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We know, it's hot outside. But regardless of the weather, you can always escape into the sizzle of imagination, especially when we've chosen some thrilling books to take you out of your comfort zone. Lottie Moggach's psychologically terrifying debut thriller, Kiss Me First, will have you questioning your presence on the world wide web; while for those who like their shivers visceral, Kent Wascom's The Blood of Heaven follows two preachers' sons as they tear through 19th century West Florida. In The Child Thief, by Dan Smith, a stranger appears in a Ukrainian village with a gruesome sled cargo. Lighten up (but not too much) with Curtis Sittenfeld's story of twin sisters, Sisterland, or Big Girl Panties, Stephanie Evanovich's romance featuring a full figured widow and her Adonis-like personal trainer. We highlight wars -- from the Civil to ancient Rome to the viking invasion of Britannia -- as well as dare you to revisit your attitudes about men and women with The New Gender Workbook. And why not consider your time with collections like Search Party, The Peripatetic Coffin, Bobcat and Other Stories and This is How You Die. Let us help you get back to basics with The Good Life Lab and give you fodder for cocktail party banter with The Origin of Feces.

  • One Thousand and One Nights

    A retelling by Hanan al-Shaykh (Pantheon)

    I’ve always been intrigued with Shahrazad’s storytelling, especially when I discovered that the real stories are not for children but instead are sexy, violent, unforgiving morality tales filled with intrigue, excitement, and wit, and beautifully rendered in this wonderful version. Who can resist a lewd demon’s lover whose mischief proves her declaration, “How great is the cunning of women!” —Louisa Ermelino, reviews director

  • Gaining Ground

    Forrest Pritchard (Globe Pequot/Lyons )

    A new face in the growing sustainable agriculture movement, Pritchard took over the family farm after finishing college, but as an English major, he had to learn his adopted trade the hard way. With a gift for storytelling, he’ll have you thinking twice about your relationship with food.

  • My New Gender Workbook

    Kate Bornstein (Routledge )

    Fifteen years after its original publication, sex-positive gender anarchist Bornstein updates this classic text in gender exploration. Challenging assumptions of what makes a man a man and a woman a woman, this playful series of exercises on uncomfortable subjects is sure, according to PW’s review, to “make you squirm, blush, [and] giggle.”

  • Steal the Menu: A Memoir of Forty Years in Food

    Raymond Sokolov (Knopf )

    In the early 1970s, Sokolov joined the New York Times as its restaurant critic, and in his memoir he shares his many culinary memories. Captivating and humorous, Sokolov’s inviting memoir joins the ranks of Ruth Reichl’s and Judith Jones’s elegant recollections of life lived at table.

  • Mickey And Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age

    Allen Barra (Crown Archetype )

    Berra has written the lives of sports legends (Paul “Bear” Bryant, Yogi Berra) and reminisced about some of America’s most famous ballparks (Ridgewood Field, Cooperstown). In this book he combines the biographies of two baseball greats, inspired by his own notions of what defines a hero, and offers a touching fan’s notes of Mays and Mantle.

  • Visitation Street

    Ivy Pochoda (Ecco/Dennis Lehane)

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been traipsing across the New York City of yesteryear with detective Matthew Scudder in Lawrence Block’s Eight Million Ways to Die and A Walk Among the Tombstones. I love the PI’s street-level approach to crime solving, whether he’s casing a Flatbush brownstone, cabbing it over the Williamsburg Bridge, or accompanying a pimp to a secret Greenpoint getaway. This summer, I’ll be pounding the pavement of my new neck of the woods—Red Hook, Brooklyn—with Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street. What better way to get to know the neighborhood and usher in the summer than to unravel a mystery set just beyond your own stoop? —Samuel R. Slaton, reviews editor

  • Ghost Moth

    Michèle Forbes (Bellevue Literary Press)

    This amazingly assured first novel is set in Northern Ireland from 1949 to 1986, and is about lost love and the limited consolations of family. After receiving rejections from 38 publishers in the U.K. and Ireland, Forbes (an actress) got a tip from Paul Harding of Tinkers fame at the Dublin Writers’ Festival, which led her to send the manuscript to Bellevue. —Michael Coffey, co-editorial director

  • Burial

    Claire Donato (Tarpaulin Sky)

    Donato’s hallucinatory meditation on grief seems like a strange summer read, but her poetic, trance-inducing language turns a reckoning with the confusion of mortality into readerly joy at the sensuality of living. Also, it’s small and fits in most pockets, so you can bring it pretty much everywhere, which I plan on doing and highly recommend. —Alex Crowley, assistant editor, reviews

  • Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers

    Janet Malcolm (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    With all due respect to the author and publisher, I’ve been reading this exquisite collection out of order. Edward Weston’s models or Ingrid Sischy’s relaunch of Artforum? The Bloomsbury group or J.D. Salinger? I’ve loved visiting these homes and studios, letters, legacies, and romances, and most of all, experiencing art and literature filtered through Malcolm’s nimble mind and gorgeous prose. —Jessamine Chan, reviews editor

  • Brothers of the Wild North Sea

    Harper Fox (Samhain)

    In Fox’s stellar novel of ancient Britannia, Viking raiders attack the monastery at Fara in search of treasure. While some monks pray for deliverance, others do battle; warrior monk Caius wounds raider Fenrir but then feels compelled to save his life. The two grow closer while wrestling with concerns of culture and religion, and trying to uncover Fara’s secrets.

  • Red Sparrow

    Jason Matthews (Scribner)

    The freelancer who reviewed this debut spy thriller for PW thought it was the best in the genre he’d read in a long time. The author, a retired CIA officer, told some great stories about his 33 years in the agency at the lunch his publisher hosted for him recently in New York. Each chapter concludes with a recipe for a dish consumed in the text. I’m sold. —Peter Cannon, senior reviews editor

  • Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life

    Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)

    In 1984, 17-year-old Ulli Lust and her accidental (and damn-near crazy) companion Edi (“Screwing’s my hobby!”) take off on a wild trip hitchhiking across Euro-punk Italy—with no money and no clues: a trip that is easily one of the greatest punker-chick road trips of all time. This emotive and vividly illustrated graphic memoir provides a hair-raising record of idiot pluck, aimless luck, and crazy girl power as the duo deals with cops, random men, and sexual degradation (there’s a reason for the book’s title). But it also offers the ad hoc introspection of Lust, a girl in the process of becoming quite a woman. —Calvin Reid, senior news editor

  • Doll Bones

    Holly Black (S&S/McElderry)

    What’s more scream-inducing than a malevolent china doll made from the bones of a murdered girl? How about your dad throwing away your cherished action figures because he says it’s time you “grew up”? As in many of the best children’s books, Black’s novel tells one story while unveiling another of more painful complexity. Three friends take a journey to bury a haunted object and along with it, perhaps, their shared make-believe world. But hopefully not. Because what’s scarier than a possessed china doll? Being a grownup. Shudder. —Matia Burnett, assistant editor, children’s books

  • Winger

    Andrew Smith, illus. by Sam Bosma (Simon & Schuster)

    Ugh, read about the school year during the summer? Entirely worth it in this case, as Smith’s YA boarding school novel swings between moments of gleefully bawdy humor, romantic and personal striving, and awful tragedy with characters who are hard to forget. It also has one of my favorite covers of the season. —John Sellers, children’s reviews editor

  • Mermaid in Chelsea Creek

    Michelle Tea (McSweeney’s McMullens)

    Michelle Tea is probably best known for her confessional adult work, like the Lambda Literary Award–winning Valencia. But in 2006 she published her first young adult novel, Rose of No Man’s Land, which chronicles a single, dizzyingly drug-fueled day in the life of a 14-year-old girl, depicting her inner life with a messy accuracy that anyone who’s actually been a teen girl should recognize. Now comes Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, whose plot description includes Kelly Link–esque fantastical elements—the main character, Sophie, sees visions of a mermaid and may be destined to save her beleaguered Massachusetts town. Of course, by chapter one Sophie is already playing the pass-out game with her chain-smoking best friend, so we’re squarely in Tea territory here. I’m looking forward to the rest of the wild ride. —Carolyn Juris, associate editor, children’s books

  • Byzantium

    Ben Stroud (Graywolf)

    Stroud follows in the footsteps of the Jim Shepards of the writing world—dexterous magicians who parkour from one time, setting, style, place, or tone to another, boldly ignoring the “link it!” command given to almost every writer of short stories hoping to build a collection. The title tale begins with “I was born a disappointment” and covers more than three decades in its first two pages. A boy with a crippled hand is sent by Heraclius to “geld” (ouch) a threatening monk. In the next story we meet Mike and Jimmy, two employees of a Texas lumber yard occupied with the “moon-pale skin between the buttons of the shirt Angela sometimes wore at the Hangout over in the strip mall where the Safeway used to be.” There’s nothing wrong with linked collections (Susan Steinberg’s superb Spectacle comes immediately to mind) but sometimes you want a little variety. —Mike Harvkey, deputy reviews editor

  • The Graphic Canon, Vol. 3: From “Heart of Darkness” to Hemingway to “Infinite Jest”

    Russ Kick (Seven Stories)

    My first glance through The Graphic Canon, Vol. 3—500 pages of classic 20th-century literature reimagined graphically by 70+ artists—caused a sharp spike of endorphins. Lolita? “Araby”? Brautigan? Woolf? A Metamorphosis–Charlie Brown mash-up? “The Emperor of Ice Cream”? How could you not get lost in this massive, beautiful book? —Gabe Habash, news and Tip Sheet editor

  • A Land Without Sin

    Paula Huston (Wipf & Stock/Slant)

    I see a lot of fiction that’s religiously obvious, and I hate that. So I’m ready for the next book from Slant, a new literary imprint from the academic publisher Wipf & Stock. I want to make Huston’s acquaintance through this novel about an American priest who goes missing amid political unrest in southern Mexico in 1993, and his photojournalist sister who goes to look for him. Religious fiction ought to explore the mysteries of the human heart, as imprint founder Gregory Wolfe (of the literary journal Image) said. Maybe more unreligious fiction should, too. —Marcia Z. Nelson, reviews editor

  • An Outlaw in Wonderland

    Lori Austin (Signet Eclipse)

    Austin’s historical romance, set in the American West during the Civil War, pairs up a Union doctor with the Confederate nurse who catches him spying at her hospital. Their romance builds against an unflinching backdrop of war, as well as other miseries of the late 19th century, but the dark tone is appropriate to the setting and adds extra poignancy to the power of love.

  • Big Girl Panties

    Stephanie Evanovich (Morrow)

    Evanovich’s debut contemporary pairs up a hefty widow and an Adonis-like personal trainer in a Pygmalion story that overflows with humor and heart. There’s no size-shaming, just wry laughs as Holly confronts shallow fashion divas and her own issues around grief and trust, while Logan learns to admire and appreciate her for exactly who she is.

  • Jack Glass

    Adam Roberts (Gollancz (Trafalgar Sq., dist.))

    In an interview with PW, Roberts says that he set out to write a new kind of whodunit, where the murderer’s name is revealed on page one yet is still a surprise to the reader at the end. He succeeds admirably with this three-part SF mystery, which just won the BSFA Award. Its eponymous antihero has various escapades while keeping dangerous technological secrets from falling into the wrong hands.

  • The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-on Living

    Wendy Jehanara Tremayne (Storey )

    Summer is a perfect time to ponder—and try—living with less. Tremayne’s whimsically illustrated back-to-the-land memoir and DIY manual, which PW called a “rollicking, inspiring tale,” convincingly advocates for a “decommodified life.” Readers will be moved to consider everything from the concept of the gift economy to recipes for homemade toothpaste and kombucha.

  • The Shambling Guide to New York City

    Mur Lafferty (Orbit)

    Lafferty’s charming debut features a guidebook editor who takes all of New York’s weirdness in stride, even when it turns out her newest project is to write a guide for the city’s “coterie” (“Monster is pejorative,” her vampire boss informs her). Podcast host and blogger Lafferty is known for her sharp wit, which is in evidence here.

  • The Best of Connie Willis

    Connie Willis (Del Rey)

    Fans of SFWA Grand Master Willis’s novels (most recently Blackout/All Clear) will be delighted by this collection of her shorter works, all originally published between 1982 and 2007. Those who aren’t familiar with Willis’s writing will find this an excellent introduction to her facility with what she calls “funny stuff” and “sad stuff,” often mingled in her trademark wry style.

  • This Is How You Die

    M. Bennardo, R. North, D. Malki ! (Grand Central)

    Short-fiction author Matthew Bennardo and Web comic stars Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics) and David Malki ! (Wondermark) follow Machine of Death with a second hilarious, tragic, splendid anthology of stories and comics in which people learn just enough, or not quite enough, about their future demises. Like death itself, this simple premise provokes a broad range of questions and some surprising answers.

  • American Savage: Insight, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics

    Dan Savage (Dutton)

    The Supreme Court is currently hearing cases relating to same-sex marriage, making sex columnist and gay-rights activist Savage’s book timely as well as provocative, funny, and frank. The essay collection offers sex and relationship advice, and the author’s persuasive argument for same-sex marriage and adoption rights.

  • Omens

    Kelley Armstrong (Dutton)

    Urban fantasy powerhouse Armstrong (the Otherworld series) begins the Gainsville series with a gripping thriller-paced novel featuring a young woman who learns that her wealthy parents adopted her after her biological parents were convicted of being serial killers. Mind control, gunplay, and double crosses will keep readers on edge to the last page.

  • Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math

    Daniel Tammet (Little, Brown )

    Like the people profiled by Oliver Sacks in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, who, for one reason or another, perceive reality in very unique ways, Tammet, an autistic savant, welcomes readers into his synesthetic world, where numbers and words come alive with color and shape.

  • Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell

    Katherine Angel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

    Writing in poetic, elliptical prose, and putting copious white space to work, Angel plumbs the depths of desire in what PW called a “thinking woman’s meditation” on feminism, sexuality, and individual liberation. She miraculously makes easy bedfellows of everything from bondage fantasies to quotations from Virginia Woolf and lucid ruminations on the politics of pornography and abortion.

  • The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

    Gary Greenberg (Penguin/Blue Rider )

    Folks directed by their docs to get some much-needed beachside R&R this summer probably won’t be reaching for Greenberg’s newest as they flip-flop out the sliding glass door, but those looking for some meatier summer reading will relish this compelling insider’s account of psychiatry’s growing pains. It’s savvy, searching, and it makes for damn good reading.

  • The Origin of Feces

    David Waltner-Toews (ECW (IPG, dist.) )

    It may be a poor topic for polite company, but we can learn a tremendous amount from both human and animal waste. Veterinarian and epidemiologist Waltner-Toews takes a world-historical tour of this fundamental component of the cycle of life. Until you read this, you really won’t know sh*t.

  • Onion Street

    Reed Farrel Coleman (Tyrus (F + W Media, dist.))

    Edgar-finalist Coleman’s eighth Moe Prager mystery explains how the NYPD detective turned PI became a cop. The 2012 funeral of an old friend prompts Prager to recount the complex history he shared with the dead man going back to 1967 and involving radicals in the antiwar movement.

  • If You Want to See a Whale

    Julie Fogliano, illus. by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter)

    When better than summer to go whale-watching? Writing with faux gravity, Fogliano cautions readers hoping to spot a whale to avoid such distractions as too-comfy chairs, pirates in the harbor, and lovely wild roses. Stead’s delicate and imaginative portraits of these and other scenarios underscore the story’s light sense of irony.

  • Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked

    Jarrett J. Krosoczka (HarperCollins/Walden Pond)

    Readers who have grown out of Krosoczka’s popular Lunch Lady books—but who are still hankering for his signature blend of action and comedy—will get a kick out of this funny faux police procedural, which riffs on the best clichés of the genre. Parents with a DVR queue full of Law and Order episodes will be happy to read along with them.

  • The Blood of Heaven

    Kent Wascom (Grove)

    Though only 26, Wascom has the ambition of a more seasoned scribe. A few years into the 19th century, two young men, both preachers’ sons, head into the rough frontier of West Florida. They preach, rob, steal, and kill, finding something spiritual in their deeds. Angel Woolsack narrates with assurance, mixing biblical cadences with a Southern lilt in a voice pulsating with violence, tension, and religious hysteria.

  • Crime of Privilege

    Walter Walker (Ballantine)

    George Beckett, an assistant district attorney on Cape Cod, investigates a nine-year-old cold case involving a young woman’s murder and one of America’s most powerful political families. Along the way, Beckett finds his moral compass in this tale of class and crime.

  • Kiss Me First

    Lottie Moggach (Doubleday)

    This disturbing, engrossing psychological thriller will keep you up nights as the founder of a website that discusses philosophy lures a lonely young woman into a twisted scenario involving identity takeover via social media. A wild and wicked debut novel.

  • Flora

    Gail Godwin (Bloomsbury)

    Charismatic Helen Anstruther, the wry adolescent narrator of Godwin’s new novel, is left in the care of the “hopelessly effusive” Flora, a young family friend. The isolated and rambling house they share once served people recovering from tuberculosis or alcoholism. It’s 1945, Helen’s father is away on business and her mother is long dead, and the summer she spends with Flora—full of boredom, desire, and ultimately heartbreak—profoundly transforms them both. Godwin knows how to deliver rich, textured tales.

  • Yes, Let’s

    Galen Goodwin Longstreth, Maris Wicks (Tanglewood)

    These two first-time picture-book creators have put together a story that all but embodies the pleasures of a summer day, following a large, close-knit family as it packs up the station wagon and heads out into the woods. For families hoping to spend less time in front of screens and more time in the great outdoors this summer, this is the book to get everyone in the mood.

  • Sacred Games

    Gary Corby (Soho Crime)

    The Olympic Games of 460 B.C.E. form the backdrop for Australian author Corby’s third mystery featuring Athenian investigator Nicolaos, who has just a few days to solve the murder of a Spartan named Arakos, the fiercest rival of Nico’s martial arts friend, Timodemus. Solving the crime could avert a war between Athens and Sparta.

  • P.S. Be Eleven

    Rita Williams-Garcia (HarperCollins/Amistad)

    Middle-graders looking for historical fiction that’s as funny as it is powerful need look no further than this sequel to Williams-Garcia’s Newbery Honor book, One Crazy Summer (which itself belongs at the top of their summer reading piles). In this book, the Gaither sisters have returned to Brooklyn from their summer with their mother (and the Black Panthers) in California, as the tumultuous year of 1968 continues to bring upheaval into their lives.

  • The Kill Room

    Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central)

    A powerful, relatively new and secret government organization orders the assassination of an American citizen in bestseller Deaver’s timely 10th Lincoln Rhyme novel. An assistant district attorney in New York City is determined to prosecute the crime, but faces a host of obstacles, including a sadistic killer.

  • The 5th Wave

    Rick Yancey (Putnam)

    Summer means blockbuster action flicks, and Yancey offers the YA equivalent with this blistering take on the alien-invasion genre, in which survivors regroup after a multiple-stage assault on Earth. Don’t expect over-the-top camp: Yancey brings the same insight, smarts, and big questions to this novel as he did his Monstrumologist books.

  • The Peripatetic Coffin

    Ethan Rutherford (Ecco)

    This summer, read short stories in your shorts. Rutherford’s sharp, inspired debut collection runs the gamut of emotion and genre in eight tales that ponder the ways in which we find ourselves isolated. The writer embraces wild variation while still creating linkages. Many of the stories take place inside physical vessels (a Civil War–era submarine; a Russian ship bound for the North Pole; a futuristic tanker), but often the vessels of containment are psychological. Robust, engaging stories from a writer to watch.

  • Odd Duck

    Cecil Castellucci, illus. by Sara Varon (First Second)

    This humorous comic book–style chapter book follows the burgeoning friendship between two not-so-similar ducks: the rather prim Theodora and her free-spirited, iconoclastic new neighbor, Chad. Equal parts silly and emotionally astute, the story shows a keen eye for the inherent ups and downs in finding common ground with someone from the other side of the pond.

  • Good Man Friday

    Barbara Hambly (Severn)

    In his 12th historical, Benjamin January travels from his home in New Orleans to 1838 Washington, D.C., where slave pens exist 20 feet from the Capitol and a variety of scoundrels—including venal legislators, grave robbers, and spies—lurk, ready to pounce on a free black man like January.

  • A Wedding in Springtime

    Amanda Forester (Sourcebooks Casablanca)

    Not many authors can get away with starting a Regency romance with a fart joke, but Forester makes it work in this delightful tale of a mischievous miss and the rake who’s won over by her sense of humor. The sunny theme and lighthearted story are perfect for summer’s lazy days.

  • Gorgeous

    Paul Rudnick (Scholastic Press)

    Screenwriter and playwright Rudnick makes a hilarious and meaningful YA debut with a contemporary, fashion-forward twist on the classic fairy tales of yore. In lieu of three wishes, 18-year-old Becky Randle receives three couture gowns as she makes a magical (and rocky) transition from life in a Missouri trailer park to becoming the most beautiful woman in the world.

  • The Other Typist

    Suzanne Rindell (Putnam/Amy Einhorn)

    Victor LaValle has said “Rindell messes with your head,” and that her book “pretends to be the story of a nice young woman entering the cutthroat world of police work in 1920s New York.” This sly debut novel is narrated by Rose Baker, a typist for the NYPD falls under the spell of the department’s glamorous new typist. As Rose’s fascination turns to obsession, so too does her reliability come into question. LaValle again: “I had a blast reading this and had my nerves scrambled by the end.”

  • Bobcat and Other Stories

    Rebecca Lee (Algonquin)

    Lee’s debut novel, The City Is a Rising Tide, was well received, and this, her first collection of stories, is a Barnes & Noble Discover pick. Lee covers a wide terrain in only seven stories, touching on fidelity, sacrifice, jealousy, and obligation, with stories that often dial out slowly from tightly-focused beginnings, like, “It was the terrine that got me,” or “I went to Professor Pine for help twice in my life, once as a child and once as an adult.”

  • Something Wicked

    Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush (Kensington/Zebra)

    The talents of bestselling sisters Jackson and Bush are on full display in this romantic thriller with a supernatural twist. Ghosts both help and hinder murder investigations in the Oregon mountains, complicated by surrogate pregnancy and an unusual love triangle. This is one to read with all the lights on.

  • The Shanghai Factor

    Charles McCarry (Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious)

    One day on a Shanghai road, the unnamed narrator and a beautiful young Chinese woman, Mei, collide while riding bikes. Is it an accident? Our American hero, “a rookie spook,” pegs Mei as an agent for the Chinese Ministry of State Security, but that doesn’t stop him from becoming her lover in this spy thriller from former CIA officer McCarry.

  • The Lucy Variations

    Sara Zarr (Little, Brown)

    Multifaceted and brilliantly written characters, both teenage and adult, are the hallmark of Zarr’s latest YA novel, about a 16-year-old piano prodigy trying to reclaim her life, nearly a year after giving up music in the wake of a family tragedy. Zarr’s pared-down prose offers profound insights and observations throughout, making this a story to savor.

  • Murder as a Fine Art

    David Morrell (Mulholland)

    Thomas De Quincy, author of the essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” turns detective in this crime thriller set in 1854 London from the creator of Rambo. A killer imitating the real-life Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811, described in detail in De Quincy’s essay, throws Londoners into a panic.

  • The Moon and More

    Sarah Dessen (Viking)

    For many teens, it isn’t summer without a new Sarah Dessen novel, and they’ll be thrilled to return to the seaside tourist haven of Colby, N.C., in this story of local girl Emaline, whose relationship, family, and future plans are thrown into flux by some new arrivals to town. As always, Dessen skillfully blends romance and self-discovery with characters that readers will wish were their best friends.

  • Sisterland

    Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House)

    Hovering in that wildly desirable land where literary meets commercial, Sittenfeld is a writer who has fans waiting for her next novel and this summer delivers a page-turner about psychic twin sisters who have taken different views of “the gift.” They both arrive in their hometown, St. Louis, to confront the fallout from a startling prediction and their own relationship.

  • Snow Hunters

    Paul Yoon (Simon & Schuster)

    In his debut novel, Yoon tells the story of a North Korean soldier who defects at the end of the Korean War, leaving everything behind him to build a new life on the coast of Brazil. The collection Once the Shore showcased Yoon’s piercing powers of story and language; this novel continues his stunning trajectory with prose so pristine it feels supernatural.

  • This Is What Happy Looks Like

    Jennifer E. Smith (Little, Brown/Poppy)

    When a typo leads to an candid e-mail exchange between 16-year-old smalltown girl Ellie and teenage Hollywood heartthrob Graham Larkin, it’s the beginning of a relationship that will change the lives of both of them—especially when the paparazzi gets wind of it. Smith knows her way around an ultraromantic premise, and this one is sure to hook teens.

  • Enigma of China

    Qiu Xiaolong (Minotaur)

    In his eighth outing, Shanghai Chief Insp. Chen Cao, an ethical cop in a police state, looks into the apparent suicide of the director of the city’s housing development committee. The official story asserts that the corrupt director hanged himself out of shame, but Chen suspects otherwise.

  • The Child Thief

    Dan Smith (Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.))

    During the winter of 1930, a stranger stumbles into a Ukrainian village pulling a sled bearing two dead children whose bodies show signs of cannibalism. British author Smith examines the power of the human spirit when pushed to the brink in this atmospheric thriller.

  • Search Party

    Valerie Trueblood (Counterpoint (PGW, dist.))

    In these 13 stories, Trueblood, who’s tackled marriage (or rather people escaping from marriage) in her first collection, Marry or Burn, here writes of rescue: how just plain people—a fired cop, a nurse’s aide, a radio producer diagnosed with cancer—are spared, saved, and delivered from the jaws of fate, often from situations that seem hopeless.

  • The Ghost Riders of Ordebec

    Fred Vargas (Penguin)

    In French author Vargas’s seventh crime novel featuring Commissaire Adamsberg, the chief of Paris’s Serious Crimes Squad ventures out of his jurisdiction to the small Normandy town of Ordebec. There he encounters the 1,000-year-old legend of the Ghost Riders, hellish riders who target four of the town’s most morally corrupt men.

  • Questions of Travel

    Michelle de Kretser (Little, Brown)

    Through the lives of two characters, Australian Laura and Sri Lankan Ravi, de Kretser weaves a story about travel. Laura is freed to roam because of a financial windfall; Ravi travels in his imagination. When they finally meet, another adventure begins in this keenly observed meditation on the meaning of leaving home.

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