Pub Day Picks // January 19, 2021

Happy Pub Day, everyone! I took a little time off from writing (and pretty much everything else) because the motivation is starting to slip. But it’s good that I took some time off and let myself relax a little. The last thing I want is to rush through a piece of writing and then present it to you and it’s crap. LOL, so I’m glad for a week away (despite most of December being away).

I’ve returned refreshed and ready to tell you about all the books I’m excited are publishing today:

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

I don’t really pick up historical fiction because most of the ones I pick up happen to be set during WWII. It gets kind of stale after a while of reading stories set in the same time period, but I was intrigued by this one because it features a significant time in American history and features a F/F romance to boot.

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

“Lo’s writing, restrained yet luscious, shimmers with the thrills of youthful desire. A lovely, memorable novel about listening to the whispers of a wayward heart and claiming a place in the world.”—Sarah Waters, bestselling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

OMG I will shout at the top of my lungs about how much I loved We Hunt the Flame. Seriously, that was one of my favorite books from 2019 and I’ve been patiently waiting for the conclusion of this duology and it’s finally here. However, I’ll probably have to reread We Hunt the Flame before I get into We Free the Stars. At the same time, I don’t see a problem there.

The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.

As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift

Ok, when I read the synopsis for this book, I was stunned. It sounds most definitely like a book I’ll get into, but then I noticed that she’s compared to Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renee Ahdieh and I can’t resist a book that features my favorite YA authors as examples. I love stories like this with two people who hide each other’s identities at first, but find out later that they are destined (in an arranged way) to meet. I’m hoping the fights are as epic as they sound. Although this is written by a white author that depicts South Asian culture, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt because authors like SA Chakraborty do this too and they’re able to do it pretty well. My antennae is up while I cautiously enter this one.

Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.

Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.

Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.

Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.

Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

One of the best speculative fiction writers for young people returns with another great story. I just picked up a copy of this book and the premise sounds so intriguing. I love the idea of being Death’s companion; something about it makes me feel romantic? Am I weird to say that? But I’m intrigued to see how this plays out.

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

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