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Summer Reads Quiz 2024

Summer is here, and it’s time for some fresh reads! Answer a few questions, and we’ll help you find the perfect book for your summer adventures.

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Celebrate Pride with These 2024 Queer Lit Gems 🏳️‍🌈

Happy Pride Month! 🎉 We’re back and ready to celebrate with a re-up of our favorite new and upcoming queer reads that you won’t want to miss. Let’s dive back into some of the amazing queer books we have coming your way for the rest of the year. Get ready to add these gems to your reading list!  😎🏳️‍🌈


9781250890337

Wolfsong by TJ Klune

The Bennett family has a secret: They’re not just a family, they’re a pack. Wolfsong is Ox Matheson’s story. Oxnard Matheson was twelve when his father taught him a lesson: Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then his father left. Ox was sixteen when the energetic Bennett family moved in next door, harboring a secret that would change him forever. The Bennetts are shapeshifters. They can transform into wolves at will. Drawn to their magic, loyalty, and enduring friendships, Ox feels a gulf between this extraordinary new world and the quiet life he’s known, but he finds an ally in Joe, the youngest Bennett boy. Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his heart. Violence flared, tragedy split the pack, and Joe left town, leaving Ox behind. Three years later, the boy is back. Except now he’s a man – charming, handsome, but haunted – and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them. This paperback edition features beautiful orange sprayed edges and a bonus short story. Available now! 

brothersong by TJ Klune

Brothersong by TJ Klune

In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone. Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity. But he pushes on, following the trail left by Gavin. Out on 07/30/2024!

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Somewhere Beyond the Sea by TJ Klune

Arthur Parnassus lives a good life built on the ashes of a bad one. He’s the headmaster of a strange orphanage on a distant and peculiar island, and he hopes to soon be the adoptive father to the six dangerous and magical children who live there. Arthur works hard and loves with his whole heart so none of the children ever feel the neglect and pain that he once felt as an orphan on that very same island so long ago. He is not alone: joining him is the love of his life, Linus Baker, a former caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. And there’s the island’s sprite, Zoe Chapelwhite, and her girlfriend, Mayor Helen Webb. Together, they will do anything to protect the children. But when Arthur is summoned to make a public statement about his dark past, he finds himself at the helm of a fight for the future that his family, and all magical people, deserve. Out on 09/10/2024!

9781250269393Rumor Has It by Cat Rambo

The crew of the You Sexy Thing navigates the aftermath of facing down a pirate king and the relationships that they have created with one another in Cat Rambo’s action adventure science fiction Rumor Has It, the third book in the Disco Space Opera. The crew of the You Sexy Thing have laid a course for Coralind Station, hoping the station’s famed gardens will provide an opportunity to regroup, recoup, and mourn their losses while while finding a way to track down their enemy, pirate king Tubal Last. All Niko wants to do is pry their insurance money from the bank and see if an old friend might be able to help them find Last. Unfortunately, old friends and enemies aren’t the only unreliable elements awaiting her and the crew at Coralind. Each will have to face themselves—the good and the bad—in order to come together before they lose everything. Out on 9/24/2024!

9781250342782

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time. The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is. If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone. But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed. For the first time in hardcover, this luxe edition of the New York Times bestselling Legends & Lattes will feature new chapter art, beautiful new endpapers, and special stenciled edges. Out on 10/29/2024

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Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

Set in the world of New York Times bestselling Legends & Lattes, Travis Baldree’s Bookshops & Bonedust takes us on a journey of high fantasy, first loves, and secondhand books. Viv’s career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam’s Ravens isn’t going as planned. Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she’s packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she’ll never be able to return to it. What’s a thwarted soldier of fortune to do? Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn’t possibly imagine. Still, adventure isn’t all that far away. A suspicious traveler in gray, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling, and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv could have ever expected. For the first time in hardcover, this luxe edition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Bookshops & Bonedust will feature new chapter art, beautiful new endpapers, and special stenciled edges. Out on 10/29/2024

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Witch Queen of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

Witch Queen of Redwinter is the third book in Ed McDonald’s Redwinter Chronicles, full of shady politics, militant monks, ancient powers… and a young woman navigating a world in which no one is quite what they seem. Out on 11/12/2024! 

 

the atlas complex by olivie blake-1The Atlas Complex by Olivie Blake

An explosive return to the library leaves the six Alexandrians vulnerable to the lethal terms of their recruitment. Old alliances quickly fracture as the initiates take opposing strategies as to how to deal with the deadly bargain they have so far failed to uphold. Those who remain with the archives wrestle with the ethics of their astronomical abilities, while elsewhere, an unlikely pair from the Society cohort partner to influence politics on a global stage. And still the outside world mobilizes to destroy them, while the Caretaker himself, Atlas Blakely, may yet succeed with a plan foreseen to have world-ending stakes. It’s a race to survive as the six Society recruits are faced with the question of what they’re willing to betray for limitless power—and who will be destroyed along the way.

heartsong by tj kluneHeartsong by TJ Klune

All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine. Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home. But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told.

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Necrobane by Daniel M. Ford

Aelis de Lenti, Lone Pine’s newly assigned Warden, is in deep trouble. She has just opened the crypts of Mahlgren, releasing an army of the undead into the unprotected backwoods of Ystain. To protect her village, she must unearth a source of immense Necromantic power at the heart of Mahlgren. The journey will wind through waves of undead, untamed wilderness, and curses far older than anything Aelis has ever encountered. But as strong as Aelis is, this is one quest she cannot face alone. Along with the brilliant mercenary she’s fallen for, her half-orc friend, and a dwarven merchant, Aelis must race the clock to unravel mysteries, slay dread creatures, and stop what she has set in motion before the flames of a bloody war are re-ignited.

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Download a Free Digital Preview of Glass Houses by Madeline Ashby

9781250382818

A masterful near future whodunit for fans of Glass Onion and Black Mirror; join a stranded start-up team led by a terrifyingly realistic charismatic billionaire, a deserted tropical island, and a mysterious AI-driven mansion–as the remaining members disappear one by one.

A group of employees and their CEO, celebrating the sale of their remarkable emotion-mapping-AI-algorithm, crash onto a not-quite-deserted tropical island.

Luckily, those who survived have found a beautiful, fully-stocked private palace, with all the latest technological updates (though one without connection to the outside world). The house, however, has more secrets than anyone might have guessed, and a much darker reason for having been built and left behind.

Kristen, the hyper-competent “chief emotional manager” (i.e., the eccentric boyish billionaire-CEO Sumter’s idea of an HR department) is trying to keep her colleagues stable throughout this new challenge, but staying sane seems to be as much of a challenge as staying alive. Being a woman in technology has always meant having to be smarter than anyone expects….and Kristen’s survival skills are more impressive than anyone knows.

Download Your Free Digital Preview:

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Excerpt Reveal: Rumor Has It by Cat Rambo

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9781250269393

The crew of the You Sexy Thing navigates the aftermath of facing down a pirate king and the relationships that they have created with one another in Cat Rambo’s action adventure science fiction Rumor Has It, the third book in the Disco Space Opera.

The crew of the You Sexy Thing have laid a course for Coralind Station, hoping the station’s famed gardens will provide an opportunity to regroup, recoup, and mourn their losses while while finding a way to track down their enemy, pirate king Tubal Last.

All Niko wants to do is pry their insurance money from the bank and see if an old friend might be able to help them find Last. Unfortunately, old friends and enemies aren’t the only unreliable elements awaiting her and the crew at Coralind.

Each will have to face themselves—the good and the bad—in order to come together before they lose everything.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of  Rumor Has It by Cat Rambo, on sale 9/24/24


CHAPTER 1

Chaos brews in the space between the stars, where one might expect a vacuum and chill wastes. However, plunging through Q-space, plowing through a section of the distance hidden from most voyagers, you see the loops and snarls in reality, the unnecessary curlicues and furbelows and gimcracks that the universe has chosen to add—weirdly and bizarrely, here and here alone—which is why most people find it unsettling.

Q-space is where probabilities slide and skew like missiles skidding on ice, where logic steps out the door to pause for a smoke break, briefly replaced by its much less sane cousin wearing torn fishnets and an inverted beret that might have once been raspberry velvet. Q-space is where strange discoveries are made, unlikely coincidences are forged, and the unimaginable shows up on every side.

You Sexy Thing loved Q-space. It moved with a grace that it really wished someone had noticed but had resigned itself to no one doing so. It eased through it like a watermelon seed squirted between thumb and forefinger, moving unimaginable distances, and at such a speed that the ship had little time to examine its surroundings, catching only glimpses as it hurtled on.

In Q-space, mathematics can do odd things, can balloon and shrink in unexpected ways. Numbers are more whimsical there, or at least more prone to strange, inexplicable convulsions. But in the here and now, math behaved more predictably. And sometimes disappointingly.

Captain Niko Larsen added up the figures by hand, and then had the ship double-check them. They remained the same. She leaned back in her chair and knuckled at the back of her neck, trying to smooth out the knotted tension there.

On the asset side: the handful of credits left from their last pop-up venture, most of that profit gone to refueling costs and Gate charges.

On the debit side: the fact of those ongoing fuel costs, Gate charges, and other ways the Known Universe charged for existence within it, such as taxes, tariffs, surcharges, delivery charges, fees, tips, gratuities. Etc.

The debit side was so much larger than the asset side. She leaned forward to stare at it for a long moment before pushing the datapad away.

There was a touch of hope. If she could get at the money from their insurance claim, the money for the destruction of their first restaurant, the Last Chance, back on TwiceFar Station. But doing that meant going someplace expensive. Very expensive.

So expensive that if they went there, they might end up stranded. With only that handful of credits to satisfy a host of necessities.

But that chance was their only one, as far as she could see. So the only other question was, in telling the rest of the crew about her plans, how much she would reveal of the direness of their resources. It would encourage a small measure of conservation of those resources, but at the cost of a drop in morale and rise in anxiety. No, that wasn’t worth it.

“Coralind,” Dabry breathed in a reverential tone that delighted Niko’s heart in a way it hadn’t been delighted for a while. In front of him was a bowl of spiced bits of protein, smelling of cumin and iron, beside another of soupy yellow sauce. He was filling rounds of dough with both, pinching them closed with expert ease before arranging them on a nearby platter.

The others in the kitchen had mixed reactions. Lassite simply nodded as though in confirmation. Atlanta blinked and made a mental note to look up the destination as soon as possible. Talon shrugged while Rebbe, leaning against the wall, continued to watch the room as though it was full of dangers, without paying much attention to what Niko actually said.

Skidoo squealed. “Is being a garden there from Tlella and some of its people.” She undulated in delight. “Is being places to swim, is being places that is being only water.”

Gio, sorting through peppery corms and picking off the odd scaly leaf or two, gave a soft hoot of appreciation, eyes bright. Trade, he thought. Good trade at Coralind, some of the best in the Known Universe. And Festival time! Who wouldn’t want to be on Coralind at Festival time? This was an excellent choice.

Milly’s shoulders stiffened for a moment, then relaxed as she watched the others. They’d be happier, at least, and happier meant more ready to respond to her advances. She’d been trying to win back their trust for a while now, but the ship’s atmosphere hadn’t really been conducive. She put down the pastry knife she’d been polishing and asked, “That’s where the gardens are, eh?”

Gio nodded, signing, “Hundreds of them. Almost as good as planet-grown. Sometimes better, they say. They’ve been growing for centuries now, inside that planetoid. Food you can get there that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Dabry gave off shaping dumplings, putting a lower hand to the counter as if to catch his balance at the thought.

“I’ll have to tell Skidoo to put together a list of the restaurants there,” he said thoughtfully. “So we can go over it, look for gaps.”

“That is certainly one way of looking at it,” Niko said dryly.

He raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with that approach?”

“You will be in a place with ingredients that you may never find in their prime again,” she explained. “Cook the meal of your heart, cook something that you love.”

She had thought him motionless already, but at her words, he became utterly still, as though holding his breath. Then he let it out and said, his voice tight, “I’ll have to think about that.”

She had not thought to touch old wounds, but she had. And realized, just as quickly, that to say anything drawing attention to her blunder would be to offend even further. She cast about for words, glancing around the kitchen, and was grateful when Milly rescued her. “Will you tell everyone the full details at the meal? Neither Jezli or Petalia is here.”

“I could tell them right now,” the ship offered.

“No, that’s my job,” Niko said.

“Technically, I am the communications systems.”

“Technically, you should wait to be ordered before acting on that order,” she snapped.

“Very well.” The ship was currently thinking about ways to express irritation, and everyone jumped when eyes suddenly manifested in the upper walls and ceiling, rolling in their sockets. They were then absorbed in a process that took considerably longer than their appearance, which everyone watched with horrified fascination, including the imperturbable Lassite.

“I grasp your meaning,” Niko said when the process seemed complete and no further eyes were in evidence, “and would prefer you not express yourself in that way again.”

“In what way?” the ship said suspiciously, worried about the boundaries of this particular order. “With eyes?”

Niko paused, working through the wording, and decided upon, “By manifesting organs specifically for the sake of a gesture.”

“Mmm.” The ship filed the definition away to examine later for possible loopholes, including the precise definition of “organs,” but refrained from more “gestures.” There were plenty of other possibilities. What, for example, if it created a servitor and then had the servitor perform the gestures? It would attempt that experiment later.

Niko found Jezli in the lounge, reading. Jezli set down her reader and gave Niko her unfailing, maddeningly courteous attention.

“We are bound for Coralind next,” Niko informed her. “That will be a suitable place for you to leave the ship and find some other berth.”

“Admit it, Captain,” Jezli Farren said with an easy grin that might have had an edge of mockery to it. It was a tone familiar to everyone on the days when Jezli was feeling particularly brittle and missing her former companion, Roxana, and seeking to divert herself. “Rumor has it you’d miss me if I were gone.”

“You are a scoundrel and a con artist and the only reason you are still on this ship is because you are the sole person who understands how to operate that thing,” Niko snapped. Jezli had, as ever, managed to get under her skin with only a few words. “But how complicated can it be, telling Petalia to pull the trigger?”

Around them, the ship listened without commentary. It had found that the conversations between Jezli and Niko were highly entertaining, and even more so when they forgot that it was listening.

The “thing” in question was, for once, not the ship itself, You Sexy Thing, but the ancient alien artifact currently resting in one of the aforementioned ship’s holds. Nicknamed the “Devil’s Gun,” it was an implement of assassination.

Unfortunately, not one that could assassinate the only person they needed to kill before he could kill them.

Jezli poked at her pad. “Three days to Coralind,” Jezli said, looking at it. She was about to say something else, but there was a rustle at the doorway. She looked up; Niko turned, uncrossing her arms.

Petalia, the Florian who was both Niko’s ex-lover and current constant antagonist, as well as the only person who could fire the Devil’s Gun, stood there. They were tall and female in form, their skin and hair white and fine, the latter strewn with tiny blossoms. They smelled of ice with an edge of sweetness, and as always, their eyes were fixed only on Niko.

“Coralind?” they demanded, stepping into the room. “Why there?”

“You mentioned yourself that it’s tied into Last’s net of contacts. We may be able to backtrace from there. And I’m going to visit an old friend who may have other thoughts on how to find word of Tubal Last,” Niko said.

She returned Petalia’s stare. The notion flickered through Jezli’s head that they looked like an artistic tableau embodying complexities of emotion, and she framed it from several angles to amuse herself. She had stood as though to leave, but had failed to exit. She thought they had forgotten her presence, which they had.

“Coralind.” Petalia loaded the word with scorn. “Who do you know in that tawdry place?”

Niko refrained from taking offense, leaving her tone mild and emotionless as pudding. “Someone I knew during some of my final years with the Holy Hive Mind.”

Petalia frowned. Niko thought about the years Tubal Last had spent monitoring Niko while whispering lies about her into Petalia’s ear, and wondered how close the monitoring had been. Very close at times, it seemed. Leaving off that angle of questioning, Petalia pursued others.

“How long will we be there? Are you planning some other ridiculous restauranting enterprise?”

“That is how we make our living, with ridiculous restauranting.” Niko’s even tone faltered toward the end of the sentence, so slightly it would have been imperceptible to anyone who didn’t know her well.

Jezli continued to amuse herself, imagining a camera at different vantage points around the room, thinking about how she would have blocked the ongoing scene if she were a theatrical director, detailing it with careful precision.

Petalia’s eyes narrowed. “It’s not Festival time there, is it?” they demanded. “That would be insane.”

This time, Niko’s eyes wandered, seeking Jezli’s. Her lips quirked. “Well,” she said, and Jezli held her breath. “Certainly it would be, and certainly it is, but that is exactly what we are doing.”

“Just when I thought it was impossible to like you much better,” Jezli said. “You are a daring woman.”

“Desperate, perhaps, rather than daring,” Niko said, her tone softer than it had been.

Petalia glanced between the two, and their eyes filled with an emotion Niko had not seen in their pale depths for a long, long
time. The moment hung in the air, and who knows what might have happened if Skidoo had not entered just then.

“Is being interrupting?” Skidoo’s three turquoise eyes swiveled independently, regarding each of them simultaneously.

Petalia drew themself up to glance down at Skidoo. “You are interrupting nothing,” they said with icy hauteur.

“Well, scan you being all Ruler of Known Space,” Jezli said admiringly and over-sincerely, folding her arms as she leaned against the wall.

Petalia huffed out derision, dropped a nod at Niko, and stalked out. Skidoo’s unoccupied eye chose Niko as its new target.

“You are terribly good at getting under their skin.” Niko turned to Jezli, pointing a finger at her. “I’ll thank you not to exercise your talents on those on board under my protection.”

“And the ship,” she added, glancing upward.

“Thank you, Captain.” You Sexy Thing considered this permission to enter the conversation. It had been desperately trying to understand the nuances of the last few minims, which had seemed very significant in all sorts of ways it could not comprehend.

For example, each of the three participants had experienced an elevated heart rate—but why? Had there been subtle threat displays it had failed to decode? It played its memories over several hundred times while waiting for the conversation to go on.

“I apologize.” Jezli spread her hands in an expansive gesture of helplessness. “I don’t mean to. It just slips out sometimes.”

“Rein it in.”

Jezli dropped Niko a salute that somehow managed to be sardonic. How did the woman get that into the gesture? Niko couldn’t quite figure it out, but it was definitely there. She decided, with an effort, to let the matter go.

One of Gnarl Grusson’s main traits was that he had never, ever, been able to let something go, and that particularly held true of grudges. And while over the course of his existence, he had accumulated a freighter hold’s worth of such grudges, the one that currently burned in his burly chest, so hotly that no other could contend with it, was one involving Niko Larsen.

“Thought she was done with me, leaving me there to die,” he muttered to himself once again. The words elicited a sidelong look from his second-in-command, but they knew better than challenge him. He had been poring over star charts, figuring fuel costs and times, and had narrowed the possibilities down to three. She could only go so far, so fast, and her resources were limited. The first possibility was Broohaven. Tempting, with all its information networks, but the Broons didn’t go in much for culinary pleasures. They were all about efficiency and delivering maximal nutrition in minimal time.

The second possibility was Droon. Plenty of tourists there, plenty of places to play at feeding people for coin. But Droon was on the outskirts, and close to a single transit point, as opposed to the third possibility.

That third possibility . . . well, how could anyone who’d checked their calendar want to avoid such potentially profitable chaos and hubbub?

And from there, there were plenty of other port possibilities for the next stop.

He muttered to himself, and his second-in-command kept pretending not to notice. The captain had been given to this ever since they’d rescued him from where he’d been stranded on the space moth.

Personally, the second had mixed opinions about the necessity of that rescue. This, too, he kept to himself, his attention on the captain.

Lips pursed in deep consideration, Gnarl passed gas, paying deep attention to the act, then spoke to the second.

“Set course for Coralind.”

Copyright © 2024 from Cat Rambo

Pre-order Rumor Has It Here:

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7 Sci-fi/Horror Books To Give You Nightmares

Like your sci-fi a lil spooky? Wish your horror had more astronauts, black holes, and existential dread? There are very few things in this world better than a really good genre mashup and we’re here with some of our favorite horror-flavored sci-fi novels! 


by Merlin Hoye

Fractal Noise Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini

Now out in paperback, Paolini’s Fractal Noise is a nailbiter of a sci-fi tale. When a space crew travels to a harsh planet to investigate a mysterious dark hole called the Anomaly, they get more than they bargained for. Set in the same universe as the bestselling To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, this book is a perfect entry point to the series and may very well be entering your nightmares as well.


9780765382924Glass Houses by Madeline Ashby

If there’s anything harder than being a woman in tech, it’s being a woman in tech stranded on a deserted tropical island. With your egotistical, millionaire boss. And the rest of your stranded start-up tech company. With a mysterious AI run mansion. As your team members slowly start to disappear one by one. Glass Houses is what you’d get if you combined Black Mirror with an Agatha Christie novel and added a sense of humor as black at pitch. This bingeable near-future whodunnit is on sale 8.13.24.


the echo wife by sarah gaileyThe Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Literature is rife with terrible, cheating husbands, but what if your husband was cheating on you with a genetically cloned replica? When Evelyn Caldwell discovers that this is what her husband has been up to, she is forced to reevaluate her entire life. The Echo Wife explores themes of gender dynamics, toxic masculinity, infidelity, and abuse. This is a page turning domestic thriller with a scary, sci-fi twist. 


 

9781250811202Leech by Hiron Ennes

You’ve never read a book with a narrator quite like this one. The main character is a parasite who has been switching hosts for years. Its current body is a doctor called out to a crumbling, gothic manor filled with the maddest people you’ll ever meet. There’s body horror and chills aplenty here but we won’t say too much about this fever dream of a book because the less you know about Leech going in, the better. 


The Scourge Between Stars The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown

There’s something wrong with the Calypso. After a mission to a nearby planet fails, Jacklyn Albright tries her best to keep the final dregs of humanity alive. Earth is no longer inhabitable so there’s no escape from the cold darkness of space and as people are killed off in horrible ways one by one by a mysterious enemy, Jacklyn is forced to confront the fact that there is something on the spaceship other than humans. Something dangerous. 


the three body problem by cixin liuThe Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

We couldn’t possibly write a list like this and not include The Three-Body Problem. Afterall, what’s scarier than “you are bugs”? This gripping sci-fi tale has all the real life horror of China’s Cultural Revolution as well as the bone chilling horror of a first contact story. Science, video games, history, technology, aliens… what more could you ask for?


9781250884923Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Atmospheric and terrifying, this slow burn of a thriller set on an ancient, alien planet will have you flipping through the pages far past your bedtime. Ophelia Bray has spent her life training to combat a horrifying illness that only occurs in space and eventually drives people mad. Tasked with looking after a crew after landing on an abandoned planet, she soon begins to suspect that things are not all as they seem.

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Excerpt Reveal: A Sorceress Comes to Call by T. Kingfisher

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A Sorceress Comes to Call

From New York Times bestselling and Hugo Award-winning author T. Kingfisher comes Sorceress Comes to Call—a dark reimagining of the Brothers Grimm’s “The Goose Girl,” rife with secrets, murder, and forbidden magic.

Cordelia knows her mother is . . . unusual. Their house doesn’t have any doors between rooms—there are no secrets in this house—and her mother doesn’t allow Cordelia to have a single friend. Unless you count Falada, her mother’s beautiful white horse. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is on her daily rides with him.

But more than simple eccentricity sets her mother apart. Other mothers don’t force their daughters to be silent and motionless for hours, sometimes days, on end. Other mothers aren’t evil sorcerers.

When her mother unexpectedly moves them into the manor home of a wealthy older Squire and his kind but keen-eyed sister, Hester, Cordelia knows this welcoming pair are to be her mother’s next victims. But Cordelia feels at home for the very first time among these people, and as her mother’s plans darken, she must decide how to face the woman who raised her to save the people who have become like family.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of A Sorceress Comes to Call by T. Kingfisher, on sale 8/06/24


CHAPTER 1

There was a fly walking on Cordelia’s hand and she was not allowed to flick it away.

She had grown used to the ache of sitting on a hard wooden pew and being unable to shift her weight. It still hurt, but eventually her legs went to sleep and the ache became a dull, all-over redness that was easier to ignore.

Though her senses were dulled in obedience, her sense of touch stayed the strongest. Even when she was so far under that the world had a gray film around the edges, she could still feel her clothing and the touch of her mother’s hand. And now the fly’s feet itched, which was bad, then tickled, which was worse.

At the front of the church, the preacher was droning on. Cordelia had long since lost the thread. Lust and tithing were his two favorite topics. Probably it was one of those. Her mother took her to church every Sunday and Cordelia was fairly certain that he had been preaching the same half-dozen sermons for the past year.

Her eyes were the only muscles that she could control, so she was not looking at him, but down as far as she could. At the very bottom of her vision, she could see her hands folded in her lap and the fly picking its way delicately across her knuckles.

Her mother glanced at her and must have noticed that she was looking down. Cordelia’s chin rose so that she could no longer see her hands. She was forced to study the back of the head of the man in front of her. His hair was thinning toward the back and was compressed down at the sides, as if he wore a hat most days. She did not recognize him, but that was no surprise. Since her days at school had ended, Cordelia only saw the other townsfolk when she went to church.

Cordelia lost the tickling sensation for a moment and dared to hope that the fly was gone, but then the delicate web between her thumb and forefinger began to itch.

Her eyes began to water at the sensation and she blinked them furiously. Crying was not acceptable. That had been one of the first lessons of being made obedient. It would definitely not be acceptable in church, where other people would notice. Cordelia was fourteen and too old to cry for seemingly no reason—because of course she could not tell anyone the reason.

The fly crossed over to her other hand, each foot landing like an infinitesimal pinprick. The stinging, watering sensation in her eyes started to feel like a sneeze coming on.

Sneezing would be terrible. She could not lift her hands or turn her head, so it would hit the back of the man’s head, and he would turn around in astonishment and her mother would move her mouth to apologize and everyone would be staring at her for having been so ill-mannered.

Her mother would not be happy. Cordelia would have given a year of her life to be able to wipe her eyes. She sniffed miserably, her lungs filling with the smell of candles and wood polish and other people’s bodies. Under it all lay the dry, sharp smell of wormwood.

And then, blessedly, the preacher finished. Everyone said, “Amen,” and the congregation rose. No one noticed that Cordelia moved in unison with her mother.

No one ever did.

“I suppose you’re mad at me,” said her mother as they walked home from church. “I’m sorry. But you might try harder not to be so rebellious! I shouldn’t have to keep doing this to you, not when you’re fourteen years old!”

Cordelia said nothing. Her tongue did not belong to her. The person that smiled and answered all the greetings after the sermon—“Why Evangeline, don’t you look lovely today? And Cordelia! You keep growing like a weed!”—had not been Cordelia at all.

They reached home at last. Home was a narrow white house with peeling paint, set just off the road. Evangeline pushed the front door open, walked Cordelia to the couch, and made her sit.

Cordelia felt the obedience let go, all at once. She did not scream.

When Cordelia was young, she had screamed when she came out of obedience, but this gave her mother a reason to hold her and make soothing noises, so she had learned to stay silent as she swam up into consciousness, out of the waking dream.

The memories of what she had done when she was obedient would still be there, though. They lay in the bottom of her skull like stones.

It was never anything that looked terrible from outside. She could not have explained it to anyone without sounding ridiculous. “She makes me eat. She makes me drink. She makes me go to the bathroom and get undressed and go to bed.”

And they would have looked at her and said “So?” and Cordelia would not have been able to explain what it was like, half-sunk in stupor, with her body moving around her.

Being made obedient felt like being a corpse. “My body’s dead and it doesn’t do what I want,” Cordelia had whispered once, to her only friend, their horse Falada. “It only does what she wants. But I’m still in it.”

When she was younger, Cordelia would wet herself frequently when she was obedient. Her mother mostly remembered to have Cordelia relieve herself at regular intervals now, but Cordelia had never forgotten the sensation.

She was made obedient less often as she grew older. She thought perhaps that it was more difficult for her mother to do than it had been when she was small—or perhaps it was only that she had learned to avoid the things that made her mother angry. But this time, Cordelia hadn’t avoided it.

As the obedience let go, Cordelia swam up out of the twilight, feeling her senses slot themselves back into place.

Her mother patted her shoulder. “There you are. Now, isn’t that better?”

Cordelia nodded, not looking at her.

“I’m sure you’ll do better next time.”

“Yes,” said Cordelia, who could not remember what it was that she had been made obedient for. “I will.”

When her legs felt steady enough, she went up the stairs to her bedroom and lay on the bed. She did not close the door.

There were no closed doors in the house she grew up in.

Sometimes, when her mother was gone on an errand, Cordelia would close the door to her bedroom and lean against it, pressing herself flat against the wooden surface, feeling it solid and smooth under her cheek.

The knowledge that she was alone and no one could see her—that she could do anything, say anything, think anything and no one would be the wiser—made her feel fierce and wicked and brave.

She always opened the door again after a minute. Her mother would come home soon and the sight of a closed door would draw her like a lodestone. And then there would be the talk.

If Cordelia’s mother was in a good mood, it would be “Silly! You don’t have any secrets from me, I’m your mother!”

If she was in a bad mood, it would be the same talk but from the other direction, like a tarot card reversed—“What are you trying to hide?”

Whichever card it was, it always ended the same way: “We don’t close doors in this house.”

When Cordelia was thirteen and had been half-mad with things happening under her skin, she shot back “Then why are there doors in the house at all?”

Her mother had paused, just for an instant. Her long-jawed face had gone blank and she had looked at Cordelia—really looked, as if she was actually seeing her—and Cordelia knew that she had crossed a line and would pay for it.

“They came with the house,” said her mother. “Silly!” She nodded once or twice, to herself, and then walked away.

Cordelia couldn’t remember now how long she had been made obedient as punishment. Two or three days, at least.

Because there were no closed doors, Cordelia had learned to have no secrets that could be found. She did not write her thoughts in her daybook.

She kept a daybook because her mother believed that it was something young girls should do, but the things she wrote were exactly correct and completely meaningless. I spilled something on my yellow dress today. I have been out riding Falada. The daffodils bloomed today. It is my birthday today.

She gazed at the pages sometimes, and thought what it would be like to write I hate my mother in a fierce scrawl across the pages.

She did not do it. Closing the door when she was home alone was as much rebellion as she dared. If she had written something so terrible, she would have been made obedient for weeks, perhaps a month. She did not think she could stand it for so long.

I’d go mad. Really truly mad. But she wouldn’t notice until she let me come back, and I’d have been mad inside for weeks and weeks by then.

Since her mother was home today and unlikely to leave again, Cordelia took a deep breath and sat up, scrubbing at her face. There was no point in dwelling on things she would never do. She changed out of her good dress and went out to the stable behind the house, where Falada was waiting. The stable was old and
gloomy, but Falada glowed like moonlight in the darkness of his stall.

When Falada ran, and Cordelia clung to his back, she was safe. It was the only time that she was not thinking, not carefully cropping each thought to be pleasant and polite and unexceptional. There was only sky and hoofbeats and fast-moving earth.

After a mile or so, the horse slowed to a stop, almost as if he sensed what Cordelia needed. She slipped off his back and leaned against him. Falada was quiet, but he was solid and she told him her thoughts, as she always did.

“Sometimes I dream about running,” she whispered. “You and me. Until we reach the sea.”

She did not know what she would do once they reached the sea. Swim it, perhaps. There was another country over there, the old homeland that adults referred to so casually.

“I know I’m being ridiculous,” she told him. “Horses can’t swim that far. Not even you.”

She had learned not to cry long ago, but she pressed her face to his warm shoulder, and the wash of his mane across her skin felt like tears.

Cordelia was desperately thankful for Falada, and that her mother encouraged her to ride, although of course Evangeline’s motives were different from Cordelia’s. “You won’t get into any trouble with him,” her mother would say. “And besides, it’s good for a girl to know how to ride. You’ll marry a wealthy man someday, and they like girls who know their way around a horse, not these little town girls that can only ride in a carriage!” Cordelia had nodded. She did not doubt that she would marry a wealthy man one day. Her mother had always stated it as fact.

And, it was true that the girls Cordelia saw when riding seemed to envy her for having Falada to ride. He was the color of snow, with a proud neck. She met them sometimes in the road. The cruel ones made barbed comments about her clothes to hide their envy, and the kind ones gazed at Falada wistfully. That was how
Cordelia met Ellen.

“He’s very beautiful,” Ellen had said one day. “I’ve never seen a horse like him.”

“Thank you,” said Cordelia. She still went to school then, and talking to other people had not seemed quite so difficult. “He is a good horse.”

“I live just over the hill,” the other girl had said shyly. “You could visit sometime, if you like.”

“I would like that,” Cordelia had replied carefully. And that was true. She would have liked that.

But Cordelia did not go, because her mother would not have liked that. She did not ask. It was hard to tell, sometimes, what would make her mother angry, and it was not worth the risk. Still, for the last three years she had encountered the kind girl regularly. Ellen was the daughter of a wealthy landowner that lived nearby. She rode her pony, Penny, every day, and when she and Cordelia met, they rode together down the road, the pony taking two steps for every one of Falada’s.

So it was unsurprising when Cordelia heard the familiar hoof-beats of Ellen’s pony approaching. She lifted her head from Falada’s neck and looked up as Ellen waved a hello. Cordelia waved back and remounted. Penny shied at their approach, but Ellen reined her in.

Cordelia had never ridden any horse but Falada, so it was from Ellen—and from watching Ellen’s pony—that she learned that most horses were not so calm as Falada, nor so safe. When she was very young and the open doors in their house became too much, when she couldn’t stand being in that house for one more second, she would creep to Falada’s stall and sleep curled up there, with his four white legs like pillars around her. Apparently most people did not do this, for fear the horse would step on them. Cordelia had not known to be afraid of such a thing.

“Oh, Penny! What’s gotten into you? It’s just Falada.” Ellen rolled her eyes at Cordelia, as if they shared a joke, which was one of the reasons that Cordelia liked her.

“Penny’s a good pony,” Cordelia said. She liked it when Ellen complimented Falada, so perhaps Ellen would like it when she complimented Penny. Cordelia talked to other people so rarely now that she always had to feel her way through these conversations, and she was not always good at them.

“She is,” said Ellen happily. “She’s not brave, but she’s sweet.”

Ellen carried the conversation mostly by herself, talking freely about her home, her family, the servants, and the other people in town. There was no malice in it, so far as Cordelia could tell. She let it wash over her, and pretended that she had a right to listen and nod as if she knew what was going on.

Cordelia was not sure why Ellen rode out to meet her so often, when she could say so little, but she was glad for the company. Ellen was kind, but more than that, she was ordinary. Talking to her gave Cordelia a window into what was normal and what wasn’t. She could ask a question and Ellen would answer it without asking any awkward questions of her own. Most of the time, anyway.

It had occurred to her, some years prior, that not all parents could make their children obedient the same way that her mother made her, but when she tried to ask Ellen about it, to see if she was right, the words came out so wrong and so distressing that she stopped.

Something about today—the memory of the obedience or the fly or maybe just the way the light fell across the leaves and Falada’s mane—made her want to ask again.

“Ellen?” she asked abruptly. “Do you close the door to your room?”

Ellen had been patiently holding up both ends of the conversation and looked up, puzzled. “Eh? Yes? I mean, the servants go in and out of my dressing room, but I always lock the door to the water closet when I’m in it, because you don’t want servants around for that, do you?”

Cordelia stared at her hands on the reins. They were not wealthy enough to have servants, and there was an outhouse beside the stable, not a water closet. She pressed on.

“Does your family think you’re keeping secrets when you do?”

The silence went on long enough that Cordelia looked up, and realized that Ellen was giving her a very penetrating look. She had a pink, pleasant face and a kind manner, and it was unsettling to suddenly remember that kind did not mean stupid and Ellen had been talking to her for a long time.

“Oh, Cordelia . . .” said Ellen finally.

She reached out to touch Cordelia’s arm, but Falada sidled at that moment, and Penny took a step to give him room, so they did not touch after all.

“Sorry,” said Cordelia gruffly. She wanted to say Please don’t think I’m strange, that was a strange question, I can tell, please don’t stop talking to me, but she knew that would make it all even worse, so she didn’t.

“It’s all right,” said Ellen. And then “It will be all right,” which Cordelia knew wasn’t the same thing at all.

Copyright © 2024 from T. Kingfisher

Pre-order A Sorceress Comes to Call Here:

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Which Dysfunctional Space Crew Do You Belong In?

by a bunch of raccoons in a trench coat & a cat

In space, everyone can hear you scream when you realize your roommate steals your lunch from the community space fridge. Has anyone every made it through a space voyage completely functionally?

Find out which dysfunctional space crew is your ride-or-die with this quiz!



 

And while you’ve got books on the brain, Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini is out now in paperback! You should read it.

Order Fractal Noise Here

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Letter by Genoveva Dimova, Author of Foul Days

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foul days by genoveva dimova

We are excited to share a special letter from Genoveva Dimova, the talented author of Foul Days. In her debut novel, rooted in Slavic folklore and fast-paced fantasy, Genoveva introduces us to Kosara—a witch battling dark forces in the walled city of Chernograd. Join us as Genoveva takes us behind the scenes of her captivating world, sharing insights into her creative process and the rich storytelling that shapes Kosara’s perilous journey.

Read Genoveva Dimova’s letter below, and make sure to pre-order your copy of Foul Days, coming 6/25/2024.


by Genoveva Dimova

Dear Reader,

Foul Days is a story about human-like monsters and monstrous humans; about defeating the ghosts from your past and learning to trust your gut.

I come from a small country in South-Eastern Europe, known for its wine, yogurt, and roses, located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Over the centuries, it has been the home of many different peoples, each bringing their unique cultures, languages, and beliefs. In fact, the word “Bulgarian” comes from the Proto-Turkic bulģha, “to mix,” “to shake,” “to stir.” This mixture of traditions is at the core of Foul Days, which shakes and stirs together (like a well-blended Martini) all my favourite aspects of Bulgarian folklore: the creepy monsters, the obscure rituals, the unexpected meaning hidden in folk songs.

Growing up, most fantasy I read was set in that ubiquitous pseudo-Western-European, pseudo-Medieval setting we all know. I made my own attempts to write that sort of story—except it never rang true. Something was missing (like a Martini without the olive).

Until one day, as fantasy as a whole was moving more and more towards diverse and underrepresented cultures, it clicked. I didn’t need to write about dragons and vampires when I could write about zmeys and upirs. Instead of stories about knights and lords, I could have clever witches tricking cruel men.

I’ve always loved the monsters from Bulgarian folklore, each representing some deep-seated fear that existed in traditional society. Upirs, for example, are the restless spirits of the dead who haven’t been buried properly, rising from their graves to torment their relatives. Halas and lamias are vengeful creatures who, when scorned, cause floods, storms, and hurricanes. The zmey, the Slavic dragon who disguises himself as a handsome man in order to seduce young women, is often believed to be an allegory for depression, which in my eyes made him the perfect villain. Then, I stumbled upon the myth of the Foul Days—the twelve days between Christmas and St. John the Baptist’s Day, after the new year has been born but before it has been baptised, when monsters and ghosts roam the streets—and I knew I’d found the perfect setting for my story.

I hope you enjoy reading my very Bulgarian book as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Genoveva Dimova

Dive into an excerpt here and Pre-order Foul Days—available on June 25, 2024!

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