9 Books Guardians of the Galaxy characters would read

Another Guardians movie means guaranteed fun with a side of chaos from your favorite spacefaring crew. We put together a list of books we think each character should read to celebrate the new Marvel movie!

Peter should read A Big Ship At the Edge of the Universe by Alex White 

Because it involves a crew of ragtag outcasts

A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society. They’re all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it’s been destroyed, and some think it’s only a legend, but one thing’s for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long

Gamora should read A Pale Light In the Black by K.B. Wagers 

Because Max is also running away from her family and has to work with a team she didn’t choose

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback–until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place. Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own—away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option—and would only prove her parents right. But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core . . . a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Drax should read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie 

Because it’s about a character who is single-minded in her quest for revenge

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren—a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Rocket should read Dance With the Devil by Kit Rocha 

Because Dani is also a genetically modified soldier who will stop at nothing to take down the bad guys

Tobias Richter, the fearsome VP of Security of the TechCorps is dead. The puppetmaster is gone and the organization is scrambling to maintain control by ruthlessly limiting Atlanta’s access to resources, hoping to quell rebellion. Our band of mercenary librarians have decided that the time for revolution has come. Maya uses her wealth of secrets to weaken the TechCorps from within. Dani strikes from the shadows, picking off the chain of command one ambush at a time. And Nina is organizing their community—not just to survive, but to fight back. When Maya needs to make contact with a sympathetic insider, Dani and Rafe are the only ones with the skill-set and experience to infiltrate the highest levels of the TechCorps. They’ll go deep undercover in the decadent, luxury-soaked penthouses on the Hill. Bringing Dani face-to-face with the man who turned her into a killer. And forcing Rafe to decide how far he’ll go to protect both of his families—the one he was born to, and the one he made for himself.

Groot should read The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien 

Because trees get to be heroes on an epic quest

Frodo and his Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in a battle in the Mines of Moria. And Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape, the rest of the company was attacked by Orcs. Now they continue the journey alone down the great River Anduin—alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.

Nebula should read The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He 

Because it has a complicated sister relationship at the heart of the story

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her. In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet?and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return. Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

Yondu should read The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes 

Because it involves a crew made up of members that no one else wanted

It’s the edge of the universe. Now it’s collapsing—and taking everyone and everything with it. The only ones who can stop it are the Sentinels—the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military. At the Divide, Adequin Rake commands the Argus. She has no resources, no comms—nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted. Her ace in the hole could be Cavalon Mercer–genius, asshole, and exiled prince who nuked his grandfather’s genetic facility for “reasons.” She knows they’re humanity’s last chance.

Kraglin should read The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez 

Because it features lonely characters who find unexpected family connections

A ship captain, unfettered from time. A mute child, burdened with unimaginable power. A millennia-old woman, haunted by lifetimes of mistakes. In this captivating debut of connection across space and time, these outsiders will find in each other the things they lack: a place of love and belonging. A safe haven. A new beginning. But the past hungers for them, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

Mantis should read Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler 

Because it features a character who is an extraordinary empath

When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions. Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores.

 

Celebrate National Pet Day with these animal sidekicks

What’s better than an animal sidekick to add a little flair to your favorite book? While some of these “animals” might object to being celebrated on National Pet Day, we are just glad to have them around.

Mephi (starts out like a cross between a kitten and an otter) from The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands. Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic. Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Pan (shape-shifting daemon) from The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steall — including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world. Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want. But what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other…

Ghost (direwolf) from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing: his most trusted advisor dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself. 

DoomSlug (taynix – similar to a slug) from Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s–a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa’s chances of attending flight school at slim to none. No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.

Nailah (ryder – similar to a lion) from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were 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.

Nana (cat) from The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

With simple yet descriptive prose, this novel gives voice to Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they take to the road on a journey with no other purpose than to visit three of Satoru’s longtime friends. Or so Nana is led to believe… With his crooked tail — a sign of good fortune — and adventurous spirit, Nana is the perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan, with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love.

Six Thirty (dog) from Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with — of all things — her mind. True chemistry results. But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Enzo (dog) from The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side.

Ganesha (baby elephant) from The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries. The first is the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want solved. And the second is a baby elephant. As his search for clues takes him across the teeming city of Mumbai, from its grand high rises to its sprawling slums and deep into its murky underworld, Chopra begins to suspect that there may be a great deal more to both his last case and his new ward than he thought. And he soon learns that when the going gets tough, a determined elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs…

Kamazotz (giant bat) from Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true. In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City — and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Books Forward BFFs April Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

Download the April 2023 newsletter here!

Tips for connecting with booksellers and librarians

If you value the booksellers and librarians in your community (and you should!) you’ve probably wondered how to earn their support. 

A meet and greet is an opportunity for you to make a positive personal connection with booksellers and librarians who have the ability to promote your book to customers and patrons long after you meet them.

After connecting personally with these industry “tastemakers,” they will often consider your book for events, official staff recommendations, and special displays (like a local author’s table). They may even nominate your book for awards in the future!

The first step for connecting with a bookseller or librarian is to call ahead. Be respectful of their time, and ask to arrange a brief 10-15 minute meeting.

You should bring:

  • a copy of your book
  • a printed copy of your press kit or one sheet (your ISBN should be displayed here for quick reference)
  • (optional) swag, bookmarks or treats to help you stand out

A meet and greet is all about creating a personal relationship with the bookseller or librarian. You can’t show up once and expect the world. As an author, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort, especially if you want their help in return!

A few tips for your meeting:

  • Emphasize that you just want to introduce yourself and not take up a lot of their time.
  • Thank the staff for all they do to support the literary community in your area.
  • Give them a copy of your book and press kit.
  • Share a quick summary of the book and explain why you wrote it (this is your elevator pitch!)
  • Mention that you hope they’ll consider ordering a few copies, or ask about the possibility of scheduling an event/stock signing.
  • If planning an event, be sure to mention what you expect to see in the way of attendance and/or book sales.
  • Be considerate and flexible. If you’d be open to a dual-author or panel event, let them know! Mention that you’re open to their ideas, and you want to collaborate with them to make sure their financial needs are being met.
  • Thank them for their time and for keeping your book in mind.
  • Show support and make a purchase while you’re there.
  • If they don’t decide to order copies on the spot, that’s okay. Continue supporting them by shopping locally and attending other author events. Show them you’re serious about mutual support in the industry.

If you want to reach booksellers and librarians outside of your local community, or if a meet and greet isn’t feasible, you can still make a good first impression. Here are a few strategies: 

  • Attend an event or take out an ad with your regional bookseller association. Not sure what that is? Check out my article here for more information!
  • Take out an ad in an industry publication that reaches booksellers and librarians directly, such as Library Journal/School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Foreword.
  • Create a postcard that highlights all of your essential book information and positive blurbs and mail it to the libraries you want to reach.
  • Make phone calls asking if you can send a copy of your book to the store/library and set up mailings for those that are interested.

Reaching librarians and booksellers can be a lot of work, but once you’ve opened the door to a new relationship, they will be far more likely to support you in your next book release! Building these personal connections early on in your career is a powerful investment for any author.

Remember that relationships are always a two-way street, so try not to ask too much of your new contacts, and support them as much as possible to ensure a healthy, lasting partnership!

Books with unreliable narrators that will keep you guessing on April Fools’ Day

There’s nothing like a twist at the end of the book to find out the person you’ve been listening to all along isn’t, shall we say, trustworthy. I love an unreliable narrator surprise, as long as it’s done well. Here are some of our favorites that will keep you guessing on April Fools’ Day! Needless to say, spoiler alert!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media — as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents — the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter — but is he really a killer?

Shutter Island  by Dennis Lehane

The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane relentlessly bears down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades — with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. But then neither is Teddy Daniels.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan — and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional — but is it more true?

Atonement by Ian McEwan

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives — together with her precocious literary gifts — brings about a crime that will change all their lives.

As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary B. Addison killed a baby. Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted — and their unborn child — to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

On the outside, there’s Violet, an 18-year-old ballerina days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries: What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve — in this life or in another one?

The Dinner by Herman Koch

It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a 15-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act — an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children, and as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

The People In the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

It is 1950 when Norton Perina, a young doctor, embarks on an expedition to a remote Micronesian island in search of a rumored lost tribe. There he encounters a strange group of forest dwellers who appear to have attained a form of immortality that preserves the body but not the mind. Perina uncovers their secret and returns with it to America, where he soon finds great success. But his discovery has come at a terrible cost, not only for the islanders, but for Perina himself.

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

For generations, elite young men have attended St. Oswald’s School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric classics teacher who has been a revered fixture for more than 30 years. But this year, things are different. Suits, paperwork, and Information Technology rule the world, and Straitley is reluctantly contemplating retirement. He is joined in this, his 99th, term by five new faculty members, including one who–unknown to Straitley and everyone else — holds intimate and dangerous knowledge of St. Ozzie’s ways and secrets, its comforts and conceits. Harboring dark ties to the school’s past, this young teacher has arrived with one terrible goal: Destroy St. Oswald’s. As the new term gets underway, a number of incidents befall students and faculty alike. Beginning as small annoyances–a lost pen, a misplaced coffee mug–they soon escalate to the life threatening. With the school unraveling, only Straitley stands in the way of St. Ozzie’s ruin. But the old man faces a formidable opponent — a master player with a strategy that has been meticulously planned to the final move.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months following his father’s suicide, sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto can’t seem to find happiness again, despite the support of his girlfriend, Genevieve, and his overworked mom. Grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist won’t let him forget the pain. But when Aaron meets Thomas, a new kid in the neighborhood, something starts to shift inside him. Aaron can’t deny his unexpected feelings for Thomas despite the tensions their friendship has created with Genevieve and his tight-knit crew. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound happiness, he considers taking drastic actions. The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-altering procedure will straighten him out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself. When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: The party is not alone in the woods.

Jazz by Toni Morrison

In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe’s wife, Violet, attacks the girl’s corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

 

Books with the same vibe as Boygenius songs

Who doesn’t love an album with a little angst? We’re looking forward to the release of the record from boygenius, and put together a little reading list with the same vibe, in case you want to think about life and your place in the world.

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.

At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English in a program run by one of Ivan’s friends. On the way, she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin’s summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students, or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love, and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella “Especially Heinous,” Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

On a hot day in Bethlehem, a 12-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgment will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother’s response only intensifies a sense of shame: “You exist too much,” she tells her daughter.

Told in vignettes that flash between the U.S. and the Middle East–from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine — Zaina Arafat’s debut novel traces her protagonist’s progress from blushing teen to sought-after DJ and aspiring writer. In Brooklyn, she moves into an apartment with her first serious girlfriend and tries to content herself with their comfortable relationship. But soon her longings, so closely hidden during her teenage years, explode out into reckless romantic encounters and obsessions with other people. Her desire to thwart her own destructive impulses will eventually lead her to The Ledge, an unconventional treatment center that identifies her affliction as “love addiction.” In this strange, enclosed society she will start to consider the unnerving similarities between her own internal traumas and divisions and those of the places that have formed her.

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, through obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting — until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Rachel soon meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam — by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family — and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

We Do What We Do In the Dark by Michelle Hart

Mallory is a freshman in college when she meets the woman. She sees her for the first time at the university’s gym, immediately entranced by this elegant, older person, whom she later learns is married and works at the school. Before long, they begin a clandestine affair. Self-possessed, successful, brilliant, and aloof, the woman absolutely consumes Mallory, who is still reeling from her mother’s death a few months earlier. Mallory retreats from the rest of the world and into a relationship with this melancholy, elusive woman she admires so much yet who can never be fully hers, solidifying a sense of solitude that has both haunted and soothed her as long as she can remember.

Years after the affair has ended, Mallory must decide whether to stay safely in this isolation, this constructed loneliness, or to step fully into the world and confront what the woman meant to her, for better or worse.

Luster by Raven Leilani

Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties — sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She is also haltingly, fitfully giving heat and air to the art that simmers inside her. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage — with rules.

As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and invited into Eric’s home — though not by Eric. She becomes a hesitant ally to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie may be the only Black woman young Akila knows.

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler’s demands, only to discover a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck. In the mirror, her canines suddenly look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work five days a week, casually dismisses her fears from faraway hotel rooms.

As the mother’s symptoms intensify, and her temptation to give in to her new dog impulses peak, she struggles to keep her alter-canine-identity secret. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography, and meets a group of mommies involved in a multilevel-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.

Freshwater by Akwaeki Emezi

Freshwater tells the story of Ada, an unusual child who is a source of deep concern to her southern Nigerian family. Young Ada is troubled, prone to violent fits. Born “with one foot on the other side,” she begins to develop separate selves within her as she grows into adulthood. And when she travels to America for college, a traumatic event on campus crystallizes the selves into something powerful and potentially dangerous, making Ada fade into the background of her own mind as these alters — now protective, now hedonistic — move into control. Written with stylistic brilliance and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace.

Noah Kahan Songs as Book Recommendations

If you’re interested in sobbing your heart out then queue up songs by my indie folk king Noah Kahan and crack open one of these recs. He’s most famously known for his gut-wrenching seasonal depression album Stick Season, but his backlist also slaps. From his two other albums (I Was/ I Am & Busyhead) to his EP (Cape Elizabeth) you’ll be crying in the club to all his songs. Check out his music here and our books/ song pairings below! 

Glue Myself Shut & Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation–awkward but electrifying–something life changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.

Stick Season & Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

One August afternoon, two sisters–Sophia, eight, and Alyona, eleven–go missing from a beach on the far-flung Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia. Taking us through the year that follows, Disappearing Earth enters the lives of women and girls in this tightly knit community who are connected by the crime: a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty–open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes, dense forests, the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska–and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.

 

 

Young Blood & They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib’s is a voice that matters. Whether he’s attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown’s grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.

In the wake of the nightclub attacks in Paris, he recalls how he sought refuge as a teenager in music, at shows, and wonders whether the next generation of young Muslims will not be afforded that opportunity now. While discussing the everyday threat to the lives of Black Americans, Abdurraqib recounts the first time he was ordered to the ground by police officers: for attempting to enter his own car.

Northern Attitude & Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool–a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime–it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny’s dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?

Epic and intimate, heartbreaking and galvanizing, Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.

New Perspective & Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life–to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Ward’s memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying, Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life, and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Orange Juice & Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi 

Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed.

Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive.

 

False Confidence & Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.

After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.

Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.

Busyhead & A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace–and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox–possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

The View Between Villages & The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom’s mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant–the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah’s father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah’s birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae’s thirteenth and most unruly child.

A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.

Growing Sideways & Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb 

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.

With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is rev­olutionary in its candor, offering a deeply per­sonal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly reveal­ing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.

 

What Is An Indie Bookstore Association?

What is an indie bookseller association?

It takes a village to write a book, and the same can be said for running an independent bookstore! With online retailers – Amazon in particular – threatening the survival of many specialty mom-and-pop shops, it’s essential for these independent stores to join forces, learning from each other’s successes and finding creative ways to engage and support their community. In a nutshell, this is what bookseller associations do – provide a space for booksellers to unite for the good of their local community and region-at-large. 

Founded in 1900, the American Booksellers Association is a non-profit trade association that promotes independent bookstores across the United States. Under ABA’s “umbrella” are eight different regional associations:

California Independent Booksellers (California)

Great Lakes Independent Booksellers (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky)

Midwest Independent Booksellers (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan)

Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming)

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and West Virginia)

New England Independent Booksellers (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island)

Pacific Northwest Independent Booksellers (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon)

Southern Independent Booksellers (Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi)

How can authors get involved with their regional bookseller association?

There are several ways that authors can connect with their regional associations:

  • Add purchase links to your website. We recommend linking to your book’s page on IndieBound and Bookshop.org as a way to encourage your fans to shop local.
  • Attend events. Most regional groups gather for annual conferences, and there are often opportunities for publishers and authors to share their new and upcoming book releases with booksellers.
  • Take out an ad. These regional groups also have email newsletters. Purchasing an ad is an easy and effective way to reach booksellers in your area. 
  • Send out mailings. If you’re able to gather addresses for the booksellers in your area, you can send them a personalized mailing with an ARC of your book and marketing/sales information.
  • Make personal connections. Attend events at stores near you and support them by purchasing books there! You can also call ahead and arrange a time to speak with a buyer or event coordinator. 
  • IndieNext. As you develop your relationships with booksellers, they may be more willing to nominate you for the IndieNext awards. These awards showcase the titles that booksellers plan on hand-selling to customers, and being nominated is a great honor!

There are plenty of ways that getting involved with your regional bookseller association can benefit you as an author, but remember: you only get what you give! Be sure to tell your readers to shop local, promote stores in your area, and let booksellers know that you’re sensitive to their financial needs. After all, bookstores are the literary heart of every city, and they can’t operate without the support of readers and authors in their communities like you. 

 

Books Forward BFFs March Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

Download the March 2023 newsletter here!

Horror books to whet your appetite ahead of the Scream VI release

We’re getting excited for the next installment of slasher royalty, Scream VI. If you’re gearing up for another heart-pounding performance and are looking to get your pulse racing early, we’ve compiled a list of horror books to get your hands on. Enjoy reading with the lights on with these top tier horror recs! 

Hairspray and Switchblades by V. Castro

When Maya and Magdalena lose their parents to a home invasion, Magdalena puts her dreams on hold and turns to exotic dancing. Cash is what the sisters need to stay together and keep Maya in an elite catholic high school that has set her on the path for an athletic and academic college scholarship.These sisters come from a bloodline of Jaguar shifters from Mexico and have gained unwanted attention. The San Antonio Stripper Ripper is stalking the streets, out for a specific kind of blood. Though Magdalena trades in skin, there is no way she will allow anyone to own her. Steamy. Bloody. Dangerous. Hairspray and Switchblades, what more could a girl need to survive the hot streets?

 

 

The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones

Life in a slasher film is easy. You just have to know when to die.

Aerial View: A suburban town in Texas. Everyone’s got an automatic garage door opener. All the kids jump off a perilous cliff into a shallow river as a rite of passage. The sheriff is a local celebrity. You know this town. You’re from this town.

Zoom In: Homecoming princess, Lindsay. She’s just barely escaped death at the hands of a brutal, sadistic murderer in a Michael Jackson mask. Up on the cliff, she was rescued by a horse and bravely defeated the killer, alone, bra-less. Her story is already a legend. She’s this town’s heroic final girl, their virgin angel.

Monster Vision: Halloween masks floating down that same river the kids jump into. But just as one slaughter is not enough for Billie Jean, our masked killer, one victory is not enough for Lindsay. Her high school is full of final girls, and she’s not the only one who knows the rules of the game.

When Lindsay chooses a host of virgins, misfits, and former final girls to replace the slaughtered members of her original homecoming court, it’s not just a fight for survival-it’s a fight to become The Last Final Girl.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother and she’s still adjusting to her new life in rural Nebraska. Then, one by one, students at her high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the body count rises and the terror grows closer, can Makani survive the killer’s twisted plan?

 

 

 

 

Tastes Like Candy: A Slasher Novel by Ivy Tholen

Everyone at Pritchett High wants an invitation to the Senior Scavenge. In 2020, Violet Warren and her friends are the lucky ones. Eight girls will break into the Poison Apple Carnival after hours for a scavenger hunt, then at sunrise they’ll gather for a celebration in honor of their upcoming senior year.

But someone else has another game planned. Minutes after the girls sneak into the carnival, a madman in a rubber mask begins slashing his way through the group and Violet quickly realizes his motives are personal. As she watches her friends die in a series of increasingly bizarre attacks, she must fight to survive while trying to answer the question: What could she have done to earn a fast-pass for a roller coaster ride straight to hell?

 

The Murder Game by Carrie Doyle

What if your roommate is a murderer? Or what if he’s being framed and only you can save him?

Luke Chase made history as a child when he escaped a kidnapping. Now, all he wants is to be a normal teenager. So when he sneaks out to the woods one night to drink with friends and flirt with the new British girl at school, he’s excited to feel some freedom.Except the next morning, one of their teachers is found murdered — in the exact same spot where they had been partying. Soon, Luke’s roommate and best friend Oscar is the #1 suspect

As the evidence and list of suspects builds, Luke attempts to use his famous survival skills to find the killer and clear Oscar’s name. But as Luke gets closer to the truth, the killer is getting closer to Luke.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

In horror movies, the final girls are the ones left standing when the credits roll. They made it through the worst night of their lives…but what happens after?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre. For more than a decade, she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, working to put their lives back together. Then one woman misses a meeting, and their worst fears are realized — someone knows about the group and is determined to rip their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about final girls is that no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

 

Under the Blade by Matt Serafini

It’s been twenty-five years since Cyrus Hoyt’s infamous killing spree at Camp Forest Grove. A quarter-century since teenage counselor Melanie Holden left him mortally wounded and escaped with her life.

Today, Melanie’s teaching career has bottomed out and left her with no choice but to return to the scene of the crime. Motivated by a lucrative publishing offer, as well as a desire to free herself from recurring nightmares, Melanie’s research into the murderer’s life brings resistance from all directions as she uncovers skeletons in Forest Grove’s past.

Because of Melanie, a long-held secret is about to be revealed–one that somebody is willing to kill for in order to protect. And Melanie is going to discover she has a lot more to lose than just her mind.

The stalk-and-slash suspense of Friday the 13th meets the small town mystery of Sharp Objects in this white-knuckle horror story of a final girl’s revenge.

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.

Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.

Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?

 

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs in a gruesome effort to ensure they’ll never face the same fate.

Robbie lives by his gun and one hard-learned motto: other people aren’t safe.

After a brutal accident entwines the three of them, this found family of survivors must navigate murderous TERFs, a sociopathic billionaire bunker brat, and awkward relationship dynamics ― all while outrunning packs of feral men, and their own demons.

 

 

Reprieve by James Han Mattson

On April 27, 1997, four contestants make it to the final cell of the Quigley House, a full-contact haunted escape room in Lincoln, Nebraska, made famous for its monstrosities, booby-traps, and ghoulishly costumed actors. If the group can endure these horrors without shouting the safe word, “reprieve,” they’ll win a substantial cash prize — a startling feat accomplished only by one other group in the house’s long history. But before they can complete the challenge, a man breaks into the cell and kills one of the contestants.

Those who were present on that fateful night lend their points of view: Kendra Brown, a teenager who’s been uprooted from her childhood home after the sudden loss of her father; Leonard Grandton, a desperate and impressionable hotel manager caught in a series of toxic entanglements; and Jaidee Charoensuk, a gay international student who came to the United States in a besotted search for his former English teacher. As each character’s journey unfurls and overlaps, deceit and misunderstandings fueled by obsession and prejudice are revealed, forcing all to reckon with the ways in which their beliefs and actions contributed to a horrifying catastrophe.