I’m finally back in the querying trenches, and that means I’m able to take a breath, look around, and realize I haven’t written a blog post in ages. Between a rather hectic several months at the day job, revising and revising and revising, and beginning to draft a new manuscript, I haven’t exactly had the time or energy to sit down and think about blogging.
But it’s a new month (PRIDE MONTH!!!) and I have some incredible books I think folks should read, if they haven’t already. Not all of these came out this year, but they are my top four that I’ve read this year. In no particular order:
This Rebel Heart – Katherine Locke
My best friend gifted me a subscription to Once Upon a Book Club, which is an incredibly fun subscription box that sends out a book plus little gifts that are wrapped up with page numbers written on them that correspond to post-it notes in the book, which tell you when to open each gift. The gift highlights a section of text and makes you feel more connected with the book. Or so the idea goes.
I’ve only received this one book so far, and it was really fun to hop out of bed (I read before bed) and find the little wrapped gift to open at the right time.
I bring up the book club because despite knowing about this book AND loving one of the author’s previous books (The Girl with the Red Balloon), I hadn’t put this book on my TBR list. Why? Because it sounded too heavy for me right now. I’ve been avoiding political, war, and/or dystopian books. This book takes place in Budapest during the 1956 Hungarian revolution. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to take the heartache. But I read it as soon as it arrived anyway. And I’m so glad I did.
This book is gorgeously written, well-researched, and has so much heart and history that I want to re-read it just to submerge myself in that sense of defiant hope and magic Katherine Locke creates on the page. I highly recommend this book, especially if you, like me, don’t know much about the 1956 Hungarian revolution. It’s not a straight-up history lesson, but it is intriguing and made me want to look further into an era of history that I thought I knew pretty well.
It also brings to the page stunningly rich characters, including the city, which I think is a character in and of itself. Do yourself the favor of starting on a weekend so you can lose yourself for two days (if you can fit that kind of luxury into your life).
Nettle & Bone – T. Kingfisher
Feminist subversive fantasy adventure? Three impossible tasks? A dmeon possessed fowl? Yes. Yes. And YES!
That was basically my reaction to the back-copy of this book. Those three things coupled with an exquisite cover and a bookstore running a sale on pre-orders was all it took for me to pre-order this book back in January and then stare at my mailbox like it was a traitor for not having it immediately available.
I recommended this to a collage at work, someone who prefers sci-fi over fantasy, and he actually seems to be enjoying it, due in large part I believe to the quest plotline. I also recommend this book to folks looking for a new take on fairytales, and folks who want a quick, well-written feminist fantasy, and folks who have joined me on my tor dot com novella binge-fest.
Legendborn – Tracy Deonn
The hype around this book was immense, and normally that’s a bit of a turn-off for me. And I’m not a huge King Arthur fan either. But Dhonielle Clayton’s blurb saying this book “braids together Southern folk traditions and Black Girl Magic into a searing modern tale of grief, power, and self-discovery” sent this book on my TBR list immediately. And then it sat there for what felt like forever as I waited for my library hold to come in. Honestly, I hadn’t seen a waitlist that long in quite some time.
For some bizarre reason, I was convinced that I’d been on the waitlist so long that the second book in this series was already out. So imagine the disgruntled groan I let out when I finished this book and went online to buy the second one, because I was not going to wait in that library line again, only to discover the sequel doesn’t come out until November.
This book is fast-paced and completely reimagines the old King Arthur legend in such a way that it feels entirely new. Thanks to a secret society and a family mystery, this book brings a bit of creepiness and a whole lot of magic.
Everything for You – Chloe Liese
Another Bergman Brothers novel, and this one brings the grump of Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent to a romance novel! Seriously, if you love Ted Lasso, read this book. Soccer (erm, football), a sunshine lead, and his gruff, cursing love interest combine into a classic Liese heartwarming read that could double as Ted Lasso withdrawal therapy.
Seriously, I’ve adored this entire series (absent the one book I haven’t read because it’s a marriage-on-the-rocks trope, and I just don’t dig that trope). You don’t need to read them in order. Just pick one that sounds like your cup of tea, and go for it! Warm feelings and all the smiles await!