I read this, chewing on my white knuckles, at an absolute gallop. Bright Young Women is a victim-centered, fictionalized account of the aftermath, investigations, and prosecution of one of our country's most notorious serial killers. You'll likely know who it's based on, though the author never explicitly says it. The narrators never say his name either, an intentional and powerful choice. I was left with the feeling that the women in this story, the ones who lived, could change the world. That the mundanity of it's nameless villain lies side by side with that of the well meaning but hapless police detectives who refused to give credence to the word of an eyewitness because she was a young woman.
Yes, just absolutely yes. This eerie eco-horror turns the page into psychological, then physical terror before you can remember your own name. Maybe check your basement before starting this one—just to reassure yourself.
Just try to stop thinking about this book. I can't. Gurba is an astonishing writer, and I am in love with every word. Repulsive, shocking, real, compelling, sharp—this has everything I want in nonfiction.
A heady mashup of the culture of beauty obsession, fairy tales, mommy issues, celebrity worship, coming of age, and just visceral nastiness. Gorgeous, surreal and haunting.
This very fun thrill-ride of a best friend adventure-fantasy novel dives into the multiverse to ask the question: would you still love me if I was (filled with) worms? I am here for it. Conspiracy theories, dangerous biddies, scams, parasites and a whole cast of characters (and characters on characters) come into play while main character Bridge attempts to escape the one thing she finds in nearly every world she enters: grief.
My skin was crawling even as I ate up this delicious morsel of narcissistic sociopathy. Margo's imperious inner monologue was as repugnant as it was intoxicating, and Sims' depiction of a non-reading serial killer discovering the joy of a book was both obsessive and tender. I could have lived in that singular moment (and only that moment) if it didn't involve the abject horror of an unkindness as vast and icy as Margo's mind. If you're looking for something to give you the chills this summer, pick this up.
A young mother is murdered and brought back to life as a clone. Of course it's not that simple. Questions of identity, voyeurism, notoriety, privacy become the themes in this twisting tale of a woman trying to reclaim the life that was taken. The morality of cloning may be well explored territory in fiction, but Williams managed to give this riveting story a unique angle.
When Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream meets Austen's Pride & Prejudice and a bunch of gayyyyyy fairy dust gets dumped into the mix, this is what comes out of the oven. Eat it up like too many cookies and you'll be warm and cozy and full of sugar.
Adelaide Henry is a homesteader alone in Montana. She's fled the ashes of her history, having literally burned her family farm to the ground back in California and left the corpses of her parents inside. But what's in that steamer trunk? Finding out is only part of the fun. Lavalle has written an incredible piece of historical horror fiction, a beautiful testimony to found family, and a love letter to the strength of all kinds of lone women making their way in the brutality of America. I have not stopped thinking and talking about this book since I started it.
The characters, the dialogue, the setting all go down as smooth as butter. The topic, however—the intersection of sports entertainment, slavery, and incarceration—is more like swallowing a bundle of sharp rocks, dynamite and knives. It is a testament to Adjei-Brenyah's unparalleled ability as a storyteller that this book is as compulsively readable as it is—and to his talent for nuanced, razor sharp writing, that enjoying this book means you're taking part in the very systems that he absolutely destroys with this book.
This debut novel—a living portrait of queer desire, an absolute banquet of heart breakingly affirming sentences—is so good. It's undeniably erotic, wryly earnest, unexpectedly funny and full of painfully honest moments of both fellowship and human disconnection.
A ghost story. A love story? I cannot stop thinking about Winifred (known as Wednesday Addams to her peers) & Phil (the coolest ghost in YA lit) & their cute romance. Cherie Dimaline (Métis) has just brought into the world two beautiful souls who will live long beyond the last pages of their story. Dimaline subtly brings attention to the countless missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and two spirited people throughout the US & Canada. I unintentionally read three books in a row with this same tragic theme, and this "Casper meets The Graveyard Book" like tale stands out as the most beautiful and human, thanks to the author's light touch.
I'm still thinking about Olga, her family secrets and her much loved, yet highly difficult mother. At times both funny and heartbreaking, this family drama had much to say about class, race, and mental health. Whether or not you have a narcissist in your life, I highly recommend this engaging, poignant read.
Beth is sheltered, demure, and unassuming with a brilliant future just out of reach. Edie is wild, stylish, loud, and insatiable with the privileges of beauty, wealth and connections; her own brilliant future laid out since birth. These two are thrown together at a summer journalism internship and a friendship is born. I couldn't help but be drawn into their inevitable emotional tornado, set amidst the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York City.
Tormented by her peers, chased by a rolling skull that may or may not be the long lost head of the late Chief Broussard, working a part time job at the casino hotel and going to high school—Anna Horn has a lot on her mind on a good day. Suddenly, her little sister is missing: leaving behind a single tube of strawberry lip balm and a lot of questions. Deftly woven throughout the story are bits of pieces of the folklore Anna is trying desperately to preserve even as she searches for the answers to her sister's disappearance.
As a 6 year old girl in the 80's, I was obsessed with pirates. I watched Captain Blood almost as much as Beauty & the Beast. My lego set? Spanish Galleon. My halloween costumes? Let's just say they involved plastic swords and garish sashes. My fixation has waned since then. Still, I occasionally want to have my swash buckled and read an ancient mariner's tale. The Wager, while not a pirate story, fits the bill. It's the story of the HMS Wager, its wreck and the subsequent mutiny. It's a survival story of those who were forced to decide where their loyalty was due: their captain, or their lives.
Murders, mystery, and mayhem aboard a space station! Truly, an escapist's dream. This is Becky Chambers' Wayfarer series meets Veronica Mars. Lighthearted fun, galactic consequences. Also rock aliens.
"Codependent female friendship", defined by twitter user @emilykmay as: "an *extremely* close female friend who basically turns into someone you want to run into less than your worst ex".
You ever had one of those? You ever have to really examine what was going on there? This is a very fun fantasy of a toxic friendship gone very wrong. It's also a wild, gothic mystery drenched in the heavy sweet syrup of sapphic lust and also, lots and lots of blood.
In a house, haunted by fascism, two girls hurt each other in an irrevocable way, and another never leaves. The ghost of Morrissey eyelessly lurks behind you. A child is groomed by incels online. A Bluebeard-like character brings home countless women and girls who disappear into his workshop. Time is loose and layered in Alison Rumfitt's debut novel, an incredibly queer exploration of the way fascism rots us from the inside.
Small town drama, childhood grudges & true crime podcasts! Full of twists and turns that don't feel like they're designed to give you whiplash. This is a fun one, if fun is biting your nails and screaming "don't go in there" at someone who doesn't exist.
It's Goosebumps for adults, but way better. Have fun!
I am astonished at how good this fever dream of a book is. I enjoyed every minute of its sexy, disheveled plot. I have shivered in revelry at the pure voyeurism of its edges and sunk into the aching loneliness of its heart. If you're looking to be taken for a very fun ride: look no further and hop on Big Swiss.
Live, laugh, recoil!
A not too creepy folk horror for those who like a little sweetness in the mix. You'll want to be wrapped up in a big hug by all of Mackenzie's Aunties at the end of this evocative and haunting tale of layers of grief and family.
I fell headfirst into this psychological mystery so worried for our troubled heroine. Katrina is just barely scraping by, and it's easy to relate, but the further she delves into the fantasy world she inhabits for a little more every day: the harder it is to know what's real and not—or what she thinks is real and what she knows is real. Before I knew it, I was deep in it, both scared for Katrina, and just as unsure as she is about her tenuous reality. And then something happens that shakes everything up and turns the whole thing inside out. I needed this surprisingly uplifting, encouraging and very satisfying mystery; and now I need more!
Kevin Wilson absolutely nails the urgency of being sixteen. He also nails a somehow more uncomfortable feeling: having a secret so shameful that you don't know if you will still be loved once you are exposed. His writing feels as natural and magical as a summer night, with the same ungraspable quality; it slips past you only just as you've noticed its simple beauty. If you have ever been aware of the slim, sticky space between art and alchemy, this is for you.
Reading this book was like eavesdropping on a juicy conversation and catching a glimpse of yourself, enthralled, in a mirror you didn't realize was there.
"You can have us both." I first had the thought while reading this book that I liked this character and then spent the entire rest of the book backpedaling from that notion. Motherthing is so skincrawlingly creepy and cringey and truly gross that I will be reliving scenes from it in my most unwelcome intrusive thoughts for a long time. "You can have us both."
The stories of Feliciana and Zoe, interviewee and interviewer, wind around each other, their lives woven into a tangle that Witches allows you to solve. Magic, gender, love and grief are at the center of this novel, rich with lore and clearly written with love for it's real life inspiration.
Ames' sentimental, buddhist detective, Happy Doll, returns in this witty sequel to A Man Named Doll. You don't have to have read Man to enjoy Wheel, but you'll want to once you finish. Doll's peculiarities and particularities make him the surprisingly charming protagonist of this classic missing person caper with tenderness, twists, turns, and truant lovers.
From ancient history to post climate disaster future, this book centers on three stories with utterly unique characters, shamelessly visceral action, and vividly rendered settings. Reading it was like climbing deeper and deeper into a cave, unsure of what's on the other side of that dark, slippery rock, but you know you want to find out.
CW: self harm
Reading this book is like experiencing the best parts of growing up and art school and learning theory and finding community and breaking your heart and collaborating and falling in love all smashed into one story that's so big and so small it must be a life. It's a rare thing to hold a book in your hand that feels like the key to another world, and you want to give that world to everyone you meet. Tomorrow is that key.
Baby reads like an album. Side A is filled with crescendos of joy, but also longing, confusion and pain as its inevitable conclusion rushes towards Santi and Suwa like a train. Side B begins with bitterness, confusion, pain and moments of joy: rising and crashing down again and again until uncertainty is certain, but so is hope. Honest and sweet, raw like its own beating heart; Baby will steal your heart.
The half-remembered dream of jungles, animal-human hybrids, and Marlon Brando was more than enough background knowledge to fully enjoy this delicious, dreamlike reimagining of H. G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau. Moreno-Garcia keeps the horror lurking just around the corner and the action front and center—take this dark, romantic tale set on the Yucatan peninsula on your next trip to the beach, or your armchair on a dark night.
This book of fabulist, science fiction, high emotional impact stories knocked the wind out of me. Fu's writing is visceral and incisive, highly visual without being flowery. I read this months ago and have been dragging around my weird feelings ever since. Now you have to!
What begins as a simple story about a sister's grief becomes a beating heart of community activism in the wake of a suicide. This book is a whirlwind of personal accountability, waking up to injustice, the complicated ways our friends can impact our lives, familial and societal pressure, a healthy dose of delicious romance, and the many ways we show our love.
Stories about unlicensed investigators have always hit just right for me. Recklessness makes such good fodder for plot. Tell Me Everything, Krouse's true account of her short career as a private detective working on a high profile rape case, slapped me into harsh reality with an abrupt dose of trauma, past and present. Get ready to get angry.
Each part of this tome feels like a completely different novel, tied together by one townhouse and many ideas of paradise. A Sarah Waters-esque romance, the reclamation of stolen land (and artifacts, and culture), the heartbreaking loss of the child that turns away. Paradise is dangerous, is turning away from family, is love, is already yours, is freedom, is too big to imagine.
Imagine an enormous, calm tidal wave of sunlight. Good. The wave is getting bigger, feeling like a distant menace, slowly creeping up, distorting your reality like fun house mirrored glasses. Good. Now you're drowning in the glasses. Good. If you're still reading this, pick up the book instead. Ishiguro's storytelling is masterful as ever, and the concepts of AI and humanity melt into one in this incredible book.
All my rage, indeed. More like "all my feelings", because reading this book was a full emotional spectrum roller coaster. I was drawn into the story immediately, but the way it unfolded was so subtle and sensitive I was able to experience the more difficult revelations alongside the characters. All My Rage hooked me, held on, and hasn't let go.
Have you ever watched, in horror, as your childhood trauma grinds a burgeoning romance to a fine paste and then unceremoniously spits it out? If we accept that we are all works in progress, we can be like the houses Emilie and her sister flip in the story. Much like those houses, this slight, sweet, sapphic romance is a delightful fantasy to live in for a while.
I didn't expect to care, but by the end I was crying. Not simply a character study of Marie de France, nor your average Medieval Nunnery slice of life; this epic story is also a meditation on power. Groff deftly asks readers is it better to be great than good? Do characteristics that society deem monstrous create the fortitude necessary to affect change? I don't know yet, but sapphic nuns are softly singing me to sleep, so I'll tell you in the morning.
This "certain dark thing" broke through my reading slump, and made me excited about reading again. Set in a "neon noir" Mexico City where vampires hide from Sanitation sweeps, a modern detective with a Van Helsing reputation gets swept up in a blood drenched turf war, and somewhere, a dreamy young garbage picker rides the subway across from a beautiful ... woman. I got swept away—along with Domingo, Atl, and a worldly melange of mythologies—into a world of drug cartels, vampire clans and romance.
I once heard a tall tale about M. T. Anderson that I like to repeat. While he was writing Feed, his futuristic Young Adult novel in which the English language has evolved to the point of near unrecognizability, he read nothing but teen magazines. While writing the Octavian Nothing duology, set just before and during the Revolutionary war, he consumed no media that was created after 1800. If these incredible stories are true, I wonder how he conjured this incredibly deftly written graphic novel. Did he enslave a sea serpent? Fall in love with one of the Fae? Or did he just find a fairy tale that hit a vein of deep humanity, because Anderson tapped in on this one.
The sheer beauty of the images Queen has conjured, coupled by the clarity with which she captures the human condition are a necessary, if welcome, slap in the face. This slim volume left me reeling.
When Roiphe isn't unflinchingly examining her own flaws as what our society wants a woman to be, she is picking apart the very essence of femininity. Occasionally I felt skewered by the barbs she hurls heedlessly into the void, but ultimately I felt empowered to be my own flawed self and appreciate my power, be it soft, hard, or something altogether different.
If you’ve ever read the title of Carson McCullers’ seminal work “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” and thought: “I’ve just read the most beautiful poem, written for me”—if you’ve ever done that—maybe you should pick up this book.
Shapland deftly writes about closeted queer desire, her own coming to terms with herself, and McCullers vs. the coded language she has long been shrouded in.
I don’t know where to put this magnificent book—but maybe it belongs with you.
This is the cookbook of the season. Buy it for newlyweds, buy it for yourself, buy it for babies who will probably cook in the future.
In picking the carcass of her own experience, Carmen Maria Machado has written a new kind of memoir. Short vignettes, told through kaleidoscopic lenses, are pieced together by the reader—not that it feels anything like work. It feels more like therapy.
The epigraph of Edwidge Danticat's new story collection generously claims that everyone experiences diaspora, as we are exiled from our mother's body as soon as we are born. What follows are stories that strive to prove its' universality with equal attention to tenderness and brutality. In this collection that lingers on family and death, she has tapped directly into the core of human experience. This book will make you cry, probably in public, so prepare accordingly.
This is a blossoming romance set among the rubble of incomprehensible destruction. This is not Doctor Who fan-fiction, nor is it the concrete, expository science fiction we're used to. This is for the dreamers who want to look through broken windows into another reality.
Maybe you already know her short story "Cat Person," which captured a modern feeling—one that has barely begun to be put in print—so well I felt it in my body. There's more of those sickeningly visceral moments in this collection. The stories feel like urban legends stretched into something else, something you feel in the pit of your stomach and taste at the back of your mouth.
It's been years since alien bio-warfare killed off all the women on the new world, leaving the men alone with nothing but their thoughts. Literally. They call it the Noise. It is constant, it sounds like the inner voices of everyone nearby, and it is all Todd has ever known. When he senses an impossible gap in the Noise, he looks for the source, and discovers a second impossible thing: the source of the gap in the Noise is a girl. If you like post apocalyptic societies, science fiction, or nail-bitingly compulsive reads, this is for you.
This novella won't take you long to read, but it will stick with you. It's the kick to jolt you out of a reading slump. Joe extracts kidnaped girls from dangerous situations, but when one job gets messy, the violence of his work threatens to spill into his carefully guarded personal life. The writing is intensely physical, gritty, and concise without being too spare. Nothing is wasted here.
The first in the Books of Ambha, this is an epic fantasy based in Mughal India. Mehr is a young Ambhan noblewoman with the magic of her exiled Amrithi mother running through her veins. Although Amrithi have always been feared and misunderstood for their power, now huge numbers of them are disappearing. To protect her family, Mehr strikes a deal that proves to be more complicated than she could have imagined. Suri has woven an exciting tale of embracing your heritage and acknowledging your privilege, being true to yourself and doing what's right.
notjust another addiction memoir. But don't worry—that's the point. Jamison's own story is told in fragments, interspersed with the stories of many others (names you already know, others the world never will), brilliantly structured much like the AA meetings that ultimately helped her get sober. Each story is a drop in the bucket, a part of the whole. It is Jamison's voice—unflinching, self aware—and not necessarily her story that captivates. She is not tone deaf to the experiences of others, which serves her well as she presents so many stories alongside her own. I was so ready to dismiss this book, but I simply couldn't. I couldn't put it down; nor could I put it out of my mind.
This is one of my favorite "I-WANT-TO-CRY-FOREVER" books, and has some of the most finely wrought star-crossed lovers in YA. That is still the true today - 20 YEARS after it came out. An instant classic that still feels fresh - and certainly feels timely.
This is, through and through, an adventure tale. Mild-mannered headmaster loses his wife and belongings to the treacherous thieving throng at the base of the Tower of Babel. He must climb the tower to find her. Shenanigans obviously ensue. I was quickly charmed by not only the ever-changing scenery of the Tower, but by the wonderful cast of characters (including a few truly kick-ass women). This airship may take a while to heat up, but there are plenty of diversions along the way - and once it does, you'll be hooked.
The first in a trilogy of mysteries featuring Stevie Bell, the crime fanatic and new student at a quirky, yet prestigious New England boarding school. Without telling you everything that is on the inside flap, let me just say this book is dark, gripping, funny - and will leave you howling for the next one. I loved it.
The author of the wonderful Graceling trilogy has written a charming standalone mystery with 5 different outcomes - all based on a single choice. ROMANCE! INTRIGUE! ESPIONAGE! ART THEFT! UMBRELLAS! Suspend your disbelief and go with Jane to Tu Reveins. You won't regret it.
A classic collection has been given a new makeover. This stylish edition has been stuff with gorgeous new illustrations by a highly curated selection of artists. A perfect gift for the young (or the young at heart) artist/book collector/designer/folktale enthusiast on your list.
You might fall in love with Merricat Blackwood, the murderous narrator of this atmospheric, chilling read. You might enjoy the off-kilter, simple - not spare - language Jackson used to craft her story. Or you may simply eat up this delectable table of treachery, magic, madness, and posen.