Peek Over Our Shoulders: What We’re Reading on February 2, 2017

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Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

In this feature at Book Riot, we give you a glimpse of what we are reading this very moment.

Here is what the Rioters are reading today (as in literally today). This is what’s on their bedside table (or the floor, work bag, desk, whatevskis). See a Rioter who is reading your favorite book? I’ve included the link that will take you to their author archives (meaning, that magical place that organizes what they’ve written for the site). Gird your loins – this list combined with all of those archived posts will make your TBR list EXPLODE.

We’ve shown you ours, now show us yours; let us know what you’re reading (right this very moment) in the comment section below!

Carissa Lee

BirdBox by Josh Malerman: I was itching for a good horror/thriller novel, having been indulging in horror movies and video games. This is one of the best suspense/thriller/horror novels I’ve read in a long time, and it certainly quenched the horror thirst. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where the outside world can’t be physically viewed anymore, due to a mysterious horror (no spoilers). This results in all who are left alive groping through an unseen existence with blindfolds, or locked in their homes. It’s one of those books where I can’t risk spoilers, because there are so many amazing things to discover. The best book I’ve read in the last little while.

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan: I’m in the middle of this epic quest right now, the second novel in The Wheel of Time series (yes, I know I’m in for a hell of a journey). A great monumental fantasy, and with the relatable characters, feminist threads, and the heartbreaking modernity in brutality within this world, I can see why the eloquent Robert Jordan is often referred to as America’s Tolkien. A must read, and a wonderful fantasy series to be enveloped in.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: Yes, I had to get on this bandwagon before watching the film. It was a great addition to the domestic noir genre, and I highly recommend it. We’re seeing a lot of female characters that are not necessarily likable (Birdbox is definitely part of this category), and I think it’s liberating and a great shift in female protagonists.

Liberty Hardy

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (March 7, Knopf): Written as a letter to a friend, it’s about how to empower young women. CNA is brilliant and we need her wisdom more than ever these days. (e-galley)

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente (Author), Annie Wu (Illustrator) (June 6, Saga Press): A series of connected stories about women in comics who have been “refrigerated,” meaning “comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.” (e-galley)

The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian: I received the sequel to this M/M romance, so I thought I’d read the first one, since I’d heard great things. (paperback)

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (June 13, William Morrow): A young woman teaching a creative writing class to Sikh widows encourages her students to write their fantasies. But when word of the class gets out to the “moral police,” their secret activities may ruin their lives. (e-galley)


Eric Smith

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner: There’s a lot to unpack here. I’m about halfway through this wonderful YA contemporary novel, and it’s definitely in the running for one of my favorite books being published this year. Already. The story of a deaf Indian teenager graffiti artist who gets expelled from her school and subsequently has her life turned upside down, it’s this delightful, heartwarming book that has been making me laugh and tear up in equal amounts. And the representation! Gardner is an author who has done her homework, and I really can’t wait to read more books from her. (ARC, March 2017 w/ Knopf)

Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh: Full disclosure here, the author is a friend and edited my first published book, so… I may be a bit biased about this one. But, I’ve been waiting on Thornburgh debut for a while. Full of quirks galore (hello, family yurt), it’s a YA contemporary that reads a lot like The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston mixed with The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour, featuring a girl that finds herself the subject of a hit single. (ARC, Out July 2017 with HarperTeen)


Claire Handscombe

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt: I came across this one when researching British YA novels out this year, and couldn’t resist ordering it. It’s about a girl who helps her dad run fan conventions and is about to meet a handsome author at one of them… (Paperback.)


Molly Wetta

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet: I loved the first installment in this mythology-inspired fantasy romance, and the sequel picks up immediately after the events of the previous book and don’t waste any time getting into the action—both of the steamy, sexy, variety and the epic battle against magic wolves variety. I’m about a third of the way through and loving it so far.

Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Daily Lives by Gretchen Rubin: I have apparently become a person who drinks tea, does yoga and reads self-help books.


Susie Rodarme

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link: I’ve heard good things about her and my library had the audiobook available. Pretty rad so far. (Audiobook)


Patricia Elzie 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I’ve been both super interested in reading this and yet, slightly terrified. I received a copy as a gift and it was sitting in my to-be-read pile so I dove in. I’ve hardly been able to put it down. I am intrigued and repulsed at the same time and it drew me in immediately. (Paperback)


Ashley Bowen-Murphy 

How the Post Office Created America by Winifred Gallagher: I’ve been having a hard time reading much since the inauguration. I’m reading this as part of some research for a paper I’m working on. It’s a side-project and my “fun” academic work. Maybe that will help me re-focus? (hardback)

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit: Like everyone else, I downloaded this book after the election but didn’t get around to starting it until just after the inauguration. This slim book is a fast, inspiring read. I can already tell I’m going to be saying, “hope is an ax” a lot. (ebook)


Sarah Nicolas

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: I’ve heard so much about this book that I figured I really should finally pick it up! (library audiobook)

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: I narrowly missed meeting this author at ALA and I honestly can’t figure out what’s taken me this long to pick it up. Again, I’ve heard so much about this, so I’m excited to dig in. (audiobook)


Sophia Khan 

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park: I picked up Park’s memoir about her escape from North Korea as a part of the DiverseAThon readathon. I am blown away by what she has endured and the courage she displays in sharing her story. (Hardback)

Oola by Brittany Newell (April 25, Henry Holt): I have not been able to stop thinking about the gorgeous writing in this debut novel by 21-year-old Newell. I don’t normally gravitate towards love stories, but this sinister and obsessive tale is addicting. (Paperback/ARC)


Jessica Yang

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: It’s been on my to-read list since forever, mainly because I read a review of it in an LGBT YA books roundup. It’s been fun so far! (hardcover)


Steph Auteri  

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee: I was in a reading rut, so I downloaded this. It’s thus far been pretty cute, though a bit predictable. (Ebook)

The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts by Laura Tillman: I saw this one in a recent Book Riot post and was intrigued. I always have my eye out for good narrative journalism! (Hardcover)


Tasha Brandstatter 

Graceling by Kristin Cashore: Needed a new audiobook to listen to and this book’s been on my wishlist for years. (audiobook)

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken: Ran across a review of this by one of my blogging buddies and it sounded too awesome to pass up. (hardcover)


Angel Cruz 

All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey: I’ve been craving some nonfiction lately and a finished copy of this book arrived a few days ago, making it the perfect way to start my weekend. (Hardcover)

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi: I don’t read very much middle-grade lit, but I’m loving this rollicking adventure novel. (e-galley)


Rebecca Hussey 

I’ll Tell You In Person by Chloe Caldwell: I love personal essay collections, and this one is entertaining, revealing, and so, so easy and fun to read. (ebook)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith: I’m a huge Zadie Smith fan and was thrilled to receive a signed hardcover for Christmas. (Hardcover)


Karina Glaser 

The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan: A sweet, hilarious, science-filled middle grade story about a girl coping with transitions and finding friendship in the midst of hardship. (Library Hardcover)

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly: I started this before the Newbery announcement, and now I have to finish it fast because now there’s a long hold line at the library! I love the manuscript illustration details and the creative storytelling. (Library Hardcover)

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: I read her excerpt in Kelly Jensen’s incredible feminist anthology Here We Are, and it made me want to read Roxane’s full book! (Library Hardcover)


Melody Schreiber 

The Beast Side by D. Watkins: I’ve been yearning to read this book since it came out. It’s a memoir about growing up in Baltimore–think The Wire from the perspective of a corner boy. I’ve followed Watkins’ work for a few years now, so I’m very excited to pick it up. (Paperback)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith: This will be my first novel by Queen Zadie! I have heard good things, and when my long-distance Skype book club chose it, I exalted. (Hardcover)


Jessica Woodbury 

The Clancys of Queens by Tara Clancy: heard all the raves about her at Book Riot Live, have been waiting for the audiobook to come in from the library and it’s finally here and I can see what the fuss is all about. (Library audiobook)

Human Acts by Han Kang: After The Vegetarian I am ready for the follow-up. I’ve read a few novels about South Korea lately and so far this one is a worthy addition. Audiobook readers include Sandra Oh! (Advance copy audiobook)


E.H. Kern 

Islänningasagorna volym I: Egils Saga, translated by Karl G. Johansson: A number of years ago, the Icelandic Literary Society launched a new translation project of the Saga of the Icelanders, written in Iceland in the 13th century. I decided to treat myself to the new Swedish translation of these literary masterpieces and I am now reading the saga about Egil Skallagrímsson. It is absolutely wonderful. The story is told chronologically and matter-of-factly without foreshadowing, fallacies, or inner monologues, which gives the text such tension because you never know what will happen until it happens. (Hardcover)


Ilana Masad 

Sonora by Hannah Lillith Assadi: I heard Assadi read an excerpt of her book for an event I hosted at a writing space in Queens, and I fell for her writing so hard. The author is the daughter of a Palestinian and an Israeli, and as an Israeli myself, I love the cultural markers of the Middle East that make their way into the book.


Jan Rosenberg 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I decided to reread it because I wanted to refresh my memory before the HULU series premieres. Margaret Atwood has always been ahead of the game in terms of dystopian/speculative fiction. Reading this book now is a pretty frightening experience, due to what’s happening with our government and how our rights as women are being threatened. Nonetheless, it’s still breathtaking, even if it hits way too close to home right now. Sometimes I need a literary escape, but right now I need a book that will keep my mind alert. I love Margaret Atwood’s brain. (Paperback)


Ashley Holstrom 

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki: Oh, this book. This lovely little book has been ripping my heart to shreds every day on my drives to and from work for a few weeks. It is gorgeous and funny and heart-breaking and smart. (Audio)

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi: It’s a new year and I’m reading self-help books this year. This one is a hilarious book of manners for a modern-day millennial. I am loving it. And cackling far too much while I read it. (Print)


Kristen McQuinn 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: I just started this today because I needed a new audio book and I finished H Is For Hawk and was bereft. This is Kalanithi’s memoir, written after he was given a terminal diagnosis of lung cancer. I haven’t listened to enough of it yet to know what I think of it, except I seem to be on a kick for books that are going to fucking gut me. (library audiobook)

Though Heaven Fall by Jeri Westerson: A medieval parable of mystery and faith, mixed with fantasy. This is what I need to offset all the feels from the above two books. I read it previously in print when it first came out and lovvvvved it, as I do with all of Westerson’s books. The narrator has a lovely voice. It is exactly what I need right now. (audiobook gifted to me from the author. Thank you, Jeri!)

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. A historical thriller that reads like found documents and actual trial documents about a murder in a small Scottish town in the late 1800s. I have to keep checking and reminding myself that this is actually fiction and not a real historical event. It’s so good so far!


Derek Attig 

Nature Poem by Tommy Pico: I noticed Pico interacting on Twitter with one of my favorite contemporary poets (Morgan Parker), then a publicist at Tin House suggested I might like Nature Poem, then it arrived at my house, and that’s how I found myself absorbed by this strange, striking book. (galley)

The Dark Side by Anthony O’Neill: I’ve been having a moment with books at the intersection of detective fiction and speculative fiction, and this hits that spot in really interesting ways. (ebook)


Sonja Palmer 

You Can’t Touch my Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson: Robinson is hysterical, and she touches on race, pop culture, and gender.  The audio of this is A+. (library audiobook)

Kristy Pasquariello 

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee: I loved Lee’s first book Under a Painted Sky, and have been looking forward to reading this one for a long time. It follows the experience of 15-year old  Mercy Wong, a Chinese girl who has bargained her way into an exclusive girls’ school in San Francisco in hopes of receiving a quality education. Then the earthquake of 1906 happens and everything changes in an instant. The audio narration is wonderful!  (Library Digital Audiobook)

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows: An alternate, irreverent history of the Tudors! With shapeshifters! (Library Book)

Tracy Shapley

The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig: Due out in May of 2017, there will inevitably be many comparisons between The Original Ginny Moon and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time because both books have narrators who are on the Autism spectrum. Spending time with Ginny Moon is an experience I’m grateful to have, as she walks the reader through her day-to-day life and the significant issues she’s having with her adoptive parents and her birth mother. So far this book is heartbreaking, funny, and exasperating, often in the same paragraph. (egalley)

Speak Gigantular by Irenosen Okojie: This book was sent to me in this month’s Call Number subscription box and it is fantastic. While it’s definitely not a good choice for folks who want their short stories to be linear and easy to skim, it’s a lovely choice for those who want surprising endings, uncomfortable situations, and truly unique, almost magical plotlines. (ebook)


Nicole Brinkley 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace: This was one of my favorite books last year in its self-published version, but the new version from Andrew McNeels releases later this year and I had the pleasure of snagging it while at Winter Institute, the yearly bookseller conference. I’m loving the extra poems — it continues to be a really beautiful collection and I’m looking forward to finishing it. (Again.) [paperback]

An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney: “Orphan, whore, magician’s apprentice. Murderer?” I am literally paragraphs into An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney and I’m already adoring it. This historical fantasy reads much like Jane Steele and promises to deliver an absolutely fun and beautifully written romp. [ARC]

Kindred by Octavia Butler: A social justice book club started at my bookstore and I cannot wait to join in. Kindred is our first read. I’ve never read Butler before and I’m looking forward to filling out that gap in my reading collection. [paperback]


Megan Cavitt 

Lirael by Garth Nix: I’m re-reading Nix’s Old Kingdom series in celebration of the release of the newest volume, Goldenhand, and I want to shove these books in everyone’s faces yelling, “DO YOU SEE HOW EASY IT IS TO WRITE REALISTIC YET BADASS WOMEN IN FANTASY? SEE?” Get me the HBO miniseries, stat. (paperback)


Erin Burba 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Bullets: An Accidental War Correspondent in Yemen by Laura Kasinof: I discovered this book while researching books from countries listed in Trump’s refugee ban. It’s the non-fiction account of a freelance reporter’s experiences in Yemen before and during the uprising that began in 2011. Kasinof clearly feels deep love and respect for the culture and people she encountered in Yemen. I look forward to learning more. (e-book)

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay: Gay’s characters are often complicated and always unforgettable. I typically prefer novels and nonfiction over short stories, but I’m devouring this book. (hardcover)


Priya Sridhar 

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duvyis : End of the world with a comet and siblings fighting for survival? Heck yes! I admire Corinne as a writer, and will follow her through any world. I cannot wait to read what happens in her apocalyptic novel. (Kindle eBook)

Speculative Fiction 2015 Edited by Foz Meadows (Author), Mark Oshiro (Editor): The best way to keep learning is to find educational books. In this case, this book collects several articles discussing trends in science fiction and fantasy. I’m eager to finish it and to learn more about how the fantasy landscape has changed. (Kindle eBook)


Elizabeth Allen 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: I’ve owned a paperback copy of this for awhile and was excited to read it, but learning that there was an audiobook version with Lin-Manuel Miranda narrating magically prioritized it for use of one of my precious Audible credits. This is one of those few books where I feel like it has cracked my brain open and I’m seeing things from a completely different perspective. Diaz’s use of slang alongside beautiful prose has shown me what is possible when it comes to the written word. (audiobook)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: Needing a new book, I picked one up from my shelf that, in a prior life, had seemed right up my alley. I began to read and, for the first time, the dystopian bent (which is usually my jam) actually made my stomach turn. So while the current political climate may have ruined dystopia for me, the promise of escapism to the world of magicians in 1800s England inspired me to pick up this particular book. The footnotes are fascinating, the story is well written, and the characters are intriguing. (hardcover)


Ines Bellina 

La Mucama de Omicunlé by Rita Indiana: I became mildly interested in this book when it was named a finalist of the II Premio Bienal de Novela Vargas Llosa, one of the newer prizes in the Spanish-speaking literary world. But I knew I absolutely had to read it when I found out that it’s one of the few sci-fi novels with a transexual protagonist that’s been written by a gay, Dominican woman, who also happens to be part of an alternative merengue band. Intrigued? Let’s hope the book gets translated into English. (Spanish paperback)


Kay Taylor Rea 

What It Takes: A Kowalski Reunion Novel by Shannon Stacey (February 28, Carina Press): I’m a long-time Kowalski fan, so when I heard Stacey was writing a new full-length romance in this series I had to snag a copy. Very few people write complicated family relationships combined with romance quite like Stacey. (e-galley)

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: I’d initially avoided this one after an early review mentioned ableist language in the uncorrected proofs, but a friend let me know they’d been removed by the time the book went to print. I’m very glad I gave it a try, because this is one of the most compelling contemporary romances I’ve read this year. I loved the characters and the publishing house setting, and you could cut the sexual tension in this one with a knife. (library ebook)

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: This book has vampires, cops, and gangsters in Mexico City. I’m so thrilled my friend picked it for our book club. (library ebook)


Amy Diegelman 

The Fellowship of The Ring by JRR Tolkien: Re-reading for the first time since high school with my roommates (and my mom!). (paperback)


Jamie Canaves 

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama, Jonathan Lloyd-Davies (Translator): I am always here for Japanese mystery and this one is an unsolved case + it promises “The twist no reader could predict.”—challenge accepted! (egalley)

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (McSweeney’s, March 14th): Saw someone say there was an “unlikable” female character and YES PLEASE! (ARC)

Snow Blind by Ollie Masters, Tyler Jenkins (Illustrations): A teen discovers his family is in the Witness Protection Program after posting a photo online, and now they’re in danger. I love finding mystery comics. (egalley)

Unicorn Crossing (Heavenly Nostrils #5) by Dana Simpson (Andrews McMeel Publishing, March 28th): MUPPET ARMS for a new Phoebe & Her Unicorn! This is treat-reading for me, and just the best.


Tiffani Willis 

Beastly Bones by William Ritter: Looking through my TBR, trying to decide what to read I realized I had half a dozen books related to, inspired by, or reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. These included Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, Beastly Bones by William Ritter, Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, and A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas. So I I decided to make my next few weeks Sherlock themed. I started with Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz and am now making way through Beastly Bones. Beastly Bones falls into the category of “reminiscent of” Sherlock Holmes. In this book the great detective goes by the name Jackaby and has a gift for solving supernatural mysteries. (paperback)


Rachel Weber 

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund – A debut about a confused girl living in the remnants of a Minnesota commune with her parents, part thriller, part coming of age novel. Even if people hadn’t been raving about this I would have had to read it. (Hardcover)

Touch by Courtney Maum (Penguin, June 2017) – As a hardcore nerd I’m always interested in novels set in the strange world of tech. Touch is the tale of a trend forecaster in an increasingly extreme – but from what I can tell not entirely unrecognisable – electronic world. (eGalley)


Christy Childers 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: This was billed as an “arranged marriage YA rom-com” & I’m here for that. (Galley)

Detours by Tony Evans: Tony Evans is speaking at a conference I’m going to next week so I thought I’d pick up his latest. (Galley)


Sharanya Sharma 

This Is Our Story, by Ashley Elston: I have been really into mysteries — and particularly YA mysteries — lately! This one seemed to fit the bill just right: a small town mystery/thriller in which five privileged prep school boys go out hunting and only four come back. They’re the only ones who know the whole story, but a new classmate who’s interning at the DA’s office is going to find it out, or die trying.


Kareem Shaheen  

As the Red Carnation Fades by Feyza Hepçilingirler: I stumbled upon this at a shop in Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Avenue that specialises in old books and maps. This one is from the 1980s, and beautifully tells the story of a woman and university teacher struggling to define her role in a society that expects her to be a housewife, after she is suspended from her university for teaching the works of leftist authors under a military dictatorship (Paperback)