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!
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020, and I’m so excited that it is now on shelves so other readers can share in the experience of reading it. The book introduces readers to a young woman who makes a bargain to live forever, but be forgotten by everyone who meets her. Beginning in 1714 in France, the story tracks Addie across the centuries of her life until she meets someone who remembers her. This is a book nearly 10 years in the making, and you can feel the love V.E. Schwab has for this book and these characters on every single page. Her passion for this story is palpable, and it transforms the reading experience into something that feels rare and special. My advice to readers is to savor this book. It is truly a masterpiece.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria, narrated by Seraphine Valentine
Alexis Daria’s You Had Me at Hola is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Actors Jasmine and Ashton are cast opposite each other in a buzzy new romantic comedy, but a rocky first meeting sets them off on the wrong foot. Daria weaves scenes from the show they’re shooting into the novel, perfectly matching the emotional beats of the main romance arc and offering added insight into both Jasmine and Ashton. The end result is a steamy, funny, and captivating read that I never wanted to put down. I particularly loved how Daria explored representation in the entertainment industry, and the power of seeing yourself reflected in the media you consume. I’m so glad that my coworker Dana recommended that I listen to the audiobook because Seraphine Valentine delivers a standout performance that left me immediately wanting more of her narration. If you’re looking to pick up a romance novel this month, I can’t recommend this one enough.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Magic, the power of friendship, romance, celebrations of queer identity—Cemetery Boys is made up of so many elements that make my reader heart happy. This YA debut follows Yadriel, a Latinx trans brujo, who accidentally summons a ghost, Julian, and needs to send him back. Thomas perfectly balances humor and tenderness as these two grow closer during their journey to solving the mystery of what happened to Julian. I particularly loved the way they explored the expectations of forgiveness that queer people can be burdened with and the importance of upholding cultural traditions, while showing that growth and change are necessary to truly honor all members of a community. The writing was really visual, and I’d love to see this one adapted into a graphic novel. Thomas is a writer to watch, and I cannot wait to read their next book!
Naughty Brits by Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Louisa Edwards, Tessa Gratton, and Sierra Simone
Five authors bring their considerable talents together in this romance anthology, featuring stories all linked by a gala at the British Museum. From the various tropes used to the differences between each tale’s heroes and heroines, it truly feels as though there’s something for everyone in this collection and I loved that each story was connected by the gala (allowing the reader to get glimpses of other characters throughout the book). Sarah MacLean makes a stellar contemporary debut with “A Duke Worth Falling For.” This story perfectly captures all of the things I love about her historical romances in a new modern setting. Sophie Jordan delivers a swoony bodyguard romance, while Louisa Edwards makes dreams come true with a writer who meets her celebrity crush. Tessa Gratton pens her first romance—featuring a heroine torn between the past and her future. Sierra Simone continues to ruin me in the best possible ways with a delicious, angsty, intense story that wrecked both hero and heroine before putting them back together. If you’re looking for your next read, I can’t recommend this collection enough. It’s the sexy, romantic escape to England I was hoping for!
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
This modern fantasy seamlessly depicts teenagers in a world inhabited by sirens, mermaids, gargoyles, and sprites. Tavia struggles with her identity as a siren—her powerful voice must be hidden at all costs in a time when all she wants is to be heard. Effie is navigating her bittersweet success at the Renaissance Faire, while dealing with the question of her identity. These sisters have an unbreakable bond that helps them through everything from casual high school drama to social justice to dramatic revelations as the world is thrown into disarray around them.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, narrated by Frankie Corzo
Mexican Gothic truly delivers a delicious, addictive, and intriguing mystery, alongside some gnarly horror that made me very squeamish. While completely different, listening to this audiobook made me want to rewatch The Haunting of Hill House because my reactions were similar. The book’s gothic nature leaves you questioning what is actually happening. I adored the protagonist Noemí and I am now very interested in reading more from Silvia Moreno-Garcia!
Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert
Talia Hibbert’s first foray into paranormal romance is sweet, entertaining, and highly steamy. This novella was a perfect October read as it’s set around Halloween. It follows Chastity, the youngest in a family of werewolf huntresses, and Luke, the werewolf who recognizes her as his fated mate. Hibbert brings her signature humor to Mating the Huntress with many laugh-out-loud moments stemming from Luke’s misunderstandings of human behavior and the couple’s cute banter. Luke should be Chastity’s enemy, but we learn that the family of huntresses has lost a lot of information about werewolf lore. I was also happy to see Chastity’s family accept her finding her happiness with Luke. While being short, this one packs a punch with the steamy scenes and leaves you wanting more from this world. I would love to see Chastity’s siblings find love in future novellas.
Blood Countess by Lana Popović, narrated by Jennifer Mudge
I am all in on the spooky vibes this season, so I decided to listen to the audiobook of Blood Countess by Lana Popović. This is a gothic historical fiction book, similar to And I Darken by Kiersten White. It’s based on the real Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who may have inspired Dracula. The exact number of women and girls she killed is unknown but suspected close to 600. I went into this expecting vampires, but because of how horrific it ended up being I didn’t even miss that aspect. My favorite part of this book was the murderous and manipulative relationship between the heroine Anna and the Countess. There is some great tension between these two women. Popović really shines when exploring how these two women express their thoughts towards their own sexualities. Anna is consumed by her feelings for Elizabeth until she sees the full depth of Elizabeth’s madness and dark nature. I couldn’t put this down and felt like I was pulled right into this dark web of deceit. If you’re looking for a bloody good read, check this one out!
The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Tony Moore
I recently read the first volume of The Walking Dead. I’ve been meaning to read it for years because I love the TV show and I’ve been watching since it premiered. It was so interesting to see the differences between the two. There’s some overlap, but characters that were integral to the show (such as Daryl and Merle) are missing from the comics, leading to some key differences in how the storylines play out. The artwork is fantastic and is completely black and white. The style is so life-like that it makes the zombie story feel more real. The great part of this series is that this is a survival story with human conflicts and zombies just happen to be an obstacle. I’ve already ordered the second volume and I can’t wait to dive in.
The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben
Another fabulous read from Harlan Coben! Thirty years ago, a young boy called Wilde was found in the woods with no memories. He has no family to speak of until he meets famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein and befriends her son. Now he finds himself drawn into a local mystery. Wilde is close to his late best friend’s widow and son, Matthew, who is Wilde’s godson. When Matthew reaches out for help about a school friend and a prank gone wrong, things start to get interesting. Hester and Wilde have to use every resource available to dig for answers. This book is fabulous at every twist and turn, in true Coben style. What stuck with me most was the rich, so full-of-life characters that I instantly fell in love with. Hester may be my favorite character of all time. She’s so sharp, with such wit, intelligence, and an incredible sense of humor. This story was suspenseful and unexpected, yet full of humor—one of those books you just can’t put down!
Latecomers by Anita Brookner
Anita Brookner is best known for winning the Booker Prize for her novel Hotel Du Lac, and her glacial, scalpel-like prose is, if anything, more acute in Latecomers—a strange novel of two families closely woven together throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. Often compared to Jane Austen, Brookner is brilliant at skewering pretensions, but equally at getting to the heart of a particular relationship. This is a deeply odd novel masquerading as something far more conventional. I’d highly recommend it.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Various people have recommended this book to me throughout my life. It tells the story of a shepherd who has a dream about pyramids, then spends years of his life traveling to the pyramids and learning lessons along the way. I have always resisted reading it because the way people talk about it makes it seem like a self-help book masquerading as a novel. Now that I’ve read it, I can say confidently that this book may be just that and yet… I read the entire book over the course of a single day. The plot moves slowly, but I did not want to stop reading. It affected me on a deep level in ways that I can’t fully analyze. It’s generally referred to as an allegory, but I think of it more as a parable. It raises more questions than it answers and for that I love it.