Publishers Weekly: Three elite tennis players randomly assigned as roommates compete at Bastille, a tournament where they go head-to-head both on and off the court, in this multilayered novel by Gracia (Boys I Know). When 16-year-old Japanese American Violetta Masuda arrives at Bastille’s tennis academy, she’s expecting to have a roommate with whom she’ll share her dorm for the duration of the tournament. What she’s not expecting, however, is that along with Taiwanese American high school sophomore Alice Wu comes 17-year-old Cambodian and Vietnamese American Leylah Lê, Violetta’s former best friend. The stakes are high, as is the pressure to come out on top, and as the teen athletes wrestle with their performance and their families’ expectations, they each struggle with their own challenges—Leylah uses an insulin pump to manage her diabetes and Violetta vapes to mitigate stress—and their desires to live a “normal” life. Via the trio’s alternating first-person POVs, Gracia—a former D1 collegiate player—imbues the narrative with insider knowledge and traces the competition as the girls move through their draws and navigate romance, racism, and friendship. The supporting cast is racially diverse. Ages 14–up.
Jesse Logan doesn’t want a fresh start. He wants his old life back—before an injury made his career as a firefighter impossible, before his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s got so bad he doesn’t recognize Jesse anymore. When a friend tells him about a paid psychological study, Jesse sees it as a chance to get back to the man he was while making a little extra cash.
All Lulu Banks is asking for is a fresh start. Back home after a devastating breakup, she’s struggling to find her place. She’s always been a lot—too loud, too eager, too obvious about her feelings. The friendship study seems like a great idea…until she’s paired with Jesse Logan, who recently ghosted her after a blind date that led to a steamy make-out session.
Now that old familiar tension is back. Despite the program’s strict “no romance” rule, Jesse and Lulu are quick to find a work-around that allows them to explore their tenuous connection. And soon they’re on their way to total self-improvement…
As long as they don’t get caught.
Kirkus: For three teen competitors at the exclusive Bastille Invitational tennis tournament in Florida, there’s more at stake than the winner’s trophy.
Booklist: In her debut, the first of a duology, Okosun creates a world based on Nigerian mythology that touches class, race, power, and colonialism. In Oyo, a world with four countries, magic users, Oluso, are not allowed to hurt anyone, and as nations started to fight one other, a division grew between those with magic and those without. The nation to the north, Eingard, went to an extreme and killed all its magic users and stole the throne from Dèmi’s family. Dèmi’s life is further complicated when Jonas reenters it. When they first met as children, they formed an instant bond. When they meet again as young adults, that connection is just as strong, but Dèmi kidnaps Jonas and wants to use him in a scheme against the Eingardian government. Dèmi is willing to do just about anything to change the fate of the Oluso. Dèmi is powerful, strong, and smart, with a kind heart—just the kind of main character readers will celebrate. While fighting the cruel Eingardians, she is also trying to figure out love and life. Add to that the spoton world building and political complications and fantasy readers will find something to enjoy in this powerful work.
In the midst of a tyrannical regime and political invasion, Dèmi just wants to survive: to avoid the suspicion of the nonmagical Ajes who occupy her ancestral homeland of Ife; to escape the King’s brutal genocide of her people—the darker skinned, magic wielding Oluso; and to live peacefully with her secretive mother while learning to control the terrifying blood magic that is her birthright.
But when Dèmi’s misplaced trust costs her mother’s life, survival gives way to vengeance. She bides her time until the devious Lord Ekwensi grants her the perfect opportunity—kidnap the Aje prince, Jonas, and bargain with his life to save the remaining Oluso. With the help of her reckless childhood friend Colin, Dèmi succeeds, but discovers that she and Jonas share more than deadly secrets; every moment tangles them further into a forbidden, unmistakable attraction, much to Colin’s—and Dèmi’s—distress.
The kidnapping is now a joint mission: to return to the King, help get Lord Ekwensi on the council, and bolster the voice of the Oluso in a system designed to silence them. But the way is dangerous, Dèmi’s magic is growing yet uncertain, and it’s not clear if she can trust the two men at her side.
A tale of rebellion and redemption, race and class, love and trust and betrayal, Forged by Blood is epic fantasy at its finest, from an enthusiastic, emerging voice.
Publishers Weekly: Okosun’s stunning debut puts a Nigerian spin on epic fantasy tropes to create an addictive tale of political intrigue, love, loss, betrayal, and magic. Nine-year-old Dèmi was born during a time of transition, when the queen of Ifé was replaced by a king who fears and hates hereditary magic users, called Oluso, leading to an ongoing genocide. Dèmi, an Oluso herself, assists with her mother’s forbidden but necessary magical healing work—until she is forced to flee their village after they are betrayed by a former client, leading to her mother’s death. Nine years later, the politician Lord Ekwenski tasks Dèmi with kidnapping the crown prince as part of his scheme to rise in power and become a voice for the Oluso on the king’s council. This dangerous mission is complicated, however, when Dèmi discovers a surprising connection—and attraction—to the prince and uncovers secrets about her family’s past and her own powers. Okosun’s elaborate worldbuilding is lavishly detailed and meticulously constructed, but it never feels overwhelming. The result is an impressive and refreshingly original page-turner that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the second volume.
- The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison (Tor; Solaris UK)
- Nona the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom)
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
- The Scratch Daughters, H.A. Clarke (Erewhon)
- “Bishop’s Opening“, R.S.A Garcia (Clarkesworld 1/22)
- Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (Tordotcom)
- “Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold“, S.B. Divya (Uncanny 5-6/22)
- “Incident at Bear Creek Lodge”, Tananarive Due (Other Terrors)
- Breakable Things, Cassandra Khaw (Undertow)
- An Earnest Blackness, Eugen Bacon (Anti-Oedipus)
ILLUSTRATED AND ART BOOK
- The Keeper, Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes, art by Marco Finnegan (Megascope)
Congratulations to DMLA author Ruby Barrett who has been nominated as a 2023 Lammy finalist in the LGBTQ+ Romance and Erotica category for The Romance Recipe!
Brazilian rights to Shaun David Hutchinson’s WE ARE THE ANTS, to Record, by Flavia Sala at International Editors’, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier.
Czech rights to New York Times bestselling author Tamsyn Muir’s NONA THE NINTH, the third book in The Locked Tomb series, to Host, by Milena Kaplarević at Prava i prevodi in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Danish rights to New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s SUMMER KNIGHT, DEATH MASKS, and BLOOD RITES, books 4-6 in the Dresden Files series, to Superlux, by Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Dutch rights to Ruby Barrett’s THE ROMANCE RECIPE, to Anne Everard at Heartbeat by Katie Shea Boutillier for Kiana Nguyen.
French rights to New York Times bestselling author Tamsyn Muir’s NONA THE NINTH, the third book in The Locked Tomb series, to Actes Sud, by Sarah Dray at Anna Jarota Agency in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
French audio rights to Nnedi Okorafor’s BINTI TRILOGY, WHO FEARS DEATH and THE BOOK OF PHOENIX, to Noa Rosen at Éditions Thélème by Marie-France Heinic at Anna Jarota Agency on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Donald Maass.
German rights to Mia Tsai’s BITTER MEDICINE, to Blanvalet, in a preempt, by Sarah Knofius at Thomas Schlueck Agency, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier at for Anne Tibbets.
German rights to New York Times bestselling author Martha Wells’ FUGITIVE TELEMETRY, the sixth installment in the Murderbot Diaries series, to Heyne, by Sarah Knofius at the Thomas Schlueck Agency in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Israeli rights to Annika Martin’s MOST ELIGIBLE BILLIONAIRE, to Sifrut Shenogaat, by Beverley Levit at The Israeli Association of Book Publishers, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Cameron McClure.
Italian rights to LJ Andrew’s CURSE OF SHADOWS AND THORNS, COURT OF ICE AND ASH, and CROWN OF BLOOD AND RUIN, to Triskell, in a three-book deal, by Stefania Fietta at Donzelli Fietta, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier.
Polish audio rights to New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS, the first book in the Cinder Spires series, to F.H.U. Strix, by Milena Kaplarevic at Prava i prevodi in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Spanish rights to New York Times bestselling author Martha Wells’ WITCH KING plus an untitled fantasy novel, to Hidra, by Amaiur Fernández at International Editors’ Co. in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
New York Times: For more high-intensity drama in contemporary romance, you can’t go wrong with a restaurant setting. Food, feelings, knives and fire! Which is to say: Kitchen-centered romances are great at exploring more than one kind of appetite, and Ruby Barrett’s THE ROMANCE RECIPE (Carina Press, 282 pp., paperback, $15.99) stands alongside favorites like Alexis Hall’s “Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake” and Solace Ames’s erotic romance gem “The Submission Gift.”
Sophie Brunet is fresh off a cooking competition show she didn’t win, and fresh out of an engagement to a man who reacted poorly when she told him she was bi. Desperate to escape the limelight, she accepts the head chef job at a Boston restaurant — but she’d be enjoying it a lot more if her boss were less of a control freak (and less distractingly hot).
Amy Chambers has always had to be the strong one. When her father left, when her mother died, when she decided her restaurant would pay cooks and servers a living wage no matter what. Hiring a famous TV chef and applying for a new reality series with a cash prize is a last-ditch effort to get her restaurant out of the red. Her crush on Sophie was easy to ignore when it happened across the distance of a television screen — but performance pressure and close quarters have a way of turning up the heat.
The feelings in this one are dialed up so high you almost can’t look at them directly: It would be like staring into the sun. Such a style can drift into self-indulgence if the author’s voice isn’t strong enough to carry it — fortunately, Barrett’s wry, lightly bitter tone is a perfect complement to that rich, heavy angst.
Sophie’s soft yet joyful exploration of her bisexuality lightens Amy’s tragic family dynamics, and the climactic payoff feels more than usually well earned. Like Rosie Danan or Kate Clayborn, Barrett has a way of making palpable the full journey of a relationship: It’s not just two hot bodies being hot in proximity to each other — though the sex scenes are definitely spicy! — but two distinct lives growing toward a shared future.