Bookmail – September 7, 2022

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

Briarcliff Prep by Brianna Peppins — Disney-Hyperion; November 15, 2022

It’s fourteen-year-old Avielle Avi LeBeau’s turn to do what everyone in her family has done: leave home to attend Briarcliff Prep–a Historically Black Boarding School (HBBS). And as scared as she is to say goodbye to her parents and move to Georgia, she knows her fearless big sister Belle will be there to show her the ropes.

Before long, Avi settles into life at Briarcliff. New friends (and foes), challenging classes (at times too challenging), and maybe a cute tutor-turned-something-more (if her brothers don’t get in the way). Meanwhile, Belle does what she always does: she runs the campus’s social scene, especially now that she’s dating Logan, the pride and joy of Briarcliff’s sibling school Preston Academy.

But something about Logan doesn’t sit well with Avi, no matter how many times Belle reassures her Logan is a good guy. And when Avi stumbles across the truth, her relationship with Belle is put to the test. If Avi reveals what she knows, their sisterhood might never recover. But if she doesn’t, she might lose Belle forever. 

Day Boy by Trent Jamieson — Erewhon; August 23, 2022

They worship the Sun: the only god as cruel as they are.

The Masters, dreadful and severe, rule the Red City and the lands far beyond it. By night, they politic and feast, drinking from townsfolk resigned to their fates. By day, the Masters must rely on their human servants, their Day Boys, to fulfill their every need and carry out their will.

Mark is a Day Boy, practically raised by his Master, Dain. It’s grueling, often dangerous work, but Mark neither knows nor wants any other life. And, if a Day Boy proves himself worthy, the nightmarish, all-seeing Council of Teeth may choose to offer him a rare gift: the opportunity to forsake his humanity for monstrous power and near-immortality, like the Masters transformed before him.

But in the crackling heat of the Red City, widespread discontent among his fellow humans threatens to fracture Mark’s allegiances. As manhood draws near, so too does the end of Mark’s tenure as a Day Boy, and he cannot stay suspended between the worlds of man and Master for much longer.

With brilliantly evocative, hypnotic prose, Trent Jamieson crafts a fang-sharp and surprisingly tender coming-of-age story about a headstrong boy–and the monster who taught him to be a man.

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk — Tordotcom; November 8, 2022

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.

An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist–the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.

To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

Lumara by Melissa Landers — Disney-Hyperion; December 6, 2022

The answers lie within.

Boarding school student Talia Morris has no idea her boyfriend, Nathaniel, is a Mystic, let alone second in line to the throne of a secretive, aspirational magical community–one no mortal has ever been allowed to step inside. Until now. Nathanial’s cousin is about to be married in the biggest wedding the magical world has ever seen, and Nathaniel is allowed to bring a date. Talia is the lucky recipient of the golden ticket every Mystic wannabe in the world would kill for–only she doesn’t want it. Talia thinks Mystic worship unnecessarily aggrandizes people for being born a certain way. When she finds out Nathaniel is “one of them,” she almost jumps ship. But Nathaniel loves her, and she loves him. So when he begs her to give his family and their community a shot, she reluctantly agrees.

Enter the most fantastical world any mortal has ever seen, and a magical wedding straight out of a dream. After a few days of bonding with Nathaniel’s family on the island, of seeing how beautiful their magic is and how peaceful their community, Talia’s about to be won over–until the entire wedding party suddenly falls into an unexplainable coma and the community goes on lockdown. Talia, the outsider, is pegged as the culprit and has to do everything in her meager non-power to prove her innocence. As she embarks on a journey to find the truth, Talia soon discovers reality is not all it seems, and her past may put her in more danger than she ever imagined.

In this captivating YA fantasy, Talia must solve a multigenerational mystery and break a curse, all the while being torn between making her family proud and regaining the trust of the boy she loves.

Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell — Tor Books; November 1, 2022

Ocean’s Echo is a stand-alone space adventure about a bond that will change the fate of worlds, set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s hit debut, Winter’s Orbit.

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.

Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.

Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.

Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space–to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit’s traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.

Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they’ve been faking.

Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace? 

The Scratch Daughters by H. A. Clarke (Scapegracers #2) — Erewhon; October 25, 2022

It’s been a wild year for Sideways Pike. After forming a coven with the three most popular girls in school and developing a huge crush on a mysterious stranger named Madeline, Sideways’ Halloween was ruined by finding out that Madeline wasn’t trying to make out with her, but to steal Sideways’ specter, the force that gives witches the ability to cast magic spells. From Madeline’s perspective, it’s not her fault: after a doomed relationship with one of the creepy near-identical Chantry Boys turned into a witch hunt, they took her specter, so, really, she’s only borrowing Sideways’ until she can recover her own and punish the Chantrys.

The specter-less Sideways is in a horrid, distracted mood, unable to do magic and with part of her consciousness tied to Madeline’s, on the lam as she uses Sideways’ specter to hunt Chantrys. The other Scapegracers are much jollier, heading into the winter holidays having set up shop as curse crafters for girls in their school who’ve been done wrong by guys. When Sideways–through Madeline–gets a flash of how to track down both her foes at once, she asks the Scapegracers to help entrap them, only to be told her plan is unsafe and unwise. So if she’s going to find Madeline, her only ally is Mr. Scratch, the inky book demon currently inhabiting her as life support until she gets her spectre back.

Sideways is used to being an outcast loner, and is desperate to do magic again, so she’s not going to let little barriers like facing an betraying crush and a family of six demented witch hunters practically alone stop her. But she and her trusty stolen bike are in for a bumpy ride… 

Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore — Feiwel & Friends; September 6, 2022

New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Wisconsin, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future–and his life as a man–and benefit his family.

Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom–and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latine heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.

Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all meant to impress a girl from Jay’s past–Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.

As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick’s feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay’s openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream.

The Sleepless by Victor Manibo — Erewhon; August 23, 2022

Journalist Jamie Vega is Sleepless: he can’t sleep, nor does he need to. When his boss dies on the eve of a controversial corporate takeover, Jamie doesn’t buy the too-convenient explanation of suicide, and launches an investigation of his own.

But everything goes awry when Jamie discovers that he was the last person who saw Simon alive. Not only do the police suspect him, Jamie himself has no memory of that night. Alarmingly, his memory loss may have to do with how he became Sleepless: not naturally, like other Sleepless people, but through a risky and illegal biohacking process.

As Jamie delves deeper into Simon’s final days, he tangles with extremist organizations and powerful corporate interests, all while confronting past traumas and unforeseen consequences of his medical experimentation. But Jamie soon faces the most dangerous decision of all as he uncovers a terrifying truth about Sleeplessness that imperils him–and all of humanity.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton, Justina Ireland — Disney Lucasfilm Press; October 4, 2022

A provocative and thrilling young adult adventure set in the world of the High Republic, 150 years before the storytelling of Phase I. Meet mysterious cult members, daring explorers, Jedi peacekeepers and more!

Star Wars: The High Republic: Quest for the Hidden City by George Mann — Disney Lucasfilm Press; November 1, 2022

A fun and action-packed middle grade adventure set in the world of the High Republic, 150 years before the storytelling of Phase I. Meet hyperspace prospectors, bold explorers, Jedi peacekeepers and more!

Wayward by Chuck Wendig (Wanderers #2) — Del Rey Books; November 15, 2022

Five years ago, ordinary Americans fell under the grip of a strange new malady that caused them to sleepwalk across the country to a destination only they knew. They were followed on their quest by the shepherds: friends and family who gave up everything to protect them.

Their secret destination: Ouray, a small town in Colorado that would become one of the last outposts of civilization. Because the sleepwalking epidemic was only the first in a chain of events that led to the end of the world–and the birth of a new one.

The survivors, sleepwalkers and shepherds alike, have a dream of rebuilding human society. Among them are Benji, the scientist struggling through grief to lead the town; Marcy, the former police officer who wants only to look after the people she loves; and Shana, the teenage girl who became the first shepherd–and an unlikely hero whose courage will be needed again.

Because the people of Ouray are not the only survivors, and the world they are building is fragile. The forces of cruelty and brutality are amassing under the leadership of self-proclaimed president Ed Creel. And in the very heart of Ouray, the most powerful survivor of all is plotting its own vision for the new world: Black Swan, the A.I. who imagined the apocalypse.

Against these threats, Benji, Marcy, Shana, and the rest have only one hope: one another. Because the only way to survive the end of the world is together. 

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