Big Press Titles


*Where* has the time gone, friends? It’s suddenly only days until the end of 2017, and I’m nowhere near my usual goal of 150ish books read… but I feel like I’ve been reading oodles, including some titles yet to be released. Let’s see what’s been on the Kindle lately (that digital downloading for librarians is a RABBIT HOLE, my friends. The very best kind, of course.)

–Marissa

Let’s see…

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (to be released 1/9/18) has been getting mega press, and was named the top LibraryReads pick for January. This took me a bit to get into, but what a way to weave a story. The children of one family visit a soothsayer, if you will, and learn their death dates… but will it change how they live? Each quarter of the book focuses on a different sibling, but they are definitely all tied together. Great for fans of character-driven, decades-spanning, well-written fiction.

The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn is already a media darling, and doesn’t come out until 1/2/18… but *everyone* is buzzing on this one, movie rights already sold, etc etc. In short, Anna is confined to her New York City apartment but begins watching the family across the way… until she witnesses a crime. This is a twisty, unreliable, well-told suspense novel in the vein of the best Hitchcock movies. Read it – everyone else is!

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is just… I mean, it’s John Green. Amazing, heartbreaking, revealing, awesome. I already want to re-read it, slower this time, to savor all the angst and pain told through the narrator…

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (due out 1/9/18) was un-put-downable for me! I initially picked it up because of Pekkanen’s name on the cover, but oh my word, I couldn’t stop reading! I can’t summarize this one, for it risks spoilers, but this is a fantastic, twisty, well-told suspense novel with particular appeal to women. Highly recommended!

Eternal Life by Dara Horn has also landed on the LibraryReads list for January (released on 1/23/18), and though I read it, I wouldn’t say it was a top read for me, despite the promising premise. Rachel keeps living her life over and over after promising eternal life 2000 years ago to save her son. It just… it just wasn’t what I wanted out of it, but lots of other folks are digging it!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (due out 2/6/18) was sooooo good and I couldn’t stop reading it. The voices of the narrators are *so* strong and compelling, as is the story… Roy and Celestial are newlyweds, when Roy is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. If the person you love is behind bars, can your marriage survive? Told in alternating points of view (so good!), this is really fascinating, well-written reading. Highly recommended!

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell (to be released 2/6/18) is such an interesting premise for a memoir… O’Farrell details 17 times in which her life was in danger from childhood to adulthood as a way to comfort her daughter, who struggles with medical issues. Super, super fast to read, each essay reminded me that, in particular, women are vulnerable each and every day to other people, illness, and ourselves.

Educated by Tara Westover (due out 2/20/18) is already a media darling, and with good reason. This memoir details Westover’s unbelievable (that’s the only word I can think of) survivalist childhood growing up in Utah… without ever going to school. Miraculously, she escapes her childhood home and thrives in a school environment, while still struggling to still be a part of her family. I was horrified by the family dynamics and disdain for basic medical practices, and my heart broke when Tara got to college only to discover how much she *didn’t* know about the world. I stayed up late finishing this one…

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates (release date is 1/9/18) was definitely another page-turner that’s definitely dark and twisty. Alternating between childhood in 1982 and grown-up life in 2008, this novel intertwines three teens who are bound together by a senseless crime, which keeps reverberating throughout their lives. To tell anymore would spoil it, but just trust me… this is going to be a big spring title.

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Lotsa Titles…


Time for another lightning round of book reviews, friends! Let’s do this – even though I’m apparently super critical today! 😛

–Marissa

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo is a slim novel set in 1990s Nigeria… Yejide and Akin are happily married, but (unhappily) childless. When Akin’s family intervenes, Akin comes home… with a second wife with the intention of fathering a child for their family. This novel jumps back and forth in time, with several twists and turns I didn’t see coming. A very absorbing, quick read!

The Visitors by Catherine Burns is definitely a slow-burning, gothic novel that has been billed as a cross between Room and Grey Gardens. Marion (fifties, never married, frumpy) has lived her whole life with her brother John in a derelict house left to them by their parents… and she’s never been in the basement, despite her suspicions of her brother’s secrets down there. Creepy and weird – but a fast, fast read!

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton…. I admit it, I’ve never read it, okay! And now I have! 🙂

Hanna Who Fell From the Sky by Christopher Meades is the story of Hanna, who has never left her community of Clearhaven, where polygamy is the norm and many eligible young men are sent away. Days before her wedding to a much older man, Hanna discovers a power of her own – and has to decide what to do with it. I liked it and I read quickly, but I didn’t *love* it as much as I could have…

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter I was SO excited about… only to honestly be disappointed. 😦 I really struggled to read this novel about a lawyer who goes home to her small Indiana town to investigate some environmental concerns a la Erin Brockovich. By the end, I was skimming… I just didn’t empathize, root for or care about any of the characters. Bummer. (Released on November 7th)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders was an audiobook listen for me. Look, I’m just going to say it: it was deeply, deeply, DEEPLY weird and boring and I didn’t like it. Shoot me.

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby sounded like SUCH my wheelhouse… band of misfits in a foreign place (Antarctica) where hilarity and weirdness would ensue… but, the plot got so bogged down in minutiae and excess characters and just… tedium, that I couldn’t finish it. Double bummer!

Artemis by Andy Weir was just… fun! Following up his epic tale of The Martian, Weir ably worldbuilds a community on the Moon, complete with tourists, workers, permanent residents and just enough weirdos to keep it interesting. Enter Jazz – a porter who doubles as a smuggler. When she’s given a task that will earn her oodles of money, she can’t refuse despite the risks. Cut some MacGyvering, some science, a lot of talk from a woman who’s supposed to be in her twenties but talks like a horny seventeen year old boy, one-liners and excitement, and you’ve got Artemis. Just a fun, rollicking read with great world-building! (Released on November 14th)

 

Soo Many Books…


…and not nearly enough time to read them all! I’ve been reading like a fiend lately, but there’s always more titles just waiting and waiting…

–Marissa

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare from her new Girl Meets Duke series was great – anything by Dare is going to be a surefire Regency romance winner to me! In this series debut, the battle-scarred Duke of Ashbury needs a wife and heir, so when seamstress Emma stumbles into his path, they make a swift match… but Emma is no shrinking violet. Witty, fast, fun, and full of the feels, I loved it!

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (just released a few days ago) is the latest young adult novel from this star, and it was SO well done. The story is told backwards… literally. The first chapter is the last thing that happens, and things progress backwards from there. It shouldn’t work, but it totally does. This felt very Talented Mr. Ripley to me (and was cited as an inspiration) but the trope and the story TOTALLY worked. I tore through it – couldn’t put it down!

The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard (also just released) was a tough memoir to read, but such a worth-it one. In her late 50s, author Maynard finally meets the love of her life, a man named Jim. They quickly fall in love, move in together, get married, and make plans for their life together… until Jim falls gravely ill. Maynard walks the reader through every minute of their courtship and their pairing, unlikely though they seem (much of which really resonated with me!), their marriage, their travels, and how they battled together when Jim was diagnosed. So beautifully written, moving, thoughtful, emotional and heartbreaking… and yet hopeful for all who didn’t settle down early in their adulthood. I absolutely couldn’t stop reading until I reached the last page…

I also read the Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton, which was getting lots of positive press, but which I found annoying, trite and unable to root for any characters… I read Lie to Me by J. T. Ellison, which had a definite Gone Girl vibe to it, and was a zippy read… I enjoyed Running with a Police Escort by (bigger girl and fellow librarian) Jill GrenenwaldThe Day of the Duchess was going to be a winner, since it’s the latest Sarah MacLean (and it was!), and I love a good hygge book, including the very pretty Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg… round things out I reread – for the first time since childhood! – The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, and also just finished Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka, which was supposedly a suspense novel but delved way more into the characters and had little movement to keep the reader totally engaged… at least THIS reader. Whew! That’s a lotta books!

Latest Bustling Books

Time for another roundup of buzz-worthy books! Let’s go!

–Marissa

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong was a BOTM selection, has topped all kinds of “best of” lists this summer, and has been everywhere. This slim, quiet novel is all about a year – told through diary entries – that Ruth spends at home caring for her ailing father. It’s not so much that anything *happens* but more in the gorgeous prose, turns of phrase and observations that Khong packs into this novel. Recommended!

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta is his first novel since 2011, and it’s…awkward. We have a total “bro” of a son heading off to college along with a single mother who is suffering from empty nest syndrome… and then we mix in a bunch of quirkly characters and a lot of NSFW references to sex and porn, and you have a Perrotta novel! Unsettling and odd, character-driven and well written, this one is hard to describe. You’ll have to try it for yourself, if you dig the author of Little Children, Election and The Leftovers

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips is a total one-sitting read! Told over the course of several hours (and with ever-increasing tension), Joan is leaving the zoo at closing time with her young son when something makes her turn and run – and hide. Filled with maternal ferocity, suspense, heart, and a continual “edge of your seat” vibe, you’ll devour this one!

I also just finished Final Girls by Riley Sager (fine enough except for that ending, but not worth ALLLLL the hype I heard about it!) as well as Dear Martin by Nic Stone (who we met at ALA and was all kinds of fabulous!). Dear Martin is going to be the next The Hate U Give: a young adult novel telling a story of race, class, police power, snap judgement and how to be your best self when the world might be against you – it’s one to read right now, and in one sitting.

Coming Soon…


I have fallen down the rabbit hole, y’all.

The digital ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) rabbit hole, wherein I can download digital copies of certain titles from publishers to rate and review before they’re released.

Holy cannoli.

This is just like going to our annual library conference every year for free ARCs, but digital. From home. All the time.

This could be dangerous. 😉

So, let’s see… what have I read…

–Marissa

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (released October 10th) take us back, back… to the story she began with Practical Magic in 1995, only this time, the story features the eccentric aunts of Gilly and Sally, Jet and Franny, and their turbulent years growing up with their gifts, falling in love, and finding themselves. Very much character driven and beautiful written, as expected. Another Hoffman winner!

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak feels like a call-back to Jonathan Tropper’s excellent This is Where I Leave You, wherein a family that doesn’t exactly gel is confined to quarters together for a week – and naturally, deception, hilarity, love, anger and family squabbles ensue. I could not put this book down – I love a good character-driven, told-from-alternating-voices story where you know things are going to go down, and not all of them pleasant. Lots of buzz already for this book, due out October 17th.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was just unputdownable…and hard to summarize. In an idyllic neighborhood, the picture-perfect family is shaken when an enigmatic mother and daughter come into their lives… and close family friends attempt to adopt a baby. Weird summary? Yes. Amazing book? Yes. So much character development, intricacies, secrets, and reveals throughout – I just loved it! Perfect for fans of women’s fiction, literary fiction, or even for older teen readers. Recommended! This one is released September 12th…

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin has been getting all sort of advanced buzz, and I enjoyed it! A young intern, a politician, an affair… but what happens twenty years later when that girl is STILL dogged by the past? Recommended! I also read It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice, which was a short and lovely memoir of his struggle with ALS, and how he overcame medical odds to remains with his family and pursue his passion as a filmmaker. Inspiring!

A Taste of the Truth


Yeah, yeah, I know… I’m totally a fiction girl, BUT I’ve had some really great nonfic reads on my nightstand lately! Let’s do this!

–Marissa

Hunger by Roxane Gay is just… hard to read. Not only for what the sexual abuse she endured at a young age that sent her on a path of self-destruction, but for the raw honesty of what it’s like to live in this world as a plus-size woman. Her writing is honest, accessible, real, true, and so many times, I felt like she was echoing my own thoughts. Powerful stuff – a worthy, worthy read.

American Fire by Monica Hesse was just… great. If you liked Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel or Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, this is right up that alley! Hesse chronicles a series (like, nearly 100) of arson-fueled fires that were lit up and down a Virginia coast, and the who-and-why is just as fascinating as the fires themselves. She also delves into the story of a dying town, commerce, culture, and of course, love. Un-put-down-able!

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs was just… SOOO good. Riggs chronicles her diagnosis of cancer (but a good prognosis!), the loss of her mother, and her eventual rediagnosis of cancer (not a good prognosis). Though you know she loses her battle, she writes with such grace and dignity and humor and accessibility. I really loved this memoir, and felt her loss from the world when I was through…

I also read Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha (an advanced reader’s copy from ALA, to be released January 1 of next year – I liked it!), as well as How To Be Married by Jo Piazza (which I thoroughly enjoyed!).

Young Adultin’


Time for another round of reviews, this time with a focus on my recent Young Adult reads – let’s go!

–Marissa

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich was a Book of the Month pick for me, and has been getting press for being an inventive LGBT young adult novel. I dug the premise… teens are groomed to be “love interests” – supporting players who get close to people who have been determined to be important to the future (think presidents and scientists, etc). But… where one love interest wins the heart of their target, their competitor is not so fortunate. Even though I loved the premise, I thought the love story actually fell flat and didn’t feel as passionate or committed or angsty as it could/should. It felt like it was trying to be too many things, and the world-building fell flat for me. I’m all for LGBT lit for teens, but I’m not sure this is the best around, in my very humble opinion.

The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster had been hooked when Lancaster herself talked about it during ALA and I snagged an advanced copy – this is her first foray into young adult lit, and into such a serious topic. A well-to-do Chicago suburb appears to have it all…except for that high rate of successful students committing suicide-by-train. Thought-provoking, at times hard to read, and well-intentioned, I really liked this, and think it will be absolutely discussion-worthy for teens and adults. (Release date: October 10th)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon has been the buzzy young adult book this summer, and why not? It’s adorable! Dimple is smart, sassy and has her heart set on a geeked out summer camp… what she is not set on is the arranged marriage to Rishi that is on the horizon. A surprise meeting, a thrown Starbucks, and a lot of water under the bridge later, will these two fall for each other anyway? Cute, cute, CUTE!

I also read Textrovert by Lindsey Summers (cute, fast, former Wattpad novel), as well as Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, which was quirky, unique, and total love letter to folks caught up in a fandom of any kind.