by Anita Kopacz
In this lyrical debut, we meet Yemaya, an African deity of the sea who finds herself flung back in time to 1800s America. We transcend time and space as Yemaya herself grows from a tentative young woman into the powerful deity she's destined to become. Along the way, we see her battle everything from sea evils to slavery, crossing paths with icons from American history. Part history, part fantasy, this novel crosses genres as easily as it does time. —Kirby Beaton
by Courtney Ellis
When Bertie Preston accepts a commission to spend a summer painting the Earl of Wakeford's home, she hopes it will finally jump-start her professional career — a tough feat for a woman in the 1920s. But the Great War has tarnished the home's family, with the earl himself locked away in isolation with battle scars he keeps hidden under a mask. As Bertie and the earl become close, she chips away at the secrets of the home, finding an unexpected bond with its residents.
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Moreno-Garcia proves her prowess as a historical fiction powerhouse again, this time in the form of a noir novel. While protests and civil unrest roil 1970s Mexico City, Maite is focused on one thing only: the latest copy of her romance magazine. But when her beautiful and mysterious neighbor, Leonora, disappears, Maite begins to search for her. Meanwhile, Elvis — a gangster with a secret soft spot — is also on the case. As their paths cross, they'll realize just how far people will go to protect Leonora's secrets.
by Leila Slimani
This Moroccan-French author became internationally famous for The Perfect Nanny, a compelling story about a Parisian nanny who murders her client’s two children, and a withering critique of the impossible choices of modern motherhood. Her third novel, the first in a planned trilogy, turns to the past. Inspired by her own family history, In the Country of Others centers on an interracial couple living in post–World War II Morocco. Malthilde is a headstrong Alsatian woman who falls in love with Amine, a similarly stubborn Moroccan soldier who fought on behalf of the French in World War II. Now they live on a blighted farm with their two children as tensions between French colonists and Arabs fighting for independence for their country escalate. Leila Slimani is a doggedly unsentimental writer; the romance between Mathilde and Amine is a complicated and often violent one; her characters, particularly the women, grapple with the reality of their limited choices. But even with its brutality, I felt compelled to keep reading and eagerly await the next book. —Tomi Obaro
by Colson Whitehead
In 1960s Harlem, we meet Ray Carney, a furniture salesperson without a lot to his name besides a loving pregnant wife and a happy life. Few people know about his past, but as money gets tighter, the cracks in Ray's facade begin to widen. When he gets pulled into a heist that naturally goes wrong, Ray will suddenly have to navigate his past and present: Can he avoid getting killed, collect his share of the loot, and keep his upstanding reputation?
by Anthony Veasna So
Stockton, California, is home to the country’s largest community of Cambodian Americans. Anthony Veasna So, a promising writer who died tragically in December at only age 28, grew up there. His debut collection of short stories focuses mainly on this community — the first- and second-generation Cambos, as characters dub themselves, whose parents were refugees from the Khmer Rouge genocide. Though the shadow of this trauma colors many of the stories in this collection, the stories never feel like trauma porn; they’re gloriously alive, full of humor, intelligence, and quiet heartbreak. Two young girls wonder about the middle-aged man who keeps showing up at Chuck’s Donuts, the donut shop their mother owns (“though she isn’t named Chuck … she simply thought the name was American enough to draw customers”) in “Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts.” A raucous afterparty becomes the scene of fast-flying recriminations among cousins in “We Would’ve Been Princes.” And gentrifying San Francisco takes a drubbing in “Human Development.” The force of So’s talent is the consistent element throughout this book — that we won’t be able to read more of him is gutting. —Tomi Obaro
by Sarah Zachrich Jeng
Part sci-fi, part thriller, The Other Me follows Kelly, an artist living in Chicago who arrives at her best friend's art show the night of her birthday. But when she opens a door, she winds up in a parallel-universe situation, uncovering that she's actually back in her hometown with 12 years of wrong memories in her head. She is married to a boy she barely knew in high school and has a better relationship with her parents than she did in her "other" life. But as she gets to know Eric and the tech company he's connected to, strange things begin happening. Tattoos from her old life briefly appear on her skin. Fights with Eric that he says never happened return to her. As she slowly begins to put the pieces together, she doesn't fully understand how much it could cost her. —Farrah Penn
by Andrea Bartz
Recently named a Reese's Book Club pick, Andrea Bartz's hauntingly suspenseful thriller follows Emily and her best friend, Kristen, as they embark on a reunion trip in the mountains of Chile. But on the last night of the trip, Emily finds Kristen in her hotel room surrounded by blood and broken glass. Kristen claims she had to kill the cute backpacker she brought back to her room in self-defense, but Emily is aware that this isn't the first time something like this has happened with Kristen. Back home, after Emily attempts to reckon with what happened, Kristen shows up for a surprise visit. But as Kristen tries to keep her best friend close, the more Emily begins to question her true motives. —Farrah Penn
by Katie Zhao
This YA thriller is Crazy Rich Asians meets One of Us Is Lying, set in an elite prep school. Top-ranked junior Jamie is found dead, leaving Nancy Luo — his former BFF — dumbfounded. But Nancy and her friends become prime suspects when someone anonymously begins incriminating them via the school's social media app. Now Nancy must figure out what happened to Jamie before the messages begin costing her more than she can afford. —Farrah Penn
by Jayci Lee
Tara Parker isn't in the market for a romantic relationship, although Seth Kim — her best friend's super-hot new brother-in-law — is almost tempting enough to make her reconsider. Seth is moving to Paris in a month and doesn't have time for anything serious. So when a friendly game of Truth or Dare turns into a four-date arrangement, the pair think it's the best-possible scenario — a few weeks of fun with no strings attached. But the two continually surprise each other and soon realize that maybe what they have between them could be something more, something serious, something forever. But the road to forever is never easy, and Tara and Seth will have to deal with past relationship baggage if they want any chance at a future. —Shyla Watson
by Julie Murphy
In this Cinderella retelling, Cindy is a recent graduate with a degree in shoe design. When she returns home, her stepmother — an executive producer for reality dating show Before Midnight — needs a last-minute contestant, and Cindy volunteers, thinking the publicity will help her launch her fashion career. But the audience isn't only focused on her fashionable footwear — Cindy is the first plus-size contestant the show has had, quickly becoming a body-positivity icon for women across the country. Cindy is so focused on this newfound responsibility, navigating being on a reality show, and trying to launch a career that love sneaks up on her. But will she get the fairy-tale ending?
by Suzanne Park
When up-and-coming investment banker Jess Kim is passed over for a promotion by her racist and sexist company, she storms out of her office building and heads straight back home to Tennessee and her Korean mother's open arms. Before long, her mom tries to set her up with her pastor's son, Daniel Choi, a lawyer by day and successful video game streamer by night. Daniel helps Jess launch her new Korean-cooking YouTube channel for busy professionals looking for easy meal prep. When Jess's mom interrupts one of the tapings by telling her everything she's doing wrong, the video goes viral and puts her channel on the map...so much so that a client offers to buy her company. But when she gets to the negotiating table, she finds herself seated across from the firm that laid her off, along with their new counsel — Daniel — whom she happens to be falling for. —Shyla Watson
by Suzanne Allain
Having given up on her own love life years ago, Sophronia Lattimore has resigned herself to serving as her cousin's chaperone. But when she saves a man from proposing to the wrong woman by sending him a letter with advice, word gets out, and soon people are asking her to play matchmaker on their behalf. One client, the handsome Edmund Winslow, is seeking a bride, and Sophronia wishes she could fill the role herself. She convinces herself he could never return her feelings, and vows to remain professional. But her job proves to be a little too challenging when her former flame, a dissatisfied client, and a man besotted with Sophronia's cousin all turn up at her doorstep. Trying to navigate other people's love lives is hard enough, but deciding between her ex and Edmund, who has feelings for her after all, is practically impossible.
by Jenn McKinlay
Twice divorced and not even 30, Annabelle Martin is stuck in a rut. So when she's offered her dream job in Phoenix, she jumps at the chance for a fresh start. When she arrives, she's immediately curious about her anonymous landlord, who she assumes is an old, cranky grump, based on the notes he leaves her. So when she meets him IRL and discovers that he's her age, she's very surprised. Nick Daire had a stroke year ago and now uses a wheelchair, but physically, he should've made a full recovery a while ago. When Annabelle discovers he has a paralyzing fear that has kept him trapped in his home and unable to heal, she can't help but give him aid. Together, they make each other brave enough to fight for the life they want...and whom they want to spend it with. —Shyla Watson
by Farrah Rochon
Personal trainer Taylor Powell is great at her job — it's just not paying the bills. Facing a dire financial situation, she needs a miracle, and it just so happens to come in the form of NFL star Jamar Dixon. The footballer hires her to help him get back on the field, but they have to keep their sessions a secret. So when they're spotted together and assumed to be a couple, they play along to keep the truth hidden. Fake-dating her client was just supposed to be a game, but when it turns real and they start playing for keeps, Taylor doesn't know if she's going to win or lose. —Shyla Watson
by Helen Hoang
First, violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success but can't seem to replicate it. Then her long-term boyfriend tells her he wants to try an open relationship before making a final commitment. Fed up and needing to let loose, Anna decides to have a string of one-night stands with the most ineligible men she can find. Enter a tattooed, motorcyle-riding Quan Diep. He's the perfect candidate, but during each of their attempts at a one-night stand, something goes wrong. Anna begins to wonder if maybe it's because she wants more with Quan than just the physical. But when tragedy strikes in her family, Anna has to figure out her own life before she can face her feelings for Quan head-on. —Shyla Watson
by Jennet Alexander
Up-and-coming horror actor Lila Silver is finally on the brink of her big break, but she can't do it alone. She enlists the help of her trusted makeup artist, Noa Birnbaum — who's secretly been crushing on Lila for a while. Long hours in the makeup chair working together to make their respective dreams come true builds a connection neither of them saw coming. —Shyla Watson
by Nafiza Azad
The Wild Ones are girls who have been wronged, abused, and discarded in a patriarchal society. They now save other victims of abuse, and their leader is Paheli, who many years earlier fled after her mother sold her to a man to be abused. As she fled, she ran into a boy with stars in his eyes who gifted her a box of stars. These stars allow her to walk between worlds and save others like herself. When she meets the boy again and realizes he’s in deadly peril, she and the Wild Ones make it their mission to protect him. This explicitly feminist contemporary YA fantasy is a haunting read. Switching between prose and poetry and between third-person plural and Paheli’s perspective, the writing is as inventive as it is compelling. —Margaret Kingsbury
by Jadie Jang
This super-fun, action-packed romp of an urban fantasy takes place in San Francisco. Monkey King Maya McQueen works as a barista, but she’s also a part-time supernatural detective working for the owner of the coffee shop. Maya desperately wants to find other shapeshifters like herself. While investigating the disappearance of a supernatural crime boss, she comes across a guard who mentions that he’s met another like her. However, her investigation into her identity takes a turn when she realizes that the being who looks like her is also murdering and eating the souls of other supernatural beings. In the meantime, she’s got Occupy Wall Street rallies to organize and an activist magazine to run. This utterly satisfying read is precisely what I’m looking for in an urban fantasy: engaging characters, intriguing creatures, and thrilling action scenes. —Margaret Kingsbury
by Zen Cho
These 19 science fiction and fantasy short stories infused with Malaysian folklore are absolutely gorgeous. Originally published in 2014, before Zen Cho's debut fantasy, Sorcerer to the Crown, it is now being published by Small Beer Press with nine additional stories. In her Hugo Award–winning novelette "If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again," an imugi who wishes to ascend to full dragonhood has its plan thwarted by a human girl taking a selfie. In "The House of Aunts," a teenage pontianak (sorta like a vampire) lives with her overbearing female relatives and attends school, where she tries to hide her food choices from her crush. Just as with her novels, Cho merges humor and relatable characters with delightful prose and engaging storylines. —Margaret Kingsbury
by Romina Garber
Unlike Lobizona, Cazadora takes place entirely in the Septimus world and picks up where Book 1 left off. The Cazadoras want to imprison Manu because of her hybrid status. They fear the myth of la ladrona — a half-human monster—and consider Manu a danger. She flees with her friends, but they need to try to convince the Cazadoras that she belongs, that a half-werewolf girl isn’t necessarily a monster. These gripping and magical books combine Argentine folklore with themes of identity and the morality of deciding who is and isn’t illegal. —Margaret Kingsbury
by Jordan Ifueko
Immersive and gorgeously written, the sequel and conclusion to the Raybearer duology is just as excellent as Book 1, Raybearer, which ended on an intense note. For the first time in Aritsar's history, a woman is on the throne. Tarisai is now the Empress Redemptor, and she must form a council, come into her Raybearer powers, and negotiate peace with the spirits of the dead before it's too late. Ghosts, assassination attempts, and a possible love interest all make Tarisai's already complicated rule even more intense.
by Cynthia Zhang
This quietly beautiful fantasy takes place in a Beijing populated by dragons, though they struggle to survive in the city’s pollution, and only the Eastern dragons remain. A new respiratory disease called shaolong is afflicting many of Beijing’s human population, including one of the main characters, Xiang Kaifei (Kai). Kai works in a pet shop and finds and takes care of dragons for the shop. Elijah Ahmed, the second main character, is a biracial American studying immunology in Beijing. When his overseer takes him to a dragon fight, he meets Kai, and as Elijah’s interest in dragons and their possible connection with shaolong grows, so, too, does his relationship with Kai. —Margaret Kingsbury
by Jessica Lewis
This riveting contemporary YA fantasy had me in tears many times. Sixteen-year-old Katrell can bring ghosts back to life by writing them letters, but only briefly — long enough to speak with their loved ones — before they fade away again. She hires out her abilities and uses the money from this gig, along with her job at a fast-food joint, to pay for pretty much everything because her gaslighting mother, who brings abusive men home, doesn't work. Thankfully, Katrell has an amazing BFF to lean on. Then Katrell's magic suddenly shifts, and she's able to bring back the dead for good. At first, she happily resurrects the dead and rakes in cash, but the resurrections take their toll on her health, and the people she brings back aren't quite the same. This novel is an intense read from start to finish.
by Kira Jane Buxton
Readers who fell in love with Hollow Kingdom will not be disappointed by Book 2, which centers on the crow S.T. and his human nestling, Dee. S.T. had high hopes for Dee reenacting everything awesome about being human, but instead, Dee is drawn to the natural world and considers it her family. When the changed ones realize an unchanged human is alive, they begin to hunt her. S.T. must overcome his reluctance to team up with the animal kingdom if he wants to protect his nestling. Meanwhile, it might be Dee, who grew up on stories of Dennis the hero, who holds the key to saving the animal kingdom. S.T.’s struggles with parenting are both humorous and heart-wrenching in this powerful follow-up.
by Laura Sibson
Edie’s mother has recently died, and she’s moved in with her grandmother, who lives in a houseboat in a small town. Edie misses her mother and her familiar Baltimore home. She also resents the magic that courses through her veins, the same magic her grandmother has and her mother had. However, when she discovers her mother’s teenage journal, she also discovers a magic she’s unwilling to ignore. For every object of her mother’s that she finds, a new journal entry appears, and Edie is able to relive her mother’s memories. Meanwhile, Edie begins falling for the cute girl who works at the local occult shop. This sweet, yet empowering YA novel is a lovely homage to family heritage and collective memory. —Margaret Kingsbury
by Elayne Audrey Becker
Rora and her brother Helos are shapeshifters, born in the magical kingdom called the Vale, but become outcasts when their parents and entire village are murdered. The siblings make their home in King Gerar's kingdom, where Rora works as the king's spy, and Helios as an apothecary's apprentice. The people there don't much like the shapeshifter siblings, fearing their magic. However, when magic folk begin dying from a mysterious disease and the king's youngest son comes down with it, the two shapeshifter siblings and the king's second child must journey into the Vale to find stardust, the only thing that can cure those afflicted. In their search, they find more than a cure; they uncover a plot to eliminate all magic. This high-stakes YA fantasy with a strong romance subplot is a thrilling and magical read and an excellent start to a new series. —Margaret Kingsbury
by S. Qiouyi Lu
This lovely and surreal meta-narrative novella is like nothing else I’ve ever read. The city Ora uses a living network called the Gleaming to maintain peace. Anima is an extrasensory, nonbinary human who can plug into the Gleaming to watch its inhabitants and its borders. When a mysterious visitor with a trunk arrives, Anima’s equilibrium is disrupted. Within the trunk are objects, and as Anima explores the stories behind each object, ae begins to question their part of the Gleaming and to wonder if maybe ae wants something more. —Margaret Kingsbury
by Jeff Zentner
Cash loves the familiarity of his small Appalachian town, but he also knows the suffering of loss. He lost his mother from an opioid addiction, and his grandfather is slowly dying from emphysema. His rock is his best friend, Delaney, toward whom he feels a fierce protection. But one day, everything changes. Delaney's scientific discovery has secured both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, which means Cash must make a hard decision: Does he abandon a town he thought he'd never leave behind? This might be Jeff Zentner's best book yet. With profound, evocative prose and lyrical insights into the world surrounding a struggling main character, Zentner's powerful, emotional novel is one you won't soon forget. —Farrah Penn
by Amber McBride
Me (Moth) is a stunning novel in verse that follows a girl named Moth who has tragically lost her family. Though she lives with her aunt, she carries the weight of the accident deep inside her — until she meets someone whose emptiness matches her own. Sani is a broken boy in search of healing, someone who used to thrive off music just as Moth used to passionately love dancing. When the two set out on a road trip to escape the things that haunt them, they'll begin to tackle moving forward. The lush, poetic imagery throughout this story is deeply moving. With unmatched lyrical writing and a powerful plot, Amber McBride's novel is astoundingly enchanting. —Farrah Penn
by Margot Wood
Margot Wood writes a hilarious, heartfelt, and realistic coming-of-age story about the ups, downs, and wild experiences that happen during the first year of college. Elliot McHugh — bisexual, confident, outgoing — isn't exactly sure what she wants to major in, but she is certain that she wants this year to be memorable. What she doesn’t expect is an infuriatingly gorgeous RA, a demanding course load, and (dun dun dun) bad sex. But if she can survive this first year, Elliot might just come out of this discovering the person she wants to be. Readers will fall in love with Wood's voice from the very first page. —Farrah Penn
by Britta Lundin
Britta Lundin's latest contemporary novel follows Mara, a teen who is kicked off her high school basketball team for a fight that wasn't her fault. But Mara is still dying to play a sport, and as it turns out, football comes naturally to her. Her joining the school's football team leads a few other girls to join — including her crush and her nemesis. As Mara becomes integrated into the politics of football within her small Oregon town — and as she begins to feel defined by stereotypes — she begins to push back against the patriarchal boundaries of the sport. —Farrah Penn
by Tobly McSmith
This contemporary coming-of-age story follows August Greene, who has earned a top spot at the prestigious School of Performing Arts in New York. But things are far from perfect. For one, his conservative parents don't accept that he's transgender. So if August wants to stay in New York, he has to deny his true self and promise he won't transition. August is sure he can play the part for the sake of doing what he loves — but for how long? —Farrah Penn