Today In Books

A Rare Tolkien Exhibition: Today in Books

As part of Season 2 of our podcast series Annotated, we are giving away 10 of the best books about books of 2017. Go here to enter for a chance to win, or just click the image below:

A Rare Tolkien Exhibition

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth will be at the Weston Library in Oxford until October. Enter through the Doors of Durin, chart the routes taken by Tolkien’s characters, and gaze upon a rarely displayed Tolkien collection. After October, the exhibition will travel to New York, and then to the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Henry IV And V Adapted For Netflix

Shakespeare is coming to Netflix. The streaming service announced The King, based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V. The 2019 adaptation will star Timothée Chalamet, Robert Pattinson, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, and Lily-Rose Depp. David Michôd will direct.

Hermione Dreams And Potterhead Quizzes

Are you a Hermione whose fondest dream involves taking the O.W.L. exams? Well, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London is here to make your dreams come true with their new series of quiz nights in the Great Hall. Find out whether you pass or fail on subjects including Magical Artefacts, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions and Care of Magical Creatures in the location where Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat their O.W.L exams.


Don’t forget we’re giving away $500 to the bookstore of your choice! Enter here!

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Jun 1

Happy Friday, banshees and bounty hunters! This week, I’ve got reviews of Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells and Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn, plus Afrofuturism, YA sci-fi, time travel, queer reads, and more.

This newsletter is sponsored by Flatiron Books and Legendary by Stephanie Garber.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and the time to repay the debt has come.

Reminder: you’ve got til June 21 to enter our $500 bookstore gift card giveaway, right here.

Where is the YA sci-fi? That’s what Fonda Lee wants to know, in this piece discussing the publication process for Exo and Cross Fire. It’s an interesting question; as she notes, there are plenty being published, but anecdotally, they’re definitely not getting the same amount of public recognition. I checked my reading spreadsheet, and I’m reading at least double the amount of YA fantasy as YA sci-fi.

When I get around to fixing that ratio, here’s where I’m going to start: 100 Must-Read YA Sci-Fi!

For time travel fans: Jess has assembled a list of time travel romances, to scratch that Outlander/The Time Traveler’s Wife itch. I confess that time travel stories (specifically ones with time loops) frequently drive me batty, and yet I can’t stop reading them…

A reading pathway for a movie director: That’s right! You can read your way into Guillermo Del Toro’s work, not just watch it.

“Breathtaking” is admittedly a wiggly category, but Martin Cahill makes his case for five SF/F novels. One of these days I really need to read Max Gladstone.

Did Black Panther leave you wanting more Afrofuturism? I made you a list of options!

Are you reading along with Tor’s QUILTBAG book club? Here’s the latest book review, for Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories.

Today in reviews, I give you space motorcycle gangs and an even weirder San Francisco, with bonus fire powers!

Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

a young woman wearing an eye patch and a leather jacket, holding a ball of fire in her right hand, stands next to a motorcycle, in a desert, with a spaceship behind herI picked this book up both because it is by a Book Riot contributor (oh hey!) and because it won a Golden Tentacle for Debut (I adore the Kitchies). You should pick it up immediately, for those reasons and also because it’s one of the most fun, most unexpected additions to the Weird Space Western genre I’ve read in a long while.

Set on the dusty, arid planet called Tanegawa’s World, it follows several characters as they navigate an increasingly overlapping tangle of personal and political crises. Hob, part of a mercenary biker gang, is still working her way up the hierarchy from a huge error in judgement a few years back. She gets no special treatment being the adopted daughter of the leader — if anything, the opposite. Her former best friend, Mags, is supposed to be headed off-world for a chance at a better life, away from the corporation that controls life on their world, but her father is murdered and Mags herself disappears under strange circumstances. There are a few others, but I’ll leave you to discover them on your own. Suffice it to say that Wells tosses the narrative back and forth with ease and great timing, unfolding both the backstory of Tanegawa’s World and the characters while balancing it nicely with action.

And there is action aplenty — train heists, miner strikes, gun battles, covert operations, undercover hijinks, backstabbing, murder, mayhem, you name it. There’s also a hefty dose of magic that reminded me of nothing so much as the earth-shifting powers from the Earth 2 series (oh, ’90s sci-fi), in the best way. If you’re craving an inclusive found family story that’s also an outerspace Western, and/or a new read in the vein of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series, Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, and Firefly, you need this on your shelf. Bonus: the sequel, Blood Binds the Pack, is out now!

Heroine Complex (Heroine Complex #1) by Sarah Kuhn

there are two young asian women. one has her hair in a ponytail and is wearing a black catsuit, kicking a cupcake with teeth. the other is wearing a hoodie and a tshirt and holds a ball of fire in her right hand. This book features demon cupcakes, quirky super powers, friendships and sibling shenanigans, a romance, and an alternate San Fransisco. Some of you have already TBR’d it; for the rest of you, let me tell you a bit more.

Evie Tanaka is the personal assistant to a highly strung crime-fighting diva called Aveda Jupiter, and she’s great at her job. She’s also been best friends with Aveda since they were little, which is why she puts up with all the drama. That, and Evie has a secret, one that means she needs a secure, steady, predictable job to keep her calm. One wouldn’t think that chasing around after a demon-killing superhero would work for that, but it does for Evie. That is, until Aveda gets injured and Evie has to pose as her until she’s better. All bets are suddenly off, and Evie has to contend with her own secrets, her changing friend status with Aveda, a sudden attraction for a geeky and infuriating scientist, her rebellious younger sister, and, of course, the ever-present demon infestation.

This book is an absolute delight, and I inhaled it from start to finish. Evie is a snarky and entertaining narrator, the relationships among the characters are both drama-filled and beautifully complex, and the plot moves along at a brisk pace. This is a perfect summer read — take it to a cabin or a beach or a pool, make sure you have some cupcakes handy, and dive in.

And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. 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.

Peace favor your sword,

Unusual Suspects

John Malkovich to Play Hercule Poirot

Hello mystery fans! I hope the week was good to you and you have a good book–or pile–to read!

From Book Riot and Around the Internet

Rincey and Katie talk news, recent releases, and books by Asian/Asian American authors in the latest Read or Dead.

Sponsored by Hangman by Jack Heath, new from Hanover Square Press.

An addictive debut thriller starring an FBI consultant with a peculiar taste for crime and punishment…

A boy vanishes on his way home from school. His frantic mother receives a ransom call: pay or else. Enter Timothy Blake, an FBI consultant with a knack for solving impossible cases but whose expertise comes at a price: every time he saves a life, he also takes one. But this kidnapper is more cunning and ruthless than any he’s faced before. And he’s been assigned a new partner within the Bureau: a woman linked to the past he’s so desperate to forget.

If you’re working your way through the Read Harder challenges Rincey has some suggestions for Read a Mystery by POC and/or LGBTQ Author. It’s also an excellent list of books if you’re just looking for a great mystery.

12 Mystery Novels for Fans of Literary Fiction

9 Scary Books Set In British Towns (Some mysteries included)

cover image: a black and white image of an iron gate and birds on a very foggy day  You can hear an extended excerpt from Ruth Ware’s new book The Death of Mrs. Westaway. (Review here) (Ware’s other novels: The Woman in Cabin 10; In A Dark, Dark Wood; The Lying Game)

Three exclusive excerpts from the anthology Tiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder, edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto.

You can read an excerpt from Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President Is Missing thriller on EW.

(Spoilers for the entire s1 of Killing EveKilling Eve and the Riddle of Why Women Kill: Villanelle insists on being taken at face value; to search for a noble motivation is to trap oneself in her psychological labyrinth.

Giveaway: Book Riot is giving away $500 (look at those zeros!) to the bookstore of your choice!

Adaptations and News

cover image: young white women in all black with short choppy black hair smoking a cigarette on a motorcycleWith the film adaptation for The Girl in the Spider’s Web releasing in November there will be a new three-part comic: The Girl Who Danced With Death. An all-new Lisbeth Salander adventure written by Sylvain Runberg, with art by Belen Ortega, will be in stores and digital devices in August.

John Malkovich has been cast as Hercule Poirot in The ABC Murders BBC adaptation. Inspector Crome will be played by Ron Weasley–whoops, I mean Rupert Grint.

The Dee Rees political thriller adaptation of Joan Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted will star Anne Hathaway and be backed by Netflix.

Lamar Giles (Little Q&A) has an upcoming YA thriller and here’s the first look at the gorgeous cover for Spin!

And the cover reveal for J.T. Ellison’s Tear Me Apart.


Video interview with Jessica Knoll author of Luckiest Girl Alive and The Favorite Sister.

Watch Now

Streaming on Amazon: Picnic At Hanging Rock, adapted from Joan Lindsay’s novel, is a six-part miniseries set in the early 1900s in an Australian boarding school where a group of students disappear during a field trip. (Trailer)

On DVD: Red Sparrow, adapted from Jason Matthews’ novel, and starring Jennifer Lawrence tells the story of a Russian intelligence officer who is sent to make contact with a CIA agent in the hope of discovering the identity of a mole. (Trailer)

Kindle Deals

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh is $1.99 which is a ridiculous deal for this excellent mystery! (review)

Dead Loudmouth (A Loon Lake Mystery #16) by Victoria Houston is $2.99 and one that made it onto my TBR list because of Liberty’s review so I just bought it.

AND it looks like you can pre-buy Mary Kubica’s upcoming thriller When the Lights Go Out for $2.99!!

And Finally My Week In Reading

cover image: a white woman's hand buried in dark soil with a few green plants growing around itI read Liz Nugent’s Lying In Wait in one sitting and the level of cruelty was cranked to a level of high that my brain needed to be bathed in unicorns immediately after. It starts by revealing a crime and then follows the characters affected in different ways. If you like crime novels where you know a train wreck is coming and enjoy “that was forking cruel as fork” don’t miss this one. (TW revenge porn/ and a heads-up that a character experiences constant fat shaming throughout the book)

cover image: silhouette of a profile of a woman looking up blended into a black backgroundStarted Sheena Kamal’s It All Falls Down (July 3), which I’ve been looking forward to since I really enjoyed The Lost Ones (review). So far Nora Watts is still her same difficult self except she no longer trusts her lie detecting abilities. I’ve been having a hard time putting it down because Watts is an interesting character. (TW suicide)


cover image: white woman in black bikini floating in a lakePicked up All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth (July 10) thinking I’d just read the first page and ended up inhaling half the book. It’s prep school secret society + a mother that disappeared during her daughters childhoods + family secrets and it’s ringing all my bells. (TW suicide/ domestic abuse/ rape)


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.

If a mystery fan forwarded this newsletter to you and you’d like your very own you can sign up here.

True Story

3 New Nonfiction Books for Your Ears

Hello fellow nonfiction lovers – happy Friday and welcome to June! This week I want to highlight three new books that I think will be great as audiobooks, before jumping into a random assortment of nonfiction news.

We’re giving away $500 to spend at the bookstore of your choice! Click here, or on the image below to enter:

So Close to Being the Shit Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta (May 29 from St. Martin’s Press) – Parks and Recreation is my favorite television show, and essay collections from funny women are my favorite type of audiobooks… so of course I’m going to get excited about a book from Retta, who played Donna on the show. In this collection, she writes about “throwing her hard-working Liberian parents for a loop” by moving to Hollywood after graduating from Duke, and everything that came after. I get the sense there’s bits on imposter syndrome here, along with just some really funny, honest stories. I can’t wait!

Calypso by David Sedaris (May 29 from Little, Brown) – A new David Sedaris book is always something to celebrate. I love his weird humor and darkly strange way of looking at the world. It appeals to my not-so-secret grumpy and anti-social side, I think. In this collection of essays, Sedaris writes about “middle age and mortality” while enjoying time at his beach house on the Carolina coast. I always recommend Sedaris on audiobook – there’s something about his voice and delivery that really sells every story. I just don’t think it’s the same in print.

Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump by Dan Pfeiffer (June 19 from Twelve) – Confession time… I planned out this three-on-a-theme newsletter assuming that Dan Pfeiffer’s new book about working in the Obama administration was coming out on June 5. Turns out not, but I’m forging ahead anyway! It’s just more upcoming than I thought. Anyway, this Obama staffer memoir is about navigating the world of Trump and how to forge a path ahead amidst the madness. Pfeiffer is the co-host of the political podcast Pod Save America, which makes me think this will be especially great if he’s the narrator.

Nonfiction News! 

Overlooked is coming to television! The New York Times’ editorial project to write the obituaries of famous women who didn’t get an obituary when they died will become an anthology series where every episode is written and directed by women. Yes, please.

There’s another suspect for notorious hijacker D.B. Cooper! An 84-year-old pet sitter from Florida has written a memoir wherein he argues that a longtime friend committed the 1971 hijacking and theft (which is, to this point, unsolved). I’m a little skeptical, but curious to see if this theory goes anywhere.

This top nonfiction of 2017 list from Reading Group Choices is pretty great! It reminded me of several that I haven’t read yet, which I always appreciate.

More women are writing scientific memoirs, and we are all in for it over at Book Riot. This piece from Elizabeth is a little old, but interesting!

Speaking of memoirs, what do you think about the idea that we need more memoirs about surviving ordinary life? I tend to lean into the “stranger-than-fiction” memoirs that open this piece, but there’s definitely an argument to be made that a deep dive into everyday experiences can teach uf something too. There are a bunch of great recommendations at the end of the piece, so make sure to get all the way through.

Don’t forget, Book Riot is giving away $500 to the bookstore of your choice. Think of all the books you could get with $500! I’m practically swooning at the thought. Anyway, enter here!

And with that, I’m out! You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. Happy reading!

Riot Rundown TestRiotRundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by Meredith Wild

Some people measure life in hours. Days. Weeks. I measure mine in kills. A covert military mission gone wrong robbed me of my memory and any link to my past. This is my existence now. I execute and survive. Nothing more, nothing less. I was ready to write Isabel Foster’s name in my ledger of unfortunate souls until she uttered the one word that could stop the bullet meant for her. My name.
She knows my face. She knows me. She’s the key to the memories I’m not sure I want back. Now nothing is simple. I still have a job to do, and my soul isn’t worth saving. I’m not the man she thinks I am. I can’t love her. And sparing her life puts us both in the crosshairs.
Today In Books

Apple is Making an Emily Dickinson Comedy Series: Today in Books

We’re giving away $500 to spend at the bookstore of your choice! Click here, or on the image below to enter:

Tolkien Goes Back to School

There’s going to be an epic Tolkien exhibit at Oxford from June 1 to October 31. You can go ahead and spend all your money getting yourself to England, because the exhibit is going to be totally free. And if you think you’ve been there and done that, think again: there will be some never-before-seen items on display, including a “3D, specially-commissioned map of Middle-Earth.” (Isn’t that just called “New Zealand”…?)

The Library of Congress Levels Up in Comics

Bow down to Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, whose work to make a home for comics at the Library of Congress has culminated in an unprecedented comic book donation valued in the millions. The benefactor is Stephen A. Geppi, a major player in comics publishing for the past thirty years. As he put it, “Can you imagine having Action Comics No. 1 sitting right next to the Gutenberg Bible in a display?” Maybe we’ll get just that when the library starts displaying select items from this acquisition sometime this summer.

Hailee Steinfeld to Wander Funny as a Cloud

I can’t say that Emily Dickinson has ever made me crack a rib laughing, but that might change soon. Apple has given “Dickinson” a straight-to-series order, with Oscar-nominated actor and singer Hailee Steinfeld as the belle of Amherst. No news yet on how Apple plans to distribute this scripted comedy.


Win a Copy of CHERRY by Nico Walker!


We have 10 copies of Cherry by Nico Walker to give away to 10 Riot readers!

Here’s what it’s all about:

Hammered out on a typewriter, Cherry is a breakneck-paced debut novel about love, war, bank robberies, and heroin.

Cleveland, 2003. A young man falls hard in love and gets married—just before flunking out of school and joining the Army. But he’s unprepared for the grisly reality that awaits him as an Army medic. When he returns from Iraq, his PTSD is profound, and the drugs on the street have changed. Hooked on heroin, desperate for a normal life, and running low on cash, he turns to the one thing he thinks he could be really good at—robbing banks.

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

What's Up in YA

YA Reading and Resources for Pride Month

Happy Monday, YA Fans! Let’s talk queer reads.

“What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by City of Bastards from Disney Publishing Worldwide.

“Jon Snow won’t be the only ‘bastard’ whose name readers will remember.”  —Entertainment Weekly

In this action-packed sequel to YA fantasy Royal Bastards, Tilla explores the magnificent royal city of Lightspire where she uncovers a sinister conspiracy to take down the kingdom from within. Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.

June is Pride Month, an annual global celebration of the LGBTGIA+ community and their contributions to culture, art, history, and more. To honor Pride month and to highlight the growth of queer YA lit, let’s take a look at some of the amazing LGBTQIA+ YA book lists and resources available to readers. Grab your TBR and ready your bookmarking fingers!

LGBTQIA+ YA Reading Lists

There’s literally something for every kind of reader itching for a good queer book or ten.

LGBTQIA+ YA Resources

Looking for more book lists, news, and information about queer YA lit? Dig into these excellent websites.

  • QueerYA: book lists and resources on diversity in gender and sexuality in youth culture. Based on Scotland, this has a lot of UK-angled content.
  • Gay YA: A long-running blog highlighting queer YA. This blog was started by two teenagers who are still active in the YA world and passionate about representation.
  • LGBTQ Reads: Although this isn’t strictly YA, this resource is one to know because it features a plethora of YA, as well as books across various categories, genres, and formats.
  • Queer Books for Teens: A resource to all of (!!) the queer YA books out there.
  • The Rainbow List: Great queer reads, picture books through YA titles, as selected by librarians. This is a vetted list with a wide variety of titles. If you’re looking for even more award-winning queer titles for YA readers, check out the Stonewall Awards.

LGBTQIA+ YA Nonfiction Titles

Just to round this newsletter out nicely, here are a few YA nonfiction titles perfect for Pride month. Descriptions are from Amazon, since I’ve read only most, but not all, of these (yet, anyway!).

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment.

The ABCs of LGBTQ+ by Ashley Mardell

The ABCs of LGBT+ is a #1 Bestselling LGBT book and is essential reading for questioning teens, teachers or parents looking for advice, or anyone who wants to learn how to talk about gender identity and sexual identity. In The ABCs of LGBT+, Ashley Mardell, a beloved blogger and YouTube star, answers many of your questions about:

  • lgbt and lgbt+
  • gender identity
  • sexual identity
  • teens in a binary world
  • the LGBT family
  • and more

Being Jazz: My Life As A (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.

In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don’t understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence—particularly high school—complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy—especially when you began your life in a boy’s body.

Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing The World by Jack Andraka

For the first time, teen innovator and scientist Jack Andraka tells the story behind his revolutionary discovery. When a dear family friend passed away from pancreatic cancer, Jack was inspired to create a better method of early detection. At the age of fifteen, he garnered international attention for his breakthrough: a four-cent strip of paper capable of detecting pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers four hundred times more effectively than the previous standard.

Jack’s story is not just a story of dizzying international success; it is a story of overcoming depression and homophobic bullying and finding the resilience to persevere and come out. His account inspires young people, who he argues are the most innovative, to fight for the right to be taken seriously and to pursue our own dreams. Do-it-yourself science experiments are included in each chapter, making Breakthrough perfect for STEM curriculum. But above all, Jack’s memoir empowers his generation with the knowledge that we can each change the world if we only have the courage to try.

Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson

For LGBTQ people and their supporters, Pride events are an opportunity to honor the past, protest injustice, and celebrate a diverse and vibrant community. The high point of Pride, the Pride Parade, is spectacular and colorful. But there is a whole lot more to Pride than rainbow flags and amazing outfits. How did Pride come to be? And what does Pride mean to the people who celebrate it?


Thanks for hanging out this week and we’ll see you again soon!

— Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Twitter and Instagram.

Check Your Shelf

Libby Partnership Lands 33,000 New Library Card Holders, Audiobook Narrator Secrets, and More.

Welcome to Check Your Shelf! This is your guide to all things book talk worth knowing to help librarians like you up your game when it comes to doing your job (& rocking it).

Check Your Shelf is sponsored by The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg.

Magicians are pitted against one another to make the next big discovery in Charlie N. Holmberg’s fascinating new read in The Paper Magician series.

Alvie Brechenmacher came to London to study under world-renowned magician Marion Praff. Little did she know she would make a discovery that could change the world of magic forever. Now a rival is after the plans, and in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair . . .

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg returns to the enchanting world of The Paper Magician.

Libraries & Librarians

Book Adaptations in the News

Books in the News

By the Numbers

Award News

All Things Comics


Book Lists, Book Lists, Book Lists

Bookish Curiosities & Miscellaneous

Level Up

Do you take part in LibraryReads, the monthly list of best books selected by librarians only? Whether or not you read and nominate titles, we’ll end every newsletter with a few upcoming titles worth reading and sharing (and nominating for LibraryReads, if you so choose!).

This month, I put together a reference guide for finding these books, along with a database of titles and publication dates to make reading and highlighting these books as easy as can be. Your only work is to read them and talk about them.

There is literally no excuse.

Snag a sweet “It’s Lit” enamel pin for $7.


Thanks for hanging out! We’ll see you back here in two weeks with another edition of Check Your Shelf.

–Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Twitter and Instagram.

Currently reading Final Draft by Riley Redgate


June’s Best New Audiobooks

Happy anniversary, audiophiles!

You probably don’t know this, but it’s our one year anniversary! Last year at this time, I took over the audiobooks newsletter and it has been so much fun getting to know some of you and sharing all my weird, random thoughts about audiobooks and hearing yours. So happy anniversary to us!

Sponsored by Flatiron Books and Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Legendary is the sequel to the bestselling breakout audiobook Caraval by Stephanie Garber. After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett. They should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t quite free yet. She made a bargain with a criminal to deliver Caraval Master Legend’s true name. The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more. Welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun. Listen to an audiobook excerpt to hear more.

To celebrate our anniversary, I got you this contest/giveaway! Ok, fine, all the newsletters are promoting this contest, but you could still win $500 to your favorite bookstore and that’s a kickass present, no matter what the reason is! So use this link and enter to win!

So right after our anniversary, I’m abandoning you. My sister is getting married next week, so I am going to be out of town the next two weeks doing wedding shenanigans. The newsletter will still arrive in your inbox on Thursday but I wanted to give you all a taste of the new audiobooks for June before I take off. So without further ado, here are some good lookin’ audiobooks coming out in June.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survivalby Kelly Sundberg; narrated by Andi Arndt; release date: 06-05-18

You know I love me a good memoir about something terrible and painful (and, hopefully, coming out on the other side). This one sounds like it’s got all those things in spades. “Kelly Sundberg’s husband, Caleb, was a funny, warm, supportive man and a wonderful father to their little boy Reed. He was also vengeful and violent…To understand herself and her violent marriage, Sundberg looks to her childhood in Salmon, a small, isolated mountain community known as the most redneck town in Idaho. Like her marriage, Salmon is a place of deep contradictions, where Mormon ranchers and hippie back-to-landers live side-by-side; a place of magical beauty riven by secret brutality; a place that takes pride in its individualism and rugged self-sufficiency, yet is beholden to church and communal standards at all costs.” It sounds like this will be a good pick for those who enjoyed Educated by Tara Westover (which I definitely did!).

The Boy on the Beach: My Family’s Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home by Tima Kurdi; narrated by Soneela Nankani; release date: 06-05-18

At the risk of being too preachy (which I definitely am), I really think we could all benefit from reading more stories from refugees and immigrants. “Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015, and overnight, the political became personal, as the world awoke to the reality of the Syrian refugee crisis. Tima Kurdi first saw the shocking photo of her nephew in her home in Vancouver, Canada. But Tima did not need a photo to understand the truth – she and her family had already been living it.”

What follows is the story of Tima’s happy childhood in Damascus and her emigration to Canada when she was 22. At first, the memoir is a story of the adjustments of a new life in a new world. But as the situation in Syria deteriorates, Tima starts trying to help her family back in Syria leave. “Although thwarted by politics, hounded by violence, and separated by vast distances, the Kurdis encountered setbacks at every turn, they never gave up hope. And when tragedy struck, Tima suddenly found herself thrust onto the world stage as an advocate for refugees everywhere, a role for which she had never prepared but that allowed her to give voice to those who didn’t have an opportunity to speak for themselves.”

Florida written and read by Lauren Groff; release date: 06-05-18

The author of Fates and Furies is back with a collection of short stories about her home state. “The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida – its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind – becomes its gravitational center. Storms, snakes, and sinkholes lurk at the edge of everyday life, but the greater threats and mysteries are of a human, emotional, and psychological nature.” I was really impressed by the slow, magnificent burn of Fates and Furies and I’m really excited to hear these stories. (Also yay for the author narrating it!)

The Secret Life of Cows written and read by Rosamund Young; release date: 06-12-18

The book title and cover alone sold me on this (I mean it’s the secret life of cows! COWS!) but after reading the description, perhaps it should come with a warning? Personally, I don’t eat beef BUT if you don’t want to hear about the awesomeness of the animal in your tummy, you may want to consider if you can handle hearing about “how these creatures love, play games, and form lifelong friendships.” But if you’re more comfortable with the circle of life than I am, it sounds like there’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from the book. “She imparts hard-won wisdom about the both moral and real-world benefits of organic farming. (If preserving the dignity of animals isn’t a good enough reason for you, consider how badly factory farming stunts the growth of animals, producing unhealthy and tasteless food.)”

The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi; narrated by: Waleed Akhtar; release date: 06-14-18

“Shahid is a clean-cut student trying to make an impression on his college lecturer, Deedee Osgood, who gives his spirits a lift when she takes him to a naked rave party. Shahid’s academic prospects are threatened by the intervention of his gangster brother, Chili, who, with his Armani suits and Gucci loafers, moves into Shahid’s bedsit as a hideout, bringing unnecessary danger and excitement with him. Set in London in 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fatwah, The Black Album is a thriller with a characteristically lively background: raves, ecstasy, religious ferment and sexual passion in a dangerous time.” NAKED RAVE PARTIES IN 1989 LONDON?! YES, PLEASE!!

What are you most looking forward to listening to in June? Let me know at or on twitter at msmacb.

I’ll see you in two weeks unless I die in a fiery plane crash which I am definitely extremely terrified of happening!