The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...

Such a Fun Age

By Kiley Reid

(G.P. Putnam's Sons, 9780525541905, $26)

"When I attempted to write a review for Such a Fun Age, I was at a loss for words. How could I encapsulate how Kiley Reid's startling debut perfectly captured what it means to be a woman? The societal pressure, the self-doubt, the perseverance, the constant comparison--all of it was perfectly represented through Reid's two wonderfully flawed and captivating leads. Follow Emira and Alix, two women on seemingly incongruous paths who find themselves searching for purpose and an authentic sense of self. Such a Fun Age tackles complex issues--race, gender, economic status, and the intersection of them all--yet remains accessible. You will not want to put this book down; when you do, you'll be itching to pick it back up again."

--Gennifer Eccles, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview

(photo: David Goddard)

Independent booksellers across the country have chosen Such a Fun Age, the debut novel by Kiley Reid (G.P. Putnam's Sons, December 31, 2019), as their number-one pick for the January 2020 Indie Next List.

The novel, which booksellers also selected for the American Booksellers Association's Winter/Spring 2020 Indies Introduce debut program, has already earned starred reviews in Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal and was named one of the Chicago Review of Books' Best Books of December. This engaging, page-turning work follows two Philadelphia women as they navigate the typical, transactional mother-babysitter relationship: Alix, a white, 30-something mother and Instagram influencer, and her babysitter, Emira, a black, 25-year-old post-grad who feels adrift in her career and dreads being kicked off her parents' health insurance. Such a Fun Age revels in the awkwardness that ensues when these women's personal struggles, insecurities, and pasts collide, raising difficult questions about race and privilege, and complicating the power dynamic.

Filmmaker and actor Lena Waithe has already signed on to adapt Such a Fun Age for film or TV (Reid will executive produce), calling it "a poignant novel that could not be more necessary" and "a unique, honest portrayal of what it's like to be a black woman in America today." 

Now based in Philadelphia, Reid earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she received the Truman Capote Fellowship and taught undergraduate creative writing workshops with a concentration in race and class. PloughsharesDecemberNew South, and Lumina have all published her short stories.

According to the editor's note, Such a Fun Age was informed by the six years you spent working as a babysitter in New York City. Did you have close relationships with the children you cared for, like Emira did with two-year-old Briar?

Yes, I was definitely inspired by the backdrop of babysitting. I love children; babies are so much more intelligent than you ever see them written on the page, really. They're just so funny and honest and intelligent, so that was definitely an inspiration. I'm also a really big fan as a reader and writer of really awkward transactional relationships, and so the relationship between mother, nanny, and babysitter is so interesting to me.

And, yes, I did have some strong relationships with kids I babysat. It's an odd thing because I never felt like I was the child's mom or even a big sister--it's this weird "other" relationship where the closeness is really intimate, but the title still puts a wall between you and the child. At the end of the day, you can only hang out with this child if there is an exchange of goods, which I think does something to any relationship where that is a factor. But I definitely had children with whom I was very close, and I am lucky in that I am still close with some of the moms. But I think that is also due to class similarities between me and some of the families, which made it easier for us to have a relationship. Emira and Alix have a very different class background, and I wanted to highlight how that affected their relationship.

Such a Fun Age explores the intersection of class, race, and privilege. Are you hoping readers will look inward and recognize their own implicit biases and thought processes in certain characters?

I wanted to write a book about people who are obsessed with their individual actions as if those actions can actually cause change, when really, if Alix hires a nanny or she doesn't hire a nanny, that's never going to help Emira or other low-income people get health insurance like they deserve. I do think those little, individual "looking inward" reactions are so important because that's a very human way to read it. At the same time, my dream reaction would be for the reader to kind of zoom out at the broken systems that keep Emira living the way that she lives and keep Alix unaware of how lucky she is.

In my personal view, when you live in a society that promotes a work life and a family life, things like childcare should be subsidized, rather than some children being afforded a wonderful personal nanny and others being left alone for too long. My biggest goal was to show the restrictions of work and healthcare through Alix and Emira, and to never victimize them, to just kind of show them as symptoms of a bigger problem. And also to just make them individuals and interesting and weird.

I raced through the chapters in your book, which often ended with dramatic cliffhangers. Do you usually write in that propulsive sort of way?

I would say with longer pieces I do tend to write with a propulsive tone. In shorter pieces I like to marinate a bit more within a certain scene. I have a piece coming out in Playboy in the spring that is a little more like that. But when I'm reading a novel, I need something to kind of get me going a little bit. It's my favorite feeling to forget myself and stay up too late and say just one more chapter, one more chapter, because I can't get enough of it. Especially coming out of the MFA world, there is this big discussion of, Is that page-turning, propulsive read high art? And I don't like the premise that you can't have a literary novel that is also fun to read. I don't think they're mutually exclusive. I love it when authors can do more than one thing.

Is the delicious awkwardness of human relationships, especially those that are lopsided or otherwise fraught, something you like to explore in your short stories as well?

Yes. I think that awkward moments are interesting because, typically, they reveal something about a character that the person wasn't ready to reveal yet. It opens them up to kind of try to backtrack, and I think the dialogue people use to backtrack can be really interesting. I also think that awkward moments can bring hundreds of years of history back to the forefront, whether the people involved like it or not. I played with that in a short story I had in Ploughshares called "George Washington's Teeth," where a teacher is telling the class how Washington's teeth were not actually made from wood but from slaves' teeth. And one mother does not like that being taught to her child. So you have this awkward relationship between a black teacher and a white mother that brings back all of these years of power dynamics. I think it's interesting to watch people grapple with those moments.

The book's opening scene at the grocery store, when Emira is accused of kidnapping Briar, unfolds in a kind of dream sequence, where the heightened tension seems to fracture the sense of time. What was it like to choreograph that scene?

It is kind of like a dream scene! I went into it in the same way as I do with my dialogue, where I try to focus on the hyper-realistic, tiny responses that come out of every moment. I think one thing that happens in scary moments is that they start by seeming a bit silly, and Emira kind of laughs when the police officer first approaches her. She's not really sure what's going on, and the whole thing seems like a funny incident before it becomes really scary. So I really wanted to luxuriate in those moments of initial confusion and almost amusement that she has, before going into the scenes that we've seen on the news so many times.

I also think that odd numbers work well in scenes like that: you have Emira by herself as the only black women in the whole store; you have Briar, who at that moment is a very cute but kind of worthless companion to her; you have this woman shopper who is displaying huge racial biases; you have a man who is responding to a complaint and sees things one way; and then you have a bystander with a phone. I think they all have very different motives in that scenario, so for every second I had to think, What would this character do in this moment? It was like keeping a checklist so that all of them stay true to their own characters and the ways they bounce off of each other. So, yes, there were many rewrites of that scene; there was a lot going on.

Does any character actually say the words "such a fun age" in the book?

It is not said in my book, and that was definitely intentional. If you've ever babysat, you would often hear that phrase when someone asks how old a child is: "She's 18 months." "Oh, that's such a fun age!" And I think there is a biting tone in it--there is never an age below 24 months for which anyone would say, oh, that's such a miserable age! But Alix, Emira, and Briar are all these ages that are often pictured with a lot of freedom and fun, and that is not exactly what is happening to them, so there was definitely a double meaning there.

And I think it goes a lot of ways. I started writing this novel during the Obama presidency and wrote it into the Trump presidency, and it's interesting to listen to people talk about how much more terrible things are now. I am not a fan of our president, but I think it is also important to remember that the Black Lives Matter movement came out of the Obama era, and so while it's nice to romanticize those things, it's important to look at what is actually happening, too.

At this stage in life, would you say you are personally at a "fun age"? How old are you?

I'm 32. No one has asked me that yet! That's one of the things I thought people would ask but no one has. This novel is a dream and the fact that I get to do this every day is extremely fun, even when it's a bad day. I will say this: I wouldn't want to go backwards, that's for sure.

Will you be visiting many indie bookstores on tour for this book?

I just got my tour schedule, which is on my Instagram as well; I think we're going to 19 different cities in January alone, and the trip will be filled with independent bookstores. I'm excited about Books Are Magic and Politics & Prose; I'm from Tucson, Arizona, so we're also going to Antigone. Indie bookstores have been such a huge part of promoting the book, and it's just really fun to meet the very capable people who are behind them. I'm so thrilled this is something that indie booksellers are excited about, and it makes me excited as well.

Grove Press: Writers and Lovers by Lily King - Pre-Order Now!>

More Indie Next List Great Reads

Dear Edward

By Ann Napolitano

(The Dial Press, 9781984854780, $27)

"A stunning portrayal of what it means to be a survivor and the fine balance between surviving and actually finding the will to move forward from the shattered remains of your life. This is what 12-year-old Eddie--now known as Edward--must deal with as the sole survivor of a plane crash in which 191 people, including his immediate family, perished. Dear Edward is a novel that pierces you to the core with its depiction of grief, guilt, loneliness, and remorse, but through glimpses of hope, friendship, and kindness, shows how Edward slowly mends."

--Maxwell Gregory, Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, IL

Long Bright River

By Liz Moore

(Riverhead Books, 9780525540670, $26)

"This story's power comes not just from its beautiful writing but the reality of its characters and the incisive nature of its setting. Liz Moore has created a masterpiece that exposes the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia, highlighting the vulnerability of its victims and the sheer scope of suffering it causes. From the first page, when the murder mystery begins, readers will suffer and rejoice with the novel's oh-so-human characters. The power of this story is a fire that will linger for a long time."
--Hilary Kotecki, The Doylestown & Lahaska Bookshops, Doylestown, PA

Imaginary Museums: Stories

By Nicolette Polek

(Soft Skull Press, 9781593765866, $15.95, trade paper)

"It's no small feat to establish a spellbinding presence in the span of 26 micro-stories, but Nicolette Polek pulls it off masterfully with Imaginary Museums. Her formula is so subtle that I can't really figure out how she achieves these literary sleights of hand with such consistency: one part magical realism here, a dash of unadorned honesty there, stir in some gallows humor, and serve chilled."

--Sam Faulkner, A Room of One's Own Bookstore, Madison, WI

Big Lies in a Small Town

By Diane Chamberlain

(St. Martin's Press, 9781250087331, $27.99)

"Big Lies in a Small Town offers an intriguing mystery that caused me to stay up way past my bedtime on several occasions. The author perfectly weaves the 1940 and the 1918 storylines throughout alternating chapters, captivating the reader with main characters Anna and Morgan, as well as a host of fascinating supporting players. The ending offers a surprise twist that catches the reader unaware. A must-read for mystery lovers as well as those who appreciate art."

--Gayle Lovvorn, Noteworthy Bookstore, Stamford, TX
Graywolf Press: Little Constructions by Anna Burns

Twenty-one Truths About Love

By Matthew Dicks

(St. Martin's Press, 9781250103482, $26.99)

"Matthew Dicks returns to the page with the most phenomenally entertaining and clever novel of the year. Written entirely in the form of lists, this poignant and hilarious novel follows protagonist Daniel Mayrock as he records his hopes, failures, frustrations, and loves. The lists portray a man hurt by loss and yearning for a success to make him feel worthy of his wife's love. Daniel will make the reader fall in love with him as he exposes his foibles. Grab a Little Debbie snack cake (or four) and curl up with what is sure to be a singular sensation in the literary world."
--Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir

By E.J. Koh

(Tin House Books, 9781947793385, $22.95)

"A beautifully written memoir of history, culture, past, and present--this might be one of the best books I've read all year and a close second to Pachinko, one of my all-time favorites. The letters from a mother read from her daughter's perspective really give you a sense of the complexity of family relationships, and how certain events mold the consequences of what's to come. Just beautiful!"

--Desirae Wilkerson, Paper Boat Booksellers, Seattle, WA

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

By Anna Wiener

(MCD, 9780374278014, $27)

"Like Joan Didion or Renata Adler, Ben Lerner or Sally Rooney, Anna Wiener writes with dead-on specificity, scalpel-sharp analysis, deep sensitivity, and an eye for the absurd. She headed west into the modern gold rush that is the tech boom and now returns with gleaming ingots of insight, weaving tales of a strange land where boy-CEOs ride ripsticks and hoover up your data. An essential and very human look at the forces shaping who we are and how we behave."

--Sam MacLaughlin, McNally Jackson Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

The Vanished Birds

By Simon Jimenez

(Del Rey, 9780593128985, $27)

"This book has stuck with me in a way that I know can only be attributed to masterful storytelling. In The Vanished Birds, Earth becomes uninhabitable and humankind spreads out into space using technology that is all of our capitalist, designer-baby, smart-everything, social-media-age fears realized. But this new world is also beautifully poetic--enormous space stations have been designed to mimic specific birds but have outlived their namesakes for lifetimes. I am dizzied by this world Jimenez has created and the characters that live in it. I find myself thinking about Nia and the people in her orbit--their thoughts, their motives, their choices--and going over mistakes and minutiae as if they were my own. This is literary science fiction at its most effective and affective."

--Samantha Tovey, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

Night Theater

By Vikram Paralkar

(Catapult, 9781948226547, $16.95, trade paper)

"What does it mean to be truly alive? When a village surgeon comes face to face with three impossible patients, he must decide if he is willing to risk everything to try and help them. What a story! A mix of speculative fiction and operating room drama, this book totally enraptured me."

--Jennifer Rohrbach, Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA

Lady Clementine

By Marie Benedict

(Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492666905, $26.99)

"Marie Benedict is a master of historical fiction. Lady Clementine is every bit as wonderful and interesting as her previous novel, The Only Woman in the Room. Benedict has a gift for taking these women that we know from history and making them come alive--their struggles, their heartbreaks, their loves and joys. Lady Clementine focuses on Winston Churchill's wife, a woman of strength and power. Benedict's novels remind us of the women who came before us; their hearts and spirits teach us and remain with us."

--Karen Bellovich, Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville, IL

Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book

By Courtney Maum

(Catapult, 9781948226400, $16.95, trade paper)

"Even better than answering the questions a writer is afraid to ask, this book more importantly answers the questions a writer may not know to ask. Filled with anecdotal examples (both negative and positive), humor, and a lot of common sense advice, this book covers everything an aspiring writer might need to know, including how to deal with agents, editors, publishers, advances, social media, book tours, movie/TV rights, depression, failure, and, yes, even success."
--Keith Glaeske, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

Creatures

By Crissy Van Meter

(Algonquin Books, 9781616208592, $25.95)

"Creatures is a novel that invokes the senses most often left to the wayside in fiction: touch, taste, and smell. This imagery is unique to how Evie, our narrator, perceives her surroundings of Winter Island and the people who float in and out of her life. As readers experience Evie's past, present, and future concurrently, they are left with a stark and stunning tale of abandonment, betrayal, love, and healing. With a narrative style reminiscent of Ted Chiang's The Story of Your Life, this is a book I couldn't put down!"
--Julia Long, Epilogue: Books Chocolate Brews, Chapel Hill, NC

Cleanness

By Garth Greenwell

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374124588, $26)

"Cleanness is a trance-inducing read. I started this book and was immediately swept up in it, and before I knew it, hours had passed. Greenwell describes human relationships in raw, beautiful detail while also exploring the power dynamics at play. If Cleanness is not one of my favorite books of 2020, it will have been a spectacular year for books."
--Hunter Gillum, Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, IA

Deep State: A Thriller

By Chris Hauty

(Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 9781982126582, $27)

"Deep State is a compelling page-turner with an unpredictable last-minute twist that will knock you off your feet. Hayley Chill is an Army infantry soldier with an eye on doing more to serve her country. In true snatched-from-the-headlines fashion, Hayley accepts a White House internship in the administration of a highly controversial and divisive president with apparent strong Russian leanings, which puts him in the crosshairs of operatives intent on taking him and his administration down. Hayley finds herself caught up in the intricate plot and may be the only one who can stop it. Perhaps ironically, I really think this book would appeal equally to suspense-loving readers on either side of the political spectrum!"

--Brent Bunnell, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

Kingdomtide

By Rye Curtis

(Little, Brown and Company, 9780316420105, $28)

"Original, fresh, and vulnerable. As soon as I finished Kingdomtide, I wanted to read it all over again. The shared plotline of the main characters felt like a heartbeat, speeding up and slowing down as they dealt with what life handed them. This story felt so real, not just in the sense that it could truly happen, but the feelings and emotions and conflicts the characters struggled through, with themselves, others, and society as a whole. A must-read for 2020, it really blew me away. I can't wait for Curtis' next novel."

--Jen Morrow, Bards Alley, Vienna, VA

You Were There Too

By Colleen Oakley

(Berkley, 9781984806468, $16, trade paper)

"This book had me from the prologue, when its main character, Mia, wakes up in the midst of some sort of catastrophe, pinned down by a man she won't name but seems to know. The whole novel is, to use Mia's words, 'an incomplete jigsaw puzzle.' I wanted to race through it to fit the pieces together, yet I wanted to read the story slowly as I got to know and care about every character. I absolutely loved this novel and can't wait to share it with readers ready to cozy up to a great story this winter!"

--Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall, Huntsville, AL

How Quickly She Disappears

By Raymond Fleischmann

(Berkley, 9781984805171, $26)

"How Quickly She Disappears is a Thriller with a capital T!! Set in Alaska with flashbacks to a childhood in Pennsylvania, the story follows Elisabeth, who is still haunted by and feeling partially responsible for the disappearance of her twin sister, Jacqueline, when they were 11. It's been 20 years, but when a stranger, Alfred, shows up claiming to have proof Jacqueline is still alive, Elisabeth sets out to assuage her guilty conscience. Alfred is demanding. Alfred demands frightening things of her. And as he teases her with more and more information, the stakes and demands escalate. How far will she go? Author Raymond Fleischmann will put you to the test. Your heart will race. Your breathing will become shallow. The pages will fly. This thriller is unlike any you've ever read!"

--Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis

By Ada Calhoun

(Grove Press, 9780802147851, $26)

"I eagerly snatched this book up, hoping it would offer a magic cure-all for the 4:00 a.m. insomnia that plagues me on a regular basis. Instead, I found solace and comfort, if not in a full eight hours, in the fact that I wasn't alone in staring into the dark in the middle of the night, brain on a carousel, getting pissed and feeling miserable. About most everything. It all makes sense now: I'm not an anomaly or a sleepless loner, I'm part of a larger pattern, a cycle created by the culture of a certain generation--Generation X. Why We Can't Sleep gives hope and validation and takes away some of the worry. Although this book is specific to Gen Xers, I think their Baby Boomer parents and their Millennial children will also benefit from reading this fascinating generational study."

--Rani Birchfield, Front Street Books, Alpine, TX

Come Tumbling Down

By Seanan McGuire

(Tor.com, 9780765399311, $19.99)

"Seanan McGuire strikes again with another breathtakingly beautiful fantasy! The Wayward Children series is an amazing collection of novellas for those who love the unique and bizarre, who long to see themselves in fiction, who want to lose themselves in words. This particular installment returns to some of her very best characters and can be enjoyed by new readers and devoted fans alike. Highly recommended!"

--Allison Chesbro, Schuler Books, Okemos, MI

The Tenant

By Katrine Engberg

(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781982127572, $27)

"Truth is stranger than fiction for two detectives and an aspiring author, characters featured in Katrine Engberg's new novel, The Tenant. No one is quite who we think they are, so we're right there with police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner as they try to unravel the multitude of threads connecting victims, possible suspects, and witnesses. Terror and thrills abound as Engberg keeps all of us guessing right up to the end. I didn't breathe a sigh of relief until the last page."

--Eileen McGervey, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

By Anissa Gray

(Berkley, 9781984802446, $16)

"For lovers of An American Marriage comes a thoughtful debut about family, secrets, and the damage one's choices can cause to those you love. Told from many perspectives within one complex family, this novel tugged at me from all angles. I found myself understanding and empathizing with all the characters at different times, even though their choices and the consequences of those choices were vastly in contrast to one another. A very strong debut."

--Jamie Southern, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country

By Pam Houston

(W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393357660, $15.95)

"I can't decide if Mineral County, Colorado, is a piece of heaven or if it's actually heaven. Either way, it is a wondrous Rocky Mountain paradise--a paradise beset by bitter cold, fires, and various degrees of hardship, but always exquisite beauty. Pam Houston has 120 acres of it, and readers get a glimpse of life and death on the ranch in this marvelous combination of memoir and nature writing. Both deeply personal and wide-reaching, Deep Creek is about the human capacity to feel grief and joy all at once for the ground beneath one's feet and the planet as a whole."

--Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY

Ghost Wall

By Sarah Moss

(Picador, 9781250234957, $16)

"Sarah Moss writes with a lyricism and an intelligence unlike any other author, and in Ghost Wall she deftly weaves threads of history, power, gender, and obsession into a stunning story that envelops you from the very first page. Lovely and haunting, Ghost Wall is both a powerful glimpse at how humanity interprets its history and a chilling reminder that the lines between past, present, and future are not always as clear as they seem."

--Rebecca Speas, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

Golden State

By Ben Winters

(Mulholland Books, 9780316505437, $16.99)

"Golden State is a gripping and brainy page-turner. Winters asks his readers to imagine California as a sovereign (and surveillance) state in which intentionally lying is the greatest federal offense. The 'Byzantine business of reality maintenance' is carried out by a team of federal agents, including our hero, Laszlo Ratesic. Golden State is a mystery in both form and content. In addition to the seemingly simple incident Laszlo investigates at the start of the novel, there's the bigger question of what a novel really is, or means, or can do in the 'good, golden, safe' world its readers are transported to. Winters is especially good at keeping his readers off-balance. Not even his biggest fans will see some of the twists and turns he's built into this, his best book yet."

--John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Mouthful of Birds: Stories

By Samanta Schweblin

(Riverhead Books, 9780399184635, $16)

"Samanta Schweblin set a high standard with her translated debut novel Fever Dream, a standard she has now miraculously surpassed with this unnerving new collection of short stories, a must-read for anyone who doubts the written word's ability to touch reality. Mouthful of Birds will rattle your bones, infiltrate your mind, and engulf you in a surreal dream-state of bewilderment and ferocity that will leave you fearing to turn the page, even as you beg for more."

--Tianna Moxley, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, NY

The Parisian

By Isabella Hammad

(Grove Press, 9780802148803, $18)

"The Parisian, a captivating novel of cultural assimilation, deprivation, and sacrifice in times of war, is quite simply a beautifully vivid, immersive love story. While these attributes alone would make The Parisian a compelling read, it is Hammad's writing that marks this work as one of the greatest novels I've read in recent years. The descriptions are sharp and lush, and her depictions of her characters feel recognizably familiar yet are expressed with a felicity for language that is altogether exceptional. This is a novel for everyone who craves a timeless love story and admires superb writing."
--Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America

By Ibi Zoboi

(Balzer + Bray, 9780062698735, $10.99)

"Jam-packed with stories by rock star authors like Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, and Rita Williams-Garcia, this anthology explores multiple ways of being black in the United States. The entries vary in themes and identities held, showcasing everything from gay and lesbian romance to police brutality to class divisions to issues of faith. The book made me laugh, cry, and think."

--Christine Stamper, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

By Brigid Kemmerer

(Bloomsbury YA, 9781681195100, $10.99)

"A Curse So Dark and Lonely is billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but it is so much more than that. Yes, there is a cursed kingdom, a prince that turns into a monster, and a girl he hopes will love him and break the curse. But the girl is from modern D.C. and has cerebral palsy, which is part of her but does not define her, and she becomes a badass who completely changes the game. This book is nonstop action from the opening sentence to the last paragraph. I fell in love with all of the characters and the world they inhabit. I really, really hope there is a sequel, as I will be first in line to read it!"

--Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, NY

The Disasters

By M.K. England

(HarperTeen, 9780062657688, $10.99)

"In this exhilarating space adventure story, Star Trek meets The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy. Five ragtag teens, known throughout the intergalactic colonies of Earth as treasonous thieves and murderers, face charges for a crime they didn't commit. Four of them were rejects from the elite space academy that patrols the galaxy, and the other, the daughter of a crime lord, is trying to break free from her surroundings. To save the people of the space colonies from a genocide beyond imagination, they must fight against all odds while being hunted down themselves. Great page-turner! This story will keep you on your toes!"
--Anna Rose Carleton, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, ID

How She Died, How I Lived

By Mary Crockett

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316523820, $10.99)

"One of my absolute favorite books of 2018! The unnamed main character is one of five girls that were texted by a local boy with murder on his mind--only one girl replied, and only one girl was brutally murdered. A year later, our heroine is dealing with survivor's guilt, the upcoming sentencing for the murderer, and a crush on the dead girl's boyfriend. A life forever changed by the what-ifs of one fateful day--the violence that can so easily end the life of any woman--makes for an unforgettable and unputdownable read."

--Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Little White Lies

By Jennifer Lynn Barnes

(Freeform, 9781368023757, $9.99)

"A great, fun read that contains a dash of love and lots of humor. Sawyer is a mechanic; working keeps her busy and it helps her mom pay the bills. She never expected her estranged grandmother to show up and offer her a way out of the paycheck-to-paycheck life she leads. But there's a catch: Sawyer must become a debutante and live the 'good' life her grandmother has laid out for her. And as a bonus, maybe she'll find out who her dad is. All of it sounds like an old soap opera to her, but Sawyer's going to milk it for everything it's worth."

--Alexis Sky, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

We Set the Dark on Fire

By Tehlor Kay Mejia

(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062691323, $10.99)

"There are only two outcomes when you finish at the Media School for Girls: a Primara, or First Wife, who is to act as the partner to her husband and run his household, or a Segunda, or Second Wife, who is in charge of being beautiful and bearing his children. Each man gets one of each. Dani is the school's best student and the top Primara pick, so it's no surprise when she's chosen by the candidate favored to become their country's next president. But Dani has a past that she will do everything in her power to protect. If you enjoy The Handmaid's Tale, but are looking for a YA twist, this is the book for you. I definitely recommend this one."

--Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA