The books we love coming out this week include new titles by K.B. Wagers, Saranna DeWylde, and J.R. Ward.

Hold Fast Through the Fire

K.B. Wagers. Harper Voyager, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-288781-8

Wagers’s second NeoG novel (following A Pale Light in the Black) serves up buffet-size portions of everything their fans have come to expect: dug-in friendships, action, impossible odds, and clever dialogue that always hits home. The Near-Earth Orbital Guard, a space-based Coast Guard equivalent, is gearing up for the annual Boarding Games, and the crew of Zuma’s Ghost worries they won’t be able to maintain their winning streak following a personnel shake-up. But once they’re back out in the black, that concern is put on the back burner as the crew confronts a massive conspiracy that could spell war between the military and the separatists on Mars. Contending with dangerous secrets and mounting mistrust, the crew is almost torn apart—but what the bad guys don’t understand is that the more you attack the Zuma’s Ghost team, the more they’ll draw together and fight back. Wagers’s characterization plumbs incredible depths, particularly with street rat–turned–engineering chief Jenks, a brain with vicious fists. Wagers’s fans should snap up this fun, thrilling latest.

Men Are Frogs

Saranna DeWylde. Zebra, $15.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4201-5315-6

Returning to the enchanting world of Fairy Godmothers, Inc., DeWylde delivers a sparkling rom-com remix of classic fairy tales. Wedding planner Zuri Davis loves her job—right up until the day it literally goes up in flames. Though she hates the thought of moving away from Chicago and her twin sister, she takes an interview in Ever After, Mo., a popular wedding destination. There, Phillip Charming more than lives up to his name—that is, when he’s not a frog. He spends the daylight hours in amphibian form due to a curse placed on him by fairy godmother Petunia Blossom 300 years ago. In the meantime, he’s opened his castle as a B&B. He sets out to be the perfect host for Zuri and quickly finds himself smitten by the nonmagical woman. The pair fall prey to the matchmaking machinations of the town’s meddling fairy godmothers, but Charming doesn’t have time for a relationship; he must find a cure for his curse ASAP or become a frog full-time. DeWylde uses her diverse, nontraditional takes on fairy tale characters and tropes to delve deep into themes of toxic masculinity, female empowerment, and the transformative power of love. Delightful supporting characters—among them a sentient castle and an evil queen in recovery—only add to the charm. Readers are sure to be swept away.

Island of Thieves

Glen Erik Hamilton. Morrow, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-297854-7

Edgar finalist Hamilton has never been better than in his sixth Van Shaw thriller (after 2020’s A Dangerous Breed), in which Shaw, a reformed criminal who’s trying to set up a foundation for troubled kids, must surmount harder and harder obstacles. Eager for honest money, Shaw agrees to test Droma International’s security at its Port of Seattle facility by attempting to remove a valuable carved figure from a warehouse without being caught. The job proves a breeze for him and leads to a more lucrative offer from Droma. Company founder Sebastien Rohner is about to host an important business meeting on a private island off the coast, which is also home to an art gallery. Rohner, who suspects one of his guests may try to steal some of the art, hires Shaw to pose as the island’s facilities manager while keeping an eye on the gallery. Shaw suspects that he’s not been told the full story after Rohner’s security team confronts him, and he’s soon in peril after stumbling across the corpse of a murdered guest. Hamilton’s fast-paced plot never loses its way despite numerous jaw-dropping twists. Fans of Jeffery Deaver and Jeff Lindsay will be enthralled.

Weird Kid

Greg van Eekhout. HarperCollins, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06-297060-2

A shape-shifting alien faces middle school and strange local events in Van Eekhout’s (Cog) funny, riveting novel. Raised as a human since falling to Earth “in a flaming blob of goo,” narrator Jake Wind has spent the summer avoiding his best friend, practicing guitar in his Arizona suburb, and struggling to hold his human form as the child of Dutch Indonesian parents. If he shifts in public, everyone will know that he’s not “a totally boring absolutely non-weird and completely solid individual.” When school starts and large sinkholes filled with goo begin opening up all over town, Jake joins forces with new schoolmate and fellow comic enthusiast Agnes Oakes, who is white, to discover what the goo is, why it’s turning people into “imblopsters,” and whether it’s related to the hum that accompanies his unwanted shifts. Impeccably toned middle school humor (“Those holes are really becoming a problem,” Jake’s proctologist father says of the sinkholes), paired with action-packed hijinks and a poignant extended metaphor about finding one’s identity, results in a heartfelt, pitch-perfect middle grade novel.


J.R. Ward. Pocket, $9.99 mass market (528p) ISBN 978-1-982150-37-2

Bestseller Ward keeps readers’ hearts racing in the first paranormal romance of a sexy, action-packed spin-off series to her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Lydia Susi has been running the Wolf Study Project in Walters, N.Y., on behalf of her absentee boss, and it’s up to her to hire the preserve’s new handyman. The moment Daniel Joseph walks in the door to interview, she knows she’s in trouble—but she has no idea how much. As her boss’s continued absence gives rise to concern that something may have happened to him and the wolves suffer increasing ill-effects from the construction of a nearby resort, Lydia and Daniel team up to get answers and save the preserve. Along the way, the pair can’t help falling for each other, but Daniel has his reasons for living as a drifter and Lydia knows he can’t stay. Ward builds to a breathtaking finale with an impressively orchestrated twist, setting the bar high for the series to come. This emotional roller coaster does not disappoint.