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Edison in the Hood
Nadia Uddin
In Uddin’s near future debut, PR rep Aisha Malik accepts a job offer with the Brain Reinvigoration Project in hopes that her new boss, Jay Edison, will be able to extract her deceased mother’s brain and unravel the secrets she hinted at before her death. But Aisha is tempted by Jay’s maverick project for deeper reasons: she and her smart but unsuccessful brother, Sam, have been increasingly at odds with each other, and Sam’s relationship with their mother has deteriorated, leading Aisha to wonder “if artificial intelligence had the potential to solve the world’s most challenging problems, why couldn’t it fix difficult family relationships?"

That theme of just how much AI can do runs throughout, as Uddin explores its wonders alongside the inequalities it creates. While Aisha turns to science for answers, Sam is attracted to the Modern Neo-Luddites—a group opposed to the blind march of technology—but still falls under Jay’s spell, arranging for him to meet some of his fellow Neo-Luddites in hopes of better understanding each other. Uddin’s rich world building skillfully portrays the novel’s dichotomy: technology has made life easier and more beautiful, but those who can’t access it are left stranded, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is stark.

Uddin’s choice to switch between Aisha and Sam’s perspectives throughout brings the characters to life as they struggle to understand whether the human side of AI is actually possible and how to navigate their tumultuous relationship: Aisha learns from a chatbot that it longs to dream as humans do at the same time she has an awakening that her brother’s ethnicity won’t allow “him the privilege to choose his identity.” Uddin delivers some twists that may shock readers while leaving the concept of identity appropriately vague in the end, a fitting conclusion to the story’s philosophical reflections.

Takeaway: This sci-fi debut explores the benefits, and the darker side, of AI.

Great for fans of: Louisa Hall’s Speak; Dennis E. Taylor’s We Are Legion (We Are Bob).

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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The Pilgrim Soul in You: A Story of Love, Loss, and Redemption
Martin Mutka
This moving debut novel from playwright and author Mutka follows Will and Laura, incoming graduate students at Golden Gate University, as they build a promising future together. Will, who quickly falls for Laura after their first meeting, finds the belonging he’s always searched for in Laura’s “close, tight-knit, successful, upper-middle class family,” a welcome respite from his grief over losing both parents and his only brother. Laura is no stranger to loss herself—her father died when she was only six years old—and the couple immediately bonds over their shared experiences, building a strong foundation in this appealing romance.

As Will and Laura move in together to pursue higher education and career goals, they join forces to shepherd Laura’s brother, Rob, as he enters rehab for a drug addiction, and Laura supports Will’s securities jobs while prepping to pass the bar exam herself. But all is not as perfect as it seems, and when tragedy strikes the pair shortly before their wedding, readers will empathize with the couple’s stunning highs and painful lows. Mutka lays bare their emotions and exposes their heartache in raw, meaningful prose: “I learned you can gain deliverance from your suffering through your actions and that those actions affect your life path,” Will reflects when looking back on his painful personal journey.

An emotional rollercoaster from the beginning, Mutka’s romantic elements play more towards realism than fantasy, in a way foreign to the genre at times (Will notes that life's greatest fulfillment comes from "being together and loving each other”), and Mutka delivers a happy ending, but it comes at a great cost. Still, readers will relish the natural bond that develops between Will and Laura as their mutual affection spills effortlessly across the pages, a testament to their willingness to “endure the pain” that often accompanies tremendous love.

Takeaway: A story that captures the beauty and pain of intense love.

Great for fans of: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars; Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: NA
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: A

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Thorns of Chaos
Jeremiah Cain
Cain’s (Devoid of Grey) dark fantasy novel is a tender testimony to the power of love, sacrifice, and family. Carefree fisherman Finn is one of the Feah—a race of winged humanoids living in unison with nature and led by a chief druidess. At twenty-five, Finn’s seeing friends settling down into married life and can’t help but feel left behind, particularly when Kyran, a young man whose company he's frequently enjoyed, breaks the news of his own marriage plans. But fate has something bigger in store for Finn, in the guise of a powerful human army, the Dayigan, who pose a sinister threat to Finn and his kind.

When Finn finds himself wrongly accused of murder by a Dayigan soldier, he's forced to flee the only home he’s ever known, desperately seeking the Feah’s previous Chief Morgana, who he hopes can save his kind from the religiously fervent, xenophobic, and intolerant Dayigans. Finn, a flawed young man, doesn’t stop from blundering forward to do what’s right, no matter the cost to himself, and he’s joined by a small army of elegantly drawn secondary characters, including his brother, Cal, and standout Laisren, a childhood friend and son of Morgana who develops a gentle, and welcome, romance with Finn—a relationship that adds tenderness to the story’s otherwise vicious foundation.

Cain crafts a vivid world built around coming-of-age and man-vs-self tropes, a world rich with detail and myth-lore that traipses brightly through the darker themes of oppression and suffering. The Feah stand to lose everything, and Cain’s painstaking examination of the characters’ mental states gives readers a window into their anguish at the cost to protect their way of life. Depicting the brutal Dayigans as blatant, Christianity-derived acolytes may be off-putting to some readers, but that discomfort only serves to spark deeper reflection on the story’s nuances.

Takeaway: A dark fantasy embodying the power of love and sacrifice.

Great for fans of: Mercedes Lackey; Emily Lloyd-Jones’s The Drowned Woods.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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Climate Crisis Plan: A step-by-step guide on how to connect, communicate, influence, and compel action on climate change
Philip Kent-Hughes
With much of the country experiencing record-high temperatures, natural disasters, or other unusual weather events, talking about how to mitigate climate change seems not only timely but essential. In this hands-on, encouraging book, Kent-Hughes (Career Crisis Plan) describes how individuals and organizations can take action to make meaningful progress toward solving the climate crisis. He starts by outlining the severity of the problem, but he doesn’t dwell on doom— instead he offers positive examples showing that when people take action, real change can occur. “Positive change never comes from submission, resignation, or despair. By acting now, we can be less worried about the future and know that we are playing our part in making the world a better place.”

When it comes to solutions, Kent-Hughes offers suggestions that are achievable for most people, which is important in an overtaxing world where everyone is already overwhelmed. Mobilizing a team, for instance, starts simply by having open and honest conversations with family, friends, and neighbors about climate change and reducing emissions. The action items are also broken down into digestible categories—food, production and consumption, energy, and transportation—allowing people to consider their role in the problem and create specific goals. To streamline this process even more, Kent-Hughes provides easy-to-understand graphs, charts, and to-do lists and encourages evaluation of objectives based on the SMART criteria.

For those interested in diving deeper into climate change causes and solutions, Kent-Hughes offers several appendices with more information, as well as the lengthy list of sources he consulted for this book. Sections detailing what he personally has done to change his lifestyle demonstrate that making a difference doesn’t require perfection or grand gestures. It simply necessitates a sustained commitment to doing better and small changes that help make a huge problem seem more manageable.

Takeaway: An encouraging action plan for individuals and organizations in the face of the climate crisis.

Great for fans of: Charles F. Sabel and David G. Victor’s Fixing the Climate, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac’s The Future We Choose.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

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Related By Murder
Robin Castle
An indie author, Elise, and her mystery book club get roped into investigating the murder of her swaggering news-anchor brother, Chester, in this spry kickoff to Castle’s Detective Pear Mysteries. Elise drives a chugging old car, lives behind a succession of deadbolts, has few friends outside of her reading group, and muses that, like her editor, she works with words because she’s “short on personality.” Fortunately, Castle’s words have plenty, and once Chester—“Mr. Fake Teeth And Spray Tan”—is killed, the story zips along on crack comic dialogue, Elise’s uncertain-at-first team-up with Perla “Pear” Marquez, and the tantalizing possibility that the crime has something to do with the club’s recent contest: each author had one month to write a mystery for the others.

Despite the playful premise, and an emphasis on writers and publishing, Related By Murder never makes actual murder seem light or funny, and Castle proves adept at crafting convincing characters who face loss and disappointment. She also deftly handles the complexity of new and intensifying friendships among her diverse cast, plus the competitive spirits of a group of writer friends—especially once Chester dies, Elise is out-of-the-blue contacted by a top-tier agent, and her brother’s surprising connections to some in the group begin to get exposed. The plotting is smart, as is Castle’s characterization of writers: Elise yearns for a publishing deal, but of course when the life-changing break finally comes, she’s suspicious. Readers, too, will wonder: is everything somehow connected?

Helping sort all that out is Pear, a mysterious figure in her own right. She’s blunt, and nobody’s sure how she came to join their club, but despite that, she lifts Elise’s spirits with horchata and tamales—and soon gets her out of sticky situations—in spite of Elise’s clear distaste for her. The book’s chief pleasure is getting to know this striking creation alongside Elise.

Takeaway: Murder rocks a book club in this polished, character-rich series starter.

Great for fans of: Betsy Reavley’s Murder at the Book Club, Catherine Moloney.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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The Bush Clinic: Book I of The Tribal Wars
Stella Atrium
Atrium (Seven Beyond) offers another thoughtful, accomplished science-fiction story in the spirit of the genre’s great humanists, this time centered on a doctor who runs an adobe-and-thatch clinic in a remote savannah on the divine planet Dolvia, tending the local tribes and refugees. Eventually, Dr. Greensboro’s choice to stand up to a local authority brandishing a laser pistol at girls results in her being summoned before a magistrate—just one of many incidents feeding her political awakening. Among the others: an abusive doctor, the mistreatment of women in Dolvia’s tribes; a colonizing company run amok; and her bond with Brianna, a mixed-race orphan from a society that won’t allow such a woman to refuse a man’s attentions.

Two statements from the novel’s succession of narrators suggest the protagonists’ gripping arcs, as these medical pros move from simply reacting to daring to achieve more sweeping change: “Out here one must select one’s danger,” Dr. Greensboro declares in an early chapter, justifying her decision to arm a wounded boy with a karkar. Much later, facing health crises and systemic abuses, another doctor is bolder still: “Whatever is needed,” Dr. Beecham declares. Dr. Greensboro’s development is affecting and multi-faceted, as she forms bonds with lizard-like gualareps (one of many delightful creations) and fields a marriage proposal.

Atrium pens the hard choices, tense confrontations, and moments of suspense that keep this epic series opener’s pages turning. But what’s most striking is her rich, convincing worldbuilding, as she reveals—with a storyteller’s concision but an anthropologist’s depth—a host of cultures, species, locales, rituals, and beliefs. Feasts and ceremonies are as thrilling as the accounts of deprivation and colonial cruelty are harrowing. A common thread throughout is the tendency of men with power to rob women of their autonomy, giving an urgent edge to Dr. Greensboro’s discovery of her own cause and power.

Takeaway: This knockout series starter finds a rural clinic doctor discovering her cause.

Great for fans of: Ursula K. Le Guin; The Future Is Female: More Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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FAMILY MATTERS: dreams I couldn't share - and how a dysfunctional family became America's darling, The Addams Family
Lance Lee
Lance Lee (Second Chances), son to David Levy, records his family’s turbulent history amid their well-known entertainment ventures, including his father’s production of fan favorites Dr. Kildare, Bonanza, and The Addams Family. Lee candidly shares his family dynamics, starting with his Jewish father’s challenges with antisemitism in the advertising field, to his mother, famous model Lucille Wilds, and their multiple marriages to each other—alongside their tumultuous relationship based on secrecy and bursting with friction. Lee unearths heartbreaking truths in this deeply personal journey, as he explores the impact of his upbringing on his own life as a husband and father.

Readers will be absorbed by the memoir’s dramatic twists and turns as Lee weaves his family’s history from a variety of resources. He draws from his mother’s diary entries, anecdotes from his father’s writing, and publications like 1955’s Housekeeping Monthly to illustrate the popular American worldview at the time—one in which his parents “dismissed or denounced the imperfections around them.” This fantasy and myth-driven childhood profoundly impacted Lee, who writes “under what now appears absurd were real lives, real distortions, real guilt over any nonconformity or individualism.” Family Matters is, in many ways, Lee’s philosophical analysis comparing the family value model of his youth to the starkly different truth of his memories.

That contention between the Levy family’s glamorous dynasty and their behind-closed-doors reality is expertly depicted, and Lee’s musings will prompt readers to reflect on their own history. He begins with a detailed family tree, and ends with a collection of his poetry, offering in between a rich account of his family’s metamorphoses, including the eventual breakdown of his parents’ marriage and the subsequent fallout between immediate and extended relatives: “a wave generations in the making had finally broken and run up the shore and begun to sink into the sand.”

Takeaway: A profound examination of family and the power of love.

Great for fans of: Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club; Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s Small Fry.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B

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The Testament of Thirteen
Sara M Schaller
Schaller’s epic adventure of heaven, hell, and the mortals trapped between comes to an appropriately realms-shaking conclusion in this final volume of the Empyrean Trilogy, in which a couple of human friends, cut off from the angels that have helped them so far, must find a way to stop Lilith, the mother of blood magic, from gathering the keys she needs to bring about the Union of the Spheres, a ritual granting the power “to dominate any land.” Jordan, Sophia, and Dane have faced dire odds before, but this time one’s literally in Hell, while the others, now winged and imbued with unfathomable power, are held captive by forces committed to controlling them.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, and Schaller again proves adept at generating page-turning tension from her blend of the divine, the infernal, and the human. Winged and wielding hellfire, her heroes must dig up grit and ingenuity first to escape and then to prevail. Even Satan himself, one of many first-person point-of-view characters, is fully rounded and engaging as he faces a fascinating challenge: how to escape the wastelands of Purgatory, with or without the help of angels eager to kill him. Meanwhile, Lilith proves an arresting villain, her will and strength terrifying. Fantasies with a theological bent demand on-the-fly explanations of how their worlds work, and Schaller is deft at ensuring the sphere-prisons, rules for flying, and everything else make sense—and, crucially, connect to characters. (A glossary helps.)

For all the apocalyptic action and satisfying revelations of parentage and ancient secrets, the story’s heart is in its characters, their choices, and their connections. As in many of the strongest ongoing series, moments of reunion and parting prove as exciting as scenes of climactic combat. Especially strong here are the ones following the climax; the tears shed as angels and humans part feel earned.

Takeaway: This superior heaven-and-hell fantasy series comes to a satisfying (and epic) conclusion.

Great for fans of: Jackie Morse Kessler’s Hunger, Mary Ting’s From Gods.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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Dissection: A Medical & Political Thriller
Dr. Cristina LePort
When mysterious tan cards start appearing in the mail, causing their recipients to suffer massive heart attacks and strokes, doctors and FBI agents struggle to find the perpetrator in this medical and political thriller. All leads initially point to Silvana Moretti, a biophysicist with a cutting-edge invention that seems to be causing the deaths, and when her grudge against one of the victims comes to light, Moretti is pulled into the investigation, along with her former boyfriend, cardiologist Steven Leeds, who is convinced something’s not right. Before long, he learns that Moretti’s daughter has been kidnapped, and the situation explodes when a government official is threatened and terrorists become involved.

LePort, a cardiologist, draws on her own experience to bring the medical crises in this debut to life, crafting a frightening plot while skillfully describing surgical processes alongside the political issues that all too often impact medical care. Less successful are the Capitol Hill machinations, which deflect the book’s focus some as FBI agent Jack Mulville and private investigator Kirk Miner race to find answers and prevent a national disaster.

Although the emphasis is on action, LePort expertly crafts the key characters: Leeds’s love affair with Moretti interferes with his need to know the truth about the bioterror attacks, and at the other end of the spectrum is a terrorist, twisted by a horrific interpretation of Islam while driven by desperate secular needs. Caught in between is Agent Mulville, described by Leeds as “a real thug,” who is forced to expand his worldview and rethink his reliance on procedure when bureaucracy starts to get in the way of saving lives. LePort makes it clear that no technology is as frightening as the darkest parts of the human mind, and readers will be satisfied with the characters’ well-deserved fates as they travel to the nail-biting finish.

Takeaway: A team of investigators and doctors race to stop bioterror disaster.

Great for fans of: Michael Palmer’s Side Effects; Jenifer Ruff’s Only One Cure.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: NA
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B+

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Intermittent Fasting Success Story: How I Lost 110 Pounds and Will Never Diet Again
Paige Davidson
Davidson offers straightforward direction on intermittent fasting (IF) in this easy-to-read solo debut. Drawing from her personal experiences, and with the caveat to seek out medical advice before starting any new health plan, Davidson shares the reasons diets don’t work and why intermittent fasting—switching between a period of eating and a period of not eating—may be the answer to a slew of health problems. For readers new to the concept, she breaks down the different types of IF and covers its many benefits, while longtime IF fans will find plenty of new material to digest, including overcoming weight plateaus, how to conquer bad habits, and more.

Davidson tackles a sometimes-controversial topic with grace, offering upbeat motivation from her personal battles with weight loss while encouraging readers to be honest with themselves and set realistic goals. She avoids one-size-fits-all thinking when exploring the variety of IF plans available and breaks down common IF eating patterns, including the well-known 16/8 plan (fasting for 16 hours straight while consuming all calories in the remaining 8 hours of the day), continually emphasizing that readers must individualize IF plans to best fit their goals. Those goals can be lofty, according to Davidson, who proposes a multitude of health benefits from the IF lifestyle, including effective weight management, improved blood sugar, and decreased stroke risk.

For readers who are interested in the science behind IF, Davidson touches on its biological processes, such as the connection between our body’s ketones and stored fat and the reasons intermittent fasting can clear up “brain fog.” Most inspiring is her transparency and desire to motivate others to “live a long, healthy life” free of bad habits and self-limiting beliefs. Readers looking for a new way to tackle healthy eating will find plenty of inspiration here.

Takeaway: A clear-cut guide covering the basics of intermittent fasting.

Great for fans of: Gin Stephens’s Fast. Feast. Repeat.; Joelle Coy’s Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

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I Messaged My Ex
Samuel Field
Field’s fourth poetry collection glimpses at the psychological journey from acute despair to eventual acceptance following the dissolution of a failed marriage that touches on the tension between grief and unrequited love, identity and romance. A personal selection of the author’s photographs are included throughout that are meant to alternately align with and juxtapose the poems they’re coupled with. Occasionally the images and poems achieve a sort of dual-medium unison, while at other times the images bear no obvious relationship to the poems they’re printed beside, but they do provide a visual element to the reading experience—and a chance to feel for possible thematic connections—that some readers may find enriching.

The poems themselves are structured in a narrative arc beginning with a study on the depths of grief as a result of divorce, illustrated in “Invisible Me”: “I offer you myself // I ask so little in return // Alone, I still yearn.” Field then delves into the consequences of sacrificing identity for love, leaving the seared ex in a place where “Invisibility unbecomes me // Yet its curse holds me fast”. The collection’s mosaic then shifts toward themes of renewal, a reclaiming of identity through self love, and above all hope for romance to blossom anew: I too will be a painter. // Bring your broken canvas, // Rejected by other painters, // I will cover it in deep love.”

Although some readers may find Field’s poems straightforward to the point of dullness and reliant on cliché, others may be moved by the collection’s unflinching honesty and occasional lines of real inspiration, such as “As long as I have known her // I try to walk the approach // Wearing heart skinned slippers”. To the best of his abilities, Field offers readers a courageous, introspective poetic report on his passage through the stages of post-divorce grief, covering the pages themselves with deep love.

Takeaway: A straightforward, heartfelt collection about recovering and acceptance after a divorce.

Great for fans of: Rupi Kaur, Courtney Peppernell’s Pillow Thoughts.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B+

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The Trump Files: An Account of the Trump Administration's Effect on American Democracy, Human Rights, Science and Public Health
Jack Hassard
Pained, outraged, yet ultimately hopeful that “those of us who care about free and fair elections will be out in droves” to vote, science educator Hassard’s sweeping indictment of Trumpism offers an exhaustive accounting of the former president’s impact on American life, politics, democracy, and the globe itself. Writing from hotly contested Georgia, Hassard (Minds on Science among other works) covers not just Trump’s presidency and the violent aftermath, but also the increasingly polarized politics that paved the way for it, touching on voter suppression bills introduced during the Obama years, the Tea Party movement, and what sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild has dubbed “The Great Paradox”: “Why is hatred of government most intense among people who need government services?”

Hassard’s accounting is wide-ranging, sharp-elbowed, and deeply committed to democracy and equality. With sharp, clear-eyed prose he takes on racial injustice, the Trumpist worldview (in a discussion inspired by the work of George Lakoff), how “the United States drifted toward authoritarian and autocratic rule,” and most thoroughly how “science in the Trump era was diminished at the peril of the health and well-being for not only people and other living things, but Earth itself.” Breaking up the wide-view perspective are of-their-moment blog posts reprinted throughout offer close-up looks at controversies concerning Russian election interference, lies about mail-in voting, and the rolling back of environmental regulations.

While some of this material will be familiar to people who keep up with the news, Hassard’s rundown offers clear reminders of the breadth of Trump’s challenges to our system and the passion with which those challenges have been opposed. The freshest, most persuasive material is Hassard’s examination of the movement and administration’s assault on science and expertise, culminating in the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s tempting to describe Hassard’s prose in his examination of climate issues as “scorched earth,” but as he makes clear that now seems like a probable future.

Takeaway: This outraged survey of the Trump years makes an impassioned case for science and democracy.

Great for fans of: Paul E. Rutledge and Chapman Rackaway’s The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump, Carlos Lozada’s What Were We Thinking?

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A

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Poseidon's Storm Blaster: The Legend of Pineapple Cove, Book 1
Marina J. Bowman
Launching her exciting Greek mythology inspired middle-grade series, Bowman focuses on unconventional heroes whose innate bravery slowly surfaces during a watery adventure. Ten-year-old Kai, the son of a Pineapple Cove fisherman, takes the bucolic seaside for granted. Digging clams in the buttery yellow sand is “bor-ing,” and he wonders why everyone else is having more fun. Then Kai spies Delphi, the oddball outcast who “washed up onshore when she was little,” playing with her only friend Sammy, a raucous sea lion. Delphi is deathly afraid of the water, so when they hear a distress call from the ocean, both are eager to help, but it’s Kai who swims out to free a young dolphin from a net. In return for his good deed, Kai receives a gold trident necklace, which is key to unlocking the first secret realm in The Legend of Pineapple Cove series.

For all the book’s invention and adventure, its heart is in friendship, as Bowman makes cooperation the protagonists’ superpower: Delphi tempers Kai’s impetuousness with well-reasoned preparation; and he urges her to take action and put her knowledge to good use. Their reluctant, life-changing alliance encourages young readers to both recognize strengths (in themselves and others) and to build upon them.

Nathan Monção employs lightness and heft in his winsome illustrations. Pineapple Cove’s populace is densely muscular, as rounded and sturdy as the stones of their town’s buildings, while other images are airy and whimsical, like the massive wooden ship precariously perched on a small rock in the middle of a tiny island. Establishing Kai and Delphi as an interdependent team sets them up for future quests (there are three more books in the series), and it’s also a powerful force in helping Delphi confront her fears. The goal of these young adventurers may be exploring the deep mysteries of Pineapple Cove, but uncovering their own possibilities is their greatest reward.

Takeaway: Greek myth meets rollicking sea adventures in a series that encourages courage and cooperation.

Great for fans of: Lucy Coats’s Beast Keeper, Maz Evans’s Who Let the Gods Out, and Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams’s Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-

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19 RULES FOR GETTING RICH AND STAYING RICH DESPITE WALL STREET
Eugene Kelly
This quick, concise guide breaks down ways to invest and create wealth for readers looking to learn the ways of the stock market, avoid unnecessary risk, and build their financial portfolio. The book has been crafted to elucidate the process of investing, making a profit, and investing again on your own terms, with the goal of maintaining a stream of steadily increasing wealth. Aly delivers easy-to-digest material, likening investments to “one all-encompassing business” that requires time, attention, and hard work to ensure success – and cautions readers to start with a true understanding of their long-term goals coupled with the acknowledgement that the future will always be unpredictable.

Aly starts with a solid introduction on key terms and educational information, including a short infographic with important tips from each chapter, with gems like “When the market is greedy, be fearful. When the market is fearful, be greedy” and advice to add the total amount of any inheritance to investment portfolios. Delving into more specific financial goals, Aly shares how to capitalize on real estate, the importance of establishing emergency cash reserves, understanding tax efficiency, and more. Readers will also appreciate the guide’s outline of personal risks-such as uncontrolled insurance costs or borrowing too much money in unsafe ways-that can interfere with long term financial success. Aly highlights investing for maximum results throughout, in logical steps that avoid unnecessary gambles.

Delivered in bite-size pieces that transform an often-daunting subject into clear-cut advice, this is the perfect how-to - complete with a glossary at the end to clarify confusing investment terms and a helpful step-by-step blueprint to create an Excel portfolio workbook. Aly sums the information with a friendly reminder that “Following these simple rules, investors will achieve their financial goals, not just at retirement, but at every phase of life.” Beginning investors will appreciate Aly’s down-to-earth style, and readers well-versed in financial planning will welcome the refresher course.

Takeaway: A compact yet thorough guide on how to create, gain and keep wealth by investing wisely.

Great for fans of: Tiffany Aliche’s Get Good with Money, Vikram Khaitan’s How to Grow Rich & Become Wealthy.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Only Half Human
Nathaniel Wright
Wright guides readers into the world of magic and fantasy in his debut, a fun and polished YA adventure. Lesley Robinson is a regular teenager until she suddenly sprouts horns and a complete set of wings. It turns out that her mother has been hiding a few secrets including the fact that she, herself, is a witch and Lesley’s dad is a demon, which makes Lesley a cambion—half-human, half-demon. Lesley and her mom move to the quaint fae-protected town of Misty Hollow where Lesley attends school with fairies, werewolves, and vampires. As if morphing into a half-demon wasn’t enough to make high school miserable, bullies start narrowing their focus on Lesley, and an old foe from her mother’s past comes to collect on a debt.

Wright whisks readers to a fanciful setting perfect for fantasy enthusiasts looking for imaginative characters. While the story’s built around a suspenseful set-up, with nightmares afflicting characters and nothing less than Lesley’s soul at stake, Wright takes clear delight in introducing Misty Hollow, an engaging cast, and everyday problems. Lesley’s new school boasts mermaids, harpies, satyrs, and even a bushy-tailed fox girl, known as a kitsune, that possesses paranormal abilities. Lesley, despite being a cambion, embodies the quintessential teenage experience—those bullies, self-doubt, and her first crush. Her relatability instantly draws readers in and makes her a sympathetic protagonist, especially when she struggles to accept her new circumstances. As Lesley navigates magical creatures and demons, she and the reader learn a valuable lesson about self-love.

The battles between good and evil create tantalizing tension that keeps the reader glued to the page. With each fork in the road, Lesley’s resilience is tested. Wright propels the plot toward the dynamic climax and purposefully leaves the readers salivating for more. Young readers looking for adventure coated in magic will enjoy following Lesley’s journey of self-discovery.

Takeaway: A teenage cambion searching for acceptance discovers magic, friendship, and self-love.

Great for fans of: Michelle Madow’sThe Discovery of Magic, Martha Carr.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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The Control Center (Book 1): THE CHINA AFFAIRS
Brad Good
The kickoff to Good’s China Affairs series introduces Jack Gold, a young American businessman in Shanghai who gets caught up in convincingly detailed international intrigue. Jack’s unlucky in dating, frustrated at office politics limiting his advancement at his job at a Chinese bank, and increasingly alarmed by comments from his friend Ari—an Israeli who claims contacts high up in the Israeli Defense Force—about China’s business dealings with Iran, subjugation of its own people, and stealing of U.S. military secrets. “Wait a second—Are you suggesting we should do something?” Jack eventually asks. Ari’s response is yes, of course—all he asks of Jack is secrecy, a lot of trust, and a commitment, eventually, to change the world.

With a wealth of persuasive local, cultural, and financial world detail, Good captures Jack’s feelings of excitement and disorientation, of facing sudden business and romantic opportunities—and even surprise threats of violence—all while possibly being in over his head. The plan itself, when at last revealed, is a shocker, a scheme much more elaborate and public than anything Jack expected, involving a neurotoxin and an address to all of China, revealing to the populace shocking truths about the government and a Communist Party committed to keeping the populace poor and uneducated.

Good has planned a quartet of books, so Control Center ends with much story left to tell. Good doesn’t skimp on major developments and twists upending the international order as Jack and co. take bold, dangerous steps to “open” China. At times, these major events happen too quickly to stir traditional tension, but readers who prefer their international thrillers humane and thoughtful will find much to enjoy. Jack has been crafted as less of a two-fisted espionage hero than a persuasive truth teller who will make the most of his chance to address over a billion residents of a nation not his own.

Takeaway: An American businessman finds himself tasked with speaking truth to all of China.

Great for fans of: Alex Berenson’s The Ghost War, David Ignatius’s The Quantum Spy.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

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