Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka AokiWelcome to... El Monte, California, home of Starrgate Donuts, where current proprietor (and alien refugee) Lan Tran lives with her children.
Where you'll meet: violin teacher Shizuka Satomi, "the Queen of Hell," whose Faustian bargain requires her to deliver seven musical souls to the devil; and transgender runaway Katrina Nguyen, a violin prodigy who makes Shizuka question her past decisions.
For fans of: Becky Chambers and TJ Klune.
Truth of the Divine by Lindsay EllisWhat it is: the 2nd installment of the Noumena series, a sequel to the bestselling Axiom's End.
Starring: Cora Sabino, an interpreter for the extraterrestrial amygdalines; her alien companion, Ampersand; and journalist Kaveh Mazandarani, whose pursuit of the truth draws him into their orbit.
About the author: When not busy writing first contact-themed alternate history novels, YouTuber Lindsay Ellis cohosts the It's Lit! web series.
The Free Bastards by Jonathan FrenchStarring: "thriceblood" Oats, part of a hog-mounted "hoof" (band) of half-orcs that defend the liminal Lot Lands separating the Tyrkanian Empire from Hispartha, rival nations that are now at war.
Series alert: The Free Bastards marks the conclusion of the Lot Lands trilogy, after The Grey Bastards and The True Bastards.
Try these next: Gritty but not grimdark, this violent and bawdy series is a good bet for fans of Glen Cook's Black Company books, Jeff Salyards' Bloodsounder's Arc series, or Luke Scull's Grim Company novels.
The Last Graduate by Naomi NovikWhat it is: the 2nd book in the Scholomance series, following A Deadly Education.
Starring: dark sorceress Galadriel "El" Higgins, who's determined to get herself and her classmates to graduation day without getting killed by monsters.
For fans of: magic-infused tales of dark academia, such as Marina and Sergey Dyachenko's Vita Nostra, Lev Grossman's The Magicians, or Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House.
Scorpion by Christian CantrellWhat's going on? CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell tracks tech-savvy serial killer the Elite Assassin, who brands each victim with numeric codes, while physicist Henrietta Yi works on a top secret government project.
Why you might like it: Intensifying parallel narratives converge in this action-packed, intricately plotted near-future SF thriller full of twists.
For fans of: Blake Crouch's Recursion, the film Tenet.
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah JohnsonIntroducing: Cara, a "traverser" at the Eldridge Institute of Earth Zero, which sends its employees, mostly poor people of color, on dangerous data-harvesting assignments in other dimensions.
What happens: As someone whose "dop" (counterpart) has died in 373 out of 380 known alternate Earths, Cara can travel almost anywhere in the multiverse, which is how she can discover a worlds-altering secret while keeping a few of her own.
Want a taste? "Even worthless things can become valuable once they become rare. This is the grand lesson of my life."
The Minders by John MarrsTired: using encryption to protect sensitive information from cyberterrorists.
Wired: encoding sensitive information into DNA and implanting it in the brains of five synesthetes, dubbed "Minders."
Inspired...by this near-future thriller set in the world of The Passengers and The One? You might also enjoy Chuck Wendig's Zer0es or Ramez Naam's Nexus novels.
Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeerWhat happens: Security consultant "Jane Smith" recounts how receiving a key to a storage locker containing a preserved hummingbird (and a note from mysterious ecoterrorist Silvina) upended her life by sending her down a rabbit hole.
Reviewers say: This "enigmatic eco-thriller" (Guardian) by the author of the Southern Reach trilogy offers "cinematic set pieces, noirish interludes and horrifying bad guys" (Washington Post).
The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. WilsonWhat it is: a sequel to the late Michael Crichton's 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain, published 50 years after the original.
The situation: After a drone flying over the Amazon basin detects an anomaly with a familiar chemical signature, a team from Project Eternal Vigilance assembles to investigate.
Why you might like it: "Written in the spirit of Crichton but in [Daniel H.] Wilson’s own powerful voice" (Booklist), this fast-paced thriller is framed as an official report of the incident, complete with documents, interviews, and transcripts.
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