18 Books for All Ages on National Grandparents Day

Happy Grandparents Day! Similarly to Mother’s/Father’s Day, Grandparents Day shares the love for our older generations. Spend it with your loved ones or perhaps you’ll give them a call! But what’s a better way to celebrate the day than sharing some great books to read together or on your own?

Since people of all ages celebrate their grandparents, we put together a comprehensive list of books featuring grandparents for everyone. Check out our list below!

Picture books:

The Hello Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka

The kitchen window at Nanna and Poppy’s house is, for one little girl, a magic gateway. Everything important happens near it, through it, or beyond it. The world for this little girl will soon grow larger and more complex, but never more enchanting or deeply felt. Her story is both a voyage of discovery and a celebration of the commonplace wonders that define childhood, expressed as a joyful fusion of text with evocative and exuberant art that garnered the highest honor in children’s book illustration in 2006.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty–and fun–in their routine and the world around them. This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Peña’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Our Favorite Day by Joowon Oh

Every morning Papa follows his normal routine. He drinks his tea, waters his plants, tidies up, and takes the bus into town. Papa enjoys his daily tasks, but there’s one day each week that is extra special. That’s the day he might visit the craft store, get two orders of dumplings to go, and possibly pick some flowers he sees along the path. With its spare text and wonderfully warm watercolor and cut-paper illustrations just begging to be pored over, Joowon Oh’s tale of the singular love between a grandfather and granddaughter will nestle within the heart of every reader.

Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

When Grandma Mimi comes to visit, she always brings warm hugs, sweet treats…and her purse. You never know what she’ll have in there–fancy jewelry, tokens from around the world, or something special just for her granddaughter. It might look like a normal bag from the outside, but Mimi and her granddaughter know that it’s pure magic! In this adorable, energetic ode to visits from grandma, beloved picture book creator Vanessa Brantley Newton shows how an ordinary day can become extraordinary.

Middle grade books

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner 

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother. But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid–she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh

Junie Kim just wants to fit in. So she keeps her head down and tries not to draw attention to herself. But when racist graffiti appears at her middle school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out. Then Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, learning about their unbelievable experiences as kids during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. And as racism becomes more pervasive at school, Junie taps into the strength of her ancestors and finds the courage to do what is right.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, as strong and thoughtful as Merci is, she has never been completely like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. And Merci is left to her own worries, because no one in her family will tell her what’s going on. Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, this coming-of-age tale by New York Times best-selling author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia–in the COUNTRY The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck, Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he hides it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans). How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house–as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into–a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out–he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all. Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder–is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal. The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score–but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen? Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common–and that they each need the other to get what they want most. This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk.

YA books

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life. Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy–a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2. When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil. Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough? Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian–half, his mom’s side–and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough–then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly…. When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her. But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school. But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts–risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.

Adult books

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family. Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. So they decide to try a two-month swap. Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything….or to find yourself.

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers–even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers. Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador–to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back. Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children–four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family–knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

SFF books that grab you instantly to try for National Read A Book Day

There’s this belief that reading science fiction and fantasy books is super long and super boring. Too much information and too many characters and it all jumbles in your brain with no reprieve.

However, I beg to differ and this National Read a Book day, I encourage you to try and read a science fiction or fantasy book. There have been numerous SFF stories I’ve read over the years that grabbed my attention from page one and didn’t let go until it was done. They were immediate five-star reads for me and some of the books I recommend to this day. Don’t sleep on these SFF books because they’ll maybe change your mind about the genre.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: This is the story of Tarisai, a young girl who’s been told she must head to the palace and become one of the Crown Prince’s elite council of eleven. However, there’s a caveat as her mother, The Lady, wishes her to kill the prince once she’s chosen by him. Filled with an intricate world, inclusive characters, and the will to forge your own path.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells: Never had I read a funnier science fiction novel than when I read All Systems Red. It’s the story of Murderbot, or that’s what it likes to be called. It’s a systems bot that’s main focus is to protect the people it is hired to protect. The only thing is, this bot is a little bit glitched, giving it a personality that loves to take the easy route and watch silly space dramas. You’ll definitely belly laugh at this book, but also get a taste of some hard sci-fi.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn: If you like retellings, then you’ll love the retelling of King Arthur in Legendborn. Tracy Deonn takes the legend and puts her own spin as young Bree attends one of the most prestigious colleges in the Southeast: UNC-Chapel Hill. Filled with underground societies, mythical swords, and a destiny that only Tracy Deonn could have written!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: This is a book that will grab hold from the very first page and doesn’t really let go until you’ve read the entire series. An Ember in the Ashes is the first book in a four-book series about Laia, a young girl who wants to find her brother that’s been kidnapped by the Empire. She finds herself mixed up in a situation that she has no training for, scared and alone, when she comes across Elias, one of the best soldiers training in the Empirical army. He alongside some others help Laia find her brother, but also help to unearth the secrets of her family’s past.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: This beautifully written story will not only capture you with its gorgeous writing, but also the story of a young librarian, Lazlo, who dreams of a place called Weep. He dedicates his life to the discovery of this place and eventually finds the opportunity to go. What he finds is a city that’s shadowed by a massive angel statue that blocks out the sun and the stars. Within the statue are five beings left over from the days when gods and goddesses lived in the city. That’s where Lazlo, meets Sarai, a goddess with the ability to enter people’s dreams. It’s a sweeping tale filled with magic, love, and beauty. You’ll definitely be sucked into this one.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: If you wanted to read a hard science fiction novel that’s full of heart, then this might be the one for you. The story follows a middle school science teacher who goes off into the great unknown that is space to save the world from a microbe that’s slowly eating the sun. Along the way, he makes some unlikely discoveries as well as make some unlikely friends. Also, it gives you a taste of some real world physics theories including the theory of relativity.

Warcross by Marie Lu: If you’ve ever imagined a world where you basically live your life on your phone, then this is the book for you. It follows teen hacker and bounty hunter, Emika, as she accidentally enters the opening games of the international Warcross Championship. Worried that she would be arrested, she instead meets the creator of the Warcross games who propositions her to be a spy to dig up hackers against the game’s security. However, the truth is much different than Emika imagines as betrayal becomes a much more sinister game.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: If you like a mix of fantasy and science fiction, this YA series is probably the one for you. Combining science fiction themes and fairy tale retellings, Cinder is the beginning of The Lunar Chronicles. As you can probably guess, the first book is based off of Cinderella as a cyborg who’s second-class life is completely turned around when she meets Prince Kai.

The City We Became by NK Jemisin: What if one of the most famous cities in the world came to life? That’s what NK Jemisin explores in The City We Became. It’s the story of New York City, a vibrant place that’s being invaded by a mysterious species. Once the monsters start showing up, it starts to awaken something in five inhabitants of the city; each representing a different borough. Their mission is to awaken the only thing that can save New York from the monsters and that’s New York City itself. What’s most impressive is that despite the city being a diverse and inclusive place, there’s still darkness that hides in the shadows of some of the people who live there and as their nefarious plan comes to fruition, so does the darkness that lurks within them.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber: Imagine a carnival that comes into town filled with tons of mystery and magic behind it. Now imagine yourself as a young person heading into this carnival to play the ultimate game of illusion, mystery, and magic. That’s what happens to Scarlett in Caraval.

10 books to read if you love Beyoncé songs

Everyone should celebrate Beyoncé’s birthday, and if your idea of a celebration is settling in with a good book, we’ve got some recommendations for you based on some of her biggest hits.

Crazy in Love/Seven Days in June by Tia Williams: Eva and Shane fell in love in seven tumultuous days, then didn’t see each other for 15 years. When they reunite, the sparks are stronger than ever.

All Night/Ever After Always by Chloe Liese: Anyone who has been married can tell you it is a bumpy road, but it can also make for beautiful reconciliations.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)/Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: Queenie goes through a lot in this book, but she starts to heal after focusing on her relationship with herself.

Naughty Girl/How to Catch A Queen by Alyssa Cole: Shanti and her husband are both surprised by the passion that emerges from nightly visits in their arranged marriage.

Diva/The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: Has there ever been a bigger diva than Miranda Priestly?

Sorry/Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I would not cross Beyoncé or Amy Dunne.

Run the World (Girls)/The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna: An army of girls is the only thing standing in the way of the empire’s run, so yeah, I’d say girls are running the world.

Daddy Lessons/Unsub by Meg Gardiner: A narcotics detective who followed in her father’s footsteps gets caught up in one of his oldest, most dangerous cases.

Don’t Hurt Yourself/An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: Roy and Celeste’s happiness is destroyed by circumstances beyond their control, leading to a turbulent relationship.

Halo/Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: Tarasai grew up literally walled off from other people, and her world was changed forever when she found a family.

YA books to look forward to in 2022

As readers, we all know we have plenty of books on our shelves, but then there’s always more publishing every week! And because I know you’re already thinking of what you’ll finish off your 2021 reads with and what to look forward to in 2022, here’s a list of some of my most anticipated YA reads for the rest of the year and beyond! 

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan: I love a good standalone YA fantasy story inspired by Chinese mythology and Jade Fire Gold delivers. Not only does it promise action and romance, it also features soul stealing magic. I repeat: magic that can steal your soul. It’s a story about a quest for destiny and magic as well as for revenge and power.

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen: Do you think your family is complicated? Try being the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune. This YA fantasy retelling of “The Goose Girl” combines Owen’s particular brand of slightly darker and intriguing magic and of course, about fate and destiny. Retellings will always intrigue me and since I loved Owen’s Merciful Crow series, I am even more on board!

Within the Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood: Let’s keep the retelling train going with a YA fantasy reimagining of Jane Eyre. Because what would make Jane Eyre even better? How about a little exorcism? The original delivers some seriously spooky vibes, but Blackwood’s debut promises to ramp up the suspense and supernatural elements. Because if you had a creepy house with a sinister presence, wouldn’t you call for an exorcist?

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier: Not only does Year of the Reaper feature a plague, it includes a lord’s quest for a killer and a run-in with the most intriguing character for me, Lena, a young and brilliant historian. Can we have more brainy academic heroines in YA fantasy, please? It also hints at a serious secret; one you know you shouldn’t pull at the ribbon because you aren’t sure where it’ll lead, but you do it anyway because you can’t help yourself.

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao: Thao’s contemporary YA debut is already making waves as an emotional story about grief and love. What if you could still talk to the ones you love, even after they’re gone? Julie is given a magical chance when she calls Sam’s phone after he’s passed –and Sam picks up. It’s also a magical chance that will question Julie’s knowledge about the past and the certainty of the future.

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith: This title makes me sing Fleetwood Mac every time I read it. EVERY TIME. But if that doesn’t give you enough nostalgia, the main characters in this contemporary YA story end up trapped in an arcade during a snowstorm. It promises to deliver those nostalgic feels, but also discusses who we’d be if we were cut off from the world.

The Midnight Girls bu Alicia Jasinka: This queer standalone YA fantasy story features a kingdom covered in snow, dangerous magic that could get you killed, and two enchantresses who might be falling in love while they’re competing for the heart of the prince. Awkward! Jasinska has a reputation for swoony queer story lines and dangerous odds in her previous work, The Dark Tide, so to say I’m excited for The Midnight Girls is an understatement. Can we have all love triangles end like this?

The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling: All I knew before writing this article about The Coldest Touch was vampires & queer girls and that’s all I really needed to know. This paranormal YA features supernatural forces come together as a girl with the magical touch to see how her loved ones die is forced to work with a vampire. Because vampires are making a comeback!

The Kindred by Alechia Dow: Let’s start 2022 off with a YA sci-fi story that mixes mind-melding, an unlikely pair, and being framed for murder. The Kindred promises spacecraft theft, assasination, and scandalous love. Don’t the best stories have all three? I’m so excited for Dow’s second book after adoring her debut, The Sound of the Stars.

The Red Palace by June Hur: June Hur is a historical fiction queen and I am so excited for this next installment of historical YA fiction set in 18th century Korea. It features a search for a murderer, a palace nurse, and deadly secrets. If you haven’t read any of Hur’s other historical fiction, like The Forest of Stolen Girls, I highly recommend checking it out before January.

From a Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos: Can you imagine waking up on your birthday with completely different eyes? Would you immediately embrace them or search for a cure? Well, as Hannah and her family try to piece together why her eyes are suddenly golden, they discover a past which stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood and Nazi-occupied Prague. It’s a contemporary YA story that promises curses, family secrets, and coming to terms with the past.

Extasia by Claire Legrand: Claire Legrand is quickly becoming my go-to for eerie YA ever since I read Sawkill Girls. Not only is Extasia set in a post-apocalyptic setting, its main character, Saint Amity, joins a coven to summon the devil to protect her village. From the summary I can tell you to expect: dark magic, queer relationships, and cults.

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie: I love a hopeless romantic and you can definitely find that in Marie’s main character, Ophelia Rojas. But what happens when everything you thought you were begins to change under your feet? In Marie’s contemporary YA debut, I’m looking forward to a journey of self-discovery, bouquets of roses, and Cuban food.

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin: You ever see those covers and just want them as a poster on your wall? That’s how I feel about this cover. But then you tell me that it’s the start of a YA fantasy duology about a search for the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi – Master of Tea and the series is called “The Book of Tea?” I’d like to know where to sign up.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan: The Astonishing Color of After is one of my favorite books ever, so to say I’m excited for this one is a gross understatement. It’s described as Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology, which explodes my heart. I’m so excited for Pan’s YA fantasy debut which features a smoldering romance, family feuding, and magic. 

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf: Move over, chess and bring it on, Scrabble! Alkaf’s latest contemporary YA release combines a Scrabble competition with thrills and mystery. Because, honestly why wouldn’t there be murder and intrigue in a competition? I am beyond excited for this cutthroat Scrabble competition with a dash of M-U-R-D-E-R. 

About Lili from Utopia State of Mind: My name is Lili and I am a scholar at heart, obsessed with SFF and always carrying a book wherever I go (including to the top of a dormant volcano and mountain for Instagram photos). I am obsessed with enamel pins, discovering new tea flavors, and dabbling in makeup. I am committed to celebrating diverse books and using USOM to champion books I feel deserve more praise and attention. You can find me on my blog, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

Books to give you a chuckle

I generally watch one of my go-to sitcom favorites if I’m looking for laughs, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a funny book instead! Here are some of our favorites to incite the giggles.

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby: The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby’s life at 40. 

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton: Who knew an apocalyptic tale told through the eyes of a pet crow would be so wry?

Bossypants by Tiny Fey: ​​Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve always suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole: After more than three decades, the peerless wit and indulgent absurdity of A Confederacy of Dunces continues to attract new readers.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling: In this hilarious instant classic, the creator of The Mindy Project and Never Have I Ever invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood.

Lamb by Christopher Moore: In this hilarious and irreverent novel, the acclaimed Christopher Moore shares the greatest story never told: the life of Christ as seen by his boyhood pal, Biff.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: The witty collection lifts the corner of ordinary life, revealing the absurdity teeming below its surface. 

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding: A devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton on a permanent doomed quest for self-improvement. 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: The mega-selling pop-culture classic sends logic into orbit, plays havoc with both time and physics, offers up pithy commentary on such things as ballpoint pens, potted plants, and digital watches . . . and, most important, reveals the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty: A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. 

Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh: Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson: This collection of essays is equally hilarious, observant and poignant. Jenny Lawson is one of the only authors who can make you laugh until you cry, and cry until you laugh.

Books that celebrate the bonds of sisters for National Sisters Day

Growing up, I always wanted a sister (apologies to my brother), because I imagined that basically meant you had a best friend who lived in the same house as you. Now that I’ve grown up a little, I understand that sisterly bonds take work, and are more complicated than I thought as a child, which makes them even more important! These books celebrate the relationships between sisters, in all their messy, complex glory!

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott: A classic for a reason! Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

Yolk, by Mary H. K. Choi: A funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they’ll go to save one of their lives–even if it means swapping identities.
Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June’s three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an equally soulless apartment (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed basket case who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to get to class and stop wasting Mom and Dad’s money (if you ask June). Once thick as thieves, these sisters who moved from Seoul to San Antonio to New York together now don’t want anything to do with each other. That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her.

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez: It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas — the Butterflies. In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from secret crushes to gunrunning, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule.

My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite: Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen: Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love – and its threatened loss – the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Stalking Shadows, by Cyla Panin: Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. Marie laces some of the perfume delicately — not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she’s trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn’t attack as a girl. She kills as a beast. Marking Ama’s victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama.

Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn: At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman–fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves–must confront long-hidden scars.

In Her Shoes, by Jennifer Weiner: Meet Rose Feller, a thirty-year-old high-powered attorney with a secret passion for romance novels. She has an exercise regime she’s going to start next week, and she dreams of a man who will slide off her glasses, gaze into her eyes, and tell her she’s beautiful. She also dreams of getting her fantastically screwed-up, semi-employed little sister to straighten up and fly right. Meet Rose’s sister, Maggie. Twenty-eight years old and drop-dead gorgeous. Although her big-screen stardom hasn’t progressed past her left hip’s appearance in a Will Smith video, Maggie dreams of fame and fortune — and of getting her big sister on a skin-care regimen. These two women, who claim to have nothing in common but a childhood tragedy, DNA, and the same size feet, are about to learn that they’re more alike than they’d ever imagined.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find, by Joan He: Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her. In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return. Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

Silver Sparrow, by Tayari Jones: Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families–the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode.

The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo: Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, blithely ignorant of all that awaits them. By 2016, they have four radically different daughters, each in a state of unrest. Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator turned stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. With the unexpected arrival of young Jonah Bendt — a child placed for adoption by one of the daughters fifteen years before — the Sorensons will be forced to reckon with the rich and varied tapestry of their past.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray: The Butler family has had their share of trials — as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest — but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives. Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband, Proctor, are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened. As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters.

Atonement, by Ian McEwan: On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’ s incomplete grasp of adult motives — together with her precocious literary gifts — brings about a crime that will change all their lives.

Boozy Books 2021: Easy DIY Summer Cocktails Paired with 12 New Books

Boozy Books List 2021 

Summer is here, and we’ve created the perfect pairings of this season’s hottest summer reads with cool, delicious summer cocktails! Relax and enjoy with our Boozy Books List for Summer 2021, and share pics of your favorite pairings with us via Instagram and Twitter!

The Suffragette + The Accidental Suffragist by Galia Gichon

There’s nothing accidental about how much you’ll enjoy this gorgeous novel or this classic cocktail that, according to the 1909 San Francisco Call, “makes a man willing to listen to the suffragettes’ proposition.” In fact, “two convince him that it has some merit. Three make him a missionary, willing to spread the gospel abroad, and four make him go home and wash the dishes.”

What you’ll need: Sloe gin, vermouth, orange bitters, lemon peelGet the recipe, or try this version with elderflower 

About the book: It’s 1912, and protagonist Helen Fox is a factory worker living in New York’s tenements. When tragedy strikes in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Helen is seduced by the Suffragist cause and is soon immersed, working alongside famous activists. 

As Helen’s involvement with the cause deepens, she encounters myriad sources of tension that test her perseverance: estrangement from her husband, who is blindsided by his wife’s sudden activism; ostracization by neighbors; unease at working side by side with wealthier suffragettes; and worry about her children as she leaves them to picket the White House in Washington. 

The narrative spans World War One and concludes with the triumph of 1919. In a time when the obstacles for women, from any background, were insurmountable, Helen discovers her voice as an independent woman and dreams of equality in a male-dominated society.

Release date: June 1, 2021, Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

Chocolate Martini + Read My Lips by Kelle Z. Riley

Indulge in this glass of chocolatey goodness as you enjoy this delicious Cinderella romance about a billionaire chocolatier who takes a chance on love when least expected. 

What you’ll need: Heavy cream, semi sweet chocolate, vodka, Baileys irish cream, grated chocolate – Get the recipe

About the Book: Temptation always leads to trouble…

Claire Lennox thought she could have it all—until trusting the wrong man destroyed her career, her reputation, and her heart. Now, as director of a literacy foundation, she has new ambitions. But when a sexy client tempts her to love again, does she dare? Billionaire chocolatier Clayton McClaine risks everything—even his heart—when he goes incognito, hoping to overcome the dyslexia that haunts him and threatens to destroy his carefully crafted image. They’re perfect for each other, except for one little thing—the billion-dollar deception that lies between them.

Release Date: September 7, 2021, Entangled

Magic Martini + Dutybound by Mark A. Alvarez

This epic fantasy novel is absolutely magical–and so is this vivid color-changing cocktail that will make you feel as if you have powers of your own. 

What you’ll need: Gin, ginger liqueur, b’Lure butterfly pea extract, fresh-squeezed lemon juice  – Get the recipe

About the Book: When young Lucia Sannon, High Maiden of Moz, receives a gift from her long lost father, her whole world changes. Lucia and the other heirs of nobility are forced to face the Sins of their forefathers and bring their world from the brink of Darkness. With the help of the Light Wings and its power, Lucia must heed the call to assemble the Light’s Virtues and lead them into battle against the very Sins that seek to destroy their world. But finding the four Virtues will not be easy, for much of the knowledge is lost and the understanding of one’s own morality is the only key to unlocking the power each of them holds within.

A story of faith and morality, Dutybound: Light Wings Volume 1 will lead you through a journey of self-discovery as our heroes face conflict from outside and within themselves. Duty, desire, envy, hope, hate, love, pride, and temperance all are challenged within this series in an epic tale that is sure to have you pondering your own true nature.

Release Date: June 22, 2021, Light Wings Promotions LLC

Cocktail Glitter + Mercury Boys by Chandra Prasad

Turn any drink as silvery and magical looking as liquid mercury, and enjoy your beverage while you become enthralled by this gripping YA thriller about a group of high school girls who form a secret society after discovering they can communicate with boys from the past, but the situation devolves into a crucible of female desire, jealousy, and the shifting lines between friendship and rivalry. 

What you’ll need: Your favorite cocktail + this silver cocktail glitter

About the Book: After her life is upended by divorce and a cross-country move, 16-year-old Saskia Brown feels like an outsider at her new school—not only is she a transplant, but she’s also biracial in a population of mostly white students. One day while visiting her only friend at her part-time library job, Saskia encounters a vial of liquid mercury, then touches an old daguerreotype—the precursor of the modern-day photograph—and makes a startling discovery. She is somehow able to visit the man in the portrait: Robert Cornelius, a brilliant young inventor from the nineteenth century. The hitch: she can see him only in her dreams. Saskia shares her revelation with some classmates, hoping to find connection and friendship among strangers. Under her guidance, the other girls steal portraits of young men from a local college’s daguerreotype collection and try the dangerous experiment for themselves. Soon, they each form a bond with their own “Mercury Boy,” from an injured Union soldier to a charming pickpocket in New York City. At night, the girls visit the boys in their dreams. During the day, they hold clandestine meetings of their new secret society. At first, the Mercury Boys Club is a thrilling diversion from their troubled everyday lives, but it’s not long before jealousy, violence and secrets threaten everything the girls hold dear.

Release Date: August 3, 2021, Soho Teen

Bay Breeze Cocktail + A Lot Like Love by Jennifer Snow

Feel the ocean breeze with this sweet cocktail and this seaside romance that will warm your heart like the summer sun. 

What you’ll need: Vodka, pineapple juice, cranberry juice – Get the recipe

About the Book: They have different ideas about the fate of an old inn…until it brings them together. When Sarah Lewis inherits a run-down B&B from her late grandmother in coastal Blue Moon Bay, the logical thing to do is sell it and focus on her life in L.A. But when she learns that interested buyers will only tear it down in its current state, she feels a sense of obligation to her grandmother to get it back to the landmark tourist destination it once was…even if that means hiring the best contractor for the job, who happens to be her old high school crush. 

Wes Sharrun’s life has continued to unravel since the death of his wife three years before. Now with a struggling construction company and a nine-year-old daughter, he sees the B&B as an opportunity to get back on his feet. Unfortunately, despite trying to keep his distance, his daughter has taken a liking to Sarah, and his own feelings are tough to deny. As they spend more time together painting, exploring a forgotten treasure trove of wine in a basement cellar, and arguing over balcony placement, the more the spark between them ignites. But will saving the B&B be enough to convince them both to take a second chance at love?

Release Date: June 29, 2021, Entangled

The Passport + Em’s Awful Good Fortune by Marcie Maxfield

Grab your passport — aka, this cocktail — and settle in for an armchair adventure around the world with this compelling, sardonic, and unusual memoir of (reluctant) expat life. 

What you’ll need: Ginger liqueur, vodka, ice – Get the recipe

About the Book: Part dysfunctional marriage, part global romp, this is not your typical expat story. Em’s Awful Good Fortune is a deeply personal, marriage coming-apart-at-the-seams look at the struggle between a woman’s desire for partnership and her need for identity. Fueled by twin demons, love and rage, Em stomps her way around the world coming to terms with the fantasy of having it all: husband, kids, and a career. Em is not just married; it’s more like being handcuffed to her husband’s international career. Her life reads like a fantasy, bouncing between Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul. But–the good fortune is all her husband’s: Em is just the tagalong wife. Maxfield’s compelling, non-linear story explores the expatriate lifestyle through the lens of a crumbling marriage, while at the same time tracing the lasting impact of sexual assault and PTSD. Em’s journey exposes the dark corners of this seemingly privileged world: loneliness, depression, infidelity, and loss of career. An empowering, uncomfortably funny narrative about compromise that every woman should read. As Em begins to value her needs before those of her husband’s career, she stops letting herself be dragged along for the ride–and ultimately emerges triumphant.

Release Date: August 3, 2021, She Writes Press

Boilermaker + The Sightless City by Noah Lemelson

This classic, smoky drink is the kind of hardboiled beverage we need for a steampunk-esque mystery about a veteran PI who gets embroiled in a plot that puts him in the crosshairs of a mysterious force. 

What you’ll need: Whiskey, beer – Get the recipe

About the Book: Kidnapping. Enslavement. Murder. Those are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actions some will take to protect their interests in æther-oil, the coveted substance that fuels the city of Huile. As both veteran and private investigator, Marcel Talwar knows this firsthand, and he likes to think he’d never participate in such things. However, that naïve idea comes to a crashing end when he takes on a new case that quickly shatters his worldview. A trail of evidence points to someone in Marcel’s inner circle who’s using him as a pawn to conduct grisly experiments-experiments that could lead to genocide.

Now, Marcel is more determined than ever to discover who’s pulling the strings to this sinister plot. But the further he gets, the larger the target on his back becomes, and it’s not long before Marcel has to ask himself how much and how many he’s willing to sacrifice to get to the truth.

Release Date: July 20, 2021, Tiny Fox Press LLC

Justice Served + Leading for Justice by Rita Sever

Justice never tasted so good. Sit back, sip, and relax while perusing this essential guide–and while you’re at it, check out this list of cocktail bars that donate to good causes to see if there’s a location near you!

What you’ll need: Ginger beer, Fernet, orange wedge, orange rind – Get the recipe

About the Book: Leading in organizations working for justice is not the same as leading anywhere else. Staff expect to be treated as partners and demand internal practices that center equity. Justice leaders must meet these expectations, as well as recognize and address the ways that individuals and organizations inadvertently replicate oppression. Created specifically for social justice leaders, Leading for Justice addresses specific concerns and issues that beset organizations working for social justice and offers practices and models that center justice and equity. Topics include: the role of a supervisor in a social justice organization, the importance of self-awareness, issues of power and privilege, human resources as a justice partner, misses and messes, and clear guidelines for holding people accountable in a manner that is respectful and effective. Written in a friendly, accessible, and supportive tone, and offering discussion questions at the end of each short section to make the book user-friendly for both individuals and teams, Leading for Justice is a book for leaders who want to walk the talk of supporting social justice, in their organizations and in the world.

Release Date: August 3, 2021, She Writes Press

Icy Blue Curacao + Cold Consequences by David Rohlfing

Revenge is best served cold (and so is this cocktail) as we’re caught in the chilling grip of a new Sasha Frank detective mystery and prequel to his hit debut, Deliberate Duplicity. 

What you’ll need: Ice cubes, Blue Curacao, Smirnoff Ice, peppermint sticks  – Get the recipe

About the book: Ashley Cummins, the granddaughter of a powerful judge, is unexpectedly shot while buying drugs from her dealer late one night on a city street. As detective Sasha Frank investigates her murder, all of his possible suspects start showing up dead or missing. Who is behind the killings? As pressure builds on Sasha to solve the case, he uncovers new information that begins to unravel a complicated web of evidence–will Sasha be able to prove who the killer is and take down the person responsible for the murders? Cold Consequences is the exciting second book in David Rohlfing’s Detective Sasha Frank Mystery Series.

It serves as a prequel to Rohlfing’s Deliberate Duplicity. Fans of the mystery-thriller genre will love this gripping new tale. Full of exciting twists and turns, readers won’t be able to put the book down as Sasha pursues every lead to find the killer.

Release date: July 27, 2021, River Grove Books

Fancy Whisky Cocktail + Hitched to the Gunslinger by Michelle McLean

Both the drink and this steamy Western romance are rugged, sweet, and totally sexy.

What you’ll need: Blended whiskey, triple sec, superfine sugar, bitters – Get the recipe

About the Book: Gray “Quick Shot” Woodson is the fastest gun west of the Mississippi. Unfortunately, he’s ready to hang up his hat. Sure, being notorious has its perks. But the nomadic lifestyle–and people always tryin’ to kill you–gets old real fast. 

Now he just wants to find a place to retire so he can spend his days the way the good Lord intended. Staring at the sunset. And napping. 

When his stubborn horse drags him into a hole-in-the-wall town called Desolation, something about the place calls to Gray, and he figures he might actually have a shot at a sleepy retirement. 

His optimism lasts about a minute and a half. 

Soon he finds himself embroiled in a town vendetta and married to a woman named Mercy. Who, judging by her aggravating personality, doesn’t know the meaning of her own name. In fact, she’s downright impossible. 

But dang it if his wife isn’t irresistible. If only she’d stop trying to steal his guns to go after the bad guys herself. 

There goes his peace and quiet…

Release Date: August 24, 2021, Entangled

Seven Deadly Sins Sangria + Siege of the Seven Sins by Emily Colin 

This dark and sinfully delicious sangria is sure to be a conversation starter, just like this gripping YA fantasy series about a dystopian government that punishes people based on the seven deadly sins–but love is the most forbidden of all.  

What you’ll need: Apples, oranges, pears, red wine, cinnamon sticks, brandy, Sparkling Ice Orange MangoGet the recipe

About the Book: What do you do when the victory you’ve been fighting for is doomed to break your heart? Rogue bellators Eva Marteinn and Ari Westergaard have escaped the restrictive world of the Commonwealth, and they would like nothing more than to leave it behind forever. But Eva is the formidable weapon the Commonwealth wants-and they’ll stop at nothing to get her back. For years, Ari has seen Eva as his temptation and his secret, his virtue and his sin.

Now that they’re finally free, he wants what he’s been craving-to start a new life…with her. But Eva is keeping a devastating secret of her own: the very victory against the Commonwealth the two of them have been fighting for is doomed to break their hearts. She faces an impossible decision-to be the face of the revolution she’s dedicated her life to and abandon the boy she loves…or to sacrifice everything she’s fought for to stand by his side.

Release Date: August 3, 2021, Blue Crow Publishing

The Phoenix Cocktail + Creatrix Rising by Stephanie Raffelock

This glorious cocktail undergoes a colorful transformation and (literally) burns with a vibrant flame, making it the perfect pairing for this wonderful book on “unlocking the power of midlife women.”

What you’ll need: Gin, rum, b’Lure butterfly pea extract, lemon and elderflower syrup, cinnamon, ice – Get the recipe

About the Book: Ever since Eve was banned from the garden, women have endured the oftentimes painful and inaccurate definitions foisted upon them by the patriarchy. Maiden, mother, and crone, representing the three stages assigned to a woman’s life cycle, have been the limiting categories of both ancient and modern (neo-pagan) mythology. And one label in particular rankles: crone. The word conjures a wizened hag–useless for the most part, marginalized by appearance and ability. None of us has ever truly fit the old-crone image, and for today’s midlife women, a new archetype is being birthed: the creatrix. In Creatrix Rising, Stephanie Raffelock lays out–through personal stories and essays–the highlights of the past fifty years, in which women have gone from a quiet strength to a resounding voice. She invites us along on her own transformational journey by providing probing questions for reflection so that we can flesh out and bring to life this new archetype within ourselves. If what the Dalai Lama has predicted–that women will save the world–proves true, then the creatrix will for certain be out front, leading the pack.

Release Date: August 24, 2021, She Writes Press

What to read when you’re still thinking about Mare of Easttown

I don’t know about you, but I became obsessed with Mare of Easttown and came up with all sorts of theories of how it would end. Now that it’s over and all has been revealed, my hunger for thrillers and crime are at an all time high. So if you are looking for something to fill the void, check out some of these books!

1. The Trespasser by Tana French: French is a master of the genre and you’ll root for the tough female detective Antionette (very Mare-like) as she works to solve the murder of a pretty blonde who everyone assumes was killed by her lover.

2. The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup: This thriller is full of twists and turns as a kidnapping and a series of gruesome murders are found to be linked through handmade dolls made of chestnuts. The author is the creator of the hit show The Killing, and his ability to create suspense will leave you on the edge of your seat. I literally couldn’t put it down.

3. The Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves: These books follow detective Vera Stanhope as she works to solve various crimes in the seaside town she grew up in. All of these books are perfect for crime lovers wanting to connect with a character over time. The backstory of Detective Stanhope and her connection to the town are revealed slowly, much like the slow-burn of information about Mare in the show.

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: If you are looking for family drama mixed with murder, this book is right for you. Complicated relationships and past traumas come to a head in this book that was also turned into a television miniseries.

5. The Alienist by Caleb Carr: This is a classic crime novel all about young people being murdered and a group of people using profiling to come up with a suspect for the first time successfully. There are a couple twists in this novel that feel very Mare of Eastown that you will enjoy.

6. The Whisper Man by Alex North: Much like Mare of Easttown this book takes place in a small town, Featherbank, where past murders by The Whisper Man are brought back into the light as a young boy vanishes. The two detectives, Amanda Beck and Pete Willis, have to confront the past in order to save the boy before it is too late.

7. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: This book also looks at the question: “What would you do to protect the ones closest to you?” as a sister grapples with the knowledge of her sister’s murderous habit.

8. And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall: This story follows Grayson Skyes as she relentlessly looks for a woman who has disappeared, Isabel Lincoln. The more she searches, the more she uncovers about Isabel’s past secrets. A cat-and-mouse game between two smart women.

9. If You Tell by Gregg Olsen: This one can be hard to read because it is the true story of three sisters living in a house with an abusive and murderous mother. Like Easttown, it evaluates the lengths people go to in order to protect themselves and their family. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

10. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: A much more straightforward mystery novel with a female protagonist who is finds herself in prison for a murder of a child she swears she didn’t commit. The twist at the end is what makes it a perfect fit for this list.

Red white and blue book covers to read for Flag Day

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

Other People’s Children by R.J. Hoffmann

In Other People’s Children, three mothers make excruciating choices to protect their families and their dreams—choices that put them at decided odds against one another. You will root for each one of them and wonder just how far you’d go in the same situation. This riveting debut is a thoughtful exploration of love and family, and a heart-pounding page-turner you’ll find impossible to put down. 

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange

In the vein of Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest, Tracey Lange’s We Are the Brennans explores the staying power of shame—and the redemptive power of love—in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets.

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new novel resonates in our times and is perfect for readers of Brit Bennett, Min Jin Lee, and Yaa Gyasi. 

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

An electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise. Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life. But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

A disturbing, toxic and compelling novel that explores the power of fear and desire, jealousy and betrayal, love and hate, BLOOD ORANGE introduces a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.

The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

Cora hasn’t spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a year. Despite living next door to each other, they exist in separate worlds of grief. Cora is still grappling with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn is carrying the guilt of what her brother did. On the day of Cora’s twelfth birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to fix things is to go back in time to the moment before her brother changed all their lives forever—and stop him.

Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins

The author of the “suspenseful, atmospheric, and completely riveting” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) debut The Winter Sister returns with a darkly thrilling novel about a woman who comes to believe that she has a connection to a decades old kidnapping and now that the victim has gone missing again, begins a frantic search to learn what happened in the past.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend by Ben Philippe

In the biting, hilarious vein of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life—comes Ben Philippe’s candid memoir-in-essays, chronicling a lifetime of being the Black friend (see also: foreign kid, boyfriend, coworker, student, teacher, roommate, enemy) in predominantly white spaces.

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

It is 1950. London is still reeling from World War II, and Margery Benson, a schoolteacher and spinster, is trying to get through life, surviving on scraps. One day, she reaches her breaking point, abandoning her job and small existence to set out on an expedition to the other side of the world in search of her childhood obsession: an insect that may or may not exist–the golden beetle of New Caledonia. When she advertises for an assistant to accompany her, the woman she ends up with is the last person she had in mind.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

Meet Majella O’Neill, a heroine like no other, in this captivating Irish debut that has been called Milkman meets Derry Girls.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

This debut novel by an Arab-American voice,takes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.

The Break Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

Breakups, like book clubs, come in many shapes and sizes and can take us on unexpected journeys as four women discover in this funny and heartwarming exploration of friendship from the USA Today bestselling author of Ten Beach Road and My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding.

A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams

When Derek begins to fall for the lovely Maya, he knows there’s no future. But destiny has its own plans, and these two lonely people with big hearts discover that coming home to love is the best gift life can give. 

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

Like satellites trapped in orbit around each other, Thora and Santi are destined to meet again: as a teacher and prodigy student; a caretaker and dying patient; a cynic and a believer. In numerous lives they become friends, colleagues, lovers, and enemies. But as blurred memories and strange patterns compound, Thora and Santi come to a shocking revelation—they must discover the truth of their mysterious attachment before their many lives come to one, final end. 

Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas

Hilariously dark, Oligarchy is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for the digital age. Scarlett Thomas captures the lives of privileged teenage girls seeking to be loved and accepted in all their triviality and magnitude. With the help of her diet-obsessed classmates, Tash must try to stay alive―and sane―while she uncovers what’s really going on.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

In Act Your Age, Eve Brown the flightiest Brown sister crashes into the life of an uptight B&B owner and has him falling hard—literally.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

For readers of Valeria Luiselli and Edwidge Danticat, an urgent and lyrical novel about a Colombian family fractured by deportation, offering an intimate perspective on an experience that so many have endured—and are enduring right now.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

From the New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Eligible, a novel that imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?

Big Books to Read on the Longest Day of the Year

Summertime is the best time to read. With the weather finally getting nicer, we’re called to our back porches, parks, and beaches to enjoy the summer heat. But us readers know that these hours spent outdoors are a perfect time to read our books. What better way to spend the longest day of the year with a super long book? If you’re looking for a big book, look no further. These eight novels might seem too long to tackle, but they’ll also keep you intrigued the entire time.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – 827 pages long

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – 1007 pages long

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara – 720 pages long

Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers.

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – 1006 pages long

Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann – 1020 pages long

Latticing one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of “happy couples”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some trick to surviving survivalists? School shootings? Medical debts? Franks ’n’ beans?

A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a heresy, a wonder—and a revolution in the novel.

It’s also very, very funny.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – 848 pages long

It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas – 803 pages long

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – 925 pages long

Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers.

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Author: Simone Jung