What we’re reading now, spring edition…

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Two soldiers on opposing sides of a war throughout time begin to fall in love via the letters they exchange. While it’s a short read, the book is dense with meaning and subtext, and readers will enjoy the romance and intrigue of this intergalactic Romeo and Juliet story. Shannon

Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Faladé

Tells the story of the African Brigade, a unit of former slaves tasked with rooting out pockets of Confederate guerilla fighters in the Tidewater region of Virginia and in North Carolina’s Outer Banks through the eyes of formerly enslaved Sergeant Richard Etheridge of the African Brigade. Dori

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

It’s 1937 when Mila Pavlichenko a young history student, mother, and sharpshooter joins the Russian army. Her rifle skills are soon apparent and she becomes a sniper. She rises through the ranks and is put in charge of a platoon. Her job is to train others and to kill Nazis. Mila is very successful at her job. Americans are very curious about this lady sniper when she comes to Washington D.C.  as a guest of the White House. Is she for real? Emma

A Night at the Sweet Gum Head by Marty Padgett

A deep look at 1970’s gay Atlanta through the lens of the Drag scene, political activists, and the bars that brought them all together. Deeply researched and well written, this non-fiction gives detailed insight into how a community of people who just wanted to live their lives had to become leaders and inspiration in order to exist. Christine

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Set in 1920’s Georgia, this vivid horror story asks the question: What if the Klu Klux Klan was led by actual demons? Stray dog eating, multi-eyed, otherworldly demons. Three Black female demon hunters, led by Maryse, who gets her guidance from ethereal Gullah Aunties, must destroy the Klu Kluxes to stop the spread of White Supremacy. A beautiful and gory blend of historic events with a horror twist. Christine

Goodnight, Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

A thriller that does not hide the inspiration it takes from King’s Misery. As a newlywed couple tries to put down roots in a small town, tragedy strikes when the husband comes up missing and his wife has to beg the authorities to care all while it becomes more and more apparent that he has been lying to her this whole time. As he fights for his life through the only way he knows how, his wife has to reconcile the man she loves with the man she has uncovered. Christine

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

A touchingly funny book about a small bookstore in Minnesota run by a group of Native American women during the pandemic, and the community of unusual, crazy, genuine people whose lives are touched by this place and by each other.  It’s one of those books where you truly fall in love with the characters and more than anything, want them to find peace and happiness in their lives.  Sara

What We’re Reading Now…..

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The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Evelyn is the leading scientist on genetic cloning. When she discovers a clone of herself at her ex-husband’s house, she realizes that he has stolen her research to make the perfect wife. Somehow, the husband ends up dead on the kitchen floor, and Evelyn and her clone have to cover up the murder in this science fiction-flavored domestic thriller. Shannon

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Reprieve by James Han Mattson

I just picked up this new novel that snagged a starred review in Booklist and am really excited to dig in. Described as a literary horror tragedy, this thought-provoking book looks at marginalization and systemic oppression through a classic haunted house story, with some contemporary twists. The haunted house in this tale is actually a full-contact escape room attraction, and a team of contestants must stay in the house to win thousands of dollars. That can’t end well, right? After each interlude of court documents or descriptions of that evening, the story moves to longer, more character-driven chapters, where readers get to know the key people in the large cast, including Kendra, a Black teenager new to Nebraska and Jaidee, a gay Thai college student. Nicole

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Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz 

I’m currently reading a YA book with a lot of crossover appeal.  Noble Blood fans rejoice! Dana Schwartz, host of the chart-topping podcast about history’s most infamous and ill-fated royals, has written a gothic mystery filled with grave robbers, dark magic, and 19th century science. Hazel Sinnett wants to be surgeon more than a wife, dressing in men’s clothes to attend courses at the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society. When she’s discovered, she makes a deal: Pass the medical exam independently, and the University will permit her to officially enroll. The only problem? Hazel needs bodies to study. While she’s made the acquaintance of resurrection man Jack, Jack is trying to solve the mystery behind his missing friends and several graveyard secrets. Oh, and stay alive during a plague. Anatomy: A Love Story is the latest pick for Reese Witherspoon’s YA Book Club. Two additional titles that I love: The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. (So exceptionally good, and a debut, and impossible for me to write an adequate blog review so I’m glad it can be shown off in some way), Real Life by Brandon Taylor. Thanks! Kari

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The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The story centers around the Henry Clay Frick family in 1919 and later his mansion/collections/museum which were given to the city of New York. Two models decades apart are drawn to the Frick family. I’m not sure how the novel will end but am enjoying the plot. This is a book for fans of historical fiction, art history and landmarks of New York. Emma

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A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay’s story of a televised exorcism and its aftermath does one of the things that I love about the horror genre; instill the reader with a sense of doubt. A Head Full of Ghosts gives multiple (and temporally varied) perspectives on a family’s experience having their lives turned into a paranormal investigation show when it is suspected that their eldest daughter is possessed. Tremblay gives the reader no certainty on what’s “really” going on and holds a tread of tension that I am unsure is ever broken. Greg

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The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

This was a delightful novel about two brothers, Charley Sutherland, a college English professor who has a concealed magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world, and his somewhat estranged brother Rob, who is left to reluctantly help clean up Charley’s messes. The real trouble begins when they discover there is another person with this summoning ability, and they are NOT using it for good. As the fictional world begins to threaten the real world, the brothers must unite to try and put things in order. I thought the ending was a little unrealistic at first, but then remembered that the whole book is about fictional literary characters living in the modern world, so I guess anything goes! Sara

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The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Gornichec takes a largely overlooked member of Norse mythology, Angrboda, and tells her story, including her relationship with Loki. A relationship that directly results in the events that would induce Ragnarok and the end of the world. The Witch’s Heart takes a well-known pantheon and builds upon it an entirely new story that provides depth to characters both unknown and prominent in popular culture. Trent

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These Bones by Kayla Chanault

A multi-generational story about the Lyons family and their neighborhood, the Briar Patch. A short novel written with the most beautiful and haunting prose; it explores poverty, racism, ghosts, and otherworldly beings. Horror comes in many forms. Christine

Sara’s Top Ten of 2021

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell Her daughter heads to a party and never returns, leaving her one year old behind. Did she run?

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton A locked-door mystery aboard a merchant vessel. A sort of Pirates of the Caribbean meet Sherlock Holmes affair…

The Viper by Christobel Kent A lovely series taking place in Florence with an aging detective , Sandro Cellini, working as a PI. You will fall in love with the characters and the scenery.

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian A YA-style read that answers the question, what would happen if you brought a group of psychopaths to a college campus to study them?

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry A fun time travel murder mystery–well, fun for everyone except Madison May.

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves A new series by the UK’s queen of crime. Beautiful but bleak settings, genuine and dedicated characters- a lovely addition to the Ann Cleeves universe.

Northern Spy by Flynn Berry Tessa’s non-political, hometown sister, Marian, is caught on video blowing up a gas station in Northern Ireland with members of the IRA. The police think she’s a member, Tessa thinks she’s been kidnapped.

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor A single mother takes a job as a vicar in a small village. Of course she must find out where the bodies are buried. Not a cozy mystery.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow Women gathering together, casting spells during the turbulent time of the suffragettes- they will help women find their power by any means necessary.

Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella Cady Archer attends Harvard the year after her older brother committed suicide, hoping to understand his death. I’m pretty sure I remember something creepy happens.

What We’re Reading Now…November edition

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Last year’s hit novel, this is the story of two families on a collision course. Amanda and Clay take their two kids to a vacation home on Long Island. In the middle of the night, the owners of the house, Ruth and G.H., show up, claiming that something has gone very wrong in New York City. With no idea what is happening and no other options, the two families stay together in the house and wait for what may be the end of the world. Shannon

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

I am rereading this book from 2002. The author shares the experiences of the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland. They became hosts to the more than six thousand passengers traveling on thirty-eight U.S.-bound international jetliners forced to land in Gander in the wake of the September 11th attacks. The citizens of Gander and surrounding communities put their lives on hold for 6 days to feed, shelter and support those stranded. An amazing community of selfless people. Emma

The Ghost Variations by Kevin Brockmeier

I have read reviews of Brockmeier’s work before but this was the first one I elected to read. This collection of short stories of varying length is connected by its shared theme, ghosts. Each story offers its unique perspective on the theme, changing in tone from the humorous to the unsettling (and sometimes both).  Ghost Variations: one hundred stories was a great introduction to the author’s work that has made me excited to explore their previously published works. Greg

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain

Millions of Americans start their day with a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin or can’t help but sneak a few fries from the bag on their way home from the McDonald’s drive-through, but for black Americans, fast food is a source of both economic power and despair. In the years following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leaders believed racial inequality could be solved through “black capitalism.” As chronicled by Marcia Chatelain in Franchise, a struggling civil rights movement, McDonald’s clever system of franchising and advertising, and Nixon’s “silent majority” era perfectly combined so that fast food could become deeply entrenched in black communities. While fast food certainly created successful black entrepreneurs and black communities with serious purchasing power, economic advancement for black Americans ultimately fizzled in the face of food deserts, dead-end fast food jobs, and continuing racial inequality. A fascinating look at when Big Macs and capitalism combine. Marcia Chatelain is a Professor of History and African American studies at Georgetown University. Franchise won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History.  Kari

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

This smartly written coming-of-age horror story looks at a new type of “final girl” as it follows quirky slasher-obsessed teenager Jade as a series of mysterious murders spring up in her town of Proofrock. Jade is quite sassy and can be hilarious in her exchanges with other characters and is by far my favorite part of this book so far. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a completely different vibe than his previous novel, The Only Good Indians, and so far is much lighter fare.  Nicole

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

This book is a kind of Sherlock Holmes meets The Pirates of the Caribbean tale. Is the merchant vessel, the Saardam, travelling from the East Indies to Amersterdam, haunted? From evil omens painted on the sail and burned into the ship, to sightings of a bloody leper that the crew watched die in a fiery blaze, and a raging storm that lasts more than a week, strange things are certainly afoot on this old, scarred ship. The crew and passengers are hearing wicked whispers in the night, promising them their heart’s desires in return for performing a small service, and the crew is threatening mutiny for fear that there is a devil aboard. It’s up to the world’s greatest detective, Sammy Pipps, his body guard Arent Hayes and a few brave passengers to unravel what is happening aboard the Saardam before it is too late for all of them. A very entertaining book that will keep you guessing until the end. Sara