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!
Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean
The conclusion to Sarah MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastard series delivers everything readers could want and more. Grace and Ewan loved each other as children, but an unforgivable betrayal from Ewan tore them apart and sent Grace into hiding. Years later, Ewan arrives in London as the eligible Duke of Marwick and Grace, who is the true heir to the title Ewan claims, reigns over the kingdom she’s built in Covent Garden. Ewan is a villain in the first two books in this series, but he is determined to win Grace back. MacLean puts him through the wringer in Daring and the Duke—giving readers a grovel novel unlike any other as Ewan lets go of the power he once used to try and find her and instead works to transform himself into a man worthy of her. I hardly have the words for Grace, who is tough as steel and uses her fierce strength and fearlessness to protect those she loves. She’s equally protective of her heart, and won’t dare let Ewan back in if he cannot show that this time he’s chosen her above all else. Though Grace and Ewan are both known for their hard edges, the love between them is unbelievably tender, and the quiet vulnerable moments between them make this book shine. I already can’t wait to reread and discuss it later this summer as part of the #SummerOfSarahMacLean readalong I’m co-hosting on my personal channels. TLDR: Perfection.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, narrated by Nikki Massoud
Melissa Bashardoust’s Persian-inspired queer YA fantasy completely captivated me from the start. Soraya is a princess hidden away by her family because of the poison that runs through her veins, which kills any living thing she touches. But she isn’t the only one being kept away from prying eyes—in the dungeons is a demon who may hold all of the answers to the questions that plague Soraya. Can her curse be lifted? What is her mother not telling her about how she came to be afflicted by it? Nikki Massoud was a fantastic narrator for this audiobook, instantly transporting me to Soraya’s world. From the fairytale-like quality to the heroine’s growing understanding of her own power, this book reminded me of two other favorites: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. I live for books where heroines can be angry at the world around them, where they make devastating mistakes and must deal with the horrible consequences, and where they’re allowed to be thorny and still lovable. Through Soraya, Bashardoust explores the way girls are encouraged to make themselves smaller and more palatable to be accepted by a world afraid of their power, and shows how magnificent it can be when those same girls learn to revel in their strengths rather than shirk away from them. Packed with gorgeous writing and worldbuilding, Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a book I’d recommend to anyone who loves a good fairytale retelling. I’m already looking forward to diving into Bashardoust’s Girls Made of Snow and Glass.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Talk about a slam dunk! Gene Luen Yang’s latest follows a high school basketball team on their journey to the state finals. High school teacher Yang met with his school’s basketball coach after hearing about the team’s chances to finally win the championships after years of making it all the way only to come up short. I don’t follow basketball, but Yang begins the book as a newbie to the sport as well. Throughout he takes readers through the history of the game (from its conception to rule changes to international leagues and more), while also providing insight into the lives of the players he’s following. As he grows closer to the players and begins to understand the game better, he starts to wonder if real life is destined to follow the comic books he loves where winning would be a guarantee. It’s the arc he wants for this team’s story, but will it happen? Yang uses the theme of taking a step to tie these threads together in a powerful way, even using it to mark his own journey into a new phase of his career. I was really blown away by how much I enjoyed this book, and I think all readers (basketball fans or not) will find something to love here.
How to Be an Antiracist written and narrated by Ibram X. Kendi
This book has been widely recommended, read, and discussed over the last few weeks. Author Ibram X. Kendi explores the ways racism impacts every part of society (from our laws to science to ethics) and shares his personal journey towards becoming actively anti-racist. This blend made for a powerful narrative and an engaging one. Kendi’s honesty and openness about the ways he’s previously supported racist ideas before he knew more and the areas he acknowledges he’s still working on create a space for the reader to examine their own thinking, behaviors, and support of racist systems. Kendi challenges readers to imagine what an anti-racist society may look like, and through that encourages them to question the society they live in and how it’s designed to uphold racism. I listened to the audiobook, which is read by Kendi, and really enjoyed his narration (particularly during the memoir sections).
Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins
By the end of the first chapter, I was spellbound by this dark, haunting story. Fern grew up in a twisted household and begins to wonder if it held more secrets than she remembers. Bits and pieces of memories are popping up in her mind, linking her to an unsolved kidnapping years ago. Or was it all a dream? Caught between reality and her spiraling anxiety, Fern struggles to uncover the truth. I could not put this one down and devoured it in two days.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, narrated by Alaska Jackson
Looking for a sweet YA rom-com? You Should See Me in a Crown is a must-read. I listened to this one on audiobook in ONE NIGHT! I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a full-length audiobook this quickly; I didn’t want to stop. Liz Lighty is at the top of her class but didn’t get a large enough scholarship for her dream college. She decides to enter into the prom queen race at her school to get the rest of the money, but as a queer Black girl in a small mostly-white school it’s more than a challenge. Liz finds love, rekindles old friendships, and realizes the judgments she’s made about some of her peers and the adults in her life may not be accurate. You Should See Me in a Crown would make for such a fun Netflix series or movie that many young teens would find really relatable.
Down Too Deep by J. Daniels
This book was so darn cute and I just couldn’t put it down. While Down Too Deep is the fourth book in a series, I was instantly invested in all of these character’s lives. It features two single parents, both with their own baggage, who fall in love with each other and make their own new family together. It shows the difficulties they have as they embark on a relationship that involves more than just the two of them and their feelings. I found myself smiling often while reading, and I especially adored the children in the book. The couple and their story felt grounded in reality, and J. Daniels balances the parenting drama, the cuteness of the kids, and the steaminess of the romance perfectly.
Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen
Pilu of the Woods follows Willow, who has a fight with her older sister, runs into woods, and meets a new friend, Pilu, who ran away from her family’s grove. Pilu is a magnolia tree spirit and helps Willow deal with the “little monsters”—her depression, anxiety, and grief. Willow and Pilu bond over their “little monsters” and both realize they need to return home and reconcile with their family. It’s such a beautiful story about understanding and processing complex emotions. For middle grade and adult readers alike, this book does something really unique in its discussion of emotions. It explores them in a very quiet way that still makes this a fun and quick read. The artwork is so cute and perfect for fans of Katie O’Neill.
My Lady’s Lover by Nicola Davidson
This year I’ve made more of a conscious effort to read queer and specifically f/f romance novels because I can count on my hand the number that I’ve read—and as a voracious romance reader that makes me really sad. I picked up Nicola Davidson’s My Lady’s Lover, which is an erotic f/f historical novella, and read it in one night. It follows a lesbian lady’s maid, Beatrice, who has a crush on Amelia, the lady of the house. Because she’s had to hide who she is for fear of being punished, Beatrice tries to fight her feelings. Amelia is unhappily married to a verbally abusive husband and ends up seeking comfort with Beatrice, who teaches Amelia about sexual pleasure in a healthy and safe way. It amazes me how Nicola Davidson was able to develop these two characters and their relationship in all of 60 pages. This book was super sexy and a lot of fun to read. I definitely need to read more of Nicola Davidson’s books.
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
After finishing Truthwitch, I had to continue on with book two in the Witchlands series. Windwitch journeys with the reader across continents and through relationships that get more and more complex. Like many second books in fantasy series, Windwitch lets the reader become better acquainted with individual characters as they face their own adventures. Dennard’s characters grow depth beyond the relationships we understood in book one, and readers’ assumptions are challenged again and again as more sides to the story are uncovered. What once seemed black-and-white suddenly becomes greyish.