Spring 2019 Books We Cannot Wait to Read!

The Spring Equinox is upon us! And we plan to celebrate it in the best way possible: reading as many books as we can stuff into our brains.

And yes, that is how we celebrate everything, because it’s the best way.

We’re gathered up some of our picks like so many newly-blooming flowers, and we’re excited to recommend them to you! And, as always, we’d love to hear about your most anticipated books in the comments.



Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston (March 5, Disney Lucasfilm Press)

It feels like this book has been a solid twenty years coming because… well, it has. It definitely has. And now everyone who obsessed over the amazing coded language that existed between the queen of Naboo and her handmaidens will get the chance to live in that world and be a part of the action. So ready. —EAP

Bummed they did not hire Natalie Portman, Rose Byrne, and Keira Knightley for the audiobook, but here for lavish descriptions of all of the handmaidens’ matching outfits and other minor details that twelve-year-old Natalie pondered after seeing Phantom Menace. —NZ

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi (March 5, Riverhead Books)

Oyeyemi’s blend of reality and fable is always enchanting, and in this story there’s the added pleasure of baking! A daughter has to go in search of her mother, and along the way forges a relationship with her mother’s wily best friend, and begins to suspect that the Old country her mom used to talk about might not technically exist? Oh and her mother’s gingerbread recipe might be magical. —LS

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson (March 12, Grove Atlantic)

G. Willow Wilson takes us back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition (no one expected it, etc.) when a nascent Spanish monarchy forms an uneasy truce with the established Muslim court. A concubine inadvertently reveals that her friend, the royal mapmaker, can make maps that bend the nature of reality (which would be super handy if the courts wanted to obliterate each other) and it becomes clear that she’ll need to help him escape if they want to avoid being enslaved and/or murdered by Spain’s spy network. Luckily, they happen to know a djinn…LS

If, Then by Kate Hope Day (March 12, Random House)

One of my favorite things about genre becoming more mainstream is crossover novels like this one, in which four neighbors begin glimpsing alternate-reality versions of themselves. But unlike other parallel-universe tales, where the protagonist gets dropped into another timeline, it sounds as if these doubles are cropping up in their very neighborhood: a woman doubting the strength of both her marriage and her job after witnessing “her” affair with a coworker; a young woman wondering why her father isn’t grieving her mother the same way she is; a new mom facing down the fork in the road of another baby and a career-defining project; a scientist who might have glimpsed the destruction that no one else can foresee. These inner conflicts would be fascinating enough if they were mere metaphor in a more traditional literary novel, but embodying them as actual doppelgängers makes the “what if”s even more tantalizing.  —NZ

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (March 19, Saga Press)

Hurley is here to answer the SF question that really should be interrogated more often: With all the “beam me up, Scotty”/teleportation/light travel transporting human bodies across space, what happens when your molecules get reassembled not-quite-right? And it being Hurley means that it will be a nuanced rumination on how much information is withheld from recruits before they go into war, and how combat crushes soldiers into heroes and villains in equal measure. —NZ

Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey (March 26, Orbit Books)

The eighth story from The Expanse saga follows Persepolis Rising and gives us the always-plucky crew of the Rocinante going up against a dangerous foe: the head of the growing Laconian Empire, which is determined to colonize every centimeter of the System.—LS

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett (March 26, Tor.com Publishing)

Shakespeare, magic, mystery, queer romancethere’s nothing we don’t love here! Full disclosure: Katharine is a beloved former member of the Tor.com crew, she’s written brilliantly about Shakespeare (The Tempest!) in the past, and we are just delighted for her. —NZ/LS/EAP

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (March 26, Tor Books)

So technically this is a book that I am so excited for all of you to read. I already admitted to my intense crush on Martine’s debut novel, so I’ll keep it simple: political machinations via epic poetry, a compelling “outsider” protagonist carrying a ghost inside her, a unique and often amusing naming system, and the perfect reading pace. Welcome to your new favorite space opera series. —NZ



The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling (April 2, Harper Voyager)

Gyre Price didn’t lie her way onto a mining expedition so she could be drugged and, well, lied to. She wanted to explore caves, map mineral deposits, and make bank. She wanted a competent surface team above her, making sure her body and mind both remained intact. What she got instead was her supervisor Em, who somehow knows that Gyre faked her credentials, and has every intention of using that against her. Each time Gyre thinks she has a handle on what she’s meant to be doing there are route changes, new lies, demands she can’t meet, until finally she has to admit she is lost and losing her grip on reality—and on herself. So how is she going to escape Em? How is she going to get out of this cave? And why does she think she’ being followed? —LS

Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse (April 23, Saga Press)

Since her first Nebula and Hugo-winning short story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™”, Rebecca Roanhorse has been an exciting author to watch. We’ll be seeing much more of her work in 2019, but first up is a sequel to her debut novel Trail of Lightning, Storm of Locusts. If you’ve been eager to find out what’s happening with Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, you won’t have much longer to wait! —EAP

Ragged Alice by Gareth L. Powell (April 23, Tor.com Publishing)

DCI Holly Craig escaped a rough childhood by fleeing an orphanage for London, and joining the police force the instant she was old enough. Now she has to go back “home”—the Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd—to investigate a crime. It’s a hit-and-run, tragic, but simple enough. Except, when you’re Holly Craig, and you have the ability to look into people eyes and see the evil lurking in their souls, nothing’s truly that simple. And once she’s back in Pontyrhudd her strange ability begins to lead her down a path far deadlier—and far more personal—than anything she’s faced in London.—LS

Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan (translated by Ken Liu) (April 30, Tor Books)

Personally, I have trouble getting into an ecologically-centric SFF/spec book unless it has a specific hook—like, say, the drought-struck future California of Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold Citrus Fame. Qiufan’s novel, coming to English-speaking readers for the first time thanks to The Three-Body Problem translator Ken Liu, has a similarly striking setting: Silicon Isle, the polluted island of electronic and other consumer trash off the shores of China. There, waste worker Mimi and her fellow members of the working class must decide if they continue to keep their heads down when war breaks out thanks to ecoterrorists, or if they take this opportunity to become more than pawns, more than a trash island adrift between nations. —NZ



Lanny by Max Porter (May 14, Graywolf Press)

The author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers returns with a portrait of an English village as not just a place to live, but a character with a history and a vibrant life. Lanny is made up of its people, who live and work and die and create like people in any village, but Lanny has one truly unusual inhabitant: Dead Papa Toothwort. The local kids tell tales about him, and draw him as a sort of Rip Van Winkle/Green Man, napping as shoots and leaves grow through him and around him. And he’s a fun story, right, a tie to Lanny’s bucolic past? Well he’d be a fun story if he wasn’t real. But Dead Papa Toothwort isn’t so much dead as sleeping, and happily listening in on all the chatter and life of his home.—LS

Tears of the Trufflepig by Fernando A. Flores (May 14, FSG Originals)

Fernando A. Flores’s debut novel, Tears of the Trufflepig, takes us to a parallel universe Texas, where life on the border between the U.S. and Mexico involves the traffic of “filtered animals”—extinct species who have been engineered back to life for the amusement of the super-rich. A wise person would avoid the whole scene, but when an intrepid investigative journalist named Paco Herbert invited Esteban Bellacosa to an underground dinner, he finds himself falling into a wormhole of illegal creatures, the mythos of the Aranaña Indian, thought to have disappeared eons ago, and the Trufflepig, a divine source of mystery and power…which if that doesn’t spark excitement in a reader’s heart, I don’t know what to even say about them.—LS

Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky (May 14, Orbit Books)

Remember a few years ago when murmurs about Tchaikovsky’s “giant alien spiders” book Children of Time slowly made their way into the collective consciousness like so many scurrying arachnids, but it took three years for it to get published in the U.S. so it almost felt like some mass shared dream? Well, you’re not dreaming—and the sequel is out this spring! The scarily-smart alien spiders are back, and now you can be the one to tell your friends about this engrossing cautionary SF tale against terraforming and the future of the human race. —NZ

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (May 28, Forge Books)

No, it’s not SFF. It’s not even solely true-crime, though the My Favorite Murder podcast is what led to this combination memoir/essay collection/how-to guide from co-hosts Georgia and Karen. Just as a typical MFM episode begins with a dead body but ends in frank, affirming discussions of anxiety, mental illness, and small joys, the essays collected here tell you how to survive in the world, from two smart women who between them have led a dozen different lives. I’ve read only a sampling, but I can’t wait to have all of Karen and Georgia’s wisdom on my shelf. —NZ



Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (June 4, Tor Books)

After the savage alt-history hippos and dark fairies of Gailey’s previous work, it’s both unexpected and not that the most shocking moments in their debut novel are when people are normal. When private investigator Ivy Gamble is given a can’t-refuse offer to investigate a grisly murder at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, it dredges up her complicated feelings about growing up the mundane sibling to a magical twin. This is the book for every person who read Harry Potter and mourned that an owl never delivered their Hogwarts letter. —NZ

The Deep by Rivers Solomon (June 4, Saga Press)

I love a good publishing collaboration story: Saga editor Navah Wolfe met Hamilton star and Clipping member Daveed Diggs at Worldcon 2017, and less than two years later, author Rivers Solomon has adapted Clipping’s Afrofuturistic song “The Deep” into a novel. This tale of the descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard, who have created an idyllic society in the depths of the ocean, was stunning in aural form; no doubt that this expansion of the five-minute song will take on even greater momentum, like heroine Yetu breaking the surface and learning something new about her people and herself. —NZ

Air Logic by Laurie J. Marks (June 4, Small Beer Press)

In this fourth installment of the Elemental Logic Series, half-blood giant Karis has to move on after an assassination attempt, and work out a plan to unite the Sainnites and Shaftalese despite their generations of enmity. Progress is being made until a member of her family is kidnapped, it will be up to her and fireworker Zanja to try to track him down and heal the rifts in their world. But only if they can trust the mysterious boy who claims to know more than he possibly can…—LS

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone (June 18, Tor Books)

A innovator tossed through time and space to arrive in a future run by a terrifying empress? Said innovator is the only person who might be to foment rebellion and stop said empress from winking out entire planets with little more than a thought? A hoard of sentient machines? The spirit of Iain M. Banks wrapped up with the swashbuckling of Star Wars? And it’s Max Gladstone writing it? Come here and let me love you, book. —EAP

Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor (June 18, TED Books)

Nnedi Okorafor is responsible for some of my favorite fiction, so hearing that she was writing a memoir was already an exciting prospect. But this one might just inspire readers to new heights; Okorafor details the time she spent half-paralyzed after a scoliosis operation gone wrong. Confined to a hospital bed, she learns how to channel these struggles into her creativity by recognizing that something broken often results in the emergence of something far stronger. A journey for creatives and people in need of a little guidance, this seems like a must-read for anyone who has already been inspired by Okorafor’s work. —EAP


Which spring books are you most looking forward to?


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