Today In Books

Ebook Sales Up for First Time in Two Years: Today in Books


Ebook Post First Monthly Rise in Two Years in May

Publishers are reporting that their ebook sales in May were higher year-over-year for the first time in two years. The slide of ebook revenues has been well-noted, and in some parts roundly celebrated, as it has become clear that ebooks aren’t going to take over the world. At least not yet. The gain was modest, just 2.4%, but could indicate a bottom for the digital segment. It will be interesting to see if this is a one-off or the start of a new trajectory, or even just a flattening, for ebook revenues.

Hollywood’s Hottest Director Eyes Cleopatra Adaptation

If you had to make a list of the buzziest directors working right now, I think you wouldn’t look foolish putting Dennis Villaneuve at the top. Arrival was a smash and the early buzz on Blade Runner 2049 is good, which would make him 2-for-2 with big time book adaptations. Word is that he is talks to direct a film adaptation of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, a magisterial biography that has long had Angelina Jolie attached to play the title role. Both Villaneuve and Jolie are terrific, but wouldn’t it be great to have a female direct a star in this move that isn’t white?


New York Times Give Coates the Profile Treatment

On the eve of the publication of his new essay collection, We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates is the subject of a in-depth profile at the New York Times called, “Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Making of a Public Intellectual.” It’s well-worth reading, and I think the Times could reasonably have been more demonstrative in the title: at the moment I think Coates is our indispensable public intellectual.


Today in Books is sponsored by The Blind by A.F. Brady, published by Park Row Books.

An addictive psychological suspense debut about a woman who goes so far off the deep end, she might never make it back up…
As the best psychologist at Typhlos, Manhattan’s most challenging psychiatric institution, Sam James believes if she can’t save herself, she’ll save someone else. This savior complex serves her well in helping patients battle their inner demons. When a mysterious patient is admitted, Sam is determined to unlock his secrets and his psyche, but his twisted past leads to some terrifying discoveries about her own life. And so the mind games begin.


Win a Copy of THE VISITORS by Catherine Burns!


We have 10 copies of The Visitors by Catherine Burns to give away to 10 Riot readers!

Here’s what it’s all about:

Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers….

Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click the cover image below:

Book Radar

The Caraval Sequel Cover Reveal, and More!

Happy fall, book lovers! The air is crisp and so are the pages. Er, unless you have an e-reader. Then I guess they’re byte-size. (Sorry not sorry.) Hope you’re reading something marvelous! Enjoy your week, and be excellent to each other. – xoxo, Liberty

Sponsored by Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Entwining the stories of step-mother Mina and step-daughter Lynet, both in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. It’s Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of Snow White.

Deals, Reals, and Squeals!

artemisThe fired Han Solo directors are taking on Andy Weir’s Artemis.

Insecure director to adapt A Brief History of Seven Killings for Amazon Studios.

Fox is developing a drama series based on the book, Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class.

Elaine Brown’s A Taste Of Power, about the only woman to lead the Black Panther Party, will be a film.

Disney developing Cyrano the Moor musical from Moonlight writer, starring David Oyelowo.

Rin Chupeco has a new book coming, and it’s described as Frozen meets Mad Max. YES PLEASE.

Sherry Thomas, author of A Study in Scarlet Women and its sequel, will publish a young adult novel.

In the Woods by Tana FrenchThe It film sequel set to hit cinemas in September 2019.

BBC One orders The Dublin Murders, based on the Tana French books.

Julie Taymor will direct an adaptation of My Life on the Road, the memoir by Gloria Steinem.

Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Seprent, announced a new novel!

Cover Reveals

Entertainment Weekly has the first look at Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, from Rick Riordan’s new imprint. (Rick Riordan Presents, March 27, 2018)

There’s a cover now for the Caraval sequel, Legendary. (Flatiron Books, May 29, 2018)

Twitter account I Read YA had a BUNCH of cover reveals. Here’s round one, round two, and round three.

Mark Oshiro has a book coming out next year! Paste has the first peek at the cover. (Tor Teen, May 22, 2018)

Sneak Peeks!

annihilationLeigh Bardugo shared a sneak peek of her next book, King of Scars.

The trailer for Annihilation is out and WOW does it look bananapants. In an awesome way.




Book Riot Recommends 

At Book Riot, I work on the New Books! email, the All the Books! podcast about new releases, and the Book Riot Insiders New Release Index. I am very fortunate to get to read a lot of upcoming titles, and I’m delighted to share a couple with you each week!

beasts made of nightBeasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (Razorbill, October 31)

This is an action packed debut! Taj is an indentured servant to a mage. As a young sin-eater, it is his job to slay sin-beasts. It is a terrible task that comes with horrible repercussions. For each beast he kills, he must then wear a tattoo of them and carry their guilt always. Most sin-eaters go mad but when Taj is called to eat the sin of a royal family member, he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that could destroy the city and cost him his life. This book is imaginative fun!

the king is always above the peopleThe King Is Always Above the People: Stories by Daniel Alarcón (Riverhead, October 31)

2017 might be the best year for story collections yet. This stellar book was just longlisted for the National Book Award for fiction, and features ten tales of family secrets, journeys, doomed love, broken dreams, immigration, and more. Alarcón once again proves himself a master storyteller, weaving stories both big and small about humanity.

And this is funny.

It’s funny because it’s true.

Today In Books

Librarian Rejects Melania Trump’s Book Donation: Today in Books

Librarian Rejects Book Donation From Melania Trump

A Massachusetts librarian turned down a selection of Dr. Seuss classics donated to her Cambridge elementary school by Melania Trump. The school librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, suggested that Trump donate books to “the underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.” She also sent along a list of 10 alternative books that would better serve these students, including Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation written by Edwidge Danticat and illustrated by Leslie Staub. I want to send this woman a thank you card.

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence: Longlist 2018

The American Library Association released the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence longlist. The award recognizes the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward seems to be on every list this awards season and made it onto the Carnegie Fiction longlist alongside What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons and The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. Roxane Gay’s Hunger and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me made the Nonfiction list. The six-title shortlist—three each for the fiction and nonfiction medals—will be announced on October 25, 2017.

The Princess Bride Returns To Theaters

William Goldman’s classic love story The Princess Bride will return to theaters for its 30th anniversary. A short film about The Princess Bride‘s legacy by the film’s director, Rob Reiner, will accompany the screenings. The limited release will last only two days–Sunday, October 15, and Wednesday, October 18–as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series from Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies. I’m ready with the popcorn and all the best quotes.

Thanks to PageHabit for sponsoring today’s newsletter.

PageHabit offers monthly book boxes curated and annotated by acclaimed authors for the most diehard bookworms. Each box comes with an exclusive, author-annotated new release, a written letter from the author, a bonus short story, fun bookish goods and instant membership into an active online book community of over 20,000 members. For every box purchased, PageHabit makes a donation to support children’s literacy around the world, so you can read well and do good. Readers can choose from eight genres including Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Historical Fiction and more. Get 10% off your first box with code “RIOT”.

The Kids Are All Right

Spookiest Middle Grade Books and a Huge New Release List!

Hey Kid Lit friends,

Buckle in, because I have A LOT of books to talk about! Before I get to the huge list of new releases coming out this Tuesday, let’s talk about spooky middle grade books. I’ve been planning this list for months; there are so many new, super creepy, middle grade books that are perfect for young readers who love to be scared. (If you want gentler Halloween reads, I’ll have a Halloween picture book themed newsletter next Sunday!)

Sponsored by Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.

Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith
Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London’s supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces?

Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea.

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi (11/14, Dutton Children’s Books)
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way) and she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days scrubbing the skins and souls of the dead in preparation for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore not only her ever-increasing loneliness, but the way her overworked hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair. But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appear, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie (10/10, Aladdin)
Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones. When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.

Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: 20 Chilling Tales from the Wilderness by Hal Johnson
Meet the snoligoster, who feeds on the shadows of its victims. The whirling whimpus, who once laid low an entire Boy Scout troop. And the hoop snake, who can chase prey at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and then, with one sting of its venomous tail, cause it to turn purple, swell up, and—alas—die. These and 17 other fearsome creatures are among the most fantastical beasts in American folklore. Their stories, as narrated by one of the last surviving cryptozoologists, are best enjoyed while sitting around a campfire. If you dare.

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller
Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend, Zenobia, for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago.

Monsterland by James Crowley
It’s Halloween, and everyone in Charlie’s small town is excited for this year’s festivities. Charlie’s grandfather, Old Joe, is famous for his holiday haunts, and his pumpkin patch is the center of the town’s zealous celebrations. But when Charlie runs into some neighborhood bullies who are after his candy, he heads off into the woods to escape. He quickly gets lost, but spots a kid who he thinks is dead cousin Billy. As Charlie chases after him deeper and deeper into the woods, he finds himself entering Monsterland—a mysterious place where werewolves live amongst trolls and goblins.

Monsters Unleashed by John Kloepfer
Freddie Liddle has a big problem: Monsters. Giant, fire-breathing, electric-shocking, bone-crunching monsters are attacking his town. Even worse, it’s Freddie’s fault. After drawing monsters based on the meanest bullies in his class, Freddie used his school’s 3D printer to make models of them. But the last thing he expected was that the monsters would come to life and keep growing, and GROWING, and GROWING. 

Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella
Twelve-year-old Stanly knows the bone growing in his yard is a little weird, but that’s okay, because now he’ll have the perfect photo to submit to the Young Discoverer’s Competition. With such a unique find, he’s sure to win the grand prize. But, oddly, the bone doesn’t appear in any photos. Even stranger, it seems to be growing into a full skeleton . . . one that only children can see.

Death and Douglas by J.W. Ocker (11/26, Sky Pony Press)
Douglas has grown up around the business of death. Generations of his family have run the Mortimer Family Funeral Home. The mortician and gravediggers are all his buddies. And the display room of caskets is an awesome place for hide and seek. It’s business as usual in Douglas’s small New England town. Until one day an incredibly out of the ordinary murder victim is brought to the funeral home. And more startling: others follow. On the cusp of Halloween, a serial killer has arrived.

New Releases!
Okay, so this list is a doozy. So many awesome titles out this Tuesday, and these are my favorites!

Picture Book New Releases

Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller (Penguin Random House)
Snappsy the alligator wants nothing more than a quiet evening to himself, but a pesky chicken who insists he’s Snappsy’s best friend won’t leave him alone.

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg (HarperCollins)
Did you know that the earth is covered in three trillion trees? And that seven billion people weigh about the same as ten quadrillion ants? Our world is full of constantly changing numbers, from a hundred billion trillion stars in space to thirty-seven billion rabbits on Earth. Can you imagine that many of anything?

That Is My Dream! by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Random House)
Langston Hughes’s inspiring and timeless message of pride, joy, and the dream of a better life is brilliantly and beautifully interpreted in Daniel Miyares’s gorgeous artwork.

After the Fall by Dan Santat (Roaring Brook Press)
Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe (Little, Brown)
Once there was a bad mood and a stick.
The stick appeared when a tree dropped it.
Where did the bad mood come from?
Who picked up the stick?
And where is the bad mood off to now?
You never know what is going to happen.

The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Simon & Schuster)
What’s the best way to cure a gloomy day? A trip to the library!

Dough Knights and Dragons by Dee Leone, illustrated by George Ermos (Sterling)
A curious knight and an amiable dragon meet serendipitously, and instantly bond over their shared love of baking. But the friends are filled with sadness when, according to the law, the two must duel one another.

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët (Little, Brown)
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.


Chapter Book New Releases

Charlie and Mouse and Grumpy: Book 2 by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes (Chronicle Books)
In this heartwarming sequel to Laurel Snyder’s beginning chapter book Charlie & Mouse, the two brothers enjoy a special visit from their grandpa, Grumpy.

Freddie Ramos Rules New York (Zapato Power) by Jacqueline Jules (Albert Whitman)
Freddie and his mom are visiting Uncle Jorge in New York City! Just before they leave, Mr. Vaslov gives Freddie a new pair of zapatos to replace the ones that were getting too small. But Freddie worries if his new zapatos will work as well as his old ones.

Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet: Who Gives a Hoot by Jacqueline Kelly (Henry Holt & Co)
Out in their boat exploring the San Marcos River, Callie and Granddaddy see all kinds of nature―fish, mockingbirds, ammonites, and more. But when Callie spots an owl in the water, she knows it’s in trouble.



Middle Grade New Releases

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Penguin Random House)
In this sequel to Newbery Honor book The War That Saved My Life, Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last and she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?

AHIMSA by Supriya Kelkar (Tu Books)
In 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle.

The Adventurer’s Guild by Zach Loren Clark and Nick Eliopulos (Disney-Hyperion)
In one of the last cities standing after the world fell to monsters, best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel have high hopes for the future. Zed desperately wishes to join the ranks of the Mages Guild, where his status as Freestone’s only half elf might finally be an asset. Brock, the roguishly handsome son of merchants, is confident he’ll be welcomed into the ranks of the Merchants Guild.

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem.

Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher (HarperCollins)
Siblings Jemima and Jake Button don’t know what to make of their new babysitter, Marge with her rainbow hair and adventurous spirit.

The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall (HarperCollins)
Josie Shilling’s family is too big, their cramped city house is too small, and she feels like no one’s ever on her side. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, her older brother, Tom, brings home a piglet he rescued from a nearby farm.

Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy (Penguin Random House)
When twelve-year-old Gertie Milk washes up on the island of Skuldark, she finds that all of her memories are gone. Home to helpful Slug Lamps, delicious moonberries, and a ferocious Guard Worm, the island is full of oddities, including a cozy cottage containing artifacts from every corner of history.

Greetings from Witness Protection by Jake Burt (Macmillan)
The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.

The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea (Random House)
No one likes or wants to take the statewide assessment tests. Not the students in Mrs. Woods’s sixth-grade class. Not even Mrs. Woods. It’s not as if the kids don’t already have things to worry about. . . .

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (Little, Brown)
Once there were Wizards, who were Magic, and Warriors, who were not. But Xar, son of the King of Wizards, can’t cast a single spell. And Wish, daughter of the Warrior Queen, has a banned magical object of her own. When they collide in the wildwood, on the trail of a deadly witch, it’s the start of a grand adventure that just might change the fabric of their worlds.

Mice of the Round Table: Voyage to Avalon by Julie Leung (HarperCollins)
Young mouse Calib Christopher has nearly completed his training to become a squire to the Knights of the Round Table when news of a deadly plague comes to the castle.

Sled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Eleven-year-old Matt is struggling in school and he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade. But what is he even good at?


Graphic Novel New Releases

Secret Coders: Robots and Repeats by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes (Macmillan)
Dr. One-Zero has added a new class to Stately Academy’s curriculum. But in “Advanced Chemistry,” they only teach one lesson: how to make Green Pop! While their classmates are manufacturing this dangerous soda, the Coders uncover a clue that may lead them to Hopper’s missing dad. Is it time to use Professor Bee’s most powerful weapon: the Turtle of Light?

Ebook Deals!
If that’s enough reading for you, check out these great ebook deals:
Perfect Season (Football Genius Series Book 6) by Tim Green is $1.99
In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson, illustrated by Patrice Barton, is $1.99.

This week I’m listening to the audiobook of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin and reading Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream by Monica Brown and Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter. I’d love to know what you are reading this week! Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at

One last thing: some of you might know that I am a children’s book writer. My debut novel, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, is coming out this Tuesday with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers! It’s a middle grade book about a family of five kids living in Harlem who just find out that their curmudgeonly landlord and upstairs neighbor is not renewing their lease. They have eleven days to convince him to let them stay in their beloved home… can they do it?

Until next time,

So many amazing new releases this Tuesday! Izzy was so overwhelmed she fell asleep.

*If this e-mail was forwarded to you, follow this link to subscribe to “The Kids Are All Right” newsletter and other fabulous Book Riot newsletters for your own customized e-mail delivery. Thank you!*


Win a Copy of THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS By Leigh Bardugo!


We have 10 copies of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo to give away to 10 Riot readers!

Inspired by myth, folklore, and fairy tale, #1 New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, the tales in The Language of Thorns will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

Go here to enter for a chance to win a copy, or just click the cover image below!

Today In Books

Marcel Proust Paid for Positive Reviews: Today in Books

Marcel Proust, You Terrible Cheat

Well, well, well, Marcel. Letters discovered thanks to a rare copy of Swann’s Way revealed that Proust paid for positive reviews of the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past. The writer paid 300 francs, a considerable sum at the time, for a flattering reference to Swann’s Way to be published on the front page of one of France’s leading daily papers. And then he paid even more for a lengthier review to appear on the front page of another paper. Reviewing his own book, he described his writing as “almost too luminous for the eye … This book suggests almost the fourth dimension of the Cubists.” Good. Grief.

Sexists Need Not Apply

Sarah Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen, the women who run the Irish indie publisher Tramp Press, is closing its doors to sexist submissions. In the announcement they posted on social, Davis-Goff and Coen said they receive submissions that address them as “Dear Sirs” and cover letters where the submitter says they don’t read books by women… So, inspired by author Anne Enright’s essay about sexism in the publishing industry, they decided to take a stand and say no to those queries. Tramp Press seems to be doing well enough without the sexists–they published Mike McCormack’s Booker longlisted novel, Solar Bones.

Dolly Parton Sings Dumplin’

That’s right! Dolly Parton will be working on the soundtrack for the upcoming film adaptation of the YA novel, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Parton’s music played a role in the original story so it makes sense that Jennifer Anniston, who’s producing and starring in the film, and who is a Parton fan, would reach out to the country star. According to Parton, the film will use some of her vintage tracks, but she’ll also be writing new songs for the movie.

Thank you to Rakuten Kobo Inc. for sponsoring today’s newsletter.

Calling all listeners—audiobooks are now available from Kobo. Find all your eBooks and audiobooks together in the FREE Kobo App for iOS and Android. Save with a subscription for the best deal on audiobooks—your first 30 days are FREE.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Sept 29

Happy Friday, rebels and revenants! Today I’ve got two series you need to read immediately — the Revolution books and the Tensorate novellas, adaptation news about Annihilation and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, additional magical pets, and more.

FirebloodThis newsletter is sponsored by Elly Blake’s Fireblood, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

In this action-packed sequel to the New York Times bestselling Frostblood, Ruby must choose between her fiery homeland and the icy king who loves her.

Did you watch the Annihilation trailer? Do you have feelings? I have feelings. Conflicted feelings! It looks like they nailed the visuals of Area X, but they also whitewashed the lead character.

Ariel Gore proposes a magical feminism reading list, and I appreciate it. Isabel Allende, Jewel Parker Rhodes, Jeanette Winterson, Louise Erdrich — lots of heavy hitters are featured, but there were several I hadn’t heard of. TBR: check.

More magical pets! Here are Syfy’s top 25 choices of magical creatures. This list does not contain Sabriel‘s Mogget and is therefore invalid. (Jokes! Well, half-jokes.)

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is getting a reboot, and people have demands. I am not a reader of the Archie comics and I didn’t watch the TV show growing up (I KNOW, blasphemy, don’t @ me) but I am still intrigued.

I love this piece by Deji Bryce Olukotun about Tron, digital rights activism, and science fictional thinking.

You can do some good with your sf/f dollars: Fireside Fiction has set up a Hurricane Relief Bookstore, with 100% of profits going to relief efforts for the Caribbean, Houston, and Florida.

And onto our reviews! A trilogy and a duology of novellas; sorry not sorry to your TBR.

Revolution series: Gemsigns, Binary, and Regeneration by Stephanie Saulter

cover of Gemsigns by Stephanie SaulterThe Revolution trilogy by Stephanie Saulter is one of my favorite sci-fi series that no one else I know has read. Set in a future where humanity has survived a plague event through genetic engineering, only to then go on to use that technology to create specialized workers, these books are deeply concerned with how we imagine and define humanity and personhood.

In Gemsigns, we’re introduced to this possible future through a “norm” scientist, a leader of the “gem” (or extremely genetically modified) population, and a ruthless corporate executive. Legislation is on the table that will literally decide whether or not the gems count as people, so the stakes are incredibly high. Corporations stand to lose out on profits if their previously-unregulated and unorganized workers get full rights; the general population is torn between their fears of the abilities of the gems and sympathy for their ill treatment; and there are godgangs on the rise terrorizing the gem population — consider this your warning for scenes including graphic violence.

It would be a spoiler to give you any details about Binary and Regeneration, but I can tell you that while the stakes change, new characters are added to the mix, and new aspects of the world and the science are revealed, the books never stray from these central questions. How do we deal with fear of the unknown? How do we empathize with those who are different from us? What does it mean to be a person, and who gets to decide? The Revolution are thoughtful as well as action-packed, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about them.

Tensorate series: The Black Tides of Heaven #1 and The Red Threads of Fortune #2 by JY Yang

cover of The Black Tides of Heaven by JY YangI am SO EXCITED that these novellas are finally available! Ever since reading them a few months ago, I’ve been counting down the days til I could review them here.

Following the adventures of twins Akeha and Mokoya, children of the ruthless and conniving Protector, the books introduce us to a world where magic and steam technology mix. Mokoya was born with prophetic gifts but, like Cassandra of Troy, she finds that they don’t make her life any better. Akeha, always in her shadow, finds that he has to develop his own ways to see the world. The Black Tides follows them as children and then Akeha’s entrance into political rebellion, while The Red Threads follows Mokoya in adulthood after a terrible accident kills her young daughter.

cover of Red Threads of Fortune by JY YangThis world is beautifully imagined and rendered, and Yang has a gift for playing with known elements in new and unexpected ways. For instance, gravity is relative to geography, and naga and dinosaurs exist side by side. This world is also inclusive: gender is selected at a certain age, sexuality is fluid and wide-ranging, and the society and religion, and the term “silkpunk” definitely implies. Yang has described them as “Dragon Age meets Jurassic World meets Star Wars meets Mad Max” in an interview, and I can definitely get behind that. Are you convinced yet??

Nota bene to file under “tech world problems”: those of us who use the platform Slack on a regular basis will have to take a moment to reshape our brains, as that is word for the source of magic in this world.

And that’s it for today! If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.



Behind the Scenes Sept pt 2

Congrats to this month’s winners! Kirsty G. was our randomly selected Epic Mailbag winner, and Kerry W. was our Novel winner. Muppet arms and confetti cannons to them! Novel folks, remember that to be entered in the monthly drawing, just keep your Watchlist updated on a monthly basis.

For the second installment of this month’s Behind the Scenes, Sharifah shares the secrets of making beautiful bookstagrams. Got a favorite trick of your own? Share it in the comments!

I’m a sucker for a pretty book, and for set dressing. It must be the theater nerd in me — the one that usually got dismissed to the prop department (International Thespian Society troupe secretary in the house!). I guess it figures that one of my favorite work responsibilities is taking photos of books.

During a typical week, I have to take about seven bookish photos for giveaways and content that gets posted to social. My personal social media happy place is Instagram. It’s the only platform I use consistently outside of work; I adore the bookstagram community. And since quite a few bookish people feel similarly about bookstagramming, I thought I’d share a little about my process and some tips for bookish photography.

The Book

image of six books layed out on white paper and a cat inspecting them with text, "Tabitha disapproves of this layout & this carpet"

I get a lot of work-related book mail. I keep these books in a pile away from my own library until I’ve taken my photos. I’m not a delicate reader, and I try to avoid publishing photos of books with coffee rings on the covers. Every book has a different personality — every book is a different actor waiting to play the lead in the right production. Am I stretching this metaphor? Sometimes the book demands a vibrant, bustling backdrop; a stark, brick wall; or, sometimes, it gets the 10”x10” square of clean surface in my apartment and a flower because I’m very busy.


I have use of a fancy camera, but to be honest most of my photos are taken on my iPhone. It’s just faster, and goodness how far we’ve come with phone cameras. Also, it’s more efficient for photo editing since I use apps.

Sometimes it’s not bright enough out, or the light casts everything in a mustardy ’70s haze and something must be done. My preferred photo editing apps are VSCO and Snapseed, and my best friend is the temperature tool (cooler, always cooler). I don’t use the pre-set filters on these apps — I usually just nudge the contrast, temp, and saturation. I’ve been playing around with fade as well, for that misty, vintage look.


Did you know that often when you see those flatlay photos where someone has a beautiful marble surface or rustic wood floor, what you might actually be looking at is textured contact paper on cardboard? One of my new favorite things to do is to find special paper for backdrops. I glue them to poster board with spray adhesive and voila! My current favorite is the textured paper with pressed flowers (pictured under Akata Warrior).

image of Akata Warrior and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor layed out on top of paper surrounded by flowers, essential oils, candles, and other natural props

As far as props go, it helps to be a hoarder of whosits and whatsits galore. I used to do embarrassing/fun things like go to The Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball, the Society of Creative Anachronism events, and Wasteland Weekend (a Mad Max “immersion” event)… Thanks to costuming, I have a lot of random crap shoved into a lot of drawers. Feathers, weird fabric, ribbons, gears, shells, beads, blah blah blah. I also think witchy stuff and curiosities improve any picture, but I have to remind myself that it’s not appropriate for every book to be photographed with a seahorse skeleton. My point is: half the fun of taking these photos is going on scavenger hunts for interesting props.


I don’t expect anyone to make as big a fuss over book photography as I do. These things I do for my job, but also for myself. Because everybody needs a creative outlet, and it can be fun to create a story around a story, and because I’ll take a dose of circus where I can get it. But the star of the show will always be a really great story.

– Sharifah

True Story

36 New Nonfiction Favorites Now Out in Paperback

Fall is finally here, which means it’s finally time to cuddle up with some tea, a fuzzy blanket, and great books. Winter is probably my favorite reading season — I live in Minnesota, so there are many days of the year when it’s best to just never leave the house — but autumn is a close second. What’s your favorite season to read? You can share in this poll over at Book Riot.

Sponsored by TarcherPerigee, publisher of Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam J. Kurtz

From the mind and heart of designer Adam J. Kurtz comes an upbeat rallying cry for creatives of all stripes: Things Are What You Make of Them.

Expanding on a series of popular essays he wrote for Design*Sponge, this empathetic and empowering guide—packed withhandwritten and heartfelt insights—is The Artist’s Way for a new generation and will be a touchstone for writers, artists, entrepreneurs, or anyone else seeking a more aesthetic life.

With perforated tear-and-share pages, this vibrant, full-color book will serve as kindling for stoking and sustaining creative fires.

I thought I’d kick off fall with one of my favorite things: a giant, TBR-busting list of nonfiction favorites that are finally out in paperback. This list features some heavy-hitters, as well as some books that I missed when they first came out last year. As always, I hope you can find something awesome to read.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande — A look at medicine, aging and death.

The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams — A literary celebration of national parks and what they mean to us.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer — Essays from a comic actress on growing up making people laugh.

Blood at the Root by Patrick Phillips — The history of Forsyth County, Georgia, and the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth ‘all white’ well into the 1990s.”

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi — A history of “how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.”

Code Warriors by Stephen Budiansky — An inside look at the roots of the National Security Agendy.

Rogue Heroes by Ben Macintyre — The inside history of Britain’s elite Special Air Service.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance — Memoir by a Yale Law School graduate about “growing up in a poor Rust Belt town.”

Sing for Your Life by Daniel Bergner — The story of a young black man’s journey from prison to life as a rising opera star.

White Rage by Carol Anderson — A history of how “social progress for African American was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition” from white America.

Urban Forests by Jill Jonnes — An exploration of how trees and urban green spaces contribute to public health and urban infrastructure.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton — An Oprah-endorsed memoir about confronting pain to build deeper, truer relationships. y of living your own truth.

Presence by Amy Cuddy — Techniques for improving confidence and performance through mind-body connections.

Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson — A memoir of “family, friends, the hustle to make it from DC to Hollywood, and the joy of living your own truth.”

The Invention of Russia by Arkady Ostrovsky — A look at Russia’s nationalist movement and aggression against America.

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessie Klein — Essays on growing up as a tomboy and becoming a woman.

I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This by Nadja Spiegelman — A memoir of mothers and daughters and the complexity of families.

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston — A memoir by the star of Breaking Bad.

The Battle for Home by Marwa al-Sabouni — An eyewitness account of life in Syria by an architect.

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner — The true story of an American family separated by the Iron Curtain for more than 40 years.

Playing Dead by Elizabeth Greenwood — “A journey through the world of death fraud.”

Pilgrimage by Mark K. Shriver — A portrait of Pope Francis based on interviews from the people who knew him as Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick — Essays on life from a short, funny, introverted actress.

Never Look an American in the Eye by Okey Ndibe — “A memoir of flying turtles, colonial ghosts, and the making of Nigerian American.”

Books for Living by Will SchwalbeA look at the books that can help answer life’s big and small questions.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen — Rock star memoir!

In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett — A behind-the-scenes look at The Carol Burnett Show.

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston — An eyewitness account of following in the footsteps of a swashbuckling journalist in Honduras.

The Clancys of Queens by Tara Clancy — A Book Riot favorite, a memoir of growing up working class in Queens.

The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carré — A memoir from a legendary author who got his start in British Intelligence during the Cold War.

Messy by Tim Harford — An economist explores “the benefits that messiness has in our lives: why it’s important, why we resist it, and why we should embrace it instead.”

When We Rise by Cleve Jones — A memoir of life in the gay rights movement in the 1970s.

The Boys of Dunbar by Alejandro Danois — The true story of a Baltimore basketball coach whose undefeated team launched four players to the NBA.

Soul at the White Heat by Joyce Carol Oates — Critical and personal essays on the writing life.

Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein — An invitation into Elena Ferrante’s workshop where she answers questions on the writing life.

Best. State. Ever. by Dave Barry — A humorous collection of essays on why Florida is just so damn weird.

And that’s all for this week! I hope the weather where you are is lovely, the books on your shelves are plentiful, and the people you live with don’t mind you spending the weekend with a good book! — Kim