Highlights: September 2020

The summer heat and humidity is slowly fading away, and the days are starting to get a little shorter. It was a very strange, somewhat lost summer that we experienced here in Minnesota, though we’re trying to get some final summer-y outdoor activities in before the cold and the pandemic sends us back inside. But along with those last summer activities, we also have books that we are looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

36253130._sy475_Book: “A Dance with Fate” by Juliet Marillier

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I really enjoyed the first book in Marillier’s new trilogy, “The Harp of Kings.” While I didn’t find the mystery itself super compelling, I was very intrigued by the new set of characters it introduced, mainly Liobhan and Dau. Judging by the book description, it seems that most of this story will be devoted to these two as well, which is fine by me. I’m curious whether we’ll see anymore of Brocc after the events of the last book, as it did seem that there were some mysteries left open-ended on his side. Either way, I’m always down for a new Marillier title, so I can’t wait to dive into this one!

45044785Book: “The Silvered Serpents” by Roshani Chokshi

Publication Date: September 22, 2020

Why I’m Interested: On the other end of the spectrum, I was not overly thrilled with the first book in Chokshi’s series, “The Guilded Wolves.” I’m definitely in the minority with this author as I’ve struggled in some way or another with all of the books by her I’ve read. But, again, the characters that were introduced were more compelling than the ones I’d found in her other stories, so I thought it was worth continuing on. Plus, the events at the end of the last book were pretty dramatic. Maybe too dramatic… *side-eyes this book for unnecessary angst potential*

50548197._sy475_Book: “A Deadly Education” by Naomi Novik

Publication Date: September 29, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Naomi Novik. Unequivocally. Completely. Utterly. So I was over the moon when I spotted this book on Edelweiss and instantly put out a request for it. The book description is somewhat vague…something about a dangerous, magical school and a main character who has some type of destructive abilities and a talent for not making friends? It’s also been hyped as a darker “Harry Potter,” which, could either be totally awesome or…worrying. But Novik hasn’t lead me wrong so far, so I’m going to place my bets on totally awesome. Can’t wait to find out!

Kate’s Picks

49127515Book: “Don’t Look For Me” by Wendy Walker

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I greatly enjoyed Wendy Walker’s previous novel “The Night Before”, and because of that I was very interested to see what she would come up with next. A missing woman, a daughter who is on the case, and the possibility that the wife and mother just walked away from her life due to guilt? I’m in! There isn’t much in terms of plot description, which no doubt means that Walker wants to keep things close to the vest as she has twists and turns in store. Regardless, Molly Clarke is a wife and mother who stopped in a small down on the way home, and never returned. While a note was found saying that she was running away from her guilt, her daughter isn’t so sure. And when a tip comes through that places her mother getting into a stranger’s car, she goes to investigate. Walker has delivered some intriguing thrills before, so “Don’t Look For Me” has some promise to do so again.

49246963Book: “Night of the Mannequins” by Stephen Graham Jones

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Given that I slept on this creepy and talented horror author Stephen Graham Jones until the book “The Only Good Indians”, I feel like I have some catching up to do. So I am excited to dive into a new horror novella that involves a potentially killer mannequin! Who doesn’t like the idea of a haunted doll story, especially ones that promise to have some tweaks upon the subgenre? Sawyer and his friends love playing practical jokes, and decide to pull one on their friend Shana, involving the use of an old mannequin named Manny they found when they were younger. But Sawyer soon realizes that Manny isn’t any old mannequin, and begins to believe that Manny wants them all dead once one of his friends is killed in a strange way. It’s up to Sawyer to save the people around him… But at what cost? This sounds like it will be a quick horror read just in time for the Halloween season!

49397758Book: “Grown” by Tiffany D. Jackson

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Given that Tiffany D. Jackson is one of my favorite YA authors writing right now, I of course was supremely excited to hear that she had a new book coming out. And “Grown” sounds like it’s going to be a dark and difficult thriller that talks about some very relevant social issues regarding race, sexual assault, gender, and misogynoir. Enchanted is a teenager who has dreams of becoming a singer, and at an audition she meets the famous R and B star Korey Fields. Korey tells her that she has supreme talent, and that he wants to make her a star. Enchanted jumps at the chance, and when he starts to romance the underage girl she believes that they are falling in love… until Korey’s abusive and controlling side comes out, and he starts to control her every move. There are clear real life inspirations here, and while it’s almost assuredly going to be a hard read, I know that Jackson is going to bring lots of illumination to these difficult subjects.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: August 2020

We’re well into summer now, and a bizarre summer indeed it has been. In many ways, it seems these months have been marked by what normal things haven’t happened than what has, and this month’s loss: the Minnesota State Fair. Kate is a regular fair goer, and Serena…not so much. Though Kate did accompany her on her first trip! Instead, over the summer, several fair vendors and food trucks have set up camp around the city. So we’ll both have to get our (different) fixes that way! But, of course, what stays the same always: our love of books. Here are some titles we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

41022295._sy475_Book: “The Faithless Hawk” by Margaret Owen

Publication Date: August 18, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I just finished reading the first book in this duology a month or so ago. Perfectly timed to have the second book due to come out soon should I enjoy it. And enjoy it I did! The creative world-building, the lovely romance, and, of course, its fierce heroine, Fie. Coming into her own as a Chief of one of the bands of Crows, Fie sees change on the horizon for her people. But her friend’s journey to the thrown does not go as smoothly as she had hoped, and those she loved best turn out to not be exactly what she thought. Not caught in a game of espionage and sabotage, Fie and some unlikely friends work to prevent the evil Swan queen from taking complete control of the country and dooming the Crows forever. I’m really excited to see how this one turns out, though am a bit worried about the word “faithless” in conjunction with a certain Hawk boyfriend of Fie’s…

9781616963460_b1ce2Book: “Driftwood” by Marie Brennan

Publication Date: August 14, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Up to this point, I’ve only read a “Lady Trent” book and a spin-off/sequel to that story. I’ve enjoyed both, overall, mostly due to the strong writing at its heart. With that in mind, I was excited to see a new book by Marie Brennan show up on Edelweiss and a completely unique one at that! In a strange new world, the apocalypse has already happened, is still happening, and has yet to completely fulfill its purpose. Driftwood is where doomed worlds come to finally die. And each shrinking world’s people must come to their own terms with this eventual end. Except, seemingly, for one man, Last, a being who has been around since…well, forever it seems. Guide, friend, enigma, Last has been many things to many different people. And now that he may be gone for good, those people gather to tell stories of their fading worlds, of Driftwood, and of Last. It sounds like a completely bizarre set-up, and I’m super excited about it.

9780062894625_50898Book: “Star Daughter” by Shveta Thakrar

Publication Date: August 11, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Well, for one, the cover. That’s just beautiful cover art there. And the concept sounds really wonderful as well. A young woman born of a mortal man and a mother who is a star. And after her human father is injured, she must travel back to the night sky where her mother returned long ago to gain the power of a full star to heal him. There’s also something about ruling houses and a competition which I’m less into since I feel like that story has been told a bunch of times. But I’m intrigued enough with the original premise to see the new take the author may bring to even that part of the story. I don’t know a lot about Hindu mythology, upon which some of this story is based, but I’m curious to learn more and see how this whole “stars as beings” thing works!

Kate’s Picks

41016362Book: “Some Kind of Animal” by Maria Romasco Moore

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: This is a book that I kind of stumbled upon, and it caught my attention because of how strange it sounds. And hey, sometimes high strangeness will do ya good. Jo is a teenager in a small town, whose mother disappeared shortly after she was born. Everyone thinks that Jo is destined to end up like her mother. What people do’t know is that Jo has a twin who lives in the woods, and lives free to roam the wilderness. But when her twin attacks someone, everyone thinks that Jo did it. So now Jo has to either reveal the secret of her twin to clear her name, or try and run away and disappear kind of like how her mother did. This sounds like a doozy of a strange tale, but I think I’m ready to buy into whatever Moore is selling.

51169341Book: “The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Hooray for thrillers with podcasting themes! I haven’t actually read Megan Goldin’s other book “The Escape Room”, but it has been on my list for awhile because of the good things I heard about it. Because of this I’m definitely wanting to check out her newest book, “The Night Swim”. Rachel is a podcaster who has gone to a small town to focus her next series on a high profile rape trial that is taking place. A local swimming star with a golden boy image has been accused of raping a teenage girl (sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?), and the town is divided. But while she’s researching and attending the trial, Rachel is also receiving letters from a woman named Hannah, a local who wants Rachel to take on the story of her sister Jenny, who supposedly drowned twenty years before. Given how much I enjoy podcast books, thrillers, AND courtroom dramas, “The Night Swim” seems like it’s right up my alley!

53038638._sx318_sy475_Book: “Wayward Witch” by Zoraida Córdova

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Now perhaps you are thinking ‘hold on, that’s a September book you are putting on your August Highlights list, Kate!’ And you’re right. This is a little bit of a cheat. But the thing is “Wayward Witch” comes out on September 1st, and I’ll be tackling it before my highlights list in September, but I still want to highlight it! So I’m cheating. I’ve been waiting for the third and final book in the “Brooklyn Brujas” trilogy by Córdova pretty much since I finished Book 2 (“Bruja Born”). The third book focuses on youngest sister Rose, who has always been dependable and helpful to her sisters. Her family is still reeling by the return of her amnesiac father, who has been hiding something from his loved ones. Before Rose can try and solve that problem, she is suddenly taken to a magical place called Adas, a realm hidden in the Caribbean. And before she can go home to fix her family, she has to fix the problems plaguing Adas. Rose has been the sister I’ve been looking forward to following most, so I’m VERY interested to see how Córdova finishes her series.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: July 2020

Well, the hot, humid weather can definitely confirm that summer has arrived, even if it doesn’t look like a typical Minnesota summer. And while we can’t do all of the fun things we usually do (we’re definitely both still in mourning over the cancellation of the ALA convention at the end of June), it’s still been nice to have some backyard, socially distanced meet-ups. The babies are a bit less understanding about the space requirements, but I guess we can give them a pass. And, of course, the hot weather means plenty of excuses to read outside under a tree! Here are a few of the books we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

36205188._sy475_Book: “Unconquerable Sun” by Kate Elliot

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Well, for the obvious reason, Kate Elliot is one of my short-list authors whose books I just automatically put on my “to read” list with very little further investigation into what the book’s actually about. But then the blurb for this one is “gender swapped Alexander the Great in space!” and…yeah…sign me up! What a weird, cool concept! It puts me in mind of “As I Darken,” the gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler story. But this one takes it a step further even by placing the story in a sci-fi setting. It’s also been quite a while since I’ve read a good space opera, so I’m super excited to check this one out!

43603825._sy475_Book: “The Princess Will Save You” by Sarah Henning

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Princesses. Stable Boys. True Love. Sound familiar? And while not connected officially in any way to “The Princess Bride,” this book definitely sounds like a reimagined version in which the princess does the saving of the captured farm boy rather than the other way around. When Princess Amarande comes of age, she must either marry a prince of the realm or lose her role as the future queen. But never one to sit back and let others decide her future, and with her actual love kidnapped to boot, Amarande sets off on a quest full of adventure and excitement. I also really like this cover. It’s definitely not of the sort you typically see, so it stands out great!

52822248._sx318_sy475_Book: “Ashes of the Sun” by Django Wexler

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’ve read Wexler’s work in the past, but this year seems to be the year that I really discovered him. After blowing through the first two books in his new YA trilogy, I was super excited to see that he had yet another new book coming out this summer. And a new beginning to a series none the less! In what seems to be a sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy world, the feature jumps between two siblings that find themselves growing up on opposite sides of a brewing conflict. One, raised as a warrior in an elite group tasked with protecting the realm. And the other making his way through the underbelly of the world, looking for ways to bring much needed freedom to the common people. I’m really excited for this one, and you’ll be hearing more about it soon!

Kate’s Picks:

52581895Book: “Survivor Song” by Paul Tremblay

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Perhaps I’m foolish to be picking up a book about a mysterious virus that is ravaging the population during a global pandemic. But it’s Paul Tremblay, guys, so what choice do I have? When a strange accelerated strain of a rabies-like virus has started making people sick and dangerous, friends Ramola and Natalie are trying to stay calm. But when pregnant Natalie’s husband is killed and she is bitten, she seeks out doctor Ramola in hopes that they can get her to a hospital and get her a vaccine before she is overtaken. They have to maneuver through a landscape of sick people, broken down infrastructure, right wing reactionaries, and other dangers in hopes of saving Natalie and her baby. Given how Tremblay can bring the tears with the scares, one can probably guess that this will be both terrifying and emotional. Bring it.

49789629Book: “The Year of the Witching” by Alexis Henderson

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Bring on all the stories of witchcraft! Bring on all the stories of oppressed women rising up against their oppressors! And if you combine those two things, BRING IT ON EVEN MORE! “The Year of the Witching” is about Immanuelle, a girl living in the zealous community of Bethel where the Prophet is in charge and you best follow his word. Immanuelle’s mother and father learned that the hard way, her father being burnt alive and her mother running to the Darkwood, where witches are said to tread, only to return in time to give birth, and then pass away. What Immanuelle doesn’t know is that she has a dark power in her blood, and that the Darkwood may have secrets that could be deadly… but could also lead to her liberation. A feminist witchcraft tale AND a story with a Black girl as a witch, sometime we don’t see nearly often enough? You know this is a book I have high on my list.

48717769Book: “The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands” by Jon Billman

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Strange missing person stories where someone seemingly vanishes into thin air both scare the hell out of me and also deeply intrigue me. Jon Billman wrote an article for Outside Magazine about people who go missing on public lands, and then expanded this into an entire book. Thus, “The Cold Vanish” ended up on my reading list. Billman explores various missing persons cases involving public lands in North America, and looks into the circumstances in which a person could disappear, the people who are left behind, and the difficulty of not only having to look for someone in a dense and vast nature, but also having to contend with little to no help from those who have control over said lands.

What books are you looking forward to this month?

 

Highlights: June 2020

Things in the Twin Cities are very tough right now as summer is starting. But just know that we are safe, though we are also heartbroken and angry like many in our community over the events of the past week. Though it’s hard sometimes to turn our brains off from these things, we do have some books that we’re looking forward to this month. And along with that, please take a look at some of the links we’re providing to see how you can possibly help our community and George Floyd’s loved ones. Thank you. Say his name: George Floyd. Black Lives Matter.

Organizations

Official George Floyd Memorial Fund: The official Go Fund Me by George Floyd’s loved ones.

We Love Lake Street: An organization that is raising money to help clean up and rebuild the damage done to small businesses on Lake Street, one of the neighborhoods hardest hit. Many of the people in this area are BIPOC, including the business owners.

Migizi Fundraiser: A local organization for Indigenous Youth burnt down and hopes to rebuild.

Neighbors United Funding Collaborative: A group that is raising money to give to small businesses in the Midway neighborhood, an area that was hard hit in St. Paul.

Northstar Health Collective: Medics that are on site during protests as well as community health activists.

Minnesota Freedom Fund: A local group that raises money for bail and bond to put up for those who have been arrested with a focus on social justice and immigration.

Serena’s Picks

50147675._sx318_sy475_Book: “The Obsidian Tower” by  Melissa Caruso

Publication Date: Jun 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I really enjoyed Caruso’s original “Swords and Fire” trilogy. It featured a strong heroine, an interesting magic system, and strong world-building. So I was excited to see that she was coming out with a new series so quickly. Even better, it is one that is set in the same world, but this time focuses on a young woman who heralds from Vaskandar, the wild, nature-based magical kingdom that was the predominant villains of the first trilogy. What’s more, it sounds like the story will be less about a conflict between Vaskandar and Rivera, like the original trilogy was, but will be introducing some new magical elements and characters. I’m super excited to see what it has to offer!

46033842._sy475_Book: “The Empire of Gold” by S.A. Chakraborty

Publication Date: June 30, 202

Why I’m Interested: “The Daevabad Trilogy” has been my favorite current fantasy series for several years. The first two books each ended up high on my “Top 10” lists each year, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a better debut fantasy author on the scene right now. Chakraborty seemingly came out of nowhere and blew me away with an incredible, original fantasy story feature a complicated Daeva society whose roots and conflicts go back thousands of years. And this is the conclusion. I have to say, I’m equally terrified as I am excited. The last book ended with the such a high stakes cliff-hanger and so many complicated threads all tangled up that it’s impossible for me to see a way out of this that won’t just be tragedy all around. I’m prepared for some sadness, but please, please, let my dear Nahri come out of it ok.

52378874._sx318_sy475_Book: “The Angel of Crows” by Katherine Addison

Publication Date: June 23, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I obviously love both historical fiction and fantasy, so I’m all the more intrigued when the two are combined. In this version of 1888 London, humans and paranormal creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, and even angels, share the streets. So this time, when history makes its turn and Jack the Ripper arrives on the scene, the story will play out very differently. The last “Jack the Ripper” story I read was in the latest installment of the Veronica Speedwell mystery series and, wow, was that a disappointment. Jack the Ripper was LITERALLY a passing figure and the entire book was a pretty big let down. So, the stakes are high for this one coming off that. The fact that its incorporating all of these fantastical beings is definitely a new twist, especially angels which are less common than vampires and werewolves. I’m really curious to see what angle this story takes on the most famous serial killer there ever was.

Kate’s Picks

50833559._sx318_sy475_Book: “Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Riley Sager hasn’t steered me wrong yet! He’s definitely up there with other favorite thriller authors right now, so you know that I was very happy to see a new book coming out. And this one takes on an Amityville-like tale of hauntings. Or maybe fraud. Maggie’s father wrote a memoir about the time he and his family spent in a haunted house. The book was a runaway hit, but was met with skepticism as well as love. Now Maggie is an adult, and doesn’t really want to associate with that tale as she has no memory of the things her father claimed happened. But after her father’s death she inherits the old house, and hopes to renovate it before she puts it up for sale. And when strange things start happening while she’s there, she has to wonder if maybe he wasn’t lying after all. SIGN. ME. Up.

50202540Book: “I Killed Zoe Spanos” by Kit Frick

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Why I’m Interested: We have another book that is exploring the idea of the true crime podcast! When Anna moves to a new town for a job, the community is still reeling from the disappearance of local girl Zoe Spanos. Anna’s resemblance to Zoe is uncanny, and she starts to become obsessed with the case. Her obsession implicates her when Zoe’s body is eventually found. Teen podcaster Martina, whose show is all about Zoe and her disappearance, thinks that something else is up, and vows to find the truth. This really sounds like it’s going to tap into my love for both YA thrills and true crime podcasting, so I’m VERY excited for it.

53152636._sx318_sy475_Book: “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I can safely say that we are BOTH interested in “Mexican Gothic”, here on the blog.  My reasoning is that I enjoyed Moreno-Garcia’s last book, “Gods of Jade and Shadow”, and I love me some Gothic creepiness. So a book that is quoted as being a ‘terrifying twist on classic gothic horror’ by an author I’ve enjoyed is absoLUTELY going to be of interest to me. When Noemí, a debutante in 1950s Mexico, receives a call for help from her newly married cousin, she rushes to an isolated house in the country called High Place, where her cousin lives with her mysterious new husband. Noemí finds herself in the presence of not only a potentially dangerous aristocrat, but also in a house that seems menacing, and perhaps hiding secrets. Moreno-Garcia’s writing style is already very enjoyable, and it definitely sounds like a fresh take on a classic genre!

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: May 2020

We think that we’re finally in the clear up here in Minnesota when it comes to snow, which is always nice. And with nicer weather means more opportunities to go outside and enjoy the scenery (responsibly, of course). This means backyard patio time to be sure, and what better way to enhance that kind of relaxation than with a book or two? Here are the new titles we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

23654840._sx318_Book: “Age of Empyre” by Michael J. Sullivan

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

Why I’m Interested: It’s finally here! The last book in the “Legends of the First Empire” series! It’s gone by all too quickly (though this is, of course, nothing against the amazingly fast publication schedule the author has set for himself, love that!). The last book ended on a pretty massive cliff-hanger with several of our heroes seeming to fall to their doom and the most powerful of them is still caught in enemy territory. I also have to say that I love this cover and am really interested to see who the person with the sword is. And is that Suri’s dragon? Or…did the enemies manage to create one themselves? The grand finale will be something else! I’m so nervous.

44603554._sy475_Book: “House of Dragons” by Jessica Cluess

Publication Date: May 12, 2020

Why I’m Interested: While I was kind of burned by the end of the last trilogy I read by Cluess, she did create a pretty fascinating new fantasy world. And, of course, I’m a sucker for anything and all dragons. This book seems to be a combination of the *sigh* oh so prevalent ensemble POV YA stories and some type of “Throne of Glass”/”Hunger Games” competition. Five different royal houses are meant to compete for the dragon throne. But this time things are different and a group of outcasts end up competing instead. I’m definitely interested in checking it out, but if I get many whiffs of love triangles, love squares, etc., I’m probably out.

51182650._sx318_sy475_Book: “Girl, Serpent, Thorn” by Melissa Bashardoust

Publication Date: (now) July 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: You may have noticed that this book is set to be published in July, not May. Well, a bunch of books on my May list have pushed back publication dates due to the pandemic. So…I’m cheating. I’ll include some of the others when they do come out, but I thought I’d throw this one in here anyways (let’s be honest, most of them were switched and I was running out). In this original fairytale, a young princess is cursed with a fatal touch, dooming her to a life of distance and lack of physical contact. But as her brother’s marriage approaches, Soraya begins to question the direction her life is headed. Is she a monster or is she gifted with a power beyond reckoning? This book sounds super interesting and you know I’m all about original fairytales! I have an advanced copy due to NetGalley, so I’m sure I’ll be taking advantage of having that and not needing to wait until the delayed publication date!

Kate’s Picks

52757827._sx318_sy475_Book: “Something Is Killing the Children (Vol. 1)” by James Tynion IV

Publication Date: May 26, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I am always on the lookout for a solid horror graphic, and the title alone of “Something Is Killing the Children” gives me the serious creeps. When children start to go missing in a small town, everyone is scared that their kid will be next. It’s when a mysterious woman shows up and tells the children that are left that it’s monsters that are behind it, and that she is going to take care of it, that a little bit of hope can be seen. Monster hunting, a scary premise, and a badass heroine with some baggage and a will to kick ass? I’m into it! I’ve read some of James Tynion IV’s work in the past, so I am very interested in seeing what he does with this concept.

52518111Book: “The Silence” by Susan Allott

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

Why I’m Interested: This has had some comparison’s to Jane Harper’s books, and given that I’ve become a fan of hers over the years, I am absolutely interested in giving any read-alikes a whirl. And this one involves family secrets, the darkness of small towns, and a disappearance, all things I LOVE. In 1967, a woman named Mandy disappeared from her Sydney neighborhood, and people assumed that she had left her family to start life anew. But years later, no one can find her, and people start to suspect that her neighbor at the time, Joe, had something to do with her disappearance, as he was the last person to see her alive. Now his daughter Isla is having to confront that past, when Joe and Mandy and their spouses were neighbors, and things weren’t always as they seemed. Definitely sounds twisty and mysterious, so I’m very interested in getting my hands on this one.

46015758._sy475_Book: “If It Bleeds” by Stephen King

Publication Date: April 21, 2020

Why I’m Interested: This is a bit of a cheat, I concede that. But in my defense, I thought that Stephen King’s new novella collection was coming out in May until it’s release date in late April. So I’m just going to highlight it here because IT’S STEPHEN KING! This time he takes four novellas and puts them into a collection. One involves a phone that can perhaps exact revenge beyond the grave. Another involves an author who is desperate to write another hit, and makes a deal with an unusual, and perhaps dangerous, animal to do so. And another involves my girl Holly Gibney, trying to solve a mass murder where someone planted a bomb at a middle school. I’m so very happy to be able to read more King! I like feeling like some things have consistency in times like these, and King brings that to me.

Highlights: April 2020

So. This is a very strange time to be alive, isn’t it? Here in Minnesota we’re on a shelter in place order for now, followed by continued social distancing. Walks around the block can be calming, and opening the windows too, though we admittedly miss the get togethers that come with spring. With all this time at home, we have plenty of time for reading thanks to digital collections at our libraries and local bookstores that are willing to ship! So here are the books we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

40944762._sy475_Book: “Chosen Ones” by Veronica Roth

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I haven’t read anything from Veronica Roth since the first two Divergent boos. That right there should say something: I only read the first two and didn’t even bother with the last one. Since then, I know she’s written a few other things, but I was never very intrigued until I say the description for this, her first adult fantasy stories. What happens after the chosen ones has defeated the villain? Such a simple question with so many potential answers. For Sloane, she’s not only a chosen one, but one of a group, all of whom have been scarred in different ways from their great battle that ended ten years ago. And now, when a new battle may be before them, Sloane must decide not only how to, but if she wants to pick back up that mantle.

51318896._sx318_sy475_Book: “The Body in the Garden” by Katharine Schellman

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I randomly came across this title while browsing NetGalley. I’m always interested in a new historical mystery series, and this one seemed like it might provide a breath of fresh air to a genre that can some times feel a bit predictable as far as its characters go. Lily Adler is a widow still suffering the loss of her beloved husband over a year ago. So when she returns to London society, she’s looking for more than a quiet home and a few social distractions. Instead she finds murder. And suddenly nothing seems more important than finding justice for the young man murdered and left forgotten by the police. With the help of a naval captain, Lily soon finds herself suspecting everyone, both friend and stranger alike.

51113661._sx318_sy475_Book: “The Ranger of Marzanna” by Jon Skovron

Publication Date: April 21, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Honestly, the first thing that struck me was the cool cover. Badass women on beautiful horses? Sign me up! This Russian-inspired fantasy features two siblings that end up on opposing sides of a war. The invading Empire killed Sonya and her brother’s father. Now Sonya, a ranger in training, will travel across the land to gain allies in her fight against her father’s killers. But her brother, a powerful sorcerer, goes another route and fights on the side of the Empire. As they each hone their skills, an ultimate confrontation brews. I’m not sure based on this description whether this will be an alternating POV story or not. Probably? It will be interesting to see how we’re supposed to sympathize with this brother who seemingly sides with his father’s killers?? We shall see!

Kate’s Picks

43261154._sx318_Book: “The Last Book on the Left” by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: While I’ve experienced a mixed bag of podcasts that write books, when I heard that the guys of “Last Podcast on the Left” had one coming out, I KNEW that it was going to be fantastic. Not only is it my favorite podcast, the research and delivery skills of Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski are so on point that they will surely be translated to a book in perfect fashion. In this book, they do deep dives on a number of the most notorious serial killers the world has ever known. Given how seriously Parks takes his research, and how sly and clever Kissel and Zebrowski are in their commentary, there is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a home run for fans of the podcast and true crime alike.

51285749Book: “The Book of Koli” by M.R. Carey

Publication Date: April 14, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I have greatly enjoyed a few of M.R. Carey’s books in the past, especially his last one “Someone Like Me”. So of course I was eager to see what he was going to do with a post-apocalyptic story that doesn’t involve zombies (as “The Girl With All The Gifts” did). Of course, that was before we started living in our own dystopic nightmare, but I’m still really excited to read “The Book of Koli”. After plants have started to take over and choke the life out of humans, mankind has retreated to village walls and are trying to survive as best they can. This is the only life that Koli has known, and doesn’t ever think about going outside the walls. Until, that is, he doesn’t have a choice in the matter. Sounds unique and creepy, which is no surprise given that Carey knows how to capture those tones with ease.

44077284Book: “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Grady Hendrix is one of my favorite horror authors writing right now, and that is because he brings such quirkiness to his stories! His take on demonic possession was great, his haunted Ikea-esque tale was entertaining, and his cursed metal band was brutal (in the metal linguistic sense). So I am, of course, VERY happy that he’s finally decided to take on vampires, AND that he’s melding it with a Southern Lady Book Club motif! Patricia Campbell and her book club friends are obsessed with reading about true crime and macabre things, and when a new neighbor moves into her neighborhood at first she thinks he’s a kindred spirit, as he too likes to read. But when children in the community start dying and strange coincidences involving the handsome stranger start to pile up, Patricia starts to wonder if he’s hiding something. But while she thinks he may be a serial killer, the truth is far more… supernatural. I’ve been waiting for Hendrix to create a vampire lore, and now that he has I couldn’t be happier.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: March 2020

March is that special part of year when Winter is (theoretically) on the way out, Spring is on the way, and the promise of Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day are exciting distractions to get through. We have some books that we are looking forward to during this transitional month! 

Serena’s Picks

45047384._sy475_Book: “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

Why I’m Interested: The beautiful cover! Look at all those colors and that children’s-storybook-like artwork. Yes, this was the actual thought in my head when I clicked through to read more about what the book is actually, you know, about. But the story itself, of a middle-aged, quiet man who suddenly finds himself charged with the care of a bunch of bizarre orphans, sounded right up my alley. And when I say bizarre, I mean “Umbrella Academy” but on acid, bizarre. We have a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Pretty excited to check this one out! And all because I thought it was so pretty…

35530507Book: “A Murderous Relation” by Deanna Raybourn

Publication Date: March 10, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Obviously, I’m very excited for the next installment in the Veronica Speedwell mysteries. Particularly due to the events of the last book and wanting to see how that would play out in this book. I think it was also written as a potential last book in the series, though after some author stalking, it seems like there may be more to come. Which I’m totally on board with. Yet again, Veronica and Stoker are called upon for their excellent sleuthing skills. But this time, there is less a mystery to be solved than a scandal to be warded off. The story seems to also be incorporating some connection to “Jack the Ripper,” a seeming requirement for any mystery sent around this time period. I’m curious to see what angle this book will use to approach this much-used portion of history.

42074525._sy475_Book: “The City We Became” by N.K. Jemisin

Publication Date: March 24, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read from N. K. Jemisin. She not only amazing, original worlds, but she excels at peopling those worlds with nuanced and complicated characters. She is also an excellent example of an author using science fiction and fantasy to shine harsh lights on very tricky subjects without dumbing anything down or spoon-feeding the reader. The book description for this one is pretty vague. Something about cities, in this case New York City, having souls and five people having to come together to protect it. But, like I said, I’ve loved everything of hers that I’ve read (and the two series I have read are very, very different), so you can bet that I don’t need more details in the description to have me on board and ready to go.

Kate’s Picks

46354144Book: “The Return” by Rachel Harrison

Publication Date: March 24, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I come for the haunted hotel and the missing girl, and then I stay for the disintegrating friendships and the interpersonal drama. “The Return” has been hyped up as “Girls” meets “The Shining”, and if that doesn’t pique my interest I don’t know what will. After Julie goes missing in a national park, her friends, including her best friend Elise, can’t believe that she’s gone. So when she suddenly returns two years later, Elise is elated, and their friend group plans a weekend away as a reunion. But Julie seems… different. Strange things begin happening when the weekend gets underway, and Elise doesn’t know who, or what, Julie is anymore. Creepy and soapy is a combination that I can get behind, so “The Return” is high on my highlights list!

46371247Book: “The Deep” by Alma Katsu

Publication Date: March 10, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I loved, LOVED Alma Katsu’s Donner Party re-imagining horror novel “The Hunger”, so when I heard that she had another historical horror novel coming out, this time involving the sinking of The Titanic, I was very excited. Annie is a stewardess turned hospital attendant who survived the sinking of the Titanic and is now on its sister ship The Britannic as it transports patients wounded in WWI. She can’t forget what happened on the Titanic as much as she tries, especially since something unnatural seemed to be going on. So when one of her patients is a man who was also on Titanic, things start getting strange again. As if whatever was haunting the Titanic has followed to the sister ship. With historical characters and a lot of focus being on the doomed ‘unsinkable’ liner, “The Deep” is sure to be another eerie and beautifully written horror novel.

49223060._sy475_Book: “Darling Rose Gold” by Stephanie Wrobel

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Like many other true crime freaks/weirdos drawn to the morbid, I was totally taken in by the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, whose mother Deedee scammed people into believing that her daughter was afflicted with a multitude of medical problems. As it turned out, Deedee was making Gypsy Rose ill, and Gypsy Rose ended up killing her. “Darling Rose Gold” is clearly inspired by this story. Patty was a single mother to Rose Gold, a girl who seemed to have chronic illnesses that made living a normal life impossible. But as it turns out, it was Patty who was making Rose Gold ill, and conning everyone about her condition. After Patty was convicted of abuse, she went to prison. After she is released, she reaches out to Rose Gold to ask if she can come live with her. Rose Gold says yes. But she may have plans for her mother and abuser. This has been getting some buzz, so I’m VERY excited to jump into it!

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: February 2020

Love is in the air, but so is the snow and wind up here in Minnesota. February is both fun for romance, but also kind of the middle of the longest (seeming) season. Luckily, we have books to look forward to! Here are the titles that have captured our interests this month!

Serena’s Picks

30613608._sy475_-1Book: “Age of Death” by Michael J. Sullivan

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’ve been enjoying the heck out of this action-packed, yet surprisingly heart-wrenching, epic fantasy series. And the last book, oof, talk about a cliffhanger! Unfortunately, I hear this one also has a cliffhanger, but, luckily, thanks to the author’s self-publication schedule, it will only be another short wait until this summer before the final book is out. As it stands, after the last book, I’m excited to see all of my heroes tackle what they find in the underworld. And, of course, poor Suri who is captured in the heart of enemy territory. Things are definitely starting to feel like a sprint to the end, and I can’t wait to see what this penultimate book has to offer!

45043929Book: “Storm from the East” by Joanna Hathaway

Publication Date: February 11, 2020

Why I’m Interested: The first book in this series came out of nowhere to really strike my interest. It’s definitely a more politically focused story in a fantasy world. But instead of court politics (though there are those too), this book takes a much larger focus on the manueverings of large countries with and against each other. But at the heart are two young people on opposing sides who have somehow formed a connection. However, neither knows the full truth of not only the other one, but often, not even their own country or allies. In this second book, again separated, Athan and Aurelia once again find themselves caught up in the schemes of the powers around them. The first book had a crushing prologue, and I’m both intrigued and also super nervous to see how our characters end up in the future situation that was presented there. I think this is a trilogy, however, so I’m not sure how close we’ll get in this second book.

45046766Book: “Night Spinner” by Addie Thorley

Publication Date: February 11, 2020

Why I’m Interested: The book is being marked as a mix of the Grishaverse (mixed feelings about this) and a retelling of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (intrigued by this). It tells the story of Enebish, a young woman who only a short time before had been on the cusp of becoming a great leader for her people. Now, after a terrible accident, she’s exiled and mocked, crippled and shunned. But when she’s offered a chance at redemption, she finds herself with only more questions, about herself, her country, her sister, and the mysterious criminal she’s sent to track down. There are elements of that description that seem way too familiar (mostly the “mysterious criminal”), but I’m still interested enough in the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” angle that I’ll be giving it a shot soon.

Kate’s Picks

38124119._sy475_Book: “Deathless Divide” by Justina Ireland

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I greatly enjoyed Ireland’s zombie/alternate history/historical fiction novel “Dread Nation”, which reimagines Reconstruction with a zombie story. So yeah, I’ve definitely been looking forward to “Deathless Divide”, the sequel to this breakout horror hit! Picking up after the events in “Dread Nation”, Jane is hoping to keep moving through a zombie ravaged America and to find her mother out West in California. With her is Katherine, the less combat savvy but still sharp companion that Jane doesn’t think she needs. As they suffer more losses and have to deal with zombies and the awfulness of a racist society, Jane and Katherine have to stick together if they hope to stay alive. I am VERY interested in seeing what Katherine gets to do in this story, as she was one of the more intriguing characters in the first book.

47899437._sy475_Book: “The Chill” by Scott Carson

Publication Date: February 11, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’m honestly not completely sure what to expect of this one. The description is a bit vague, but in it’s vagueness it’s capturing my attention. Is this cosmic horror? Occult horror? Folk horror? I don’t know. But I do know that Stephen King gave it a positive blurb! At the turn of the 20th Century, a small town in upstate New York was purposely flooded by the construction of a dam, deemed necessary for the good of the many over the good of the few. Now a century later, things are getting strange at the dam, and an inspector sees something that cannot be explained. And it becomes more clear that those who were displaced by the dam’s construction may not have gone too far, and some may not have left. And that something is looking for a new sacrifice. What does this mean? I don’t know. Do I want to find out? Why, yes I do.

46408162._sy475_Book: “Follow Me” by Kathleen Barber

Publication Date: February 25, 2020

Why I’m Interested: This sounds like a mix of an Instagram influencer’s dramatic shenanigans and Caroline Kepnes’s “You”. So I, of course, want to read it NOW NOW NOW. Audrey’s social media presence covers hundreds of thousands of followers. Now that she’s working a prestigious job at the Smithsonian, she has the opportunity to carefully mold and shape it even more, and to show all her followers the interesting work she’s doing. What she doesn’t realize is that someone has been watching her online for years, and her new job in D.C. has brought her even closer to him. Now he’s more determined than ever to possess Audrey, and is willing to use the dark web to do it. I’m ready to be creeped out!!

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: January 2020

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade! It really seems like we are getting a fresh new start as we roll into a new version of the roaring twenties. What will the new year, and new decade, bring? Well we know that January will bring a new slew of books! Here’s what we are looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

40877706._sy475_Book: “Woven in Moonlight” by Isabel Ibanez

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: The cover alone is enough to make me want to check this book out. Beautiful and unique, it’s always lovely to see covers put together with such care. I’m sure it will get picked up off bookstore shelves quite frequently. Beyond that, it’s a YA fantasy novel inspired by Bolivian history and politics. I know next to nothing about these topics, so I’m excited to see what this book has to offer. The main character, Ximena, has been serving as a double for the Condesa, the last member of a royal family who is now living in exile with her people. But when the usurper “offers” a political marriage, Ximena goes in her place in search of a way to restore her people to their homeland. So far the reviews seem very positive, so I’m excited to see what this book has to offer!

9781250184627_fe33eBook: “Hostile Territory” by Paul Greci

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I love survival stories, and it’s been a long time since I’ve read one. To be fair, I also know I have unreasonable standards for survival stories and often end up coming down rather hard on them. Knowing that, I have to limit myself so I don’t just go into a rage over the entire genre. But given that it’s been a while, this book about a group of teens who end up stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after an earthquake takes out their camp and some of their friends sounded like a prime opportunity to get back in the genre. I’m a little concerned about the reference to military aspects in the cover and description. But then again, I loved “Tomorrow, When the War Began” and that was both a survival story and a military action adventure. We’ll see what this one brings!

45046604Book: “The Bard’s Blade”  by Brian D. Anderson

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Another fun cover, another hooked reader! I haven’t read any of Anderson’s books, though I know he’s written several fantasy series. This one, about two young people who grow up in an idyllic country, protected from evil and the outside world by a magical barrier, who now have to venture out to stop a growing malevolent force, sounds pretty fun. I’m curious to see what role music will play in the story since it’s part of the title, and one of the main characters, Lan, is mentioned as being a talented musician. Is there a magical element to music? I’m really not sure about much about this book, but it will be fun to dive in and find out!

Kate’s Picks

37650881._sy475_Book: “Jane Anonymous” by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Usually when you read a thriller that involves a kidnap victim, you are going to get one of two scenarios. The first is that it’s going to be from the side of the investigators and/or family members who are hoping that the victim will come home safe. The second is that it’s going to be from the perspective of the victim themself during the ordeal. So the fact that “Jane Anonymous” is both from the victim’s perspective during their captivity AND following her in the aftermath really caught my attention. “Jane” is trying to readjust to her life after she was held prisoner for almost a year. While her family and friends are happy she is home, she isn’t feeling connected to them, and is having a hard time coping with coming back to a life she will possibly never relate to again. It sounds dark and deep, and I love that Stolarz wanted to explore a reality that victims may have to come home to, and how hard it can be.

One of Us is Next FINAL cover.inddBook: “One of Us Is Next” by Karen M. McManus

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I loved the first in the series, “One of Us Is Lying”, and I also loved Karen M. McManus’s second book “Two Can Keep A Secret”. So it’s really no surprise that I’m feeling VERY excited for the follow up to “One of Us Is Lying”, “One of Us Is Next”. It looks like this time around we’re back to Bayview High, and dealing with a new malicious app and group of students! Instead of a gossip app it’s now a game, and if you don’t play by the rules your truths will be exposed. Oh hell yes. I am hoping that McManus will be three for three with her YA thriller mysteries, and given how strong she has been with her past two books she will probably deliver!

45046527Book: “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Why I’m Interested: This one is less thriller and more of a literary work, but given how much buzz I’ve heard about it, I couldn’t leave it off this list. Lydia is a book seller in Acapulco, and has mostly been shielded from the slowly building violence that is being perpetrated by the cartels. But one day, one of the higher ups in a cartel comes to her store, and takes interest in two of her favorite books. Lydia is unaware that this man is a powerful and dangerous individual, and the fact that her husband is about to publish a tell all expose on him is going to rock all of their lives. This sounds like it’s going to be a guy punch of a novel, and I, for one, cannot wait to read it.

Edit 1/26: In light of all the controversy surrounding “American Dirt”, I have to walk back my choice to highlight this book. I’ll keep it up for transparency, but if you want information on why I’m changing my mind, HERE and HERE are two great articles why. 

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: December 2019

Thanksgiving has passed and the rest and most jovial part of the holiday season is upon us! As we prepare for Christmas and Hanukkah we look forward to time with family and friends, and time with some good books. Here are the ones we are most looking forward to this month! 

Serena’s Picks

44244324Book: “Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance” by Jennieke Cohen

Publication Date: December 3, 2o19

Why I’m Interested: There are a million and one retellings of Austen’s stories, most especially “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma” (there’s another “Emma” movie coming out in only a few months, even!). But what sold me on this book was the concept of Vicky, a young woman living in Regency England who just so happens to love the novels of this brand new author, a lady named Austen. When Vicky’s own life begins to take a sudden turn with mysterious accidents, nefarious gentleman, and suitors with their own secrets, Vicky begins to ask her self “What would Austen’s ladies do in such circumstances?”

46299614Book: “Reverie” by Ryan La Sala

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Why I’m Interested: The cover? Well, at least that was what first inspired me to do a bit more digging into what this book was about. The story is compared to “Inception” and reading through the description, I can definitely see that. Kane is discovered half dead on the banks of a river with very few memories only a general sense of “wrongness” in both himself and the world around him. From there it’s all portal jumping into strange and mysterious worlds that weave in and out of each other. In some ways, this sounds a lot like “The Starless Sea” which I absolutely adored. So I have high hopes for this!

43517326Book: “The Weight of a Soul” by Elizabeth Tammi

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Another book for which I have cover lust! Seriously, it’s just gorgeous. Props to whoever designed it! Set in a Viking village, Lena and Fressa are two sisters who are as close as can be. But when Fressa is found suddenly dead, while the village as a whole mourns, Lena cannot rest until she discovers the truth. From there the story jumps into deals with Norse gods and adventures that somehow become connected to Ragnarok, the Norse myth of the end of the world. Can Lena bring her sister back? And is it worth the steep cost? I’m really excited by the premise for this book and am especially curious to see who the Norse gods and Ragnarok are depicted. Sadly, likely not like this:

Kate’s Picks

43263388Book: “Trace of Evil” by Alice Blanchard

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I’m always on the lookout for a new mystery series to follow, as the Tempe Brennan books have taken a break, and one that has some tense thrills is just a bonus. So when I heard about “Trace of Evil” by Alice Blanchard, it seemed to hit the points I was looking for. It has a determined but haunted rookie detective, a central mystery that has high stakes (the murder of a cop’s wife, who’s pregnant to boot, is bound to be high priority), and a history of missing girls in a small town that may have some secrets. And on top of that, our detective, Natalie, has her own demons and traumas that she hopes to work through, involving herself and the murder of her older sister Willow. I would love it if this book kicked off a new series obsession for me, and I have high hopes that Detective Natalie Lockhart is going to be a new favorite of mine.

45701350Book: “The Dead Girls Club” by Damien Angelica Walters

Publication Date: December 10, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Give me a good urban legend any day and I will probably become obsessed with it. I’ve long touted stories that have elements of scary urban legends to the plots, but also lamented that there have been so few and far between of this niche genre that I am a total sucker for. When I heard about “The Dead Girls Club”, I was given hope that a new book was going to give focus to an urban legend that is, excitingly, about a witch! In 1991 Heather’s and her best friend Becca are part of The Dead Girls Club, where friends share stories of the ghastly and macabre. Becca’s new story is about The Red Lady, a woman executed for witchcraft centuries ago. But then Becca was murdered. In the modern day Heather has moved on with her life, until she starts getting messages about Becca. Messages that may not only be from The Red Lady, but imply they know that Heather was responsible for Becca’s death. Spooky, I say!

42771599Book: “Good Girls Lie” by J.T. Ellison

Publication Date: December 31, 2019

Why I’m Interested: A boarding school thriller!! With overachieving and bitchy girls, an outsider who may have secrets of her own, and murder most foul! Was this book written specfically for me? Because it checks so many guilty pleasure boxes! Recently orphaned Ash has left England for the U.S. to attend the prestigious Goode School, a boarding school that produces powerful and talented women. Ash has secrets of her own, but hopes to go under the radar at her new home. But she soon gets pulled into the life of friendship, secret societies, and the high expectations of her reputation. Things only get worse when someone ends up dead, and Ash may or may not have a hand in it. Guilty pleasure or not, “Good Girls Lie” sounds like a sudsy and gripping thriller!

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!