Staff Reads: February 1

Staff Reads: February 1

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 Winter Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Guess who’s finally joining the audiobook bandwagon? I received an Audible subscription for Christmas and after agonizing over which title my first credit should go to, I finally selected Little Fires Everywhere, which won the Goodreads Choice Award for best fiction book in 2017. Set in a small town, this is a story about motherhood and the choices mothers make for their children and that their children must make for themselves. This story has secrets, heartbreak, and betrayal. Celeste Ng’s writing blew me away. The book’s final line has haunted me every since I finished. Ng truly has a gift for creating characters who feel nuanced and wholly real. Her storytelling was my constant companion on walks to the grocery store, gym workouts, and commutes, and I’m already looking forward to reading more from her. —Kelly

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie was a book that I definitely regretted missing in 2018, so I made it my first audiobook listen of 2019. This mystery follows Sadie who is hunting down her sister’s killer. The story also follows the true crime podcast called The Girls, whose hosts have been trying to figure out what happened to Sadie. If you have the chance to listen to the audiobook, I highly recommend you do so because it brings the podcast to life with a full cast. Most audiobooks have one to two narrators who do all of the voices, but this audiobook uses new voices for each person interviewed on The Girls. Sadie’s story is extremely sad because she never really had a chance at a good life. She spent so much time being a stand-in mother to her little sister, and when her sister was murdered, Sadie couldn’t forgive herself. Sadie also has a stutter, which I felt was better to listen to than read about because you could feel her struggle more. The first line of the book is “Girls go missing all the time” and I think that reverberates through the book. You really find yourself rooting for Sadie to get revenge after you learn everything that has happened to her and her sister. The ending really made me cry. I wish Courtney Summers gave more definitive answers to what happened to Sadie, but I know what I hope happened for her. —Dana

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

This is another terrific contemporary romance from writing pair Christina Lauren. In a turn of events that really only works in a romance novel, our heroine Olive ends up on her twin sister’s honeymoon vacation to Hawaii with her brother-in-law’s brother, Ethan, who she hates. But spending time together, they start to see the cracks in the tough facades they each have put up in front of each other. And, surprise, they find out that they might not hate each other after all. The teasing and the needling turns out to be a refreshingly honest and forthright basis for a budding relationship. But what happens when Olive has some misgivings about Ethan’s brother, her sister’s new husband? The Unhoneymooners is a sweet and dreamy story about how our insecurities make us defensive and how bad first impressions can spiral out. Also, set mostly in Hawaii, it was a welcome respite from a very chilly week. —Nina

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I read and loved We Have Always Lived In the Castle last year, and have had Shirley Jackson’s other novel on hold at the library for more than a month. I’ve been stalking my position on the hold list ever since, and I am happy to report that I have finally prevailed. I haven’t had the chance to dive in yet, but I’m eagerly anticipating doing so this weekend. —Elizabeth

A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

The best part of preparing to moderate an author panel is getting to read. Later this month I’ll be joining authors Danielle Rollins and Alyssa B. Sheinmel at powerHouse Arena to talk about their upcoming books and unlikable heroines. First up on my reading list was A Danger to Herself and Others. This YA novel introduces readers to Hannah, an unreliable narrator who’s recently been institutionalized. Hannah’s incredibly intelligent and through her narration, readers receive a unique tale about mental health and exploration of the lies we tell ourselves about the people we love. There are twists and turns that I won’t spoil here, but readers who love a narrator they can’t trust can pick this one up on February 5. Up next, Rollins’ Stolen Time! —Kelly

Slayer by Kiersten White

I grew up watching Buffy, wanting to be Buffy, and looking for the strong heroines of Buffy in all of the media I consumed. I was so excited when this new YA series was announced, and even more so that it would be helmed by such a fantastic YA author because it meant a new generation would get to fall in love with this world. Slayer takes place after the show ends and follows the same timeline as the comic series. The book introduces readers to Nina, who has grown up with The Watchers. I found it so interesting that the book didn’t pick up with one of the Slayers or Buffy, but instead followed a lesser-known character. Nina and her twin sister are the children of Buffy’s first Watcher from the original movie. The two sisters have been pitted against each other since they were born: Artemis has always been stronger and has chosen to become a Watcher. Nina realizes she is a Slayer and discovers an apocalyptic prophecy about twin sisters: One will destroy the world and one will mend it. Before becoming a Slayer, she thought she knew which one she was. Now, not so much. When demons and death come to the Watcher castle, it is up to Nina and her friends to save the day or die trying. This book was so nostalgic for me with all of the easter eggs related to the show, like reuniting with Buffy and Faith. It was so much fun and full of action! I will definitely be picking up the sequel to see what Kiersten White does next with this series! —Dana

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

The third book in the Witchlands series is hitting shelves in two weeks, so this seems the perfect moment to dive into books that have been on my TBR shelf for way too long. I’m only halfway through but so far I’m really enjoying the friendship between Safi and Iseult. I’ve heard enough from friends about the direction the series takes to know the main characters’ romantic journeys, but my heart currently beats for the lovely moments between Ryber and Kullen. I hear there are more of their interactions in the novella Sightwitch, and I can’t wait to dive in. —Stephanie

Book Love by Debbie Tung

My bookish heart found so much joy in Debbie Tung’s Book Love. This collection of comics chronicles the adventures of a reader. Tung’s work perfectly captures the joy of being a bookworm: that new book smell, discovering a new bookstore, the far-off places books can transport you to. It also does an excellent job of showing the funny side of problems only book lovers face: cliff-hangers, movie poster covers, and book hangovers. This is a charming and delightful read that bookworms everywhere will relate to. —Kelly

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

In this follow-up to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, we follow Felicity, Monty’s sister, who adamantly wants to be a doctor in a time when women have little power. Felicity seeks out a doctor she idolizes to apprentice for, but finds herself on a quest to save a magical creature with her childhood friend, a pirate, and ends up roping her brother and his boyfriend Percy into it. This book was a lot of fun as an audiobook. Mackenzi Lee is a fantastic young adult historical author in that she meticulously researches the time period while creating modern characters that young readers will fall in love with. I also appreciated the handling of Felicity’s sexuality. Felicity never comes out and says it, but she doesn’t have romantic feelings, and when she does get kissed for the first time by another female character, she admits that she didn’t really care for the idea of doing it again. It was great to see a spectrum of sexualities in one story and I am hopeful that more YA novels will follow suit. If you loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, you will really enjoy seeing what the characters get up to next! —Dana

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee

I just finished Waiting for the Barbarians, and I am shook. Set in a nameless frontier village, the story follows the local magistrate as he witnesses injustice against “others” from outside the village, wrestles with his own complicity in his empire’s oppressive regime, and begins to rally against it. This book was often gruesome and frustrating, but I still had a hard time putting it down; the theme—as the publisher’s description says, “the war between oppressor and oppressed”—can’t help but send the reader down some dark paths of self-reflection. —Annie

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