Highlights: September 2022

Summer has basically come to an end, and that means that Fall is here. For Kate this is great news, as it means the spooky season is nearly upon us. Serena isn’t as optimistic about the change in season, as that can only mean that Winter is coming. But before the cold really sets in, we have plans for the Fall, and that means that we also have some new books we’re looking forward to!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “Foul Lady Fortune” by Chloe Gong

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Kate nabbed a copy of this one for me at ALA this year, so it’s a given that it would end up on my highlights list for this month! I haven’t read the previous duology, a reimagining of “Romeo and Juliet,” but it sounded like this would be approachable even to newbies. The story follows Rosalyn, a character originally introduced in the first duology, a young woman who has devoted her life to trying to make amends for previous betrayals by working for her country as an assassin. But her life takes a shift when she finds herself assigned not to an assassination job but to go undercover as a spy alongside one of the most infuriating young men she’s ever met. I love both assassination and spy stories, so I’m very excited to check out this book.

Book: “Notorious Sorcerer” by Davinia Evans

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This is one of those cases where I’d pick up this book based purely on the title alone. It also has two of my favorite fantasy things: alchemy and magical libraries. It’s the story of a young street rat turned low-level alchemist who accidentally performs a magical feat far beyond his supposed capability. Now with more attention than he knows what to do with, Siyon doesn’t know who or what to trust. And things are about to get much, much worse when a threat arises that calls into the question of his entire world. I received an ARC for this in the mail, and definitely excited to see what it has to offer!

Book: “The Golden Enclaves” by Naomi Novik

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Obviously! I mean…obviously! And here’s where I reveal the extreme spoiledness that I’ve now become accustomed to: I have to wait for the book to actually release before getting to read it, as I haven’t found any eARCs available anywhere! I mean, I get it. This is the third book in a popular series; not like you need much word of mouth to drive sales on this one. Or…is it because it ends tragically and all of the reviewers will be too busy crying under their covers to post reviews early anyways? I’m so excited. I’m so nervous.

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The Weight of Blood” by Tiffany D. Jackson

Publication Date: September 6, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Tiffany D. Jackson is a must read author for me, and given that “Carrie” is one of my favorite Stephen King novels, the combination here is too rife with possibility to pass up. Maddy is an outcast at her school who has always passed for white, but when an unexpected rainstorm outs her as biracial, a racially charged bullying attack goes viral. Hoping to avoid being seen as racist, the school community decides to finally integrate the Prom, and Maddy is asked by a popular Black football player to attend at the behest of his white girlfriend… And you can probably guess where things go. Jackson reimagining “Carrie” with social themes of racism, colorism, and identity is inspired, and given how well she’s done with horror in the past, hopes are high for this one!

Book: “I’m The Girl” by Courtney Summers

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Why I’m Interested: “Sadie” was a gut punch of a read, and I love how Courtney Summers has a no holds barred approach to her YA fiction in that she takes on dark topics and doesn’t sugarcoat, trusting her readers to be able to process and handle the themes she presents. “I’m The Girl” is her newest thriller, and I’m sure I will be steeling myself for it. Georgia is a teenage girl who has always known she is beautiful, and that if you wield your beauty it can be powerful. She wants to work at the local luxury resort, knowing it is good money, and that she could achieve what her mother, a former ‘Aspera Girl’, never did. But when she is hit by a car, and then finds the body of a thirteen year old girl thrown from the vehicle, she is entangled in a web of privilege, opulence, power, and danger. This was a much anticipated ALA grab for me, so it had to make the list.

Book: “Ghost Eaters” by Clay McLeod Chapman

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Another ALA grab, though this one was autographed by the author himself (and he was a delight! He complimented my Motley Crüe tee shirt, in spite of the fact it was a clear indicator of last day fatigue, clothing effort wise)! I’ve been hearing deeply scary things about “Ghost Eaters”, so that makes me VERY excited for this book. After refusing to pick up her on again, off again boyfriend Silas from rehab, Erin thinks that setting this boundary will be far more healthy for them both. But after Silas ends up dead of an overdose shortly thereafter, the guilt is almost too much. Then, Erin hears whispers of a drug that allows you to see the dead, and that Silas had started messing with it, she wants answers to alleviate her guilt, and tries the drug herself in hopes of closure. Instead, terrifying visions of angry spirits start to plague her. Just in time for the Halloween season, and I’m definitely going to showcase it during this year’s Horrorpalooza!

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

Highlights: August 2022

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Hot, hot, hot. Have we mentioned that it’s been hot? But while Kate eagerly looks forward to the cool weather of the fall and the Halloween Horrorpalooza, Serena somehow remains sad to think of the hot weather going away. But either way (one of us sensibly staying in the AC indoors and the other sweating it out in the sun) we still have a lot of books to get through this summer. Here are a few we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “Soul Taken” by Patricia Briggs

Publication Date: August 23, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I’ve been a faithful reader of the Mercy Thompson series for several years now. With all of that time, I’ve seen all of the highs and lows of the series. Currently, the series has been on a bit of a streak with some fun stories one after another. But that always makes me nervous that the trend could collapse at any moment. This story, revolving around an urban legend (a murderer with a scythe) that seems to have come to life, sounds kind of strange, but who knows? There also seems to be an emphasis on the local vampires, and as that is a particularly interesting supernatural group in this series, I’m excited to see what more there is to learn!

Book: “Wildbound” by Elayne Audrey Becker

Publishing Info: August 30, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I really loved last year’s “Forestborn.” It was one of those surprise hits where I really had no expectations going in, but by the time I had finished, I just loved it. It didn’t end on an outright cliffhanger, but it was right up to that line. So I knew when I saw this one coming out this summer that I’d be right at the front of the line. This time, it looks like the POV will be split between Rora and her brother, Helos. I’m not sure how I feel about that, as I really enjoyed Rora as a single narrator and Helos was not the most likeable character ever in that first book. But who knows? Either way, I’m excited to see this story wrapped up.

Book: “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Publication Date: August 16, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Ever since devouring “The Bone Houses” a few years ago, I’ve been stalking Emily Lloyd-Jones’s Goodreads page for news of another book from her. So I was beyond thrilled when I saw this book lined up to come out this summer. Even more exciting, I nabbed an ARC copy at ALA! Talk about a win! This book has been marketed as “Welsh Atlantis” and I have no idea what that means, but I’m excited. Really, I would have been excited if this had been marketed as “a book about a puddle of mud,” but a vengeful mage, a deadly assassin, and some sort of heist sounds right up my alley!

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “Shutter” by Ramona Emerson

Publication Date: August 2, 2022

Why I’m Interested: We all already know that stories about people who can see/communicate with ghosts are very much my jam, and that I have an enjoyment of crime procedurals as well. So when you take those two things, add in examinations of police corruption, and make it all from an Indigenous perspective, I am going to be 100% on board. I was lucky to snag “Shutter” by Ramona Emerson at ALAAC22, and I have been eager for it. Rita is a photographer who works for the Albuquerque police department, who has been able to see ghosts ever since she was a little girl growing up on a Navajo reservation with her grandmother. When a victim named Erma realizes that Rita can see her, she is hellbent on making Rita figure out what happened. But it gets Rita caught up in a dark underbelly of cartel violence as she reluctantly investigates. This has been a can’t wait read for 2022 and it’s finally here.

Book: “Kismet” by Amina Akhtar

Publication Date: August 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Far be it from me to be any kind of wellness or spiritual healing kind of person. The closest I get is the occasional bath bomb in the tub after a long day. But I am VERY interested to see what Amina Akhtar does with this culture, as she is known to be a balls to the wall thriller author. Ronnie has spent her entire life in Queens, living with an repressive aunt and wondering if she has any choices for herself. When she meets Marley, a self help influencer, they click, and Marley convinces her to leave her life behind and move with her to a wellness loving community in Arizona. Ronnie is excited to start over… until other wellness aficionados in their community start dying over the top deaths. Soon Ronnie starts fearing that their wellness based community is anything but. This seems like it could be raucous and fun.

Book: “The Devil Takes You Home” by Gabino Iglesias

Publication Date: August 2, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This has been on horror lists all year long in terms of most hyped and most anticipated, which is a strong argument on its own, but I read Gabino Iglesias’s previous book “Coyote Songs” and found it strange and unsettling, so that pushed it into ‘must read’ territory. Mario never imagined he would be a hit man, but when his young daughter was diagnosed with childhood leukemia, he had to take on this dangerous profession to pay the ever mounting bills. After she dies, Mario is left broken and despondent. When a friend approaches him with a very dangerous job, but one that would make him debt free and allow him to start over, Mario accepts. But their job takes them not only into the violent world of Mexican cartels, but also into otherworldly horrors that only progress as their mission goes on. Iglesias is a quickly rising star in the horror novel world, and this one will surely be on many horror fans lists this year.

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

Highlights: July 2022

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Summer is fully here with all of its lovely humidity in tow. And sadly, ALA is now behind us and before us lies a summer with demanding kids who are still too young to take advantage of the swimming entertainment option. Ah, well, soon enough. Knowing us and the types of kids we’ll probably raise, they’ll likely grow up to be the ones reading on the beach instead of swimming anyways. When we get a chance, here are the books we’re looking forward to this month.

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “Ten Thousand Stitches” by

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I devoured “Half a Soul” in June, a Regency fantasy about a young lady going about life with half a soul and half the emotional abilities of a regular person. It was everything I love about the genre. That being the case, it was a no brainer that I would be checking out this second book by Atwater released just a month later. This time we follow a maid with a particular skill with embroidery who dreams of life beyond the limits of her station. Soon enough she gets caught up in a faerie bargain, and we all know where things go from there. After how much I enjoyed the first book, my expectations for this one are sky high!

Book: “Dead Water” by C. A. Fletcher

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This is probably one of my more anticipated releases of the summer. “A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World” blew my socks off and took me out of nowhere. That being the case, I was waiting to see what the author would do next. Turns out there seems to be a theme of the summer and, bizarrely, it’s zombie bunnies? Taking a turn from the apocalyptical story of his first novel, this outing focuses on a remote island community and a strange illness? Force? That is overtaking the people. It sounds completely different than the first book so I’m really excited to see what’s in store this go around!

Book: “The Book of Gothel” by Mary McMyne

Publication Date: July 26, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Obviously, I always love fairytale retellings of basically all varieties. But there’s something extra fun about ones that refocus the story on a secondary or minor character than the original protagonists. Lately, there’s been a theme of telling popular fairytales from the villain’s perspective. And that’s what we have here, the story of “Rapunzel” retold from the perspective of the witch fabled for locking her in the tower. It promises to be an interesting medieval fantasy focusing on, what else, the theme of the fear inspired by powerful, mysterious women. Very excited for this one, too.

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The Pallbearers Club” by Paul Tremblay

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Why I’m Interested: PAUL TREMBLAY, Y’ALL! I know I can’t leave it at that. So… PAUL TREMBLAY AND MAYBE VAMPIRES, Y’ALL (I got chided on another platform for supposed spoilers, but it’s in various big name reviews for don’t even try it). I love Paul Tremblay’s books with every fiber of my being, and I was amped when I saw he had a new one, and what it entailed. Art Barbara has written his memoirs, going back to his teenage years and reminiscing about a time when he started an extracurricular group that would help out at funerals… and how he met cool girl Mercy Brown, who changed his life. Their friendship was on and off for years, and Art has some interesting theories about her backstory… And someone has gotten their hands on the memoirs and has their OWN opinions on the backstory. This book is sure to be creepy and unnerving, but given that it’s Tremblay it is sure to be absolutely devastating as well.

Book: “Things We Do in the Dark” by Jennifer Hillier

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Jennifer Hillier is one of those thriller authors that not only knows how to create a dark and enticing thriller, but she also knows how to lay on the suds to make it all the more engaging and dynamic. In “Things We Do in the Dark”, Paris Peralta is a trophy wife to an aging comedian… who is accused of his murder when she’s found next to his very dead body. Paris has a good lawyer, and Paris didn’t kill her husband. But Paris IS nervous about some other dirty laundry coming out, secrets from her past that involve a notorious murderer named Ruby “The Ice Queen” Reyes. I love a good Hillier story and I”m sure this one will be filled with lots of surprises.

Book: “Mary: An Awakening of Terror” by Nat Cassidy

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This is one that flew under my radar for awhile, but then kept popping up on various social media feeds. So much so that I had to look into it. And when I read the description, I was snared completely. Multiple people kept using the phrases ‘peri-Menopausal’ and ‘Carrie-esque’. I mean, come on, aren’t you snared?! Mary is an ordinary woman who has been dealing with the starts of menopause. There’s hot flashes, dizziness, overall soreness…. and also strange voices telling her to do terrible things. When she leaves the big city after losing her job, she arrives back to the small town she grew up in. And then the strange voices and urges amp up. It sounds weird as hell, but I super appreciate that our horror protagonist is repping a group we may not see as often in the genre!

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

Highlights: June 2022

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We’ve both been anxiously awaiting June this year. Not only does it finally feel like not winter anymore (here in Minnesota with all the humidity, summer’s a mixed blessing…but not winter? That’s truly great!), but June is the month of the ALA annual convention. We’ve been two other times before, once in Las Vegas (our cardigans really helped us blend in with the crowd) and again in Chicago. We meant to go several years ago, but, you know, Covid ruined everything for everyone. But finally, FINALLY, we are going again! It’s not until the end of the month, however, so here are some books we’re looking forward to reading to tide us over until then!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “Half a Soul” by Olivia Atwater

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Fairie courts? Check! Strange curses? Check! Regency romance? Double check! I’m so excited to read this book, if you didn’t get the idea. The story follows Dora Ettings, a young woman who lost half her soul to a fairie curse early in her life. As such, she has no filter and practically no chances in the marriage mart. But that’s ok with her, being more than happy to simply support her cousin her courtship goals. Enter a grumpy sorcerer and a mystery surrounding children falling under strange magical sleeps, and even a cursed young woman can find life taking an unexpected turn! I had a hard time waiting until June to dive into this one, so look for a review to come shortly!

Book: “For the Throne” by Hannah Whitten

Publication Date: June 7, 20202

Why I’m Interested: I really enjoyed “For the Wolf” when I read it last year. It was an excellent stand-alone fantasy. But it also laid the groundwork for this, the sequel and Red’s sister Neve’s own story. After realizing the sheer folly of her past decisions and falling into a dark underworld, Neve will do practically anything to return to her sister Red. However, the longer she remains in this world of monsters, the more she begins to question whether she is herself one of them and this is where she truly belongs. There’s also an anti-hero love interest, so this entire thing very much gives off “Hades & Persephone” vibes. Given how much I liked the first book and Neve herself in that book, I can’t wait to see where the story goes from there!

Book: “Juniper & Thorn” by Ava Reid

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Why I’m Interested: As faithful blog readers may remember, last summer was the season of the “Red Riding Hood” retellings for me. I ended up liking two out of the three. And even more luckily for me, both of those books came out with sequels/companion novels this summer! In this instance, “Juniper & Thorn” is set in the same world as “The Wolf and the Woodsman” but it introduces a new set of characters. This dark fantasy story follows Manlinchen and her two sisters who are essentially held captive in their own home by their cruel, cursed father. But soon enough Manlinchen finds a way to escape at night and an entire new world opens up to her. However, there’s a darkness haunting her city, and Manlinchen begins to suspect her family may be at the center of it. I’m not very familiar with “The Juniper Tree,” the fairytale this based on, so I’m curious to see what’s in store!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The House Across the Lake” by Riley Sager

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Riley Sager is a must read author for me, his books always offering up something that I enjoy and look forward to every year. His newest book, “The House Across the Lake”, sounds like it’s a little bit of “Rear Window” with a little bit of “The Girl on the Train”. Casey has sought out the solitude of a cabin on a lake after she finds herself a widow and the victim of a tabloid frenzy. In the house across the lake she keeps and interested eye on Tom and Katherine, a seemingly happily married couple. Casey makes friends with Katherine, but then shortly thereafter Katherine disappears. Casey is desperate to find out what happened to her new friend, but as she investigates she uncovers secrets that were best left hidden away. Sager can always find a way to surprise me, so this should be a treat!

Book: “Never Coming Home” by Kate Williams

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Why I’m Interested: You grab my interest when you describe a teen thriller that involves influencers in danger, and when it sounds like it takes inspiration from the Fyre Festival you have my full and entire buy in. This is why “Never Coming Home” by Kate Williams made the list. Ten teenager influencers have been invited to spend a vacation at Unknown Island, a resort that is so exclusive it is invite only, and only for people under 21. What this group of influencers doesn’t realize, however, is that they have been invited to Unknown Island for very specific reasons, as all of them have dark pasts and things to hide. And it seems that someone has found them out. This really sounds like it’s going to be a soapy fun thriller that will make the Fyre Festival seem downright tame.

Book: “A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons” by Kate Khvari

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Why, poisons, of course! I always say that I’m not a big plant person, but the plants that I’m a guaranteed sucker for are poisonous ones. And any mystery thriller that uses mysterious poisons as a murder weapon is going to end up on my to read list, hence “A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons” making the highlights this month. It’s post WWI England, and Saffron Everleigh is one of the only women researchers at her prestigious university, following in her father’s footsteps in botany and working with a kind and intelligent mentor. But when the wife of a colleague is poisoned at a party, and her mentor is the main suspect, she is determined to clear his name, and starts to look into the various poisonous plants that could be at the killer’s disposal. I mean, come on. That sounds super fun.

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

Highlights: May 2022

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According to the poets, May is the month that we can hold in contempt if it doesn’t not provide the necessary number of flowers to make up for all of the April showers. But, in the meantime, we’ll take the fact that the trees are showing signs of life as good enough for now. There have even been a few tempting days of sun that promise of days to come when reading outside will once again be an option. Until then, here are some books we’re looking forward to his month!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “The Murder of Mr. Wickham” by Claudia Gray

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I think most Jane Austen fans are probably one of the snobbier groups of readers when it comes to adaptations of their beloved original novels. But as “Death Comes to Pemberley” proves, miracles can happen and good book (even good mini series!) can come from continuations of these stories. Here, we have a murder mystery that takes place in the home of Emma and Mr. Knightley. The suspects? All of our beloved main couples from the other novels! And who better to solve the mystery than the oldest son of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Jonathan, and the young daughter of the Tilney’s, Juliet. I’m so nervous and hopeful for this book!

Book: “Wind Daughter” by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Why I’m Interested: After really enjoying “Echo North,” it was a no-brainer to jump immediately on to the sequel that was conveniently coming out this month! We even met the main character, the daughter of the North Wind himself, in the first book! Here, we follow the story of Satu as she travels the land trying to reign in her father’s magic that has gone wild after the death of the evil queen in the last book. But is she gone for good? Or is she controlling the actions of the mysterious Lord of Winter, a man who seems to pop up wherever Satu finds herself and clearly has plans of his own. I really enjoyed “Echo North,” and it’s always great to find a series of books that exist in the same world but are each stand-alones in their own right.

Book: “The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Will I ever get tired of reading books based on “The Arabian Nights” or reimagining the world of jinn? No, no I will not. So I was so excited when I received an ARC of this one in the mail. This is a three POV book featuring a thief, a merchant of magical goods, and a storyteller prince. Thrown together against all of their wills, they are sent on a perilous journey to recover a magical lamp said to house the most powerful jinn of them all. But in a land where jinn are hunted for their magic, there are more powerful figures scheming behind the scenes than any of them could imagine. The entire thing sounds super exciting and right up my alley. Can’t wait to dive in!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The Hacienda” by Isabel Cañas

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Gothic ghost stories always catch my attention, and when the comparisons to “Mexican Gothic” and “Rebecca” were added to the description as well, my attention was less caught and more snared. When Beatríz marries Don Rodolfo Solórzano she moves to his home of Hacidena San Isidro, with the hopes that this marriage will provide her with the security that she lost when her father was murdered by opposition forces. But when strange and terrifying things start to happen in her new home, she wonders if the rumors of his first wife’s demise are perhaps true, and turns to a young priest for help. I’m always looking for new Gothic stories, and when they go beyond the typical conventions with themes and characters it’s all the more interesting.

Book: “Hide” by Kiersten White

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Serena and I have reviewed Kiersten White on this blog a number of times, though admittedly she’s been more in Serena’s camp, genre wise. But we’re back to a suspenseful and/or horror story from her, and I am very excited about that! An old abandoned amusement park is the setting for a high stakes hide and seek game that goes on for a week. If you aren’t found, you will win lots of money. Mack has entered because she has had to hide from serious danger in the past, so she feels she could easily win. But when her competitors start to disappear, Mack starts to think that things are even more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. This all sounds supremely strange and creepy, so I’m very excited for this one.

Book: “The Last Comic Book on the Left” by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski et al

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Why I’m Interested: If the “Last Podcast” guys are involved, I’m going to be 100% on board. Given how much I loved their first book “The Last Book on the Left” (and how much I love their podcast), when I heard that Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski had pulled together a comic book with various odd tales from their show, I was amped. And you REALLY have me when you make promises of Mothman in any form, so this promised sexy Mothman has be vaguely nervous but also very interested. I’m also very curious to see who they all bring on board in terms of comics people, and what styles they are going to bring to these stories.

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

Highlights: April 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

We’ve finally started to see some warmer days and some snow melting. But the biggest perk has been the return to longer days and lighter evenings. Us Minnesotans are an optimistic bunch with regards to these (comparably) milder temperatures, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see people breaking out the BBQs in the balmy 50 degree days we’re see. We’re happy enough to still stay indoors, though, with our books. Here are some we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “The City of Dusk” by Tara Sim

Why I’m Interested: For one thing, I really like the cover on this book. I’d definitely stop and check it out had I come across it in the bookstore. Luckily for me, the publisher sent me an early copy, so this one will be coming up soon in my reviews! The story follows four heirs to powerful families, each that follow a unique god that grants them specific magical abilities. But dark powers are moving and the gods are restless. Can these four navigate the way forward, each with their own motivations and fears? I’m always a bit nervous about multiple POV books, but I’m pretty excited to check this one out!

Book: “Nettle & Bone” by T. Kingfisher

Why I’m Interested: Again, great cover! Love everything about. I also love everything about what this stories seems to be about. That is, a fairytale of a young woman who sets out on a quest to save her sister from her cruel husband, the prince of a neighboring land. Along the way, she meets a powerful fairy godmother, a possessed chicken, and a knight from another land who fell into a fairy circle and has been trapped for who knows how long. Like I said, everything about that sounds right up my alley! I love fairytales and the combination of magical quests with seemingly quirky characters (possessed chicken??) seems like a recipe for success in my book. Can’t wait to check it out!

Book: “Hotel Magnifique” by Emily J. Taylor

Why I’m Interested: This book has garnered comparison to “The Night Circus.” That’s both an incredible plus (“The Night Circus” is so popular that I’m sure tons of fantasy readers will leap at any chance to reexperience that blend of magic!). But it’s also a heavy weight to carry. Can this story stand up to that behemoth? The story follows a young woman and her sister who are hired on as help at the mysterious and magical Hotel Magnifique, a hotel that holds wonders within its doors and magically jumps from location to location. So right away it’s easy to see the connection to “The Night Circus.” I also always love sisters stories, so I’m not going to lie, my expectations for this one are pretty high!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “Very Bad People” by Kit Frick

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Why I’m Interested: The whole ’secret society at a boarding school’ angle absolutely catches my interest, as does the fact that it’s a new Kit Frick book. I enjoyed ”I Killed Zoe Spanos” when it came out a couple years ago, so I look forward to reading something new by her. When Calliope joins a new prestigious private school, it’s a nice change of pace after a few years of mourning her mother’s death in a car accident. She is soon approached by the Haunt and Rail, a secret society on campus that strives to put social justice at the forefront of the school community. But when Calliope finds out that her mother was also a member when she went to the school, and that it may have connection to her death, she feels she has to investigate. No matter how dangerous it could be. Dark academia is always a solid concept for me, so this sounds promising.

Book: “The Fervor” by Alma Katsu

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I have really loved Alma Katsu’s previous historical horror novels, and this one sounds like it’s going to be her most relevant and disturbing yet. Taking place at one of the Japanese internment camps during WWII, it follows a mother and daughter duo named Meiko and Aiko, who have been imprisoned while the family patriarch fights in the war. Soon a mysterious illness is spreading through the camp, which starts off normal enough, but then turns into uncontrollable fits of aggression. As Meiko investigates, she becomes convinced that it is actually a demon from her past that is hellbent on entering their world, and hopes to stop it. Japanese internment still feels super relevant these days, and I cannot wait to see what Katsu does with that theme as well as the themes of yokai in Japanese folklore.

Book: “Locke & Key: The Golden Age” by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez (Ill.)

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Why I’m Interested: The timing on this really worked out, given that the past two comics re-reads I did were ”Locke & Key” and ”The Sandman”! Joe Hill returns to Keyhouse as well as his Locke family mythology to tell more stories about the keys and the realms they open, bringing Gabriel Rodriguez along for the ride. This collection has some new stories, as well as the crossover that ”Locke & Key” did with ”The Sandman” universe. I’ve been very interested to look into more of the Key mythos, and to see the way that two well plotted fantasy horror comics come together as one.

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

Highlights: March 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Here in Minnesota, March is the month where everyone is forbidden from using the word “spring” in fear that we will be immediately pummeled with several feet of snow in karmic pay back. But at least the days are definitely getting longer and no comments on that will change the angle of the sun! However, as….shhh…spring…is not a whole lot better than winter at this point, we’ll still be mostly holed up with books this month. Here are some we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “A Far Wilder Magic” by Allison Saft

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Why I’m Interested: While I think foxhunting is a pretty terrible sport in general, the idea of writing a story about a hunt for a powerful magical creature does sound intriguing. I’m not sure how my bleeding heart self will do with the topic, overall, but I’m definitely curious. I’m also all in for a book that’s being promoted as having a sweet romance at the heart of the story, something I always enjoy. I really don’t have much of a mental image of what this book’s going to be about, but sometimes going in blind is the best way to discover something great!

Book: “Gallant” by V.E. Schwab

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Schwab is definitely an author on my “instant read” list. While I’ve definitely had a range in my enjoyment of her books, she’s always excellent with characters and a solid fantasy writer in general. I’m also really curious about this book, as it sounds like more of a middle grade fantasy, something I haven’t read by this author before. When a young orphan girl is suddenly called to a home she never knew, she soon discovers that there are more secretes than answers at Gallant. And that she has a family with much more history than she had ever suspected. I also really love this cover. Can’t wait to get to this one!

Book: “A Thousand Steps Into Night” by Traci Chee

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I had so much good luck with the Korean fantasy, “The Girl Who Fell Into the Sea,” that it was a natural step to immediately request this Japanese fantasy story when it popped up on Edelweiss+. This is the story of a young woman who has resigned herself to a simple life as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when she is cursed to slowly turn into a deadly demon, she sets out on a quest to cure herself. But along the way, she begins to realize that perhaps she never fit into the quiet life she had been born into. I also really, really love the cover on this one! My hopes are pretty high, so I really hope this one is a hit.

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The Night Shift” by Alex Finlay

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: The description captured my attention for a couple of reasons. The first is that it mentions the Y2K panic of December 31st, 1999, something I definitely remember. But the second is that it sounds a lot like the Austin Yogurt Shop Murders, an unsolved crime involving teenage girls who were murdered at their place of work with no answers to be found. On New Year’s Eve in 1999, three teenage girls are murdered at the Blockbuster they work at, with one lone survivor. Then, more than a decade later, a new group of teenage girls are killed at an ice cream store, with one survivor. The two girls have similar recollections of the murderer’s final words. Now the Blockbuster survivor, the brother of the initial suspect, and an FBI agent are all looking for the truth. I imagine this is going to be twisted and intricate, and probably a little sad as well.

Book: “The Last Laugh” by Mindy McGinnis

Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This probably isn’t a shocking selection, given how much I enjoyed the first in the series, “The Initial Insult”. That reimagining of “The Cask of Amontillado” (amongst other Poe works) ended in the way one may expect it to, though instead of two men it was two teenage girls at the heart. Now we pick up again with “The Last Laugh”. Tress murdered her old BFF Felicity by bricking her up in a coal shaft. But even though she may have gotten away with it, she’s severely injured from her encounter with the sideshow panther she ran afoul. Not to mention the heart necklace around her neck is beating, a reminder of what she did do her former friend. Meanwhile, her cousin Ribbit is starting to feel like he needs some revenge of his own… and some of that is towards Tress. I can’t wait to see how McGinnis wraps this all up!

Book: “Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror” by John F.D. Taff (Ed.)

Publication Date: March 22, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This is another book that was affected by a delay, but now this short horror story collection is FINALLY coming to light. While I know I’ve been hot and cold with short story collections, this one sounds hard to beat. I mean, look at some of the names who contributed: Stephen Graham Jones. Caroline Kepnes. Alma Katsu. All authors whose works I have LOVED in the past few years. And the people whose works I haven’t discovered yet? I cannot wait to see what other authors have put forth, and maybe I will find some new favorite writers!

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

Highlights: February 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Still cold. Still dark. Still winter in Minnesota! But at least it’s February, the month where we can all eat chocolate to our heart’s content and blame it on romance! Seriously, does anyone’s New Year’s resolution diet ever make it past February? We, of course, will be enjoying said chocolate while curled up with some good books. Here are a few we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “A River Enchanted” by Rebecca Ross

Publication Date: February 15, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I have a few other books by this author that have been on my TBR list for way longer than I want to admit. But prior to this, I believe she’s mostly written YA fantasy, so I was intrigued when I saw that she was releasing an adult fantasy novel. And the tale itself is right up my alley, following a bard, Jack, as he returns to his magic-ridden home. There, he teams up with his childhood rival and the heir to the land, Adaira, to discover why young girls are going missing. Really, the entire book description sounds very Celtic fantasy/Juliet Marillier-like. And that’s more than enough for me!

Book: “This Woven Kingdom” by Tahereh Mafi

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I love a good forbidden romance, and this one sound excellent. Alizeh is the heir to the Jinn; but given that her people are spread far and wide, discriminated against and hated, this title means nothing more than another aspect of herself that she must hide as she scrapes together a living as a lowly servant. When she has a chance run-in with the crown prince, Kamran, events are set off that will spiral out of the control of them both. The book is also based on Persian mythology, so that adds another check mark in its favor. I’ve had a lot of good luck with “Jinn” stories, from the “City of Brass” trilogy to the more recent “Daughter of the Salt King.” Crossing my finger that my luck will hold!

Book: “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” by Axie Oh

Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I mean, the cover?? Honestly, that’d be enough for me! But the story sounds excellent as well. For decades, the people have sacrificed a young woman to the sea, hoping that these brides will appease the tempestuous and violent Sea God who has been be hammering their land with violent storms every year. Mina did not have this destiny, but to spare her brother the pain of losing his love, Mina dives beneath the sea, sacrificing herself. In the land she finds below, strange forces are at work and the Sea God himself might be the biggest mystery of all.

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “Echo” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Given how much I loved, loved, LOVED Olde Heuvelt’s previous novel “Hex”, it was a no-brainer that his new horror story was going to go to the top of my must read pile. But instead of an angry witch tormenting a small community, we go into the world of mountaineering and folk horror, with some survival and body squick thrown into the mix. Nick and Augustin decide to do a mountaineering trek into the Swiss Alps, seeking out the secluded and notorious mountain Maudit. But Augustin ends up dead, and Nick barely survives, returning to his life with a horribly disfigured face. His lover Sam is happy he’s alive… until it seems that Nick didn’t leave the Alps without bringing something terrible back. Heuvelt knows how to scare the hell out of me, and “Echo” will be no different.

Book: “This Might Hurt” by Stephanie Wrobel

Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Why I’m Interested: “Darling Rose Gold” was an addictive and unnerving thriller, and when I saw that Stephanie Wrobel had a new thriller coming out I was very interested in seeing what her next story would be. This time we’re dealing with a shady self help organization that may or may not be a cult! Sold! Natalie and her sister Kit are estranged, with Natalie trying to forget their shared traumas and Kit drowning in them. So Kit joins a group called Wisewood, which promises to help people become their ‘maximized selves’ if they go to their retreat in remote Maine and cut themselves off from the world. Natalie doesn’t hear from Kit for months…. until she gets a mysterious email from Wisewood saying that they know a secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Now Natalie is desperate to find her sister. And Wisewood is determined to keep them both. I expect twists and suds.

Book: “Dead Silence” by S.A. Barnes

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I feel like I’ve been waiting on this one forever, though in actuality it’s only been postponed once. Regardless, while Science Fiction isn’t usually my genre, if you make it into space horror I am almost always in, and that is why “Dead Silence” by S.A. Barnes caught my eye. Claire and her team have finished up their mission, and though she is their leader, this is her last mission with their corporation. So when their spaceship stumbles upon what remains of the Aurora, a luxury spaceliner that disappeared decades before, she thinks that this could be her ticket to wealth and starting over. But once they board the ship to salvage what they can, the find a ship full of corpses. Expected, sure. But then strange things start happening, and they start seeing the dead, and other things. It sounds like “Alien” meets “Event Horizon” meets “Titanic”. Which is quite the combination. https://amzn.to/3HEhkDz

What books are you looking forward to this month?

Highlights: January 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

2022 has arrived! How crazy is that? Not only has the pandemic helped to make the last few years a blur, but it just seems insane that we are several years into the 20s at this point regardless. The holidays are behind us now, and the Minnesota cold seems to really settle in this time of year. But never fear, we have good books to warm our soul! Here are a few we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves” by Meg Long

Publication Date: January 11, 2022

Why I’m Interested: For one thing, look at that cover! Love everything about that. Also, I’m always going to be in for an “animal companion” story. And this book, with its relationship between Sena and her fighting wolf, Iska, right at the heart of it sounds right up my alley. I’m also intrigued by the dog-sled race on a dangerous ice planet, of course. But I’m mostly here for the animals feels, let’s be honest.

Book: “Echoes and Empires” by Morgan Rhodes

Publication Date: January 4, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This books follows a fairly basic YA fantasy premise: magic is bad, YA protagonist has magic and must hide/cure it, YA protagonist discovers that ALL MIGHT NOT BE AS IT SEEMS. But do I care if I’ve read this book description before, right up to and including the mysteriously handsome but untrustworthy love interest? No, I do not. I also haven’t read anything by Morgan Rhodes, but know that she’s a fairly beloved author by some in the YA fantasy community. So with that weak excuse, I’ll be checking this book out soon, I’m sure.

Book: “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins

Publication Date: January 4, 2022

Everything about this book looks like fantasy, from the title that is about some type of crown to the description that features a rag tag group comprised of a seer, a soldier, a prince, and a thief. But it’s listed as science fiction! Color me intrigued. I’m always a bit wary of these multiple POV books, so I’m also a bit hesitant going in. It’s also a hefty time commitment, coming in at over 500 pages! Hopefully I’ll get to it soon, but I might wait for the audiobook version (sometimes I’m not as intimidated by the length when someone else is reading it to me!).

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “Mestiza Blood” by V. Castro

Publication Date: January 18, 2022

Why I’m Interested: While overall I thought that “The Queen of the Cicadas” was a little scattered, I knew that I absolutely wanted to read more V. Castro because her horror voice was unique and compelling as hell. Enter “Mestiza Blood” a new collection of short stories by Castro that are sure to frighten, intrigue, and disturb! All while being rooted within the Chicana experience. As someone who is always looking for diverse voices in her read, especially within horror, I am very much looking forward to diving into this short story collection. Especially given that the first story is literally called “Night of the Living Dead Chola”. I mean, that’s just fantastic.

Book: “The Red Palace” by June Hur

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I’ve greatly enjoyed June Hur’s other historical mystery thrillers, so it’s probably not super surprising that “The Red Palace” made this list of anticipated new reads. In 1700s Korea, Hyeon is selected to become a nurse within the walls of the royal palace, a more prestigious position than most illegitimate girls can hope for. But things start to go wrong when four women in the palace are murdered in one night, and the person the authorities are focusing on is a dear friend to Hyeon. Now Hyeon hopes to prove that her friend is innocent, and seeks out the help from a young police inspector who is also determined to catch the real killer. But when the real killer’s identity is perhaps that of a powerful royal, things get all the more dangerous. The time is place has caught my attention once again, and I can’t wait to check this one out.

Book: “Devil House” by John Darnielle

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I really loved John Darnielle’s creepy and deeply mesmerizing “Wolf In White Van”, which sort of took on the Satanic Panic surrounding RPG games in the 1980s and turned it into a story about loneliness and escapism in the shadow of trauma. And now he’s come back with “Devil House”, which appears to be another Satanic Panic kinda tale involving a notorious house, two potential teen murderers, and an adrift true crime writer who is offered the job to move into the ‘Devil House’ and to write about it. And my guess is that unsettling and disturbing things start to happen after he moves in. But I would also guess that Darnielle has more than just a haunted house tale up his sleeves, and I’m hoping it will have similar melancholic beats as “Wolf in White Van”. Oh, and just look at that cover. I’m in love with it.

What books are you looking forward to this month?

Highlights: December 2021

As of writing this, we still do not have any snow here in good old Minnesota. By mentioning it, however, I’m sure we’ve cursed it to come soon! However, the holiday cheer is all around and we’re both appreciating the extra lights to help lessen the short days and long nights. Good books also help with that, so here is a list of the ones we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “The Liar’s Knot” by M. A. Carrick

Publication Date: December 9, 2021

Why I’m Interested: I really enjoyed last year’s “The Mask of Mirrors.” While there are only three true main characters, each have such a plethora of secret identities that it often felt like much more. Their lives and plots all crisscrossed to the extent that even I had trouble tracking it. Given the title we have for the second book, I’m guessing that all of these secrets may come home to roost for our characters, all of whom are immersed in several layered lies. These are hefty books, full of intrigue and adventure, and I can’t wait to see what awaits me in this latest tome!

Book: “The Excalibur Curse” by Kiersten White

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Why I’m Interested: I know, I know, I haven’t even read/reviewed the second one in this trilogy! But White has yet to ever let me down, so I still feel confident that I will be eventually finishing off this trilogy with “The Excalibur Curse.” Hopefully sooner rather than later! Honestly, I haven’t even looked at the book description for fear of spoiling myself for book two. That said, there are enough intriguing aspects of this cover alone to have me anxiously placing holds at the library for both the second one and this book. I have a few theories about Guinevere’s past, and this cover featuring her drawing what must be Excalibur itself only have me more curious!

Book: “The Midnight Girls” by Alicia Jasinska

Publication Date: December 28, 2021

Why I’m Interested: “Two girls compete for the heart of a prince.” OUT. “Only to find they may be falling for each other.” Annnnnd I’m back in, baby! Plus, this cover is pretty cool. It’s very “Frozen” but Elsa and Anna aren’t sisters and may be into each other. Plus, dueling sorceresses sounds pretty neat. My December TBR list is looking pretty monstrous at this point, but I hope to get to this one soon!

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “A History of Wild Places” by Shea Ernshaw

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Why I’m Interested: While the previous Ernshaw book I read didn’t really connect with me, I was immediately interested in her adult fiction debut. I mean, you have a cult, two sisters who are starting to question what is happening in their community, and some missing people! All things I enjoy! When Travis Wren is sent to look for missing author Maggie St. Clair and tracks her to the woods where commune Pastoral resides, he soon disappears into the trees as well. A couple years later, sisters Calla and Bee, and Calla’s husband Theo, start to find evidence of the missing people, as well as the part that community leader Levi may have had to play. But Levi has told the commune that venturing out of the area is dangerous, as a plague has overcome the trees. Or has it? It sounds like it has hints of “The Village” meets some kind of Jonestown creepiness!

Book: “If This Gets Out” by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Why I’m Interested: 2021 was the year that I gave romance a try in earnest, looking for any way to add some light fluffy elements to a stressful time to be alive. And while romance isn’t going to be covered by me on this blog (though look for some exceptions this month, as a treat!), I was still eager to read “If This Gets Out” when I first heard of it. Contemporary romance is fun, and if that romance involves two guys in a popular boy band? Oh yes! Ruben and Zach are members of the well adored boy band Saturday, though both are feeling the pressure of the facade they have to uphold. Ruben especially is having a hard time, as he is gay, but is being kept in the closet for the band’s image. And when Ruben and Zach start to realize that their friendship may be more than just friendship, it gets all the more complicated. As someone who loved NKOTB when she was in kindergarten and the Backstreet Boys in middle school, this premise tickles me.

Book: “The Coldest Touch” by Isabel Sterling

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Why I’m Interested: Okay, take a look at Serena’s description of “The Midnight Girls”, because it’s basically the same kind of deal here. When you say vampire romance, I will almost certainly say HARD PASS these days. But if you take that vampire romance and make it between two ladies, and neither of them are helpless nor broody? Oh that changes EVERYTHING! Elise is a girl who can see the future deaths of anyone she touches, and when she couldn’t save her brother she was desperate to be rid of her gift. But then she meets Claire, a vampire who has been assigned by other paranormal folks to help her harness her powers as a Death Oracle. As they work together to hone Elise’s powers, and perhaps to prevent the upcoming murder of one of Elise’s teachers, they start to grow closer, no matter how dangerous it could be. I MEAN, this is the kind of vampire romance I can get behind.

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

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