In this highly anticipated sequel, Margaret Atwood describes the state of Gilead 15 years after where The Handmaid's Tale left us, through three narrators.
Reader review: "What a fantastic ride coming back to the world of Gilead 15 years later. The Testaments is superbly narrated by three women — two young women, one who escaped to Canada as a child, the other raised in Gilead; and the very powerful and dangerous Aunt Lydia. If you wish to learn about the secrets of Gilead and how Aunt Lydia got to where she was, do read this book. It is exceptionally suspenseful and entertaining, and meshes well with the Hulu series." —Paula Kalin
Best Mystery and Thriller — The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
When a London artist disrupts her seemingly perfect life by murdering her husband, the public wants answers. Tucked away in a forensic hospital, she refuses to talk — until one criminal psychotherapist makes it his mission to get the truth.
Reader review: "This book is the very definition of a page-turner. From the very first page I was seduced by the magnetic writing style of Alex Michaelides. Nothing is as it seems in this novel. This story is complex and multi-layered with a labyrinth of characters, each playing their part in the development of the plot. The author never once tries to lead you astray with erroneous clues in an attempt to distract you from an obvious conclusion. I never once felt like I had a grasp on how this story was going to play out, which kept me rapt until the last page." —Felicia
Best Historical Fiction — Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Coming of age in 1960s Los Angeles, Daisy is a girl with a killer voice and big rock 'n' roll dreams. Billy Dunne is the lead singer of up-and-coming band The Six. After a chance encounter and the vision of a producer, Daisy Jones and the Six is born, creating something so amazing, it'll go down in rock 'n' roll history.
Reader review: "Daisy Jones & the Six is a masterpiece. Incredible. Intoxicating. Unforgettable. Truly one of the most remarkable stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The moment I finished, I had to immediately start from the beginning again. I refused to let go. And yes, I did read it twice in a row." —Emma Giordano
Best Fantasy — Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
While recovering from a brutal attack, 20-year-old Alex Stern — the only survivor of what ended up being a multiple homicide — is given the chance to attend Yale for free. The catch? Her benefactors ask that she find out all she can about the school's secret societies — and all of their sinister, even occult, activities.
Reader review: "I am honestly astonished by what Leigh Bardugo achieved in this book. Ninth House is masterful and powerful and immersive in a way I can’t even begin to describe. It is a story about women refusing to shut up or be compliant. It is a story about survivors, for survivors. It is honest and complex and, despite some of the darkness, hopeful and even funny at times. It is a story so full of life." —Monica Kim
Best Romance and Best Debut Novel — Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Alex is the son of the president of the United States. Henry is the young prince of Wales and Alex's nemesis. After an altercation between the two of them threatens American–British relations, the pair are forced to stage a fake friendship to remedy the situation. Soon, their fake friendship not only becomes real, but it blossoms into something more, forcing them both to reevaluate what they thought they knew.
Reader review: "Red, White & Royal Blue was everything I was looking for and more. My reading experience was simply me laughing, crying, or swooning in a continuous cycle. Sometimes all three at once. It's worth all the hype and more. With literally thousands of romances under my belt, this one still stands out." —Heather K.
Best Science Fiction — Recursion by Blake Crouch
A dangerous epidemic called False Memory Syndrome is spreading; its victims find themselves remembering things that never happened and lives they've never lived, losing their grip on reality as a result. Detective Barry Sutton is determined to solve this mystery — and neuroscientist Helena Smith has no idea she's the key.
Reader review: "Recursion is truly a whirlwind and it has everything any reader could ask for. It’s exciting, thrilling, heartwarming, and gritty all at the same time. It asks questions I haven’t ever thought of and created scenarios that made my brain ache to contemplate. It challenged me as a reader and it challenged my ideas of what creates 'reality' and 'the present.'" —Christina
Best Horror — The Institute by Stephen King
In the middle of the night in suburban Minneapolis, young Luke Ellis is whisked away by two intruders who have just killed his parents. He's taken to the Institute — a sinister place where kids with special abilities like telepathy and telekinesis are forced to submit to those who want to take control of their gifts, or suffer brutal punishment.
Reader review: "The Institute has easily become my favorite Stephen King novel, ever! It may be over 500 pages, but this book reads so fast, you won't put it down. The characters were multifaceted, the story was gripping and original, and there wasn't too much exposition — we got right into the story early on. This book really will take you on an adventure that you aren't expecting." —Dennis
Best Humor — Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
Comedian Ali Wong writes a memoir in the form of hilarious and poignant letters to her two daughters, sharing stories and insights about dating, working, motherhood, and her experience as an Asian American woman.
Reader review: "This book was so funny to me and reads like a stand-up show. Her writing is real, raw, raunchy, and rambunctious. I loved that she says things I can only dare think about; it was completely relatable. I get her and I love that she is so real. The gritty honesty can make you squirm, but I love her for it." —Nursebookie
Best Nonfiction — Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
In her follow-up to Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis challenges women to identify and ditch the excuses that stand between them and their dreams.
Reader review: "All I can say is that Girl, Wash Your Face is the gentle prelude to this no-nonsense, make-no-excuses, motivational, pre-game, go-out-there-and-kill-it pep talk. If you plan on hanging on to any reasons as to why you can’t reach your goals, this book is not meant for you." —Felicia
Best Memoir & Autobiography — Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness
Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness gives an honest and illuminating account of how the "over-the-top" Midwestern boy who was regularly judged and bullied grew to be the self-help icon he is today.
Reader review: "Jonathan goes dark in this book, revealing a very difficult childhood, adolescence, and early adult years. This memoir contains references to sex work, drugs, abuse, terminal illness, and bullying. It’s not for everyone. Though sad at times and shocking at others, the book is very funny, and very relatable for me even though we did not have the same journey. He’s inspiring as a person, and as a writer. His courage to reveal his status, his trauma, and his vulnerabilities make me love him even more." —Ryan
Best History & Biography — The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
Historian Hallie Rubenhold refocuses the story of Jack the Ripper, doing a deep dive into the lives of his five victims and illuminating the rampant misogyny of the world they lived in.
Reader review: "Ms. Rubenhold's work is successful on a number of levels: her ability to research numerous sources to derive background and until now unknown information; her skill in taking what must have been numerous strands and small pieces of often unrelated information and detail together; her craft as an author to weave these together and bring five murdered women to the pages as people; and, finally, to then merge all this into a lively, atmospheric and sympathetic but respectful and insightful book about the Victorian Britain wherein they lived, died, and were judged." —Geevee
Best Science & Technology — Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty
Writer and funeral director Caitlin Doughty gathers up the many questions that real children have brought to her about death and answers them with her trademark honesty, respect, humor, and accessibility.
Reader review: "Doughty deftly navigates the tightrope between a healthy, reflective outlook on death and a great sense of humor, regularly grounding the discussion and explaining why certain practices and laws exist around death and human remains. She's open and unsqueamish about the tools of her trade, giving us an inside look at the mortician's daily routine, but also consults with other experts where necessary. She debunks a lot of bad information and unjustified fears surrounding bodies, but also explains where those ideas come from while replacing them with better information. This is the kind of book that makes you want to share tidbits you just learned with anyone standing nearby. It's a highly entertaining, quick read and a needed contribution to our societal conversation about death. The illustrations rock, too." —Ross Blocher
Best Food & Cookbooks — Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski
Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski delivers recipes for beginner-friendly "healthyish" meals — many requiring five ingredients or fewer — and intersperses insightful writing about his life and history throughout.
Reader review: "This is my favorite new cookbook, and I'm working my way through the recipes. I have yet to come across something I don't like, and I've gotten many requests to make 'my' chocolate chip cookies again — but they're just a recipe from Antoni!" —Kate
Best Graphic Novels & Comics — Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
Deja and Josiah have enjoyed a seasonal best-friendship since they started high school — every year, from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, they work at the same pumpkin patch, and every year they get closer. But on the Halloween of their senior year, the pair aren't ready to say goodbye — so they decide to make their last shift one to remember.
Reader review: "Honestly, I don't think it's possible to have negative opinions about Pumpkinheads. It has positive representation for so many things (male/female friendship, diversity, bisexuality, consent, etc.) and the story line is short and sweet. I like my graphic novels like one slow cup of coffee. Or in this case, pumpkin spice latte." —Amy Imogene Reads
Best Poetry — Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
In a powerful poetry memoir, Laurie Halse Anderson — author of the bestselling novel Speak — shares personal stories from her past about assault, trauma, being a survivor, using your voice to fight against predators, and more.
Reader review: "This book is astoundingly effective. The writing is mostly amazing. Halse Anderson's story is poignant and tragic and, above all, inspirational. All I could think when I read it was, she has done so much good in the world already, and with Shout she is about to do even more." —Julie Ehlers
Best Young Adult Fiction — Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
Teenagers Stella Grant and Will Newman have found themselves patients at the same hospital, both dealing with complications related to cystic fibrosis. While Stella waits desperately for a new lung, she has to avoid anything or anyone that could possibly pass along an infection and push her out of her spot on the transplant list. Either Stella or Will could die if they don't keep their distance — but as they get to know each other better, all they want is to be closer.
Reader review: "I have been wanting to read this book for a very long time, and my only regret is that I should have read this sooner. Sigh!! It was ADORABLE!! I cried, sobbed, laughed, and I even had a moment where was thankful for all my blessings. Books like this, with so much emotion and struggles, break my heart. And at the risk of sounding cheesy, this book made me take a step back and realize just how grateful I am for my family, friends, and health." —Tanya
Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction — The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
The mortal Jude has tricked the evil fey king Cardan into living under her control for a year, and together they must keep the secret of who is actually wielding the power of the throne. While learning how to navigate the politics of Faerie — and trying not to tire simply from the act of reining Cardan in — Jude discovers she has a traitor in her midst.
Reader review: "This book got me so good. The banter and sexual tension between Jude and Cardan had me on the edge of my seat, all googly-eyed like a schoolgirl with a crush. The political machinations, lying, and backstabbing are all so damn thrilling." —Emily May
Best Middle Grade & Children's — The Tyrant's Tomb (The Trials of Apollo #4) by Rick Riordan
In the penultimate adventure of his journey toward reclaiming his godly powers, Apollo has to return to Camp Jupiter and join the Roman demigods in their last fight against the evil emperors.
Reader review: "This book made you laugh and cry and that’s what all good books do! I loved seeing old characters come back and grow and mourn in ways we hadn’t seen before. I loved Apollo learning from his mistakes and learning to accept he’s human (for the time being!). I loved the battles. I loved the love!" —roseinkedpages
Best Picture Book — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers
With bright and beautiful illustrations, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood includes lyrics to 75 songs from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and The Children's Corner, comprising a collection of playful, poignant, and inspirational poetry for readers of all ages.
Reader review: "This book is such a treasure and I loved being able to share these beautiful words with my own children. Fred Rogers had a unique ability to connect so thoughtfully with children and these messages about feelings and compassion are truly timeless." —Genevieve Trono
Reader reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.