August Reading and Life Plans

So anyone who follows my content may have noticed that for the last couple months I have been more loose about my planning because mentally I acknowledge I’ve been struggling. I’ve admittedly been in a bit of a reading slump and if you’ve read my NaNoWriMo posts, a writing slump as well. I’m determined to break this cycle and get back in my groove with some planning.

So what is the plan I’ve come up with? I’m not going to be super strict with myself and I am going to simply work on getting back on track. My day job responsibilities have ramped up even though I’m working remotely, so that is a priority and I have to recognize my own limits.

So in short, the goals I am setting for myself are as follows:

-Read more of my backlist books, and get back to listening to more audiobooks like I was doing previously.
-Try to carve actual writing time out, and decide on a project instead of floating between a few different ones.
-Really do some preparation for November’s round of NaNoWriMo so that I’m ready to hit the ground running.
-Get better about my daily tracking. I have a reading bullet journal set up, but in the last couple months I’ve gone from updating every day, to updating maybe once a week.

That being said, this might not happen. I have to concentrate on self care and taking care of my mental health – so if I can’t accomplish all of these things, then that’s ok.

Take care of yourselves and happy reading!

Camp NaNoWriMo Update | 7/2

It’s that time again, this time for the July round of Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m not setting any grand goal for myself this time. I set a goal of 15k words just to have a goal of some sort in place, but I’m not going to be upset if I don’t hit it.

Life is hectic these days, even if I’m working at home – so some nights I just don’t have the energy to write. I’m going to take it easy on myself and just enjoy the process as it happens.

That being said, I’ve managed to add 1,309 words to a new project, so that’s not too bad in my opinion.

Who else is participating? What are your goals?

Happy writing!

Ebook Haul | 6/29

Hey lovely people! I haven’t been buying a ton of physical books lately. I wouldn’t say I’m on a buying ban or anything, I’ve just been way too busy, not going out much and trying to read some of the books I already have. So for today’s post I thought I would share some of the ebooks I’ve picked up recently.

First I found a number of the Tor.com original short stories available so I picked up a bunch of them!

I also picked up The Empress of Salt and Fortune since I’ve been hearing amazing things about it. The others I have picked up have been a little random as I’ve been looking for things that would make me smile or laugh, so that’s what the rest hopefully represent. I’d never heard of the other three, but I read the blurbs and was interested in all of them.

So what have you gotten in ebook form lately? Have you found any amazing new-to-you reads?

Happy reading!

Writing Update | 6/23

Here we are almost to the end of June and my writing this year is not going the way I expected and I’ve found myself in a writing slump.

I think all of us are feeling certain effects from the events going on in the world, and have been. I’ve been dealing with my own issues and trying to maintain, but my writing and reading have definitely suffered as a result.

Still, while I haven’t written much in the last two months, I am going to do the Camp NaNoWriMo round in July, but I’m not going to set any huge goal. I’m going to simply aim to write, not do a large amount. As long as I make progress I’m going to be happy. I’ll probably do a good amount of editing and mat not even concentrate on new writing. I’m just going to gauge what feels right when the time comes.

How is everyone else’s writing going? Have you also had creativity blocks?

Kindle Deals | 6/20

It’s time for some Kindle deals again! I’m all for adding to my ebook TBR and there are currently some great books available. As always, make sure to check prices in your area as they may vary depending on date and location!

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen ($2.99) – One way or another, we always feed the crows.

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

Haunted (Harrison Investigation 1) by Heather Graham ($1.99) – Matt Stone doesn’t believe in ghosts. But there are those who are convinced his home, a historic Virginia estate that dates back to the Revolutionary War, is haunted. Pressured to get at the truth about some strange happenings at Melody House, he agrees to let Harrison Investigations explore the house.

But he isn’t ready for beautiful, intriguing Darcy Tremayne. As a paranormal investigator, Darcy has learned to believe in the unbelievable. And she’s given Matt fair warning: sometimes people don’t like the skeletons she finds. She never dreamed that warning would apply to herself. For she’s about to discover that Melody House holds much more than a simple mystery from the distant past. What it holds is a very real and lethal danger, one that will cast her into a struggle against the worlds of both the living and the dead.

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson ($3.99) – Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne’s Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox’s Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald’s The Drowner, and Donna Tartt’s A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey ($2.99) – “That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Happy reading!

Tactical Crime Division | Author Q&A with Nichole Severn

Perfect for fans of Criminal Minds and Blacklist…

Uncover the lives and loves of the FBI elite as they take on the toughest assignments. This is a new four-book miniseries featuring an ensemble cast of characters spread across 4 books, featuring 4 urgent cases, with one stellar team of crime solving experts. 

The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI. Because of the growing concerns and need for ever increasing response time to criminal events, the FBI created a specialized tech and tactical team combing specialists from several active divisions that include: weapons, crime scene investigation, protection, negotiation and IT. 

Midnight Abduction by Nichole Severn – For the Tactical Crime Division, no case is left cold. When Benning Reeves’s twins are kidnapped, the frantic father knows who can help: the Tactical Crime Division and Ana Ramirez. Even though Ana once shattered Benning’s heart, the special agent is the only one he can trust. But Ana is still tormented by the unresolved case that brought them together years before—a case somehow entangled with Benning’s children. It’s up to the TCD and Ana to discover why…before it’s too late.

Purchase links | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Harlequin.com

  1. The Tactical Crime Division is a specialized unit of the FBI. Did you do any research before writing about this type of fast-paced, high-adrenaline lifestyle? 

A: I’ve written a few FBI characters throughout my career (one of my favorite kinds of novels to write!), but for Midnight Abduction, I really had to look into missing persons statistics and break that data down into manageable chunks.

As an agent trained in missing persons, my heroine has to know the probabilities of a parent being involved in the abduction (or someone the child knew), the child’s daily habits, schedule, and so much more than age, weight, height and a recent photo. It’s unbelievable how the smallest detail could contribute to her bringing home a missing child, and how quickly evidence can change the course of an entire investigation.

I also found the more attention I put into reviewing actual missing persons from the FBI’s website, the more conflict and mystery I was able to add to this book.

  1. The Tactical Crime Division series includes four books written by four different authors; what was it like to collaborate with other authors and how did you decide who got to write each storyline?

A: Thankfully deciding who wrote which book was completely up to our editors, but collaborating with three other authors really was a huge change of pace for me. Up to this point, I’ve been in control of every minute detail throughout my books and have never had to rely on another author for the story I’m writing. 

But the TCD series features multiple points of view in each book, including main characters from the other three. I’d say the most difficult part of working together was just trying to get each other’s characters right. We didn’t want to overstep, make these side characters do something out of character or get the details of their past wrong, but every author involved in the series was great about answering questions and updating our shared series bible. 

  1. Can you share a recent book you have read that you would like to recommend?

A: I’ve just finished Loreth Anne White’s IN THE DARK and could not put it down! The use of setting to add to the psychological mystery she’s created was so well done, I’m still thinking about it weeks later. 

Nichole Severn writes romantic suspense with strong heroines, heroes who dare challenge them, and a hell of a lot of guns. When she’s not writing, she’s injuring herself running and practicing yoga.

Can’t Wait Wednesday | 6/17

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings based on the meme Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine. In this weekly post people share a book that they’re excited about being released.

I really enjoyed Stephen Graham Jones’ book Mapping the Interior so I’m excited for his September release Night of the Mannequins.

Night of the Mannquins is expected to come out in September from Tor and I cannot wait to pick it up!

Stephen Graham Jones returns with Night of the Mannequins, a contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?

Happy reading!

Recommended Reads | 6/14

Today I again wanted to do something a little different and offer up some recommendations of diverse books which I have read and loved. These are in no way all of the diverse reads I would recommend, but a great selection of some books that I really enjoyed.

First off let’s talk about two books that both came out this year and are currently only $1.99 for the ebook version (disclaimer: please double check the price as it can vary by location or be a limited time sale)! I read both of these for blog tours and one of them is still sitting at my favorite book of the year so far!

Don’t Read the CommentsFor Divya and Aaron, it’s the world of online gaming. While Divya trades her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay rent, Aaron plays as a way to fuel his own dreams of becoming a game developer – and as a way to disappear when his mom starts talking about medical school. After a chance online meeting, the pair decides to team up – but soon find themselves the targets of a group of internet trolls who begin launching a real-world doxxing campaign, threatening Aaron’s dream and Divya’s actual life. They think can drive her out of the game, but Divya’s whole world is on the line…

A Love Hate Thing – Despite having been shot, Tyson Trice has survived the mean streets of Lindenwood, so nothing can faze him—not even being tossed into the affluent coastal community of Pacific Hills.

Nandy Smith, the golden girl of Pacific Hills, is not pleased when she hears her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy. Nandy suddenly fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

The wall between Trice and Nandy’s bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken over Trice’s heart. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

The rest of these I have read and absolutely loved as well, two of them are in verse and the last one is an anthology that I really enjoyed and is full of diversity. Both of the books in verse are also great audiobooks!

The Poet XXiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Long Way DownAn ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

I’m not going to include the whole synopsis for Long Way Down because in my opinion it gives too much away. It’s a story about a boy whose about to make a decision that could change his life, and the people who get on the elevator with him as he rides it down to the street.

Fresh InkCareful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you. 

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print. This collection addresses topics like gentrification, acceptance, untimely death, coming out, and poverty and ranges in genre from contemporary realistic fiction to adventure and romance. It will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

If you’re interested in picked up any of these I’ve linked both the covers and the titles! The links for Don’t Read the Comments and A Love Hate Thing go directly to the kindle version that’s currently on sale.

Happy reading!

Release Day Blitz | Carolina Beach

I’ve got great news. If you haven’t already discovered Cecy Robson’s Carolina Beach series you can now download the complete set. All three novels – Inseverable, Eternal, and Infinite–are together in one steamy eBook bundle. Check out the series fans love and enter to win as we celebrate its release.

Carolina Beach Boxed Set
Amazon | iTunes | B&N | Kobo | Google Play

A wounded soldier returning from war, a man struggling to move forward following a painful divorce, and a businessman caught in a web of lies, discover love, healing, and redemption. Set along the backdrop Kiawah Island, the Carolina Beach series is the perfect getaway told in the soulful and witty voice of international and award-winning author Cecy Robson 

INSEVERABLE 

Winner of 2017 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 

Callahan is a former army sniper who wants to make an escape from his past and everything he experienced at war. When he inherits a house on South Carolina’s Kiawah Island, he packs his bags, believing he will finally have the peace and seclusion he craves. Unfortunately, Callahan never counted on meeting Trinity. She is a native who has returned to Kiawah for one last memorable summer with friends before leaving for the Peace Corps. Callahan doesn’t want to get close to anyone–let alone Trinity. He finds her perkiness insufferable and her attempts to entice his smile distracting. After all, he’s in Kiawah to leave all feelings behind. But when it comes to Trinity, who feels everything, it’s hard not to feel something.
Neither expected to fall in love. And no one could have predicted how inseverable they’d become.

ETERNAL

After months of bad luck and even worse men, Luciana Diaz just wants to crawl under the covers and forget the year ever happened. Her friend has other plans, convincing Luci to attend a New Year’s Eve party on the affluent shores of Kiawah Island. Luci never expected to have fun. She also never expected to wake up next to Landon Summers, a man she just met. Unfortunately, she soon finds out that this man happens to be the new attorney at her firm! After an ugly separation and even worse divorce, Landon has no desire to jump into another relationship.
Neither Luci nor Landon planned on meeting each other, and they definitely didn’t plan on love. But the New Year means a fresh start, and eternal possibilities neither can deny . . .

INFINITE


National Reader’s Choice Award First Runner-up

Hale Wilder and Becca Shields grew up together on Kiawah Island. They were close in high school but have not seen each other since that humiliating night long ago when her family caught them on the beach, barely clothed. He strived to be the best student and the best athlete and grew into a successful businessman taking the finance world by storm. Hale is rich, powerful, and seemingly unstoppable. That is until a company scandal threatens to destroy his reputation and bring down everything he has worked for. Becca is now a kickass public relations goddess spinning scandals into gold and launching has-beens into superstardom. She never expected to see Hale again. But, when Becca discovers Hale is in trouble, she can’t turn her back on the boy who was once her world and the man she never forgot.
Hale never thought he’d have another shot at greatness or with Becca. Now that he has both, he won’t let either go without a fight.

Praise for the Books

“This is, hands down, one of my favorite books of 2016 thus far… INSEVERABLE, the first book in the upcoming Carolina Beach series, is FUNNY, like really funny. Heartfelt and sweet and goofy and just plain amazing.” —Top Pick, The Romance Reviews

“Eternal is a heartfelt and beautiful love story of two wounded hearts who find each other when and where they least expect it.” —USA Today, HEA

“[Infinite] hit all the feels and when I say all, I mean All. Of. Them. in one form or another and it made it very difficult to put the book down…So, if you love second chance romances then this is a must read!” —Books-n- Wine

Read an Excerpt from Inseverable

We reach the end of the driveway where he’s left his truck. I shift back and forth on my feet as he positions himself beside the driver’s side door, struggling to find the right words to say.
“I know parties aren’t exactly your thing,” I say. “But I hope you had fun.”
Okay. Not exactly the right words I think I need. But they’re true enough.
He watches me, falling back into deadpan silence I hoped was far behind us. Ordinarily, I’d make an obnoxious comment to stir a grin or maybe even a chuckle. But it doesn’t seem right at this moment. So instead of tapping into my playful side, I search my heart, hoping it will speak better than my mind.
I take a step forward, keeping my voice light. “You know, I was hoping you’d kiss me tonight, especially after you sang me that beautiful song.” I clasp my hands in front of me, feeling suddenly shy. “Am
I crazy for thinking you might?”
“No. Not at all,” his deep voice rumbles.
I raise my head slowly, shock hitching my breath. Callahan edges back and opens the door. Instead of climbing in, he stretches his long body across the seats, slipping back out with a spray of gorgeous wildflowers.
“You brought these for me?” I ask, barely able to get the words out.
“No.” The corners of his mouth lift. “They’re for Sean seeing how I make his panties wet.”
I start to laugh, but it doesn’t last, because the way Callahan is looking at me is very different from the way he was looking at me seconds before. This expression is the perfect blend of sweetness and ardor, just as it was when he sang to me.
He doesn’t know that the song he chose is among my all-time favorites. Nor does he realize how his deep soothing voice and the gesture affected me. I want to tell him, but I’m not sure how to express something that touched me so deeply simply with words, especially now that the sadness he stows deep inside of him, finds its way to the surface.
I take a risk, and ask him what
I’ve wanted to know since I first saw him. “Are you okay?”
When he doesn’t answer, I’m not sure he will. Yet when he does, I feel it like a pull, drawing me closer.
“Not always,” he admits quietly.
I purse my lips, struggling to stay strong for him. “Do you hurt?” I ask.
His stare travels down as I inch to his side, close enough that the leaves from my flowers sweep against his chest. “Sometimes,” he answers.
I tilt my chin and meet his face.
“Are you lonely?”
He lifts his head slowly, pitching me with such an intense stare, it holds me in place. “Not when I’m with you,” he whispers.
He moves forward, sliding his right hand behind the curve of my neck to cup the base of my skull. His other hand winds carefully around my waist. As I try to remember how to move, he skims my jaw with his thumb and lowers his mouth to meet mine.
At first his lips scarcely touch, trailing over me so softly I can barely sense the contact. The care he uses is sweet, subtle, but carries enough fire to warm all the right places and make me crave more. Yet what he’s doing feels so right, and so pure, I don’t force it, allowing him to lead us.
My lips follow his, brushing lightly, teasing gently, fitting perfectly. It’s only when his tongue probes forward and the tip flickers over mine that everything changes.
And dear God, there’s nothing pure or tender about what happens next.
Callahan devours me, fueling a frenzy within me and inciting me to ravish him just as hard in return. I moan and whimper, my heart racing hard enough to fill my ears with its beat. This isn’t a kiss. Oh, hell no. This is our tongues having sex!
He grunts, whirling me around and pressing my back against the truck door. My legs fasten around his waist as he hoists me onto his hips and deepens our kiss.
“Trin?”
Something hard presses against my belly.
“Trin?”
My lids flutter when he slips his tongue inside my ear.
“Trin?”
My hands yank up his shirt, traveling upward to smooth over his hard chest and graciously erect nipples. But when my teeth find his neck, and he swears, I just about rip his clothes off.
“Trin? You out here?”
Callahan breaks our contact and lowers me to my feet, stepping on my abandoned flowers as Sean appears with Mason.
“Trin?” Sean calls out, yet again.
I stomp forward and throw my hands out. “What? Tell me what is so important you have to interrupt quality face sucking time?”
“Can we have the wine?” Sean asks, looking at Mason who’s doing his best not to crack up.
“Sean!” I yell. “Did you even have to ask? Drink the whole thing for all I care.”
“Thanks, Trin,” he answers all excited-like. “Later, Callahan.”
“Night, Callahan,” Mason says, no longer able to hold back his laughter.
I turn back to Callahan who, like me, is panting. But very unlike me he’s chuckling as he rubs his jaw.
“Sorry,” I squeak.
“It’s all right,” he tells me. But then he says the last thing I want to hear. “I should go.”
We’re not going to have sex against your truck? It’s what I think— and after that kiss no one can blame me. But contrary to popular belief, I don’t always say what I think.
“You don’t have to,” I stammer.
“It’s late,” he says.
“Oh.” Let me rephrase that, how about we have sex against your truck?
“Okay.”
He stares at me for a beat then bends to retrieve my flowers and passes them to me. The daisies are broken and the peonies have seen better days. And yet I’m so touched by the sweet gesture from a man who’s so hard and almost impossible to get to know, I find it hard to keep my voice steady. “Thank you,
Callahan. They’re lovely.”
His features soften apologetically. “They don’t look quite like they did in the store.”
“I don’t care about that. It’s the nicest thing anyone’s done for me in a long time,” I tell him truthfully. “Thank you for thinking of me.”
Again he watches me. I’m hoping he’ll change his mind and stay.
But he doesn’t.
“Goodnight, Trin,” he says quietly.
I find a way to smile despite my disappointment. “Goodnight,


Amazon | iTunes | B&N | Kobo | Google Play



About the Author

Cecy Robson is an international and multi-award-winning author of over twenty-five character driven novels. A registered nurse of eighteen years, Cecy spends her free time creating magical worlds, heart-stopping romance, and young adult adventure. After receiving two RITA® nominations, the Maggie Award, the Award of Excellence, and a National Reader’s Choice Award nomination, you can still find Cecy laughing, crying, and cheering on her characters as she pens her next story.

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Kindle Deals | 6/9

I knew that for today’s post I wanted to do a kindle deals post, but I also wanted to make sure to feature Black authors to boost more of their voices. Some of these authors I have read from myself, while others are being added to my TBR. If you like the books that are on sale, be sure to check out their other works and continue to support them!

As always, please double check the prices as they may be different depending on region or date. All titles and covers are linked.

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender ($1.99) An engrossing tale of colonialism, conquest and revenge, Queen of the Conquered starts a fantasy series perfect for readers of S. A. Chakraborty, Ken Liu, and Tasha Suri. On the islands of Hans Lollik, Sigourney Rose was the only survivor when her family was massacred by the colonizers. When the childless king of the islands declares he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

But someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. And as the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson ($1.99) Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland ($2.99) Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. 

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor ($1.99) Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann ($2.99)Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting—working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating—no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Claire Kann’s debut novel Let’s Talk About Love, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, gracefully explores the struggle with emerging adulthood and the complicated line between friendship and what it might mean to be something more.

Happy reading!