My TBR has a million books on it, but... so does my currently reading shelf! Yikes! I like to read multiple books at once, in a variety of formats. So here I'm sharing all the books I'm currently reading, in hopes that I can convince myself to finish some of them. Have you read any of these? Drop me a line in the comments to let me know what you thought!
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
I got this book at one of my favorite used bookstores, in the city near where I attend college. I never had time to read it during the school year, but the other day I was craving a fantasy novel and remembered how much I had loved Uprooted, so I picked it up!
A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
As I loved Down Come the Night, Saft's debut, I have been so excited to read this ARC copy of her sophomore novel. Admittedly by this point I am wayyy behind on my ARC reviews, but I'm still determined to finish this story soon, and have a review up for y'all.
Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong
These Violent Delights was one of my favorite books of ... whatever year it came out in (my sense of time has disintegrated) so I picked up OVD as soon as possible, but my library hold expired and I've been keeping it on my currently-reading shelf in a reminder to borrow it again!
It's Elemental by Kate Biberdorf
This is a non-fiction book about the ways chemistry influences our everyday lives. I'm interested in science communication, so I'm reading It's Elemental to check out the prose Biberdorf uses to help our subject (traditionally criticized for being difficult to understand) appealing to the general public.
Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe
We love a roaring twenties inspired novel! The aesthetics of this one are unmatched, and I honestly think I must have gotten distracted by my coursework since I'm recalling now that the novel was very compelling and I'm not sure why I ended up putting it down.
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long
Another ARC--a sci-fi story that I can't comment that much on since I remember not making it too far into the story when I started reading. Will definitely have a review up soon, I think this was a February release.
The Storm of Echoes by Christelle Dabos
The Mirror Visitor has been one of my favorite series since I first started reading it a few years ago, and this is the latest installment which I waited for with bated breath. I've been hanging onto it for a while because I want to devote an entire day to reading it. This series is very popular in its home country of France, as I am given to understand,
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Ace of Spaaaades!! This one gets legit scary, and I remember putting it down in favor of a fluffier read. Well, I'm armed with a room full of romance books and ready to tackle this dark academia thriller again.
Untethered by KayLynn Flanders
I had the opportunity to review Untethered through Flanders' street team (she is the sweetest author I have ever met in my life, and her books are amazing) and I keep swearing I am going to finish one of these days. I reviewed her first book, Shielded, and absolutely loved it. I keep the cute postcards she sent me on my wall.
Wayfarer by Alex Bracken
Y'know, I barely remember starting this. I think what happened is that I finished reading Lore (amaaazing book, absolutely recommend) and decided to work through Bracken's back catalog. Why? No idea. Will I finish? LOL good question.
Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufmann
You guessed it, another ARC. Gosh, I really am ashamed of myself for how many of these I've just been slowly working through. I am definitely working on getting through this currently-reading shelf before I start any new books, or accept any more review requests.
Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.
Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.
When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.
XOXO is the perfect kind of unputdownable summer romance that I love to dive into. I read this one in less than 24 hours, because Jenny and Jaewoo's story just hooked me from the start. I am not well-versed in the world of k-pop, but Oh does a great job of defining terms and including readers who are unfamiliar with the world of idols and entertainment companies.
The novel has all my favorite tropes: forbidden love, rediscovering family in another country, performing arts school, and a close-knit circle of friends. Some aspects could be called a bit cliché, but in my opinion the overall tone was a light and fluffy romance, so it worked for me. I loved that most of the book took place in South Korea--honestly, all mentions of the delicious food alone was enough to give me the travel bug!
In XOXO, plot takes a backseat to character development, which I felt was paced correctly throughout the novel. My favorite part of the book was the relationship between Jenny and her roommate Sori. At first they were adversarial, but the novel subverts the mean-girl trope and the two become close friends (I hope you won't take this as a spoiler since it happens early in the novel).
The romance is very sweet--Jaewoo and Jenny cared so much for each other and together both of them had to decide how to balance the important factors in their lives. I think this struggle continues throughout adulthood, where family, relationships, work, and other interests collide and we must figure out how to be our happiest selves.
I had such a fun experience reading this novel, and I'd highly recommend XOXO to anyone interested in a fun summery romp with a musical touch. 5 stars.
So I keep saying that I'm going to stick to a regular schedule with this stuff, but let's be real. I am almost certainly never going to do that. And I refuse to water down my content or share anything with you that I'm not proud of. So that leaves me with a couple choices: 1) Keep promising more updates to my long-running regular features that will only get more delayed if I try to backdate everything to the day where I left off. 2) Completely start over on another website and pretend the past 6(?!?!) years never happened.
Fortunately for everyone, I'm not interested in either of those choices, and I'm making up option 3 on the fly. Here's what it looks like so far: I'm coming back slowly. In a few weeks, when I have some time off from work, I'm going to update the theme. We'll start there and see how this goes. I'm hoping to come back with fewer regular features--the monthly release roundups became a lot to handle--and I'm thinking more individual posts and shouting about the books and media I love instead. Are you with me? I know it's all new, but I think we've got this. You all bring me so much joy, so thanks for sticking by me.
Thank you to Tiny Reparations for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.
Will Chen plans to steal them back.
A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son who has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.
His crew is every heist archetype one can imagine—or at least, the closest he can get. A con artist: Irene Chen, a public policy major at Duke who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering major who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.
Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.
This is the first review I've written in like... ever? And WOW, I could not have chosen a better book to get back on the bandwagon for. Portrait of a Thief is brilliant, emotional, tightly paced, and wound up in all my heartstrings. The novel follows a group of college students who become hired thieves exploring questions of cultural ownership, loyalty, family, and national identity.
I've always been fascinated by museums and the art world, which is maybe why this book hit so hard for me, but I think it would be tough to avoid getting invested in Li's compelling characters and authentic portrayal of their different relationships to the mission that ties them together. Every heist needs a leader, a hacker, a driver, a thief, and a con artist. Now, what I love most about Portrait of a Thief is it takes these complicated tropes and archetypes and nuances them, because in addition to their different feelings about criminality, all of the characters are children of the Chinese diaspora, wanting to relate to a country that feels both familiar and alien to all of them through family relationships and cultural significance.
As mentioned in the synopsis, a central argument of Portrait of a Thief is the impact of colonialist mentalities on museum collections around the world. What happens when one culture feels entitled to keep stolen art in the name of academia and history, but the country of origin wants it back? I'm an Indian-American art student, so on some level I understand the desire to see museum collections repatriate artifacts they have no claim to--it's enraging to see misattributed art, or works that aren't properly explained within their cultural context because they've been looted. On the other hand, I don't believe that all artwork should automatically be displayed only within its country of origin--so many people would lose the opportunity to see global art because of lack of access to travel, or the risk in transporting priceless art overseas. Museums with global collections are a wonderful concept, linking art from many countries in this way. But I digress. My point is, Portrait of a Thief gave me space to explore the implications of both schools of thought, and allowed me to develop my own opinion based on the actions of the characters. It's such a brilliant book precisely because it joins entertainment with the urge to form original thought.
Li's prose is brilliant--each chapter is incisive and powerful. I was truly immersed in the story, and I would definitely read a sequel or spinoff. The pacing works--the heists aren't always very well planned, which is to be expected since college students don't typically seem like the best option for hired thieves. In the end, there was more than one surprising twist, but I wasn't reading for shock value and it didn't seem as though that was the goal of Li's writing either. I came away feeling more like I'd read an introspective literary novel than a high-stakes heist thriller. If you're looking for schematic diagrams and high-tech thievery, perhaps this isn't the novel for you. The thing to remember about Portrait of a Thief is that the crimes serve a purpose, and aren't the main focus of the story. The point is to ask questions about cultural identity, art ownership, and the lasting legacy of colonialism.
I'm giving Portrait of a Thief 5/5 stars--this is one of my favorite books of 2022 already. Go pick it up! (And while you're at it, visit a nearby museum and look at some art. I guarantee you'll have fun.)
Thank you to Wednesday Books for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Everyone else in the tiny town of Enfield, Texas calls fall football season, but for the forty-three members of the Fighting Enfield Marching Band, it’s contest season. And for new saxophonist Anna James, it’s her first chance to prove herself as the great musician she’s trying hard to be.
When she’s assigned a duet with mellophone player Weston Ryan, the boy her small-minded town thinks of as nothing but trouble, she’s equal parts thrilled and intimidated. But as he helps her with the duet, and she sees the smile he seems to save just for her, she can’t help but feel like she’s helping him with something too.
After her strict parents find out she’s been secretly seeing him and keep them apart, together they learn what it truly means to fight for something they love. With the marching contest nearing, and the two falling hard for one another, the unthinkable happens, and Anna is left grappling for a way forward without Weston.
Reader, when I tell you I cried: I CRIED. This is definitely my fault for not reading the synopsis before starting the novel, but I fell so hard for Wes and Anna's relationship that I just completely lost it when they were separated. I'm talking: I was a sobbing mess on my bed for a full hour, and then had to go and call some people that I loved out of genuine irrational concern.
Like with her debut, Amelia Unabridged (which reading Full Flight has given me a craving to read), Schumacher really knows how to tug at your heartstrings with her characters. We've got Anna, who's sweet and sunny and trying to find her voice & figure out who she wants to be. I really loved her journey of finding her voice with her friends and family while also learning to protect her relationship and fight for what matters in her life. Wes is the misunderstood loner of the novel, and it's immediately clear that the town has just generally mischaracterized him, which is why he's so drawn to Anna when she's interested in him past the assumptions and superficialities.
The main reason that I was so invested in Wes and Anna's relationship was that I had no idea what was coming to them. I think in retrospect this knowledge makes their love all the much sweeter--Schumacher captures this incredible portrait of love and grief twined together that I'll be thinking about for months on end. Her prose is gorgeous, and she narrows down the essence of a storyline and then builds it up from the core in such full layers that I could be analyzing for days. There is no way for me to convey the spirit of an Ashley Schumacher novel in one review. You're just going to have to go read Full Flight for yourself.
The marching band/music connection was so adorable, and I loved the full immersion into that world. I was never in a band, so I couldn't personally relate to some aspects of the story, but I do understand having one of those extremely time-consuming hobbies that basically becomes your community (yes, I was a theatre kid). Schumacher's portrayal of Wes and Anna's existence in this world is so accurate--their ties to the band community and seeing this bring them closer together remind me a lot of relationships I've formed in the past.
I gave Full Flight 5/5 stars. This book wrecked me, and I was so grateful for that. It became a call back to the reasons I love reading in a moment where I thought I'd lost the ability to connect to books. I highly recommend this novel--out February 22nd!
Thank you to Wednesday Books for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.
Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.
When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.
Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.
But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.
This deliciously creepy Gothic tale about a female surgeon, the resurrection man supplying her with bodies, and all the magical horrors they face is sure to haunt readers in the best of ways.
Anatomy certainly delivers on compelling characters--Hazel is ambitious, relentless, and definitely reliant on luck and privilege as she attempts to navigate the wealthy, male society of medicine in Edinburgh. She was just plucky enough to get into some terrifying scrapes, but empathetic in using her surgical skills and country home resources to help others. I rather liked the challenge she set to the instructors at Dr. Beecham's lectures. That provides a fantastic lesson from the outset in never giving up on your goals despite facing ridicule from classmates and authorities.
The graveside romance aspect comes on a bit strong at moments--not sure I would call kissing in a grave the most romantic thing I've ever read--but Hazel and Jack fit well together, and their partnership seemed borne out of genuine attraction rather than instalove, which I appreciated.
Pacing was spot on throughout the novel, and the last quarter is packed with exciting reveals. I always appreciated Schwartz's attention to keeping page count moderate. Anatomy never drags, and each scene feels like it takes the proper length of emotional time to process. I sped through the novel in a day because I didn't want to stop reading!
There are some fascinating parallels between Hazel's world in 19th century Scotland and the modern day in regards to who is viewed as medically expendable, and whose lives are worth saving. The conspiracy that Hazel discovers is far beyond the scope of malice evident in contemporary healthcare systems, but the underlying premise is the same. Anatomy is not just a love story, it's also a book about systemic inequality and the difference in care between the rich and poor residents of a city.
Overall, I'm giving Anatomy 4/5 stars, and recommending it to any reader craving a magical Gothic mystery.
. As you may know, Barnes and Noble had a massive sale on hardcovers a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I was drawn to that and immediately lost all sense of reason. I'm talking 16(!!!) new books, and I'm here to share my entire haul with you. Some of them I've read but didn't own, and some are books I picked up on the spot. This fits in with one of my bookish resolutions for 2022, which is to go on a book buying ban for the first three months of the year. Stocking up on new reads will help me avoid the urge to visit my local indies or fill my online cart on bookshop.org. Without further ado, here are my picks!
Happy New Year! I have a feeling 2022 is going to bring great things for all of us, and I'm excited to see what the new year holds. At the moment, I've been cozied up at home doing lots of reading and tackling a massive book organization project. See, Barnes and Noble had a 50% off sale on hardcovers that you may have heard about... and I kind of went overboard. Now I have 16(!!) new books that need shelving, and I'm desperate to give my shelves a makeover. It's a perfect project for those snowy New England days that I hope we'll get soon. I've also just finished my first two reads of 2022: That Summer by Sarah Dessen, which I read so I could cull it from my shelves; and Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire, which continues my slow trek through the Wayward Children series. I adore her writing and am looking forward to picking up the next books in the series.
Bringing this feature back as part of my return to blogging! I'm trying to be less type-a about posting, so I won't catch *every* 2022 release, but I'll try to organize a series of highlights for the books I'm most excited to see on shelves. First up is this queer contemporary novel by debut author Rachel Roasek, Love Somebody. Out January 11th from Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.
Sam Dickson is a charismatic actress, ambitious and popular with big plans for her future. Ros Shew is one of the smartest people in school--but she's a loner, and prefers to keep it that way. Then there's Christian Powell, the darling of the high school soccer team. He's not the best with communication, which is why he and Sam broke up after dating for six months; but he makes up for it by being genuine, effusive, and kind, which is why they're still best friends.
When Christian falls for Ros on first sight, their first interaction is a disaster, so he enlists Sam's help to get through to her. Sam, with motives of her own, agrees to coach Christian from the sidelines on how to soften Ros's notorious walls. But as Ros starts to suspect Christian is acting differently, and Sam starts to realize the complexity of her own feelings, their fragile relationships threaten to fall apart.
This fresh romantic comedy from debut author Rachel Roasek is a heartfelt story about falling in love--with a partner, with your friends, or just with yourself--and about how maybe, the bravest thing to do in the face of change is just love somebody.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.
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