July Wrap-Up: My Favorite Reads of the Month
My very favorite Bossy July reads!
Here are the books I most loved reading in the heat of July!
If you've read any of these books, I'd love to hear what you think!
And I'd also love to hear: what are some of your recent favorite reads?
01 Will They or Won't They by Ava Wilder
Ava Wilder's rom-com takes us behind the scenes of a hit teen TV show whose lead characters once liked each other in real life but now can't stand each other. This was funny, sweet, steamy, and poignant--a fantastic summer light-fiction read that I loved.
Lilah Hunter and Shane McCarthy are the stars of the popular paranormal television show Intangible, and for multiple seasons they've yearned for each other on screen, but their characters have never gotten together.
Shane and Lilah detest each other. Their secret tryst at the end of season one ended badly, and they've been far from friendly ever since.
In order to get through their final season, they'll have to play nice--and get more intimate on screen than either of them ever wanted to again.
I LOVED this. The premise sounded like a slam dunk for me, and the reality of the book was a funny, poignant, banter-filled, behind-the-scenes, realistically complicated, wonderful story.
There's a ton of steaminess as Lilah and Shane at times can't deny their attraction and act upon it.
I smiled a lot, I teared up, and I loved this perfect summer read!
For my full review, check out Will They or Won't They.
If this book sounds intriguing, you might also be interested in the books on my Greedy Reading Lists Six Rom-Coms Perfect for Summer Reading, Six Great Light Fiction Stories Perfect for Summer Reading, and Six More Great Light Fiction Stories.
02 The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue
Caroline O'Donoghue's coming-of-age story celebrates friendship, young love, and life-changing decisions and missteps that shape the lives of her characters in 2010s Ireland.
In Caroline O'Donoghue's contemporary fiction The Rachel Incident, main character Rachel is an Irish university student working in a Cork bookstore in the 2010s. She's dating a boring but reliable young man from her high school and living at home when she meets James.
James is irresistible, vivacious, and mischievous--and Rachel is immediately swept into his powerful orbit.
Years later, Rachel runs into someone from her past, which spurs her to think back to the events and relationships that shaped her during her college years.
Despite some of the questionable, haunting choices that are made at times in the story, I was so taken with the characters that my cringing didn't hamper my enjoyment of the celebration of friendship, circuitous routes to self-confidence, and heartwarming second chances.
I loved The Rachel Incident--the story, the characters, and the vivid setting of 2010s Ireland.
Click here for my full review of The Rachel Incident.
03 What Remains by Wendy Walker
Wendy Walker's thriller focuses on a detective, her stalker, and the lengths both will go to to try to get what they want. This is a character-driven mystery with a twist.
When Detective Elise Sutton stumbles into a crime--a gunman is wandering a big-box store, shooting--she draws her gun for the first time in her career and takes down the shooter, saving at least one bystander's life.
But when guilt and self-doubt lead her to track down the almost-victim, Wade Austin, he assures her that her actions saved him. But then he insinuates himself into Elise's life in odd and alarming ways.
It becomes clear that he has been learning from the online notes of a class Elise once taught on getting away with murder so that he may attract attention yet evade detection--and, most importantly, make sure Elise knows he's in control of her destiny.
In order to keep her husband, young daughters, and partner safe, Elise may have to keep some crucial secrets and take unimaginable risks in an attempt to outsmart her stalker.
The story is told with alternating chapters focused on a chilling crime that feels connected to the Elise-Wade situation, and this second storyline doesn't bode well for Elise's future.
This is a character-driven mystery with an interesting twist.
Click here for my full review of What Remains.
04 Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens
Claudia Cravens's story of a young brothel worker in late nineteenth-century Dodge City, Kansas, offers up a tough young heroine who makes mistakes but whose perseverance and loyalty lead her to an unorthodox life full of friends and adventure.
Practical, tough sixteen-year-old Bridget arrives in 1877 Dodge City without a penny to her name or enough marketable skills to earn her keep.
She begins working at the Buffalo Queen, using her bright-red hair and pure, country-girl appeal to her advantage.
Then Bridget falls for a fellow "sporting woman," and when the Buffalo Queen is threatened, she must determine where her loyalties lie.
Bridget is strong and no-nonsense yet also inexperienced and far from worldly. Her decision to become a prostitute is a choice between hunger and a full belly, and she isn't sentimental about sexual intimacy or about what might have been.
The bedrock for Lucky Red is made up of wonderful historical fiction details of life in the dusty, volatile, lawless West.
Please click here for my full review of Lucky Red.
05 Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo
In the second installment in Leigh Bardugo's Alex Stern series, Alex is as brave, scowling, and unapologetic as ever--and Darlington will need her mental fortitude, unorthodox thinking, and magical abilities if he has any hope of escaping from hell.
Ninth House was the first in Bardugo's Alex Stern series. I love returning to Alex's creative, irresistibly unorthodox approach to life and her grumpy, undying loyalty to her small group of trusted loved ones.
In Hell Bent, Alex Stern is determined to save Darlington from the clutches of hell, even if it costs her her precarious position as a student at Yale and her role at Lethe as an overseer of the university's secret society's magical goings-on.
Alex and Dawes must work secretly to try to figure out how to reach Darlington and bring him back, because their activities are unsanctioned. The outcome seems to have little hope of being anything but deadly.
Hell Bent is clever and sometimes darkly funny, yet a somber undertone runs throughout it. Alex's past is far from free of blemishes and pain, and some of her life-and-death decisions required fortitude that it's tough for her to lose in order to be vulnerable with those she cares about.
For my full review, please check out Hell Bent.
06 Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine
Julia Fine's Maddalena and the Dark is a gothic story set in 1700s Venice in which two young women's lives and destinies become intertwined through a series of dark, magical promises designed to secure the elusive destinies they desire.
It's early 1700s Venice at a prestigious music school for orphans, the Ospedale della Pietà.
Quiet, unassuming Luisa has always aimed to be the best at the violin. She wants to join the famed girls' orchestra and to one day become a protégé of Antonio Vivaldi. But her meek and mild manner invites only cold shoulders and contempt from her fellow students. That is, until the mysterious Maddalena arrives.
Luisa and Maddalena become fast friends, and their link grows every deeper. Then Maddalena hatches a plan in which each of them might help the other achieve her ambitious dream.
But a young woman in that time has little say over her destiny. The girls make dark deals and may need to give up all that is precious in order to secure the power they need to determine their fate.
Maddalena and the Dark has a distinct gothic tone, and the story treads ever deeper into seedy, suspect, forbidding scenes of magical realism that seem to foretell certain destruction.
For my full review, please see Maddalena and the Dark.