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Quarterly Favorites

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How is it already April? I swear 2020 just started last week.

Of course, time flies when we’re facing one crisis after another on a global scale. I’m trying very hard to keep my chin up, though, and I hope you’re all able to do the same and know that you can reach out if you ever need help.

Anyone else feel like their reading life has become a blur, though? I’ve found that I’m much more forgetful of what I’ve read lately and while I keep a journal, I probably couldn’t tell you the plot of a good chunk of books that I’ve read this year. It’s like I get that brief moment of joy from them and then I instantly forget everything that happened. Not sure if that’s a sign that of stress or a sign that I’ve just read a lot of mediocre books the last 3 months.

However, there have been a few books that have REALLY stuck with me. I’m finding that I’m much more picky when it comes to giving out 5 star ratings, so these are the 4 books that I have give 5 stars to and one that got a 4 star review but I can’t stop thinking about!

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Title: EVERY HEART A DOORWAY
Author: Seanan McGuire
Published: 04-05-16
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

No matter the cost.

My thoughts: I tried reading this book back in 2017 (I think) and at the time, I really didn’t like it. I don’t think I even finished the book and I ended up dismissing the whole series, giving my eyes a good roll whenever anyone would talk about how good it was. Earlier this year, I saw a copy at a used bookstore and I for some reason… I bought it.

I get it- that makes no sense, right? Why buy a book you’ve already tried and didn’t like? In all honesty, after putting off reading THE CRUEL PRINCE because I didn’t like the sample and then ending up LOVING the book when I finally picked it up, I’m kind of revisiting books I maybe didn’t give a proper chance to.

All of the books in the Wayward Children series are pretty short but McGuire has the gift of telling a fleshed out story in just a few words. I plan to finish the rest of the series this year and I can already tell this is going to end up being one of my favorite series.

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Title: BURN OUR BODIES DOWN
Author: Rory Power
Published: 07-07-20
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.

But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.

Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?

The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

My thoughts: I loved WILDER GIRLS so I was a little nervous going into this one because sophomore books rarely live up to their predecessors’ hype. Still, I considered this one of my most anticipated 2020 releases and unlike some of the other 2020 releases I’ve read… this one didn’t disappoint.

Power really flexes her incredibly ability to set a creepy scene in just a few words with BURN OUR BODIES DOWN and I spent the majority of the book on the edge of my seat, waiting for the ghost or the clown or the demon to pop out of the corn. I was more than pleasantly surprised at the ending and Power really cemented herself as one of my favorite authors.

I will say that this one might not be for the faint of heart. There is death and gore, graphic details about decaying bodies, murder, and neglectful parents. However, if those things don’t bother you (or are right up your alley!), I’m going to NEED you to read this book!

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Title: THE WICKED KING
Author: Holly Black
Published: 01-08-19
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

My thoughts: I don’t know why this is my favorite book of The Folk of the Air series, but it is. Maybe because Jude is still hard as nails and Cardan is still a trash-fire bottom or maybe it’s because the last book disappointed me and I look at this one as “better times”. Either way, I’m pretty sure this is the book that actually ignited my love for Cardan and cemented my obsession with Jude.

 

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Title: THE LAST TIME I LIED
Author: Riley Sager
Published: 07-03-18
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.

Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera–the only one on the property–pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.

My thoughts: LOCK EVERY DOOR was probably one of my top 5 favorite books of 2019 and I sort of thought that I would love everything Riley Sager writes and… I absolutely do. I wasn’t too sure about this one when I first read the synopsis but I also LOVE horror/thriller stories and movies that involve summer camps so I thought I would give this one a try and I’m so glad I did.

Sager has a way of making you doubt every single character and I adore the way he layers his stories where maybe this person is your main villain but there’s also this person over here doing all this shady stuff. This book definitely blurred the lines of “who’s the good guy, who’s the bad guy?” and had a pretty strong message about not jumping to conclusions and how false accusations can follow a person for a lifetime.

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Title: FINAL GIRLS
Author: Riley Sager
Published: 06-14-17
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls: Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
 
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
 
That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second Final Girl, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

My thoughts: This has some of the same elements that THE LAST TIME I LIED does- part of the story is set in a remote, cabin location. Sager did an incredible job with misdirection in this one (not as good as the misdirection in THE LAST TIME I LIED) and I found myself a bit shocked at the end. I really can’t wait to see what else Sager does.

 

I’m excited to see what amazing books I read next quarter! What books did you read that wowed you? Any of them on this list?

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