Title: The It Girl Author: Ruth Ware Genre: Thriller, Contemporary Publisher: Gallery Source: Publisher Format: Ebook, paperback arc Release Date: July 12, 2022 Rating: ★★★
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.
April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.
Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.
Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.
April Clarke-Cliveden was the “It Girl” on the Oxford campus, who seemed to have it all. Her roommate, Hannah Jones, was dazzled by her. They had a close group of friends (Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily) who did everything together, but by the end of their first year, April was dead. Hannah’s testimony that the creepy porter, John Neville, was the last person seen leaving their room, is what convicted him for murder. Now, ten years later, Hannah is expecting her first child with April’s ex-boyfriend, Will. When they get the news that John Neville has died in prison, it brings the case back into the spotlight. Journalists start asking questions about the case, which makes Hannah question if she was correct in her assumption that John killed April. She does her own investigation, digging up everyone’s secrets, and discovering things that should have stayed hidden.
I was looking forward to reading this book but I found it disappointing. I was certain that I knew who the murderer was from the beginning. The twist that I predicted is one that I’ve read a few times in similar thrillers so it wasn’t original. I seemed to be right, but the story took a strange turn at the end that felt forced. There were also a couple of red herring clues that went nowhere and didn’t actually have anything to do with the story.
I’ve rated this book three stars because I did finish it, and I’m sure some readers could enjoy it. I just found it disappointing because it was like other thrillers I’ve read in the past.
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book.
Have you read The It Girl? What did you think of it?
Title: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower (The Wild Wynchesters #2) Author: Erica Ridley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Forever Source: Publisher Format: Paperback Release Date: October 26, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
Fans of Bridgerton will love this Regency romp in which a proper Society miss recruits a very improper lady grifter in a quest for vengeance, only to find love instead.
As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. Anything to solve the case. Her latest assignment unveils a top-secret military cipher covering up an enigma that goes back centuries. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake…
Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her cold heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to rescue her priceless manuscript and decode its clues to unmask a villain. She hates that she needs a man’s help—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. Her cold heart… did it just pitter-patter?
Thomasina “Tommy” Winchester is a master of disguises, which she uses to serve justice. Her latest case is to reveal a top-secret military cypher that was found by a young woman, but her uncle is taking credit for it. For this case, Tommy has to work with bluestocking Miss Philippa York. Philippa’s parents want her to marry a man with a title to further her father’s political career. When she lost a Duke who was betrothed to her, they put a time limit on her to get married before she becomes a spinster. Philippa is eager to solve the cypher hidden in priceless manuscripts. When Tommy enters Philippa’s suitor race as Baron Vanderbean, Philippa is suddenly interested in a man for the first time. They have to work together to get justice for their friend, while also breaking societal expectations of how they should behave.
I haven’t read many historical romance stories with same-sex couples, but I find them fascinating. There were even more societal restraints put on women in the 19th century than there are today. Philippa says many times that her only job is to marry a man with a title, so there seems to be no chance that she could end up with Tommy. This adds tension to the romance, because there isn’t a predictable happily ever after for the couple.
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower is a fun, Sapphic romance. The next book in The Wild Wynchesters series, Nobody’s Princess, comes out July 26!
Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!
What to read next:
Nobody’s Princess by Erica Ridley
Other books in the series:
The Duke Heist (The Wild Wynchesters #1)
Nobody’s Princess (The Wild Wynchesters #3)
Have you read The Perks of Loving a Wallflower? What did you think of it?
Title: Lumberjackula Author: Mat Heagerty, Sam Owen Genre: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Fantasy Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers Source: Author Format: Paperback arc Release Date: July 19, 2022 Rating: ★★★★★
This middle grade graphic novel follows a half-vampire, half-lumberjack boy who feels torn between his parents and just wants to be a dancer.
Jack is in a pickle. His lumberjack mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep to learn how to chop wood and wear flannel. His vampire dad wants him to go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School to learn how to turn into a bat and drink blood-orange juice. And Jack has a secret: what he really wants to do is dance.
When he finds out about Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy from new friend Plenty, Jack feels he’s finally found the place where he can be his true self. But he’s too afraid of disappointing his family to tell them. What’s a half-lumberjack, half-vampire boy to do?
To summon the confidence to pursue his dreams, Jack will have to embrace every part of himself—his lumberjack toughness, his vampire eeriness, and most especially his awesome dance moves.
Lumberjackula, AKA Jack, is half-lumberjack and half-vampire. His mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep and his dad wants him to go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School. However, Jack doesn’t feel like he fits in at either of those schools. What he really loves is to dance, so when he discovers Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy, he knows it’s the right school for him. Jack doesn’t want to disappoint either of his families, though, so he pretends he still doesn’t know what school he wants to attend. Jack has to learn how to embrace all parts of his personality and be his true self.
This was such a fun graphic novel! Jack comes from two very different backgrounds, lumberjack and vampire. He didn’t really feel like he fit in completely with either group, but he didn’t want to let either of his parents down. I think this would be relatable for kids who come from more than one cultural background. Jack had to learn that he didn’t have to fit into either group, and he could follow his own path to become a dancer.
The illustrations in this graphic novel were vibrant and adorable. There were even some dances that Jack did to music that were mapped out. I really enjoyed reading this story!
Lumberjackula is an uplifting middle grade graphic novel about being true to yourself.
Thank you Mat Heagerty and Simon Kids for sending me a copy of this book!
What to read next:
Unplugged and Unpopular by Mat Heagerty,Tintin Pantoja, Mike Amante
Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty, Steph Mided
Have you read Lumberjackula? What did you think of it?
Title: Caraval (Caraval #1) Author: Stephanie Garber Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Publisher: Flatiron Books Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: September 29, 2016 Rating: ★★★★★
A legendary competition.
A mesmerizing romance.
An unbreakable bond
between two sisters.
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.
Scarlett Dragna and her sister Tella have never left their home island. Their father has arranged a marriage for Scarlett with an unknown Count. Scarlett has dreamed of going to the mysterious performance of Caraval, but now that she will be leaving to be married, she won’t have the chance to go. However, one day she receives three tickets to Caraval: one for her, her sister, and her fiancé. Instead of Scarlett’s fiancé, who they haven’t met, they bring Julian, Tella’s latest lover. On their way to Caraval, the sisters are separated. The game of Caraval this year will centre around the mystery of finding Tella. Scarlett is constantly told not to believe anything in the game, but she must trust her instincts to find her sister before the game is over.
I’m so glad I finally started this series! This was such a thrilling story. I didn’t know what it was going to be about, so the plot was a surprise. There was fantasy, romance, and a mystery.
The game itself was unreliable so, like Scarlett, I didn’t know what to believe. This made the story unpredictable, especially by the end. I really enjoyed the ending and I’m going to have to start the next book soon!
Title: No Rings Attached (Ms. Right #2) Author: Rachel Lacey Genre: Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ Publisher: Montlake Source: Thomas Allen and Son Format: Paperback Release Date: April 12, 2022 Rating: ★★★★★
From award-winning author Rachel Lacey comes the second installment in the Ms. Right series: a captivating romance about a reluctant bookseller finding love in unexpected places.
Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She’s never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she’s starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother’s constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn’t have. But with her brother’s London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers—with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.
Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn’t looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie’s sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia’s adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.
Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well—spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they’re faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that’s meant to last?
Since Lia’s best friend and roommate, Rosie, started dating Jane, Lia has felt like a third wheel in their New York apartment. Lia’s led her family in London to believe that she still has a girlfriend, but when she has to go home for her brother’s wedding, she doesn’t have a girlfriend to bring. Rosie suggests that Lia bring Rosie’s childhood best friend, Grace, who lives in London, as a date. Grace has just moved to London from Spain. She’s looking for a fresh start in a new city but she doesn’t want a relationship. She’s still upset about what she found out about her parents’ marriage after they died in a car accident years ago, so she isn’t looking for a relationship. However, when Lia and Grace meet and go to the wedding together, their chemistry is undeniable. They have to decide if they will give this relationship a chance, even though they live on different continents.
This rom com had some of my favourite tropes. Fake dating/relationship is my favourite scenario. This story had a bit of enemies to lovers, because Lia and Grace both shared Rosie as a best friend, so they considered each other competition before they met. There was also “only one bed” and a “found family” in the group of friends.
There was a lot of tension in this story, despite it being a rom com. One of the characters finds a relative that they didn’t know through an online DNA site. There were a lot of conflicted feelings about this discovery. In one way, it was good to find a relative, but it also introduced a lot of questions about how they came to be related. This was an intense subplot that ended up playing an important role in the main storyline.
No Rings Attached is a great sequel to Read Between the Lines!
Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for sending me a copy of this book.
Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ Publisher: Atria Books Source: Purchased Format: Paperback Release Date: June 13, 2017 Rating: ★★★★★
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Aging Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell her life story, but she only has one person in mind to write it. Monique Grant is a writer at a large magazine, but she isn’t well known. When Evelyn insists that Monique write the article, the editor has no choice but to send Monique for the job. However, the job isn’t what she expected. Evelyn actually wants Monique to write Evelyn’s memoir, and Monique is the only person who can write it. Over a few days, Evelyn tells Monique the story of her life in Hollywood, including her marriages to each of her seven husbands. When Evelyn finishes telling her life story, Monique can finally find out why she was the only one who can tell it.
I’m very late to the Evelyn Hugo party, but I’m so glad I finally read it! This book is definitely worth the hype. Though these characters are fictional, they all feel like real people. There were surprising reveals throughout the story, but everything led to a satisfying ending.
Evelyn would manipulate the media stories about her, using her marriages to change the public narrative about her life. If she thought one story was going to break about her, she would do something more shocking to deflect from the news she didn’t want to make the front page. This is still done with celebrities today, who will use surprising relationships to deflect attention from something else in their lives. I liked this behind-the-scenes view of a Hollywood icon.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a great story and worth the hype!
What to read next:
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? What did you think of it?