Here's my second round-up of the year of books I've read and loved, starting with a brand new just-published thriller:
When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn
Stephanie Kuehn's latest novel (out now!) is about a group of teens who go on a hike in the Northern California mountains and encounter disaster of many kinds. It's a survival story and more. The main character, Ben, is a complicated guy with plenty of secrets that spill over into the real world with fatal consequences. Beyond the plot/hooky stuff, Steph's writing is full of multilayered descriptions of place, nature, emotions — so present, so real.
I have often been afraid yet strangely drawn to the wilderness, and this totally delivers a tale set on that borderline between beauty and darkness. I highly recommend it. Just don't take it on a camping trip with you because then you might not be able to sleep!
Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman
Continuing on our survival theme, this is a memoir about Blair Braverman's emotional and physical experiences in the north — both Norway and Canada — with men and sled dogs and the ice. It was engrossing and disturbing and revealing, and sometimes uncomfortable, but I just wanted more of Braverman's brilliant writing about the arctic. I would read an entire book of hers about sled dogs alone. I will never, ever be an arctic explorer, but at least I can read about it through her wonderful voice.
That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
This one doesn't come out until October, but put it on your TBR list and pre-order it! It’s an alternate history fairy tale of sorts about love, identity, and friendship. I haven’t read anything like it in so, so long. It’s set in a lovingly crafted, fascinating world in which the British empire is whole and enlightened. Plus genetics! And coming-out balls and baking and summer holidays and swimming in freezing northern bodies of water.
It is, in short, extremely hard to describe, but the characters are generous and thoughtful and genuine, and this book is a marvelous escape. If you want a happy, queer, smart, romantic book, I highly recommend TIVT. So enjoyable!
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I'm late to this bandwagon but I'm happy to say I've finally read V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic, which is set in a world in which several Londons exist in parallel universes, and only a select few gifted individuals can cross between them. The writing and the world is lush and glamorous, with gorgeous clothes and cross-dressing women, and a very queer sense of drama. I can't wait to go back for books 2 and 3. It really felt like a luxurious (albeit deadly) escape from reality.
And a reminder ...
I'll be giving away three signed advance copies of A Line in the Dark to subscribers of my newsletter, Lo & Behold, later this month, so if you want all the details, sign up here. I send out newsletters once a month with behind-the-scenes stuff about what I'm working on, and if you want to see what they're like you can read this blog post for an example.
I hope you're having a great summer. It's only two and a half months till my next book comes out!