Since April just begun, I thought it’d be fun to go ahead and share some of my anticipated book releases for the month. I did one of these in March and I enjoyed it quite a bit because it helps me to stay in touch with current book offerings. My habit is to read older books, whether by a couple of years or a couple of decades, but by doing a new releases write-up, I can get the best of both worlds, in a sense. Plus, this year—COVID chaos excluded—has been fabulous in terms of new titles and I’d love to share/promote what I can to help some of these authors out during a difficult period.
These six novels are a good mix of fantasy, contemporary, and historical fiction, for both adult and teenage audiences. One of the reasons that I chose them is because as soon as I read the synopses I felt an urge to go out to my local library to put them on my hold list. That feeling of giddy anticipation is so much fun and a great indicator (for me) of what type of narratives my brain is currently craving.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix: A southern vampire fiction novel about a lady named Patricia Campbell who’s a typical housewife with a workaholic husband and kids too busy for their parents. The only comfort she has is in the form of a close-knit group of ladies who gather together to read true crime. One evening, Patricia is attacked by a local neighbour, bringing the neighbour’s nephew into her life, making her feel alive in ways she hasn’t experienced in years. Yet, the more she gets to know him, the more she realises that there may be something supernatural about this nephew than he leads on.
I don’t typically gravitate towards Southern fiction, but this one sounds partly cute, partly intriguing, and partly hilarious in a strange sort of way. Also, that cover is quite yummy! It releases tomorrow on the 7th!
Looking Glass by Christina Henry: A dark fantasy collection of four novellas from Christina’s Chronicles of Alice duology series, which I absolutely fucking loved. The Chronicles of Alice is very dark and fucked-up re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s classic. While I don’t recommend this for the feint of heart, I do recommend it to fans of dark fantasy and twisted re-imaginings of fairy tales. Content warnings include: rape, sexual violence, abuse, and disturbing portrayals of mental illness. Looking Glass releases on April 21st.
The Silence of Bones by June Hur: An #OwnVoices Korean YA historical mystery set in Joseon (Korea) during the 1800s, it follows a young sixteen-year-old girl named Seol living with an ancient curse. Indentured to the police, she is tasked with helping a highly-respected inspector with investigating a politically chaotic murder of a noblewoman. As they dive deeper into this woman’s life and her deepest secrets, the two end up formulating an unlikely bond, one that shall be tested when Seol ends up becoming the prime suspect of the investigation.
As a huge fan of historical fiction, with this one being set in a time period that I don’t get to read about often and following a crime mystery, it was an absolute no-brainer for me. It has pretty much everything that I adore in literature, including being an #OwnVoices Asian novel. Check it out when it drops on April 21st.
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha: Another #OwnVoices Korean book, this is a contemporary fiction about four separate young ladies who are trying to navigate a world that is defined by outrageous standards of beauty, catering to the opposite gender, strict social practises, and K-Pop fandoms. Their friendship with one another may become their only saving grace in this terrifyingly vicious world of expectations.
The themes mentioned are so incredibly relevant in today’s social circles, especially where young women and high-standards of what is considered to be “acceptable” in order to be an ideal representation for said gender is concerned. Place those beliefs into a modern Asian environment and you’ve got my perfect cup o’ chai. This stunning novel releases on April 21st.
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah: An #OwnVoices Palestinian-American contemporary story about Araf Rahman who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning a shooter that has been radicalised by the online alt-right attacks the school. As Araf listens to this radical, the reader is transported back through her memories to a time when Araf faced bigotry as a child, her family’s dreams of returning home to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of an older sibling. Even so, Araf finds comfort in her father’s music and hope in the faith of Islam.
This story sounds like it’s going to be remarkably evocative as well as supremely enlightening about the different ways that faith can help a person, and a community, through horrifying events and experiences. As a child of Muslim immigrants myself, there is also a deeply cultural aspect to this novel that I feel I shall be able to relate to and I’m very much looking forward to it, even if I will have to read this book with a box of tissues by my side. It drops on the 7th.
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed: An #OwnVoices South Asian Islamic YA contemporary that follows two time periods and two young girls. In present day, we encounter a girl named Khayyam Maquet who goes on holiday with her family in Paris. Rather than kick-back and enjoy the magic that comes with this very romantic city, Khayyam instead finds herself stuck fretting over her ex-boyfriend, possibly losing her chance at attending her dream college, and overall just trying to figure her shit out. Two-hundred-years before Khayyam’s existence, we meet Leila. A young lady that is fighting to survive while attempting to keep her true love hidden from the Pasha that wants her for his harem. As Khayyam tries to make the most of her vacation, her journey eventually leads her back to Leila, and the answers of self-discovery that she’s been looking for all along.
I’m a fan of Ahmed’s writing style. It’s easy to engage with and she’s able to create some natural characters that are also rather easy to empathise with. Usually I find myself laughing or finding comfort in the tales she tells. I’m intrigued by following a Muslimah around in Paris while she’s on a quest of self-discovery. It sounds like such a perfect indulgence for Spring or Summer reading. It hits shelves on the 7th.
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