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Reading Roundup: July 2024

It’s been a good long while since I posted last, and it’s been even longer since I posted regularly. Well, cue the champagne, people, because I’ll be posting regularly about books again, probably on a monthly basis. BUT WAIT—THERE’S MORE! Tanita and I will be going back to posting dual reviews, which is essentially a transcript of us chatting about a book we both read. That’s something we really enjoy doing, and we’re eager to revive it. Most of all, we want to go back to sharing our reading faves, so without any further blather, here are a few books I read recently that I feel like gushing about.

The Last Murder at the End of the World book coverThis isn’t a YA or MG book, but I enjoyed The Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton. Best described as a postapocalyptic whodunit, it takes place on an island where the last remnants of humanity survive, surrounded by a killer fog that’s held back only with the legendary expertise of the few remaining scientists. And then one of those scientists is found murdered, setting in motion a spiral of events that has main character Emory racing the clock to find out the truth—not just about whodunit but about the very structure of the world she knows. The story had a lot of interesting twists and reveals…so many, in fact, that I felt the ending got fairly convoluted, but overall I thought this book was intriguing and a bit unexpected.

There Is a Door in This Darkness book coverThere Is a Door in this Darkness by Kristin Cashore was one that I’d been eager to read, since her Graceling series is some of my favorite fantasy. This book is magical realism rather than straight fantasy, and it reckons directly, honestly, and occasionally painfully with life during the Covid pandemic and its aftermath, including concurrent political events. Protagonist Wilhelmina—who is 18 years old but whose college plans were derailed by Covid—is coping with life in isolation with her family, unable to see her two best friends and uncertain about the future. Her beloved Aunt Frankie died not long before, from cancer, and even though her other two aunts are quarantining with Wilhelmina and her family, Frankie’s loss is still reverberating. Now, Wilhelmina has started seeing…strange things, and she doesn’t know what that means. I saw that some readers thought the book got too political, but for me personally, I resonated with how Wilhelmina and her family grappled with some of the thorny questions about coexisting with, and even caring about, people you disagree with. It was also a touching story of grief, friendship, family, and even a bit of romance.

A First Time for Everything book coverLast (for this post) but not least, I finally took Dan Santat’s A First Time for Everything off my TBR pile; I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out, and have had my copy for many months. Anyway, it did not disappoint. As a graphic memoir, I found it rather instructive since I hope to write one of my own at some point—but as a story, it was a charmingly touching coming-of-age tale, with 8th-grade Dan learning more about life, friendship, and first love while on a school trip to Europe. I particularly enjoyed some of the details about his hometown of Calabasas—as a SoCal native myself (who long ago transplanted to NorCal), I grinned with recognition at his depictions of a SoCal 1980s childhood (we seem to be almost exactly the same age). Plus it was fun to see major European landmarks depicted in cartoon form. Really well deserving of all the accolades it’s received.

Until next time, yours truly, etc.


Source: Dispatches From Wonderland

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