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.
Summary: Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.
To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.” Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?
Genre: mystery Rating: ★★★
The Stranger Diaries was recommended on a list of gothic horror and mystery novels, and I really loved the creepy atmosphere that Griffiths built here. The story takes place in a school that is rumored to be haunted; there’s a strange horror story written by a dead guy who used to live at the school; some of the students learn to do white magic from their professor; oh, and the English department is being killed off one by one. For as much as I love a good haunted house story, it was refreshing to take place in a different setting, and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this story.
May is always one of my busiest months (birthdays, holidays, the first time in the year when the weather gets nice and suddenly we’re not longer cooped up indoors), so when I signed up for the Asian Readathon for Asian Heritage Month, I was worried I was getting in over my head. I was especially nervous because I’d been in quite a reading slump so far this year, but I surprised myself by not only reading six books for this readathon, but also both of my Book of the Month selections and one (of three, sadly) books from my online book club!
All of the books I selected for this readathon were already on my tbr list, so it felt good to knock that number down a bit. I also made it a goal this year to read more books by POC, so this felt like a perfect reason to do that. If I want to read these books anyway, why not do it during a time to celebrate and bring awareness to these authors and stories (of course, we shouldn’t be reading these books exclusively for one month of the year). What I’m learning is that I really enjoy stories about different cultures, especially those that include mythology and folklore from said cultures. Who knew that young adult fantasy still had my heart?
The Asian Readathon had five simple rules, as follows: – Read a book written by an Asian author. – Read a book featuring an Asian character who is a woman AND/OR older. – Read a book by an Asian author that has a universe you would want to experience OR a universe that is totally different from yours. – Read a book by an Asian author that has a cover worthy of googly eyes. – Read a book by an Asian author that has a high rating OR was highly recommended.
I found that all of these books covered multiple rules. For example, The Ones We’re Meant to Find was written by an Asian author, had a universe that is totally different from mine, had a cover worthy of googly eyes, AND was highly recommended by a handful of my friends. In that regard, it was easy to reach this goals of the readathon, and I loved the loose interpretations here. It took a lot of the stress away from the readathon, and I had a lot of fun with it!
Summary: Ever since she was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage, Paloma has had the best of everything—schools, money, and parents so perfect that she fears she’ll never live up to them.
Now at thirty years old and cut off from her parents’ funds, she decides to sublet the second bedroom of her apartment to Arun, who recently moved from India. Paloma has to admit, it feels good helping someone find their way in America—that is until Arun discovers Paloma’s darkest secret. Before Paloma can pay Arun off, she finds him face down in a pool of blood. She flees the apartment but by the time the police arrive, there’s no body—and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place. Paloma is terrified this is all somehow tangled up in the desperate actions she took to escape Sri Lanka so many years ago. Did Paloma’s secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before?
Genre: thriller, mystery Rating: ★★★
I haven’t intentionally fallen off the face of the earth this last month, but I have been in a complete reading slump. Usually it happens when I read too many mediocre books in a row, which is what happened. I was hopeful that My Sweet Girl would be able to knock me out of it, because 1) the cover art is gorgeous and 2) despite it being a mystery, it sounded refreshing compared to most in the genre.
However, I really struggled to make my way through this. It took me almost three weeks to finish, and I had a difficult time connecting to it initially. At about the half-way point, I found myself wanting to reach the ending because I was interested in seeing how one small story arc played out (and thankfully it delivered!).
Summary: In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men were murdered with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted and retreated to isolation of her.
Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes. They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a murderer, or are there other dangers lurking?
Genre: mystery, thriller Rating: ★★★
At this point, I don’t think anyone would be shocked to learn that I’m a true crime fan. So despite Shea and I having nothing in common, it was easy for me to understand her excitement when an alleged murderer strolled into her office one morning. Beth might have been acquitted of her alleged crimes, but that didn’t make her any less intriguing. Much like Shea, I couldn’t wait to discover the truth behind the murders. And knowing this was another hit from Simone St. James, whose stories I’ve adored so far, I flew through this book.