# of Books Read: 14
# of Pages Read: 4,920
Favourite Book(s) of the Month: Cemetery Boys, Boyfriend Material, The Pull of the Stars
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
I was lucky enough to download an eARC of Cemetery Boys through Edelweiss, and I have already preordered a physical copy. I have no doubt that this book is going be be massively popular, and it is going to deserve it. Just thinking about Cemetery Boys brings a huge smile to my face. I am not someone who is typically drawn to ghost stories, but Aiden Thomas is an incredibly talented author and this story is so original and captivating. Look for my full review closer to release date, but trust me, just preorder this book NOW!
The One by John Marrs
How far would you go to find The One?
A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner–the one you’re genetically made for.
That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.
Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…
I picked up The One to read with an IRL friend who isn’t a huge reader but loves a good, page-turning thriller. We found two mass market paperbacks and bought them on a whim. This book ended up taking both of us by complete surprise. It seemed as though every single chapter ended in a twist. There was so much that I didn’t see coming! It took awhile to get a handle on each of the different perspectives, but I quickly got the hang of it. I cannot wait for the Netflix series! I am not exaggerating when I say that my friend and I have been talking about this book all month long.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by by Roseanne A. Brown
The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.
For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?
I read A Song of Wraiths and Ruin for a buddy read on Bookstagram, and I highly recommend reading it with friends! There is so much to discuss about this world, the magic system, the characters, and the twists and turns. I enjoyed both Malik and Karina’s POVs equally, and I managed to finish the book in a weekend. I highly recommend the audiobook- it is fantastic! I cannot wait for the sequel!
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh
Discover this chilling new novel about motherhood and personhood, free will and fate, human longing and animal instinct
Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back.
But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?
Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.
I absolutely loved Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel, The Water Cure, and I was nervous that her sophomore novel wouldn’t live up to it. Now, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one I prefer! I also say that her books will not be for everyone. Not a lot happens, there is little to no world building, and it is very much character driven. This is not the book to read if you want to have all your questions answered! What I loved about Blue Ticket was the atmosphere and the heaviness that Mackintosh manages to create. This book is terrifying in that you can imagine a time where this becomes our reality- it’s haunting.
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way
Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.
To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.
But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.
Boyfriend Material is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to! The narration was perfection. I also loved pretty much everything about the story itself. I was not expecting this book to be so emotional- it brought tears to my eyes. Boyfriend Material is everything I love about the fake dating trope- it adds so much tension. I also thought the book had a lot of layers, as both Luc and Oliver were battling with their own demons from past relationships. Something about their insecurities and miscommunications felt so authentic. I will say that I wish the story was told through both Luc and Oliver’s perspective, instead of just Luc’s. It would have been interesting to see Oliver’s side of things. I also would have loved an epilogue!
The Shadows by Alex North
You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.
Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.
It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.
It wasn’t just the murder.
It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…
Alex North’s debut novel, The Whisper Man, received a lot of attention and now I am more motivated to pick it up! I had mixed feelings about The Shadows, but I thought that it did some interesting things. I loved the focus on lucid dreaming- it brought something unique to the story. There was also a twist that caught me completely off guard. However, the ending fell short for me and left me unsatisfied in a way that I cannot quite explain.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?
Duke Crenshaw is do done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change?but some things are just meant to be.
The Voting Booth is adorable, timely, and should be part of the school curriculum. I think it is a book that will motivate people of all ages to get out and vote, and it does so in a way that is neither dull nor preachy. I also just really loved the dynamic between the two main characters and thought that they had a nice balance. It is also no secret that I love when social media plays a role in a story, and it was so sweet that Marva had a famous Instagram account for her cat! I am not normally the biggest fan of romances that take place over the course of a day, but the relationship in The Voting Booth didn’t feel like instalove and the characters had some important conversations that I think make for a strong foundation for a romantic relationship.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.
Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.
Why did I put off reading Sadie for so long? Everyone was right! This is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. The chapters alternate between Sadie’s perspective and a podcast called “The Girls” that is centered around her disappearance. This book is a lot darker and more emotional than I was expecting. It tackles some heavy themes that can be difficult to read about. I thought Courtney Summers did some really interesting things with this story and it is one that I won’t soon forget.
World War Z by Max Brooks
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”
I didn’t know what to expect going into World War Z. I had seen the movie but everyone told me that the book is completely different. That is certainly true and it turns out that the movie doesn’t hold a candle to the book. I loved the format of this novel- it reads like nonfiction. In many ways, this story hits way closer to home then I was expecting. Reading about so many different people experiencing a worldwide pandemic was difficult to read about given our present situation, but in a weird way it was comforting? I didn’t think I would be one of those people who would gravitate towards pandemic books right now, but maybe I am. Before picking this up, I suggest reading a sample of the first chapter to see how you feel about the format because I don’t think it will be for everyone.
The Only Good Indians y Stephen Graham Jones
The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.
Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.
The Only Good Indians is a book that has opened my eyes to just how powerful the horror genre can be. This is a book that had a lot of important things to say while also keeping me up at night out of fear. Stephen Graham Jones is an incredible writer. I want to read everything he has ever written! This is a book that is difficult to explain, and I think it is best to go into it knowing as little as possible. It takes awhile for the story to get going but trust me it is worth it!
The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben
The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child’s family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.
Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn’t know where he comes from, and he’s back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.
When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein–with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection–asks him to use his unique skills to help find her. Meanwhile, a group of ex-military security experts arrive in town, and when another teen disappears, the case’s impact expands far beyond the borders of the peaceful suburb. Wilde must return to the community where he has never fit in, and where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.
I have mixed feelings about The Boy in the Woods. I became very attached to both Hester and Wilde, but the ending left me unsatisfied with so many questions left unanswered. I wasn’t as invested in the mystery itself as I was in the characters’ backstories. Some of the political strategies were really enlightening though and it was a pageturner! I want to read more from this author, but I know that Harlan Coben has an extensive backlist- where should I start?
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. A small world of work, risk, death and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and ROOM.
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.
In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.
In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.
Don’t be surprised if The Pull of the Stars ends up on my “Best Books of 2020” list. I loved every single second of this book. It just solidified why Emma Donoghue is one of my favourite authors. There is something about her writing style that I connect with and it is apparent that she has done her research and every word was intentional. The story is told over the course of three days, and I was a complete wreck by the end. I will be posting a full review soon!
The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
Beth O’Leary’s debut novel, The Flatshare, is such a beloved book in the book community and I am now kicking myself for not having read it yet! The Switch is just so adorable, sweet, emotional, hopeful, and all the other positive adjectives. I loved the dual narration between Leena and her grandmother, Eileen. They both have experienced a loss that they are dealing with in different ways. This is a book that looks a grief and healing. I also love the trope where characters switch lives- it always leads to fun antics! Look out for my full review on Sunday.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
The Carls just appeared.
Roaming through New York City at three AM, twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is pure entertainment. I cannot remember the last time I read a book that was so ridiculous and so fun. It was interesting to see the huge role that social media plays in the story, especially since Hank Green himself is a famous Youtuber- it was like getting some insider knowledge. Some people may find our main character, April May, annoying or full of herself, and she was, but that is the point. This book is written as though April is reflecting on the events in the book and at her behaviour at the time. She is honest about her thoughts and actions and it is an interesting look at how fame can affect a person. I loved seeing the character growth! This book ends on a cliffhanger, so I am thrilled that the sequel is already out.
July has been my best reading month of the year so far. I always seem to get more reading done during the second half of the year.
What was the best book you read this month?