Blink and you’ll miss it! The new releases this week are coming fast—from an insidious dose of mystery reads to the action-packed sci-fi debut of a beloved YouTuber, historical fiction capers and an inquiry into our fascination with the unknown—so catch your breath, and see if you can keep up. Read more below!
Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
An alternate history first contact adventure set in the early 2000’s, pitched as Stranger Things meets Arrival, by video essayist Lindsay Ellis.
By the fall of 2007, one well-timed leak revealing that the U.S. government might have engaged in first contact has sent the country into turmoil, and it is all Cora Sabino can do to avoid the whole mess. The force driving this controversy is Cora’s whistleblower father, and even though she hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government–and redirected it to her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.
To save her own life, she offers her services as an interpreter to a monster, and the monster accepts.
Learning the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to find the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. But in becoming an interpreter, she begins to realize that she has become the voice for a being she cannot ever truly know or understand, and starts to question who she’s speaking for– and what future she’s setting up for all of humanity.
And don’t miss out—Lindsay Ellis is joining us virtually for a celebration of Axiom’s End on Thursday, July 30th at 7PM CDT. Tickets are now available with your purchase of the book from BookPeople. We hope to see you there!
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas
Dive into this magical middle-grade debut novel where a Cuban American boy must use his secret ability to communicate with animals to save the inhabitants of his town when they are threatened by a tule vieja, a witch that transforms into animals.
All twelve-year-old Nestor Lopez wants is to live in one place for more than a few months and have dinner with his dad, an Army sergeant deployed in Afghanistan. When he and his mother move to a new town to live with his grandmother, Nestor plans to lay low, and he certainly has no intention of letting anyone find out his deepest secret—that he can talk to animals. But when the animals in town start disappearing, and Nestor’s grandmother is spotted in the woods where they were last seen, suspicion mounts against her. Nestor learns that they are being taken by a tule vieja, a witch who bites animals to gain their power, and his extraordinary ability is put front and center as he tries to catch the real culprit and clear his grandmother’s name.
Eugenia says of The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, “This middle grade read was good for the soul. Friendship, action-packed adventure, and a healthy dose of spooky folklore will hook readers and take them for a fun ride! There are pockets of beautiful writing on family and belonging that made Nestor Lopez a really balanced, lovable read.”
And you can learn more about this wonderful read later today when author Adrianna Cuevas joins BookPeople live on Zoom at 4PM CDT for a celebration of Nestor alongside Chantel Acevedo and her new book, Muse Squad. Tickets are still available—get yours now!
Shadow Garden by Alexandra Burt
If you’re still sheltering in place, you might think Burt’s protagonist Donna Pryor has discovered heaven—she’s staying in a luxuriously appointed condo, set in a meticulously landscaped estate with a dedicated housekeeper and on-site spa services (and even a movie theater!). The problem is that Donna doesn’t know why she’s there, why she hasn’t heard from her adult daughter, and why her husband won’t take her calls. She knows something is wrong but she can’t quite—remember. Burt is a master at exploring how the mind and memory can wreak havoc on the psyche, and this dark thriller makes for the perfect chilling summer read.
And don’t miss our upcoming event on July 22nd at 7PM CDT when Burt will discuss her book with Amy Gentry, author of last year’s Last Woman Standing, one of the titles on Meike’s 2019 Top 10 list! Tickets are free—RSVP here!
America’s favorite cultural historian and author of Ghostland takes a tour of the country’s most persistent “unexplained” phenomena
In a world where rational, scientific explanations are more available than ever, belief in the unprovable and irrational—in fringe—is on the rise: from Atlantis to aliens, from Flat Earth to the Loch Ness monster, the list goes on. It seems the more our maps of the known world get filled in, the more we crave mysterious locations full of strange creatures.
Enter Colin Dickey, Cultural Historian and Tour Guide of the Weird. With the same curiosity and insight that made Ghostland a hit with readers and critics, Colin looks at what all fringe beliefs have in common, explaining that today’s Illuminati is yesterday’s Flat Earth: the attempt to find meaning in a world stripped of wonder. Dickey visits the wacky sites of America’s wildest fringe beliefs—from the famed Mount Shasta where the ancient race (or extra-terrestrials, or possibly both, depending on who you ask) called Lemurians are said to roam, to the museum containing the last remaining “evidence” of the great Kentucky Meat Shower—investigating how these theories come about, why they take hold, and why as Americans we keep inventing and re-inventing them decade after decade. The Unidentified is Colin Dickey at his best: curious, wry, brilliant in his analysis, yet eminently readable.
Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
The dangerous magic of The Night Circus meets the powerful historical exploration of The Underground Railroad in this timely and unsettling novel, set against the darkly glamorous backdrop of New York City, where an assassin tries to fight her fate at the dawn of World War II.
Amid the whir of city life, a young woman from Harlem is drawn into the glittering underworld of Manhattan, where she’s hired to use her knives to strike fear among its most dangerous denizens.
Ten years later, Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything—not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams.
Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side—and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late—is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?
Trouble the Saints is a dazzling, daring novel—a magical love story, a compelling exposure of racial fault lines—and an altogether brilliant and deeply American saga.
Pew by Catherine Lacey
A figure with no discernible identity appears in a small, religious town, throwing its inhabitants into a frenzy
In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.
As the town spend the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and pasts to them in one-sided conversations. All the while Pew has brief flashes to what might be past experiences, or lives, but mostly spends their time listening, observing, and thinking. As days pass, the void around Pew’s presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew’s story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.
Pew, Catherine Lacey’s third novel, is a foreboding, provocative, and amorphous fable about the world today: its contradictions, its flimsy morality, and the limits of judging others based on their appearance. With precision and restraint, one of our most beloved and boundary-pushing writers holds up a mirror to her characters’ true selves, revealing something about forgiveness, perception, and the faulty tools society uses to categorize human complexity.
Lineage Most Lethal by S.C. Perkins
Scott and Meike both loved Perkins’ debut cozy mystery featuring genealogist Lucy Lancaster (2019’s Murder Once Removed) and her sophomore effort is equally fantastic. Lucy’s still physically and emotionally exhausted from her last adventure and her new client, Pippa Sutton, offers the perfect solution—Lucy can mix business with some relaxation while researching the Sutton family tree during a stay at the Sutton’s exclusive boutique hotel on the shores of Ladybird Lake in downtown Austin. When Lucy encounters a stranger just moments before his death and the hotel chef is murdered, Lucy has to call on her deduction skills (and the help of her grandfather George, who she discovers has a particular set of skills) to find a murderer before he can strike again. Perkins has crafted the perfect mix of espionage, history, mystery, and revenge—with some Austin Tex-Mex and cutting edge fashion thrown in.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself, with terrifying and far-reaching consequences, in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.
In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.
But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.
Remain In Love by Chris Frantz
The inside story of Talking Heads by their drummer and co-founder. At its core is Frantz’s romance with bassist Tina Weymouth, with whom he not only formed a life but a second band, Tom Tom Club.
One of the most iconic bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Talking Heads distinguished themselves from the ultra-cool Rolling Stones, the chaotic Sex Pistols, and glam rockers like David Bowie. They burst onto the scene when Frantz’s girlfriend Tina Weymouth taught herself to play bass and joined him and lead singer David Byrne, playing at CBGBs and touring Europe with the Ramones. Their hits from “Psycho Killer” to “Burning Down the House” to “Wild, Wild Life” captured the post-baby boom generation’s intense, affectless style. Their Jonathan Demme-directed concert film Stop Making Sense remains a classic. Frantz’s and Weymouth’s creativity surged with Tom Tom Club, bringing an Afro-Caribbean beat to their fresh hits like “Genius of Love.”
Remain in Love is studded with memorable names from the era: Grace Jones, Andy Warhol, Stephen Sprouse, Lou Reed, John Cale, Richard Hell, Twyla Tharp, Brian Eno, Debbie Harry, and many more. Beautifully written with immersive vivid detail, the book moves from the rooms where the songs were made—including Providence, RI and the Chrystie Street loft Frantz, Weymouth, and Byrne shared—to the meals eaten and the clothes worn, right to the dynamics of a long and complicated working relationship with a mercurial frontman.
With the sense of place and time that characterized Patti Smith’s book Just Kids, Remain in Love is as frank and open as autobiographies from rockers Neil Young and Keith Richards.
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
In Dublin, 1918, a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu is a small world of work, risk, death, and unlooked-for love, in “Donoghue’s best novel since Room” (Kirkus Reviews)
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders — Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.
In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.
In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.
More Better Deals by Joe R. Lansdale
Lansdale pays homage to James M Cain with this tale of a used car salesman in the sixties, getting involved with a dangerous woman who wants her husband dead. Lansdale uses this classic noir template and makes it his own with his trademark humor, a look at social mores, and that one-of-a-kind voice. It’s not every author who can make you feel for a man who is both a killer and a used car salesman.
Now In Paperback
The Big Book of Modern Fantasy ed. Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
Zora and Langston by Yuval Taylor
Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
These titles and more are available to order from BookPeople today.