Summary: Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes.
And they were liars.
For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods—no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.
Genre: thriller, mystery, horror Rating: ★★★★
When I saw that What Lies in the Woods was a BookoftheMonth pick, I immediately added it to my box. The book is inspired by the Slenderman stabbing that happened in 2014, when two 12-year-old girls lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times to appease Slenderman so he would reward them by taking the girls to his mansion. This story has always fascinated and confused me, so I was curious to see how a book inspired by that case would be.
Summary:When She Woke tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed―their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes―and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder.
In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.
Genre: science fiction, dystopia Rating: ★★★
When She Woke was an eerily realistic dystopian story that had me hooked from the very first page; I was rooting for the protagonist to escape the harsh reality she faced; I was excited to see where this story could possibly go – until the last 100 pages where it suddenly took a nosedive that left me feeling confused and unsure of what this story was really trying to say.
Summary: A lot has changed in years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads, “We need to talk about what we did that night.”
It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past—and the people she thought she’d left there—aren’t as buried as she believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.
At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester.
Genre: Thriller, mystery Rating: ★★★★
This is a book that you’ll either completely love or absolutely hate. There is no middle ground here. When I was reading reviews from other readers, the biggest point that stood out was that they despised all of the characters in this book. Ambrosia Wellington (I think her name alone says a lot about the type of person she would turn out to be) is insufferable, dependent on others’ validation, and a straight up bully. Her partner in crime, Sloane, is the type of cool girl that all the boys want and all the girls want to be, but she’s dangerous. These things are absolutely true about The Girls Are All So Nice Here, but what made me sink right into the heart of this story is how well-written these girls are.
Summary: Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.
So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.
Genre: contemporary, young adult, lgbt, romance Rating: ★★★★
Young adult contemporary has a ridiculous hold on me, but honestly, considering how wonderful Ophelia After All is, can you really blame me? This book was so warm, cozy, and heart-wrenching, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Summary: Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.
As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.
This is a PSA that dark academia has my heart completely and absolutely no other genre in the entire world can compare to how If We Were Villains makes me feel. I know I’ve been throwing out five-star reviews pretty frequently lately, but I truly have not been this enamored with a book since I read The Maidens by Alex Michaelides last year. I know that this book is going to stay with me for a long time, and even though I’m usually not someone who rereads, I cannot wait to revisit this and fall in love all over again.