My book buying ban is over guys! Well, sort of…
I got a temp job at a fine arts library for the next twelve weeks. I’m itching to apply for another job, too, one that’s recently opened up that I really, really want (and it could potentially be longer term, too). If not that, then an internship.
Thing is, the temp assignment only started this week….
I was out of a job for months. Taxes came through for me this year. I thought I could hold out until the summer before I bought more books. Then, as you will see, I cracked. I managed to get to my favorite independent bookstore. Barnes and Noble had new releases for half price as well as sales and so did Books a Million. But, to be honest, I’m pretty impressed with myself that I lasted for so long.
As for the “sort of” part…the right thing for me to do is save money for the next two months as I get settled into my new job. Will I stick to that? I hope so.
Until then, here are the books I bought:
Sightwitch and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
The novella and the third book in the Witchlands series. I wanted to get into this series after reading the first book Truthwitch then buying the second novel Windwitch, then never did. Technically, I bought Sightwitch and Bloodwitch back in February, which led me into the book buying ban in the first place. But these are priority reads for the summer.
The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace
One of my most anticipated reads of the year. I bought the pretty Target exclusive edition. Amanda Lovelace is neck and neck with Emily Dickinson as one of my favorite poets, but sadly, I didn’t love The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One like I was expecting to. Check out my latest reading wrap up for my full spoiler thoughts.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
A mandatory read if you are a librarian or a library science student. It is a nonfiction novel surrounding the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in the 1980s and the author’s speculations on who/what caused the fire and why. She also goes into her love of books and libraries overall. I had this on hold at my library, but the list was long and my demanding school schedule caused me to cancel the hold (and return all the other books I had checked out at that time). Now, I own it.
The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel by Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Renee Nault
A semi-impulse buy, I found this while browsing the book section of Target. I’ve wanted to reread The Handmaid’s Tale, especially with The Testaments coming out this fall. I didn’t want to read this right away, only I kept picking it up to gaze at the artwork. I read this recently, too. More on that in my reading wrap up.
Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare
This is the sequel to Iron, Ink, and Glass, which I have not yet read. It is a series set in an alternate history of 18th century Italy. The main character and her mother have the ability to, literally, rewrite reality through an ancient magical form of writing called scriptology. When her mother is kidnapped, the protagonist, Elsa, joins a secret society of people like her with an assassin on her tail. Unfortunately, I’ve heard virtually nothing about this series on social media, but I’m still hopeful.
The Wicked King by Holly Black
At this point in time, I still have not yet read The Cruel Prince. To be honest, I was hesitant about Holly Black after reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown last year. Then, I read The Darkest Part of the Forest from the library and really enjoyed it. I like Holly Black’s take on fairy lore. Hopefully, I will get to both The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King around the time The Queen of Nothing comes out in November, so I can marathon.
Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian
Lady Smoke is the sequel to another unread book I own, Ash Princess. It follows a princess who uses political maneuvering instead of a sword to get her kingdom back from the tyrant that murdered her mother then held the protagonist captive for ten years. From what little I’ve heard, Ash Princess has gotten mediocre reviews and there’s been next to nothing about Lady Smoke. That’s fine with me, though.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
The Immortalists follows the four Gold siblings: Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya. In 1969, they sneak out in the middle of the night to have their fortunes told by a travelling psychic. She tells them when they are going to die, thus impacting each of the children differently as they move forward in their lives.
Literary fiction is a genre I’ve been getting more into within the last year or so, and most of what I read, I enjoyed. The Immortalists sounds like an interesting, thought-provoking one.
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are bored kids when they find a dismembered dead body in the woods surrounding their small English village. Next to the body is a chalk figure, just like the ones they use as their secret code. In 2016, now an adult, Eddie is trying to move on with his life when he receives a letter in the mail with a chalk figure drawn on it and then finds out his friends got the same message. One of them is dead.
I tend to enjoy mysteries that surround secrets or trauma from the main character’s childhood. The Chalk Man is an underrated adult mystery/thriller and I tend to really enjoy those. We shall see.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow is set in 1922 Russia. Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest inside a luxury hotel, deemed an unrepentant aristocrat under the Bolshevik tribunal. Despite being trapped, the tall, imposing count has the perfect view of the political unrest in his country, as well as his eccentric, eclectic neighbors in the hotel. I don’t know much about Russia’s political history, so A Gentleman in Moscow will be an interesting read for me.
Losing It by Emma Rathbone
Admittedly, Losing It does not have the best reviews on Goodreads, only the plot hits so close to home. Julia Greenfield is still a virgin at twenty-six. She goes to visit her mysterious aunt Vivienne in North Carolina and discovers her aunt, at fifty-eight, is also a virgin. While trying to unravel the secrets of her aunt’s past, Julia spends the summer trying to prevent meeting the same fate.
The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu
The first book in an adult fantasy trilogy set in the Shadowhunters universe, The Red Scrolls of Magic following Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood. While they are on vacation in Paris, an old friend of Magnus’s arrives to inform them a cult called the Crimson Hand is going around Europe raising demons. The cult was allegedly started by Magnus years ago—as a joke—but he’s taking the blame for it. Now, he and Alec have to chase the cult’s mysterious leader to clear his name. And, I would just like to point out, The Red Scrolls of Magic is probably the shortest Cassandra Clare book I’ve ever seen.
Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne
Night Music is one of those hidden gems I found at the indie bookstore I’m shocked I haven’t seen anywhere on social media. It follows two music prodigies who are forced to work together when the boy becomes an apprentice to the girl’s famous composer father. After she flunks an audition to a prestigious music school where her father is on the faculty, Ruby has no idea what to do with herself. Oscar is a talented young composer determined to make a name for himself and does not intend on falling for his white benefactor’s white daughter. But with the connection between the two of them as hot as the New York summer, it’s easier said than done.
The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees
While the plot of this next hidden gem does intrigue me, if I’m being honest, it was the cover that lured me in. The Waking Forest follows two main characters. The first is Rhea, whose backyard is at the edge of the Waking Forest, home of the Witch, the second protagonist. Rhea sees dark shapes lurking in her backyard that quickly vanish when she reaches them. The Waking Forest is home for the Witch, who sits on her throne of bones waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant a wish. Both girls are approached by a mysterious stranger that offers them a chance to answer their wishes, if only they are willing to play a game. Rhea’s path collides with the Witch as the two find themselves trapped in the midst of deadly secrets to survive.
The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan
I apparently have a knack for finding “sick mom lit,” because I happened upon this one at the indie bookstore, too. The Weight of a Thousand Feathers follows Bobby Seed, who is trying to keep it together while taking care of his terminally ill mother, watching his younger brother, and navigating the waters of his relationship with his best female friend that wants a different kind of title. All while being a teenager still in high school. Then, his mom asks him to help her end her pain for good. Though the synopsis doesn’t outright say it, The Weight of a Thousand Feathers sounds like it’s going to be touching upon the topic of assisted suicide, which is a bold move to make for a young adult novel.
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
Shout was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It is a free verse memoir poetry collection by Laurie Halse Anderson, beginning with her rape at thirteen by a “friend,” leading into her becoming an author and an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. I also recently read Shout, so you can find my full thoughts in my reading wrap up.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Long Way Down was previously a library book I had checked out but had not gotten around to reading. It is another free verse poetry novel, this one taking place during a teenaged boy’s elevator ride on his way to kill the person who murdered his brother. The elevator stops at different floors and he meets people who have already died that try to talk him out of his mission. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been really getting into free verse novels lately. And, so far, I’m enjoying them.
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
The cover of A Girl Like That—a girl wearing sunglasses and a hijab on the cover along with the pink cheetah-print spine—has always caught my eye whenever I saw it in the library or the bookstore. For some reason, I never picked it up until now, when I finally read the synopsis.
The religious police is Jeddah, Saudi Arabia are called to the scene of a car accident where sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia and her eighteen-year-old boyfriend Porus Dumasia are found dead. Though a good student and a bright, vivacious orphan, Zarin was labeled “a girl like that,” a troublemaker, by other kids’ parents. But when the police begin their investigation, everyone soon realizes there was more to Zarin than they ever knew.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
A classic vampire novel, The Historian is a book I’ve known about for years that I finally caved into buying when I saw it for sale at the bookstore. An unnamed young woman finds a series of letters hidden in her father’s study that lead her to finish his journey to uncover the truth behind Vlad the Impaler’s ties to the infamous Dracula. Along the way, she unravels her family’s history, how her father’s madness and ruin may have led to the death of her mother. If The Historian is anything like The Swan Thieves, I expect beautiful prose and a twisty plot to keep me up until two in the morning to finish it.
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
I had heard of Suicide Notes years ago and added it to my TBR on Goodreads, then proceeded to forget it existed. Then, just recently, it was repackaged and I found it at the bookstore. In case you don’t know, Suicide Notes is about fifteen-year-old Jeff, who wakes up in the psych ward after what appears to be a failed suicide attempt. Forced to endure a forty-five day sentence, he’s convinced there’s nothing wrong with him, not like the other patients. Then, his fellow inmates stop seeming so crazy.
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Wicked Saints has blown up on BookTube. Though it has been getting rather mixed reviews since its release, it strikes me as the kind of book you should go into knowing as little as possible anyway. All I know it is about two warring kingdoms (as usual in high fantasy) and follows three main characters: a princess that can talk to gods; a prince that uses blood magic; and a monster boy. That’s really all I need to know.
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Yet another book I’ve already read, Two Can Keep a Secret was previously a library book I featured in a reading wrap up a few months ago. It is a young adult mystery set in a small town where three girls have been murdered in the last twenty-five years, the first being the aunt of one of the main characters. True crime buff Ellery and her twin brother Ezra move in with their grandma just as another homecoming queen goes missing. As a series of threats appear around town, she takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of it.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
As I frequently do, I recently checked out too many library books that I didn’t get to before their due date. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was one of them. It is a young adult contemporary novel about Julia, whose sister Olga was the “perfect Mexican daughter” that didn’t leave home to go to college or anything else their parents did not approve of. When Olga dies, something about her death doesn’t feel right to Julia. Enlisting the help of some friends, she digs into her sister’s life and finds there was more to Olga than their family knew.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
A contemporary with a dystopian twist, Internment is set in an alternate universe where all Muslim Americans are forced into internment camps. Seventeen-year-old Layla and her family are among them. To fight for their freedom, she builds friendships with others inside the camp, receives help from her boyfriend on the outside, and forges an unexpected alliance. This leads them into a rebellion against the internment camp’s director and the guards. I haven’t read Samira Ahmed’s debut novel, Love, Hate, and Other Filters yet, but Internment is making me eager to read her books.
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
As soon as I saw Once & Future on the Internet, I knew I had to read it. I own The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta, which I’m also interested in reading. But Once & Future is a reimagining of the tale of King Arthur set in space and the king is reincarnated in a teenaged girl. That’s all I needed to know. And the cover is gorgeous.
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and translated by Lilit Thwaites
The Librarian of Auschwitz was another book I previously checked out from the library a while ago and, of course, didn’t read. It is a nonfiction/historical fiction book about a young Jewish girl sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz and is the deemed the protector of the few books the prisoners managed to smuggle in with them. She does everything she can to keep the love of books alive as she and those she cares for endures unimaginable horrors.
How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
How to Make Friends with the Dark is a book that covers a topic I can relate to. A teenaged girl named Grace, otherwise known as Tiger, ends up in foster care following the unexpected death of her mother. Her dad not in the picture, it was always Tiger and her mom against the world. Now, she’s on her own. How to Make Friends with the Dark is about her coming to terms with grief and moving on after losing the only family she had. Yes, I am a sucker for “dead mom” literature, apparently.
Lovely War by Julie Berry
I’ve read Julie Berry’s other books, All the Truth That’s in Me and The Passion of Dolssa and enjoyed both. Lovely War is a multi-generational story set between World War I and II. It is narrated by the goddess Aphrodite as she tells the story to her lover, Ares, and her husband Hephaestus in a Manhattan hotel room. It begins in 1917, where shy pianist Hazel falls in love with soldier James, who is later shipped off to the killing fields.
Along with him is Carnegie Hall musician Aubrey Edwards, who is a member of the all-African American regiment sent to help end the Great War. Romance is the last thing on his mind, until he meets a Belgian girl named Colette Fournier, a survivor of unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.
Are you already getting the feels? Because I am.
The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
I love fairy tale retellings, especially if set in a modern setting. The Princess and the Fangirl is the companion novel to Geekerella, a reimagining of Cinderella centered around a convention. The Princess and the Fangirl follows the co-star of the male lead in Geekerella, who is blamed for the leaking of a movie script and does a switch with a mega-fan that looks like her to find the culprit. At this point, I’ve heard several reviews of The Princess and the Fangirl. Unfortunately, they haven’t been as great as the ones for Geekerella. But there are so few retellings of any works by Mark Twain (The Princess and the Fangirl is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper) that I still want to give it a chance.
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
Mindy McGinnis is yet another author I’ve wanted to get into for years, even owned one of her books for the longest time, but, of course, have not gotten around to it. She is one where her books get mixed reviews. Such as, great things have been said about A Madness so Discreet and The Female of the Species, except some of her other works got flack. Heroine is her most recent novel. It is a contemporary, following a teenaged athlete who becomes addicted to drugs to keep playing sports after an injury. I rarely see these kinds of books, even though the topic is so relevant.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
I want to improve on the amount of the diverse books on my TBR. Dear Martin is similar to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. African-American teenager Justice finds himself in handcuffs after driving his ex-girlfriend home and he has no idea why. Told in letters to Martin Luther King Jr., he comes to terms with what is happening around him as one unfair thing leads to another.
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Another book I recently checked out from the library but did not read, Field Notes on Love is a cute, fluffy young adult romantic contemporary. When his girlfriend dumps right before a cross-country train ride, British-born Hugo gives her ticket to Mae, who happens to have the same name as his ex (Margaret). An aspiring filmmaker, Mae challenges Hugo to follow his dreams, but will their romance end once the train ride does?
You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
Ariel Stone has built his entire life around getting into college—violin first chair, community volunteer, and valedictorian candidate. After a failed Calculus quiz, he starts to pull all-nighters to keep his classmates from seeing any weakness. Reluctantly, he accepts help from a tutor, Amir, who provides too much of a distraction. But a relationship might be the thing that finally makes Ariel snap under pressure.
The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
Another LGBTQ+ romance, The Music of What Happens follows two openly gay boys in Mesa, Arizona, Max and Jordan. Laidback Max is gay and him nor anyone in his life is making a big deal about it. But despite this, he can’t bring himself to talk about an encounter with an older boy. Uptight Jordan is trying to hide the fact that his mom is spiraling while searching for his first kiss from Mr. Right who might not like him to begin with. In the heat of summer, their chemistry will be as hot as a June in Arizona. And this cover is adorable!
We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
A young adult fantasy stand-alone that sounds a lot like Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Revna is a factory worker caught using illegal magic and general’s daughter Linne disguised herself as a boy to join the army. Both are offered a reprieve from punishment by joining a secret women’s military flight. The girls can’t stand each other as they are forced to take on terrifying missions under the cover of night. But if they can’t figure out how to work together, the enemy will kill them before they kill each other.
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe follows a young captain who is hell-bent on taking down the individual who murdered her beloved and robbed her of everything two years ago. As she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine River, Poe discovers there is a traitor lurking her crew. From there, she will learn to move forward in her grief and anger, making a new path for herself. I haven’t read Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, the cover for The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe (and my love of lady pirates) drew me in.
Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap
This one was an impulse buy. After learning the legend of Tristan and Iseult in my college English courses, I’ve been fascinated by the story. If you are unaware, it is an earlier version of the Lancelot and Guinevere legend. Izzy + Tristan is a retelling of the tale set in a modern-day Brooklyn neighborhood. Two teenagers are in an ill-fated love affair after Izzy starts dating Tristan’s cousin but falls for him instead.
Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott
I had heard about Voices through BookTube and bought it when I saw it on sale on Barnes & Noble’s website. It is a retelling of the final hours of Joan of Arc as told through different forms of medieval poetry, through the eyes of Joan, her friends and family, and others, including objects. I finished it in a day, unable to put it down as soon as I started reading. It was also in my latest reading wrap up, if you want to know my thoughts.
Squad by Mariah MacCarthy
You know what sold me on this novel? An outcast cheerleader gets involved with a transgender boy in what feels like love, only it isn’t. The cheerleaders at Marsen High School are normal girls trying to master the sport. But when Jenna finds herself suddenly on the outskirts, she sets out to take revenge on her former best friend while trying to come to terms in post-cheer life.