Wondering what to read this summer? We have a few suggestions.
Once you've gotten your nose out of Fifty Shades, volume 3, or managed a few chapters of War and Peace, revel in summer reading with our perfect picks. Visit Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1994 (you should have bought that crack house when you had a chance), read about Marilyn Monroe deconstructed by a feminist historian for the 50th anniversary of her death, follow Swedish chef Marcus Samulsson’s trajectory from Ethiopian orphan to Harlem restaurant success, and lust after New England lobster in Lobster Shacks (road trip optional, summer is all about dreaming, after all) or for some pure escapism, check out our fiction lists. Accompany platypus Albert of Adelaide across Australia, solve a mystery in Saudi Arabia in Kingdom of Strangers, feel the earth slow with The Age of Miracles, wonder about going missing with Gone, Girl, visit ninth-century China (My Fair Concubine) and go far far away reading Stephen King’s fantastical The Wind Through the Keyhole.
Bring Up the Bodies
Hilary Mantel (Holt)
Mantel follows her Man Booker prize-winning Wolf Hall with the further exploits of Thomas Cromwell. In this, the second of a proposed trilogy, an older, tired, and more powerful Cromwell has to get Henry VIII out of another heirless marriage. Seeing Cromwell manipulate and outsmart the nobles who look down on him while moving between his well-managed domestic arrangements and the murky world of accusations and counteraccusations is pure pleasure.
A Home for Bird
Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter)
Never mind that one of the buddies in Stead’s sweet-natured buddy road trip story is a bit, well, wooden—the journey is all the more rewarding for it. When a toad named Vernon discovers a blue bird, he is determined to find its home, even if the bird is the silent (and nonmoving) type. Vernon’s compassion and heart drive this adventure toward its just-right conclusion.
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Christopher Healy, illus. by Todd Harris (HarperCollins/Walden Pond Press)
Four Princes Charming (from the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel) discover that being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in this funny debut novel for middle-graders. Healy finds fresh humor in classic characters and fairy-tale tropes as the princes uncover a plot against all four of their kingdoms.
As the Crow Flies
Craig Johnson (Viking)
Sheriff Walt Longmire must prepare for his daughter’s wedding and investigate a suspicious death on Wyoming’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Johnson’s eighth installment of this bestselling crime series, which should get a boost from the premier of the TV series Longmire on A&E in June.
The Last Bohemia: Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Robert Anasi (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Anasi, who wrote about competing in New York City’s Golden Gloves boxing tournament (The Gloves), here takes readers to on a personal, passionate journey to Williamsburg, Brooklyn—ca. 1994. Rents were $300 a month, artists lived cheaply, a bar had a table where you can snort a line of cook—and there wasn’t a Trustafarian or UPPAbaby stroller in sight.
My Fair Concubine
Jeannie Lin (Harlequin Historical)
Lin (Butterfly Swords) transplants My Fair Lady to ninth-century China to create this charming tale of a soldier whose sister runs away from an arranged marriage; he decides to train a clever but penniless orphan to take his sister’s place. Readers will enjoy both the romance and the education in Tang Dynasty etiquette, politics, and economics.
The Killing Moon
N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Jemisin (the Inheritance Trilogy) goes all out with this gripping combination of political intrigue, the supernatural, and a phenomenal new fantasy landscape. In a city-state reminiscent of ancient Egypt, priests commit ritual murder of the corrupt and harvest their dying dreams, which can fuel powerful magic. When an insane prince takes the throne, a young priest must decide whether his devotion is to the state or the dictates of the Goddess—and what to do when they conflict. This captivating tale is sure to appear on next year’s award shortlists.
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
David K. Randall (Norton)
A warm, lazy, summer day, the sound of waves rushing in the background—what could be more sleep inducing? But why is that nap so refreshing? And why is sleep so elusive at other times? Before dozing off in your hammock, read this entertaining, informative look at how and why we sleep. —Sarah F. Gold
The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service
Beth Kendrick (NAL)
In The Bake-Off Kendrick showed a talent for portraying the intricacies of female friendships. Now she proves herself equally adept at the unbreakable bond between man (or woman) and mutt. When Lara Madigan’s doggie matchmaking service saddles her with debt and strains her relationship, she moves back in with her mom, whose wealthy dog-owning friends are in desperate need of help. Before you can say “sit,” Lara finds a new career—and makes a perfect match of her own.
The Beautiful Mystery
Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Chief Insp. Armand Gamache investigates the murder of a Quebec monastery’s choir director in Agatha Award–winner Penny’s eighth mystery featuring the French-Canadian policeman. The mystery plot lives up to the title.
A Man and His Ship: America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the SS United States
Steven Ujifusa (Simon & Schuster)
If you’re taking an ocean cruise this summer, or just lying on the beach gazing at the vast watery horizon, you can return to the glory days of transatlantic cruising with Ufijusa’s masterly account of William Francis Gibs, who dreamed of building the swiftest and best ocean liner, and succeeded with the SS United States.
Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces
Cory MacLauchlin (Da Capo)
As a fan of Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, I'm looking forward to reading the first biography to make full use of the Toole papers and interviews with the people who knew the creator of that brilliant misfit, Ignatius J. Reilly. An unexpected bonus: the index lists a real-life brilliant misfit, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. —Peter Cannon
Ravishing the Heiress
Sherry Thomas (Berkley Sensation)
I love books where the wedding precedes the romance, for whatever reason—scandal, arranged marriage—and love and friendship slowly develop between two people trying to make the best of a difficult situation. Thomas's take on this age-old story sounds like the perfect summer escape: thoughtful and sweet, with very sympathetic characters. —Rose Fox
Ron Rash (Ecco)
Dark and ominous (an antidote to all that seasonal sun and exposed flesh), Rash dishes up Appalachia with a mute stranger and a dangerous secret set during WWI. The prologue features a hideous surprise in a bucket drawn up from an old well, but fear not, it's a love story! —Louisa Ermelino
The Guardians: An Elegy
Sarah Manguso (FSG)
Summer is the best time for short but sweet books—The Guardians; Home by Toni Morrison; and I'll hopefully get around to Denis Johnson's Train Dreams. —Gabe Habash
The Forever Marriage
Ann Bauer (Overlook Press)
I've always enjoyed Ann Bauer's writing, her nonfiction magazine articles and blogs, as well as her debut novel, A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards (Scribner, 2005). The Forever Marriage is the tale of a widow, reflecting upon the decisions she made years earlier that made her the woman she has become. It's a provocative theme that resonates with me when I ponder the paths not taken in my own life: what minor decision I may have made years ago irrevocably set me on one journey as opposed to another? —Claire Kirch
The Beginner's Goodbye
Anne Tyler (Knopf)
No contest here. I'm always near the head of the line for the newest Tyler. This one, about a widower whose dead wife appears to him—he's a classic Tyler character, a gentle quirky fellow—reminds me that she's getting older, so possibly I am, too. —Marcia Z. Nelson
Gordon Bowker (FSG)
It is bold to follow up on Richard Ellman's classic 1959 bio of Joyce, a writer about whom few mysteries remain (especially after the wonderful recent bios of his wife, Nora, and daughter, Lucia). Still, Bowker's light, fresh touch animates the striving and at times ridiculous ex-pat Dubliner, whose body of work continues to sparkle with genius. —Michael Coffey
Heading Out to Wonderful
Robert Goolrick (Algonquin)
WWII veteran and novice butcher Charlie Beale arrives in small-town Virginia hoping for a brighter future, but makes a big mistake by falling for the young wife of a wealthy, powerful old man. Goolrick’s tale of doomed love resonates like a folk ballad, with the language of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its people giving the novel its soul. The author’s previous book, A Reliable Wife, was a major bestseller.
Rocket Writes a Story
Tad Hills (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
In this sequel to How Rocket Learned to Read, Rocket the puppy is ready to take his literary career to the next level and try his hand at writing. Budding authors will get some solid tips, too, as Rocket’s “teacher,” a small yellow bird, helps him improve his story and even make a friend along the way.
Three Times Lucky
Sheila Turnage (Dial)
An 11-year-old girl named Mo LoBeau is the unforgettable star of this rollicking middle-grade novel that involves murder, kidnapping, bank robbery, a hurricane, and Mo’s search for her birth mother. Mo’s hilarious quips entertain while Turnage’s evocative writing gives the book a Southern charm that radiates off the page.
Bruce DeSilva (Forge)
DeSilva, whose 2010 debut, Rogue Island, won the Edgar for best first novel, stands to garner more award nominations with this sequel, in which Providence newspaper reporter Liam Mulligan looks into a number of crimes, including the murder of a strip-club owner whose body is found on the rocks below Newport’s famed Cliff Walk.
Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter
Frank Deford (Algonquin)
Sportswriter Deford got his first gig out of Princeton in 1962, with Sports Illustrated, a struggling magazine that had recently turned profitable. And in this nostalgic and witty memoir, Deford takes readers on a thoughtful journey beginning with his early writing life—when he made a name for himself early with pieces on Bill Bradley and Boston hockey great, Bobby Orr—to his current pieces on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Tangle of Need
Nalini Singh (Berkley)
Singh’s 11th Psy/Changeling paranormal challenges the most fundamental underpinning of her world: the fated bonding of soulmates. After changeling Riaz is rejected by his destined mate, he falls in love with another changeling, Adria—but can they make it work despite knowing they’ll never form a mating bond? Singh’s large and growing fanbase will snap this one up.
The Wind Through the Keyhole
Stephen King (Scribner)
King adds to the extensive Dark Tower canon with this set of nested stories starring gunslinger Roland Deschain. As Roland seeks the Dark Tower, he tells his companions of a long-ago campaign, where he met a boy and told him a fairy tale about a brave young adventurer tricked into undergoing a dangerous quest. Both new readers and longtime fans will easily fall under Roland’s spell and be thrilled by King’s return to unabashed fantastical writing.
Lou Berney (Morrow)
In this entertaining sequel to Gutshot Straight, Berney has a great time tweaking the familiar: there's the ex-con trying to go straight; the local drug lord making it awfully hard on him; the evil fracking executive (that's not an adjective). And, uh, a former stripper turned venture capitalist. Okay, so not everything's that familiar. Which is a good thing. Set in Belize and featuring a number of great set pieces, snappy dialogue, and colorful characters, the plot hums along like a mosquito cloud over a puddle. —Mike Harvkey
Beatriz Williams (Putnam)
Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson feels jilted after handsome billionaire investment genius Julian Laurence, whose interest in her had been undeniable, suddenly backs off. Is he just some rich jerk blowing hot and cold? No, he’s deeply in love, and saddled with a serious secret: he’s from a different time, and they’ve met before. This debut from Williams, a former Wall Street analyst herself, has it all: love, longing, honor, and time travel.
King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson
Kenneth Kraegel (Candlewick)
Debut author Kraegel offers a wonderfully wry quest starring a six-year-old descendent of King Arthur who is ready to take on monsters. Too bad that all those griffins and dragons want to do is play chess and have staring contests. Adding to the mix is Kraegel’s exuberant artwork, which brings both humor and drama to the story.
The Drowned Cities
Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Before you start to complain about the summer heat and humidity, take a trip to the environmentally wrecked Washington, D.C., of the future, as envisioned by Bacigalupi in this action-packed sequel to his Printz-winning Ship Breaker. The story follows two young casualties of war as they are caught between rival gangs dedicated to causes they barely understand or remember.
Gone Girl (SPONSORED)
Gillian Flynn (Crown)
When Amy Elliot, on the surface a privileged Gotham golden girl, disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, her husband, Nick Dunne, becomes the prime suspect in her presumed murder. Both Amy and Nick prove to be far from blameless in Flynn’s compelling tale of a marriage gone horribly wrong.
Lobster Shacks: a Road-Trip Guide to New England's Best Lobster Joints
Mike Urban (The Countryman Press )
Road trips say summer and road trips in New England say lobster and Mike Urban has done all the leg work for finding the best shacks (never eat a New England lobster in a restaurant) along the coastline from Connecticut to Maine. There's directions, history, photos and recipes along with plenty of lobster lore.
Dancing in the Dark
Susan Moody (Severn House)
Moody seamlessly blends romance and drama in this suspenseful tale. Garden designer Theodora Cairns’s childhood was shaped by the ravings and drama of her paranoid mother. When Theo learns that all she thought she knew about her father is false, she collapses into misery. Her only hope of salvation is Fergus Costello, an author mired in self-doubt. Readers will cheer them on as love triumphs over despair.
Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Tor)
The VanderMeers have heaped enough strange fiction into this mammoth anthology to last readers all summer. Over 100 stories explore the evolution of uncanny and disconcerting literature from the Lovecraftian and the Kafkaesque to the modern subgenres of slipstream and the “new weird.” The astonishing ambition of the project is matched by the top-notch quality of the included works, which come from all over the world and paint a deliciously unsettling picture of human struggles to comprehend the incomprehensible.
In One Person
John Irving (Simon & Schuster)
As a longtime John Irving fan, I was naturally excited for his latest— about one man's struggle with identity and sexual exploration. But after reading PW's amazing q&a with Irving, I knew In One Person was not to be missed. —Adam Boretz
Albert of Adelaide
Howard Anderson (Hachette/Twelve)
In his first novel, the 66-year-old Anderson creates a memorable character in Albert, a duck-billed platypus who flees captive monotony in search of the “Old Australia,” but arrives in the outback blistered, burned, and no closer to the mythic land. Along with a lively assortment of animal vagabonds who populate the frontier towns humans have abandoned, Albert finds adventure—and plenty of trouble. Packed start to finish with old-fashioned pleasures: action, fast friends, unlikely heroes.
Wild About You!
Judy Sierra, illus. by Marc Brown (Knopf)
In this family-focused companion to Wild About Books and ZooZical, Sierra and Brown return to the Springfield Zoo to deliver a blithe, rhyming tribute to the ups and downs of family life. Moreover, two cross-species adoptions (two pandas care for a cat, and a tree kangaroo hatches a penguin chick) offer subtle, nonpreachy affirmations of the different forms that families can take.
Beth Ann Bauman (Knopf)
Turn off the Jersey Shore reruns and pick up this YA novel from an author who paints a poignant portrait of life on the shore, much as she did in her previous book, Rosie and Skate. Here, Bauman introduces Angel Cassonetti, who is reveling in the freedom of summer, hanging out with friends, chasing after her ex (as well as her best friend’s boyfriend), and trying to figure out just what the future has in store.
Into the Darkest Corner
Elizabeth Haynes (Harper)
British author Haynes’s debut, a harrowing psychological thriller, examines its heroine, Catherine Bailey, along two different time lines: the period during which she gets to know a charming man who gradually takes over her life and abuses her before dropping out of it; and the later period when she fears he’ll return to torment her.
Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox
Lois Banner (Bloomsbury)
Marilyn, Marilyn, Marilyn. Will we ever get enough? It's the 50th anniversary of the platinum blond beauty's death and cutting through the endless Monroe-mania is feminist historian Banner's biography that tells the story that will put the rest to sleep
Hearts of Darkness
Kira Brady (Kensington/Zebra)
Brady’s dazzling debut blends Norse, Babylonian, and Native American mythology to create a dark and compelling story set in an alternate present-day Seattle. A human nurse and a werewolf mercenary find unexpected romance as they try to stop dragon shapeshifters from opening a gate into another world and unleashing apocalypse. Even jaded paranormal fans will be excited by this genuinely new setting and its compelling cast.
Nina LaCour (Dutton)
Looking for a last-minute graduation gift? Or just a great poolside read? LaCour's sophomore YA novel, about a (less than amazing) girl band's West Coast tour in a VW bus, has what you need: an unpredictable road trip, romance and relationships put to the test, humor, music, and unexpected moments of self-discovery and revelation. —John A. Sellers
Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams
Gareth Roberts (Ace)
The seventh season of the new Doctor Who won’t air until autumn, so fans who are jonesing will be glad to fill the gap with Roberts’s smooth adaptation of a 1970s script by the late, great British humorist Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). The Fourth Doctor (as portrayed by Tom Baker) and fan-favorite companions Romana and K-9 visit a retired Time Lord masquerading as a Cambridge professor and are caught up in the fight to control a legendary Time Lord artifact. Roberts adeptly clears up continuity errors while seamlessly meshing his original work with Adam’s trademark whimsy and snappy dialogue.
Jess Walter (Harper)
A young actress, apparently dying of stomach cancer, is spirited from the troubled set of the 1962 production of Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, to the privacy of a coastal Italian Inn. Innkeeper Pasquale soon discovers, however, that the actress is not sick with cancer, but pregnant with Burton’s child. The Innkeeper falls for the actress, but she doesn’t stay in Italy long. Fifty years later, he shows up in Hollywood looking for her. A quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love.
Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein (Disney-Hyperion)
Nothing is what it seems in this spellbinding WWII thriller, which unfolds as the confession of a captured teenage spy, who tells her story to the Nazi captors that have imprisoned and tortured her. Wein lays the groundwork for the story’s late revelations with exceptional skill, all but guaranteeing that readers will want to immediately reread the story with fresh eyes and perspective.
Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Bren (HarperTeen)
Larbalestier and Brennan send up the vampire novel with a thoughtful, provocative, and sharply funny story set in a world in which vampires and human coexist, but generally keep to their own. When Mel’s best friend falls in love with the new vampire at school, Mel must confront her own prejudices and reevaluate what it means to be a good friend.
Kingdom of Strangers
Zoë Ferraris (Little, Brown)
In Ferraris’s third novel set in contemporary Saudi Arabia, forensic technician Katya Hijazi helps investigate the disappearance of a senior detective’s Filipino mistress while he takes charge of a serial killer case. Both cases serve to highlight Saudi society’s ambivalence about female power.
Yes Chef: A Memoir
Marcus Samuelsson (Random House)
Samuelsson tracks his phenomenal life from a remote Ethiopian village to owner of the famous Red Rooster restaurant in New York City's Harlem. That an orphan, adopted by a Swedish family, would become the toast of New York's food scene is a great story and Samuelson talent for telling it rivals his skill in the kitchen.
Hell on Wheels
Julie Ann Walker (Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Walker debuts with the first in a romantic suspense trilogy that goes full throttle from the first page. A retired Marine working for a motorcycle shop that’s really a covert ops agency falls hard for his buddy’s sister. She’s being targeted by a crooked senator who thinks she holds incriminating evidence of his scams and schemes. Relentless thriller pacing, sizzling chemistry, and a satisfying emotional payoff will leave readers breathless and eager for the sequels.
The Iron Wyrm
Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit)
Multigenre talent Saintcrow (Angel Town) launches a delicious steampunk London adventure series full of magical duels, backstreet chases after mechanically upgraded “flashboys,” battles with giant automatons, and confrontations with ancient wyrms and gigantic gryphons. The male and female leads make a great team without a hint of romantic chemistry, which keeps the focus on action and deduction and will delight younger readers and those who miss the days when Holmes and Watson were nothing more than roommates.
The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer (Bloomsbury)
Kiefer's fiction debut follows astronaut Keith Corcoran—returned to Earth, abandoned by his wife, and coping with the tragic death of his daughter—as he rebuilds his life by smoking pot, drinking beer, and stargazing in an empty lot with a former engineer from Ukraine who now stocks shelves at Target. Not as sunshiney as other summer reads, but I sunburn easily. —Samuel R. Slaton
Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster )
Perhaps no other author strikes such a quivering bull’s eye into the zeitgeist as Cleave with this new novel set during the 2012 Summer Olympics. The story follows three friends, world-class cyclists all, as they train for their last chance at Olympic gold amid major obstacles both on and off the track. Cleave pulls out all the stops getting inside the hearts of his engaging, complex trio, and delivers a breathless literary achievement.
Blessed Are the Dead
Malla Nunn (Atria/Emily Bestler)
Apartheid-era South Africa comes to vivid life in Nunn’s third mystery featuring Det. Sgt. Emmanuel Cooper, in which the mixed race policeman looks into the murder of a tribal chief’s 17-year-old daughter. Nunn skillfully drops fair play clues on the way to the neat ending.
Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time
Ed Stafford (Plume)
Stafford’s gripping tale is at once an ecological treatise and an incredible memoir of a punishing journey, which spanned over 4,000 miles and saw the author face off against machete-wielding tribesmen, rampant deforestation, and his own physical and mental limits. A testament to the destructive force of humanity, and the triumphant possibilities of a determined individual.
Mother and Child
Carole Maso (Counterpoint)
There is lyricism and then there's Carole Maso's lyricism. In her first novel since 1998's Defiance, each evocative sentence is an incantation that embraces the reader and refuses to let go. Maso's surreal exploration of the fraught mother-daughter bond (complete with magical journeys and mysterious creatures) should be read in the afternoon shade, when you can savor each line. —Jessamine Chan
Lionel Asbo: State of England
Martin Amis (Knopf)
In the first few lines of Amis’s irreverent and absurd new novel, the teenaged Des Pepperdine reveals that he’s having an affair with a much older woman. Then reveals exactly who it is, and it’s both hilarious and shocking. Amis is again at his savagely funny best, and Des’s thuggish uncle Lionel (ASBO is the U.K. acronym for Anti-Social Behavior Disorder) is one gleefully depraved individual. Then he wins the national lottery. Amis’s exuberant voice begs to be followed, even if it leads to hell.
The Neruda Case
Roberto Ampuero (Riverhead)
In Chilean author Ampuero’s first novel published in English, poet Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), shortly before the coup that overthrew his friend President Allende, persuades a young unemployed Cuban exile to turn detective and go look for a missing man Neruda last saw in Mexico City years earlier. Fans of historicals and poetic prose are in for a treat.
All We Know: Three Lives
Lisa Cohen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Style, sexual identity, and artistic longings take center stage in Cohen’s lively and learned biographical triptych of intellectual Esther Murphy, “seductress” Mercedes de Acosta, and British Vogue editor Madge Garland. Coming of age in the early 20th century, and traveling in glamorous and intellectual social circles in New York, Paris, and London, their life stories will transport readers to a bygone era.
My Cross to Bear
Gregg Allman, with Alan Light (Morrow)
I find myself looking forward to reading about the story of this great Southern rock band—and a 1970s glimpse into my home state, Florida, where the band got started. —Mark Rotella
The Age of Miracles
Karen Thompson Walker (Random)
Walker’s gripping debut novel is a somber and ultimately terrifying chronicle of the protracted end of the world, told from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl. “The slowing” of the earth’s rotation impacts everyone in different ways. The length of day and night double, then triple, resulting in record high and low temperatures and new illnesses, and that’s just for starters. Walker’s handling of the minutiae, combined with a wrenching deliberate pace, make this one impossible to put down.
Daniel Suarez (Dutton)
Michael Crichton fans will welcome this timely political thriller in which someone inflames anti-American sentiment in the Arab world by using an unmanned Predator drone with U.S. markings to destroy a mosque in Iraq during prayers. Evocative prose and provocative science lift this one above the pack.
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies
Ben Macintyre (Crown)
Agent Garbo, Agent Bronx, Agent Tricycle: these three real-life double agents and two colleagues are characters worthy of John LeCarre, as is their story of WWII espionage. Best-sellilng writer Manintyre turns in another thrilling tale pitting MI5 against the Nazis. At stake—the success or failure of the D-Day invasion.
I Hunt Killers
Barry Lyga (Little, Brown)
Seventeen-year-old Jazz received a grisly education at the hands of his father, an imprisoned serial killer. When another murderer targets Jazz's small town, he channels his intimate knowledge of the killing mind to help the police find the perpetrator. Blisteringly entertaining, Lyga's YA mystery features a troubled but redeemable outsider with a serious set of daddy issues. —Matia Burnett
Shine Shine Shine
Lydia Netzer (St. Martin’s)
Sunny was born without hair. Her husband, Maxon, is a rocket scientist. Their son is autistic. Despite their earthbound obstacles, they enjoy an average suburban existence—until a moon rock creates a “Houston, we have a problem” moment in Maxon’s latest space expedition. Netzer’s fresh, confident debut about an astronaut stranded in space and the family he left behind tells a powerful story about love overcoming the epic indifference of the universe.
James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
In the 19th entry in what may be the most consistently satisfying series in crime fiction, New Iberia, La., sheriff Dave Robicheaux and his pal Clete Purcel face off against a number of formidable foes, including a possible Nazi war criminal. Years from now, when many of our popular writers have faded from memory, new generations will be reading Burke.
A Disposition to Be Rich
Geoffry C. Ward (Knopf)
Bestselling historian and Ken Burns collaborator Ward tells the entertaining and shocking tale of a 19th-century master con artist—his own great-grandfather, Ferdinand Ward. Beguililng and amoral, Ferdinand swindled Ulysses S. Grant and others out of millions, and kidnapped his own son for blackmail.
Dispatch from the Future
Leigh Stein (Melville House)
I have been looking forward to this debut poetry collection for months now, having previously enjoyed some of these "dispatches" in various journals. Stein possesses a comic's honesty and sense of timing, simultaneously enchanting and dark, yet never cynical. She's already published a wonderful debut novel this year, but I think she's arguably an even better poet. —Alex Crowley