A Burning by Megha Majumdar was hyped by almost every publication on the planet as one of the best books of June 2020. So I bought it.
It made me feel things…mostly sadness and anger. I guess that means it was good?
offers her hand to be kissed,
& can form it into a fist
while smiling the whole damn time.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo piqued my interest because it was written by a National Book Award winner, and it was on Amazon’s monthly list of best YA fiction.
Oh, and it was written in verse. That sounded kinda bonkers to me, and I wanted to check it out.
So far, it’s my favorite book that has been released in 2020.
Reading is one of our favorite things to do during the summer months. Good books are perfect for the pool, the beach, and in bed with air conditioning.
These upcoming July releases interested us. Comment below to add your own recommendations. We’re not omniscient (yet), and we welcome any suggestions!
Pew: A Novel ~ Catherine Lacey (Release Date July 21, 2020)
I do not know much about this book, except it has something to do with a mysterious person who appears in a small town. Truth be told, there were not very many upcoming books in July with plot descriptions that set my hair on fire. BUT, this book has a bunch of recommendations, from Amazon, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, and The Millions. I thought I’d check it out too.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn ~ Melissa Bashardoust
I am excited for this new book from Bashardoust. Two of my favorite books from the past few years are Circe and the Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, and Girl, Serpent, Thorn somehow gives me shades of both while being unlike either. This book isn’t getting much press, but I expect it to be excellent.
“Any man can be kind when he is comfortable. I’d always thought kindness a trivial virtue, therefore. But when we were hungry, thirsty, sick, frightened, with our deaths shouting at us, in the heart of horror, you were still as unfailingly courteous as a gentleman at ease before his own hearth.
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold is a 2001 fantasy novel that was nominated for a bunch of awards, including the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Award. It’s considered an important part of the fantasy literary canon. I only became aware of its existence a couple of years ago, and this year I finally got around to reading it.
It’s pretty good!
Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles is set in Texas, just after the end of the Civil War. I am a big fan of Jiles’ previous novel News of the World, which was also set in Texas during that time period. I was excited about this release! Unfortunately….
Simon the Fiddler is not very good.
Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray is a Young Adult Extended Universe Star Wars novel.
Star Wars was my favorite thing as a kid. I watched the movies over and over. I played with the toys. I dressed up as Darth Vader (on normal days, not just Halloween). But I didn’t get into EVERYTHING Star Wars-y. I did not bother to read the many, many spin-off novels or comic books. I pretty much just stuck with the movies and my imagination, even as I got older and more movies were released. The lackluster prequels and sequels didn’t exactly spark a greater interest in that galaxy far, far away.
However, the Disney+ show The Mandalorian got some good buzz, so I watched it. I liked it. Wanting more good Star Wars content, I checked out the cartoon series Rebels (also available for streaming on Disney+). I loved it. I wanted even more Star Wars content, particularly stories set in the early days of the rebellion (the same setting as Rebels), and preferably featuring Leia, a hero of mine since I was in pre-school. I chose the YA novel Leia, Princess of Alderaan to scratch that itch.
I loved it!
We hope everyone has been staying safe and healthy. If you are looking for more stuff to read, rejoice, for it is a new month! Here are some May releases that we are interested in. Comment below to add your own recommendations. We are certainly open to suggestions.
Clap When You Land ~ Elizabeth Acevedo (Release Date May 5, 2020)
It caught my attention by being on Amazon’s list of Best YA fiction of the month. It’s written by a National Book Award winner. The format looks interesting: a novel written like a poem (or vice versa). It’s been a while since I’ve read a straight-up Literary YA novel, and I am looking forward to trying this out!
Network Effect ~ Martha Wells (Release Date May 5, 2020)
Martha Wells dominated 2019 with three new novellas in her Murderbot Diaries series, and she is bringing the heat in 2020 as well by publishing its first full-length novel. I can’t wait to see what this new story has in store!
Catherine House ~ Elisabeth Thomas (Release Date May 12, 2020)
Elisabeth Thomas’s Catherine House promises deep intrigue and suspense set against a backdrop of a near-gothic boarding school in rural Pennsylvania. What secrets will be unearthed, what threats unleashed, to wander among the halls of Catherine House?
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea ~ Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Release Date May 14, 2020)
Pirates, magic, rebellion, colonialism, marauders, thieves, and worse? Yes! This YA fantasy sounds like everything I need to curl up with after a long day in a long week in a long month, and I am so excited for whatever adventure waits among its pages.
There’s something in it, he decides later, standing in line for dinner. It’s possible to know you’re a criminal, a liar, a man of weak moral character, and yet not know it, in the sense of feeling that your punishment is somehow undeserved, that despite the cold facts you’re deserving of warmth and some kind of special treatment.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel was one of the books I was most-looking forward to reading this year because I loved the author’s previous novel, Station Eleven.
The Glass Hotel is good. Not as good as Station Eleven. But good.
Anytime I think I am a semidecent person, I remember this story someone told me once about her ex-husband. He was always late getting home. He never came home when he said he would, and I thought I knew this story before she told it, but I was wrong. It was just that he had a rule that if anyone asked him for help he would pause to see what that person needed. And then he would try to get them that thing if he could. Sometimes it was money, sometimes food; once a man needed a belt and he gave him his. The reason he was always late was that his office was next door to Penn Station. They broke up because he was a mean drunk, but still.
A couple of months ago, I read Dept. of Speculation, a fantastic novel by Jenny Offill. When I discovered that the author was releasing a new book this year, I immediately preordered it. That new book is Weather.
It’s pretty good.
A new month means new books! These are the upcoming releases that we are excited about for March 2020:
The Glass Hotel ~ Emily St. John Mandel (Release Date March 24, 2020)
I adored Station Eleven, a previous novel by the author. In that novel, she incorporated beautiful prose and sensitive character exploration into a post-apocalyptic setting typically reserved for pulp-y genre fiction. I cannot wait to see what she does in this book, which apparently involves a Ponzi scheme and ghosts.
The Story of More ~ Hope Jahren (Release Date March 2, 2020)
I loved Lab Girl, the author’s memoir about her life in science. She is a terrific writer, and the memoir was filled with beautiful prose and page-turning, moving passages. So when I got an email a few days ago informing me that Jahren was releasing a new book about climate change, I was immediately on board. I don’t know much about the subject, and she’s the author I want telling me all about it.
The Mirror & the Light ~ Hilary Mantel (Release Date March 10, 2020)
This historical fiction set in the court of King Henry VIII, The Mirror & The Light concludes Mantel’s multi-award winning Wolf Hall trilogy. I’ve been looking for more high-quality historical fiction and this seems sure to deliver.