What I Read: April 11-17

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin: This is an absolutely lovely book about friendship and life and death. Have some tissues ready, but also be prepared for a heartwarming, sweet read.

Come With Me by Ronald Malfi: This book is interesting and well written, but completely misrepresented. Come With Me is classified as horror, but (in my opinion) it read more like a mystery/thriller with a handful of spooky elements. There’s a little bit of a twist at the end that’s clever, but ultimately this didn’t really serve up what I was looking for.

A Thorn in the Saddle (Cowboys of California #3) by Rebekah Weatherspoon: This came highly recommend and for good reason – it’s an absolute delight! This is my second Rebekah Weatherspoon book (I read Rafe a few months ago) and I appreciate the minimal angst and drama between the main characters (minor spoiler: no third-act breakup here, and it’s refreshing!) Thank you Kensington for the ARC!

CURRENTLY READING: I picked up The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker (available 5/17/2022) last night. I’m only a handful of pages in but i’m always down for a good gothic novel. Thank you Harper Collins for the ARC!

What I Read: April 4-10

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson: I’m a little late to the party with this one (it seems like everyone I know has already read this), but i’m so glad I finally picked it up. Caste reads smoothly, but the subject matter is difficult. I ended up reading this in smaller chunks, taking the time to digest Wilkerson’s writing (and also allowing myself to read a few lighter, less serious things in between). If you’re interested in an in-depth look how slavery’s ripple effect impacts our country today, this is a great choice. Caste feels very academic but without a heavy-handed, overly collegiate tone – Wilkerson breaks her findings down into digestible chapters and never makes the reader feel silly or uneducated for not knowing parts of our country’s history.

Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews: Phew this was a RIDE! The tone of this book is unlike most thrillers i’ve read in the past, which made it feel fresh and original. I had some theories about where this would end up (I was partially right, partially wrong) but after it hit a certain point, I couldn’t wait to find out how it ended. Thank you Novel Suspects for the finished copy!

Galatea by Madeline Miller: I’ll buy and read anything Madeline Miller writes, so I had to order this short story (which is bound in the prettiest, tiniest little book). This is only 50-ish pages long, so it won’t do me any good to give you a recap. If you’ve enjoyed Miller’s writing in the past, give this a read.

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson: Grown has been on my radar for ages. The ripped-from-the-headlines story follows Enchanted, a Black teenager with dreams of becoming a singer. Enchanted is BUSY – she’s an athlete, a high school student, and a big sister who steps in (more often than she’d like sometimes) to care for her younger siblings. A chance encounter puts her in the sights of 28-year-old R&B star Korey Fields, who immediately takes a liking to her (ick. I’m sure you can guess where this is going.) Although this was just a touch too YA for me (that’s a me problem, not a book problem – this is very clearly a YA book!) and there were a few aspects of the plot that I didn’t love, I think it’s an especially valuable book that shows young readers how easy it is for dangerous adults to manipulate and deceive teens (even when they think they’re “grown”).

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell: I have complained many times about struggling to find horror books that actually scare me. Well, thanks to The Silent Companions, I now realize that I have a splinter phobia.

Paradise Cove (Matchmaker Bay #2) by Jenny Holiday: I really enjoyed the first book in this series and found myself more interested in the side characters than the main couple, which made Paradise Cove a must-read. Jake is featured somewhat in book one, and we know he has an incredibly tragic past. Nora is new to town, and they quickly become friends. I liked this and would recommend it, but it includes a trope that I’m not particularly fond of. However, I definitely plan to pick up book three.

CURRENTLY READING: A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1) by Tessa Dare

What I Read: March 28-April 3

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steven Brusatte: As a dinosaur-obsessed kid from the 90s (Jurassic Park hit theaters the day before I turned six so it was pretty much fate), this book caught my eye a few years ago. And then…sat on my shelf for way too long. Fellow dino-loving kids, you need to give this a read (Brusatte’s casual but relentless roasting of T-Rex’s “teeny, tiny, laughably small, useless, weak arms” is just a bonus).

A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) by Alyssa Cole: This story is one part The Princess Diaries and one part Black Panther with a dash of Cinderella, and it’s a delight. Thabiso is well-meaning, although a bit naive (being a sheltered, coddled prince will have that effect), and Naledi is a whip-smart, independent woman…who could stand to be vulnerable sometimes. A LOT happens in this book which was both a strength and a weakness – it’s a complete, well-rounded story with a very solid plot (and some great side plots!) but it did feel just a tad too long at some points.

CURRENTLY READING: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Thank you Novel Suspects for the finished copy!)

What I Read: March 21-27

Anne’s House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables #5) by LM Montgomery: Okay, WOOF. I have absolutely loved this series so far (the first book is pure magic) and i’m not sure i’ll actually finish it… I was so excited for Anne and Gilbert to get married, and thought this book would feature a more grown-up version of Anne. Well…it does. But it’s so horribly boring. Gilbert is barely featured in this book and the “secondary” characters are in the spotlight. I’ve heard the next two books in the series are focused primarily on Anne’s children (and some children in another family) and I could not be less interested in those storylines. Unfortunately, I think my time with the Green Gables crew has come to an end.

Bombshell (Hell’s Belles #1) by Sarah MacLean: I’ve heard from many historical romance fans that Sarah MacLean books are top tier. Bombshell was really good – Sesily and her girl gang were fun characters (Adelaide and Imogen in particular!) and Caleb was a solid male lead. This dragged a little bit for me towards the end (some plot points felt a bit repetitive at times) but i’ll still give book two a shot when it comes out later this year. Thank you Avon for the finished copy!

CURRENTLY READING: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steven Brusatte

What I Read: March 14-20

On the Way to the Wedding (Bridgerton #8) by Julia Quinn: The Bridgerton series ended on a little bit of an odd note. Gregory is kind of the forgotten Bridgerton sibling – only popping up a handful of times (and really, for a sentence or two) in some of the previous books. This story is cute enough on its own, but it was a bit too drawn out and a little too lackluster for me to really have enjoyed it. However, I completed my goal of finishing the series before season two starts on Netflix, so i’m calling this a win.

The Ravenous Dead (Gravekeeper #2) by Darcy Coates: This was a decent continuation of the series, but I felt like it was a little repetitive in places (I enjoyed book #1 just a smidge more). The secondary characters still shine in this one, with one, in particular, stealing a scene or two towards the end. This is categorized as horror, but it’s really more of a cozy mystery with some spooky elements. Thank you Poisoned Pen Press for the ARC!

Busted (Will Trent #6.5) and Unseen (Will Trent #7) by Karin Slaughter: I have one more book left in the Will Trent series (book #10, since I read book #8 and book #9 completely out of order a few years ago) and I am DISTRAUGHT. Unseen was particularly upsetting because a huge part of the plot revolves around a much-loathed character from the Grant County series (but the book is incredible, as always. It’s a character you love to hate). PRO TIP: If you have not read any Karin Slaughter books, either pick up a standalone (I’d recommend Pretty Girls) or start the Grant County series from the beginning.

Space Junk (Space #1) by Sara L. Hudson: This was my most pleasant surprise of the week. I downloaded this book on my Kindle after it came highly recommended from a beloved friend (and it was only $.99, I think). This is a romcom, heavy on the comedy part – some moments had me laughing out loud! I’m also adding Flynn to my unofficial list of book boyfriends. The best part? There’s an entire series, featuring the supporting cast we met in Space Junk, and it’s available on Kindle Unlimited. My only dilemma is between purchasing the series on its own or finally signing up for KU again.

Danger on the Atlantic (Jane Wunderly #3) by Erica Ruth Neubauer: I’ll be honest – this is a cute historical cozy mystery series, but Redvers is really who keeps me coming back for more (he’s so dreamy. Think part James Bond, part Sherlock Holmes). Danger on the Atlantic takes place on a cruise ship, so there’s somewhat of a locked room mystery element at play. Thank you Kensington for the ARC!

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward: This was an odd book. I could tell it was written with the intent to perplex and confuse the reader, but I was pretty aware of the main “twist” right from the start. There are some really sad and awful reveals in the last bit of the book, but they feel a bit rushed and left without much explanation. Overall, it’s just incredibly sad – but worth a read.

CURRENTLY READING: I started The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab last night – I pretty much ignored this when it was getting a lot of hype, but I ended up with a copy of the book so I figured it’s worth a try. I like it so far, but i’m not even 50 pages in yet.

What I Read: March 7-13

The Rebel and the Rake (League of Scoundrels #2) by Emily Sullivan: Rafe and Sylvia both have their secrets (Sylvia is hiding a scandalous past and Rafe is basically a SECRET AGENT). I enjoyed reading this but it’s a slower burn with a LOT of setup, which could be frustrating for some readers. Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: Phew, okay. I really enjoyed this at first and then…it lost me. I found myself skimming sections towards the end because I just didn’t care anymore. The writing is very matter-of-fact, and although I recognized the tragedy of the events in this book, nothing really hit me, emotionally. Not sure if this one is for you? I’ll sum it up like this: no one in this book is happy. Nothing good happens. Life sucks, and then you die (or you watch all of your loved ones die). However, this has a crazy high rating on Goodreads, so maybe i’m the problem.

Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday: This was the perfect little romcom to pick up after the absolute downer that Pachinko was (see above). Mermaid Inn is a second-chance romance: Eve and Sawyer are easy to root for, and their reconciliation doesn’t come fast (or easy) but the payoff is worth it. There are a lot of lovable supporting characters in this book (including Sawyer’s buddies who are the focus of books two and three). I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and i’m honestly a little peeved that the Mermaid Inn isn’t a real place. Great book for fans of Gilmore Girls (MAJOR Stars Hollow vibes here). Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

End of Watch (Bill Hodges #3) by Stephen King: Oh, Steve. This trilogy started off really strong and then sort of fizzled out. End of Watch as a whole is a great story, with a heck of an ending. Unfortunately, I was so through with the unbelievable supernatural elements that I couldn’t fully appreciate the good parts. I don’t mind supernatural elements (especially in King’s work, of course) but because this series started off grounded in reality, the wild elements of the last book seemed a little out of left field. As usual, this is still worth reading (especially for diehard King fans).

CURRENTLY READING: In an effort to finish the Bridgerton series before season two airs later this month, I am reading On the Way to the Wedding (Bridgerton #8), which is Gregory’s story. Gregory isn’t mentioned much throughout the series, so this one feels a little detached from the rest. However, it’s still relatively enjoyable and I am really looking forward to wrapping this up and moving on to some different historical romance series.

What I Read: Feb. 28-March 6

It’s in His Kiss (Bridgerton #7) by Julia Quinn: Hyacinth’s book has a little bit of everything: a secret diary (that needs to be translated from Italian), family secrets, hidden treasure, espionage, the infamous Smythe-Smith musicale and a lot of Lady Danbury sass. Gareth might be the second or third best male lead in this series (no one dethrones Michael Stirling, though – NO. ONE.)

Heart of Ice (Louis Kincaid #11) by PJ Parrish: I picked this up on vacation last summer, solely because i’ll always be interested in books set on Mackinac Island. Although this was published in 2013 it takes place in 1990, which I thought was an interesting (and maybe unnecessary?) choice. It’s a solid mystery overall – the plot is good but the execution is a little messy.

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott: This was SUCH a pleasant surprise. Mary Laura Philpott and I might be long-lost best friends or kindred spirits – I saw so much of myself in this book. I also learned that she has another book coming out next month with a TURTLE on the cover and I NEED IT.

The Recovery Agent (Gabriella Rose #1) by Janet Evanovich (available 03/22/2022): I’ve recently turned to Janet Evanovich when I need quick, funny reads that are reliably ridiculous. Readers were introduced to Gabriella in Fortune and Glory (Stephanie Plum #27) and i’m pleased that she has her own series. The Recovery Agent was fun (and hilarious) but seemed a little disjointed at times with inconsistent pacing. However, I did enjoy the characters and will definitely give book two a read. (Thank you Atria for sending me an ARC!)

CURRENTLY READING: I’m about a third of the way through The Rebel and the Rake (League of Scoundrels #2) by Emily Sullivan and i’m enjoying it so far. Rafe and Sylvia are both wonderful leads and i’m excited to see how their story plays out. (Thank you Forever for the finished copy!)

What I Read: Feb. 21-27

Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black: This is a heartbreaking story of a dying father communicating with his son through a series of letters. It’s a quick, emotional read, but I found myself getting frustrated with the father’s excuses for his abusive behavior and was really hoping we would get some sort of perspective from the son at the end.

Hook, Line and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters #2) by Tessa Bailey (available 03/01/2022): I was so excited when this showed up in the mail (Thank you Avon!) I loved It Happened One Summer when I read it a few weeks ago, and I was really looking forward to reading more about Hannah and Fox. Although each book has its strengths (and weaknesses), both are really fun contemporary romance reads.

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig: I should have learned my lesson when I read Wanderers in 2019, but I had high hopes for this book. There are some really great bits here, but ultimately the story is disjointed and there are a lot of (seemingly important) things that don’t get much detail and a few things that get way too much detail. The very end is really fantastic, but I couldn’t wait for this one to be over.

The Whispering Dead (Gravekeeper #1) by Darcy Coates: I read my first book by Darcy Coates (The Haunting of Leigh Harker) and absolutely LOVED it, so I was excited to start this series. I think I need to manage expectations for this book: this is NOT horror. It’s more of a cozy mystery-ish story with some spooky elements (yay ghosts!) The pacing is a little off, but overall it’s a fun, quick read with a really lovable cast of characters. I also have an early copy of book two, The Ravenous Dead (available 03/15/2022), sitting on my shelf (Thank you Poisoned Pen Press!)

CURRENTLY READING: In an effort to finally finish the Bridgerton series, I’ve picked up It’s in His Kiss (Bridgerton #7) by Julia Quinn and i’m loving it so far. Hyacinth and Gareth are both delightful characters, and i’m always ready for more Lady Danbury content.

What I Read: Feb. 14-20

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle: Equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking, this book is an absolute delight. I dare you not to fall in love with Hubert Bird, Puss and the entire cast of characters (I won’t say too much, to avoid spoilers).

A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day (Holidays with the Wongs #4) by Jackie Lau: This little novella was…fine. I really enjoyed some parts and really didn’t love others. Overall, it’s short enough that i’d recommend it to anyone looking for a steamy little story without a ton of depth (each novella in this series focuses on a different holiday so they could be fun, short reads perfect for specific months of the year).

When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton #6) by Julia Quinn: Thank GOODNESS for Michael Stirling, who has singlehandedly saved the Bridgerton series for me. After Eloise’s story (To Sir Phillip, With Love) was a major downer (Sir Phillip, kindly piss off), When He Was Wicked was a pleasant reminder of what I love about this series. It immediately has taken the top spot in my Bridgerton ranking (with The Viscount Who Loved Me at a close second). I’m planning to finish the series before season two premieres on Netflix in late March, and I have tentative high hopes for books seven and eight.

Snatched (Will Trent #5.5) and Criminal (Will Trent #6) by Karin Slaughter: I love Karin Slaughter, I love Will Trent, I love Sara Linton, I love Amanda and Faith and all of the wonderful side characters in this series. My Karin Slaughter tbr is rapidly shrinking (I have three unread Slaughter books, not counting her yet-to-be-released 2022 novel) and I’m not sure how i’m going to cope when I have to WAIT for her to write more books.

Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom: A collection of six intelligent, thoughtful essays examining what it means to be a Black woman in the United States, through the author’s own life experiences. There’s a good dose of smart humor here, and she packs a LOT into a relatively short book.

The Match (Wilde #2) by Harlan Coben (available 03/15/2022): I say this without exaggeration: every single time I read a Harlan Coben book, I finish it in less than 24 hours. Every. Single. Time. (Usually less than 12, if i’m being completely honest). This book was no exception. You might want to read The Boy From the Woods and The Stranger before picking this one up. (Thank you Atria for the ARC of The Match!)

CURRENTLY READING: I have just started to read To Marry and to Meddle (available 04/05/2022) by Martha Waters on my Kindle — I didn’t love the first book in the series and have not read the second, but so far it’s not too bad (however, that’s easy to say 8% in).

What I Read: Feb. 7-13

Finder Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy #2) by Stephen King: Given the story and pace of the first book in the trilogy, Finders Keepers was a bit different than anticipated. However, it was a quick read that kept me interested, and I absolutely loved the way the ending provided a hell of a setup for book three.

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford: This memoir was an absolute gut punch. I was interested in reading about Ford’s relationship with her dad, who was incarcerated for a few decades beginning when Ford was very young. However, I did not anticipate that I would find so many relatable passages and stories within the pages of this book. Tread lightly if you’re a sensitive reader, there are a lot of content warnings for this one.

The Secrets We Share by Edwin Hill (available 03/29/2022): After loving Watch Her by Edwin Hill, I jumped on the chance to read his newest mystery/thriller. The story is fast-paced and twisty, and Hill was able to shock me a few times (as a longtime thriller reader, it’s delightful when a plot twist catches me off guard!) Special thanks to the author for sending me a NetGalley ARC of this book.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2) by Talia Hibbert: Who doesn’t love the Brown sisters? It took me a little bit too long to finish this trilogy (I read Get a Life, Chloe Brown in early 2020) but I thoroughly enjoyed each book. Although Chloe is still my favorite Brown sister, Zaf is my favorite love interest – he’s a DELIGHT (I mean, a rugby-playing, romance-reading hero who is working to dismantle toxic masculinity? Yes.)

The Stranger by Harlan Coben: After falling down one hell of a Harlan Coben rabbit hole while reading The Boy From the Woods, I quickly ordered a copy of The Stranger to prepare myself for reading his upcoming release, The Match (available 03/15/2022). It comes down to this: characters from other Coben books are mentioned, “the stranger” apparently plays a part in The Match and, to be honest, I don’t really need any excuses to read more of his books to begin with. In this particular book, “the stranger” approaches you and tells you something that immediately begins to unravel the life you have built for yourself. It was a slower burn (at least, for me) but the ending is brutal (and i’m so glad he went there).

CURRENTLY READING: I’m just over halfway through All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle, a lovable curmudgeon story much like A Man Called Ove.