Sunday, January 31, 2021

A Month In The Life: January 2021



And just like that, we've made it through the first month of 2021! Legislative session somehow starts tomorrow already, so the next 120 days are about to be an entirely new way, since we won't be on site at least at the beginning here. It may be a new year, but it wasn't much different than the past 10 months have been, as we continued to stay home and wait for our turn at the vaccine. As healthy adults working in non-essential professions, we're likely near the end of the line and that's okay! But even as terrified of needles as I am, when I'm up I will happily put my arm out!

In Books...

  • The Wife Upstairs: This is a spin on Jane Eyre, which is a classic I really like but did not read for the first time until I was an adult so I don't feel a strong sentimental attachment to. I found this Southern-tinged, thriller-type take on it to be fun but ultimately kind of hollow. The twists were not hard to see coming, and though it was definitely a page-turner there's not a lot of there there. A great plane/beach read!
  • The Satanic Verses: I wanted to read this both because Midnight's Children was great and its own notoriety. It's interesting, because while Rushdie's debut felt like a more technically accomplished book, I thought this one (his fourth) demonstrated real growth in storytelling prowess. I enjoyed reading it more even as its flaws (including just way too many characters) were obvious. 
  • Go, Went, Gone: I had some mixed but ultimately positive feelings about this book, which tells the story of Richard, a recently retired classics professor in Berlin who finds himself drawn into the world of a group of African refugees in the city. I wish there was more time given to the perspective of the refugees themselves, but there was some interesting development of themes about borders, about time, and about choices.
  • On Hitler's Mountain: This is a memoir from a woman about her girlhood in a small mountain community very close to Hitler's Eagle's Nest before, during, and after World War 2, and while I can be picky about memoir I do tend to enjoy those by people who lived through important historical events. So I did appreciate this, which is well-constructed and interesting, though I wished there had been more information about the author's later childhood/early adulthood years.
  • Murder on the Orient Express: I'd never read Agatha Christie before, which was a MISTAKE. I really enjoyed this tightly-plotted, clever mystery with fantastic dialogue. Mysteries in general have generally not been my favorite but this was a very entertaining book and I appreciated its quick, efficient storytelling that made it feel like not a word was wasted!
  • The Sea: I wanted to find this novel lackluster after reading that its author, John Banville, made snooty comments after he won the Booker Prize that the Booker usually goes to "middlebrow" novels. Unfortunately, it's actually very good, with beautiful prose and packing a real emotional punch despite being less than 200 pages long.
  • All Girls: I'm a sucker for a boarding-school novel, so this book (which releases in February) about an all-girls school dealing with the aftermath of a resurfaced sex scandal seemed promising. Unfortunately, its multiple-perspective structure kept it from ever settling in or developing momentum, and the Layden indulges in rhetorical devices that make it obvious she's not confident enough that her writing is making its own points by underlining them.


In Life...

  • Getting ready for (virtual) session: As to be expected during a global pandemic, for an occurrence that drives hundreds of people to regularly cram into a building for four months, our legislative session will be virtual at least to start. I do have to admit that I won't miss making the 40-minute commute to Carson City, over several bridges that often freeze over, during the month of February (but do hope we make it eventually)!

One Thing:

Looking around here, it should be pretty obvious that I'm not much of a romance reader...and I haven't been much into romantically-focused movies or TV either. But I figured I would give Bridgerton a try on Netflix after hearing some raves and I wound up really enjoying it! Even if it doesn't seem like your thing, I would encourage you to give it a shot, it's fun and dishy!

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Book 269: We Are Not Ourselves

"She wanted to be in one of those scenes in the windows, frozen in time, in the faultless harmony of parts working in concert, fulfilling the plan of a guiding, designing hand. It would be lovely not to have to make every decision in life, to be part of a spectacle brought out once a year, for the safest of seasons, and put to work amusing people who stared back in mute appreciation. The real world was so messy, the light imperfect, the paint chipped, the happiness only partial."

Dates read: October 15-21, 2018

Rating: 4/10

It can be tempting to think that you can buy your way to happiness. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a little section of her closet devoted to the things that seemed so right when they were purchased and never quite panned out. There's a rush that comes with hitting the "check out" button, in triumphantly carting your finds up to the register. The little buzz of acquisition. It hits the reward centers in our brains.

It's that intrinsic feedback loop that makes humans such good little consumers, and of course Western culture has figured out how to play off that susceptibility expertly. It's no mistake that the much-vaunted American Dream is ultimately the pursuit of...stuff. Homes, cars, the latest toys for the kids. With her hardscrabble childhood, it's no wonder that Eileen Tumulty, protagonist of Matthew Thomas' We Are Not Ourselves, gives in completely to the siren song of that American Dream. Her Irish immigrant parents are poor and both struggle with addiction, but raise Eileen to set her sights higher. Indeed, as she grows up, she becomes almost paralyzingly envious of anyone who gets the access to privileges she herself longs for. She dreams of marrying rich to allow her to live a life of ease, but can't stand any of the men who could make this happen. Instead, she falls for a brilliant young scientist, Ed Leary, and they're hopeful for a bright future together.

But a bright future looks different to each of them. Eileen despairs when Ed turns down opportunities to go into pharmaceutical development or be promoted into administration, seeking only to be a good teacher to the community college students who enter his classroom. They have a child, Connell, and eventually buy the multi-family home in which they live, but it's not enough for Eileen. As they approach 50, she becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a new home, just for them, in a fancier (read: whiter) neighborhood of New York City. So obsessed, in fact, that she ignores her husband's increasingly odd behavior. Once she's finally managed to buy them a fixer-upper in the right zip code, she can't ignore it anymore: something is very wrong with Ed. Something that threatens to tear their family apart.

I'm usually a sucker for a family saga, especially one that immerses itself in one central character over time. And the portrait Thomas paints of Eileen feels real. She's very much a product of her childhood and her culture. Aging is no guarantee of personal growth, and while she does make some minor self-modifications, she remains consistent at her core. That's about all the praise I can offer this novel. Because while Eileen feels real and well-characterized, she's also deeply unpleasant and honestly boring. I'm not a person who needs characters to be likable in order to appreciate a book, but I do need them to be interesting. Eileen's concerns are so petty and small and pedestrian, and she's so personally cold (almost every reference she makes to her only child is as "the boy", with virtually no affection), that she's just tedious to spend time with.

And since the book is almost entirely from her perspective, that's a problem. We do get some portions from Connell, but his characterization is nowhere as good as Eileen's, and I think the book would have been stronger without those chapters entirely. The person from whom we never hear, and who I found myself the most interested in, was Ed himself. Why did he stay with Eileen? A sense of duty to keep the family together while their son grew up? I can understand that his perspective during his decline would have been difficult to write, but he never quite made sense to me even before. And once his decline begins, the book turns into tragedy porn. I think the reader is meant to feel for Eileen, but she'd been built up as a shallow, grasping asshole so thoroughly by that point that even her devotion to Ed didn't redeem her. Thomas had plenty of ambition here, with the scope and scale of the book he wanted to write, but he came nowhere close to achieving it. His skill with prose and characterization are real, but he undermined himself with the character he created. All I could think at the end was how much I hated her and how glad I was to be done reading about her. Needless to say, I do not recommend this book. 

One year ago, I was reading: Perfume

Two years ago, I was reading: Hausfrau

Three years ago, I was reading: Mansfield Park

Four years ago, I was reading: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Five years ago, I was reading: Creative Mythology

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week it's time to look back again, at the authors we read for the first time last year. I am always a little embarrassed about these, there are so many great authors I've still never read!


Chang-Rae Lee: I'd heard good things about his work even before his Native Speaker was selected for my book club, and I'm really excited to read more from him because I thought that book was very good.

Jennifer Egan: I actually had kind of mixed feelings about A Visit From The Goon Squad (mostly related to my ongoing resentment about being tricked into reading books of short stories that call themselves novels), but thought highly enough of her actual writing that I'll read more from her.

Zadie Smith: I finally got to White Teeth, which I'd had recommended to me for ages, in 2020 and it was just as good as I had been lead to believe. I'm definitely planning to read her other books!

Jo Nesbo: I did not read one of his acclaimed Harry Hole novels, but the standalone The Son, but I'll honestly say I was not particularly impressed and am unlikely to read more from him. 

Laila Lalami: The Moor's Account was an interesting book club choice, there was a lot to digest there, and I found her a strong enough storyteller that her other books, which were already on my to-read list, are still there!

Isabel Allende: Daughter of Fortune is a book I've seen frequently enough in thrift stores (which is absolutely where I picked up my own copy) that I wondered if maybe it wasn't actually that good and that's why people give their copies away? Nope, it was very good and entertaining and House of Spirits is next up from her for me.

Christopher Hibbert: I love royal histories and he writes quite a lot of them. His book on the Borgias was competent...informative, certainly, but not really told with a strong sense of narrative, so while I'll read the other ones he's done that I already have, I probably won't buy more from him. 

Philip Roth: He's one of those authors that's a big enough deal that you feel like you should read, and my best friend loved The Human Stain, so I tried it and it did not work for me. I actually do still want to read a couple other Roths but I am going to be very judicious about them going forward. 

John Green: I don't read much young adult anymore, but he'd been praised quite a bit and so this year I picked up Looking for Alaska. I did not find it incredible, but did think it was solid YA and I'll read more from him probably!

Rebecca Solnit: I found her feminist essay collection Men Explain Things To Me to be fascinating and resonant. I am definitely going to be reading more of her essays, as well as her other nonfiction!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Book 268: Prep

"The big occurrences in life, the serious ones, have for me always been nearly impossible to recognize because they never feel big or serious. In the moment, you have to pee, your arm itches, or what people are saying strikes you as melodramatic or sentimental, and it's hard not to smirk. You have a sense of what this type of situation should be like - for one thing, all-consuming - and this isn't it. But then you look back, and it was that; it did happen."

Dates read: October 10-15, 2018

Rating: 8/10

Lists/awards: The New York Times best-seller

Every once in a while I'll be just doing something normal, sitting on the couch or researching something at work, and a memory of something embarrassing I did in high school will run across my mind. Though I graduated nearly two decades ago now, and I'm almost certainly the only person that still remembers some of these things, I'll still blush. I know adults like to tell teenagers that high school doesn't matter, but if we're honest with ourselves, I think a lot of us would admit that not all of those wounds from those four years have completely healed over.

Like many middle-class middle Americans, I've always been kind of both mystified and fascinated by the idea of prep school. What do the children of the wealthy get up to? It is exactly middle-class middle America (South Bend, specifically) that Lee Fiora of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep hails from. She impulsively applied to the exclusive Ault School, outside of Boston, and her middle school grades earn her a scholarship. Once she gets there, though, she doesn't know quite how to proceed fitting into her new milieu. She feels awkward, uncomfortable, and very much like an outsider among her privileged classmates.

Lee does eventually make at least some friends, but continues to struggle both socially and academically as time progresses. She nurses a long-burning crush on Cross Sugarman, the most popular guy in her class. She becomes more and more estranged from her family and roots in the Midwest. She is desperately, achingly self-conscious about everything, and possesses no more ability to articulate exactly what it is she wants than to do anything as drastic as taking steps to get it. So when a national newspaper reporter is looking for interview subjects for a piece on what boarding school is really like and reaches out to Lee right before graduation, her decision to talk about her experience winds up being part of what colors the whole thing for her in retrospect.

This was often a difficult book to read. Not because it was bad (it was in fact very good), but because Sittenfeld is so good at recreating that agonizing mental experience of being an adolescent. Lee wants so much to be liked, accepted, popular, but she can't get out of her own way. She passively observes her classmates, so afraid to be thought of as annoying or stupid or dorky that she can barely interact with them even when they're receptive to her. Being trapped inside her head while reading reminded me so much of being trapped inside the darker corners of my own head during high school that I had to put the book down even when I was into it. It's brilliant in that way, and (appropriately, given Sittenfeld's own experience in prep school both as a student and as a teacher) in nailing the little nuances of the upper class. The names alone (Cross, Aspeth, Horton, Gaines) are dead-on.

While the atmosphere and writing quality are excellent, the book does have plotting and characterization issues that hold it back from being great. Sittenfeld tells Lee's story through just a brief stretch of time during each semester as she goes through school. It leaves a lot of gaps, and I found myself wondering what exactly Lee did each summer when she went home...the one time we follow her back to Indiana for a winter break we get a picture of some deep-seated conflict that I would have been interested in seeing explored more. And it leads to only getting little slices of characters that should be important, like Lee's best friend Martha. Despite the closeness Lee relates and we're clearly meant to understand, the reader gets almost no sense of who Martha is or the usual way in which they interact, getting just a handful of conversations between them. It's frustrating, and keeps the book feeling just-a-bit underbaked. It's an interesting, compelling book, and a clear indicator of significant talent in its author, but its flaws are real. I'd recommend this book, though it does have sexual content that might mean a more immature teen reader might not be ready for it.

One year ago, I was reading: Mozart in the Jungle

Two years ago, I was reading: A Tale for the Time Being

Three years ago, I was reading: An American Marriage

Four years ago, I was reading: Snow

Five years ago, I was reading: Creative Mythology

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: 2020 Releases Still High On My Priority List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, we're looking back into 2020 a bit, at books that came out last year that we still really want to read. Because I read so much backlist, I've always got books still on my list when the year changes over, so here are ten books that I have ARCs for but haven't had a chance to read yet and really am looking forward to!

Sharks in the Time of Saviors: This Hawaiian family epic got good reviews and I haven't read any books that have a basis in Hawaiian folklore and am interested in doing so, so this seems like something I'd enjoy!

Chosen Ones: The trope of "the chosen one", particularly a teenage one, is a familiar one in fantasy media, but usually the story ends shortly after they've achieved their destiny. This book explores what happens afterwards to five people who saved the world when they were younger, and I think that sounds like an interesting thing to explore!

A Children's Bible: I've heard great things from people who read this dystopian/post-apocalyptic story about a group of children who run away from their families and find themselves in biblical situations. 

Boys of Alabama: A little bit of Southern Gothic, a little bit of magical realism, a little bit of an LGBT story, a little bit of coming of age...which sounds like a recipe I'll really enjoy!

Thin Girls: I'll read anything Roxane Gay tells me to, and this book about twin sisters and their relationships with food seems super interesting.

You Again: A woman in her mid-40s, with a stable life and family, thinks she sees her younger self on the street and becomes obsessed with tracking her down as her life starts to come apart, which seems like my kind of twisty!

Who Is Alex Trebek?: Trebek's own memoir got most of the press, but a biography of him also came out last year and I am really curious to see how they compare and contrast. 

Against The Loveless World: This book looks at radicalization through the life of a woman trying to make a better life against the background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I am really intrigued by it!

We Keep The Dead Close: This is nonfiction about a murder that took place at Harvard in the late 60s, and the student who hears about it and starts investigating it, and I love me some dark academia so adding that to true crime is definitely something I want to read!

Here is the Beehive: An estate lawyer's client dying is not surprising. What is surprising is that the lawyer was having a long-term affair with that client, and finds herself drawn closer and closer to his widow in the aftermath of his death, and I am more drawn to antiheroes lately so this seems interesting!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book 267: The Library Book



"I was transfixed. It wasn’t that time stopped in the library. It was as if it were captured here, collected here, and in all libraries—and not only my time, my life, but all human time as well. In the library, time is dammed up—not just stopped but saved. The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever."

Dates read: October 6-10, 2018

Rating: 7/10

I don't remember the first time I went to the library. I'm sure I went quite often as a small child, but my first memories are of the Hamburg Township Library when I was probably about 8ish. There was a small market nearby to the original location, the one that was there for most of my childhood, and my mom would often drop me off to find a book while she took my sister and picked up some extra things for the week. As I got older, we'd spend more time at the library in Brighton, a neighboring bigger town with fancier facilities and wider selection. When my mom was mad at me for mouthing off, I'd be punished by being excluded from the next trip there. I can still conjure up in my mind the exact way the young readers section looked at Hamburg, the way the floors creaked. I remember how the nonfiction section smelled at Brighton, the older books with their distinctive aroma.

Like millions of people all over the world, I have a fond, deep attachment to libraries. Author and journalist Susan Orlean is one of those people who grew up loving the library, but found herself not visiting it as much as an adult. But then she had a kid, started visiting her local branch in Los Angeles, and found out for the first time about a major fire there in the 80s that burned hundreds of thousands of books...assumed to be arson, but never actually solved. This inspired her to write The Library Book, which explores not just that fire and the recovery afterwards, but also the history of the Los Angeles Public Library in general and the changing role of it (and other libraries) as the greater world has become a different place.

As you might be able to tell from that description, there's not one particularly strong focus for the book. The closest thing to a through-line is a true-crime-esque accounting of the investigation of the fire, and the primary suspect, a failed actor named Harry Peak. But along the way, Orlean touches on the history of libraries, especially the one in Los Angeles, highlighting several of the more interesting directors it has had along the way. While the image of a library in the popular consciousness tends to be of a somewhat stuffy institution, Orlean talks to librarians on the ground to get a more nuanced view, particularly about the role they play in coordinating community and social programming for their users, from children, to new Americans learning English, to the homeless. And she also includes input from the library staff that were there at the time of the fire, the way it impacted them, and how they and the library itself got back to normal.

Orlean's genuine appreciation and love for reading, books, and libraries shines through the text, making an instant connection with the reader. It's impossible to not happily recall your own wonder at the library the first time you went in and realized that all these books are just here, for anyone to take with them and read. And while it might not work for everyone, I found Orlean's subject-hopping to be kept any one portion from bogging down or getting boring. Her descriptions of how the Los Angeles Public Library came to be designed and built made me want to visit it, to see it for myself, and reflect on the ways that public good buildings like libraries have seen their value, in the eyes of the public, decline over the years. Older libraries were often constructed as grand, their mission seen as important and necessary. Nowadays, it's about how to keep costs down, aiming for sturdy functionality over inspiration.

The way Orlean unwinds her story may prove irritating to a reader who prefers a strictly linear narrative. And after spending quite a bit of time going down a path which makes you think she's relatively convinced of Peak's guilt for setting the library ablaze, she refuses to draw that conclusion, leaving it ambiguous in a way that could be frustrating for someone who really wants closure. But her storytelling skills are top-notch, and if you're willing to follow her, you'll be rewarded by a genuinely compelling work of non-fiction. While I'll admit it didn't have the little something extra that would have pushed it to "great" in my mind, it was very good and I happily and highly recommend it to everyone, especially those who love to read. 

One year ago, I was reading: Sin in the Second City

Two years ago, I was reading: Say Nothing

Three years ago, I was reading: Ghost Wars

Four years ago, I was reading: The Wars of the Roses

Five years ago, I was reading: The Woman Who Would Be King

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Resolutions for 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! It being the new year and all, this week we're talking about resolutions. I've decided to split mine up into five each, personal and bookish both!


Have a successful fifth session: February will mark the beginning of the fifth session I've spent working in government affairs, and though it will be a challenging one because of the pandemic, I'm ready to do my best!

Visit my new nephew: This will have to be after session at some point, which means I likely won't get to meet him until after he's six months old! I'm glad we've been able to facetime regularly with my sister so I've gotten to see him but I really want to meet the little guy in person!

Take vacations when it's safe: I made a trip to Michigan in the fall for my sister's baby shower, but that was the only time I've left Reno since last March. When it's safe to travel again, we are definitely going to spend more time out of town than we'd been doing!

Keep working out regularly: This is something I sometimes have a hard time with during sessions because of the scheduling difficulties that inevitably arise, but working out on a regular basis has been something that's been really important to me during the pandemic, both for my mental health and my physical health, so I want to keep it up as much as I can!

Watch more movies: I'm a former Blockbuster clerk, I used to watch so many movies! As I've focused more and more on books, though, I am now lucky to get to more than a dozen per year. I love movies, and I really want to focus on seeing more of them this year!


Read 75 books: I know, my actual goal is always 50. But I've got a lot of books to get through, and I've been able to get to at leas 75 for the past five years now, so here's hoping I can get there this year too.

Read fewer white men: I have passionately loved books written by white men, but I have also read quite a lot of them over the years. There are so many books in the world written by people who aren't white men, so I'm going to try to read more of them.

Buy fewer books: I own enough books. I own MORE than enough books. I don't need more (but I really, really want them!).

Get more involved with bookish social media: I've made this resolution before, but I really do want to be more engaged with the book community on social media, but my actual job requires so much social media engagement that it's difficult to find the time. I'm going to work on this more this year!

Talk about books with other people more: I'm in one book club (which has been meeting on Zoom these days, which is honestly not ideal), but I have plenty of friends not in that book club who like to read and I want to talk about books with them more often because talking about books makes me happy!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Book 266: The Fly Trap


"People sometimes call me for help in investigating the possibilities. I am a biologist, after all. Their projects are often said to have an environmental dimension—the infallible key to getting grants—so I’m considered a good person to talk to. When we were new out here, I used to say that I was a writer, but all the women on the island felt so sorry for my wife that I started insisting I was a biologist instead. What else could I do? And if you’re a biologist on an island widely known for its rich biosphere, you have to put up with a lot of phone calls from morons. They always seem to assume that I’m a moron myself."

Dates read: October 3-6, 2018

Rating: 7/10

For my dad, it's lizards. For my mom, hearts. For me, my book stockpiling has reached critical mass. Most of us collect something. And the rest of you can Marie Kondo your lives as many times as you like, you'll never convince me that the reason so many of us have so much stuff isn't that there's a primal human urge to gather. For most of us, it's just a side habit. But depending on your line of work, it can literally be your actual job!

If I had to come up with an insect that people collect, I'd get to butterflies, and maybe moths and dragonflies, before running out of ideas. Those are the good ones, right? But Fredrik Sjoberg catches and studies nothing so glamorous. Rather, near his home on a tiny Swedish island, he collects hoverflies. In case you, like me, have no idea what those are, they're large flies that look like bees. In The Fly Trap, he ruminates on a life devoted to an obscure bug, as well as the story of the man, Rene Malaise, who invented the fly trap with which he does most of his work.

Like me when this was announced as a selection for my book club, you might be extremely skeptical about the idea of a book about a guy who collects flies. I was very sure it would be either weird or boring or both. Surprise! It's delightful! Funny and smart! It feels like having a conversation with the slightly odd but very charming person sitting next to you on an airplane...there's a circuitousness to the narrative, with Sjoberg starting on one subject but getting sidetracked into another, but it's carried off with humor and verve. The way the narrative thread keeps looping also ensures that the pace is lively and it doesn't get bogged down anywhere.

There's also, as you realize when you get to the end, surprisingly little about Sjoberg himself. There's a remove to it that feels Scandinavian, very pleasant but ultimately very firmly impersonal. There's a lot about the nature of being a collector, pleasure of focusing your attention on one little small facet of the world and working inside that little niche, the thrills of finding something rare in your chosen field, the loneliness that can come from essentially solitary pursuits. It's thought-provoking in its own way, not in the heavy way that the term is usually used. This is a lightweight little snack of a book, enjoyable but not especially memorable in any way, and I would recommend it. Hey, at least now I know what a hoverfly is!

One year ago, I was reading: Queen of Scots

Two years ago, I was reading: The Winter of the Witch

Three years ago, I was reading: Ghost Wars

Four years ago, I was reading: American Heiress

Five years ago, I was reading: Mr. Splitfoot

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, it's my biannual least-favorite topic: upcoming releases I'm looking forward to! I always have a hard time with these, I really prefer to wait for reviews to start coming in before I decide what I'm really amped for. But here are ten that look good coming out before the end of June (all of which I am fortunate enough to have gotten digital advance copies of)! And I did not realize it until I was almost finished writing the post, but all of these are by female authors!

The Wife Upstairs: Rachel Hawkins has been a favorite Twitter follow of mine for a while, but I've never read one of her books before! I love a twist on a familiar story, so I'm super interested in her take on Jane Eyre!

All Girls: This promises to blend three of my favorite sub-genres...closed scholastic environment, coming-of-age, and female friendship.

Forget Me Not: I loved Oliva's debut The Last One so much I was automatically on-board for her next work! That it's about the life of a little girl raised in isolation who escapes into the wider world and then has to continue to deal with the fallout of her upbringing is even better.

The Babysitter: One of the things I find fascinating about serial killers is that they aren't just, like, out doing bad things all the time. Most of them have something resembling a normal life with people who would find it hard to believe their friend would do wrong. Some would even leave their children with them, and this is the true story of a girl coming to terms with the fact that her beloved childhood babysitter killed people.

The Rebel Nun: Historical fiction based on the true story of a nun in the Middle Ages who led a group of sisters in a rebellion against ecclesiastical authority? Yes please!

There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job: This story of a young woman looking for the least taxing job she can find seems like a brand of weird I can get behind.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev: This seems Daisy Jones-esque in that it's a story about a musical act that broke up, but it has the added layer of complexity of dealing with issues of race in the 1970s, which seems like it'll make for a compelling read!

A Special Place For Women: I have found the dialogue about the exclusive female-only coworking/collective franchise The Wing to be really interesting, so the idea of a book that mines the idea of a place like that having an actively nefarious side seems right up my alley.

Madam: I am always looking for books to scratch my The Secret History itch, and this one, about a boarding school in Scotland harboring dark secrets, would seem to be right in that kind of dark academia wheelhouse.

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is A Witch: Another Middle-Ages-set historical fiction, this one about a small town beset with fear, a woman accused of witchcraft and the scientist son who tries to defend her.