REVIEW: On the Savage Side

Oh dear lord, is this book heartbreaking. I should have known after reading Betty. But I didn’t imagine that every single page could be so devastating. I borrowed this audiobook from the library and had to renew my loan three times. I knew I wanted to hear the whole story, but it was entirely too dark at times for me to listen to more than a chapter or two in one go.

The synopsis makes the book sound like a murder mystery, but I would say it’s more of a story about grief and loss and poverty and addiction. Arcade and Daffofil are twin sisters, two halves of a whole. They’re “raised” by their mother and aunt who are drug addicted prostitutes, and I use the word raised in quotation marks for a reason. Their lives are an absolute horror from the neglect to the emotional abuse to sexual abuse, and their own dissent into addiction. You quickly love these girls so much, and are devastated by how their lives progress.

The ending was not at all what I expected and it punched a story that would have been four stars up to five stars for me. I don’t think I’ll stop thinking about this book for a long time. It really helps to build a lot of empathy for people who have found themselves in similar situations.

This is a book I will not forget for a long time, what’s the last book you read that you can’t stop thinking about?

REVIEW: The Endless Vessel

Charles Soule has an interesting mind. This one kept me wondering the whole time. It is a bit of a heavy handed commentary on the greediness and misery of humanity, but I loved the unique package it is delivered in. We get two distinct timelines. A slightly future Hong Kong where Lily lives and works as a materials scientist. The world is in decline with most of humanity suffering from a disease called The Grey where all hope is lost. Lily is surprised by when a revolutionary device is demo-ed for her. It will change the world. She is immediately intrigued both by the technology and by a hidden message meant just for her. As she begins to investigate, she learns about a secret advanced society which throws our story back to post-revolutionary America. I’ll stop there because anything more would be a spoiler, although there is a fun cameo from Benjamin Franklin!

I was so intrigued by both halves of the story. Lily’s backstory is really interesting but I was even more enthralled by Molly’s story in the 1700’s. It has just enough science to be a wow but not enough where the average reader will be turned off. 

Check this one out if you enjoy Blake Crouch or Andy Weir.

Thanks to Harper Perennial for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

REVIEW: Alone with You in the Ether

“I like it,” he said.


He loosened the wine from his lips. “Your brain.”


“I think you carry around a sadness from another life,” she said. “From centuries ago.” She traced his mouth, his cheeks, his eyes, practicing for something he would never understand. “You’ve just been carrying it around for so long that you can’t put it down, can you? It’s yours now. You’ve been tasked with looking after it. You’re like Atlas.”


This book is such a gut punch. There are a few books of made me feel as emotional as this one did. It really explores mental illness in the way that really resonated with me. I really appreciate it how explicitly it showed Regan’s life while she was properly medicated, and under specialist care versus when she shirked support. I felt like it really captured the balance between spinning out and feeling feelings. I also liked that we got to see two of her relationships, and how the one with Marc while medicated was wholly different from the one with Aldo.

I think for most people, Aldo will be harder to connect with. The conversations about mathematics and time travel, and bees may be too obscure and unusual and intense for some readers. But I really loved it. 

Their banter and conversation was so entertaining and resonant.

The end was not quite what I hoped… but I get it and that won’t keep me from recommending this story to everyone, it was a 5 star read for sure!

I’ve found a new favorite drink… blackberry jasmine ice tea. (This is not an ad, I legit bought this.) So many people on booksta post their coffee and tea posts but I’m not a fan of hot drinks, so I feel a little left out. But this fancy blue ice tea tastes great and matches this book perfectly! What’s your favorite drink to pair with your reads?

Pub Week REVIEW: The Broken Hearts Club

High school is hard. Dating in high school is even harder. Imogen has it even harder as she can see people’s auras, particularly when they are in love. This means too much pressure for any boy who might fancy her. So she creates a fake insta relationship with a boy she meets once. She felt like it was a victimless crime. Until that boy finds out. At first, he agrees to help her fake their breakup so she can have a chance with her real crush. But then they vibe and the stakes change. She is forced to face her actions, everyone she hurt and grow up a little bit as she learns what love is really like.

This was cute. Especially if you can tolerate a little self-centered teen drama. I went from really liking Imogen and her friends to being quite annoyed with them. She does get her comeuppance which felt gratifying to read. This one definitely takes some common rom-com tropes and gives them a new twist.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

This one publishes tomorrow so get your pre-orders in! What’s the last book you pre-ordered?

May wrap up

This month I read 33 books with 3 DNFs.

📱 The Ferryman* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

🎧 Love, Pamela ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📱  The Broken Hearts Club* ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

🎧  The Salt Grows Heavy* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📘  The Half Moon* ⭐️⭐️⭐️

🎧  Yellowface* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

🎧 Booth ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📗 The Sea of Tranquility* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📱 Pod – DNF

📕 Dead Romantics ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📱 Clytemnestra* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📱 House of Cotton ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📙 Famous for a Living* ⭐️⭐️⭐️

🎧 Drowning* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📱 The Chateau* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📘 Aloha Vietnam* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📗 Rogue Justice* ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📕 The Power ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📙 Dykette* – DNF

📱 The Adult ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📘 In the Lives of Puppets ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐💫

📱 The Final Party* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📗 The Bleeding ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📱 Halcyon* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📕 The Lost Wife* ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

🎧 The Starless Crown ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

🎧 On the Savage Side ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

🎧 Really Good, Actually – DNF️

📱 Lucky Turtle* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📙 The Fourth Wing ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📱 Weyward* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📘 The Garden of Lost Secrets* ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

📗 Killing Moon* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📱 Psyche and Eros* ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📕 Alone with You in the Ether ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

📙 Big Gay Wedding* ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

* denotes gifted book

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a month with 5 5-star reads, it’s darn hard to pick a favorite. What was your favorite read of the month?

REVIEW: Big Gay Wedding

Barnett is from small town Louisiana, grew up on a sheltered farm in a little bigoted town. He knew he was gay, but had to move away in order to be himself. Now he is back. His mother thinks he’s back to take over the farm now that his father has passed. But he’s really back to tell her he’s getting married. She is Catholic and scandalized. But when the fiancé and his family show up, the wedding plans are kicked into high gear, and she must learn to cope before she is left out.

This is a fun, heartwarming and poignant story. I enjoyed that each character had an arc of growth in the story even though it took place over a short period of time. I felt like some of the characters started off as stereotypes and evolved into something much more complex. As a couple Barnett and Ezra reminded me of David and Patrick from Schitt’s Creek, their families were just as interesting and quirky.

Thanks to Book Sparks for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.

If you’re married, what was your wedding like? If not, what do you want it to be like?

REVIEW: Lucky Turtle

Cindra is a teenage girl who gets herself, caught up in a bad situation. Since she is white with no priors, she is offered the opportunity to go to a behavioral modification camp in Montana rather than serve jail time. Quite quickly she is a fish out of water, but she finds refuge in one of the young male employees. Lucky is a mixed race boy who keeps quiet, and does his work. When he and Cindra fall in love, they run away together and live in a remote cabin. We are with them as they survive, hunting, gardening and avoiding capture. Cut to years later when they are apart and we learn how that happened and where their lives took them, always hoping to recapture the feeling they had with one another.

I really enjoyed this story. At first and they are just misunderstood young people trying to find their way and then later in life has really beat them down how they find hope. There’s quite a bit of racism and prejudice in the story, which is hard to read, but probably quite accurate. I enjoyed the complexity of luckey and his family‘s backstory. I also really like the survival aspects and for those who like a romance you can really route for I think Lucky and Cindra will give you that.

Thanks to Algonquin Books for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.

What are your reading plans for the weekend?

REVIEW: The Garden of Lost Secrets

WWII had an impact on so many people’s lives. Stasia is a young girl from Rotterdam who visits her grandparents’ farm in France for the summer. While there she meets a young man and they form a friendship that leads to young love. When the war breaks out we follow them both, Nicolas goes off to serve in the war and Stasia finds a way to serve as well. They deal with all of the heartbreaks of the war and both fear for the other’s safety as they are forced apart.

I liked that this was based on a true story, the truth of where it was headed was pretty predictable but I was definitely rooting for Stasia and Nicolas. I liked that while it focuses on the resistance, something there are countless books about, it covered the war in Africa, which I knew a lot less about. I also felt like the fact that the ripple effect of the treachery of the war was clear in Stasia and Nicolas. I think my main criticism of this one other than it covering a well worn topic, was that the present day time point didn’t add anything to the story for me. I’d have preferred just living in the WWII time point. Still a lovely and powerful piece of historical fiction for anyone who enjoys reading about that era.

Thanks to Forever for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.

What’s your favorite flower?

REVIEW: French Holiday

Merry’s best friend is marrying her sister, that sounds like a dream come true, if only she weren’t in love with him herself. After years of pining away for him, her sister, who has stolen everything she loves all of her life, has taken him as well. She decides to go to a French chateau owned by her godmother to lick her wounds following the wedding. A wedding in which she hooked up with the best man, a guy she has no real love for. She arrives and guess who is there? They decide to share the place and slowly realize they may have more in common than they thought.

This was cute, although the “enemies” to lovers thing was more like two people who barely know each other to lovers. Noah’s mysteries were pretty easy to solve. I wish we had a little more character development of Merry. Also I really hated her sister. This one was perfect for a day by the pool but not much more than that.

Thanks to Swift & Lewis Publishing LLC for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

Where’s the last place you went on vacation?

Pub Day REVIEW: Killing Moon

Harry Hole is a disgraced detective drinking himself to death exiled from Norway to LA. He tries to help a friend and gets himself caught up in scrape that sends him straight back to Oslo. There he is hired for a big fee to solve some murders being pinned on a rich bigwig. Along the way he must rely on his former colleagues to solve the case.

Here’s the truth… I have heard about Nesbo’s great crime writing for years… And I even have a few books on the shelf… But I’ll admit this is my first read of his. I’m not sure why I haven’t taken the plunge earlier. I love Nordic noir and great detective stories… and this is both of those executed perfectly. Harry Hole is an excellent protagonist, completely flawed and yet you can’t help but root for him. The baddie in this one has a serious backstory and insane method of attracting his victims. This biologist loved it! I loved that we got chapters in his POV, it added to the intensity.

Killing Moon is suspenseful crime fiction at its best. Read this if you enjoy Katrine Engberg or Michael Connelly.

Thanks to Knopf for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.

Anything publishing today that you’re excited about?