Staff Reads: August 23

Staff Reads: August 23

staff reads

Do you wonder what the Bookish team is reading? Do you want to take a peek at our bookshelves? You’ve come to the right place. Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations. Tell us what you think in the comments!

If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Summer Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

This is the first Karin Slaughter novel I’ve read, and I was unprepared for how difficult it would be to put down. The Last Widow subverts readers’ expectations from the first page, and the surprises and revelations don’t let up throughout. The Last Widow takes readers inside a remote and secretive camp run by a white supremacist group that is planning a devastating attack on the U.S. When the group abducts an important doctor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s clear their plans are escalating and that if they’re successful, the outcome will be devastating. I’m new to the Will Trent series, but Slaughter introduces new readers to her old characters seamlessly, and I was rooting for him (and Sara!) from the very beginning. It was a privilege to be able to interview Slaughter about this book, and I’m excited to see where she takes the Will Trent series next. Elizabeth

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

If you read or watched Dumplin’ then you definitely fell in love with Millie Michalchuk. Puddin’ is Julie Murphy’s companion novel to Dumplin’, and it follows Millie and Callie Reyes, one of the mean girls who was a bully in the first book. After vandalizing the gym Millie works at, Callie is kicked off the dance team and forced to volunteer at the gym. Millie and Callie are two girls that you would never expect to have anything in common, but they realize they had the same nickname as kids (Puddin’). As the novel progresses, they become close friends. Millie helps Callie become a better person and see the world in a different way, and Callie shows Millie how to go after what she wants. This story of friendship was really beautiful and multifaceted. I also appreciated the romantic subplot and getting to see the larger group of friends from Dumplin’. I can’t wait to pick up more of Murphy’s novels. —Dana

One Fine Duke by Lenora Bell

Lenora Bell’s School for Dukes series continues to be a wild, hilarious, and fun ride. I’ve loved the first two installments, and this week I eagerly dove into the third. Miss Mina Penny is determined to prove to her spymaster uncle that she can handle a dangerous life of adventure and espionage, but he’s determined to see her quietly married off to a duke instead. Luckily for Mina, Drew (the Duke of Thorndon), has a brother in trouble and he needs her expertise in code-cracking and weaponry more than he knows. Together they team up to save Drew’s brother, and along the way find love. It’s an engaging romp filled with all of the escapades Mina hoped to get out of her first (and last!) London season. Fans of the series will love Bell’s latest! –Kelly

Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life by Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard’s essay collection is an incisive, yet accessible examination of politics today. She writes about how the construction of “good protesters” and “bad protesters” hurts us all, the radical possibilities of queerness under capitalism, and why she doesn’t use the prefix “neo” when talking about today’s fascists and Nazis. She balances the ways that today’s political climate is an extension of very long trends and histories, and yet is still an extraordinary moment. Plus, she connects the ghost in her childhood bathroom to the capacity for imagining a better collective future. —Nina

Dark Age by Pierce Brown

I’m nearly finished reading Dark Age, the fifth installment in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series. This is the second book of the second trilogy of the series, and each one keeps getting better and better. Darrow is still engaged in a decade-long war against one of the most powerful houses in the galaxy: the Society. When his children are captured by his enemies, Darrow goes to fight on Mercury rather than joining his best friend and second-in-command in going after the kidnappers and rescuing their children. Darrow’s wife, Sovereign of the Republic, is doing what she can to support both Sevro’s mission in finding their kids, and Darrow’s war effort, but is losing support left and right and trying to remain an unbiased political head. Dark Age is more brutal and heartbreaking than I remember past books in the series being. It is reminiscent of some of the harder-to-swallow parts of Game of Thrones–war, politics, power, and internal (and external!) family feuds–and that’s only the half of it. I cannot recommend this series enough, especially for fans of sci-fi and politics, and series like Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, or The Stormlight Archive. I can talk about these books all day long and luckily there is a big community of readers out there who feel the same. I’m already counting down the days until the next book is released. —Amanda

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost is my second read from Amanda Lovelace, and I see her becoming a favorite of mine despite the fact that I’ve never been a poetry reader. I read this volume in one short sitting because I just couldn’t stop. One thing I love about Lovelace’s writing is that it is easy to read while still being emotionally impactful and at times very dark. Lovelace’s poetic style is very approachable and relatable in that she writes about herself and her experiences in a very vulnerable way. This volume deals with Lovelace’s rocky relationship with her mother and her unresolved feelings after her death, but also covers unhealthy self image issues and toxic romantic relationships. Lovelace does so many interesting things with the style of every poem and really mixes up the formatting. The illustrations were truly beautiful and brought the collection to life. I can’t wait to pick up another volume of  Lovelace’s work.—Dana

The Ultimate Pi Day Party by Jackie Lau

I’ve been seeing Jackie Lau’s adorable covers everywhere for months, so when I spotted The Ultimate Pi Day Party on sale, I snatched it up and dove in. The book follows Sarah, a pie shop owner with aspirations of growing her business, and Josh, a tech CEO hoping to reconnect with his estranged father. Josh’s plan to reconnect with his dad involves hosting the titular ultimate pi day party and he knows that Sarah’s pies will win over his father. The two fall in love while party planning and sampling Sarah’s desserts–could there be anything sweeter? I particularly loved the book’s focus on women who own small businesses and the bonds of friendship found there. Readers should be warned though that this book will kick your sweet tooth into high gear. Anyone know where I can get a chocolate hazelnut tart? –Kelly

Super Fun Sexy Times by Meredith McClaren

Ever wonder about the secret lives of superheroes? This fun graphic novel takes a close look at the intimate connections between heroes, villains, and the mere mortals who have to put up with them. There are five stories all together, each offering something new. Some are funny and light, while others are tender and gentle, and they all feature healthy relationships based on trust and communication. There are bios of each character after their tale so you can learn more about their strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. If you’re on the hunt for an inclusive book that celebrates sex and body positivity, this is for you. –Stephanie

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