Best Books

Get Rec’d with Amanda – Volume 35

There’s a bit of an eclectic mix for this edition. We have a couple non-fiction titles, a mystery, and some urban fantasy with kooky vampires. My personal favorite of the bunch below (spoilers!) is the nature title, How Far the Light Reaches.

  • Blackwater Falls

    For readers who love a police procedural, but are searching for a more diverse cast.

    From critically acclaimed author Ausma Zehanat Khan, Blackwater Falls is the first in a timely and powerful crime series, introducing Detective Inaya Rahman.

    Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, but the local sheriff is slow to act and the fates of the missing girls largely ignored. At last, the calls for justice become too loud to ignore when the body of a star student and refugee–the Syrian teenager Razan Elkader–is positioned deliberately in a mosque.

    Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif of the Denver Police are recruited to solve Razan’s murder, and quickly uncover a link to other missing and murdered girls. But as Inaya gets closer to the truth, Seif finds ways to obstruct the investigation. Inaya may be drawn to him, but she is wary of his motives: he may be covering up the crimes of their boss, whose connections in Blackwater run deep.

    Inaya turns to her female colleagues, attorney Areesha Adams and Detective Catalina Hernandez, for help in finding the truth. The three have bonded through their experiences as members of vulnerable groups and now they must work together to expose the conspiracy behind the murders before another girl disappears.

    Delving deep into racial tensions, and police corruption and violence, Blackwater Falls examines a series of crimes within the context of contemporary American politics with compassion and searing insight.

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  • How Far the Light Reaches

    How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler

    There have been some great nature and science titles out in the last couple years, and if you want to keep that same energy going, try this one!

    A fascinating tour of creatures from the surface to the deepest ocean floor, inviting us to envision wilder, grander, and more abundant possibilities for the way we live. “A miraculous, transcendental book.” (Ed Yong, author of An Immense World)

    One of TIME’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Year •  A PEOPLE Best New Book  •  A Barnes & Noble and SHELF AWARENESS Best Book of 2022  •  An Indie Next Pick  •  One of Winter’s Most Eagerly Anticipated Books: VANITY FAIR, VULTURE, BOOKRIOT

    A queer, mixed race writer working in a largely white, male field, science and conservation journalist Sabrina Imbler has always been drawn to the mystery of life in the sea, and particularly to creatures living in hostile or remote environments. Each essay in their debut collection profiles one such creature, including:

    • the mother octopus who starves herself while watching over her eggs,
    • the Chinese sturgeon whose migration route has been decimated by pollution and dams,
    • the bizarre, predatory Bobbitt worm (named after Lorena),
    • the common goldfish that flourishes in the wild,
    • and more.

    Imbler discovers that some of the most radical models of family, community, and care can be found in the sea, from gelatinous chains that are both individual organisms and colonies of clones to deep-sea crabs that have no need for the sun, nourished instead by the chemicals and heat throbbing from the core of the Earth. Exploring themes of adaptation, survival, sexuality, and care, and weaving the wonders of marine biology with stories of their own family, relationships, and coming of age, How Far the Light Reaches is a shimmering, otherworldly debut that attunes us to new visions of our world and its miracles.

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  • The Lonely City

    The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

    I have a frequent reader who wants themes of loneliness and living alone in the TBR pile and this is one of my top picks I grabbed for them.

    Named a best book of the year by NPR, Newsweek, Slate, Pop SugarMarie ClaireElle, Publishers Weekly, and Lit Hub

    A dazzling work of biography, memoir, and cultural criticism on the subject of loneliness, told through the lives of iconic artists, by the acclaimed author of The Trip to Echo Spring.

    When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by the most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to David Wojnarowicz’s AIDS activism, Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed.

    Humane, provocative, and moving, The Lonely City is a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.

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  • The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant

    The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes

    For my What We Do in the Shadows fans! Vampires don’t always have to be seductive and clad in leather.

    Some people are born boring. Some live boring. Some even die boring. Fred managed to do all three, and when he woke up as a vampire, he did so as a boring one. Timid, socially awkward, and plagued by self-esteem issues, Fred has never been the adventurous sort.

    One fateful night – different from the night he died, which was more inconvenient than fateful – Fred reconnects with an old friend at his high school reunion. This rekindled relationship sets off a chain of events thrusting him right into the chaos that is the parahuman world, a world with chipper zombies, truck driver wereponies, maniacal necromancers, ancient dragons, and now one undead accountant trying his best to “survive.” Because even after it’s over, life can still be a downright bloody mess.

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    The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by
    Drew Hayes

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