November 22, 2016 debut

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

"Dennaleia and Amaranthine’s narratives combine to create a powerful and exquisite love story that also provides incisive political commentary and cautions against zealotry, vengeance, and intolerance. The central mystery is intriguing, Coulthurst’s worldbuilding is excellent, and the book’s explosive conclusion both thrills and satisfies."
-- Publishers Weekly starred review

My review: Oh, my heart! This book! My heart! I love this book so much. It's intriguing fantasy with magic and politics and ponies, all wrapped around a ridiculously satisfying slow-burn romance between two fantastic characters. The world feels realistic and lived-in, with just the right amount of world-building detail to make it easy to follow all the political strains and alliances and dangers. 

I especially love the magic--it feels small and subtle at first, a little thing that hardly seems worth all the fuss various political/religious groups are making over it, but then... it isn't so small and subtle anymore, for reasons which I shall not divulge because SPOILERS, and then all at once this world's magic is terrifying. AND I LOVE IT.

But most of all what I adore about this book are the main characters, Denna and Mare, and their relationship. It's such a delight to watch these two young women who are very different people from very different lines, with very different sets of expectations and burdens on them, slowly come to like and appreciate each other, to see each other's strengths and flaws clearly, and to work together when all kinds of forces are trying to push them apart--and, of course, to fall in love, which happens so naturally and so perfectly I barely even noticed when I shifted from "aw you'll like each other eventually" to shouting JUST KISS ALREADY at the book every three pages. And sometimes I would mix it up and shout NO REALLY YOU LIVE IN A VERY DANGEROUS WORLD JUST KISS ALREADY.

So, yes, it's the kind of book that had more shouting a lot because I was REALLY VERY CONCERNED for these characters and their dangerous, magical world, right up until the end when I wasn't shouting anymore but sighing a deep sigh of happy satisfaction, because literally every single thing about this book is fantastic. Including the horses. I love it.

November 15, 2016 debut

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

My review: Crushing oppression, sci fi adventure with a hint of magic, weird geology, terrifying creatures, and an entire planet that is trying to kill you? What's not to love?

I had a lot of fun reading FLASHFALL, even though it's the kind of sci fi post-cataclysm adventure that's about a world that's been wrecked and all manner of terrible things happening to people who really don't deserve it, which doesn't sound fun AT ALL, but there's so much action it works out. The world-building is delightfully nasty and imaginative--there are critters that make my skin crawl!--and there are constant obstacles thrown up every time our beloved characters make any progress. 

But I was rooting for them! Especially Orion, who is so determined to kind a better life for herself and her loved ones, even in the face of a system that is rigged to defeat her at every turn. 

All in all a really enjoyable sci fi (with a bit of weirdness that may or may not be magic) book that takes place in a world I find endlessly fascinating but absolutely do not ever want to visit under any circumstances. EVER.

upcoming new short story

I have a short story in the December 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. It's called "The Cold Side of the Island" and it's about getting older, losing people, childhood friends growing into different people, and most of all it's about finding a dead thing in the woods. 

The full list of my short stories is here.

Lacie missed the funeral. She overslept and didn't get out of Providence until after ten, and any chance she had of making up the time vanished when the storm turned I-95 north of Portsmouth into a skating rink. A pile-up slammed traffic to a crawl for the better part of the afternoon. Snow whipped across the road in horizontal streaks, scouring the windshield like sand, rocking the car with sudden gusts.

November 8, 2016 debuts

It all started with a harmless prank. But now high school junior Lawrence Barry is one step away from reform school unless he participates in a mentorship program. His mentee? Spencer Knudsen, a Norwegian exchange student with Spock-like intelligence but the social skills of the periodic table.

Then disaster strikes. Homecoming Week. When someone dressed as the school Viking mascot starts destroying the fairytale-inspired floats, all suspicion falls on Lawrence. Add to the mix a demon Goth girl, a Renaissance LARPing group, an overzealous yearbook editor, and three vindictive chickens, and Lawrence soon realizes that his situation may be a little out of control. But Spencer seems to have some answers. In fact, Spencer may be the one friend Lawrence never knew he needed.


In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

"Part mystery and part romance, this fantasy novel delves into what it means to grow up and make important decisions. With an easily relatable main character struggling to fit in, the novel has a realistic and contemplative voice. "
-- School Library Journal

My review: A sad broody boy who needs a million hugs, a sweet romance that made my heart grow three sizes, and a whole pile of really interesting wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey world-building, and some mystery too? WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT. Nothing more. You don't want anything more. TIMEKEEPER is utterly delightful. 

I confess that when I picked up this book I was a teensy eensy little bit worried that rumors of its adorableness would be greatly exaggerated. But I am delighted to report that I had nothing to fear! It is every bit as adorable as promised! MAYBE EVEN MORE SO. Specifically: Danny is every bit as adorable as promised, and very soon I will succeed in figuring out a way of making myself fictional and traveling back in time so I can give him those million hugs he so desperately needs. And the forbidden romance he has with his charming clock boy (just... go with it, it makes sense in context) is so incredibly sweet and lovely. 

The bizarro time-controlling time-shifting time-stopping aspects of the world-building are so cool. Not going to try to explain it here. There's this whole rich mythology and a whole bunch of implications and... it's really cool stuff, and it makes for really great context for a whole bunch of shenanigans and dangers and cleverness that's so much fun to follow. 

AND. I just now noticed, as I went to post this review, that there is a Timekeeper #2 AND a Timekeeper #3 listed WHICH MAKES ME SO HAPPY. The ending of this one is perfectly satisfying, but I love these (ADORABLE) characters so much I am very excited to see what happens next. It will probably make me want to hug them more. That's my prediction. I'm just putting it out there.

November 1, 2016 debuts

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth

Disney-Hyperion

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Emma Allen couldn't be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club's production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she's rocking a new haircut that's sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma's promoted to stage manager with zero experience, her best friend Lulu stops talking to her, and Josh--the adorable soccer boy who's cast as the lead--turns out to be a disaster. It's up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life's latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage's trap door . . . landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It's London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma's a boy--even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

"First-time author Booth captures the thrills of the theater in two eras while providing an striking portrait of Shakespeare and the Chamberlain’s Men through Emma’s eyes... As enlightening as it is enjoyable, this whimsical novel deserves applause of its own."
-- Publishers Weekly starred review
"Emma’s narration includes enough minutiae to please theater-loving readers. Her transitions between times are handled fairly smoothly, Emma employing her knowledge of Elizabethan English to communicate successfully in the 17th century. This entertaining and original novel deals not just with growing up, but with a fresh and different interpretation of 'to be or not to be.'"
-- Kirkus starred review

Future scientist Madeline Little is dreading the start of middle school. Nothing has been right since her grandfather died and her best friend changed schools. Maddie would rather help her father in his research lab or write Standard Operating Procedures in her lab notebook than hang out with a bunch of kids who aren’t even her friends. Despite Maddie’s reluctance, some new friends start coming her way—until they discover what she’s written in that secret notebook. And that’s just part of the trouble. Can this future scientific genius find the formula for straightening out her life?

"First-time author Teagan underscores the importance of compassion and forgiveness as she provides thoughtful insight into a girl working hard to try to maintain control over a life filled with unwelcome developments."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Teagan offers a smart, breezy narrative that is both clever and approachable, offering a fresh twist on the familiar topic of middle school angst. Her characters are realistic and funny as they fumble through early adolescence and grapple with the reality of change. "
-- Kirkus starred review

October 18, 2016 debuts

Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl have been best friends since first grade. Every Friday afternoon, they get together in Lou Lou's backyard garden for their PSPP (Post-School Pre-Parents) tea party. They chat about school, discuss Pea's latest fashions, and plot the weekend's activities.

But all plans go out the window when a series of small crimes crop up around El Corazón, their quaint and quirky neighborhood, right before the Día de Los Muertos procession. First, Pea's cousin's quinceañera dress is tragically ruined. Then Lou Lou's beloved camellia bush, Pinky, suffers a serious blow. And that's just the beginning! When clues start to appear in El Corazón's outdoor murals, the best friends join forces, using Lou Lou's floral expertise and Pea's artistic genius to solve the mysteries.


To twelve-year-old Molly Nathans, perfect is:

—The number four
—The tip of a newly sharpened No. 2 pencil
—A crisp white pad of paper
—Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines

What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are sometimes broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Poetry Slam Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with white tablecloths. Molly is sure her mother would never miss that. Right…?

But as time passes, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly's world from spinning out of control. In this fresh-voiced debut novel, one girl learns there is no such thing as perfect.

"Getting an insider’s view of Molly’s downward spiral is both painful and enlightening. Readers need not be familiar with the psychological terms to recognize the damaging effects of Molly’s thinking and how it is wreaking havoc on her relationships. While Molly’s situation becomes quite dire, her courageous decision to communicate her fears and seek help pave the way for a comforting resolution. "
-- Publisher's Weekly

For three ten-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big. Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves.

When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.

"Just right for sensitive tweens, this is a sweet story of friendship and learning to cope with common fears and life changes."
-- School Library Journal
"An endlessly endearing story of three girls’ pursuit of friendship and the beauty and challenge of what it means to be 10. "
-- Kirkus starred review

October 11, 2016 debuts

Since her mom died, Andie’s family has crumbled. Instead of working, her dad gambles away insurance money, while her sister, Paige, has put her future on hold in order to pick up extra waitressing shifts. Andie’s afraid of what will happen if people find out just how bad things are. She’s not sure how long she can hide the fact that there’s no food or money in the house...or adults, for that matter.

When her science partner suggests they study paranormal activity, Andie gets an idea. She wants a sign from her mom—anything to tell her it’s going to be okay. Maybe the rest of her family does too. So she starts a project of her own. Pretending to be her mother’s ghost, Andie sprays perfume, changes TV channels, and moves pictures. Haunting her house is Andie’s last hope to bring her family back into the land of the living.

"Clasen sensitively depicts narrator Andie’s navigation of her new reality as she attends group-therapy sessions at school, allows herself to get to know her mother through her mother’s journals, and embraces new friends."
-- Kirkus reviews

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, almost triumphed once; that was her first suicide attempt. 

Being bipolar is forever. It never goes away. The med du jour might work right now, but Zero will be back for her. It’s only a matter of time.

And so, in an old ballet-shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. Before she goes, though, she starts a short bucket list. 

The bucket list, the support of her family, new friends, and a new course of treatment all begin to lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. The problem is, her plan is already in place, and has been for so long that she might not be able to see a future beyond it. 

This is a story of loss and grief and hope, and how some of the many shapes of love—maternal, romantic, and platonic—affect a young woman’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma of treatment.

"Catherine's acerbically witty narrative voice is razor sharp and often raw, and the confessional tone of her present-tense narration makes clear how overwhelming her pain is... An honest, informative, and ultimately optimistic novel about living with mental illness. "
-- Kirkus reviews

Some secrets are better left at the bottom of the ocean.

Sixteen-year-old Bridey Corkill longs to leave her small island and see the world; the farther from the sea, the better. When Bridey was young, she witnessed something lure her granddad off a cliff and into a watery grave with a smile on his face. Now, in 1913, those haunting memories are dredged to the surface when a young woman is found drowned on the beach. Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her Granddad to leap has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, people in Bridey’s idyllic village begin vanishing, and she finds an injured boy on the shore—an outsider who can’t remember who he is or where he’s from. Bridey’s family takes him in so he can rest and heal. In exchange for saving his life, he teaches Bridey how to master her fear of the water—stealing her heart in the process.

But something sinister is lurking in the deep, and Bridey must gather her courage to figure out who—or what—is plaguing her village, and find a way to stop it before she loses everyone she loves.

"While first-time novelist Marsh draws heavily on standard paranormal tropes (the enigmatic love interest, for example), her evocative setting, memorable characters, and use of obscure folkloric elements all contribute to the novel’s strong sense of place."
-- Publishers Weekly

My review: Oh, what a lovely book this is! Set on the Isle of Man in the early 20th century, FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP is utterly steeped in the island's superstitions, folklore, and culture. The island and its people come alive in these pages--nosy neighbors, dangerous seas, old stories and all--and I just love how rich it all feels, with a real sense of history and community. 

I also adore the main character Bridey, to determined to protect her loved ones and her home in spite of her fears and her dreams of traveling the world, and her relationship with her family, her friends, her home. The sense of connection and shared history between all the people in this isolated little town feels so strong--both the good, between friends, and the bad, when it comes to long-harbored suspicions and rumors. 

I am not saying anything about how great the sea monsters are, because to say that would be to spoil things that are best left unspoiled, so rest assured there are sea monsters and they are great. Sometimes with lots of teeth.

Reading this book felt like taking a trip into a magical, occasionally terrifying past, all described is beautiful detail, and I enjoyed every page. I can't wait to read whatever Sarah Glenn Marsh writes next--whatever it is, I'm sure it will once again feel like immersing myself into a weird and wonderful place I can only visit through her words.


It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite.

When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. 

"In Soria’s quick-paced third-person narrative, threats gather and mysteries deepen, failing or succeeding, but the girls’ mutual loyalty and trust never waver. Energetic and original, this alternative history, fantasy, and mystery mashup with its pair of smart, resourceful, flawed but engaging heroines never disappoints."
-- Kirkus starred review

October 4, 2016 debuts

Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of becoming a Knight of the Round Table. For generations, his family has led the mice who live just out of sight of the humans, defending Camelot from enemies both big and small.

But when Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a new threat is gathering—one that could catch even the Two-Leggers unaware—it is up to them to unmask the real enemy, unite their forces, and save the castle they all call home.

"Leung creates a fascinating parallel world of mice living alongside Camelot’s famous human inhabitants and neatly laces the action-driven plot with colorful animal and legendary Arthurian characters... A winning new adventure featuring a stalwart warrior mouse, heroic knights, and magical Camelot."

-- Kirkus reviews


Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

"Debut novelist Roehrig peoples his sensationalistic, twisty mystery with credible characters, especially narrator Flynn, whose struggles with coming out will resonate with young gay teens in more mundane circumstances. Witty, realistically foulmouthed dialogue and the suspenseful, well-laid mystery will keep pages turning, as will the budding romance between Flynn and Kaz. Readers won’t be able to put it down."

-- Kirkus starred review

My review: Caleb Roehrig's LAST SEEN LEAVING is a wonderfully dark and twisty mystery that is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. I was so tense following along as Flynn slowly uncovered what was going on, peeling back layers and layers of January's life, and realizing a lot of uncomfortable truth about her and himself in the process. 

The mystery is incredibly well done--so many twists and turns! so many plausible possibilities!--but what I really adore about this book are the two main characters. Flynn is wonderful and genuine and believable in both the good and bad choices he makes, the assumptions about himself and others he is forced to confront, and the way he learns that what people see of the world is always colored by their own experiences and perceptions. His process of admitting and accepting his sexuality and the charming romance that follows are realistic and touching.

And January--I know it sounds strange to refer to the character who is by definition not present as the other main character, but she really is. I know the description of the book makes it sound like a girl character is fridged to give the boy character a story, but that's... really not how the plot plays out. But it's impossible to explain without spoiling literally everything about the mystery, so I'll just say that January is a wonderfully complex character with a great deal more agency than the one-line description suggests, and while the story deals very extensively with sexism and misogyny faced by teenage girls, the narrative itself is free of the usual sexist trappings one is braced to expect from "missing troubled girl"-type thrillers. 

Definitely recommend this one. I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's fast-paced and tense and really quite stressful at times, but in the best way, and it's made me eager to read whatever the author comes up with next.

October 1, 2016 debuts

At seventeen, Adam Rhodes is famous, living on his own, and in a downward spiral since he lost the girl he loved. Marybeth—stage name Sunshine—was his best friend from the days they were foster kids; then she was his girlfriend and his band mate. But since her accidental death, he’s been drinking to deal with the memories.

Until one day, an unexpected visitor, Dr. Elloran, presents Adam with a proposition that just might save him from himself. Using breakthrough cloning and memory-implantation techniques, Dr. Elloran and the scientists at Project Orpheus want to resurrect Marybeth, and they need Adam to “donate” intimate memories of his life with her.

The memory retrieval process forces Adam to relive his life with Marybeth and the devastating path that brought them both to fame. Along the way, he must confront not only the circumstances of her death but also his growing relationship with the mysterious Genevieve, daughter of Project Orpheus’s founder. As the process sweeps Adam and Marybeth ever closer to reliving the tragedy that destroyed them, Adam must decide how far he’ll go to save her.

"Using this thought-provoking framework, debut author Koosis leads readers through a labyrinth of moral, spiritual, and emotional dilemmas explored through complex characters grappling with loss... Koosis’s philosophical tale thoughtfully examines the ambiguity of what makes us who we are."
-- Publishers Weekly

Oliver, the meek son of a wealthy British industrialist, discovers the identity of a notorious thief, a man who has been skillfully evading Scotland Yard and snatching priceless artifacts for sport: Mr. Scant, his family butler. After first fearing for his life, Oliver discovers Mr. Scant's secret within a secret: the butler's crimes are actually a series of strikes against an underground group of business tycoons trying to master black magic. 

September 27, 2016 debut

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever.

Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving.

As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

"Readers will find Otis relatable and endearing in his first-person perspective of first love and heartbreak, as well as his unwavering loyalty to his friends. Meg and Dara round out a cast of well-developed characters who have extensive troubles of their own."

-- School Library Journal starred review

My review: Oh, this is a completely lovely book! The characters are so complex and layered, the writing is stunning, and the story is both heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. It's the story of families and individuals learning to go on after terrible tragedy, but it's never dark or overwhelming. 

Otis is the most darling main characters ever, and all the people around him are completely fascinating. His friendship with Dara is one of the most complicated and beautiful and frustrating friendships I've read anywhere--not just in YA, not just in contemporary YA, not just in m/f friendships. ANYWHERE. It's that good. I am so jealous of how well the author captures those difficult, fraught, often painful, often rewarding relationships damaged, hurting people have with each other. 

I will read anything Paula Garner writes in the future. Then I will cry, and read it again, and curse her name to the skies, and cry some more.