October Picks of the Month | Titles To Know, Read, and Share

Genre picks in mystery, romance, and SFF that LJ editors highlight this month. 

Genre picks in mystery, romance, and SFF that LJ editors highlight this month. 

Clayborn, Kate. Georgie, All Along. Kensington. Jan. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781496737298. pap. $16.95. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Freshly laid off from her job in Los Angeles, 28-year-old Georgie is burned-out and unsure of the future, so she leaves her life behind, driving across the country to her hometown. Her plans are simple: take a summer break and spend quality time with her lifelong best friend. When they happen upon a notebook in an old box, outlining her high school bucket list, Georgie decides to try to live out her younger self’s goals, silly or not. She soon meets Levi, a handsome stranger with a questionable past, and through a house-sitting mix-up, finds they’ll be living under the same roof. Levi helps her with her bucket list, leading to a hot and deeply emotional affair that’s complicated by small-town prejudices and entrenched family trauma. As Georgie contemplates if their love is enough to keep her in town, Levi has to heal from his past pain in order to accept the possibility of a happily ever after with Georgie. VERDICT Told from alternating viewpoints, this tender and sexy contemporary romance from Clayborn (Love at First) also features strong friendships and will appeal to fans of Emily Henry.—Migdalia Jimenez 

Kung Jessen, Lauren. Lunar Love. Forever: Grand Central. Jan. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781538710258. pap. $15.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

DEBUT Olivia Huang Christenson is poised to take over Lunar Love, a third-generation family-run matchmaking business focusing on clients’ compatibility using Chinese zodiac traits. After decades of success, Olivia feels the pressure, especially since business hasn’t been booming recently, and a new dating app called ZodiaCupid could mean Lunar Love’s demise. Bennett O’Brien wants to honor his Chinese lineage by creating a successful dating app that matches users based, in part, on their Chinese zodiac animal. Olivia is incensed that Bennett stole a traditional, in-person matchmaking method to create a watered-down version for ZodiaCupid. When Olivia and Bennett confront each other on a live podcast, they agree to match one another, and whoever’s match results in true love, wins the wager. But both Bennett and Olivia learn that love doesn’t play by their rules when the two of them fall for each other. VERDICT Debut author Kung Jessen does an impeccable job helping two adversarial lovers find common ground in their Chinese American heritage and creating a slow-burn romance with lots of humor, family, and food. An excellent match for fans of Jackie Lau, Jayci Lee, and Helena Hunting.—Eve Stano 

Newitz, Annalee. The Terraformers. Tor. Jan. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781250228017. $28.99. SF

The Environmental Rescue Team is an eons-old organization tasked with monitoring and preserving ecosystems. ERT Ranger Destry Thomas is working to terraform Sask-E, a planet that is, along with every living thing on it, owned by Verdance, an intergalactic corporation. When Destry discovers a hidden city, she and her flying, talking moose Whistle, discover the truth of the planet’s history. Forced to confront her mission, her loyalties, and secrets, Destry starts a sequence of events that will echo for generations. Seven centuries later, Destry’s protégé Misha clashes with Sulfur, an engineer, as they work to create a planet transit system. Yet they come together (along with a team of robots, naked mole rats, and the irate cyborg cow Zest) when real-estate conglomerate Emerald reveals a plan to make Homo sapiens the highest life form. A millennium later, Sulfur and Misha’s remarkable child faces a tipping point, which brings Sask-E back to a choice: acquiesce to control, or alter life on the planet forever. Newitz’s (The Future of Another Timeline) prose makes accessible the novel’s discussions of Indigenous genetics, terraforming, representation, and urban development. VERDICT An incredibly emotional and action-packed novel deftly taking on personhood, corporate ownership, and terraforming.—Kristi Chadwick 

Shames, Terry. Murder at the Jubilee Rally. Severn House. (Samuel Craddock, Bk. 9). Oct. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781448309344. $29.99. M

Three years after A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary, Shames’s empathetic sheriff returns in a well-written police procedural that doesn’t skimp on the humanity. The Jubilee Motorcycle Rally is a controversial topic at the Jarrett Creek, TX, council meeting. While some residents want to ban the motorcycles from the town for the week, business owners rely on the traffic. It almost comes to blows before police chief Samuel Craddock suggests a business curfew as a compromise. Craddock only expects the normal troubles from the rally, but when he’s called in the middle of the night because of a murder there, he discovers the body of a resident. With thousands in the area, he knows he has a limited time to discover a killer, whether from the rally or someone the victim knew well. At the same time, he’s dealing with his nephew’s troubled teenage daughter who is staying with him for the week. It takes skill to investigate murder while handling a rebellious 16-year-old yearning for excitement and adulthood. VERDICT Suggest for fans of mysteries featuring small-town police forces, including novels by Claire Booth, Steven F. Havill, and Tricia Fields.—Lesa Holstine

Yamashita, Iris. City Under One Roof. Berkley. Jan. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780593336670. $27. M

DEBUT In Oscar-nominated screenwriter Yamashita’s first novel, a teen finds body parts in a cove in Point Mettier, a very small town in Alaska. The police assume the limbs are from a passenger from a cruise ship. Detective Cara Kennedy arrives from Anchorage on a personal search. A year earlier, her husband and son disappeared on a camping trip, and their body parts were only recently discovered. She hopes to make a connection to those murders. Instead, she finds a secretive town where all 205 residents live in one apartment building with services, including a two-man police department. When she finds no answers, she plans to leave town—but the only exit, a two-mile tunnel, is blocked due to an avalanche. She’s stuck in a town where everyone is lying, an isolated place where abused women flee for safety. It’s not so safe when a head is discovered, a gang storms into town from a nearby reservation, and a woman and her sons disappear. Cara teams up with a police officer on a rescue plan that leads to shoot-outs and violence in the tunnels. VERDICT The claustrophobic atmosphere in this unique one-building town, isolated by tunnels, weather, and secrets, builds a memorable debut crime novel.—Lesa Holstine 

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