Best Culinary Cozy Mystery:
ARSENIC AND ADOBO
By Mia P. Manansala
A mystery served up with laughter, family, and lots and lots of yummy Filipino food! Lila Macapagal moves back to help with the family restaurant and soon is the main suspect in the murder of her ex-boyfriend turned food critic. Lila has to turn into an amateur sleuth to clear her name and solve the puzzle. Manasala proves that mysteries don’t always have to be violent and dark.
Best New Take on a Classic Trope :
THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP
By Grady Hendrix
What if the horror films we grew up with were based on actual events? And the final girls (the “good girls” who survive the killer in the end) are real heroic survivors, now middle-aged and in a support group? “The Final Girl Support Group” is a fast-paced thriller full of twists and turns. It is funny, over the top, and wonderfully subversive.
Best Retelling of a Classic:
THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL
By Nghi Vo
“The Chosen and the Beautiful” is a retelling of the Great Gatsby - this time told through Jordan Baker’s eyes instead of Nick. It is faithful to the main story and incidents in Gatsby, but by slightly shifting perspective - readers are taken down a new path even more beautiful and ephemeral than the original. However, this retelling also kicks up the biting social commentary - adding new threads of context to the story. It is the rare kind of book that doesn’t try to recreate the original source but rather adds a new element to it - elevating both books in the process.
Best Book About Sweat:
THE JOY OF SWEAT
By Sarah Everts
Mmm...a book about sweat? Yes! Everts has written a book where sweat takes its place as an unsung superpower. Thoroughly researched and full of entertaining insight, “The Joy of Sweat” takes us around the world, through time and cultures, to learn about the science of sweating. Wholly unexpected and surprisingly educational.
Best Genre Blending Debut
THE OTHER ME
By Sarah Zachrich Jeng
On the night of her 29th birthday, Kelley, a single artist living in Chicago, goes to the bathroom to find a little peace and quiet. But she opens the door to a whole alternative life instead. One where she is married with children and living in the small town she grew up in. “The Other Me” is a genre-bending science fiction/mystery/thriller, a fast-paced page-turner with a thought-provoking take on technology and time travel.
Best All Alone in Outer Space Novel:
PROJECT HAIL MARY
By Andy Weir
Ryland wakes up and doesn’t remember who he is or where he is, and to make matters worse, he is all alone in a spaceship. Interweaving past and present, the reader is pulled into Ryland’s POV as he starts to realize he, alone, is on a mission to save Earth. Although written with a good deal of scientific detail, Weir adds enough humor, danger, and thrills to make this an engaging read.
Best Fake Dating Romance:
THE VIEW WAS EXHAUSTING
By Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta
British Indian actress Win and rich boy Leo have a decade-long fake relationship built to help bolster their reputations, but things become more complicated as time passes. A faux romance with real feelings could come off as a tired cliché, but the story is imbued with glitz and glamour, depth, and warmth. “The View was Exhausting” is a fun, clever escape you won’t want to put down.
Best Inspiration to Muck in the Mud:
MUDLARK: IN SEARCH OF LONDON’S PAST ALONG THE RIVER THAMES
By Lara Maiklem
Exploring the history of London through the unique lens of mudlarking - a form of scavenging the mud of the Thames river during low tide. From Roman weapons to Tudor goblets to brightly colored Victorian toothpaste pots to human remains - Maiklem has found so much treasure in the tidal mud of the river bank. Maiklem weaves a unique narrative history of London by combining the social history of the treasures she finds discarded in the river bed with a broader historical context. She also adds a lot of personal musings on the art of scavenging and the peace it can bring.