Sometimes a move from the city to the suburbs can be absolutely demonic. Amy was lucky to quickly find belonging in a group made up of her neighbors Liz, Jess, and Melissa. The foursome even christened a clubhouse in Liz’s backyard called the She Shed. It’s where it can just be the four of them — no spouses, no kids. Unfortunately, their little patch of heaven turns quickly into hell…literally. Liz seems to be possessed by some form of demon, and she’s coming after the others. This delightful fiction debut is the hell-arious Desperate Housewives-esque novel that dreams are made of. —Rachel Strolle
Set in Reid’s beloved universe, we follow Carrie Soto — the infamous tennis player who made an appearance in Malibu Rising — throughout her successful career, beginning when she’s a young child. In 1994, when the fiercely talented Nikki Chan is coming for her record, Carrie decides to emerge from retirement to reclaim it, and she’ll do it with her father by her side. As her coach, her father has always pushed her to be the best she can be, and Carrie’s kept up that mindset throughout her life: She must be the greatest. She must not fail. It’s why the media dubs her the “Battle-Axe,” though many prefer to describe Carrie as the b-word. Carrie wants to prove herself and excel within the rankings, but in order to continue to improve, she’ll need Bowe Huntley’s help. And as a tennis player himself, Bowe also wants to find success before calling it quits. Reid’s impactful story is about ambition and drive and what it means to be a woman who wants it all while the world is watching. Carrie is rough, hardened, and at times selfish, but her resilience and dedication to the sport, and to the ones she loves, soften her as a character. Reid’s latest does not disappoint. —Farrah Penn
If you haven’t read anything by Escoffery yet, I envy you. His short story collection, If I Survive You is one of the most refreshing fiction debuts I’ve read in years. Focusing on a family of Jamaican American immigrants living in Miami, specifically the youngest son, Trelawney, it cuts straight to the heart of issues that continue to plague America to this day, such as the insidious effects of capitalism, racism, and intergenerational tension. With effortlessly transporting language and characters that are unforgettable in their singularity, this book charmed its way into my heart, where it will stay for a long time. —David Vogel
Disabled activist and Chinese American Wong's memoir pushes back against the nauseating stereotypes that disability memoirs need to be at turns inspiring and depressing, and center the disabled writer as overcoming their disability. Instead, through a collection of scrapbook-style ephemera that includes essays, interviews, transcripts, questionnaires, and photographs, Wong presents a life full of disabled joy: a loving family, delicious food, a happy childhood, and community. Disability is an integral part of Wong's identity. At the same time, amid Wong's disabled joy is a simmering anger against the ableism that pervades American institutions, especially healthcare. This hybrid memoir shows the richness and nuance of disabled life, while also challenging nondisabled readers to confront their own ableism and their complacency in allowing discrimination against disabled people to continue. —Margaret Kingsbury
Upon their retirement, professional spies Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie get an all -expenses paid vacation. But on the trip, they appear to be targeted. And since only the highest up in their organization can order the assassination of one of their own, they’ll have to rely on each other to turn against their own former employers. Following them from their first mission to their final one, this Golden Girls meets James Bond thriller is a journey you want to be part of. —R.S.
A sprawling historical novel that manages to be intimate in its humanity, Sacrificio drew me in and held me in its grip until the very last page. Set in Cuba during Pope John Paul II’s historic 1998 visit, it follows a group of HIV-positive counterrevolutionaries called “Los Injected Ones” who attempt to overthrow the Castro regime. Funny and daring, with a plot that will keep readers guessing until the very end, this is the perfect read for anyone looking for fiction that is epic and socially conscious. Its length may seem daunting at first, but trust me, you won’t be able to put it down. —D.V.
There has never been a better example of a one-sitting read than this absolutely killer YA contemporary horror from Jackson. Springville High is hosting its first integrated prom (a last-minute fix after a viral bullying video revealed the school’s racist roots). Maddy, who attends Springville, has always been an outcast at her school but is worried about becoming more of a target when it's revealed that she is biracial and has been passing as white to please her fanatical white father. Though it seems she's getting more of a normal life, even being asked to prom by the Black superstar quarterback the other secret that Maddy has been hiding is about to be unmasked at the dance. —R.S.
In this powerful and brilliant graphic memoir, Beaton depicts the two years she spent working in the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to pay off her student loans. As one of the few women working in the claustrophobic, mostly male oil camps, she experienced relentless misogyny. It would be easy for Beaton and the reader to hate all the men Beaton encountered in the camps, yet Beaton does not allow the reader that too-easy reaction. She challenges the reader to see that these men could be anyone's fathers, brothers, cousins, and friends. She shows their humanity while at the same time unflinchingly addressing the day-to-day horrors she experienced. It's a vulnerable, moving, and empathetic glimpse into the micro-society the isolation of oil camps develops. However, it's clear that the misogyny, though worse in the camps, does not exist only within its confines. Beaton also confronts her own culpability in the climate destruction caused by the oil camps, something she had not considered when, fresh from college, she had signed up for the camps. This is easily the best graphic work I've read this year. —M.K.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this treatise on trans rights since it was published in the UK last year, and I'm happy to say it surpassed my already high expectations. Faye calls for trans liberation that goes beyond the desire for equality, because “Trans People should not aspire to be equals in a world that remains both capitalist and patriarchal and which exploits and degrades those who live in it.” A revolutionary call to arms that is precise in detailing what steps we can take to make life better for everyone, not just the privileged few, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. —D.V.
It's always nerve-wracking to read a book that's supposed to represent you and your community, especially the aspects most people never see, but in my not-all-that-humble opinion, Blum absolutely nails it in his sharp, witty, insightful, and resonant fiction debut, in which nobody's thrilled with Orthodox Jewish teen Hoodie Rosen. He's fallen for the non-Jewish mayor's daughter (a negative on two counts), and that mayor and her town aren't exactly happy about the recent influx of Jewish residents, either. As antisemitic activity rises in response to the town's growing Jewish population, Hoodie has to figure out where he stands: with his heart or with his people. Being on the insider track for this one, I'll admit it's at times a deeply uncomfortable read, but only in the way the very best books are. —Dahlia Adler
From the lead guitarist and cofounder of the band Fall Out Boy comes an insightful and humorous memoir. While Trohman delivers details on the formation and rise of Fall Out Boy, he also gets candid about his own history. Taking us back to his childhood during the late ’80s and ’90s, Trohman recalls his distant and oftentimes rocky relationship with his mother, who had a mental illness, antisemitism from his peers and community, moving around the country, advocating for his own mental health and therapy, and the misogyny and racism he witnessed within the punk scene. None of it's vague or sugar-coated. Instead, Trohman’s candor allows us to authentically glimpse into the highs and lows of his life growing up as a loner kid who loved music. —F.P.
Ma’s follow-up to 2018’s lauded postapocalyptic social satire Severance is a series of eight short stories, each with her poignant perspective and warped sense of humor: A woman in LA lives with her husband, children, and 100 ex-boyfriends. A portal in a college professor’s closet leads to another world. A yeti and a human make love. In “Tomorrow,” an arm protrudes from an expectant mother’s vagina during her pregnancy. In the suspenseful “Returning,” a married couple fly to the husband’s home country to attend a healing ceremony that involves being buried alive overnight, but they get separated at the airport. It’s a haunting centerpiece to a surreal collection. —Emerson Malone
Li’s latest book begins with narrator Agnes's discovery that her childhood best friend Fabienne has died. This revelation liberates Agnes to tell the truth about their youth, including her intensely intimate relationship with Fabienne and her rise to stardom as a child prodigy. What begins as a coming-of-age story told in flashbacks turns into a fable about the nature of intimacy and making art. The Book of Goose had me underlining and highlighting passages on almost every page so I could go back and savor the transfixing quality of Li’s writing. She has a way of using language that is intensely evocative while also being economical. Each chapter cuts like a knife, telling a story that is singular in its insight. —D.V.
2018 Pulitzer Prize winner Less is one of the most charming books I’ve ever read. I find myself returning to it again and again when I want a feel-good read, and it's like an instant pick-me-up. Less Is Lost, the sequel, manages to have just as much heart as its predecessor, which feels more necessary now than ever. This time, the hapless Arthur Less heads off on a trip across the US in an effort to avoid financial disaster and save his relationship that’s gone stale. If you’re looking for a cozy read this fall that will have you laughing and experiencing renewed gratitude for life, you can’t go wrong spending more time with this lovable character. —D.V.
The constant cliffhangers finally come to a more than satisfying conclusion in the final book in the Scholomance trilogy, my favorite book of the three. It’s a high-octane blast of a novel that at turns had me sobbing and biting my fingernails. El’s plan to escape Scholomance and save every student in it has mostly succeeded, with one big exception. She’s now bemoaning her life in an angsty, depressive rut at her mother’s hut and refusing to communicate with her friends. She once again joins the real world when the London enclave asks her for help, which sends her on a whirlwind spiral of heroism, saving enclaves and the people she reluctantly loves from destruction while awaiting her grandmother’s dark prophecy to come true. If you haven’t read this snarky and compulsively readable magic-school series yet, now’s the time to pick it up. —M.K.
From the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere comes a dystopian story set in a near-future America as told by a 12-year-old boy named Bird. Bird’s mother was a Chinese American poet who disappeared three years ago. Because of enforced regimes and new preservation laws, books seen as unpatriotic are banned and those found moving against the government are punished. Bird’s father wants his son to stay under the radar, but Bird is determined to figure out what happened to his mother. When a cryptic letter makes its way to him, he embarks on a journey to put together the pieces through an underground network of librarians. —F.P.
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This Black Mirror–esque YA novel is the prequel to Silvera's No. 1 New York Times bestselling novel, They Both Die at the End, set within the beloved Death-Cast universe. This time, we follow Orion Pagan and Valentino Prince, two teens who cross paths in Times Square. They both hold the same curious question as the rest of the world: Can Death-Cast actually predict when someone will die? But when the first official End Day call goes out to the world, one of them will receive life-altering news — and the other won't. —F.P.
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Rogers’s story collection follows one extended Cherokee family across centuries. Each story elicits chills in different ways, while also feeling incredibly grounded and intoxicating. From vampires to the Vietnam War; they vary in genre and style while Cherokee artist Jeff Edwards illustrates each story. A haunting and stunning book for you to enjoy. —R.S.
Dolores del Río was an unforgettable figure of the golden age of Mexican cinema in addition to being known as one of the first Latinx stars in Hollywood. In this new historical fiction novel, a fictional hairdresser and friend of del Río tells her story. The novel begins in 1910 as Dolores and her family flee their comfortable life in Durango and relocate to Mexico City as a revolution spreads through Mexico. Dolores moves to Hollywood after meeting an American director at a party. Her career as an actor blossoms quickly, working alongside folks such as Orson Welles. But tension in both her life at home (including a painful divorce) and her career (prejudice growing in the lead-up to World War II), force her to evaluate what her future will hold. This incredible novel spans decades and spins its tale with glamour and heart. —R.S.
Price, a Grammy-nominated country artist and singer-songwriter of the 2016 album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, documents her prolonged plight and the unsung truth of breaking into the biz: It’s not glamorous. Raised in a family beset by alcoholism, she drops out of college, busks on Nashville sidewalks, and tirelessly pursues her dream. She lives in poverty for years, donates plasma for extra cash, and plays empty venues across the country on an ill-advised tour. One label rejects her, saying it “already has two girls.” She and her husband sell their car and pawn her engagement ring to finance her debut record, and she turns her countless tribulations into lyrics. Her candid memoir takes the reader on a life-affirming journey. When she checks into a hotel with her guitar, the front desk person asks, “Are you the next Taylor Swift?” Price responds, “Taylor who?” —E.M.
Multigenerational stories are truly one of my favorite subgenres in adult fiction. From Homegoing to Pachinko, there’s no shortage of extraordinary quality, and this new novel is a part of that prestigious category. However, this story starts in the present, with the three daughters of Xuan Trung – Nhi, Trac, and Trieu. As Nhi winds through a reality dating show, and Trieu works through the family past with writing, Trac has become a lawyer whose sexuality remains hidden from her family. Their mother, a Vietnamese refugee, tries to divine their fates using their Vietnamese zodiac signs. In unraveling the tapestry from present to past, Tran delivers an astounding family archive. —R.S.
Wilsner proves their serious romance range with a sophomore novel that laughs in the slow-burning face of their debut by kicking off with a hookup that'll have you fanning your face for days. Said hookup happens between Cassie, a college senior, and Erin, a hot older woman she picks up at a bar...whom Cassie quickly learns is one of her best friends' moms. Thus begins the delicate dance of keeping that night a secret and giving into the hottest chemistry either of them has ever experienced, made even more challenging by the fact that they're spending an entire break together. Can they say goodbye when vacation ends, or is there something here that cannot be denied, no matter what it costs? —D.A.
Tesla Crane, an engineer and wealthy heir, is honeymooning on a space liner when disaster strikes: A passenger is murdered, and the liner’s security peg the murder on Tesla’s husband, a former detective, and arrest him. Though Tesla’s lawyer warns her against investigating the murder, to clear her husband — and to satiate her own curiosity — Tesla can’t help but try to discover who is really behind the murder. After a horrible accident years earlier that caused permanent damage to her spine and PTSD, Tesla uses a pain-relieving implant, a cane, and an adorable service dog. Accompanied by her canine companion, Tesla conducts interviews with everyone connected to the victim and begins to unravel a complex conspiracy that puts herself, and her dog, at risk. This delightful, fast-paced science fiction murder mystery is hard to put down. The disability representation is excellent and realistic. I’m hoping this gets turned into a book series! I would love to read more Tesla Crane murder mysteries. —M.K.
Rosen's deeply compelling and suspenseful historical mystery pulls readers into the 1950s with Detective Evander "Andy" Mills, who was just tossed off the force for being gay and is feeling just unmoored enough to pick up a gig investigating a maybe murder. The job brings him to Lavender House, a queer safe haven that lost a bit of that safety when its matriarch Irene Lamontaine falls to her death. Whether or not she was pushed is just one of the many points of contention of the family and staff filling the stately manor where "nothing is as it seems" is the baseline. The mystery itself borders on cozy, and wrapping it in an exploration of WWII-adjacent queer life makes for the perfect autumn page-turner. —D.A.
Joan He’s back with this new YA fantasy inspired by Three Kingdoms. Zephyr is a strategist, serving under the warlordess Xin Ren. While there is an empress on the throne, the realm has split into three factions, each following a warlordess who wishes to control it all. To further Ren’s goals, Zephyr is sent into an enemy camp with the aim of infiltration. But Crow, a strategist in the camp, might be the only one who can truly match her. He’s worlds are some of the most dynamic in YA, and this commanding series starter is a treasure. —R.S.
Sometimes you realize just how excited you were about a book when you go to download it and feel the adrenaline racing through your body. That was me with A Restless Truth, the follow-up to A Marvellous Light. Maud is Robin’s sister, heading to New York on the R. M. S. Lyric. Though she was looking forward to new experiences, she wasn’t expecting them in the form of a dead body aboard the ship. Her partner in solving the murder ends up being Violet, a magician and actor whom Maud is quickly drawn toward. And as the mystery unfolds, a bold romance springs forth. Combining the greatest elements of mystery, fantasy, and romance, this book is a true soul-fluttering delight. —R.S.
The conclusion to Jemisin’s Great Cities duology is a searing commentary on present-day politics as manipulated by a primordial evil. New York City’s avatars thought they had mostly defeated the Woman in White, though her presence still looms over Staten Island. However, a series of events makes NYC’s avatars realize that the threat may be much bigger than the Woman in White. Padmini is on the receiving end of an anti-Asian attack manipulated by those familiar white tentacles, a racist rally lands Brooklyn’s daughter in the hospital, and a Republican mayoral candidate whose rallying cry is “Make New York Great Again” stirs hate groups into a frenzy. It’s clear that NYC is once again under attack. Brooklyn decides to run against the Republican candidate, but she needs everyone’s help to succeed. Meanwhile, Manny begins to visit the avatars in other cities, hoping to convince them to convene a council and help NYC. Neek senses that the enemy has a far bigger agenda than last time and that they’ll need every city to help if they have any hope of survival and of saving NYC. This riveting and powerful urban fantasy duology is masterfully written. Start with The City We Became. —M.K.
If you are someone who gravitates toward emotional gut punch reads, allow me to introduce you to this spectacular debut. Someday, Maybe follows Eve, a young Nigerian woman who discovered her husband, Quentin’s, ’s body on New Year’s after his death by suicide, as she tries to put the pieces back together in a way she never expected. With his death taking her completely by surprise, she not only has to work through her own feelings of loss and guilt and frustration, but also reckon with a mother-in-law who blames her, and her friends and family who can’t completely understand what she’s going through. As Eve begins to climb out of the hole she’s been stuck in, with grief as an emerging companion, she must reckon with a new vision of a future without Quentin by her side. Not since the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “The Body” have I felt quite so utterly captured by a portrayal of loss. —R.S.
I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki: A Memoir by Baek Sehee, translated by Anton Hur (Bloomsbury; Nov. 1)
Struggling to absorb all the lessons she learned in therapy, Baek Sehee, a social media director with persistent mild depression and low self-esteem, started to record her sessions. The transcription became the manuscript for I Want to Die, a 2018 bestseller in South Korea that was recommended by a member of BTS and has now been translated into English. Baek’s psychiatrist asks her probing questions and offers sage interpretations for the roots of her self-torment: “The important thing here isn’t whether you are being loved, it’s how you will accept the love that comes your way.” A testament to the gradual nature of therapy’s cumulative healing effects, I Want to Die should resonate with anyone who eagerly transcribes every nugget of advice they get. —E.M.
Hussam and Wassim grow up together as family friends in Syria and experience a tragic accident that shapes the course of their lives forever. The Foghorn Echoes is uniquely structured so readers can feel the past echoing through the adult lives of Hussam, who emigrates as a refugee to Canada, and Wassim, who stays in war-torn Syria, just as one can hear the echoes of a scream from far away. Throughout chapters that alternate in perspective, Ramadan highlights the different ways one traumatic event impacts the lives of two distinct individuals. This powerful new novel — equal parts love story, ghost story, and meditation on the impossibility of outrunning one’s past — is one readers of literary fiction won’t want to miss. —D.V.
The second book in the Legendborn series is soon coming to shelves, and you do not want to miss it! With the first book already establishing Deonn as a powerhouse YA author, this sequel comes along to knock everyone’s socks off all over again in a masterful and magnificent follow-up. Bree’s search for the truth behind her mother’s death has led her to a new position within the Legendborn Order. But with Nick kidnapped and other friends threatened, it’s harder and harder for Bree to trust others. Plus, she has her new powers that she’s still adjusting to, and complicated feelings about both Nick and Selwyn. I truly mean it when I say this series is one of the best fantasy YA series ever written. —R.S.
Compiled from a collection of interviews conducted by the American Film Institute, this is the story of Hollywood as told directly by those who were there. Edited by Basinger and Wasson, both excellent film historians, this book is a movie buff’s dream (especially if you love gossip). Even if you think you know a lot about Hollywood and its leading players, I guarantee you’ll gain new insight from this book. It’s a perfect one to keep in mind when you need gifts for the cinephiles in your life this holiday season. —D.V.
If you loved Delilah Green Doesn’t Care (and, let’s be real, if you’re a queer-romance lover, you definitely did), then you definitely had Feelings about her stepsister, the ever-perfect Astrid. But you didn’t really get to know her, and that’s the beauty of this companion novel, in which Astrid discovers that she’s not straight and that she’s falling for the granddaughter of her biggest (and only) new design client and the key to reviving her career. With her heart and future on the line, Astrid has to figure out what she wants and how to go for it. The results are all too relatable, and as sexy and charming as its predecessor. —D.A.
The day after Delaney, a stand-up comic, and Sharon Horgan won the BAFTA for comedy writing for their show Catastrophe, he learned his 1-year-old son Henry might have a brain tumor. A surgery to remove the tumor damaged his nerves, leaving Henry with significant physical disabilities, nearly deaf, and with Bell’s palsy. He died at 2 years old. Delaney goes from making horns on his son’s head during a bath to learning how to change his tracheostomy tube. The subject matter of pediatric brain cancer is unfathomably bleak, but Delaney is a phenomenal storyteller, and this memoir is tender, vulnerable, warm, and darkly funny. A Heart That Works is in the same league as The Year of Magical Thinking in its stark, clarified articulation of grief, and the delusion and disbelief that accompany the tragedy. —E.M.
The former editor-in-chief of Bitch Media (RIP Bitch media) writes compellingly about the ubiquity of fat discrimination in this collection of essays that runs the gamut from the indifferent and callous treatment she’s received from doctors as she experiences chronic health issues, including heart failure, to the depictions (or lack thereof) of fat Black women on TV. Dionne is most honest when she’s writing about her own internalized anti-fat bias though. She dates and ultimately breaks up with a fat man because she “was a willing participant in perpetuating the fatphobic idea that Elijah and I weren’t meant to be together because of the size of our bodies.” She watches TLC shows like My 600-Pound Life, even though she knows the producers treat the subjects horribly, because at least she’s not as fat as them. “I know I gain nothing from investing in fatphobia and perpetuating it toward those larger than me, and yet, it’s much easier to laugh at fat people on television than think about those laughing at me.” Her book is a good reminder that fat discrimination is everywhere and it takes vigilance and empathy to fight against it. —Tomi Obaro
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