she’s reading: impossible animals, medical magic

Dear TBR,

…Now back to our regularly scheduled fake book tree, adjusted for length (height?).

Once There Was, by Kiyash Monsef – This is the hardest book to describe without spoilers, in some ways, but I’ll give it a shot. One thing I enjoyed about this book was the familiar landmarks – Berkley, Oakland, and other Northern California places which surely hold their own magic and secrets. It was a book I’d love to press into the hands of every smart reader; it’s both a bit of a mystery/thriller and a story about profound loss and grief. Listen to the author read the first chapter and you’ll need to have it on hand to read the rest immediately.

Once was, once wasn’t: a magical thing in a dysfunctional family. Once was, once wasn’t: losses and things hard to understand. Once there was the loss of a parent – and the attempt to go on as if the world hadn’t ended. An Iranian American girl answers a call at her father’s veterinary hospital, and ends up far away from the usual animals they treat. She’s not a vet, she’s not even finished school yet, she doesn’t know why they’re calling her, but her life is so disordered, and she’s so desperate to know what her father left her out of, all the times he traveled for work, that she goes. She finds wonder. Danger. And more confusion. This isn’t a fun episode of “Fantastic Beasts,” no matter what the jacket copy says. This is old powers, clashing, old hopes being resurrected, and old dangers reappearing. Once there was a girl in over her head – can she trust herself, and the newly revealed world around her long enough to get to safety? And, where is that exactly, anyway?

Bitter Medicine, by Mia Tsai – This is a xianxia-inspired novel. Xianxia are immortal heroes, and are a huge pop culture phenomenon in China right now, with tons of TV series about them. It was so fun to have this introduction to multiple cultures, read about a new-to-me magical system, and to imagine the limitations and issues of being related to a god, and falling from grace in your society. There are heroes and antiheroes and plenty for readers to cheer for, including the possibility of love.

Elle is a middle child in every way — not the spoiled and pampered baby brother, with few of the stern expectations weighing on her eldest brother. Whatever she’d done for the family had been negligible, invisible, and inconsequential until the day she had tried to keep the peace between her feckless eldest brother and murderous younger one by making a dramatic gesture. Instead, she’s done something awful, and is living her life in hiding, trying to atone. It isn’t enough to subsume yourself in an eternal apology to the universe. She’s working as a magical calligrapher at a fairy temp agency, and she’s got a crush on one of her clients, a solitary elf who often comes in for good-luck glyphs and the like. In order to stay hidden Elle mustn’t use her magic – but Luc needs her help. And he’s gorgeous. And he smiles at her. When Elle gets the chance to use her glyphs to save him, of course she does. And then there’s the next time he needs help… to track down her brother…

This is SUCH a fun story, and is published for adults, but will cross over very well and easily with teen readers who love a slow-burn, swoony, friends-to-more romance laced with heapings of magic and drama.

Fresh onto the TBR:

  • Enter the Body, by Joy McCullough
  • To Wrack & Ruin, by Ann Aguire, a Kindle Vella serial
  • That Selfsame Metal, by Brittany N. Williams
  • In Memoriam, by Alice Winn


Until the next book, 📖

Still A Constant Reader

About the author

tanita s. davis is a writer and avid reader who prefers books to most things in the world, including people. That's ...pretty much it, she's very boring and she can't even tell jokes. She is, however, the author of nine books, including Serena Says, Partly Cloudy, Go Figure, Henri Weldon, and the Coretta Scott King honored Mare's War. Look for her new MG, The Science of Friendship in 1/2024 from Katherine Tegen Books.

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