The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz BazawuleWhat it's about: Fleeing racist violence in 1960s Alabama, newlyweds Bernadette Broussard and Melvin Johnson seek asylum in Ghana. A chance encounter with a musician shortly after they arrive will have dramatic, unanticipated consequences for their marriage, futures, and freedom.
Media Buzz: After a bidding war, FX won the rights to adapt Burnt Flowers into a six-episode miniseries that will star Emmy Award-winning actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
About the author: Ghanaian-born and U.S. based Samuel "Blitz" Bazawule is a multi-hyphenate creator known for his work on Beyoncé's visual album Black is King and for the film The Burial of Kojo, which won him a Guggenheim Fellowship.
The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanIntroducing: Devon Fairweather of the Six Families, a race of "book eaters" who subsist on the printed word, and her son, Cai, a rare "mind eater" whose voracious appetite for brains sends them both into hiding.
What happens: Devon goes to extraordinary lengths to keep Cai sheltered and fed while seeking a medication called Redemption, which is Cai's best hope for long-term survival.
Read it for: immersive world-building, morally grey characters, a Gothic atmosphere, and a powerful meditation on motherhood.
Shutter by Ramona EmersonIntroducing: Diné forensic photographer Rita Todacheene, who works for the Albuquerque police and is gifted at what she does, partly because she can see and hear ghosts.
What happens: Interspersed with flashbacks to Rita's misfit early years on the rez with her grandmother, the contemporary story follows her as she tries to calm the angry ghost of a murder victim by finding her killers.
For fans of: horror/crime combos that aren't afraid to get gruesome; David Heska Wanbli Weiden's Winter Counts; Stuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast.
Husband Material by Alexis HallWhat it's about: Two years after the events of Boyfriend Material, Luc and Oliver are still happy and in love. But suddenly, it seems like everyone's getting married. Should they tie the knot?
Why you might like it: Well-matched leads find their relationship tested in this witty romantic comedy that pays homage to Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Want a taste? "So there I was in the roped-off VIP area of an affordably swanky cocktail bar wearing a crocheted vulva hat."
Take No Names by Daniel NiehSeries alert: Take No Names is the sardonic, action-packed follow-up to Beijing Payback, which first introduced readers to Victor Li, a California college student who gets pulled into the criminal underworld after his father’s murder uncovers deep family ties to organized crime back in China.
This time: Victor is laying low in Seattle after his father's volatile associate Sun took revenge into his own hands. After taking an under-the-table job in "logistical solutions" to get by, Victor's accidental encounter with an extremely rare (and extremely valuable) gemstone leads to a trip to Mexico, an unplanned reunion, and another round of near misses in international crime circles.
Dirt Creek by Hayley ScrivenorWhat happens: Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels is sent to a close-knit small town to investigate the disappearance of 12-year-old Esther. Meanwhile, Esther's best friend Veronica is equally determined to find her, with help from a classmate.
Did you know? This compelling debut by Australian novelist Hayley Scrivenor features multiple narrators and was published as Dirt Town in Australia and the U.K.
For fans of: Jane Harper's The Dry or Candice Fox's Crimson Lake series, both of which are also set in rural Australia.
Mademoiselle Revolution by Zoe SivakWhat it is: a suspenseful, thought-provoking debut novel about the personal and political awakening of a young woman caught between two revolutions on either side of the Atlantic.
Starring: Sylvie Rogers, the daughter of a white planter and an enslaved Black woman who goes from the frying pan into the fire when she flees revolution in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) only to arrive in Paris shortly before the Reign of Terror.
Read it for: an alternate view of important figures from the French Revolution like Maximilien Robespierre; Sylvie's flawed yet sympathetic characterization.
Asian American Histories of the United States by Catherine Ceniza ChoyWhat it is: an insightful and well-researched history that foregrounds the Asian American experience from the 19th century to the present.
Why you should read it: Exploring themes of violence and resistance, this latest volume in the ReVisioning History series offers illuminating perspectives on the erasure of Asian Americans from U.S. histories.
Further reading: The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee; the anthology My Life: Growing Up Asian in America.
Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe by David MaranissWhat it is: a well-researched and insightful biography of multi-hyphenate athlete Jim Thorpe, the first Indigenous American to win Olympic gold for the United States (though he was later stripped of his medals).
Why you should read it: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss looks at the man beyond the myth, exploring how Thorpe grappled with racist treatment, poverty and alcoholism, and fraught family relationships amid his career triumphs.
Did you know? Thorpe made headlines in July when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reinstated his medals after 110 years.
Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew by Michael TwittyWhat it is: a fascinating and thought-provoking combination of memoir, cookbook, and exploration of African Jewish cooking.
Recipes include: Koshersoul Spring Rolls, Black-Eyed Pea Hummus, Matzo Meal Fried Chicken, Berbere Brisket, Okra Gumbo, Yam Kugel.
Series alert: Koshersoul is the 2nd in a planned trilogy focusing on the intersection of food and identity; it follows 2018's James Beard Book of the Year Award winner The Cooking Gene.
Sam's Super Seats by Keah BrownWhat it is: a back-to-school shopping trip with Sam and her best friends. Sam loves dancing, playing on the swings, and -- because having cerebral palsy can make her feel tired -- finding the best spots to sit and rest.
Reviewers say: "A spirited celebration of self-confidence and self-care" (Kirkus Reviews).
About the author: This warm and cheery picture book is the children's debut from writer Keah Brown, creator of #DisabledAndCute.
Hummingbird by Natalie LloydStarring: 12-year-old Olive, a new student at Macklemore Middle School after finally convincing her parents that brittle bone disease doesn't mean she's too fragile for public school.
What happens: Even with her coolest wheelchair, middle school if rough. Joining up with the theater kids helps, but Olive wonders if things could be easier with a wish from the magical hummingbird that lives nearby.
Read it for: sweetness and quirky small-town magic, plus a realistic disabled main character written by an author with the same disability.
Beating Heart Baby by Lio MinThe new kid: Santi, troubled by his past, arrives at his new school eager to join the award-winning, rambunctious marching band. Suwa, the drum major with a similar painful history, finds Santi annoying yet intriguing. The two forge a friendship that soon blossoms into something more.
How it's told: like a vinyl record, with Santi narrating the A-side and Suwa narrating the B-side.
Read it for: the lyrical writing style overflowing with love for indie rock, Los Angeles, and art.
Tumble by Celia C. PérezWhat it's about: After growing up in a family with a loving stepdad, 12-year-old Adela Ramírez learns that her biological dad is Manny Bravo, from a legendary family of luchadores. And all of the Bravos are eager to welcome Adela -- all of them except Manny.
Why you might like it: Packed with authentic, vivid characters, Tumble takes a funny, heartfelt look at just how complicated families can be.
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