One of my favorite covers of 2021! The Siren is about a movie that is being filmed in St. Genesius in the Caribbean with a motley crew consisting of mega superstar Cole Powers (think Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt), his real life ex wife, actress Stella Rivers, directed by his son Jonathan Powers and recently shamed producer, Taylor. They ALL need this movie to workout. Stella’s new, mysterious assistant Felicity has also joined the crew. This movie is Stella’s last chance of reigniting her career, after a Britney Spears type of breakdown after her divorce from Cole. In the age of social media scrutinizing their every move, they know they have to pull this all together for all their futures. However, one of the people has a vendetta against Cole and Stella from a decade or so ago.
The beginning was immediately attention-grabbing with the newspaper tabloid start, and then it teetered off middle of the way, and finally grabbed my attention again when the hurricane arrived. I did not expect the ending, but I knew it was going to be a mess, and not necessarily in the best way. This story seems to be heavily inspired by the Metoo movement and the sexual assault allegations/charges against Hollywood celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, etc. Felicity’s storyline was very predictable. Great mystery thriller if you love celebrity culture and a quick thriller read with a lot of drama and flair.
After seeing so many different new styles of romance fiction online on IG/Booktok, I wanted to check out a classic romance novel with the cheesy cover. This one fit the bill. It is a 3rd installment to the Unlikely Duchesses series – I did not read the other two books. Tessa James, a woman who grew up as an orphan, leaves her millinery job to become a governess for the Duke of Carlin, Guy Whitby’s unruly daughter, Sophy. He has an estranged relationship with his young daughter as he traveled extensively before his wife died. So right away he went from being the typical cold and rude Mr. Darcy type, he immediately shifts gears and becomes infatuated with her. There are a lot of different subplots going on including Sophy and her lack of a relationship with her dad, the murders of the Carlin family members, and Tessa trying to find her long lost father with just a necklace. I didn’t think the characters had much chemistry, and instead of focusing on his daughter, he instead tries to bang her babysitter instead. And I loathe the trope of the female character always acting like she wouldn’t be thrilled if she found out she was actually rich, etc. Like really?? The steamy scenes were minimal too, considering it’s a romance novel. Although I love historical romance novels, I did not love this one.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review!
This one was an unputdownable rom-com from the start. I read this all in 1 day! The characters exuded so much chemistry and their dialogue, perfectly fun and flirty. I love an enemies to lovers trope – and this was it! Brinkley Saunders had a terrible relationship with a man – and now works for Heartbreak 4 Hire where she can enact revenge on other men. Got a creepy, egotistical boss at work? She’s your girl to embarrass and expose these creeps. Until her boss starts hiring male heartbreakers, this agency was supposed to be a safe place for women, working and supporting each other. Enter Mark, who she tries her hardest not to fall for – even though they immediately gravitate towards each other. I hope there is a sequel for the other women at Heartbreak 4Hire – this was a perfectly fun romance /beach read!
Thank you to Gallery Books and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review!
The ex Catholic school girl in me just had to read this – I had not read the other two books in the series, but these could all be read as standalones. Father Patrick Dooley, a Catholic priest at St. Bartholomew’s church has been doubting his true calling. He became a priest as a fulfillment to his mother’s dying wish and an escape from grief and heartbreak from a doomed relationship. Enter Sasha, an event planner who is trying to help the church raise money for their Pre-K program. They immediately have an attraction and they both appear to be like horny teenagers in their minds, even in their late 20’s/early 30s. Patrick has a much more interesting back story with his vows of chastity and abstinence – and fighting natural human urges. Sasha has strict, bitchy parents who boss her around using money as a weapon. He definitely had much more to lose. The steamy scenes between were great and the characters have electrifying chemistry – but parts of the story kept repeating and there seemed to be a lot more filler. Similar in vibes to the Bromance Book club series, it is a light-hearted, mildly steamy contemporary romance.
Thank you to Berkley Books and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review!
What a fun, fast paced thriller! I loved the multiple POVs of Erin, a local tv news anchor, Brooke, a mystery writer, and Georgia, a woman famously known on the news as the “Black Widow.” Her last two husbands were both found dead early on their marriage and now engaged to Robert, another wealthy man. Brooke and her husband, Jack, just moved to Presidio Terraces, an exclusive and wealthy area in SF, where she is neighbors to both Georgia and Erin. When Robert goes missing days before the wedding, the spotlight is thrust back onto Georgia and if she really is responsible.
I kept going back and forth on what really happened and the ending threw me. I loved all the nuances of the characters, and could easily envision this as a movie. The beginning half was much more thrilling and it started to lose a bit of steam until it picked up at the end. This is one of the best, “quick-read” thrillers I’ve read in recent months.
Thank you to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review! US Pub Date: July 20, 2021
Mulan meets Arya Stark + a retelling of the Ming Dynasty = you get this book. The story starts with two poor orphans, a boy named Zhu Chongba and his sister. Bandits had just killed their father and the boy took his own life instead of continuing on the hard journey of life and achieving greatness. His sister takes his identity, shaves her head, and joins the monastery living her life identifying as a man. Other than ghosts and a bit of magic here and there in regards to the Mandate, there isn’t too much in terms of the fantasy element. It doesn’t overpower the story. The world building that Parker-Chan creates is captivating, but it is definitely a slow build. There were times I felt I couldn’t finish, but the ending was great and heartbreaking to see the transitions in both Ouyang and Zhu as they get closer to their goals.
Thank you to Tor Books and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review! US Pub Date: July 20, 2021
Another book with a beautiful and bright cover! I had read Karin Tanabe’s last book, A Hundred Suns, and loved it. This one is a historical fiction taking place in 1954 about Katharina Edgeworth who feels like she has lost her true self after marriage/kids. Before marriage, she was working as a UN translator in 4 languages, lived and loved freely, and had the time of her life. She really felt like she was a part of something special. Then she meets Tom Edgeworth, a pediatric surgeon from a wealthy shipping family, who always seem to be a bit judgemental about her “poorer” roots. Tom wants her at home with the kids – but she wants more for herself. Then she meets Lee Coldwell, an FBI agent, who asks if she could be an informant because her former lover is now a top level Russian spy. As she gets more immersed in the job, she is now delivering top secret stolen government documents to DC, while balancing the hardships of being a mother. After people start dying after their covers are blown, she realises quickly how dangerous her job is and she finds comfort in unexpected ways.
I enjoyed the overall story, but I really was put off by Katharina’s boredom of motherhood and how much she complains about it. I can only imagine how moms feel this way is common after losing your career in lieu of having children – but this woman is a millionaire, living in one of the most expensive buildings in NYC. So she becomes a spy, endangering the lives of her young kids, meeting other KGB spies while on the “job.” As hateable as her husband Tom is portrayed in this, I felt myself siding with him a few times: she left her child bleeding on broken glass because she lost herself and ran away and comes home hungover late at night, keeps secrets about everything from her husband, and goes onto break promises/agreements with him. As much as I liked reading about female spies during this time, Katharina was one I did not like as a character.
Thank you to St. Martins Press and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review! US Pub Date: July 20, 2021
I loved Grady Hendrix’s other book, The Southern Book Club Guide to Slaying Vampires – so I knew I was going to love this one. “Final Girls” refers to the remaining girl/woman that is remaining at the end of a horror film. She had killed the slasher/psycho killer and avenged the death of her friends/family. Unfortunately, Lynette is an actual, real life Final Girl and she survived a horrific murder years ago, not once, but twice. She lives her life planning all her exits, escape routes, a gun in her bag, backup getaway vehicles, and a heavily guarded apartment. She has been attending a secret Final Girls group therapy with the same women for over 15 years. They are all very different and would have never been friends in the first place – but their bond of being “Final Girls” keeps them together. One day, they find out one of them was murdered, and it looks like each of them are targets. Could they trust each other? Who could they trust? And who else could have known they had been meeting?
This was such an entertaining read – every part was unputdownable. Lynette is such a tough cookie to crack and despite her trying to be the clever survivor, it always seems to backfire. However, she is relentless in trying ways to save her friends – even though the entire time you are also wondering if she is the killer too. I loved the dynamic and chemistry of every oddball character – and their dialogue had me cracking up.
Thank you to Berkley Books and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review!
I really enjoyed the Last Houseguest, so I knew I had to read this next one by Megan Miranda. The story takes place in Hollow’s Edge, a small, quaint neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. All is well and idyllic until the murders of Brandon and Fiona Truett who were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. Harper and her neighbors are unable to sell their homes due to the tragic events and they can’t seem to shake the bad vibes after news of Ruby Fletcher’s release. Ruby was Harper’s roommate and the Truetts’ dog walker, who served time for 14 months before her lawyers appealed that her case was handled improperly. Now she is back in town, causing the town to be on edge as she is insistent that she was not the murderer. If she wasn’t, then someone from the community did and if so, how well do they even know each other?
This gripping thriller had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. The writing is so captivating that there really isn’t a dull moment – and it kept me guessing. And I was wrong! I had no idea who to trust and everyone and anyone is a suspect. Ruby was such a great “villain” but I wished there was more of her. Overall, Such a great who-dun-it thriller!
Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest review!
I have been trying to catch up on all my past Book of the Months (I am so behind) – and knew I had to read this one next. Skye, a Philly native, has a job where she travels the world and only remains in Philly for weeks at a time – perfect for someone that doesn’t want attachments. She has few friends, an estranged relationship with her family, and no real desire for serious romance. Until one day on her doorstep, Vicky, a 12 year old girl, shows up unexpectedly to reveal that she is her “egg.” Skye had “donated” her egg to her friend Cynthia years ago for some quick cash thinking nothing of it until Cynthia recently passed away from cancer. Making it all more interesting is the woman Skye tried to hit on the other day is Vicky’s Aunt Faye and guardian. As Vicky and Skye build their relationship/friendship, so does Skye’s relationship with Faye.
First off, Skye is absolutely hilarious. I loved reading about her personal thoughts about everyday things and her honest opinion. She is unapologetic and sarcastic – but charming in her own way in how odd she is. Her tougher exterior only reveals her fear of being vulnerable and helpless, which is evident in how she was raised with an unkind father.
I really enjoyed this so much and highly recommend it for anyone looking for a quick summer read.