Tag Archives: books

October Reading Wrap-Up

I’m a bit late with my October wrap-up since November has been a busier month for me so far. I had a great reading month, picking up plenty of fall-ish reads and participating in Dewey’s 24-Hour readathon, one of my favorite bookish events of the year, and managed to find 2 new 5-star reads among my picks this month. Let’s get into the stats and reviews!

Stats:

Total books read: 9

ARCs: 1

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7

Audiobooks: 2

The Love HypothesisCultish by Amanda MontellThe Last Graduate by Naomi NovikThe Ex Hex by Erin SterlingA Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria LeePeril by Bob WoodwardA Spindle Splintered by Alix E. HarrowOnce There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghyThis Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (5 stars) – I really didn’t think that I’d find a book to dethrone Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake as my favorite contemporary romance of 2021, but somehow The Love Hypothesis did! I honestly just enjoyed the crap out of this book–it’s grumpy/sunshine fake dating in an academia setting, based on Star Wars fanfiction, and it’s extremely sweet and also very funny. It’s a book that I can see myself re-reading when I’m in a bad mood, and if you’re a romance fan, I definitely recommend picking it up!

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik (5 stars) – This is one of those times when I don’t have a coherent review or a logical justification for a 5 star rating, because for a lot of this book I was frustrated and questioning the plot choices and not knowing how I felt about how it was both similar and dissimilar to the first book. But at the end, there was just no way that I couldn’t give it 5 stars, because it made me FEEL THINGS, and on a bad mental health day on top of that, and what is even the point of books if not to do just that. So. Maybe at some point I will post a more normal review of The Last Graduate, but for now, I’ll just say that I love this series with its dark humor and homage to/criticism of classic fantasy tropes, and its fantastic “unlikable” heroine who is the epitome of doing the right thing and making the hard choices when no one expects it of you.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy (4 stars) – Once There Were Wolves is about Inti, a biologist leading a rewilding effort to reintroduce wolves to Scotland. Inevitably conflict ensues between the wolves and local farmers, and Inti’s past trauma resurfaces as a mysterious death reignites local tensions. It’s very well-written, with flashbacks to Inti’s past interspersed with the present narrative, and includes the added intrigue of Inti having a condition where she feels any pain she sees inflicted before her. Definitely recommend!

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (4 stars) – I really, really enjoyed this fairytale retelling novella; I didn’t love Alix E. Harrow’s debut novel The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but A Spindle Splintered was much more my speed. It’s a modern-day Sleeping Beauty retelling featuring a protagonist with a fatal illness caused by pollution, a dedicated scientist best friend, and a degree in folklore, who falls into the multiverse of Sleeping Beauty stories and seeks to subvert the narrative. This edition also has very cool and creepy illustrations that enhanced the reading experience; I enjoyed the book’s snarky tone and emotional heart. Definitely recommend!

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee (4 stars) – a witchy dark academia book set at an all-girls boarding school and featuring creepy local history, suspicious friendships, and questionable memories. It was a perfect book to pick up around Halloween, with compelling main characters and impeccable spooky vibes.

Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (4 stars) – This is my third Woodward presidential biography, and it focuses on the end of the Trump administration as well as the 2020 election and the beginning of Joe Biden’s presidency. His books are always extremely detailed and well-researched, with high-placed sources close to the action, and they’re always fascinating audiobooks for me.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (4 stars) – I had a little trouble getting into This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone at first; I’m not sure if it was the complicated science fiction premise or the fact that Dewey’s readathon was winding down and my brain was getting a bit fatigued at that point. But once I understood the story a bit more, I really enjoyed it–it’s told in alternating perspectives by agents on opposite sides of a war through time being fought to determine the direction the future will take. The agents begin as enemies taunting one another through letters but their relationship soon develops into something more. It’s an extremely creative and thoughtful book, with a compelling emotional relationship that keeps even its most obscure aspects grounded. Since it’s short, it does work well for a readathon, but I think I’d primarily recommend this for scifi fans.

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling (4 stars) – I’d describe The Ex Hex as a contemporary paranormal romance set in a small town divided between mundane humans and the witches who live there in secret, even running a secret witchy college attached to the town’s college campus. Witch and history professor Vivi receives an unwelcome surprise in the form of her teenage summer fling Rhys returning to her town from Wales in order to fulfill a family ritual, and the two of them then find that their breakup was even less amicable than they’d previously believed, as Vivi inadvertently laid a curse on him. They then need to team up in order to break the curse and save the town, while finding that their old attraction hasn’t gone away. It was a really fun October read, perfect for picking up around Halloween; I enjoyed the small-town setting, Vivi’s witchy family, and the chemistry between Rhys and Vivi. Second-chance romance doesn’t always work for me, but I thought that The Ex Hex did a great job keeping their interactions fresh since they’d been apart for so long after falling for each other as teenagers. Both romance and fantasy fans alike will probably enjoy this one!

I received a free copy of The Ex Hex from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell (3.5 stars) – This nonfiction book focused on how cults use language to shape their ideologies and attract followers, and delved into several historical cults through this lens. It lost me a bit when it tried to draw parallels to modern pseudo-cults such as MLMs and fitness organizations, as I didn’t think the author quite succeeded in making those connections, but it was still an interesting audio listen.

Book Recs for Pride & Prejudice Fans!

 

Pride and Prejudice

This recommendation post is for a specific kind of reader in a specific kind of mood: fans of Pride & Prejudice who are looking for a similar enough but still new-to-them story to evoke the same kinds of vibes they get from the Austen classic. Maybe you’ve already seen both versions of Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version and the Colin Firth version); maybe you’ve also already seen Bride & Prejudice, the Bollywood retelling (which I recommend if you haven’t!) and the extremely fun YouTube series the Lizzie Bennett Diaries (again, definitely recommend if you haven’t yet!). Maybe you’ve also already read and/or seen the movie version of Austenland (personally, I didn’t love the book, but I think the movie with Keri Russell is really fun). And now you want to read something Pride and Prejudice-esque, but without re-reading the classic version. In that case, here are some books I’ve read and enjoyed that I’d recommend you check out!

 

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1)

Why P&P fans will like it: Hero is an aloof, intimidating figure; smart, opinionated heroine; class/rank differences between hero and heroine; awkward first meeting; historical romance set in 1879 England

What it’s about: Annabelle, a woman of a lower social rank, is drawn into the suffragist movement after she becomes one of Oxford’s first female students. She finds herself perpetually thrown into the path of the Duke of Montgomery, a powerful political influencer, and draws him to her side politically while she finds herself falling for him.

 

The Austen Playbook (London Celebrities, #4)

Why P&P fans will like it: Tons of Austen references, since the story is set against the production of an Austen mash-up murder mystery play; heroine overhears hero disparaging her at the beginning of the book; grumpy/sunshine romance

What it’s about: London theater star Freddy takes a role in a production of The Austen Playbook, a choose-your-own ending murder mystery production involving Austen’s most popular characters. Unfortunately, the production is being staged at the ancestral home of highbrow and savage theater critic Griff who, despite his prickliness and scary reputation to the theater community, Freddy finds herself attracted to. The two work to solve a mystery while simultaneously saving the production and also Griff’s home, which is in financial danger.

 

Written in the Stars

Why P&P fans will like it: Not exactly a retelling, but very much inspired by P&P; one heroine is named Darcy and is very much a Mr. Darcy-esque character; grumpy/sunshine; very awkward first meeting and bad first impressions

What it’s about: Astrologist Elle finds herself roped into a fake dating scheme with brilliant, aloof actuary Darcy when Darcy’s younger brother and Elle’s new business partner sets them up.

 

Battle Royal (Palace Insiders #1)

Why P&P fans will like it: grumpy/sunshine; bad first impressions; set in England

What it’s about: Dueling bakery owners are also new co-judges on a Great British Baking Show-esque competition show while simultaneously dueling for a wedding cake contract for the royal family.

 

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)

Why P&P fans will like it: enemies-to-lovers, grumpy/sunshine, bad first impressions

What it’s about: Youngest sister Eve has never truly found a career right for her, and she accidentally stumbles into a disastrous job interview in which she hits her interviewer, grumpy B&B owner Jacob, with her car and finds herself with a new chef job and a new crush.

 

A Certain Appeal

Why P&P fans will like it: P&P retelling set in the world of NYC burlesque

What it’s about: This one is straightforwardly a modern-day contemporary romance Price & Prejudice retelling, and I’m actually reading it at this very moment, which is what inspired this blog post. Liz Bennet is an aspiring interior designer hustling between her day job as an assistant and her weekend job as a burlesque assistant when she meets Darcy, an aloof financier and friend of Charles, a potential investor in her burlesque club.

 

The Hating Game

Why P&P fans will like it: enemies-to-lovers romance with secret pining

What it’s about: Probably the best-known book on this list, and with a movie about to come out as well, this is a workplace contemporary grumpy/sunshine romance between dueling assistants gunning for a promotion.

 

And here are a few books on my TBR that I hope will join the others on the list in the future:

Pride and Papercuts (The Austens, #5)The Spanish Love DeceptionDangerous Alliance: An Austentacious RomanceUnmarriageable

Pride & Papercuts by Staci Hart – contemporary retelling of P&P in an office setting

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas – recommended for fans of The Hating Game, with a fake dating storyline set during a wedding in Spain

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen – historical romance/mystery featuring a heroine using Austen’s novels as a blueprint for navigating society

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal – modern-day contemporary romance retelling of P&P set in Pakistan

Most Anticipated Books of 2022, Part 1!

To be honest, it’s freaking me out that we’re almost to the end of 2021. To help combat the weirdness of how fast this year is going by, here is the first part of my most anticipated new releases of 2022! I’ve included books from a variety of genres, although a bunch of them are from authors I’ve previously read and enjoyed, since those are the ones I tend to hear about first. I’m also only including books that so far have covers and tentative release date (although all release dates definitely may change, particularly with the current supply chain issues), and I hope you find some that interest you enough to add to your TBR! Feel free to comment any other books you’re looking forward to next year that I might have missed.

2022 Book Releases I’m Excited About (in order of tentative release date)

Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children, #7)

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire (anticipated release 1/4/22) – I can’t believe this is the 7th book in McGuire’s Wayward Children novella series! These are portal fantasy books focused on the denizens of a school that takes in children who have been sucked into portal fantasy worlds tailored to them and then unexpectedly expelled from those worlds and are having difficulty adapting back to reality, and this newest installment focuses on a second, similar school that we haven’t heard about yet.

From Goodreads – Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you’ve already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company.

There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again.
It isn’t as friendly as Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
And it isn’t as safe.

When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her Home for Wayward Children, she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.

She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming…

Electric Idol (Dark Olympus, #2)

Electric Idol by Katee Robert (anticipated release 1/4/22) – This is the second book in Robert’s Dark Olympus series, which is a romance take on Greek mythology set in a modern-day city. I really loved the first book, Neon Gods, which was a Hades/Persephone romance; I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment, which takes on the Cupid/Psyche myth.

From Goodreads – In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there’s always a price to pay. Psyche knew she’d have to face Aphrodite’s ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake…or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can’t do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros’s life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all…and she’s not sure she can survive the loss.

 

Out Front the Following Sea

Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman (anticipated release 1/11/22) – one of the few 2022 releases I actually have an ARC of so far, this feminist historical fiction novel sounds especially intriguing.

From Goodreads – Out Front the Following Sea is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned — it is a death sentence. At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor — Owen — bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose.

Steeped in historical events and culminating in a little-known war on pre-American soil, Out Front the Following Sea is a story of early feminism, misogyny, arbitrary rulings, and the treatment of outcasts, with parallels still mirrored and echoed in today’s society.

 

Something Fabulous

Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall (anticipated release 1/25/22) – Alexis Hall has a whole bunch of 2022 releases planned, and I’m looking to read them all since he’s one of my favorite romance authors. I’ve only read his contemporary works so far, so I’m really curious to see what he does with historical romance.

From Goodreads – Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up…romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be.

Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and…beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing.

 

Count Your Lucky Stars

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (anticipated release 2/1/22) – the third book in Bellefleur’s Written in the Stars contemporary romance series set in Seattle features Margot, the business partner of former protagonist Elle from the first book, and I’m really looking forward to her friends-to-lovers romance.

From Goodreads – Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love?

 

The Cherry Robbers

The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker (anticipated release 2/1/22) – This is one of the more random books on this list, since I’ve never previously heard of the author, but it sounds like an interesting mix of historical fiction and a feminist family saga.

From Goodreads – New Mexico, 2017: Sylvia Wren is one of the most important American artists of the past century. Known as a recluse, she avoids all public appearances. There’s a reason: she’s living under an assumed identity, having outrun a tragic past. But when a hungry journalist starts chasing her story, she’s confronted with whom she once was: Iris Chapel.

Connecticut, 1950: Iris Chapel is the second youngest of six sisters, all heiresses to a firearms fortune. They’ve grown up cloistered in a palatial Victorian house, mostly neglected by their distant father and troubled mother, who believes that their house is haunted by the victims of Chapel weapons. The girls long to escape, and for most of them, the only way out is marriage. But not long after the first Chapel sister walks down the aisle, she dies of mysterious causes, a tragedy that repeats with the second, leaving the rest to navigate the wreckage, to heart-wrenching consequences.

Ultimately, Iris flees the devastation of her family, and so begins the story of Sylvia Wren. But can she outrun the family curse forever?

 

Cherish FarrahCherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow (anticipated release 2/8/22) – Since reading Morrow’s short science fiction novel Mem, a creative take on memory and alternate history, I’ve been really interested to read more from her.

From Goodreads – Seventeen-year-old Farrah Turner is one of two Black girls in her country club community, and the only one with Black parents. Her best friend, Cherish Whitman, adopted by a wealthy white family, is something Farrah likes to call WGS—White Girl Spoiled. With Brianne and Jerry Whitman as parents, Cherish is given the kind of adoration and coddling that even upper-class Black parents can’t seem to afford—and it creates a dissonance in her best friend that Farrah can exploit. When her own family is unexpectedly confronted with foreclosure, the calculating Farrah is determined to reassert the control she’s convinced she’s always had over her life by staying with Cherish, the only person she loves—even when she hates her.

A troubled Farrah manipulates her way further into the Whitman family but the longer she stays, the more her own parents suggest that something is wrong in the Whitman house. She might trust them—if they didn’t think something was wrong with Farrah, too. As strange things start happening at the Whitman household—debilitating illnesses, upsetting fever dreams, an inexplicable tension with Cherish’s hothead boyfriend, and a strange journal that seems to keep track of what is happening to Farrah—it’s nothing she can’t handle. But soon everything begins to unravel when the Whitmans invite Farrah closer, and it’s anyone’s guess who is really in control.

Told in Farrah’s chilling, unforgettable voice and weaving in searing commentary on race and class, this slow-burn social horror will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page.

 

Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour (anticipated release 2/8/21) – I’ve previously read two of LaCour’s YA novels and really enjoyed them, particularly subtle ghost story Watch Over Me, and I’m liking this publishing trend of YA authors writing adult literature.

From Goodreads – The debut adult novel by the bestselling and award-winning YA author Nina LaCour, following two women on a star-crossed journey toward each other.

When Sara Foster runs away from home at sixteen, she leaves behind not only the losses that have shattered her world but the girl she once was, capable of trust and intimacy. Years later, in Los Angeles, she is a sought-after bartender, renowned as much for her brilliant cocktails as for the mystery that clings to her. Across the city, Emilie Dubois is in a holding pattern. In her seventh year and fifth major as an undergraduate, she yearns for the beauty and community her Creole grandparents cultivated but is unable to commit. On a whim, she takes a job arranging flowers at the glamorous restaurant Yerba Buena and embarks on an affair with the married owner.

When Sara catches sight of Emilie one morning at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. When Sara’s old life catches up to her, upending everything she thought she wanted just as Emilie has finally gained her own sense of purpose, they must decide if their love is more powerful than their pasts.

At once exquisite and expansive, astonishing in its humanity and heart, Yerba Buena is a love story for our time and a propulsive journey through the lives of two women finding their way in the world.

 

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)

House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas (anticipated release 2/15/22) – although I did think it was a bit too long, I still loved reading the first book in the Crescent City series, House of Earth and Blood, and I’m very curious to see where Maas is going with this series. It definitely has a lot of similarities to ACOTAR, but it’s different enough that it’s still a great new fantasy world. Don’t read the synopsis unless you’ve already read the first book, though, or you’ll be spoiled!

From Goodreads – Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it

 

A River Enchanted (Elements of Cadence, #1)

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (anticipated release 2/15/22) – I just heard of this book, and it sounds so interesting! Goodreads is comparing it to House of Earth and Blood, which is a comparison I don’t really get from the synopsis, but it does sound like my kind of fantasy.

From Goodreads –Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

Delilah Green Doesn't Care

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake (anticipated release 2/22/22) – F/F romance has always been underrepresented, so I’m always looking for new authors and books coming out, and this small-town contemporary romance sounds great!

From Goodreads – Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…

 

Tripping Arcadia

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist (anticipated release 2/22/22) – Possibly one of the books I’m most excited about, based on the amazing synopsis and gorgeous cover. It sounds like it has hints of dark academia and mystery, and reviews mention an eat-the-rich message as well.

From Goodreads – Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.

By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies . . . and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.

The perfect next read for fans of Mexican Gothic, Tripping Arcadia is a page-turning and shocking tale with an unforgettable protagonist that explores family legacy and inheritance, the sacrifices we must make to get by in today’s world, and the intoxicating, dangerous power of wealth.

 

Wild and Wicked Things

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May (anticipated release 3/29/22) – I’ve been getting more interested in historical fantasy lately, and this one’s cover and premise very much appeal to me.

From Goodreads – In the aftermath of World War I, a young woman gets swept into a glittering world filled with illicit magic, romance, blood debts, and murder in this lush and decadent debut novel. On Crow Island, people whispered, real magic lurked just below the surface, but Annie Mason never expected her enigmatic new neighbor to be a witch.

When she witnesses a confrontation between her best friend Bea and the infamous Emmeline Delacroix at one of Emmeline’s extravagantly illicit parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where magic can buy what money can not; a world where the consequence of a forbidden blood bargain might be death.

The Wedding Crasher

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa (anticipated release 4/5/22) – I loved Mia Sosa’s previous contemporary romance The Worst Best Man, and this sounds like another wedding-adjacent contemporary set amid a similar backdrop in DC.

From Goodreads – Just weeks away from ditching DC for greener pastures, Solange Pereira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin on a random couple’s big day. It’s an easy gig… until she stumbles upon a situation that convinces her the pair isn’t meant to be. What’s a true-blue romantic to do? Crash the wedding, of course. And ensure the unsuspecting groom doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life.

Dean Chapman had his future all mapped out. He was about to check off “start a family” and on track to “make partner” when his modern day marriage of convenience went up in smoke. Then he learns he might not land an assignment that could be his ticket to a promotion unless he has a significant other and, in a moment of panic, Dean claims to be in love with the woman who crashed his wedding. Oops.

Now Dean has a whole new item on his to-do list: beg Solange to be his pretend girlfriend. Solange feels a tiny bit bad about ruining Dean’s wedding, so she agrees to play along. Yet as they fake-date their way around town, what started as a performance for Dean’s colleagues turns into a connection that neither he nor Solange can deny. Their entire romance is a sham… there’s no way these polar opposites could fall in love for real, right?

 

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2)

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse (anticipated release 4/19/22) – I love Rebecca Roanhorse, and Black Sun is one of my favorite books of 2021 so far. It ends on a shocking and devastating note (no spoilers! Avoid the synopsis if you haven’t read it!) and the sequel is much needed to see what happens to this fantastical world and its characters.

From Goodreads – The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Welcome back to the fantasy series of the decade in Fevered Star—book two of Between Earth and Sky.

 

Nettle & Bone

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher (anticipated release 4/26/22) – I’m generally interested in anything approaching a dark fairytale retelling, and I think that this one fits the bill.

From Goodreads – With her signature mix of the grim and the delightful, award-winning author T. Kingfisher takes the old bones of fantasy and fairytale and makes them into something entirely new in this enchanting adventure.

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.

 

Book Lovers

Book Lovers by Emily Henry (anticipated release 5/3/22) – Henry’s previous two contemporary romances Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation have gotten a ton of love and attention and were both high 4 star reads for me; her third promises to be just as great. The book-related premise is definitely a plus.

From Goodreads – A by the book literary agent must decide if happily ever after is worth changing her whole life for in this insightful, delightful new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

 

I Kissed Shara Wheeler

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (anticipated release 5/3/22) – I’m curious to see how McQuiston’s writing style translates to a contemporary YA setting!

From Goodreads – Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.

 

Book of Night

Book of Night by Holly Black (anticipated release 5/3/22) – Technically this one doesn’t have a cover yet, but I love a dark contemporary fantasy, and despite having mixed feelings about Black’s YA books, this one sounds very much up my alley.

From Goodreads – In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.

 

Wicked Beauty (Dark Olympus #3)

Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert (anticipated release 6/7/22) – Another Dark Olympus book, because Katee Robert is being very good to us in 2022! This one is a Achilles/Patroclus/Helen romance, which is an interesting and uncommon take on the myth.

From Goodreads – In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?

 

A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables, #2)

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow (anticipated release 6/14/21) – the second novella in Harrow’s Fractured Fairy Tales series after Spindle Splintered, a Sleeping Beauty retelling I read for Dewey’s 24-Hour readathon. Maybe I’ll pick this one up during a readathon in 2022!

From Goodreads – Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.

Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone.

Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request, and save them both from the hot iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?

 

Bloodmarked (The Legendborn Cycle #2)

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn (anticipated release 7/26/22) – I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN THIS SERIES! Legendborn was the best YA fantasy I’ve read in years, and the ending was so unexpected–I wish this one was coming out even sooner!

From Goodreads – All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:

A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.

But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.

Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.

When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.

If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.

 

A Half-Built Garden

A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys (anticipated release 7/26/22) – A science fiction book that sounds like it deals with environmentalism as well as aliens, so I’m on board.

From Goodreads – A literary descendent of Ursula K. Le Guin, Ruthanna Emrys crafts a novel of extraterrestrial diplomacy and urgent climate repair bursting with quiet, tenuous hope and an underlying warmth. A Half-Built Garden depicts a world worth building towards, a humanity worth saving from itself, and an alien community worth entering with open arms. It’s not the easiest future to build, but it’s one that just might be in reach.

On a warm March night in 2083, Judy Wallach-Stevens wakes to a warning of unknown pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. She heads out to check what she expects to be a false alarm–and stumbles upon the first alien visitors to Earth. These aliens have crossed the galaxy to save humanity, convinced that the people of Earth must leave their ecologically-ravaged planet behind and join them among the stars. And if humanity doesn’t agree, they may need to be saved by force.

The watershed networks aren’t ready to give up on Earth. Decades ago, they rose up to exile the last corporations to a few artificial islands, escape the dominance of nation-states, and reorganize humanity around the hope of keeping their world liveable. By sharing the burden of decision-making, they’ve started to heal the wounded planet.

But now corporations, nation-states, and networks all vie to represent humanity to these powerful new beings, and if any one accepts the aliens’ offer, Earth may be lost. With everyone’s eyes turned skyward, everything hinges on the success of Judy’s effort to create understanding, both within and beyond her own species.

 

Husband Material (Boyfriend Material, #2)

Husband Material by Alexis Hall (anticipated release 8/2/22) – Boyfriend Material was my favorite romance of 2020, and I’m so happy it’s getting a sequel! I love main characters Luc and Oliver, and would happily read several more books about them.

From Goodreads – In BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, Luc and Oliver met, pretended to fall in love, fell in love for real, dealt with heartbreak and disappointment and family and friends…and somehow figured out a way to make it work. Now it seems like everyone around them is getting married, and Luc’s feeling the social pressure to propose. But it’ll take more than four weddings, a funeral, and a bowl full of special curry to get these two from I don’t know what I’m doing to I do.

Good thing Oliver is such perfect HUSBAND MATERIAL.

 

Mad About You

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane (anticipated release 8/9/22) – I really enjoy Mhairi McFarlane’s writing style, and although I haven’t yet finished her newest release Just Last Night, I’m still already looking forward to this one.

From Goodreads – Harriet Hatley is the most in-demand wedding photographer in town, but she doesn’t believe in romance, loathes the idea of marriage, and thinks chocolate fountains are an abomination. Which is why, when her long-time partner proposes, she panics. Suddenly Harriet is single… and living down the hall from her ex. She needs a new apartment, like, yesterday.

Enter Cal Clarke, a hopeless romantic who just experienced his own wedding-related disaster. Harriet and Cal are like chalk and cheese, but as they go from strangers to roommates to friends, it becomes clear they’re both running from something. When Harriet’s most heavily guarded secret comes to light, her world implodes. And Cal, with his witty humor and gentle advice, is a surprising source of calm at the center of the storm.

With her career, friendships, and reputation on the line, Harriet must finally face her past in order to take control of her future. Because if she’s willing to stop playing it safe and risk everything to share her truth, real love and happiness may be waiting on the other side…

End of the Year Book Tag

I’m not going to lie, I’m freaking out a bit about the fact that there’s only 2 months left in 2021. Time moves very weirdly since Covid, and I’m having a hard time understanding where the year has gone and accepting that we’ll be starting a new one soon. As usual, I’m turning to books to help me with stress by doing the End of the Year book tag, which was created by Ariel Bissett. I’m also feeling indecisive about setting a November TBR, and I thought that this tag might help me better focus my reading for the next 2 months.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)Just Last Night

I keep being surprised that I haven’t finished either of these highly anticipated 2021 releases yet–I started both of them earlier this year and haven’t picked them back up despite meaning to multiple times. ACOSF in particular was possibly my most anticipated new release of the entire year, but when I started it I was having a hard time with protagonist Nesta, who was one of my least favorite characters from previous books. I just need to get over that and pick it back up, since I really do love this world and this series in general. I think the issue with Just Last Night was that it’s a sadder book than I’d anticipated, and I wasn’t in the right headspace when I first picked it up.

Do you have an autumnal book to help transition into the end of the year?

Payback's a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove, #1)The Wolf and the Woodsman

Although I technically meant to read these in October, I’m thinking that Payback’s a Witch (contemporary paranormal romance) and The Wolf and the Woodsman (fantasy) will make good November reads.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, #1)Comfort Me With ApplesMurder Most Actual

There are only 3 2021 releases that I’m still awaiting: A Marvellous Light (historical fantasy romance), Comfort Me With Apples (suspense), and Murder Most Actual (mystery). Although, to be fair, with current supply chain issues it’s still possible that the release dates may change.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

The Stone GodsAll the Birds, SingingWhen the Moon Was OursOut Front the Following Sea

I still have 3 of my Top 10 2021 reads left to get through before year end, and one ARC that comes out at the beginning of January that I think I’d regret not reading in December so that I can finish before its release date.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

Light from Uncommon StarsAll's Well

These two 2021 releases are both really calling to me, and I’d love to pick them up before the end of the year because I think I could really love them.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2022?

Bloodmarked (The Legendborn Cycle #2)Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2)House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)Husband Material (Boyfriend Material, #2)

I’ve been thinking about it! It all depends on what I manage to read in November (particularly if I’m doing NaNoWriMo, which I’m still undecided about) and December, but there are already a bunch of 2022 releases I’m really excited about. Working on a post featuring those as we speak!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Wrap-Up

That’s a wrap on another round of Dewey’s! I had a great day reading, and I think it really helped me to de-stress a bit.

Dewey’s Closing Survey:

  1. How would you assess your reading overall?

I’m really happy with the amount of reading I got done during the readathon, and I’m even happier about the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed everything that I read.

I finished 3 books (technically 2 novellas and one novel) during the readathon, all of which I really liked and rated 4 stars:

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. HarrowOnce There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghyThis Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar

I also read from but didn’t finish 2 other books (one audiobook and one physical book):

The Anthropocene ReviewedThe Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3)

Overall, I read a total of 623 pages and listened to 2.5 hours of audio.

2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it?

I did! I had this idea of starting and ending the readathon with novellas, and that definitely worked well for me.

3. What was your favorite snack?

I’d made tabbouleh the day before and enjoyed snacking on that during the readathon.

4. Did you add any new books to your TBR/wishlist after seeing what everyone else is reading?

I saw that another reader had We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry in their stack, a book on my October TBR that I didn’t pick up during the readathon, which reminded me that I really need to get started on that one!

5. What was your favorite book or experience from this readathon?

Although I gave all 3 of my finished reads from Dewey’s 4 stars, I’d have to say that my favorite was Once There Were Wolves. I thought that the writing was excellent, I really liked the environmentalism themes, and it kept me thoroughly intrigued the entire time reading. Also, even though I only read the first 50 pages of The Heart Principle, I am absolutely LOVING IT so far. I love Anna as a new protagonist and I just find her chapters feel so realistic and immersive in her experience.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Mid-Event Survey & Updates!

We’re already halfway through Dewey’s 24-hour readathon! I’m always surprised by how fast the readathon goes by, but I’ve really been enjoying it so far.

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

The Anthropocene ReviewedThis Is How You Lose the Time War

I’m currently listening to the audiobook of The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (essay collection) and also just started This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (science fiction novella).

2. How many books have you read so far?

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. HarrowOnce There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

So far, I’ve finished 2 books, A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (fairytale retelling novella, 119 pages) and Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy (fiction, 256 pages). I’ve also listened to about an hour and a half of the John Green audiobook, and read the first 26 pages of Time War.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Good question. I’m always more productive during the first half of the readathon compared to the second, so I’m not actually sure that I’ll have a chance to finish another book after Time War, if I even do finish it. I’m kind of thinking I’ll want to read The Heart Principle next, which I’ve been really excited for, but I’ll honestly have to see where my mood and energy levels go.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I slept later than intended (until around 9:30, when the readathon had already been going on for an hour and a half) because I somehow woke up at 4am this morning and it then took me awhile to get back to sleep. But ever since I actually woke up and started reading I haven’t really been interrupted.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I’m surprised at my reading productivity! It’s been awhile since I’ve binge-read like this, and I felt like I was focusing much better today than in the past few rounds of Dewey’s. The fact that I finished 2 books that I thoroughly enjoyed is more than I expected for the readathon as a whole!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon TBR

It’s time for another round of Dewey’s 24-hour readathon, one of my favorite bookish events of the year. I particularly like the October readathon, because it combines my love of fall/spooky season books with readathon-ing. Dewey’s is a fun, social, low-pressure readathon where the premise is to read as much as possible during a 24-hour period, which begins at 8am Saturday morning my time. I’ve never read for the full 24 hours (not even close!) but I do tend to find a lot of fun and stress relief in challenging myself to read as much as I can during one specific day.

It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve done a Dewey’s readathon; I have no idea what to expect in terms of how much reading I’ll get done, but I’m definitely looking forward to the mental health break. Here are some of the books I’m considering picking up during the readathon:

Novellas:

A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables, #1)This Is How You Lose the Time WarThe Monster of Elendhaven

I love reading novellas, and since they’re short, I tend to save them for readathons. I’m actually thinking of starting and ending the readathon with novellas, depending on my mood. I’m hoping to kick off the readathon with Sleeping Beauty retelling A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, and might try winding down later in the night with spooky-sounding dark fantasy The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht. I’ve also heard great things about futuristic F/F romance This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, which I’m thinking I have a good chance of getting to during the readathon.

Novels (short-ish and all happen to be 2021 releases):

Once There Were WolvesThe Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3)The Memory Theater

My typical readathon plan usually involves 1-2 novels that I’ve been really looking forward to; this year I’m thinking about environmental mystery Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, contemporary romance by a past favorite author The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang, and a book I’ve already started, dark fantasy The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck.

Audiobook

The Anthropocene Reviewed

I always need an audiobook option for readathons, and audiobooks have become a much larger portion of my reading in general in recent years. I started John Green’s new essay collection The Anthropocene Reviewed this week and plan to continue it during Dewey’s; I also have access to the audiobook for The Monster of Elendhaven via Scribd, so that’s a possibility as well.

Short story and poetry collections:

Of This New WorldLife on Mars

I don’t think I’ve ever actually picked up a short story or poetry collection during Dewey’s, but I think it would be a smart choice if my energy or attention starts lagging, so I’ve added a few options to my TBR.

 

September Reading Wrap-Up

I loved my reading in September. I started focusing on what I think of as fall reading–dark academia, paranormal, dark fantasy–while still picking up a few contemporary romances.

Total books read: 10

ARCs/review copies: 2

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Walking in a Witchy Wonderland (Stay a Spell, #3.5)Half Truths by Claire ContrerasEmpire of Wild by Cherie DimalineThicker than Water by Tyler ShultzWitch Please (Fix-It Witches, #1)A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat HowardThe Charm Offensive by Alison CochrunA Deadly Education by Naomi NovikTwisted Circles by Claire ContrerasSatisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (5 stars) – To be honest, I was blown away by how much I loved this book. I expected to like it, sure, but I didn’t expect it to read it so quickly and immediately need the sequel. It hits the sweet spot of one of my favorite super-specific subgenres: books that simultaneously critique and pay homage to classic fantasy tropes, in this case the Chosen One narrative as well as magical schools. A Deadly Education is set in a magical school, sure, but not one you’d ever actually want to visit–its denizens are constantly trying to kill you, to the degree that less than half of its students survive to graduate, friendships are much rarer and less important than strategic alliances, privilege dictates your survival even more inside the school than out of it, and the class’s hero, Orion Lake, is protagonist El’s least favorite person, since he committed the cardinal sin of saving her life multiple times. This book is full of dark humor, which I’m a sucker for, and has a beautiful and unlikely friendship at its core. El has a magical affinity for powerful dark spells but steadfastly refuses to use them, even as her grumpy attitude makes everyone assume she’s evil anyways. She’s layered, and epitomizes the fact that you don’t have to be a likable protagonist to do the right thing. I will say that this book is very exposition-heavy, and although I loved it because I liked learning all about the world and the different creatures, it may frustrate some readers that there’s more description than plot at times.

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard (4.5 stars) – A collection of short stories (and one novella) centered around contemporary feminist retellings of myths and lore, which I absolutely loved. Some of the stories were 5 stars and some were 4 stars, which is why I’ve settled on 4.5 stars. Kat Howard has a style that’s lyrical and fabulist yet very approachable, and I’d recommend her work to both fantasy and fabulism fans. My favorite piece was the novella, Once, Future, which is a modern-day King Arthur retelling set on a college campus that also ruminates on the enduring power of myth.

Half Truths by Claire Contreras (4 stars) – An ideal fall read and my second Claire Contreras book of the year, after really enjoying Fables & Other Lies, a contemporary Gothic myth-inspired supernatural romance. Half Truths is a dark academia/suspense romance set at a fictional Ivy League school inspired by Cornell and Ithaca, NY. It’s full of secret societies, mystery, romance, and intrigue, as well as a smart, badass aspiring journalist protagonist. I ordered the sequel before I even finished this one, which should be a good indicator of how much I enjoyed it.

Walking in a Witchy Wonderland by Juliette Cross (4 stars) (eARC) – Returning to the world of the Stay a Spell series (which follows a family of witch sisters in charge of the New Orleans supernatural community) in this short story collection was an absolute joy, and this eARC arrived at exactly the right time to cheer me up. I highly recommend reading the first three novels in this series before picking this one up (or else several things will definitely be spoiled!) but otherwise, please do pick this up if you’re looking for a book to put you in a better mood.

Although I enjoyed all of the contemporary paranormal romance stories in this collection, my favorites were probably the return to Evie/Mateo/Alpha from the first book in this series, Wolf Gone Wild, and the much-foreshadowed friends-to-lovers story of JJ and Charlie, two side characters who appear in all of the books, as they’re close friends with the Savoie sisters. Juliette Cross does a great job of mixing sweet romance with spicy scenes, and this collection also made me even more excited than I already was for the next three books in this series (particularly Livvie’s enemies-to-lovers romance with a rival Grim!).

I received an eARC of Walking in a Witchy Wonderland from the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thicker Than Water by Tyler Shultz (4 stars) – A short audiobook focusing on Tyler Shultz’s experiences working at Theranos and then becoming a whistleblower and source once he realized the unethical practices the company and its founder were involved in. I’m obsessed with the Theranos story, and with the ongoing trial of Elizabeth Holmes, I’ve been looking for more insight into everything that happened (I’ve already read Bad Blood, watched the HBO documentary, and am currently listening to two podcasts covering the trial…told you I’m obsessed) and I thought that Tyler did a great job telling his story. The tone is conversational and accompanied by acoustic guitar, which I also enjoyed. If you want a more comprehensive look at the Theranos fraud, definitely read Bad Blood, but this is a good accompaniment.

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters (4 stars) – A sweet, funny F/F contemporary romance between Cade, a buttoned-up New York art gallery owner, and Selena, an artist, who are thrown together when Cade’s aunt’s will prescribes that they work together to attempt to save her flagging feminist sex toy store in Portland. I really enjoyed the romance, as well as the characters’ support for each others’ growth and endeavors; I also laughed out loud several times while listening to this audiobook.

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun (3.5 stars) – This book has become a bookstagram favorite, but it didn’t work quite as well for me as it seems to for everyone else. It’s set on a Bachelor-esque show, with a romance developing between the “prince,” Charlie, a tech entrepreneur, and his handler, producer Dev, who is a steadfast believer in true love despite what he sees behind the scenes of a reality TV show. I thought that the discussions of mental health in this book were great–Charlie is dealing with OCD, anxiety, and a panic disorder, while Dev is dealing with depressive episodes, and both were handled well with plenty of support and discussion. The romance was also very sweet, but I struggled with the plot and the pacing–both dragged for me, and I wish it had been tightened up a bit.

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline (3 stars) – A First Nations myth-inspired story of a determined woman’s search for her missing husband, who reappears with a seemingly new identity and no memory of her. A very interesting premise, but I found the execution lacking and the ending unsatisfying.

Twisted Circles by Claire Contreras (3 stars) – I really enjoyed Half Truths, the first book in the Secret Society series, for its dark academia vibes, mystery, and great romance. Unfortunately, Twisted Circles didn’t work nearly as well for me–I felt that both the romance and the mystery just weren’t as well-executed. The relationship was more instalove, without any real tension or suspense, and I didn’t like the direction that the plot took.

Witch Please by Ann Aguirre (3 stars) – Unfortunately, I did have some issues with this one.

On the plus side, I enjoyed the small-town, Sookie Stackhouse-esque vibes and tone of the book; the writing style often reminded me of Charlaine Harris’s. Witch Please is a sweet and lighthearted romance, which is sometimes very necessary, and I also enjoyed several of the side characters and the emphasis and family and friendship dynamics alongside the romance.

What didn’t work for me was the lack of plot; it felt like there was really only one main conflict in the book (one protagonist is a witch, the other is a mundane, and so they aren’t supposed to be together) without any other real hurdles, so the book often felt repetitive. I also had some serious issues with the lack of communication between the protagonists, some of which are spoilery, and the “resolution” at the end didn’t sit well with me. I also wish there had been more magic and general witchiness–for a book about witches, I thought the supernatural elements were lacking.

I received an eARC of Witch Please from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

August Reading Wrap-Up

I had an extremely productive reading month in August to round out my reading-heavy summer. I managed to pick up 2 of the books on my Top 10 2021 TBR list (hopefully this way I won’t be scrambling at the end of the year to finish it), read several contemporary romances (those always feel like very summery reads to me) and kept up fairly well with ARCs and review copies sent to me. Let’s get into some stats and reviews!

Total books read: 11

#readmyowndamnbooks: 8

ARCs/review copies: 3

The Vanishing Half by Brit BennettAll the Feels by Olivia DadeWhat We Lose by Zinzi ClemmonsThe Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila HarrisThe UnhoneymoonersFortuna Sworn by K.J. SuttonHow the Blessed Live by Susannah M. SmithBattle Royal by Lucy ParkerA Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky ChambersSo We Meet Again by Suzanne ParkPeople We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (5 stars) – I absolutely understand the hype surrounding this book; it’s one of those that I kick myself for not having picked up sooner. It’s a character-driven, nuanced historical fiction book following twins whose paths in life vastly diverge after fleeing their small town when one of them disappears to pass as white; we then move ahead to follow the next generation of their family. It talks a lot about racism and gender roles, and the way its chapters skipped across time kept me hooked. Definitely recommend to all types of readers; I’m not normally a historical fiction fan, but it really doesn’t matter when a book is this good.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (4.5 stars) – Another book that I highly, highly recommend to pretty much anyone. It’s a short character study of a novel that proceeds nonlinearly in the life of a young woman whose mother is dying of cancer. It’s incredibly well-written and authentic, also heavily dealing with themes of identity and not feeling like you belong.

How the Blessed Live by Susannah M. Smith (4 stars) – Despite the fact that I rated this one 4 stars, I can’t deny that it was a bit of a disappointment for me. It’s set in Canada, with hints of myth, focusing on twins raised in isolation by their father and who split apart to opposite ends of the country as adults. I’m generally a huge fan of short fabulist novels, which this definitely is, and I did feel that the writing was lyrical and poetic, but I didn’t really feel that any of its themes were explored fully enough for it to feel like a complete work.

Fortuna Sworn by K.J. Sutton (4 stars) – I took a chance on this one after seeing it recommended on Tiktok for ACOTAR fans, and the comparison is very apt–there’s fae, a tricky bargain, court intrigue, action, and romance. Protagonist Fortuna is a Nightmare, a being with the power to identify and manipulate fear, and her determination to save her brother against all odds drives the book. 100% going to continue with this series; already started the next book!

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker (4 stars) – I’ve been on a Lucy Parker reading spree ever since The Austen Project helped get me through a rough time last winter, and she’s actually my most-read author of 2021 so far. So I was highly anticipating her newest release, Battle Royal, because not only is it a new Lucy Parker book, but it’s inspired by the Great British Baking Show (which I love!) and is enemies to lovers (my favorite romance trope!). Luckily, this one definitely lived up to my expectations. It’s a cute, well-written romance with great chemistry, well-drawn side characters, and a hero and heroine you can’t help but root for. At times I did think that there were a few too many things going on in the plot, but I overall thoroughly enjoyed the read.

I was sent a free copy of Battle Royal from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (4 stars) – I think that Emily Henry is a great writer who excels at creating lovable characters you can’t help but root for. Although her newest contemporary romance is friends-to-lovers, which isn’t my favorite trope, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and how it was told simultaneously in flashbacks and present day, focused around the vacations that her protagonists formed a tradition of taking together each year. I liked this one slightly less (but only slightly!) compared to her previous book Beach Read, which was one of my favorite romances of 2020, and would highly recommend it to romance readers.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (4 stars) – An optimistic, hopepunk novella set in a far future where humans and robots live completely separately, robots having gained consciousness and choosing to live in nature away from humankind, and humans learning from their mistakes and coming to live in harmony with the environment. A tea monk and a robot become unexpected friends when the robot ventures to learn more about humanity, and the two quickly begin to learn from one another. While definitely not as strong as some of Chambers’s other work, I very much enjoyed the read.

All the Feels by Olivia Dade (4 stars) – The follow-up to Dade’s Spoiler Alert, All the Feels focuses on two of the prominent side characters of book 1: Alex, a charismatic actor in the Game of Thrones-esque show that the series centers around, and Lauren, a therapist who unexpectedly finds herself assigned to Alex as his minder after he’s involved in a scandal and the showrunner wants to keep him out of further trouble. Despite very different personalities–Alex is chatty, silly, and impulsive, whereas Lauren is pragmatic and measured–the two build a strong friendship and eventual romance while helping each other work through various emotional issues.

What I liked: I love the grumpy/sunshine dynamic in romance, as well as forced proximity, so the tropes in this one were definitely right up my alley. Like Spoiler Alert, both protagonists are in their 30s and established in their respective career paths, which I also appreciate as a 30-something myself, and I do continue to like the emphasis on emotional growth present in Dade’s romances. I found Alex in particular a fun and dynamic character, while Lauren was a great balance to his energy. This series also has a fantastic level of nerdiness to it that’s definitely not lacking in this installment.

What didn’t work for me: I had one significant issue with this book, and that’s how Lauren’s physical appearance was continually and negatively focused on. I’m all for romance heroes and heroines who don’t look like the stereotypical supermodel–I think that’s great, and I prefer it that way. But I really disliked how the author described her (over and over and over again) as looking like a bird. (Like, think of how Dee in It’s Always Sunny is referred to as a bird, but dial that up to 1000.) It seemed very unnecessary and a strange thing for the text to fixate on, and because it was so incessant, it was something that continually bothered me throughout the book (particularly as Lauren states it’s a descriptor that does bother her). I don’t think this is a big enough issue to avoid the book altogether, but it’s worth mentioning.

I received an eARC of All the Feels from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park (3.5 stars) – My first read from Suzanne Park, So We Meet Again felt more like a contemporary fiction read than a contemporary romance (which isn’t a bad thing, I just went in expecting more of a romance-focused book). We’re following Jessie, a career-focused 28-year-old who’s unexpectedly laid off from her prestigious Wall Street job and has to move back in with her parents in her hometown in Tennessee. She has a bit of a quarter-life crisis that manifests in her starting her own business and reviving her old YouTube channel, both of which are focused on Korean cooking hacks and specifically geared towards enhancing meal kits and/or making fast, tasty meals for career-focused millennials. While back in her hometown, she also runs into her childhood nemesis Daniel and has to deal with the new chemistry that seems to be developing between them while her new career takes off.

I enjoyed this book; as a fellow driven millennial, I found Jessie to be a very relatable main character and I actually enjoyed the more business-focused trajectory of the book despite the fact that I assumed it would be more of a romance. I normally like the trope of childhood enemies-to-lovers romances, but I found Jessie and Daniel’s chemistry to be a bit lacking, possibly because it wasn’t really given enough time to develop during the book. I did also find that Jessie’s business trajectory seems to progress much more quickly than felt realistic, although as I’m not an entrepreneur, I could be wrong about that! I’d recommend this to fiction readers wanting to dip their toes into romance, or to romance readers looking for a more plot-focused read.

I was sent a free copy of So We Meet Again by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (3 stars) – I’ve been really struggling to find mystery/thriller/suspense reads that work for me lately, and although I’d hoped this would be the exception, it unfortunately wasn’t. I found the premise and the publishing world setting really drew me in, but the plot meandered and the reveal at the end was not as strong for me as it could have been.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (3 stars) – This book was just OK for me. To be fair, it did help me out with some pretty bad insomnia I’ve been having, because being unable to fall asleep at 3am with no audiobook is a terrible feeling, and once I started listening to this one I was able to focus on the story and not my inability to sleep for a bit. There are a few too many coincidences and unbelievable plot points in this one, and I didn’t love that the main character and her twin sister both defined themselves in terms of being either lucky or unlucky, but it was overall an entertaining listen.

Summer TBR Smash-Up Readathon Recap

I decided to continue on with my reading tracking during the Summer TBR Smash-Up readathon this week, since I felt like I was on a roll after Bout of Books. Maybe 2 straight weeks of readathons will help me finish off strong in my August reading; maybe I’m just enjoying tracking my daily reading stats. Either way, let’s do it!

I had an unexpectedly insane week at work (not that work is ever not busy for me, but still) and I felt like tracking my reading helped keep me balanced in a way. During the weekend, I was thankfully able to catch up on some sleep, work out, see family, and read even more (although I read literally nothing on Sunday, oops). Let’s get into the stats!

Battle Royal (Palace Insiders #1)A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)So We Meet AgainA Cathedral of Myth and Bone

Day 1

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 84 pages of Battle Royal by Lucy Parker, 14 pages of A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Day 2

Books started: So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Books finished: Battle Royal, A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Pages read: 131 pages of Battle Royal, 75 pages of So We Meet Again, 107 pages of A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Day 3

Books started: A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard

Books finished: None

Pages read: 115 pages of So We Meet Again, 38 pages of A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

Day 4

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 87 pages of So We Meet Again

People We Meet on VacationRestless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, #2)

Day 5

Books started: People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

Books finished: So We Meet Again

Pages read: 63 pages of So We Meet Again, 50 pages of People We Meet on Vacation, 60 pages of Restless Slumber

Day 6

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 106 pages of People We Meet on Vacation, 32 pages of A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, 36 pages of Restless Slumber

Day 7

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: None

 

And here are my stats for the readathon as a whole:

Books finished: 3

Battle Royal by Lucy ParkerA Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky ChambersSo We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Books read from, but not finished: 3

A Cathedral of Myth and BonePeople We Meet on VacationRestless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, #2)

Total pages read: 998 (!)