Today In Books

Sherman Alexie Facing Harassment Allegations: Today in Books

This edition of Today in Books is sponsored by Blackstone Publishing, publisher of The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard.

Sherman Alexie Facing Harassment Allegations

Organizations and individuals who have supported Sherman Alexie are rethinking their involvement with the author and his work in light of allegations of harassment made against him in the comments section of the School Library Journal piece where other prominent figures in publishing were called out for abuse. Alexie won ALA’s Carnegie Medal for nonfiction, and was highlighted for his work with the Institute of American Indian Arts in a BuzzFeed article around the time the allegations surfaced.

Black Panther Actors Reunite For Americanah Adaptation

Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, who played Nakia and Okoye in Black Panther, will reunite for a miniseries adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. Nyong’o will star as protagonist Ifemelu, and Gurira, who is a playwright in addition to being an actor, will write the screenplay. Both women will also serve as executive producers.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide Returns As Radio Series Reboot

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the radio series adaptation of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the BBC is rebooting the series, and reuniting its original cast. The new series will combine unpublished material from Adams’ notebooks and newer plotlines from And Another Thing, Eoin Colfer’s book continuing the saga. The 40th-anniversary series starts on BBC Radio 4 on March 8.


And don’t forget to head over to our Instagram account to enter to win $500 of Penguin Clothbound classics!


4 WWII Audiobooks for History Lovers

Hello Audiophiles!

Amanda Nelson here, Book Riot’s Managing Editor, filling in for Katie while she’s on vacation (don’t worry, she’ll be back next week). This week, I want to talk about World War II–I recently saw Darkest Hour starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill (who is a problematic fave of mine), and it reactivated my eternal itch for all things WWII. I’m especially interested in the generally untold stories or sides of the war. Though, don’t get me wrong, I do love watching one of the millions of black and white History Channel documentaries about the European theater. Here are a few more:

Sponsored by The Vale (Book One) Behind The Vale

A disgraced royal guard turned bounty hunter uncovers a global conspiracy in a post-apocalyptic world filled with magic, mages, monster, fantastic weapons, and an awesome mana enhanced car.

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teegee and Nikola Sellmair, translated by Carolin Sommer, narrated by Robin Miles

Jennifer is a German-Nigerian woman who was raised by her adoptive parents. In her late 30s, she discovers that her maternal grandfather was Amon Goeth, the commandant of the Plaszów concentration camp (the one portrayed in Schindler’s List). Goeth was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, and was hanged for war crimes in the 1940s. In her memoir, Jennifer reckons with this new knowledge of her family background, and travels to Israel and Poland in search of answers.

Code Talker by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila, narrated by David Colacci

More than 400 Navajos served in the Marines in World War II as “code talkers,” an assignment so top secret that it wasn’t declassified until the late 1960s. Using the Navajo language as code–a language the author was not allowed to speak in his government-run boarding school that tried to strip him of his culture–the Allies were able to get an essential strategic advantage over the Japanese in the Pacific theater (an advantage that led to success in the Battle of Iwo Jima, among others). Nez’s memoir of growing up on a Navajo Reservation, serving in the military, and returning home to face more racism and oppression, is a must-read. Or must-listen.

Winston’s War by Max Hastings, narrated by Robin Sachs

A laser-focused portrait of Winston Churchill during the war years, revealing a British War Lord who was both bumbling and brilliant. Hastings can be a bit fawning for my taste, glossing over (and sometimes outright making excuses for) Churchill’s racism, lack of strategic military skills, and incompetence when managing the British Army. Churchill’s real skill was in the way he managed relationships with Roosevelt and Stalin, and how he pulled up the British people’s morale through what looked like an inevitable defeat. He loved being at war, and is a fascinating figure.

Stalingrad: the Fateful Siege by Antony Beevor

Stalingrad was inarguably the turning point in the European theater of the war. Hitler’s infamous (and idiotic, ego-driven) assault on Stalin’s namesake city was a complete disaster that resulted in the death of more than a million people, the imprisonment of over 90,000 German soldiers in Soviet POW camps, and the beginning of the end for Germany. Beevor’s engrossing modern classic follows the experiences of soldiers on both sides as the city descended into winter, and of the Russian civilians trapped in the city’s ruins, desperate to survive.

I’d love to hear your recommendations for more audiobooks about the Pacific theater–send them to me on Twitter @ImAmandaNelson!


Win a Copy of DAUGHTER OF THE SIREN QUEEN by Tricia Levenseller!


We have 10 copies of Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller to give away to 10 Riot readers!


Here’s what it’s all about:

The capable, confident, and occasionally ruthless heroine of Daughter of the Pirate King is back in this action-packed sequel that promises rousing high seas adventures and the perfect dash of magic.

Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first…after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

In Daughter of the Siren Queen, Tricia Levenseller brings together the perfect mix of thrilling action, tense battle scenes, and a heart-pounding romance.

Go here to enter for the chance to win, or just click the (quite excellent) cover below:

Kissing Books

One-Sitting Romance Reads

Happy March, Kissing Books! I hope you’ve had a chance to look out for The Ripped Bodice’s Diversity in Publishing report, which was supposed to release this morning, but if not, we’ll definitely talk about it next week.


Feeling Olympic withdrawal? The fabulousness that is Lacy Literacy has given us exactly what you need: The Master List.

Sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio

Love is in the air when you play an audiobook.  Find your perfect match for your next galentines day book club pick with some great listening suggestions.  Get started at

Emma Chase’s newest novel, Getting Schooled, is audio-first. What this means is that the audio is available now, but print and kindle won’t be available until June. I don’t know if this is a thing that Audible is going to be doing regularly, but it was definitely news to me. I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks, but this is definitely a gamechanger. Are you interested in this new development?


Wendy the SuperLibrarian has taken her monthly Unusual Historicals picks over to Love in Panels, making it even more awesome.

I know the Olympics are over, but I still gotta know: who’s working on this novel? Like, seriously, how have there not been a million ice dancing romances since 2010? I expect at least three by the next Nationals.

Jen started a pretty comprehensive Content Warnings list, and has a really good thread on why it’s important.

Do you need more Science Fiction and Fantasy romance in your life? I definitely do. And these folks are going to help us all out.

Finally, Courtney Milan talks about the intersectionality of romance and it’s awesome as usual. (Also, I have got to up my historical research game.)


KJ Charles’ An Unsuitable Heir is 1.99 right now. It’s the third in a series, but you can kind of figure out what’s happened previously. Or you can just read the others when you’re done 😉

If you’re looking for some slooooooowww burn and want some Olympics nostalgia, Mariana Zapata’s From Lukov With Love is 2.99 (down from 4.99, which is still a pretty good deal, especially for the number of pages you get in a Zapata book.)

I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about Talia Hibbert—she’s a lot of people’s new favorite. Her newest, The Princess Trap, is 2.99 right now.

Over on Book Riot

We’re having a giveaway still!

I said I’d get to it! Here are some The Wedding Date readalikes. Well, not quite, but close.

Also, Jenn got to talk to Alyssa Cole and I am aflame with the amount of jealousy I feel. But that doesn’t matter because the words are awesome.

The Ripped Bodice and Changing Hands in Phoenix are doing the damn thing.

Do you read when you wake up? Here are a few perfect picks for you.

What’s your favorite unusual love story?

Did you see this really thought-provoking essay about erotica?

There’s a new tee in the BR store and it’s Pretty Effing Amazing.

And finally, this week on When In Romance, we get serious and then get super silly.


There are a few books I want to talk about this week, and they do actually have something in common: they’re one-sitting reads! (If you’re not doing the Read Harder challenge, this probably means nothing to you, but then the question is why aren’t you doing Read Harder?!)

Just kidding. Do what you want.


I’ve got three potential one-sitting reads for you, whether you’re looking for something sweet, something spicy, or something goddamn. The first is the only one that can be read in less than an hour, but if you’ve got a couple hours, you can get through the others pretty quickly as well (unless you’re taking breaks to breathe, which might be necessary, not gonna lie).

Bingo Love
Tee Franklin et al

I don’t recommend comics very often in Kissing Books, but this one needs your eyes and your heart. It will be a joy to both of those, I promise.

Hazel and Mari meet when they are barely teenagers, but their connection is instant. They become the best of friends, sharing a love like no other. Their relationship is platonic, but there’s always something…more, just under the surface. When they finally act on that more, they’re torn apart for almost fifty years. Imagine what can happen when the love of your life randomly shows up at bingo. Tears. Fat, gross, sobby tears, that’s what. (Or maybe that’s just me.) This book is written for crying of all kinds: joy, sadness, grief, delight, they’re all there.

This one can also work for your protagonist over 60, or your comic written or illustrated by a POC. If you’re doing Read Harder.

Two Dukes are Better than One
Lorna James

Let’s go back into prose for this menage romance (if you couldn’t tell from the title). I know some of us are tired of dukes, but come on. Two. Dukes. They’re BFFs, but their family has been feuding since they can remember, so they find excuses to get involved in fisticuffs whenever they’re both at the same event. Meanwhile, Sophia, an Occult enthusiast and accidental reader of a very naughty book, might have let slip to one of said dukes that she has some interest in and curiosity about being intimate with two men at once. Good thing for them, they like to share women.

I do have a few qualms about this book: for once, it could probably have used ten pages or so of exposition, just to make a few things more clear—the actual process of falling in love, for instance, is a little…skipped over. So there’s loooooots of sex and less of the feelings. But it’s tons of fun.

Play With Me
Alisha Rai

If you’re thinking: Jess. You just gave me a menage novella about two dukes. And you’re telling me this is beyond that in the spice level?

Then I’m responding: you’re damn right I’m telling you that. This is Alisha Rai we’re talking about. If you loved Hate to Want You and its follow-up, Wrong to Need You, this is definitely something you need to read. (If you haven’t read it, this is a good introduction to her writing.) Tatiana and Wyatt are old flames who are reunited a decade later, and the sex isn’t just as hot—it’s better. Of course, there are also those annoying feelings that show up too.

I will warn you: this is not a standalone, and therefore does not really end in a HEA. But don’t worry; you’ll want to pick up the other two Bedroom Games novellas pretty much immediately. Well, after you’ve cooled off.

New and Upcoming Releases

a princess in theoryA Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (YAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!)

Then There Was You by Claire Contreras

Switch it Up by Sara Brookes (you might remember I wrote about another one of her books in an earlier Kissing Books)

My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden (I’ll always take title puns)

One and Only by Jenny Holiday

Baby Daddy by Kendall Ryan

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!

Unusual Suspects

Terrifying and Heartbreaking Search for a Serial Killer & More Mysteries!

Hi fellow mystery fans! I’m overfloweth with words so I’m just diving in this week–hope you’re well and well-read!

Terrifying and Heartbreaking Search for a Serial Killer that has Gone Far Too Long Without Capture (TW: rape)

cover image: a very dark black and white image of a house with shrubs in frontI’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Forward), Patton Oswalt (Afterword): This book is the hard work and research born from McNamara’s obsession with discovering who the Golden State Killer was–originally known as the East Area Rapist who preyed in California during the ’70s and ’80s. If you digest a lot of true crime you know that the eye behind it is important because it’s the difference between a gross obsession with the perpetrator/violent acts and shows little or no regard for the victim(s), or a careful look into social behavior that understands there are victims and families destroyed by this person. McNamara wasn’t obsessed with him, or his crimes, but rather her obsession was with refusing to allow him to get away with his horrific crimes–she explains in the book how an unsolved murder from her childhood created her need to seek justice when it came to unsolved cases.

Sponsored by Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

Alice Hill was only fourteen when she was viciously stabbed by two of her classmates and left to die. Her friends told authorities that Alice was supposed to be a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender – but that’s insane. Mister Tender isn’t even real. He’s just a sinister character in a series of popular graphic novels. Isn’t he?

Over a decade later, Alice is trying to move on. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but the threat of Mister Tender is never far behind.

Inspired by the Slender Man crime, this gripping thriller plunges you into a world of haunting memories and unseen threats, leaving you guessing until the harrowing end.

Sadly, McNamara passed away while working on this book. The majority of the book is written by her, some chapters start with a note that it’s been pieced together from her notes or previously published articles of hers, and then it ends with Billy Jensen and Paul Haynes (also working on solving this case) finishing the book by analyzing all the information, research, and notes McNamara had been working on. The afterword is written by her widower Patton Oswalt, so yeah have the tissues ready.

The book is excellent, but my favorite part is McNamara’s memoir chapter. She talks about her childhood and relationship with her mom, and it shows that not only was she a great crime journalist but she was also a gifted writer. Her honesty and her beautiful ability to analyze herself and the past, seeing the things we all miss when we’re in the present, has stuck with me the most out of everything in this book. (The audiobook is narrated by Gabra Zackman with a calm, smooth voice and Oswalt and Flynn narrate their own parts.)

A Little Q&A: Rachel Howzell Hall (I give authors I’m excited about six questions and let them answer any three they’d like.)

Land of Shadows cover image: sunrise LA city image blended into a dark street image with a silhouette of a person walkingI love a good detective series with a character that I know I’m going to want to follow for a long time, and that’s how I immediately felt about Elouise “Lou” Norton, a homicide detective in L.A. While Lou carries the disappearance of her sister with her, her current marital problems, and a new partner, nothing keeps her from solving her cases. Lou is a perfectly snarky, awesome woman who is one of my favorite detectives. If you’ve yet to discover this series start with Land of Shadows and read on!

And here’s Rachel Howzell Hall:

What would you like to see more/less of in the mystery genre? I want to see more women of color writing noir and crime. We have so many interesting, tragic, insightful stories. This comes from our weird place in America–to be black and female in this world today… There are so many mysteries with plenty of great characters, some of them that tell our story when we should be the ones doing that. And to go further, I want to see more writers getting attention than the one writer that is deemed to represent us and our experiences.

If you were to blurb your most recent/upcoming book (à la James Patterson): City of Saviors takes everything you love about LAPD Homicide Detective Lou Norton, then throws in cats, hording, peach cobbler, church and addiction, just in case you weren’t convinced that this story is unlike any other you’ve read.

Which non-mystery author would you love to see write a mystery? OMG, if Jon Krakauer wrote a mystery, I’d read it three times just like I read Into Thin Air. His writing leaves me breathless, anxious of ‘what’s gonna happen next cuz something is gonna happen next cuz that’s what he does.’ His stories are plotted and beautiful and tragic, and using his powers of storytelling for fiction would be some next-level s@*!

Thanks Rachel!

Over on Book Riot:

Book Riot is giving away $500 worth of Penguin clothbound books to 1 lucky–luckiest ever!–winner on Instagram.

Mysteries written by LGBTQ+ authors and People of Color

10 YA thrillers for fans of One of Us is Lying

8 Thrillers About Family

10 Suspense Novels

Recent Releases:

cover image: zoomes into womans face mostly covered by hair all tinted in redDead Joker by Anne Holt (Paperback) (Dark series starring a Lesbian Norwegian Detective.)

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben (Paperback) (review)

The Last Night at Tremore Beach by Mikel Santiago, Carlos Frías (translator) (Paperback) (On my TBR)

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott (Girl who disappeared is now found dead, someone in a group of friends must have done it.) (TW: suicide) (I inhaled the audiobook in one day.)

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Sondra Silverston (Translator) (On my TBR, sounds like literary crime.)

Curses, Boiled Again! (A Lobster Shack Mystery #1) by Shari Randall (currently reading: cozy mystery where a judge may have been murdered during a food festival.)

Kindle Deals:

A Map of the Dark cover image: dark image of forest trees with title text in centerA Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis is $4.99 (review) (TW: cutting/ child abuse)

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbot is $2.99 (review)

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner is $1.99 (character focused procedural)

Meddling and Murder (Singaporean Mystery #4) by Ovidia Yu is .99 cents (restaurant owning amateur sleuth)

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And here’s an Unusual Suspects Pinterest board.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime come talk books with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canaves.

Today In Books

Bookstore Boycotts FedEx Over NRA Ties: Today in Books

This edition of Today in Books is sponsored by The Vale by Brian D. Anderson.

Bookstore Boycotts FedEx Over NRA Ties

Changing Hands Bookstore has made the decision to boycott FedEx because of the shipping company’s ties to the National Rifle Association. The bookstore is one of a number of companies joining the boycott against NRA-tied businesses. Largely driven by the teenage survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, the boycott has compelled most of these businesses to drop their NRA discount programs.

Amazon Publishing To Launch Imprint Highlighting Marginalized Writers

Amazon Publishing’s Topple Books imprint will be helmed by Jill Soloway, and will aim to highlight the works of women of color, gender non-conforming, and queer writers. A social activist and creator of the Amazon award-winning series Transparent, Soloway will serve as the imprint’s editor-in-chief. Topple will focus on narrative nonfiction and fiction from emerging and established authors, and the imprint’s first books are due out in 2019.

Explore Google’s Interactive Harry Potter Exhibit

Tomorrow, the British Library will close its doors on Harry Potter: A History of Magic–their hugely successful exhibit featuring artifacts and more from Rowling’s Wizarding World–but through a partnership, Google has made the exhibit accessible online. Visitors to the interactive Google Arts & Culture event can explore ten original exhibits in six languages. This includes interviews, artwork, and historical artifacts related to witchcraft. Click here to visit the online exhibit.


And don’t forget to head over to our Instagram account to enter to win $500 of Penguin Clothbound classics!

In The Club

In The Club Feb 28

Welcome back to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met and well-read. Let’s dive in.

This newsletter is sponsored by I Stop Somewhere by TE Carter.

cover design: First autumn frost on Stinging Nettle leaves - France -

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

In Read Harder suggestions, we’ve got picks for a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist, by a female author.

What about one-sitting books? On it.

And here are some suggestions for a mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ author!

Speaking of mysteries, here are must-read suspense stories! And a reminder that we have a great podcast dedicated to the mystery/thriller genre, Read or Dead.

And why not one more: I dig this list of thrillers about families.

Why not spend a book group talking about how you read? Everyone approaches it differently; some of us keep TBRs on Amazon or Goodreads, some of us have spreadsheets, some of us have bullet journal spreads, some read as our moods dictate. I always love hearing about others’ approach to their unread stacks, and it might just help you refine your selection process!

For awards trackers: The PEN Awardwinners for 2018 have been announced, and there are some great book club titles on here, including the poetry collection Whereas and short story collection Sour Heart.

Looking for more Native authors to read? Author Elissa Washuta put together a great list in this Twitter thread, and PW compiled 10 essential novels for us.

Last but certainly not least, in my humble pop-culture opinion: Here are the books you could read if you want to do an America’s Next Top Model theme for book club. (Please let me know if you do, so I can be jealous.)

Don’t forget! We’re running an amazing Instagram giveaway for $500 worth of Penguin Clothbound classics, and you should enter.

And that’s a wrap: Happy discussing! 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 (including the occasional book club question!) you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.

Your fellow booknerd,

More Resources: 
– Our Book Group In A Box guide
– List your group on the Book Group Resources page

What's Up in YA

20+ YA Books By Black Authors To Support Outside Black History Month: Great Guest Recs from Patrice Caldwell

Hey YA Lovers!

I’ve got a treat for you this week.

“What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by Class of 2K18.

Building your 2018 reading list? Class of 2K18 Books are 20 debuts you need to read in 2018! From titles starred by Booklist and Kirkus, to an ABA Indies Introduce Pick, our Middle Grade and Young Adult books have one thing in common—they’re fearless. Representing an array of genres, including fantasies, contemporaries, mysteries and thrillers, Class of 2K18 Books will inspire readers to face their fears and become fearless themselves. Visit our website to learn more about our titles and fill your reading list with fearless fiction!

Because Black History is made every month and shouldn’t be relegated to a single month, I wanted to continue the conversation about excellent black YA reads. I’ve invited a special guest to highlight some of her favorite black YA titles, both past and forthcoming. Her enthusiasm and passion for good books is infectious, and you’ll be upping your to-read list in short time.

Please welcome Patrice Caldwell.

Patrice Caldwell is an Associate Editor at Disney-Hyperion and the founder of People of Color in Publishing, as well as a contributor for Publishing Crawl and writer at Bustle and Autostraddle. She’s also a tea-enthusiast and a self-proclaimed introvert-gone-wild who grew up in Texas, where she became a voricious reader rather die of boredom in the suburbs where she lived. Visit Patrice on Twitter @whimsicallyours, Instagram @whimsicalaquarian, and her website,


Happy Monday! Patrice here 🙂

Kelly asked me to stop on by and share some wonderful book recommendations post- \the best of months, February aka my birthday month aka Black History Month. Now, it used to be that Black books were always published in time for Black History Month, so that they could be used for educational, etc. purposes, but I like to think that our industry is moving to a place where “Black books” are published and can be supported any time of the year. So, without further ado, I want to share some books on my radar, that I hope you will put on yours, and can be bought/pre-ordered now and enjoyed throughout the year!!

(in order of publication)


A heart wrenching and heartwarming story Remi, a well-off Nigerian girl who at age six is sent to a posh all-girls boarding school in England. As the only Black girl, she navigates two cultures and ultimately must figure out who she really is. I was gifted this book by my parents, and as someone who has often been the only Black girl in school (& work) settings, this book in many ways saved my life. It is also very funny.


AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor

This series has been called “the Nigerian Harry Potter,” and IT. IS. AMAZING. This is book one and it starts when Sunny is twelve and discovers she’s “free agent” with latent magical powers. Don’t sleep on this one!




If you liked Dexter, you’ll love Slice of Cherry. It’s Dia Reeve’s second novel and it follows two sisters—Kit and Fancy Cordelle—who are the daughters of an infamous series killer who begin to give in to their darkest desires…the desire to kill. But, they only kill people who deserve it… The characterization is amazing as are the weird and fantastical elements woven throughout. A must read.


THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson

If you follow me on twitter, you know I’m OBSESSED with this book. (Exhibit A, Exhibit B) I first discovered it as  Cybils panelist (and it won the YA Speculative Fiction award)! Where do I begin? Well, first it’s set in a futuristic Brazil with a POC cast where queer identities are normalized. June Costa is a young artist who falls in love with Enki, the Summer King. (Her best friend, Gil, does as well!) Together, they make bold art that fuels the growing rebellion against their government’s limits on new tech. But the catch…all Summer Kings are sacrificed at the year’s end, so Enki is destined to die *gasp* *weeps*

It is this amazingly explosive novel with lush language and an ever-present countdown clock that explores what it means to be a teenager, the beauty and power of art, all amid a growing rebellion against the status quo.

You will love this novel.



Nicola Yoon <3 What an amazing writer and person. Everything, Everything was such a great (& funny…the book reviews, I died) novel, and then I read The Sun is Also A Star and totally fell in love. Like with The Summer Prince, I love books with set time limits—it can add so much to the plot. This novel takes place over one day!

It follows Natasha and Daniel who meet on a crowded NYC street who go on a crazy, love-filled journey against how they’ve been raised and who they thought they were. It beautifully weaves together both their lives, you have Natasha who’s Jamaican and whose family (including herself!) is 12 hour away from being deported. And then there’s Daniel, who was on his way to an interview at Yale and whose parents (also immigrants, but from South Korea) want him to become a doctor (but he’s secretly a poet!). This is a masterfully well done book, with snippets from “outsiders” who are also part of Natasha and Daniel’s story, that is ultimately about the power of fate, love, and the possibilities in the world.



Drawing on her own experience as a Haitian immigrant, American Street tells the story of Fabiola Toussaint who’s looking for “une belle vie”—a good life. Her mother has just been detained by U.S. immigration, right after leaving Haiti, and now she has to go live with her loud American cousins in Detroit, which is like a new world to her. There’s magical realism and voudou culture throughout (which I ADORED) and it’s a beautiful tale of a girl trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice and life.

I read this book early and was raving about it for months, pushing it into the hands of so many people. I’m so happy to see all the praise it’s received (so many starred reviews and National Book Award Finalist!) and cannot wait to read Ibi’s next book, PRIDE (a Romeo + Juliet remix).



Piecing Me Together just received the 2018 Newbery Honor and won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. I first picked it up because I saw someone online compare it to Sharon G. Flake’s The Skin I’m In (which is a well-beloved classic of mine), and I’m so glad I did. I would also add that it reminds me of Yoruba Girl Dancing (mentioned above).

Its main character, Jade, is solely focused on getting out of her poor neighborhood. She attends a private school where she’s an outcast just to get the opportunities that will set her up for success… opportunities like the Woman to Woman mentorship program, for “at-risk” youth that promises a college scholarship but pairs jade with a Black woman from a wealthy family who treats Jade like a charity case. I love the presence of art throughout this book and how Jade pushes back, using art, to show her potential as well as her community’s.

Jade is such a fresh, much needed YA voice.


OVERTURNED by Lamar Giles

If you love shows like Leverage or films like Ocean’s Eleven, you will love Overturned.

Nikki Tate’s dad is sitting on death row, convicted of killing his best friend in a gambling dispute. Nikki, however, has been working on Operation Escape Vega: playing illegal card games to save up money to bounce come graduation day.

But then her dad’s murder conviction is overturned and her world changes as the dad who comes home is not the one she remembers. Not to mention he’ obsessed with finding out who framed him—and why.

As her dad digs deep into the dark depths of Vegas, Nikki is drawn into his hunt for the truth…a hunt that will cause Nikki to play for the biggest gamble ever—her life.

Overturned is fast-paced and action packed. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop turning the pages and gasping as the story reaches is powerful conclusion. I love Lamar’s books and this one, his most recent, was no different. Can’t wait to see what’s next!


DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone

You think you know MLK, but you probably don’t. I feel it’s so frustrating how people constantly use MLK to advocate for peaceful protesting/against violence without really knowing enough about what he said and who he was. In other words, if “I have a dream MLK” is the main MLK you know and quote, you must read Dear Martin. And, honestly, even if it isn’t, this was one of my favorite books of last year. It’s a quick read, but a powerful one and I want to see it in the hands of teens everywhere.

This book especially touched me because I, because my siblings could’ve easily been Justyce. He’s a bright kid, top of his class, captain of debate team and heading to an Ivy League and yet this has no influence on the police offer who puts him in handcuffs. The officer is unsurprisingly cleared of all charges and so Justyce turns to Dr. King for help. But his problems aren’t over yet, because when his best friend is shot by an off-duty cop, it’s Justyce who’s left to answer.

My copy of this book is marked up with my notes all throughout the margins. It’s thought-provoking and life-changing. I urge you to read it.


LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds

I have been a Jason Reynolds fan since When I Was The Greatest (2014) and it’s amazing to see an artist grow and push craft limits in the way he has. And again, speaking of limited timelines, Long Way Down (which has received so much praise and won many awards) takes place within the minute fifteen-year-old Will decides whether he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

I adore books in verse and so I knew I’d love this one, but I also loved the approach Reynolds takes that causes Will to interact with those whose lives have been affected by gun violence and shines a light on how structural issues, like poverty, put some of these individuals into a cycle of violence… all while on an elevator ride. Just stunning.


BEASTS MADE OF NIGHT by Tochi Onyebuchi

Imagine a world in which the sins manifest like demons and only sin eaters can devour them. That is the setting of Beasts Made of Night, which is the first in a new series, inspired by the author’s Nigerian heritage.

Seventeen-year-old Taj is a legendary sin-eater and the sins he’s killed mar his skin like tattoos. All his markings cause people to fear and revere him. And what I loved about this book is how instantly you’re pulled in by Taj’s cockiness… he thinks incredibly highly of himself and I loved seeing a Black boy filled with such pride…pride and yet sorrow because his conquests come at a price… in addition to the tattoos, the guilt of committing the sin appears in his mind. It is, in many ways, his desire to provide for his family that keeps him sane. Everything changes when he’s called to eat the sin of a royal and a secret about Taj, and his powers, is revealed. Now he must fight to save not only the princess he loves, but his own life as well.

I have never seen world building like this. And, again, I’m in love with Taj. I cannot wait for the next installment, which publishes this fall, so read book one now!


CALLING MY NAME by Liara Tamani

Calling My Name is a tour-de-force of a novel. It’s told in fifty-three episodic chapters and follows Taja Brown from middle school to high school. It deals with faith, family, and finding yourself. Perfect for fans of Sandra Cisneros and Jandy Nelson.

I was blown away by this book in part because it’s set in Texas and I saw so much of my upbringing through Taja’s story. The weight of family expectations was so ever-present that it took me back to so many of my middle and high school experiences, trying to set myself apart from my own ever-present family expectations. Absolutely powerful narrative and voice. You must read this book. Liara Tamani is a novelist to watch.


THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton

This newly-minted New York Times Best-Seller was technically one of my favorite 2017 reads, as I received an advanced copy, but it’s also one of my favorite of this year, too! Its author Dhonielle Clayton is one of the best, most hardworking people in the business (co-author of Tiny Pretty Things/Shiny Broken Pieces with Sona Charaipotra… and co-founder of CAKE literary also with Sona Charaipotra)

But what really drew me to this book was the themes it tackles, namely our societies obsession with beauty and how women from a young age are taught to be concerned about their appearance through the lens of a terrifyingly twisted yet beautiful world of Orelans, where everyone is born gray and Belles control beauty and beauty is a commodity coveted above all else.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle who dreams of being the Queen of Orelans’s favorite and getting to live in the royal palace and tend to the royal family and their court. But soon Camellia realize being the favorite is not everything she dreamed it would be…there are dark secrets and soon she learns her existence is s life, and that her powers are far greater and dangerous that she ever imagined. When the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

I loved seeing such a highly ambitious Black girl protagonist. Camilla reminded me of my teen self in so many ways, she just wants everyone to like her, she wants to be the best and her journey to be so, her desire, gets her into more trouble that she imagines.

This is a timeless book and once you start reading and enter Orelans, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it…and how it scarily matches our own.


DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland (April 2018, HarperCollins)

Zombies meets the backdrop of a divided Reconstruction-era America. It’s a pitch I never could’ve imagined and I am so completely sold.

Jane McKenne is a zombie hunter. In this new America, “certain children” attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

Jane, who is mixed race, is studying to be an Attendant, which means a better life, for Negro girls like her, where she be trained in weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. Only Jane doesn’t want that life. But when she, her ex, and her rival uncover a conspiracy helmed by Baltimore’s elite, Jane will have to go up against some very powerful enemies…which just goes to show that the dead are truly the least of her problems.

Come for the zombies, stay for the utterly amazing exploration of race and oppression, of equality and freedom, set within an action-packed story.


CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi (March 2018, Macmillan)

I had the pleasure of hearing about this book since Pitch Wars 2016, where I was a mentor. I am so happy for the praise it has received and all the buzz. It is the most anticipated book of the year for a reason. Tomi Adeyemi has crafted a world like no other, full of magic and mayhem that reads like a movie (which is probably why the film rights were snatched up so fast). I can’t wait until more people get to read it!!

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

The book has multiple POVs that are seamlessly intertwined, and is ultimately about one girl’s journey to control her powers…and her growing feelings for the enemy.

In other worlds, this is the Zutara (from Avatar the Last Airbender) ship we’ve been waiting for.


THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 2018, HarperCollins)

Another one that I read very early and have been obsessed with for what seems like years (thanks, publishing). It’s a novel-in-verse that follows Xiomara Batista, who feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara does have plenty to say and she does so in the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy at school who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems…

I so felt the tug and pull Xiomara feels because it was one I felt as a teen desperate to not let anyone down. You will laugh and cry and ultimately cheer for Xiomara in this epically staged breakdown debut novel.


THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS by Ashley Woodfolk (March 2018)

There is quite nothing I love more than books about grief. Call it my inner emo kid, but I adore explorations of grief, of what happens to those affected and left behind by loss, and how music can bring people together and save lives.

Enter, Ashely Woodfolk’s incredibly powerful and realistic debut novel. It follows three teens: Autumn, Shay, and Logan, who have each lost someone dear to them (at various times, but all recent). Each of them is struggling with various mental health issues and guilt that totally wrecked me. I related to this book in so many ways: Shay’s anxiety, Logan’s alcohol-addition (something I once self-medicated with), and it took me back to being a teen who felt I only had music to guide me. The Beauty That Remains is beautifully brutal and full of hope. I highly recommend this book…you will cry but you will also fall in love with three teens who are struggling to thrive and heal in a never fair world.


MONDAY’S NOT COMING by Tiffany D. Jackson (May 2018, HarperCollins)

If you love E. Lockhart or Gillian Flynn, you need to get hip to Tiffany D. Jackson. She writes amazing thrillers that deal with Black teens going through some tough issues and life choices. I still can’t stop thinking about her YA debut, Allegedly. Monday’s Not Coming promises to be even more amazing.

It follows Claudia, who oddly seems to be the only one who notices that her best friend, practically sister, Monday Charles, is missing. She knows Monday wouldn’t just abandon her, but as the weeks pass and Monday’s family keep dodging her questions, Claudia begins to realize that no one remembers when they last saw Monday… but how can a teen girl vanish without anyone noticing she’s gone?

I get shivers every time I think about this one!! Pre-order it NOW.


ON THE COME UP by Angie Thomas (June 2018, HarperCollins)

Angie Thomas, author of the #1 New York Times Best-Seller The Hate U Give, needs no introduction, except for the fact that I love seeing #1 NYT Best-Seller next to her name!

I have said many times that hip hop knew me and got me before anything else did. Much like Angie, hip hop taught me how to be a storyteller and that Black people could be, and are, storytellers. I studied it extensively in college to the point I almost continued to do so at the PhD level, had publishing not stole my heart. Angie’s been dropping hints about her next book for a while and I’m SO happy that it is about hip hop in the most glorious of ways (and most likely in a way only she can do, tackling numerous themes at once).

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least get some streams on her mixtape. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her mom unexpectedly loses her job, food banks and shut-off notices become as much a part of her life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.


FINDING YVONNE by Brandy Colbert (August 2018, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

I am a Brandy Colbert fan for life. LOVED Pointe for its masterful story of a young Black girl’s struggle with her art (ballet!) and mental health issues. LOVED Little & Lion for again, amazing exploration of mental health issues and…bisexuality (so good and apparently the Stonewall Book Committee agreed because it WON the Stonewall Book Award!).

Finding Yvonne stars Yvonne, a violinist who’s beginning to realize she’s not good enough for a conservatory program after high school (and as someone who was a young artist, whew is this a tough thing to come to terms with). But then she meets a mysterious and charming street musician and violist who seems to get her like no one else does…but then she becomes pregnant and must make the hardest decision about her future.

I haven’t read this one yet, but I am certain that Brandy is going to wow us all, just as she has before! Can’t wait!!


MIRAGE by Somaiya Daud (August 2018, Macmillan)

As is the way of publishing, some things take a while and I feel I’ve been so excited for and waiting for Mirage—Somaiya Daud’s debut for a while because it’s one of those novels so many bestselling authors have been buzzing about, here and there. I should mention I recently met Somaiya, at the end of last year, and now I know why: she is brilliant, studies topics like Arabic poetry and Victorian gothic at the PhD level, and this book is going to blow us all away.

It’s a science fantasy set in a galaxy (or star system), far far away (yes, so many Star Wars vibes) that’s dominated by the brutal Vathek empire.

There we meet dreamer, eighteen-year-old Amani, who imagines she’ll one day receive receiving a sign from Dihya, like the many poets she loves had, that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

And adventure does come, but it’s not what she expects. She’s kidnapped and taken to the royal palace where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

I NEED MIRAGE OUT IN THE WORLD NOW. I’m so ready to dive into this world.


I sometimes think the best recommendations come from readers who just love to read, don’t you? Thanks so much for this list of excellent books, Patrice.

We’ll see you all next week for a roundup of YA news. Until then, here are a ton of excellent titles for you to sink your reading teeth into.

–Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars


Tayari Jones Goes on Tour for AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE

Welcome to Book Riot’s Events Newsletter, hosted by me, María Cristina. We’re looking ahead at some of the bookish ways you can spend your time in the next couple weeks, and I’m sure there’s at least one item here that can tempt you to put on pants and go out (in that order, please). Clear your calendars on the following dates, my reading friends.

Enter to win $500 of Penguin Clothbound classics over on our Instagram account. Click here, or on the image below to enter.



Her Own Hero: Book Talk & Self-Defense Demo with Sun Dragon Martial Arts: March 3 in Austin, TX

I honestly thought that self-defense became a thing sometime around my high school years, when we gals were rounded up for a lesson during phys ed. But the women’s self-defense movement has been kicking around since the early twentieth century, and Wendy L. Rouse’s book will tell you all about it. Hear the professor herself and get a demo from Sensei Joy Williamson at Austin’s BookWoman.

Kingston Book Festival: March 4-11 in Kingston, Jamaica

If you’ve been contemplating a trip to the Caribbean but haven’t committed yet, here’s what’s going to tip the scales in favor! The Book Industry Association of Jamaica is bringing the festival back as a biennial event after taking the last year off. Here Comes the Sun author Nicole Dennis-Benn is headlining, which is perfect since the theme is all about celebrating Jamaican literature’s international impact.

The Tucson Festival of Books: March 10 and 11 in Tucson, AZ

If you’re in the market for a less humid literary festival, give Jamaica a pass and go to the Grand Canyon State instead. Book Riot Live alumni Zoraida Córdova and Ken Liu will be there, but—no offense—the festival highlight can’t be anything other than the hour on Saturday when therapy dogs will be available for kids to read aloud to (the Tent for Tots seats 16, so you’d better get there early).

NoVa TEEN Book Festival: March 10 in Arlington, VA

One half of Book Riot’s HEY YA Podcast team is going to be at this free day-long festival, so swing by and ask Eric Smith to tell you how much fun it is working with Kelly Jensen. 😉


Tomi Adeyemi

Stops include: March 5 (San Diego, CA), 6 (Menlo Park, CA), 8 (Naperville, IL), 10 (Arlington, VA), 13 (New York, NY), 14 (Coral Gables, FL), 15 (St. Charles, MO), and 17 (Detroit, MI)

What a cover, right? Don’t judge, etc. but there is zero chance that Children of Blood and Bone is NOT an amazing YA fantasy. Jump on this debut and say you were into this YA trilogy before it was the hottest film franchise.

Jomny Sun

Stops include: March 1 (Chicago, IL), 3 (Chicago, IL), 4 (LaGrange, IL), and 10 (Washington, DC)

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too is a one-sitting book that will change your life. I thought about lending it out the other day, but came to my senses. If you don’t already follow Jomny Sun on Twitter…why? Is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s endorsement not enough for you?

the poet xElizabeth Acevedo

Stops include: March 6 (Washington, DC), 7 (Frederick, MD), 8 (New York, NY), 9 (Brookline, MA), 10 (Chicago, IL), 11 (Naperville, IL), 12 (Atlanta, GA), and 13 (Athens, GA)

This is a damn fine novel in verse. Typical. “But María Cristina,” you say, “The Poet X is only her debut novel.” Yeah, but Elizabeth Acevedo is a slam poetry goddess. You’re in for a treat.

an american marriageTayari Jones

Stops include: February 27 (Memphis, TN), 28 (Oxford, MS), March 1 (Dallas, TX), and 13 (Denver, CO)

Wrongful imprisonment. Mass incarceration. These issues are a huge part of this novel. But there’s a reason why this is titled An American Marriage.  Spending some time with the central couple will give you a sense of these issues in a way that compliments the available journalism. Oh, and it’s an Oprah Book Club pick.


If you end up participating in any of the above, tell us about it on social media.

And if there are any bookish events that should be on my radar, tweet me @meowycristina or email me at

Hope to see you Riot readers in the wild!


Riot Rundown TestRiotRundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by I Stop Somewhere by TE Carter.

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.