On The Lakeshore: Books To Read By The Lake

20190629_152630So a couple weekends ago we took a trip up to Duluth, Minnesota, a lakeshore city on the banks of Lake Superior. Summer on the North Shore is a lovely getaway, and we did some shopping, looked at the lake, visited a museum about the boats on the lake, and, big surprise, took a look at the local book selections that the town had to offer. So we thought that it would be fun to make a list of books that have to do with lakes. And if you ever have the chance to go to Duluth or the North Shore of Minnesota, we can’t recommend it enough.

175828Book: “Iron Lake” by William Kent Krueger

Publishing Info: Pocket Star, May 1999

Heck, let’s just start this list off with a book that takes place in Northern Minnesota! This is the first book in the Cork O’Connor series, stories that follow a small town sheriff who lives in the North Woods. When a local judge is found murdered in a particularly violent way, it happens to coincide with a boy who goes missing. When Cork investigates, he stumbles upon a conspiracy and a secret that his small town of Iron Lake appears to be desperate to keep under wraps. On top of that, there are still issues between him and his ex wife that are starting to bubble over. “Iron Lake” is the start to a long running and suspenseful series, and the setting is almost a character on its own!

105742._sy475_Book: “The Loch” by Steve Alten

Publishing Info: Tsunami Books, April 2006

A bit of a tonal shift here, but yes, we are going into fantasy horror territory with “The Loch”. Steve Alten wrote the notorious “Meg” series, which pits researchers against a megalodon that swims out of the Mariana Trench, and this time he tackles The Loch Ness Monster. When disgraced marine biologist Zachary Wallace gets word that his father is on trial for murder back in Scotland, he returns home to support him in spite of their estranged relationship. His father claims that he is innocent, and that it was the Loch Ness Monster that killed the victim. When the British tabloids eat this claim up, Zachary has to consider the fact that not only is it true, but that perhaps he too has a history with a similar monster… Campy, over the top, and fun, “The Loch” leans in to the story of Nessie, and brings in larger themes like courtroom drama and familial strife.

35463752Book: “Lake Silence” by Anne Bishop

Publishing Info: Ace, March 2018

Set in the same world as Bishop’s “Others” series (all of which Serena has read), comes a new entry feature a new cast of characters at its heart. In this fantasy world, powerful magical beings rule much of the land and all of the water, with humans only their tolerated guests. Trying to escape her mess of a life, Vicki finds herself in one of the towns that is completely run by the Others. But instead of peace and quiet, she finds herself caught up in a murder mystery where she is the prime suspect. Now she and her new friends must work to uncover the real killer, one whom she suspects must not be human themselves.

39678996._sy475_Book: “Cursed” by Thomas Wheeler and illustrated by Frank Miller

Publishing Info: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 2019

Given the publishing date is still in the future, neither of us have read this book. But it definitely sounds intriguing (and good enough that Netflix is already producing a series to come out next spring.) The story is marketed as a retelling of the story of King Arthur but from the perspective of Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, who has been tasked with bringing together a famous sword and a would-be-king. The novel also features illustrations by Frank Miller, so that’s one more mark in its favor.

39973246Book: “The Woman in the Lake” by Nicola Cornick

Publishing Info: Graydon House, February 2019

Serena very much enjoyed Cornick’s “The Phantom Tree,” and this story seems to be dipping into the same formula: part historical novel, part time-travel fantasy story. In 1765, a beautiful golden dress, tossed away to help erase the traumatic events of one night, re-appears on the body of a young woman floating in a lake. Two-hundred and fifty years in the future, another woman becomes enamored by a beautiful dress with a mysterious past. As the two stories slowly unwind, each woman’s past and future become more and more clear, connected in unexpected ways.

13590708Book: “The Lighthouse Road” by Peter Geye

Publishing Info: Unbridled Books, October 2012

For our final selection we’re going back to Northern Minnesota, and picking a historical fiction family epic. In the 1890s an immigrant woman finds herself alone in a new country when she settles outside of Duluth, Minnesota, and then in the 1920s her now adult son finds love with an emotionally closed off woman. As mother and son learn about home and identity in two different times, the past continues to haunt the both of them. “The Lighthouse Road” is an emotional and bittersweet read about how we are shaped by our circumstances and questions if we can break away from our expectations we have for ourselves.

Do you guys have any recommended reads about lakes? Let us know in the comments!! 

Highlights: July 2019

Oh, July. The month where summer comes into its own and everything becomes super patriotic. It’s a fun game to find the most bizarre, July-4-themed things you can (similar to the game you play in the fall where you try and spot the pumpkin spice all over the place). Last year, Serena found a T-shirt at Target that said “My favorite color is freedom” and with a few adjustments, like cutting off the sleeves, it now makes regular appearances at silly things like volleyball games and such. Anywho. Here are some more books we’re looking forward to reading this month!

Serena’s Picks

22819354Book: “Age of Legend” by Michael Sullivan

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I’ve been devouring Sullivan’s “The Legends of the First Empire” series, and this was the first book I had to wait for. Luckily not long, though I was still too impatient to wait for the audiobook, even though I was really enjoying that version of the story. This epic fantasy series has been incredibly solid with the first three entries of the story, and with this, happening several years after the events of the first books, I’m excited to see where Sullivan takes things. There were some major changes and events at the end of the last book, so it should be interesting. You’ll be hearing more from me about this book this week…

36510722Book: “Gods of Jade and Shadow” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Publication Date: July 23, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I’ve really enjoyed the books I’ve read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia in the past, so I’m always game when I see a new title from her. This one is particularly interesting on concept alone, however! A Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a question to resolve a war between himself and his god-brother. It’s billed as a dark fairytale that pulls from Mexican folklore. I’m really excited about this one. It’s always great to find new fairytales and folk legends, especially ones that come from cultures that aren’t the “go-to” for many books of this type. I can’t wait to read this! Plus, that cover is awesome.

29226553Book: “Dark Age” by Pierce Brown

Publication Date: July 30, 2019

This book has seen several delays in publication date. I think it was originally supposed to come out last January? Needless to say, I’ve been anxiously awaiting its arrival and regularly checking to make sure that it is still on schedule. While I didn’t love the previous book and first in this new trilogy as much as the original “Red Rising” story, I’m still invested in Darrow’s ongoing struggles to right the wrongs in the galaxy. The last book also introduced a host of other characters, some of whom I enjoyed more than others. Many of their stories were left on cliffhangers, essentially, so the publishing delays for this book have been killer! Soon though, very soon!

Kate’s Picks

43261389Book: “Season of the Witch” by Sarah Rees Brennan

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Any additional Sabrina content while I wait impatiently for the next season of the show to come back is good. And on top of that, this is a prequel to the series, so it’s going to build upon the mythology of the show. “Season of the Witch” takes place during the summer before Sabrina’s 16th birthday, and focuses on the relationship she has with her mortal friends, specifically her boyfriend Harvey. When she thinks about casting a spell to see how deeply he feels about her, a spirit with not so good intentions decides to interfere. Since we’re waiting forever for the next comic collection in print form (SERIOUSLY, THREE YEARS AND COUNTING), I am going to take any kind of print media that I can get, and I hope that “Season of the Witch” will make the show’s mythology all the richer.

41212413Book: “Growing Things and Other Stories” by Paul Tremblay

Publication Date: July 2, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Paul Tremblay is one of those authors that I am always going to read no matter what. I’ve enjoyed everything of his that I’ve read, and I am always excited for something new to come out. And even though I am usually a bit wary when it comes to short stories collections, I am looking forward to “Growing Things and Other Stories”. This collection takes a number of stories stories that Tremblay has written over the years and puts them together into one book, with ranges from cosmic horror, t0 ghost stories, to throw backs to some characters that may seem familiar to those who know is previous works (hello again, Merry and Marjorie from “A Head Full of Ghosts”). Tremblay is not only good at bringing scares, but also ambiguity and pathos, so this collection will no doubt be filled with ALL the emotions.

32603079Book: “Wanderers” by Chuck Wendig

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Given that I love me some post-apocalyptic fiction and this book is getting early buzz comparisons to “The Stand” in theme and depth, I am incredibly excited to read “Wanders” by Chuck Wendig. When a mysterious malady starts to affect people, and they begin walking with a purpose but do not respond to their surroundings, thus begins a global disaster that will reflect the perils of fear and hysteria rather than the actual threat, and it might be up to a teenage girl named Shana and a now disgraced scientist named Benji to help bring the sleepwalkers to safety, and to help rebuilt society. Clocking in at 800some pages, this is going to be a whopper of a book, but I am very excited by the prospect of it.

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

Not Just Books: June 2019

The weather has still been somewhat mercurial, with days of super hot sun and then returns to the 60s with rain. But we’ll take what we can get. If only the bugs would disappear. (We can find something to whine about during every season, just you watch.) And yes, we both should probably get outside more to appreciate the long days, but…oh well! Here are some things other than books that we’ve enjoyed this last month!

Serena’s Picks

mv5boti5y2m3nmqtndg5zc00otq0lwezogytmjm4zjg0yzy0m2i0xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjkwnzewmzu40._v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Amazon Prime Show: “Good Omens”

Confession: I haven’t read the book this was based on. But I’ve read a good number of other works by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, so I feel like it should count. In all honesty, however, my all-abiding love for David Tennant was the real draw behind my immediate interest in this show. While the subject matter (an angel and a demon team up to try to prevent the end of the world) would always be a pretty big appeal for me, Tennant is just one of those actors whose work I will always check out. There were a few moments where the complete absurdity was a bit too much for me, but overall, I loved heart of this story that is built up in the lovely relationship between said angel and demon. Overall, I really enjoyed it.

mv5bmdeyn2u1ytitndy1zi00yjljlwi5yzitnwu3ywviyjhiztgxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjg4nzayota40._v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_TV Show: “Elementary”

I actually fell a bit behind on this series and ended up binging season six earlier this fall. As usual, I quite enjoyed it. And, with doing no further research, I assumed the show was over. The ending of that season certainly implies as much with Sherlock and Watson both relocated to 221B Baker St, London and waxing poetic about how it feels as if they are where they’re meant to me. But, much to my surprise, while dinking around on the Internet I discover that there is in fact a season seven! And it started up only a few weeks ago! This is only a short, half season but it seems like it is confirmed to be the last, so I’m super excited to see what they’re going to do with it. Fingers crossed for a return of Moriarty! And let’s hope that they don’t ruin what could have been a perfectly satisfying end with the final episode of the previous season.

maxresdefaultYouTube Series: “The 100 Baby Sims Challenge”

This is super weird and I know it. But hey, a girl’s got to do something with all of those hours spent feeding a fussy baby. And what’s better to do when you baby boy is being a little idiot than watch someone play the Sims and have a character deal with raising 100 of these little monsters. There’s something bizarrely cathartic about it, I’ve got to tell you. Maybe it’s of particular interest to frustrated new mothers, but I do think it’s pretty hilarious to watch all on its own, too. Especially if you’re just looking for a good 20-30 minute distraction here and there.

Kate’s Picks

2b8401198-77d6-4651-b1951c330d84a8b1TV Show: “Pose”

When “Pose” first aired last year I had every intention of watching it, but never got around to it. I mean, my goodness, it covers themes and settings that I absolutely love: the New York City Ball Culture, the 80s, glamour, self actualization. When I saw that Season One was on Netflix, I decided to finally start it… and then proceeded to binge all of it in the course of two days. “Pose” takes place in 1987, and follows the rising House of Evangelista, led by Blanca, a trans woman who left her previous house and mentor to start a house of her own. Not only does “Pose” have great music, great characters, and a strong grasp of what was going on in the Ball and LGBTQ communities in the 1980s (with a very real and upsetting look at how the AIDS virus was affecting said communities), it also has a cast that is mostly trans actresses of color, reflecting the people whose stories they are telling. And Billy Porter is AMAZING as the snarky emcee Pray Tell. On top of all that, Season 2 has started, and there’s no way I’m missing it in real time this time around.

rocketman_28film29Movie: “Rocketman”

This will undoubtedly surprise no one, but I love Sir Elton John for his flamboyance, passion, and catchy/heartfelt tunes. When I first saw a trailer for “Rocketman” I turned to my husband and said ‘YOU NEED TO TAKE ME TO THIS’. And, good sport that he is, he did so once it came out. This movie is part musical fantasy, part biopic about John and his rise to fame and the hardships he had to overcome, from lonely childhood, to mental health issues, to addiction. Taron Egerton is remarkable as John, not only nailing his look and mannerisms, but performing his songs with zeal and gusto. He did so well that there were moments where I had to blink and squint because I could have SWORN John himself had slipped into the scene. But one of my favorite depictions on the screen was the friendship John has with his longtime writing partner, Bernie Taupin. Taupin is played by Jamie Bell and he and Egerton have such magical chemistry, really bringing their partnership and friendship to the screen. If you do go see this movie, bring tissues. Well all know things worked out for John, but man, the road was rough, and this movie has the emotional punches that come with it.

mv5bmtgwnja4mdkwnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmje3ntgwodm40._v1_TV Show: “NOS4A2”

Even though I have an unabated love for just about anything that Joe Hill writes, as of now my favorite of his novels is “NOS4A2”. It’s about Charlie Manx, a vampire-like being that kidnaps children. He takes their essences to keep himself forever young, and traps them in an ‘inscape’ (a supernatural alternative plane he can manipulate) he calls Christmasland. But he meets his match when he runs into Vic McQueen, a teenage girl who can create her own inscapes, and may have the power to stop him. I was very interested to see what AMC was going to do with it when I heard that they were going to make it into a TV show. And let me tell you, thus far I am VERY happy with what they are doing with it. I knew that I was going to be one hundred percent satisfied with Zachary Quinto as Manx, but was worried about any portrayal of Vic, as she is one of my favorite literary characters. But Ashleigh Cummings is FABULOUS, bringing the spunk and vulnerability that the character needs. And, most importantly, the show really achieves the creepy and unsettling tone that this story requires. It’s suspenseful and eerie, and I’m eager to watch as it unfolds.

 

Beach Reads: Summer 2019

Back for 2019, here is a list of some more favorite beach reads! “Beach read” is a very fast and loose term for books people read over the beautiful summer months when we really should be outside “doing things” but are instead reading…maybe outside. Some people see these months as an opportunity to slog through long classics (we’re looking at you “Moby Dick”) before the busy-ness of of the fall starts up, but for the sake of this list, we’re limiting our choices to stand alone, mostly feel good books (though there’s some obvious leeway here for Kate’s horror tastes!) that could be easily brought along on vacations. So, still a very loose definition, but hey, we had to start somewhere! We will select one title for each of the genres we most read.

Serena’s Picks

68427Fantasy Title: “Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson

As well as right lengthy fantasy epics, Brandon Sanderson also has a few excellent standalone works. This is one of his earlier writings, and the book that really solidified him as a favorite author for me. Off the back of the “Mistborn” trilogy, I wasn’t sure whether Sanderson was the real deal, or whether that series had been lightening in a bottle. But “Elantris” is marvelous all on its own. It proves that you can still include detailed world-building, complicated magical systems, and fully fleshed out characters all in one, stand alone fantasy series. It tells the tale of the magical city of “Elantris,” once a wonder of the world, now a ruin, haunted by those infected by an incurable disease that comes on suddenly and dooms its carriers to a short life of exile. Princess Sarene and Prince Raoden are both fun characters to follow, but the slowly-revealed mystery behind the doom of Elantris is the real draw of this story.

15743440Science Fiction Title: “The Best of All Possible Worlds” by Karen Lord

Honestly, I had forgotten all about this title until I was researching options for this list. But once I rediscovered it on my Goodreads “read” shelf, I immediately remember how much I enjoyed it and now want to nab a copy to re-read. The story is a bizarre mix of an anthropologic travelogue and the answer to the oft-asked fanficttion question “What would a romance really look like between a Vulcan and a human?” Of course, they aren’t actual Vulcans in this book, but with the same cerebral, cool demeanor, they are as close as you can get. Pair one of them with a fiery, human scientist and have them travel around discovery the answers to mysteries and slowly falling in love, and you’ve got a story!

28588390Mystery Title: “A Study in Scarlet Women” by Sherry Thomas

It’s pretty hard to find stand-alone mysteries. But like many mystery series, the individual books in the “Lady Sherlock” series can be read on their own, as well. As the series name implies, this is another re-telling of Sherlock Holmes where the titular character is recast as a woman. But what stands out about this version of the story is how little changed the character is other than her gender. Charlotte Holmes has all of the original character’s brilliance, but also many of his same flaws, like a lack of concern for social decorum and a tendency to put her case before others. But she also has unique aspects as well that take readers who know the original character well by surprise. Supporting characters are also a delightful mix of familiar and new traits and the mystery is complicated and intriguing.

399395Historical Fiction Title: “Enemy Women” by Paulette Jiles

I read this book a few years ago, and it’s really stuck with me ever since. Looking through my reading lists, I find that I typically read about a very narrow period of time and place, Regency and Victorian England. Many historical mysteries or fantasy historical fiction will be set in these times. But this book explored a completely unfamiliar time period and place for me: the South during the Civil War. It tells the story of Adair Colley, a young woman from a family that has tried to protect itself in Missouri by keeping a neutral stance. When this falls through and Adair finds herself in a prison for enemy women, she must call on her own strength to make it back home. The writing in this book is truly unique, and while it took a bit to get used to, the lyrical prose eventually won me completely over. This well-researched historical fiction title is definitely worth checking out.

Kate’s Picks

28111713Horror Title: “The Long Walk” by Richard Bachman

It isn’t that much of a secret now, but Richard Bachman is the pseudonym for Stephen King when he wanted to write darker(!), less horror oriented works. Eventually he was outed as one and the same, but not before he wrote one of his great masterpieces, “The Long Walk”. Which is still VERY much a horror novel in spite of the pen name. In the near future in a dystopic United States, every year teenage boys can sign up for a walking and endurance test called The Walk. The last person standing at the end is promised fame and fortune, and security in an economically unstable world. You get three times to break the rules. After the third, well… there can only be one standing at the end. This is one of my all time favorite Stephen King stories, as the suspense is relentless, the consequences devastating, and the pacing completely addicting. Think “The Hunger Games” but even darker and with less hope. King/Bachman also continues to capture the spirit of youth, friendship, and adolescent angst, even in the hellscape that is The Walk. You won’t be able to put it down, even if it makes you feel sick by the end.

23492630Thriller Title: “You” by Caroline Kepnes

I reviewed “You” way back around the time this blog was first created, and as time has gone on it has become one of my favorite novels thanks to rumination and multiple re-reads. And given that the Netflix show exploded in popularity, I feel the need to promote it again as the perfect read to take to the beach, pool, park, or wherever during the summer months. Joe is a quiet bookseller in New York City, and his life is changed the day that Guinevere Beck walks into his shop. Joe immediately becomes obsessed with her, and starts to plot ways to insert himself into her life. Through any means necessary. Both a creepy stalker tale and an exploration of dark humor in regards to Millennial ennui (as a Millennial I can say this!), “You” is hard to read and yet hard to put down. Joe Goldberg is a narrator you love to hate, but then the same can be said for Beck and just about everyone in this story. If you liked the show on Netflix, you definitely need to read the book!

24727094Graphic Novel Title: “Honor Girl: A Memoir” by Maggie Thrash

While this takes place at a summer camp, that isn’t the only reason that I put it on the list of Beach Reads! I remember devouring “Honor Girl” when I first read it. When Maggie Thrash was a teenager she attended an all girls summer camp in the Appalachian mountains. Thrash was living a fairly typical life, enjoying pop music, feeling awkward at times, and growing up in Atlanta. But during the summer that she was fifteen Thrash realized that she had a deep attraction to one of the counselors named Erin, and thus began a summer of exploration of identity, sexuality, and what love is and can be, even if those around you don’t understand. “Honor Girl” is a relatable and at times bittersweet story about first love, fitting in, and the heartbreak that can come with both. Plus, so many references to The Backstreet Boys!!

16213Non-Fiction Title: “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” by Richard Preston

So I don’t put this on the list to scare you guys, even if it IS a pretty scary novel. I put “The Hot Zone” on the list because even though it is a non-fiction book, it reads like a thriller novel that will not let you go until you have read every last page. While Ebola is usually associated with far off countries in Africa, in 1989 a research lab in Virginia has to contend with the possibility that it has shown up in their research monkeys. Suddenly it becomes a race against time and potentially nature as military personnel and scientists alike try to get a hand on what is going on, and if they do, indeed, have a potential outbreak of a ‘hot’ case of Ebola on American soil. Along with the deeply upsetting scenario playing out in the lab, this book also looks at the history and the viruology of Ebola and other hemorrhagic viruses, which gives a context that is not only fascinating but all the more scary. True, it may make you incredibly paranoid about the preparedness our government and scientists have when faced with a deadly outbreak, but it will also keep you interested.

What books are you going to take to the beach, pool, or wherever this summer? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: June 2019

We’ve had a bit of a chilly start to this summer, but even so we are looking forward to warm weather, outdoor activities, and the grilling of delicious foods. Summer is here! And along with a new season, we have some new book titles that we’re looking forward to!

Serena’s Picks

42201395Book: “Sorcery of Thorns” by Margaret Rogerson

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I really enjoyed “An Enchantment of Ravens.” For me, it had the perfect balance of a solid fairytale, a sweet romance, and some really humorous dialogue between its main characters. So I’m really excited to see another book by this author! And what’s more, it’s about warrior librarians! Obviously that’s going to peak my interest. I also have to point out that whomever they have hired for the cover art for both of these books is firing on all cylinders. I love both of these covers so much, and even without previous knowledge of the author, this cover would have been enough to get me to pick it up at a library or a bookstore.

40696990Book: “Fray” by Rowenna Miller

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Why I’m Interested: There’s going to be a theme here, because this is another book that follows one I really enjoyed previously. “Torn” was an interesting political fantasy novel, delving into some pretty complex issues dealing with income inequality and political systems within a fantasy realm. The story was rather long and could be slow at points, but it also dealt with some complicated economic and class-based topics in the midst of it all. I enjoyed the main character and am willing to be more sold on the romance at its heart. I also am curious to see how the complicated brother/sister relationship will play out.

40042001Book: “Shadow & Flame” by Mindee Arnett

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Yes, yes, another sequel! No debut authors/series this month for me. I very much enjoyed “Onyx & Ivory” and wasn’t quite sure when it ended whether or not there was going to be a sequel, even though it definitely seemed to be setting up for one. So I was thrilled when I saw that this was scheduled for release this June. I’m excited to see where the author takes things from here, now that the views on magic are beginning to change and a villain is now at larger (rather than the general, societal conflict that took up much of the first book’s plot). I also enjoyed the romance quite a lot in the first book. It’s always nice to see new versions of romance other than the enemies-to-lovers one we see so often. And this series features the second bloom romance, a rarity indeed.

Kate’s Picks

41716679Book: “Searching for Sylvie Lee” by Jean Kwok

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I admittedly haven’t read anything by Jean Kwok, but I’ve been wanting to pick up “Girl in Translation” for years. So when “Searching for Sylvie Lee” ended up in the blog mail, I was pretty damn excited to pick it up (and made a serious mental note to finally read “Girl in Translation”, dammit). Part immigrant family story, part mystery, the oldest daughter of a Chinese immigrant family, Sylvie, disappears after going to visit a relative in the Netherlands. Her younger sister, Amy, is desperate to track down her last known location, and goes on a mission to find out where Sylvie has gone. But on her journey she uncovers family secrets, lies, and the push and pull of identity. It sounds heavy, but I’m very excited to read it.

42190273Book: “The Last House Guest” by Megan Miranda

Publication Date: June 18, 2019

Why I’m Interested: While I will own up to the fact that I didn’t really care for “All the Missing Girls”, I did enjoy Megan Miranda’s YA novel “Fragments of the Lost”. So given that I feel like I need to pull a best two out of three scenario, I have put Miranda’s newest book “The Last House Guest” on my to read list! Sadie and Avery have a close friendship in spite of their townie and rich vacationer relationship that is seen so often in a New England coastal town. But when Sadie is found dead and it’s ruled a suicide, Avery is devastated. It doesn’t help that the townspeople, including Sadie’s detective brother, blame her. But Avery thinks that things aren’t as clear cut as they seem, and decides that not only is she going to clear her name, she’s going to find out what happened to her friend. I’m intrigued by the girl friendships and the small town mystery!

40201006Book: “I’ll Never Tell” by Catherine McKenzie

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Why I’m Interested: You take a summer camp, a group of siblings with shady motives, and a dead girl, and you mix it all up to make a literary cocktail that I absolutely need to read. So I was absolutely interested when I heard about “I’ll Never Tell” by Catherine McKenzie. Twenty years ago, camper Amanda Holmes washed up on the shores of Camp Macaw in a rowboat, dead with a head wound. Though it was clear it was murder, there wasn’t enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime. Now, the camp’s owners have died, and their now adult children are hoping to sort out the inheritance and walk away, even though they have different ideas of what to do with the camp. And when the will is read, the siblings realize that unloading the camp, in any way it may be, won’t be so easy, because Amanda’s death is still unsolved, and it has to be wrapped up. But the siblings may have secrets of their own, and may have reason to leave it unsolved. I will take duplicitous family relationships AND summer camp shenanigans any day of the week, so I’m VERY excited to read this book!

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

Highlights: May 2019

Well okay, so we had to get a couple more snow storms in April just to be spiteful. But now, CERTAINLY, it has to be Spring time for good! With more opportunities to spend time outside (and the promise of Summer coming), we have some books that we can’t wait to read!

Serena’s Picks

9780425281291_StormCursed_FCO_mech.inddBook: “Storm Cursed” by Patricia Briggs

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Why I’m Interested: My beloved Kate Daniels urban fantasy series just recently concluded, so I’m now only left with one remaining current favorite: the Mercy Thompson series. I also read the “Alpha and Omega” offshoot series, but, oof, I had some major problems with the last book. And what’s worse, those problems directly connect to this series as well. It’s the sort of thing that likely won’t come into play, but I’m still curious to see how this book is handled, being the first one now since the horrid reveal in the other series. The last couple of books have been fairly up and down for me as the author has been experimenting with adding different POV chapters into the story. Here’s to hoping that this is a return to the good ole Mercy-focused books we had earlier in the series!

40006251Book: “The Living God” by Kaytalin Platt

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I confess: a large portion of my interest in this book has to do with the striking cover. Which is a weird thing for me, I know, since I rarely like books with models on the cover. But there’s something very atmospheric about this one that I find pretty striking. The story description itself is rather confusing to me, but it has to do with two mages, Saran and Keleir, who each have their own distinct magic. When Saran loses her abilities, however, she has to seek out new answers for how to save Keleir from the dark fate of being coming the Living God. Whatever that means? In this case, the increased mystery is intriguing!

40523458Book: “Kingsbane” by Claire Legrand

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I didn’t love the first book in this series. I didn’t hate it, but there were several sticking points that I struggled with, most having to do with the way the story was being told, more than the story itself. But when I received a ARC of this in the mail, I decided to give it another go. At least one of the storylines, that of Eliana, still intrigues me, especially now that the (way too obvious, in my opinion) secret of her past has been exposed. Rielle’s story…eh, we’ll see! There have definitely been series out there that have improved as they went along, so here’s to hoping this is one of them!

Kate’s Picks

41068144Book: “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide” by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Why I’m Interested: “My Favorite Murder” is one of my very favorite true crime podcasts, and one of the reasons for that is because of the hosts. Karen and Georgia approach the stories they cover with compassion and a bit of humor, but never at the expense of the victims or the horrors they have to endure. Along with that they are very open with their own lives and the various struggles they’ve had to endure and overcome. One of their big pieces of advice on the show is ‘fuck politeness’, as in if you are in a situation where you feel like you may be in danger, don’t worry about being polite, advocate for yourself and get out by any means necessary. I can’t wait to see how they apply their various experiences and ethos’s in book form. While I’m sure it won’t be applicable to everyone (so many self help books aren’t), I look forward to their wit and insight.

40867676Book: “The Night Before” by Wendy Walker

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I enjoyed Wendy Walker’s previous book “Emma in the Night”, so when I saw she had a new book coming out I put it on my list. In “The Night Before” is about two sisters, Rosie and Laura, who have led fairly separate lives and are trying to forget their problematic childhood. After Laura moves in with Rosie and her family the tension is high, but it’s when Laura doesn’t return from an Internet arranged date that things start to take a dark turn. Now Rosie has to try and figure out what happened to her sister, and what kind of trouble she may have found… or caused. The dangers of Internet dating meets suburban angst? I’m so there.

36285129Book: “Let Me Hear a Rhyme” by Tiffany D. Jackson

Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Why I’m Interested: It’s full disclosure time. “Let Me Hear a Rhyme” is probably not going to make it up on the blog, if only because it’s not a thriller, horror, or graphic novel, and with all the options coming out in the coming months I feel like I need to focus on my genres. But, that said, Tiffany D. Jackson is one of my favorite YA writers writing today. And I have already read “Let Me Hear a Rhyme” thanks to the kind people at Edelweiss+. Guys, it is so good. Taking place in Bed-Stuy in the 1990s, “Let Me Hear a Rhyme” follows Qadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine, three teens reeling after the shooting death of Jasmine’s brother Steph. Steph was an up and coming musician who had big dreams, hoping to make it big like fellow Bed-Stuy rapper Biggie Smalls, who was also killed too soon. Qadir and Jarrell cook up a scheme to make sure that Steph’s music is heard, and they try to market his songs as if he’s still alive, looking for a record deal. Meanwhile, Jasmine wants to find out what happened to her brother. This book is raw and powerful, and it has not only a lot of good points about social justice issues that are still relevant today, it has some great 90s music nostalgia.

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

Baby/Pregnancy Books: Part II

So, surprise! I had a baby last month! And in honor of my little one, and to acknowledge that alongside all the great fiction books I’ve read and reviewed over the last 10 months the fact that I’ve also been obsessively researching baby information, I’ve decided to dedicate my two posts for this week to four of my favorite pregnancy/baby-related reads. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as a librarian, reading was/is my go-to coping method when the first-time mom anxiety hit(s) and there are a lot of resources out there. Some were ok, some seemed like a textbook for scare tactics (I’m looking at you “What to Expect” series), but these four were pretty solid for me specifically. Now, of course, pregnancy and parenting is all very individualized to how people approach life and children, so massive warning that these fit what I was looking for and in no way reflect some type of be-all, end-all to the the vast, VAST expanse of resources and approaches on these topics. So, that out of the way, here are the second two I’m highlighting.

25923717Book: “The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year” by Alice Callahan

Publishing Info:Johns Hopkins University Press, August 2015

Where Did I Get this Book: own it!

Book Description: It seems like every time a new mother turns on her computer, radio, or television, she is greeted with news of yet another scientific study about infancy. Ignoring good information isn’t the right course, but just how does one tell the difference between solid studies, preliminary results, and snake oil?

In this friendly guide through the science of infancy, Science of Mom blogger and PhD scientist Alice Callahan explains how non-scientist mothers can learn the difference between hype and evidence. Readers of Alice’s blog have come to trust her balanced approach, which explains the science that lies behind headlines. The Science of Mom is a fascinating, eye-opening, and extremely informative exploration of the topics that generate discussion and debate in the media and among parents. From breastfeeding to vaccines to sleep, Alice’s advice will help you make smart choices so that you can relax and enjoy your baby.

Mini-Review: So while my first two recommendations on Wednesday had to do with birth and labor, these two books have to do with early infancy and the millions of questions that come with it! I read both of these books when I was pregnant, so at the time, while I knew the information would be useful, I was also coming from a purely theoretical viewpoint. Now, after the fact, I find both of these even more useful. Again, surprising no one, this book focuses on analyzing the research behind the many, MANY recommendations that come with early infancy. And with recommendations comes debate, especially as, if you ask any woman, especially those from different generations, these recommendations are constantly changing. How do you know which to follow and which may be just the most recent “fad?” Well, truthfully, we’re all just guessing. But this book does a good job of really looking at the research behind the current recommendations and letting new parents get at least a better understanding of what the debates are and some basis for coming to their own conclusions. I’ve referenced it a few times now when trying to make decisions about my baby.

39784002Book: “On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep” by Robert Bucknam & Gary Ezzo

Publishing Info: Hawksflight & Associates, Inc, September 2006

Where Did I Get this Book: own it!

Book Description: The infant management concepts presented in this book have found favor with over two million parents and twice as many contented babies. On Becoming Babywise brings hope to the tired and bewildered parents looking for an alternative to sleepless nights and fussy babies. The Babywise Parent Directed Feeding concept has enough structure to bring security and order to your baby’s world, yet enough flexibility to give mom freedom to respond to any need at any time. It teaches parents how to lovingly guide their baby’s day rather than be guided or enslaved to the infant’s unknown needs. 

The information contained within On Becoming Babywise is loaded with success. Comprehensive breast-feeding follow-up surveys spanning three countries, of mothers using the PDF method verify that as a result of the PDF concepts, 88% breast-feed, compared to the national average of only 54% (from the National Center for Health Statistics). Of these breast-feeding mothers, 80% of them breast-feed exclusively without a formula complement. And while 70% of our mothers are still breast-feeding after six months, the national average encourage to follow demand feeding without any guidelines is only 20%. The mean average time of breast-feeding for PDF moms is 33 1/2 weeks, well above the national average. Over 50% of PDF mothers extend their breast-feeding toward and well into the first year. Added to these statistics is another critical factor. The average breast-fed PDF baby sleeps continuously through night seven to eight hours between weeks seven and nine. Healthy sleep in infants is analogous to healthy growth and development. Find out for yourself why a world of parents and pediatricians utilize the concepts found in On Becoming Babywise.

Mini-Review: For a book about sleeping, there sure is a lot of talk about breastfeeding in that book description. I am definitely of the mindset that”fed is best” so take this recommendation for what it is and not any grand statement in favor of exclusive breastfeeding or any other “stance.” No, what appealed to me about this book (beyond the obvious of course! I mean, who doesn’t want their baby sleeping through the night as soon as possible?!) was the nice balance it seemed to strike between hyper scheduling feeding/sleeping and some type of more “baby led” or attachment parenting style. Using the tips from this book, the baby is less on a schedule than on a routine or rotation of activities. I’ve found this so, so helpful! Not only do I feel like nighttime feeds have become more manageable more quickly, but as a panicky new mother, I felt like I had a better guess as to what was actually going on when my baby cried than I would have had otherwise. I really can’t recommend this book enough, regardless of how you feed your baby. With its emphasis on full feeds (rather than “snacking” where the baby eats in short bits and then wakes up 30 minutes later and its a constant, exhausting cycle), I fully believe this booked helped me not lose my sanity in the early days. It took some early commitment, what with keeping baby awake to eat and letting baby fuss a bit in bed, but I do think it set us all off on the right track.