Happy bookmail day! Here’s what came in recently. Thanks to the publishers who sent advanced reader copies.
The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson – Sourcebooks Landmark; November 01, 2022
When Maggie Banks arrives in Bell River to run her best friend’s struggling bookstore, she expects to sell bestsellers to her small-town clientele. But running a bookstore in a town with a famously bookish history isn’t easy. Bell River’s literary society insists on keeping the bookstore stuck in the past, and Maggie is banned from selling anything written this century. So, when a series of mishaps suddenly tip the bookstore toward ruin, Maggie will have to get creative to keep the shop afloat.
And in Maggie’s world, book rules are made to be broken.
To help save the store, Maggie starts an underground book club, running a series of events celebrating the books readers actually love. But keeping the club quiet, selling forbidden books, and dodging the literary society is nearly impossible. Especially when Maggie unearths a town secret that could upend everything.
Maggie will have to decide what’s more important: the books that formed a small town’s history, or the stories poised to change it all.
Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham – Little Brown and Company; August 30, 2022
Carlotta Mercedes has been misunderstood her entire life. When she was pulled into a robbery gone wrong, she still went by the name she’d grown up with in Fort Greene, Brooklyn–before it gentrified. But not long after her conviction, she took the name Carlotta and began to live as a woman, an embrace of selfhood that prison authorities rejected, keeping Carlotta trapped in an all-male cell block, abused by both inmates and guards, and often placed in solitary.
In her fifth appearance before the parole board, Carlotta is at last granted conditional freedom and returns to a much-changed New York City. Over a whirlwind Fourth of July weekend, she struggles to reconcile with the son she left behind, to reunite with a family reluctant to accept her true identity, and to avoid any minor parole infraction that might get her consigned back to lockup.
Written with the same mischievous verve and astonishing freshness in Delicious Foods, which dazzled critics and readers alike, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta sweeps the reader through seemingly every street of Brooklyn, much as Joyce’s Ulysses does through Dublin. The novel sings with brio and ambition, delivering a fantastically entertaining read and a cast of unforgettable characters even as it challenges us to confront the glaring injustices of a prison system that continues to punish people long after their time has been served.
The Lords of Night by J.C. Cervantes (Shadow Bruja #1) – Rick Riordan Presents; October 04, 2022
Fourteen-year-old Renata Santiago is the most powerful godborn of them all, a bruja with a unique combination of DNA. The Mexica blood from her dad’s side gives her the ability to manipulate shadows. Her mom Pacific, a Maya goddess, gifted her a magical rope that controls time, and Ren recently used it to save a few gods from getting stuck forever in 1987. She brought them back to the present, but her BFF Ah Puch, the once fearsome god of death, darkness, and destruction, is now a teenager with no divine powers.
Ren is also a girl with ordinary hopes and dreams. She wishes, for example, that her blog about alien sightings would garner more respect. She’s always been absolutely convinced that there’s a connection between aliens and the Maya civilization. Plenty of online haters feel differently, and they call her a fake, a liar, and a loser.
When Ren receives an email about an alien sighting in Kansas, she thinks it may support her theory. She also suspects that the cinco–five renegade godborns–are up to no good. Soon she finds herself embroiled in a quest to prevent the troublemakers from awakening the nine Aztec Lords of Night. Problem is, none of Ren’s friends are available to help her hunt down the cinco and the dangerous gods they are resurrecting. Ren has no choice but to team up with two strangers recruited by Ah Puch: Edison, a teen hybrid demon, and Montero, an eleven-year-old Aztec hunter. Succeeding in this quest will prove that Ren is no fake, liar, or loser. But it isn’t just another challenge. It could well be an impossible one that leaves Ren questioning her very existence.
Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert – Flatiron Books; June 28, 2022
Seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer break kicks off with an accident, a punishment, and a mystery: a stranger whose appearance in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, heralds a string of increasingly unsettling events. As the days pass, Ivy grapples with eerie offerings, corroded memories, and a secret she’s always known–that there’s more to her mother than meets the eye.
The city, back then . . .
Dana has always been perceptive. And the summer she turns sixteen, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, her gifts bloom into a heady fling with the supernatural. As the trio’s aspirations darken, they find themselves speeding toward a violent breaking point.
Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with.
Raising the Horseman by Serena Valentino – Disney-Hyperion; September 06, 2022
The two-hundredth anniversary of the Headless Horseman’s legendary haunting of Sleepy Hollow is approaching, but Kat van Tassel wants nothing to do with the town’s superstitious celebrations. As a descendant of the original Katrina van Tassel, Kat knows she’s expected to fulfill her ancestor’s legacy by someday marrying her longtime boyfriend and running the prestigious family estate. But Kat dreams of a life outside Sleepy Hollow.
Then Kat meets Isadora, a new girl in town who challenges Kat to reexamine those expectations, opens her eyes to the possibility that ghosts are real, and makes her question who she truly wants to be . . . and be with.
When Kat is given the original Katrina’s diary, a new legend begins to take shape, one that weaves together the past and the present in eerie ways. Can Kat uncover a two-hundred-year-old secret, and trace its shocking reverberations in her own life, in time to protect what she truly loves?
Rory and the Magical Mix-Ups by Kallie George & Lorena Alvarez Gómez (Bibbidi Bobbidi Academy #1) – Disney-Hyperion; October 11, 2022
Rory Spellington is fluttering with excitement as she begins her first year at the prestigious Bibbidi Bobbidi Academy! But fairy godmothering might not be as easy as she thought, especially because Rory has always struggled with spelling–magic spelling that is. During her first week at the academy, Rory discovers there is more to being a good fairy godmother than magic, and she will learn she has her own set of talents that set her apart.
Serwa Boateng’s Guide to Vampire Hunting by Rosanne A. Brown – Rick Riordan Presents; September 06, 2022
For most kids, catching fireflies is a fun summer activity. For twelve-year-old Serwa Boateng, it’s a matter of life and death.
That’s because Serwa knows that some fireflies are really adze, shapeshifting vampires from the forests of Southeastern Ghana. Adze prey on the blood of innocents, possessing their minds and turning them into hulking monsters, and for generations, slayers like Serwa and her parents have protected an unknowing public from their threats.
Serwa is the best adze slayer her age, and she knew how to use a crossbow before she could even ride a bike. But when an obayifo (witch) destroys her childhood home while searching for a drum, do Serwa’s parents take her with them on their quest to defeat her? No. Instead, they dump Serwa with her hippie aunt and cryptic-obsessed cousin in the middle of Nowheresville, Maryland for her own safety. Now, instead of crossbows and battle armor, she’s dealing with mean girls and algebra, and for the first time in her life she doesn’t have to carry a staff everywhere she goes, which is . . . kind of nice, actually.
Just as Serwa starts to get the hang of this whole normal girl who doesn’t punch vampires every day thing, an adze infiltrates her school. It’s up to her to whip some of her classmates into monster-fighting shape before all of them become firefly food. And when she uncovers a secret that upends everything she thought she knew about her family’s role in the slayer vs. adze war, Serwa will have to decide which side of herself–normal girl or slayer–is the right one.
Weird Fishes by Rae Mariz – Stelliform Press; August 18, 2022
When Ceph, a squid-like scientist, discovers proof of the ocean’s slowing currents, she makes the dangerous ascent from her deep-sea civilization to the uncharted surface above. Out of her depths and helpless in her symbiotic mech suit, Ceph relies on Iliokai, a seal-folk storyteller, who sings the state of the sea and has seen evidence of clogged currents as she surfs the time gyres throughout the lonely blue. Navigating the perils of their damaged ocean environment, and seemingly insurmountable cultural differences, Ceph and Iliokai realize that the activities of terrestrial beings are slowing the spiralling currents of time. On a journey that connects future and past, the surface and the deep, the unlikely friends struggle to solve a problem so big it needs a leviathan solution.
Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun by Hena Khan – Salaam Reads; April 19, 2022
Meet Zara Saleem, the queen of the neighborhood.
Zara’s in charge of it all: she organizes the games, picks the teams, and makes sure everyone has a good time…and they always do.
When a new family moves in across the street, suddenly Zara’s reign is threatened by Naomi, who has big ideas of her own about how the neighborhood kids can have fun. To get everyone to notice her again, Zara decides she’s going to break a Guinness World Record–if her little brother Zayd doesn’t mess things up.
But when she finds herself increasingly alone in her record-breaking quest, Zara starts to wonder if sharing the crown and making a new friend might end up being the best rule of all.