Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Book Haul: November 2021

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I got new books! (You're shocked, I know. This never happens.) I've already read a few of them, and I'm excited about the rest. Here's what I'll be reading in the next few months.

🦃  November Book Haul  ❆

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Why I'm excited to read it: Ever since I read The Long Walk as a teenager, I've been obsessed with alternate history. If a book blends speculative elements with real-life events, I want to read it. Romanov has gotten great reviews from my bookish friends. Also, look at the cover! It's so swirly!

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

The Year Of The Witching by Alexis Henderson

Young Adult Fantasy / Horror

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

My review: I've read a few books recently where the "witches" aren't actually witches. That isn't the case with this novel. These witches are terrifying! This book is brimming with tension and atmosphere. The cover perfectly matches the mood of the novel. There is blood rain, a creepy villain, an oppressive Puritan society, and a badass main character who is determined to find out what the heck is going on. It's a perfect book for spooky season.

Buy it on Amazon

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The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Young Adult Fantasy

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

Why I'm excited to read it: I loved the author's other book, The Last Harvest. Young adult horror is usually pretty tame and silly when compared to adult horror. The Last Harvest is not your typical YA horror book. It's a severely messed up novel with all the blood and guts you could ever want. I'm hoping The Grace Year is just as surprising.

Buy it on Amazon

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Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Young Adult (Or Middlegrade?) Contemporary Fiction

When Jack meets his new foster brother, he already knows three things about him:

Joseph almost killed a teacher.

He was incarcerated at a place called Stone Mountain.

He has a daughter. Her name is Jupiter. And he has never seen her.

What Jack doesn’t know, at first, is how desperate Joseph is to find his baby girl.

Or how urgently he, Jack, will want to help.

But the past can’t be shaken off. Even as new bonds form, old wounds reopen. The search for Jupiter demands more from Jack than he can imagine.

Why I'm excited to read it: People have been recommending this book to me for years. My teacher friends love it. The writers from my graduate school rave about it. The library waitlist is so long I could never get a copy. Well, I have one now! It's time to find out if it's worth the hype.

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman

Young Adult Mystery (?) Horror (?)

Where Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave . . .

The Council's rules are strict, but they're for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger on the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year.

But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council's suffocating embrace, especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage.

Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall . . .

Why I'm excited to read it: "Excited" is the wrong word. "Cautiously optimistic" might be better. The plot of this book sounds exactly like a dozen other books I've read. It even sounds similar to some of the books in this post! That's because I can't pass up the "small town X creepy woods" combination. Cross your fingers that it's good.

Buy it on Amazon

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The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

Middlegrade Historical Fantasy

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

My review: If you've been on this blog recently, then you've heard me blathering about this series. I originally got it from the library. Now I own it for myself.

This is book #1 of a completely addictive 6-book series. Even though I'm a very serious grownup, I loved reading about the "wolf children" and their quirky young governess. The series is packed with hilarious writing and mysteries to solve. Were these orphans really raised by wolves? And why did grumpy Lord Ashton agree to take them into his fancy home? And why are there rumors about a curse? This series will make you smile and keep you turning pages.

Buy it on Amazon

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The Terror by Dan Simmons

Adult Historical Horror

The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.

When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape.

Why I'm excited to read it: The Terror is a good name for this book because IT'S 800 PAGES! When am I going to have time to read that? This is another alternate history book, and it's quickly becoming a classic. It was published 10+ years ago, but horror lovers are still talking about it. It won a ton of awards when it first came out. The synopsis is giving me vibes of Alma Katsu's The Hunger. Monsters and starving people in cold places. I'm ready for it.

Buy it on Amazon

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The Chrysalis by Brendan Deneen

Adult Horror

Welcome to the dark side of suburbia.

Barely employed millennials Tom and Jenny Decker have to grow up fast when they lose their cheap Manhattan apartment. Leaving "the city" is hard, but the blow is softened when they stumble upon a surprisingly affordable house in the suburbs.

For Tom, the bills, the mortgage, and Jenny's unexpected pregnancy add up to terror. He's not ready for this kind of responsibility.

Then he finds the thing in the basement. It makes him feel like a winner even as it scrambles his senses. A new job soon has him raking in the big bucks, enough that Jenny can start making her entrepreneurial dreams come true.

The Deckers' dream home conceals more than one deadly secret. As Tom's obsession with the basement grows, Jenny realizes that to save her family, she must expose everything. Before it destroys them all.

No one ever really wants to grow up . . . but sometimes behaving like an adult is the only way to survive.

Why I'm excited to read it: I can't say I'm excited because I didn't actually choose this book for myself. Here's how it arrived in my life: I bought a box of books from a random person online. When the books arrived, this one was in the box. The seller gave it to me because, "It's scary like the other books you ordered." Free scary book! Sweet! I made the mistake of looking at reviews. They're . . . slightly terrible. What's that old saying? "Don't look a gift book in the mouth?"

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

Followers by Megan Angelo

Adult Science Fiction

Orla Cadden is a budding novelist stuck in a dead-end job, writing clickbait about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Then Orla meets Floss―a striving wannabe A-lister―who comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they dream about. So what if Orla and Floss's methods are a little shady and sometimes people get hurt? Their legions of followers can't be wrong.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is based on a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.

My review: I actually DNFed this book the first time I tried to read it, but I wasn't sure if that was my fault or the book's, so I gave it another chance. I probably should have listened to my first instinct and not finished it. It's not bad! It's funny and raises interesting questions. Like, what would our lives be like if we lost the internet and had to rebuild it from scratch? What would we change about it? I struggled with Followers because the characters are all awful humans, but they're not awful in ways I find compelling. I guess I'm just not interested in fame? The characters' problems didn't hold my attention, and I found the plot's pacing painfully slow. Actually, the book reminds me of those "housewives" shows. A lot of over-the-top drama and selfish people fighting for attention. Like the "housewives" shows, it didn't do much for me. I understand the appeal, though.

Buy it on Amazon

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Beauty In The Broken Places: A Memoir Of Love, Faith, And Resilience by Allison Pataki

Adult Memoir

Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident—had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night.

When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come.

As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation for this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again.

Why I'm excited to read it: This isn't my normal type of book. It sounds too hopeful and loving for my tastes. (Yuck, love and hope. Gross.) I bought it because I'm going through a phase where I'm super interested in medical nonfiction. This memoir kept popping up on lists of books about medicine and rare medical conditions. I'll give it a chance.

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

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


  1. Hope you really enjoy the ones you still need to read. I have SO many books on my TBR, it's ridiculous. haha

    Lauren @ www.shootingstarsmag.net

  2. Orbiting Jupiter is on my TBR. I am worried it will make me cry.

  3. I loved Orbiting Jupiter when I read it years ago!

  4. I've always been fascinated by Romanov history so a fantasy/alternate history story of Anastasia sounds pretty awesome.

  5. Year of the Witching is one I'd like to read. I should be reading it now, actually, but I've been a bit slumpy lately.

  6. I've had Romanov on my TBR for quite awhile - I hope we both enjoy it!

  7. A few of those are on my TBR. I hope you like them all! Happy reading!

  8. You always come up with interesting books. "Romanov" sounds interesting. She and her family are now buried in a church in St. Petersburg (which I've visited). I have read one of these books, "Orbiting Jupiter" and reviewed it (Link below). I like his writings a lot with Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy being my favorite.


  9. What a nice list! Beauty in Broken Places looks so intriguing!

  10. The Grace Year sounds wild. And I remember seeing Winterkill around. there is something deliciously creepy about small towns and spooky woods.

    Ooh The Terror. I started watching the show and I like anything horror and snow related.

    Hopefully the Chrysalis is good. With a title like that, and something awful in the basement...

  11. I loved The Year of the Witching and The Grace Year!!

  12. I have The Year of the Witching and it was hard saving it to read next year. I'm reading all BIPOC authors next year and I am saving it for the witch reading theme I have on my blog every September. It's good to know it's really about witches. 👍

    Thanks for the heads up on the Ashton Place series. I love quirky Middle Grade stories. 📚

  13. I looooved both Romanov and The Grace Year! I liked but didn't love Followers, and felt very "meh" about The Year of the Witching (though a lot of people love it so it could just be me). Funny enough, I have had Winterkill on my shelf since it first came out and I just have not gotten around to it! I also got The Hunger vibes from The Terror but Idk dude 800 pages is rough! I'll waiit to see what you think of it first, methinks!

  14. Yeah I've heard The Terror by Dan Simmons is really good. Have you watched the TV series that was based on this book? It's on Amazon I think. We really liked the series. Check it out.

  15. You inspired me to put Orbiting Jupiter on my Hoopla Favorites list. (I already have Incorrigible on there from an earlier time when you talked about it).

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction