Books Received, April 22 — April 28
Of Light and Shadow by Tanaz Bhathena (May 2023)
A standalone novel of magic, mayhem, love, and betrayal set in the Wrath of Ambar universe, this is the story of a bandit and a prince who change each other in unexpected ways. For readers of Sabaa Tahir and Marie Lu.
When they don’t give us our birthright, we steal it.
Roshan Chaya is out for justice. Abandoned by her parents at birth and adopted by the kingdom of Jwala’s most notorious bandit before his brutal murder, she is now leader of the Shadow Clan, a gang of farmers-turned-bandits impoverished by the provincial governor’s atrocities and corruption. Roshan’s goal: to avenge her adoptive father and earn back rights and dignity for her people.
Prince Navin has always felt like an outcast. Second in line for the throne, he has never been close to his grandmother, Queen Bhairavi of Jwala. When a night out drinking with friends leads to his capture by the infamous Shadow Clan, Navin schemes to befriend Roshan and use her as a means to escape. His ploy, however, brings Navin closer to the corruption and poverty at the heart of Roshan’s province, raising questions about its governor and Navin’s own family.
To further complicate things, the closer Roshan and Navin get, the harder it becomes to fight their growing attraction. But how can they trust each other when the world as they know it starts to fall apart?Set in a magical world inspired by the badlands of 17th century India, this standalone epic fantasy novel by Tanaz Bhathena is packed with political tensions, dangerous schemes, and swoon-worthy romance that asks the age old question: can love conquer all?
The Emperor’s Last Stand by David Lubar (September 2023)
The Emperor’s Last Stand is the third and final hilarious intergalactic Emperor of the Universe adventure by David Lubar.
“What do you get when you combine a 7th grader, a gerbil, a package of ground beef, and an alien space ship on a chase across the universe? David Lubar’s latest masterpiece, of course!” — Dan Gutman, bestselling author of the My Weird School series, on Emperor of the Universe Nicholas, Jeef, and Henrietta the gerbil face their most existential crisis yet when the universe is attacked by beings from a parallel universe intent on conquering every other parallel universe. If Nicholas fails in his mission to defend the universe, it’ll mean the end of life itself .
Starstruck by Sarafina El-Badry Nance (June 2023)
In a beautifully written, science-packed, and inspirational memoir, Egyptian-American astrophysicist Sarafina El-Badry Nance shares how she boldly carved out a place in the field of astrophysics, grounding herself in a lifelong love of the stars to face life’s inevitable challenges and embrace the unknown.
As a child, Sarafina El-Badry Nance spent nearly every evening with her father gazing up at the flickering stars and pondering what secrets the night sky held. The daughter of an American father and Egyptian mother who both pushed her toward academic excellence, Sarafina dreamed of becoming an astronomer and untangling the mysteries of the stars overhead. But it wasn’t long before she was told, both explicitly and implicitly, that girls just weren’t cut out for math and science.
In Starstruck , Sarafina invites us to consider the cosmos through fascinating science lessons to open each chapter. But she also traces more earthbound obstacles — of misogyny and racism, abuse and intergenerational trauma, anxiety and self-doubt, cancer diagnoses and recovery — she faced along the way. As her career and passion for space brought her from UT Austin to UC Berkeley, and even to a Mars astronaut simulation in Hawai’i, Sarafina learned how to survive — and ultimately thrive — in a space that was seldom welcoming to women, and especially not to women of color.
Honest and empowering, Starstruck sits at the intersection of the study of our cosmos — itself constantly changing — and the transformative experience of embracing resilience to pursue one’s passion.
The Phoenix King by Aparna Verma (August 2023)
In a kingdom where flames hold magic and the desert hides secrets, an ancient prophecy comes for an assassin, a princess, and a king. But none are ready to face destiny-and the choices they make could burn the world. “If we carry the burdens of our fathers, we’ll never know what it means to be free.
” For Elena Aadya Ravence, fire is yearning. She longs to feel worthy of her Phoenix god, of her ancestors who transformed the barren dunes of Sayon into a thriving kingdom. But though she knows the ways and wiles of the desert better than she knows her own skin, the secrets of the Eternal Flame elude her. And without them, she’ll never be accepted as queen. For Leo Malhari Ravence, fire is control. He is not ready to give up his crown-there’s still too much work to be done to ensure his legacy remains untarnished, his family protected. But power comes with a price, and he’ll wage war with the heavens themselves to keep from paying it. For Yassen Knight, fire is redemption. He dreams of shedding his past as one of Sayon’s most deadly assassins, of laying to rest the ghosts of those he has lost. If joining the court of flame and serving the royal Ravence family-the very people he once swore to eliminate-will earn him that, he’ll do it no matter what they ask of him. But the Phoenix watches over all and the fire has a will of its own. It will come for all three, will come for Sayon itself.…and they must either find a way to withstand the blaze or burn to ash.