What’s the best part about working at the library? Going to the bookstore a block away.
Admittedly, I have not been reading much, but I have been buying a lot of books. It’s all a part of self-care…at least that’s what I tell my bank account. Also, many of these books were library books I previously checked out and didn’t get to read, but I really wanted to. Now, I own them, so I can read them whenever I want.
I’m calling this part one because I bought so many books between September and October that I had to split it in half. Not to mention the ones I bought on Black Friday….
From Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the bookstore near my work that I’ve visited frequently over the past several months, I bought:
Circe by Madeline Miller
After reading the first three books in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, I remembered how much I like Greek mythology. The novel is a reimagining of the tale of the sorceress Circe, who Odysseus meets in his travels. But she is more than the Bernadette Peters character from the 1990s miniseries. Circe is the first witch—and a woman who made the king of the gods nervous.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I am probably one of the few people who have not read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It has the elements I like: an aging movie star, Evelyn Hugo tells her life story to a young reporter and the novel goes back and forth between timelines. Turns out, the reporter, Monique, is connected to Evelyn Hugo’s tragic history in a shocking way. Plus, Evelyn has more than a few secrets. While I am intrigued, the flip side is the book is so hyped, I’m nervous of what will happen if I find any critiques with it.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
My favorite types of historical novels are ones with dual timelines, where a crime or a tragedy in someone’s present timeline affects someone else’s in a future timeline. Next Year in Havana is a generational story following freelance reporter Marisol in 2017, who travels to Cuba to fulfill her late grandmother Elisa’s dying wish to have her ashes scattered in her old country. While in Havana, Marisol discovers family secrets that connect her grandmother, who in 1958 was the sheltered daughter of a sugar baron, to the Cuban revolution and how Elisa’s past can teach her to be brave now.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss
Mary Jekyll is penniless following the death of her father, the infamous Dr. Jekyll. When she learns that her father’s murderous friend Edward Hyde has eluded authorities, she sees an opportunity to improve her financial situation by helping Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson track him down. She begins with Edward’s daughter, Diana, who is living on the streets as a feral child. But in doing so, Mary discovers more women who have been victims of horrifying experimentations at the hands of other mad scientists: Justine Frankenstein, Catherine Moreau, and Beatrice Rappaccini. Together, these monster women will take down the monster men that created them.
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Twenty years ago, reporter Fiona Sheridan’s older sister was murdered and her body was found near the ruins of Idlewild Hall, an institution for “troubled” girls. Though her sister’s boyfriend was convicted for the crime, something about the case never sat right with Fiona. With Idlewild Hall under renovations by a mysterious benefactor, she takes the opportunity to investigate its ties to her sister’s death. In doing so, she finds that, in 1950, another girl had vanished and someone in the present day will do anything to make sure his or her secrets are never uncovered.
My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd
Five years ago, Venus Black was a straight-A student with a passion for astronomy—until she commits a horrible crime. She won’t say why she did it; all she says is that she blames her mother. To make matters worse, her younger brother, Leo, goes missing. When Venus is released from juvy with a new identity, Leo is still missing, and she moves to Seattle for a fresh start. But when she meets new people, mainly a girl who reminds her so much of her past self, Venus realizes the only way to have a future is to confront the demons of her past.
The English Wife by Lauren Willig
On the surface, Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil are the image of a fairy tale. He’s the son of an old Knickerbocker family and she’s an English rose that grew up in a Tudor manor house. Then, Bayard is found with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is presumed drowned midst rumors she’s having an affair. Only Bay’s sister Janie is convinced someone killed both of them. Teaming up with a reporter, she digs deep into their lives and finds out she did not know her brother or Annabelle as well as she thought she did.
The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
Frances Gorges only wants to go back to her normal life after serving as a beloved healer in the royal court for several years and taking care of Queen Elizabeth I on her deathbed. She especially wants to get out after King James of Scotland takes the throne. Unlike his predecessor, James is a Puritan and does not tolerate anything that could be thought of as witchcraft. But when Frances is forced back to James’s court to care for the princess, whom she grows very fond of, she becomes swept up in what is to be the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Providence by Caroline Kepnes
Jon and Chloe are best friends, the only people who understand each other in their small New Hampshire town. Then, Jon’s substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity abducts him. Eventually, he escapes, only to discover he has a new power that puts anyone he has strong feelings for in danger, especially Chloe. He runs away to find answers, but is chased by a detective investigating a series of vigilante killings that could be connected to Jon’s abduction.
Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black
Years ago, Valentine watched her mother murder a man in cold blood and then be hanged for it. Since then, she has lived alone in their small town, where she faces suspicion and ridicule. When a string of murders happen, the townspeople immediately suspect her. Surprisingly, the only person who believes Valentine is innocent is Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed. Valentine takes it upon herself to catch the real killer, but doing so could expose her own secrets, as well as an unexpected truth about her mother.
The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carols Ruiz Zafon
Ever had that feeling when you discover an author you adore came out with another book you had no idea about? That’s what happened to me. I was in the bookstore near my work and I saw it on the shelves. Not only that, it is part of his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. The Labyrinth of the Spirits follows Alicia Gris, a spy for the Spanish secret police, who is investigating the disappearance of Spain’s Minister of Culture, leading her to Fermin and the Sempere family. I already know from Zafon’s previous books this will go in every possible twist and turn you can imagine, expertly blending in history and literature. And I want to read it now.
Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
The third novel in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, Escaping from Houdini is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Unfortunately, since its release, it has not been getting the best reviews. I actually watched a spoiler-filled video on it, with the intent to mentally prepare myself for when I do read the book. And I don’t think my emotions will be able to handle it.
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
The book I have been waiting for the past two years, Lethal White is the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series. While everyone else has been begging for more Harry Potter stories, I’m in my little corner tapping my foot, waiting for more on Strike and Robin. But even though I want to read Lethal White immediately, I know it will likely be another two or three years before we see the next installment. I don’t think I will be able to last that long once I read this book, especially if it is heading in the direction I think it is.
Vanilla by Billy Merrell
This is a book that always caught my eye whenever I visited that indie bookstore near my work. It is a coming-of-age story about first love between two boys, Vanilla and Hunter. The boys have been together since seventh grade but now they are in high school and having problems, such as Vanilla isn’t sure if he wants to have sex with Hunter and he doesn’t like his boyfriend’s friends.
I wanted to check this book out of the library, but after a few visits and noticing no one bought it, I caved. Still, I have faith I will enjoy it, because I want to read more LGBTQ books and it is written in verse.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I read And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie last year and I want to read more of her works. Problem is, I never know which one to pick up next. Murder on the Orient Express was recently made into a movie and, from what I’ve seen, it seems like one of her most popular novels after And Then There Were None. It follows the famed fictional detective Hercule Poirot as he investigates a baffling murder on a train where everyone is guilty, and a killer lurks among the passengers.
Mirage by Samaiya Duad
Eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer that longs for adventure away from her occupied homeland. She gets her wish in the most unexpected way when she is abducted to the royal court. Turns out, she is nearly identical to the cruel Princess Maram, who is so hated by the conquered kingdom she needs a body double to act in her place in public. Though forced into her new role, Amani can’t help but fall for the beauty of the royal palace lifestyle—and the princess’s fiancée. But if she wants to survive, she must play a dangerous political game that could get her killed.
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
After reading the Daughter of the Pirate King duology by Tricia Levenseller, I am itching for more pirate books. Seafire follows a crew of pirate women, led by Caledonia Styx, who are survivors of the destruction left behind by a bloodthirsty warlord Aric Athair. The crew are hell-bent on revenge, especially Caledonia, who lost her entire family at the hands of Aric. The girls rely only on each other, but when a boy saves one of them and wishes to defect from the warlord’s men, Caledonia wonders if this boy will ruin everything they’ve worked for if they take him on.
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
The Silence of the Girls follows Briseis, the queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms that was conquered by the Greek warrior Achilles and his army. After her husband and brothers are killed in the war, she is made Achilles’s concubine and sent to a camp along with other women. Then, she finds herself in between Achilles and the brutal political leader Agamemnon, the two men who lead the Greek army into a confrontation that will forever change the ancient world. But The Silence of the Girls is really about those history forgot: the women in the Greek camps.
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
One night in 1785, merchant Jonah Hancock opens his front door to one of his captains eagerly informing him he sold one of Jonah’s ships for a mermaid. Except this mermaid is a corpse and it looks nothing like Ariel. This astounding discovery catapults Jonah into high society, where he meets the beautiful courtesan Angelica Neal. Driven by this chance encounter, these two ambitious individuals soon realize that even the most priceless of objects can lead to the greatest of consequences.
To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace
I thought I had to wait a full agonizing year for The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One after binge-reading the previous books in this poetry series The Princess Saves Herself in This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One. Then, Amanda Lovelace pulled a Beyoncé with To Make Monsters Out of Girls. It is another poetry collection, originally published on Wattpad under a different title, but now edited and illustrated for my eager eyeballs.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
A remix of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Pride is set in a gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood where Zuri Benitez lives with her family. Proud of her neighborhood and her Afro-Latino roots, she is not the least bit thrilled when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street with their plans to “clean up.” She makes every effort to avoid the Darcy’s two sons, even as her older sister falls for one of them. But as she is forced to find common ground with arrogant Darius Darcy, Zuri struggles to find her place in a world she was once so familiar with.
Rule by Ellen Goodlett
Though I have not read the original source material, lately I have been drawn to retellings of King Lear by William Shakespeare. Unfortunately, the last one I read, The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton, I just could not get into, no matter how much I liked her writing style. However, Rule seems to be a little more up my alley. Three girls who are from different parts of the kingdom are brought to the dying king’s royal court. Turns out, they are his illegitimate daughters and, following the mysterious death of their half-brother, are his only heirs. Only one can succeed the throne, so the girls will have to compete for the crown. But someone knows their deepest, darkest secrets and is intent on keeping the girls from fulfilling their destiny to rule.
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Shadow of the Fox follows two characters, one a samurai and the other a Kitsune (a fox shape-shifter), who are hunting for the missing pieces of a scroll that could summon a dragon to grant a wish. The last wish 1,000 years ago left their world in chaos, and the hope is that a new wish could save the kingdom. Both main characters are keeping secrets—such as one of them already has a piece of the scroll—but they have to work together before the scroll falls into the wrong hands again.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Elizabeth Lavenza is an orphan on the verge of being kicked out into the streets when she is adopted by the Frankenstein family to be a companion to their odd son Victor. While she is treated very well by the Frankensteins, her survival depends on keeping Victor happy. No matter how depraved his requests are, she complies. But in all her manipulation, Elizabeth could never have imagined what he would ask her to do next.
Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis
Seventeen-year-old Nedra leaves her rural hometown of Lunar Island to attend a prestigious academy to study medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student, she does not quite fit in with her wealthy classmates, who look down on her. Except for Grey Astor, who is taken by Nedra’s intelligence and her dedication to her studies. Then, a deadly plague sweeps through the countryside, getting dangerously close to Nedra’s family in the north and to the cities. As the body count rises and the need for a cure turns to desperation, she turns to the darkest practice of alchemy: necromancy.
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
Anouk is a Beastie, an animal enchanted into human form, and destined to serve the evil witch that turned her. When the madam is found murdered, Anouk fears she will be blamed for it. Pursued by the Haute, a magical underground society, Anouk and the other Beasties go on the run through Paris. But they have three days to find the real killer before they turn back into their animal forms for good. And, as Anouk will find out, the Beasties might have more power than they ever knew.
The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
April Genevieve Tucholke is one of those authors where there is a 50/50 chance I will not like her books. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea? Not crazy about the romance or the plot. Wink Poppy Midnight? An almost-five star read for its setting and complex characters. Then, I found out she was releasing The Boneless Mercies, which is a gender-bent retelling of Beowulf with five female mercenaries hunting a monster. A reimagining of my favorite epic poem with an all-female cast in April Genevieve Tucholke’s quirky writing style? I’m in!
When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen
Emmeline, though part of Chicago’s high society and engaged to its most eligible bachelor, can’t forget her childhood sweetheart, Anders. Her childhood best friend, Fiona, has pursued Anders, but when he hooks up with Emmeline one last time, Fiona feels betrayed. Finding out a love triangle was the main plot point almost put me off—until I found out these three lovers are somehow connected to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Now, you have my attention, When We Caught Fire.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
The only book in this portion of the haul that I previously read, The Last Time I Lied is about Emma, who returns to the camp where her three friends disappeared fifteen years ago to get to the bottom of the mystery of what happened that night. I never thought I would love this book as much as I did, after being so let down by Final Girls. I’m still thinking about The Last Time I Lied, too, months after reading it. I had to have my own copy, even if just to reread my favorite scenes. Limited space be damned.
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Bridge of Clay probably trumps Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas for a lot of people’s most anticipated released of this year—if not life. It is the first book Markus Zusak has published in ten years since The Book Thief. All I know about it is that it follows five brothers living with an abusive alcoholic father in Australia and there is a murder that happens. Whether or not it is one of the brothers that is murdered or someone else, that’s all I need to know. Bridge of Clay is a book I want to go into knowing as little as possible.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Tahereh Mafi is a very popular author I have known about for years yet I keep putting her books on the backburner. I’ve heard mixed things about her Shatter Me trilogy. I have it on my list of books to check out from the library, but I forget it’s there until I’m adding new books to the list. Then, A Very Large Expanse of Sea was announced.
What drew me to this novel was the fact that it is set in 2002 and follows a Muslim teenager who uses break dancing to cope with the abuse she has suffered since the attacks on 9/11. When she meets a boy brave enough to get close to her, she wonders if it is time to finally let people in again. Of all Tahereh Mafi’s books, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is one I knew I had to read.
Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, & Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
The His Fair Assassins trilogy is a series I have wanted to read for years. I had it on a list of books I wanted to check out from the library, but always forgot they existed as new titles came out. His Fair Assassins are companion novels following three girls training to be assassins at a nunnery run by Death himself. I saw on BookTube that the series was getting new covers in preparation for the first book in the spin-off series, Courting Darkness. I hate to say it, but the cover changes is what mainly inspired me to finally pick up this series. The covers catch my eye every time I look at my shelves, so now there is positively no way I could forget about them.
What books have you bought recently?
(And part 2 coming in a couple of weeks…)