15 books I’m dying to read (by the end of the year)

by gigigriffis
Victor Manibo's THE SLEEPLESS

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The halfway point of the year has blown right past. I’ve announced my big secret. And in between working on something new (oh the secrets I still have in store!), I’m reading. Thrillers. Mysteries. Historical. Modern. Perhaps a romcom. 

So, what’s on my reading list for the rest of the year? Here are 15 books that have my attention:

The Sleepless*

Why I’m excited: What a premise! What if part of the population didn’t need sleep? How would that change the world for better or worse? I happen to have an advance reader copy of this one (I know: I have a rough life) and plan on cozying up with it on a French train this summer.

Description: A mysterious pandemic causes a quarter of the world’s population to permanently lose the ability to sleep – without any apparent health implications. The outbreak creates a new class of people who are both feared and ostracized, and most of whom optimize their extra hours to earn more money.  

Jamie Vega, a New York journalist at C+P Media, is one of the Sleepless. When his irascible boss dies in an apparent suicidal overdose, Jamie doesn’t buy this too-convenient explanation – especially given its suspicious timing in the middle of a corporate takeover – and begins to investigate.  

Things go awry quickly when Jamie discovers that he was the last person who saw Simon alive. Retracing his steps, he realizes he doesn’t remember that night. Not only do the police suspect him, Jamie can’t account for the lost time, and the memory loss may have something to do with the fact that he did not come by hyperinsomnia naturally: Through a risky and illegal process, Jamie had biohacked himself to become Sleepless.  

As Jamie delves deeper into Simon’s final days, he is forced to confront past traumas and the consequences of his decision to biohack himself. Along the way he uncovers a terrifying truth about what it means to be Sleepless that will imperil him – and all of humanity.

Kaikeyi*

Why I’m excited: I LOVE a retelling with a morally questionable woman at its center. Inject it straight into my veins. Even better, this one is by a friend! 

Description: “I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.

But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.

One for All*

Why I’m excited: I can’t believe I haven’t read this book yet! I even got an advance copy this winter – and then my own edits got in the way of actually reading it. No more, though. I’m diving in by the end of the year. Because Lillie had me at gender-bent Three Musketeers and had me again with the authentic disability rep.

Description: Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father – a former Musketeer and her greatest champion. Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for new Musketeers: Women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a sword fight.   

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels that she has a purpose, that she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming – and might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.   

Lillie Lainoff’s debut novel is a fierce, whirlwind adventure about the depth of found family, the strength that goes beyond the body, and the determination it takes to fight for what you love.

An Unexpected Kind of Love*

Why I’m excited: Queer Notting Hill? Yes, please. I already bought my copy, so I just have to wedge myself into a Parisian cafe with a coffee in hand and lose myself in this romcom.

Description: Bookstore owner Aubrey Barnes likes his quiet, orderly London life, thank you very much. His shop may be struggling, his only employee is a menace, and his plumbing is one creaky pipe away from disaster, but he can handle it. Maybe. He cannot, however, handle the film company that’s thrown his Soho street into chaos.

And he definitely can’t handle the charismatic American actor Blake Sinclair.

Which is why he’s extremely reluctant to lease out his shop as a set for Blake’s film, but it’s his one opportunity to save his business. Now he can’t get away from the distractingly hot actor.

Then Aubrey finds himself alone with Blake in a trailer, and what happens next turns London’s heat wave into an inferno that leaves him breathless.

Aubrey is not cut out for the high-profile life of dating a celebrity, especially an American actor who’s not even out yet. Good thing their tryst is absolutely not going anywhere.

Of course, when you expect nothing, that’s exactly when it starts to mean everything.

The Whispering Dark*

Why I’m excited: My interest was peaked when they said this book was for fans of The Raven Boys (one of my all-time favorite books), piqued again at the authentic disability representation, and piqued a third time when I saw the gorgeous advance copies. This one comes out in October!

Description: Delaney Meyers-Petrov is tired of being seen as fragile just because she’s Deaf. So when she’s accepted into a prestigious program at Godbole University that trains students to slip between parallel worlds, she’s excited for the chance to prove herself. But her semester gets off to a rocky start as she faces professors who won’t accommodate her disability, and a pretentious upperclassman fascinated by Delaney’s unusual talents.

Colton Price died when he was nine years old. Quite impossibly, he woke several weeks later at the feet of a green-eyed little girl. Now, twelve years later, Delaney Meyers-Petrov has stumbled back into his orbit, but Colton’s been ordered to keep far away from the new girl… and the voices she hears calling to her from the shadows.

Delaney wants to keep her distance from Colton — she seems to be the only person on campus who finds him more arrogant than charming — yet after a Godbole student turns up dead, she and Colton are forced to form a tenuous alliance, plummeting down a rabbit-hole of deeply buried university secrets. But Delaney and Colton discover the cost of opening the doors between worlds when they find themselves up against something old and nameless, an enemy they need to destroy before it tears them — and their forbidden partnership — apart.

Young Rich Widows*

Why I’m excited: What would happen if the people running the criminal underworld all tragically died, leaving their business to their wives? This 80s thriller is apparently the answer. I’ve had grabby hands for it ever since it announced.

Description: It’s 1985 in Providence, Rhode Island, and the four partners of a prominent, mafia-affiliated law firm have been killed in a private jet that went down outside New York City. Four very different women have just lost the loves of their lives: Justine, a former fashion model adjusting to suburban life; Camille, a beautiful, young second wife some suspect is a gold digger; Krystle, committed to leaving the firm to her sons after her husband worked his whole life to support them all; and Meredith, a stripper at the local club who was in a secret relationship with the firm’s sole female partner. While the crash is initially ruled a tragic accident, something’s not adding up: The team wasn’t supposed to be in New York that day, and it’s soon revealed that there was a very large sum of cash that burned up with the plane. The women find themselves thrown together in search of the truth, with new danger and threats unfolding at every turn.  

Could a dissatisfied client be seeking revenge? Or were the partners involved in something bigger—something dangerous and deadly? What other secrets were the partners keeping, and how far might people go to ensure they stay hidden? The widows must find the answers in order to protect their inheritance, their families, and their lives. 

Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

Why I’m excited: I’m reading this one based on title alone. Yes, yes, and yes.

Description: Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to her Insta fans—until a woman claiming to be her biological mother barges into her DMs.

Jess was claimed by the state when her bio mom’s mental illness made her unstable. While their relationship is far from traditional, blood ties are hard to break. There’s only one problem: Jess can’t reunite with her mom in New York City without a bunch of paperwork and she worries her social worker will never approve the trip. That’s when she remembers Oscar’s cosplay group, which is aiming for that big convention in New York . . .

So, Jess joins Oscar’s team—with every intention of using them to get to her mom. But her plan gets complicated when she discovers that, actually, cosplay is pretty great, and so is having friends. And Oscar, who Jess thought was just a shy nerd, can be as gallant and charming as the heroes he pretends to be. As the big convention draws near, Jess will have to decide whether or not chasing a dream of “family” is worth risking the family she’s built for herself.

Survive the Dome*

Why I’m excited: This one sounds INTENSE in the best way. I love a good thriller with a social justice core. I’ve heard great things and wanted to read for awhile.

Description: Jamal Lawson just wanted to be a part of something. As an aspiring journalist, he packs up his camera and heads to Baltimore to document a rally protesting police brutality after another Black man is murdered.

But before it even really begins, the city implements a new safety protocol…the Dome. The Dome surrounds the city, forcing those within to subscribe to a total militarized shutdown. No one can get in, and no one can get out.

Alone in a strange place, Jamal doesn’t know where to turn…until he meets hacker Marco, who knows more than he lets on, and Catherine, an AWOL basic-training-graduate, whose parents helped build the initial plans for the Dome.

As unrest inside of Baltimore grows throughout the days-long lockdown, Marco, Catherine, and Jamal take the fight directly to the chief of police. But the city is corrupt from the inside out, and it’s going to take everything they have to survive.

Patricia Wants to Cuddle*

Why I’m excited: The Kirkus review quote is what did it for me. “A one-of-a-kind queer horror comedy for people who watch The Bachelor and The X-Files back-to-back.” Um, yes, please. (Have I mentioned that my YA debut is also what you might call a queer horror comedy?) Plus I got a free copy from one of my editors, so the only thing stopping me from reading is my own time management.

Description: When the final four women in competition for an aloof, somewhat sleazy bachelor’s heart arrive on a mysterious island in the Pacific Northwest, they prepare themselves for another week of extreme sleep deprivation, invasive interviews, and, of course, the salacious drama eager viewers nationwide tune in to devour. Each woman came on The Catch for her own reasons—brand sponsorships, followers, and, yes, even love—and they’ve all got their eyes steadfastly trained on their respective prizes. 

Enter Patricia, a temperamental and woefully misunderstood local living alone in the dark, verdant woods, and desperate for connection. Through twists as unexpected as they are wildly entertaining, the self-absorbed cast and jaded crew each make her acquaintance atop the island’s tallest and most desolate peak, finding themselves at the center of an action-packed thriller that is far from scripted—and only a few will make the final cut. 

Uncultured*

Why I’m excited: I am deeply intrigued by this memoir of a multiple-cult survivor (because I am always deeply intrigued by cult shit). It’s locked and loaded in my Kindle app and I can’t wait to dive in.

Description: Behind the tall, foreboding gates of a commune in Brazil, Daniella Mestyanek Young was raised in the religious cult The Children of God, also known as The Family, as the daughter of high-ranking members. Her great-grandmother donated land for one of The Family’s first communes in Texas. Her mother, at thirteen, was forced to marry the leader and served as his secretary for many years. Beholden to The Family’s strict rules, Daniella suffers physical, emotional, and sexual abusemasked as godly discipline and divine loveand is forbidden from getting a traditional education.

At fifteen years old, fed up with The Family and determined to build a better and freer life for herself, Daniella escapes to Texas. There, she bravely enrolls herself in high school and excels, later graduating as valedictorian of her college class, then electing to join the military to begin a career as an intelligence officer, where she believes she will finally belong.

But she soon learns that her new worldsurrounded by men on the sands of Afghanistanlooks remarkably similar to the one she desperately tried to leave behind.

Let the Mountains Be My Grave*

Why I’m excited: Nazi-killing partisans, ancient goddesses, and queer adventurers? Yes, yes, and yes, give it to me now. I love the author’s history threads on Italy and I’m sure this novella is going to be an instant favorite. 

The only bummer is that I keep trying to order a print copy and discovering that the European book sites our all on backorder. Print more books faster, Neon Hemlock!

Description:

Let the Mountains Be My Grave unfolds at breakneck pace in 1944 Italy, where partisan Veleno thinks of nothing but killing as many Nazis as he can before leaving this world. Beloved by the ancient Italic goddess Angitia, Veleno is the perfect person to recover a strange weapon the Nazis are planning to use against the Allies in the battle of Montecassino, but doing so may force him to confront his death differently than he expects.

The Fervor*

Why I’m excited: This is the kind of horror I love – creeping dread with reality at its center. I’m interested in the history. I’m interested in the horror elements. And I’m ready to rage and cry.

Description: 1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.
 
Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.  

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven*

Why I’m excited: Look. At. That. COVER. So stunning. This book was pitched as Spice Girls, but witches, which is just…super fun. I also listened to an interview with the author and love the themes she was exploring here. Looking forward to digging in. 

Description: At the dawn of their adolescence, on the eve of the summer solstice, four young girls–Helena, Leonie, Niamh and Elle–took the oath to join Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department. Now, decades later, the witch community is still reeling from a civil war and Helena is the reigning High Priestess of the organization. Yet Helena is the only one of her friend group still enmeshed in the stale bureaucracy of HMRC. Elle is trying to pretend she’s a normal housewife, and Niamh has become a country vet, using her powers to heal sick animals. In what Helena perceives as the deepest betrayal, Leonie has defected to start her own more inclusive and intersectional coven, Diaspora. And now Helena has a bigger problem. A young warlock of extraordinary capabilities has been captured by authorities and seems to threaten the very existence of HMRC. With conflicting beliefs over the best course of action, the four friends must decide where their loyalties lie: with preserving tradition, or doing what is right.

How to Succeed in Witchcraft*

Why I’m excited: A friend with great taste recommended this one! Coming in September.

Description: Shay Johnson has all the makings of a successful witch. As a junior at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School, she’s determined to win the Brockton Scholarship—her ticket into the university of her dreams. Her competition? Ana freaking Álvarez. The key to victory? Impressing Mr. B, drama teacher and head of the scholarship committee.
 
When Mr. B asks Shay to star in this year’s aggressively inclusive musical, she warily agrees, even though she’ll have to put up with Ana playing the other lead. But in rehearsals, Shay realizes Ana is . . . not the despicable witch she’d thought. Perhaps she could be a friend—or more. And Shay could use someone in her corner once she becomes the target of Mr. B’s unwanted attention. When Shay learns she’s not the first witch to experience his inappropriate behavior, she must decide if she’ll come forward. But how can she speak out when her future’s on the line?

The Stranded

Why I’m excited: I’m a sucker for dystopias and a sucker for weird settings. An old cruise ship stranded in the ocean due to war? Yep. This one is for me. 

Description: Welcome to the Arcadia.

Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States—a leftover piece of a fractured USA.

For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.

Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.

When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever…


Alrighty now, what else should be on my last? Which books are you most looking forward to reading this year?

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