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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a fun graphic novel if you need some light and easy reading. I love going to the library and picking up random new YA and middle grade graphic novels and just plowing through them on a weekend. They can usually be read in a single sitting, and it makes me feel like I read ALL THE THINGS! on a weekend. This is an excellent series starter that I loved.

Twelfth Grade Night cover

Twelfth Grade Night by Molly Booth, Stephanie Strohm, and Jamie Green

The setting of this brand new graphic novel is Arden High. Vi has just transferred because her old boarding school requires a dress code and she was tired of skirts. But she’s facing the ultimate betrayal: Her beloved twin decided to stay at their old school. Now Vi is facing a new beginning on her own…but it’s not long before she meets a poet, Orsino, and develops a quick crush. The only problem? Because of how she dresses, everyone assumes Vi isn’t into guys. And things get complicated when Orsino asks Vi to help him woo Olivia for the Twelfth Grade Night dance…and then it turns out that Olivia has a crush on Vi! Add in some twin confusion, and it’s a drama no one will forget.

I loved this modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and I am so pleased to find that we are in the era of YA where people are realizing that Shakespeare makes for some amazing gender-bent and queer YA retellings! Twelfth Night is the perfect play to queer up, and I loved that this story takes a look at a female protagonist who is assumed queer when she’s really crushing on a guy. There’s also a great supporting cast of characters, and one thing the creators do really well is make space in this story for everyone to have their own storylines that feel satisfying.

I would have been so on board for this book if it had been a contemporary retelling alone, but one thing that surprised and delighted me was the inclusion of fairy characters, who just exist in this book with no explanation, being the drama. It also clued me in that, oh hey, there will probably be MORE BOOKS in this series, and sure enough, King Cheer is out later this year. I think this is a really fun and clever way to bring Shakespeare to a modern teenage audience, and the illustrations are colorful and vibrant, and totally fun. I can’t recommend this one enough!

Gift Tailored Book Recommendations to your bookish boo this Valentine’s. Gift TBR today!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book . . .

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! These books come from all sorts of different genres and age ranges. This week, we’re looking at a memoir from West Virginian author Neema Avashia.

a graphic of the cover of Another Appalachia

Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place by Neema Avashia

When I think about my favorite books of last year, handsdown, Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia stands out. Neema Avashia’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, settling in West Virginia, where they were one of several Indian families who moved into the area. Avashia’s essays stand out to me because she discusses her culture as an Appalachian in such unique ways.

In one essay, she describes how she had many adoptive grandparents, who treated her as a member of their family. Her basketball coach, who was a white Appalachian man, chose her for his basketball teams, drove her to and from games, and created a position for her as an assistant coach when she aged out of the league. In Appalachia, we have this deep sense of community care, a form of mutual aid ingrained into the culture. We look out for our own.

Of course, this essay isn’t just about the great things about Appalachia. Avashia describes how during the election of 2016, she began to see friends from back home posting anti-immigrant beliefs on their social media. People she deeply loved and who were like family to her didn’t seem to understand that they were talking about families like hers.

At another time, Avashia and her partner Laura finally decided it was time to meet Avashia’s family and friends back in West Virginia. She felt incredibly nervous about bringing her serious girlfriend back to West Virginia, but for the most part, she found warm and accepting family and friends waiting for her.

All of these moments create the contradictions that Avashia has to hold in her mind as a queer Indolachian. Appalachia is an incredible place where the people have traditionally had to care for each other, so that part of the culture is incredibly strong. But there are also people who post hateful, xenophobic continent to their Facebook page. Avashia’s Another Appalachia is a love letter to West Virginia, but she must also reconcile that with an Appalachia that doesn’t always love her back.

Gift Tailored Book Recommendations to your bookish boo this Valentine’s. Gift TBR today!


That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at kendra.d.winchester@gmail.com. For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy reading, Friends!

~ Kendra

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to.

But first, are you looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift for your bookish boo? Gift Tailored Book Recommendations. Your boo will tell our professional booknerds about what they love and what they don’t, what they’re reading goals are, and what they need more of in their bookish life. Then, they sit back while our Bibliologists go to work selecting books just for them. TBR has plans for every budget. Surprise your bookish boo with Tailored Book Recommendations this Valentine’s and visit mytbr.co/gift.

Today’s pick is a book that left me a different person than I was before I read it.

Book cover of Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

To say this is satire about a racial awakening is an understatement. It’s utterly hilarious and also I pretty much cringed the entire time I read it. Our main character is Ingrid Yang, a Taiwanese American woman in her eighth year of her PhD and she still has no idea what her thesis even is. She has been researching the renowned Chinese American poet Xiao-Wen Chao but it’s hard to write anything about him that hasn’t been completely researched into the ground. He was faculty at Barnes University (where Ingrid is) and was a big deal. A large part of the reason she’s doing this PhD is because there is a professorial chair that is about to open up; so she can get a cozy faculty position as the next expert on Xiao-Wen Chao, yet she has no idea what the heck she is going to do her dissertation on.

The East Asian Studies department that Ingrid is in has very few Asian people and many, many white people. Her advisor, Michael, is a white man who has gone all-in on Chinese culture and doubles-down in his orientalism time and time again. Ingrid’s fiance, Stephen Greene, is a white man who has taught himself Japanese (doesn’t actually speak it) but has made himself into a literature translator.

They frequently explain Chinese culture to Ingrid repeatedly and really terribly because she is Taiwanese and they just lump her in with Chinese culture like it’s all the same. If you haven’t caught on, there are massive amounts of anti-Asian racism in this book and lots of the particularly insidious type where it’s people pretending to have a respect for a culture when they are actually fetishizing it. Ingrid herself has very firm ideas of the “right way” a woman should be, especially an Asian American woman, and the “wrong way.”

This book is full of some amazing characters. Through it, Ingrid awakens to her complicity in her own subjugation and the white supremacist trash fire that is academia. Highly recommend it!


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

Today’s pick is a great book if you like fiction that explores the secret lives of other people, and how small choices can have big impacts that unfold over many years!

The Talented Miss Farwell cover

The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe

Becky Farwell is a small town Illinois girl with a talent for math. As she comes of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she often feels alone and out of step with her peers, and obligated to stay close to home to take care of her widowed father. With college being out of reach, Becky gets an entry level position in her town’s finance department. One day, through sheer chance, she spots a painting in a gallery and falls in love with it. It costs $500. When an error in accounting at work puts a $500 check that no one would miss in Becky’s hands, she makes a decision that will change the course of her life.

I picked this book up thinking it would be a crime/thriller, but while it does detail the life and (many, many) nonviolent crimes of Rebecca Farwell, this novel is more literary than mystery. The reader follows Becky through more than three decades of her life, detailing her rough childhood, her discovery of art, her talent for accounting, and her knack for deception. It’s not long before Becky Farwell has transformed herself into Reba Farwell, art collection and connoisseur, with a collection worth millions. Living a double life is as much of a strain on Becky as it thrilling, and that thrill gives her a reason to get out of bed each day. The lengths she goes to in order to keep her secrets has the reader on the edge, wondering how long it can possibly go on and what, if anything, could ever bring her down. Becky is a criminal, there’s no doubt about it, but the way the author writes her made me genuinely have sympathy for her and worry about how deep of a hole she was digging herself in. Don’t expect any major revelations or thrilling twists, but if you want a deep and fascinating dive into the interior life of a woman who manages to lead two very different lives and keep some shocking secrets, this is it.

Bonus: If you liked More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez, then you’ll probably enjoy this one!

Want to read books from this newsletter? You can, for free! Get three free audiobooks with a trial to Audiobooks.com. Claim your 3 free audiobooks now!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book . . .

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! For the last few years, I’ve had the joy of participating in a book club called, Indigenous Reading Circle, a book club started by two Native women who wanted to feature Indigenous writers from across Turtle Island. This year, their theme is short reads, so each title is 200 pages or less. The upcoming pick for February is a favorite of mine, so I thought we’d start there.

a graphic of the cover of Making Love with the Land by Joshua Whitehead

Making Love with the Land: Essays by Joshua Whitehead

Joshua Whitehead’s most famous book to date is Jonny Appleseed, a novel featuring a Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer main character navigating the world. Now he’s back with a collective of essays. Throughout the collection, Whitehead reexamines storytelling from a perspective of decolonizing the way we tell stories. What does that mean for him, an Indigenous storyteller? How does Western thought confine his storytelling?

Many of Whitehead’s essays present queer love as he’s experienced it. It’s an intimate portrayal of the emotional complexity of living and loving as an Indigenous person in a society informed by colonialism. Told in beautiful prose, his essays feel as if you are going on this journey with him, working through his thought process as he struggles to find himself and his story in everyday narratives.

I love a good essay collection. There’s nothing like sitting down with a short piece of nonfiction, examining ideas or learning about different moments in history. Whitehead’s writing can be challenging in the best way, asking readers to reexamine ideas around literature and what it can do. There’s something special about the way Whitehead discusses storytelling, especially the way he examines how his personal experience informs his writing.

There’s one essay where he discusses the use of video games and how it connects with Indigenous people working through their experiences with generational trauma. It reminded me of one of Elissa Washuta’s essays in her collection White Magic, where she examines the game Oregon Trail and its connection with colonialism and Indigenous histories. Like Washuta, Whitehead possesses the ability to take vastly different topics and ideas and successfully tie them together all in one essay. It’s a brilliant thing to behold.

If you would like to check out Indigenous Reading Circle’s other suggestions, head over to their Instagram or their Patreon.

Want to read books from this newsletter? You can, for free! Get three free audiobooks with a trial to Audiobooks.com. Claim your 3 free audiobooks now!


That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at kendra.d.winchester@gmail.com. For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy reading, Friends!

~ Kendra

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is a book that was so good that it gave me a book hangover and I didn’t read anything for three days after finishing it.

Book cover of Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

This was absolutely one of the best books I read the year it came out. I’m going to be weirdly vague about this book because it is full of surprises and I don’t want to ruin the joy of reading it therefore, I’m just going to tell you some snippets about some of the characters and the location.

It takes place in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California which is truly a magical place once you get past the surface and the author catches all the nuance of the eclectic yet weirdly harmonious vibe of many of the locations down there.

There is a donut shop with a huge frickin’ donut on top of it. It’s a Los Angeles / Southern California thing. If you know, you know: Giant. Donut. The head of the family that owns the shop is Lan Tran. The family is actually aliens, like, from space, who have escaped a big bad across the galaxy.

We also have Katrina Nguyen, a transgender teen who runs away from an abusive home in the San Francisco Bay Area and ends up in the San Gabriel Valley. She has very little to her name, some clothes, some estrogen, a beat-up made-in-China violin, and does sex work both via webcam and in person to make money to survive.

Finally we have Shizuka Satomi, a woman who had made a deal with the devil for some fame. She played the violin. Now, to escape damnation, she needs to take on seven violin students and deliver their souls to Hell. As of the start of this book, she has already delivered six and of course, they can’t just be any old self-taught violinist. She travels the world looking for the final student, the final soul.

Yes, music is the main theme of this book and the story hits all the right notes. There’s an adorable, awkward queer crush/dating type thing going on. There’s a young trans teen finding her voice and finding family. There’s wonderful descriptions of food. There is also a chapter that I’m borderline obsessed with where it’s just a description of violin repair.

If you have not yet read this book I am incredibly jealous because I wish I could read it again for the first time. Content warnings for racism, specifically anti-Asian racism, transphobia, discussion of suicide, sexism, sexual assault, and abuse.

Want to read books from this newsletter? You can, for free! Get three free audiobooks with a trial to Audiobooks.com. Claim your 3 free audiobooks now!


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

Today’s pick is one that I listened to on audio at the end of last year, and it’s a great audiobook to put on while going about your day! If you like romance, historical reads, and plot twists, this one is for you!

Belle of Belgrave Square

The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews

Julia Wychwood is one of the wealthiest eligible young ladies in London, but unfortunately for her, she has an anxiety disorder that makes attending balls difficult and her parents are hypochondriacs who submit her to all sorts of horrid treatments when they’re not trying to marry her off to someone who will appease their whims of sickness and ill health. Julia finds escape in two things: novels, and riding her horse each day. Both things bring her in proximity to Jasper Blunt, the scarred and enigmatic war hero about whom the ton loves to gossip. Although intimidated by him at first, Julia soon finds herself intrigued by the man and the gentle soul he seems to be hiding. When dire circumstances make her life at home untenable, Jasper whisks in and saves her, marries her, and then brings her to his country estate, where Julia finds more secrets lurking on the moors.

This book was a great blend of romance, gothic sensibility, and mystery. Fans of Jane Eyre and The Blue Castle will enjoy this literary romance about two people drawn to each other but haunted by the past. I loved reading about Julia’s journey to owning her life, and to stop letting her parents and society dictate her happiness. In a similar way, Jasper also needs to learn to own his decisions, good or bad, and to make peace with his past in order to embrace the future. This book is full of some delicious romance tropes (marriage of necessity, secret past, children from a past relationship, daring rescues) but they never seem to be overdone or half-baked. I think some savvy readers will be able to guess some of the twists (I did) but that doesn’t take away from the absolute pleasure of this book or the romance between Julia and Jasper. It’s a closed door romance, but still very romantic with plenty of swoony scenes.

Technically, this book is the sequel/companion to the equally delightful The Siren of Sussex, but you don’t need to read the first one to enjoy this book. Some characters carry over, which is always fun! The series follows four young society ladies of London who are also equestrians, and I think it’s a great read alike for fans of Evie Dumore’s League of Extraordinary Women series!

Want to read books from this newsletter? You can, for free! Get three free audiobooks with a trial to Audiobooks.com. Claim your 3 free audiobooks now!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book . . .

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! This week, it’s time to chat about a buzzy new release.

a graphic of the cover Age of Vice

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

The bookish world is all abuzz for Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor, which was just chosen as Good Morning America’s next book club pick AND Roxane Gay’s January pick for her book club. What has everyone talking about this novel?

The novel opens in Delhi with a horrible car accident: a speeding Mercedes jumps the curb and five people end up dead. A man named Ajay is arrested and convicted of the crime, but he wasn’t actually the one responsible for the crime.

From there, we follow this sweeping epic to rural India where Ajay grew up. After his father is killed, Ajay’s mother sends him away to earn money so she can pay off his father’s debts. Eventually Ajay works for Sonny, a rich man making a name for himself as a patron of the arts. Ajay is Sonny’s right-hand man, driving him around, serving his guests, and helping sneak Sonny’s secret girlfriend into various hotels.

As the novel unfolds, we eventually get Sonny’s perspective, and he describes how he feels suffocated by his father’s expectations. He is simultaneously haunted by a memory from his past he wishes he could forget. His father and his uncle are rumored to have made their money illegally, but how much is Sonny aware of? And how can he escape his family’s history of sketchy dealings?

These are just two of the many characters that make up this sweeping crime drama full of messy families and complicated love stories. I love a hefty book that I can just settle in with for hours, especially in the winter. All of these characters feel adrift in different ways, each one trying to make a place for themselves in the world, to change their fate, even just a little bit. 

I listened to the audiobook performed by the incredible Vidish Athavale. He created such an incredible mood with his narration. You feel like you are right there beside the characters as they make terrible decision after terrible decision. Athavale uses his performance to create unique voices for each character, no two sounding exactly the same.

If you are looking for a long novel to sweep you off your feet, this is it.

Want to read books from this newsletter? You can, for free! Get three free audiobooks with a trial to Audiobooks.com. Claim your 3 free audiobooks now!


That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at kendra.d.winchester@gmail.com. For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy reading, Friends!

~ Kendra

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to.

Before I get to today’s book, I want to mention that Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge is in its ninth year, with a set of 24 tasks that invite readers to expand their worldview through books. Read one book per task, or do some multi-tasking by counting one book for multiple tasks. It’s all fine! The point of the challenge is to push yourself to expand your horizons. Thank you to Thriftbooks for sponsoring Read Harder 2023.

To find the tasks and subscribe to our newsletter for tips and recommendations, visit Read Harder 2023.

Today’s pick is the first in a ridiculously fun trilogy that will have the final book coming out this spring.

Book cover of Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

This is an epic young adult best friends space adventure. If you liked the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power reboot, then Victories Greater Than Death might be for you.

Our teen protagonist, Tina, is actually a reincarnation of a phenomenal, brave, beloved alien. Tina is on Earth disguised as an earthling. When the story begins, she is waiting for the rescue beacon inside of her to light up. She knows that she is not an earthling and she knows that there are great plans for her but first, her beacon needs to light up. Once the beacon lights up, there are two things she is expecting to happen. First, the intergalactic space military crew that she belonged to will come searching for her; the plan is that they will bring her back to the spaceship and unlock her memories as the starship captain that she is supposed to be a reincarnation of. The other thing that happens when she lights up, though, is that the murderous terrifying aliens, the ones who killed her in the first place, will also see her beacon light up and immediately try to find her to murder her all over again.

Tina has shared all this information with her best friend, Rachel, and they’ve been waiting for this moment together for years. Rachel is with Tina when Tina’s beacon lights up, and as you can expect, all hell breaks loose.

One of the things I often find myself disappointed in with sci-fi is that some authors still seem stuck within earthling constructs, like binary gender or ways of relating to other beings. Anders does what I have hoped for forever and the non-earthlings are incredibly diverse and wonderful. Everyone introduces themselves with their pronouns including ones beyond the typical pronouns we use here on Earth. There is a wide range of characters who I frequently found myself rooting for. It’s queer and exciting and so much fun. I legitimately had a great time reading this book but remember, it’s the first in a trilogy so buckle in for a ride!

The second book, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak, is out now, and the conclusion, Promises Stronger Than Darkness, is slated for an April release.

Want to read books from this newsletter? You can, for free! Get three free audiobooks with a trial to Audiobooks.com. Claim your 3 free audiobooks now!


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, Twitter, and Instagram.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

It’s time for my first pick of 2023, and yes, I did type 2022 at first. I hope your new year is off to a good start and that you’re enjoying a new year of reading and goals and resolutions, or no goals or resolutions…whatever works for you! I am starting this year off with a backlist pick that is probably on your radar already but has a TV show premiere later this spring, so consider this your reminder to pick it up if you haven’t already!

Daisy Jones and the Six Book Cover

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When I got into TJR’s books in 2022, everyone told me I needed to do Daisy Jones on audio, so I put myself on the epically long waiting list at my library and I am so glad I did! This is the oral history of the fictitious 1970s rock band The Six, and their collaboration with singer and songwriter Daisy Jones that launched them into stratospheric fame. Although the partnership starts purely as a business decision manipulated by their record label, there’s something magnetic about Daisy Jones and her push and pull relationship with The Six’s lead singer Bully Dunne. But behind the scenes, Daisy is popping pills and losing track of her life while Billy is desperately clinging to his sobriety for the sake of his wife and kids. Told from the point of view of the band members, producers, and various people in their lives years later, this story tries to get at the heart of exactly why a band at the very top suddenly fractured.

Typically, I do not find myself particularly drawn to novels that deal with Hollywood or the music scene, or the lives of the very famous. However, Taylor Jenkins Reid draws me in every time because her writing is so good, her characters so compelling, and the structure of her stories are unique or interesting enough to get me wondering how she’ll pull it off. This book is no exception, and I like that we see these events filtered through the eyes of the characters when they’re older, wiser, and a bit more honest with themselves than they were in the moment. It’s fun and interesting to read how Daisy and how The Six all got their separate starts and the winding path that brought them together. And like most stories told from memory, with lots of different people involved, there are inconsistencies in each telling and differing recollections of how things really happened. Nonetheless, the author trusts the reader to sift through what’s important and get to the heart of the story. It’s a book about faith and hope, how perilous loving someone can be, wanting what you can’t have, and reckoning with achieving your dreams beyond your wildest imagination…and realizing that you’re still you.

I truly do recommend the audio experience, with narration from Jennifer Beals, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber, Benjamin Bratt, January LaVoy, and a full cast. It really elevates the experience and make it feel like you’re listening to the characters as though they’re real and not fiction. Bonus: The TV show premieres in March, and sneak peeks look amazing!

Want to read books from this newsletter? You can, for free! Get three free audiobooks with a trial to Audiobooks.com. Claim your 3 free audiobooks now!

Happy reading,

Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.