JULY WRAP UP

Is it too late to post my July wrap up?!  Life got away from me a little bit…

July is my favorite month – work is a little lighter, weather is super hot and it’s my birthday month. I find most years I read less in the summer because I’m outdoors more enjoying the wonders of the world. That was true this month where I only read 14 books which is light for me, two of them will likely be in my top ten of the year though – Project Hail Mary and Sistersong were both fabulous reads. I was also busy being a chew toy for @happy.herman.the.dog which is great but exhausting, so it ate in to my reading time (pun intended!).

Project Hail Mary ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Where It All Lands ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Temple House Vanishing ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sistersong ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kill All Your Darlings ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

One Last Stop ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Final Girl Support Group ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Impersonation ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Small Favors ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Last Nomad ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Dead and the Dark ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cazadora ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

What was your favorite read of July?

REVIEW: The River Has Teeth

What an unusual dark fantasy Erica Waters has created with The River Has Teeth! The Lloyd family has been one with the magic of The Bend for generations. They are that unusual family who lives outside of town that no one wants to associate until they need something. Potions, that is. Potions for their cheating husbands, to reveal the truths behind the lies or for revenge. But the magic seems to have a price, it turned Della’s mother into a fierce river siren.

She does everything she can to care for her mother despite her monstrous state, providing food and care and keeping her hidden away from the world. When a girl goes missing in their woods, Della is worried that her mother might be responsible. She wants nothing more than to protect her mother but she is torn about also protecting young girls like her. She is inevitably drawn into the search for the missing girl by Natasha who wants a potion to reveal her sister’s kidnapper.

Natasha appears to be everything Della is not, beautiful, privileged and accepted. Or is she? In the search for Natasha’s missing sister these two confront monsters, dabble in magic and find the source of their own power as well as fall madly in love with one another.

The magic was fun and different in this one. The girls were genuine and principled and a joy to watch protect those who they loved. Lots of bada** feminist sapphic witch magic in this one!

Thanks to Harper Teen for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

REVIEW: One Two Three

OMG – I love this book! The format, the characters, the mystery and in this case… the narrator of the audiobook.

One Two Three is the story of a town, a town ravaged by a disaster, one that impacted their water and caused lots of deaths and birth defects. Mab, Monday and Mirabel are triplets born after their father has died of cancer and each with their own challenges from the poisoning. Mab is the average hopeful teen, one who is an exception in the town, but her life is pretty hopeless for a glittering future. Monday, is maybe my favorite character ever committed to the page, she is neurodiverse and her brain is so amazing. I loved every word of her dialogues, her view on the world and how literal she took every word spoken. Mirabel is the smartest, a genius trapped in a wheelchair with no ability to care for herself and only able to communicate via a computer. Their mother is the town’s Erin Brokovich trying to get the chemical company suspected of the poisoning to pay.

The story is told in alternating chapters through each girl’s perspective with their voice and their logic and their emotions. The three and their town are thrown into turmoil when the family who owns the closed chemical plant returns to town with plans to reopen. The girls co-opt the family’s son, River, telling him the truth of what happened to the town and bringing them into their schemes to get evidence against the plant before it re-opens. We see all the indignant precociousness of teens and the blossoming of young love, what it means to compromise your beliefs for your friends and face the truth of the world around you. The town is full of fabulous characters that I would love to hear more about.

A beautiful story of acceptance, familial love, loyalty and doing the right thing in the face of the worst adversity. Do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook for this one, the performance has me wanting to give this book all the stars.

Thanks to librofm for a copy of this ALC. All opinions above are my own.

What’s the last audiobook where the performance blew you away?

REVIEW: Where the Truth Lies

Where the Truth Lies is a mystery that takes place in a small town full of despicable people. I’m not sure I’ve read a book where I literally disliked everyone, including the victim. When Abi goes missing we get to see how this small town turns against one another as their secrets are slowly revealed. 

The mystery part was good, I certainly suspected everyone along the way. But what I didn’t love was the writing. The descriptions of things were too flowery and weird at times with passages like, “The whole house feels like a slab of old butter that has formed a rind around the edges,” or “Her breakfast tastes vaguely yellow, and the shower has such lousy water pressure it feels as though she’s being gently peed on.” If you like descriptions like that then this is the book for you, if you’re like me, it’s distracting.

Lots of triggers in this one as well, so many characters have horrible things happen to them for who they are, who they love or what they believe. I stuck with it because I wanted to know what happened to Abi but it’s not one of my favorite mysteries of the year. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Netgalley for access to this novel. All opinions above are my own. This one published yesterday.

Do you like a book with unlikable characters?

Pub Day REVIEW: The Dead and the Dark

“How our mind rewrites our memories from scratch every time we think something up. If we wanted, we could forget a piece of our lives completely. Just… write over it.”

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The Dead and the Dark is a creepy, complex paranormal mystery that should be made into a movie ASAP!
Logan is the daughter of two TV stars who investigate paranormal activity and she firmly believes it’s all bologna. When one of her dads is drawn back to his small town home to investigate a missing teenager, she and her other dad follow him. And then another teenager is killed. There’s a definite body count in this one. The town suspects her dad and after a while she does too. She’s drawn into the mystery and begins to realize that all those creepy things she didn’t believe in… might just be stalking her.

Lots of uncomfortable, hair-raising moments in this one. There’s good character development, we learn a lot about this family and their history in this town. We see their sexuality impacted their ability to live in a small town. Some great moments about standing up for yourself and acceptance scattered through the story. The Dark as a character was fun to read, very Stephen King-esque. I really liked how the character was formed and how things ended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Netgalley for access to this novel. All opinions above are my own.

What’s the last book that sent chills up your spine?

REVIEW: The Last Nomad

“Stories have always created understanding and connection between humans. In this great era of misunderstanding, I wish to help rein us back to our shared humanity.”

———————–


The story of Shugri’s life opened a new door for me, one that helped me to understand the life of women in Somalia. Born to a nomadic tribe, she describes the beauty and brutality of a life spent simply trying to survive on what the earth provides. The stories of her clan and the fierceness of her ayeeyo (grandmother) herding goats and camels to protect them from lions and hyenas were immersive. I loved understanding the importance of ancestry in the oral history of the nomadic people. Shugri’s circumstances were quite different to the other girls of her tribe because her father valued education. She is pulled from her life in the wild and forced into boarding school and goes from learning essential skills in one world to a completely different set of skills for a different life.


There are lots of heavy stories related to the view of females as property and sexual violence which are hard to read. Shugri describes in detail the experience of her female circumcision, known to us in the western world as genital mutilation. We learn the value of a woman is completely based on her intact virginity, her ability to provide male children and take care of the home.


I loved gaining an understanding of how religion and culture balanced with the need for the day to day survival in modern Somalia. Shugri describes the impact of disease, injury and warfare on the average citizen. She describes the attempts at bringing women to equality and how religious conservatives fought deeply against that transition. How warfare brought clan against clan without regard to the actual people within those clans. The trauma of the people forced to leave under these conditions and flee their homes as refugees.


The proverbs at the beginning of each chapter were my favorite part, they gave such insight into the Somali mind. The Last Nomad is a powerful story of female survival and what it means to equally love and feel the need to overcome your culture. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Thanks to Algonquin Books for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

⚡️ REVIEW: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein ⚡️

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein envisions a young ward of the Frankenstein family who captures the eye of Victor. Escaping from her life of poverty seems like a dream and she ingratiates herself with the family becoming a companion to their unusual son. She begins to see that something might be not quite right with Victor but with each incident she brushes it under the rug to preserve her place in this home.

The story has all of the building uncomfortable, unsettling creepiness of Shelly’s original work. Mostly subtle clues about Victor’s true nature build to a fabulous crescendo. The unraveling of what Elizabeth thought she was coping with and the true horror was masterfully done. Elizabeth reminded me a lot of Kerri Maniscalco’s Audrey Rose.

I had to take off a half star for the epilogue, another case where the ending was just perfect without it. I really hate this trend of feeling you need an extra bow at the end when the original ending is already well done. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

REVIEW: Redemptor

“The only thing more powerful than a wish is purpose.”


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The Raybearer was one of my favorite fantasy reads of last year and Redemptor is a beautiful ending to the story. Tarisai is the principled heroine that we all need in our lives. She learns some hard lessons as she must build her council and enter the Underworld. We see benevolent Dayo, brave Sanjeet and kindhearted Kirah by her side as she must find 12 new rulers to bear her Ray. We see more interesting cultures and characters from Aritsar and Songland, some who are ruthless and power hungry and others who are perhaps even more principled than Tarisai. 

For me it is the characters who carry this story but the world building continued to be immersive and the temptations and horrors of the Underworld were fabulous. That would be my one criticism, I wanted more time trekking through the Underworld.

Redemptor is a fabulous ending to the series, I’d love another book in this world though! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

Also showing off my awesome Faecrate Raybearer T-shirt, I am getting into bookish t-shirts… drop all your shop recommendations below.

REVIEW: Small Favors

“Only the Lord knows what wickedness is kept in the hearts of men.”

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…or maybe not. If M. Night Shyamalan and Blake Crouch teamed up to write a YA book, it would be this one. Small Favors is The Village meets Wayward Pines. The Downing family lives in a small hamlet cut off from the rest of the world by a forest filled with evil creatures. The town has a set of rules to protect them and limits their interactions with the world to seasonal supply runs. When one of these supply runs is massacred, the panic reaches a fevered pitch. The town decides to forgo the suppy run before winter and we see the impact of isolation, mysterious crop failures and lack of supplies from the outside world. The infighting and paranoia runs rampant but is this just normal human behavior or the influence of something more sinister.

The fantasy elements in this one are minimal but the building of the town and its characters as we head towards a climax reminded me a lot of The Crucible. Lots of pointing fingers and lifelong relationships torn apart as the living conditions get worse. The evil is balanced by a heavy religious hand of the town parson and we see how dangerous blind belief can be in the face of real danger.

Ellerie is a great main character because while she is an elder teenager she tries to approach everything with logic and is dedicated to taking care of her family. We see how principled she is and what it takes to tempt her away from her responsibilities. You really feel for her as she faces adversity and the impact of her choices.

Also if you’re a fan of bees and beekeeping, the Downing family are beekeepers and there are some lovely passages about their care. Probably my favorite parts! Small Favors is the perfect creepy YA with a dash of magic. It is a long book but the pace flows nicely. The big baddie is slightly predictable but I think that just meant there were good clues along the way!

Thanks to Random House Children’s for access to this novel. All opinions above are my own.

🚀 REVIEW: Project Hail Mary 🚀

The Martian is one of my favorite books, as a science nerd and a space nerd, it hit all the marks for me. But when Artemis came out, I thought it was just ok, so I was super nervous about PHM. I wanted so badly to love it… AND I DID!!!

I don’t want to give away any spoilers and that’s hard because everything is a spoiler. My favorite character is even a spoiler. 🙈 IYKYK 🤗 The basic plot is there is an otherworldly threat to the Earth’s survival and the time is ticking before it’s too late to fix it. We join an astronaut who wakes up mid-mission with no recollection of who he is or what’s going on. Through a series of minute discoveries of the ship around him and intermittent flashbacks we learn what the threat is and just how in-equipped our hero is to actually save the day. This book is awesome! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It checks all the boxes:

Fabulous characters that you want to root for / know / be ✅

Space nerdy space ✅✅

Amazing science ✅✅✅

More amazing science ✅✅✅✅

Maybe too much science ✅✅✅✅✅


What’s the last book that made you buzz with excitement because it was so perfect for YOU?