Back again with my list of newly discovered books added to my Goodreads to-be-read shelf during the month of June! I got a bit trigger happy in June and added a TON of books to my TBR because I found The Millions ‘Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2021 Book Preview‘ list. I also went on a small trip at the end of June / early July and went on a shopping spree in some independent bookstores so lots of these books have also been purchased! I’ve decided to split June’s books into three posts so it’s not too long! This is part two. You can read part one here and part two here!
As always, the aim of these posts is to hopefully help others find something they think sounds interesting, so do let me know if you add any of these to your TBR!
(Small disclaimer: as mentioned before, I will only be sharing the books that are NEW to me rather than all the ones I forgot to add to my Goodreads beforehand)
The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull
Science Fiction • Fiction • Aliens
Synopsis: An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super-advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last. A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.
I’m really not a alien book type of reader but something about this one piqued my interest. No harm in adding it to the digital tbr!
The Scapegoat by Sara Davis
Mystery • Fiction • Contemporary
Synopsis: N is employed at a prestigious California university, where he has distinguished himself as an aloof and somewhat eccentric presence. His meticulous, ordered life is violently disrupted by the death of his estranged father–unanticipated and, as it increasingly seems to N, surrounded by murky circumstances. His investigation leads him to a hotel built over a former Spanish mission, a site with a dark power and secrets all its own. On campus, a chance meeting with a young doctor provokes uncomfortable feelings on the direction of his life, and N begins to have vivid, almost hallucinatory daydreams about the year he spent in Ottawa, and a shameful episode from his past.
Meanwhile, a shadowy group of fringe academics surfaces in relation to his father’s death. Their preoccupation with a grim chapter in California’s history runs like a surreal parallel to the staid world of academic life, where N’s relations with his colleagues grow more and more hostile. As he comes closer to the heart of the mystery, his ability to distinguish between delusion and reality begins to erode, and he is forced to confront disturbing truths about himself: his irrational antagonism toward a young female graduate student, certain libidinal impulses, and a capacity for violence. Is he the author of his own investigation? Or is he the unwitting puppet of a larger conspiracy?
Um sorry, but is this not the most beautiful cover you’ve ever seen? Honestly, top contender for my favourite cover of 2021! Not only is it pretty but it also sounds really interesting too. I just *had* to get my hands on this one so I obviously bought it straight away.
Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes
Short Stories • Fantasy • Horror
Synopsis: Emma Goldman–yes, that Emma Goldman–takes tea with the Baba Yaga and truths unfold inside of exquisitely crafted lies. In Among the Thorns, a young woman in seventeenth century Germany is intent on avenging the brutal murder of her peddler father, but discovers that vengeance may consume all that it touches. In the showstopping, awards finalist title story, Burning Girls, Schanoes invests the immigrant narrative with a fearsome fairytale quality that tells a story about America we may not want–but need–to hear.
Dreamy, dangerous, and precise, with the weight of the very oldest tales we tell, Burning Girls and Other Stories introduces a writer pushing the boundaries of both fantasy and contemporary fiction.
Another cover that grabbed me. I’m always on the lookout for more horror short stories!
Subdivision by J. Robert Lennon
Fiction • Mystery • Contemporary
Synopsis: An unnamed woman checks into a guesthouse in a mysterious district known only as the Subdivision. The guesthouse’s owners, Clara and the Judge, are welcoming and helpful, if oddly preoccupied by the perpetually baffling jigsaw puzzle in the living room. With little more than a hand-drawn map and vague memories of her troubled past, the narrator ventures out in search of a job, an apartment, and a fresh start in life.
Accompanied by an unusually assertive digital assistant named Cylvia, the narrator is drawn deeper into an increasingly strange, surreal, and threatening world, which reveals itself to her through a series of darkly comic encounters reminiscent of Gulliver’s Travels. A lovelorn truck driver . . . a mysterious child . . . a watchful crow. A cryptic birthday party. A baffling physics experiment in a defunct office tower where some calamity once happened. Through it all, the narrator is tempted and manipulated by the bakemono, a shape-shifting demon who poses a distinctly terrifying danger.
What I loved about finding soe many books from The Millions list is that with only 199 ratings on Goodreads, there’s a good chance I would have never heard of this one but it sounds amazing!!
Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi
Fiction • Magic Realism • Fantasy
Synopsis: When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment–and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive. Their trip on this former tea-smuggling train has been curated beyond their wildest imaginations, complete with mysterious and welcoming touches, like ingredients for their favorite breakfast. They seem to be the only people onboard, until Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a surprising message. As further clues and questions pile up, and the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.
A lot of people have said this one is very strange and confusing, which are two words that draw me into books! I’ve never read an Oyeyemi book before and I’m not sure this is the best place to start but it sounds very interesting.
The Rock Eaters by Brenda Peynado
Short Stories • Fantasy • Fiction
Synopsis: What does it mean to be other? What does it mean to love in a world determined to keep us apart?
These questions murmur in the heart of each of Brenda Peynado’s strange and singular stories. Threaded with magic, transcending time and place, these stories explore what it means to cross borders and break down walls, personally and politically. In one story, suburban families perform oblations to cattlelike angels who live on their roofs, believing that their “thoughts and prayers” will protect them from the world’s violence. In another, inhabitants of an unnamed dictatorship slowly lose their own agency as pieces of their bodies go missing and, with them, the essential rights that those appendages serve. “The Great Escape” tells of an old woman who hides away in her apartment, reliving the past among beautiful objects she’s hoarded, refusing all visitors, until she disappears completely. In the title story, children begin to levitate, flying away from their parents and their home country, leading them to eat rocks in order to stay grounded.
I adore speculative books with a passion so this short story collection sounds right up my street!
Where They Found Her by Kimberley McCreight
Mystery • Fiction • Thriller
Synopsis: At the end of a long winter, in bucolic Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of an infant is discovered in the woods near the town’s prestigious university campus. No one knows who the baby is, or how her body ended up out there. But there is no shortage of opinions.
When freelance journalist, and recent Ridgedale transplant, Molly Anderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the story for the Ridegdale Reader, it’s a risk, given the severe depression that followed the loss of her own baby. But the bigger threat comes when Molly unearths some of Ridgedale’s darkest secrets, including a string of unreported sexual assaults that goes back twenty years.
Meanwhile, Sandy, a high school dropout, searches for her volatile and now missing mother, and PTA president Barbara struggles to help her young son, who’s suddenly having disturbing outbursts.
Told from the perspectives of Molly, Barbara, and Sandy, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth about the baby’s death revealing that these three women have far more in common than they realized. And that their lives are more intertwined with what happened to the baby than they ever could have imagined.
I would have looked over this book without any second thoughts because of that absolutely horrid generic cover. However, Kayla from BooksandLala says this is one of her favourite thrillers so it felt like a necessary add to the TBR!
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Mystery • Fiction • Horror
Synopsis: Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.
Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.
For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.
Another Kayla made me add it book! Due to the less than favourable reviews on Goodreads I was giving this one a wide berth. but then Kayla said she loved it and I feel like we have similar taste… so I added it!
The Piano Room by Clio Velentza
Gothic • Retelling
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Sandor Esterhazy, rich and entitled, is descended from a long line of talented pianists, but he has no intention of following in their footsteps. One afternoon, in a fit of pique, he calls up the devil, using an old book of magic spells, and offers to exchange his soul for a life free to choose his own destiny. Afterward, Sandor laughs it off as a joke, but that night he sees the shape of a man approaching the house. He is dragging someone – or something – behind him through the snow. Sandor goes down to the piano room. The devil has delivered a bare-foot young man who Sandor instantly recognizes. But what is this creature? And what exactly is to be done with him?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m a total sucker for myths and folklore from other countries. This is a retelling of the Hungarian myth of Faust!
The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
Horror • Fiction • Fantasy • Thriller
Synopsis: Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there.
Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures.
Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.
Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.
And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic.
This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.
This one has been making the rounds on Instagram. I’ve yet to read a Wendig but this sounds really good.
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
Fiction • Magic Realism • Contemporary
Synopsis: An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler’s demands, only to discover a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck. In the mirror, her canines suddenly look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work five days a week, casually dismisses her fears from faraway hotel rooms.
As the mother’s symptoms intensify, and her temptation to give in to her new dog impulses peak, she struggles to keep her alter-canine-identity secret. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography, and meets a group of mothers involved in a multilevel-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.
This one sounds perfectly bizarre. As always, I’m sad about the UK cover so I’m going to wait patiently to get myself a copy with this meaty US cover eventually!
Devotion by Hannah Kent
Synopsis: Prussia, 1836
Hanne Nussbaum is a child of nature – she would rather run wild in the forest than conform to the limitations of womanhood. In her village of Kay, Hanne is friendless and considered an oddity…until she meets Thea.
The Nussbaums are Old Lutherans, bound by God’s law and at odds with their King’s order for reform. Forced to flee religious persecution the families of Kay board a crowded, disease-riddled ship bound for the new colony of South Australia. In the face of brutal hardship, the beauty of whale song enters Hanne’s heart, along with the miracle of her love for Thea. Theirs is a bond that nothing can break.
The whale passed. The music faded.
South Australia, 1838
A new start in an old land. God, society and nature itself decree Hanne and Thea cannot be together. But within the impossible…is devotion.
I was soooo excited when I found out Hannah Kent was releasing something new. I adore her writing style, some of my favourite historical fiction!
The Follower by Nicholas Bowling
Synopsis: When her twin brother goes missing in Northern California, Vivian Owens follows his trail to the town of Mount Hookey, home to the followers of Telos: a mountain-worshipping cult that offers spiritual fulfilment to those who seek it.
While trying to navigate the town’s bizarre inhabitants and the seductive preaching of the initiates of Telos, Vivian will have to confront questions about herself, her family, and everything she thinks she knows about the world. She quickly realises that her search is about far more than her missing brother – it is a quest for the secret of happiness itself.
To that end, there is only one question she needs to answer: what is really at the top of Mount Hookey?
The reviews for this one are a bit… yikes, BUT I love the sound of it so I’m keeping it on the digital tbr for now!
Empire of the Wild by Cherie Dimaline
Fantasy • Fiction • Horror
Synopsis: Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year–ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One terrible, hungover morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher named Eugene Wolff. By the time she staggers into the tent, the service is over. But as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.
She turns, and there Victor is. The same face, the same eyes, the same hands. But his hair is short and he’s wearing a suit and he doesn’t recognize her at all. No, he insists, she’s the one suffering a delusion: he’s the Reverend Wolff and his only mission is to bring his people to Jesus. Except that, as Joan soon discovers, that’s not all the enigmatic Wolff is doing.
With only the help of Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with a knowledge of the old ways, and her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan has to find a way to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor. Her life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon it.
I always like to see if popular YA authors have any adult fiction books that I could enjoy and luckily for me, Cherie Dimaline does! This one sounds amazing.
The Bright Lands by John Farm
Horror • Mystery • Fiction
Synopsis: The town of Bentley holds two things dear: its football, and its secrets. But when star quarterback Dylan Whitley goes missing, an unremitting fear grips this remote corner of Texas.
Joel Whitley was shamed out of conservative Bentley ten years ago, and while he’s finally made a life for himself as a gay man in New York, his younger brother’s disappearance soon brings him back to a place he thought he’d escaped for good. Meanwhile, Sheriff’s Deputy Starsha Clark stayed in Bentley; Joel’s return brings back painful memories—not to mention questions—about her own missing brother. And in the high school hallways, Dylan’s friends begin to suspect that their classmates know far more than they’re telling the police. Together, these unlikely allies will stir up secrets their town has long tried to ignore, drawing the attention of dangerous men who will stop at nothing to see that their crimes stay buried.
But no one is quite prepared to face the darkness that’s begun to haunt their nightmares, whispering about a place long thought to be nothing but an urban legend: an empty night, a flicker of light on the horizon—The Bright Lands.
I can’t remember who it was, but someone reviewed this on Instagram recently and made it wound fantastic.
My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Horror • Fiction • Thriller
Synopsis: On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.
Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.
Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.
The reviews for this one are already fantastic and I wanted to read another SGJ book. Also, the phrase ‘murder in small-town…’ always gets me!
Wow, that’s the final instalment for my June finds! What a month for adding books!! I’m hoping July isn’t this extreme but who knows with me… Let me know if you’ve read any of these or have any on your radar, or even better, if you now have them on your radar!!