It’s Grace (shocker.) Although I’m writing this over the summer — while the humidity is still soupy, the afternoons are stormy, and everything is fresh and beachy — I’m looking forward to being at school in the fall. By November, I’m usually pretty stressed, but happy; life has gotten busier and the nights have gotten just a little too cold for my liking. As this goes up, I’ll hopefully have accomplished some of my major fall goals. I’ll have run a half marathon in Baltimore!
November is nice because W&L gets a whole week off for Thanksgiving — a luxurious swath of time in my hometown. Last year, I was a debutante (which makes one of the releases that I’ll highlight that much more relevant.) This year, I plan on hunkering down with a stack of books and enjoying time with the family, before they all split off to various endeavors.
Novel: Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | Goodreads
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Freeform (Disney)
“I’m not saying this is Sawyer’s fault,” the prim and proper one said delicately. “But.”
Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.
Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.
Few authors nail the “feel good” vibe that Jennifer Lynn Barnes does. It’s like an Ally Carter book (if that means anything to you Gallagher Girls aficionados): rife with tension, refreshing, and often times drily witty. It’s intense, but also has all the tropes thrown into it that I love most. And I’ve complained for a long time that YA is lacking books with good Southern atmosphere. This book has it all and I loved it. Whether you’re a fan of mysteries, or contemporaries, it serves up delicious aspects of both. It has a great mix of girliness and rebellion.
Novel: The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson | Goodreads
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.
In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.
Y’all are about to see a LOT of this book on the blog, because it’s one of the titles I’m championing this year. I loved it. Every bit. I waited to read it because Erica Barmash (one of my favorite bookish folks) told me it was right up my alley, and used comp titles that were my favorite books.
It’s a little strange, a LOT atmospheric, and clever. There’s a wispiness to it and an elegance that is so hard to pull off, and the subplots are marvelously subtle. The tension builds excellently. So much about it feels superb, and distinct. It’s creepy, and lovely. It feels familiar, with an edge similar to those 2014 paranormal books I loved so much, but only in a way that I crave — not in a way that feels tired. I love love loved it.
Novel: This Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow | Goodreads
Release Date: November 6, 2018
It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.
Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?
Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.
It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?
But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.
Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks — what will you fight for, if not yourself?
Although I haven’t gotten the chance to read this one myself, This Is What It Feels Like looks like a fun and invigorating contemporary. Add in a battle of the bands and a complicated friend group, and I’m sold. In the reviews that I’ve read, each mentions that each of the multiple perspectives are well-developed and have different voices, which is hard enough to pull off. A pick-me-up of a book.
Novel: The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston | Goodreads
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees’ retirement accounts, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.
Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father’s crimes. It’s bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac–and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.
Owen’s only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets–and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past–and write a better future.
When I was in New Orleans, I picked up this book almost exclusively based on the fact that it took place in Louisiana. I loved how characteristic the city was, how big of a personality it contained. Picking up a book promising to convey that seemed like a good gesture. My sister has read this one and liked it; I haven’t gotten around to it quite yet, but it seems like a go-to for when I’m itching for a mystery.
The small town setting; a charming pecan orchard; secrets and gossip and Southern roots. Every review I’ve seen has been four or five stars, praising a satisfying mystery and full characterization.
Novel: Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm | Goodreads
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . .
Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.
Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.
Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.
Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.
As a whole, the cover doesn’t appeal to me. It makes it seem cutesy, and fluffy. Which, for the record, I would not be opposed to, seeing as it’s a baking competition set in Paris. When I was in Athens in August, the guy I was visiting and I spent most of our time on the couch watching Cutthroat Kitchen, so I can really get behind that. Ambitious enemies-to-lovers story? Yes. Indulgent.