12 Books From 12 Friends Challenge
To diversify my reading in 2023, I am taking on a new reading challenge. I will have 12 months to read 12 books suggested by 12 friends. I used the challenge template made by @shadowbooker on Instagram. I will be keeping track of this challenge with The StoryGraph's challenge feature, but instead of using book prompts I will have the title and author in the prompt box.
Throughout the year I plan on reviewing most of them, so check back here or over on the Storygraph to see those in the coming months. But without further ado, here are the books you all chose.
Note: Prices in AUD, correct when published, but subject to change.
1. Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai by Nina Mingya Powles
Tiny Moons is a collection of essays about food, belonging and longing. It is also a kitchen notebook, a travel journal, and a dream diary. This is a journey into childhood comfort foods, family feasts, Shanghai street food, and recreating memories through eating and cooking. This is the authors attempt to retrace her steps back towards her Chinese-Malaysian heritage.
2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator, and killing something so precious comes at a price...
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jeweled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
3. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.
Esme's place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed. Esme seizes the word and hides it in an old wooden trunk that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women's experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
4. All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton, returns with All Our Shimmering Skies – a glorious novel destined to become another Australian classic.
Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain down, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger's daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot. Run, Molly, run, says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia's wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber's coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.
All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger, of darkness and light, of bones and blue skies; a buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder; and a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.
5. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Leavened by the same infectious intelligence and lovable nerdiness that made Robin Sloan's Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore such a sensation, Sourdough marks the triumphant return of a unique and beloved young writer.
Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her - feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.
Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she's providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer's market, and a whole new world opens up. When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?
Sourdough is a soup of skilfully balanced ingredients: there's satire, a touch of fantasy, a pinch of SF, all bound up with a likeable narrator whose zest for life is infectious. The novel opens a door on a world that's both comforting and thrillingly odd. - The Guardian
6. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
A national bestseller combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, “Lily and the Octopus is the dog book you must read this summer” (The Washington Post).
Ted—a gay, single, struggling writer is stuck: unable to open himself up to intimacy except through the steadfast companionship of Lily, his elderly dachshund. When Lily’s health is compromised, Ted vows to save her by any means necessary. By turns hilarious and poignant, an adventure with spins into magic realism and beautifully evoked truths of loss and longing, Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.
Introducing a dazzling and completely original new voice in fiction and an unforgettable hound that will break your heart—and put it back together again. Remember the last book you told someone they had to read? Lily and the Octopus is the next one.
7. Sin: Stories by Wajida Tabassum
A nymphomaniac nawab and his fiercely clever footman.
The awakening of a servant-child's passion.
A divorce fuelled by envy, illicit love and suppression.
A noble set to transform the history of royal marriages.
Set in Hyderabad's old-world aristocratic society of the 1950s, this stellar collection of stories resurrects and explores the work of Wajida Tabassum, one of the most prominent names in Urdu literature, an iconoclast and nonconformist often referred to as the 'female Manto'. In her lifetime, Tabassum's fearless portrayal of the realities of the society she lived in met with severe criticism from the so-called custodians of culture of the time, and she was reviled to the point that mobs set out to torch her publishers' offices.
Sin showcases Tabassum's boldest short stories, alongside the story of her own life, translated for the first time into English, in which she captures, in riveting prose, the spectrum of depravity among Hyderabad's elite, middle-class compulsions in the mid-twentieth century, and blurred lines of decency and decorum. Featuring lascivious nawabs, lustful begums, cunning servants, and unfulfilled marriages marked by peculiar rituals and customs, this volume will surprise, intrigue and entertain readers in equal measure.
8. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.
9. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day—a striking, powerful, and moving love story following an ambitious lawyer who experiences an astonishing vision that could change her life forever.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.
She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.
But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake.
In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.
10. The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this suspenseful YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom.
When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation . . . Maddy did it.
An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she's dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.
After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High's racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school's first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it's possible to have a normal life.
But some of her classmates aren't done with her just yet. And what they don't know is that Maddy still has another secret . . . one that will cost them all their lives.
11. Archers Voice by Mia Sheridan
Fall in love with this emotional New York Times bestselling romance between two tortured souls who find their chance at happiness in the most unexpected way.
I wanted to lose myself in the small town of Pelion, Maine. To forget everything I had left behind. The sound of rain. The blood. The coldness of a gun against my skin. For six months, each breath has been a reminder that I survived -- and my dad didn't. I'm almost safe again. But the moment I meet Archer Hale, my entire world tilts on its axis . . . and never rights itself again.
Until I trespass into his strange, silent, and isolated world, Archer communicates with no one. Yet in his whiskey-colored eyes, something intangible happens between us. There's so much more to him than just his beauty, his presence, or the ways his hands communicate with me. On me. But this town is mired in secrets and betrayals, and Archer is the explosive center of it all.
So much passion. And so much hurt. But it's only in Archer's silence that we might just find what we need to heal . . . and live.
12. Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto
Poet and novelist Hiromi Goto effortlessly blends wry, observational slice-of-life literary fiction with poetic magical realism in the tender and surprising graphic novel Shadow Life, with haunting art from debut artist Ann Xu.
When Kumiko's well-meaning adult daughters place her in an assisted living home, the seventy-six-year-old widow gives it a try, but it's not where she wants to be. She goes on the lam and finds a cozy bachelor apartment, keeping the location secret even while communicating online with her eldest daughter. Kumiko revels in the small, daily pleasures: decorating as she pleases, eating what she wants, and swimming in the community pool. But something has followed her from her former residence - Death's shadow.
Kumiko's sweet life is shattered when Death's shadow swoops in to collect her. With her quick mind and sense of humour, Kumiko, with the help of friends new and old, is prepared for the fight of her life. But how long can an old woman thwart fate?