly untangling shocking family secrets. A magnificent gem.

Miss Benson’s Beetle

Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) has written a delightful book filled with for whom characters readers will root. Margery finds herself again, after being buried by family and work troubles; Enid finds a friend and completes her own dream while in the wilderness of New Caledonia. Sure to be a hit with book clubs.
PREMIUM

City of a Thousand Gates

This ambitious, forceful debut novel, likely informed by Sacks’s years studying in Tel Aviv, personalizes with startling clarity the seemingly unsolvable conundrum that is the Middle East. This is a thinking reader’s book.
PREMIUM

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Mystery lovers, especially fans of Christie’s works, as well as those who enjoy period pieces, will find this an engrossing fictional answer to a real historical mystery.
PREMIUM

Other People’s Children

Hoffman’s debut is powerful with strong, well-developed characters. The decisions they must make are gut-wrenching, particularly those of Gail and Carli. The story takes turn after hairpin turn, moving into domestic suspense, that will have readers waiting with bated breath until the conclusion; even then, they’ll be left to wonder if there is more.
PREMIUM

The Other Mother

Dicks (Twenty-One Truths About Love) doesn’t seem concerned with medical accuracy, but it is doubtful that readers will mind too much as they laugh, cry, and cheer their way through this touching coming-of-age tale. For fans of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Andrew David MacDonald’s When We Were Vikings.
PREMIUM

The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks

Valerie combines laugh-out-loud situations with heart as Holly navigates her newest challenges. She takes a deep look at the people behind the social media posts and the struggles that everyone, even the seemingly perfect, faces daily. Recommended for those who enjoy reading about relatable heroines and parents who are trying to have it all.
PREMIUM

A Stranger at the Door

Pinter’s strong depictions of diverse types of love, respect, and loyalty resonate loudly in this nail-biter novel.
PREMIUM

The Sentinel

Longtime fans will be satisfied with this straightforward adventure filled with familiar Reacherisms and more depth. He even acquires a cell phone, briefly. Those who enjoy Grant’s “David Trevellyan” series will also enjoy this book. It’s fun—but also difficult—to try to discern which brother wrote what.
PREMIUM

Untraceable

Though readers will be disappointed if they expect a fast-paced cat-and-mouse chase, Lebedev’s rich and ruminative writing raises important questions about the ethics and personal costs of perpetrating anonymous mass murder.

PREMIUM

Shed No Tears

Frear creates an atmosphere of tension among the detectives and witnesses and in Cat’s personal life that will make readers want to devour this mystery in one sitting.
PREMIUM

Murder at the Bake Sale

Crime abounds in a mystery with a ripped-from-the-headlines political angle and a surprising turn in the personal lives of both sleuths. With a diverse cast of characters, including Sandra’s gay son, and the unusual political/school angles, the sequel to Murder at the PTA sets itself apart from most cozies.

Remote Control

This compelling novella is Africanfuturism sf at its best.

Colonyside

The third “Planetside” novel (after Spaceside) is a story that lives in the universe-weary voice of its protagonist. It is highly recommended for readers who like their heroes cynical, their mystery twisted, and their sf thought-provoking.
PREMIUM

Black Buck

Worthy evidence of potential yet to be fulfilled, and we look forward to the time that potential is realized.

PREMIUM

Busted Synapses

A superb example of dystopian, cyberpunk f lash fiction that echoes William Gibson’s Neuromancer, this volume may be slim but it packs a punch. Satifka (A Punk Rock Future) magnificently weaves an in-depth world that is entirely believable (and possible) and that is a fast, but great, read. Readers of dystopian sf will especially love this irreverent take on the darker side of the virtual world and the move toward transhumanism.

PREMIUM

Beyond Kuiper: The Galactic Star Alliance

While there may be an audience for this, it is not a book that will have wide appeal. This novel caters to readers who enjoy hard sf in its most literal interpretation by including scientific theories and jargon that may not be accessible to average readers. The format and its reliance on footnotes to explain key elements is another drawback. But the chief issue is its complicated worldbuilding and thin plot, which all but ensures that only advanced readers of the genre may want this book.
PREMIUM

Learned Behaviors

Ellis (Jeremiah) delivers a satisfying, sensual queer Black romance and happily ever after for two men struggling to balance career obligations and familial responsibilities. This will hit home for many readers, who will rejoice in seeing the characters build a fulfilling relationship in the midst of chaos.
PREMIUM

All the Colors of Night

Krentz’s second “Fogg Lake” entry (after The Vanishing) offers her typical romantic suspense heavily dosed with heightened mental abilities and can read as a stand-alone, although characters from the first book make appearances. Fans will enjoy the Easter eggs sprinkled throughout referencing the Jones brothers from Krentz’s popular “Arcane Society” series. Recommended for where the author is popular.
PREMIUM

Our Last Goodbye

Against the backdrop of World War II, this complex romance is the perfect example of how the right person will accept another’s flaws unconditionally. Fans of Dickson’s (The Orphan Sisters) earlier books will recognize familiar characters but need not have read those previous works in any particular order to enjoy this latest stand-alone.
PREMIUM

Tall, Duke, and Dangerous

A captivating second in the “Hazards of Dukes” series (after Never Kiss a Duke). Frampton deftly handles heavy subjects of abuse and neglect without ever losing the light of her characters’ spirits or tamping down the steamy, slow-burn romance. Ana Marie’s Cinderellaesque rise and banter with the notoriously taciturn Nash will enthrall readers of Eva Leigh’s “Union of the Rakes” series.

Gentleman Jim

Best-selling author of the “Victorian Romantics” series, Matthews ups the ante with a wildly suspenseful romance, filled with scheming and betrayals, and featuring a courageous heroine in fragile health paired with a hero bent on retribution who isn’t too good to be true.
PREMIUM

Second Chance on Cypress Lane

Ryan’s (Secret Heir Seduction) sweet and promising introduction to her new “Holly Grove Island” series is sure to warm readers up during the long winter. Dexter and Dakota’s second chance at love is absorbing and will be a welcome addition to the ever-favorite staple of big romances in small-town settings.
PREMIUM

Nick

Those expecting a prequel to The Great Gatsby will be disappointed, but just as Fitzgerald dismantled the myth of American exceptionalism with The Great Gatsby, Smith punctuates the longing and despair that underlie the American dream with this work.

Inside Story

Amis is a proven winner in the literary circle, and this may be his best work to date.
PREMIUM

American Gospel

Enger wisely avoids making direct connections with current political events, though there are some subtle parallels. The largely young, marijuana-smoking “Jesus people” who show up on the farm are a sharp contrast to today’s Evangelical movement. Though much of the plot feels carefully orchestrated, events go in unexpected directions near the end, and the opposing perspectives of faith vs. reason are given equal weight in a story that will appeal to many fiction readers.
PREMIUM

A Solitude of Wolverines

Fans of ecological fiction will enjoy the juxtaposition of the natural environment with the best and worst of human nature in this exciting backwoods thriller.
PREMIUM

The Girl with Braided Hair

This fine portrait of two women is also a wonderful homage to Cairo’s past and present. Adly’s vibrant descriptions of the city in the 21st century and during the Napoleonic era brings rich urban street scenes to life and gives voice to Egypt’s successful resistance against French colonization.

Likes

A striking and memorable collection of surprising stories and shifting identities.

The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories

Evans beautifully captures the multilayered dimensions of her characters, and she’s adept at expressing the humor and pathos of their existence even as they make decisions that call their judgment into question. The gem here is the novella, but the entire collection is heartily recommended for all fans of short fiction.

Playing Nice

Delaney’s (The Perfect Wife) chilling story of manipulation will make every parent’s heart rate increase as they consider how even the slightest parental fault could be twisted and used against them. A “could-be-true” story that’s scary as hell.
PREMIUM

The Flip Side

British author Bailey presents a heartwarming, laugh-out-loud hilarious debut rom-com. Complete with fabulous sidekicks, quirky neighbors, and an eccentric but lovable family, it features an authentic and refreshing hero. Fans of Beth O’Leary and Nick Hornby will relish every delightful moment.
PREMIUM

Stories from Suffragette City

This nuanced collection serves as an evocative reminder of the hard-fought right for women to vote and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
PREMIUM

A Will To Kill

Reminiscent of Agatha Christie mysteries, this first in the “Harith Athreya” series is a sure hit for readers who love a taste of foreign intrigue and a solid whodunit. Fans of Ngaio Marsh’s A Man Lay Dead and Patricia Moyes’s Dead Men Don’t Ski will also enjoy.

Fall Abroad: Top Reading from Around the World

PREMIUM

Outré

Wilson’s (Natural Complexions) latest is a wild, surreal modern trip down the rabbit hole. Anyone who enjoys stream-of-consciousness stories, as well as fans of artists Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, will enjoy this hallucinatory dreamscape. Modern cultural elements are supernaturally twisted, while the movie industry is satirized. Logophiles will love the imaginative uses of obscure words.
PREMIUM

Loveoid

While the story’s premise is interesting, the disjointed writing and plotting distracts from the work as a whole. More troubling is the author’s use of racist stereotypes, the emotionally abusive relationship of Khalid and Olivia, and the derogatory language toward overweight characters. Not recommended.
PREMIUM

The Best American Mystery Stories 2020

Whether readers enjoy snacking on bite-sized twisty mysteries or are looking for a new author to follow, this anthology delivers.
PREMIUM

Still Life

In the sixth in her “Karen Pirie” series (after Broken Ground), McDermid rewards readers with a timely and cracking good mystery that keeps the pages flying. New readers are brought up to speed and will join longtime fans cheering on the well-drawn characters.
PREMIUM

Slum Virgin

Set in the slum of El Poso in Buenos Aires, this novel tells the story of Quity, a crime reporter for a large newspaper, and her lover, Cleopatra, an enigmatic transvestite ex-prostitute...
PREMIUM

Missionaries

Incredibly detailed, based on research and the author’s personal experience, this work rises above the level of generic action-thriller to that of literary art, joining such geopolitical forebears as VassilisVassilikos’s Z and John le Carré’s The Mission Song.

Daughter of the Serpentine

Highly recommended as a crossover for adults and YA readers drawn to fantasy novels with dragons and the women who ride them. Start with the first in the series or just dive right into this perfect adventure tale.

Aria

Exploring motherhood and personal relationships as well as the chaotic upheavals in revolutionary Tehran, this debut offers a powerful lead character in Aria. But its minor characters are just as memorable, with the narrative revealing how their circumstances have shaped their personalities. Highly recommended, especially for book groups.
PREMIUM

The Bass Rock

A Granta Best of Young British Novelists, Wyld (All the Birds, Singing) has proved herself in the past, but there’s a patchiness to the multiple strands of her current work, as past and present mix with vignettes about ghosts, rape and murder. In the end, the parts of this chilling novel—particularly the “Masterpiece Theatre” paced postwar story
PREMIUM

The Discomfort of Evening

Told in Jas’s voice, this novel, this International Booker Prize winner is poetic and layered, building tension as it moves toward its devastating and catastrophic conclusion. Dutch poet Rijneveld penetrates her characters with unflinching, razor-sharp intensity as they wrestle with issues of religion, sex, and death, making for a difficult if ultimately rewarding read.

A Wild Winter Swan

Maguire, whose gift for transforming children’s stories is most famously on display in Wicked, works his magic once again with this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Wild Swans. An enchanting, tender, often funny coming-of-age story whose perceptive truths about the human condition surprise and delight.
PREMIUM

Red Pill

Kunzru sardonically reminds us that the reconciliation of facts and truth is equally opaque in both fiction and nonfiction.
PREMIUM

A Princess for Christmas

Holiday (“Matchmaker Bay” series) has written a Christmas love story that fizzes with the magic of the holidays while grounding it in two families working through their own heartache and sorrow. With two more books slated to follow, this series should captivate readers who are looking for their Hallmark holiday movies to contain a little more sauce.
PREMIUM

Return to Virgin River

This heartwarming tale of friendship and romance is the perfect addition to this well-loved series made newly popular by its recent adaptation on Netflix. Fans of sweet love stories will enjoy this tale of overcoming overwhelming grief to find hope in the most unexpected of places.
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