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Book Preview: Spring brings flings, engagement rings, historical fiction

(Joy Chen/Daily Bruin)

By Sydney Gaw, Reid Sperisen, Kaycie Rippe, and Yuna Choi

April 4, 2024 1:25 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article misspelled the character Luzia Cotado's name in a sentence.

This post was updated April 4 at 10:13 p.m.

With flowers in full bloom, the literary landscape is abuzz with a bouquet of new releases.

Bibliophiles will rejoice as the spring heralds a fresh crop of captivating tales. From sweeping historical fantasy to heartwarming romance, this season invites book lovers to immerse themselves in stories that will linger long after the wisterias wilt.

Grab a basket and step into Daily Bruin’s garden of spring literature recommendations.

(Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers)
The cover of “The Familiar” is pictured. Leigh Bardugo’s latest novel takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. (Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers)

“The Familiar” by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo’s newest novel made her ancestral history more familiar.

Bardugo’s newest historical fantasy “The Familiar” will be unveiled in bookstores April 9, exploring a corrupt pursuit of power in politics, magic, religion and love. In 16th century Madrid, servant Luzia Cotado uses her gift for magic to help her in ceaseless tasks. But when her mistress discovers her ability, she commands Cotado to use her powers to help the family’s position in society. Cotado’s miracles soon gain the attention of Víctor de Paredes and his “familiar” Guillén de Santángel, who sponsor her in a fatal game of miracles and deceit. However, Cotado’s newfound fame and romance threaten to reveal her hidden Jewish heritage, which could end in deadly consequences set forth by the Inquisition.

Bardugo came to fame through her debut “Shadow and Bone” trilogy, which grew into the multiple-series Grishaverse and television series of the same name. Reaching deep into her own personal history, Bardugo used the lost language Ladino which belonged to the exiled Jewish community during the Inquisition’s control as the foundation for “The Familiar” magic system. She stated that creating this linguistic connection to Cotado’s exiled people also helped her connect to her lost Jewish ancestors who were expelled from Spain in 1492. Bardugo has a track record of connecting her fiction to her personal history, setting her bestselling “Alex Stern” duology at her alma mater Yale University.

Tied to the real world, this novel may have higher stakes than the “Six of Crows” duology.

– Kaycie Rippe

(Courtesy of Penguin Random House)
The cover of “Funny Story” is pictured. Emily Henry’s latest novel follows two individuals who begin a fake relationship with each other to spite their former partners. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

“Funny Story” by Emily Henry

Opposites attract, but not always in the way one would expect.

Emily Henry’s comedic new novel, “Funny Story,” will hit bookshelves April 23. In her upcoming contemporary romance, Henry will grace readers with a humorous love story about two seemingly opposite people who have the wrong thing in common. After Daphne’s fiance leaves her for his childhood best friend, Petra, she ventures to Waning Bay, Michigan for a fresh start and moves in with the only person who could understand her predicament – Petra’s ex, Miles. The two become friends and concoct a plan that involves deliberately posting photos of their summer together. However, as time goes on, Daphne begins to wonder if she could actually be falling in love with her ex-fiance’s new fiancee’s ex.

“Funny Story” was named a Most Anticipated book of 2024 by TIME, Goodreads and Entertainment Weekly, and longtime fans are just as excited about the veteran romance writer’s latest tale. In “Funny Story,” the author best known for novels “Beach Read,” “People We Meet on Vacation” and “Happy Place” turns a funny situation into an even funnier story.

Whether readers are trying to overcome a bad breakup or just spice up their lives with a little humor, Henry’s newest title speaks for itself.

– Sydney Gaw

(Courtesy of Penguin Random House)
The cover of “The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War” is pictured. Erik Larson’s latest work details the five months between Abraham Lincoln’s election and the beginning of the Civil War. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

“The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War” by Erik Larson

Breaking apart a nation isn’t nearly as difficult as making one.

Erik Larson has once again given readers the opportunity to be transported to the past with “The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War.” Releasing April 30, the novel reconstructs the events and personalities that shaped the tumultuous five month period between the election of Abraham Lincoln and the start of the Civil War. Through describing this time period, Larson aims to depict how political intrigue, societal upheaval and misunderstandings culminated in the division of a nation.

As the New York Times bestselling author of “The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz” and “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America,” Larson has made a name for himself as a prominent writer of narrative nonfiction. Following his track record, “The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War” was named a most anticipated book of the year by the New York Times, TIME and Men’s Health.

Clearly, Larson’s newest political horror story promises to deliver an immersive journey through a dark chapter of America’s history.

–Yuna Choi

(Courtesy of Penguin Random House)
The cover of “Lies and Weddings” is pictured. Kevin Kwan’s latest novel includes romance, family drama and a murder mystery. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

“Lies and Weddings” by Kevin Kwan

In Kevin Kwan’s latest work, there may be trouble in paradise.

Kwan’s fifth book and first since “Sex and Vanity” in 2020, “Lies and Weddings” will up the ante by melding forbidden love, the chaos of a destination wedding and murder in one riveting tale. Hitting bookshelves May 21, the novel promises to bring the romantic warmth and comedic edge of Kwan’s previous works while introducing readers to a fresh cast of dynamic characters.

Leading the story of “Lies and Weddings” is protagonist Rufus Leung Gresham, a young man whose parents’ once-vast fortune has all but evaporated. Gresham is faced with a complicated choice – cave to the pressure of his mother to find a wealthy wife who can alleviate the Greshams’ financial woes, or pursue his working class neighbor and longtime love Eden Tong. At his sister’s wedding, Gresham must decide the course of his future just as decades of family deception – and a murder – come to light.

For readers hoping for a spring fling or anticipating a summer getaway, “Lies and Weddings” is sure to provide ample entertainment.

– Reid Sperisen


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