Reviews of the Week with Arnée Flores, Eleanor Ray, Zen Cho, and More!

The Booklist Review of the Day, posted to the top of the Booklist Online home page each day of the week, spotlights exceptional upcoming titles that are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.

The Reviews of the Week, posted each Monday, offers a comprehensive look at the previous week’s awardees—while also piquing interest for the week ahead. Catch up on the week of April 19 below, then dive into the week at hand with today’s Review of the Day, Living Nations, Living Words, edited by Joy Harjo. For the full week-in-review treatment, subscribe to our newsletter, Booklist Reader Update.

Monday, April 19

The Firebird Song, by Arnée Flores

Prewitt has always known Lyrica to be a gray place full of rain and sadness, where the Spectress rules mercilessly behind the strength of her ash golems. When his granny Arila falls ill one night, she reveals to Prewitt that his destiny is tied to that of the lost princess of Lyrica, the one person who can bring back the Firebird—the only creature that can defeat the Demon and the Spectress who wields his power. Now, 12 years after the events that gave rise to that evil, Prewitt meets Calliope, who learns that she is the lost princess, and the two set off on a journey to find a lost Firebird feather, meeting ancient spirits, traveling to realms unknown to humankind, and discovering hope along the way. Readers will find themselves immersed in Prewitt and Calliope’s magical world full of secrets, ancient beings, and mysterious histories.

Tuesday, April 20

The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton, by Eleanor Ray

Ray’s sad, sweet, and hopeful debut introduces readers to Amy Ashton, who has entered middle age surrounded by piles of trinkets and treasures. Amy’s boyfriend, Tim, disappeared eleven years prior, along with Amy’s best friend, Chantel. Since then, Amy has run on autopilot, numbing her grief by buying more and more things online and from charity shops, until her house is full. Her job as an administrative assistant pays the bills, but doesn’t fulfill her. When Amy gets a new neighbor, his two small children start to draw her out of her shell. But it isn’t until Amy finds an old treasure—a ring Tim had planned to propose to her with—that she realizes the most important secrets in her past still lie buried. 

Wednesday, April 21

Baby & Solo, by Lisabeth Posthuma

Encouraged by his therapist, 17-year-old Joel gets a part-time job at ROYO Video. This attempt at normalcy drops him into a chaotic environment populated by an eclectic bunch of misfits who staff the shop. Even so, he manages to make the best of it by gaining a nickname (“Han Solo” after the Star Wars character) and a new friend in Nicole “Baby” Palmer. When Baby reveals that she’s pregnant, Joel suddenly (and worryingly) finds himself being asked to be a source of strength and stability. Posthuma immerses the reader in a time capsule of 1990s pop culture, managing to keenly capture not only the feeling of growing up in that era but also the motifs of iconic films like Empire Records and High Fidelity

Thursday, April 22

Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho

This latest novel from Cho (The True Queen, 2019) follows Jessamyn, a young, closeted lesbian who moves to Malaysia with her immigrant parents after her father’s recovery from cancer. Jessamyn’s already stressful life of hiding her long-distance girlfriend from her parents is further complicated when the dead grandmother she never met starts talking to her. Suddenly she has to deal with a rude, overbearing ghost constantly telling her to get vengeance on a local gangster-turned-tycoon and pushing Jessamyn into a world of spirits, ghosts, and small gods. Things heat up even more when she attracts the attention of the Black Water Sister, a small goddess with a huge appetite for vengeance that her Ah Ma used to be the medium for.

Friday, April 23

Down to Earth, by Betty Culley

Ten-year-old Henry, homeschooled and fascinated by rocks, lives on the outskirts of a small town in Maine. He very much hopes that, like his father and one of his uncles, he will also have the ability to find water by dowsing, a gift said to reveal itself at his age. When a meteor blazes earthward one night, he’s the only one to see it slam into the field beside his home. The next morning, he finds the enormous, amazing meteorite but doesn’t expect the dramatic events that will follow. Wells in town begin to dry up, while water floods his family’s field and destroys their home. Is the meteorite drawing water toward itself? Who can put things right?'

About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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