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Another month, another tardy wrap-up post! I am nothing if not consistently late! But, here we are. It is now the END of July and I am just sitting down to post my June Reading Wrap-Up! What can ya do, right? So here it is! June was such a great reading month! How was your month? Any 5 star reads?
Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed
I am jumping right in with Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed. I was gifted this book from the publisher and I was absolutely blown away. I honestly didn’t have words to write up a review when I first finished it. It hit me like a ton of bricks. At its core, Hollow Fires is a suspense/mystery/ghost story…but it is so much more than that. It is told in dual perspectives…one of them is a young girl who finds the body of a murdered teen…and the other…is the 14 year old boy who was killed. That right there singly handedly did me in! Samira Ahmed is a brilliant storyteller…and she doesn’t hold back with this novel. She tackles racism, Islamophobia, White Supremacy… all. of. it. You can read my review here.
Safiya Mirza dreams of becoming a journalist. And one thing she’s learned as editor of her school newspaper is that a journalist’s job is to find the facts and not let personal biases affect the story. But all that changes the day she finds the body of a murdered boy.
Jawad Ali was fourteen years old when he built a cosplay jetpack that a teacher mistook for a bomb. A jetpack that got him arrested, labeled a terrorist—and eventually killed. But he’s more than a dead body, and more than “Bomb Boy.” He was a person with a life worth remembering.
Driven by Jawad’s haunting voice guiding her throughout her investigation, Safiya seeks to tell the whole truth about the murdered boy and those who killed him because of their hate-based beliefs.
This gripping and powerful book uses an innovative format and lyrical prose to expose the evil that exists in front of us, and the silent complicity of the privileged who create alternative facts to bend the truth to their liking.
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
Next up we have Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson. This was a much anticipated read for me because I LOVED the first book in the series, A Good Girls Guide to Murder. The sequel definitely didnt disappoint! This picked up in a great place after book one and I was immediately put right back into the page turning mystery that I hoped for! I did managed to crack the case before the end…but that’s ok…I still absolutely enjoyed the book and can’t wait to read book 3. This was a 4 star read for me!
Pip is not a detective anymore.
With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.
But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.
The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel is a wonderful work of historical fiction. I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially if it is set during World War II. This was a different perspective than most of the books I have read that are set during WWII. This was set in France and follows a Polish Jewish woman who is escaping the Nazi’s after her father has been arrested. Though it is not based on an actual person, the premise to the story is based in fact. Eva becomes a forger who creates documents with new identities for the Jewish children who are escaping to freedom. But, Eva is terrified that these children will never know their true identities or histories so she devises a way to record their information. She creates the Book of Lost Names. This was just so beautifully written and heartbreaking. Definitely recommend if you are a historical fiction fan.
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books when her eyes lock on a photograph in the New York Times. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in more than sixty years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer, but does she have the strength to revisit old memories?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris and find refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, where she began forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Next up we have The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. This was described to me as a “spine-tingling thriller”…y’all…nothing tingled. Not a single tingle. Now, I didn’t dislike the book. It was still a 3 star read for me. I think I was expecting something much scarier and much more…I dont know…spine-tingling. This was my first Lisa Jewell book. I really enjoyed her writing so I will definitely be checking out more of her books, but sadly this one just wasn’t a knock-out for me.
Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green
The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green was another book gifted by the publisher. This was such an atmospheric read…I felt transported straight into Savannah. We most often hear of Savannah and think of Spanish Moss, southern charm, and beautiful mansions…but The Kingdoms of Savannah shows a darker and more sinister side. It tackles the problem of homelessness, power structure, family dysfunction, and so much more. This was a really good read, 4 stars!
It begins quietly on a balmy Southern night as some locals gather at Bo Peep’s, one of the town’s favorite watering holes. Within an hour, however, a man will be murdered and his companion will be “disappeared.” An unlikely detective, Morgana Musgrove, doyenne of Savannah society, is called upon to unravel the mystery of these crimes. Morgana is an imperious, demanding, and conniving woman, whose four grown children are weary of her schemes. But one by one she inveigles them into helping with her investigation, and soon the family uncovers some terrifying truths―truths that will rock Savannah’s power structure to its core.
Moving from the homeless encampments that ring the city to the stately homes of Savannah’s elite, Green’s novel brilliantly depicts the underbelly of a city with a dark history and the strangely mesmerizing dysfunction of a complex family.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid spoke to my child of the 80’s heart. After reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo I set out to read everything Taylor Jenkins Reid has ever written. She has such a way of writing that transports you directly into the story. I felt like I jumped into a DeLorean and went back to the future…acid wash jeans, teased bangs, the whole shebang. In addition to speaking to my elderly heart…this spoke to my beach bum heart. Set on the California coast? Yes please. This book was amazing. 5 enormous stars. Go read it.
Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
The Maid by Nita Prose
Next up we have The Maid by Nita Prose. This book I had seen everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I chose this as my first ever Book of the Month book. (If you haven’t checked out BOTM…you should do it…its fantastic…click this link to use my referral link and save some $$). This one took me a little bit of time to get into. I think what it was was that this was the first book written in the First Person that I had read in a long time. It took me a minute to get into my groove, but once I did I really enjoyed the story I loved the main character, Molly. She is a socially awkward person with more than a touch of OCD. I loved how unique she was and how unabashedly herself she was! If you want a quick mystery read, this would be a great choice. 4 stars.
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.
Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.
But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?
A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez
Next up we have Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez. This was included in my monthly OwlCrate box and WOW did I love this book. I love anything with a Spanish feel…and this was all things Spanish. This was a story full of magic, flamenco, and dragons. Imagine a story with bull fighting…except the bulls are dragons and they breath fire. I know, right? This was so beautifully and vividly written. The descriptions were so lush and vibrant that you could almost hear the flamenco music and the foot stomping. I have to be honest, the title made me a little nervous. I am not a huge romance novel fan…and I got major romance novel, Fabio on the cover vibes. I am happy to report that it was not like that at all. It did have a slow burn romance but it was not overdone in the slightest. This was a 5 star read for me. Loved every page! (Just a note that this cover is a special edition for OwlCrate, so the regular version will look different…still gorgeous…but different).
Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see him fight in their arena, which will one day be hers. But disaster strikes during one celebratory show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s life changes in an instant.
A flamenco dancer who must become a dragon hunter to save her family legacy
With the Dragon Guild trying to wrest control of her inheritance from her, Zarela has no choice but to train to become a Dragonador. But when the most talented dragon hunter left in the land — the infuriatingly handsome Arturo Díaz de Montserrat — withholds his help, Zarela cannot take no for an answer. Without him, her world will burn.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Speaking of books that are EVERYWHERE right now. Let me present to you, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. You may have seen this floating around…everywhere. I fought this one for a long time. I have no idea why…maybe because it had so much buzz? I don’t know. Anyway, I gave in and read it. Y’all…it was really good. This book broke my heart. As a Mama, reading about this poor abandoned child, alone in the marsh, raising herself, gahh…it was too much. My heart hurt for Kya. But also, I found myself cheering her on so many times! She is the person you want to root for. I thought this was a beautifully written book…such detailed descriptions. I am really curious to see how this transforms into a movie! 4 stars for me!
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Thanks for Reading!
How was your reading for June…or July since we are almost done! Any 5 star reads or books that I HAVE to read??
If you missed my May Wrap-Up, just click here!
Thanks again so much for reading and for being here!