3 books to make you laugh out loud

Plus the changing publishing landscape and political thrillers by politicians

Hey, readers!

It’s been a busy week over here, filled with preparation for our Novel Pairings Patreon launch and getting into the final stages of my blog redesign. All of these projects mean lots of writing and editing and second-guessing and excitement!

I’ve shared more about the Novel Pairings Patreon in the End Notes of this newsletter, and I recommend signing up for the Novel Pairings newsletter to get even more insider info. As for the blog redesign, it’s a long time coming! My FictionMatters blog has been mostly defunct for the last six months or so. Writing this newsletter has filled that gap, but I miss writing longer pieces and book lists. Plus, as the FictionMatters community continues to expand I need a landing place for all of my projects that feels like me. While it served me well, I was never in love with the aesthetics of my old site. This time around, I’m working with a wonderful designer named Jenna who is building my the website of my dreams. Actually, it’s quite superior to the website of my dreams because Jenna’s creative eye far surpasses my own!

I’m hopeful the blog will launch sometime in March (hooray!) and will be a place for me to share even more book recommendations as well as all the things I’m watching, listening to, making, and loving. And don’t worry, this newsletter will continue to show up in you inbox every Sunday too.

This week in books.

This week I read…

  • While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams (out 5/11). I honestly have no idea how Stacey Abrams not only has time to do everything she does, but to do it all supremely well. I don’t read a lot of political thrillers so I don’t have much to compare this to, but to me, While Justice Sleeps was a complex but fast-paced ride of a story that had me invested from the first page. Amazon | Bookshop

  • Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Montiz. I’m a new convert to short story collections and was eager to pick this one up after seeing all the rave reviews. In this collection, Montiz explores the lives of BIPOC women and girls in Florida. The way she creates a sense of place is of particular note and some of the characters in these pages are unforgettable. I do feel that the collection was hit or miss for me overall, although I like the connecting thread of the Florida setting. The title story was the standout for me, but it happened to come first so the rest felt like a bit of a let down despite solid writing throughout. Amazon | Bookshop

Now I’m reading…

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. I tried this one last year when it was getting a lot of buzz and it just didn’t grab me. This time around, I started listening to it on audio and now I’m hooked! Amazon | Bookshop

Three books to make you laugh out loud.

We made it through February, but the winter blues are still lingering. If you’re looking for a little levity, these three books are guaranteed to make you grin.

  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. For a joy-filled and humorous memoir that doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff (and must be listened to on audio, where it’s read by Noah himself*). Amazon | Bookshop

  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. To laugh at and with Alice and an absurd memory-loss plot line that not only works, but is downright moving. Amazon | Bookshop

  • Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby. For a collection of unflinching essays from a relatable curmudgeon you’ll want as your IRL friend. Amazon | Bookshop

*Use this link to get 2 Libro.fm audiobooks for the price of 1.

Links I love.

A wave of new hires and new imprints may mean major change for the literary landscape.

This is a great listen to learn more about Octavia Butler’s impact on the sci-fi genre and the book world in general.

There are lots of wonderful titles being released this March.

3 cold weather YA thrillers to add to your TBR for the last weeks of winter.

Hillary Clinton is teaming up with long-time friend Louise Penny to write a political thriller.

End notes.

Watching: We finished The Crown! It honestly feels like a major accomplishment (it was slow going for us) but the fourth season was by far my favorite. In addition to being more invested in the storylines, the added sprinklings of humor in the most recent season felt quite welcome.

Listening: No new podcasts to share, but I’ve been reading a lot about the fallout around The Test Kitchen series I shared a few weeks back.

Making: The Novel Pairings Classics Club! After months of planning, we’re launching our podcast’s Patreon page and have affectionally dubbed it the Classics Club. We are so excited to have a platform where we can share bonus content, engage with listeners, and host live virtual events. Be sure to sign up for the Novel Pairings newsletter to get the Patreon link delivered to your inbox first thing Monday!

Loving: Baggu masks. Yes, it stinks that we’ll all be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, but I’m thrilled to have finally found masks that fit well, work with glasses, and are legitimately comfortable. These have a wire nose bridge, adjustable ear straps, and a filter pocket. I’ve ordered multiple packs, and they’re the only masks I wear now (besides the paper masks I wear beneath them, of course).

I’m also loving my Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm from Farmacy that I ordered last week. All the mask-wearing has been causing some breakouts and this stuff helps me wash off the day without stripping my skin of moisture (very important in the Colorado climate!).

Readers, I hope you find some books that make you smile this week. For questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing fictionmattersbooks@gmail.com or responding directly to this newsletter. I love hearing from you!

If you’re looking for more book recommendations and delightful bookish community, consider supporting FictionMatters on Patreon.

And if you enjoyed today’s newsletter, please forward it to a book-loving friend. That’s a great way to spread bookish cheer and support the newsletter!

Happy reading!


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