Categories
Unusual Suspects

Andrew Scott Joins ‘Knives Out 3’ Cast

Hi, mystery fans! I inhaled the delightful and hilarious first season of We Are Lady Parts (Peacock). It’s a punk band of very different adult Muslim women, and the newest member has massive stage fright, is in love with a bandmate’s brother, and is hiding from her friends that she’s in a band — what could go wrong? I love that the first season felt complete to watch in one run and also that there is a second season dropping on May 30th. The show’s creator, Nida Manzoor, wrote and directed the very awesome and fun film Polite Society — in case you’ve yet to see it.

Make this your most bookish summer yet with personalized reading recommendations from Tailored Book Recommendations! Our bibliologists (aka professional book nerds) are standing by to help you find your next favorite read. Get your recommendations via email, or opt to receive hardcovers or paperbacks delivered right to your door. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Get started today from just $18!

Bookish Goods

hard enamel pin of a purple book with adorable face wearing headphones

Headphone Book Hard Enamel Pin by BiblioChicShop

I love this adorable pin for audiobook readers! ($13)

New Releases

cover image for Return to Blood

Return to Blood (A Hana Westerman Thriller #2) by Michael Bennett

For fans of former detectives back on a case and murder mysteries set in New Zealand!

Hana Westerman has quit the force and moved back home with her father, Eru, in Tātā Bay. Decades ago, a Māori man was convicted of the murder of a fellow classmate of Hana’s, and Eru has always believed they convicted the wrong person. Now another skeleton is found in the same dunes where Hana’s classmate was found dead, and even though Hana is no longer officially a detective, she’s drawn back into a murder investigation…

If you want to start at the beginning of the series, pick up Better The Blood!

cover image for One Perfect Couple

One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware

For fans of remote island mysteries and reality TV shows!

Because Lyla’s life is in a not great place, she decides to join her actor boyfriend on a reality TV show. Set to compete against other couples on an island, things quickly take a turn for worse when a storm knocks out power and the contestants don’t have cell phones. Now these competing strangers have to work together to survive…

Ware has consistently been publishing a mystery/thriller a year since her 2015 debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, so backlist readers have plenty to read.

Looking for more new releases? Check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

These are two books that I loved experiencing the way they unfold, taking you down a very different path from where you start — which is all I’ll say because the fun is not knowing and watching it happen!

cover image for Night of the Mannequins

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

This is for fans of slasher films and fantastic first-person narrative voice!

Sawyer is about to graduate high school and it seems that something is taking revenge on him and his friend group…

Bonus: You should definitely have on your radar Graham Jones’s July release I Was A Teenage Slasher.

cover image For Your Own Good

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

For fans of revenge and school settings!

Teddy Crutcher is an English teacher at an academy and is constantly in a war with everyone around him — including students and parents — where he secretly punishes them in ways that he thinks will “correct” their behavior. And then a student dies…

New and Roundups

The Knives Out 3 Title Has a Deeper Meaning

Andrew Scott Joins Knives Out 3 Cast

Mix The Jinx and Sesame Street, and you get Benedict Cumberbatch’s Eric

James Patterson has finished a Michael Crichton manuscript

Daisy Jones & the Six Star Camila Morrone Joins Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager Season 2

A Classic Crime Movie Is Finally Getting A Sequel – As An HBO Series

BBC acquires new crime thriller The Turkish Detective

The Oklahoma State Board of Education is trying to revoke a teacher’s license for giving kids access to the library and books.

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See upcoming 2023 releases. Check out this Unusual Suspects Pinterest board and get Tailored Book Recommendations!

Until next time, keep investigating! In the meantime, come talk books with me on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Litsy — you can find me under Jamie Canavés.

If a mystery fan forwarded this newsletter to you and you’d like your very own, you can sign up here.

Categories
Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, your go-to newsletter if you’re looking to expand your TBR pile. Each week, I’ll recommend a book I think is an absolute must-read. Some will be new releases, some will be old favorites, and the books will vary in genre and subject matter every time. I hope you’re ready to get reading!

Make this your most bookish summer yet with personalized reading recommendations from Tailored Book Recommendations! Our bibliologists (aka professional book nerds) are standing by to help you find your next favorite read. Get your recommendations via email, or opt to receive hardcovers or paperbacks delivered right to your door. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Get started today from just $18!

This is such a weird book recommendation for me, because I did love this book so much, but I also know it’s not going to be for everyone.

One time, I recommended this book to a new friend the first day I met her. I immediately regretted going so hard with someone I barely knew. What would she think of me? I was worried our friendship would be over before it even began. But then (I think?) she ended up liking it, and guess what? We’re still hanging out. So if you like this book, use it to see if your friends are really cool and can hang with you.

I’m just kidding. Please don’t test people like that. But do read this book, and then you can let me know if we’re still friends.

earthlings book cover

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

From childhood, Natsuki has felt like she doesn’t belong. Her family openly ridicules her. No one at school understands her. Her teacher takes advantage of her. The only way she can make sense of the world around her is through imagining that she has access to magic, and that she might secretly be an alien from another planet. Then there’s her cousin Yuu. In Yuu, Natsuki feels like she’s found another soul that is an outsider just like she is. But when Yuu and Natsuki are pulled apart, the two make a promise to each other: to survive. No matter what.

Now, Natsuki is an adult, and her feelings of alienation have only grown stronger. She’s married to a man who has zero interest in even touching her. Everyone around her is pressuring her to start a family. Meanwhile, Natsuki is relentlessly haunted by the nightmares of her past.

Natsuki is desperate for an escape from the pressures of adulthood and the expectations of what it means to be a productive member of society. And so she heads to the only place that ever made her feel at home: her family retreat in the mountains of Nagano, far away from the judgmental eyes of her peers. What’s more, she invites Yuu to meet her there. But Yuu comes to Nagano with his own thoughts about how to escape society. Will he be ready to keep his promise to Natsuki? And what will these two be capable of doing when they’re reunited?

This novel, as you might have already gleaned, is dark and disturbing. Content warnings for nearly everything you can think of: cannibalism, incest, sexual assault, murder, trauma, child abuse. This book is anything but an easy read. Like Natsuki, I found myself really clinging on to the more fantastical moments of this novel, hoping for moments of solace amidst the bleakness of what’s happening to our main character. And yet with all of that being said, I could not put Earthlings down. Not for a second.

Earthlings really spoke to me as a heart-breaking narrative of losing oneself in past trauma and feeling suffocated by the expectations of others. While Natsuki’s circumstances are extreme, I think a lot of us (myself included) can identify with those feelings. I also loved that author Sayaka Murata wasn’t afraid of making this story really, really strange. Here, Murata is taking a lot of the themes and ideas from her novel Convenience Store Woman and exploding them into something horrifying and earth-shatteringly unique. So if you read that and thought to yourself, “I wish this main character would just set the world on fire,” Earthlings might be your book. If you love good books, even if they make you super uncomfy, Earthlings might be for you.


Happy weekend reading, bibliophiles! Feel free to follow me on Instagram @emandhercat, and check out my other newsletters, The Fright Stuff and Book Radar!

Categories
Giveaways

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We’re teaming up with Gungnir to give away a 1-year subscription to Tailored Book Recommendations (TBR) to one lucky winner!

Enter here for a chance to win, or click the image below!

Here’s a bit more from our sponsor: We believe creators deserve a spotlight, a gateway to the broad, energized audiences hungry for journeys of inspiration, tales of might, and sagas of magnitude… adventures that challenge and delight.‍

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We’re here to stand watch as new worlds grow. The first and best defense against the mundane dark might seem like a blade. But at GUNGNIR…we know the right story can cut even deeper.

Categories
What's Up in YA

Love in an MMORPG, A Sinister Finishing School, and More YA Book Talk and News: May 30, 2024

Hey, YA Readers!

I hope if you had a long weekend that you were able to relax with a good book and if you had a normal weekend that you carved out a little time to do so, too. It feels fully like summer is here, and my TBR is topped with tons of forthcoming late summer and early fall reads, so I’m all set to enjoy it as much as possible.

Make this your most bookish summer yet with personalized reading recommendations from Tailored Book Recommendations! Our bibliologists (aka professional book nerds) are standing by to help you find your next favorite read. Get your recommendations via email, or opt to receive hardcovers or paperbacks delivered right to your door. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Get started today from just $18!

Since we missed Monday’s newsletter, today you’ll get some hardcover releases featured, with mentions of a couple of paperbacks as well. Then we’ll dive into the news like usual on Thursdays.

Ready. Set. Let’s book nerd!

Bookish Goods

3D printed popsicle book marks

Melted Popsicle Bookmark by ChameleonPrinting

How sweet (heh) are these 3D-printed bookmarks that look like melted popsicles? I’m especially fond of the green and orange ones, which would be the popsicles I’d be picking out from a pack. $8 each.

New Releases

There are actually more paperback releases this week than hardcover titles, so I’m going to do something a little different this week. You’ll get to check out three hardcover releases, followed by a handful of paperback releases. As always, full lists of hardcover releases and paperback releases are available at the respective links.

Flawless Girls book cover

Flawless Girls by Anne-Marie McLemore

The Soler sisters are supposed to be polished and poised in polite society, but they aren’t. Their grandmother, who has raised them, has not cared until now. She realizes that life will be especially difficult for two Latina girls if they can’t at least blend in with their manners and attitudes. Grandma is able to get both girls a spot at Alarie House, a prestigious and hard-to-get-into finishing school.

In one day, younger sister Isla has come back home. She cannot do it, and she cannot stand how fake everything is at Alarie. Older sister Renata, though, sticks it out and when she comes home months later, she is a completely different person. Isla sees Renata behaving with eerie politeness and pleasantness…and murderousness. The night Renata returns home, she also vanishes.

While Grandma does what she can to find Renata, Isla decides to go back to Alarie House and find out what’s going on there. But it is a demanding finishing school and it certainly isn’t going to simply tell Isla what’s going on.

hurdles in the dark book cover

Hurdles in the Dark by Elvira K. Gonzalez

This is a harrowing work of nonfiction about author Elvira’s life as a teenager in the border town of Laredo, Texas. At 14, she was given 24 hours to find $40,000; the drug cartels had her mother and that was the cost of her mother’s freedom.

Caught up in the Mexican Drug War, Elvira ends up in a dangerous juvenile detention facility. When she’s finally released, she’s bound and determined never to go back, and she works toward realizing her new dream: getting an athletic scholarship to get her out of Laredo. She is working her butt off to become as good as possible at track and field, including breaking into her school before the sun rises to get extra practice time in. Although she catches the attention of a highly decorated high school coach, his attention soon turns to more than her performance on the team. Now, at 17, Elvira is dealing with the pressure of being sexual with an adult man in his 30s—it’s a reality of young athletes in too many situations, especially those teen athletes who are from any marginalized background.

Though tough and tragic, Elvira succeeds in her journey, becoming the first in her family to go to college and a top-ranking hurdler.

twelfth knight book cover

Twelfth Knight by Alexene Farol Follmuth

This is an enemies-to-lovers romance set in the world of MMORPG.

Viola is over the fact that her friend thinks she needs to be more likable, that her campaign for a tabletop game was rejected, and that the person in the position of student body president—Jack—is annoying and too laid back, which makes her job as vice president so much harder than necessary. She finds stress relief and joy in the MMORPG called Twelfth Knight, even though that isn’t a particularly safe space for an outspoken, confident girl like her either. To solve this problem, she creates a masculine alter ego in the game and suddenly, she finds herself being respected a heck of a lot more.

So when Jack sustains an injury and has himself become sucked into the world of Twelfth Knight, Viola is surprised at how well-matched their two online egos are. The problem is, of course, they get along too well online and, well, Jack doesn’t know that her fake persona online is her.


As for paperbacks, a few you’ll want to make sure you know have hit shelves this week—and read, obviously—include Enduring Freedom by Trent Reedy and Jawad Arash, Lying in the Deep by Diana Urban, Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi, Only This Beautiful Moment by Abdi Nazemian, and The Quince Project by Jessica Parra, which is one of the rare YA books that will release simultaneously as both a hardcover and paperback (and “rare” seems to be becoming less rare lately, which I love—give folks both at the same time and you reach your teen readers with the lower price point of a paperback and institutions like libraries with more durable hardcovers!).

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

YA Book News

Given the US holiday, it’s a quieter news week here.

  • I mentioned in this week’s Hey YA podcast episode that we’re seeing a number of older YA books being optioned for adaptation, and here’s one more. Gemma Malley’s 2007 dystopian The Declaration was picked up by a French studio. Since it’s international, it’s hard to say if this will see US screens.
  • Here’s another casting update for the adaptation of We Were Liars.

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you on Saturday with your YA book deals, followed by your regular Monday newsletter next week.

Until then, happy reading!

–Kelly Jensen, currently reading Aisle Nine by Ian X. Cho

Categories
The Stack

Comics That Will Leave You Speechless

I don’t know about you, but this May has seemed like at least three Mays in one, in ways both good and bad. What does June have in store for us? I have no idea, except that these comics could very well be a part of it!

Make this your most bookish summer yet with personalized reading recommendations from Tailored Book Recommendations! Our bibliologists (aka professional book nerds) are standing by to help you find your next favorite read. Get your recommendations via email, or opt to receive hardcovers or paperbacks delivered right to your door. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Get started today from just $18!

Bookish Goods

An illustration of a woman reacting with surprise below the words "Vintage Horror mystery box"

1980s Horror Comics Mystery Gift Box by RadarsComics

Want to go on a scary mystery date, but in a good way? Surprise yourself with this gift box which includes individually selected horror comics, a shirt, candy, and more! $55

New Releases

The Man from Maybe cover

The Man from Maybe by Jordan Thomas and Shaky Kane

The apocalypse was going well for the unscrupulous billionaire profiting off everyone else’s suffering — until an alien ship, surely loaded with valuable cargo, crashes. Who will get there first: the billionaire’s lackeys, or the outlaw known only as the Man from Maybe? And what does victory mean on a dying planet like this one?

Star Trek Celebrations cover

Star Trek: Celebrations by Various Creators

Let the Pride Month specials commence! This anthology features stories by queer creators about the various queer characters from across Star Trek’s many iterations. Fans of every series from the original to Lower Decks are sure to be pleased with this offering!

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Today’s Riot Rec theme is: no words! You can’t have a comic book without pictures, but you can have one without words. These graphic novels show how powerful a wordless story can be!

The Arrival cover

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Seeking a better life for one’s family all too often means leaving that family behind and venturing to places unknown. That is the case of this graphic novel’s main character, who must experience the good, the bad, the frightening, and the incredible of immigration all on his own.

Viewfinder cover

Viewfinder by Christine D.U. Chung and Salwa Majoka

This comic for young readers follows an astronaut who lands on an abandoned Earth and views its many — perhaps former? — wonders through a special device. As she goes in search of these wonders, she begins to realize that Earth may not be as abandoned as she thought.

A white Havanese shot from the back, wearing a pink shirt with a red heart. Black letters across the heart read "I Love Mommy"

This week, I will leave you with a photo of my dog Poppy showing off the T-shirt we bought her. It is very accurate, I assure you!

~Eileen

Categories
Kissing Books

Plus-Sized Romance Recs

Welcome, or welcome back, to the Kissing Books newsletter. I’m PN Hinton, your guide to all things romance-related. Thanks for taking time from your day to give this a read! I hope this newsletter helps to brighten up your day just a little bit more.

Make this your most bookish summer yet with personalized reading recommendations from Tailored Book Recommendations! Our bibliologists (aka professional book nerds) are standing by to help you find your next favorite read. Get your recommendations via email, or opt to receive hardcovers or paperbacks delivered right to your door. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Get started today from just $18!

It’s good to see y’all again! If you had a long weekend I hope that you enjoyed it and that it was restful and recharging. Mine was fairly decent and yesterday was the last day of school, which means the Teenager is out for summer break. So, all in all, it’s going well over here.

Bookish Goods

picture of sit down and read bookmark

Sit Down and Read Bookmark by KinsBins

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of a firm directive followed by some sweet encouragement to remind yourself to take time for your TBR. $10

New Releases

cover of A Little Kissing Between Friends

A Little Kissing Between Friends by Chencia C. Higgins

When an altercation occurs between exotic dancer Juleesa and music producer Cyn’s latest fling, the life-long besties begin to wonder if there is more between them than a platonic friendship. However, it’s not just years of friendship at risk here as Juleesa is also Cyn’s muse for her musical tracks, which puts their respective careers in jeopardy. This leaves them wondering if a chance at true love outweighs what could happen if it doesn’t work out and if they’re willing to take that risk.

cover of The Ride of Her Life

The Ride of Her Life by Jennifer Dugan

When Molly inherits a struggling horse barn from an estranged aunt, she first views it as just another burden that she has to juggle. After seeing it, she changes her mind, thinking about how the profits from selling it could help her start her wedding event planning business. However, Shani, her aunt’s friend and the resident farrier, is determined to stop that from happening. As the two women butt heads over the future of the farm and land, feelings soon develop between them and have them wondering if there is a way for them to both get what they want as well as each other.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

If you’re following me over on Instagram, you may have seen when I shared this post from author Jenna Louise Skinner on a reporter from The Spectator and their ugly and fatphobic take on Nicola Coughlan’s Penelope Featherington.

I’m not linking to the article since you can see from that snippet there it doesn’t deserve any more traffic than it has already gotten. It screams of fatphobia as well as internalized misogyny and is a disgusting take in 2024. As I’ve stated multiple times, the discourse around Penelope and Colin’s story is whether or not the latter was deserving of the former and not the other way around.

In response to that, I’m going to highlight some books that celebrate plus-sized bodies and show that big girls are deserving of love too. Also, note you can pick up any of the aforementioned author’s books as well and should because they’re awesome.

cover of The Princess Trap

The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert

After Cherry is caught in a compromising position with Prince Ruben, the latter quickly puts together a fake engagement scheme to help save his reputation. While Cherry is none too pleased with being backed into a corner, she agrees to go along with the charade. When she finds out that his alleged fairy tale life is less than rosy, she becomes determined to help him find happiness in any way she can and soon falls in love with the tragic prince. 

cover image of Knit, Purl, and a Baby Girl by Hettie Bell

Knit, Purl, a Baby, and a Girl by Hettie Bell

After ending up with a positive pregnancy test, Poppy decides that, even though this was not in her plans, she is going to keep the baby. She joins a knitting group to get a feeling of community she is missing from her own family and to start making baby clothes. At her first meeting, there is an instant spark between her and the group leader Rhiannon. However, Rhiannon doesn’t consider herself a family woman and Poppy has a baby on the way. Soon, the two will have to decide if theirs is a fling or if there is a happily ever after in their future.

The Wake Country Public Library will be hosting a Zoom webinar showcasing and celebrating some popular LGBTQIA+ authors and stories. If interested, you can sign up here.

If you’re looking for a book—or two—to pack in your summer beach bag, check out this list!

And that’s all I have for y’all today. I’ll be back in your inboxes on Monday with a fresh newsletter and in the meantime you can always catch up with my over on Instagram under @pns_bookish_world. Until then, happy reading and stay hydrated!

Categories
Book Radar

Reese’s Book Club Picks a New YA Book and More Book Radar!

Book friends, hello!

I’m back in Seattle. The Austin trip was so fun, and yes, I did get to pop into a couple of bookstores. I came home with a suitcase heavy with books. Not gonna lie. I also saw a few movies (I highly recommend I Saw the TV Glow). But again, we are here to talk books, so let’s do it.

Book Deals and Reveals

twelfth knight book cover

YA book picks are back at Reese’s Book Club, and they’re kicking it off with Twelfth Knight by Alexene Farol Follmuth! Check out the announcement on Instagram now.

Here’s the trailer for My Lady Jane, a new series based on the novel by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. The show will stream on Amazon Prime Video starting on June 27.

Paste has the exclusive cover reveal and an excerpt from the upcoming horror novella Pocketknife Kitty by Shannon Riley. The book is out from Ghoulish Books on June 24.

And here’s the cover of the latest novel from Sally Rooney, Intermezzo. Rooney’s highly anticipated novel hits bookstores everywhere on September 24.

Abigail Hing Wen, author of Loveboat, Taipei, has a new book coming, and here’s an excerpt! Kisses, Codes, and Conspiracies hits shelves on August 13.

Alice Oseman has shared a big update on the final chapter in the Heartstopper series! In their Instagram stories, the author wrote, “I think I have a first draft of vol 6. (Just the writing, haven’t started the drawing yet). I think it’s probably too long [right now] but maybe I can make it work… but mostly feeling pretty good about it. Gonna share with some friends and colleagues and get some opinions, then make some tweaks probably.”

George R.R. Martin’s latest series A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms will be coming to HBO next year, but the author says fans can expect a very different tone from Game of Thrones. Martin says the new spinoff series “will be a lot shorter than Game of Thrones or House of the Dragon, with a much different tone. But it’s still Westeros, so no one is truly safe.” The show is slated to premiere in June 2025.

The winner of the 2024 International Booker Prize has been announced! And it’s Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Michael Hofmann.

Summer is almost here! Get ready by adding some of these 120 summer reads to your TBR list.

Book Riot Recommends

Hi, welcome to everyone’s favorite segment of Book Radar called Book Riot Recommends. This is where I’ll talk to you about all the books I’m reading, the books I’m loving, and the books I can’t wait to read and love in the near future. I think you’re going to love them too!

Make this your most bookish summer yet with personalized reading recommendations from Tailored Book Recommendations! Our bibliologists (aka professional book nerds) are standing by to help you find your next favorite read. Get your recommendations via email, or opt to receive hardcovers or paperbacks delivered right to your door. And with quarterly or annual plans available, TBR has something for every budget. Get started today from just $18!

Can’t Wait for This One!

Witchcraft for Wayward Girls book cover

Witchcraft for Wayward Girls by Grady Hendrix (Berkley, January 14, 2025)

This is probably one of my favorite Grady Hendrix covers of all time, and that’s really saying something because Grady Hendrix has quite the history of cool book covers. I can’t wait to have this stunner on my shelf, but more importantly, I can’t wait to read it. Not just because I will look super cool while I read it on the bus. But also because Grady Hendrix is one of the best horror authors of all time, and I’m always excited about his books.

Witchcraft for Wayward Girls is set in a maternity home in Florida in 1970. It follows five young women living in the home who come across a guide to witchcraft. And yeah, as you can imagine, everything goes haywire from there. According to the publisher, Berkley, Hendrix’s new book is like “Rosemary’s Baby set in a home for unwed mothers in 1970,” and it will “deliver fresh takes on traditional horror tropes with [Hendrix’s] signature voice full of humor, heart, jump scares and a bit of a wink.”

In the early 1970s, these types of homes for unwed mothers were popping up all over the United States. Hendrix told People he took inspiration for his novel from the real-life terrors young women went through when entering these homes. They were meant to be safe havens, but they often turned out to be anything but. It sounds like a lot of research and thought went into constructing this story, and with Hendrix’s ability to always find fresh ways to explore horror tropes, I’m excited to see what he does with this material.

Unfortunately, we are going to have to wait until 2025 for this one, but I’m certainly counting down the months!

Words of Literary Wisdom

“Freddy never uses a gun, does he? Ghostface? Michael? Jade can’t even imagine Michael Myers using a gun. They’re so impersonal, so ‘all at once’ instead of ‘one at a time.’ Jason Voorhees? C’mon. He’ll use a speargun, sure, but that’s just for a 3-D gag. No, any self-respecting slasher finding a pistol in his hand, what he’s supposed to do is look down at it like it’s a strange bug, then shake his hand until this bitey, attention-drawing thing is gone again.”

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones

Bonus Thursday Book Meme

Since we didn’t get a Monday meme this week, here’s a Thursday meme to get you through. I think I need to start asking my booksellers for notes. This is genius.

And Here’s A Cat Picture!

calico cat

Today, I leave you with a picture of the most beautiful girl cat, Cersei Anne. She wants me to tell you that she hopes you have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday for more book talks.

Emily

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

8 Spectacular Backlist Sci-Fi and Fantasy Series Worth Reading

This post is written by Chris M. Arnone.

What is a backlist book, you might be asking? Backlist has a very specific meaning in the world of book publishing. It’s a book that’s been out for at least a year but is still in print. This is opposed to frontlist, which is a new book that a publisher is pushing and placing prominently in stores and online.

So when putting together a great list of backlist science fiction and fantasy (SFF) series, I was looking for slightly older but still-in-print books. This immediately threw out some of my favorite series that are too new or have, sadly, fallen out of print. I also decided to avoid classics or other series that I’ve written about a lot. Let’s spice things up a bit, shall we?

This list is a pretty balanced blend of science fiction and fantasy, spanning cultures and space, past and future, and authors familiar and under-the-radar. Some of these books are doorsteps, while others might be considered novellas. There’s a little YA sprinkled in because great books can be aimed at young readers, too. Trilogies abound, though there’s a nine-book series in there as well.

Enough preamble. Here are eight great backlist sci-fi and fantasy series worth reading.

cover of The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older

The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older

We all need a little cyberpunk in our lives, particularly when the commentary hits so close to home. A search engine company created a monopoly two decades ago. Since then, the world moved from nation-states to a global micro-democracy. The Heritage Party, a corporate coalition, has been in power for a long time, but an election looms. When absolute power is at stake, who can you trust with the future?

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I did promise some YA, didn’t I? This four-book series was romantasy before we had the term, and it’s a great one. Laia grew up on the streets, forever in fear of the empire. When her brother is captured, she’s forced to spy on the empire from inside the military academy. There, she meets Elias, an unwilling cadet. Together, do they have what it takes to bring an empire to its knees?

cover of The Expanse by James. S.A. Corey

The Expanse by James. S.A. Corey

The most popular series on this list is also the longest, coming in at nine books. Set in our solar system but significantly in the future, The Expanse follows the ragtag crew of the Rocinante as they navigate complicated politics, warring factions, and an alien protomolecule that threatens to end all life.

cover of The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law Trilogy is a dark, epic fantasy series. Told through rotating points of view, the characters in this series are eclectic. A down-on-his-luck Barbarian, a selfish captain, a disabled torturer, and a temperamental wizard. Their paths are on a collision course that will likely change the face of the world.

cover of Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie

Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie

Not only did this series take the SFF world by storm, but it also pushed the boundaries of gender in the process. There is a soldier known as Breq. She’s alone, but she used to be part of the larger AI consciousness for a ship called Justice of Toren. With her larger self and the crew destroyed, she wants revenge and finds that to get it, she’ll have to go all the way to the top of a galactic empire.

cover of Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

Here’s the oldest series on this list, and still one of the best backlist sci-fi and fantasy series you can find. The year is 2026, and 100 Earth colonists are trying to terraform Mars. Some are looking for medical breakthroughs, others for scientific discovery, while yet others just want a fresh start. Amidst the incredible hard science of the novel are the very human stories of 100 people very far from home.

cover of The Nsibidi Scripts by Nnedi Okorafor

The Nsibidi Scripts by Nnedi Okorafor

Looking for those little wizard boy vibes without the problematic TERF author? Look no further than this great series. Sunny lived in New York until recently when her family moved back to their native Nigeria. That’s enough to make a young woman feel out of place, but she has albinism. Desperate to fit in, she soon discovers that she and her closest friends are “free agents” gifted with powerful magic. They’re not alone — there’s also a serial killer hunting free agents, and only Sunny and her friends can stop them.

cover of The Tensorate Series by Neon Yang, featuring a dragon and fire surrounded by Chinese symbols

The Tensorate Series by Neon Yang

Looking for a quicker and beautiful fantasy read? Then, get these books on your TBR. As children, Mokoya and Akeha were sold to the Grand Monastery, even though they’re the twin children of the Protector. Mokoya has the gift of prophecy, and Akeha always knows how to manipulate adults. Rebellion is growing in the Tensorate, forces moving against Mokoya and Akeha’s mother, and both children must choose a side, even if they aren’t on the same side.

What are your favorite backlist sci-fi and fantasy series? Do you dig into the classics or opt for more recent books? They may not be as popular on BookTok or Bookstagram, but I stan the backlist.

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What's Up in YA

8 YA Books for Fans of Greek Mythology

This post is written by Grace LaPointe.

Figures from Greek myths want to be remembered forever, cheat death, know the future, or see their (living or dead) loved ones again. These are deeply relatable desires. Fate, irony, arrogance, and courage are universal concepts, and ancient Greek literature explored them in ways that still resonate today.

Immortals who can become mortal and demigods (the children of gods and humans) still inspire today’s immortal fantasy characters. From Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Disney+ to myth-retelling novels for adults, it’s obvious stories from ancient Greek literature influence pop culture today. And re-imaginings make ancient stories more accessible to many readers.

Though ancient Greek epics, poetry, and drama have endured for millennia, of course, they originated from a specific culture. In 2023, for BR, Lyndsie Manusos interviewed several Greek authors on their opinions about Greek myth retellings. They all said diverse retellings are important, which should include renditions by modern Greek authors. Ancient Greek literature and history were central to 18th and 19th-century British and U.S. educations and still get co-opted by white supremacists. A culture is not a vibe or aesthetic.

If you love Greek mythology, these books below have elements that may also appeal to you. They’re not all strict retellings. Some are inspired by ancient Greek myths in subtler ways or use their names, themes, and figures in modern settings.

This Poison Heart cover

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Helping out in her mom’s nursery, Briseis discovers she can make plants bloom. She inherits an estate from her aunt and uncovers even more secrets. The setting is Gothic and modern, but it also incorporates the elixir of immortality and other ideas and figures from Greek mythology. Briseis’ name originates from a prisoner of war in The Iliad. The original Briseis has no agency and is trafficked from one powerful man to another. So, it’s great to find such a powerful character with that name.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

If you’ve ever imagined how gods might feel when they become mortal, or vice versa, you might love this book. It has a unique take on the demigods and generational curses of ancient Greek mythology. On a seven-year cycle, nine gods turn mortal, so descendants of human heroes, like Achilles, can hunt them. This is an urban fantasy set in modern NYC with vivid characters. The hunt, the Agon, is named after the main conflict in ancient Greek drama.

cover of Spin by Rebecca Caprara

Spin by Rebecca Caprara

This YA fantasy-in-verse has a protagonist who’s often overlooked, even among retellings. Arachne’s mother teaches her to weave and tells her stories of the gods and goddesses. The book also mentions concepts from ancient Greek drama: hubris (arrogance) and hamartia (a character’s tragic flaw). These become relevant to Arachne’s story when she says her tapestries are better than Athena’s. The details are vivid, and the subject and structure of this book are unique. Maybe skip this one if you have a strong phobia of spiders, though!

daughter of sparta book cover

Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews

Historians think Spartan women had more freedom than women from other ancient Greek city-states and were taught to handle weapons. This allows Daphne to replace her brother in a competition, though she’s still one of the mothakes (outsiders). The goddess Artemis needs Daphne’s help. This novel is partly inspired by the story of Daphne and Apollo. In Roman poet Ovid’s version of the myth, Daphne was turned into a laurel tree to avoid being raped by Apollo. Many ancient myths, like this one, have fascinating potential for YA and feminist retellings.

icarus book cover

Icarus by K. Ancrum

This is a contemporary thriller inspired by the myth of Icarus and his inventor father, Daedalus. In the myth, Daedalus makes wax wings for Icarus, who flies too close to the sun. In this novel, Icarus’ father, Angus, is an art forger, and Icarus steals originals and replaces them with Angus’ imitations. As metaphors, the danger and arrogance of flying too near the sun fit the art heist premise perfectly. I also recommend Darling, Ancrum’s modern crime thriller that reimagines Peter Pan.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Maya, the raja’s daughter, is cursed, according to astrology. When one of her father’s wives dies, the other wives blame Maya. In this interview, the author explained that her Filipine and Indian heritage, as well as the ancient Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, inspired the book. Maya’s kingdom, Bharata, shares a name with a legendary emperor from Sanskrit texts, and characters can be reincarnated.

never look back book cover

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

This Pura Belpré Honor book is a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in The Bronx in recent times. Eury moved to NYC from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017. The novel has alternating chapters narrated by Pheus and Eury, whose names play on Orpheus and Eurydice. Pheus is a musician (a guitarist and songwriter), like the bard Orpheus with his lyre. Literally and figuratively, never looking back is important to the myth, and it fits the young protagonists’ journeys.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

This novel is a retelling of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which was recorded by the Brothers Grimm. Annaleigh’s sisters are cursed to dance every night past the point of exhaustion. This book blends genres: horror, mystery, portal fantasy, and more. The names and atmosphere draw from Edgar Allan Poe. Although it’s NOT a Greek myth retelling, the gods and world-building are reminiscent of ancient Greek mythology. Annaleigh’s family lives on an island and worships nautical gods. Their main god reminded me of Poseidon. Like the ancient Greek gods, their gods walk among humans, and they are often petty. Some are even half-human demigods.

More on Ancient Greek Myths:

In 2020, BR listed 50 must-read books on Greek myths, divided by genre and age category.

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