Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch. – Goodreads
TL;DR: An envious female friendship, awesome elemental magic, intriguing court intrigue, and hints of a (literally) breathless romance – Truthwitch has it all. Maybe too much of everything all at once…
They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.
Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.
But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.
Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies. – Goodreads
TL;DR: The most depressing and disturbing thriller I’ve ever read. The one thing I’ve learned from What Lies Between Us is that mothers will literally do anything for their children, for better or for worse. Don’t be fooled by the 5 topazes because, honestly, I don’t even know whether this book deserves them because while so many things happen and for that, this thriller is unforgettable, the things that happen are all so awful that I kind of wish I never read it.
Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.
But there will be no turning back.
Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:
They are not alone.
They’re looking for the truth… But what if it finds them first? – Goodreads
TL;DR: While the concept and the setting (creepy village in middle-of-nowhere Sweden? Yes, please) are more than promising, the execution of The Lost Village, unfortunately, falls flat – so much so that I wish it were longer! However, the discussions on mental health are necessary and appreciated.
Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates—a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.
But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie—not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.
Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past—or his—catches up to her? – Goodreads
TL;DR: I should have known that The Wife Upstairs was a retelling of Jane Eyre as soon as I read the names “Jane” and “Eddie.” But, in my defense, it has been literally a decade since I’ve read Jane Eyre, and, I was totally expecting a twisty psychological thriller. Which this book isn’t. At all.
Fear and hope collide in this collection of possible tomorrows. What happens when boiling heat stokes family resentments; when a girl’s personal crisis trumps global catastrophe; or when two climate scientists decide to party like it’s the end of the world? Like the best sci-fi, these cli-fi stories offer up answers that are darkly funny, liberating, and all too conceivable. – Amazon
Content warnings: crass language, sexual connotations, death (both human and animal), violence (domestic and otherwise), suicide, spiraling mental health, racism, classism, climate crisis
TL;DR: These 7 short stories center around the devastating effects of the climate crisis, and while each one ultimately convinces us that humans are Earth’s Mightiest Villains, the stories, overall, leave us mentally exhausted and more confused than we should be.
Title:I Found You Author: Lisa Jewell Genre: thriller Release: 2017 Content warnings: sexual assault, attempted rape, violence, harassment Blurb (Goodreads): In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.
Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed.
Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother.
Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray?
4 out of 5topazes
I’ll be honest: I don’t really care about the amnesia trope. I neither hate it nor love it; it’s just there, and if the author does it well, then I’m set. Thankfully, Jewell does it well in that it makes sense. The fugue state happens when the afflicted undergoes unspeakable trauma, and Gray undergoes such trauma.
Hello, everyone! It’s the weekend and a little over a week into the new year. Today, I want to talk about my reading goals for 2021. I don’t have many because I find that if I give myself too many goals, I actually don’t finish them all, and then I feel bad about myself, ha. Still, I want to keep myself somewhat accountable with my reading, especially since 2020 was so successful in terms of the books I’ve read.
Without further ado, here are the 6 reading goals I hope to accomplish throughout the months.
What a year. A lot has happened to and for everyone, and my mental health has never looked so grimy. Thankfully, I’ve had books to keep me company. I’ve always been a reader, but this year, what with everything that went on, I became a reading monster.
Here are the quick stats of everything I read this year:
# of books: 62 # of pages (Kindle + print): 18,558 # of fiction: 61 # of non-fiction: 2 # of other (poetry, graphic novel, play, etc): 4 Most read genre: Fantasy Least read genre: Magical realism
Of these 62 books, 13 of them have left me in some sort of condition, whether it be shock, in tears, or saying “WTF” in a good way. Here are 13 of my favorite books I’ve read this year. All of them have gotten 5 stars from me. Yes, they’re that good.
Title: The Incendiaries Author: R.O. Kwon Genre: literary Release: 2018 Content warnings: loss, grief, obsession, rape Blurb (Goodreads): Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn’t tell anyone she blames herself for her mother’s recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe.
Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is increasingly drawn into a religious group–a secretive extremist cult–founded by a charismatic former student, John Leal. He has an enigmatic past that involves North Korea and Phoebe’s Korean American family. Meanwhile, Will struggles to confront the fundamentalism he’s tried to escape, and the obsession consuming the one he loves. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, seeking answers to what happened to Phoebe and if she could have been responsible for this violent act.
The Incendiaries is a fractured love story and a brilliant examination of the minds of extremist terrorists, and of what can happen to people who lose what they love most.
3 out of 5 topazes
The Incendiaries is an angstier, grown-up version of Paper Towns, except with an actual criminal for the main protagonist. Even so, this book averages out to 3 stars because while the characters and plot left much to be desired, the themes and their execution made me reflect in a way that I never had before.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and if you didn’t celebrate, a wonderful 25th! My family and I ate way too much for our own good, so we spent the 25th satisfied. Also, Wonder Woman 1984 had come out on HBO so we watched that, and, um, it was not good. Kind of cheesy, actually. Gal looked great, though.
I was actually surprised by how meh WW84 was because I had been on set for one of the scenes and was really excited for it. Just like with WW84, my reading, too, has had plenty of surprises (and yes, my friends, that is the best segue you will ever hear…)
This year, I tried to read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I actually followed through! I hate it when there’s a pressure to read this or that, and by forgoing this expectation, I found a lot of interesting books that I did not expect. Thus, here are my most surprising reads – bad and good – of 2020: