Staff Reads: May 24

Staff Reads: May 24

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

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

The Beautiful is the current giveaway on BookishFirst, and after I saw the amazing first impressions readers had left, I knew I needed to start reading it. Set in New Orleans in 1872, this story follows 17-year-old Celine Rousseau, a French dressmaker who has immigrated to America. The New Orleans setting in this novel is beautiful, and it is ruled by an underground society of vampires. One vampire is killing young girls, which reminded me of the mystery in Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. I’m not that far into the novel yet, but Celine definitely has some dark secrets that she is hiding, and she’s just been introduced to the darker side of the city she calls home. —Dana

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

I’m a big fan of Susannah Cahalan’s first book Brain on Fire, and was super excited to learn that she had another work of nonfiction coming out later in 2019. The Great Pretender is about a group of people who went undercover in the 1970s as patients in America’s asylums to see what the mental health system was like from the inside. Cahalan tells the story of this experiment and its impact on treatment of mental illness, and also reflects on its significance and the way we remember it now. —Elizabeth

Operation Atonement by Talia Hibbert

Stop what you’re doing and subscribe to Talia Hibbert’s newsletter right now. Not only will her opening lines bring you an incredible amount of joy (they range from “Salutations, my melty marshmallow” to “Hello, my precious pigeon”), but you’ll also receive a free short story and this delightful novella. Operation Atonement introduces readers to Dionne Pryce, a woman whose perfectly put-together appearance masks the fact that she’s slowly but surely rebuilding her life. In her quest to make amends and reconnect with an old school friend, she meets Adam McLoughlin, an Irishman who tempts her to break her no relationships rule. This story is at turns steamy and sweet, and features a heroine with an enviable wardrobe who is learning to let her guard down. I just started reading Hibbert’s work earlier this year, and this taste of her work was the perfect reminder I needed to continue reading my way through her backlist. —Kelly

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

I wanted an audiobook for a long drive and just happened to stumble across The Book of Speculation. A librarian trying to figure out a curse that is killing the women in his family? I. Was. Hooked. Swyler builds the tension and anticipation so well, while crafting a very vivid world and characters. This book is filled with magic, curses, love, family drama, and a traveling circus. I still can’t get this book out of my head. —Kirsten

At Home in the World by Joyce Maynard

I finished reading Joyce Maynard’s memoir, At Home in the World, this morning. I can’t tell you how much I needed this book (and how much do many of us do). Profound, honest, and forgiving, this book is not about J.D. Salinger the author; it is a portrait of the artist as a young woman and how her vulnerability and openness made her prey to narcissistic abuse. This book has changed me. I even recommended it to my therapist! Thank you, Joyce Maynard, I know you took a lot of harassment when this book was published, but I am grateful you wrote it and shared it with the world. —Myf

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I have been patiently waiting for Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s latest middle grade book, Shouting at the Rain, and I’m happy to say it was worth the wait. Her previous books Fish in a Tree and One for the Murphys are two of my favorites. In Shouting at the Rain, Mullaly Hunt shares the story of Delsie, a 12-year old girl dealing with typical pre-teen issues, while also wondering about her not-so-typical family life. Set in Cape Cod, the story reveals important messages, like that things are not always as they seem and that support can come from many places. The book has several deep moments where my heart went out to Delsie and the other characters, as well as some light, humorous ones. This new release should be added to the top of your TBR list! —Gerilyn

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

I picked up my first Julia Quinn book at KissCon and I am so glad that I did. The Bridgerton series is being adapted for Netflix, and after reading the first book I am excited to see this family brought to life. This historical romance novel featured so many of my favorite tropes of the genre. It follows Daphne Bridgerton, whose mother desperately wants to marry her off à la Pride and Prejudice, and Simon Basset, a rakish duke who is also Daphne’s brother’s best friend. The two have instant chemistry and scheme to have a fake courtship to get Daphne’s mother off her back. Obviously they fall in love and drama ensues. I found this book to be so much fun. It’s a great place for readers to start reading this genre because it does have a lot of narrative callbacks to Jane Austen and is a very quick read. —Dana

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

I found this book to be an interesting insight into North Korean culture. The story portrays the life of an orphaned young boy who eventually becomes part of Kim Jong-il’s inner circle. His adventures lead him to many interesting places and several interesting personas. At times I found this story to be very tedious, and at others riveting. The characters and characterizations seem so over the top that it leaves you wondering if the basis is at all factual. It was one of those books that I had to work hard to get through, and then the climax came along too quickly. —Fran


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