Saturday, July 25, 2020

Book Haul: July 2020

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves and Mailbox Monday, where I get to show off the books I’ve gotten recently. Here’s what I’m hopefully going to be reading in the next few months.

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July 2020 Book Haul

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Adult historical fiction

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Why I’m excited: I’m not a huge fan of retellings, but I’m very intrigued by this spin on Pride and Prejudice. It’s been compared to Downton Abbey, which I binged and thoroughly enjoyed. I think the staff at manor houses is usually more interesting than the home owners.

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Young adult contemporary fiction

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Why I’m excited: The author’s other book, Eliza and Her Monsters, was one of my 2019 favorites. Francesca Zappia is great at writing shy, introverted, relatable characters. I’m excited to see if this book lives up to the hype.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Adult historical fiction

Moving between Essex and London, myth and modernity, Cora Seaborne's spirited search for the Essex Serpent encourages all around her to test their allegiance to faith or reason in an age of rapid scientific advancement. At the same time, the novel explores the boundaries of love and friendship and the allegiances that we have to one another. The depth of feeling that the inhabitants of Aldwinter share are matched by their city counterparts as they strive to find the courage to express and understand their deepest desires, and strongest fears.

Why I’m excited: Look at the cover! It’s so pretty! And nature-y. The synopsis is vague, but I believe this novel is historical fiction about a female scientist who is searching for a monster. This is the exact type of book I’m craving right now. I want dark, gothic historical fiction with a slight magical twist. I need to read this ASAP.

Saints And Misfits by S.K. Ali

Young adult contemporary fiction

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her, an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometimes graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster . . . one who happens to be parading around as a saint . . . .

Why I’m excited: I know this doesn’t look like my normal kind of book. It’s very . . . pink. And there’s a love story. Gag. But, I noticed that almost all of my favorite bloggers have read it and given it high ratings. I thought I’d pick up something at the edges of my comfort zone.

Picnic At Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

Classic Mystery

It was a cloudless summer day in the year 1900.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Why I’m excited: Of course I have to grab the classics whenever I see them. I believe this mystery was first published in Australia in the 1960s. I don’t know if I’ve ever read an Australian classic. Most of my college classes focused on Brit Lit. This book got my attention because it sounds like it has an intense plot and a rural setting.

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Adult horror

John Rothstein is an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Why I’m excited: Finders Keepers sounds a lot like Misery, which is one of my favorite King books. Is Stephen King retelling his own novels now? I eventually want to read all of King’s books, so I pick them up whenever they’re cheap. This book is part of a series. Does anyone know if I can read the series out of order because I don’t own book #1? I’ve already read The Outsider, which stars the same characters as this book.

The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood & Renée Nault

Adult dystopian graphic novel

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile. But Offred remembers the years before Gilead, when she was an independent woman who had a job, a family, and a name of her own. Now, her memories and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

Why I’m excited: The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my all-time-favorite books. I’m excited to experience it in illustrated form. Also, I eventually need to work up the courage to read The Testaments. This might help.

Wundersmith: The Calling Of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Middlegrade fantasy

Morrigan Crow has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She's hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery—but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan's unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor?

Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion.

Why I’m excited: I read this book back in February and adored it. It is one of my favorite books of 2020 (so far). Now I have my own copy. If you love Harry Potter or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you need to pick up the Nevermoor series. I know I’ll want to reread the first two books before the third one comes out later this year.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Adult literary fiction

When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?

Why I’m excited: Another retelling. How did I end up buying two retellings in July? This one is a retelling of The Tempest, which I read in college and don’t remember at all. I’m curious about the prison, the invisible daughter, and the plan for revenge. Also, it’s written by Margaret Atwood, so I know I’ll probably love it.

American Radical: Inside The World Of An Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury & Kevin Maurer


It's no secret that federal agencies are waging a broad, global war against terror. But for the first time in this memoir, an active Muslim American federal agent reveals his experience infiltrating and bringing down a terror cell in North America.

A longtime undercover agent, Tamer Elnoury joined an elite counterterrorism unit after September 11. Its express purpose is to gain the trust of terrorists whose goals are to take out as many Americans in as public and as devastating a way possible. It's a furious race against the clock for Tamer and his unit to stop them before they can implement their plans. Yet as new as this war still is, the techniques are as old as time: listen, record, and prove terrorist intent.

Due to his ongoing work for the FBI, Elnoury writes under a pseudonym. To many Americans, it will be a revelation that he and his team even exist, let alone the vital and dangerous work they do keeping all Americans safe.

Why I’m excited: I was searching for books that are similar to Most Dangerous. Basically, fast-paced memoirs or biographies about government employees who are involved in dangerous activities. This book doesn’t sound exactly like Most Dangerous, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I don’t usually enjoy cop stories, but this one is supposed to read like a thriller. It’s one of those “so wild you won’t believe it’s true” books.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?


  1. Both Saints and Misfits and Made You Up rated high with me, so I hope you enjoy them, and glad to see you got another Nevermoor book, because I know how much you enjoy the series.

  2. I hope you enjoy your new books. I bought The Essex Serpent a few years ago and I forgot all about it until today. I guess it must be a sign. =P

    Happy readings!
    Tânia @MyLovelySecret

  3. I've read Longbourn but don't remember too much about it. I do enjoy P&P retellings and upstairs/downstairs stories, though, so I probably liked it!

  4. Several sound good, but the last one (American Radical) might make my tbr list. A good haul!

  5. Hope you love all of these. I'm currently reading Nevermoor for the first time and really loving it.


  6. Made You Up is SO amazing!!! One of my favourites 😭💛 and I've been curious about The Essex Serpent for a while so I hope you love it!

  7. The Essex Serpent was a really interesting read for me -- I didn't love it, but there were bits about it that I found really gorgeously written. Hope you enjoy all these!

    My weekly roundup/STS post!

  8. Ooh I remember when Longbourn came out, I thought that sounded really good. The Essex Serpent sounds pretty good too!

  9. Longbourn is excellent. Happy reading!

  10. I haven't read any of these, but they do sound good. Especially the Stephen King book. Enjoy!

  11. Made you up is also one that’d i’d wanna read! You made me add saints and misfits onto that lists aswell.

    Kristina @

  12. Made You Up is AWESOME. Loved it more than Eliza tbh! I also need to get the courage to read The Testaments! The graphic novel looks cool, I'll be interested to hear what you think! Saints and Misfits looks really good too. I hope you enjoy these!

  13. Hi AJ! I'm sooooooo glad I've decided to start blogging again and to hook up with you again. I love your taste in books! Kindred spirits here! I've read some of these and want to read a few more.

    Longbourn = TBR List!! Will watch our for when you start reading it.
    Picnic at hanging rock = I've watched the first 2 episodes of the adaptation, a bit strange. But will finish it!
    Finders Keepers = EXCELLENT!!!! But I loved the whole series.
    Hag-seed = Doesn't that book form part of the Shakespeare club thingy where famous authors rewrite the Shakespeare classics? I think Jo Nesbo's Macbeth is also part of it. Anyway, I know it's on my TBR list.

    Great list! I've added a few. I also bought a few books this week! The Sunday Post

    Have a good week!

  14. Picnic at Hanging Rock was so weird but I liked it! Lol.

  15. Wow, great haul! I really want to read so many of these books! The Handmaid's Tale graphic novels looks good. I've owned The Essex Serpent for a couple of years now, but still need to read it. I hope we'll both enjoy it!

  16. Yeah I need to read The Picnic at Hanging Rock book sometime to see what all the fuss is. I think you'll like The Testaments ... though it's different than the HMT. I thought it was good ... you need to go right out and start it asap. ha.

  17. I read Longbourn just this month! It was a good read - it didn't blow me away or anything but I liked the storytelling/writing and the different perspective on Pride & Prejudice. I hope you enjoy this book, and all the others, when you get round to reading them.

  18. I hope Longbourn meets your expectations!

  19. Saints and Misfits is really good AJ!

    You got some great books time month.

  20. Your books look good! I have read The Handmaid's Tale twice...and I am eyeing Hag Seed. Enjoy your week, and stay safe.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  21. Hag Seed has been sitting on my shelves unread for far too long. I need to read it soon!

    What a great haul, though. I hope you love all of these books!

  22. What a great book haul. I haven't read Stephen King lately. Longburn sounds wonderful.

    Hope you enjoy your haul.

  23. Wow!!

    ENJOY all of these books, and have a great week.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  24. I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock when I was a kid but can't remember anything about it now. I'm sort of intrigued by the Townsend books-I might grab the first one!

  25. What a great, varied haul. The two that I find of most interest are Wundersmith and American Radical. I hope you enjoy all of your books!