Underrated Books that Deserve More Buzz #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

Today’s topic is:

Underrated Books that Deserve More Buzz

Once There Were Wolves – Charlotte McConaghy (17,752 Goodreads ratings)

This is one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s so beautifully atmospheric with a hint of eeriness to it. It’s set in the Scottish Highlands and the main character is a biologist trying to bring wolves back to Scotland.

The Lost Village – Camilla Sten (12,659 Goodreads ratings)

I listened to this one and the audiobook narrator’s voice really added to the creepiness of this book!

Miss Meteor – Tehlor Kay Mejia (1,670 Goodreads ratings)

A really cute story about inclusion, about bullying, about a beauty pageant in a small town.

The Last Fallen Star – Graci Kim (1,359 Goodreads ratings)

This middle-grade read has great blending of Korean mythology into modern times.

We Are Satellites – Sarah Pinsker (1,467 Goodreads ratings)

I loved the idea behind this one – a brain implant that helps your brain work faster. What happens to those who refuse to get it? Or just can’t? A really thoughtful and relevant piece that more people should read.

The Shadow King – Maaza Mengiste (8,972 Goodreads ratings)

This book is set during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Its focus is on the women fighters of the war. It was really an eyeopener, but also a really gripping story full of great characters. This was on the 2020 Booker Prize shortlist. So I’m a bit surprised that it’s got so few ratings!

Love is for Losers – Wibke Brueggemann (1,478 Goodreads ratings)

A funny and honest book about a 15yo girl. It’s a coming of age story, also a learning what love is kind of story.

Library Loot (December 15 to 21)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot Day! Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

Maybe because it’s the holiday season, I’m going for some lighthearted reads this week.

Life’s Too Short – Abby Jimenez

A brilliant and touching romantic comedy about two polar opposites, one adorable dog, and living each day to its fullest.

When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn’t expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn’t just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn’t want to take anything for granted.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, life goes from “daily adventure” to “next-level bad” (now with bonus baby vomit in hair). The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she’d be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua.

Now she’s feeling things she’s vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see. 

Meet Cute Diary – Emery Lee

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Love Lettering – Kate Clayborn

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

Light Perpetual – Francis Spufford

Lunchtime on a Saturday, 1944: the Woolworths on Bexford High Street in southeast London receives a delivery of aluminum saucepans. A crowd gathers to see the first new metal in ages—after all, everything’s been melted down for the war effort. An instant later, the crowd is gone; incinerated. Among the shoppers were five young children.

Who were they? What futures did they lose? This brilliantly constructed novel lets an alternative reel of time run, imagining the life arcs of these five souls as they live through the extraordinary, unimaginable changes of the bustling immensity of twentieth-century London. Their intimate everyday dramas, as sons and daughters, spouses, parents, grandparents; as the separated, the remarried, the bereaved. Through decades of social, sexual, and technological transformation, as bus conductors and landlords, as swindlers and teachers, patients and inmates. Days of personal triumphs, disasters; of second chances and redemption.

Ingenious and profound, full of warmth and beauty, Light Perpetual illuminates the shapes of experience, the extraordinariness of the ordinary, the mysteries of memory and expectation, and the preciousness of life.

Ok this one is definitely not lighthearted. But this hold happened to come in this week!

Diagnosis – Lisa Sanders

As a Yale School of Medicine physician, the New York Times bestselling author of Every Patient Tells a Story, and an inspiration and adviser for the hit Fox TV drama House, M.D., Lisa Sanders has seen it all. And yet she is often confounded by the cases she describes in her column: unexpected collections of symptoms that she and other physicians struggle to diagnose.

A twenty-eight-year-old man, vacationing in the Bahamas for his birthday, tries some barracuda for dinner. Hours later, he collapses on the dance floor with crippling stomach pains. A middle-aged woman returns to her doctor, after visiting two days earlier with a mild rash on the back of her hands. Now the rash has turned purple and has spread across her entire body in whiplike streaks. A young elephant trainer in a traveling circus, once head-butted by a rogue zebra, is suddenly beset with splitting headaches, as if someone were “slamming a door inside his head.”

In each of these cases, the path to diagnosis–and treatment–is winding, sometimes frustratingly unclear. Dr. Sanders shows how making the right diagnosis requires expertise, painstaking procedure, and sometimes a little luck. Intricate, gripping, and full of twists and turns, Diagnosis puts readers in the doctor’s place. It lets them see what doctors see, feel the uncertainty they feel–and experience the thrill when the puzzle is finally solved.

Book thoughts: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

THE MARROW THIEVES by CHERIE DIMALINE, pictured with a cup of Stumptown Holler Mountain coffee and a digestive biscuit.

This book knocked the stuffing out of me and left me sad and empty. Set in a world ruined by global warming, and where people can’t dream anymore, except for indigenous people. As a result, indigenous people are kidnapped and imprisoned in “schools” to extract their bone marrow, which are thought to be the key to dreaming. 

The story is mostly about a group of people on the run from the government. It centers very much on the characters and their stories, and less about the dystopia they live in. It doesn’t quite explain the science or pseudo-science behind the dream-bone marrow link. 

There’s Frenchie, a teen, who joins up with a group of various indigenous people of different ages, led by Miigwans. The narrative of them trying to survive off the land and heading north is interspersed with flashbacks of the characters’ separation from their families. 

I really loved the way that Dimaline wrote her characters and the community, the family that they create while on the run. Her dystopian world is frighteningly real, grounded in colonialism and racial violence of our past and present. 

Popular Books Worth the Hype – and some not #amonthoffaves




A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

So how to define popular books? Well, some of these books are on “best of” lists, others I came across on Instagram. So anyway, here are some books that seem to be popular (?) that I think are worth the hype.

Earthlings – Sayaka Murata

A bizarre book that’s not for everyone, but for me, completely unforgettable

Shuggie Bain – Douglas Bain

I listened to this one, and I really enjoyed the narrator. I guess his Irish accent really helped make this book come alive for me.

Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner

This memoir was honest and emotional.

The House in the Cerulean Sea – TJ Klune

Just delightful! It felt like a mug of hot cocoa on a chilly day.

The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood

A cute romance about scientists!

The entire Truly Devious series – Maureen Johnson

This series set in a private school was just so much fun. A mystery that’s decades old. Riddles and puzzles. A true-crime enthusiast.

Little Eyes – Samanta Schweblin

Another strange book that has these mechanical stuffed animals that have cameras for eyes and can be controlled by people. You can buy the stuffed animal or you can pay to become the stuffed animal, controlling it and watching what’s going on.

Luck of the Titanic – Stacey Lee

I just like books set on boats actually. But I especially love that this story is about the actual forgotten Chinese passengers onboard the ship.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors – Kawai Strong Washburn

I’m not usually a fan of magical realism but I really liked this book set in Hawaii.

NOT worth the hype

Milk Fed – Melissa Broder

It’s probably just me, because this book is on quite a few Best Of lists. I also DNF-ed The Pisces so well, I guess I’m not going to try reading anymore of her books.

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

I get it, I think. I get why it’s so popular. I just felt very manipulated as a reader. Maybe the best way to describe it was that it’s very preachy? I did finish reading it though.

It’s Monday (December 13, 2021)

Some things last week:

Let’s see, we’ve been busy with school as usual. The boys had a piano recital on Sunday. And we’ve been making cookies and getting ready for Christmas.

Hamachi kama or yellowtail collar is a favourite dish at home. The Asian supermarket sells them frozen in a big pack so I usually grill two or three at a time for dinner. They’re often priced at $12-$15 at restaurants here. And it’s actually really easy – salt them on both sides and broil or roast in the oven.

Made some stamped matcha shortbread
And some melt-in-your-mouth peanut cookies. It’s a popular Lunar New Year treat!

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

We recently got Hulu plus for free and I’ve been watching Bunheads, which I had watched a bit of previously.

Listening:

World Travel – Anthony Bourdain

Eating and Drinking:

Cooking:

Last week:

I read:

I posted:

Book thoughts: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Library Loot (Dec 8 to 14)

Moments of 2021 #amonthoffaves

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

Book thoughts: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

IRON WIDOW by XIRAN JAY ZHAO, pictured with a slice of homemade pandan chiffon cake. 

Sometimes a book comes along and it’s just that very book that you need. Iron Widow was it for me. I read it on the 6 hour drive from the Bay Area to LA, a drive that took longer than usual thanks to impatient drivers and some accidents (including one that happened to the car right in front of me, luckily I braked in time!!). 

Angry impatient drivers. Ugh. When we finally reached our destination, I took refuge in this book for a while. 

Wu Zetian is 18 and offers herself up as a concubine-pilot. So yes, that very Wu Zetian, former Empress of China, inspired this character. But it’s set in a very different China, one where giant mechs called Chrysalises battle aliens. These mechs are piloted have to be piloted by a boy and girl pair, to provide the right qi needed. 

Zetian offers herself as a pilot-concubine. Her plan is to kill the boy who made her sister concubine and killed her. When she gets her vengeance, she becomes known as the Iron Widow. 

Zetian is ruthless yet I couldn’t help but root for her. She lives in a society where women are subservient and dispensable, their feet meant to be bound, their heads bowed. Who wouldn’t be full of anger? Who wouldn’t want to rage against the system? 

A bold take no prisoners heroine is exactly what I needed. You probably do too.

Library Loot (Dec 8 to 14)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week? Use the link-up or let us know in the comments!

What I got from the library this week:

There have been a few books related to the late Bourdain recently. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read them, to be honest, but I happened to be looking at the library catalogue for an audiobook to listen to while crocheting. And this one caught my eye.

World Travel – Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain saw more of the world than nearly anyone. His travels took him from the hidden pockets of his hometown of New York to a tribal longhouse in Borneo, from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Paris, and Shanghai to Tanzania’s utter beauty and the stunning desert solitude of Oman’s Empty Quarter—and many places beyond.

In World Travel, a life of experience is collected into an entertaining, practical, fun and frank travel guide that gives readers an introduction to some of his favorite places—in his own words. Featuring essential advice on how to get there, what to eat, where to stay and, in some cases, what to avoid, World Travel provides essential context that will help readers further appreciate the reasons why Bourdain found a place enchanting and memorable.

Supplementing Bourdain’s words are a handful of essays by friends, colleagues, and family that tell even deeper stories about a place, including sardonic accounts of traveling with Bourdain by his brother, Chris; a guide to Chicago’s best cheap eats by legendary music producer Steve Albini, and more. Additionally, each chapter includes illustrations by Wesley Allsbrook.

For veteran travelers, armchair enthusiasts, and those in between, World Travel offers a chance to experience the world like Anthony Bourdain.

Mott won a National Book Award for this.

Hell of a Book – Jason Mott

In Hell of a Book, an African-American author sets out on a cross-country book tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Jason Mott’s novel and is the scaffolding of something much larger and more urgent: since his novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

Throughout, these characters’ stories build and build and as they converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art, and money, there always is the tragic story of a police shooting playing over and over on the news.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind? Unforgettably powerful, an electrifying high-wire act, ideal for book clubs, and the book Mott says he has been writing in his head for ten years, Hell of a Book in its final twists truly becomes its title.

A romance novel with Asian characters and Asians on the cover? Yes please.

The Duke Who Didn’t – Courtney Milan

Miss Chloe Fong has plans for her life, lists for her days, and absolutely no time for nonsense. Three years ago, she told her childhood sweetheart that he could talk to her once he planned to be serious. He disappeared that very night.

Except now he’s back. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has returned to the tiny village he once visited with the hope of wooing Chloe. In his defense, it took him years of attempting to be serious to realize that the endeavor was incompatible with his personality.

All he has to do is convince Chloe to make room for a mischievous trickster in her life, then disclose that in all the years they’ve known each other, he’s failed to mention his real name, his title… and the minor fact that he owns her entire village.

Only one thing can go wrong: Everything.

Moments of 2021 #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

MON | Dec. 6 – #AMonthofFaves Moments of 2021. What were some of the moments this year that you are grateful for?

Ah I’m so glad that A Month of Faves is back. It’s a fun way to look back at the year.

Moments I’m grateful for:

School campuses opening again!

The 2021-2022 school year started with the boys going back to their school after a year and more on remote learning. Zoom classes are hard, you guys! The teachers try their very best but it’s so difficult for kids to sit and stare at a talking head on a screen. I had to keep an eye on my two kids as they sat at the kitchen table, headphones on, making sure that they were actually on Zoom and not half-watching some YouTube video or playing some online game (“but it’s an educational game!”).

They’re also so much happier being back in school themselves, being with their friends again. Masks on of course. But it’s better than Zoom school!

Los Angeles trip and BTS concert!

I’ve been a fan of BTS since September 2020, when I first watched their Tiny Desk Concert on NPR and thought, oh these guys can sing. And fell down the rabbit hole with their many albums and singles, online concerts, their own variety show called Run BTS which is the funniest thing ever, and all the very many things they have on social media (it’s hard to keep up).

The ending of their opening song, On.
Black Swan

When they announced the concert in LA (4 days!), I panicked and thought, I need to see this, but can I even get tickets? And yes, I did manage to get pretty good seats in the 200s section facing the stage. I went with a friend from the Bay Area. SoFi Stadium in LA is huge and I think each day they had 50,000+ people. It was just so much fun to be among the crowd, singing along, screaming, yelling, dancing, waving my lightstick (ARMY bomb). It was the best moment of 2021 for me.

Yep, pretty much everyone in the audience has a lightstick. And it’s programmed to light up in different colours and patterns to the songs. Before the concert, you bluetooth it to your phone app and put in your seat number. And that’s how they create the words. Our section spelt out BTS. So fun!

The husband and kids also went to LA, so we wanted to do something a bit different. Our last trip (pre-covid) we did Universal Studios. This time we went to the California Science Center too see the retired space shuttle Endeavour. And also to the Petersens Automotive Museum for all the three car fans. I thought that was quite interesting too, we got to see the electric Harleys that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman (or at least one of them) rode on Long Way Up from the southern tip of South America to Los Angeles. And there was a exhibit of lots of different vehicles used in the James Bond films.

Thai breakfast for lunch! Tom yum, beef noodle soup, green curry.

And not to forget all the good food that LA has to offer. Japanese breakfast (grilled mackerel) is the kind of breakfast I’d like to have more often! It just seems like too much work in the kitchen for mornings though!

Trip to Mammoth Lakes

We had initially planned a summer trip to Singapore. But the quarantine period increased from two weeks to three. And three weeks in a hotel room with 2 kids? Not sure we could do that…so we had to cancel that.

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The famous Yosemite view.
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Twin Lakes – one of the many lakes at Mammoth

Instead, we took a short trip to Mammoth Lakes via Yosemite. It was a first time to Mammoth Lakes for us. What a beautiful place! It’s famous for skiing and mountain biking, and of course, it’s different lakes. You can read more about my trip here.

Vaccinations and boosters

I was so thrilled when they announced that children could get vaccinated and as soon as possible, got appointments for the boys. And they got their second shots last week! The husband and I also got our boosters last month, so I’m just thankful and relieved.

Library Loot (December 1 to 7)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday. And happy December! How is it that we’re already in the last month of the year? I am so not ready for this….!

Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

The synopsis of this book sounded interesting! Also, I really liked Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and My Year of Meats

The Book of Form and Emptiness – Ruth Ozeki

After the tragic death of his beloved musician father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house–a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous.

At first, Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world, where “things happen.” He falls in love with a mesmerizing street artist with a smug pet ferret, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many.

And he meets his very own Book–a talking thing–who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki–bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.

Hey I also got some physical books! The only author I’ve read here is Zen Cho. The rest are new to me. But I’ve had my eye on Folklorn for a while. The rest were randomly picked up browsing the shelves. And yes, I was browsing the middle grade fiction shelves looking for books for the 10yo, and decided that this book’s title sounded just right for me.

Black Water Sister – Zen Cho

Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

Folklorn – Angela Mi Young Hur

Elsa Park is a particle physicist at the top of her game, stationed at a neutrino observatory in the Antarctic, confident she’s put enough distance between her ambitions and the family ghosts she’s run from all her life. But it isn’t long before her childhood imaginary friend—an achingly familiar, spectral woman in the snow—comes to claim her at last.

Years ago, Elsa’s now-catatonic mother had warned her that the women of their line were doomed to repeat the narrative lives of their ancestors from Korean myth and legend. But beyond these ghosts, Elsa also faces a more earthly fate: the mental illness and generational trauma that run in her immigrant family, a sickness no less ravenous than the ancestral curse hunting her.

When her mother breaks her decade-long silence and tragedy strikes, Elsa must return to her childhood home in California. There, among family wrestling with their own demons, she unravels the secrets hidden in the handwritten pages of her mother’s dark stories: of women’s desire and fury; of magic suppressed, stolen, or punished; of the hunger for vengeance.

From Sparks Fellow, Tin House alumna, and Harvard graduate Angela Mi Young Hur, Folklorn is a wondrous and necessary exploration of the myths we inherit and those we fashion for ourselves.

The Truth About Twinkie Pie – Kat Yeh

Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi. Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the North Shore of Long Island. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.

That’s the recipe for The Truth About Twinkie Pie, a voice-driven middle-grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship.

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb – Cat Sebastian

Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts withstand the impediments in their path? 

The kids’ loot:

Library Loot (November 24 to 30)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week? Link-up below or let us know in the comments!

What I got from the library this week:

Lovely Castle in the Mirror – Mizuki Tsujimura

Seven students are avoiding going to school, hiding in their darkened bedrooms, unable to face their family and friends, until the moment they discover a portal into another world that offers temporary escape from their stressful lives. Passing through a glowing mirror, they gather in a magnifcent castle which becomes their playground and refuge during school hours. The students are tasked with locating a key, hidden somewhere in the castle, that will allow whoever finds it to be granted one wish. At this moment, the castle will vanish, along with all memories they may have of their adventure. If they fail to leave the castle by 5 pm every afternoon, they will be eaten by the keeper of the castle, an easily provoked and shrill creature named the Wolf Queen.

Delving into their emotional lives with sympathy and a generous warmth, Lonely Castle in the Mirror shows the unexpected rewards of reaching out to others. Exploring vivid human stories with a twisty and puzzle-like plot, this heart-warming novel is full of joy and hope for anyone touched by sadness and vulnerability.

This book and the next one are from the Tournament of Books longlist.

How to Wrestle a Girl – Venita Blackburn

Venita Blackburn’s characters bully and suffer, spit and tease, mope and blame. They’re hyperaware of their bodies and fiercely observant, fending off the failures and advances of adults with indifferent ease. In “Biology Class,” they torment a teacher to the point of near insanity, while in “Bear Bear Harvest(TM),” they prepare to sell their excess fat and skin for food processing. Stark and sharp, hilarious and ominous, these pieces are scabbed, bruised, and prone to scarring.

Many of the stories, set in Southern California, follow a teenage girl in the aftermath of her beloved father’s death and capture her sister’s and mother’s encounters with men of all ages, as well as the girl’s budding attraction to her best friend, Esperanza. In and out of school, participating in wrestling and softball, attending church with her hysterically complicated family, and dominating boys in arm wrestling, she grapples with her burgeoning queerness and her emerging body, becoming wary of clarity rather than hoping for it.

A rising star, Blackburn is a trailblazing stylist, and in How to Wrestle a Girl she masterfully shakes loose a vision of girlhood that is raw, vulnerable, and never at ease.

I thought it was interesting how different these two book covers are. I believe the bottom image is the British cover.

The Other Black Girl – Zakiya Dalila Harris

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girlwill keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.