As you’ve no doubt heard, the ongoing pandemic has resulted in significant supply chain issues and increased costs for shipping and materials. The publishing industry has been no exception, and we’ve felt the impact firsthand here at TBR. Additionally, the USPS recently raised media mail rates by more than 10%.
To accommodate these changes and allow us to continue providing you with excellent personalized book mail, your TBR subscription rate will be increasing by $2.50 per quarter ($10/year for annual subscribers) beginning December 1. This change will take effect at your next billing cycle.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and thank you for rocking with TBR.
All of Us Villains is a dark tale of ambition and magick from blockbuster co-writing duo Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman. Every generation, seven families in the city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death. The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world. This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into the spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly, a choice: accept their fate or rewrite their story.
This should be required reading for everyone. This book expands on the project started in the New York Times in 2019, the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ships in America. It covers the history of the United States with the contributions of Black people and the history of slavery as the center focus, something that is usually left out of history books, even today. It features contributions from some of today’s most incredibel writers, including Yaa Gyasi, Darryl Pinckney, Claudia Rankine, Jason Reynolds, and Jesmyn Ward. Grab a copy or two as soon as you can, because it’s going to go fast.
And calling all history fans: This is an excellent debut historical novel based on the true scandal of the Jacobean court. It’s about the friendship between Frances Howard, the wife of the Earl of Essex, and Anne Turner. Bonds are made and broken in an instant in the court, and friendships and fortunes can change in the drop of a fancy hat. The women struggle to take charge of their own futures and write themselves a happy ending, but risking everything means they could lose it all.
And the amazing author of Binti, Remote Control, and more, is back with this great novella! Set in a near-future Nigeria, it’s about a young woman named Anwuli Okwudili, who has several body augmentations, and ends up on the run across the deserts of Northern Nigeria after a bloody confrontation at the local market. Who can AO trust, and how will the story of this technologically advanced woman end? It’s a great book that takes on race, class, and colonialism in a fast-paced adventure story. You’ll read it so fast, you’ll get whiplash!
This is not an upcoming book, but one that is available now exclusively through Kobo! And it is a freaking DELIGHT. Liza and her wife, Hanna, are having relationship troubles, so Hanna booked them a romantic getaway at a castle in Scotland. Which is part of why they’re having troubles—Liza feels like Hanna never asks her what she wants, she just goes ahead and does stuff, like booking them a trip. Hanna is a financial advisor who makes mad bank and works a lot of hours, and she is beginning to resent all the time Liza spends working on her true crime podcast, which grows in popularity each week, because it cuts in on their free time. Is a weekend in a remote location with a bunch of stuffy aristocrats the answer for their marital woes?
Because you know what might not be good for a relationship in trouble? A giant snowstorm that traps everyone in the castle, including a mysterious femme fatale with designs on Liza and an unknown murderer, who has started offing the guests. There’s no escape and no way to call for help. But now Liza now has the chance to show Hanna her podcast isn’t just a hobby and solve an actual case, and she and Hanna will learn what lengths they will go to in order to keep each other safe.
This is a fun satirical take on Agatha Christie and classic locked room mysteries. Hall does an excellent job nailing down all the situations and characters you find in those stories. But he also adds a couple of twists, including two things I really loved that I can’t mention because they’re spoilers, so you’ll have to hit me up after you read it.
(CW for violence and murder, mentions of infidelity and suicide.)
From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love.
Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.
One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous conqueror. When the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.
Hey YA Readers!
On the latest episode of Hey YA, Erica and I talked about recent and upcoming YA nonfiction titles and during the discussion, I talked about Brandy Colbert’s recent release Black Birds in the Sky. It’s an incredible read about the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, highlighting Tulsa’s Black Wall Street and the thriving Black communities there and in other parts of Oklahoma. This book is packaged in an extremely appealing way for both young adult readers who may not usually gravitate toward nonfiction, as well as those who do, and the book being available on shelves at Target gives it both big visibility for the category of YA nonfiction but also for its look at a topic that’s been under-explored in classrooms (and likely will continue to be, thanks to anti-“Critical Race Theory” legislation). Black Birds In The Sky a riveting and vital read — and it’s one of a number of excellent YA releases on the topic this year. Across The Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Massacre by Alverne Ball and Stacey Robinson explores this history in their graphic novel released in May, while Hilary Beard adapted the work of Tim Madigan’s The Burning: Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 for young adults earlier this year, too.
When I finished Colbert’s book, I fell down a number of research rabbit holes, which is one of the things that makes nonfiction so great. I’m someone who is fascinated by stories we don’t get to hear, and usually, those stories are from and by marginalized communities. Wherever you live, especially in the United States, you’ll find these histories around you. For me, finishing the book reminded me of my endless fascination with Cairo, Illinois (pronounced Kay-roe), a community at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It’s a town that’s dealt with a significant loss of population over the last half century or more, and it’s one that’s been rattled by its racist history. Equally fascinating, though, is the discrimination within the town led Black residents to choose to develop their own suburb outside Cairo called Future City. There’s very little information about that town’s history, though thanks to its geography, it, like Cairo, has struggled to withstand flooding. It’s not flourished nor grown and though a handful of residents still live there, it’s essentially a ghost town.
It’s not hard to understand why, then, tools like The Green Book were vital resources for Black Americans in the 20th century. Candacy Taylor’s forthcoming adaptation for young readers of her own adult book, Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (January) offers a look at not just the essential role the Green Book played for Black people who wanted to travel, but that it also served as a tool of resistance — those who had their businesses listed as places where racial segregation wasn’t de facto or de jure took a courageous stand.
Some Black people believe a modern adaption of The Green Book wouldn’t be a radical idea today.
As racial violence continues, finding places that are safer to rest in, to dine in, and to patronize is crucial. Places like Cairo and Anna were among the communities unsafe for Black people to pass through, let alone rest in, and as Colbert and others explained in their books on the Tulsa Massacre, even in communities where Black life flourished, the undercurrent and indeed, the retaliation against Black excellence, remained.
A not-small number of these communities still exist today.
Young adult nonfiction is flourishing right now, and it’s not hard to understand why. Not only are the titles timely, but they’re timeless, and as the above-mentioned explore, they offer a window from the past into the whys and hows of modern society. We haven’t moved much from what allowed The Tulsa Massacre to happen, and certainly, we haven’t made travel across the country safer for marginalized people — the reality is, so many have forgotten the real and grave dangers that Black people especially encounter going about daily life in a white supremacist driven America. So many of us don’t recognize or think about the fact communities like Cairo and Anna, as well as Tulsa and countless others that can be named and those which can’t, not only have a charged history but that history remains part of the fabric which makes them what they are today.
And indeed, even where there was and is hope for utopian communities for people of the global majority in America, those stories haven’t been told, haven’t been recorded, and remain under explored in literature, in research, and in the public view.
This is where books like Colbert’s do tremendous service, especially for young readers. They offer a look at under-told stories of the past, encouraging exploration into one’s own backyard, and, as the case is in America, a reminder that this country has been colonized, and even groups which are marginalized now have a tangled and complicated relationship with the Native and Indigenous communities from whom this land was stolen and settled.
Thanks for hanging out today and I hope you’ll find the time to dig into the stories of your own community between picking up the incredible books above.
We’ll see you on Thursday for your YA news and new books.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, the new epic novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eragon, Christopher Paolini is now available in paperback!
Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.
Now she’s awakened a nightmare.
During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move. And while Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope…
Authors and Panels for Teens + Kids at Miami Book Fair Online.
Latinx voices, remixed classics, picture books, and graphic novels. Miami Book Fair presents some of the most exciting authors for kids and young adults, with readings and presentations by MARGARET CARDILLO, SOMAN CHAINANI, JENNIFER L. HOLM, BETHANY C. MORROW, SARACIEA J. FENNELL, and many more. Join panels on Mystery, Magic, Mayhem…History, Hardship, Healing… Bunkmates, Besties, Boyfriends, and so much more on MiamiBookFairOnline.com.
Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley with no memory of how she got there or where she’s from, only a fleeting sense that this isn’t the first time she’s found herself in similar circumstances. As flashes from different times haunt her dreams, Lou begins to believe she may be an immortal sent to this place and time for a very important reason. But what could it be? Set against the rich historical landscape of 1930s Los Angeles, this “marriage of period lit and science fiction will plug the Lovecraft Country sized hole in your heart.” (Essence).
Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor! Also, check out our new podcast Adaptation Nation, all about TV and film adaptations of your favorite books!
Today’s pick is a novella that is great for lovers of alternate history settings and fantasy.
This book takes place in New Orleans in an alternate post-Civil War setting with a steampunk overlay. In this alternate history, the Union and the Confederacy called it a draw so folks were free in the Union states and slavery was legal in the Confederate states. They would put gas masks on the enslaved people and pump them full of a gas that basically made them like living zombies that followed orders. New Orleans is considered neutral ground.
Our protagonist is a teen nicknamed Creeper, because of how deftly she can climb things. The goddess Oya has taken up residence inside Creeper, occasionally giving her visions or even working through her physically. Oya is the Yoruba goddess of the wind, one of the Orisha brought over with the Africans on the first trans-Atlantic slave-trader ships (I’m oversimplifying). Oya gives Creeper a startling vision that puts her on edge, and then Creeper overhears some men talking about a Haitian scientist who is willing to trade The Black God’s Drums for a jewel.
Creeper knows just who to tell, or rather, barter with having this information. There’s an airship Captain who would go to great lengths to keep this out of the hands of the Confederacy and Creeper is looking to become crew on an airship. When Creeper finally is able to talk to the captain privately, the captain, too, has a goddess in residence, the goddess Oshun.
This novella takes so many exciting twists and turns and it’s full of amazing, eclectic characters that make me want even more stories featuring them. It’s a super entertaining read and perfect for this time of year if you’re trying to meet an end-of-year reading goal.
A trip to Lapland was supposed to be best friends Christy and Alix’s perfect Christmas getaway. But with Christy facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, and Alix trying to ignore the sizzle she’s developing for a fellow guest, will their Christmas escape give them the courage to fight for the relationships they really want, and save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?
Isabel Waidner Wins Goldsmiths Prize for Sterling Karat Gold
Isabel Waidner has won the Goldsmiths prize for their third novel Sterling Karat Gold, a work that judges said combines “the real and the mythic, the beautiful and the grotesque, to mind-bending effect.” Waidner’s novel tells the story of a non-binary migrant cleaner who is arrested in London and then must face up against bullfighters, football players, and spaceships to be exonerated. The publisher Peninsula Press describes Sterling Karate Gold as “Kafka’s The Trial written for the era of gaslighting.” Waidner’s work beat out novels such as Claire-Louise Bennett’s Checkout 19, Leone Ross’s This One Sky Day, and Rebecca Watson’s Little Scratch to win the award.
Jon M. Chu to Direct Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Animated Film
Jon M. Chu has signed on to direct the animated film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!for Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Warner Animation Group. This film will mark Bad Robot Productions’ first foray into the world of animated film. Both J.J. Abrams and Hannah Minghella will share producer credits. Jon Chu is perhaps best known for directing Crazy Rich Asians, and he is currently attached to direct the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Wicked. Courtenay Valenti, president, production and development at Warner Bros. Pictures, said in a statement, “We are beyond thrilled to bring one of the most beloved Dr. Seuss books to life for so many generations of Seuss fans. The pairing of this classic title, with the creative excellence of Jon Chu and Bad Robot defines what we at WB try to achieve: marry great branded entertainment with singular creative talent.” Oh, The Places You’ll Go is expected to release in 2027.
Spotify is Getting into the Audiobook Business
Spotify, the Swedish audio streaming subscription service giant, is getting into the American audiobook business with an agreement to acquire Ohio-based digital audiobook distributor Findaway for an undisclosed price. “It is Spotify’s ambition to be the destination for all things audio both for listeners and creators. The acquisition of Findaway will accelerate Spotify’s presence in the audiobook space and will help us more quickly meet that ambition,” said Spotify’s chief research and development officer Gustav Söderström.
Nemo the Library Fish’s New Job and More Good Book News This Week
MONSTERS WALK BESIDE US ALL … AND SOMETIMES LURK WITHIN. In her past, the Important Man took away Jacey’s brother. Now Jacey has David, who sometimes transforms into a terrifying beast. Together, they’ve found a way to live – hunt down those who prey on the vulnerable. But the Important Man is still out there – and Jacey and David are about to run into him again. By bestselling author Paul Cornell & artist Sally Cantirino! AVAILABLE NOW! www.vaultcomics.com
Back in September, I read Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation for the first time, and I tweeted about this surprising but fascinating quest I was on to determine why Annihilation, a book that is not explicitly queer horror, was giving me such major queer vibes. I did eventually finish Annihilation, complete with my army of color-coded sticky notes. And while breaking down the entire book is a bit more involved than I can fit in one newsletter, there was something I wanted to talk about in this week’s Fright Stuff that is related to my Annihilation project: the validity of reader interpretations.
There has been a lot of discussion in the horror community lately about authors, readers, textual interpretation, and the experience of reading. And I think the whole situation is symptomatic of a larger issue, a sort of lack of general understanding among some horror readers and authors about the right of a reader to form their own interpretations of and opinions about the books they read. And the fact that those interpretations do not require either the author’s consent or the approval of other readers, because individual reading experiences are unique and extremely personal.
Once an English major, always an English major I guess, but one of the things my teachers always drummed into us was that there is no wrong or right way to read a text. If you can provide textual support for your reading (the gold standard of proof in English academia) then your interpretation is valid. End of story. Hark! I think I hear the existential screaming of some of my more hardnosed professors but I don’t even care.
And I am firmly of the belief that the above doesn’t just apply to so-called “literary” texts. Horror readers know very well how much an author can pack into a single, terrifying book in terms of themes, metaphors, tropes, etc. So the idea that genre fiction doesn’t have the depth needed to support interpretive reading is, frankly, bullshit.
And even if it weren’t, the experience of reading a book isn’t a sola scriptura event. Yes, you use the text to support your interpretation, but at least a portion of how you come to interpret a book has to do with where and when you’re reading it. That’s why you can read the same book at different times in your life and have two completely different experiences with the same work of fiction. Reader interpretations are entirely subjective, and that’s not a bad thing.
For example: I am fully aware that my reading of Annihilation as a queer text was influenced by my own journey of sexual identity. I read the Biologist’s experience of transformation inside Area X as, specifically, a narrative of sexual discovery because that was a huge part of my life at the time. But depending on the reader, her story could easily be read as a trans narrative, as an expression of humanity’s displacement from nature, or any number of possibilities that haven’t even occurred to me because I’m not the right reader for that particular interpretation.
My ability to read that queer narrative within Annihilation was a result of the themes present in the novel – themes of transformation, identity, the intersection of biology and humanity – which are, if not intrinsically, then at least tangentially queer. They’re themes that have invited queer interpretations of literature for years, even of texts that are not overtly queer, and the presence of those themes allows me to support my reading of Annihilation as a queer horror book. But it was my personal experience that allowed me to see the queer narrativethat I might have missed if I had read the book at another time in my life.
And, though the impostor syndrome monster living deep in my soul shrieks in agony at the thought, I know that I can put my interpretation out there in the world with confidence, as can any reader, because our experiences as readers are honest, and our own.
Nightfire is going just determined to ruin my life in the best ways. They’ve just announced a new novella from Cassandra Khaw, slated for May of 2023, about a flesh eating mermaid. The Salt Grows Heavy sounds like everything I could want in a horror novella and more!
We’ve got a brand new podcast over at Book Riot! Adaptation Nation is all about TV and film adaptations of your favorite books! And given this glorious genre renaissance in which we find ourselves, you just know some of those adaptations are going to be horror!
As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!