Back to School: A Book List

While both of us are well past the point where fall means it’s time to head back to school, there are quite a few good books out there that run wild with the concept. I mean, even “Harry Potter,” at its core, is a British boarding school tale! Here are a few of our favorites!

24337Book: “Ella Enchanted”

Author: Gail Carson Levine

Even after the unspeakable movie was released and tried to taint this book forever, “Ella Enchanted” remains one of the more charming fairytale retellings you’ll run across. Ella was given a “gift” when she was born, the gift of obedience. Unsurprisingly, this gift turned out to be much more of a curse than anything else. Luckily, our plucky heroine never wavers in the face of her challenges and is determined to make a life for herself free of those who would use her gift/curse for themselves. Much of the story takes part at a boarding school where Ella has been sent to be finished. There she makes both friends and enemies. The whole book is just a delightful affair and the school elements makes readers praise their lucky stars that “finishing” so isn’t a thing anymore.

3008Book: “A Little Princess”

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett

Obviously we had to include this, the almost quintessential boarding house book! This classic tells the tale of the young Sara Crewe, the daughter of a wealthy and devoted father who sends her to boarding school. While there, she learns of her father’s tragic death and her idealic life quickly becomes a nightmare, re-located to the attic and forced to work as a servant under the vengeful eyes of the awful headmistress. But through it all, Sara’s imagination and caring nature continue to give her strength. It’s a lovely story and probably has one of the best villains as far as evil teachers/headmistresses go!

35465844Book: “Tempests and Slaughter”

Author: Tamora Pierce

While it is tempting to simply include the first two Alanna books here since they, too, are school stories, we thought we’d include Pierce’s more recent release. This story focuses on the childhood of Numair, the powerful mage we follow in “The Immortals” series alongside Daine. The book covers Numair’s years from age 11 to 14, detailing his time at school as he learns to wrangle his own powerful magical abilities. He also befriends the ambitious prince Ozorne, another familiar face to fans of the original series. This is the first book in its own series, so it will be fun to see where the tale goes from here!

434631Book: “Freak Show”

Author: James St. James

James St. James, known predominantly for his time as a New York club kid and his book “Disco Bloodbath” (about sociopath Michael Alig), has created an over the top and boundary pushing ‘new kid in school’ story with “Freak Show”. Billy Bloom, a gay teenage drag queen with a flair for flamboyance and glamour, has been sent to live with his straight laced and wealthy father in Florida, who sends him to an elite school filled with kids who are not like Billy at all. Billy is teased and tormented for being out and proud, but finds a friend in the handsome school quarterback, Flip Kelly.  When Billy decides to buck the norms and run for homecoming queen, things REALLY get complicated. While this book is admittedly dated in a lot of ways, and while St. James is known to push the envelopes of bad taste, “Freak Show” is ultimately about being yourself, loving yourself, and finding your place.

510632Book: “Killing Mr. Griffin”

Author: Lois Duncan

The original queen of teenage suspense was known for giving her characters a lot of moral quandaries, and none were as controversial as “Killing Mr. Griffin”. A group of teens really hates their English teacher Mr. Griffin, and thinks that it would be fun to pull a prank on him just to teach him a lesson, so they kidnap him in hopes of scaring him into kindness. But then something goes wrong, and Mr. Griffin ends up dead. Now the kids have a real problem, as while some want to come forward, others want to pretend it never happened. “Killing Mr. Griffin” is one of those Lois Duncan books that brings up questions about responsibility and culpability, and makes the readers muddle through some complex issues. And while it has been considered a controversial book (it has been on the Banned Book List before), it has a lot to say about cause and effect and the consequences of our actions.

6334Book: “Never Let Me Go”

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Though now people are kind of aware that this is a dystopian book with questions about the ethics of cloning, what sometimes gets lost in the sauce is that it is, indeed, a boarding school story to start out with. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are all students at a mysterious boarding school called Hailsham, in which they are taught about high culture and living a healthy life. What they find out, however, is that they are actually clones who have been created to donate their organs to unhealthy people. Our three main characters all meet at Hailsham, and forge strong bonds between each other in spite of the fact that they are not likely to live very long after they start donating their organs. “Never Let Me Go” is a heartbreaker of a novel as you get attached to characters who are seemingly doomed to die, and it raises a lot of questions about what makes a human, who society values, and how far is too far when it comes to medical science and research.

What are some of your favorite books that take place in schools? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights September 2018

Happy Labor Day! The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting cooler, and some of us are very sad to say goodbye to summer. But others can’t wait to break out the Halloween decorations and pumpkin pie! You take the good with the bad. But, as always, we have some exciting books to look forward to regardless of our opinions on cooler weather.

Serena’s Picks

37588503Book: “A Spark of White Fire” by Sangu Mandanna

Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I’m always on the lookout for new science fiction, so I was super excited when I saw this book listed. Much of the story sounds very familiar to other fantasy books: an exiled princess, a stolen throne, a fight to reclaim one’s inheritance. But add to that sentient warships and dark moons, and you’ve got yourself what sounds like an intriguing space opera! What makes it all the more appealing is the fact that the story is loosely based on ancient Indian folklore. All together, it sounds like an intriguing mix!

32824058Book: “Strange Grace” by Tessa Gratton

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Well, first off, look at that cover! Is that gorgeous or what? This is definitely one of those cases where I clicked through to read more about this title based simply on the lovely cover art. But then I read the synopsis and was even more in. The story is that of a town where long ago something terrible happened (or was it love?) between a witch and a demon. Either way, the result is every few years the town must sacrifice its best boy to the forest. At its heart are our three protagonists and what looks like the set-up of some complicated relationship drama. There’s also a good chance that Kate should probably read this, too, what with the witchcraft angle and the representation.

37854049Book: “The Sisters of the Winter Woods” by Rena Rossner

Publication Date: September 25, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Another beautiful cover! Plus, a fairytale-esque fantasy novel featuring sisterhood. Of course I’m all over this one! Liba and Laya are two Jewish sisters, and while they’ve heard of their people have troubles at other villages, in their small home, the community has lived together in peace. But the arrival of a strange band of young men begins to stir unrest, and Liba and Laya discover startling truths about their own heritage and that what were once fairytales may in fact be histories. Even that brief description pretty much checks all of my boxes, so I’m sure there will a review for this one coming up shortly!

Kate’s Picks

34810320Book: “Sadie” by Courtney Summers

Publication Date: September 8, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I’ve read another of Courtney Summer’s books, “Some Girls Are”, and I found it to be an interesting and gritty story. “Sadie”, on the other hand, makes “Some Girls Are” sound like child’s play. As someone who loves her share of true crime podcasts, I’d me remiss to pass this one by. After her younger sister is murdered, Sadie is on the trail of the man she believes killed her. Meanwhile, a podcaster has taken interest in Sadie’s story, and is trying to figure out where she disappeared to. This book is getting a lot of advanced praise, and it sounds like a realistic and rough look at violence towards women, and how our culture tries to capitalize on it.

377158591Book: “We Sold Our Souls” by Grady Hendrix

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Because who doesn’t love a little satire, a little heavy metal, and a really badass female protagonist? Given how much I loved “My Best Friend’s Exorcism”, it was a sure thing that I was going to get my ands on whatever novel he came out with next. And lo and behold, his follow up was about a washed up heavy metal player, an old grudge she has for a former bandmate, and the possibility that her soul was sold without her permission. Since I have a special place in my heart for metal music, and since Hendrix is a fun author whose books have some scares but a whole lot of heart, I am very much looking forward to “We Sold Our Souls”.

38255342Book: “The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein” by Kiersten White

Publication Date: September 25, 2018

Why I’m Interested: You all know how much Serena loves White’s “Conquerer’s Saga”, but now it’s my turn to see her take on a classic tale and twist it into her own thing. I do enjoy “Frankenstein” quite a bit, but I’ve always felt bad for Victor’s doomed ladyfriend Elizabeth. SO color me interested in “The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein”, as it sounds like it’s going to give this character more of a voice. While I’m sure that this story will be as emotionally devastating for me as “The Conquerer’s Saga” was for Serena, I am very excited to see what White does to this classic story, and the places she takes it.

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

 

Fair Reads: Books About Fairs, Circuses, and Carnivals

This week, one of Minnesota’s grandest traditions starts: the Minnesota State Fair. To born and raised Minnesotans this is one of our most important moments of the year. To outsiders, it may seem a little overblown. But regardless how you feel, it’s going to be a really fun time. In honor of the Fair (one of the biggest in the country), we’ve put together a list of books that take place at fairs, circuses, and carnivals!

54607Book: “Something Wicked This Way Comes

Author: Ray Bradbury

Usually a traveling carnival can bring joy and wonder to a community, but Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show is a bit more sinister than that. Best friends Will and Jim find themselves targets of the malevolent Mr. Dark, Mr. Cooger,  and their evil carnival, a carnival that includes arrives once a generation and leaves chaos and tragedy in it’s wake. Attractions at this carnival include a carousel that can manipulate your age, and the Dust Witch, a being who is filled with magic but also incredibly dangerous. While this book does have it’s scary moments that have become legendary in horror literature, it also addresses friendship, coming of age, the power of kindness, and how to face your fears.

13872Book: “Geek Love”

Author: Katherine Dunn

Though ‘freak shows’ are not the entities that they once were (and are more about showcasing talents and feats of illusion than gawking at those different from you), “Geek Love” takes us back to a crueler time, and gives us the story of one of the ‘freak’ families. The Binewskis are a family of carnival workers that travel around showcasing their various ‘oddities’: Arturo the Aquaboy has flipper-like limbs; Iphy and Elly are the conjoined twins who are seen as seductive sexpots; Oly is the hunchbacked Albino. Then there is Chick, who seems ‘normal’ on the outside but inside contains multitudes of dangerous gifts. All of these people came to be because their parents hoped to create a family of human oddities they could profit upon, and used various means (such as arsenic, drugs, and radioactive materials) to do it. This is a story about family, a story about ambition, and a story about what actually makes a person ‘normal’.

9361589Book: “The Night Circus”

Author: Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives at night and is open only during those dusky hours. It leaves as mysteriously as it game. This is the story of not only a strange, magical circus, but of the two magicians who are using the circus as a platform in their ongoing competition to best the other with new and wondrous displays of magical prowess. But it is a game that has been chosen for them, and as they find themselves growing closer and closer to one another, the ultimate conclusion of this competition becomes more perilous. Equal parts fantasy, romance, and historical fiction, this story has a circus that is not only a setting for the plot to unfold but feels like a living, breathing entity itself.

43641Book: “Water for Elephants”

Author: Sara Gruen

You can’t have a fair/circus book list and not include “Water for Elephants.” This massively popular book from several years ago, however, earns the hype it has gathered. It follows the story of a young veterinarian who suddenly find himself adrift and alone in the world. Of course, he joins the circus! But there he finds not only the wonders and spectacle that come with the greatest show on earth, but a seedy underbelly full of intrigue and danger. When he begins falling in love with the wife of the animal trainer, he quickly realizes that danger has arrived at his door. This is another historical drama and features not only a nice romance, but, of course, a lovely relationship between Jacob and an elephant.

23982Book: “Modoc”

Author: Ralph Helfer

You may have noticed that the title of this book is truncated in our version and that’s for the simple reason that the biggest complaint filed against the book is the highly questionable “true story” that it claims to be telling. But I don’t think this should detract from what is still a beautiful story about the love between an elephant and a boy. While there was an elephant named Modoc (maybe even three!), there is very little evidence to support much of this book, but I still felt it was an excellent and heart-breaking story on its own. Just approach it as a fictional story rather than nonfiction, and you’ll probably be happier with it!

21996Book: “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America”

Author: Erik Larson

This may be considered one of the very best books about a fair, though it is also considered one of the best true crime books all time. Erik Larson tells two stories: that of the creation and execution of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, and that of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who preyed upon women who came to Chicago looking for a new life. Larson is the master of drawing parallels between his various narratives, and in “The Devil in the White City” he shows the extent of American progress within an urban setting, and how a growing and bustling city can lead to the kind of anonymity that a serial killer can thrive in. History buffs and true crime buffs will both find a lot to love in this book, as the grandiosity of the Columbian Exposition will enthrall you as much as Holmes’s ‘Murder Castle’ will horrify you.

What about you? What fair, circus, and carnival books have you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments. And to our Minnesotan readers who are going, enjoy the Great Minnesota Get Together!

Highlights: August 2018

Summer is starting to wind down, but we are going to cling to it until it’s forcibly removed from our cold dead hands. It’s been a busy season this year, but we always have time (and make the time) for reading. So here are some of the titles that we are looking forward to that are coming out this month!

Serena’s Picks

294220911Book: “These Rebel Waves” by Sara Raasch

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I’ve really enjoyed the sea-based fantasy adventures I’ve read recently, so I was excited when I saw several more coming down the line! This one features three main characters: a solider, a pirate, and a prince. All coming from very different backgrounds, they all must discover who they truly are and what is important to them in a fight to control the plant-based magic that is forbidden in their world. I’m not usually a huge fan of duel narratives, let a lone three, but I’m intrigued by what sounds like a pretty unique magic system that is focused on water plants.

37822534Book: “Seafire” by Natalie C. Parker

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Why I’m Interested: See? I told you that these pirate-based fantasy stories were hitting some type of peak! What makes this one stand out is the fact that it’s about a pirate ship with a captain and crew made up entirely of women. You know how I love stories with female friendship and sisterhood! I mean, look at that tagline! “Sisterhood is survival.” I’m definitely all over this one. It also seems that this sisterhood of pirates is out for revenge against an all-male raider group, so that could be interesting as well. I’m a bit nervous that it might slip into some weird gender stereotypes what with the segregated ships and all, but I’m still definitely curious to see where this could go!

Magic_Triumphs.inddBook: “Magic Triumphs” by Ilona Andrews

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Gah, I was all geared up and ready to go last spring when this was originally set to be published in March or April. And then one day, I casually check on it and what do I see?? Not until August now! But, finally, August has arrived and I’m so excited to read this book! This is the final book in the Kate Daniels series and my expectations are through the roof. I only really follow two urban fantasy series right now, this and the “Mercy Thompson” series (and we all know my feelings on where that has been head cough“Burn Bright”cough). So that leaves a lot on the shoulders of this book to not only stick its own landing, but prove that yes, some urban fantasy series can not implode under their own nonsense. Plus, the showdown that’s been building over the last few books has been intense. I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so excited.

Kate’s Picks

29749098Book: “Catwoman: Soulstealer” by Sarah J Maas

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Why I’m Interested: UHHHHH, CATWOMAN, QUITE OBVIOUSLY. I’ve also quite enjoyed the “DC Icons” series as of now, which helps. I am always eager to find new Catwoman material, and so I was pretty happy that she was getting her own time to shine in this series, causing trouble for Luke Fox as he’s holding down the fort for Batman. My ONE qualm is that the author is Sarah J Maas, whose works I haven’t been impressed with in the past (we read “Throne of Glass” for book club and boy was I not a fan of it), but my hope is that Selina Kyle is an interesting enough character that Maas will be able to do her justice. And of COURSE Selina is. Bonus: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are in this as well, so my dreams of a bad girl power trio might be met!

36426163

Book: “Toil and Trouble” by Tess Sharpe (Ed.)

Publication Date: August 29, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I am, of course, a huge fan of stories about witches and witchcraft. It doesn’t even have to be a scary story about witches for me to get my kicks; I just love books and stories about witchy women living their lives. “Toil and Trouble” is a short story collection from a number of different authors that all involve witchcraft and witches. Some are scary, some are romantic, all sound like they are going to be teeming with spells and magic. There are a couple of authors in this book that I’ve enjoyed in the past (Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Córdova), and perhaps I’ll find other authors that I will add to my list of favorites.

35403058Book: “City of Ghosts” by Victoria Schwab

Publication Date: August 29, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I have been meaning to read something by Victoria Schwab for a bit now, though it hasn’t been my priority because so much of her work is based in strictly fantasy settings. But her upcoming novel, while still in fantasy for the most part, involves GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS! So you know that I’m interested. When Cassidy Blake, the daughter of ghost hunters, goes to Scotland to see a haunted castle, her actual ability to see ghosts comes into play. Apparently, her power plays a very specific purpose to the ghost world. This is a kid’s story, but I do enjoy middle grade novels when they fit my tastes, and this sounds like it’s REALLY going to fit my tastes. So here I come, Victoria Schwab! And I’m more than ready!

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

Not Just Books: July 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bmjqxnziznzi1mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtuzndk2ntm-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_Netflix Show: “Anne with an E” Season 2

While the first season of “Anne with an E” was met with varied responses, I was one of those who really enjoyed this new version of Anne’s story. I, of course, love the older version as well and the books themselves, but I don’t have the same nostalgic attachment to it as others do that would tinge my appreciation of another series going in a completely new direction. In fact, I very much liked not knowing exactly the way the story was going to go. Here, in season two, the creators and writers have doubled down on this “new version” of Anne and we see a good number of new story lines introduced. Not only did I love the increased action they brought to the story, but through these new avenues, the show was able to explore a variety of topics like racism and homophobia that weren’t addressed in the books. So yes, this isn’t the “Anne” you grew up with, but I, for one, enjoy now having both options at hand! Plus, Gilbert is as cute as ever.

mv5bnzixmjywndewn15bml5banbnxkftztgwmzk5mdi3ntm-_v1_Movie: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

Of course I went to see this movie!! Was that ever even a question? And I, for one, don’t think it deserves the critical panning that is is receiving! Is it as good as the original? Absolutely not! Is it better than some of the other sequels? Definitely! Is it as good as its own direct prequel? Yep, I think it’s even better! Honestly, I think that “Jurassic World” got a big ole pass from the movie critics simply for being a Jurassic Park sequel that came after a long drought, and it threw in quite a few references and familiar musical themes to pluck the nostalgia threads. But other than that? It was kind of just ok. But where it struggled, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” improved upon. It got rid of the annoying nephews that no one cared about. The woman lead was given a bunch more to do and was generally made less intolerable. They allowed Chris Pratt to make more jokes. Plus, there was a lot more action in this one to keep you distracted when you brain started to wake up and question the somewhat suspect script. Plus, there was a scene towards the middle that legit made me cry. Not that that’s saying much…

mv5bn2eyyjrhzjqtyznhni00mdbjlwfhodqtztrlotkyytfkmjq1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjexmjk0odk-_v1_sy1000_cr007071000_al_Netflix Show: “The Frankenstein Chronicles”

This probably more likely falls under Kate’s usual genres, but I’m a sucker for Sean Bean and period pieces, so I thought I’d give this horror/thriller show a go. And I’m glad I did! Yes, it’s scaring the crap out of me, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the heck out of it. The story walks a thin line between science fiction/horror and mystery. What’s more, it often feels similar to many other detective stories, with the narrative following the investigation of Sean Bean’s character into a mysterious death of a child who washed up in the river and was made up of several children’s bodies sewn together. So, yeah…it’s fairly gruesome. But I do like playing the game “spot the British actor” and the beautiful cinematography and talented cast make up for some of its more icky bits. And no, I won’t reveal whether Sean Bean dies in this show.

Kate’s Picks

dg51ingu0aeyrqfNetflix Show: “GLOW Season 2”

My favorite Netflix show is back, and with it comes amazing ladies, some badass wrestling, and all the 80s nostalgia I could ask for! This season the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling have to contend with newfound fame, changing power dynamics, and the ugly and inevitable challenges of sexism and misogyny in the pro-wrestling world. While it’s hard for me to pick my favorite performance this season, Betty Gilpin’s turn as Debbie is particularly strong as she is dealing with the fallout from her divorce and her lingering resentment towards her ex friend turned wrestling partner Ruth. But then there’s Chris Lowell as Bash, the enthusiastic but spoiled fanboy turned producer who goes through some serious character growth. And I am of COURSE rooting for Ruth (Alison Brie) and Sam (Marc Maron) to JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY. It’s such a good show. I need Season 3 yesterday.

mv5bzgvmmmixngetmtk1yy00ngiwlwe4mgmtytq5m2q1zte0ytqyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjqzotm1ntc-_v1_uy268_cr40182268_al_Netflix Show: “Aggretsuko”

Back at the beginning of July my pal Laura and I were waiting to head out to a Sci-Fi Fantasy convention and were looking for a way to spend the time. She suggested that we watch an anime on Netflix about a red panda who combats the ills of work life with death metal. Does that sound surreal? It is. But it’s also SUPER CUTE AND FUNNY AND EXCELLENT. “Aggretsuko” takes Sanrio characters (you know, the Hello Kitty people) and makes a comedy about the drudgery of office life. Retsuko is a frustrated office drone who feels trapped in her job, her only solace being death metal karaoke. But when she starts to be mentored by two other women at the company who are higher up on the food chain, she starts to realize her own worth and find her self esteem. This show is adorable and all kinds of relatable when it comes to frustrating jobs, sexism in the work place, and the ups and downs of adult social lives. Did I mention a Sanrio red panda who does death metal karaoke?

the-sinner-poster-183bbTV Show: “The Sinner”

When I was visiting my old library to pick up some books, I saw the DVDs of “The Sinner” on the new wall. I had heard of it in passing, mostly that it was a mystery involving a murder, and so I grabbed it thinking that I’d maybe give it a whirl. Boy, once I picked it up I couldn’t stop watching. Jessica Biel plays Cora, a young wife and mother who, for no apparent reason, gruesomely murders a stranger in broad daylight on a very crowded beach. Bill Pullman plays Harry Ambrose, a detective who is assigned to the case. But what he thinks is an open and shut matter turns out to be far more complicated than he could have imagined, as Cora has a dark past with a lot of secrets, some of which she herself doesn’t even remember. I binged this entire series in about 24 hours time, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you like thriller novels (this is, indeed, based on a novel), “The Sinner” is going to be right up your alley.

 

Books, Uh, Find a Way: A “Jurassic Park” Book List

What’s up, Dino Nerds! “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” has come out and expanded the “Jurassic Park” franchise, and if you like dinosaurs fighting each other that’s gonna be your kind of movie. We here at The Library Ladies are more fans of the original movie, 1993’s “Jurassic Park” (why earlier this month Kate went to a Fantasy Sci-Fi Convention in an Ian Malcolm Cosplay). Given how fun it is to pick books for fictional characters, we thought we’d try our hand at recommending books for some of our favorite “Jurassic Park” players! While there are lots of characters to choose from, we have a feeling we’ll be picking some of the fandom’s favorites.

Dr. Alan Grant: “Tyrannosaurus Sue: The Extraordinary Saga of the Largest, Most Fought Over T-Rex Ever Found” by Steve Fiffer

Even though Alan Grant seemed to be all about the velociraptors, he sure knew a lot about the formidable T-Rex. Therefore, he would certainly be interested in the story about Sue, the largest T-Rex specimen ever found. And if the largest T-Rex ever found doesn’t get him, how about the huge scandals, legal battles, fights, and drama that went with finding it? Because Sue caused a giant circus involving paleontologists, academics, a group of Indigenous people, auctioneers, and more. Since Grant is a very capable paleontologist who is credible to a fault, I think that this book would not only fascinate him, but would also reaffirm the fact that he wouldn’t get into the mess that so many people did over some dino fossils.

Lex Murphy: “Warcross” by Marie Lu

Lex gets some unwarranted grief from some people in the “Jurassic Park” fandom, because how many of YOU know Unix Systems like she does? For this teenage self professed hacker, a thrilling YA novel with a hacker protagonist will absolutely catch her eye. That’s why Marie Lu’s “Warcross” would be a good fit for her. Warcross is a popular online game that has become quite popular in the near future. When hacker Emika Chan hacks herself into the game illegally, instead of being punished she is recruited to weed out cheaters from the game. Not only would Emika be a protagonist that Lex could really get behind, the story itself is fast paced and very tech-y based while still remaining relatable for most any reader who picks it up.

Dr. Sarah Harding: “Never Cry Wolf” by Farley Mowat

Was Sarah in the original film? No. Is she still one of Kate’s very favorite “Jurassic Park” characters? HELL YES! So therefore she gets a spot on this list. Harding is an adventurous and empathetic animal behaviorist, and because of those traits she would probably love the book “Never Cry Wolf”. Farley Mowat was sent into the wilds of Canada to try and figure out why wolves were killing Arctic Caribou and messing with the population. But while he was living in the woods with the wolves, he learned a lot about their behavior (and how they generally aren’t dangerous to humans), and became a crusader for their survival. His compassion towards the animals combined with his research would absolutely appeal to Harding

Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer

Of course we couldn’t have this list and not include our beloved Ian! Especially since we used one of his lines to title this post. Other than posing in strangely sexual positions given the life-and-death circumstances, Ian’s main role in the movie was to highlight just how little control humanity has over life itself. With this in mind, “Annihilation,” a story about a mysterious location where nature has reclaimed the land from humanity, sounds like a perfect fit. Multiple expeditions into this strange Area X have lead to various outcomes, all disastrous in their own way. The book tells the story of the twelfth expedition, one made up of four women. We’re sure Ian’s on board for that aspect of the story, too!

Dr. Ellie Sattler: “These Rebel Waves” by Sara Raasch

Ellie is the paleobotanist of the group, which means she’s focused on the plants. We also get to see her holding her own in what is a very man-dominated movie/field. So for a mixture of plants and strong women characters, we turned to the upcoming book “These Rebel Waves.” This book tells the story of the soldier Adeluna who is fighting for the freedom of her home country, a land much fought over due to its wealthy of plant magic. There are a couple dudes there, too. But we feel confident that Lu will hold her own, just like Ellie did. Woman inherits the earth, after all.

Robert Muldoon: “Death in the Long Grass” by Peter Hathaway Capstick

And last, but certainly not least, we have the badass hunter extraordinaire, Robert Muldoon. And if you’re not all either saying “Shoooot her!!” or “Clever girl” in your head right now, we’re revoking your “Jurassic Park” card. What could be more perfect for Muldoon that “Death in the Long Grass,” a book based on the Capstick’s own experiences as a big game hunter in Africa. He covers not only the traditional big baddies like lions and leopards, but also delves into the challenges of dealing with rhinos, crocodiles and the supremely underrated hippopotamus. Given that the author survived to write the book, we can assume his title isn’t quite as literal as it would be for poor Muldoon.

What are some of your favorite “Jurassic Park” characters and books you might pair with them?

Highlights: July 2018

We hope that you are all still enjoying summer time! As we start to enter the dog days of the season, our book piles keep growing, giving us lots of options to take to the pool or the lake or the park. Here are some of our most anticipated releases of July!

Serena’s Picks

22817368Book: “Bright We Burn” by Kiersten White

Publication Date: July 10th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Oh man, oh man, oh man. I’m so nervous!! I absolutely loved the first two books in this series that is re-imaging history through the perspective of Lada, a female version of Vlad the Impaler, and her brother, Radu. There were real tears in the last book and I was constantly vacillating between fear and anger as I watched my precious characters be raked across the coal again and again. And by the end, everything was even more broken than it had been to start. How can this end in anything other than gallons of even more tears?? It’s rare for me to be excited for a book that is sure to be heart-wrenching, but the masterful characterization and historical detail have carried this series so far. It’s kind of a “put me out of my misery” situation going on over here, but of the very best variety.

36896898Book: “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik

Publication Date: July 10th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I absolutely adored “Uprooted” when it came out several years ago. Not only was it a completely unique fairytale that was only loosely connected to familiar stories, but it was the magical white stag in fantasy fiction: a stand alone book. So it’s weird to then be excited by a…sequel? But it’s not a sequel? But the cover art is clearly trying to pair the two together? Really, I think it’s only the cover art and the fact that this is also a fairytale that tie these two together because nothing in the description even distantly refers to events/characters from “Uprooted.” (Mostly, I’m calling “publishing shenanigans” on this one, with publishers just wanting to bank on the success of that book.)  Instead, it looks like this is going to be some type of “Rumpelstiltskin” interpretation. But, just like “Uprooted” had only minuscule parallels to “Beauty and the Beast,” I’m looking forward to what I hope will be another mostly new story with only the loosest similarities.

36518517Book: “Dreadful Company” by Vivian Shaw

Publication Date: July 31, 2018

Why I’m Interested: “Strange Practice” was a quirky little novel that completely took me by surprise last year. I don’t read that much urban fantasy, and the two series I do follow are fairly typical of the genre. So this one, set in London and featuring a heroine who serves as a doctor to the supernatural beings in her city was like a breath of fresh air! I enjoyed the many winks to classical monster/supernatural cliches and the neat tie-ins to the type of “ailments” these beings might suffer from. Gretta herself was a strong leading lady and not prone to some of the more irritating tendencies that befall other urban fantasy heroines (like rushing in even when they’re much more under-powered than their colleagues). The story also neatly tied things up in one book, but left just enough room for the story to grow. In this second outing, I’m particularly interested in who the new big bad will be and whether or not Gretta will make any inroads on the romance side of things.

Kate’s Picks

36750068Book: “The Last Time I Lied” by Riley Sager

Publication Date: July 10th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I greatly enjoyed Sager’s debut novel “Final Girls”, so when I found out that he had a new one coming out I was all over it. While that one seemed to be an homage to the slasher killer girls of cinema, “The Last Time I Lied” seems like it’s a loving tribute to Nancy Drew and intrepid girl detectives. Our main character Emma was at Camp Nightingale when her bunkmates disappeared mysteriously. As an adult Emma is invited to come back and be a counselor at the reopened camp. But when she gets there in hopes of getting some closure, instead she finds that her friends may have been involved in a mystery… and that she may have a new, scarier one to contend with. This hits so many of the themes I love in a thriller mystery, so you know that I’m very excited for this one.

29569206Book: “Give Me Your Hand” by Megan Abbott

Publication Date: July 17th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: While I’ve had a hit or miss time with Megan Abbott up until now, her most recent book “You Will Know Me” was a definite hit for me. Abbott has a talent for writing a pretty twisted up mystery with compelling characters, and so I’ve had high hopes for “Give Me Your Hand”, her newest novel. While we aren’t dealing with gymnasts and driven teenagers this time, instead we have Diane and Kit, two women who were friends as teens, and now are pitted against each other as adults in a working environment. Even worse, Diane divulged a terrible secret to Kit when they were teens, a secret that has haunted Kit ever since. A lot of fans of thrillers have been waiting for this book, so you know the buzz is a din for it.

32928987Book: “Scream All Night” by Derek Milman

Publication Date: July 24th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: You all know that I love horror movies like whoa, and so when I heard about a book that has themes of old horror movies, a film studio, and an emancipated youth having to revisit his horror movie past, I was absolutely interested. While I’m not sure if this is something that can REALLY be classified as horror (the description makes me wonder, but what do I know, I am sure that “Scream All Night” is going to have a lot of fun horror easter eggs that I will enjoy spotting. Hell, even the main character’s first name is Dario, and that alone made me smile. Even if this doesn’t end up being a ‘true’ horror novel, the themes of going home again, horror cinema, and quirky characters is enough to make me truly intrigued by this book.

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