I’m still on a high from seeing Hamilton last week. I’m also swiftly becoming a person who grasps at every possible opportunity to talk about the fact that I saw Hamilton last week. When my dentist asked, as he does every six months, what was “new” with me, I froze for a full five seconds, immobilized because while normally when asked this question I have nothing to offer by way of response, this time I actually did have something to say! I had done something new! And so I blurted, “WELL, LAST WEEK I WENT TO NEW YORK AND SAW HAMILTON ON BROADWAY.” Super smooth, that’s me.

So, yeah. Seeing Hamilton was cool. But I have to admit, it put me a little behind on the whole chronicling-my-reading thing I do here on this blog. So here are some short, sweet, and to-the-point reviews of the books that have been on my reading menu lately.

Fair warning: it’s a *bit* of an eclectic mix. There is absolutely no unifying theme here (at least, none that I can see). Lately I’ve been branching out in my reading, and it’s been GREAT. I love how wild and varied and unpredictable my reading life has been so far this year; I just want to prepare you a little bit so you don’t get whiplash from this off-the-wall list.

Unstoppable Octobia May

by Sharon G. Flake

This book has the most bonkers publisher’s blurb I have ever read in my life. It describes all the serious issues main character Octobia is dealing with as a black girl growing up in the 1950s, sent to live with her scandalously single and entrepreneurial aunt after a health scare. It lists all kinds of heavy topics, like racism, passing as white, equality for women...and then comes this line, and yes, I’m quoting: “And, perhaps most important: Do vampires really exist?”

WHAT?!?! I don’t know about you, but that is a book I could not wait to get my hands on. I dropped an Audible credit on it so fast my phone almost burned up from friction, and I was not disappointed. Octobia is my kind of girl, spunky, imaginative, and downright hilarious. This book is a total hoot. Round up all the kids in your life and read it aloud to them right now, man.   

Sorcerer to the Crown

by Zen Cho

This is a fantasy novel for the fancy reader, maybe one who wears a monocle or eats caviar. It’s set in Regency London where magic exists (yay!) but the supply is mysteriously drying up (boo!) and the new (and very unpopular, due to his African heritage and the murky circumstances of his takeover) Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias Wythe, has to figure out a way to get the magic flowing again from Fairyland. The language is elevated to reflect the time and culture, but the action, especially when servant-turned-sorceress Prunella Gentleman joins the mix, is anything but stuffy.

I’ve seen this compared to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and I can’t resist chiming in here to say I don’t know what two books those people are reading, but it can’t be the same two I read, because holy crap is this one exciting and action-packed and riveting from page one--basically everything Jonathan Strange wasn’t.

Everything You Want Me to Be

by Mindy Mejia

I started this book in the airport on the way home from our trip, and while I tend to be a nervous flyer, it got me through several gate changes and a parked-on-the-tarmac delay with no deep breathing or meditation required. In my best Nicholas Cage voice, “That’s high praise.”

A teenage girl is dead. The story is told from three perspectives: the girl, the sheriff investigating her murder, and her English teacher. I had several theories as to who the culprit was, but there were some great twists and turns before I found out for sure if I was right. Main character Hattie is incredibly compelling and felt very real to me--she’s constantly acting, constantly stepping outside herself to see how others see her. Some people might say teenage girls aren’t this manipulative, but they probably haven’t spent much time with one recently. Because UM YES THEY ARE. Dark, twisted, one-more-chapter-before-bed goodness right here.

(B-T-Dubs, props to Atria and NetGalley for the review copy of this one. It’s on sale now!)

I Hate Everyone, Except You

by Clinton Kelly

Most people know Clinton Kelly from What Not to Wear, the TLC show in which he and Stacy London got many a suburban mom into darker, more streamlined jeans. I have watched my fair share of that show, but when I really started to like Clinton as more than a snarky self-appointed fashion expert was when I was a stay-at-home foster parent. The Chew came on in my kitchen every weekday at noon, and it was like a life preserver thrown out onto a tumultuous ocean of disposable diapers and those Gerber puff things that taste like nothing and stick to everything. Clinton on The Chew seemed mellow, approachable, fun--and he’d even teach you crafts!

The Clinton in this recent memoir is sort of an average of the two Clintons we’ve seen on TV. He’s occasionally catty--he’s not one of those celebrities who hesitates to call someone out by name (but I couldn’t really blame him, because I too find Paula Deen detestable). He also has no problem telling unflattering stories, either about himself or his friends. But he clearly has a heart buried somewhere beneath all that cynicism and seersucker. (Does Clinton wear seersucker? I just threw that in because I liked the alliteration. Probably not. He probably abhors seersucker. I don’t know about these things--that’s why they pay him the big bucks, I guess, to go on TV and know shit about seersucker.)