Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Little Eve by Catriona Ward, Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen, & Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin


 Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

 
This week's upcoming book spotlights are: 
Little Eve by Catriona Ward
Publication: October 11th, 2022
Tor Nightfire
Hardcover. 288 pages.

Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"'A great day is upon us. He is coming. The world will be washed away.' 

On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth. 

The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction. 

A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong. 

And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered."
Catriona Ward has consistently written books that are really unique and a little weird, but also very captivating. I have an ARC of this that I can't wait to dive into. 

and...
Lavender House Lev AC Rosen
Publication: October 18th, 2022
Forge Books
Hardcover. 288 pages.

Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"Lavender House, 1952: the family seat of recently deceased matriarch Irene Lamontaine, head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene’s recipes for her signature scents are a well guarded secret—but it's not the only one behind these gates. This estate offers a unique freedom, where none of the residents or staff hide who they are. But to keep their secret, they've needed to keep others out. And now they're worried they're keeping a murderer in. 

Irene’s widow hires Evander Mills to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death. Andy, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a raid on a gay bar, is happy to accept—his calendar is wide open. And his secret is the kind of secret the Lamontaines understand. 

Andy had never imagined a world like Lavender House. He's seduced by the safety and freedom found behind its gates, where a queer family lives honestly and openly. But that honesty doesn't extend to everything, and he quickly finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy—and Irene’s death is only the beginning. 

When your existence is a crime, everything you do is criminal, and the gates of Lavender House can’t lock out the real world forever. Running a soap empire can be a dirty business."
I caved and read an ARC of this back in July or August... but I really loved it and am now super excited for its release! I very highly recommend this one. 

and...

Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin, trans. Megan McDowell
Publication: October 18th, 2022
Riverhead Books
Hardcover. 208 pages.

Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"A blazing new story collection that will make you feel like the house is collapsing in on you, from the 3 time International Booker Prize finalist, 'lead[ing] a vanguard of Latin American writers forging their own 21st-century canon.' -O, the Oprah magazine 

The seven houses in these seven stories are empty. Some are devoid of love or life or furniture, of people or the truth or of memories. But in Samanta Schweblin's tense, visionary tales, something always creeps back in: a ghost, a fight, trespassers, a list of things to do before you die, a child's first encounter with a dark choice or the fallibility of parents. 

This was the collection that established Samanta Schweblin at the forefront of a new generation of Latin American writers. And now in English it will push her cult status to new heights. Seven Empty Houses is an entrypoint into a fiercely original mind, and a slingshot into Schweblin's destablizing, exhilarating literary world. 

In each story, the twists and turns will unnerve and surprise: Schweblin never takes the expected path and instead digs under the skin and reveals uncomfortable truths about our sense of home, of belonging, and of the fragility of our connections with others. This is a masterwork from one of our most brilliant writers."
I feel like the synopsis for this one is a little vague, but I'm really intrigued by the idea of different stories focusing on different empty houses and I assume the stories they hold within. It's classified under horror so I'm not sure whether to expect some weird stuff or something more literary?? Regardless, I'm excited!

What do you think about these upcoming releases? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Captivating Typographical Covers


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!

This week's topic is: Typographical Covers

It's been a short while since I've been able to participate in a Top Ten Tuesday post, but this week's topic sounded too fun to pass up because I love a good typographical cover. I included some that are text only and make some great use of that text only, as well as a few that incorporated the title text into the cover image in some way that really catches the eye. Let's have a look! (And yes, I did end up including twelve covers instead of just ten, it was hard to pick.)

    

    

    

    

    

    


What do you think of these covers? What are some covers you love that use the title typography in a neat way?


  





Monday, September 26, 2022

Review: The Getaway by Lamar Giles

The Getaway by Lamar Giles
Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 20th, 2022
Hardcover. 400 pages.

About The Getaway:

"Welcome to the funnest spot around . . . 

Jay is living his best life at Karloff Country, one of the world’s most famous resorts. He’s got his family, his crew, and an incredible after-school job at the property’s main theme park. Life isn’t so great for the rest of the world, but when people come here to vacation, it’s to get away from all that. 

As things outside get worse, trouble starts seeping into Karloff. First, Jay’s friend Connie and her family disappear in the middle of the night and no one will talk about it. Then the richest and most powerful families start arriving, only... they aren’t leaving. Unknown to the employees, the resort has been selling shares in an end-of-the-world oasis. The best of the best at the end of days. And in order to deliver the top-notch customer service the wealthy clientele paid for, the employees will be at their total beck and call. 

Whether they like it or not. 

Yet Karloff Country didn’t count on Jay and his crew--and just how far they’ll go to find out the truth and save themselves. But what’s more dangerous: the monster you know in your home or the unknown nightmare outside the walls?"

The Getaway is an intense dystopian thriller that takes place within a "utopian" community that hit a lot harder than I expected it to. This is marketed as YA age range, and while I found the writing and most of the characters fit that well, there are a few more intense scenes that I think would probably make this better for the upper range of YA or at least warned that there are some major content warnings for violence and racism, among other topics. I've seen this compared to the movie Get Out in a number of reviews, and I would agree with that comparison for a general vibe of maybe what you could expect from this book. 

I wanted to like The Getaway more than I did, but I still found it to be a really solid and engaging exploration of racism, classism, and what it means to be stuck in a world where you discover that your life is simply not valued in the same way that others are. While these themes and the premise and general concept of The Getaway was incredible, the execution felt somewhat lacking at times, which I'll discuss later in this review. 

The Getaway takes place within Karloff Country, a utopian-inspired amusement part that is sold as "the funnest place on earth" and is supposed to have just about everything you could want for a fun time and promises an almost perfect visit. Think Disneyland but on an even grander scale. Karloff Country is essentially a sort of "refuge" for the rich within this dystopian future landscape to spend their money and get away from the chaos that is occurring throughout the rest of the outside world. Employees mostly consist of families and people who live on Karloff Country property where all members of the family work for the park in one capacity or another based upon their age, skills, etc. Employees stay within Karloff Country's walls and therefore only see and hear about what's going on in the world via the internet, but do not really ever venture out themselves. 

Jermaine, known as "Jay," and his family live in the Jubilee neighborhood, along with Jay's friends Zeke and Connie. Chelle, his friend-slash-hopefully-girlfriend one day, is the granddaughter of the Karloff founder himself and lives in a mansion with her white mother and grandfather, while she herself is mixed race and often used by her mom as a sort of token to connect with the rest of their non-white employees like Jay and his friends. Jay is a good kid and I liked following him as our main protagonist in The Getaway, though his goodness was almost hard to watch sometimes as he slowly began to witness more and more horrors as the story went on. He is a very determined teenager and only wants his family and friends to be safe. He struggles with wanting to do the right thing and not dwell on outlandish conspiracy theories about the "dark side" of Karloff Country that his friend Zeke tries to share with him, but he also doesn't want to fully ignore anything bad going on around him. As the story progresses, he is forced to make some choices that I think really shows his true character and marks him as a particularly compelling protagonist. 

We mainly follow Jay's first person POV, but get occasionally first person POV chapters from Connie, Zeke, and Chelle as well. Whenever the POV switched, I almost always got confused while reading the chapter trying to remember whose perspective I was reading because the voices all felt almost exactly the same. I also think the author was really trying to go for a younger-sounding narrative voice, but it didn't always work for me and sometimes felt a little forced. 

Most of my issues with this book center solely around the writing and execution, such as the previously mentioned POV issues. The story itself was entertaining and hit the mark, but the execution and writing of it didn't quite hit the mark for me. The main problem was that a lot of this book almost felt like I was reading a draft. Since this was an ARC, I'm not sure how much change there may be between my reading of this ARC and the final product, but if there are not major changes then I don't think my opinion would change. 

The pacing of The Getaway was also slower than I expect for this genre and premise. I assumed that I would fly through this book, but it actually took me longer than anticipated to make my way through, and I think that's largely because the pacing took a while to build up momentum. I also think it's because the writing just felt clunky at times and the plot pacing didn't really progress in a manner that flowed well. It's really hard to describe this without using examples, but any examples would really end up being spoilers so I am refraining from using them. Suffice to say, certain major plot points felt almost randomly thrown in at times and then were surrounded by slower pacing, so my interest really kept piquing and then falling, and it made for a less than great reading experience. I think with a bit of polishing, this book could easily be a four or five star from me. 

The atmosphere and themes in The Getaway are really where this book shines. One minute spent in Karloff Country will immediately put you on edge a little bit; everything polished and perfect, but it's too polished and perfect and you have a slight fear that there may be horror lurking within the interior of that shiny exterior. When things go extremely wrong after the big climactic moment of this book, we as readers get to experience the horrors that unfold along with Jay and his friends and it is truly haunting and terrifying to be a part of. It's a hard reality to experience in this story and to think about in relation to our own world, and I think Giles did an amazing job of incorporating so many real world problems–most importantly the focus on racism–and fears into this story in ways that I think will definitely make an impact. 

Overall, I've given The Getaway three stars. This is a haunting and eerie look at the dark side of any attempts at a utopia and really the dark side of humanity itself. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an entertaining dystopia with some real world issues at its core. Things get darker than you might think, so be prepared for this one. I think this will be an awesome book for teens!

*I received a copy of The Getaway courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*


Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Friday, September 23, 2022

Anticipated October 2022 Releases

 


The fall 2022 releases just keep coming! October is another absolutely packed month of new releases and, even knowing that I'll never get to all the books I want to read, I'm not mad about it! I can't wait for so many of these and I know a lot of you are as well. I'm in the middle of Little Eve and Jackal and I have It Rides a Pale Horse up next, so things are looking pretty good for my reading at the moment. I've already read A Dowry of Blood (amazing!) and Lavender House (also amazing) and would recommend both! Let me know what books you are most looking forward to seeing published in October, even if it's one I forgot to add to this list. 


It Rides a Pale Horse by Andy Marino || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Little Eve by Catriona Ward || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Hollow Kind by Andy Davidson || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Jackal by Erin E. Adams || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver || October 18th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Malice House by Megan Shepherd || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Lute by Jennifer Marie Thorne || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Dark Between the Trees by Fiona Barnett || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew || October 18th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen || October 18th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Lady Joker, Volume Two by Kaoru Takamura || October 18th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin || October 18th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Daughters of the New Year by E.M. Tran || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Liberation Day by George Saunders || October 18th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese || October 4th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee || October 25th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Strike the Zither by Joan He || October 25th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Such a Pretty Girl by T. Greenwood || October 25th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Socialite's Guide to Murder by S.K. Golden || October 11th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

What are your anticipated October releases?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Review: One Dark Window (The Shepherd King #1) by Rachel Gillig

One Dark Window (The Shepherd King #1) by Rachel Gillig
Orbit
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Paperback. 432 pages.

About One Dark Window:

"Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets. 

But nothing comes for free, especially magic. 

When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason. 

Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him."

If you're looking for an entertaining dark fantasy read for fall, then One Dark Window is probably going to be the perfect choice for you! I loved this dark, mysterious story that has an intriguing magic system, captivating world-building, and characters you can't help but love (and hate, for a few!). 

The kingdom of Blunder is secluded and cut off from surrounding kingdoms due to a dark, magical mist that has blocked everyone in. The only way to eradicate this mist and cure those who are infected with dark magic because of it is to collect a full deck of magical Providence Cards to be used against it. This might sound a little confusing here, but I promise the book explains things much better and it'll make a lot more sense when you read the book. 

Our protagonist, Elspeth, begins the story already infected with a dark magic that takes the form of a dark entity known as Nightmare that resides in her mind. Since anyone known to be infected with dark magic is known to be cursed and is therefore ordered by the king to be tracked and killed, she works hard every day to keep this secret hide that she was ever afflicted with this magical "fever" that caused her to end up with Nightmare. We follow Elspeth's POV throughout, which includes her many interactions with the Nightmare, and really showcases how she has struggled to survive in this world and with a family dynamic that leaves a lot to be desired. I appreciated Elspeth's resilience throughout the story and seeing how she made different decisions according to what she knew was best and to protect both herself and others. I found her to be a fairly likable and engaging character and enjoyed following Elspeth as a protagonist.

We meet a variety of other characters as well, such as Nightmare himself, as well as Elspeth's family and other prominent families within Blunder. This includes some characters I really liked, such as Ravyn, Elm, and the rest of the Yew family. Nightmare was probably one of the most intriguing characters since he is shrouded in unknowns and darkness and has some delightful dialogue interactions with Elspeth. Ravyn is a more stereotypical "mysterious" love interest who has a lot more to him than meets the eye, and Elm was also a very prickly favorite character of mine who really opened up to readers as the story progressed. All of Gillig's characters seem to be thoughtfully written and incorporated a lot of unique elements that helped showcase different elements of the story and world-building. 

When I first started this book, I was a little surprised to come across so many general tropes and setting ideas that I'd seen in other books, from a fake dating trope to a sort of dark magical forest (which is always a favorite!) to character personalities and dynamics that felt very familiar and much more. While some of these aspects are not the most unique or surprising, I'm happy to report that Gillig's manner of incorporating all of these into the story felt fresh and engaging and I ended up loving every bit of it. There is a bit of a romance, hence the fake dating trope, but it's not overly prominent and therefore doesn't take over the story. It was a little hasty for me at times, but not enough to take away from my enjoyment of the rest of the plot and characters. The pacing also felt very steady throughout and I never felt as though I were slogging through any particular moment or that anything was moving too fast (other than the romance at times). 

I particularly enjoyed learning how this magic system worked and think the Providence Cards were really fascinating to learn about. providence cards essentially grant users the ability to use magic specific to a specific card. For instance, the Maiden card grants user the ability to possess unparalleled beauty, but it comes at the price of losing your heart in the process. The Scythe card grants users the ability to seemingly influence the minds and motivations of those around them, but comes with its own personal drawbacks as well. In addition to the cards, there's also a magical illness of sorts that can infect children if they get it and almost always results in them having some sort of dark magic and degeneration that eventually ends with their death. 

This might sound odd, but one of my favorite parts of this book was the ending. I really loved the dark turns this book took and I have a lot of respect for Gillig's plot choices and where she decided to take this story. I was already excited for the sequel, but after that ending my curiosity and excitement has been immensely increased and I cannot wait to read it. 

Overall, I've given One Dark Window 4.5 stars! I really enjoyed this, and although it wasn't necessarily the most groundbreaking story, it still stood out to me as one with engaging characters, a fascinating magic system, and a dark story that kept me hooked. I highly recommend you pick up this perfect dark fantasy fall read!

*I received a copy of One Dark Window courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*


Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson, The Night Ship by Jess Kidd, & Malice House by Megan Shepherd


  Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

 
This week's upcoming book spotlights are: 

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
Publication: October 4th, 2022
Redhook
Hardcover. 304 pages.

Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"S.T. Gibson's sensational novel is the darkly seductive tale of Dracula's first bride, Constanta. 

This is my last love letter to you, though some would call it a confession. . . 

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. 

Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband's dark secrets. With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death."
So I've actually already read a pre-Orbit/Redhook copy of this book, but I'm super excited to re-read it and see the final product since it has been picked up by the publisher! I can't wait for this to come out and I hope everyone loves it as much as I did. 

and...

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd
Publication: October 4th, 2022
Atria Books
Hardcover. 400 pages.

Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island. 

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks. 

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​"
I love how it sounds like these two timelines may intersect, and in general I am always happy for more epic historical fiction. I'm really excited for this one, and I really like this cover's illustration as well!

and...


Malice House by Megan Shepherd
Publication: October 4th, 2022
Hyperion Avenue
Hardcover. 384 pages.

Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"'One step away from our world lies another: a land of violent fantasies, of sharp-toothed delights. . . .' 

Of all the things aspiring artist Haven Marbury expected to find while clearing out her late father’s remote seaside house, Bedtime Stories for Monsters was not on the list. This secret handwritten manuscript is disturbingly different from his Pulitzer-winning works: its interweaving short stories crawl with horrific monsters and enigmatic humans that exist somewhere between this world and the next. The stories unsettle but also entice Haven, practically compelling her to illustrate them while she stays in the house that her father warned her was haunted. Clearly just dementia whispering in his ear . . . right? 

Reeling from a failed marriage, Haven hopes an illustrated Bedtime Stories can be the lucrative posthumous father-daughter collaboration she desperately needs to jump-start her art career. However, everyone in the nearby vacation town wants a piece of the manuscript: her father’s obsessive literary salon members, the Ink Drinkers; her mysterious yet charming neighbor, who has a tendency toward three a.m. bonfires; a young barista with a literary forgery business; and of course, whoever keeps trying to break into her house. But when a monstrous creature appears under Haven’s bed right as grisly deaths are reported in the nearby woods, she must race to uncover dark, otherworldly family secrets—completely rewriting everything she ever knew about herself in the process."
I've really loved some of Megan Shepherd's previous books (The Madman's Daughter is a favorite!) so I'm really excited about this new release! This sounds right up my alley and I can't wait to have a chance to check it out. 

What do you think about these upcoming releases? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?