Here Are All The Best Books Releasing In August

·37 min read
Best Books of August
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed
Literary Fiction
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

A Map for the Missing by Belinda Huijuan Tang

"A Map for the Missing"

Set during post-Cultural Revolution China and flipping back and forth from the 1990s and the 1970s, we're introduced to professor Tang Yitian who receives a distressing call from home, a rural village in China. His mother explains that his father is missing, and despite their estrangement, Yitian agrees to come home in order to try and figure out what could have happened. It’s there that he reunites with Tian Hanwen, a childhood friend and former lover who also had dreams of pursuing knowledge. But when life starkly divided their paths, Hanwen was left behind. Now they’ve reunited as adults in order to search for Yitian’s father, all while being forced to confront their past. Poignant and emotionally complex, Tang beautifully delivers a memorable tale. —Farrah Penn

Penguin Press

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

"All This Could Be Different"

In this highly anticipated debut, we meet Sneha, an ambitious queer college grad eager to create a stable life for herself in Milwaukee. She lands a decently paid job — enough to establish some savings and even help out her parents back in India — but as she establishes connections with a web of new friends and lovers, Sneha somehow feels more isolated and lonely than ever. With stunning prose and metaphors that made me literally gasp, Mathews unpacks the impossible mental task, especially for folks with many intersecting identities, of distilling a lifetime of experiences and traumas into one concrete personality, all while trying not to be crushed under the psychological weight of capitalism. The cast of side characters, just as loving and charismatic as they are selfish and stunted, are so richly developed you can't help but recognize them. A deceptively readable (and often hilarious) tale full of sharp meditations on what it means to be a young adult in the modern world. —Will Hunt

Viking

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra

"Mercury Pictures Presents"

I’ve read a lot of fiction set during the classic Hollywood “studio system” era, and Anthony Marra's latest novel is one of the best. Marra continues his work as a supremely talented writer who deftly balances use of beautiful language with character development that gets readers truly invested in the lives of the people he writes about. In Mercury Pictures Presents, we follow Maria, an associate producer at a “poverty row” movie studio, Mercury Pictures, whose finances are failing. Maria is an Italian immigrant, and as the US readies to enter World War II, she faces not only work stress, but figures from her complicated past reemerging in ways she didn’t expect. This book hooked me fast, and kept me reading because I needed to know what happened next. Surprising, clever, and touching, this is historical fiction at its most engaging. —David Vogel

Hogarth Press

The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings

"The Women Could Fly"

This prescient dystopian novel feels like it was written in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, though clearly that is impossible. It takes place in contemporary America with one big difference: Witches are real. Men legislate women's lives to protect them from the sin of witchcraft. Jo is a biracial (Black and white), bisexual woman whose mother disappeared when she was a child and is presumed dead. The taint of her mother's suspected witchcraft has followed Jo into her adulthood, and now, unless she marries a man by her 30th birthday, she'll be treated as a witch and monitored by the government. Despite this looming threat, Jo feels ambivalent about the idea of marriage. How can a woman love and marry a man when society will forever consider her indebted to and lesser than her husband? When Jo and her father finally officially declare Jo's mother dead, a lawyer informs Jo that to claim her inheritance, she must journey to a hidden island and collect apples there. What Jo finds on the island swings open the door to the magical and what might be possible without men legislating women's bodies. Too many feminist dystopian novels are told through a white female, cishet perspective. The Women Could Fly offers a much more nuanced and, at times, searingly realistic glimpse into what a future could look like when women are no longer allowed their autonomy. It's an intriguing read, and the audiobook narrated by Angel Pean is well done. —Margaret Kingsbury

Amistad Press

My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson

"My Government Means to Kill Me"

Part coming-of-age novel disguised as a fictionalized memoir, part tribute to civil rights movements and activity throughout America's 20th century, Newson's debut is undoubtedly unlike anything else you've read this year. Having escaped parents who never understood him and a childhood tragedy that will never leave him, Trey is doing his best to make his way in 1980s NYC as a young, gay, Black man during the AIDS crisis. It's not easy times, but he does find friendship, myriad sexual partners, and, most defining, a pathway into activism lined with fictionalized appearances from significant civil rights figures including Bayard Rustin and Larry Kramer. Dotted with footnotes that provide background on everything from media coverage and hypocritical politicians of the time to iconic queer performers and city landmarks, My Government Means to Kill Me provides a fascinating and nuanced history woven through an invigorating, sharp, and sexy tale. —Dahlia Adler

Flatiron Books

The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty

A novel as surreal as it is genius, The Rabbit Hutch follows multiple POVs and storylines that intersect around the dying town of Vacca Vale, Indiana. It primarily focuses on the residents of a run-down apartment building: an aging single woman, a new mother, a group of aged-out foster kids. One of these kids, Blandine, simultaneously loves her town (she's actively trying to shut down the construction of luxury apartments in the park, by any means necessary) while also despising the structures and adults who failed her throughout her life. Each unique perspective dives into notions of loneliness, community, and humanity as Vacca Vale sits on the brink of either total destruction or rebirth. Spanning one week, the novel culminates in a shocking and violent climax that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. —Kirby Beaton

A novel as surreal as it is genius, The Rabbit Hutch follows multiple POVs and storylines that intersect around the dying town of Vacca Vale, Indiana. It primarily focuses on the residents of a run-down apartment building: an aging single woman, a new mother, a group of aged-out foster kids. One of these kids, Blandine, simultaneously loves her town (she's actively trying to shut down the construction of luxury apartments in the park, by any means necessary) while also despising the structures and adults who failed her throughout her life. Each unique perspective dives into notions of loneliness, community, and humanity as Vacca Vale sits on the brink of either total destruction or rebirth. Spanning one week, the novel culminates in a shocking and violent climax that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. —Kirby Beaton

Knopf Publishing Group

Mother in the Dark by Kayla Maiuri

"Mother in the Dark"

Mother in the Dark is a poignant, tender novel where we follow a woman named Anna in both the past and present. Present day Anna lives in New York with her childhood best friend when she receives a call from home she doesn’t return right away. In the past, we begin to discover the fraught, strained relationship Anna and her two sisters have with both of their parents, but more specifically their mother. When their father forces them to move out of their small home and into a middle class suburb, Anna’s mother slowly becomes a shell of a person, creating tension that’s felt throughout the entire family. Maiuri’s writing is both captivatingly lyrical and heartbreakingly devastating, drawing out swollen, lush emotions from readers as we journey with Anna through her mixed feelings of returning home. —Farrah Penn

Riverhead Books

Delphi by Clare Pollard

"Delphi"

Anyone who feels tapped out on pandemic fiction, I urge you to give Clare Pollard’s debut novel, Delphi, a try. It tackles COVID-19 in a darkly funny way that avoids the dreary dystopian fatalism that afflicts much of mainstream fiction these days. A classics professor deals with the anxiety of lockdown and family stress by looking to ancient forms of prophecy for some hope, from zoomancy (prophecy by animal behavior) to oenomancy (prophecy by wine). Does it work for her? You’ll have to read to find out. All I’ll say is that this book does a superb job of providing perspective by connecting our present moment to ancient history in a way that’s clever and surprising. For fans of Jenny Offill, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Sally Rooney, here’s another hot sad girl book to add to your list. —David Vogel

Simon & Schuster

Paul by Daisy LaFarge

"Paul"

An uneasy, perturbing story that thrusts the toxic behaviors of men in its spotlight. LaFarge’s story follows graduate student Frances' summer volunteering in a small town in France where she meets a man named Paul, who owns an eco-farm. It’s there that Frances becomes spellbound by Paul, unaware of the unbalanced power dynamic that evolves in the time she’s there and what happens when she slowly begins to see the truth. —Farrah Penn

Riverhead Books

Querelle of Roberval by Kevin Lambert

"Querelle of Roberval"

Structured as a reimagining of Greek tragedy, Querelle of Roberval is a book that reads like a swift, vivid dream. The language is direct and cuts straight to the bone, while dealing with passions both personal and professional. The central conflict of the novel takes place around a labor strike at the local lumber mill, and the magnetic presence of newcomer and sexual renegade, Querelle, who alternately intrigues and infuriates the community. Brutal and beautiful by turns, this novel will grip readers from the first sentence all the way to its shocking conclusion. —David Vogel

Biblioasis

Witches by Brenda Lozano

"Witches"

Lozano’s thought-provoking story follows a young journalist named Zoe, who travels to the mountain village of San Felipe in order to meet Feliciana, the cousin of Paloma, a trans woman who was a legendary healer in Mexico before she was murdered. Feliciana slowly begins to reveal her life’s story to Zoe, all while Zoe begins to reexamine her own experiences as a woman in a world where men hold the power. —Farrah Penn

CatapultRiverhead Books

Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham

"Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta"

This book had me from the first page, when the narrator, a trans woman named Carlotta, sardonically likens her parole hearing to an audition. She’s served her term in an all-male cellblock while going through her transition because prison authorities wouldn’t recognize her authentic self. Once she gets out, Carlotta sets out to mend relationships with her family and other figures from her past who have a hard time accepting who she truly is. Tackling issues like our flawed criminal justice system, the fight for trans rights, and the struggle to heal generational trauma, James Hannaham introduces us to the distinct narrative voice of Carlotta, who’s willing to cut through all the noise to tell her truth in her own distinctly hilarious way. Timely, gripping, and compellingly written, this is a book that deserves to be read by anyone who’s interested in how public policy affects the everyday lives of marginalized communities in America. —David Vogel

Little Brown and Company

Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

"Mika in Real Life"

Emiko Jean's adult debut is a delectable journey of family and the faces we wear to impress. A mere phone call at a low point in Mika Suzuki's life is the catalyst for a gigantic life shift. The daughter she gave up for adoption, Penny, is now 16 and has reached out in hopes of connecting. But with a recent firing, a relationship failing, and her disappointment of her parents in the recent calendar of events, Mika decides to tell Penny a little bit about a more desirable life. As small lies become bigger ones, Penny and Thomas, Penny's adoptive father, come to visit Mika, making it even tougher for Mika to keep up the charade. And as Mika grows closer to Penny, and her iffy-at-first relationship with Thomas grows to a friendship and perhaps something else entirely, it's up to Mika to own up to the truth. Touching and heartfelt, this is a can't-miss read. —Rachel Strolle

William Morrow & Company

Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim

"Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club"

Roselle Lim's newest book and a beautiful August day are a match made in literary heaven. Sophie Go is a professional matchmaker who's recently returned to Toronto. Well, she's mostly professional. Technically speaking, she never graduated from matchmaking school in Shanghai, but she's still great at what she does. And she's desperate to prove it. Luckily, her condo complex is also home to the Old Ducks, a septet of 70-something Chinese bachelors who she's determined to find love for. Perfect for lovers of love, cozy reads, and magical writing! —Rachel Strolle

Berkley Books
Nonfiction and Poetry
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

"I'm Glad My Mom Died"

Jennette McCurdy's memoir is a heart-wrenching journey through the backstage trauma she endured from the time she went to her first audition at 6 years old. Young Jennette was pulled through show business by a mother who so desperately wanted stardom for her that she put her through hell. Hell that includes the beginnings of eating disorders as well as Mom showering her until age 16. With all her income going to support her family, things were tight until Jennette was cast on iCarly. As she goes through her life living someone else's dream, now with the added stressors of an abusive show creator and a network trying to silence her, addiction and unhealthy relationships wander onto the scene. But post-her mother's death, with trips to therapy and quitting acting altogether, Jennette finally gets to begin the journey toward healing. Told with dark humor and heart, this memoir is an unforgettable chronicle of a life that McCurdy finally gets to tell for herself. —Rachel Strolle

Simon & Schuster

Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers by Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green

"Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers"

I love a showbiz memoir, and this one of the most delightful and joyous I’ve read in years. Mary Rodgers, daughter of legendary composer Richard Rodgers and the mind behind classics Once Upon a Mattress and Freaky Friday, was working on her memoirs for years before her death in 2014 with the assistance of Jesse Green, chief theater critic for The New York Times. The result is a kaleidoscopic journey through the Golden Age of American musical theatre, filled with hilarious and heartfelt anecdotes about everything from Rodgers’ childhood in the shadow of her genius father, to her lifelong friendship with the late, great Stephen Sondheim. Shy is one of the funniest books I’ve read this year, and not to be missed if you’re a fan of theater. (Not to worry if you don’t understand all the references — Jesse Green has included some of the most comprehensive and accessible footnotes I’ve ever seen in a biography.) —David Vogel

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Historical Fiction
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"Carrie Soto Is Back"

Set in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s beloved universe, we follow Carrie Soto — the infamous tennis player who made an appearance in Malibu Rising — throughout her successful career beginning when she was a young child. Now, in 1994, Carrie finds herself at the US Open watching her record be taken by the fiercely talented Nikki Chan. It’s then that Carrie decides to emerge from retirement in order to reclaim her record, and she’ll do it with her father by her side. As her coach, her father has always pushed her to be the best she can be, and Carrie’s carried that mindset with her throughout her life: She must be the greatest. She must not fail. It’s why the media dubs her “The Battle-Axe,” though many prefer to describe Carrie as the B-word. Carrie wants to prove herself and excel within the rankings, but in order to continue to improve, she’ll need Bowe Huntley’s help. And as a tennis player himself, Bowe also wants to find success before calling it quits. Reid’s impactful story is about ambition and drive and what it means to be a woman who wants it all while the world is watching. Carrie is rough, hardened, and at times selfish, but her resilience and dedication to the sport, and to the ones she loves, soften her as a character. I’m always a little uncertain about diving into sports books, but Reid’s latest does not disappoint. —Farrah Penn

Ballantine Books

Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen

Based on the true story of two sisters who founded an army of women in order to bring down the Han Chinese rulers of Vietnam and unite their country. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi couldn't be more different: one is cunning and disciplined, while the other is a passionate free spirit. But both of their lives are ruled by strict, oppressive laws and, as tension in Vietnam boils over, both women will have to decide how to free themselves and their people in this sweeping novel. —Kirby Beaton

Based on the true story of two sisters who founded an army of women in order to bring down the Han Chinese rulers of Vietnam and unite their country. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi couldn't be more different: one is cunning and disciplined, while the other is a passionate free spirit. But both of their lives are ruled by strict, oppressive laws and, as tension in Vietnam boils over, both women will have to decide how to free themselves and their people in this sweeping novel. —Kirby Beaton

Grand Central Publishing

The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope

"The Monsters We Defy"

Clara Johnson might be best known for her temper, but she can also commune with trickster spirits called enigmas. She’s required to use her gift, if it can be called that, to help anyone who asks, but the enigmas drive a hard bargain, a fact she knows all too well. She’s indebted to one such enigma and fears she’ll never be free. When the enigma asks Clara to steal a magical ring from an opera singer, she suspiciously agrees. The ring has been enthralling poor Black folk, and Clara is determined to set them free. However, the ring’s power makes it impossible to steal alone, so Clara gathers a group of those similarly gifted to help her steal it: Aristotle, who can shape-shift into other people; Jesse Lee, who can manipulate memories; Israel, a handsome jazz musician who enchants with his music; and Clara’s roommate Zelda, an albino martial arts master, and the only ungifted person in the group. If these five pull off the heist, they might be free to live their own lives again. Set in 1920s Washington, DC, this historical fantasy novel is steeped in Black history, culture, and folklore. It’s a high-stakes, delightful read with fantastic characters. I quite enjoyed the audiobook narrated by Shayna Small. —Margaret Kingsbury

Redhook

The Wild Hunt by Emma Seckel

"The Wild Hunt"

On the island where Leigh Welles grew up, there are three rules: Mind your business, don't bring up the war, and be wary of the October Sluagh. These bird-like horrors haunt the island, blacking out the sky and rumored to carry the souls of the dead. When a boy disappears, Leigh, newly moved home from the Scottish mainland after her father's death, and Iain, a young widower desperate to escape the past, team up to dig up the island's dark secrets...and a few of their own. —Kirby Beaton

Tin House Books
Mystery & Thrillers
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

"Daisy Darker"

Alice Feeney is back with another gritty, twisty thriller that’s impossible to put down. A family celebration ends in murder when Daisy’s family gets together for their Nana’s 80th birthday. They’ve gathered in Nana’s dilapidated gothic house on the tiny tidal island where she lives, but by midnight, she is found dead. They’re cut off from the rest of the world with no help in sight, so there’s little they can do. But when another family member is found dead, it’s clear that someone plans to kill them one by one. Now Daisy needs to figure out her family’s secrets in order to unravel the current mystery at hand before it’s too late. —Farrah Penn

Flatiron Books

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

"The Family Remains"

Lisa Jewell is back with a sequel to her eerie 2019 best-selling novel The Family Upstairs, and what better way to kick off a domestic thriller than with the gruesome discovery of human bones in a bag? The Family Remains picks up where its predecessor left off as readers reunite with the complicated lives of the Lamb family — Lucy, who’s finally returning home after fleeing London nearly 30 years ago in the wake of the horrific tragedy that happened in their childhood home; Libby, who’s finally growing close to her birth mother, Lucy; and Henry, who’s determined to reconnect with Phin — the only boy he’s ever loved. Throughout this intricate, multilayered tale, Jewell also introduces a couple of new characters including widow Rachel Rimmer, whose husband was found dead in his home and a police detective looking to piece together a decades-old cold case. Told from alternate POVs, The Family Remains is a haunting realization of the lengths people will go to protect the ones they love and uncover the truth. With its superb pacing, twisted characters, and captivating prose, Jewell’s latest is one readers will devour with ease! —Morgan Murrell

Atria Books
Romance
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

"Love on the Brain"

Ali Hazelwood, the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis, returns with another rom-com set within the world of science, specifically NASA. In this nemesis-to-lovers romance, we follow Bee Königswasser, a young woman who grew up without the stability of family along with her twin sister after her parents died in an accident. Now Bee is a neuroscientist — who also runs an anonymous feminist Twitter account — presented with the opportunity to work on an important project for NASA this summer. There’s just one problem: She’ll be co-leading the project with her nemesis, Levi Ward. Levi’s always hated Bee, but in order for Bee to find success for herself, they’ll have to work together. Fans of the grumpy/sunshine trope found in The Love Hypothesis will be delighted to find the same dynamic in Bee and Levi. Filled with clever wit and banter, as well as some hot, hot heat, Hazelwood’s latest is a swoon-worthy sweet treat. —Farrah Penn

Berkley Books

In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae

"In the Event of Love"

When an unfortunate disaster threatens to tank Morgan's burgeoning publicity career, she'll have to do whatever she can to rescue it, even if it means taking on an event in the small hometown she never wanted to see again. To make matters worse, Rachel, the girl who broke her heart after their first and only kiss, is still in Fern Falls, and she's all grown up into a sexy lumberjane. But Rachel's family's tree farm needs help, and Morgan's the perfect person to provide it, especially since throwing the world's greatest fundraiser is exactly how she can show that she's still on top of her publicist game. But how invested is too invested to get into a town, and maybe even a girl, she's fully planning on leaving behind? This debut may be releasing in the summer, but it'll be living rent-free in your brain all through the snow, especially as you pray for it to get picked up as a Hallmark movie. —Dahlia Adler

Kensington Publishing Corporation

Scandalized by Ivy Owens

"Scandalized"

Investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on deadline with a huge story...and is stuck in the airport. With every hotel in basically a two hour radius fully booked up, and no flight available to her until the next morning, her luck shifts when she sees a familiar face. Alec Kim, the older brother of her childhood friend, offers to let her stay in his hotel room with him. Though it starts out as just a favor, it soon turns into a night of passion. But after their night together, Georgia quickly learns that he was familiar to her for a reason separate from their childhoods. And he might just be connected to her story in ways she never expected. If you're in the mood for a fun and sexy read, this is for you! —Rachel Strolle

Pocket Books

Heartbreaker by Sarah MacLean

"Heartbreaker"

The newest addition to Sarah MacLean's Hell's Belles series is a delightfully trope-filled adventure that I want to reread immediately. Adelaide Frampton appears to be just a wallflower, lingering in plain sight in the Mayfair ballrooms. But Adelaide, who grew up around London's most notorious criminals, actually is the Matchbreaker, who helps less-than-thrilled bride-to-be's escape their imposing unions. Her new assignment is to break the engagement between a young lady and the brother of a duke. Henry, said Duke of Clayborn, is heading off in search of a stolen treasure. Regardless of their feelings toward each other, they set off together toward Scotland to try and catch the couple. And before you ask, yes, there is indeed...only one bed. —Rachel Strolle

Avon Books

Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

"Thank You for Listening"

I love Julia Whelan’s audiobook narration so much. It’s always perfect, stunning, no notes. So when I learned of her latest novel, I knew I had to immediately read it — and I was not disappointed. Whelan’s contemporary romance has the perfect balance of swooniness and heart. Sewanee Chester has made a career being an audiobook narrator, which allows her to take care of her ailing grandmother. The one genre Sewanee doesn’t touch? Romance. So when news arrives in Sewanee’s inbox that the late June French, a world renowned romance writer, wants her and Brock McKnight, the romance industry’s beloved mystery voice, to team up on her final novel, it’s an offer Sewanee can’t refuse. Mainly because it pays A LOT. Enough for her to drudge up her old pseudonym. And from behind their screens, Sewanee and Brock begin to forge an emotional connection. But when reality comes crashing down, Sewanee must decide if she’s really ready to go after what she wants. —Farrah Penn

Avon Books

Long Past Summer by Noué Kirwan

"Long Past Summer"

Second chance romance fans prepare yourself for this debut! Mikaela and Julie were best friends in high school before falling out, but a photo of them that's landed on the cover of a fashion magazine has brought them back together...ish. Julie is suing the magazine, while Mikaela is the defense lawyer for it. Mikaela is working side by side with the photographer, Cameron Murphy, who at one point was the love of Mikaela's life. Regrettably, he's also Julie's ex-husband. As the story moves back to the initial sparks of romance and returns to the present with the embers still burning between Mikaela and Cameron, new beginnings and old memories battle it out for a chance at something real. This book is an emotional whirlwind and is the perfect next read for fans of Seven Days in June. —Rachel Strolle

Hqn

To Catch a Raven by Beverly Jenkins

"To Catch a Raven"

If there was ever a time to be able to insert a GIF of Nicolas Cage into a book blurb, this would be the one I'd stick it in. After all, we are talking about stealing the Declaration of Independence. Or...stealing it back. But to get to that point, swindler Raven and tailor Braxton will have to lie low in the household of the former Confederate official who stole it in the first place. Neither is entirely there by their own design, more forced into the undercover positions by the Pinkertons. Raven is masquerading as a housekeeper, while Braxton is portraying her husband and a valet. As their faux marriage seems to contain true passion, they'll have to weigh the risk of letting their true feelings overtake their mission. Beverly Jenkins is the queen of historical romance, and this delectable book adds to the long list of the reasons why. —Rachel Strolle

Avon
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072 by M. E. O'Brien and Eman Abdelhadi

"Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072"

This is a really fascinating glimpse into a future New York City after a revolution has transformed the US and much of the world into an anti-fascist, communist utopia. No more capitalism, no more military, no more police. People live in communes, taking care of one another and the Earth. The two authors place themselves into this fictional future by interviewing people who participated in the revolution or in the managing/founding of communes for a book they are compiling. The interviewees represent a diverse and intersectional range of identities, from a Chinese immigrant who went from being imprisoned in internment camps in the US to participating in revolutions in both China and the US, and becoming a trauma healer, to a child victim of a white supremacist cult who went from being a vocal advocate of the cult to participating in its downfall and escaping into an adulthood supporting teenagers and embracing their nonbinary identity. This hybrid novel is both necessary and empowering, providing a hypothetical foundation for an ideal future. —Margaret Kingsbury

Common Notion

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair

"A Broken Blade"

A Broken Blade came into the world in a slightly unconventional way. Initially distributed to BookTokers anonymously, noted as being by a fellow BookToker, it was drumming up buzz before the author was ever revealed. This new edition includes bonus content and is perfect for fans of Throne of Glass. Keera is the King's Blade, an assassin and spy who is favored highly by the King. Sent after a mysterious force known as the Shadow, Keera's tracking skills bring her to the lands of the Fae. But answers are not so easily acquired, and what she finds in Faeland sends her into more of a tailspin. As Keera is forced to confront not only her true enemy but also her own internal struggles of guilt and alcohol dependency, she'll have to find a way to save both herself and her kingdom. —Rachel Strolle

Union Square & Co.

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

"The Book Eaters"

Dean's debut novel is a delightfully weird exploration of motherhood, queerness, and escaping patriarchal norms. Centuries earlier, as the book eaters believe, an alien species arrived on Earth and left behind information gatherers disguised as humans, then forgot about them for unknown reasons. These aliens form their own little mini, archaic world. Most eat books instead of food, though some eat human minds. These mind-eaters become dragons, used as weapons to maintain patriarchal control over the families. Because women are rare, their fertility is tightly managed, and they're not allowed to stay with their children. Book eater Devon, however, deeply loves her children and refuses to leave them. She will do whatever it takes, commit whatever evils necessary, to ensure her mind-eater son's survival and that they remain together. —Margaret Kingsbury

Tor Books

The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

"The Bruising of Qilwa"

In this queer-normative, Persian-inspired world, nonbinary healer Firuz must keep their past as a blood magic practitioner secret from everyone in their new home in the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa. Despite needing to keep such an essential part of themself secret, they enjoy the safety their new home in Qilwa provides as well as their work with the healer Kofi. When a young and powerful blood-magic user Afsoneh arrives at the clinic, Firuz agrees to train her in blood magic secretly and adopts her into their home where they live with their son. Firuz’s secret is threatened when he and Kofi discover a new illness that appears to be caused by inept blood magic. This lovely character-driven novella gently explores weighty themes of identity, colonialism, refugee status, illness, and more. —Margaret Kingsbury

Tachyon Publications

The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri

"The Oleander Sword"

The first book in the Burning Kingdoms series, The Jasmine Throne, was one of my favorite fantasy novels of 2021. I’m happy to say that The Oleander Sword more than exceeds my expectations. Malini and Priya begin the novel on their separate journeys toward power. As the prophecy foretold, Malini leads an army intending to depose her brother and become the empress of Parijatdvipa. Meanwhile, the priestess Priya, now an Elder of Ahiranya, seeks to rid her country of colonialist rule and find a cure for the toxic, magical disease that continues to spread. While their goals may seem opposed to one another, they’ll once more have to join forces to succeed. Like the first book, The Oleander Sword has a vast cast of characters, expansive and intelligent world-building, and lots of fiery, intense interactions. Epic fantasy readers must check out this series if they haven’t already. —Margaret Kingsbury

Orbit

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

"The Drowned Woods"

This queer-normative fantasy heist novel based on the Welsh myth of Cantre'r Gwaelod is an absolute blast, the kind of book perfect for long plane rides or rainy weekends because you're going to want to read it in one go. 18-year-old Mer is the last living water diviner. Purchased as a child by a tyrannical king, she's taught how to be a spy and an assassin by the king's spymaster, who becomes her surrogate father. When the king uses Mer to enact a horrific, genocidal scheme, she flees the castle. The king's spymaster tracks her down working as a barmaid in a remote village, but instead of taking her back to the king, he offers her a job: help him destroy the king's source of power — a magical pool created by the Tylwyth Teg. Unfortunately, the pool is protected by flooded wells and magical traps. To succeed, the two gather a group intent on either destroying the king or making some cash: a man cursed by the Tylwyth Teg who cannot be defeated in battle, his delightful magic-sniffing corgi, the head spymaster's daughter and Mer's former lover, a magic historian, and a man with more reason to hate the king than anyone. While this novel is set in the same world as The Bone Houses, it's a stand-alone. Narrated by Moira Quirk, the audiobook is fantastic. —Margaret Kingsbury

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Babel by R.F. Kuang

"Babel"

This brilliant historical fantasy takes place in an alternative Victorian-era Oxford. Silver bars inscribed with unique word combinations can be activated to do magical tasks, from the mundane like heating tea to the essential like holding up a bridge. Because of the nature of silver working, people who can speak multiple languages are crucial, especially less common languages in England. To that end, a professor from Babel — Oxford's translation tower and the world center of silver working — essentially steals Chinese children with promising language skills and whisks them away to England. Robin Swift, the protagonist, is one such child. He spends his childhood learning languages, and if he tarries, he faces the professor's wrath. When he arrives at Oxford to begin classes, he befriends other outsiders like him: charismatic Rami, originally from India who quickly becomes Robin's best friend; brilliant and principled Victoire, originally from Haiti; and stubborn Letty, a white woman born to wealth who refuses to be married off by her father. These four become everything to one another, but they cannot escape Babel's fractious, colonialist politics. Kuang deftly explores the period and its legacy of racism and colonialism while also fully committing to Robin Swift's character arc. It's an impressive, emotional read. —Margaret Kingsbury

Harper Voyager

Face by Joma West

"Face"

This intriguing domestic dystopia takes place in a future where everything is manufactured, from babies to personas, called faces. While the rich design babies to perfectly compliment their looks and to add to their face's standing, people known as menials are designed to serve rich folk and aren't considered human by society. People also no longer touch one another, ever. Schuyler Burroughs is the patriarch of one of the most elite and wealthiest families and is widely recognized as presenting the strongest face to the world. Despite the family's outward perfection, cracks begin to chip away at their personas. Schuyler believes he married beneath his face and constantly ridicules his wife, Maddie. A stranger obsessed with Schuyler attempts to infringe on their teenage daughter Reyna's multiple faces, while their other daughter, Naomi, becomes fascinated with menials, convinced society treats them inhumanely. She unknowingly becomes the anonymous therapist to the family menial, Jake, who is obsessed with Madeline and longs to touch her. Told from a vast cast of characters, this dystopia explores the cost of perfectionism and performative identities. The audiobook narrated by Patricia Santomasso and André Santana expertly gives voice to the large cast. —Margaret Kingsbury

Tordotcom

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

"The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches"

This contemporary romantic fantasy is such a heartwarming and charming read. At 31 years old, Mika Moon is the youngest member of Britain’s secret society of witches. That makes her decision to start a witchy Instagram account somewhat controversial with the other witches since they’re supposed to keep their witchcraft secret. Mika knows everyone will assume she’s a fake witch like everyone else; however, one discerning follower has no problem spotting a real witch and invites her to the Nowhere House to teach three young witches in his care. Also living at Nowhere House is Jaime, a handsome librarian and primary caretaker of the three girls. He dislikes Mika because of her relentless happiness and positivity, but the longer she’s there, the more he finds himself longing for her. Meanwhile, a solicitor is due at Nowhere House soon, and Mika must make sure the girls can control their magic by then. It’s a magical, sigh-worthy read, and the audiobook narrated by Samara MacLaren is excellent. —Margaret Kingsbury

Berkley Books
Young Adult
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala

"The Honeys"

In this bee-autifully (sorry) twisted summer camp horror novel, genderfluid teen, Mars, returns to a place he swore he'd never go in order to understand what led to his twin Caroline's tragic death. There, she discovers that Caroline's group of friends, the notorious apiculture-loving Honeys, yield way more power than she could've imagined, and between them and the toxic masculine culture Mars left Aspen Summer Conservatory to escape in the first place, everything's growing increasingly more painful and confusing, especially the closer Mars gets to the truth. —Dahlia Adler

Push

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

"Belladonna"

Belladonna is a mesmerizing story that’s on the more mature side of YA lit — our main character Signa is 19, after all — and Grace’s succinct, gorgeous prose instantly grabbed me. The author’s described it as Knives Out meets gothic Victorian Bridgerton, but I’d add that it has a supernatural sprinkle of Stranger Things as well, and fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Stephanie Garber are sure to love this one. Orphaned Signa Farrow has been raised by various guardians that have all met a peculiar demise. After the loss of her aunt, Signa is sent to Thorn Grove to live with the Hawthornes until she reaches the age of 20, when she is able to receive her inheritance. Signa is no ordinary girl; she is able to see spirits. So when the restless spirit of the late Lillian Hawthorn reveals that her untimely death was a result of poison, Signa must quickly figure out who is plotting against her children, especially since Lillian’s daughter has fallen ill by the same poison. And in order to solve this pressing mystery, Signa has no choice but to align herself with Death, a mysterious shadow man who has always had an unexplainable connection with Signa. With exquisite pacing, luscious details, and impeccable prose, Grace’s latest is a standout. —Farrah Penn

Little Brown

Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin

"Dauntless"

Beasts roam in Seri's world, and she's seen the struggle to fight the beasts firsthand as she works as an assistant to a valor commander. An unexpected meeting brings her to a new truth, as Tsana, a stranger from an unknown world, can actually communicate with the beasts. Through their conversations, Seri begins to question the rules she's always held as truth. —Rachel Strolle

Swoon Reads

The Feeling of Falling in Love by Mason Deaver

"The Feeling of Falling in Love"

Neil Kearney is in a pickle. Right before he was supposed to fly across the country with his childhood friend/friend-with-benefits Josh for his brother's wedding, Josh admits he has feelings for Neil — feelings Neil doesn't reciprocate. So now, Neil is trying to find a new date to bring to the wedding with very little notice, and he ends up drafting his roommate, Wyatt. This fake dating story following two trans teens is sure to be magnificent. —Rachel Strolle

Push

I Rise by Marie Arnold

"I Rise"

This novel follows 14-year-old Ayo, who has spent her entire life as an activist. Her mother founded See Us, a civil rights movement that tackles police brutality and racial profiling in Harlem. Despite Ayo's desire for a normal teen life, she's the presumed new face of the movement after her mother ends up in a coma after a riot between protestors and police. But she doesn't yet know if she is able to take over for her mother while also dealing with her grief and anger. —Rachel Strolle

Versify

It Sounds Like This by Anna Meriano

"It Sounds Like This"

Yasmín is determined to earn first chair flute, but to do that, she'll actually need to master the marching part of marching band. Oh, and she'll also need to fix a problem slightly of her own making — her report of an anonymous gossip Instagram harassing new band members leads to the suspension of the entire low brass section from extracurriculars. Donning a tuba, she'll join a new section, which includes sweet section leader Bloom, before the gossip Instagram's harassment campaign grows and they inch closer to their big band competition. —Rachel Strolle

Viking Books for Young Readers

The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis

"The Undead Truth of Us"

Ever since the day her mother died, Zharie Young has been seeing zombies everywhere. There are several other things she can't quite figure out: why her mother morphed into a zombie before her death, why her aunt has pushed her away, and why she's drawn to the charming new guy in her apartment building. The latter, Bo, transforms into a half zombie in front of her, leading her to question her understanding about monsters, and might lead her to answers about her mother's death. —Rachel Strolle

Disney-Hyperion

Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

"Nothing More to Tell"

One of YA's favorite mystery mavens is back with this new thriller! Brynn is moving back home after four years away, having left Saint Ambrose School after her favorite teacher was murdered. As she's begun an internship at a true-crime show, she wants to put the pieces together of what happened the day Mr. Larkin died. Three students found his body in the woods behind the school, including Brynn's ex-best friend, Tripp. Digging into the past could have dire consequences, but Brynn needs to know if the killer is still out there. After all, without Tripp's part of the story, the other two would have gone down for murder. And everything Tripp told police was a lie. —Rachel Strolle

Delacorte Press
Children's Fiction
Alexa Fishman / Buzzfeed

A Taste of Magic by J. Elle

"A Taste of Magic"

As a fan of both baking competitions and books about magical schools, I could not be more delighted by J. Elle's delicious middle grade debut. There's a magic academy hidden in the back of the local beauty shop, and no one is more excited about it than Kyana. After learning that she is a witch, she cannot wait for her first day at Park Row, despite the fact that her best friend, Nae, can't know. But Park Row's funding is on the fritz, and its students are left with only two options: head to the fancy (and super expensive) school across the street or give up their magic. Neither of those options is acceptable to Kyana. So instead, she enters a baking contest, hoping to use the large cash prize to save her school. And what happens if her magic becomes a secret ingredient in her cupcakes? With a sprinkle of enchantment and a dash of joy, this story is truly a new classic. —Rachel Strolle

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC