New Books

First Tuesday of 2018 Megalist!

Happy New Year! Hold on to your hats, it’s going to be the most amazing year for books ever – and that’s a high bar! I’m excited to share the first big list of books for 2018 with you today. (I’m always excited when it involves books.) I hope you had wonderful holidays and that you find so many delightful things to read in the new year. It is an honor to help you learn about new books.

Sponsored by Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse and Revell Books, a Division of Baker Publishing Group

When Pete McLean loses his father in the summer of 1962, his friend Isaac is one of the few people he can lean on. Though their worlds are as different as black and white, friendship knows no color. So when Isaac suddenly goes missing, Pete is determined to find out what happened–no matter what it costs him. With vivid descriptions, palpable atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into the rural South of the 1960s –a place where ordinary people struggle to find their footing in a social landscape that is shifting beneath their feet.

(And like last time, I’m putting a ❤️ next to the books that I have read and loved. There are soooo many more on this list that I can’t wait to read!)

Speaking of new books, on All the Books! this week, Rebecca and I discussed several 2018 titles we are excited about, including The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, The Third Hotel, and That Kind of Mother.

And if you’d like to win several of our favorite books of 2017 (20, to be exact), you can click here to enter our Best of 2017 book giveaway for a chance to receive a big beautiful book bounty.

the cruel princeThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black  ❤️

The Spring Girls by Anna Todd

Darkness, Sing Me a Song: A Holland Taylor Mystery by David Housewright

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie) by Amanda Hocking

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Green: A Novel by Sam Graham-Felsen

Robicheaux: A Novel by James Lee Burke

a state of freedomA State of Freedom: A Novel by Neel Mukherjee  ❤️

Chainbreaker by Tara Sim

Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai

Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children by Sara Zaske

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano  ❤️

The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan

Ink by Alice Broadway

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin by James L. Swanson

The Devil’s Song by Lauren Stahl

the woman in the windowThe Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn  ❤️

How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Lost Rainforest: Mez’s Magic by Eliot Schrefer,‎ Emilia Dziubak (Illustrator)

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson  ❤️

The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan

Mouths Don’t Speak by Katja D. Ulysse

The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

Everless by Sara Holland

A Map of the Dark cover image: dark image of forest trees with title text in centerA Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life by David Giffels

Unbound (A Stone Barrington Novel) by Stuart Woods

Don’t Cosplay with My Heart by Cecil Castellucci  ❤️

In the Shadow of Agatha Christie: Classic Crime Fiction by Forgotten Female Writers: 1850-1917 by Leslie S. Klinger

The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi

Late Essays: 2006-2017 by J. M. Coetzee

Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

Beneath the Mountain cover image: black and white image of mountainsBeneath the Mountain: A Novel by Luca D’Andrea

The Pyramid of Mud (An Inspector Montalbano Mystery) by Andrea Camilleri,‎ Stephen Sartarelli (Translator)

The Art of Mystery: The Search for Questions by Maud Casey ❤️

Fallen Gods by James A. Moore

Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands

A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole

Meet Cute by Various Contributors

Someone to Love by Melissa de la Cruz

The Refugees: Stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen (paperback)  ❤️

That’s it for me today! If you want to learn more about books new and old (and see lots of pictures of my cats, Millay and Steinbeck), or tell me about books you’re reading, or books you think I should read (I HEART RECOMMENDATIONS!), you can find me on Twitter at MissLiberty, on Instagram at FranzenComesAlive, or Litsy under ‘Liberty’!

Stay rad,



Win a $250 Half-Price Books Gift Card!


We have a $250 gift card for Half Price Books burning a whole in our digital pocket. Let’s give this sucker away.

(By the way, did you know that Half Price books is the largest family-owned bookstore chain in the U.S.? With more than 120 stores? I didn’t.)

Half Price books specializes in great deals on new books, from discounted new releases to unbelievable deals on recent remainders. This gift card is good either in person or on the web, where you can troll for steals from the comfort of…well wherever you’d like.

Go here to enter, or just click on the image below. Good luck!

The Goods

15% Sitewide

Treat yourself to that gift you were really wishing for this holiday season! 15% off sitewide through 12/31.

Riot Rundown


We’re giving away a stack of our 20 favorite books of the year. Click here to enter, or just click the image below.


Win.a Copy of GINNY MOON by Benjamin Ludwig!


We have 10 copies of Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig to give away to 10 Riot readers!

Here’s what it’s all about:

Meet Ginny Moon. She’s mostly your average teenager—she plays flute in the school band, has weekly basketball practice and reads Robert Frost poems for English class. But Ginny is autistic. And so what’s important to her might seem a bit…different.

Told in an extraordinary and wholly original voice, Ginny Moon is at once quirky, charming, heartbreaking, suspenseful and poignant. It’s a story of a journey, about being an outsider trying to find a place to belong and about making sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up.

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


All the Best Audiobooks You Listened to in 2017

Alright Y’all, here it is: the bigass list of all your favorite audiobooks of the year! Because there are so many, I don’t have much room for description, but if you mentioned something specific about the title (that I didn’t mention in the newsletter last week). And thank you, so much, to everyone who wrote in with their favorites.  It was so fun to see what stood out for everyone this year.

We’re giving away a stack of our 20 favorite books of the year. Click here to enter, or just click the image below.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (full cast production)

(Reader says: This wasn’t life-changing, but still a funny listen, especially with the author narrating her own story.)

(Reader says: The book itself is fascinating, and Nicholas has captured the tone and pacing required to convey the “gentleman’s” character.  Beautiful!)

(Reader says: It was a tough listen, I’m not gonna lie, but it was so much more powerful because Gay actually read the audio.)

(Reader says: I loved Kevin Hart’s memoir that he read aloud. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it had a lot of good life lessons.)

(Reader says: I didn’t see the movie, but was curious about the story. I loved the audiobook.)

  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and narrated by Kristoffer Tabori.

(Reader says: Not new but I just listened to it and loved Tabori’s voice. He managed to make every character sound so unique.)

(Reader says: I know that the author died before this book was published, but I couldn’t help feeling like he was reading this book and talking to me. I loved this book so much. I made it through the book without tears, until the epilogue by his widow.)

(Reader says:  This was SO good, and Kory does such a great job narrating. Honestly, it felt like I was having a legit conversation with her she sounded so natural. I feel like that’s the sign of an amazing audiobook, right? You don’t even feel like you are being read to. I primarily listen to nonfiction, so you don’t get that all too often to be honest.)

Alright, folks, how ’bout them audiobooks? Think those will tide you over until January?

As always, feel free to say hello on twitter at msmacb or via email at

Happy Forced Family Time!


Today In Books

The Origins of A CHRISTMAS CAROL: Today in Books

The Origins Of A Christmas Carol

BBC got into the spirit with an article on the origins of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. From his views on the wealthy to a visit with his disabled nephew to the sight of impoverished families starving on the street, Dickens’ experiences and post-Industrial Revolution England provided plenty of inspiration and passion to create change. Read the full article to learn more about Dickens and his classic Christmas tale.

NYPL’s Top Checkouts

The New York Public Library reported on the year’s top 10 checkouts. The data collected was system-wide and for The Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan. The top three, system-wide, were Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead, and Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance. The top checkouts in the boroughs were TASC: Test Assessing Secondary Completion: Strategies, Practice, & Review, 2017-2018 by Kaplan for The Bronx; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for Manhattan; and The Award by Danielle Steel for Staten Island.

A Working Class Writers Collective

Author Kit de Waal is behind a working class writers’ movement. She voiced a need to see more working class voices in literature, and, in response, a working class writers’ collective has formed, and an Unbound anthology titled Common People, featuring new and published working class authors and edited by de Waal, was launched. Author Carmen Marcus reached out to other writers on Twitter and began the movement after hearing de Waal speak on the lack of diversity in publishing for “Where Are All the Working Class Writers?” a BBC Radio 4 documentary.

We’re giving away a stack of our 20 favorite books of the year. Click here to enter.

We have a $250 gift card to Half-Price Books to give away! Go here to enter, or just click the image below:

Book Radar

A New Naomi Novik Is On the Way and More Book News

Happy New Year! Hold on to your socks, book lovers – this is going to be the most EXCITING reading year yet! I hope you had a wonderful week, no matter how you spent it, and that you’re reading something marvelous! Enjoy your upcoming week, and be excellent to each other. – xoxo, Liberty

Sponsored by Park Row Books

Ginny Moon by Benjamin LudwigMeet Ginny Moon. She’s mostly your average teenager—she plays flute in the school band, has weekly basketball practice and reads Robert Frost poems for English class. But Ginny is autistic. And so what’s important to her might seem a bit…different.

Full of great big heart and unexpected humor, Ludwig’s debut introduces the lovable, wholly original Ginny Moon who discovers a new meaning of family on her unconventional journey home.

OH! And if you’d like to win several of our favorite books of 2017 (20, to be exact), you can click here to enter our Best of 2017 book giveaway for a chance to receive a big beautiful book bounty.

Deals, Reals, and Squeals!

artemis fowlJudi Dench will play a fairy police officer in Artemis Fowl.

Roxane Gay teased details about her new comic series!

Cat Person author, Kristen Roupenian, gets seven-figure book deal.

Julie C. Dao announced the follow-up to The Forest of a Thousand Lanterns: Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix!

Cover Reveals

Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada, has a new book coming in 2018 (featuring Emily!) and EW has the first look. (Simon & Schuster, June 5, 2018)

Eeeeeeeeee!!!! Read an excerpt and see the cover of the new Naomi Novik novel, Spinning Silver! (Ransom House, July 10, 2018)

Here’s the colorful cover of Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone. (Disney-Hyperion, June 5, 2018)

Sneak Peeks!

little womenHere’s the first trailer for the new adaptation of Little Women!

And here’s the teaser trailer for the Mortal Engines movie from Peter Jackson.

And here’s the first image of Jason Statham in The Meg!


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!

American PandaAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao (Simon Pulse, February 6, 2018)

After skipping a grade when she was young, Mei is now a 17-year-old in her first year at MIT, on track to do all the things her parents want her to do, starting with becoming a doctor. But Mei realizes she doesn’t want to go into the medical field, and she has a crush on a boy who is not Taiwanese and therefore off-limits, according to her parents. How does Mei lead the life that she chooses for herself and still remain a part of her family? This is a laugh-out loud, delightful novel about identity and family.

our lady of the prairieOur Lady of the Prairie by Thisbe Nissen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 23, 2018)

There’s a hurricane headed to town, but that’s the least of Phillipa’s problems. The theater professor has just had a passionate affair while teaching away from home, now is returning for her daughter’s wedding, where she will have to endure her menacing mother-in-law, her husband, and all the baggage she left behind while she was gone. But what would happen if she walked away? Nissen’s sharp, funny novel explores what it means when a woman stands up for herself and starts putting herself first in her own life.

And this is funny.

I love John Scalzi’s cats.

The Goods

30% Off Gift Cards

There’s no time like the last minute! Let your favorite bookworms shop to their hearts’ content with 30% off gift cards.

Give $50 for just $35, or $100 for just $70. You get it. Now get to giving!


Kissing Books

Jess’s Favorite Kissing Book Things

It’s the last Kissing Books of 2017 and I’m gonna do something different! Let’s just ignore the world for a little bit and look back on a year of Romancelandia.

Sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

THE LOVE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND LILY is a beautiful teen debut from exciting new talent Laura Creedle, about two unbelievably lovable, neurodivergent teens. Lily has severe ADHD, and Abelard has Asperger’s–find romantic inspiration in medieval literature. But can their love work in modern day Texas? This moving story of romance and human connection creates the sort of characters who will stay with you long after you finish reading.

My favorite author-in-the-wild moment: Alyssa Cole and Alisha Rai on their trip up the Pacific Coast. There was a crown and a castle; it was beautiful.

My favorite twitter thread: Suleikha. When you start a #notRWA2017 thread with “Diversity isn’t a trend. Or a buzzword. If you think you must color in or gay up your book to sell it, you’re already dead wrong”, you know it’s going to be pretty amazing.

My favorite twitter exchange (and a thing I still want): KJ Charles is my favorite.

My favorite bit of romance news: Okay, so I know I’m supposed to be hearkening back, but Suzanne posted an interview with Cat Sebastian last week that includes a cover reveal for her next book and it is :all the emojis: And one of the characters is enby and it’s just. I can’t words.

My favorite romance bookstore: I mean, they’re the only one, so….but don’t forget The Ripped Bodice has a Patreon!

My favorite romance accessory: It’s a tie between the “Disrupt the Patriarchy, Read Romance” mug and the “Slayer of Words” t-shirt. It was actually the notebook, but that’s not available anymore :(.

My favorite acceptance speech: Queen Bev, of course!

My favorite romance-related Book Riot post: Once again, it’s a tie:

My favorite late AF discovery: Rachel’s spreadsheet. I don’t know how I neglected to have a look at the beginning of the year, but I am totally going to use it next year!

And now, actual book stuff!

My favorite standalone: Love by the Books by Te Russ. Here’s what I said way back in March:

I cannot stop talking about Love By the Books by Te Russ. I came across it looking for books about librarians, and I just knew I had to read it immediately. First we have Carmen Jones, a literary agent who has just scored an amazing deal for a first-time author. And on her first visit to By the Books to inform said writer, she meets Sebastian, who turns out to own the joint. The two have an immediate connection, and their courtship is full of dorky, bookish, adorable goodness. I was swooning straight through to the end. How good was this book? Not even a healthy smattering of typos could take away from my enduring love for these people. Of course, it’s all about what you love; I totally decided that these two were my soulmates and that I was marrying them by the time I got to the end. But I guess I can share.

My favorite new series: The Loyal League, hands down. Remember when An Extraordinary Union came out? I was ecstatic:

I have been bouncing with excitement for the chance to talk more about this book now that it will be out soon. If you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, get on it! You’ll want to devour it immediately, I promise. This book has gotten a lot of press in the romance universe, and for good reason: this is a Civil War romance that defies the boundaries of Civil War romance, while still grasping upon the realities of history and giving us an untold story. With kissing.

And spies.



The heroine, Elle, has an eidetic memory, which makes her the perfect candidate to go deep, deep, undercover, posing as an enslaved woman in the household of a Confederate senator. She’s working with Malcolm, one of Pinkerton’s men, to discover any plans around a plot to sideline the Union in Richmond. The pair share a striking, soulful chemistry, and their banter is fantastic. If you’ve read any Alyssa Cole, you know what I’m talking about. If not, this will make an extraordinary introduction to her talents.

See what I did there? Heh.

My favorite new-to-me series: This one was hard, but I have to go with my gut on this one: The Five Boroughs series by Santino Hassell. I happened to read Concourse first:

cover of concourseThis was my first Santino Hassell book, but I went ahead and got Sutphin Boulevard when I finished; I need to start this series from the beginning. And I need to get more of Santino’s writing in my brain. In Concourse, we meet Val and Ash, an Odd Couple if we ever saw one: Val is an amateur boxer who does odd jobs for his super, while Ash is a glam Kardiashanesque socialite with the Instagram following to show for it. Valdrin’s parents moved to The Bronx from Albania, and his mom was Ashton’s nanny, meaning the two pretty much grew up together. Val will do anything for Ash, as we discover very early on.

It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with these two; almost immediately, you can tell there’s something special about their relationship, even if they both drive you mad with frustration. If you’re looking for a friends-to-lovers story with complex characters who have even complexer issues, this is the book for you. Also, you can hit two Read Harder Challenge categories with this one.

But I have been an extreme follower of Santino Hassell ever since.

My favorite one-off character: Cassandra Harwood from Snowspelled. She’s that character you’re always looking for: smart, self-aware enough to know what she wants even if it might be a misguided desire. Clever and caring, who looks out for other people and tries to help ensure their happiness even if it means setting her own goals aside for awhile. Did I mention whip smart? Like clever enough to out-logic a High Elf? And you know those buzzards can do some asshole logic and call it truth.

My favorite repeat character: Oh hey look, it’s Raymond Rodriguez (who also happens to be Santino’s favorite character, too)! In a move that’s not very common in romance, our favorite super-private author couldn’t make his brain shut up about Raymond and David after Sunset Park, and Interborough was born. As he moved on to Chris’s story in Third Rail and Citywide, Ray continued to pop up as Chris’s BFF.

My favorite family: It’s another tie:

  • The Winstons (Beard in Mind, etc.). This collection of lovable bearded weirdos (beardos?) and the women with whom they have, so far, fallen in love brought the perfect amount of levity to my reading this year. Penny Reid knows how to make a character just the right amount of ridiculous while still allowing them to be well-rounded and lovable. Also, Cletus was my second-favorite repeat character, followed very closely by Sienna Diaz, everyone’s favorite plus-sized comedian/writer.
  • The Bautistas. When you meet Drew Bautista in North To You, you probably won’t expect to fall in love with his family almost as much as you fall in love with him. But you will. You might love their dynamic even more than you do the love story and shenanigans that happen between him and Camille, his food rival and love interest. They have tough times, but they love each other so much, and that comes through pretty much to perfection. As you continue through the Journey to the Heart universe, that family expands and we get to see more of it, and you’re just there for it.

My favorite surprise: Courtney Milan’s Trade Me is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. It was damn near perfect as a book, with a great premise and some hilarious happenings. The surprise isn’t that I loved it. The surprise was Adam Fucking Reynolds, the foulmouthed asshole with a heart of…well, not gold but definitely not lead… that is our hero Blake’s father. Courtney has written a couple shorts featuring him, including one that jumps into the Sinisterverse. He’s also apparently getting his own book in the Cyclone series!

My favorite WTF-to-satisfied novel: You know that book you read the description of and you’re like “that author is seriously Doing Too Much but I need to know how this is going to go?” For me that was Highland Dragon Warrior. Historical Fantasy Romance with an alchemist heroine and the dragon-shifter who will be her hero? My first thought was “this will be either completely terrible or completely amazing.” And to my delight, it was the latter, and I am now a devoted Isabel Cooper fan for life. My review:

I was in a historical fantasy mood (and someone recommended a really interesting sounding one) so I started my weekend with Highland Dragon Warrior, the first in a very promising prequel series to Isabel Cooper’s Highland Dragon series. Instead of the 19th-century setting of the first series, Highland Dragon Warrior is set in the time of Braveheart, when Scotland is fighting for its own sovereignty. The titular dragon warrior, Cathal, is home from foreign wars, looking over the family keep, when Sophia, a Jewish scholar and alchemist (alchemist!) arrives with one request: a few of his scales. He offers to grant them, if she helps him out with a mystical problem he’s having. His friend is dissolving. Dissolving. Sophia takes up the challenge, and her awesomeness and fortitude are what will keep you turning pages until you reach the very end (at which point you will be grasping for Highland Dragon Rebel, which takes place twenty years later, features a badass dragon warrior, and unfortunately has none of Cathal or Sophia except in passing mention).

But you know what my favoritest of favorite things this year has been?

YOU. I love you all for joining me on this journey that was the first year of Kissing Books! You’ve reached out on twitter and instagram, and sent me amazing emails that made me laugh, cry, and find even more books to read. You are my favorite thing about this.

(And I’ve got some news for you! Shhhh. Come closer. Guess what. Kissing Books is moving to WEEKLY next year, after I take a quick break next week. It’s a New Year’s Miracle! I’m super excited.) Is there anything you’d like to see change next year? Something you’d like to see more of? As usual, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

See you in 2018!