Netgalley Next #13

One of our reading goals is working on our Netgalley feedback ratio. Eventually we want to get it to 80%. And to help motivate us we decided to do this new post every week. We pick three of our eARCs and based on the first line, paragraph, or page we decide which one we’ll read next. Let’s take a look at today’s picks for this week’s Netgalley Next!

The Library Suicides – Fflur Dafydd

You can get in. But you can’t get out. Welcome to the library…

Twins Ana and Nan are lost after the death of their mother. Everyone knows who drove Elena, the renowned novelist, to suicide – her long-term literary critic, Eben. But the twins need proof if they’re going to get revenge.

Desperate to clear his name, Eben requests access to Elena’s diaries at the National Library where the twins work, and they see an opportunity. With careful planning, the twins lock down the labyrinthine building, trapping their colleagues, the public and most importantly Eben inside. But as a rogue security guard starts freeing hostages, the plan unravels. And what began as a single-minded act of revenge blooms into a complex unravelling of loyalties, motives and what it is that makes us who we are.

The twins always saw themselves in the  seagulls, even as children. Their feathered doppelgängers would come and sit on the bathroom ledge every evening and stare in  at them as they had their bath, watching them with their curious pink-rimmed eyes. There would be a flash of recognition between both parties. Something vermin-like, something poisonous, would pass between them. Rats with wings, their mother would shout, before shooing them away. But the birds always came back; unlike their mother, who – six months ago – wasn’t able to navigate her own drop of the ledge with quite the same ease.

That was not was I was expecting. And if it wasn’t for that last sentence, I might’ve stopped here and wouldn’t have felt the urge to pick it up ever probably. It just starts with a really weird vibe in my opinion. However, that last sentence does prickle my curiosity a little bit and since the synopsis sounds interesting I would still want to read this.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches – Sangu Mandanna

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family–and a new love–changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….

The Very Secret Society of Witches met on the third Thursday of every third month, but that was just about the only thing that never changed. They never met in the same place twice; the last meeting, or instance, had been in Belinda Nkala’s front room and had involved freshly baked scones, and the one before that had been in the glorious sunshine of Agatha Jones’s garden. This meeting, on a cold, wet October afternoon, happened to be taking place on a tiny, abandoned pier in the Outer Hebrides.

This is a much better start in my opinion. It doesn’t give us that much, but I like the tone of the story and it reads very easily. I’m curious to know what happens at tase meetings and how is a member. And of course I’m also very much interested in the story, it sounds really wholesome and like I said, I enjoy the writing style right away.

Portrait of a Thief – Grace D. Li

Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell in Portrait of a Thief, a lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums; about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity.

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.

Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son who has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imag­ine—or at least, the closest he can get. A con artist: Irene Chen, a public policy major at Duke who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering major who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted at­tempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.

Equal parts beautiful, thoughtful, and thrilling, Portrait of a Thief is a cultural heist and an examination of Chinese American identity, as well as a necessary cri­tique of the lingering effects of colonialism.

State your name for the record please. 

This is how things began: Boston on the cusp of fall, the Sackler Museum robbed of twenty-three pieces of priceless Chinese art. Even in the museum’s back room, dust catching the slant of golden, late-afternoon light, Will could hear the sirens. They sounded like a promise.

Now this is a start that immediately draws me in. I want to continue reading the book right away! While I had forgotten about this one for a little while, this was actually a highly anticipated release for me and reading this intro totally hooks me. I’m very excited to dive into this book!

Based on the start of these three books I would pick up Portrait of a Thief first! Has any of you read one or more of these books? Which would you recommend I pick up first? Let me know in the comments!

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