New Book Releases: February 9, 2021

Each week, I’ll catalog the biggest and most exciting adult and YA fiction — and the occasional nonfiction — coming out that Tuesday.

A TIP FOR THE HANGMAN, Allison Epstein. A spectacularly funny, smart novel about poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe, who was roped into spying on Mary Stuart, among others, by Elizabeth I’s spymaster. Bookshop.

THE ELECTRIC KINGDOM, David Arnold. A dynamic cast of characters attempt to survive a world devastated by an apocalyptic pandemic. “Strange and off-kilter, this is not a simple post-apocalyptic novel but instead a quiet, philosophical exploration of humanity with a touch of science fiction around the edges,” writes Kirkus. Bookshop.

KINK, R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell. An anthology of short stories exploring desire, BDSM, and love, featuring stories by Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, and Carmen Maria Machado. “Thrilling, provocative, and unapologetically kinky,” writes Kirkus. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

A PHO LOVE STORY, Loan Le. Sparks fly when a chance encounter brings together the teenaged children of two families who own competing pho restaurants. Bookshop.

THE WITCH’S HEART, Genevieve Gornichec. When a clairvoyant witch flees persecution by the Norse gods in Asgard, she falls in love with the trickster god Loki and gives birth to children who will change the fate of both Asgard and Midgard, where humans live. A unique, lovely take on Norse mythology. “This powerful fantasy is sure to win Gornichec many fans,” writes Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review. Bookshop.

THE GIRL FROM SHADOW SPRINGS, Ellie Cypher. A young scavenger must rescue her sister when she’s kidnapped as punishment for stealing off the wrong man. Bookshop.

ZORRIE, Laird Hunt. A 70-year-old farmer from Indiana looks back at her life growing up during the Depression and after. “ A quiet, beautifully done, and memorable novel,” writes Library Journal in a starred review. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

A FLOOD OF POSIES, Tiffany Meuret. Two estranged sisters are forced together when a flood, and its accompanying deluge of sea monsters, devastate the earth. Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “bewitching debut.” Bookshop.

THE WEAK SPOT, Lucie Elven. A woman discovers something sinister at work at her new job as an apprentice at an isolated mountaintop pharmacy. “Elven successfully channels the magic and mood of Kafka’s fables,” writes Publisher’s Weekly. Bookshop.

SORROW AND BLISS, Meg Mason. A 40-year-old woman with mental illness moves back home when her husband leaves her. Kirkus says it’s “an astute depiction of life on the psychic edge.” Bookshop.

WE RUN THE TIDES, Vendela Vida. After two teenaged best friends disagree about a terrible event they both witnessed, one of them disappears in what appears to be a kidnapping that shakes their quiet, wealthy community in San Francisco. “As consistently surprising as it is hauntingly resonant (not to mention often very funny), Vida’s chronicle of female friendship is a fast, addictive read,” writes Entertainment Weekly. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

THE GILDED ONES, Namina Forna. An outcast with the gift of deep intuition joins the emperor’s army of girls with talents like hers. Bookshop.

WE PLAY OURSELVES, Jen Silverman. A playwright flees New York to Los Angeles after a scandal, where she meets a magnetic — and manipulative — documentary filmmaker working on a movie about a teen girls’ fight club. “Silverman balances wit with earnestness, the laugh-out-loud moments highlighting the absurdity of writing — whether plays, films or poetry, the genre she skewers most adroitly in a pitch-perfect parody of an overhyped ingénue,” writes the New York Times. Read an excerpt here. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

THE LOVE PROOF, Madeleine Henry. The three-decades long love story of two mathematical geniuses. In a starred review, Kirkus writes that “this book is academic and heartfelt and tender and loving. It is worth every minute spent reading it.” Bookshop.

THE ABSOLUTE BOOK, Elizabeth Knox. The fantastical story of a librarian who arranges the revenge killing of her sister’s murderer. “When I was finished with The Absolute Book I wanted everyone I knew to read it so I could discuss it with them… truly remarkable,” writes Slate. Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

THE PARIS LIBRARY, Janet Skeslien Charles. A teenager in Montana forms a unique friendship with her elderly neighbor, who was a librarian in Paris during the Second World War. “A novel tailor-made for those who cherish books and libraries,” writes Kirkus. Bookshop.

SUPER HOST, Kate Russo. A middle-aged artist whose life and career are at a standstill makes profound connections with others when he begins to rent out his house for extra money. Kirkus calls it “charming and poignant.” Aggregated critical reviews, Bookshop.

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I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.

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