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!
Homie written and narrated by Danez Smith
One of the very best ways to experience poetry is to hear it read aloud, which is why I was thrilled to see that my library had acquired the audiobook for Danez Smith’s Homie, a slim volume that topped countless Best Of lists in 2020. Smith explores queerness, race, and love through the lens of friendship in this moving poetry collection. I loved getting to listen to their narration, knowing I was listening to each piece the way they meant it to be heard. Many of the poems are short, and I’d find myself starting them over just to listen again to the power of Smith’s voice and words.
Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen
Between the Devil and the Duke follows a card-counting heroine who finds herself teaming up with a gambling den owner when her brother stirs up trouble. I love a romance hero whose respect for the heroine is reflected in every action he takes, and that’s exactly what I found in Alex. He is a goner for Angelique from the start, but consistently ensured that her consent and agency were always the priority. Meanwhile Angelique is the kind of heroine I love to root for—she knows how to stand on her own two feet and over the course of the book grows more confident in her skills and her ability to take action when needed and accept help when she needs to. I’ve read a few of Bowen’s books and love how nuanced, emotional, and compelling her work always is. This is the third book in the Season for Scandal series, and I can’t wait to go back and read the first two!
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff
I read and loved Jason Reynolds’ award-winning verse novel Long Way Down when it first hit shelves, and I was ecstatic to see it was getting a graphic novel adaptation. The story follows 15-year-old Will, who believes he has to follow the rules of his neighborhood (don’t cry, don’t snitch, get revenge) after his brother is murdered. He grabs Shawn’s gun, gets in the elevator, and hits the button for the ground floor. But it’s a long way down, and before Will reaches the bottom he’s visited by six people from his past, all victims of gun violence, who make him question what he knows and what he plans to do. Reynolds’ free verse poetry and Danica Novgorodoff’s watercolor illustrations combine to deliver a powerful and heartbreaking tale that readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.
A Bright Young Thing by Brianne Moore
Brianne Moore’s A Bright Young Thing was a comforting and empowering read. There are few things I enjoy more in a book than strong friendships, a smart protagonist, and well-written dialogue—and this book had all of that! Astra Davies must navigate 1930s British aristocratic society in the aftermath of the deaths of her parents. She finds support in her friends (who’ve always had her back, since being in school together—loved that!) and people who see her for who she is. I adored Astra’s characterization as a fiercely driven woman undeterred by the schemes of those who are trying to ruin her reputation and those who underestimate her. A Bright Young Thing was an incredibly engaging and quick read, and at its end, I was sad to leave the world of characters that Moore developed.
Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez
Abby Jimenez is back with her third contemporary romance novel and she’s definitely cemented herself as one of my favorite authors. Her humorous tone and energetic writing immediately pulled me into this story. Vanessa Price is a Youtuber who has recently taken in her sister’s newborn daughter after her sister relapsed with her addiction. One night she can’t quiet the baby and her apartment neighbor, Adrian Copeland, knocks on her door to help. What follows is a really sweet and at times heartbreaking story of these two creating a family together and overcoming personal issues with their loved ones. Jimenez has a track record of writing nuanced women who are dealing with heavy topics such as illness and grief (both of which are seen in this novel), but Life’s Too Short in particular plays with the obligations women can feel to their siblings and parents who are struggling with mental illness and addiction. What makes this book lighter is the romance, how perfect Adrian is for Vanessa, and how happy they are together. I will read whatever Abby Jimenez writes next!
The Hill We Climb written and narrated by Amanda Gorman
For National Poetry Month, I always try to pick up something in verse and this April I listened to The Hill We Climb, the inaugural poem by Amanda Gorman with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey. I watched and listened in awe on inauguration day as Gorman read her beautiful and moving poem that was reflective and hopeful after the events of the past year. I had the same feelings when I once again listened. I typically always speed up my audiobooks but because this one is incredibly short (9 minutes in total) I did not and it was great to have both Gorman and Winfrey’s natural cadence. Oprah Winfrey’s foreword was an equally poetic introduction and a look at why this work is so profound and important. Everyone should give this a listen!
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Talia Hibbert wraps up her Brown Sisters rom-com trilogy with a laugh-out-loud and tender romance between Eve, the flighty youngest sister, and Jacob, an autistic bed and breakfast owner. While at an interview for a chef position (that she’s not really qualified for), Eve ends up accidentally hitting her potential boss, Jacob, with her car. Jacob immediately dislikes Eve, but the two grow close after he offers her the job. She helps him learn to open up to others, and Jacob also helps Eve to see herself for who she truly is and accept herself. This book was fun and sweet, but also got very steamy, as Hibbert does best. I am sad to see this series end, but I definitely plan to reread it soon.
Again Again by E. Lockhart
I enjoy some authors because they make me feel like I’m not alone in my thoughts, tastes, and temperament (Louis Sachar, Ray Bradbury, and C.S. Lewis, for example). Others I like because they make me very uncomfortable as they confront me with new ideas and experiences (Madeleine L’Engle and Michael Lewis, for example). At their best, these authors do both, and E. Lockhart accomplishes this more consistently than almost anyone. Again Again tells the story of Adelaide, a teenage girl whose inner-life complications are matched and compounded by her family and school situations. Small decisions send her in unexpected directions, but in the story, we also get glimpses of alternate realities where slightly different actions bring about (sometimes) vastly different results. I have said before that I will read anything by E. Lockhart with no preview or summary, and this book only reinforces that attitude.