When best friends Drew and Shane spot the new girl to school, they both fall for her at first sight, she’s beautiful and a band nerd like them. Rather than both vying for her attention and possibly ruining their friendship, they agree on a coin toss, an old tradition of theirs to avoid fighting between them. The story starts with Drew winning the coin toss and we see what unfolds for these three if one fate unfolded. Halfway through after a tragic turn, the story flips and tells us what fate would have in store if the coin flip went to Shane instead.
The author does a great job at showing the complexity of adolescence, the struggles with family, the petty fights between friends and the intensity of young love. I appreciated that the story stayed clean and while there were light mentions of drugs and sex, our main protagonists stayed pretty PG. The family issues were pretty intense to read and we saw the impact of parents decisions on their children’s lives and how that helped to bond these three together. The music talk and banter between Shane and Stevie is fabulous and so fun to read.
The lower star rating for me translates to two things:
1. I found Stevie to be quite selfish and annoying at times with her disrespect for her parents and her treatment of the boys
2. The ending is open to interpretation… if I wanted to write a book I would, I chose to read one so I expect the author to complete the story. That doesn’t happen here, so be forewarned. There are lessons but not resolution. That’s not my favorite type of story, but it might be perfect for you. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Wednesday Books for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
Do you like an ending open to interpretation or does it make you Hulk out like it does for me?
I’ve been hearing people rave about John Gwynne for years and while I love fantasy, I always found his books intimidating. But I decided to give this new trilogy a go, I mean it has a dragon on the cover, surely it’s good.
I was rewarded with a complex story of fierce warriors fighting each fighting for their own vengeance or glory. I loved how there were strong women who were equally capable to the male warriors, some who were even more impressive. Our three heroes whose motivations are all slowly unraveled to us as they draw nearer and nearer to their goals and it turns out, one another is masterfully written. Like GRRM’s ASOIF series, these are all characters painted in shades of grey who you learn to love despite their faults.
While the battle scenes are brutal and gruesome at times, it’s not all about blood and glory. Although, let’s be honest the blood and glory is fabulous. The story has poignant moments and funny moments and passionate moments. There are life lessons and betrayals a plenty. Not as much magic or dragons as I’d hoped for a story with this title but I’ve got to assume that the bulk of that is coming in book two. Generally, I don’t start a series until all of the books are out and I sort of wish I did that with this series but that said, I’d get lost in this world again in a heartbeat.
Now rushing off to add all of Gwynne’s books to my TBR…
Who’s the most recent “new to you” author that made you want to fill your TBR with their works?
I feel like June was kind of a slow month for me, even though I was on vacation I spent more time in the pool than actually reading. But I managed to finish 20 books and FINALLY got my Netgalley percentage to 40%, it’s a steep mountain to climb y’all!
The Kingdoms ⭐️⭐️
The Charm Offensive ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Tenant ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Malibu Rising ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Safe Place ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Maidens ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Legends of the North Cascades ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Home Sweet Mess ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Lights of Prague ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Tragedy of Dane Riley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Cuts that Cure ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Fiancée ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Florence Adler Swims Forever ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Finding Napoleon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Everyone in this Room Will Someday be Dead ⭐️⭐️
The Shadow of the Gods ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I had three five star reads this month and would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.
“I asked first. When no Justice is forthcoming, a man has the right to make his own.”
I’ll admit, I am not a great expert on Napoleon or that particular time in European history. For some reason, it’s just an era that has not sparked my interest before now. When I got the opportunity from Booksparks to read Finding Napoleon, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge about an infamous figure which had previously been relegated to the dusty corners of my mind.
We join Napoleon as he is beginning to lose his final campaign and is entered into exile on St Helena where he will (spoiler alert) later die. We see his fierce devotion to his son, “Eaglet,” and his sensitive heart as his second wife spurns him as he begins to fall from grace. As his confinement on St Helena progresses he maintains that he has asked for sanctuary from the British even though he is treated as a prisoner. He takes up writing a novel based on his life that he had abandoned years before and we learn more about what shaped him into the powerful leader he was. Meanwhile, his few trusted servants are trying to find a way for him to escape exile and he learns that not all are as trusted as he hoped.
I was stuck by his sense of justice and how his strong opinions shaped him as a leader but made him quite unliked among his peers even early on in his military career. I was also amazed by his passion and how deeply he fell in love. He was quite sensitive and easily hurt by a lover or his parents or friends when he perceived a slight. It is of course historical fiction and doubly so because parts of this novel are taken from his own novel which was surely embellished by a dying man. The nobility and devotion that he perceives of his own actions was really interesting to see a glimpse into the mind of someone with so much power who thinks they are doing the right thing but only seeing things from the one perspective. I liked multiple POV and multiple time points as well as the book within a book as methods of telling the story. All in all a great read with lots of intrigue!
Thanks to Booksparks for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
What’s a time period in history you’d like to read more about?
Drama. Drama. Drama. When Summer joins her husband’s family for a vacation week at their Pennsylvania estate she is overjoyed at the thought of spending time with this peaceful, loving family. When an unexpected guest joins them she begins to fear the disruption to their bonding time, her worst fears are realized when one of the beloved family members turns up dead. She knows that this newcomer is to blame and she is determined to prove it. Even as she begins to gather compelling evidence that her brother-in-law’s new fiancee is to blame, her husband doesn’t want to hear it. As Summer’s panic increases you are left wondering if we’ve got an unreliable narrator or if someone in the family has something to hide… or if they all do. Just who is this new fiancee, why is Summer so anxious and might someone else turn up dead?
I really enjoyed this book, it was a great page turner with lots of hair raising moments and suspicion. But the ending just did not do it for me. The curse of the thriller, great book on track for 5 stars and then the rug is pulled out from under you. So I took off half a star. But it could just be me so if you like a fast paced, well written thriller then definitely check this one out! Thanks to Harper for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
For me thrillers are about indulgence, when I saw this new Ben and Jerry’s flavor, I just had to try it and I wasn’t disappointed. It won’t unseat my favorite Americone Dream but it deserves an honorable mention. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Betty is “tall, thin and lost.” She’s just Anthony Marino’s type. Anthony is Hollywood’s it boy and he thinks Betty is perfect for his new project. He offers her $40,000 to join the film which has no script and will require her to change her appearance and spend a few weeks in a remote Maine cabin with the very small cast. For a young, broke actress looking for her big break it sounds like the perfect summer project.
The writing is very atmospheric and builds a clear picture of isolation and creepiness as they arrive at the cabin. Between booze and bad weather, Betty’s paranoia about what this project actually is begins to hit a fever pitch. She’s dealing with her father’s recent suicide and her demons make her much more accepting of the red flags she sees in Anthony. All throughout the story she is balancing between her growing feelings for him and her unease at just what this film is rooted in.Is it a creative project or a harsh dose of revenge?
The writing was good, there were times where I was as suspicious as Betty and times where I was just thinking you signed up for this and all you’ve done is complain. The story crosses a line from creepy to violent and it doesn’t look back. The movie within the story is based on Cape Fear and I’d say that it does a great job of encapsulating that madness. I was waiting for a bigger twist than the ones that happened. Truly I would label this one more as horror than thriller but if you like creepy revenge stories then this one will be for you.
Thanks to Berkley Books for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
What’s the last book that made the hairs on your neck prickle?
“What did anyone ever know about a relationship that could look as transparent as a Coke bottle one moment and as milky as sea glass the next?”
I picked this book up expecting a fun summer story about a strong woman in history doing something amazing, but boy was I shaken by the turn this book took. I don’t want to give too many specifics without giving spoilers but essentially it’s the story about the real lives of a Jewish family in the 1930’s. This family love each other fiercely that they go to unimaginable lengths to protect one another. Joseph and Esther are the parents any one of us could want they are successful and kind and want the best for their daughters. Stuart was also a great character with morals beyond his age and background.
For much of the story I was really annoyed by Fannie and Isaac’s selfish behavior. I was happy to see that their daughter Gussie had the great influence of her grandparents in her life. I appreciated that the author’s note clarified the real story as that bumped it up a half a star for me, knowing that those were story devices to add tension rather than real actions of real people. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
This was one on my insanely long list of Netgalley requests that I just never got to around its pub date. I’ve had myself on request restriction for a month or so now and it’s helping me catch up. How do you decide which backlist titles to tackle in amongst the amazing shiny new books being published each day?
The Cuts that Cure is one of those novels where as each domino falls, you assume you know where things are going but you’re wrong every time. I haven’t read a more suspenseful read in a long time. The story builds slowly as we get to know each of the characters and the circumstances that lead them to the choices they make. There were a couple of fabulous jaw drop moments that I’m not sure I’ll ever get out of my head.
Alex is a doctor who has reached the end of his rope as a surgeon and has decided to quit. A case comes in that final fateful day and he leaves in a manner that will have you cheering for him but it leads to his license being revoked and his future looking dimmer than ever. When he finds his feet again it’s as a small town science teacher realizing that starting fresh may be an illusion. Enter Henry, a student in that small town with a serious dark side. The way things pan out from there will twist your melon for sure.
There are definitely some graphic scenes of very dark violence here. Be aware going in that you may have a few stomach turning moments ahead. There are also some moments where you begin to question good versus evil and when crossing a line may be morally grey. The tone and great character arcs where folks are driven to lengths you never imagined on one page and even further on the next reminded me of Breaking Bad. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
What’s the last book that you couldn’t predict where the plot was going?
Today I’ve got a new stack of bookmail for you featuring a new bookish t-shirt from Novelgrounds that I saw on Insta and just had to have!
Anywhooo, onto the books… this week I received:
The Children of Jocasta purchased from Book Depository
I was absolutely obsessed with Natalie Haynes’s A Thousand Ships when I read it in my post-Circe mythology obsession, it was my favorite of the bunch. So when I was browsing BD one day I was intrigued to come across The Children of Jocasta which has been out since 2018… what?! Where was I?! This novel is based on the classic stories Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone. And it’s free on Kindle Unlimited if you’re interested, I just wanted a physical copy and the one with that cover!
Here is the synopsis:
“Thebes is a city in mourning, still reeling from a devastating plague that invaded every home and left the survivors devastated and fearful. This is the Thebes that Jocasta has known her entire life, a city ruled by a king—her husband-to-be.
Jocasta struggles through this miserable marriage until she is unexpectedly widowed. Now free to choose her next husband, she selects the handsome, youthful Oedipus. When whispers emerge of an unbearable scandal, the very society that once lent Jocasta its support seems determined to destroy her.
Ismene is a girl in mourning, longing for the golden days of her youth, days spent lolling in the courtyard garden, reading and reveling in her parents’ happiness and love. Now she is an orphan and the target of a murder plot, attacked within the very walls of the palace. As the deadly political competition swirls around her, she must uncover the root of the plot—and reveal the truth of the curse that has consumed her family.”
Secret Life of a Hollywood Sex & Love Addictgifted from Brianne Davis
I’m grateful to the author Brianne Davis for reaching out to me and offering a copy of her novel, it looks like a salacious read.
Here is the synopsis:
“Imagine if Sex and the City’s Samantha discovered she was an addict and her drug of choice was men. Go on a hilarious, inspiring, and at times, shocking journey as Roxanne conquers her fears, changes her ways, gets closer to healthy relationships and begins loving herself a little more each day.
After years of working as an image-obsessed actress in Hollywood, Roxanne finds herself at rock bottom from a disease that is anything but glamorous. In her first year of recovery, Roxanne has to take accountability for her past. From tales of being mistaken for a prostitute at the Hotel Bel-Air to botching a threesome attempt with an A-list celebrity, she must face the truth about herself and stop playing the victim.
Roxanne’s odyssey of using sex and love – as destructive and beguiling as an alcoholic reaching for a bottle – is a veritable rollercoaster of ups and downs, laughter and tears, and a true testament to facing your absolute truth and conquering your fears.
Secret Life of a Hollywood Sex & Love Addict has the vibrant, relatable vibe of chick lit, the soul-baring honesty of a memoir and the wisdom of a self-help book.
In this unique roman à clef novel, Brianne Davis shares her own intimate experience with the transformational power of recovery, providing strength and hope for anyone who wants to change their life forever.
So take a front-row seat into this complex world and the 10 RULES Roxanne learns along the way.”
The Temple House Vanishing gifted from Algonquin Books
Thanks to Algonquin Books for providing me with an advanced copy of this one, I’m quite intrigued by the premise. I love a dark academia setting with a mystery.
Here’s the synopsis:
At Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.
Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.
Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle – igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.
There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the 25th anniversary, a journalist – a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa – delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?
Because remember – at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.
Unclean Hand gifted from Henry Rakowski
I’m grateful to the author Henry Rakowski reaching out to me to offer me a copy of his new novel. It sounds like an interesting read and is free on Kindle Unlimited if you’re interested. Here’s the synopsis:
Unclean Hands is set in 1996, when Tyler Greenspan, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, and his best friend, David Levine, are recruited by the International Jewish Congress to investigate the cover-up after World War II by Swiss banks’ closing dormant bank accounts opened by victims of the Holocaust. After gaining access to a long forgotten vault in Geneva, they find a gold ingot with a swastika along with documents that indict the Swiss banking industry of the wrongs and they report their findings to the IJC.
Confronted by the evidence, the Swiss banking industry agrees to fund a Holocaust Victims’ fund that will be administered by the United Nations. Now Tyler and David find themselves being targeted for death. They learn a shadowy organization seeks vengeance after its leader blames them for his decision to commit suicide—A decision triggered by the findings resulting from Tyler and David’s investigation into the Swiss banking industry.
After meeting the love of his life in the form of a stunningly beautiful Mossad agent, Tyler finds himself part of a larger international team assigned to prevent the resurrection of a malevolence hell-bent on becoming a superpower. Tyler learns that one of history’s most vile figures has filed a competing claim with the Holocaust Victim’s fund, despite having unclean hands, and vows to preserve the claim funds for Holocaust victims.
Tyler, David and the granddaughters of Holocaust figures embark to complete the investigation and race to locate Adolf Hitler’s personal hoard of hidden gold.
Recent revelations demonstrated that the history taught to us about the reported death of Adolf Hitler has been inaccurate. These include DNA evidence from Hitler’s bones retrieved from a KGB vault, declassified FBI files and re-discovered transcripts from the Nuremberg trials. Based upon the research, it is as likely that Hitler survived the fall of Berlin as it is that he perished there.
Circus of Wonders purchased from Goldsboro Books
First of all, I’m obsessed with Goldsboro Books they have amazing special editions that are signed and numbered and have insanely gorgeous sprayed and stenciled edges. Plus I always love a UK cover more than a US one.
Here’s the synopsis:
Step up, step up! In 1860s England, circus mania is sweeping the nation. Crowds jostle for a glimpse of the lion-tamers, the dazzling trapeze artists and, most thrilling of all, the so-called “human wonders.”
When Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders pitches its tent in a poor coastal town, the life of one young girl changes forever. Sold to the ringmaster as a “leopard girl” because of the birthmarks that cover her body, Nell is utterly devastated. But as she grows close to the other performers, she finds herself enchanted by the glittering freedom of the circus, and by her own role as the Queen of the Moon and Stars.
Before long, Nell’s fame spreads across the world—and with it, a chance for Jasper Jupiter to grow his own name and fortune. But what happens when her fame begins to eclipse his own, when even Jasper’s loyal brother Toby becomes captivated by Nell? No longer the quiet flower-picker, Nell knows her own place in the world, and she will fight for it.
Agorgeously wrought exploration of celebrity, power and belonging, this is a historical novel unlike any other, with an unforgettable heroine at its heart.
Threadneedle purchased fromGoldsboro Books
While I think the synopsis of this one sounds good, I bought this one 100% for the stenciled edges of London.
How gorgeous is that?! Here’s the synopsis:
Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.
Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.
It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.
Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?
The Wolf Den purchased from Goldsboro Books
Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…
Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.
But Amara’s spirit is far from broken.
By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?
Set in Pompeii’s lupanar, The Wolf Den reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.
Have you read any of these? What was your last bookmail?