Happy Friday friends! With work-life getting back into a more normal rhythm, I didn’t read as many books in September as usual. I also changed up genres a little with two romances. The highlight, of course, was the much-anticipated sequel to American Royals, but I also loved the YA fantasy A Darker Shade of Magic.
They Wish They Were Us (5/5 stars)
A secret society? Rich teens behaving badly? A murder mystery? Yes, please! Freshman year Jill’s best friend, Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. Graham confessed, the case was closed, & Jill tried to move on. Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. She’s a senior and a Player–Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. I tore through this one! Jill was a relatable character & I really felt everything she was going through. The relationships between the characters were spot-on & the mystery kept me reading late at night.
A Darker Shade of Magic (5/5 stars)
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. He serves Red London as an ambassador, but also has an underground business smuggling artifacts between worlds. After a sale goes wrong, Kell’s life collides with Lila’s in Grey London, & the two embark on a journey through the London’s to save the worlds. This one had such a unique premise, it was definitely different than most of the fantasy/magic stories that I’ve read lately. The characters are amazing – Kell is complex & lovable, Lila is reckless & intense – they are a perfect match to get into trouble & find their way out of it. The second in this series is on my to-read immediately list!
Majesty (5/5 stars)
OMG, I have been waiting for this one to be released! Katherine McGee continues the stories of my favorite American royals in the second installment of this series. As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans. While the first novel was all about developing the characters & setting up Beatrice as America’s first queen, this one pushes the characters into their futures. If you loved American Royals, this one will not disappoint!
The Black Witch Chronicles (4/5 stars)
Elloren Gardner is the spitting image of her grandmother, who drove back the enemy forces in the last Realm War. But while her perople believe she will follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and become the next Black Witch of prophecy, Elloren is devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else. This one is more of a traditional YA fantasy than A Darker Shade of Magic, but the world inside was so well-developed! I loved how real each of the magical races seemed & how real-world issues like discrimination were tackled. I read all three in the series, plus the 2 novellas (which I never do!), quickly as I was eager to see if Elloren & her friends would prevail against the dark forces she faced.
28 Summers (4/5 stars)
When Mallory Blessing’s son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he’s not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It’s the late spring of 2020 and Jake’s wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election. Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother’s bachelor party. Cooper’s friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere — through marriage, children, and Ursula’s stratospheric political rise. I laughed, I cried, I stayed up all night racing through this one! I loved watching the relationship between Mallory & Jake develop over the years, their connection seemed so real & it was interesting to see their differences in perspective.
Royal (3/5 stars)
In 1943, the King & Queen of England send their daughter, Princess Charlotte, to the safety of the countryside. While living under a false identity, Charlotte falls in love with her guardian’s son. Tragedies leave their infant daughter orphaned & raised unaware of her true identity as a princess, until her adopted father discovers the truth. I definitely have a thing for stories about the royal family of England (even a fake one like this), but this one fell flat for me. While I did enjoy the story, some of the characters were unlikable & others were one-dimensional or predictable.
Don’t Look for Me (4/5 stars)
Everything looks like Molly Clarke walked away from her life – her family was in shambles, her car was abandoned, a goodbye note was found in a hotel. A new lead brings Molly’s daughter, Nicole, back to the small, desolate town where her mother was last seen to renew the desperate search. The locals are sympathetic and eager to help – until secrets begin to reveal themselves and Nicole comes closer to the truth about that night—and the danger surrounding her. From almost the beginning, you have an idea of what happened, but the author doesn’t give everything away so the ending is still a surprise.