Bookmail – December 2, 2022

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

The Chai House by Priti Srivastava, narrated by Deepti Gupta — self-published; December 24, 2020

The Chai House is a haunting debut novel that explores the complexity of community when individuals are unaware of their own roles in upholding systems of oppression. Swati has spent her entire life trying to live up to her family’s expectations of her. She has learned it is easiest to just do what is asked of her, without resistance; a skill that has helped her survive in the early years of the Knights, an authoritarian regime. When her mother has a request for Swati, she agrees to it as it is the only way to help her young niece have some sort of future. An emotional page turner, The Chai House examines the desire to be true to yourself in a world where familial, cultural, societal, and political values direct you to stay small and stay silent.

Erewhon: 150th Anniversary Edition: Samuel Butler with an introduction by Octavia Cade — Erewhon; October 25, 2022

A utopian classic with a rich legacy-influencing authors from Huxley to Herbert and beyond-Erewhon satirizes Victorian society with biting insight still relevant today.

When Higgs, a young traveler, stumbles upon the beautiful land of Erewhon, he soon discovers that its seemingly ideal culture is founded upon bizarre, unsettling beliefs. Crime is a sickness, while sickness is a crime; the greatest scholarly achievement is unreason, and all machines have been eliminated for fear of artificial intelligence. In a society that suppresses originality, the traveler and his values are a threat. Torn between escape and Arowhena, the woman he has grown to love, Higgs must contend with Erewhon’s strange ways-and with the challenges they pose to his own beliefs.

Engaging with the work of Charles Darwin and inspired by the author’s time in colonial New Zealand, Erewhon is a bright, irreverent, and enduring text about technology, religion, crime, and institutional rigidity. This new edition of the 1872 classic arrives in honor of its 150th anniversary, featuring a brilliant introduction contextualizing the book from one of New Zealand’s great academic thinkers in science fiction, Dr. Octavia Cade. 

Eternally Yours: 15 Stories of Paranormal Love to Capture Your Heart and Resurrect Your Soul edited by Patrice Caldwell — Viking Books for Young Readers; September 20, 2022

Give in to this irresistible paranormal romance anthology filled with tales of the mortal and the monstrous. In Eternally Yours, fifteen of today’s bestselling writers explore love in its many forms…

Contributors include Kalynn Bayron, Kendare Blake, Kat Cho, Melissa de la Cruz, Hafsah Faizal, Sarah Gailey, Chloe Gong, Alexis Henderson, Adib Khorram, Anna-Marie McLemore, Casey McQuiston, Sandhya Menon, Akshaya Raman, Marie Rutkoski, and Julian Winters.

Vampires and merpeople, angels and demons–the stories in this anthology imagine worlds where the only thing more powerful than the supernatural, is love.

A girl in a graveyard goes on an unexpected date, a shipwrecked sailor makes a connection on a forbidden island, a piano melody summons a soul mate. Creatures of folktales and legend, of land and sea, of centuries past and life after life, all wrapped into one spellbinding compendium. Once you sink into its pages, it’ll never let you go. 

Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo — Tordotcom; March 14, 2023

Lee Mandelo dives into the minds of wolves in Feed Them Silence, a novella of the near future.

What does it mean to be-in-kind with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s case, to be in-kind with one of the last remaining wild wolves? Using a neurological interface to translate her animal subject’s perception through her own mind, Sean intends to chase both her scientific curiosity and her secret, lifelong desire to experience the intimacy and freedom of wolfishness. To see the world through animal eyes; smell the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even taste the blood and viscera of a fresh kill. And, above all, to feel the belonging of the pack.

Sean’s tireless research gives her a chance to fulfill that dream, but pursuing it has a terrible cost. Her obsession with work endangers her fraying relationship with her wife. Her research methods threaten her mind and body. And the attention of her VC funders could destroy her subject, the beautiful wild wolf whose mental world she’s invading. 

The First Bright Thing by JR Dawson — Tor Books; June 13, 2023

If you knew how dark tomorrow would be, what would you do with today?

The First Bright Thing is a spellbinding debut for fans of The Night Circus and The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue.

Welcome to the Circus of the Fantasticals.

Ringmaster – Rin, to those who know her best – can jump to different moments in time as easily as her wife, Odette, soars from bar to bar on the trapeze. With the scars of World War I feeling more distant as the years pass, Rin is focusing on the brighter things in life. Like the circus she’s built and the magical misfits and outcasts — known as Sparks – who’ve made it their home. Every night, Rin and the Fantasticals enchant a Big Top packed full with audiences who need to see the impossible.

But while the present is bright, threats come at Rin from the past and the future. The future holds an impending war that the Sparks can see barrelling toward their Big Top and everyone in it. And Rin’s past creeps closer every day, a malevolent shadow Rin can’t fully escape. It takes the form of another Spark circus, with tents as black as midnight and a ringmaster who rules over his troupe with a dangerous power. Rin’s circus has something he wants, and he won’t stop until it’s his. 

Geometries of Belonging: Stories & Poems from the Birdverse by RB Lemberg — Fairwood Press; November 29, 2022

Nebula and Locus award finalist Lemberg returns us to the Birdverse with this powerful collection. The intricate Birdverse has at its core a magic based loosely in geometry, from which comes healing, love, and art. It is a complex, culturally diverse world, a realm with LGBTQIA characters and a wide range of family configurations. Lemberg probes the obstacles behind traditional social boundaries of cultures; overseeing this world is the deity Bird and all its incarnations. Each story and poem, exqusitely crafted, will richly reward long-time fans and newcomers alike. 

The Girl and the Ghost by Avery Carter — self-published; October 19, 2022

When Sera is hired to rob a 200 year old grave, the last thing she expects is the ghost of Lady Clementine de Quill rising up to scold her for it. Though her world is full of magical echoes from a not-so-distant past, a ghost is completely unheard of. What’s more, no one else can see or hear Clem. Sera tries everything to get rid of her– selling the items she took from her grave, bathing in saltwater, even putting herself through a religious smoke cleansing from the Church of the Wheel. Nothing works, and Sera finally resigns herself to having a ghost follow her around for the rest of her life.

Despite their differences, a partnership begins to bloom between the streetwise gravedigger and the cultured noblewoman. Just as they realize that maybe they aren’t so different after all, Clem starts to fade, flickering in and out for longer and longer stretches of time. Sera begins to realize that with each time Clem vanishes, there’s a chance that she won’t come back. There’s only one problem: she can’t imagine life without her anymore. 

Into the Light by Mark Oshiro — Tor Teen; March 28, 2023

KEEP YOUR SECRETS CLOSE TO HOME

It’s been one year since Manny was cast out of his family and driven into the wilderness of the American Southwest. Since then, Manny lives by self-taught rules that keep him moving–and keep him alive. Now, he’s taking a chance on a traveling situation with the Varela family, whose attractive but surly son, Carlos, seems to promise a new future.

Eli abides by the rules of his family, living in a secluded community that raised him to believe his obedience will be rewarded. But an unsettling question slowly eats away at Eli’s once unwavering faith in Reconciliation: Why can’t he remember his past?

But the reported discovery of an unidentified body in the hills of Idyllwild, California, will draw both of these young men into facing their biggest fears and confronting their own identity–and who they are allowed to be.

For fans of Courtney Summers and Tiffany D. Jackson, Into the Light is a ripped-from-the-headlines story with Oshiro’s signature mix of raw emotions and visceral prose–but with a startling twist you’ll have to read to believe.

The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi — Tordotcom; March 21, 2023

Moses Ose Utomi’s debut novella, The Lies of the Ajungo, follows one boy’s epic quest to bring water back to his city and save his mother’s life. Prepare to enter the Forever Desert.

They say there is no water in the City of Lies. They say there are no heroes in the City of Lies. They say there are no friends beyond the City of Lies. But would you believe what they say in the City of Lies?

In the City of Lies, they cut out your tongue when you turn thirteen, to appease the terrifying Ajungo Empire and make sure it continues sending water. Tutu will be thirteen in three days, but his parched mother won’t last that long. So Tutu goes to his oba and makes a deal: she provides water for his mother, and in exchange he will travel out into the desert and bring back water for the city. Thus begins Tutu’s quest for the salvation of his mother, his city, and himself.

The Lies of the Ajungo opens the curtains on a tremendous world, and begins the epic fable of the Forever Desert. With every word, Moses Ose Utomi weaves magic.

Linghun by Ai Jiang — Dark Matter INK; April 4, 2023 

Follow Wenqi, Liam, and Mrs. in this modern gothic ghost story by Chinese-Canadian writer and immigrant, Ai Jiang. LINGHUN is set in the mysterious town of HOME, a place where the dead live again as spirits, conjured by the grief-sick population that refuses to let go.

Jiang is widely considered to be one of the most exciting young voices in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. LINGHUN will be her debut novella.

The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older — Tordotcom; March 7, 2023

The Mimicking of Known Successes presents a cozy Holmesian murder mystery and sapphic romance, set on Jupiter, by Malka Older, author of the critically-acclaimed Centenal Cycle.

On a remote, gas-wreathed outpost of a human colony on Jupiter, a man goes missing. The enigmatic Investigator Mossa follows his trail to Valdegeld, home to the colony’s erudite university–and Mossa’s former girlfriend, a scholar of Earth’s pre-collapse ecosystems.

Pleiti has dedicated her research and her career to aiding the larger effort towards a possible return to Earth. When Mossa unexpectedly arrives and requests Pleiti’s assistance in her latest investigation, the two of them embark on a twisting path in which the future of life on Earth is at stake–and, perhaps, their futures, together.

The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze — Union Square & Co.; October 4, 2022

Cross into the spirit realm with this thrilling supernatural debut about sisterhood and female defiance, perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco– inspired by lives of real teenage twin mediums in the 19th century.

Sacramento, 1885

Edie and Violet Bond know the truth about death. The seventeen-year-old twins are powerful mediums, just like their mother–Violet can open the veil between life and death, and Edie can cross into the spirit world. But their abilities couldn’t save them when their mother died and their father threatened to commit them to a notorious asylum.

Now runaways, Edie and Violet are part of a traveling Spiritualist show, a tight-knit group of young women who demonstrate their real talents under the guise of communing with spirits. Each night, actresses, poets, musicians, and orators all make contact with spirits who happen to have something to say. . . notions that young ladies could never openly express.

But when Violet’s act goes terribly wrong one night, Edie learns that the dark spirit responsible for their mother’s death has crossed into the land of the living. As they investigate the identity of her mysterious final client, they realize that someone is hunting mediums…and they may be next.Only by trusting in one another can the twins uncover a killer who will stop at nothing to cheat death. 

She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran — Bloomsbury YA; February 28, 2023

This house eats and is eaten…

A House with a terrifying appetite haunts a broken family in this atmospheric horror, perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic.

When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, she has one goal: survive five weeks pretending to be a happy family in the French colonial house Ba is restoring. She’s always lied to fit in, so if she’s straight enough, Vietnamese enough, American enough, she can get out with the college money he promised.

But the house has other plans. Night after night, Jade wakes up paralyzed. The walls exude a thrumming sound while bugs leave their legs and feelers in places they don’t belong. She finds curious traces of her ancestors in the gardens they once tended. And at night Jade can’t ignore the ghost of the beautiful bride who leaves cryptic warnings: Don’t eat.

Neither Ba nor her sweet sister Lily believe that there is anything strange happening. With help from a delinquent girl, Jade will prove this house–the home they have always wanted–will not rest until it destroys them. Maybe, this time, she can keep her family together. As she roots out the house’s rot, she must also face the truth of who she is and who she must become to save them all.

Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria — Inkyard Press; November 1, 2022

Eight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Whisperer of Aris, the head of the spies, retreating into her position away from everyone… even her daughter.

Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.

Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true.

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh — Tordotcom; April 11, 2023

A thrillingly told queer space opera about the wreckage of war, the family you find, and who you must become when every choice is stripped from you, Some Desperate Glory is Astounding Award Winner and Crawford Award Finalist Emily Tesh’s highly anticipated debut novel.

Masterful, audacious storytelling. Relentless, unsentimental, a completely wild ride.–Tamsyn Muir

While we live, the enemy shall fear us.

Since she was born, Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of planet Earth. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she readies herself to face the Wisdom, the powerful, reality-shaping weapon that gave the majoda their victory over humanity.

They are what’s left. They are what must survive. Kyr is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. When Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to Nursery to bear sons until she dies trying, she knows must take humanity’s revenge into her own hands.

Alongside her brother’s brilliant but seditious friend and a lonely, captive alien, Kyr escapes from everything she’s known into a universe far more complicated than she was taught and far more wondrous than she could have imagined.

The Story of the Hundred Promises by Neil Cochrane — Forest Avenue Press; October 4, 2022

A loose retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” that centers queer and trans charactersTrans sailor Darragh Thorn has made a comfortable life for himself among people who love and accept him. Ten years after his exile from home, though, his sister asks him to reconcile with their ailing father. Determined to resolve his feelings rather than just survive them, Darragh sets off on a quest to find the one person who can heal a half-dead man: the mysterious enchanter who once gave him the magic he needed to become his true self. But so far as anyone knows, no one but Darragh has seen the enchanter for a century, and the fairy tales that survive about em give more cause for fear than hope. In lush and evocative prose, and populated with magical trees and a wise fox, The Story of the Hundred Promises is a big-hearted fantasy suffused with queer optimism.

The Sunrisers by Robyn Singer — Cinnabar Moth Publishing; November 1, 2022

After years of adventures, professional thief and amateur noodle critic Yael is invited to join The Order of the Banshee, a collection of the greatest female thieves in the universe, despite being decades younger than any of them.

Yael’s childhood best friend, Molina, has lived the opposite life: a stern and serious member of The Sunrisers, the universe’s premiere peacekeeping organization, she’s just been promoted to Captain, serving under her father. Her first assignment of her new command: Bring down The Order of the Banshee.

Yael and Molina now find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict neither of them will escape unscathed. The love they have for each other is the same as when they were young, but either their personal values or their love will break.

In this game of cat and mouse, both women must use all their wits and tricks to stay ahead of their new enemy. Will order triumph, or will chaos? No matter what, Yael and Molina will both lose.

They Hate Each Other by Amanda Woody — Viking Books for Young Readers; May 9, 2023

Jonah and Dylan get along like oil and water. Until a fake dating ploy gives them new perspective, and they realize that “falling for your enemy” isn’t as impossible as it seems.

There are plenty of words Jonah Collins could use to describe Dylan Ramírez. “Arrogant,” “spoiled,” and “golden boy” to name a few. Likewise, Dylan thinks he has Jonah accurately labeled as an attention-seeking asshat who never shuts his filthy mouth. Their friends are convinced Jonah’s and Dylan’s disdain for one another is just thinly veiled lust–a rumor that surges like wildfire when the two wake up in one bed after homecoming. Mutually horrified, Dylan and Jonah agree to use the faux pas to their advantage by fake dating. If they can stay convincing long enough to end their “relationship” in a massive staged fight, they can prove their incompatibility to their friends once and for all. But the more time they spend together, the more their plan begins to fall apart–and the closer they come to seeing each other clearly for the first time. 

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