Recent Reads, April 2022

Another month where I got a lot of reading done! I’m getting near to the end of my list of books I’ve been wanting to read, so I’d really appreciate any suggestions that you have! I get the absolute best book recommendations from social media so I have faith that you will not let me down!

Ebook covers for: The Palace Papers, The Folk in the Air Trilogy, The Cartographers, A Very Nice Girl, Ninth House, The All Souls Trilogy, Cover Story, A Face for Picasso, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, and An Unlasting Home.

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown

I loved Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries, and love reading about the Royal Family, so I was really looking forward to this book, but I was honestly disappointed. It was much snarkier and meaner than I expected! It spanned many years in recent British history, and I definitely found the younger generations more interesting, but even then…. it was just a lot harsher than I expected. I absolutely know that there are many system issues with the British Royal Family, but her criticisms seemed unjustly aimed at (the wrong, in my opinion) individual people rather than the institution as a whole.

The Folk in the Air trilogy by Holly Black

I really embraced my recent love of fantasy this month! In this series, Jude is a human girl, who goes with her twin sister Taryn and her older, half-faerie sister Vivienne to live in the faerie world when they are young. Jude never feels like she belongs, and is often teased by the other faerie children in the school they attend. But then a love triangle of sorts starts, Jude is burned, realizes that what she really wants is power in the faerie realm, and starts to go after it. It was fine… but I wished the trilogy, as a whole, had a little more depth to it!

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

This book was so cool, which is not something that I thought I would say about a book about mapmaking. When Nell’s father, a renowned cartographer, is found dead, Nell finds a map she had shared with her father as a child hidden among his belongings. This map begins a hunt and an unraveling of a mystery, as she learns more about her father’s life and about what makes this particular gas station map so special. It’s got hints of a thriller and hints of magical realism, and I could not stop reading to find out what was going to happen next!

A Very Nice Girl by Imogen Crimp

Anna is a musician – an opera student – at a super prestigious conservatory in London, but doesn’t feel like she really fits in with her super wealthy classmates. After meeting a man at a bar where she sings, she finds herself getting more and more drawn into him and his life, often to the detriment of her own. She loves that he’s wealthy and able to give her things that she’s never been able to afford before, and she finds herself cancelling plans, neglecting her studies, and ignoring her friends to be with him – despite many, many red flags. She has to come to terms with who she really is and what it is that she wants from life. This was darker than I expected it to be – it was fine, but not my favorite.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard so many great things about Leigh Bardugo’s other fantasy books, so I decided to try this one. I liked it, but it very much felt like the first in a series – like it’s setting up for something more! Alex is brought to Yale, all expenses paid, because she’s able to see ghosts (“greys”). Her job is to work with an organization that keeps tabs on the secret (and magical) societies at Yale. But when her mentor goes missing, and she’s attacked by something that’s not human, she has to team up with some… unconventional partners. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series when it comes out, and trying more of Leigh Bardugo’s other series, too.

The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

By far, my favorite fantasy read of the month! This is the series that the TV show A Discovery of Witches is based on, but the books are MUCH better. Unbeknownst to humans, witches, daemons, and vampires are all living alongside them – but the three groups do not mix. However, when Diana, a young witch who has turned her back on her powers are her parents’ deaths, falls in love with Matthew, a vampire, they start on a journey to find a bewitched manuscript that is said to have answers to the beginnings of “creatures” on Earth. There’s a lot that goes on – romance, thrills, some time-jumping…did I mention romance? So good!! Definitely recommend.

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti

This was a light, fun read – think Anna Delvey if she worked at a magazine. Lora has a summer internship at Elle, and can’t believe her luck. She befriends Cat, a writer for the magazine, and the two start working together. Lora confides in Cat about her troubles at school and her financial issues, and in turn Cat offers her a job as a ghostwriter. It seems like her dream has come true, until it starts to become clear to Lora that things may not be exactly as the appear. The story is written in journal entries, e-mails, FBI memos, and IM chat conversations, which makes it a really fun and quick read.

A Face for Picasso by Ariel Henley

I absolutely loved this memoir, written by Ariel Henley about her and her twin sister Zan growing up with Crouzon syndrome, which is a condition where the bones in the head fuse prematurely. We certainly did not have exactly the same childhood experience, but since we did both grow up with a disability, there were absolutely similarities. Ariel Henley does such an amazing job describing not only the facts, but also the emotions surrounding growing up disabled. It’s a beautiful memoir.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

(Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this book – it will be out July 19, 2022.) I am quickly becoming a huge fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This is apparently a re-telling of The Island of Doctor Moreau but from the daughter, Carlota’s, point-of-view, but I’ve actually never read the original. This was a great magical realism story. Carlota’s father, the Doctor, has been experimenting for years and has managed to create human-animal hybrids that live (secretly) on the island. When the son of the Doctor’s patron comes to visit the island, Carlota’s world is turned upside down and she starts asking questions and learning that the island might have more secrets than she previously believed.

An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib

(Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this book.) Sara is a professor at a university in Kuwait who suddenly finds herself accused of blasphemy and arrested in one of the first cases against the country’s new laws. As we learn more about her and her legal battle, we’re also told the stories of the women who came before her – her previous generations. The story is beautiful and it’s fun when the connections between the stories “clicked” in my head, but it was a little bit long for me! I did appreciate, at the end, that the author clarified whether or not the laws against blasphemy were real (they’re not, but almost were).

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