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!
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
I’ve been on a bit of a mystery kick lately (begun by our team’s last book club pick!) and the latest I’ve read is Nalini Singh’s A Madness of Sunshine. Set in New Zealand, the book follows the case of a missing local girl, whose disappearance may be linked to a string of cold cases from years ago. Anahera (who grew up in Golden Cove) teams up with the town’s new cop, Will, to find out the truth. There’s a strong sense of unease throughout, knowing that at least one member of this tight-knit community is keeping a dark secret. I listened to the audiobook almost exclusively at the gym, and it made for a good workout buddy, especially as things got tense and dangerous near the end! This is the first book I’ve read form Singh, and I loved her writing style. It’s made me even more excited to dive into her romances.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Last year my coworker Dana and I attended the NYC launch of On the Come Up, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to listen to Angie Thomas talk. After letting it sit on my TBR for far too long, I finally queued up the audiobook and started listening. Thomas is so incredibly talented, and she blows me away every time with the way she perfectly blends humor and heart in her stories. This book is set in the same neighborhood as The Hate U Give, but it follows a different heroine. Bri dreams of becoming a rap legend, and she has the skills to make it big if given the chance. It’s a story about dreams and family, about the legacies we leave behind, and about staying true to yourself. Thomas does a great job of capturing what it’s like to be a teen trying not to be defined by others’ expectations of you, when you’re still in the middle of figuring out who you are. I’d definitely recommend the audiobook to get the full experience of hearing Bri’s raps–more than once I found myself getting caught up in listening to them (and reacting to them in the middle of my gym—oops!) and I’ve had the hook of her hit song in my head for days. I cannot wait to see what Thomas does next.
Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole
Alyssa Cole is not only one of my favorite romance authors, she’s one of my favorite novella writers. I’m working my way through her backlist and recently picked up Let It Shine, which takes place during the Civil Rights movement. After the death of her mother, Sofronia transformed herself into the kind of quiet, reserved Black woman her father wanted to see. But that changes when she decides to join a group of nonviolent protestors. It’s at one of their meetings that she reunites with Ivan, a white Jewish boxer and her childhood best friend. With a touching romance between a heroine who finds her voice and uses it fearlessly and a hero who supports her no matter what, this novella is another winner from Cole.
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
Magic! Pit bulls! Queer witches! This graphic novel combines so many of my favorite things and it utterly enchanted me. Snapdragon is a lonely young girl who befriends Jacks, the town witch. Jacks encourages Snap’s interest in animal anatomy, and as Snap grows more confident she makes friends with a classmate named Lu. It’s an inclusive story that celebrates being true to yourself and surrounding yourself with people who love and accept you. From the animated style of the art to the depth of the characters, this was an all-around winner for me. Snapdragon is on shelves now and I’d definitely recommend to readers who enjoy books like Molly Knox Ostertag‘s Witch Boy. Did I mention there are pit bulls? Three! And one has three legs and is named Good Boy and I could not handle the cuteness.
Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald
Could you imagine waking up in the hospital after being struck by lightning only to be told you’re suspected of murdering your own mother? A must-read author for me, Christina McDonald has once again created a thrilling story based around a complicated mother-daughter relationship. Determined to clear her name, Eva Hansen starts digging for answers. The deeper she digs, the more unbelievable her own story becomes. This is a fabulous book–full of family secrets, a mother’s love, and huge regrets.
In the Woods by Tana French
I recently read The Likeness by Tana French for our office’s book club, which is the second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I hadn’t read In the Woods, the first book in the series, so I had to pick it up. I’m not much of a mystery reader but this one really took me by surprise. I knew how much my coworkers Kelly and Amanda love the series and I had high hopes going in. It follows Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox as they investigate a child’s murder that might be connected to a cold case from the 80s. Rob is a very unlikeable character and he has a lot of self-hatred and guilt that he’s dealing with. Cassie to me was the star of this book, even though she wasn’t the narrator. Maybe because mysteries aren’t my typical read, but this book felt slow when it came to solving the crime and then the ending was explosively fast. I found myself wanting to know what would happen next and reading this whenever I had a free moment. When I finally got the truth at the end, I immediately started texting Kelly because I just needed someone to discuss it with. I think that’s always a great sign with a book.
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
After reading Kelly’s really fun interview with Mia Sosa, I knew The Worst Best Man was going to be a book that I would love. It follows Lina, a wedding planner whose fiancé left her at the altar after a conversation with his brother Max convinced him he wasn’t ready to commit. Lina and Max end up having to work together on a huge project that could expand both of their careers. What ensues is a lot of banter and tropes that were so much fun to read. Sosa hit my two favorite tropes (only-one-bed and fake dating) in this enemies-to-lovers book, and she used them so well. I adored Lina, a strong heroine with a really close family. Lina is Brazilian and her culture informs a lot of who she is and the choices she makes. The food descriptions in this book made me so hungry and I was craving Brazilian food the entire time. There was one restaurant scene in particular with Lina and Max where she is full-on petty and makes him eat hot peppers—it made my year. If you’re a fan of rom-coms from authors like Jasmine Guillory and Helen Hoang then you will adore The Worst Best Man.
There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
I just finished reading There’s Something About Sweetie and I loved it! This book is a spin-off of When Dimple Met Rishi and features Rishi’s younger brother, Ashish, who’s devastated from a breakup and turns to his desi parents to arrange a relationship for him with an Indian girl. Sweetie is a plus-size runner, who has a difficult relationship with her mother because of her weight. After Sweetie’s mother turns down the potential of a relationship because of Sweetie’s weight, the teens decide to see each other in secret. I adore listening to this series via audiobook because the narrators are Indian and therefore the accents and pronunciations are correct. I like that I’m learning about a culture that’s different from my own and hearing about the food is always one of my favorite parts. The story overall is unbelievably adorable and shows a cute teen couple who are embracing their culture while also standing up for their individual beliefs. If you’re interested in reading this series, I highly recommend the audiobooks.
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
I’ve started 2020 with a newfound obsession with planners, stickers, and all of the beautiful calligraphy that goes into them. Then I picked up Kate Clayborn’s Love Lettering to discover that I was reading a romance about a woman who designs custom journals. It was kismet. This book follows Meg, also known as the Planner of Park Slope. Her business is taking off just as her own creative well is beginning to run dry. But that all changes when Reid, a previous client, contacts her about the hidden message she put into his wedding invitations—for a wedding that didn’t happen. I always love an opposites-attract story. Reid and Meg are not alike, but they inspire each other to jump out of their comfort zones. Clayborn created well-developed characters with such nuance that their struggles felt real to me. What truly impressed me was the relationships that Meg had with other women in the novel. Meg and her best friend Sibby aren’t speaking for most of the book. I love that the characters realize they have to do the hard work to fix the friendship and support each other. There were many laugh-out-loud moments, as well as really heartbreaking ones. Fans of rom-coms will love this quirky story of two unlikely characters falling in love despite the mistakes they’ve made in their past.
Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes
Taking place in a massive Kansas antique mall, it slyly hits (maybe too close) to home with a dead-on portrait of collectors and collector mania. Each character is written with warmth and humor, but take it from a semi-obsessed vinyl collector: Geddes’ depiction of obsessively categorizing vinyl by sub-genre is near perfection.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Right after reading Big Little Lies, I started listening to Sharp Objects, figuring that I could start to pick out a pattern in the kind of audio fiction I liked to listen to. Sharp Objects is a grim and brutal story about dysfunctional families, small towns, bodily harm, and murder. The narrator, Camille Preaker, returns to Wind Gap, Missouri to investigate the murders of two young girls. She has to return to her overbearing and disturbing mother, her cruel and precocious half-sister, and the whole world she left behind. It’s like a Tennessee Williams play plus True Detective, with a healthy dose of Gummo. I think that seeing some of the violence on screen would be too much for me, but listening to it was pure pulpy goodness.
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
My dad definitely recommended this book to me years ago and I completely forgot about it until I was scrolling through Libby looking for my next read. The Girl With All the Gifts opens in a very peculiar school. The students are strapped to their chairs and kept in isolation. Teachers seem to have no idea what to do in their classrooms, except for one. You realize very quickly that the students are a kind of zombie, called hungries, and that they are being kept in a medical testing site masquerading as a school. Once I realized all of that, I thought I knew what kind of book I was getting into: a zombie book plus a British boarding school book. But very quickly, things took a turn and I was legitimately unsure of where we were going. And I was very much along for the ride!
Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
I devoured this book during a 3-hour plane ride. Set in the Pacific Northwest, Bisou finds herself running barefoot through the woods, a wolf chomping at her heels—but instead of falling prey, she turns and fights. In this modern fable, boys become wolves, but the power is given back to the women in the story. It’s firmly in our modern world, with some elements of fantasy. I appreciate how this book unabashedly shines a spotlight on toxic masculinity, rape culture, and double standards (while also featuring a healthy romantic relationship for contrast!). Plus, it emphasizes the power of female friendships and communication.
(Psst: Click here to read our interview with author Elana K. Arnold on Red Hood)
Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber
I am a deeply religious person, but I don’t read many books with religious themes as they often seem overly preachy. Accidental Saints is not one of those books. Author Nadia Bolz-Weber tells stories of people she has encountered, been annoyed and angered by, actively avoided, and loved. She has learned from them all, and now so have I. If I were to ever meet and converse with Bolz-Weber, I’m pretty sure we would find very little common theological ground between us, but if theology is just a roadmap for spiritual experience, I think we could share our journeys joyfully.