I was not emotionally prepared for the conclusion of the Shades of Magic series, which features the darkest and most high-stakes story yet. In true book hangover fashion, my heart still aches over this beautifully written and perfectly plotted final book. Picking up where the cliffhanger in A Gathering of Shadows left off, A Conjuring of Light does not let down in the world- and character-building department. Read: you will not be disappointed. This book deserves all the stars, and has me even more stoked for the comic book spin-off series The Steel Prince.
I was very cautious (and also super annoyed) going into Tower of Dawn, because honestly, who wants an entire Chaol book? Thankfully, I was proven completely wrong … but only after I powered through the slow opening. After those first 200-ish pages, it was full stream ahead for the remainder of the novel, with the penultimate book in the Throne of Glass series even — dare I say it? — redeeming Chaol. The story’s success is due in large part to healer Yrene, who makes her triumphant return to the series, as well as some pretty shocking reveals that set the stage for the series conclusion (review below).
Monty, Percy, Felicity and their pirate friends return in this cute, fluffy follow up to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Set before the events in The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, Lee’s short story length tale follows Monty and Percy as they settle into their new relationship. There’s only one problem: despite Monty’s reputation as a rake, he and Percy have yet to be intimate with one another. With that knowledge weighing heavily on him, Monty turns to Felicity for help. What could go right?
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The suspenseful follow-up to Final Girls tells the story of Emma, another survivor of trauma (Sager’s forte). 15 years after the disappearance of her Camp Nightingale cabin mates, Emma returns to the hoity-toity summer camp to learn what happened to Vivian, Natalie, and Allison all those years ago. Perfect for fans of psychological thrillers, Sager’s latest novel will keep you guessing (and screaming) until the very last page. Adapt this for the big screen, please and thanks.
This debut collection from Claire C. Holland combines two of my favorite things: feminist poetry and fictional final girls. Written in response to the 2016 election and the #MeToo movement (among other unfathomable goings on in the world), Holland’s poems explore the perspective of 40 female horror film survivors throughout the decades. Deeply unapologetic, this debut collection is a fitting tribute to final girls and the society that shapes them.
You by Caroline Kepnes (★★★★★)
Kepnes’ debut thriller is an incredibly disturbing novel about obsession in the social media age, including the unhealthy fixation we have with curating our own online personas. Full disclosure, I should not have enjoyed this dark and deranged novel told in the second person as much as I did. And I especially should not have been rooting for the charming, literary loving stalker/kidnapper/murderer the entire time. But here we are. Insert Sorry Not Sorry joke here.
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The final (and weakest) novel in The Thousandth Floor trilogy isn’t nearly as exciting or as high stakes as the first two books, and it definitely doesn’t feature as much fun, futuristic technology. From an unnecessarily long plot, to a very predictable conclusion, this is one trilogy that should have been a duology … or maybe even a standalone. Despite my numerous complaints, this is not a terrible read, but I wanted so much more than unnecessary will-they-won’t-they romantic drama.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (★★★★☆)
Obsidio, the conclusion to The Illuminae Files, brings all your favorite characters — and let’s face it, some not so great new ones — together at last. While there are no horror elements like in the first two books, the plot more than makes up for it with some amazing AIDAN moments, the inclusion of comic book elements and illustrations, and a glorious and super experimental final battle. It’s certainly not the best book in the series, but it definitely goes out with a bang.
This collection of previously released Wattpad poetry has been re-edited to form a brand-new Amanda Lovelace duology titled Things That H(a)unt. While not as empowering as the rest of Lovelace’s collections, this one is still super raw and emotional, and features amazing opening and closing poems (the strongest of the bunch). Bonus: it’s her prettiest collection, and has beautiful illustrations throughout.
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Part memoir, part self-help(ish) book, part something else entirely, Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive seeks to remove the stigma society places on depression, by revealing the author’s own struggles with the disease, as well as peppering the book with facts and statistics on depression and suicide. Super personal and very raw, I see this as a sort of companion to Notes on a Nervous Planet, which is structured in a very similar manner. Warning: this one is not nearly as light-hearted, but equally helpful.
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage (★★★☆☆½)
Baby Teeth stars a pint-sized sociopath with designs to kill her mother, the mother herself, and the father who is completely oblivious to his wife and daughter’s true selves. You know, totally normal family dynamic type stuff. The story is made up of alternating chapters that switch between the crazed daughter who is too smart/demonic to be believable, and her mother, who is convinced she will never be a good enough wife and mother. While a super interesting premise — mostly because the kid is not alright — the plot definitely drags at times.
Rust & Stardust is based on the 1948 kidnapping of 11-year-old Florence “Sally” Horner, a crime that would go on to inspire the Vladimir Nabokov classic Lolita. Despite being pulled straight from history, Greenwood’s novel is less a true crime story and more historical fiction, exploring the horrors that Sally was most likely forced to endure during her 21-month ordeal, and the ramifications it had on the people in her life. This heartbreaking and beautifully written novel deserves every single star (and then some).
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