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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a YA contemporary debut I loved because the voice was fun, authentic, and humorous and full of heart! It combines some favorite tropes and elements like road trip story, dual POV, sisters, and family drama to make for an unforgettable read!

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Lulu and Milagro's Search for Clarity cover

Lulu and Milagro’s Search for Clarity by Angela Velez

Lulu and Milagro are two sisters who couldn’t be more different, and they both have exciting plans for spring break: Lulu is headed out on the school’s cross-country college road trip, and Milagro has finagled a way to stay home alone so she can finally lose her virginity. But when Milagro’s plans fall through, she finds herself tagging along on the trip, much to Lulu’s horror and Milagro’s annoyance. As they try to get along on the road trip, Lulu is bent on learning the truth behind the fallout between their mom and oldest sister—her hopes of attending school out of state depend on it. Meanwhile, Milagro discovers there are many different paths in college, and maybe a college career is in her future after all.

This novel is told in dual POVs, allowing you to get into both Lulu and Milagro’s heads. Velez does a great job of making each girl sound unique yet similar enough that you can buy that they’re sisters, and their perspectives on the world will make you laugh and also have you empathizing with their struggles, which aren’t as dissimilar as they might believe at first. While Lulu is very focused and Milagro tends to be the fun-loving sister, they teach each other that there is value in exploring your academic options and in taking the time to socialize and venture outside of your comfort zone. There is plenty of excitement on the road when the trip gets underway, but underneath it all is a big question: Why did their older sister Clara stop talking to the family after she went off to college? And what is their mom not telling them about Clara? It was just enough of a mini mystery to pull the story along and add some great tension to this story of discovery, and the truth will have readers contemplating what it means to work towards the future, and how if a plan falls apart, then it’s okay—you just make a new one.

The tl;dr version? Read this book if you like sister stories, humor, and soul-searching alongside family secrets.

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is one of those buzzy, Reese pick books that I bought when it first came out…and then it languished on my TBR stack for months. You know how it goes! But once I got to it, I really enjoyed it!

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Content warning: violence, pregnancy loss

Northern Spy by Flynn Berry

Tessa lives an ordinary life in modern Belfast: She’s a single mom to an infant, a sister, a daughter, and a dedicated producer for a BBC news show. She’s used to getting a ribbing for working for the Brits, but the violence of the IRA doesn’t really touch her life until one day a robbery hits the news. It was carried out by the IRA, and Tessa’s beloved sister Marian is caught on camera pulling a mask over her face. Tessa’s life implodes as she goes into shock, then denial. There’s no way that Marian could be a member of the IRA…but if she is, that means Tessa must reconcile everything she thought she knew about her family with the tenuous reality of living in a country marked by violence.

I became intrigued by the Troubles of Northern Ireland a couple years ago when I happened to catch a documentary that touched on them, and I’ve recommended the nonfiction book Say Nothing: A true Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe in this newsletter before. But other than the contemporary aspects of Keefe’s book, I hadn’t read much about the Troubles that wasn’t firmly rooted in history, and I thought this was a really fascinating look at modern life shaped by these struggles. What struck me was how most people learned to just live against this backdrop of violence, while it deeply affected others in very different ways, inciting them to action. And then I realized that to those living in Northern Ireland, life in the U.S. must feel similar from afar, given how often our country faces unexpected and jarring gun and police violence.

In this novel, Tessa really has to dig deep into her own thoughts and feelings about how far she’ll go to protect her own family, and how deep she’s willing to wade into this conflict in order to buy herself and her loved ones some peace. The writing is elegant and also gut-wrenching, and I sped through the chapters because I truly had no inkling of how it would end. I highly recommend this if you like a more literary, interior thriller that looks at social and political issues.

Happy reading!
Tirzah


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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a new book by a well-loved author whose work I’ve been meaning to get to! I’ve heard amazing things about Emma Straub’s books and frankly, all of her novels sound amazing to me, but it just so happens that I got my hands on her newest book on audio, which I listened to in one sitting while painting my bathroom!

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Content warning: Terminal illness

This Time Tomorrow cover

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Alice is on the cusp of her 40th birthday, dating a man she likes but not well enough to marry, and dissatisfied in her career. But the worst thing about her life is the fact that her beloved father is terminally ill, and no one knows how much longer he has. When she goes to sleep on her fortieth birthday, she’s stunned to wake up on her sixteenth birthday again. Alice is intrigued and unsettled, but she has to admit there is one perk: Her father is healthy and alive, and she can talk to him again. No matter what led her here, this seems like an opportunity too good to pass up…but whatever changes she makes at sixteen will have serious consequences for the future.

I thought that this was such a great premise that allowed Straub to really take her characters in interesting places, and it’s all set against the interesting backdrop of New York City, particularly NYC in the 1990’s. Alice’s dad is a famous sci-fi writer of time travel fiction and while his books bear little resemblance to Alice’s situation, it does mean that Alice has some really intriguing conversations about time travel with the people in her life, and I thought that Straub approached the time slips in a really clever way. It was like sci-fi lite for people who might not be into the genre, but it also had enough nods to the genre that those who come to the book for the time travel will be satisfied. I loved the way that Straub examined how decisions we make as young people can inform our world view, which can have a profound impact on our futures…but that doesn’t mean things are always set in stone. This is a great novel that looks at identity and possibility and mortality in a moving way, it’s perfect for fans of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig!

Bonus: Marin Ireland, narrator and actress, voices this audiobook and her performance is excellent!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a book that I positively inhaled over a long car ride this past weekend—it has drama, family secrets, a murder mystery, and hard-hitting questions about the expectations we put on women, plus an interesting interrogation of the true crime genre.

Content warning: Infidelity, bigamy, murder, natural disaster (earthquake), domestic abuse, childbirth death and trauma

cover image for More Than You'll Ever Know

More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez

This is a novel told from two viewpoints, across two timelines. First, we have Lore Rivera, a thirty-something international banker from Texas who makes frequent trips to Mexico City for work. She’s holding her family—husband and two sons—together by a shoestring back home, but when she meets a dazzling man in Mexico City it’s not long before she is living a double life, falling in love and then, against her better judgement, marrying him. For three years she splits her time between Mexico and Texas, no one any wiser, until her double life is discovered and one of her husbands kills the other.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

In present day, Cassie Bowman is a true crime journalist looking for her big break. When she reads a retrospective about Lore’s case, she’s disgusted by the sloppy telling and intrigued by Lore—what would inspire a woman to risk everything for a double life? And is she really completely innocent in the murder of her husband? Cassie sets out to convince Lore to tell her side of the story, but not everything is as cut and dry as it seems.

I really loved this book, and I was drawn to it for the same reasons that Cassie was drawn to Lore’s case: The concept of a woman having two husbands and a double life is not nearly as common as a man having two families. In alternating chapters, we learn about Lore’s past and the circumstances that led her to meeting her second husband, falling for him, deceiving him, all while trying to hold together her family back home. Lore clearly loves both of her husbands, and she’s under a lot of pressure to provide for her family during a recession, leaving her little room to be wholly herself. This is not an excuse for her actions, but rather the very intriguing set of circumstances that lead to her choices, which will have a devastating effect on everyone involved.

Cassie does come across as a little mercenary and voyeuristic at first. She’s aware of the problematic nature of murder as entertainment and her part in perpetuating stereotypes that women are victims. But she has her own reasons to be drawn to true crime, and skeletons in her closet that she keeps locked away. She truly wants to understand Lore, and Lore in turn forces Cassie to face those skeletons. Soon, they both become so enmeshed in each other’s stories that it’s impossible to walk away, and Cassie and Lore began to wonder if sometimes, telling the truth isn’t necessarily the same thing as obtaining justice.

I loved this book for the big questions it asks, the layered characters, and the vivid depictions of Laredo, TX and Mexico City in the 1980s. After reading this book, I would pick up anything that Katie Gutierrez writes! Bonus: The audiobook was excellent, with seamless dual narration!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is one of those books that I bought immediately upon release because I knew it was going to be my jam…and then life got in the way and I let it fall to the side until I finally picked it up on vacation and of course I loved it!

Content warning for speculation of suicide, digital stalking, infidelity.

cover of The Verifiers by Jane Pek

The Verifiers by Jane Pek

Claudia is a twenty-something Chinese American woman living in New York City and trying to duck her family’s weighty expectations. She works for a firm called Veracity, which exists to verify the details listed on dating profiles for their anxious online dating clients. Claudia likes the job because it means she spends as much time out on her bike as she does in an office, and she’s keen on mystery novels even if her boss would be the first to insist they aren’t detectives. But when a client dies under suspicious circumstances, Claudia can’t let it go. Soon, she’s looking into the case on her own time, and what she finds suggests foul play.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

I loved this mystery because it has a lot of elements I love in a good murder mystery—a smart protagonist, mysterious death, interesting characters, and an intriguing set-up—and it’s not a procedural (I do like a good procedural but I am weary of reading about U.S. police departments). Claudia takes a lot of her inspiration from mystery novels and her favorite is a series starring Inspector Yuan, whom she invokes a lot in her investigation. She’s savvy and smart, but she’s definitely an amateur and that shows in the missteps she makes…but rather than detract from the mystery, it endeared her to me and lead to some interesting revelations and twists. The mystery itself is an interesting exploration of the tech world and journalism, which made the book feel very modern and relevant, and I liked how the investigation plot was balanced with subplots involving Claudia’s relationship with her siblings and mom, and a mini mystery her older sister was facing. Claudia is also queer, and while this book doesn’t have any romance in it, her queer identity is an important part of the story. This mystery is resolved by the end, but the author cleverly sets up a sequel—and hints at a surprising potential love interest for Claudia!—which I can’t wait to read! Definitely read this book if you enjoy the Vera Kelly mysteries by Rosalie Knecht, as they have similar sensibilities despite the 50-odd year difference in setting!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week, I am recommending the first book in my favorite YA fantasy series of all time. I recently re-read it, and found that it was just as immersive and emotional as the first time around. I’m recommending the first book, but know that the two sequels are out, and the series is finished, just in case that’s a consideration. One thing to note—if you are excited to read this series, don’t read the description of the second and third books until you finish the first book if you care about spoilers!

Content warning: Discussion of violence, murder, miscarriage, and sexual assault, and although nothing is described in graphic detail, it does have a heavy emotional impact on the characters.

Finnikin of the Rock cover

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

The lives of everyone in the small, prosperous kingdom of Lumatere are forever disrupted one fateful night when the king and his family are overthrown and murdered, and his young son disappears, presumed dead. Finnikin was a child when this happened, and a curse fell upon the kingdom, exiling half the kingdom outside of Lumatere’s walls. Finnikin has grown up with the former king’s advisor, traveling the lands trying to improve life for the exiles but he’s long given up hope that he’ll ever be able to return home…until a young novice who has taken a vow of silence communicates to him that if Finnikin can find his father, the imprisoned King’s Guard, and unite the exiles, she can produce the missing heir and bring Lumatere’s people home. Finnikin wants to believe her, but she seems to be hiding an impossible secret.

It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of my favorite books of all time. When it comes to fantasy, I require a few things: excellent writing, great world building, incredible characters, and a fantastic plot—preferably one that explores big topics that are relatable in the real world. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m picky, but books like this are why I love this genre. Marchetta creates magic on the page, and I love how she explores the idea of displacement and what it means to belong, and how to process a collective trauma. Now, be warned—it is a slow build at the beginning as the characters are set up and the conflict is established. If you give it 50 pages, I promise you’ll be hooked by the incredible storytelling elements as Finnikin and his small band of exiles begin the arduous process of rescuing their people, uniting them, and then finding the bravery to face unbearable pain and suffering in order to take back their home. There are a few surprises along the way, although savvy readers might be able to see a few plot developments coming. But the ending? Totally worth it.

The first book has a complete arc, which is really satisfying in this world of fantasy cliffhangers and ongoing series, but if you love this book I highly recommend checking out Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn, the second and third books in the trilogy. Just be warned…if you pick up Froi, you’ll want Quintana on hand because Froi ends on a cliffhanger!

Happy reading!
Tirzah


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is the adult debut of much-loved fantasy author, Holly Black! You might know her as the co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles, the author of The Cruel Prince or The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, or the author of the Newbery Honor book Doll Bones! She’s a talented and dynamic speculative writer whose stories sometimes toe the line of horror, and her newest book is excellent!

cover of book of night by holly black; dark green with illustration in the middle of a sliver of a moon at night

Book of Night by Holly Black

Charlie Hall is in her late twenties, and she’s spent most of her life as a thief and con artist in a world where people can manipulate their own shadows for power and status. But not anymore—after a job went wrong, she’s decided she’s on the straight and narrow path, working as a bartender and trying to see her sister through college. But then one last job reels her back into her former life, and this time she walks right into the center of a dangerous struggle for a legendary grimoire that a local billionaire is desperate to get his hands on. And unfortunately for Charlie, it turns out this mess is about to get personal, so there’s no walking away from it.

If you’re a devoted Holly Black reader, this novel (with a confirmed sequel!) is probably best described as an edgier, slightly more grown up novel that’s reminiscent of her Curseworkers series—it’s got an organized crime element, family secrets, heists, dangerous magic, and plenty of plot twists. If you’re new to Holly Black, hopefully that all sounds good to you! I really enjoyed Charlie, a character who’s never really gotten a fair start in life and grew up manipulated into conning more powerful shadow magic users in order to get ahead. We meet her at a point in her life when she’s realized the danger in her previous actions, and is trying to live a different life—but it’s incredibly hard when the world seems to be against you. You can’t help but sympathize with Charlie for her rather simple desire for a job that pays the bills, a boyfriend who is steady and kind, and a sister who is happy with going to college. Of course, nothing is that simple and Charlie realizes she’s going to have to face the darkness head on if she’s going to even survive.

I’ll be real—I didn’t 100% understand the magic system in this world, and there were many scenes where I just went with it. Luckily, Black makes it easy to do because her writing and her characters are so engaging, and I think it’s the more grounded, real-world struggles of trying to live a good life in a complicated and not-so-kind world that made the conflict so intriguing. And of course, there are some truly excellent twists in this story (some I saw coming, others I didn’t) and a brilliant heist climax that made my head spin (in a good way!), and all of that was really fun. This book is one of my favorites of Black’s work, and it’s perfect for fans of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo!

Happy reading!
Tirzah

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


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Today In Books

New Tolkien Collection to Release in November: Today in Books

A New J.R.R. Tolkien Collection Gathers the Author’s Writings on Middle-earth’s Second Age

Ahead of the release of The Rings of Power, Amazon’s TV series prequel to The Lord of the Rings, a new collection of Tolkien’s writings on Middle-earth’s Second Age will be released. The Fall of Númenor, which is edited by Brian Sibley (who picks up where Tolkien’s son Christopher Tolkien left off), collects all of Tolkien’s writings on this age, which will be the setting of the new Amazon show. The events that occur during this time lead directly to unfolding of the plot Tolkien’s best-known trilogy. The book will be illustrated by Alan Lee and releases November 15.

Lionsgate Wins Film Adaptation Rights for Upcoming Young Adult Novel Thieves’ Gambit

Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis won’t be released from Penguin Random House until fall of 2023, but already film rights to the thriller heist novel have sold at auction. The story follows a young young woman, trained by her parents to be an expert thief, who enters a dangerous competition. The book and two other untitled works sold for a reported seven-figures.

New York Library Reverses Removal Of Pride Displays From Children’s Sections Following Outrage

The Smithtown Library on Long Island previously announced they’d be removing all Pride displays from children’s sections in all their branches, a decision that caused outcry and protest. Now, they’re reversing their decision after an emergency board meeting in response to backlash, and an apology was issued in which the board acknowledged they acted in haste.

The Subversive Verse of Shel Silverstein

Much of the early history of children’s literature is didactic, and it took a radical nonconformist, Shel Silverstein, to upend the didactic era and scratch the “id” of children everywhere, inviting them to tease out their “inappropriate” inclinations.

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Today In Books

Taylor Swift’s New WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING Single Drops: Today in Books

Taylor Swift Debuts Folksy Where the Crawdads Sing Soundtrack Song ‘Carolina’

Taylor Swift has just released a new single called “Carolina,” which will make an appearance in the movie adaptation of Where the Crawdads Sing. The folksy, gothic song is available to purchase on most music streaming platforms. Where the Crawdads Sing is based on the 2018 bestselling novel by Delia Owens, and was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. Witherspoon then optioned it for film and is a producer of the movie, which will be out in theaters on July 15.

Former Chronicle Reporter Signs Deal With Jamie Lee Curtis On Paradise Fire Movie

Lizzie Johnson, the author of Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire, has just signed a deal to adapt her book on the Camp Fire into a film, with Jamie Lee Curtis’s company to produce, along with Blumhouse Productions. Drawn from Johnson’s extensive coverage of the event and aftermath while working for the San Francisco Chronicle, the book has been praised for being extensively researched and respectfully written to honor the victims who lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods.

‘I Felt Very Unsafe’: Parents Speak Out After Proud Boys Show Up At Children’s Library Event

In Wilmington, North Carolina, the hate group known as Proud Boys showed up at the Pine Valley Library during their special Pride story time event to protest what they claimed was tax dollars funding “pornography and drag queens.” While there were peaceful protestors outside of the library, the Proud Boys entered the library and were disruptive and intimidating to staff and patrons. Sheriff deputies had to be dispatched to the library to prevent the Proud Boys from entering the story time room, and one parent said she “felt very unsafe” while attending with her one-year-old child.

Librarian Vandalizes 2 Public Libraries, Spray Painting “Groomer”: Book Censorship News for June 24, 2022

Pride story times and book displays continue to be attacked and dismantled across the country.

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Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

Today’s pick might have you rolling your eyes because you’ve probably seen this backlist favorite EVERYWHERE. But I wanted to include it in my Pride Month recommendation extravaganza because I didn’t pick this book up until very recently when someone told me it was a queer book, and then I gasped because going off the marketing, I had no clue. (Sneaky queer books alway frustrate me, even if I know why they’ve had to be sneaky in the past, because queer content is something I’d definitely consider a plus!) So if you, like me, avoided this book because of the hype machine or find that your interest is piqued by learning that it’s queer, then let’s go!

Content warnings: sexual harassment, domestic abuse, alcoholism, terminal illness

seven husbands of evelyn hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Monique is a magazine writer going through a break up, and her career is stalled out. But then she gets an unusual request: Evelyn Hugo, the famous movie star, has agreed to be interviewed by Monique’s magazine, as long as Monique conducts the interview. Monique’s editor is annoyed but she agrees, and Monique finds herself sitting down across from the eighty-year-old legend. But Evelyn doesn’t really want an interview—she wants Monique to write her life story. Why Monique, Evelyn won’t say just yet, but she promises it will all make sense in the end. As Monique balances her own curiosity with her editor’s impatience and Evelyn’s adherence to chronological order, she settles in and listens to Evelyn’s incredible life story.

I loved the way this book was told, vacillating between Monique’s point of view and Evelyn’s telling. Modeled after some of the most famous actresses of Hollywood’s golden era, Evelyn’s story seems to be that of excess—she’s been married seven times, she has weathered scandals, she’s endured countless rumors, and broken many hearts. Her films have been wildly successful and total flops, but she’s always been a household name. But I truly loved the real reason behind some of her most enigmatic decisions: Evelyn was in love with a fellow famous actress for decades, and now wants to come out as bisexual. But that’s not the only surprising revelation, and things get personal the more Monique digs into her past. I thought the tension between timelines was perfectly balanced, and I am in awe of any writer who can write about a character’s life in a span of decades, and do so in a way that keeps readers invested at every turn.

This was also just a really great reflection on how we can never truly know what’s going on in other people’s lives. So many details of Evelyn’s life, as reported in the tabloids, make her look flighty and irresponsible and while she makes it abundantly clear she is a flawed person with many mistakes, the outward appearance is usually protecting secrets and those she loves. I also really enjoyed the sections in which Evelyn ruminates on what it means to leave behind a legacy, and the responsibility that entails. The lessons she imparts on Monique have a big impact on her personal perspective, and everything is on the line when the real reason Evelyn chose Monique finally comes to light. It’s a great book that might have readers divided on the characters’ decisions and motivations, but that’s what makes it such a great read!

I don’t normally go for old Hollywood stories, but I am so glad I picked this one up for the wonderful characters, the queer representation in history, the delicious tension, and the brilliant storytelling that had me sobbing at the end!

Happy reading!
Tirzah

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Find me on Book Riot, Hey YA, All the Books, and Twitter. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, click here to subscribe.