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Books Releasing This November

Hey y'all!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.

The Books

Novel: Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | GoodreadsRelease Date: November 6, 2018Publisher: 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 | GoodreadsRelease Date: November 6, 2018Publisher: 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 | GoodreadsRelease Date: November 6, 2018Publisher: HarperTeen

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 | GoodreadsRelease Date: November 13, 2018Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

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 | GoodreadsRelease Date: November 27, 2018Publisher: Disney-HyperionTake 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.

Which books are y'all looking forward to?

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Horror Books I'd Actually Read

Hey y'all!It's Grace, hopefully soaking in the days before the best day of the year!!! but realistically probably studying for exams. Getting older makes Halloween less fun because it's harder to get swept up in the magic of everything. I'm too health-conscious to gorge myself on candy, all my costumes revolve around either date functions or whatever the school happens to be doing, and homework is too involved for me to have Hocus Pocus on in the background.But I'm determined to make it feel like the holiday this year. Go full-out. So, horror books feel like the way to go.I get freaked out by anything that's too scary, or just gruesome. It's not so much that I dislike the idea of being scared, but some details just seem too extra. Like, did you really have to go there? In my head, there's a difference between well-constructed eerie versus gross and twisted. Give me atmosphere!So without further ado, here are some horror picks I'd actually read.Novel: It by Stephen King | GoodreadsRelease Date: November 18, 1990Publisher: Viking (PRH)

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered, a good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, It lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each person’s deepest dread. Sometimes It reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of It was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until the grown-up children were called back, once more to confront It as It stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.Frightening, epic, and brilliant, Stephen King’s It is one of the greatest works of a true storytelling master.

I would love to read It. First of all, I need to read a Stephen King book in order to feel satisfied about myself as a reader. For another, the movie was filmed in the small town we go to in Canada every summer, so it'd be nice to feel connected to that. Also, I can deal with clowns. It won't destroy me as a human being to read.Novel: House of Furies by Madeleine Roux | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 30, 2017Publisher: HarperTeen

An all-new gothic horror series from the New York Times bestselling author of Asylum.After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved.Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?Featuring stunning interior illustrations from artist Iris Compiet, plus photo-collages that bring Coldthistle House to chilling life, House of Furies invites readers to a world where the line between monsters and men is ghostly thin.

To say that I want this book almost exclusively based on the cover would be startlingly accurate. Still, I rarely read historical fiction, and when I do, there's normally some horror element involved. I love the idea of there being a sinister kind of boardinghouse. And all the reviews I've read cite atmosphere as what makes it work, so it's definitely up my alley.Novel: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys (edited by April Genevieve Tucholke) | GoodreadsRelease Date: August 18, 2015Publisher: PRH

For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.Fans of TV’s The Walking Dead, True Blood, and American Horror Story will tear through tales by these talented authors:Stefan BachmannLeigh BardugoKendare BlakeA. G. HowardJay KristoffMarie LuJonathan MaberryDanielle PaigeCarrie RyanMegan ShepherdNova Ren SumaMcCormick TemplemanApril Genevieve TucholkeCat Winters

I've started reading short stories more often than I used to, but I haven't yet applied that to the YA sphere. I think normally the spirit of YA that I like -- absorbing -- doesn't entirely translate to the short story taste I have because there's not as much time to settle in. Still, especially since it's horror, I could use a sampler of stories curated by one of my favorite writers, April Genevieve Tucholke. The cover is a little alarming, and the list of writers is top-notch.Novel: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff | GoodreadsRelease Date: September 21, 2010Publisher: Razorbill (PRH)

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Just look at that cover. One of the most haunting ones I've seen in young adult -- also, reminds me very much of Wednesday Addams. I love the idea of a changeling, traditionally associated with fantasy, crossing over into straight-up horror. Also, I feel like that transition could be good for me because it'll be associated with dark elegance rather than anything too macabre. I read Brenna Yovanoff's Paper Valentine and loved it for a good dose of chilly horror, so I'd very much so read her earlier novel.

What horror books do y'all like?

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Halloween Books for EXACTLY the Vibe You Want

Hey y'all!It's Grace here to talk about my FAVORITE time to read. To be fair, I start reading/prepping for Halloween in July just because I'm so psyched. And when I'm on Black Island, surrounded by all the creaky wood and old photos, it seems like the perfect time to start reading horror books.I love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday, probably because I love paranormal and odd books. I love the shivery-ness of it, and the childlike excitement. The candy and the dimming lights and oooh.Plus, autumn is such a lovely time of year. While I hate the dead of winter, autumn is when I'm actually experiencing the fresh joy of putting on a chunky sweater for the first time in a while. Watching the leaves change, running around the streets of Lexington. Last year, one of my friends and I went to the drive-in theater on a night when they were trick-or-treating -- and passed out Milky Ways to the kids going from car to car. Adorable.Although some people might not love Halloween as much as I do, I figured I'd put together a reading vibe with a book to capture each side of the holiday.I've done a ton of variations on this post, and lots of them mention the titles without going into depth. So here you go.When I was a kid and used to go trick-or-treating, my sister and I would come home at the end of the night and dump out all our candy to sort by type. It was methodical and organized -- and we were usually covered in glitter, with a cheesy Halloween movie playing in the background. I'd be lying if I said I weren't still weak for Halloweentown.These are books to capture the fun bits of Halloween. The putting up fake cobwebs and shopping for Halloween and everything orange and black. School parties! Scouring for costumes. All the gimmicky, louder-than-life stuff.For this feeling, I picked several fun, indulgent reads that sparkle despite having a little bit of that paranormal edge.Novel: Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez | GoodreadsRelease Date: September 1, 2008Publisher: HMH TeenWelcome to Nightshade, California—a small town full of secrets. It’s home to the pyschic Giordano sisters, who have a way of getting mixed up in mysteries. During their investigations, they run across everything from pom-pom-shaking vampires to shape-shifting boyfriends to a clue-spewing jukebox. With their psychic powers and some sisterly support, they can crack any case!Teenage girls are being mysteriously attacked all over town, including at Nightshade High School, where Daisy Giordano is a junior. When Daisy discovers that a vampire may be the culprit, she can’t help but suspect head cheerleader Samantha Devereaux, who returned from summer break with a new “look.” Samantha appears a little . . . well, dead, and all the most popular kids at school are copying her style.Is looking dead just another fashion trend for Samantha, or is there something more sinister going on? To find out, Daisy joins the cheerleading squad.One of the best parts of Halloween is also it feeling like fall for the first time, really. Last year, I went to Providence and spent the weekend with one of my best friends. The sun set early and red, we ate pumpkin pancakes, and we wore a lot of brown. I also love the coziness of being in Lexington and the air smelling spicy -- spending a night with a blanket and a good book. But then again, I drink apple cider tea year round.Or, although I love where I ended up, I miss doing college visits so much. I loved layering up for autumn (being Floridian) and getting pumpkin spice lattes from funky little shops in cities I tried to picture myself in.So here are some books if you want a more crisp vibe. Think a little bit of schoolhouse thrown in there. Those days when I'm grateful to live in a small town and have a cozy, condensed life.(This year, I'm making it one of my goals to be more in the moment -- to relish the holidays while I have them. Fully planning on baking pumpkin bread while I watch a creepy movie marathon.)Novel: Conversion by Katherine Howe| GoodreadsRelease Date: July 1, 2014Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The CrucibleIt’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Timesbestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

And then, finally, there's the final vibe: the dark, Gothic spine of Halloween. If you're in it for the thrill, these are for you. Haunting feels. The actual part of Halloween as a holiday.For these books, I picked some chilling horror or thriller books that hit the spot for those who aren't satisfied with dancing around the subject. If you want something to scare you, or unsettle you with a spot-on eerie atmosphere, this is for you.Novel: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé | Goodreads Release Date: August 7, 2018Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Something is wrong with Marianne.It's not just that her parents have split up, or that life hasn't been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.She's losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close.Something is after her. But a first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing's rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. And Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it think it's owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

Looking for more? Check out posts I've done in previous years -- like this one, or this one!

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Feel-Good Books for Tough Weeks

Hey y'all!It's Grace today, here in the midst of midterms and a bit of chaos. As a whole, I'm an optimist, but I'm guilty of letting little things pile up when I'm having a rough go. Although I have a lot of blessings, the beginning of October hasn't been the easiest. The skies have been gray, the work has been hard, and some things have just frankly not gone my way. So I wanted to put together a happy list of books that always pick me up when I'm a little down. I hope these can put a smile on your face if you're in the same slump I am!I wrote another post like this in April 2017 when I was also dying a little bit, but here are some updated picks and reminders.Novel: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills | GoodreadsRelease Date: December 5, 2017Format: ARCSource: Publisher

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Emma Mills is a go-to author because she writes feel-good books. These aren't to be confused with fluffy books in which characters act against human instinct in order to further the plot. Her characters are real, flawed, and wonderful people who just happen to get themselves into tough situations. Furthermore, the heroes are all KIND. Something about the blend of humor, romance, and wholesome voice just sticks with me, and reminds me of the type of person I'd like to be. Plus, they're entertaining and phenomenal reads! Her books feel so full.Novel: You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein | GoodreadsRelease Date: July 12, 2016Publisher: Grand Central PublishingFormat: PaperbackSource: Bought

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER! YOU'LL GROW OUT OF IT hilariously, and candidly, explores the journey of the twenty-first century woman.As both a tomboy and a late bloomer, comedian Jessi Klein grew up feeling more like an outsider than a participant in the rites of modern femininity.In YOU'LL GROW OUT OF IT, Klein offers - through an incisive collection of real-life stories - a relentlessly funny yet poignant take on a variety of topics she has experienced along her strange journey to womanhood and beyond. These include her "transformation from Pippi Longstocking-esque tomboy to are-you-a-lesbian-or-what tom man," attempting to find watchable porn, and identifying the difference between being called "ma'am" and "miss" ("Miss" sounds like you weigh ninety-nine pounds).Raw, relatable, and consistently hilarious, YOU'LL GROW OUT OF IT is a one-of-a-kind book by a singular and irresistible comic voice.

I'm terrible at seeking out laughter for myself. I don't know what strains of humor I find funny unless I hear them -- just under the vague umbrella of "clever" -- and normally just rely on others to tell me which stand up comics I'll like. I picked up Jessi Klein's book on a whim, despite having not-so-great luck with comedians' books, and found myself head over heels. I wasn't expecting the powerful mix of hilarity and truth. She knows when to dig deeper, to acknowledge dark subjects, while still keeping an upbeat and thoroughly enjoyable tone. Huge fan of the range of topics and the grace in which she handles them. I recommended this book to pretty much every person I knew last year.Novel: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 9, 2006Publisher: Knopf Books for Young ReadersFormat: PaperbackSource: Gifted

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.

I actually read Saving Francesca this year and wrote about it in my mid year favorites post this summer. I put it off for a while because I knew that a Marchetta book would possibly wreck me. Jellicoe Road is one of my favorites. There are lines in it that speak to the plain loneliness of certain situations and also to the enduring spirit of Francesca in the face of a lot of hardships. It's coming-of-age at its finest and most resilient. And it's a lovely read, truly.

“Why do I feel as if something’s missing in my life without them and they don’t feel the same about me? That doesn’t make them bad, does it?”

Novel: Letters from Rapunzel by Sarah Lewis Holmes | GoodreadsRelease Date: March 1, 2007Publisher: HarperCollinsFormat: HardcoverSource: Bought

Once upon a time, there was a girl. Let's call her Rapunzel. A modern-day version. Abandoned. Alone. Waiting for her hair to grow and dreaming of a way to escape from her tower. She was trapped, you see. Not in the conventional fairy-tale way--this was the dreaded after-school Homework Club. A desolate place, where no gum could be chewed, and where Rapunzel sat day after day, cursing the evil spell that had been cast over her father. The doctors called it something else, but a true heroine can smell an evil spell a mile away. So when a mysterious letter addressed to P.O. Box #5667 falls into her hands, she knows she's found the pea under her mattress. But since when is finding happily ever after as simple as Just Writing Back?Winner of the Ursula Nordstrom Fiction Contest, Sara Lewis Holmes's enchanting debut novel is a breath of fresh air. Told through letters, with a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust, Rapunzel's quest for a happy ending gives every reader something to believe in.

I am obviously a huge fan of kids' books. I believe in their enduring helpfulness, even as an (almost) adult. They have a way of boiling things down and not overthinking, and also, they can hit you at exactly the right time. I read this book when I was in 4th grade and still filching it from my class's library -- before finally buying my own copy. I've lost the dust jacket and certain pages are warped from having read it in the bathtub growing up. It's a book with memories. It's imaginative and sweet without being cloying.It somehow nails particular struggles that you feel when you're young, and the ways you find comfort in other things. (And I find a lot of comfort in it whenever I'm feeling down and need to be centered again.) If you're having a tough time, read a book you loved as a kid.

Quick Picks

raw and heart-wrenching poetry, often sparse enough to be unaffected and not corny (but still vivid)

laugh-until-you-cry funny with some real truths about rough times

sobering: reminds us what we're here for, and how to live meaningful lives (even when it feels like you don't have your shit together!)

a fun and giddy daydream of a read, but with a grounded main character who keeps her cool in a way that's enormously refreshing for a 'beach read'

What books do y'all go to when you're in a funk?

 

listsGraceComment
Books Releasing This October

Hey y'all!Grace here, ready and excited to start my favorite month of the school year. For clarity, I love October. It's when you start to feel settled into school, when you have a comfortable rhythm and an idea of which challenges (and joys) you'll be facing. It's when the leaves really start changing, when you inhale apple cider with just about every meal, when runs get that crispy air to them.In October, I almost exclusively read horror and dark fantasy. I want my reads with a paranormal edge, to make me think that there's a veil and some things we just really aren't seeing. I love scouting for books that will feel good to be curled up with, to look forward to a night of costumes and pumpkins. In case you haven't guessed, Halloween is my favorite holiday.This year, I've taken on the task of highlighting releases I'm psyched for in a given month. It both gives WLS a little structure during my off times (as this is when I start to get pretty busy), and allows me to shed some light on the modern book industry when I occasionally get on a reading binge that has me stuck in 2009. Without further ado, here are five titles releasing this month that I want you to put in your calendars!

The Books

Novel: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 2, 2018Publisher: HarperTeen (B&B)

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.

I love the idea of a very classic fairy tale. When I think of dragons and damsels in YA, well, there hasn't been much coverage. While I normally hate amnesiac storylines, this is a situation in which it actually works -- allowing the writer to show a deeper story behind our usual "she got saved by the prince" narrative. I'm thrilled.Novel: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 2, 2018Publisher: Katherine Tegen

Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor.A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh; and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.But then a small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money to make the trip.Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

I listened to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue on audio, so it dulled my interest a few times, but I loved the fresh take on historical fiction. There are only a couple books that have captivated me historically -- which makes no sense, since I'm a history major! -- and those are few and far between. I would love to read the second in this installment, and it makes the era sexy again in a way that I know many of my readers would enjoy.Novel: Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 9, 2018Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

Anna-Marie McLemore writes elegant magical realism that fleshes out modern day discussions revolving around gender and sexuality. I can capture her writing style in one line, because she is that distinctive as a writer. I'm currently in the middle of Blanca & Roja, and will have finished it by the time this post goes up. I love her detail, her cultural infusions, her delicacy in characters who are still strong. She also does a great job with family dynamics and rivalries. She's worth checking out, and this book is too.Novel: Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 2, 2018Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.Who are the Sawkill Girls?Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Literally if you put "beware the woods" in any book's synopsis, I will read it -- and probably love it, to be honest. I've also read books by Claire LeGrand before, and loved it. I love that this synopsis is straight-up setting. I love that as a whole, it's a bit unsettling. Everyone who has raved about it has said it's perfect for Halloween, which means that I'm buying it immediately.Novel: The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 2, 2018Publisher: FSG (Macmillan)

A dark and gorgeously drawn standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory. Won in a major six-house auction!Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling—and who gets to be the storyteller. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

I'm in the middle of The Boneless Mercies right now and it's a bit slower than April Genevieve Tucholke's previous works. That being said, she has a grasp of language that's truly talent, and she weaves dark (but strangely comforting) worlds filled with crackling tension. It feels like a ballad in a lot of ways, and I'm excited to see what she does later in the book.

Which books are y'all excited for?

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