Shelf Seeking is a series of weekly posts highlighting the best books releasing that week. Gothic horror, daughters in fiction, fantastical rifts, romantic scripts & more!
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Small Animals Caught in Traps by C.B. Bernard: A washed-up boxer making ends meet is worried he’ll mess up his daughter just like his father did him. By high school, she has become his sparring partner, his pride and joy. But their life in a small town is challenged by a marauding bear, a rival guide, and a poacher—and a tragedy strikes, leaving the daughter to fight for her family while the father can’t break free of his past.
Before We Were Innocent by Ella Berman: A Greek summer trip ten years ago ended in one of the three best friends’ death, and the media ripped apart the other two teenagers’ lives like vultures. Years later, one has now capitalised on the infamy and the other has made her life as small as possible. But when the former finds herself in an eerily similar crime again and calls the latter, it’s time to face what happened that night.
The Immeasurable Depth of You by Maria Ingrande Mora: A bisexual teen can’t stop thinking about death and when her mother interprets one of her blog posts as a suicide note, she blocks her daughter’s internet access and sends her to stay with father: on a houseboat in the Florida mangroves. During the boring summer, she comes across a fearless girl who she is determined to free from the dark waters, even by confronting her own fears.
Linghun by Ai Jiang: A modern gothic ghost story set in the mysterious town of HOME, a place where the dead live again as spirits, conjured by the grief-sick population that refuses to let go. This is a debut novella praised as an “ache that follows after every funeral” and a must-read for everyone who enjoys “crying [their] way through every chapter of a book” by Cassandra Khaw, author of Nothing But Blackened Teeth.
The All-American by Joe Milan Jr.: An adopted teenager determined to become a college football player knows nothing about his birth country of South Korea. But when a misadventure leads to his deportation, he’s forced to navigate a foreign country with raw strength: from an expat bar to military barracks and from a remote island where North Korean spies war to a remote town where his drunken biological father lives.
Burst by Mary Otis: The daughter of an alcoholic mother has always had to manage her mother’s eccentric personality. But when she chases her new passion for dance and moves away from home, the mother struggles to make peace with her own past as a failed artist and an addict. Then a tragedy strikes and the daughter must decide to take control of her life and not repeat her mother’s mistakes.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld: A comedy writer on a late night live show has abandoned her search for love—using her time to poke fun at a phenomenon where talented but dorky men get romantically involved with beautiful and accomplished women, while the reverse is unlikely. When a pop music sensation collaborates with her on sketches for the show, his charm seems to be flipping the script on all her assumptions.
The Hidden Life of Aster Kelly by Katherine A. Sherbrooke: A runway model in 1940s Hollywood flees the modelling world to land a design apprenticeship, only to be mentored by the designer as model for his dream project. Both soon become romantically involved with Hollywood insiders and as the ambitions grow, she makes a split-second decision to protect those she loves—brewing secrets that can upend her daughter’s life decades later.
One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake: Cunning and ruthless sisters and a mother who supplies intoxicants. Influential brothers and a father who is a crime boss known for extortion ventures. In magical Manhattan, these two rival witch families fight to maintain control of their respective criminal empires when a change in one family’s interests causes a rift in the existing stalemate and everyone is forced to choose a side.
Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker: On the anniversary of a magical massacre that led to a throne stolen from a queen, the twin heirs to the powerful dethroned family are mourning their father and caring for their sick mother—who is actually cursed. The twins, one who has given up on the magic and the other who uses it as a distraction, must now solve a decades-old murder that sparked the still-rising tensions in magical New Orleans.
Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens: An apprentice to a powerful sorceress has not magic but must regain access to the magical world—for which he happily takes a new name and an illegal magical detection device. A grumpy and cute apprentice to the sorceress’ rival colleague is a competition. But when the authorities come for the mentors, the rival apprentices must work together and protect their magic to save their teachers.
Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy by Angie Thomas: A young girl wants to be a powerful Manifestor like her dad but she isn’t trusted much with magic because she might use it to take revenge on an annoying neighbour. Before she has a chance to convince him to teach her, a series of revelations and shocking events launch her and two friends on a hunt for a powerful magic tool to save her father from false imprisonment.
A Whole Song and Dance by Sarvenaz Tash: Nasrin prepares for auditions in her first semester majoring in musical theatre at NYU, especially for a viral streaming show she’s been cast in. But for her parents, she’s following in their entrepreneurial footsteps as a business major. To keep the lie going, she must bring up her grade in the business course, so she signs up for tutoring with the smug and annoyingly attractive Max.
An Appetite for Miracles by Laekan Zea Kemp: Danna’s grandfather is losing his memories and she’s sure the foods he once reviewed can bring them back. Raúl’s mother was wrongly incarcerated two years ago and playing guitar for the elderly is his only escape. But then his mother unexpectedly comes back and she isn’t the same. When the two teens meet, they come together to heal the pain from their pasts in this novel-in-verse.
Not Here to Stay Friends by Kaitlyn Hill: Two childhood best friends are reunited one summer before senior year. Sloane is surprised to find that Liam has had a Hot Guy glow-up since she last saw him—she’s sure a little attraction wouldn’t ruin anything. But when both end up starring on a teen reality dating show, the drama really picks up while their feelings for each other get complicated.
That Wasn’t in the Script by Sarah Ainslee: After being moved against her will to New York City and losing her father, an aspiring screenwriter dreams of escaping back to small-town Ohio. A Hollywood teen heartthrob becomes an overnight celebrity for a viral streaming sensation he stars in, but he’s desperate to escape the limelight. When the two teens collide one fateful autumn night, a twenty-four-hour descent into chaos follows.