The Kids Are All Right

Kidlit Deals for August 25, 2021

Hey kidlit pals! I hope your pencils are sharpened and you’ve got plenty of hand sanitizer on hand, no matter what your school year looks like! I’ve got a pile of great new book deals that will hopefully take the sting out of having to return to school! As always, grab them before they expire!

cover of From the Desk of Zoe Washington

Have you heard the news? From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks is in development at Disney…and it’s just $2!

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan is a great school-set novel for just $2!

Lety Out Loud by Angela Cervantes is a great novel for any animal-loving kid, and it’s $5.

Looking for a new lovable character that’s a cross between Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables? Look no further than Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr for $1!

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle is a great series-starter for just under $5!

Love historical fiction? Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm is one of my faves, and it’s just $5.

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson is a must-read middle grade family mystery for just $2. Plus, grab Johnson’s The Great Greene Heist for $3!

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen is a great series starter for just $2!

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park, a great historical MG novel, is still on sale for $3!

Happy reading!

Read This Book

Read This Book

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

When I was younger, I often used to tell my mom that I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up. My mom used to dismiss it as another one of my pursuits, along with dragon hunter and marine biologist. But, just for one split second, a look of terror would gloss over her eyes. Having grown up in Pakistan and then living in the Middle East, she had seen the price free press had to pay and it seemed too high to be fair.

With the news centering around Afghanistan for the past weeks, I have thought of that look often and then thought of the bravery that goes with telling a story, your story, and all the journalists and reporters who risk everything to bring us those stories. That is what inspired my latest pick for you all today.

Book Cover

Our Women on the Ground by Zahra Hankir

This collection is a series of essays from nineteen ‘sahafiyat’ [Arabic word female journalists] telling their own stories through the stories of others that they have told over time.

With an enlightening foreword by Christiane Amanpour, these essays by the featured female reporters recount the harassment experienced when walking on the streets of Cairo, to the difficulty of not being able to walk by themselves in the streets of Yemen.

But they also tell the stories that no male reporter has been able to tell. Having been granted the privilege of going into spaces occupied by females alone, these female journalists have been able to add context to a history which often forgets the impact events have on fifty percent of its population.

Apart from the resonant themes of bravery these journalists display, this collection also puts on display the culture of the Middle East. The catch-all term it has become doesn’t do justice to each of the individual countries that make up the region. 

Each of the stories in this collection is eye-opening and a transformational experience of its own. If you have read stories like Girls of Riyadh and want more, this is for you.

Happy Reading!

In The Club

Understanding Afghanistan

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. I, like everyone else I imagine, was shocked when the Taliban moved right in after the U.S. started to withdraw from Afghanistan. More shocking, though, might be how little I know about a war my country has been fighting for the past twenty years. I’d like to correct that now and explore with you all what life is like for Afghani people and start to try to understand what they are facing (and how this mess came to be).

If you’d like to help, here’s a list of different ways you can. Many local mosques are also accepting donations.

With all of that said, let’s get to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

I don’t know about y’all, but I love fresh hummus. Store bought hummus, on the other hand, makes me regret all my life choices leading up to the moment I decided to buy store bought hummus. The duality is interesting. Apparently, it’s not that hard to make at home, though, so here’s a recipe for sriracha hummus to be coupled with some crispy pita chips. If you’re not feeling the heat aspect, just leave the sriracha out. Also, I know some people have this thing with cilantro (to each their own), so you can substitute with parsley if you prefer.

A Decades Long War

cover of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi showing an Afghan woman holding a child's hand

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

This fictional account of what it’s like for girls and women is included because I’ve always felt like I learned more from fiction at times. I chalk this up to the immersive experience it grants. Here, in Kabul in 2007, young Rahima and her sisters can’t leave the house and can only occasionally go to school because they are girls. She finds out that a great-aunt used a custom to change her life around a hundred years ago called “bacha posh,” which allows one to live as a boy/man (so, pretty much to be free), and decides to do the same. With her new found freedom she can go to school and be a chaperone for her sisters. The only issue is, girls are supposed to go back to having women’s lifestyles once they mature, but how will Rahima be able to give up her freedom when the time comes?

cover of The Afghanistan Papers by Craig Whitlock

The Afghanistan Papers by Craig Whitlock

To say that the timing of this book is impeccable would be an understatement. Good timing or not, though, this account of the war in Afghanistan by an investigative reporter from The Washington Post is scathing. Whitlock draws understandable parallels between the Vietnam war and the one in Afghanistan. Apparently, the U.S.’s efforts were a mess from the start in Afghanistan as well, and it was never set up to be a successful endeavor. The documents that The Washington Post unearthed and share here show all of the inadequacies that got us to where we are now.

cover of Dancing in the Mosque by Homeira Qaderi

Dancing in the Mosque by Homeira Qaderi

This is it. This is the one. Qaderi writes of her extraordinary life where she survived a brutal Russian occupation of Afghanistan, only to have to suffer through the Taliban rule of the early 90s right after. As they took over the country, the Taliban immediately started their campaign of misogyny by closing girls’ schools and forbidding them to read. Engaging in these forbidden things might result in being whipped or worse. To put this more in perspective, if I had been caught writing this newsletter by the Taliban in the 90s (and now?), I would have been gravely punished. Lucky for those around her, Qaderi was a rebel and held private tutoring lessons where she taught boys and girls and even some Taliban members at home and at a mosque. She clearly has Mother Teresa-level forgiveness capabilities, because I could never. In this account, Qaderi also tells of the everyday dangers she faced simply for being a woman, what other women and girls suffered, and how she had to ultimately leave her son behind.

Suggestion Section

More books about Afghanistan that are written by women in this list compiled by Carolina Ciucci.

Here’s a great article written by Teresa Preston on discussion questions for book clubs: 40 Great Book Club Discussion Questions For Any Book

So, Jeopardy finally axed that guy that nobody (literally nobody) asked for. My fellow Book Rioter Kelly Jensen tells the Jeopardy team what they need to go ahead and do. decided to throw their hat in the ring and gave a quick lil tug to Mike Richards’ wig with this tweet. Don’t you love it when people are rightly called out?

Also, here’s a chat that will take place between Bitch Media and Nicole Perkins about her book I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, Sometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be (on Tuesday, August 31, 2021).

As always, thanks for joining me today! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to

Unusual Suspects

August Mystery Releases Is Stacked!

Hello mystery fans! I’m here with a bunch of August releases for all the crime reading tastes from YA to Swedish Noir.

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Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka, Sam Malissa (Translation)

If you want a thriller set on a train that is being adapted, starring Brad Pitt, into a film releasing in 2022, this is your book! A bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka has criminals and victims on board, and a suitcase that they come to realize they are all after…

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How We Fall Apart (How We Fall Apart #1) by Katie Zhao

If you’re looking for dark academia–with a cover I’m obsessed with–here you go! After a recent death of a high school student that leaves everyone shocked, things take an even more shocking turn when a group of friends are accused of causing her death. The accuser is anonymous and will be releasing what they know about each “friend” slowly and publicly…

(The author provides TWs on her website and at the beginning of the book: “Please note that this book contains depictions of abuse, self-harm, violence, parental neglect, panic attacks, drug use, mental illness, an inappropriate student/teacher relationship, racism, and suicidal thoughts.”)

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Gone for Good (Detective Annalisa Vega #1) by Joanna Schaffhausen

I will read anything Schaffhausen writes as she always writes darkish mysteries with great lead characters that feel like the procedural shows that I love and inhale. This is the start to a new series and the first case is a serial killer that went dark until a group of amateur sleuths started poking around, Now there’s either a copycat or the real killer is back… Pick this one up if you need something that will suck you in and keep you turning pages, and then grab her first series The Vanishing Season (Review). Also, please someone adapt her two series into TV series, they are perfect for it!

(TW: parent with Parkinson’s/ mentions past rape case, not graphic/ date rape scene recounted/ discussions of domestic and partner abuse/ past murder suicide recounted, detail/ ableism)

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A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

The author of The Girl On the Train is back with a new thriller. We have a dead man on a houseboat and three women connected starting with the one-night stand. There’s gonna be so many secrets–I love secrets as much as Marie Kondo loves mess!

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The Cannonball Tree Mystery (Crown Colony #5) by Ovidia Yu

If you’re a fan of historical mysteries, this is a great series set in Syonan, Japanese-occupied Singapore, which follows an orphaned girl who survived Polio, SuLin. This time around she finds a relative who’d been blackmailing her dead, and well that’s not the only death to come that benefits her… If you want to start at the beginning pickup The Frangipani Tree Mystery (Review).

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The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Mmmmm, a new delicious Megan Abbott book about obsession, family, and not being able to find your place in the present because of the past, set in a family-owned ballet studio. (Review)

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We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

The author of The Herd is back with a mystery thriller about best friends and a trip gone horribly wrong–again! I mean how many times is too many times for a backpacker being murdered in self-defense while you’re on vacation?

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Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’m a big fan of Moreno-Garcia and always pick up her books. I love that she writes in so many genres but especially get excited when it’s crime. Here’s her take on noir set in Mexico City in the 1970s, following a secretary looking into the suspicious disappearance of her neighbor…

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The Husbands by Chandler Baker

This reads like a Liane Moriarty mystery where you get the mystery at the beginning and then take a deep dive into character’s everyday lives before it all comes together at the end. A hanging-by-a-thread full time lawyer and full time mom decides to investigate an arson in an exclusive neighborhood she wants to move to. What could go wrong? You’re in a crime book, woman! PS: If you don’t like spoilers, stay away from the summary and comps for this one.

(TW domestic abuse)

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Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara

Here’s a historical mystery set in 1944 Chicago where Aki Ito and her parents have been resettled after being released from interment camps in the wake of Pearl Harbor. Set to reunite with her older sister Rose, Aki is shocked to discover she’d been killed and her death ruled a suicide. Knowing that isn’t the full story, Aki sets out to find out what happened to Rose.

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You Can Run by Karen Cleveland

Spy thriller! Jill Bailey is a CIA analyst who was just given a choice: save her son who has been kidnapped or do what the kidnappers want. Also involved is a journalist whose been given a career-making tip about the CIA…

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The Guide by Peter Heller

Imagine taking a job for an elite fishing lodge in Colorado to escape life and deal with grief. One would think nature could help heal, except what if things aren’t as they seem and that scream you heard in the middle of the night means danger?

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The Night Singer (Ölandsbrotten #1) by Johanna Mo, Alice Menzies (Translation)

If you’re looking for a Swedish procedural, here’s one that hits the tropes of returns-home-after-tragedy (father convicted of murder) and trying to settle into a new job with a new partner and solve a whopper of a case: a teen’s murder.

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56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

I really liked Howard’s previous novels The Liar’s Girl and The Nothing Man so I’m excited for this one. Set in Dublin, Ciara and Oliver meet at the very beginning of the pandemic and decide to move in together in order to avoid lockdown keeping them apart. Except this is not a romance novel but rather a crime novel, and at the end there’s a body discovered and a difficult case: did the lockdown provide the perfect situation to get away with a crime?

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The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #17) by Louise Penny

For Inspector Gamache fans, you have a new book! If you’re looking to sink into a great series set in the Québec village of Three Pines and want to start at the beginning of this procedural, pick up Still Life and work your way forward.

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See upcoming 2021 releases. Check out this Unusual Suspects Pinterest board and get Tailored Book Recommendations!

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

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

True Story

New Releases: Sardines and Washington Heights

Hello and welcome to another week of new releases! I call this the calm before the September storm (so. many. books. in. September) and we’ve got a nice array of DIFFERENTY kinds of nonfiction.

Did you catch Kim’s first Friday back last week? Check out the Friday edition of the newsletter for some A+ journalisty, link-filled bookish nonfiction content (question: after its intense overuse in the 2010s/2020s, are we going to have to ban the word “content” for a few years?).


A Woven World

A Woven World: On Fashion, Fishermen, and the Sardine Dress by Alison Hawthorne Deming

This was inspired by the Yves St Laurent sardine dress, which basically looks like the cover (fish scales!) and “celebrates the fading crafts, industries, and artisans that have defined communities for generations.” She looks at Manhattan dressmakers of the nineteenth century and “the fishermen on Grand Manan Island, a community of 2,500 residents, where the dignity of work and the bounty of the sea ruled for hundreds of years.” Grand Manan is in Canada!

the chinese question cover

The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics by Mae Ngai

Chinese diaspora! Gold! Ngai covers the gold rushes of the nineteenth century and how they led to “the Chinese Question,” namely: “would the United States and the British Empire outlaw Chinese immigration?” Spoiler: they did. Ngai links themes from “Europe’s subjugation of China to the rise of the international gold standard and the invention of racist, anti-Chinese stereotypes that persist to this day.” Basically, we are always being influenced by events and decisions of the past, and here are some you might not have known about that impact you.

presumed guilty cover

Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights by Erwin Chemerinsky

Chemerinsky is dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. His new book “reveals how the Supreme Court has enabled racist policing and sanctioned law enforcement excesses through its decisions over the last half-century” and how “its conception in the late eighteenth century until the Warren Court in 1953, the Supreme Court rarely ruled against the police.” If you like deep dives into Supreme Court history (I do) and again, why we do the things we do (history!), then check this out.

in the heights cover

In the Heights: Finding Home by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Jeremy McCarter

Ok yeah, this came out in June, but I am only HEARING about it now. In the Heights is my wife’s favorite musical and this behind-the-scenes look offers “untold stories, perceptive essays, and the lyrics to Miranda’s songs—complete with his funny, heartfelt annotations. It also features newly commissioned portraits and never-before-seen photos from backstage, the movie set, and productions around the world.” SO NEAT.

For more nonfiction reads, check out the For Real podcast which I co-host with the excellent Kim here at Book Riot. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @itsalicetime. Until next time, enjoy those facts, fellow nerds.



The Stack


Riot Rundown


Today In Books

New Paul McCartney Book Will Feature Previously Unseen Lyrics: Today in Books

Get A First Look at R.L. Stine’s Just Beyond Adaptation from Disney+

If you loved Netflix’s Fear Street adaptation, you’ll be excited to hear there’s more R.L. Stine coming to television very soon! There’s a new Disney+ anthology series called Just Beyond, based on the BOOM! Studios comics by R.L. Stine. And now you can get a first look at some of the images from the series. Set to debut on Disney+ this fall, the eight-episode series is written by Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), who will also serve as the showrunner. Marc Webb (The Amazing Spiderman) will direct two of the episodes. Each episode will be a different story, introducing new characters.

Ashley M. Jones is Named First Black Poet Laureate for Alabama

Ashley M. Jones has been chosen to be the first Black poet laureate for Alabama. The announcement was made during a meeting on Sunday that was part of the Alabama Writers Cooperative’s yearly conference. Jones is also the youngest person to ever hold this position. The poet laureate for Alabama is responsible for being the ambassador of poetry for the state. According to the announcement on Sunday, Jones’ responsibilities will be “to make appearances at schools, universities, libraries and other state institutions, as well as give lectures, read poetry and hold workshops on a local and national level.” In a statement released by the Magic City Poetry festival, Jones said, “I’m so honored to serve my home state as an ambassador, advocate, and as a lover of poetry and all the people who write it, read it, and find new magic from it in this life…I’m so excited to spend the next four years helping to make Alabama poets and poetry radiate here at home and beyond.”

Paul McCartney’s New Book Will Feature Previously Unreleased Lyrics

Paul McCartney’s upcoming book The Lyrics, which the musician describes as a “self-portrait in 154 songs,” will include the previously unseen lyrics to an unrecorded Beatles song, “Tell Me Who He Is.” The never-before-seen lyrics were found handwritten in one of McCartney’s notebooks, and the lyrics are believed to be from the early 1960s. McCartney’s book will be released on November 2nd, and it will include “many further treasures” from McCartney’s archives.

9 Books By Women from Afghanistan to Read Right Now

Over the past few weeks, the Taliban have once again seized control of Afghanistan. If you’re wondering how you can learn more about women’s experiences in Afghanistan, here are 9 books by Afghan women to get you started.

Check Your Shelf

150 Of the Most Anticipated Books For Fall 2021

Welcome to Check Your Shelf. In this latest iteration of weird pandemic interests, my husband sent me down a rabbit hole of watching Adam Driver’s SNL skits, and now I think I’m mildly obsessed. Can’t explain it, and I’m not going to try.

So let’s talk about books!

Collection Development Corner

Publishing News

Hachette Books will acquire Workman Publishing.

The police officer involved in Breonna Taylor’s shooting returned his book advance and is now looking for a new publisher.

New & Upcoming Titles

Here’s a look at Seanan McGuire’s Seasonal Fears, the follow-up to Middlegame.

Scholastic is releasing a set of illustrated children’s books based on the characters from Friends.

Barbra Streisand is working on a memoir.

George Floyd’s aunt, Angela Harrelson, will be coming out with a book in 2022.

150 of the most-anticipated books for Fall 2021.

Canadian fiction and nonfiction books to look for this fall.

5 gripping new thrillers to get lost in.

9 dazzling new debut novels.

The best books of 2021 so far.

Weekly book picks from Crime Reads, New York Times, and USA Today.

August picks from Crime Reads (psychological thrillers, international crime), and (YA SFF).

September picks from Barnes & Noble (adult, children/teens), Chicago Tribune.

What Your Patrons Are Hearing About

The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You – Maurice Carlos Ruffin (Entertainment Weekly, L.A. Times, New York Times)

The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal – Mary L. Trump (The Guardian, USA Today, Washington Post)

Silent Winds, Dry Seas – Vinod Busjeet (New York Times, NPR)

Velvet Was the Night – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (USA Today, Washington Post)

Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America – Eyal Press (New York Times, NPR)

The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War – Craig Whitlock (New York Times, Washington Post)

RA/Genre Resources

NPR readers’ 50 favorite SFF books from the last decade.

Why we need ADHD representation in fiction.

How to diversify your reading, and why it’s so important.

On the Riot

New releases by women in translation.

New and forthcoming YA disability nonfiction.

New weekly picks to TBR.

Horror books for beginners.

What makes a book an absorbing read?

Mystery series you can read out of order.

How you know the mystery genre is still leaving out marginalized voices.

This reader’s point of view about POV in romance.

All Things Comics

Walter Mosley is writing a six-issue series featuring The Thing, which will debut in November.

New DC comics are coming to Webtoon, the South Korean webcomics publisher.

Cixin Liu’s short stories are being adapted into graphic novels.

It’s actually almost impossible for most writers and artists to make money in comics.

8 must-read modern Superman comics.

On the Riot

Where to read comics online for free.

What is a light novel?

The impact of crowdfunding on indie comics.

8 of the scariest manga to keep you up at night.

10 manga like Jujutsu Kaisen for monster lovers.

Exactly how big is the Marvel Comics Universe?


After 46 years, Judy Blume’s Forever is finally becoming an audiobook.

Your audiobook guide to book awards.

17 audiobooks to make your next road trip that much more fun.

On the Riot

6 myth retellings on audio.

7 audiobooks under 7 hours to help tune out the world.

Book Lists, Book Lists, Book Lists


30 books about consent and bodily autonomy for toddlers and kids.


A reading list for the 20th anniversary of September 11th.

The best books about Western intervention in Afghanistan, past and present.

15 books that reimagine fairy tales and classic literature.

11 modern classics every book collection needs.

5 tense books that blend sci-fi and horror.

33 tales about campus life.

7 thrillers about the dark side of academia.

8 SFF heist novels. ​​

6 books about reincarnation.

On the Riot

11 thoughtful divorce books for kids.

5 YA books about being the new kid.

What to read after Get a Life, Chloe Brown.

15 more books about Appalachia to read instead of Hillbilly Elegy.

15 Argentinian books in translation.

16 of the best contemporary romance novels since 2016.

10 genre-defying memoirs you need to read.

8 thought-provoking books about adults going back to school.

10 thrilling books that take place at an amusement park.

Level Up (Library Reads)

Do you take part in Library Reads, the monthly list of best books selected by librarians only? We’ve made it easy for you to find eligible diverse titles to nominate. Kelly Jensen created a database of upcoming diverse books that anyone can edit, and Nora Rawlins of Early Word is doing the same, as well as including information about series, vendors, and publisher buzz.

I hope your own pandemic obsessions continue to bring you entertainment. Catch you on Friday!

—Katie McLain Horner, @kt_librarylady on Twitter.