Ten Books from BEA I Can't Wait to Read

Ok, guys, you saw the stack of books I picked up at BEA via my post on Wednesday. It might be a tad ambitious but I'm confident I can make a decent dent by end of year. Hoping to avoid a slump due to indecision, I've color-coded each title by season of release date, and composed a list of ten that I'm most excited about. Goals!

Here are the titles that were either A) on my list going into BEA, or B) just jumped out at me right away:

Btw, I totally stole the descriptions from Goodreads because they're so much better than anything I could've come up with. I've also linked back to Goodreads so you can add them to your TBR list, too!

1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (June 2016)

"Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery."

2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Sept 2016)

"A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery."

3. Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (July 2016)

"A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He's got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called "the Hard Four." On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn't right--with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself."

4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Sept 2016)

"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape."

5. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips

"In 1912, a young girl's murder rocked the rural community of Forsyth County, Georgia, and led a mob of whites to lynch a black man on the town square. A month later, thousands cheered the hanging, on spurious evidence, of two black teenagers, then set fire to the homes and churches of farmers, field hands, and servants. Bands of night-riders declared Forsyth "whites-only" and sent 1,100 citizens running for their lives. Whites took over their livestock, harvested their crops, and laid claim to "abandoned" black land, slowly erasing all evidence of their communal crime."

6. Mischling by Affinity Konar (Sept 2016)

"It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain. "

7. Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn (Out / April 2016)

"A future lord is dispossessed of his birthright by a scheming uncle, a mountain sorcerer imbues a mask with the spirit of a great stag for a lost young man, a stubborn father forces his son to give up his wife to his older brother, and a powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne, the child who is the rightful heir to the emperor barely escaping the capital in the arms of his sister. And that is just the beginning."

*This title is book one of a four part series is currently available in stores. The series will be published in rapid succession in order to be binge read to mimic the act of binge watching television shows online. 


8. A Woman on the Edge of Time by Jeremy Gavron (Sept 2016)

"Like Sylvia Plath, who died in eerily similar circumstances two years earlier just two streets away, Hannah Gavron was a writer. But no-one had ever imagined that she might take her own life. Bright, sophisticated, and swept up in the progressive politics of the 1960s, Hannah was a promising academic and the wife of a rising entrepreneur. Surrounded by success, she seemed to live a gilded life.

But there was another side to Hannah, as Jeremy Gavron's searching memoir of his mother reveals. Piecing together the events that led to his mother's suicide when he was just four, he discovers that Hannah's success came ata price, and that the pressures she faced as she carved out her place in a man's world may have contributed to her death. Searching for the mother who was never talked about as he grew up, he discovers letters, diaries, and photos that paint a picture of a brilliant but complex young woman grappling to find an outlet for her creativity, sexuality, and intelligence."

9. The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (Sept 2016)

"One night an eighteen year old girl recently arrived in London from Ireland to study drama, meets an older actor and a tumultuous relationship ensues. Set across the bedsits and squats of mid-nineties north London, The Lesser Bohemians is a story about love and innocence, joy and discovery - the grip of the past and the struggle to be new again."

10. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (January 2017)

"On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace."

Here's to 2016 and the ARC!

Excited about any of these?


BEA / Chicago / 2016

just me, myself & my BEA book stack

Everyone in the book blog world knows BEA went down last week. And those who didn't attend had to suffer through snaps and IG posts and Twitter updates about each and every detail. I offer a sincere apology on behalf of everyone guilty of this (I know I went a little crazy). We were just excited?

It was fun! It was overwhelming! It was an incredible experience! 

I'm just going to come right out and say that BEA is not for the faint of heart (this was my first BEA, btw). And I'm not talking about fighting over books because I hear that actually happened. No, I found that I was able to get all of the ARCs I had my eyes on pretty easily and didn't walk away disappointed in the least. I even met the authors who interested me most without suffering hour long lines, etc. (Jonathan Safran Foer, awkward; George Saunders, ridiculously nice; Colson Whitehead, so freaking cool.) It's more that it's like this great experiment to see if people, who are most likely socially awkward, can hang with peeps from the net IRL. You know? Like a hunger games situation but not deadly and more just stilted conversation rather than daggers to the chest. I honestly had no idea how much of a homebody I had become until I found myself surrounded by people for three whole days. (I work from home full-time so I really only leave the house during the week to exercise and even that involves headphones.) Of course, I'm not all doom and gloom because I was so happy to finally meet some of my favorite bloggers, chat with incredibly awkward/charming authors, and be apart of an event that celebrates literature. I just like to be 100% honest and that was my take on the whole thing. If you get the chance to attend, do it!!

So... enough about that. The books (and totes)! So many! 

The photo above is the stack I brought home... well, it's not completely accurate because I left out four and didn't notice until the photo activities were done. Can't win 'em all. 

I think it's safe to say that I have a lot of reading to do and reviews to share. I'll be posting my top ten anticipated titles from those acquired at the conference later this week, so stay tuned! :) 

Been to BEA? What was your favorite/least favorite part?


Fiction Favorites March/April Edition

The past couple of months have been AWESOME in the reading department! I've only slowed a little so really hoping to keep this streak alive. Wish me luck!

Here are a few of my favorite fiction titles from March & April:

Girl at War by Sara Nović

Ana Jurić is just ten years old when the civil war in Yugoslavia forces her family and neighbors to routinely visit the bomb shelters near her home. Once an emergency forces her mother, father, and young sister to cross into Bosnia, Ana finds herself alone, and is soon recruited as a child soldier. Snippets of this life are told through the lens of 20-year-old Ana, a student at NYU, as she faces her past and returns to her homeland.

First, I was shocked by how little I knew of the war in this region considering it occurred in the early 90s. As Ana's character is close in age to me, during a very real event in recent history, I felt the rawness of it all more acutely. I found myself weeping at heart-wrenching passages that made it come alive. I couldn't stomach reviewers who criticized Ana's character's withdrawal and habit of not sharing any information from her past when it would seem so paralyzing to have lived through something of that magnitude. Definitely a novel I'll remember for years to come. (4 stars)

Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett

Told from the perspective of the young matriarch of a whaling dynasty in Australia in the late 19th century, Rush Oh! is the perfect blend of literary and historical fiction.

Absolutely loved this novel. It's intelligent, hilarious, and just such a great example of historical storytelling. I 'll admit that I was so sad to see this absent from the Bailey's shortlist. (4 stars)

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

More of a story inspired by Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre than retelling, Jane Steele follows the life of a forsaken, yet strong-willed woman during the Victorian period in England. A self-confessed murderess, Jane's unfortunate circumstances place her in precarious positions time after time, and are sure to catch up with her in the end. Interesting characters and brilliant cultural references, Jane Steele was fun! (4 stars)

So, what's next?

I'm going to try to tackle ARCs on the ereader in anticipation of Summer/Fall releases. I've got my eyes on several that I'm beyond excited about: Marrow Island by Alexis Smith, Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Yuki Chan in Bronte Country by Mick Jackson, Chronicle of a Last Summer by Yasmine El Rashidi.

Also, BEA is exactly one week from today and I cannot wait to meet so many of you beautiful souls!! 

What are you reading?


A Post: Mini Reviews of Recent Reads

This is a book blog, so I should probably say something about what I've read recently, right? The (sporadic) new posts on Mondays were designed to help me choose titles and then actually commit to reading them... Hopefully, this will push me to blog regularly, as well.

So, in the spirit, here are some mini reviews for your eyes:
I finished The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild last month and walked away feeling a little disappointed. The novel had a fun premise: a lonely, thirty-something woman in London finds an old painting in a bric-a-brac shop and takes it home without realizing it's a great masterpiece. As the reader learns more about the painting, Rothschild introduces characters from around the globe, coming together to give the audience a view of the art world– the money, the corruption and scandal, and everything that makes the scene so exclusive.

While I found each bit really interesting, it seemed like there were too many elements competing to really tell a solid story. I often forgot who certain characters were because they wouldn't be mentioned for fifty pages or more.  Characters were sometimes too absurd to be taken seriously, and this really goes for most of the cast, so clearly built on ridiculous stereotypes that it often made me wince. I got the feeling that this was intentional but it just felt off. I must admit, however, that I LOVED the moment when the painting, itself, took over the story and revealed sordid stories of those who had owned it before (think Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria). It recently made the Bailey's longlist, so it's worth checking out, but didn't work for me. (2.5 stars)
Hilarious sketches about everyday life. Less about cats (as the title suggests) and more about the everyday experiences of being a human being in this day and age. I laughed until I cried so many times. Definitely recommend. (3.5 stars)
The Brontë Plot* follows Lucy, a voracious reader and assistant to a successful antique's dealer and interior designer in Chicago, who employs questionable judgement when she adds inscriptions to the old books she sells to raise the value. Caught up in her need to embellish and tell stories, Lucy doesn't necessarily realize what she's been doing is wrong until it threatens a romantic interest. Believing all is lost, Lucy pushes forward and accepts a client's offer to visit England, where she decides to right her wrongs and face her painful past.

I'd say The Brontë Plot is fun but not the read of the year. The characters aren't very engaging and many of their actions are hard to believe. However, what the author lacks in creating realistic characters, she more than makes up for with her ability to build atmosphere. This really saved it, especially the last half, as Reay describes in great detail the moors where Anne, Charlotte, and Emily based so many of their tales. All and all, I don't think I'd recommend this unless I knew someone really loved literary references. (2.5 stars)

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this title from Random House through in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviews to Come:

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Girl at War by Sara Nović

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

What are you reading?


A Post: Weekly Reads / 03.14.2016

After driving almost twelve hours, braving zero visibility due to fog and torrential downpour, I've finally arrived home, in Atlanta, and will be visiting family and friends for the next week. This means I probably won't get much reading done, but packed ALL the books just in case. I've got about 100 pages of Wuthering Heights left, and completed just over 50% of Unbroken, after listening on audio, on the drive down. The latter is so incredibly good, but also heartbreaking. I'm also scanning this travel book (pictured above with my scratch map): Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel: Our List of the 500 Best Places on the Planet - Ranked, while dreaming of where I'll go next.

Really planning to post the reviews of The Improbability of Love, The Brontë Plot, and The Queen of the Night before the year is over. Swear it.

What are you reading?

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