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January books to watch for
American Housewife: Stories
by Helen Ellis

These 12 dark tales of domestic housewives who have turned Serial Mom are simply fantastic! Think Donna Reed with a dark side, or a demented June Cleaver. Ellis’ stories practically cackle with glee off the page, whether she’s writing about unusual book clubs, doomed party crashers, or criminal beauty queens. This edgy collection of stories about women pushed a little too far is a fun way to kick off the new year.

The Illegal
by Lawrence Hill

Hill’s remarkable new novel is about a young man who lives in the fictional country of Zantaland and flees to Freedom State after his journalist father is murdered by the government. Keita Ali has been a runner his whole life, training to be a marathoner, but he becomes a different sort of runner when he escapes his country. Keita must elude capture as he lives life as an illegal in a foreign country, while trying to help ransom his kidnapped sister. Like Hill’s previous novels, “The Illegal” is smart and engrossing.

Mr. Splitfoot
by Samantha Hunt

Hunt had a fantastic novel about Nikola Tesla several years back and she returns with a mind-bending story of orphans, ghosts, and adventure. Ruth and Nat live in an orphanage, where they entertain their siblings by channeling the dead. Years later, Cora’s Aunt Ruth shows up to lead Cora, now pregnant, on a mysterious mission across New York, where they may learn what hides in the woods at the end of the road. “Mr. Splitfoot” is a superb supernatural story that is so weird and so much fun.

The Unfinished World and Other Stories
by Amber Sparks

Fans of Kelly Link and Karen Russell, this book is for you! Sparks writes otherworldly tales with a dash of dystopia, recounting stories of love or grief, and they are incredible and unique. In this collection, a young woman falls for a filmmaker with an unusual family, siblings turn to taxidermy in a time of need, and more. Each story is a wonder and a marvel. Sparks is a criminally unrecognized talent and hopefully this is the collection that will bring her the attention she deserves.

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
by Sunil Yapa

Centered around Seattle’s 1999 WTO protests, Yapa’s wonderful novel follows seven people — pot dealers, protesters, police officers, and a foreign financial minister — whose lives change forever in the course of an afternoon. Victor is a teenage runaway who hopes to sell as much marijuana as possible to the crowd of protesters and then take his earnings and leave Seattle forever. But the peaceful protest turns violent, bringing chaos and danger into the lives of everyone involved. This is a heartbreaking novel of loss and redemption set amid the turbulence of hope and justice.

Top of page: A section of the cover image of American Housewife: Stories.