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Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

When I was young-ish, I used to sneak in Jackie Collins’ novels under my school desk and read them during class. I couldn’t get enough of the tensions, the power plays, and the heroines, always the heroines, fighting the odds.

Fast forward a couple of years. I discovered Eve Babitz. Dabbling primarily in her non-fiction she had a similar but also very distinct sharp voice like Collins’. There was just something about that ‘insider looks at inside’ perspective that had me captivated.

So my next pick for all you is a book that feels like a love child of the above two authors’ works. It gives the inside picture of Los Angeles and the Hollywood scene with sharp wit and commentary and an understanding of what it means to be part of both.

Malibu Rising Book Cover

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

How do you fall in love with a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel? You remember what you are getting: a delicious story, dynamic characters, and drama.

Malibu Rising, as one can guess, is set around Malibu Beach in Los Angeles, California. It brings to life one of the most beautiful places that the West Coast has to offer and that is the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

Told in dual timelines, we follow Mick and June who set out to accomplish their dreams of fame and the money it brings along with it. And the second is the story of their four children- Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit- and how their fates have played out.

The story begins at Nina’s house with everybody getting ready for the annual party that Nina hosts. When I say everybody, I mean the entirety of Hollywood and then some. But the four siblings are fighting their own battles on the day of the party with infidelity, illness, secrets about love, and coming to terms with their identity. The pot comes to a boil when all four of these tensions find themselves facing each other at the party along with their pasts, all threatening to alter the course of the life they have made for themselves.

That’s all you should know about the plot before you dive in because, in my opinion, that’s the best part of this book, trying to pace yourself to find out what happens next. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a masterful storyteller. As someone who lives in perpetual awe of the PCH, for me, she makes it come to life. Her movement from one sentence to another is incredibly fluid, so much so that you feel like you are living in the story, and not just reading it. If you are looking for a good fast read similar to The Nest, then consider picking this up. Pair it with our 10 year anniversary, limited-edition merch line from bookriot.com/merch, and a drive down the coast.

So how do you fall in love with a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel? You remember what it’s like to simply read a good story and dive right in.


Come tell me what you thought of the pick on Twitter @JavedNusrah.

Happy Reading!
Nusrah

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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 (and check out our awesome limited edition gear for Book Riot’s 10th anniversary)!

Today’s pick is heavy on the creepy crawlies and an excellent October read.

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Sometimes I pick up a book and start reading without looking at the synopsis. Well, apparently I didn’t even look super closely at the cover of this one because then I would have realized that it heavily involves giant spiders. So there’s my content warning if you, like me, are scared of spiders.

Forest of Souls is the first in a trilogy. It begins with a glossary because this is Fantasy with a capital F. There is some really rich worldbuilding that gets a bit complicated and I definitely had to refer to the glossary a few times. There is the continent of Thiy which has three kingdoms: one of humans, one of shadowblessed, and one of shamans. They all hate each other. Running down the center of the continent is The Dead Wood, a super freaky wood possessed by vengeful souls controlled by a powerful shaman named Ronin.

Sirscha Ashwyn is a teen soldier in training and secretly in training and competition to be the Queen’s Shadow, her master spy and assassin. The Queen considers all shamans to be outlaws and does not allow them in her kingdom unless they are in prison. Shamans each have a particular craft, like a talent, and a familiar. They can work with either fire, earth, wind, water, or light in different ways. You can tell what kind of shaman they are by the intense, bright color of their eyes.

Sirscha and her best friend Saengo are doing a routine assignment with some of the younger recruits when they intercept a message from a fellow trainee named Jonyah, who she hates. Sirscha learns that he is her secret competitor to become the Queen’s Shadow and the message is in their teacher’s handwriting with directions to meet someone at a tea house. Sirscha and Saengo sneak away to try to beat him to the tea house and learn it was an ambush. There were shamans at the tea house and they attacked. Saengo gets stabbed, and Sirscha passes out.

She wakes up at a stream and Saengo is strangely alive even though Sirscha is sure that she saw her die. When Sirscha goes to wash her face in the stream, she finds her eyes have changed color into that of a shaman. While they are out deliberating, they get caught by the Prince, who is captain of the Queen’s Guard. They eventually hear from Ronin, who summons them to go through the Dead Wood and see him. His familiar is a giant spider and that is not even the beginning of the creepiness.

This was such an amazing book to lose myself in and a definitely page-turner.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

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

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

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 one of my all-time favorite October backlist reads, and I can’t believe I haven’t shouted about it before! If you like unsettling things, but don’t like straight-up horror, this one is for you!

The Accident Season cover

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Each year, Cara’s family experiences what they call the accident season—during the month of October, they’re plagued with accidents. They start out small, and usually consist of stubbing a toe, ripping a favorite shirt, or knocking over a glass. But as the month persists, the accidents get bigger and bigger. Lost items, broken bones, car accidents…and sometimes, the accidents are fatal. This year, Cara, her best friend Bea, and her ex-stepbrother Sam are seventeen, and they can already tell by the accidents that it will be a bad year. But it’s also the year that Cara will uncover the secret behind what causes the accident year, and find unexpected love.

What sold me on this book was the concept, which I don’t think I will ever get over. It’s so subtle, so brilliant, and just appropriately eerie—to me, it screams to be made into a Netflix limited series. The characters, of course, are what pull it off and I found myself really fascinated by the family dynamics. Cara’s family is (justifiably) emotionally and physically scarred by this experience, and the way they deal with it was really indicative of their characters and how they cope with trauma, and how they bury the secrets they don’t want to face.

The setting is also really great. I love a good creepy October and fall-set read, but this book also takes place in Ireland. The writing was so evocative that I felt as though I could just feel the physical setting through the pages. Both the romance and the mystery didn’t go in the direction that I anticipated, and I so appreciated that about this book. It’s like an unexpected dark puzzle that will make you want to brew a pot of strong tea so you can sit under a blanket while the wind blows cold outside and just immerse yourself in the telling of the story.

Bonus: I love Fowley-Doyle’s other two books, Spellbook of Lost and Found and All the Bad Apples, which are similarly eerie but have the bonus of also being queer!

Happy reading, and stay cozy!

Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, the Insiders Read Harder podcast, 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 you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

As the days are getting shorter, and a chill pervades through the air, I celebrate one year of moving to San Francisco, a place that has stolen my heart. As I think about the time we moved here, a year ago, I think of my pick, which I started as I walked down the streets of my then neighborhood.

Book cover for Three by D.A.Mishani

Three by D.A. Mishani, translated by Jessica Cohen

This was a book I came across through Book Riot’s wonderful Unusual Suspects newsletter. Having only recently purchased my Scribd subscription, I was ecstatic to find Three on there. Set in Tel Aviv, Israel, our story begins with Orna, who is struggling to come to terms with her dissolved marriage. When Orna meets Gil on a dating site, she doesn’t expect much to come out of it except some temporary distraction. But as Orna spends more time with Gil, she realizes that a lot of what Gil has told her about himself doesn’t add up. As Orna plans a confrontation, things take an unexpected turn.

Then we are thrown into the stories of two other women, a deeply religious caretaker and an unhappy woman trapped in a marriage. Their stories are completely different from Orna’s and from each other, but what unites them is a dark secret. As the stories unravel and intersect, a whole side of Tel Aviv emerges from the periphery.

This is one of the most successful works of psychological suspense I have seen in ages. I experienced the audio version of it and there were moments where I would stop mid-task to find out what was going to happen next.

Mishani’s writing is very sharp. It almost has Gillian Flynn and Elena Ferrante’s scent to it. His observations are unsettling, to say the least, and the most unsettling aspect is the fact that you don’t want to see yourself in his characters, but you do.

If you have ever enjoyed slow-burn suspense, the kind that makes you want to read the last page but also burn it down so you never get to it, then pick this up immediately. You will be all the more unsettled after it.


Come tell me what you thought of this pick on Twitter @JavedNusrah.

Until then, Happy Reading!

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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 (and check out our awesome limited edition gear for Book Riot’s 10th anniversary)!

I adore today’s book, which is an absolutely perfect pick for an October read.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Our protagonist, Yadriel, lives in a cemetery in Los Angeles with his whole brujx community. He is 16 and should be a full-fledged brujo by now except his community is not supportive because he is transgender and gay. The way that the brujxes think that magic works is that there is men’s magic and women’s magic. So while they’re attempting to be loving, they end up being really transphobic. The person who was his biggest support, his mom, has died but soon it will be the first Día de Muertos since she has died, and Yadriel intends to tell her that he is a brujo now after he sneaks off to do his ceremony in secret.

When a brujx turns 15 they’re presented to Santa Muerte aka Lady Death. She then gives them a blessing and ties their inherent magic to their chosen conduit. For women, it’s usually a rosary. For men, it’s usually a dagger. This conduit is called a portaje. Yadriel’s best friend, Maritza, is super supportive of Yadriel and she makes a beautiful dagger for Yadriel so he can perform his own brujx quince and show everyone that he is just as much of a brujo as any other man. So, he does his secret quince with Maritza and it seems like it works.

Meanwhile, Yadriel’s cousin Miguel dies that same night but they don’t know where his body is. So Yadriel hatches a plan to find Miguel’s portaje and free his spirit and then no one can deny he is a brujo. He and Maritza go poking around and find a necklace, which definitely feels like a spirit is tethered to it. What Yadriel doesn’t expect is that it’s actually the spirit of Julian Diaz, known troublemaker at their high school. Julian wants to make a deal. If Yadriel and Maritza help Julian find his friends and let them know he’s gone, then Julian will let Yadriel sever his tie and set him free to prove to everyone he is a brujo. Seems straightforward, but it really really isn’t. On top of that, spending all that time together, Yadriel isn’t sure he wants to let Julian go.

This book is fun and suspenseful and heartbreaking and heartwarming and I totally have a crush on this book.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

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

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!

Look, I’m not getting off the spooky season reading train anytime soon, so this week’s pick is a great book if you like historical fiction, were freaked out by In Cold Blood, and like things with a possible supernatural twist!

Before we get to the book though, did you know that Book Riot is TEN years old this October? To celebrate, we’ve launched a limited edition line of merchandise that includes hoodies, sweatshirts, totes, and more, all in our signature logo colors and with BR branding! You can only get it this October, so head to bookriot.com/merch to check it out!

All These Bodies cover image

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Michael is an aspiring journalist living in a sleepy Minnesota town when a serial killer sweeps across the Midwest. Someone is murdering people, seemingly at random, and their bodies are found completely drained of blood. The crime scenes inspire rumors and put everyone on edge, especially Michael’s dad, the Sheriff. Then, the unthinkable happens and the murderer strikes Michael’s town. But this time, it’s different. A teen girl named Marie is left behind, covered in blood. She’s taken into custody, but she refuses to speak about what happened, who is responsible, or even where she comes from. The only person she will talk to is Michael, but even he isn’t sure if he’s prepared to hear her full confession.

This is a chilling and eerie book that takes the staples of In Cold Blood and throws in a speculative twist that will leave the reader guessing. Michael is a grounded character who loves his family, wants to follow his dreams, and discover a life outside of Minnesota. He’s curious about Marie, wants to understand her, and even feels sorry for her…but his motivations for taking Marie’s confession are not altogether altruistic—he’s thinking about the story he might be able to write and how it could help him get into journalism school. But his plans are turned on their heads when Marie tells him something he can’t quite believe, and he must confront the slippery nature of truth. Along the way, he is forced to see his town and community in a different light, and learns the hard way that scared people aren’t always rational people. I thought that Blake did a great job capturing the vibe of the 1950’s Midwest, and this is a good book that reminds readers that darkness is always lurking, no matter how wholesome your town might appear.

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, the Insiders Read Harder podcast, 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 you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

Let me tell you all something about my reading preferences, I am always hesitant about small books. Do I make meticulous reading lists, full of small books, at the end of the year to try and meet my reading goals? Absolutely. But, do I also find myself reaching for the bigger books, the 600-pagers that take me a good three months to read? Also, yes.

What makes me hesitant is that in my mind, it’s so hard to balance the plot with deep character studies. Not that every book should set out to do that, it’s just what I prefer my books to do. So when I stumbled upon my pick for this week that managed to captivate me with its plot and had me rooting for characters with some questionable morals, it is safe to say that I was overjoyed.

cover of my sister the serial killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This tale with its unusual title and the retro cover is set against the backdrop of Nigeria. We follow two sisters, Korede and Ayoola. Both are trying to make their way in what limited opportunities they have available. But, Korede has an additional familial obligation, one she can’t share with anyone, and that is cleaning up after her sister.

Now you may be so inclined to think that this mess is more of a metaphoric mess, but it is actually a very physical mess, made up of the remnants of the dead boyfriends her sister leaves behind after being done with them. Overpowered by their familial bond, Korede bitterly cleans up after her sister, all the while sulking about the fact that her sister is both the family’s and her crush, Tede’s, favorite. When Tede’s life hangs in the balance because of his obsession with Ayoola, Korede decides to do something before it’s too late. But will she be able to?

If this over-the-top plot is not enough to intrigue you, this book also covers the history of the two sisters and the life that they have endured. You wouldn’t expect so much depth and intricacy from a 226-page novel, but this is one of those books that accomplishes just that. No word in it is superfluous and it’s wickedly funny. It almost satirizes how far families go to protect each other regardless of what their family member has done.

This one is perfect for the end of the year reading season, to read during a quick rainy day break, or to slowly savor in the coming winter months. Do you know what goes great with this read? Our 10 year anniversary, limited-edition merch line that includes hoodies, sweatshirts, totes, and more. Go to bookriot.com/merch to check it out and pair it with the read of your choice.


If you choose to pair your merch with this one, come tell me what you thought of the pick once done, on Twitter @JavedNusrah.

Happy Reading!
Nusrah

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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 an apocalyptic tale of magic versus science but the trope is explored in a number of unexpected and delightful ways.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

This story begins on the East Coast with our two main characters, Patricia and Laurence, as children. We first meet Patricia when she is six. She finds a wounded bird and tries to soothe it by saying she’ll take it home and put it in a cage until it gets better. Much to Patricia’s surprise, the bird speaks up against that and we learn that Patricia can speak to birds. The bird is also very surprised that Patricia can speak to it and tells her she’s probably a witch. The bird tells her who can both fix its wing and figure out if she is a witch, so they set off to find them.

We then meet Laurence, a kid whose parents desperately want him to be outdoorsy and he is very much not. He’d rather be tinkering with his computer and playing video games. He finds some schematics on the internet and builds a clever little piece of tech that I’m not going to tell you the details of because I find it charming and I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Flash forward to when Patricia and Laurence are around thirteen. They meet and Laurence commissions Patricia to help him convince his parents that he’s spending time outdoors and has a friend. When Patricia is at Laurence’s house, he shows her the supercomputer he is building and developing AI. He sets it up so that Patricia can “chat” with it and help the AI develop.

Meanwhile, there is an assassin trying to murder them both because he thinks it will save the world. He ends up separating them from each other. Patricia goes off to a witchcraft school and Laurence goes off to study science.

Their paths cross again in adulthood, now in San Francisco, and their paths continue to cross in the most awkward and mysterious ways. You can feel something building as you read these encounters, but you’re not quite sure what it is.

This book is both fun and funny and one of my favorites to escape into.


That’s it for now, book-lovers!

Patricia

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

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

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Read This Book: When Things Get Dark edited by Ellen Datlow

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 officially the start of October, and as Anne Shirley once said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Me too, Anne. It’s my favorite month, full of crisp orange leaves and toasty sweaters and pumpkin everything…and also things that go bump in the night! Today’s recommendation is for readers who love Shirley Jackson and the delicious and unexpected thrills her work brings!

cover of When Things Get Dark

When Things Get Dark edited by Ellen Datlow

The premise of this anthology is simple: Ellen Datlow asked a variety of writers to come up with a short story that’s inspired by Shirley Jackson’s work. No retellings or twists on her original stories, but just each writer’s own spin on some of the themes, elements, and motifs that make up a classic Shirley Jackson story. Which, to be frank, is quite a recognizable vibe. The writers include Josh Malerman, Carmen Maria Machado, Paul Tremblay, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Cassandra Khaw, Benjamin Percy, Seanan McGuire, and more.

The result is an anthology that is readable and varied. Anthologies can be hit or miss for me, but I thought this one was pretty consistently solid, with some stand-out stories that I know will haunt me for a long time, and some that I will want to revisit each spooky season. The various ways that the authors chose to interpret Shirley Jackson’s sensibilities is really fun. Some have a delightful mid-century nostalgia to them. Some are just eerie enough that you know something uncanny is going on, but it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what. Some have that dreamy, slightly philosophical air to them that both intrigues and unsettles. My favorites include “For Sale by Owner” by Elizabeth Hand, which is an unconventional haunted house story. “Hag” by Benjamin Percy had me convinced that it’s never wise to visit an island in the off-season. “Refinery Road” by Stephen Graham Jones had a twist that made me re-read the story as soon as I’d finished. “Special Meal” by Josh Malerman reminded me of “The Lottery” in a way no story ever has, while also being its own delightful, dark thing. And I am forever and always going to read anything Kelly Link writes, so her closing story, “Skinder’s Veil” was everything I hoped it’d be and more, with beautiful language and a beautiful full circle plot.

I highly recommend picking up this book if you’d like to wade into some unsettling, creepy, but not necessarily hardcore horror stories for the month! I imagine these will be perfect stories to read right before bed on a cold, dark October night!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, the Insiders Read Harder podcast, 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 you should add to your TBR pile or nightstand or hidden stack under the bed, right away!

Over the past few months, I have quickly gone from, “Short stories? Eh, I will try them” to “Short stories? Gimme and don’t talk to me till I am done.” I am not sure what has brought about this change; maybe the fact that I have been learning more about the craft of short story writing, or the fact that 20 pages in one go is all that I can manage right now. We’ll see, the jury’s still out.

But, the fact remains that for the past few months I have been making my way through all the short story collections from my shelf including Vampires in the Lemon Grove, The Office of Historical Corrections, and Her Body and Other Parties.

It is here when I stumbled on my next pick.

Book Cover for Salt Slow

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

When I finished reading Her Body and Other Parties, I was ravenous for more. This short story collection by Armfield was what I was hearing came pretty close, and so, I began.

The title of this collection speaks volumes about the stories contained within the 208 pages. “Salt Slow,” to slowly salt, salt a wound deep within, until there’s just a stinging pain that is going nowhere.

That is what each of the stories in this collection feels like. Our first story begins with a young girl talking about a skin condition that is characteristic of adolescence. As our story progresses, our narrator talks about her skin barely keeping her organs together, slowly shedding under her shirt, and that’s when the ground slips from beneath you and you start to wonder what’s going on.

In the next story, each person’s Sleep exits their body and exists as a separate entity living a life parallel to their owner. People start talking about how they can’t eat with their Sleep watching and find themselves falling in love with their Sleep, all the while being unable to go to sleep, ever.

The strangeness of the stories is so authentic, so final, that you start to think the reality you currently reside in is the problem. From the title story about the end of the world to a story about a person who has trouble moving on when their lover pays them a visit from the afterlife, these stories are brimming with the kind of writing and storytelling that make you want to read your book all at once, and not at all (for fear you will run out of course).

In the end, apart from highly recommending this, I have to say it filled the gap I was looking to fill after Machado’s brilliant collection.


Come tell me what you thought of this pick on Twitter, @JavedNusrah.

Happy Reading
Nusrah