In an exceptionally fitting read for the adventure I myself am about to embark on (see my final review for more details), I couldn’t resist picking up another novel by acclaimed author, Emma Lord, especially considering the main character’s name is Riley!
Enter high school graduation, and a slew of college rejection letters with our protagonist. Riley is disheartened by the feeling that "everyone" has something exciting to look forward to but her. Compounded by her fear of disappointing her mom and desperately missing her best friend, Tom, who moved to Manhattan after his mother’s job demanded it, Riley decides to visit her dream place, New York City! After ultimately choosing to stay through the summer and complete the famed Get-Away List she and Tom crafted together with fun challenges, and adventures, Riley spends the summer making new friends, falling in love, and learning what it means to grow up and grow into yourself.
In a lovable novel about self discovery, taking the leap, and following your heart, Lord pulls on your heartstrings once again with this one! If you need a warm hug, here it is!
As 2023 comes to an end, it seemed only fitting to recommend a final series by the author that took over my year. Vicious, by V. E. Schwab, is a book that will echo in the corridors of my mind for a long time. This is THE STORY that will make you love the villain. Unless… it causes you to instead question what it means to be a villain? To be a hero? The lines between good and evil?
In a world built similarly to our own, we meet Victor Vale, the frighteningly intelligent, analytical, and captivating narrator. A man of science, who nonetheless spends his free time blacking out messages in books with sharpies, Victor is the top of the class at Lockwood University. Until Eli Cardale, a charming, friendly, and well-rounded genius moves in as Victor’s roommate and competition for the top of the class... and beyond. Eli is the epitome of perfection in everyone's eyes, except Victor's. He sees past the mask and glimpses the darker nature beneath Eli's facade. In a pitch for a senior project, Eli suggests the existence of EOs. ExtraOrdinaries - people who have undergone a trauma beyond repair, who come back with supernatural abilities. Schwab alternates between the past at Lockwood and the present where readers quickly discover Victor is hellbent on getting revenge on Eli for a betrayal that landed him in prison for ten long years.
Eli and Victor hurtle towards a future of chaos and revenge using powers that are close enough to reality to cause goosebumps and hair raising! Read the next part of the story, Vengeful, before she finishes writing the third and final installment in the trilogy!
In true Iron Gold fashion, I am overjoyed to share that I will be moving to Germany for a few months to live and work for an American military family! I cannot wait to continue to share what reads consume me as a bookseller abroad!In my final review of 2023 I couldn’t NOT suggest my favorite novel and series of all time. Red Rising and the subsequent books by Pierce Brown have utterly and infinitely changed my life. This world is full of characters who feel more real and beloved than any I have encountered before. This is the series about which I wrote my final college essay, that I have gifted to practically everyone I know, and is a story I will never stop shouting about from the rooftops!
Red Rising is a science fiction novel set in a future civilization that is under the rule of The Society. In a world built on a hierarchical structure of colors, Golds rule at the top. We see the world from Darrow’s perspective, a sixteen-year-old Red. Darrow goes undercover to infiltrate the highest academy for Golds on all of Mars, leading him far deeper into the belly of the beast than he thought possible. “I’m a sheep wearing wolves’ clothing in a pack of wolves.”
With characters that will make you sob, scenes that will cause you to howl like a wolf, and twists and turns that will rival any you've seen before, Pierce Brown uses Red Rising as the first domino in the series, setting events in motion for an epic, six-book odyssey that will leave readers feral for more.
Help McLean and Eakin remain the top-selling independent bookstore in the U.S. for this book, and convince Pierce Brown himself to stop in for a visit. Make the greatest decision of your life today! Or just take my word for it, knowing I would die for a dinner with this author, and do yourself a favor! Per aspera ad astra!
One of my favorite poets (and former professor) once equated capturing ideas to the experience of catching fireflies before they escape into the night. There one minute, gone the next! Finding other poets or lovers of the genre can feel like a similar battle. (For those of you who have no trouble catching fireflies, I salute you!!) Thus, one of the greatest interactions of my summer occurred when I had the privilege of meeting the renowned Michigan poet, Thomas Lynch.
Thomas, an engaging and generous man, felt like a personal reminder sent my way to never stop writing. Our conversation quickly revealed our coincidentally shared connection with the previously mentioned poet/professor, Robert Fanning!! We bonded over our mutual affinity for a man I have steadfastly referred to as my very own John Keating - for all the Dead Poet’s Society fans out there. After having what felt like a life-changing conversation, I immediately dove into his most recent work, Bone Rosary.
This collection, a combination of work from five previously published volumes and several dozen new poems, is a masterful and heartbreaking exploration into the meaning of life, death, and beyond. If you’re like me, you’ll probably tear up during just the introduction.
Lynch, like his father before him, spent his life as an undertaker. This upbringing and profession forced him to face close and constant exposure to death. The loss of his daughter, Heather, his two divorces, his travels to his ancestral home in Ireland, and walks through Chicago, are just a few aspects of Lynch’s life that decorate the pages and poems within this collection.
Through varied formatting, a masterful use of the English language, and the perfect touch of melancholy, Bone Rosary is a work that will nourish, comfort, and encourage readers to continually question the meaning of life. With a line like, “Deep in repose all poets mold the dark,” it would be a disservice to call this collection anything less than legendary. I can’t wait to read whatever this inspiring poet publishes next!
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My entire brain, heart, and life has been consumed by V.E. Schwab’s debut trilogy, A Darker Shade of Magic.
If you’re like me, and somehow missed them, drop everything you’re doing! Quit your job! Stop paying for cable! READ! THESE! BOOKS! Phew.
In a world that somehow feels like Six of Crows meets Ordinary Monsters, there are four Londons:
- Grey London is a place without magic but full of people who may not be.
- Red London is seemingly flourishing, peaceful, and populated with magic users of all skill levels.
- White London is a place of cruelty and fear ruled by the villainous Dane twins.
- Black London is a desolate wasteland where long ago, a massive magical accident resulted in sealing the four worlds off from one another, in order to stop the spread of devastation.
The only ones able to circumvent the separation are a rare race of blood magicians, known as the Antari.
Enter the protagonist, a brooding, beautiful Antari hailing from Red London, prince Kell Maresh, one of two known Travelers left in existence. (Can you tell he’s my new fictional crush, and will unequivocally be yours too????!!!) While jumping from London to London to perform his duties as an envoy to the Red crown, Kell often makes stops to trade in black market goods - fulfilling his personal quota of adventure and mischief. During a stop in Grey London, he encounters a delightfully daring and charming thief named Lilah Bard. Shortly after effortlessly pickpocketing Kell for fun, Lilah releases a darkness into the streets of Grey London that quickly grows out of control. Kell and Lilah proceed to lead us through the various Londons, performing incredible feats of magic, while trying to determine the source of an ever-spreading ruination.
Schwab flawlessly weaves a world full of witty banter, a new and creative system of magic, and dynamic and lovable characters with whom you cannot help but become obsessed.
This book is as V.E. Schwab put in in the novel, “For the ones who dream of stranger worlds,” and you won't want to miss the continuation, set seven years after the end of the trilogy, The Fragile Threads of Power!
Read these and tell me which London you’d most and least want to live in, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE DARKER SHADES TRILOGY FIRST!!!!
The Fragile Threads of Power picks up seven years after the end of the Darker Shade trilogy. During that time, Lilah has sailed the newly renamed Grey Barron far and wide, spying for the Crown, and training Kell in fighting and survival. Our favorite Anatari prince has spent the years battling immense pain that accompanies any use of his magic. Rhy and Alcuard have spent the gap rebuilding Red London and expanding their royal family.
These familiar faces are all brought back together once more to protect King Rhy from the terrorist organization known as The Red Hand (Red Rising fans, RISE!). The continued attempts being made on Rhy’s life stem from the organization’s belief that the king’s lack of power is contributing to the disappearance of magic within the world. Tesali “Tes” Ranek, a lovable and quick-witted tinkerer, may hold the answers with her unique ability to see and manipulate threads of magic. And what about Holland’s world, no longer consumed by The Danes or Osaron, you ask? White London has found a new queen, little Kosika, a fearsome young Antari plucked from obscurity who’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring magic back into her world.
In this first book of the next installment, spanning across four Londons and beyond, new and old characters bring the magic and madness to fill the pages (and my heart) in this exciting new adventure that you won’t be able to put down. Preorder it now before it comes out on September 26th and then come into the store to talk with me about it, I am dying to discuss!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rebecca Serle’s latest and quite possibly greatest novel is the perfect escape. If you are itching to travel, but are busy with work, responsibilities, or life in general, this book can fill that void! I had a blast with this book, as it was my maiden voyage into listening to audio books. It is available on Libro.fm (click for direct link and sample), and is read by the wonderful, witty Lauren Graham. As the star of the best show ever (Gilmore Girls), Graham could not have been a better fit for reading this moving mother-daughter story. Katy and her mother were the very best of friends. The book version of Lorelei and Rory Gilomore (how fitting, right?); absolutely inseparable. Thus, it was all the more devastating when Katy’s mother, Carol, died of cancer two weeks before they were supposed to embark on the greatest trip of all time: two weeks in Positano, Italy. Katy ultimately decides to take a leap of faith and go on her own. Once she arrives in Positano, things get a little wacky when her mother appears at age thirty as if preserved in time. The events that follow explore grief, love, and identity. Not only was this a wonderful depiction of relationships, but it put the reader right in Positano alongside Katy with wonderful descriptions of food, culture, scenery, and locals. Serle wrote, “From high up on the winding road, you can see the entirety of the town. Colorful hotels and houses sit chiseled into the rocks as if they were painted there. The entire town is built around the cove of the sea. It looks like an amphitheater, enjoying the performance of the ocean.” Travel to Italy from the comfort of your living room and keep a bowl of gelato on hand. Bookseller's orders!
In the exciting sequel to It Happened One Summer, summer just got a whole lot spicier. The first novel followed the love story between rich heiress, Piper Bellinger and the quiet and devoted sea captain, Brendan Taggert. This one follows Piper’s down-to-earth, music obsessed, relatable younger sister Hannah. Tessa Bailey returns to Westport, where we fall in love with the handsome, roguish Fox Thornton. Fox, a notorious flirt, developed a friendship with Hannah in It Happened One Summer. This novel delves into their separate personal struggles. Hannah has always seen herself as a supporting actress, but she dreams of being the leading lady. Fox suffers intense self-doubt and imposter syndrome. When Hannah moves into his apartment for the summer, things between these “friends” heat up quickly! While this is a fun summer read, it also explores self identity, trust, and growing up. It will make you choke on your laughter, blush down to your toes, and idiotically grin at the beautiful simplicity that is love. Read It Happened One Summer before it gets made into a movie and when you miss the cast of characters in Westport, return with Hook, Line, and Sinker!