Highlights: February 2021

The long winter continues, but at least in February we have an excuse for fancy chocolates and self-care thanks to Valentine’s Day and Galentines Day! And while we may not be feeling overly romantic this year, with quarantine meaning a nice dinner at home and children meaning a little less relaxation, our everlasting love for books continues to beat from our hearts. Here are some of the titles we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “Daughter of the Salt King” by A.S. Thornton

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Why I’m Interested: After the “City of Brass” trilogy ended last summer, I’ve been having withdrawals from my djinn fantasy stories. So it didn’t take much more me to scoop up this book once I saw that it was set in a similar type world. Emel is the daughter of the Salt King. But unlike other princesses in other lands, this role brings her and her many sisters nothing but suffering. Instead of any freedom, they are used as lures by their father in his attempts to trap visiting dignitaries into advantageous marriages with his nation. Emel longs for nothing more than her freedom, and she might just gain it when she discovers a dark secret hidden by father, a wish-granting jinni who might be an ally to her cause.

Book: “Fireheart Tiger” by Aliette de Bodard

Publication Date: February 9, 2021

Why I’m Interested: I’m always on the lookout for a good short story or novella, so I was definitely interested when this book popped upon my radar. Plus, romantic fantasy and comparisons to “Howl’s Moving Castle” are sure to be wins in my book. The story follows Thanh, a princess who has grown up away from home as a political hostage. When she returns, however, things are very different than they were when she first left. She sees the wrongs taking place in her country and crosses paths again with her first love. Now Thanh has to decide for herself what role she wants to take in forming the future of her home and her own life.

Book: “We Are the Fire” by Sam Taylor

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Why I’m Interested: I’m not going to lie, I initially clicked on this one only because of the cool cover and the fact that I think the cover models look bizarrely like Clarke and Bellamy from the show “The 100.” Look it up, tell me I’m wrong! But I was definitely pulled in by the description of fire warriors who have grown up together in an army they were unwillingly enlisted into. From what I can tell, this book also starts out with an established romance between the two, something you don’t often see in books with romance plots that are heavily featured. I’m excited to see what this book has in store!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The Project” by Courtney Summers

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Why I’m Interested: I loved Summers’s previous book “Sadie” so much that I knew that I was going to need to read whatever she came up with next. And just for good measure, this time it’s about a cult! BE STILL MY HEART. Lo is a young woman working for a magazine, whose sister Bea left her life and joined a group called The Unity Project, an organization that is as mysterious as it is powerful. When a man claims that The Project was responsible for his son’s death, Lo sees an opportunity to investigate and perhaps find out what happened to her sister. But as she gets closer to the leader, Lev, she starts to wonder if the rumors about the group are true. The premise alone sounds creepy and tantalizing, and given Summers’s grit you know that there will be lots of darkness to behold.

Book: “The Survivors” by Jane Harper

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Why I’m Interested: Though we still aren’t revisiting the Aaron Falk series as of yet, I liked Jane Harper’s previous standalone mystery “The Lost Man”. Therefore, it was a no brainer that I read her newest standalone, “The Survivors”. Kieran has returned to his coastal Australian small town with his girlfriend and baby, this visit being the first after a long time away. Kieran and his family suffered a terrible trauma when he was younger, an accident that changed not only them but also the town, which then also had to deal with the fallout of a missing girl who never came home. Now, a body is found on the beach, and the paranoia and pain of the small town comes back to the surface. And long forgotten or pushed down secrets start to bubble up. Harper has shown that she knows how to craft a solid mystery that has a lot of very human elements to it, so “The Survivors” will no doubt have heart as well as suspense.

Book: “The Initial Insult” by Mindy McGinnis

Publication Date: February 23, 2021

Why I’m Interested: We have ourselves another reinterpretation of a story by Edgar Allan Poe, guys!! So of COURSE I’m interested! And while Mindy McGinnis has been a little hit or miss with me, an update of “The Cask of Amontillado” starring two teenage girls just reeks of awesome! Tress Montor and Felicity Turnado used to be best friends…. Until Tress’s parents disappeared while driving Felicity home, and Felicity claims to not remember what happened. Now Tress lives with her strange and mean grandfather on his exotic animal ranch, and Felicity is popular and powerful. So during a party, Tress decides to try and get her to tell the truth, by slowly bricking her into a coal shaft. But when their truths start to come to light, and a panther from the ranch escapes, the stakes go higher and higher. I mean, come on, this sounds SO cool

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

Highlights: January 2021

Happy New Year! We have finally said goodbye to the tire fire that was 2020 and things are hopefully, HOPEFULLY, starting to trend towards the positive in the New Year (please let those not be famous last words). With new beginnings and a new feeling of hope in the air, we have our first set of Highlights for 2021!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “Siege of Rage and Ruin” by Django Wexler

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Why I’m Interested: I really liked the first two books in the “Wells of Sorcery” trilogy. Perhaps the first one more than the second, but both were still favorites from my reads of last year. Beyond its compelling characters, part of what made both those books stand out so much was the wildly unique magic and world-building at the heart of the story. Each had twists and turns that took me completely by surprise. That makes it all the more exciting going into this third and final book: I honestly have no idea what to expect! Beyond a reunion between Isoka and Tori, something that should provide much of interest on its own as each of these two young women have seen and experienced so much since they were last together.

Book: “The Mask of Mirrors” by M. A. Carrick

Publication Date: January 21, 2021

Why I’m Interested: M. A. Carrick is the joint pen name for Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, both authors and anthropologists. I’m not familiar with any of Helms’ work, but I have read and enjoyed Brennan’s books. One of her titles, “Driftwood,” made it onto my Top 10 list for 2020, even! So, while I’m nervous about any book with comparisons to “Six of Crows” at this point (a million times burned and all of that), having a solid author at the helm is probably one of the few things that would get me on board. Plus the cover is lovely and *sigh* I’m a sucker for con artists and thieves (hence the million chances given to previous “Six of Crows” wanna-be novels). Fingers crossed that this one will turn out well!

Book: “Winterkeep” by Kristin Cashore

Publication Date: January 19, 2021

Why I’m Interested: Yes, you read that right, a new book in the “Graceling Realm” series! It’s been, oh, years and years, and honestly I don’t think any of Cashore’s fans expected a return to this series. Featuring a new land full of airships, telepathic foxes, and political mysteries, the story also features the return of familiar faces, mainly Bitterblue, the young queen of her land, and Giddon, her friend and advisor. I’ll just say right now that I’m way more excited about this book than I have any right to be. So much so that I have a re-read planned this month for the first three books in the series, so get ready for that!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “Concrete Rose” by Angie Thomas

Publication Date: January 12, 2021

Why I’m Interested: I made a promise to myself that I would henceforth start reviewing Angie Thomas’s books on the blog after “The Hate U Give” and “On The Come Up” made my top ten lists the years they came out. And given that I loved both, I was, of course, VERY excited to read “Concrete Rose”, a prequel to “THUG” that focuses on one of the most compelling characters in that book. Maverick Carter is a teenage boy in the 90s with a hot girlfriend, a caring mother, and a potential position in the local gang The King Lords given his father’s notoriety. But when he finds out that he is the father to a three month old boy, and after the boy’s mother runs, Mav has to grow up very fast. Now he has to try and raise his son, and build a life that’s better for himself so he can be a good dad. I loved Mav in “THUG”, so seeing his backstory is sure to be a treat.

Book: “Possession” by Katie Lowe

Publication Date: January 21, 2021

Why I’m Interested: We have another thriller book with a podcast element to it, but instead of the more familiar ‘the podcast is trying to get justice out of righteousness’, we instead have a potential victim being accused years later of being a criminal. Hannah and her daughter are living a quiet life in the years after Hannah’s husband was killed by an intruder. Hannah has no memory of that night, and has rebuilt her reality. But now a popular podcast has turned its narrative on her husband’s murder, saying that the man convicted didn’t do it, and spinning an angle that leans towards Hannah. As Hannah’s friends and loved ones start turning on her, she has to try and keep it together while still hiding the deep secrets of her old life. Sounds like a fun twist on a usual trope.

Book: “Don’t Tell a Soul” by Kirsten Miller

Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Why I’m Interested: What better way to start of 2021 than with a good old fashioned ghost story! Teenager Bram is in need of a change; a change from her reality, and a change in scenery as she tries to leave behind a scandal. This brings her to a small town where her uncle has been working to renovate an old mansion, but who has a haunted life of his own. As Bram tries to settle in, the various people in town make it hard, but what’s worse is that there are rumors of other girls who have lived in the house that Bram now resides in. Rumors of girls who died there, and whose spirits are still within the walls. Can Bram protect herself from their terrible fates? I can’t wait to find out.

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

Highlights: December 2020

Happy holidays everyone! Tis the season of dark, and cold, and snow. But also of twinkle lights, warm fires, and lots of tasty, tasty treats. Given the need to be socially distanced so much more, the treats are really coming in strong. Add lots of time at home which turns into tons of baking. Mix in the fact that we don’t have as many gatherings during which to share the treats. And it all results in us sitting in front of our fires stuffing an entire batch of fudge down our own gullets. While reading a good book, of course! Here are the titles we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “The Bitterwine Oath” by Hannah West

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: In a lot of ways, this looks more like a Kate book than one for me. But every once in a while I’m tempted into the darker side of fantasy where there’s a lot of cross-over with horror. This story focuses on an a small town in Texas that has an urban legend about a group of wronged women who murder 12 men every 50 years. Horrifying as that is on its own, there are rumors of the supernatural and magical tied up with it. Now 18-yaer-old Natalie Colter will find herself not only caught up in this mysterious coven-like group, but even recruited to join. It all sounds very witchy and interesting. The cover is also super creepy. We’ll see how I do!

Book: “A Wolf for a Spell” by Karah Sutton

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Would it be too shallow to just say because the cover is so, so pretty?? I mean, that’s not the only reason. But lookit!! That has to be one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen for a book in a long, long time. Even if the book turns out not to be great, I’d be tempted to buy it just to display on my shelf. In this Russian fairytale, Zima is a young wolf who has been taught to never trust humans. But when she needs help from the notorious witch, Baba Yaga, Zima finds her life turned upside down! Almost literally! After a spell goes wrong, Zima finds herself in Baba Yaga’s body and teaming up with even more humans in grand adventure to defeat an evil tsar. The whole story sounds very endearing. Now just to get my hands on a copy…

Book: “The Artic Fury” by Greer Macallister

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: To round out my genres for the month, here’s an interesting-sounding historical fiction novel featuring a group of women explorers who set off on an expedition into the artic. Things don’t go to plan, however, and the story is told from two timelines: one the expedition itself, and the second, a trial during which the leader of the expedition must account for the events that took place on this dangerous mission. I love survival stories in general, and the promise of a fateful adventure into the frozen Artic sounds super exciting. Plus, what better to read about in dark, cold December than a bunch of people hiking away somewhere even darker and colder?

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “The Good Girls” by Claire Elizabeth Bartlett

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Small town scandals and the fight against Patriarchy is always going to pull me in, so when I read the description of “The Good Girls” by Claire Elizabeth Bartlett I was officially interested. After a well liked teenage girl appears to be murdered in a viral video, the suspicion focuses in on the town party girl, as well as her academic rival. But not all is what it seems as partier, perfectionist, and cheerleader all have their motives, their secrets, and their own pains and frustrations they have to face due to their reputations. As someone who loves a twisty mystery with simmering rage, this definitely is on my list.

Book: “Admission” by Julie Buxbaum

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: While I wasn’t all that interested in the College Admissions Scandal that rocked the celebrity world recently, I do have to admit that it is a very juicy story in terms of exposing the rich for misdeeds and schadenfreude when they are caught. So since I love me some hot goss, “Admission” by Julie Buxbaum is probably going to be a guilty pleasure read for me when I get to it. Wealthy and privileged Chloe has everything going for her: a hot boyfriend, a mother whose celebrity is on the rise, and admission to her number one pick for college. But when it’s exposed that her mother bribed the school to get her admitted, Chloe has to face some hard truths about how much in life she has actually earned, as well as the scandal that explodes around her. Sounds like an entertaining read to be certain.

Book: “What She Found in the Woods” by Josephine Angelini

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Why I’m Interested: It sounds like this book has just about everything: A privileged girl running away from private school scandal, a handsome but mysterious boy who seems free spirited but could be something darker, and a body in the woods! Magdalena is hoping to escape a scandal at her school, and flees to her isolated family home. It’s in the woods near home that she meets Bo, a charismatic and handsome stranger who entices her and entrances her with his personality and love of life. But then a mutilated body shows up, throwing a wrench into Magdalena’s hopes of a quiet and scandal free existence. It sounds strange and mysterious, so I’m obviously IN.

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

Highlights: November 2020

Tis the season of being thankful! And while there are a lot of things in the world that are pretty darn stressful right now, there’s still a lot of good to be found. The leaves are all falling, the scarves are getting pulled out, pumpkin spice has invaded everything. And, of course, a lot of new books are coming out! Here are the one’s we’re most looking forward to this month.

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “The Awakening” by Nora Roberts

Publication Date: November 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’ve read a few of Nora Roberts’s traditional romances years ago. And I know she’s written a bunch of books in other genres. So when I saw this book pop up as the first in a new fantasy trilogy for her, I thought now was as good a time as any to jump on that train. The story features Breen, an unassuming young woman who travels to Ireland in search of her past and finds an entire different world. Like, literally, a different world with dragons, and fairies, and all of that magical stuff. With her small life exploding around her, Breen must come to find a place for herself within a destiny that threatens to overwhelm her.

Book: “The Burning God” by R. F. Kuang

Publication Date: November 17, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I know, I know! I haven’t even gotten around to reading/reviewing the second book in this trilogy! But man, it’s not for want of trying. Turns out, super popular books are kind of hard to get your hands on when you’re on a miles-long waiting list at the library. There’s a decent chance I’ll just break down and buy the sequel just so I can get to this book which I have an e-ARC of all queued up. Oh the trials of blogging, when you miss the initial rush and then end up with ARCs for later books in series that you still need to catch up on. It’s like whining about having too many good things! Without knowing what happens in the middle book in this trilogy, I don’t have anything specific about this book that I’m looking forward to other than my complete confidence in the strength of the author’s abilities to tell a darn good story.

Book: “The Princess Knight” by G.A. Aiken

Publication Date: November 24, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I enjoyed the first book in this series, “The Blacksmith Queen,” so I’m definitely curious to check this one out as well. From the sounds of it, it’s not a direct sequel in that our main characters are no longer Keely and Cain. Instead, this story focuses on Gemma, a member of the War Monks who have made warfare an art form. But she parted with them to support her sister Keely in her bid for the throne and now finds herself working with an untrained, unruly collection of fighters. A challenging situation is made all the more difficult by the strangely compelling leader of this group, Quinn. While the first book in this series didn’t blow my socks off, it was still a fun read, so I’m curious to see whether this change in focal characters will add or substract from my overall experience.

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and A Half Century of Silence” by Becky Cooper

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Why I’m Interested: True crime continues to be a hot commodity, and as it continues to be sought out by the public, people are starting to examine it as a form of ‘entertainment’ and trying to find ways to make it less problematic. I for one am all for this, and I’m therefore “We Keep The Dead Close” caught my attention. Author Becky Cooper first heard about the long unsolved murder of Jane Britton when she was an undergrad at Harvard, the tale having transformed into something of an urban legend. Cooper was interested in trying to solve what exactly had happened to her, as the real Jane seemed to have gotten lost in the campus lore. She talks to people who knew Jane, family members, classmates, and even the man who was rumored to have been her killer. Going beyond the usual whodunnit format, “We Keep the Dead Close” will no doubt be more than what I usually expect from the genre.

Book: “Those Who Prey” by Jennifer Moffett

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Why I’m Interested: You had me at ‘campus cult’, Moffett. “Those Who Prey” showed up on a 2020 YA Thriller List and I made quick note of it. One of my favorite topics in true crime is that of cults and cult activity, and it has been that way ever since I was in California when Heaven’s Gate committed their mass suicide, so of COURSE I am eager to give this a whirl. Emily has found herself isolated and lonely during her freshman year at college. Far from home and not making friends easily, she is excited when a group approaches her and starts to befriend her. She joins the Kingdom for the companionship, and is eager to make new friends and find a stronger relationship with God. But the longer she stays, the stranger things get. And by the time she’s on a mission trip in Italy, things have gone terribly wrong. Consider me fully on board.

Book: “These Violent Delights” by Chloe Gong

Publication Date: November 17, 2020

Why I’m Interested: This one is a BIT out of my usual wheelhouse, for a number of reasons. The first is that it’s technically a fantasy, or at least is described as such. The second is that it’s a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet”, a play and story that I, as a rule, don’t really care for. But “These Violent Delights” is catching my eye because I love the idea of the 1920s Shanghai setting, and there is mention of a monster. Juliette and Roma are former loves who find themselves now on the opposite sides of a gang war. Juliette’s Scarlet Gang has run things for generations, and Roma’s White Flowers are gunning to take the business and power away. But when members on both sides start dying horribly by their own hands, Juliette and Roma have to set aside their differences, and feelings, and try to figure out what has them in danger. I may be gambling on this one, but I’m excited to do so.

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

Highlights: October 2020

It’s that time of year, folks! The time of year where the days start to get shorter, the wind and leaves dance through the air, and the scary and spooky feelings of Halloween get kicked up as well! Though it’s probably going to be a very different Halloween this year than we’re used to, that isn’t going to stop the feelings of the season. Kate has her Horrorpalooza reads all in order, and Serena is breaking out the cardigans. We also have books we’re looking forward to!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “Return of the Thief” by Megan Whalen Turner

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’ve been a fan of Whalen Turner’s “The Queen’s Thief” series for years now. It’s been a long haul, around 20 years I think, to get to this point, but here we are, the last book in the series! Luckily, each book in this series has read well enough as a stand-alone, completely its own story arc fully and leaving the characters in places that aren’t too unstable which has made the wait time between books much more bearable. So it will be bitter sweet to finally pick this one up and know we’re truly at the end of the line. Sadly, I was remiss on putting my name on the holds list at the library, so it will probably be a bit before I get around to reading this and reviewing it. Unless I break down and buy it…we shall see!

Book: “Murder on Cold Street” by Sherry Thomas

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Yet another book that is continuing a much-loved series. While I did struggle a bit with the previous book in this series, I’m still a big fan of Thomas’s writing style overall and her unique take on the Sherlock Holmes story. With a return to England and a return to a good old murder mystery, I’m hopeful that this book will return to some of the strengths that originally drew me in to this series. I’m also still intrigued by where the romance between Charlotte and Lord Ingram is ultimately headed. Will we see any new developments (finally!) in this one?

Book: “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

Why I’m Interested: A break to all the continuations of book series comes in the form of a new, stand-alone novel by V.E. Schwab. The story sounds super originally, following the centuries-long life of a woman cursed/blessed to live forever but to never be remembered. Until, of course, she finally meets someone who does remember. I’m really intrigued by the entire concept, and if anyone is capable of pulling it off, it’s Schwab. The last thing I read from her was her YA duology which was…ok. But she also really wowed me in the with her “Shades of Magic” trilogy and other standalone works. In a lot of ways, this book doesn’t sound anything like what she’s written before, so I’m curious to see what she’ll do with it!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “Ring Shout” by P. Djèlí Clark

Publication Date: October 13, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I was a big fan of the book “Lovecraft Country” when I read it a few years ago (no I haven’t started the show yet, but I will!), and reading the description of “Ring Shout” by P. Djèlí Clark gave me some similar vibes. “Ring Shout” takes the idea of American Racism as the true horror and adds some cosmic and inter-dimensional elements as well. Three Black women are working to rid the world of Klu Kluxes, demons from another world that have been summoned by a sorcerer (D.W. Griffith, the man who brought the racist film “Birth of a Nation” to the screen), that have started amplifying the racist hate of the white people in this country. Led by the intrepid Maryse Bordeaux and her sword, these women and others hope to fight off the demons and bring justice to Black and other marginalized people before The Klan takes over. Unique concept and biting satire, a great combination.

Book: “I Hope You’re Listening” by Tom Ryan

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

Why I’m Interested: True crime podcasts continue to be a big part of my entertainment life, and so I always like seeing books that take that idea and run with it. So I was, of course, very interested when I stumbled upon “I Hope You’re Listening” by Tom Ryan on a ‘Fall Thrillers’ list. It follows Dee, an amateur podcast host whose show focuses on people who have gone missing, in hopes of getting information and attention that can lead to them being found. What her listeners don’t know is that she was a girl left behind in a notorious kidnapping case, where he childhood best friend was kidnapped before her eyes as hasn’t been seen since. Now, just as her podcast is getting more attention, another girl in her town is taken without a trace. Dee wants to help, but wants to keep her identity secret, and her own traumas under control. I’m sure it will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Book: “The Haunting of Beatrix Greene” by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Shecter

Publication Date: October 28, 2020

Why I’m Interested: The Halloween season wouldn’t be complete without a ghost story or two, so look no further than “The Haunting of Beatrix Greene”, a joint effort by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Shecter. Beatrix Greene is a medium working during the first Spiritualist obsession in the 1800s. The only issue is that she’s a fraud who is just trying to make ends meet. When she’s invited to Ashbury Manor by noted scientist and skeptic James Walker, she is hesitant, but wants to make him eat his hat. James has his own motivations for wanting her to be there, potentially exposing her as a fraud not at the top of the list. But both of them are completely shocked when they and their companions find themselves in a very haunted house…. and in grave danger. What a way to top off the Halloween season!

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

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.


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.