Saturday, August 28, 2021

Book Haul: August 2021

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Guess what? I got more books! I know I've been too busy to read much lately, but that hasn't stopped books from showing up on my doorstep. Once they're here, I can't turn them away. That would be rude. I'm already planning ahead for Nonfiction November, so you'll see a few nonfiction books in this haul. Also, horror! Spooky season is coming, people! And, there's a random YA contemporary novel-in-verse because it sounds excellent.

🌴 August Book Haul  🌞

One by Sarah Crossan

Young Adult Contemporary Novel-In-Verse

Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?

Why I'm excited to read it: Have you ever read a novel about conjoined twins? I haven't. I'm interested to see how the author handles the "two lives, one body" thing. And, I want to know what's happening to the twins! The synopsis is so vague and mysterious.

Buy it on Amazon

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The Black Project by Gareth Brookes

Adult Horror Graphic Novel

Getting yourself a girlfriend is easy, according to Richard. All you need is papier mache, string, soft material, a balloon, some old fashioned bellows, and a good pair of scissors. The difficult bit is keeping her secret. Set in an English suburb in the early 1990s, this is the story of Richard's all-consuming passion for creating 'girls' from household objects. But as his hobby begins to flourish, his real life friendships and family relationships deteriorate.

Why I'm excited to read it: Here's a story for you: Way back in 2014, I was looking at lists of horror graphic novels and came across this one. It immediately got my attention because dolls are creepy, and a dude who ruins his life by building himself "girlfriends" is even creepier. I searched everywhere for this book and couldn't find a cheap used copy. They just didn't exist in the US. I put the book on my TBR spreadsheet and waited, and waited, and searched. Fast forward to 2021. I found a copy for $3.88. YES! If you're broke, patience will eventually pay off. That's the moral of the story.

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Banished: Surviving My Years In The Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain & Lisa Pulitzer

Adult Memoir

You've likely heard of the Westboro Baptist Church. Perhaps you've seen their pickets on the news, the members holding signs with messages that are too offensive to copy here, protesting at events such as the funerals of soldiers, the 9-year old victim of a Tucson shooting, and Elizabeth Edwards, all in front of their grieving families. The WBC is fervently anti-gay, anti-Semitic, and anti- practically everything and everyone. And they aren't going anywhere: in March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the WBC's right to picket funerals.

Since no organized religion will claim affiliation with the WBC, it's perhaps more accurate to think of them as a cult. Lauren Drain was thrust into that cult at the age of 15, and then spat back out again seven years later.

Lauren spent her early years enjoying a normal life with her family in Florida. But when her formerly liberal and secular father set out to produce a documentary about the WBC, his detached interest gradually evolved into fascination, and he moved the entire family to Kansas to join the church and live on their compound. Over the next seven years, Lauren fully assimilated their extreme beliefs, and became a member of the church and an active and vocal picketer. But as she matured and began to challenge some of the church's tenets, she was unceremoniously cast out from the church and permanently cut off from her family and from everyone else she knew and loved.

Banished is the story of Lauren's fight to find herself amidst dramatic changes in a world of extremists and a life in exile.

Why I'm excited to read it: I'm interested in this book for the exact reason the synopsis says. I've seen Westboro Baptist Church on TV and thought, Who are these people? Why does this exist? Maybe the author knows the answer to that question.

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After the eclipse: A Mother's Murder, A Daughter's Search by Sarah Perry

Adult Memoir

When Sarah Perry was twelve, she saw a partial eclipse of the sun, an event she took as a sign of good fortune for her and her mother, Crystal. But that brief moment of darkness ultimately foreshadowed a much larger one: two days later, Crystal was murdered in their home in rural Maine, just a few feet from Sarah’s bedroom.
The killer escaped unseen; it would take the police twelve years to find him, time in which Sarah grew into adulthood, struggling with abandonment, police interrogations, and the effort of rebuilding her life when so much had been lost. Through it all she would dream of the eventual trial, a conviction—all her questions finally answered. But after the trial, Sarah’s questions only grew. She wanted to understand her mother’s life, not just her final hours, and so she began a personal investigation, one that drew her back to Maine, taking her deep into the abiding darkness of a small American town.

Why I'm excited to read it: I'm always looking for true crime books, but I'm super picky about them. I don't usually like books that are sensationalized and only focus on the killer and treat the victims like props in the killer's story. Since this memoir is written by a victim, maybe it will offer a unique perspective.

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Adult Science Fiction / Dystopia

When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her: freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

Why I'm excited to read it: "Excited" is the wrong word. I'm terrified to read this book. The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite novels ever, but I've hated all of Margaret Atwood's recent work. I don't want her to ruin my favorite book with a crappy sequel! I'll eventually get over myself and work up the courage to read it. Until then, it will just sit on my shelf.

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Raising The Dead: The Men Who Created Frankenstein by Andy Dougan

Adult Science / History Nonfiction

Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein, introduced readers around the world to the concept of raising the dead through scientific procedures. Those who read the book were thrilled by this incredible Gothic adventure. Few, however, realized that Shelley’s story had a basis in fact. What she imagined as her modern Prometheus was a serious pursuit for some of the greatest minds of the early 19th century. It was a time when scientists genuinely believed, as Frankenstein did, that they could know what it feels like to be God. Raising the Dead is the story of the science of galvanism.

Why I'm excited to read it: I considered not buying this book because I object to the title. It's about the "men" who created Frankenstein, but Mary Shelley was a woman! She's the one who literally created Frankenstein! Anyway, I bought the book because it sounds too weird to pass up. I've read many books about the history of medicine. They're almost always bizarre and fascinating. Humans are brilliant. And very, very strange.

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Hey Ranger! True Tales Of Humor & Misadventure From America's National Parks by Jim Burnett

Adult Memoir

In his thirty years with the National Park Service, Jim Burnett has seen it all: boat ramp mishaps that have sent cars into the water; skunks in the outhouse and bears at the dumpster; visitors looking for the bridge over the Grand Canyon.

Why I'm excited to read it: A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about weird questions I've been asked while working at a state park. People in the post's comments were like, "You should make this a book!" Then I was like, "I bet somebody already has." So, I went Googling and, yep, somebody already has. I laughed when I saw the book's title because look at the graphic I created for my blog post. I didn't know about the book when I created it. Apparently, the author and I have both experienced random strangers screaming," HEY RANGER!" at us.

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Young Adult Horror Graphic Novel

Parallel plotlines, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door.

Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it's closing down for good. But when a bully goes too far, Mary's revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

Years later, Ella moves to a new town where she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute. Determined to befriend the mysterious, evasive girl she sees there, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's history and uncover its secrets.

Ella's story is told through striking, bold art; Mary's is told through diary entries. Each informs the other until the two eventually intersect to reveal the truth behind Thornhill's shadowy past, once and for all.

Why I'm excited to read it: This book was recommended to me by Goodreads. Do you ever look at the "Readers Also Enjoyed" part of the site? I loved Emily Carroll's Through The Woods, so I clicked "Readers Also Enjoyed" and discovered Thornhill. Let's find out if I like it as much as Goodreads thinks I will.

Buy it on Amazon

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My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Adult Graphic Memoir

You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides.

In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.

Why I'm excited to read it: Remember a few paragraphs ago when I said I didn't like true crime that focuses on the killer and treats the victims like props in the killer's story? Yeah. I'm about to contradict myself. (This is my blog; I can be a hypocrite if I want.) So, last year, I was scrolling through the free movies on my TV and came across one called My Friend Dahmer. Of course I had to watch it. I liked it so much that I watched it twice. It's a fascinating look at the teenage years of a future serial killer. It explains some of Dahmer's behavior without excusing it or making him likeable. I'm interested to read the book that inspired the movie.

Buy it on Amazon

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24 Hours In Ancient Rome: A Day In The Life Of The People Who Lived There by Philip Matyszak

Adult History Nonfiction

What was it like to live in one of the ancient world's most powerful and bustling cities, one that was eight times more densely populated than modern day New York?

In this entertaining and enlightening guide, bestselling historian Philip Matyszak introduces us to the people who lived and worked there. In each hour of the day we meet a new character, from emperor to slave girl, gladiator to astrologer, medicine woman to water-clock maker, and discover the fascinating details of their daily lives.

Why I'm excited to read it: This series was recommended to me because I want to learn more about ancient history. If I like this one, there are more books in the series! I can read about 24 hours in ancient China, Athens, Egypt . . .

Buy it on Amazon

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


  1. I am eager to hear what you think of Hey, Ranger (would you right that first, please? like, right now?) and Banished.

  2. I'm looking forward to both some seasonal spooky reads and some nonfiction, too! Hope you enjoy all of these!

  3. The Crossan book has been on my TBR for a while. I have enjoyed other books by her, and yeah, the conjoined twin thing is an interesting angle.

  4. Such a great list of books and I am so glad that I am not the only one who brings books into my house even though I have multiple TBR shelves already! I also have Testaments on my shelf, but I am a bit afraid to read it. I'm pretty sure I read One and enjoyed it (super interesting topic). And, Banished sounds like my kind of nonfiction. Have a great week.

  5. If you get the chance/can find them in the US, I rec. Louis Theroux's documentaries about the Westboro Baptist Church (actually, I rec. Louis Theroux's docs about everything. You see Louis Theroux's name on a programme, you watch it - these are the rules. Same with Stacey Dooley.)

    OMG I've seen 'My Friend Dahmer' -! It was so frustrating, because you can literally see the moments where someone could've stepped in and changed everything, set him down an entirely different path. Argh!

  6. I still need to watch My Friend Dahmer, but I have read the graphic novel and loved it. I'm curious about Thornhill now - I was also a huge fan of Through the Woods.


  7. Books keep showing up here too -- but who has enough time?! I read The Testaments ... and I liked it but it's different than THMT but you should go for it ...even if you don't like it as much. Ha. It's a curious unfolding. Did you try Atwood's MaddAddam series? I have only read the first one - but I'd try another.