Hello hello remember when I used to book blog? Yeah it’s been awhile. Insert standard excuses revolving around life, stress and general apathy here. However the it seems that my reading block is waning and I’ve read a couple of things recently that were splendid and I feel the need to tell you about them so here we go!
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?
Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.
I picked this up at BEA without knowing much about it and I’m super glad I did. I feel weird calling a murder mystery charming but it’s the most fitting word I can apply to this book. Character driven mysteries are my fav type of mystery and this one doesn’t disappoint. While the whodunit aspect wasn’t my fav (I felt mildly cheated when the culprit was revealed mainly because I didn’t feel like readers had any hope of guessing before the characters started closing in and I generally consider that cheating), I did love the layers of complications the various reveals added to the characters. This book wades in some heavy waters but it did a really good job of balancing angst and fluff to the point where the story never felt overwhelmingly heavy.
I also loved that while the subplot was heavily focused around the main character coming out, I wouldn’t call this a coming out book. There isn’t anything wrong with coming out books, that’s a massive milestone for many LGBTQIAP+ people and it’s awesome to have books that focus on that, but I liked that in this instance, it was just a thing going on concurrent to the other more murder mysterylicious things happening. Kind of like life. Well, sort of, hopefully there isn’t a lot of murder happening around you. ANYWAY. Lastly but certainly not least, the love interest and ship are cute as shit.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
FYI, we are all in a fight because no one screamed in my face about how badly I needed to read this book (except for my sister, she can stay) so consider this me screaming in your faces YOU SHOULD REALLY READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT IS AMAZING AND WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON WITH SHINIER HAIR (maybe not that last bit but I stand by the rest).
I seriously do not understand how more people aren’t flipping out about this book because it’s amazing. I’ve only read one book by Kiersten White before so I don’t have a great grasp on her bibliography but And I Darken was miles ahead of Paranormalcy to the point where I went and googled to check if they were actually written by the same person. This book deals with two orphaned political hostages trying to survive in the crusade-era Ottoman Empire. I don’t know dick about that time period so I can’t comment on the accuracy but felt well researched and depicted a rich, detailed look at the society and political landscape of that era.
I fell head over heels in love with Lada and Radu as they struggled to figure out what identity means in a foreign land and culture. It dabbled a bit in Melina Marchetta waters, playing with the concept of land and language as home and I love that. Also, if you ever get annoyed when historical fiction leaves out the entire existence of queer people, you should put this on your tbr because that’s not an issue here.
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
I’m not gonna lie guys, I’ve been considering giving up on contemporary that doesn’t have some kind of genre hook. It’s gotten to the point where it all feels kind of repetitive and it’s rare that one stands out enough for me to feel strongly about it. No offense to contemporary or contemporary fans, I’ve just been slowly losing interest in books that don’t involve witches or space ships or dragons or murder or historical periods/cultures I don’t know much about. However, the universe likes to make me look foolish in the privacy of my own head so, naturally, enter This Adventure Ends stage right.
This book hit me right in every single one of my feels and I love it to pieces. It’s about friendship and grief and loneliness and family and it’s poignant and sweet and hilarious and heart breaking and I can’t recommend it hard enough. There were places where Sloane’s internal monologues felt like they’d been lifted right out of my head, her friends were people I desperately wanted to hang out with (especially Frank), the ship was adorably awkward and unfolded at a deliciously slow and natural pace that had me texting my sister about how I was going to stick a fork in my eye if I was reading these signals wrong. It also depicted one of the most accurate falls into fandom I’ve ever seen as Sloane’s dad discovered a fictional Teen Wolf fandom and became a voracious Sterek-equivalent shipper. A+++ all around.