Recently Released Reads

Hello Readers! I’ve done a fair amount of reading in the past few months, and many of those books were new releases that I want to tell you about. These were titles that I got on NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

The Future is Yours by Dan Frey

Published: February 9, 2021

This was a fast-paced sci-fi book that posited the potential impacts of technological developments that could predict the near-future. In this case, one very smart dude named Adhi develops a technology that can be used to search for events one year in the future, and his friend Ben helps him build a company around this idea and begin marketing it. It addresses all of the typical predicted pitfalls of future forecasting, most notably, as our two main characters attempt to test whether the future can be changed once it has been predicted. The story was a wild ride and a quick read. It’s also told as a modern epistolary novel (in the form of texts, emails, and records from a Congressional hearing), which helps keep the pace up while also keeping the reader guessing. The Congressional hearing is taking place in the present day and the emails, texts, and other items are being introduced as flashbacks, but also as evidence for the hearing. There’s a mystery at the heart of everything and I really liked how the book dealt with the practical and emotional sides of this oft-written sci-fi concept. I rated this one 4 stars, and other than some mild language, I would widely recommend this title for sci-fi fans.

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

Published: February 9, 2021

This book tells the story of a female vicar named Jack Brooks who moves to a town that is best known for burning eight people at the stake as Protestant martyrs 500 years before. Interwoven with the history of the town is the fact that 30 years before, two young girls went missing and have never been found. On top of all of that, the only reason that the new vicar has been summoned to this town is that the previous vicar appears to have killed himself two months ago. There are a lot of threads to this story, including a sinister subplot following the new vicar, Jack. As she and her teenage daughter get settled in to this very small new town their interactions with the locals are rarely positive, and both women appear to be having brushes with the supernatural. This is my third C.J. Tudor book and I’ve come to expect a few things from one of her novels: the plot will be much more complex than I think it is at first, there will be a plethora of likely suspects, the victims will be deeply flawed people, and I will not see the ending coming. I have also come to expect that there will be at least one deeply disturbing scene in each of the books that makes it difficult for me to recommend as widely as I would like, and this book was no exception. Nonetheless, I gave this one a 4 star rating and would recommend it for fans of Simone St. James and Riley Sager.

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Published: March 2, 2021

I was so worried going into this book about the dreaded second book syndrome, but I needn’t have worried. In my opinion, this book is even better than the first one was. In Good Girl, Bad Blood we pick up with Pip only a few months after the events in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder have concluded. After the dangerous events tied to her first investigation, Pip has promised her family that she will not lose herself to an investigation like that ever again. That promise is tested when someone she knows goes missing and she is approached by the victim’s family to help after the police refuse to investigate. The reader really gets a great sense of the mental struggles Pip is going through as she delves into another investigation. So many people are telling her how she should feel and how she should act and are criticizing her for both. The emotional depth to this story far outweighs the first book, in my opinion, and I will definitely be continuing on with the series. I rated it 4 stars as well and would recommend it for fans of the Truly Devious series and fans of YA mysteries in general.

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

Published: March 2, 2021

I’ll admit that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about this one in the first few chapters. There are a lot of cliched characters in this book and it felt like it took a long time to get to the central premise of the mystery. The story begins as Matt Pine discovers that his family has been found dead on a vacation in Mexico, which the Mexican authorities initially rule an accident, but that is only where the story begins. The Pines have been in the news before, primarily because Matt’s brother, Danny, is in prison for the murder of his high school girlfriend. Danny has always claimed he was innocent of the crime and most of the Pine family has spent the last several years fighting to get him a new trial or have him released from prison. Ultimately, the plot line with Danny is what puts the rest of the events in motion, but he plays very little active role in the story itself. The story is told in varying perspectives from Matt in the present, and his father, his mother, and his sister’s points of view in the past. Each are experiencing the hardships of Danny’s incarceration in different ways. I predicted the killer at about the 60% mark and accurately assessed the killer’s motives at that time as well. Ultimately, whether it was the pacing or the character development, this story just didn’t feel that special to me. The FBI presence didn’t feel necessary and some of their actions are nonsensical (such as flying Matt out to the prison in a helicopter to make him inform his brother of the deaths). I gave it three stars and would recommend it to thriller readers, but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for them.

Weekend Reads 3/19-3/21

Hello Readers! Through a twist of library hold fate, I got to read two of my most anticipated backlist titles this weekend. They’ve each been out for a while but have been really difficult to get from my libraries.

First up, I read The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. This is a thriller that came out in 2019 and made tons of “best books” lists in the meantime. I went into it with very little knowledge of the plot, and I would recommend that you do the same. The basics are that you are reading about a woman who is currently residing in a mental health facility because she killed her husband several years ago and she hasn’t spoken or communicated with anyone since then. It’s an interesting thriller that was unlike anything I had ever read before, but ultimately it underwhelmed me a little. I gave this title 3 stars on Goodreads because the twist was pretty good, but the rest of the story just didn’t grip me. I also felt like it was lacking in tension-building. Obviously, this was a very well-loved book that a ton of people really enjoyed, but it’s not one that I’ll be picking up to reread. That being said, the author’s writing was clear and the twist was good enough that I will be reading his upcoming release, The Maidens. I think one of my favorite aspects of The Silent Patient involved a side plot with references to Greek tragedy, and I’ve heard that the next book leans more heavily into that theme.

The next book that I read this weekend was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, which came out in the Fall of 2020. I would offer a trigger warning related to this book for suicidal ideation and other elements related to suicide. It is not what you would call a happy book, but I found myself wanting to underline and highlight quotes throughout the book (but I didn’t…because it’s a library book and we all know that you shouldn’t do that to library books. Right?). I will probably be purchasing a copy for myself so that I can go through and read it again while adding my own notes. The writing is lyrical and the concepts can get pretty deep into philosophy, but there wasn’t any point while I was reading this book where I felt lost. All of the events that the main character, Nora, goes through sparked empathy in me. She is a troubled young woman who has to come to grips with a lot of tough events in her life. Her regrets are numerous and overwhelming to her at times and the entire book is about her reckoning with that fact. This was a 5-star read for me and I already want to pick it back up for a re-read. If you’re a fan of sci-fi that deals with alternate timelines, I think this would be an interesting pick for you. I will be picking up Matt Haig’s backlist soon.

I hope you’ve had a productive reading weekend. Take care!

The Project by Courtney Summers

I’m a little backed up on my reviews here, but in early February I picked up Courtney Summers’ new release, The Project. I was a big fan of her previous work, Sadie, which was a thriller about a young girl who was investigating the disappearance of her little sister. This new book takes on that same theme but in a very different setting.

Title: The Project

Author: Courtney Summers

Published: February 2, 2021

This was a story about 2 estranged sisters, Bea and Lo, that was told in a dual timeline. One sister was in a disfiguring car accident that also killed their parents and one sister joined a cult-like organization called the Unity Project when she couldn’t deal with the aftermath of the accident. As Lo, the sister who was injured, searches for her sister Bea, who joined the Unity Project and then fell off the grid, Lo finds herself attempting to infiltrate the same group where her sister found a home. Lo is a young woman who is searching for both a home and a family and the Unity Project is a tempting potential answer for both of those needs.

I enjoy reading about cult stories and I love a dual timeline, so this story really appealed to me. While I won’t spoil it, I really enjoyed the ending, not the resolution about Bea, but the parts that came after. Those parts represented trauma very well, in my opinion. I rated this one 4 stars personally. I will continue to pick up future titles from Summers because she writes female trauma and familial bonds so well.

Lemonade rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon3 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could recommend to coworkers and friends you don’t know very well. There are some sex scenes and some violent scenes, but the story is addictive and you’ll want to keep reading once you’re hooked.

February 2021 Wrap-Up

Hello Readers! This month was a little more along the lines of what I would expect a normal reading month to be.

This month I read 9 books and 3,305 pages. That means I read 2,291 less pages this month than last month.

I finished (links go to goodreads):

The Project by Courtney Summers

Crime and Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett

The Lost Fairytales by Anna James

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

The Future is Yours by Dan Frey

The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

Two Truths and a Lie by Ellen McGarrahan

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Ratings:

4.25 stars: The Ravens; Good Girl, Bad Blood

4 stars: Crime and Punctuation; The Burning Girls; The Future is Yours

3.75 stars: The Project

3.25 stars: Chosen Ones

3 stars: The Lost Fairytales; Two Truths and a Lie

Audience:

6 Adult

2 YA

1 Middle Grade

Genre:

Authors that were unknown to me: 3

Format

Physical: 5

Ebook: 4

Not using audiobooks definitely contributed to the drop in numbers this month, but I’ve been listening to podcasts in their stead and I’ve really enjoyed that as well.

2/22-2/28 Week in Reading

Goals for the week: Start and finish at least 2 books.

Mon 2/22: I finished The Ravens tonight. I enjoyed it enough to give it 4 stars, but I will say that I guessed one of the twists pretty early on. It was a while before I got confirmation, but it didn’t diminish how much I enjoyed reading this book. If this author team writes something else, or even continues with these characters and makes this a series, I will definitely be picking it up.

I’m not sure what I’ll be picking up next. I’ve got a lot of books out from the library but nothing is calling to me at the moment.

Tue 2/23: I started reading Sustainable Thinking: Ensuring Your Library’s Future in an Uncertain World by Rebekkah Aldrich. I’m going to have to return it to the library sooner than planned, but I’ll definitely be getting it back soon to finish.

Wed 2/24: I needed a lighthearted audiobook, so I started listening to Daphne & Velma: The Vanishing Girl by Josephine Ruby, which is a Scooby Doo retelling/continuation/I don’t know how to categorize this. It gives me all of the nostalgia vibes though.

I also started reading Two Truths and a Lie by Ellen McGarrahan. I heard about it on the All the Books podcast from BookRiot and had to wait a few weeks for my library hold to come in. It’s a true crime memoir…sort of. It’s told from the perspective of a female private investigator, but the case she looks into is one that she only has a tangential relationship to. It’s different and the writing style is a little stunted, at least in the first few pages. I’m hooked though.

Thu 2/25: I made some progress in Two Truths and a Lie today. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book at this point. I’m hooked, but uncertain about where this is going.

Fri 2/26: For the first time in a long time today, I spent 90% of my lunch break reading. I had to know what happened in Two Truths and a Lie. The pacing goes back and forth between breakneck speed and seemingly useless rehashing of what she knows. It can be a little frustrating to read, but when she starts down a new road, I want to know what happens.

Sat 2/27: I finished Two Truths and a Lie today. Overall, I put the story at a 3 star read for me. I really liked the story of the crime and I appreciated the amount of work she put in to trying to find out the truth, but the writing just let me down. She used a lot of short choppy sentences and the writing felt like reading stream of consciousness at times. She also used a repetitive structure throughout that I felt kept taking me out of the story.

I started reading Good Girl, Bad Blood today after I finished the McGarrahan book. I only made it to the 9% mark in the audiobook, but I’m liking it so far. It is the sequel to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and picks up very soon after that book left off. I am struggling a little bit to remember some of the characters from the first book, even though I only read it a few months ago.

Sun 2/28: I finished Good Girl, Bad Blood today. I really appreciated how much emotional depth the main character experiences in this story. I have to admit that I wasn’t as crazy about the first book, but after finishing this one, I will definitely be continuing on with the series (which is slated to be 4 books total). I compare this series to Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series, because it is a YA mystery with a teenaged female protagonist with an obsessive interest in true crime. I still feel Truly Devious is the stronger of the two series, but they’re both worth a read if you like YA mystery/thrillers.