Tuesday, June 30, 2020

6 of my most anticipated July releases

It's almost July, and you know what that means! Here are my most anticipated July releases (in no particular order). Covers link to Goodreads!

527220791) The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders -- Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

Release Date: July 21st, 2020
Why I'm excited: I loved Donoghue's Room and Wonder, so add an Irish setting, and I'm so there it's insane. I am also a sucker for that cover 😍

2) Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

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A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming...human or demon. Princess or monster.

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: I'm intrigued by this story's roots in Persian mythology. And again... I am a fickle fool and that cover instantly caught my eye. I love how the white snake is so integrated into the background that you don't even notice it at first!!

3) Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford

When the elite St. Paul's School recently came under state investigation after extensive reports of sexual abuse on campus, Lacy Crawford thought she'd put behind her the assault she'd suffered at St. Paul's decades before, when she was fifteen. Still, when detectives asked for victims to come forward, she sent a note.

Her criminal case file reopened, she saw for the first time evidence that corroborated her memories. Here were depictions of the naΓ―ve, hard-working girl she'd been, a chorister and debater, the daughter of a priest; of the two senior athletes who assaulted her and were allowed to graduate with awards; and of the faculty, doctors, and priests who had known about Crawford's assault and gone to great lengths to bury it.

Now a wife, mother, and writer living on the other side of the country, Crawford learned that police had uncovered astonishing proof of an institutional silencing years before, and that unnamed powers were still trying to block her case. The slander, innuendo, and lack of adult concern that Crawford had experienced as a student hadn't been imagined as the effects of trauma, after all: these were the actions of a school that prized its reputation above anything, even a child.

This revelation launched Crawford on an extraordinary inquiry into the ways gender, privilege, and power shaped her experience as a girl at the gates of America's elite. Her investigation looks beyond the sprawling playing fields and soaring chapel towers of crucibles of power like St. Paul's, whose reckoning is still to come. And it runs deep into the channels of shame and guilt, witness and silencing, that dictate who can speak and who is heard in American society.

An insightful, mature, beautifully written memoir, Notes on a Silencing is an arresting coming-of-age story that wrestles with an essential question for our time: what telling of a survivor's story will finally force a remedy?

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: This looks like a really powerful memoir on a very important subject. 

4) Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

It's 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl's display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella's mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all--and in the process, they learn that there's more to Cinderella's story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they've been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: I love when a fairy tale gets flipped on its head! The artwork on this cover is gorgeous as well.

5) The Book of Dragons by Various Authors

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Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Kate Elliott, Ken Liu, Todd McCaffrey, Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, and other modern masters of fantasy and science fiction put their unique spin on the greatest of mythical beasts—the dragon—in never-before-seen works written exclusively for this fantasy anthology compiled by award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan and with art by Rovina Cai!

Here there be dragons . . .

From China to Europe, Africa to North America, dragons have long captured our imagination in myth and legend. Whether they are rampaging beasts awaiting a brave hero to slay or benevolent sages who have much to teach humanity, dragons are intrinsically connected to stories of creation, adventure, and struggle beloved for generations.

Bringing together nearly thirty stories and poems from some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers working today— Garth Nix, Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Ann Leckie & Rachel Swirsky, Daniel Abraham, Peter S. Beagle, Beth Cato, Zen Cho, C. S. E Cooney, Aliette de Bodard, Kate Elliott, Theodora Goss, Ellen Klages, Ken Liu, Patricia A McKillip, K. J. Parker, Kelly Robson, Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, Elle Katharine White, Jane Yolen, Kelly Barnhill, Brooke Bolander, Sarah Gailey, and J. Y. Yang—and illustrated by award-nominated artist Rovina Cai with black-and-white line drawings specific to each entry throughout, this extraordinary collection vividly breathes fire and life into one of our most captivating and feared magical creatures as never before and is sure to become a treasured keepsake for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales.

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: Um, DRAGONS. That's all I need, but I'll also read anything Garth Nix writes! I also love a good anthology, and this one is illustrated!

4) Crossings by Alex Landragin

On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence. The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations. With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.

Release Date: July 28th, 2020
Why I'm excited: This seems like a super interesting historical fiction novel, with a unique premise - it can be read straight through as you would usually, or with an alternate reading path, like the one described in the synopsis. As a girl who loves "choose your own adventure" novels to this day, this intrigues me. Also, a Parisian setting is something that will always get me.

That's it for me! Feel free to comment below if you're excited for any of these releases as well, or whether you're pumped for one that I missed!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Every Other Weekend, or, The One Where My Sarcastic Sense of Humor is Satiated


Every Other Weekend

by Abigail Johnson

Pages: 512
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020

Cover Comments: 
I love this cover! The adjoining balconies are perfect and spot-on for the story. This does give me the feeling that the book is just a rom-com, but I'm okay with it.

First Lines: 
"The pigeons blanketing the parking lot took flight into the setting sun when we pulled up to Dad's apartment.

               GoodreadsδΈ¨ Amazon
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.


Every Other Weekend is a poignant story at times heartbreaking and at times laugh-out-loud funny. There’s the joy and terror of new love alongside the portrait of two families, broken in very different ways. This is an important story for many reasons - almost too many reasons to fit into one book, which is where my main criticism comes in. But I’ll start with the positives!

The romance featured in the novel was built on slow-building, genuine friendship. I love seeing this and wish it were more common in YA novels. These two really went on a journey throughout the book, ending up with a deep understanding of one another. I enjoyed their dynamic, the “in between” sections where the two text, and the barriers that they had to break down in one another to become close. I also personally love sarcastic, "fake mean" flirting hahaha, so this was right up my alley.

It’s hard to say who had the worse family situation in Every Other Weekend: Jolene has an abusive mother and an absent father, and Adam’s entire family, while sweet, are immersed in grief and anger. The issues just within the two families were quite enough to unpack in one book. However, the story adds on more and more until it’s too much to keep straight, much less delve into in any sort of satisfying detail. Not counting the core family dynamics at play here, this one novel explores:

  1. A side character who is in a co-dependent, mentally abusive relationship
  2. A main character who emotionally cheats for months
  3. A relationship between Jolene’s mom and a new man that just feels sinister
  4. A relationship between Jolene’s dad and his girlfriend that has history and emotional drama concerning Jolene
  5. A side character related to Adam and his family with some emotional baggage to resolve
  6. A sexual assault

Because there was so much going on, it was hard to really get into any of these storylines. Of particular concern to me was the sexual assault storyline. It’s an extremely important topic, but is only introduced close to the end of the book, and is used as a plot point to move the storyline towards a resolution. As such, it made me uncomfortable and felt like a passing nod to a serious issue rather than a deeper exploration. Many of the other extraneous storylines could have been cut too, to make room for more coverage of the main storylines. Other beats dragged out for way too long, like Adam’s extreme anger and attitude towards his dad. 

The resolution of the story was good though - no neat bows on the storyline, but things end in a place that makes sense and that I enjoyed reading. All in all, I liked Every Other Weekend and would recommend it for its sweet and unrushed romance and examination of some really complicated family dynamics. Cut 100 pages and it would have been golden!


*Thanks to Inkyard Press and the author for the chance to read Every Other Weekend before its publication date.