Staff Reads: July 19

Staff Reads: July 19

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.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I decided to take Miracle Creek on a trip with me last week, and I am so glad I did. This book tells the story of a catastrophic explosion at a medical facility. A therapeutic oxygen tank explodes while there are patients inside, killing two and seriously wounding two others. The rest of the novel is a courtroom drama, as the mother of a child who was killed in the explosion is tried for deliberately setting the fire that took her son’s life. I was hooked from the first chapter. Elizabeth

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Thi Bui’s graphic memoir begins with the birth of her first child and slowly reveals the story behind her family’s move from Vietnam to America when she was a child. Bui shares her father and mother’s memories of growing up in Vietnam, expertly weaving in the country’s history. It’s both a recounting of her family’s past and an exploration of a daughter beginning to see her mother and father as people rather than parents. Without villainizing or idolizing them, Bui considers the aspects of their lives that shaped the adults and parents they became and thinks about how that history will shape the way she raises her own child. This is a heartbreaking and beautiful memoir that I won’t soon forget. –Kelly

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher

When the cover for Not the Girl You Marry was revealed and I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it ASAP! Pitched as millenial How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, this sexy fake dating rom-com manages to hit all the right romance tropes while being modern and feminist. Jack Nolan’s been pegged at the magazine he works at as the viral how-to guy and has to write an article called “How To Lose a Girl,” forcing him to be the opposite of how he normally is when dating. While writing the piece he meets Hannah Mayfield, who has never been considered marriage material, and falls hard. Hannah is vying for a higher position at the event planning company where she works, but to do that, she needs to be trusted to plan weddings, which have never been her thing. Hannah and Nolan use each other without knowing it. I laughed out loud so many times while reading this one and couldn’t stop reading it once I picked it up. Not often do I read a romance novel and think, “Wow this would translate to film perfectly,” but oh goodness do I need to see this one adapted to a screen. If you’re a fan of Helen Hoang and Alisha Rai then you need to have Not the Girl You Marry on your fall TBR! —Dana

Ill Will by Dan Chaon

I’m in the middle of Ill Will by Dan Chaon. It’s a short book but incredibly intricate. Chaon switches between stories, timelines, and points of view without warning. At first, when I was reading it late at night in bed, I was having a hard time keeping up. But now I greatly admire his skill and find the structure almost as fascinating as the actual plot. The novel follows a family who endured a catastrophic tragedy when the main character, Dustin, was a teenager. His adoptive brother was convicted of murdering their parents, aunt, and uncle in a satanic ritualistic sacrifice. Fast-forward almost 30 years into the future: Dustin is now a therapist, his wife is very sick with cancer, he has two teenage sons, and his adoptive brother is being exonerated due to new DNA evidence that proves he wasn’t the killer. As if this wasn’t a huge story in itself, there is another plot brewing between Dustin and one of his patients, an ex-cop, who is hinting at a local serial killer or killer cult targeting college-aged men. So far the story is really intriguing and keeping me on my toes. I’ve been warned that this novel does not have a happy ending, so I’m preparing myself, but excited to continue nonetheless. –Amanda

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

I just finished reading House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. Eight sisters live in a castle by the sea, mourning the four they lost. Loosely based on the fairy tale, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” this book is so much more! It’s part murder mystery, part fable, and part mythology. Annaleigh is convinced that there must have been foul play in her sister Eulalie’s death and refuses to believe that there’s any sort of “curse” on the family. But as she unravels clue after clue, she realizes there’s more to this mystery than she bargained for. Throw in a handsome stranger, plus a childhood crush all grown up, and this dark and moody tale balances nicely with some heart flutters that aren’t just from a quick turn around the dance floor. —Kristina

Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian

I’m happily reading through Bookish’s must-read romances of the summer, and this week I visited the sleepy hamlet of Wychcomb St. Mary. When a murder occurs at a dinner party, intelligence agent Leo Page is sent to investigate. But once he arrives, Leo finds himself emotionally disarmed by James Sommers, a doctor who patched him up during the Second World War. James is suffering from what we’d call PTSD after the atrocities he witnessed during the war, and though Leo initially reminds him of those dark times, he soon grows attached to him. Meanwhile, Leo is struggling to focus on the case at hand and ignore the growing temptation to put his usual subterfuge to rest and be real with James. Add in a town populated with fascinating characters (including two elderly women with their share of wild stories from their pasts) and a potential killer on the loose, and you’ve got one great read. Cat Sebastian books are my happy place, as followers of our staff reads will know all too well. I hit preorder the moment I saw her refer to Hither, Page as “Agatha Christie but make it gay!” and now that I’ve finished I’m counting down the days until her next release in August: A Little Light Mischief. –Kelly

Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture by Simon Reynolds

Energy Flash is an encyclopedic and loving history of dance culture, late nights, loud music, and all of the various vices people use to stay up dancing for days at a time. Reynolds acknowledges the challenge of this kind of writing from jump: How do you write about a rave, whose power is visceral, ephemeral, and communal? You can’t dissect the lyrics or the song structure in the same way you can with genres like rock or jazz. Reynolds begins in Chicago and Detroit, birthplaces of house and techno music, and moves to the UK, where huge outdoor parties exploded the genre into the mainstream, and into a general panic about wayward youth. He chronicles the biggest names, sonic trends, culture battles, and the social and political roots that drove huge numbers of people to gather together and lose themselves on the dance floor. Read this, and then go hit the club. See you in the fog! –Nina

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare’s books are my comfort reads. Dare’s writing always has a familiar tone that really makes it easy to fall into, yet her books always feel different. When a Scot Ties the Knot was no exception and made for a quick and happy read for me. This romance follows Maddie Gracechurch, a young lady with severe social anxiety who made up a courtship with a Scottish military captain and wrote letters to him over the years. Maddie finally kills off her captain in her letters in order to cement her freedom. But then her Scottish Captain Logan MacKenzie shows up with his men and requests her hand in marriage. Logan had been receiving her letters the whole time and is looking to settle on her land with his men now that the war is over. Maddie and Logan have this funny hate-to-love romance that is more of a slow burn. You’re really rooting for them the entire novel and as they get to know each other. This was is a hijinx-filled, swoony story that would make for a great beach read. —Dana

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