Stacey Abrams does it again with another scintillating page-turner. Rogue Justice picks up right where While Justice Sleeps left off, and this time Avery is thrown into a plot involving hacking, cryptocurrency, and energy grids. I definitely learn something every time I read a book by Stacey Abrams!
Rogue Justice by Stacey Abrams, (List Price: 29, Doubleday, 9780385548328, May 2023)
Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Out of necessity, Laura has chosen to live a simpler, yet, courageous life in a secluded, rustic cabin in the woods on the outskirts of an Italian village. Necessity turns into a reorganization of priorities, which I wholly admire, as Laura shares her thoughts with the reader on living with nature, interacting with others, and what it means to survive. Beautiful.
At the Edge of the Woods by Kathryn Bromwich, (List Price: 26, Two Dollar Radio, 9781953387318, June 2023)
Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
I’ve had a hard time trying to decide what to say about this book. I don’t want to say anything about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away. This is a post-apocalyptic novel unlike any I have read. David’s writing is beautiful and propulsive though the story is kind of a slow burn. Like most of my favorite books, this one left me both heartbroken and hopeful.
City of Orange by David Yoon, (List Price: 18, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593422182, May 2023)
Set in New Mexico, this mystery with a bit of the supernatural caught my attention from the beginning. It is told from three viewpoints: Laura, a librarian whose hobby is finding missing persons through genealogical research; Jean Martinez, the NM detective trying to crack a 30-year-old cold case; and the spirits of the murdered victims. Laura is recovering from breast cancer surgery, and the physical symptoms she struggles with add an unusual element to the story. This book feels like the beginning of a series, and I am eager to read the next book.
The Night Flowers by Sara Herchenroether, (List Price: $26.95, Tin House, 9781953534866, May 2023)
I think it is my theater background. I went to school for that and I have been trained to get into other heads and trying to inhabit other spaces and to fully imagine those experiences in empathetic ways. There are all kinds of work that you do as an actor for that. Oddly enough, if I’m writing a play or an essay, those come from a very different part of my brain than a novel. The piece of my brain that heats up when I’m working on a novel is the same piece that heats up when I’m acting. ―Joshilyn Jackson, Interview, Wraparound South
What booksellers are saying about With My Little Eye
Joshilyn Jackson has long been one of the leading novelists of the 21st Century South, but her recent turn towards well-plotted thrillers that pivot on the interpersonal politics of well to do Southerners and the love of parents for their children (however their family came to be) continues in what might be her best novel yet. Jackson mercilessly exploits the rapid gentrification of Atlanta and the explosion of the film industry here to create a familiar yet fresh setting for her story. She also uses our constant nostalgia for the pop culture of our past to weave her tale of a former teen (well, maybe not so much) second-tier star with a stalker who follows her across the country. Huge props to Jackson in her work crafting Honor, an incredibly realistic tween on the spectrum. Honor all but leaps off the page.
― Tracie Harris from The Book House in Smyrna, Georgia
| Buy from The Book House
Jackson’s newest thriller tells us about Meribel Mills, an actress that has moved as far away from home as she can get to avoid a stalker. She thinks she and her daughter are safe in their new home but when the letters – with their distinguished scented markers – arrive at her new place, she can’t believe it. Who can Meribel trust and how far will she have to go to escape the stalker forever and ensure the safety of her family? Fans of her thrillers will eat this one up!
―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
With her newest novel, Jackson gets even twistier with her plots as we read about an actress who moves across the country to escape a creepy stalker who seems to be escalating. Meribel Mills had a popular part in a 90s sitcom and has had steady, though not high profile, work since then. But now she’s got a stalker sending her scary mail and she has a child to protect. So, even though she said she’d never set foot back in Georgia, she moves there from LA for a new TV show. But will that be enough to escape her tormenter?
―Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia | Buy from Bookmiser
About Joshilyn Jackson
Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of ten other novels, including gods in Alabama and Never Have I Ever. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.
The Soulmate is about two couples, Pippa and Gabe and Amanda and Max. It is a story of family, mental illness, and what it means to truly love someone. The riveting thriller is told from the viewpoints of the two wives, both in the past and the present. Pippa, who is very much alive, is trying to understand what has happened and what she can do to protect her family. Amanda, who is dead is trying to discover exactly what happened that led to her death. One of the best domestic thrillers I have read in ages, the short chapters make you want to read “just one more” so you can find out what has happened and what is going to happen.
The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth, (List Price: 28.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250229700, April 2023)
The Insatiable Volt Sisters is straight-ahead horror, but it looks deeply into struggles of defining one’s own legacy despite a troubled heritage. Told from the perspective of four very different women, Moulton’s characters are flawed and struggling, but also courageous and unrelenting in their choice to face darkness and despair head-on. This book is eerie and mysterious…and I could feel Fowler Island dripping off the pages as the sisters reveal/fight the beast within.
The Insatiable Volt Sisters by Rachel Eve Moulton, (List Price: 18, MCD x FSG Originals, 9780374538323, May 2023)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
I am not a reader of thrillers, but I could not put this down. Following the two octogenarian sons of a future-seeing serial killer, this story weaves between past and present, between investigators and the investigated, and intertwines a horrific legacy with a more recent brutal attack and the siblings that survived. Alex North kept me guessing, and though I had to draw a character map to track all the Englishmen the story follows, I was deeply invested by the end and questioning for myself the roles of family, both blood and chosen.
The Angel Maker by Alex North, (List Price: $28.99, Celadon Books, 9781250757869, February 2023)
“It was very fun to write Roza because she makes her own rules and she has certain boundaries and in other ways she doesn’t have any boundaries at all, she’s very intimidating. I started to write this book was really to explore my "shadow parts" those are the parts of ourselves we repress, usually when we’re young. And for women and girls a lot of those parts have to do with anger, aggression, sexuality…and when we do experience those feelings it can bring a lot of shame. So I wanted to really focus on a character who feels no shame.” ―Julia Bartz, Interview, She Wore Black Podcast
What booksellers are saying about The Writing Retreat
You know how sometimes you think ,”If someone would just make me do this, I’d really knock it out and do great”… well be careful what you wish for! This twisty novel of mind games and winter weather will leave you gasping. Loved that it was as much about the craft of writing as it is an unsettling thriller.
―Susan Williams from M. Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, SC | Buy from M. Judson, booksellers
OK, I thought this was going to be a particular type of thriller with a predictable albeit revamped plot- dear lord was I incorrect. Halfway through, I’m reading a passage about drug induced sex with a demon with kaleidoscopic eyes. Heck yes! More of this! More of these terrifying, queer, uncomfortable books. I am so delighted and surprised. And this is a debut? Isn’t it kind of hard to write a successful mystery? Let alone, an expose on queer shame, toxic relationships, and social nuances? Dang, Julia. When this book comes out, it’s going straight to my staff picks.
―Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books (NC) in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books
The Writing Retreat explores what happens when Alex, a horror writer experiencing a wretched bout of writer’s block finds themself at their idol’s estate for an amazing chance of finally being published. Oh yeah, did I mention her ex-best friend and source of said writer’s block is also in the house? A wildly imaginative psychological thriller that explores the question: who do our stories and memories really belong to?
―Eden Hakimzadeh from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL | Buy from Oxford Exchange
Nightmares, sleepwalking, poisons, drugs, dark basements, ghosts, secret passageways, hauntings, and dangers await talented young women as they step into the mansion Blackbriar for a month-long writing retreat. Roza Vallo, a successful feminist horror writer, is the owner of this magnificent mansion and promises that in the month one of these participants could win a million dollars and fame and fortune for writing the best story. What would these women do to become wealthy and realize their dream of being a famous writer? Beginning with the mysterious necklaces, these women become discombobulated as they dwell in Blackbriar and face terrors and secrets and dangers in the spooky, horrifying situation. No reader will forget this thriller or easily put down this shocking story until the last page.
―Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser
About Julia Bartz
Julia Bartz is a Brooklyn-based writer and practicing therapist. Her fiction writing has appeared in The South Dakota Review, InDigest Magazine, and more. The Writing Retreat is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @JuliaBartz and Instagram at @JuliaBartz.
Iris and Roy Johansen are prolific authors whose works remain fresh and engaging. Kendra Michaels is a very unique character. Blind until she was twenty and had a novel operation to restore her sight, she really wants to focus on her music therapy practice. However, her finely tuned senses make her incredibly useful to the FBI. Her morals and care for others make it hard for her to refuse when asked to consult on cases. This one is particularly heinous, a serial killer has agreed to reveal the location of one his victims. As the grave is excavated and a large crew looks on an explosive device is activated. Kendra can’t say no when asked to help untangle this twisted rope of evil.
More Than Meets the Eye by Iris Johansen, (List Price: $29, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538726235, February 2023)
“I have never met someone who reads only from one shelf. I don’t think young people read that way and I am always wary of what people may deem “too much” for younger readers because I think they actually have a pretty good barometer of what they can handle and will happily set a book aside when it starts to go places they don’t want to go…I suppose when I’m writing adult, I feel a little freer to take my time with the world and the lore, and to dig more deeply into the grotesque. I also swear more.” ―Leigh Bardugo, Interview, The New York Times
What booksellers are saying about Hell Bent
Welcome back to the hidden darkness of Yale’s campus, and the magic that soaks its architecture and history. Though society leaders have declared Darlington dead and gone, Alex and Dawes know better – and they will go to any end to save him. Hell Bent is magical, resplendent with fierce characters, a devious and twisting plot, and at its core a deep interrogation of the cost of power and the lengths at which the privileged will go to maintain it.
―Jordan April from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books
I don’t think I’ve eagerly anticipated a book as much as I have Hell Bent, and let me just say that the wait was worth every. Damn. Minute. Diving back into the world of Galaxy Stern and Lethe felt like being wrapped up in my favorite childhood blanket while also sitting just a bit too close to the fire. Leigh Bardugo somehow managed to create a story that is both intensely dark and strangely comforting and I look forward to devouring every last book in this series.
―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL | Buy from Oxford Exchange
Imagine if you will, me opening a window and screaming “DARLINGTON” at the top of my lungs. No that’s not my review, I just needed to make my feelings known. Hell Bent is a bloody, brilliant continuation that forces found family on the most ill fitting of individuals that somehow just work. It’s an exploration of grief, growth, and is somehow sexy despite it all. Rife with tension and lore desperate to be discovered, I can’t help but hope that book three won’t be the end. Now, if you don’t mind, I must get back to screaming out of my window about Darlington.
―Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks
About Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the Grishaverse (now a Netflix original series) which spans the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, The Language of Thorns, and King of Scars—with more to come. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Ninth House (Goodreads Choice Winner for Best Fantasy 2019), which is being developed for television by Amazon Studios. She lives in Los Angeles and is an Associate Fellow of Pauli Murray College at Yale University.
“The real isolated town of Whittier, Alaska was something that has been in the back of my mind for over 20 years. I had watched a documentary back when the city could only be reached by train or boat and the tunnel had not yet been open to car traffic. When I started thinking of setting a murder mystery there, I watched a video driving through the two-and-a-half-mile one-way tunnel and it made me think of falling through a rabbit hole where I was going to end up in a strange Wonderland with some odd characters, and then the pieces started to come together.” ―Iris Yamashita, Interview, The Nerd Daily
What booksellers are saying about City Under One Roof
The setting for City Under One Roof was so intriguing that I immediately looked up whether such a place existed – and it does! Couldn’t help feeling claustrophobic with the closed in atmosphere of the bldg and being cut off from the outside world. Sinister goings-on because almost everyone there is hiding from something, but you don’t know what. Or who to trust. Loved it!
―Eileen McGervey from One More Page Books in Arlington, VA | Buy from One More Page Books
If Twin Peaks and Fargo had a baby, it might look like this book. Based on the real town of Whittier, Alaska, a crime is committed in this a snowbound burg where everyone lives in the same high-rise and everyone, literally, knows everyone. 205 residents and no one is talking about the severed hand and foot that have washed ashore on Point Mettier. Anchorage detective Cara Kennedy has reasons to investigate the discovery beyond her job. Accessible only by tunnel, the storm traps her in the town with its secrets, a murderer, and a memorable moose.
―Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
The setting for City Under One Roof (literally a 205 unit high rise with infirmary, police department, etc. all under one roof) in an isolated area of Alaska that has been cut off from the outside world due to an avalanche in the tunnel which is the only road in or out is only part of what makes this debut novel such a page turner. The mystery, which involves a hand and foot washing up on a beach, and a head found buried in a barn definitely gets your attention. But, best oi all are the cast of quirky characters all with background and baggage. Perfect for fans of City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong.
―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction
About Iris Yamashita
Iris Yamashita is an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter for the movie Letters from Iwo Jima. She has been working in Hollywood for fifteen years developing material for both film and streaming, has taught screenwriting at UCLA, and is an advocate of women and diversity in the entertainment industry. She has also been a judge and mentor for various film and writing programs, and lives in California.
It’s a great debut, spooky, atmospheric, with family drama, and full of small town secrets. Gotta love a strong female main character, who is unafraid of danger. There are twists and turns in every moment…the suspense is palpable. This book is impossible to put down.
The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera, (List Price: $27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593540213, January 2023)
Absolutely fucking terrifying. Hendrix does it again in this hilarious yet terrifying novel that combines generational trauma and denial with a not-your-average haunted house. Honestly, I’m unsure if my sibling and I could survive the level of haunting that plagues Louise and Mark; the characters themselves have you questioning whether they will make it to the very end! I had to read this in broad daylight to get through it all. Unique and horrifying, every detail will send goosebumps up your arms and chills down your neck. Not to mention you’ll never look at puppets or squirrels the same way.
How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix (List Price: $28, Berkley, 9780593201268, January 2023)
A beautifully odd and weird story, full of imagination, obsession, and layers upon layers of intrigue. Katrina Kim is living on the edges of life, barely able to afford her shared apartment, struggling with her temp job, and lowkey stalking her coworker Kurt. There’s something about him and his strangeness that compels her to watch him. Then one night she sees Kurt jump off a bridge, drawing Katrina into the mystery that was his life. I can’t recommend this strange book enough!
Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong (List Price: $28, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538723562, January 2023)