Staff Reads: June 28

Staff Reads: June 28

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.

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Bookish has been buzzing about Casey McQuiston’s debut novel all year, and this week I finally picked it up and fell in love with it too. First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz and England’s Prince Henry must pretend to be friends after a fight at a wedding threatens to become an international incident. Alex assumes their time together will be dull, but in private he begins to see another side of Henry. Soon they’re crossing the ocean as often as they’re able to see each other and sending romantic emails quoting historical love letters that had me swooning. Not only does this book include some of my favorite tropes (enemies-to-lovers, secret relationship), it also explores Alex’s growing understanding of his bisexual identity in a nuanced and beautiful way. If you’re looking for a summer read filled with hope, love, and characters fighting to shape the world into the best version of itself, this is for you. –Kelly

The Nobody People by Bob Proehl

I’m reading The Nobody People by Bob Proehl, which hits shelves on September 3. It’s a novel about individuals with extraordinary abilities. To say this is a superhero story, though, is selling it short. Proehl explores many very human themes: “otherness”, fear that leads to bigotry and violence, and the earnest, muti-faceted relationships between husband and wife, father and daughter, brother and sister, and teacher and student. It’s a beautiful read that deals with the ugliness in society, but also the ways in which community and family can lift us up. —Kristina

Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

Kelly always has the best romance recommendations and when she said Brazen and the Beast was one of Sarah MacLean’s best, I knew I had to pick it up. I loved Wicked and the Wallflower, the first book in this series, but I didn’t expect to enjoy Beast’s story as much as I have. My adoration truly stems from the heroine, Lady Henrietta Sedley (Hattie), who is turning 29 and wants to fulfill all of her desires, from gaining financial stability to exploring her sexuality. Hattie’s dreams are squashed when she finds herself in the middle of her brother’s financial drama and indebted to Beast. Hattie and Beast’s chemistry leaps off the page. I love MacLean’s character development in every one of her books, and discovering Beast’s tender heart as the book progressed was a joy. I can’t wait to see how MacLean will manage to top this! —Dana

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Even though it is now firmly summer, I spent last week cuddled up with the newest from Jasmine Guillory. Inspired by Meghan Markle’s mother Doria Ragland and brought into the world by the benevolent librarians of Twitter, Royal Holiday follows the heroine of The Wedding Party‘s mother, Vivian. Maddie takes a job styling a duchess over Christmas at Sandringham and brings her mother along to spend the holiday with her. Vivian is skeptical about spending Christmas in England and leaving behind her work responsibilities and her caregiving duties, and certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Malcolm, a handsome middle-aged black man who happens to be the Queen of England’s private secretary. So many romances focus on young love, I found it refreshing to read about characters who had been married, been parents or parent-figures, and found themselves surprised that they still could feel butterflies. Plus, all of the descriptions of warm food and drink, roaring fires, and finding someone to cuddle up with makes me feel a little better about the inevitable end of summer! —Nina

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

This graphic novel pulled me in with its gorgeous cover and intriguing title. High school student Freddy is dating the titular Laura Dean and begins emailing an advice columnist after she’s broken up with for the third time. Freddy knows in her heart that the relationship is doomed, but she struggles to let go of the possibility that they can make things work. But in making her relationship her entire world, Freddy risks losing her friends. This book perfectly illustrates how toxic relationships can be like quicksand, pulling you down and sucking you in. Freddy’s journey to letting go and finding her way back to herself is a genuine one that readers will relate to. It’s paired with beautiful artwork styled in black, white, and pink—a stunning palate. Readers in search of a graphic novel that honestly depicts the highs and lows of being with a partner who isn’t good for you will find a lot to love here. –Kelly

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from Little Dog to his mother, who can’t read and doesn’t speak English. There’s something already so touching about a narrator reaching out across a divide, knowing that it’s futile. Little Dog speaks with compassion and an eye for sensuous detail about immigrating to the United States from Vietnam, the aftermath of the war, inheritance of trauma, and queerness. Little Dog’s family tries to teach him how to survive, but what they have survived and what he needs to survive are in many ways radically different. The part that captivated and surprised me the most so far, however, is the underlying thread about Tiger Woods. For those of us who are not by nature poetry readers, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous gives us a poet’s eye, but in a (mostly) novelistic form. —Nina

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

After our cover reveal for Kingdom of Exiles, I needed to pick up Maxym M. Martineau’s fantasy romance debut. This was such a fun read filled with magic and steamy scenes. Kingdom of Exiles is set in a world where magical beasts like Pokémon exist and beast charmers are the only ones who can tame them. The novel follows Leena Edenfrell, an exiled beast charmer who makes a pact with an assassin to save her life. The assassin, Noc, has ulterior motives and wants Leena to find a beast that will end a curse that makes anyone he loves die. The action and funny dialogue make this book more of a YA/adult crossover akin to the novels of Sarah J. Maas. I think the worldbuilding, character development, and pacing could definitely have been better but since this is a debut, I am interested to see where the series goes. —Dana

Psst: Visit BookishFirst to read an excerpt of the novel!

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

I just started reading Beatriz Williams’ new novel The Golden Hour, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I don’t read a ton of historical fiction these days, which is odd considering that I used to love it. Williams’ novel may be just the book to win me back over. I’m loving the narrator’s voice: Lulu has so much spirit and her personality shines through the prose from the very first page. I’m eager to see how the multiple storylines in this book connect to form a cohesive whole. —Elizabeth


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