Julie Murphy’s first adult book, a romance, was a very fun read. A retelling of Disney’s Cinderella, it stars a plus-size fashionista, Cindy, who goes on a The Bachelor-type show to help jump start her design career. After a chance meeting with the bachelor, Henry, on an airplane, she feels a real connection to him. Will she have a chance for love or a career in designing shoes? I’ve loved Murphy’s YA novels, and this felt like more of the same—in the best way possible.
Sylvester, by Georgette Heyer
Reread, of course. Best retelling of Pride and Prejudice ever.
Creepy Cat, by Cotton Valent
A graphic novel told in comic strips, this is a silly, funny book with gothic elements and a very strange cat. It looks a lot like Japanese manga, but is by a Thai illustrator and writer. Recommend for when you need something light and entertaining.
Eat Your Heart Out, by Kelly Devos
YA book about teenage fat camps and zombies. Need I say more? I really wish the cover wasn’t pink, because this is as much a boy book as a girl book (and we all know a teenage boy is not likely to pick up a bright pink book, unfortunately). Told from six POVs, we follow some teens and their counselor to a fat camp in Northern Arizona during the Christmas break. When strange murders start to happen, the campers have to figure out what’s going on and how to save themselves. Super entertaining and not terribly scary.
Sanity & Tallulah Shortcuts, by Molly Brooks
Third book in this space-set series of graphic novels. The brilliant Sanity and her best friend the spacy Tallulah are doing a mail delivery run to the edges of their corner of outer space when they are, for once, at the right place at the right time to save the people of a damaged space station. That sounds so serious, and this series is not. There is a lot of serious action, and the antics of these best friends make the story shine with mischief. Love this series.
Smile and Look Pretty, by Amanda Pelligrino
Four friends working as personal assistants in Manhattan decide they’ve had enough and start a website to tell their stories. When one of the women’s bosses is exposed in a #metoo moment, the ladies work together to bring him down. I really enjoyed the friendship between these women. There were some really upsetting things that happen to them, and arguments between the group, but the story was conveyed with a great balance of humor and seriousness. Recommend.
The Lake of the Dead, by Andre Bjerke
This book is one of the most popular Norwegian mysteries. Originally published in the 1940s, it has finally been translated and published in English. At the news of the death of a friend, five people go to the remote cabin where he supposedly died. They are looking for a reason why he may have killed himself, which may involve a curse on the cabin itself. The atmosphere of this book is positively gothic, which was great. The mystery was very much of its time—over-described everything—and relied too much on Freudian psychology. It was a quick read, and I did enjoy the descriptions of the remote wilderness.
In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
Because The Lake of the Dead wasn’t that scary, I wanted something freakier. Both that one and this book I think are considered psychological thrillers, Ware has an uncanny ability to make her very realistic mysteries feel as if they are supernatural. When Nora is invited to her high school best friend’s bachelorette party, a person she hasn’t had contact with in ten years, she reluctantly agrees to go. Held in a remote house in the deep country, the attendees of the party are cut off from everything. Tensions run deep between some very disparate people and by the second night nobody wants to be there. Then someone is murdered. Yup, really good.
Akata Woman, by Nnedi Okorafor
Third and last installment in Okorafor’s Nsibidi Scripts series. A gorgeous book about Nigerian magic, magical places, and magical people. Sunny and Chichi have to take personal responsibility for a crime committed against Udide, the spider god, and find the stolen item in another realm. At the same time, Sunny’s relationship with her normal family is unravelling as they can’t know what she is. A very powerful conclusion to Sunny’s story.
Getting Clean with Stevie Green, by Swan Huntley
Stevie has spent the last twenty years, since an incident during her senior year of high school, running away. When she lands back in her hometown of La Jolla, California, she decides to set down roots by starting an organizing business. Her mom talks her into bringing on her ne’er-do-well sister to help her out. This book is all right. My biggest problem is that Stevie and her family are wealthy, so that all that suffering that Stevie did over twenty years was done in luxury with no worries about paying rent. Yes, rich people have problems, but no, I don’t want to read about them. It was short enough that I just flew through it.
Clown in a Cornfield, by Adam Cesare
YA horror! This story is a slasher film in book form. Bloody, but fun, and with way more than one clown, it will scare your socks off in the best way possible.
Maisy Chen’s Last Chance, by Lisa Yee
I’ve liked Lisa Yee’s other books (and the author herself is very nice) and almost didn’t read this one past the first couple of chapters because I couldn’t tell where it was going. I am so glad I kept reading. Big city girl, Maisy, is thrown into small town Minnesota when her grandfather gets sick. The odd one out at the beginning, she soon finds her place in the town, at her grandparents’ storied restaurant, and as a friend to her grandfather. There is poker, Chinese food, custom-made fortune cookies, this history of Maisie’s family in America, paper sons, historical research, a reunion of friends, and a giant carved wood bear. The story came together in such unique and astonishing ways. I highly recommend this one.
Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh
A novella about the Green Man or Wild Man myth in English folklore. Tobias has lived in the wood, under the magnificent oak tree for over four hundred years. One day, a newcomer finds his cabin and a friendship begins. When his friend, Henry Silver, becomes victim to an annual curse, Tobias has to upend his world to save him. Good story, not great. Interesting take on the Green Man myth.