ARC Review: Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead


Title: Harlem Shuffle

Author: Colson Whitehead

Publisher: Doubleday

Genre: Historical Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, drug use (off-page), death by overdose, violence, gun violence, blood, colorism,

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads


Goodreads Synopsis

From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the “Waldorf of Harlem”—and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.

But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.

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ARC Review: Hollow by Shannon Watters, Branden Boyer-White, and Berenice Nelle


Title: Hollow

Author: Shannon Watters, Branden Boyer-White

Illustrator: Berenice Nelle

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Genre: Fantasy

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads


Goodreads Synopsis

Sleepy Hollow and queer romance meet in this coming-of-age tale from the co-creator of Lumberjanes!

Isabel “Izzy” Crane and her family have just relocated to Sleepy Hollow, the town made famous by–and obsessed with–Washington Irving’s legend of the Headless Horseman. But city slicker-skeptic Izzy has no time for superstition as she navigates life at a new address, a new school, and, with any luck, with new friends. Ghost stories aren’t real, after all…. Then Izzy is pulled into the orbit of the town’s teen royalty, Vicky Van Tassel (yes, that Van Tassel) and loveable varsity-level prankster Croc Byun. Vicky’s weariness with her family connection to the legend turns to terror when the trio begins to be haunted by the Horseman himself, uncovering a curse set on destroying the Van Tassel line. Now, they have only until Halloween night to break it–meaning it’s a totally inconvenient time for Izzy to develop a massive crush on the enigmatic Vicky. Can Izzy’s practical nature help her face the unknown–or only trip her up? As the calendar runs down to the 31st, Izzy will have to use all of her wits and work with her new friends to save Vicky and uncover the mystery of the legendary Horseman of Sleepy Hollow–before it’s too late. New York Times-bestselling writer Shannon Watters (Lumberjanes) and debut author Branden Boyer-White are joined by artist Berenice Nelle (Wanderlicht) in a coming of age tale that’s at once a faithful homage and a free-wheeling spin-off of the classic Legend of Sleepy Hollow and everyone’s favorite headless specter.

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ARC Review: Upgrade by Blake Crouch


Title: Upgrade

Author: Blake Crouch

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, blood, suicide, death of a parent, kidnapping, torture

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads


Goodreads Synopsis

The mind-blowing new thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter and Recursion

“You are the next step in human evolution.”

At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.

But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.

Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.

And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?

Intimate in scale yet epic in scope, Upgrade is an intricately plotted, lightning-fast tale that charts one man’s thrilling transformation, even as it asks us to ponder the limits of our humanity—and our boundless potential.

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ARC Review: Silver Under Nightfall by Rin Chupeco


Title: Silver Under Nightfall

Author: Rin Chupeco

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press

Genre: Fantasy Horror

Age Group: Adult

Content/Trigger Warnings: Blood, violence, torture, PTSD, sexual abuse, child abuse, discussions of rape

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads


Goodreads Synopsis

Remy Pendergast is many things: the only son of the Duke of Valenbonne (though his father might wish otherwise), an elite bounty hunter of rogue vampires, and an outcast among his fellow Reapers. His mother was the subject of gossip even before she eloped with a vampire, giving rise to the rumors that Remy is half-vampire himself. Though the kingdom of Aluria barely tolerates him, Remy’s father has been shaping him into a weapon to fight for the kingdom at any cost.

When a terrifying new breed of vampire is sighted outside of the city, Remy prepares to investigate alone. But then he encounters the shockingly warmhearted vampire heiress Xiaodan Song and her infuriatingly arrogant fiancé, vampire lord Zidan Malekh, who may hold the key to defeating the creatures—though he knows associating with them won’t do his reputation any favors. When he’s offered a spot alongside them to find the truth about the mutating virus Rot that’s plaguing the kingdom, Remy faces a choice.

It’s one he’s certain he’ll regret.

But as the three face dangerous hardships during their journey, Remy develops fond and complicated feelings for the couple. He begins to question what he holds true about vampires, as well as the story behind his own family legacy. As the Rot continues to spread across the kingdom, Remy must decide where his loyalties lie: with his father and the kingdom he’s been trained all his life to defend or the vampires who might just be the death of him.

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ARC Review: Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes


Title: Nubia: The Awakening

Author: Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Fantasy

Age Group: Young Adult

Content/Trigger Warnings: Depictions of drug abuse, child abuse, gang violence

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads


Goodreads Synopsis

From beloved actor and producer Omar Epps and writer Clarence A. Haynes comes the biggest epic fantasy of the year. A powerful saga of three teens, the children of refugees from a fallen African utopia, who must navigate their newfound powers in a climate-ravaged New York City. Perfect for fans of Black Panther and Children of Blood and Bone.

For Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho, Nubia is a mystery. Before they were born, a massive storm destroyed their ancestral homeland, forcing their families to flee across the ocean to New York City. Nubia, a utopic island nation off the coast of West Africa, was no more, and their parents’ sorrow was too deep for them to share much of their history beyond the folklore.

But New York, ravaged by climate change and class division, is far from a safe haven for refugees, and Nubians live as outcasts, struggling to survive in the constantly flooding lower half of Manhattan, while the rich thrive in the tech-driven sky city known as the Up High.

To many, being Nubian means you’re fated for a life plagued by difficulties and disrespect. But Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho are beginning to feel there might be more. Something within them is changing, giving each of them extraordinary powers. Extraordinary and terrifying powers that seem to be tied to the secrets their parents have kept from them.

And there are people Up High watching, eager to do anything they can to become even more powerful than they already are. Now Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho will be faced with the choice–do they use their inheritance to lift their people, or to leave them behind. The fate of their city, and their people, hangs in the balance.

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ARC Review: The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill


Title: The Stars Between Us

Author: Cristin Terrill

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Age Group: Young Adult

Content/Trigger Warnings: Cheating, alcoholism, violence

Rating: ★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads


Goodreads Synopsis

There’s always been a mystery to Vika Hale’s life. Ever since she was a child, she’s had an unknown benefactor providing for her and her family, making sure that Vika and her sister received the best education they could. Now, Vika longs for a bigger life than one as a poor barmaid on a struggling planet, but those dreams feel out of reach. Until one day Vika learns that her benefactor was a billionaire magnate who recently died under suspicious circumstances, and Vika has shockingly been included in his will. Invited to live on a glittering neighboring planet, Vika steps into a world she can hardly believe is real.

The only blight on Vika’s lavish new life is the constant presence of Sky Foster, a mysterious young man from Vika’s past who works for her benefactors. She doesn’t like or trust Sky, but when she narrowly escapes an explosion and realizes someone is targeting the will’s heirs, Vika knows Sky is the only one who can help her discover the identity of the bomber before she becomes their next victim. As Vika and Sky delve into the truth of the attacks, they uncover a web of secrets, murder, and an underground rebellion who may hold the answers they’ve been looking for. But Sky isn’t who he seems to be, and Vika may not escape this new life unscathed.

In The Stars Between Us, Cristin Terrill sweeps readers away to a Dickensian-inspired world where secrets are currency and love is the most dangerous risk of all.

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ARC Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood


Title: Within These Wicked Walls

Author: Lauren Blackwood

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis

What the heart desires, the house destroys…

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

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ARC Review: These Deadly Games by Diana Urban


Title: These Deadly Games

Author: Diana Urban

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Thriller

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mention of anorexia, abuse, alcoholism, murder, death, kidnapping, child harm

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads


Goodreads Synopsis

Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.

Are you ready?

When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.

But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…

As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, will keep you riveted until the final twist is revealed.

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ARC Review: Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher

Title: Amelia Unabridged

Author: Ashley Schumacher

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Contemporary

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, grief, PTSD, death of a child (off-page), drowning, car accident

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: TBD::B&N::Amazon::Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis

Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future.

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

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ARC Review: The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

Title: The Paradox Hotel

Author: Rob Hart

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Content/Trigger Warnings: Blood, death, grief, gun violence, absent parents

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis

An impossible crime. A detective on the edge of madness. The future of time travel at stake.

January Cole’s job just got a whole lot harder.

Not that running security at the Paradox was ever really easy. Nothing’s simple at a hotel where the ultra-wealthy tourists arrive costumed for a dozen different time periods, all eagerly waiting to catch their “flights” to the past.

Or where proximity to the timeport makes the clocks run backward on occasion—and, rumor has it, allows ghosts to stroll the halls.

None of that compares to the corpse in room 526. The one that seems to be both there and not there. The one that somehow only January can see.

On top of that, some very important new guests have just checked in. Because the U.S. government is about to privatize time-travel technology—and the world’s most powerful people are on hand to stake their claims.

January is sure the timing isn’t a coincidence. Neither are those “accidents” that start stalking their bidders.

There’s a reason January can glimpse what others can’t. A reason why she’s the only one who can catch a killer who’s operating invisibly and in plain sight, all at once.

But her ability is also destroying her grip on reality—and as her past, present, and future collide, she finds herself confronting not just the hotel’s dark secrets but her own.

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