In this Blast from the Past post, I will be taking a look at Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight and bringing it forward in time to meet Midnight Sun, which was recently released.
With the release of the latest novel in the Twilight Saga so many years after the first book, it had me thinking – how do I feel about the first book? How do I feel about Midnight Sun?
I’ll be revisiting the first book and taking a look at the newest book in this post. I could make a joke about us taking a bite out of these books, but I won’t. Let’s just jump in.
What It’s About: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn.
Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife — between desire and danger.
When I first read Twilight, I did enjoy it. I really did. I finished that book in a week. I was young and lonely, and Bella was generic enough of a character that I could see myself in her place. The thought of falling in love so quietly and intensely and having someone return that love was something really incredible. It was exciting that a person so ancient could fall for a regular girl.
As I read it now, still basic as ever, I know that this book relies on Bella’s POV. How she sees Edward heavily informs how we see and understand him. He’s still mysterious and tortured, however, his smirks and his condescending tone doesn’t sit well with me now, and I’m not as forgiving as I was when I first read this novel.
I now notice that Bella isn’t so easy to relate to. She’s actually a little overly judgemental for a girl who is supposed to be mature. I also feel that she doesn’t grow during the novel as a character – there’s not as much development as I would have liked for her. She just decides to fall in love and carries through with that devotion.
Despite much not happening in this novel, there is an easy flow to the writing. It is atmospheric as well, which is something I always like in a novel. The book remains enjoyable and readable. Yes, even despite its cheesiest and most cliche moments.
What It’s About: When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward”s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.
This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward”s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?
Where do I begin? This book was a bit of an exercise in frustration for me.
First of all, I’m not intimidated by a long book. I read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, okay? I got this. What I do believe is that this book was too long. I feel like this book could have been edited down to be more clear and concise. The book doesn’t have an easy flow like Twilight did because it gets mired in the many thoughts Edward has. And those thoughts are repetitive and abundant.
Instead of getting Twilight but from Edward’s POV, I think it would have been better to get a book mainly about Edward’s life before Bella. We get snippets of it, which was actually very interesting. Give me more about Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett, and Alice as well. I left out Jasper for a big confederate sized reason.
One thing that I cannot accept is the fact that Edward does not remember his human life. Vampires are creatures that should carry their histories with them – they defy time. It’s disappointing. Considering that Edward is very much a product of the patriarchy and tries to maintain that unequality in his relationship with Bella, it feels ridiculous that he doesn’t remember being a 17-year-old in 1918.
And I have to say being in Edward’s mind was not enjoyable. How he justified his stalking and invasion of Bella’s privacy over and over again. How he did not grasp the kind of person she was and in fact, treated her like she was a child. How he always planned to just up and leave Bella despite knowing it would emotionally destroy her. How he didn’t take her feelings at all seriously. These are just a few of the troubling things in this novel.
What this novel proves is that Edward truly is a figure frozen in time and because of it, does not come across as a character that matured and developed during his long life. This book was a tough one to get through.
Also, let’s not forget Stephanie Meyer has appropriated the culture of the Quileute Tribe in the Twilight Saga and not helped to support them. Never forget that.
If you can, please donate to the Quileute Tribe here. Help them move to a safer place so that they can continue to share their culture, language, and history with their community members and keep thriving for generations to come.
I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak; Ears, but I mustn’t hear; Eyes, but I mustn’t see.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
This. BOOK. I do not know how to organize my thoughts. It’s all coming out as just one endless scream from my prone position on the floor. I will try though.
This novel by June Hur is so very good. From the first chapter, the writing just grabbed me and brought me in. It’s so atmospheric that I could imagine the streets, the mud, and the characters inhabiting this time in Joseon.
Seol is such a memorable character and not just because of the mark on her face. Her curiousity, her determination, her voice, her strength, her love, and her vulnerability were things that make her so memorable and so human to me as a reader.
But besides her the mystery was so well built and developed. It kept me so intrigued and invested to follow the story until its end. Usually, mysteries tend to lose me if the story becomes tiring to follow because of too much filler. I know June Hur did a lot of research for this story and it shows in the best way through the information about class and religion (i.e. Catholicism) in this book and how she weaves it all together to give us such a solid story.
This book is a new favorite and I look forward to June Hur’s next story.
In thisSpotlightpost, I will be highlighting 3 podcast that discuss books across genres and reading audiences.
They have been around for a while but I only discovered them recently as I tried to expand my listening options. I’m very picky when it comes to podcasts because if the hosts are dry and cannot laugh at themselves or discuss something thoughtfully, I find it hard to keep listening. But these podcasts really suit my listening style and what I am looking for.
Title: Overdue Hosts: Andrew Cunningham & Craig Getting
What It’s About: Overdue is a podcast about the books you’ve been meaning to read. Join Andrew and Craig each week as they tackle a new title from their backlog. Classic literature, obscure plays, goofy children’s books: they’ll read it all, one overdue book at a time.
I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts hosted by men, but Andrew and Craig are fun guys. I like that they discuss anything and everything, from the classic’s of literature to young adult fiction to romance fiction.
Not many men will very publicly (the internet is forever) admit they’ve read the entirety of the Twilight series, including Midnight Sun. You have to respect these guys for that.
Title:Books and Boba Hosts: Marvin Yueh & Reera Yoo
What It’s About: Books & Boba is a book club and podcast dedicated to spotlighting books written by authors of Asian descent. Every month, hosts Marvin Yueh and Reera Yoo pick a book by an Asian or Asian American author to read and discuss on the podcast. In addition to book discussions, they also interview authors and cover publishing news, including book deals and new releases.
I’ve been listening to this podcast a lot lately and I really enjoy its focus on Asian authors. I also appreciate how they read widely – from mystery to young adult fiction to literary fiction to translated fiction. I also like hearing the hosts add to each book with their own thoughts and feelings and experiences.
Marvin and Reera always seem to have toughtful and interesting discussions. They also have a nice conversational style and I enjoy their voices.
Title: The Worst Bestsellers Hosts: Kait & Renata (plus an occasional guest)
What It’s About: Worst Bestsellers is a podcast where Kait, Renata, and a guest talk about popular books of questionable quality. It’s kind of like How Did This Get Made? or Mystery Science Theater 3000, but for books.
This podcast is pretty great. It’s like having a book club with your friends and just talking about each book.
But only if all of you really really didn’t like the book you were reading each month and had a lot of opinions to share.
I’m also a total nerd for their supplemental materials like their Readers Advisory corner where they suggest alike or alternative materials to check out based on the book they talk about that episode.
It is finally spook-tober. Where I get to shed my girl-skin for the teeth and bone and blood beneath and disappear into the local woods to dance under the moon. I’m joking. I am 100% not taking my skin off. It’s cold out there this time of year.
In this Blast from the Past post, I will be sharing some spooky books I remember from the 90s, specifically, vampire books.
Vampires are those fiendish bloodsuckers of the night that we love to hate and hate to love. The books on this list are relics of their time and some really helped pave the way and excitement for other YA vampire novels that followed.
Title: The Silver Kiss Written by: Annette Curtis Klause
What It’s About: Zoe is wary when, in the dead of night, the beautiful yet frightening Simon comes to her house. Simon seems to understand the pain of loneliness and death and Zoe’s brooding thoughts of her dying mother.
Simon is one of the undead, a vampire, seeking revenge for the gruesome death of his mother three hundred years before. Does Simon dare ask Zoe to help free him from this lifeless chase and its insufferable loneliness?
Note: This novel was first published in 1990.
Title: The Awakening (The Vampire Diaries #1) Written by: L.J. Smith
What It’s About: A Love Triangle of Unspeakable Horror…
Elena Searching for the ultimate thrill, she vowed to have Stefan.
Stefan Haunted by his tragic past, he struggled to resist her passion.
Damon Driven by revenge, he hunted the brother who betrayed him.
The terrifying story of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.
Note: This novel was first published in 1991.
Title: Secret Vampire (Night World #1) Written by: L.J. Smith
What It’s About: The diagnosis for Poppy was death. there was no hope–until James, her best friend and secret love, appeared in the hospital. But this was a James she didn’t know. He offered Poppy eternal life. Only he could open the door to the Night World. They’re soulmates–but can she follow him into death and beyond?
Note: This novel was first published in 1996.
Title:In the Forest of the Night (Den of Shadows #1) Written by: Amelia Atwater Rhodes
What It’s About: By day, Risika sleeps in a shaded room in Concord, Massachusetts. By night, she hunts the streets of New York City. She is used to being alone. But someone is following Risika. He has left her a black rose, the same sort of rose that sealed her fate 300 years ago. Three hundred years ago she was human. Now she is a vampire, a powerful one, and her past has come back to torment her.
Note: This novel was first published in 1999.
Title:Companions of the Night Written by: Vivian Vande Velde
What It’s About: Kerry’s got a tough night ahead of her. What begins as a simple lost-and-found trip to the Laundromat turns into a nightmarish odyssey of murder, vampires, and – quite possibly – true love. Vivian Vande Velde puts a terrifying spin on what should be a typical night in a small town.
Note: This novel was first published in 1995.
Title: The Last Vampire (The Last Vampire #1) Written by: Christopher Pike
What It’s About: Sita is five thousand years old and believes she is the last vampire. When someone begins hunting her, she thinks it is the client of a detective she killed. She enrolls in high school and befriends the detective’s son, and later falls in love with him.
Meanwhile, Sita’s creator Yaksha has been following her, believing he must kill her to atone for his sins. Sita thought she had killed him years before.
Note: This novel was first published in 1994.
Title: Thirsty Written by: M.T. Anderson
What It’s About: All Chris really wants is to be a normal kid, to hang out with his friends, avoid his parents, and get a date with Rebecca Schwartz. Unfortunately, Chris appears to be turning into a vampire. So while his hometown performs an ancient ritual that keeps Tch’muchgar, the Vampire Lord, locked in another world, Chris desperately tries to save himself from his own vampiric fate.
Note: This novel was first published in 1997.
Title: The Cheerleader (Vampire’s Promise #1) Written by: Caroline B. Cooney
What It’s About: Cheerleaders are beautiful, popular and exciting – girls that Althea longs to be. But Althea is nobody – she gets no phone calls, shares no laughter and has no friends. Then one day she meets him, a vampire who offers to make her a cheerleader in exchange for a simple bargain.
Note: This novel was first published in 1991.
Title: Look for me by Moonlight Written by: Mary Downing Hahn
What It’s About: When sixteen-year-old Cynda goes to stay with her father and his second wife, Susan, at their remote bed-and-breakfast inn in Maine, everything starts off well despite legends about ghosts and a murder at the inn. But Cynda feels like a visitor in Dad’s new life, an outsider. Then intense, handsome stranger Vincent Morthanos arrives at the inn and seems to return Cynda”s interest. At first she is blind to the subtle, insistent signs that Vincent is not what he seems-that he is, in fact, a vampire. Can Cynda free herself-and her family-from Vincent”s power before it”s too late?
Note: This novel was first published in 1995.
The following anthology is a new one but the title really sends home the message that vampires and the stories about them never go out of style. We’re still interested in reading about them and will continue to be.
Title: Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite Edited by: Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker
What It’s About: In this delicious new collection, you”ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out-and going out for their first kill-and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire-and a revolution on the page.
Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.
I was walking between the shelves at the library today (with my mask on, of course. Keep yourself safe and keep library workers safe!) when I stumbled upon these three books about book settings.
Whether the landscapes are fictional or drawn from reality, it’s amazing what authors reveal or create within each one.
I hope you’ll have fun exploring each book.
Title:Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created Edited by: Laura Miller
What It’s About: Literary Wonderlands is a thoroughly researched, wonderfully written, and beautifully produced book that spans four thousand years of creative endeavor. From Spenser’s The Fairie Queene to Wells’s The Time Machine to Murakami’s 1Q84 it explores the timeless and captivating features of fiction”s imagined worlds including the relevance of the writer’s own life to the creation of the story, influential contemporary events and philosophies, and the meaning that can be extracted from the details of the work. Each piece includes a detailed overview of the plot and a “Dramatis Personae.” Literary Wonderlands is a fascinating read for lovers of literature, fantasy, and science fiction.
Title: Literary Landscapes: Charting the Worlds of Classic Literature Edited by: John Sutherland
What It’s About: Some stories couldn’t happen just anywhere. As is the case with all great literature, the setting, scenery, and landscape are as central to the tale as any character, and just as easily recognized. Literary Landscapes brings together more than 50 literary worlds and examines how their description is intrinsic to the stories that unfold within their borders.
Follow Leopold Bloom’s footsteps around Dublin. Hear the music of the Mississippi River steamboats that set the score for Huckleberry Finn. Experience the rugged bleakness of Newfoundland in Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News or the soft Neapolitan breezes in My Brilliant Friend. The landscapes of enduring fictional characters and literary legends are vividly brought to life, evoking all the sights and sounds of the original works. Literary Landscapes will transport you to the fictions greatest lands and allow you to connect to the story and the author’s intent in a whole new way.
Title: Plotted: A Literary Atlas Written by: Daniel Harmon Art by: Andrew DeGraff
What It’s About: This incredibly wide-ranging collection of maps-all inspired by literary classics-offers readers a new way of looking at their favorite fictional worlds. Andrew DeGraff”s stunningly detailed artwork takes readers deep into the landscapes from The Odyssey, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Invisible Man, A Wrinkle in Time, Watership Down, A Christmas Carol, and more. Sure to reignite a love for old favorites and spark fresh interest in more recent works as well, Plotted provides a unique new way of appreciating the lands of the human imagination.
Hello, friends. Welcome to my first Checking in on My TBR post, where I share what I am looking to read soon or in the future (i.e. my lifetime).
My TBR is…extensive, wild, and overwhelming. I know this is common. I know other readers and book bloggers have felt this pain deeply. Now it’s my turn to share.
Let’s get started. *cries*
Title:Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 Written by: Cho Nam- Joo
What It’s About: Kim Ji-young is the most common name for Korean women born in the 1980s. Kim Ji-young is representative of her generation:
At home, she is an unfavoured sister to her princeling little brother. In primary school, she is a girl who has to line up behind the boys at lunchtime. In high school, she is a daughter whose father blames her for being harassed late at night. In university, she is a good student who doesn”t get put forward for internships by her professor. In the office, she is an exemplary employee who is overlooked for promotion by her manager. At home, she is a wife who has given up her career to take care of her husband and her baby.
Kim Ji-young is depressed. Kim Ji-young has started acting out. Kim Ji-young is her own woman. Kim Ji-young is insane.
Kim Ji-young is sent by her husband to a psychiatrist. This is his clinical assessment of the everywoman in contemporary Korea.
Note:I have been waiting for the translation of Cho Nam-Joo’s novel ever since the movie adaptation had been announced. The description of the book had me instantly interested and gripped. I used to sit in a classroom of 2 other girls with the same name as me, it was more annoying than anything else. But to use a common name as a way to examine how one and many women feel? I just have to read it.
Title: If I Had Your Face Written by: Frances Cha
What It’s About: This utterly compelling novel follows the interconnected lives of four young women balancing on the edge of survival in contemporary Seoul, Korea.
Kyuri is a heartbreakingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a “room salon,” an exclusive bar where she entertains wealthy businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake with a client one evening suddenly threatens her livelihood. Her roomate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in an impossible relationship with the super-wealthy heir to one of Korea’s biggest companies. Down the hall from their apartment building lives Ara, a hair stylist whose obsession with a boy-band pop star drives her to desperate extremes. And Wonna, on the floor just below, is a newlywed trying to get pregnant with a child that she and her husband will not be able to afford to raise and educate in the cutthroat economy of Seoul.
Together, they give us a gripping picture of their unfamiliar world of cultural hierarchies, yet unmistakably universal in the ways their tentative friendships will prove their saving grace.
Note: Lately, I’ve been very drawn to stories about women, especially women who are different from one another, coming together and forming a bond. Frances Cha’s latest novel seemed right up my alley for that.
Title:The Mountains Sing Written by: Que Mai Phan Nguyen
What It’s About: With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.
Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.
Note: I actually added this book to my list because of milkyboos suggestion. She really sold me on this novel and I am both scared and interested to read it. There has been such an influx of multigenerational stories on my radar lately and it seems like I am being drawn to stories about family.
Title: Please Look After Mom Written by: Kyung-Sook Shin
What It’s About: When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, and vanishes, their children are consumed with loud recriminations, and are awash in sorrow and guilt. As they argue over the “Missing” flyers they are posting throughout the city — how large of a reward to offer, the best way to phrase the text — they realize that none of them have a recent photograph of Mom. Soon a larger question emerges: do they really know the woman they called Mom?
Told by the alternating voices of Mom’s daughter, son, her husband and, in the shattering conclusion, by Mom herself, the novel pieces together, Rashomon-style, a life that appears ordinary but is anything but.
This is a mystery of one mother that reveals itself to be the mystery of all our mothers: about her triumphs and disappointments and about who she is on her own terms, separate from who she is to her family. If you have ever been a daughter, a son, a husband or a mother, Please Look After Mom is a revelation — one that will bring tears to your eyes.
Note: Mothers are…a mystery. My own included and when she tells me stories of the old country and how she grew up, it’s nostalgic and wistful. Those are her memories and thoughts and they illude me. So I like stories that really examine moms – their pasts, their presents, their secrets, their hopes, and their sorrows. Looking forward to this one!
Title:Ayesa at Last Written by: Uzma Jalaluddin
What It’s About: AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind.
Note: It’s always interested when a book is labelled as a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It creates, yes, expectations, but also excitement. I’m here for the romance and the opposites attract trope. I love it. Also, Uzma Jalaluddin is Canadian, which makes me so so happy.
Title:The Poppy War Written by: R.F. Kuang
What It’s About: When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
Note:The Poppy War has been on my TBR since it was released. I’ve been trying to order a copy from the library for forever but the holds are many and the copies few! I’m looking forward to this novel because it feels quite epic and like Rin goes on a formative journey in this novel. I just love the sound of that.
Title: Trail of Lightning Written by: Rebecca Roanhorse
What It’s About: Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
Note: Monster hunters? An indigenous author? I am so there. That’s all you had to say to lure me in.
Title:Vicious Spirits Written by: Kat Cho
What It’s About: After the events of Wicked Fox, Somin is ready to help her friends pick up the pieces of their broken lives and heal. But Jihoon is still grieving the loss of his grandmother, and Miyoung is distant as she grieves over her mother”s death and learns to live without her fox bead. The only one who seems ready to move forward is their not-so-favorite dokkaebi, Junu.
Somin and Junu didn”t exactly hit it off when they first met. Somin thought he was an arrogant self-serving, conman. Junu was, at first, amused by her hostility toward him until he found himself inexplicably drawn to her. Somin couldn”t deny the heat of their attraction. But as the two try to figure out what could be between them, they discover their troubles aren”t over after all. The loss of Miyoung”s fox bead has caused a tear between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and ghosts are suddenly flooding the streets of Seoul. The only way to repair the breach is to find the missing fox bead or for Miyoung to pay with her life. With few options remaining, Junu has an idea but it might require the ultimate sacrifice. In usual fashion, Somin may have a thing or two to say about that.
In Vicious Spirits, Kat Cho delivers another beguiling and addictive read full of otherworldly dangers and romance.
Note: I read the first novel, Wicked Fox, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the companion novel, which takes a closer look at a bunch of other characters that are part of the novel’s world.
Title:Unpregnant Written by: Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan
What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she’d want to fail a test—that is, until she finds herself staring at a piece of plastic with two solid pink lines. With a college-bound future now disappearing before her eyes, Veronica considers a decision she never imagined she’d have to make: an abortion.
There’s just one catch—the closest place to get one is over nine hundred miles away. With conservative parents, a less-than-optimal boyfriend, and no car, Veronica turns to the only person who won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, a legendary misfit at Jefferson High—and Veronica’s ex-best friend.
What could go wrong? Not much, apart from three days of stolen cars, crazed ex-boyfriends, aliens, ferret napping, and the betrayal of a broken friendship that can’t be outrun. Under the starlit skies of the Southwest, Veronica and Bailey discover that sometimes the most important choice is who your friends are.
Note: It’s a roadtrip novel that explores the topics of teen pregnancy and a woman’s write to choose whether or not to have an abortion. This novel also highlights the fact that in the United States, access to abortion services is highly restricted and having to travel to get it? Not out of the realm of reality and possibility. That’s why I want to dig into this one.
Title: Loveless Written by: Alice Oseman
What It’s About: It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean? Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she”s sure she’ll find her person one day. As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ”teenage dream” is in sight. But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever. Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along? This wise, warm and witty story of identity and self-acceptance sees Alice Oseman on towering form as Georgia and her friends discover that true love isn’t limited to romance.
Note: I haven’t read any of Alice Oseman’s earlier novels and I know this one is her 4th release. I’m just jumping in! What caught my attention with this book is that it features an aromantic-asexual main character realizing who they are and coming into their own. Asexual characters are so rare and I’m excited to check out this story and see how the main character is presented.
Title: A Match Made in Mehendi Written by: Nandini Bajbal
What It’s About: Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole — matchmakers — with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”
But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service — via an app.
But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.
Note: The whole description of this novel sounds like so much fun. Matchmaking, family drama, and hijinks! Oh my!
Title:Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know Written by: Samira Ahmed
What It’s About: It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.
Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.
Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.
Note: Samira Ahmed has been on my radar for a while so I know I am late in checking out her novels. This one has so much to pique anyone’s interest! Paris, art, Alexandre Dumas, and an art history mystery! It’s all so exciting.
Title:I’m Not Dying with You Tonight Written by: Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal
What It’s About: Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.
When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together. They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.
Note: When two worlds collide – that’s what this novel is. The title is so blunt too. And what has me so so interested is that there are two authors for this book. I am eager to see how that takes shape in the text itself. This novel is also extremely relevant and timely.
Title: With the Fire on High Written by: Elizabeth Acevedo
What It’s About: Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela.
The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
Note: Yes, the cover is beautiful. I also enjoy stories about the connection between people, culture, and food. I’m also so excited to read a book about a teen mom that also shows us her character beyond that aspect of her life – her growth and her dreams.
Title: Cemetry Boys Written by: Aiden Thomas
What It’s About: When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Note: I love stories where magic goes terribly wrong and it ends up revealing a mystery that helps drive the story. I’m also excited to read a book about a trans main character.
Title: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Written by: Roxane Gay
What It’s About: “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.”
New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens, and twenties—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be.
Note: I read Not That Bad recently, which was edited by Roxane Gay, and wanted to read more of her work. This is next on my list for her and I was looking to read something solely hers rather than a collection of essays this time around.
Title: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Written by: Susannah Cahalan
What It’s About: When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?
In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.
Note: I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while because the description of how things changed for Susannah so quickly is terrifying. Medical mysteries are always fascinating and it is especially important to read those experienced by women.