I can’t believe we are already 3/4 of the way through the year!! I genuinely believed that I hadn’t added too many books to my TBR list this month, so I was surprised to realize that my list had grown by another 5 1/2 pages by the end of September. That even includes the tiny amount of books that I (very hesitantly) removed from my TBR just last night. To be fair, the books that I removed were the Baby-sitter’s Club Friends Forever series, which I added to my list originally after finding my copies while cleaning out my closet and realizing that I couldn’t remember if I’d ever read them. For months now, I’d been seeing them on my TBR and thinking about whether I’d ever really get around to them. I read the first two and they were both very familiar, so I’d probably read them before. After moving them back down to a box in the basement to make room for more books, I decided that I wasn’t motivated enough to go get them and read them any time soon, especially if I’ve already read them. Even with all those reasons, I still had a very, very hard time bringing myself to remove them. First signs of a book addiction, possibly?
My TBR list now stands at 2409 books. I’ve also been considering trying to do some kind of “beat the backlist” challenge next year to knock off some of the books that have been on my TBR since 2015 or 2016, but I was frustrated to find that several of the books I was most interested in prioritizing are no longer available at my library, if they ever were at all. I even tried looking on Amazon and my local bookstore’s website, and they were only available through second-hand sellers. I guess I’ll have to go that route, or wait and see if they ever show up on BookOutlet.
1) The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas
If I’m not mistaken, I first saw this book on Destiny’s blog (@HowlingLibraries). I’m not usually very interested in horror books, but this one sounded amazing! It is about a girl named Clare who had been possessed by a demon, known as Her. Unbeknownst to the preacher who performs the exorcism on Clare, she viewed Her almost like a sister and wants to get the demon back. This book was just released last week, and I haven’t heard too much buzz about it yet, but it sounds like such a unique story. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about a person who was possessed, so this would definitely be a bit outside my comfort zone. It almost gives me Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes, since it is based on the idea that Clare’s relationship with her demon is more complex and leaves open the question of whether the demon really is good, evil, or somewhere in between. I also think it’s an interesting angle to have the person who has been possessed so accustomed to her situation that it becomes her “normal” and taking the demon away from her is a shock. It’s a very interesting angle, and I’d love to see how the story plays out.
2) The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
This book first caught my attention because of the beautiful cover art. It is another recent book, having just been released on September 25. It is about two sisters, Liba and Laya, who are Jewish and have been raised in a small village surrounded by forests. Just before their parents leave to visit their dying grandfather, Liba discovers that both parents can transform into animals and must keep this a secret from everyone, including her sister. The synopsis for this one is quite vague, but it also sounds very interesting. It reminds me of a fairy tale-style story along the lines of Uprooted, which was one of my favourite books I read last year. I’ve seen quite a few books recently that have to do with a mysterious forest, and this one is no exception. I’m also interested because this book is based on Jewish folklore, which is something I haven’t seen very often in books. It also reminds me a bit of The Hazel Wood, which I recently bought but haven’t read yet. I’m very interested in giving this one a try.
3) Nightingale by Amy Lukavics
This is another YA horror book that managed to make it past my general aversion to horror. It is about a 17-year-old girl named June Hardie whose parents commit her to the Burrow Place Asylum after she resists the kind of life they want her to have. June begins to suffer from frightening hallucinations which, when combined with the horrific conditions of the institution, make it difficult to separate what is real and what isn’t. As much as I get freaked out by horror stories, I tend to really enjoy books set around creepy asylums since it is such a perfect setting for a scary story. To be honest, it was the eerie bird cage on the cover that first drew my attention, and it wasn’t until just now that I noticed the person’s face at the top of the cover. I actually would have preferred it without the person, but it is still a very creepy cover. This book is due out on October 1, just in time for Halloween. The early reviews have actually been on the low side (3.2 average so far), so I’m interested to see what more readers think once the book is out.
4) A Game For All the Family by Sophie Hannah
I’ve had another of Sophie Hannah’s books on my TBR since 2016, so I was surprised to find out this one was released in 2015 and I’d never head of it before. It is about a woman named Justine who has fled London with her daughter, Ellen. While checking Ellen’s homework, Justine finds a creepy story that her daughter claims to have made up, which details a series of murders in the family’s new house, with one of the characters named after herself. Justine starts to receive anonymous phone calls from a woman making accusations and threats, and begins to fear for her family’s safety. This book sounds so creepy! I love psychological thrillers and one of my goals is to read more of them. This is another book that has received extremely mixed reviews, but the plot sounds very intriguing. It is definitely not the kind of book I’d want to pick up if I was home alone. I definitely don’t have room to add it to my reading challenges this year, but it may be one to consider for next year at least.
5) Fight or Flight by Samantha Young
Just to break things up a bit from all the Halloween vibes of the books above, this is a book I discovered on a list of upcoming releases for the rest of this year. The book is about a woman named Ava who is flying back home after attending the funeral of a childhood friend, when her trip is delayed by volcanic ash, and an arrogant man named Caleb manages to swipe the first class seat she was trying to get. When the two realize they have a strong physical connection, despite mutual antagonism, Ava is quick to agree to Caleb’s proposal of a strictly physical relationship while he is stuck in Boston, knowing that it will be temporary and low-risk considering how little she likes him. When the prospect arises of Caleb’s stay becoming permanent, Ava must decide how to handle their relationship and whether she may be developing real feelings for Caleb. The main reason I added this one to my TBR is because it reminded of The Hating Game, which I loved! Both books involve a hate-to-(potentially) love relationship, which is a trope that can be a lot of fun to read if it is done well. I’m hoping to enjoy this book just as much.
6) The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin
I actually can’t remember how I found this book originally, but I was drawn to it because of the beautiful cover. This book is about a woman named Susannah whose son went missing five years ago. Susannah rebuilds her life with a mission to help others, until she encounters a fortune-teller who predicts that her son will return to her on Christmas Eve this year. The Goodreads synopsis describes this book as “a ghostly winter mystery with a modern gothic flavour” which sounds amazing! I always tend to love gothic stories, and this one sounds very intriguing. This book has been out for a year already, but I hadn’t heard of it at all until recently. It seems like this book has flown under the radar in general, with barely 200 ratings on Goodreads and slightly over 100 reviews, although the reviews have been quite good (3.87 stars average rating). I’m interested in giving this one a chance to see if it another hidden gem.
7) The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
I found this book while browsing a list of upcoming 2019 releases, and was immediately interested when I noticed that it was compared to Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia, both of which are books I really enjoyed. It is about a woman named Abi Knight who receives an early-morning phone call informing her that her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge, and is now brain dead. Olivia was also pregnant, and must remain on life support to keep the baby alive. Abi is upset to discover that the police have ruled the fall an accident, and is determined to find out whether something more sinister really happened to her daughter. I tend to love stories that involve a parent or sibling digging into the life of a loved one to try and uncover the truth, although I have read quite a few of these and can sometimes get a little burnt out on the trope. This one seems a little unique from the premise since Olivia is technically still alive and I’m interested to see what kind of affect that has on the story.
8) The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor
I actually own a copy of C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man, but haven’t read it yet. This book is his latest release, due out toward the end of February 2019. I’ve also seen this book listed on Goodreads as The Hiding Place, which is a tiny bit confusing. It is about a teacher named Joe Thorne, whose sister Annie disappeared when Joe was only 15. Joe never wanted to go back to his hometown after the way things ended with his group of friends, but he feels like he has no choice when what happened to his sister seems to be happening all over again. Joe gets himself a job at his former high school to finally get the chance to confront what really happened to his sister. If I’m honest, this book actually sounds even more appealing to me than The Chalk Man, although I’m interested in reading that one too, so I may end up picking up this one first. It is exactly the kind of thriller I tend to enjoy, and I’ve heard great things about C.J. Tudor as an author in general.
9) The Winter Sister by Megan Collins
I’m definitely noticing a theme here with most of the books that I’ve added to my TBR, and I guess it’s only fitting to have a Stacking the Shelves that is mostly full of horror and thrillers in the month leading up to Halloween. This book is another February 2019 release, about a woman named Sylvie whose sister Persephone was killed in an unsolved case 16 years ago. Sylvie now returns home to care for her estranged mother who is battling cancer as well as “dark days” that began even before her daughter’s death. Persephone’s former boyfriend is also a nurse at the cancer center, and Sylvie has always believed he was responsible for her sister’s death. Sylvie decides to dig into what really happened to her sister. I found this one while browsing for new and upcoming releases, and it was one of several books that immediately caught my attention. It is along the same lines as many of the other thrillers on my TBR list, but I’m very interested in giving it a try.
10) They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes
I was a little on the fence about adding this one to my TBR, and to be honest, I’m still a little unsure since the premise is so strange. This book is about a Jordanian student named Siwar Salaiha who is murdered, and whose consciousness ends up in the body of a baby boy named Wyatt, although she goes dormant when Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure. Twenty-two years later, Wyatt is now a graduate student working toward a degree in Middle Eastern studies, where he learns about Siwar’s death and inexplicably becomes obsessed with the case. As Wyatt begins to investigate, he is forced to acknowledge the spiritual connection he’s had his whole life to an unknown entity, leading him to Jordan to talk to Siwar’s friends and family to try and uncover the mystery of her death. I was hesitant to add this to my TBR because it seemed very confusing and I wasn’t sure how much I would really enjoy it, but I kept coming back to it because the premise was so unique. As I mentioned above, I tend to enjoy these kinds of stories, but I’ve never heard of one that involved reincarnation or the person trying to solve their own mystery. This book is not due out until April 2019 so I’d love to see what some of the early reviews have to say, and I hope the story itself isn’t as confusing as the synopsis makes it sound!
11) Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser
I have all three of Jessica Strawser’s books on my TBR, but I haven’t tried any of them yet. This is her newest book, due out in February. It is about two friends, Molly and Liza, who have always been close until Liza moves away, causing things to become more strained than either of them want to admit. When Molly leaves the room to check on her kids during a video chat, Liza is shocked to see a masked man enter and the screen goes black. Although she is eventually able to reach Molly, who insists that everything is fine, Liza is convinced her friend is in danger and drives all night to confront her friend and find out what really happened. Part of the reason this book drew my attention is because it reminded me of a case I’d seen in the news several years ago where a college student was attacked while on a video chat with her long-distance boyfriend, although I doubt this book has anything to do with that case. Although it is tagged on Goodreads as a thriller, it seems to be more about secrets and the relationships between the characters, which is still very appealing to me.
12) The Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack
I think I was first drawn to this book because of the Viking on the cover. Although this book has been out for just under a year already, I hadn’t heard of it at all until very recently. It is about a boy named Lawrence who is forced to participate in his school’s mentorship program, where he is assigned to mentor Spencer Knudsen, a highly intelligent Norweigan exchange student who struggles with social skills. When Lawrence is framed for vandalizing the floats for Homecoming, he realizes that Spencer may be the one true friend he has. I was a little hesitant about this one as well since the main character is a slacker and a stoner, which is a kind of character I don’t often enjoy reading about. I’m more interested in seeing how Spencer is developed and how the two characters influence each other. However, I’ve also heard that the book is really funny so it sounds like it could be a fun book to try.
13) Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill
I love historical fiction but it is not a genre I reach for very often anymore. I found this book on a list of upcoming releases for 2019 and was immediately interested by the premise. It is set in 1941, and it is about an Italian-American girl named Evalina who falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, who is the son of Japanese immigrants. The couple knows that their relationship would cause a scandal, especially since inter-racial marriage is illegal in California where they live, and things only become worse when anti-Japanese feelings erupt after Pearl Harbor, and Taichi’s family is forced to move to an internment camp. Evalina begins to speak out on behalf of Japanese Americans, while Taichi struggles in the camp with fighting between different factions. I rarely read YA historical fiction because I find a lot of it tends to oversimplify the context to fit a typical romance, so I’m a bit worried that this one would fall into the same trap. On the other hand, I’ve never read a book about Japanese internment or WWII from this perspective in general, so I think its worth a try.
14) Quarantine: A Love Story by Katie Cicatelli-Kuc
This is another book that I discovered while looking for upcoming releases, and I was drawn in by the cover. Oliver who is spending his Spring Break on a volunteer trip in the Dominican Republic, but all he wants is to get back home to the girl who might be interested in becoming his girlfriend. At the same time, Flora is not interested in finding a boyfriend, and just wants to get away from her Spring Break visit to the Dominican Republic to see her dad and new stepmother. When the two of them are on their way back to New York, Flora makes an impulsive decision that leads to them being quarantined together for 30 days. I like YA contemporary romances, but it seems to be quite rare for one to have such a unique setting. I think it will be really interesting to see what happens when the two strangers are stuck together for so long, even though the book may be a bit predictable (I assume they fall in love). It sounds like it could be a lot of fun to read, and I may have to prioritize this one to read next year.
15) Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King
I don’t remember adding this one to my TBR, but I’m glad I did. It is about a single mother named Maisey, who receives a phone call telling her that her mother is in a coma and her father may be facing charges of abuse and neglect. Returning to her childhood home, Maisey realizes that her father has destroyed family records that include her mother’s final wishes. As she continues to search for any documents that may help, Maisey discovers many family secrets — including the fact that she has a twin sister named Marley. As Maisey becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of her sister, she also faces a custody battle for her own daughter. This book has only been out for about two months now, but it has received very high ratings so far. It sounds like a very intriguing story (and it has a beautiful cover as well). Based on the reviews I’ve seen, it sounds like this book deals quite heavily with abuse so it may be very difficult to read depending on how it is written. It sounds like an interesting mystery, and I’m excited to give it a chance.
16) What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell
I guess my goal of reading more thrillers will be easy to accomplish, given how many I’ve recently added to my TBR list. This book is about a forensic specialist named Liam Dwyer who is called in to an investigation of a body found in a motel. The victim turns out to be the woman Liam had an affair with before he decided to end it to save his marriage, but Liam has no memory of where he was on the night the woman was killed. He turns to his brother, a homicide detective for help, but as the evidence piles up, everything seems to point to Liam as the killer, forcing him to quickly try and clear his own name. As Liam begins to investigate, he is shocked to find that the killer may be his own brother. This book appealed to me because I’m a huge fan of the Bones TV series (but not the books, unfortunately), and I’ve also enjoyed CSI in the past before the cases started to creep me out too much. This one seems like a good mix of forensics and family drama, and it sounds like it could be a fascinating story.
17) The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis
This is a historical fiction book which has been compared to Kate Morton, an author I’ve wanted to try for a while but haven’t read any of her books yet. This one is about a journalist named Samantha Harper, who discovers a letter from the past that is from a young mother begging to be rescued from St. Margaret’s. In 1956, Ivy Jenkins was sent to St. Margaret’s a home for unwed mothers, and her baby was adopted against her will. With the building now due to be demolished, Samantha has only hours left to piece together the mystery of the letter, and the unexplained deaths surrounding the woman in it and her child, before the mystery is lost forever. This book seems to be along the same lines as Nightingale above, about the horrors of these kinds of institutions where people were sent in the past for a variety of socially unacceptable behaviours. It is not a period of history that I know much about, so I’m very interested in giving this book a chance to find out more.
18) Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
I was first drawn to this book because of the creepy cover art, and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized it was written by the same author as The Bear and the Nightingale, which I hope to read before the end of the year. This book is the author’s middle grade debut, about an 11-year-old girl named Ollie who steals a book from a woman who is about to throw it into the river. As she begins to read it, Ollie finds a story about a girl named Beth and her two brothers, and a deal made with a creepy “smiling man” who grants wishes for a price. Ollie is fascinated by the story until she discovers the graves of the characters the next day on her school trip to a local farm, and starts to realize the story may have been true. The bus driver warns Ollie and her classmates that they’d better leave before nightfall and avoid large places, and “keep to small.” As a middle grade book, I’d imagine this one wouldn’t be too scary but it sounds like it could be a lot of fun to try.
19) Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
I’ve only read one Seanan McGuire book so far (and one of her books written as Mira Grant), but I’m very interested in trying more. This book is due out in May 2019, so I won’t have the chance to try it for quite a while. It is about twins, Roger and Dodger, one of whom is skilled with languages and the other with numbers, The twins were created by Reed, an alchemist who plans to raise them to godhood and claim their power as his own. I was first drawn to this book by the intriguing cover, and as soon as I noticed Seanan McGuire’s name, I knew I had to add it to my TBR. Given that it is still more than 6 months until it is released, there doesn’t seem to be too much information available about it yet, but the plot seems very intriguing. I already have the rest of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series planned for my reading challenges next year, but I think I may need to add this one as well.
20) Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner
I’ve seen this book so many times over the past couple of weeks, and it sounded like a lot of fun. It is a graphic novel (for once something that I thought was a graphic novel actually is!) about a boy named AJ who has a crush on a classmate named Nia who is obsessed with vampires. When the two of them are paired up for a group project, AJ decides to pretend to be a vampire to get Nia’s attention, only to learn that she is actually a vampire slayer. Despite the fact that Buffy is one of my all-time favourite TV shows, I don’t often reach for vampire stories. This one appealed to me because it seemed a little different, and I’m interested in reading more graphic novels in general. This book just came out at the beginning of September, so it’s no surprised I’ve been seeing it everywhere over the past few weeks.