Curious what the NetGalley team is reading? Wish you could steal a peek at our bookshelves? You’ve come to the right place. Check out the books we’re recommending this month, and share your favorite recent reads in the comments!
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, narrated by Dion Graham
I’ve been excitedly counting down the days until Angie Thomas’ newest book, which follows Maverick Carter, who readers will recognize as Starr’s father in The Hate U Give. Thomas takes us back to when Mav was seventeen and his entire world upended when he learned he was going to be a father. Thomas perfectly captures Mav’s drive to be the best he can be for his son, while also showing the ways he’s still very much a kid himself as he navigates his relationships with his mother and father. Add in discussions of toxic masculinity and the way boys are encouraged to hide their emotions, and I was sold. This is another stunner from Thomas, and one sure to deeply resonate with readers. I listened to the audiobook and Dion Graham completely blew me away as a narrator. His ability to convey all of the nuances of Mav’s joy, fear, excitement, and sadness was truly incredible to listen to.
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, narrated by Isabelle Ruther
I have a new book for the favorites shelf! Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade follows actor Marcus and cosplaying geologist April, who end up on a date after Marcus steps in on Twitter to shut down the trolls harassing her. Little do they know, they’ve been talking for years under pseudonyms on a fanfiction website dedicated to the show Marcus stars in. Dade delivers a thinly veiled critique of HBO’s Game of Thrones which had me cackling, all while showing the power, talent, and passion of the fanfiction community. It’s a swoony romance and a love letter to fandom, which went right to my former fanfic writer heart. Meanwhile, April earned a rightful spot as one of my absolute favorite portrayals of a fat heroine for the way Dade explored the harm that fatphobia causes while still showing April to be strong, self-assured, and desirable. So many aspects felt like a balm to my soul, and I will forever be grateful to Dade for that. I listened to the audiobook and found Isabelle Ruther to be a delightful and funny narrator who I never wanted to stop listening to. I can’t wait to pick up more from Dade and see where she takes this series next!
Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour
This moving YA novel follows high school graduate Mila as she moves to a farm run by two foster parents. She settles into her role as a teacher, and soon finds herself coming face-to-face with her past. Nina LaCour’s quiet and powerful stories always pack a strong emotional punch and this book was no different. I was particularly captivated by the characters’ relationships with the ghosts of their pasts and Mila’s understanding that recovering from trauma may be a slow road but one made easier to bear with support from those who care about her. I had the chance to interview LaCour for this book club kit we created, and loved hearing her added insight into the inspiration behind Mila’s story. Download the free kit to see for yourself!
Circe by Madeline Miller
I had heard many rave reviews about this novel and the premise was intriguing. There is something about Greek myths that always draws me in, and the story of Circe as told by Madeline Miller certainly hooked me. Many stories in Greek mythology tell of the physical feats of heroes and the fate-driven drama surrounding the gods and mortals. This novel includes stories of heroes and drama, but through the eyes of a quieter, more subtle protagonist. Circe is an immortal daughter of Helios, banished to live on an island with only the occasional visitor and her animals to keep her company. She develops a skill for witchcraft, which she harnesses to protect herself and her island. Her encounters with mortals, heroes, the gods, and other familiar beings from Greek myths showcase the fleetingness of life and the loneliness of immortality. This is Circe’s story of discovery and nostos (“homecoming”). This novel was incredibly well-written, with a genuineness in its descriptions and emotions. I add to the rave reviews and would recommend this as a read to anyone!
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
My book club recently decided to read Pachinko, which tells a story spanning four generations of a Korean family. At the center of the story is Sunja, introduced as the daughter of a family who runs a boardinghouse in Korea. Throughout the novel, we see Sunja as a mother, wife, sister, and grandmother. Sunja has a fierce spirit and fights for her family and her place as a woman in her world. While Pachinko is fictional, the story is enriched with the history of Koreans living in Japan. They often struggled under discrimination, poor living conditions, and a world in conflict. Although Sunja is a central character, the story is told from multiple points of view, allowing a glimpse into many facets of life in Korea and Japan. I loved the descriptive settings and characterization in this novel. As Pachinko reminds us, history isn’t kind for many people. This novel offers a profound and honest look into one family’s journey in the world, with joys and challenges alike thrown in the way.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I bought the hardcover of this book for leisurely reading over the holidays and it did not disappoint! Moreno-Garcia’s descriptions of the slow rot spreading through the mansion known as High Place, and of Noemi’s gorgeous 1950s ensembles lent the whole book such amazing texture. Having the paper under my fingers was an added bonus since I usually read digitally, and it helped to bring those textures off the page for me! I really enjoyed making guesses about what was happening to each character, to the house, to the relationships, and was pleased to be rewarded both with some correct guesses and some utter surprises. This book deserves all the hype!
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
There was no resisting this fantasy novel about New York City, the first book in a new series by Hugo-award-winning author N.K. Jemisin. As a New Yorker, I found this book to be a love letter to what NYC is, was, and could be. It’s made for readers who have NY in their hearts, even if they’re not local. After all… NYC is a state of mind. It reminded me of American Gods, or maybe Neverwhere… a glimpse into a world that exists in the spaces that are overlooked as we go about our day-to-day. Maybe that’s why Neil Gaiman called it “a glorious fantasy.”
With a tagline like this, I hope you’ll find it irresistible to pick up, too: “Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She’s got six.”
The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe, narrated by Justine Eyre
I feel like everyone has been telling me to read this series and wow, this was the comfort read that I needed. This is a Gilded Age historical romance set in New York City and it’s a breath of fresh air. The heroine, Mamie, is so fiercely independent and, despite her status, striving to help those who have less privilege. I loved the hero, Frank, and his intense longing for Mamie. Justine Eyre, the audiobook narrator, was incredible and brought so much life to the characters. I am now excited to explore more works from both Joanna Shupe and Justine Eyre.
The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan
Courtney Milan revolutionizes the historical romance genre with this book. It follows Jeremy, a half-Chinese duke, and Chloe, a Chinese immigrant, in a beautifully sweet and funny story of love, community, and what it means to belong. Jeremy has visited the village of Wedgeford every year for their unique festival and to see his childhood crush, Chloe. No one there knows he’s the duke that they’re all indebted to. Jeremy hasn’t visited in the past three years and Chloe is about to give up hope of his return. Jeremy arrives and strikes a bargain with the determined Chloe to help him write a list of the qualities he wants in a wife. Chloe is a headstrong heroine who loves a good list and has overly committed herself to too many tasks and I loved her for it. The tropes Milan utilizes in this are some of my favorites like “only one room at the inn.” The food descriptions had me longing for the chance to try Chloe’s father’s magical sauce. I need Courtney Milan to write more stories set in this delightful and welcoming village.
Let Us Dream by Alyssa Cole
Alyssa Cole is an incredible novella writer and Let Us Dream is one of her best. Set during the Harlem Renaissance, this tells the story of a female cabaret owner who wants to ensure that all women in her neighborhood are granted the right to vote not just the wealthy and respected, but that decision is at the hands of men. Meanwhile, Amir is looking for liberty and the American Dream as an immigrant seeking work as a chef at her cabaret. The two have a whirlwind romance mixed with the powerful story of voting rights leaves the reader feeling hopeful for an equal future for all.
The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams
Eley Williams’ debut novel is the perfect antidote to the awfulness of 2020—an intelligent, romantic, sly, and always involving novel of two people divided by time and gender, but brought together in their complex relationship with language and communication. I can’t imagine a better book to curl up with in front of a nice fire.