Critic’s Choice List Curated by Mahvesh Murad

What is Critic’s Choice?

We’ve been working for months on a special new category, ‘Critic’s Choice’. We understand that it’s not always easy to decide which book to buy when there is just so much to choose from. We have tried to make life a little bit easier for you. This list has been curated by Mahvesh Murad. 

Who is Mahvesh Murad?

Mahvesh Murad is a book critic. She hosted a radio show about books for 7 years and writes for Books & Authors, Strange Horizons &, amongst other publications. She is the editor of the Apex Book of World SF 4 & co-editor of a forthcoming anthology of jinn stories to be published by Solaris UK in 2017.

So look out for our ‘yellow’ critic’s choice sticker when you visit us next. 🙂 The collection is available in store and online. You can browse through and order here:

This Month’s Picks

SM CriticsChoice All 10_Pinterest


Shark Wars by EJ Altbacker – Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

Shark Wars

Since the dawn of time, prehistoric shark clans called Shivers have ruled over the earth’s oceans, fierce protectors of all who swim. For eons, the Big Blue has prospered under Shiver Law, and the delicate balance of sea life kept sacred. Until now.

Rising sea temperatures and overfishing have caused food to become scarce, and the battle for new hunting grounds has brought with it corruption and warfare.

Now, with the ocean on the brink of chaos, a young reef shark named Gray – exiled from the safety of his peaceful reef home – must venture deep into Open Water to unlock the secrets of his destiny and bring peace back to the ocean. But first, he’ll have to discover the truth about who – and what – he really is.

Teen Series Sweet Valley High Grows Up – ABC News



Before “Gossip Girl” and “Twilight,” there was Sweet Valley High, the teenage romance novels that followed the sun-kissed lives of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. With their silky blond hair, aqua blue eyes, and 5-foot-6, “perfect size six” figures, the Wakefield twins were the all-American sweethearts of the 1980s and 1990s.

The twins are now 27, on their own, and bitterly estranged. Book-smart Elizabeth has fled heartache in fictional Sweet Valley, Calif., for the rough streets of New York City. Popular, attention-seeking Jessica is back in her hometown, and engaged to her twin sister’s high school sweetheart.And now they are all grown up in “Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later,” released by St. Martin’s Press on Tuesday.

In this new book, readers are immediately hurled into the present with references to Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Facebook. By the end of chapter one, Elizabeth, a struggling writer, contemplates sleeping with her boss, reveals she cries after orgasms, and calls her twin “a heartless b—-.”Throughout the 1980s, pre-teens consumed the twins’ stories like so much addictive candy, following the girls and a consistent cast of characters through the trials and tribulations of high school and teenage drama.

Honey, I don’t think we’re in Sweet Valley anymore.

Amy Pattee, associate professor at Simmons College and author of “Reading the Adolescent Romance: Sweet Valley High and the Popular Young Adult Romance Novel,” said the series’ trademark twins played to readers’ dreams of being both the good and bad girl.

The new book aims to play on those same readers’ ideals of adulthood.

“More and more grownups are interested and reading young adult novels,” said Pattee. “When we look at the success of books like ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy and how many grownups are invested in them, we can definitely see an interest or a market for visiting those nostalgic favourites.”

Original Series “Really Scandalous”

The book piqued Diablo Cody’s interest. The screenwriter who penned “Juno” and “Jennifer’s Body” has already bought the rights to the book and will adapt it into a film.

The original series created, as Pattee put it, “a fantasy of adolescent life in the 80s.” But there were also doses of ugliness within the fantasy, including stories on eating disorders, drug overdoses, and date rape.

“I’m assuming that what the Sweet Valley High empire is trying to do is put a new polish on that drama, because they have all the ingredients there already, they have all the Gossip Girl there already, they just need to update it.””The books are really scandalous. There’s a lot of crazy stuff that happens in Sweet Valley, and either we forgot it as we got older, or it didn’t seem like a big deal,” said Sarah Pitre, a blogger withrevisitingre-reading, and disseminatingSweet Valley High novels. The new book, according to Pitre, already has a solid foundation on which to build.

In Sweet Valley High the endings were not always happy, but there was almost always an important black and white moral lesson: don’t drink and drive, snorting cocaine will kill you, and love thy beautiful twin sister, through thick and thin.

Book Taps Into Fans’ Nostalgia for Simpler Times

Both Pitre and her co-blogger Erin Curtis – also the founder of the blog – say they are “rooting” for Jessica Wakefield, the archetypical bad girl of the series, in this new book. Pitre, 32, said she reads adult novels as well, but she isn’t giving up her young adult books anytime soon.

She hasn’t read Sweet Valley Confidential yet, but she knows what she wants from Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield.”It’s nice to go back and revisit a time when things were simpler, but things were still exciting and your whole world was still ahead of you,” she said.

“They’re adults now. I don’t know what that means, I don’t know if they’re going to be more crazy or mature or what,” said Pitre. “I’m hoping for crazy.”

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later’s Cover Revealed – Francine Pascal :

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later's Cover Revealed

Back (left) and front jacket cover ofSweet Valley Confidential

Katy Hershberger / St. Martin’s Press

Car crashes! Kidnappings! Drug overdoses! As fans of the Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High series quickly learned, the coastal California town could have been renamed Drama Valley. 

At the center of it all: 16-year-old twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, the “perfect size-six” sisters who had eyes “exactly the color of the Pacific Ocean.” But what we don’t know is what happened to Elizabeth (the mild one) and Jessica (the wild one) after they left the California coast. 

Until now: Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later will detail the lives of the now-estranged twins and their circle of friends. 

While Jessica still lives in their hometown, Elizabeth has moved to N.Y.C. – and is looking for revenge toward her sister. What did Jessica do to cause the rift? Do they still wear matching lavaliere necklaces? Whatever happened to Todd Wilkins? And is Winston Egbert still a dork? Find out when the book hits stands.