Podcast: 6 books we’re reading now

We’re taking the Booklovers Podcast to video this time! So join us as Andrea, Stacy, and I talk about what we’re reading and enjoying.


Andrea: Welcome to the book lovers podcast from the Clermont County Public Library. I’m Andrea. And today I’m here with Laura and Stacy to talk about books on our reading list. So, Laura, do you want to get started?

Mexican Gothic

Laura: My first book is Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno- Garcia, which when Andrea shows us the book cover, you’ll totally understand why I chose it because it is a gorgeous book cover. And I have to admit that I am shallow enough that sometimes I do actually choose books based on the cover.

Andrea: Do you want to describe a little bit of the cover?

Laura: It’s a Hispanic woman and she’s sitting down, she’s wearing this beautiful flowing, burgundy, a ball gown off the shoulder. She’s holding some flowers and it looks like she’s posed in front of some very Victorian patterned, probably flocked if you could touch it, wallpaper.

It’s very striking, very rich colors.

Stacy: Gorgeous.

Laura: Makes me happy. To give you a little bit about the book because it’s not just about the cover. It has to be a good story too. After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin, begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom. Noemi travels to a distant house in the Mexican countryside, unsure of what she’ll find.

Noemi is a glamorous debutante with gowns and perfect red lipstick that are more suited for cocktail parties than the amateur sleuthing. She’s an unlikely rescuer, which I think the cover actually perfectly captures that that does down to the red lipstick look like a very young debutante.

But along with being glamorous, she as tough and she’s smart. She finds her cousin’s husband to be both menacing and alluring.  His father, the ancient patriarch, is creepily fascinated by Noemi and the old Gothic house where they’re staying begins to invade her dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Never good when the house does that. Right? Her only ally in this remote creepy icky place is the youngest son of the family. He is shy and gentle and he seems to want to help her, but he’s also hiding dark secrets about his family’s past, as Noemi searches for the truth. She unearths stories of violence and madness, because if you’re going to live in a creepy goth mansion, you have got to have tales of death and madness.

Confessions of Frannie Langdon

Laura: Andrea, I think you have some readalikes because you’re awesome.

Andrea: Well, I’ve not because of that, just because I can find them. I picked Confessions of Frannie Langdon. So, after you had told me about this book, I went looking for books that have Gothic fiction as a subject heading, and this was one I found.

Frannie is accused of a double murder of her employers on scientists and his wife. And she doesn’t remember anything about the night, not even if it could save her life, but she remembers a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a scientist, and it stretched all the bounds of ethics and the events that brought her across the Atlantic to London, into his home.

So it’s a passionate and forbidden relationship.

Stacy: That sounds really good. I’d not heard of it.

Laura: That actually sounds really good. I think I might have to add it to my ever-growing to be read, to be read list.

A Bad Day for Sunshine

Andrea:  I think it came out last year, so it’s fairly new.  All right. Laura. Do you want to tell us about A Bad Day for Sunshine?

Laura: Yes. Book number two is A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones. This book has me super excited because I’m a huge fan of Darynda Jones’ is a first series that she wrote – the Charlie Davidson series. Which if you are a fan of paranormal romances, try The First Grave on the Right, which is the first book in the series, and there’s a bonus, super hunky love interest.

This is the first book in a new series that she’s writing. No paranormal stuff, just a straight mystery, but still super fun writing. Sunshine Vicram has returned to her small hometown with teenage daughter Auri in tow.

Sunny’s the newly elected sheriff, and there is no chance for her to ease into her new role because her day starts off with a delivery to the office of the Muffins of Doom. It escalates when a frantic mother crashes her car into the Sheriff’s department, nearly running Sunny over as the car comes through the front wall because the woman’s daughter has been abducted.

And then there’s the rooster napping that she needs to solve.

Stacy: Who doesn’t want to read about that?

First Grave on the Right

Laura: All of the things that I love about the Charlie Davidson books, the witty conversation,  Charlie’s love for coffee and the quirky people in the books who still managed to have deep heartfelt connections with each other are all here in this new series. The first book in the Charlie Davidson books is First Grave on the Right.

Fast-paced. Well-plotted, absolute page-turner. I unashamedly read this in an entire day. I was like, do not disturb me to the husband and the cats. And I spent a Saturday reading,

Stacy: I definitely recommend that.

The Boyfriend Project

Andrea:. All right. And for your third book.

Laura: The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon. Thanks to social media, three women discover that they have been dating the same lowlife guy, because one of them is livetweeting her bad date with him and the other two are reading it.

Stacy: Oh no!

Laura: So all three tell him he’s an absolute jerk and they all break up with him. But end up being starting a friendship based on it. Th three of them agree to swear off men for at least six months. They decide that they’re going to focus on themselves, their careers and their budding friendship.

which is exactly when our main character Samiah, a super-smart, tech whiz notices how gorgeous, Daniel her new coworker is because of course, that’s when you notice, right?

So she’s drawn to him. But what about the promise she’s made to the other two? And even if she breaks the pact, does she have time for a new relationship? Work is really intense and she’s got a side hustle creating a new app.

I appreciated that Farrah Rochon didn’t focus solely on the romance. It was nice to have a lot of lady time with three strong smart women who were all very supportive and encouraging with each other.

And I believe that the two friends are also going to get their own books. I’m definitely looking forward to reading those.

So fast-paced, sparkling with a little bit of steam, which is the perfect summertime combination.

Stacy: That’s awesome. I love the cover and I love, I love that the new, like the new genre of romance is not the classic bodice ripper. I like this type of illustration on the cover.

The Proposal

Andrea: It’s been a big trend, I think the last two years for fiction romance, that appeals to probably a younger reader than what the bodice rippers have historically appealed to. And so I also picked a few like this. You might also like books by Abby Jimenez.

And then also when I saw this cover, I thought of Jasmine Guillory’s books. This isn’t her first book but The Proposal was a Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club pick.

Laura: I do like Jasmine Guillory too. The Wedding Date is the first book in the series.  Super good story about successful confident women. I’m old enough to remember the bodice rippers and reading them. It’s like, the strong, wealthy, all-powerful man will rescue her and they’ll live happily ever after because he will fix all of her problems with his power and his wealth.

And it’s actually nice to see women being supportive of each other. Confident, successful women, you know, they don’t need the man to come in and fix things for them.

Andrea: Great. And like in The Proposal she gets proposed to – it’s a surprise. And she doesn’t accept the proposal. And then what that creates.

Stacy: I do. I love the cover. I like her stance. She looks very confident kind of like sassy, very sure of herself. So she’s not submissive like the kind of traditional romance covers would suggest though.

Laura: As somebody who’s read romances for a long time, I don’t feel embarrassed to walk around with that great cover. Some covers, in the past, with the very dramatic, you know, she’s basically in lingerie with some guy and his bare chest.  And if you read those in public, people make assumptions.

Stacy: Yes. Nobody should be embarrassed anyway, about what they read, but this cover is a lot more attractive and modern, I think.

Shadow and the Bone

Andrea: Great. Stacy. Do you want to share some books?

Stacy: So my first book is Shadow and the Bone by Leigh Bardugo and this is what I’m currently reading, so I’ve not finished it yet. And this is not a new book. I am late to the game on this book. This is Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel. And she just like skyrocketed after this.

So this is the first book in a trilogy. I have read her duology Six of Crows, which came after this trilogy, but the characters are different, but the worlds are. The same, like it’s set in the same world. So you notice at the top of the book, it says, Grishaverse. So she came up with this whole entire fantasy world, surrounding Grisha who are people that have these magical powers.

There are people that can control, like the elements. There are heart renders that can stop your heart from beating or revive you so they can kill you or they can save you. It’s very, very interesting. So in the first book, there are two main characters and they grew up together, a boy and a girl, Mal and Alina.

And they grew up in an orphanage together. And then as young adults, they have been conscripted to the King’s army. So Mal’s a tracker and Alina is a cartographer. But then she discovers that she has a Grisha power that she didn’t know that she possessed. So she is whisked away, unwillingly, taken out of the King’s army and sent to live with the Grisha.

There’s this, of course, with like all fantasy books, there’s a map and the front of the book. So you want to like study the map, to find out all of the cities that they talk about and the places. So the main area is called Ravka and it’s kind of like czarist Russia.

She’s made up this language and there’s a lot of that kind of like I don’t know, like throaty, like Russian sounds. So it’s beautifully written and it’s just, all the characters are vividly drawn, but each sentence is just like its own little like masterpiece.

She’s just such a good writer. But in the middle of there’s this valley kind of it’s called the Shadow Fold and it’s filled with these terrible flesh-eating monsters and so it’s very, it’s very violent. This is a book for teens so it’s not you know, like Game of Thrones level, but it is very like fantasy-driven and violent.

But they think that the power that Alina has can destroy the Shadow Fold. So that is what the trilogy is about.

Stacy: Whoa. Yeah. There’s a lot. There’s a lot going on. And Shadow and Bones is going to be turned into a Netflix series.

So you’re going to want to read it first.

The last I heard they did finish filming the first season before coronavirus shut everything down, but there’s not a release date yet on Netflix. So I don’t know when that’s coming out.


So just a couple of readalikes here. Laini Taylor, really not just the series, Strange the Dreamer, but any of her books would be great.

Maggie Stiefvater’s Call Down the Hawk which is kind of a spinoff of the Raven Boys. So either of those authors, any of their books would be really good readalikes.

Laura: Have either of you read her first adult novel called The Ninth House?

Stacy: No, I still have an ARC of it at home. It’s on my to-read list, but how did you like it?

Laura: I did. And I really liked it. I hadn’t read any of her other books that might pick that up and yes, it’s all about secret societies and magic. Set in an Ivy League school. Somebody who comes from a very poor background and she’s at the school on a scholarship because she has magical abilities.

Interesting look at class, background, plus who has magic, what do they use it for

And I do have to say, I love the cover on Shadow and Bone.

Stacy: This is a new cover. I can’t remember what the original cover looked like, but this is a newer edition. I think the whole trilogy got new covers. So a little bit updated. Cause it was, I think, first published in 2012. So it’s not a new series. Oh, wow. This new to me. Yeah.

Andrea: All right. And for your second pick?

Radium Girls

Stacy: I have a narrative nonfiction for my second slot that, yeah, I actually read this one when we were working from home.

So it is available as, actually I think all three of my, well, no, the first two picks are available, as digital downloads from our library. So I did read this one at home. So it’s the Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. So this was kind of like, not the book, but like the story is kind of like a train wreck as in it’s so horrific, but you can’t look away, like you can’t stop reading about it. So of course it’s nonfiction, so it’s all true. That all happened. So in 1917, there was a radium luminous materials corporation. And, I want to say it was in Chicago. There were a couple of different radium corporations. Kind of like in the Midwest and then on the East coast.

So basically they hired young girls, mainly teenagers and young adults to work on radium, luminous dials. So they used radium to paint these dials for soldiers in World War I so that they would have watches that would light up at night. So, of course the girls didn’t know that radium was poisonous and dangerous and they were actually told, actually, all of America was told, the world was told, that radium was good for you.

So radium used to be included in beauty products and tonics and, a lot of the stuff wasn’t regulated. So did those products actually have radium in it or did the companies just claim that they did? Probably more of the latter. But the girls were actually told that radium was good for them.

So it was actually a really glamorous job for these girls to be hired as dial painters. They got paid really well. And they, it was kind of like their own little society. Like they sat in these huge rooms, and they got to talk and chat and they had nice lunches together and stuff. But what they were told to do was – they used a tiny paintbrush because the watch faces were very, very small.

So they took the teeny tiny brush and they lip pointed, which means they dipped their paintbrushes in the radium, put it in their mouth. Licked the end of the paintbrush and painted because that’s what they were instructed to do. And they didn’t know that it was poisonous. So after a while, many of the girls started having tooth problems.

Their teeth would fall out and then it would just keep getting worse and worse. Like they would go to the dentist and they didn’t know what was happening. They would do an extraction. And then like a couple months later, entire pieces of their jaw bone would come out. It is the descriptions in the book are like, like I said, like a train wreck, they’re just absolutely horrific.

It was, it was so sad. But like the girls didn’t, they didn’t know any better because they were told, mainly by men that ran the company that, you know, it was good for them. So they would actually go home shining at night because radium is luminous. So their hair, their faces, their whole bodies, like the dust, the radium dust would just settle on them.

And then they’d walk home at night, glowing in the dark and people just thought they were like amazing. And, Oh, I want to work there. And they would go out dancing and they’d be glowing in the dark, like dancing and stuff.

Andrea: People wear glow necklaces like that to electronic dance festivals, but not wearing radium.

Stacy: No. So, eventually, a lot of the women ended up developing like a lot of them developed something that was similar to what is called phossy jaw. So it was people that worked with phosphorous, they would have like these huge tumors on their faces and like their jaws or like their whole jaws would be missing.

A lot of the women developed sarcoma, tumor on their backs and like just anywhere, their arms and their legs and stuff. So it was just, it was just really so sad, but it is also a very uplifting story because eventually several of the women banded together. So the picture at the top of the book you see that’s one of the hearings, the court hearings, because they eventually brought a suit against the luminous radium company.

And I won’t spoil the ending, but it is, uh, it is a horrible story, a horrible moment in our history, but it is ultimately uplifting.

Andrea: Glad to see something a little bit comes from it.

Stacy: Yes. And Kate Moore is actually releasing a young readers edition, kind of like middle-grade readers about the radium girls and it’s going to be published in September.

Andrea I always like when they do that with the nonfiction books that they create an appropriate level for younger readers.


Stacy: So there’s a couple of readalikes more about women in history, kind of like banding together and, you know, they’re fighting for their rights or helping with the war. The Girls of Atomic City, we’re all about women in World War II and then, Hidden Figures, which was made into a huge movie.

And that one was also adapted into a young readers edition and a picture book edition.

Survivor Song

Okay. My last choice is a new book and it’s still on order for us, Survivor Song. I don’t know if it’s arrived yet. But you can put it on hold and I downloaded it as, an advanced reader copy. So I started it a few weeks ago and I’m about halfway through it. It’s a pretty short book. And it’s actually very terrifying because it’s kind of similar to what we’ve been experiencing with coronavirus.

So there’s this virus that is kind of like a mutated form of rabies. So with rabies, if any animal, or if a person gets infected, it usually takes, I think, several weeks for the rabies virus to make its way to your brain. And if it does, then it’s kind of like game over. Like there’s nothing to be done about it.

But in this book, Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay, the rabies virus takes one hour to attack your brain if you’re bitten. So animals people, have been bitten. Like it’s just, this virus has taken over. Hospitals are overrun. There’re vigilantes out in the streets. Beforehand people were quarantined and like food was being rationed.

So like that reminded me of when we were working from home during quarantine, it reminded me of that. And I was like, Oh my gosh, what has Paul Tremblay, what has he done?

Stacy: Probably toilet paper and, and, you know, meat and food and all that stuff. So, yeah. So the story is this woman, her name is Natalie. She is eight months, almost nine months pregnant, almost her due date. And she’s a first-time mother and, she watches her husband get brutally murdered by someone who’s infected and she ends up getting bitten as well. So she has like an hour to get the first round of, vaccine shot or antidote shot.

So she calls her good friend from university, who’s now a pediatrician. And it’s basically like these two women against the world. So they’re trying to do what they can to save Natalie. And if that’s not possible to at least save her baby. So it’s very fast-paced. It’s obvious, there’s a lot of violence in there.


So if that’s your thing, but it is all also ultimately – like not the whole book – but there are uplifting moments. So you see moments of strength between these two women, just trying to do what they can to survive. So part the apocalyptic titles, if you’re interested in that; Justin Cronin’s The Passage and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road are really good readalikes. Joe Hill’s The Fireman would be a good read-alike too. So very, very good, very fast-paced. If action is your thing, I think you would really enjoy this one.

Andrea: Sound like some good picks. All of them from both of you. Thank you for sharing.

Stacy: Absolutely. This was fun.

Andrea: It was something a little different for us to do it on video, but we’ll see how the public likes it.

I also want to remind you that all these books are available. In the library’s collection, whether they’re print or they’re digital from one of our services like overdrive, hoopla, or RB, digital, and also RB digital has magazines. It’s a newer feature for us. So there are over 3,400 magazine titles available in RB digital magazine. So I wanted to share that to go find all your favorite magazines.

Anything else to add?


Laura: I’ll post this on the website with links to the books.

Andrea: Right, show notes will be on clermontlibrary.org. So you don’t have to write down everything we talked about as we talked about it.

And if you find this video version, you can at least look at the beautiful covers and the intriguing covers, because as we know, we do judge a book by its cover and that’s okay. It makes us grab it.

Stacy: Well, that’s why they release, you know, best sellers with new edition covers because sometimes the original covers just don’t really grab your attention. That’s right.

Andrea: This was fun.  Until next time, reader, read on.

Stacy: Happy reading.