Bookmail – March 28, 2022

Happy bookmail day! Here’s what came in recently. Thanks to the publishers who sent advanced reader copies.

Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow–Margaret K. McElderry Books; June 28, 2022 

Luca Laine Thomas lives on a cursed island. To the outside world, Parris is an exclusive, idyllic escape accessible only to the one percent. There’s nothing idyllic about its history, though, scattered with the unsolved deaths of young women–deaths Parris society happily ignores to maintain its polished veneer. But Luca can’t ignore them. Not when the curse that took them killed her best friend, Polly, three years ago. Not when she feels the curse lingering nearby, ready to take her next.

When Luca comes home to police cars outside her house, she knows the curse has visited once again. Except this time, it came for Whitney, her sister. Luca decides to take the investigation of Whitney’s death into her own hands. But as a shocking betrayal rocks Luca’s world, the identity Whitney’s killer isn’t the only truth Luca seeks. And by the time she finds what she’s looking for, Luca will come face to face with the curse she’s been running from her whole life.

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye (Blood Scion #1)–Harperteen; March 08, 2022 

This is what they deserve.

They wanted me to be a monster.

I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will–she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Blue Bloods: After Life by Melissa de la Cruz–Disney-Hyperion; July 26, 2022

After defeating Lucifer and sacrificing the love of her life, Jack, Schuyler wakes up back in New York safe and sound. Only it’s not quite the New York she knows, and she’s not in her regular body. She looks different and feels different and so does everyone else. Schuyler soon discovers that in this world, her best friend has a different last name, her parents are both alive and well and one of them is an entirely different person, and the love of her life? Not so dead after all. The catch? Jack has no idea who she is.

As it turns out, Schuyler is not in her New York. She’s not even in her universe. This is an alternate reality. One where Lucifer is alive and well and acting as mayor of New York, Blue Bloods are luring humans to clinics to drain their blood, and Jack is Lucifer’s right hand man. Just when she thinks all is lost, Schuyler is contacted by a familiar friend–the Silver Blood, Kingsley. The Kingsley from her world. He actually remembers the Schuyler she used to be! But he also has a theory, and it’s one she doesn’t like. That Schuyler was sent here to defeat Lucifer. Again. And that she’s the only person in this universe or any universe that can defeat him.

Boy at the Window by Lauren Melissa Ellzey–Bold Strokes Books; February 15, 2022

It all began with trying to fly. After jumping off the roof of his house in the middle of the night, Daniel Kim wakes up far from Neverland, his reprieve from the real world. Thrust into a mental health hospital and then into a brand-new high school, he struggles to hold onto reality while haunted by both his very-present past and his never-present parents. But when he joins Cranbrook Preparatory’s cross-country team, he starts to feel like he’s walking on his own two feet once again. He meets Jiwon Yoon–another cross-country runner, who may be the first person to join Daniel in his Neverland daydreams. Or maybe Jiwon is the one who will finally break Daniel free.

Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror edited by John F.D. Taff–Tor Nightfire; May 10, 2022

Within these pages you’ll find tales of dead men walking, an insidious secret summer fling, an island harboring unspeakable power, and a dark hallway that beckons. You’ll encounter terrible monsters–both human and supernatural–and be forever changed. The stories in Dark Stars run the gamut from traditional to modern, from dark fantasy to neo-noir, from explorations of beloved horror tropes to the unknown–possibly unknowable–threats.

It’s all in here because it’s all out there, now, in horror.

Dark Stars features all-new stories from the following award-winning authors and up-and-coming voices: Chesya Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, Alma Katsu, Caroline Kepnes, John Langan, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, Priya Sharma, and John F.D. Taff.

Created as an homage to the 1980 classic horror anthology Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, Dark Stars also features an introduction by Josh Malerman and an afterword from original contributor Ramsey Campbell–a poignant finale to this bone-chilling collection.

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse (Between Earth and Sky #2)–Saga Press; April 19, 2022

The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari–Disney-Hyperion; June 7, 2022

Head-in-the-clouds romantic Madison and driven pragmatist Lanie are unlikely best friends, but the two would do anything for each other. So when Madison’s life starts to fall apart, Lanie agrees to join Madison for the test run of Disney’s newest resort experience during their first college spring break: Happily Ever Island–an immersive vacation destination, where guests can become their favorite Disney character for a week. Madison decides to go as the iconic princess herself, Cinderella, with Lanie as bow-wielding Merida. It’s not Lanie’s idea of fun, but she knows Madison needs her, and besides, she could use the break from her strenuous courseload anyway. Plus, maybe she’ll get to shoot things.

But once on the island, Lanie and Madison begin to drift apart. Madison finds herself either missing out or messing up all the enchanting moments she has dreamt her whole life about, and is forever running into their annoyingly perfect (and distractingly cute) vacation’s coordinator, Val. Meanwhile, Lanie unexpectedly finds herself swept up in the magic of it all. She strikes up a secret romance with Prince Charming–but there’s no telling whether he’s just playing a part.

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore–Feiwel & Friends; March 8, 2022

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.

Lost in the Archive by E. Saxey–May 1, 2022

Stories as historical oddities, some set in parallel pasts, and others are excursions into the daunting near future, these are the tales written by E. Saxey. A wunderkind is stuck in a dysfunctional start-up which may be hastening the apocalypse; in a near-future university, the efforts to create a plagiarism algorithm undetectable by current software is only the beginning of trouble; widow learns that a body found bobbing in the water under the bridge on Rush Street has her face; a boy’s unobtainable love becomes obtainable through a weird dream-drug until he finds himself struggling to ditch the fantasy; a troubled Freud encounters three strange sisters at a cafe and discovers the one he desires only has eyes for a madman.

Ravenous Things by Derrick Chow–Disney-Hyperion; July 26, 2022

Twelve-year-old Reggie Wong has a quick temper that’s always getting him into trouble at school, while at home his mom struggles to get out of bed–let alone leave their apartment. That’s why Reggie desperately needs his dad back. One problem: His dad is dead.

Enter the Conductor, a peculiar man who promises to make Reggie’s wish to see his father just one more time come true. All he must do is climb aboard the man’s subway train, which leaves St. Patrick Station promptly at midnight. Desperate to have his dad and happy family back, Reggie takes him up on the offer, only to discover the train is filled with other children who have lost a loved one, just like him. As he speeds through the wild, uncharted tunnels beneath the city, Reggie meets Chantal, an annoyingly peppy girl obsessed with lists and psychiatry, and Gareth, his arch-nemesis and bully since the fourth grade. As each kid steps off the train and into the arms of their lost family member, Reggie can’t believe his impossible wish is about to come true.

But when Reggie comes to the end of the line and sees his father waiting for him, he soon discovers all is not as it seems. He and his unlikely new friends have been ensnared in a deadly trap. Together, the three must find a way to foil the Conductor’s diabolical plot and find their way out of the underground subway where horrors worse than they have ever imagined lurk around every corner. The rats of St. Patrick Station have taken over and they’re absolutely ravenous.

Rise of the Snake Goddess by Jenny Elder Moke (Samantha Knox #2)–Disney-Hyperion; June 7, 2022

After being snubbed by her college’s archaeology department for an honor she rightfully earned, Sam is hell-bent on proving her worth to her misogynistic department head. So when an opportunity presents itself to solve the hidden meaning behind a symbol found inside a cave in Greece, Sam is all over it, and she’s bringing Bennett and Jo with her for the cross-Atlantic trip. Once on the island of Crete, Sam finds a treasure she never expected–the golden girdle of an ancient and powerful goddess, and she can’t resist its siren call, or the accolades she would win for discovering it. But before she can take credit for the find, the girdle is stolen and the island is hit with a series of earthquakes that don’t feel quite coincidental.

Soon Sam, Bennett, and Jo are embroiled in a wild hunt–one that takes them to tiny island shops, a glamorous high-stakes auction, and a fiery near-death experience–to find the girdle before someone can use it to raise the ancient goddess from her slumber. An unexpected heist, a terrifying trek through a labyrinth, and a fight to the death with the Minotaur itself lead to a final standoff she and her friends won’t soon forget–one that might just break up Sam and Bennett for good.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop and ancient ruins of the Greek islands, the pulse-pounding action in this twisting mystery will appeal to action-adventure fans, romance die-hards, and mythology buffs alike.

A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland–Tordotcom; August 30, 2022

Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court–the body-father of the queen’s new child–in an altercation which results in his humiliation.

To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.

World of Reading: Mother Bruce Ballet Bruce: Level 1 by Ryan T. Higgins–Disney-Hyperion; July 5, 2022

Bruce, the ever-grumpy bear, helps the geese prepare for ballet in this book perfect for readers

who are ready to stretch their wings.

The geese want to do ballet! But first they will need a lot of gear. They will need Bruce’s help to get it. Do Bruce and the geese have what it takes to get ready for ballet?

Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth edited by Isabela Oliveira and Jed Sabin–Speculatively Queer LLC; March 3, 2022 

This collection of speculative short fiction is about all kinds of queer growth, from emerging and developing to flourishing and cultivating. Whether they’re tender sprouts just beginning to discover themselves or deeply-rooted leaders fiercely defending those they love, the people in these stories have this in common: you can’t tell them what to do. They grow as they please.

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao–Margaret K. McElderry Books; May 10, 2022

Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever.

(affiliate links)

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