July was such a great reading month for me! I read 16 books in July from a mix of genres and my average rating was 4.07. I managed to read two of my most anticipated releases of the year! I decided to vlog my wrap up this month, so check out that video if you are interested. Otherwise, I am going to rank the books in order from my least favourite working up to my favourite in this post/
For Huntress Isabeau Agarwal, the countryside inn is the last stop in a deadly hunt. Armed with gaslamp and guns, she tracks an insidious beast that wears the skin of its victims, mimicking them perfectly. Ten guests reside within Spindle Manor tonight, and the creature could be any one of them. Confined by a torrential thunderstorm and running out of time, Isabeau has until morning to discover the liar, or none of them—including her—will make it out alive.
But her inhuman quarry isn’t the only threat residing in Spindle Manor.
A slammed door.
A dead body.
Someone has been killed, and a hunt turns into a murder investigation. Now with two mysteries at her feet and more piling up, Isabeau must navigate a night filled with lies and deception. In a world of seances and specters, mesmers and monsters, the unexpected is hiding around every corner, and every move may be her last.
I buddy read Murder at Spindle Manor with friends because it was one of the books that were submitted to this year’s SPFBO that caught our eye. Sadly, it did not work for any of us. I can only speak for myself, but I do think there was potential here and I have other books by this author on my TBR and they seem to lean more towards cozy fantasy. I think my problem with this one is that it read so much like Agatha Christie and the way the story was told made it feel like I was reading a play. I could picture the actors on the stage! I think the idea of that will appeal to some readers, but I found it distracting. I also thought that I would like the fantasy elements but I didn’t feel like they added much. This book goes off the rails at 80% and not in a good way.
The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.
Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.
When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.
Most of them.
I am so sad to say that I struggled with The Atlas Six. I was so into it at first and thought I was going to adore it, but it quickly lost me. It felt tedious and I thought we were getting a competition but we certainly did not get that. Also, there was a focus on psychics and playing with time, which are themes I don’t often like in my books. I expect the characters in dark academia to be pretentious and likable, which works for me because at least they make me feel something, but I felt nothing about these characters and ultimately didn’t care what happened to them. I don’t think I will continue on with the series but I will try something else by Olivie Blake.
The moving international sensation about new beginnings, human connection, and the joy of reading.
Hidden in Jimbocho, Tokyo is a booklover’s paradise. On a quiet corner in an old wooden building lies a shop filled with hundreds of second-hand books.
Twenty-five-year-old Takako has never liked reading, although the Morisaki bookshop has been in her family for three generations. It is the pride and joy of her uncle Satoru, who has devoted his life to the bookshop since his wife Momoko left him five years earlier.
When Takako’s boyfriend reveals he’s marrying someone else, she reluctantly accepts her eccentric uncle’s offer to live rent-free in the tiny room above the shop. Hoping to nurse her broken heart in peace, Takako is surprised to encounter new worlds within the stacks of books lining the Morisaki bookshop.
As summer fades to autumn, Satoru and Takako discover they have more in common than they first thought. The Morisaki bookshop has something to teach them both about life, love, and the healing power of books.
Days at the Morisaki Bookshop is a novella translated from Japanese and centers around a young woman who discovers not only the power of reading but also the importance of human connection. I adored part one of this book, to the point that it made me tear up, but part two kind of lost me. The first part is about Takako reconnecting with her uncle and falling in love with reading and it was beyond sweet but we lost that feeling in part two, which takes place a few years lately. That said, I still think it is worth reading if you are a reader who loves books about books. Just don’t let the cover fool you, there are no cats in this story.
Ami is determined to break the Torres family wedding curse. Her own disaster of a reception ended with all the guests getting food poisoning, and she left her cheating husband soon after. But even though she’s still processing her own divorce, Ami won’t let her twin sister Olive’s day be anything but perfect. Olive may think she wants a private ceremony in Maui, where she and her fiancé Ethan first fell in love, but Ami knows better and secretly flies the whole Torres family out to surprise the couple. Now she and her meticulously organized binder have less than two weeks to get everything together for the big day, thousands of miles from home.
Enter Brody, Ethan’s best man, who happens to be living in Maui and insists on helping with the preparations. His playfully elaborate schemes and happy-go-lucky attitude are the last thing Ami needs. When sparks start to fly, could it derail all her carefully laid plans?
Equal parts hilarious and swoon-worthy, this full-cast production is your ticket to the ultimate destination wedding, bringing to life both a captivating couple and an unforgettable family. The Honeymoon Crashers is Christina Lauren at their charming, hilarious best.
If you have not read The Unhoneymooners, do not read the synopsis for The Honeymoon Crashers because even knowing who the story is about spoils a major plot point of book one. For that reason, it is difficult to talk about this book other than to say that I am sad it is audio only because I know that is not accessible for everyone and that so many people loved The Unhoneymooners that not being able to read the sequel might be disappointing. That said, the cast was great and I thought this was adorable and summery and sweet! The first Christina Lauren book I have enjoyed since I first read The Unhoneymooners.
Four best friends, one music festival, and a cooler filled with human organs: this summer is about to get gory.
Jennifer’s Body fans will clamor for this new sapphic horror standalone from New York Times bestselling author Kayla Cottingham.
Three years ago, the melting of arctic permafrost released a pathogen of unknown origin into the atmosphere, causing a small percentage of people to undergo a transformation that became known as the Hollowing. Those impacted slowly became intolerant to normal food and were only able to gain sustenance by consuming the flesh of other human beings. Those who went without flesh quickly became feral, turning on their friends and family. However, scientists were able to create a synthetic version of human meat that would satisfy the hunger of those impacted by the Hollowing. As a result, humanity slowly began to return to normal, albeit with lasting fear and distrust for the people they’d pejoratively dubbed ghouls.
Zoey, Celeste, Valeria, and Jasmine are all ghouls living in Southern California. As a last hurrah before their graduation they decided to attend a musical festival in the desert. They have a cooler filled with hard seltzers and SynFlesh and are ready to party.
But on the first night of the festival Val goes feral, and ends up killing and eating a boy. As other festival guests start disappearing around them the girls soon discover someone is drugging ghouls and making them feral. And if they can’t figure out how to stop it, and soon, no one at the festival is safe.
This Delicious Death was everything I look for from this very specific niche that I happen to adore! During the summer, I am constantly looking for campy YA horror novels that are also supernatural and sapphic. That is exactly what you can expect from this book. Sure, some of the dialogue is cheesy and you really have to suspend your disbelief, but that is what I expect from books like this!
We think we understand the laws of physics. We think reality is an immutable monolith, consistent from one end of the universe to the next. We think the square/cube law has actual relevance.
We think a lot of things. It was perhaps inevitable that some of them would turn out to be wrong.
When the great incursion occurred, no one was prepared. How could they have been? Of all the things physicists had predicted, “the fabric of reality might rip open and giant monsters could come pouring through” had not made the list. But somehow, on a fine morning in May, that was precisely what happened.
For sisters Susan and Katharine Black, the day of the incursion was the day they lost everything. Their home, their parents, their sense of normalcy…and each other, because when the rift opened, Susan was on one side and Katharine was on the other, and each sister was stranded in a separate form of reality. For Susan, it was science and study and the struggle to solve the mystery of the altered physics inside the zones transformed by the incursion. For Katharine, it was monsters and mayhem and the fight to stay alive in a world unlike the world of her birth.
The world has changed. The laws of physics have changed. The girls have changed. And the one universal truth of all states of changed matter is that nothing can be completely restored to what it was originally, no matter how much you might wish it could be.
Nothing goes back.
Mira Grant is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors! I read my first book by her this year and have now read four of them. I love what she is doing within the SciFi horror genre. I will say that Square Cubed is my least favourite I have read so far but that isn’t saying much because I still really enjoyed it. If you are a lover of physics and the idea of rifts, this is one I would check out.
A Black teen desperate to regain her Ivy League acceptance enters an elite competition only to discover the stakes aren’t just high, they’re deadly, in this searing thriller that’s Ace of Spades meets Squid Game with a sprinkling of The Bachelor .
You must work twice as hard to get half as much.
Adina Walker has known this the entire time she’s been on scholarship at the prestigious Edgewater Academy—a school for the rich (and mostly white) upper class of New England. It’s why she works so hard to be perfect and above reproach, no matter what she must force beneath the surface. Even one slip can cost you everything.
And it does. One fight, one moment of lost control, leaves Adina blacklisted from her top choice Ivy League college and any other. Her only chance to regain the future she’s sacrificed everything for is the Finish, a high-stakes contest sponsored by Edgewater’s founding family in which twelve young, ambitious women with exceptional promise are selected to compete in three mysterious the Ride, the Raid, and the Royale. The winner will be granted entry into the fold of the Remington family, whose wealth and power can open any door.
But when she arrives at the Finish, Adina quickly gets the feeling that something isn’t quite right with both the Remingtons and her competition, and soon it becomes clear that this larger-than-life prize can only come at an even greater cost. Because the Finish’s stakes aren’t just make or break…they’re life and death.
Adina knows the deck is stacked against her—it always has been—so maybe the only way to survive their vicious games is for her to change the rules.
If you are a fan of Ace of Spades and/or The Weight of Blood, I think that Their Vicious Games is a book you cannot miss! It also has a touch of Squid Games and The Bachelor. I know that sounds like a lot but it works. This is definitely satirical and you have to keep in mind that we are following teenagers so there is a lot of angst in the beginning. But it is all worth it and this was one of the biggest page-turners I have read this year. I cannot believe this is Joelle Wellington’s debut. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever she writes next.
He saved me from a vengeful wolf but became a monster to do it. And now I’ve lost him. My Viking. My Alek.
Locked away in Novasgard, he’s beyond reach. I have no way to find him. No way to tell him about my secret. About the two words that changed everything. To make matters worse, Noah and Caleb want nothing to do with me now that they know.
Two little words, and I’m on the verge of losing them.
My confessor. My berserker. My prince. My Alpha…the only one remaining by my side.
A couple months ago, my biggest worry was finding my wolf. Now we’re dealing with demons, and fending off attacks from the fae. For every enemy we defeat, more lurk in the shadows.
The one thing they all have in common?
They’re after me.
We’re not safe anywhere, and there’s something dark and powerful inside me. Something only Alek can help me control. I have to get him back, to fix what’s broken between all of us. Because if I’ve learned anything since coming to Ravenscroft, it’s that I’m not going to survive this without my mates.
All four of them.
I cannot believe we are almost done with our readalong of The Mate Games! I have been having a blast, but I do think Possession is my least favourite so far, which makes me sad because it is apparently Alek’s book and he is my favourite of the love interests. For a book that is supposedly about Alek, he is hardly in it and what happened to him was upsetting to me. That said, I thought the plot we got in this one was interesting and I am curious to see how all of this wraps up.
Using the framework of tarot and conversation, Mateer approaches myth through a witchcraft-inspired lens and uses it to explore timeless issues like burnout, survival, trauma, and the restorative power in taking control of your own lore.
Artemis speaks to what is wild and untamed in all of us, and in this new collection, she asks for a moment of calm.
You would never come to me for poetry recommendations, but I do connect to what Trista Mateer does. I read and loved Aphrodite Made Me Do It a few years ago and was happy and surprised to see that it was actually a series, with the third collection, Persephone Made Me Do It, coming out in September. Her collections are a mix of her own thoughts and those from the Greek goddess in the title. If you have some anger and need a way to get it out, I recommend her poetry. So satisfying!
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau and Mexican Gothic comes a fabulous meld of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism: a dark thriller about the curse that haunts a legendary lost film–and awakens one woman’s hidden powers.
Montserrat has always been overlooked. She’s a talented sound editor, but she’s left out of the boys’ club running the film industry in ’90s Mexico City. And she’s all but invisible to her best friend, Tristán, a charming if faded soap opera star, though she’s been in love with him since childhood.
Then Tristán discovers his new neighbor is the cult horror director Abel Urueta, and the legendary auteur claims he can change their lives—even if his tale of a Nazi occultist imbuing magic into highly volatile silver nitrate stock sounds like sheer fantasy. The magic film was never finished, which is why, Urueta swears, his career vanished overnight. He is cursed.
Now the director wants Montserrat and Tristán to help him shoot the missing scene and lift the curse . . . but Montserrat soon notices a dark presence following her, and Tristán begins seeing the ghost of his ex-girlfriend.
As they work together to unravel the mystery of the film and the obscure occultist who once roamed their city, Montserrat and Tristán may find that sorcerers and magic are not only the stuff of movies.
I am in awe of the range that Silvia Moreno-Garcia has! Every time I read something by her I have a completely different experience but they all have a lasting impact on me. I think it is important to know that Silver Nitrate is slow burn horror. The first half is completely set up and you can feel we are building up to something. It is a journey to get there, but I thought it was worth it. There is a storyline in here I cannot talk about for spoiler reasons that I didn’t love but overall this was a fantastic novel. I think if you love 90s horror films. you will appreciate this even more than I did!
An ambitious wedding planner must work with her grumpy florist ex, whose heart she broke, on the most high-profile wedding of her career, in this spicy and emotional romance from popular fanfic author Julie Soto.
He loves me; he loves me not…
Ama Torres loves being a wedding planner. But with a mother who has been married more times than you can count on your fingers, Ama has decided that marriage is not the route for her. But weddings? Weddings are amazing. As a small business owner, she knows how to match her clients with the perfect vendor to give them the wedding of their dreams. Well, almost perfect…
Elliot hates being a florist, most of the time. When his father left him the flower shop, he considered it a burden, but he’s stuck with it. Just like how he’s stuck with the way he proposed to Ama, his main collaborator and girlfriend (or was she?) two years ago. But flowers have grown on him, just like Ama did. And flowers can’t run off and never speak to him again, like Ama did.
When Ama is hired to plan a celebrity wedding that will bring her business national exposure, there’s a catch: Elliot is already contracted to design the flowers. Things are not helped by the two brides, who see the obvious chemistry between Ama and Elliot and are determined to set them up, not knowing their complicated history. Add in a meddling ex-boss, and a reality TV film crew documenting every step of the wedding prep, and Ama and Elliot’s hearts are not only in jeopardy again, but this time, their livelihoods are too.
Forget Me Not is second chance romance done right! There are so many tropes in this book that I simply adore. I love how the two timelines came together and I thought that Ama and Elliot had amazing chemistry. Give me all of the romances that feature wedding planners because I love that setup so much.
I made my choice, and it wasn’t him. But Kingston Farrell won’t take no for an answer, and I’m not sure I want him to.
Noah gave me his mark, made me his, and vanished all in the same night. Kingston used that moment to claim me and bind me to him irrevocably. What he couldn’t know was by sealing our bond, he set something in motion none of us can stop.
He unlocked my wolf, freed her from her cage, and she wants nothing more than to make up for lost time by starting off with a bang…literally. His mark throws me straight into my first heat. My wolf mate can give me his knot, but I’m insatiable. I need more. I need them all.
My Norse demigod. My royal vampire. My fated wolf. My tortured priest.
But we can’t afford the distraction. A war is brewing, and there’s no denying I’m at the center of it all. Not when girls who look just like me keep dying.
I thought I’d gotten rid of the target on my back, but when I find myself in a demon’s clutches I know it’s not over.
Something evil is coming. It’s stalking my dreams. Making me second guess everything. And with each new attack one question looms…
What if that evil is me?
I think that Rejection is my favourite book in The Mate Games, which is surprising considering it is Kingston’s book and I was not a fan of him in book one. He grew on me in this one, but I think what I loved most was the interactions between all of the guys. There were some cringy one-liners that I just ate up!
Years ago, the SS Arcadia vanished without a trace during a routine voyage. Though a strange, garbled emergency message was broadcast, neither the ship nor any of its crew could be found. Sixty years later, its wreck has finally been discovered more than three hundred miles from its intended course.
Cove and her dive team have been granted permission to explore its rusting hull. Their purpose is straightforward: explore the wreck, film everything, and, if possible, uncover how and why the supposedly unsinkable ship vanished.
But the Arcadia has not yet had its fill of death, and something dark watches them from below. With limited oxygen and a presence on the ship that’s determined to keep them on board, if Cove and her team are trapped beneath the ocean’s waves, there’ll be no going back.
Underwater horror has officially become my favourite horror niche, even though finding books in the genre is proving to be difficult! I thought From Below was incredible and I now need to dive deeper into Darcy Coate’s backlist. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and felt myself getting stressed out for these characters. What more can I ask for from a horror novel?
A funny, heartfelt YA romance about finding love—and lots of grilled cheese sandwiches—in the place you least expect it, from rising talent Deya Muniz.
Lady Camembert wants to live life on her own terms, without marriage. Well, without marrying a man, that is. But the law of the land is that women cannot inherit. So when her father passes away, she does the only thing she can: She disguises herself as a man and moves to the capital city of the Kingdom of Fromage to start over as Count Camembert.
But it’s hard to keep a low profile when the beautiful Princess Brie, with her fierce activism and great sense of fashion, catches her attention. Camembert can’t resist getting to know the princess, but as the two grow closer, will she able to keep her secret?
A romantic comedy about mistaken identity, true love, and lots of grilled cheese.
The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich is my new favourite graphic novel and I am not sure anything will top it. This was the cutest thing ever and I adored it! All of the cheese references were hilarious and the romance was next-level adorable. Goodreads has me believing this is a series and I so hope that is true!
When an injury throws a young, battle-hungry orc off her chosen path, she may find that what we need isn’t always what we seek.
In Bookshops & Bonedust, a prequel to Legends & Lattes, New York Times bestselling author Travis Baldree takes us on a journey of high fantasy, first loves, and second-hand books.
Viv’s career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam’s Ravens isn’t going as planned.
Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she’s packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she’ll never be able to return to it.
What’s a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?
Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn’t possibly imagine.
Still, adventure isn’t all that far away. A suspicious traveler in gray, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling, and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv could have ever expected.
Dare I say that I loved Bookshops and Bonedust even more than Legends and Lattes? Maybe! I forgot just how much I adored Viv and it was nice to be back with her. I think this book has all of the coziness of the first but is more plot-driven and there is a mystery that has to be solved. I devoured the audiobook in one day and will have a vlog with all of my thoughts coming out soon. Just know that the end had me in tears!
There’s a princess trapped in a tower. This isn’t her story.
Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?
But nothing with fairies is ever simple.
Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He’s heard there’s a curse here that needs breaking, but it’s a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…
Are you shocked that a T. Kingfisher is my favourite book of the month? I’m thinking the answer is no! I screamed when I was accepted for an ALC of Thornhedge and I dropped everything to listen to it. My only complaint is that it was so short because I adored these characters so much and there is so much about the world that I want to know more about. I think that T. Kingfisher should write more stories set in this universe, but I always think that about her books.