Fantasy and Science Fiction
Iron Gold: A Red Rising Novel by Pierce BrownStarring: slave-turned-statesman Darrow, a lowly Red whose uprising against Mars' Gold elite led to the establishment of the Solar Republic -- and an endless war.
Series alert: This spinoff of the Red Rising trilogy takes place ten years after the events of Morning Star. However, newcomers should start at the beginning with Red Rising.
Read it for: a dystopian outer space setting, a unique color-coded caste system, and an action-packed plot rife with warfare and political intrigue.
A War in Crimson Embers by Alex MarshallWhat it's about: Once a hero, now a pariah, warrior Zosia rounds up her far-flung former comrades-in-arms in an attempt to right past wrongs and redeem herself.
For fans of: the potent mix of extreme violence and sardonic humor found in Joe Abercrombie's First Law books.
Series alert: A War in Crimson Embers concludes the Crimson Empire trilogy, which begins with A Crown for Cold Silver, followed by A Blade of Black Steel.
The Night Market by Jonathan MooreWhat it's about: Responding to a late-night call, San Francisco homicide detectives arrive at the scene of the crime to find it crawling with FBI agents in hazmat suits. Then things get really weird.
Is it for you? Equal parts dystopian SF, noir, and conspiracy thriller, this genre-bending novel boasts a menacing atmosphere and a twisty plot. Think Philip K. Dick meets the X Files.
Should you start here? You can! The 3rd installment of a loose trilogy, The Night Market stands on its own.
The Will to Battle by Ada PalmerWhat it's about: Ex-convict Mycroft Canner discovers the high cost of peace as his world -- a 25th-century utopian society in which philosophical Hives have replaced nation-states -- begins to collapse.
Series alert: Due to the complexity of this 3rd Terra Ignota novel, readers should begin at the beginning with Too Like the Lightning.
Try this next: For another thought-provoking blend of Western philosophy and science fiction, try Jo Walton's Just City novels, which envision a society based on the principles of Plato's Republic.
The Sky Is Yours by Chandler Klang SmithIn a world... where dragons soar above the burned-out ruins of Empire Island (think New York in the year 301970), a reality-TV star, a baroness, and a feral girl must survive the mean streets of their own city.
Want a taste? "This is the story of what it is to be young in a very old world."
For fans of: the inventive and freewheeling apocalyptic fiction of Nick Harkaway.
It's Complicated (Romantic Relationships)
Burn For Me: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona AndrewsWhat it's about: A pyrokinetic "Prime" is on the loose, using powerful magic to incinerate anyone or anything that stands in his way. As private investigator Nevada Baylor tries to stop him, she finds an unlikely ally in Connor "Mad" Rogan, a billionaire with dark powers of his own.
Why you might like it: Straddling the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romantic suspense, this steamy series starter asks: can your enemy's enemy be your friend-with-benefits (and more)?
You might also like: Although they feature a lighter tone and a snarkier heroine, Darynda Jones' Charley Davidson novels also pair a tough private eye and a hot but dangerous alpha male.
The Heart Goes Last: A Novel by Margaret AtwoodWhat it's about: In exchange for a secure middle-class existence, downwardly mobile couple Charmaine and Stan become subjects in an unusual social experiment that will put their relationship to the test.
Why you might like it: No one does chilling yet slyly satirical literary dystopia like Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood.
For fans of: sardonic, keenly observed novels of formerly middle-class individuals adjusting to the harsh realities of late capitalism, such as Karl Taro Greenfeld's The Subprimes or Lionel Shriver's The Mandibles
The Cold Between: A Central Corps Novel by Elizabeth BonesteelIntroducing: Commander Elena Shaw, chief engineer of the Central Corps ship Galileo, and retired starship captain Treiko "Trey" Zajec, whose hookup on the colony planet of Volhynia gets complicated when Trey is accused of murdering one of Elena's crewmates.
You might also like: Blending mystery, political intrigue, action, and romance, this opening installment of the Central Corps novels may appeal to fans of Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax novels.
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance: A Vorkosigan Saga Novel by Lois McMaster BujoldStarring: Captain Ivan Vorpatril, who (unlike his adventurous cousin, Miles Vorkosigan) is content with his quiet, uncomplicated existence... Then he receives orders to protect Tej Arqua, a young woman targeted by a criminal syndicate.
Series alert: Starring a popular supporting character from the long-running Vorkosigan saga, this 18th series entry, which takes place several years before the events of Cryoburn, easily stands on its own.
Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline CareyWhat it is: a lush, steamy tale of the forbidden love between Sidonie, dauphine of Terre d'Ange, and Imriel de la Courcel, son of the realm's most notorious traitor.
Is it for you? Depicting a society whose motto is "love as thou wilt," this novel does not shy away from explicit depictions of erotic relationships.
Series alert: Jacqueline Carey's popular Kushiel's Legacy series is comprised of three linked trilogies: Kushiel's Justice is book 2 of a trilogy that focuses on Imriel's journey to adulthood.
Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntoshWhat it's about: If you're a beautiful but uninsured young woman who's facing terminal illness, your best bet is to become a "bridesicle." Of course, you'll be cryogenically frozen until a wealthy man opts to pay for your treatment in exchange for becoming his wife.
You might also like: Andri Snaer Magnason's Lovestar or Chris Adrian's The New World, both of which explore issues of economic inequality as they depict futuristic technologies that create more problems than they solve when applied to personal relationships.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
If you are having trouble unsubscribing to this newsletter, please contact NextReads at 919-489-3713, 3710 Mayfair Street, Durham, NC 27707