“Prague did not know Domek, did not need him, but his life was overlaid on the ancient streets in watercolor, the patterns sheer and impermanent.”
I’ve found another fabulous addition to my vampire book collection. The Lights of Prague is dark and compelling and full of unusual magic and monsters. Domek is a lamplighter, his job, on paper, is to be out at night lighting the gas lamps around the city. Lamplighters, however, are secretly charged with protecting the city from demon attacks. The most fearsome threat are pijavice: immortal soulless former humans who subsist on human blood (essentially vampires). When there are reports that some of these demons have been spotted in the sunlight, the lamplighters group is frantic to figure out how this is possible and stop it before the pijavice become unstoppable.
Not all pijavice are hell-bent on killing humans and grabbing power, in fact there are some hiding in plain sight. When Domek learns that not all demons are as evil as he thought and the cost of the magic giving them this new capability, he must decide whether eradicating all demons is the right path.
I love that Prague itself served as a character, the atmospheric descriptions of every dark corner and gilt theater was so immersive. Domek’s evolution from unwavering vampire hunter to a more nuanced hero was quite satisfying to watch. This is an excellent addition to any vampire, witch or magic lover’s shelves! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
If you were a vampire, would you be a good one trying to fight your nature or a power hungry killer?
I don’t read a ton of contemporary romance, but in the summer they make for great poolside reads. There’s just something about sunshine and happiness that go together. Home Sweet Mess is a saccharine sweet love story that tackles some important issues around relationship trauma and the importance of healing.
Logan is your typical playboy who is looking for more in his fleeting relationships with women but never seems to find anyone worth his full attention. Enter Jeni, his best friend’s twin sister, she is new to Kansas City and he’s quickly enamored with her. They have a bristly meet-cute where Jeni, who has just been divorced and has given up on love, disdains him immediately. They’re thrown together when Jeni’s brother is diagnosed with cancer and needs their love and support. Slowly, Logan begins to chip away at the ice around her heart but Jeni is adamant they will never have anything between them but a “friends with benefits” situation. But, can he charm her and convince her that he is nothing like her ex-husband and is worth giving her heart over forever?
I found the characters quite likable, there were times where Logan’s enthusiasm bordered on too intense and maybe a bit overbearing but the author did a good job at explaining why and having Logan evolve throughout the story. Logan’s love for Jeni was certainly swoon-worthy, he had a way of saying everything a girl wants to hear with such vulnerability. I appreciated being in both of their heads and seeing the source of their conflicts and their arc of healing through the story. I think I would have liked a little more of Andrew’s cancer story, we got glimpses but I felt like there was some meat there that would have made its own great story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Kate Rock Book Tours for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
In this story Jeni and Logan have a bitter sports rivalry… could you ever date someone who cheered for a sports team you despise?
Pulse is a love letter to hardworking, dedicated members of the medical community. The story follows the ins and outs of a Texas emergency room through the point of view of Dr Jackson. We see the tragedies and triumphs of the day to day ER with cases that would confound even Dr House and some that are routine but will really tug at your heart strings.
Dr Jackson himself has lost a child and is suffering through a bad marriage and we see how those things impact how he practices and relates to the folks on his staff. He’s a great father to his remaining daughter and a kind mentor to those he works with. The thread of the stories touch on with grief, physical, emotional and substance abuse as well as the power of kindness and love. There was a great balance between compelling medical cases and a character driven family story. I’d say this one is Virgin River meets ER. It’s going to be a series and I’m looking forward to seeing how these characters progress and what cases they tackle next!
Also, if you’re a chess fan there is a fun throughline related to chess that takes place through the story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Kate Rock Book Tours for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
What’s your favorite way to indulge when you’re lost in the pages of a drama?
“I don’t know if the specific label is important to me.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” she says, “and you’re not obligated to figure it out, or come out, or explain yourself to anyone, ever.”
For Pride Month, I wanted to challenge myself to read something out of my comfort zone. Generally when I come across a queer love story it’s baked into a larger story. Other than Red, White and Royal Blue I hadn’t read a queer focused contemporary romance and I had the perfect ARC waiting for me on Netgalley.
The Charm Offensive is a twist on the Bachelor trope, which of course is my jam, and frankly if they ever had a season like this on the real show it would be amazing. Charlie who is your typical gorgeous tech company owner goes on the show to polish up his image after a work breakdown. As the season progresses he begins to reveal his truths to his handler Dev, he’s not as put together as he appears. Dev is an openly gay producer who also struggles with his mental health. The two form a bond that changes them both forever.
This story is exactly what this world needs right now to help build empathy and understanding. It illustrates the challenges trying to fit into the heteronormative expectations of love and societal norms of mental health. I adored how the story played out and would love to see more stories where characters truly lay themselves bare and yet their evolution is not perfect. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
This one is not out til September but get your pre-orders in!
“We only have three laws in our Society, Cecilia. No killing civilians. Pour the tea before the milk. No stealing each other’s houses.”
———————- “Did they not understand that pirates only stole from the rich to give to the– er, to themselves?” ———————-
“When do you propose we become friends? Before or after you murder me?” “Please, assassinate. After all we’re not corsairs” ———————-
Oh my, what a madcap adventure this book is. If those quotes above tickle your fancy, then this might be the book for you. I’ll admit, at first I was super confused, the world is quite unusual and the world building is not obvious, it just sort of unfolds around you. The Wisteria Society is a group of Victorian female pirates who fly their houses around trying to steal from the rich and have endless vendettas against one another. The plot is a bit nonsensical, but the writing is hilarious if you can keep up with it.
Cecilia is the daughter of a famous female pirate and an infamous male pirate (rare in this world) and is trying to do something dastardly in order to earn her place amongst the society. She is targeted by an assassination plot and the hitman is quite the stud. Immediately, they are drawn to one another and quickly go from being on opposite sides to teaming up in order to free the society from her father’s grip.
If you’re looking for a goofy escape with a little steam for your summer reading list, this is a great choice. There are also fabulous literary allusions throughout. Lovely to see knowledgeable, strong women carry a narrative even if it is about crime and if they are still unnecessarily terrified of the Great Peril (freckles).
Thanks to Berkley for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
“You’re a link in the chain, but it’s more than a chain. It’s like a whole gigantic fabric. A huge quilt. And God, God’s like the needle. God sews it all together. God connects us. It’s a crazy a** quilt, and every square is different, see, but God connects us.”
I love a good wilderness survival story but Legends of the North Cascades is so much more than that. Dave is a man with a Purple Heart and the PTSD to go with it. He struggles with regular life and integrating into society after his three tours in Iraq, the monotony of life and living by rules that he doesn’t agree with lead him to make an unpopular choice. Despite everyone’s objections he decides to take himself and his 7 year old daughter off the grid.
Now, this isn’t Into the Wild, Dave and Bella settle in a cave in the mountains but are within a day’s walk of town and are relying on some modern conveniences like library books. So they’re “selectively” off the grid, but their struggle is not just the battle of outdoor life but with their own emotions. Living with grief and anxiety is not easy and the devotion of these two to protect and challenge one another is both inspiring and hard to read at times. We see their extended family members trying desperately to intervene and their continued fight to live the way they want to. That need is less fueled by the desire to live off the land but rather fueled by their underlying fears and anxieties. We see the depths of isolation and how it can hinder rather than help healing. Can they find a way to overcome and heal and integrate back into society?
My favorite part of the novel was a parallel story about ancient peoples who lived on the same land who were also balancing how to survive and also how to integrate with others of their kind. Bella is experiencing this story as a sort of mechanism for coping with her own life. That story is raw and filled with tragedy and a need for connection with the Great Provider.
This is a great introspective read but delves into some heavy topics. As someone who struggles with some of the same issues, I found the book both resonated with me and triggered me a little so I had to take it slow but I appreciated the journey. Thanks to Algonquin Books for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
How long do you think you could survive “off the grid”?
“There was a word for this moment in Greek tragedy: anagnorisis – recognition – the moment when the hero finally sees the truth and understands his fate – and how it’s always been there, the whole time, in front of him.”
So I was one of the few folks who didn’t think The Silent Patient was the best thing since sliced bread, I did throw the book when the twist was revealed but I thought the book overall was a solid debut but not the best thing I’d ever read. The Maidens however, checked all the boxes for me.
When a young girl turns up dead, a therapist whose niece has a connection to the victim is drawn in thinking she is the only one who sees who the real murderer is. The heat gets turned up as more girls turn up ritually murdered. There are a ton of red herrings and honestly, I didn’t guess who it truly was. I was happy with the reveal although I did go back and re-read some of the sections to be fully satisfied that all I needed was there.
I feared another straightforward unreliable narrator, hoping that Michaelides didn’t revert to the same old trope but I was pleasantly surprised with how as we saw our protagonist unravel we weren’t quite sure whether to trust her or not. You do have to check reality at the door a little, when you see how much access Mariana gets to investigate the murder and interrogate all of the suspects. I don’t think your average therapist would have that access whether or not they had relationships with the impacted parties of a crime. Mariana herself was very likable and I need that to really connect with the story, although she made some choices I wanted to scream at her for.
It was the cultish mythology story that really grasped me though. I loved the weaving of the modern tragedy with Greek mythology and how well the two flowed together. The beauty with which Fosca taught the classics and how inspired he made his students was a bit intoxicating. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What are you reading today? (And yes, that’s my “I forgot my sunglasses, just take the picture already face. 🤣🙈)
When Emily’s dreams as an actress fail, she takes a temp job that seems to not be going any better. The day after she is fired she is offered a unique position as a live in personal assistant for a wealthy family but she must sign an NDA to start. Soon she is whisked off to France to an isolated estate with no WiFi and an unusual mother and daughter whom she must learn to adapt to. Right away she senses something is off, but what is it? Her infatuation with the family and their wealth has her overlooking red flags until it all becomes too much.
I am so underwhelmed these days by “thrillers” that focus more on a jaw dropping twist than building real tension and unease. The Safe Place had a beautiful measured pace where we got to know each of the characters and begin to form our own theories about who might be the villain. I was so intrigued by what might be happening that I could barely tear myself away.
I loved the red herrings, some of which made me annoyed to think that was the direction things were going, but in the end I was so satisfied. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil but I really loved the decisions and where they lead each character. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What’s the last thriller that genuinely surprised you?
Ok, I’ll admit I got this one because I wanted to be on the bandwagon from the start. I loved Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones so I thought Malibu Rising would be the perfect vacation read to sink my teeth into. It was atmospheric and certainly fit with my vacation vibe but it was just a like not love for me.
The story is about a broken family, these four siblings have done alright for themselves despite their father’s absence. They are bonded as siblings in a way that is so intense and yet there is trouble brewing as they approach the night of their epic annual party.
There is lots of drama but for me there were too many extraneous characters thrown in. I would liked a deeper dive on the four as the story progresses. I think the confrontations were too predictable and more focused on the outburst than the need for healing. Every time I liked a character they would do or say something that felt wrong for me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Not the best outing to TJR but it kept me turning the pages by the pool. Probably the first BOTM I’ve read in a long time the month it was released. What’s the last book you read as soon as you got it?
“Bare your teeth like a predator even if at times you feel more like prey.”
Cha, did this one take me longer to read than I anticipated. It had all the fantasy elements I usually love: witches, pirates, blood magic, long fraught rivalries, bitter betrayals and lots of secrets. But sadly, I just struggled to get into it. The world building was fabulous and immersive but I just didn’t love or want to root for any of the main characters. I’m not sure what was lacking for me, but I couldn’t find the connection I was desperately grasping for with Jazmyne, Iraya or Kirdan. Also, I wasn’t really rooting for the world they were each hoping to create by their rebellion. I’m hoping that this was just a hiccup for me with the first book, as with Children of Blood and Bone (lots of similarities there) and that the second book will be all I hoped for. I do always love a sequel more than a first book.
Sorry for the short review but after 500 pages, I’m struggling to put into words what I wanted and didn’t get. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
What’s the last book that should have ticked all the boxes for you but just didn’t?