Your TBR pile is towering, and you don’t know what to read next. Who do you turn to? Your fellow readers, of course! When the Bookish team is looking for new books to pick up, we browse BookishFirst—a platform where readers can earn points by leaving reviews of upcoming books and use those points to win free books. Here, the Bookish editors have selected the top book reviews of August releases from BookishFirst readers. Check out what real readers had to say about these buzzy new titles (including their star ratings), and then visit BookishFirst for an excerpt from each book!
Psst: If you want the chance to win books and be featured here, sign up at BookishFirst.com!
The Whisper Man by Alex North
One of my favorites so far! — 5 stars, michellerenee
“Dread sizzles off the page in this taut thriller. You see, Tom’s son is afraid of monsters, so he tells the boy that they don’t exist. And now he’s sorry that he lied…
It all starts when Tom Kennedy suddenly loses his wife and, needing a fresh start, moves to Featherbank with his son Jake. But the town holds a dark secret: It’s the hunting ground of a serial killer known as the Whisper Man. And now another boy has gone missing….
Alex North’s The Whisper Man didn’t meet my expectations—and that is actually a really good thing. I wanted to read it because I enjoy crime thrillers and the horror genre in general, but the subject matter of this one is tricky: a serial killer targeting little boys. I was worried that what I’d be reading would soon devolve into something beyond just the macabre and could take a turn for the worst into the exploitative.
But The Whisper Man proves that a reader’s imagination can play a large part in making a book chills-inducing and creepy. North handles his subject with such a gentle hand; instead of being gratuitous, he writes only so much to give you an idea what’s going on and then lets you fill in the rest. And never once did I feel short-changed. There’s plenty of opportunity for heart-stopping twists.
There’s also a lot of heart and emotional complexity mostly owed to the interactions among Tom, Jake, and DI Pete Willis. North employs multiple POVs over the course of the book and all feel satisfying and fleshed out. The writing here is excellent. I would definitely recommend this one.”
The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante
A wild ride for Jane Tennison — 4 stars, aesom44
“The Dirty Dozen is the fifth book the Jane Tennison series and I feel that it can easily be read as a standalone book. The story takes place in 1980 and follows the career of Detective Sergeant Jane Tennison. It’s definitely a wonderful adventure you won’t want to miss!
This story immediately pulled me and captured my attention. From the first few pages, I felt like I was on a wild ride with Jane as she arrives at the station to begin her first day with the all male squad who call themselves the Dirty Dozen. This elite group is tasked with the surveillance and investigation of criminals involved in armed robberies of banks and businesses, and Jane is the first woman to be assigned to this renowned squad of men. The only problem is, no one is expecting her. She’s immediately whisked away with the men to stop a possible bank robbery. Thus, Jane begins a wild ride, at very dangerous speeds, in hot pursuit of the robbers.
Throughout the day, the men of the squad question her abilities, purposely make her look incompetent, and sideline her to unimportant tasks. When she is relegated to assisting Dabs, the scenes of crime officer, Jane makes the best of the situation and finds many clues that were overlooked by the other detectives. Fortunately, Dabs acknowledges Jane’s investigative skills, and the two work together to uncover a lot of useful evidence.
I really enjoyed this story! I loved Jane’s strength of character, her self confidence, determination, and resilience. She proved that she could hold her own in the Flying Squad. The plot was well developed and the characters were realistic for the time period. I thought it was interesting and eye-opening to see the investigation proceed without the use of modern technology such as computers and cell phones. Overall, I thought The Dirty Dozen was very entertaining and the investigation and mystery definitely held my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and found it hard to put down! I look forward to reading about Jane Tennison and her future investigations in the next book in this series!”
Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk
A stunning Robin Hood retelling — 5 stars, foreverlostinliterature
“I’ve read and watched a fair number of Robin Hood-inspired stories and retellings in my lifetime, and Nottingham has officially become one of the best that I’ve ever read.
The first thing that stood out to me about Nottingham is the writing. Nathan Makaryk has a writing style that is both dense and lucid at the same time. It’s chock-full of information, messages, and scheming while also being highly compelling and readable. This is an extremely witty book with plenty of humor littered throughout whenever you need it, but it still takes itself seriously enough and has plenty of more sobering, somber moments to balance everything out.
Nottingham has a large cast of characters and the POV switches between throughout the story. This means there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but it also provides an abundance of much-needed perspective and insight from people in all different situations. Robin of Locksley and William de Wendenal are the most prominent of the characters we follow and they both had some truly great development as characters. It was fascinating to watch how each one handled the new situations they were thrown into. Each character brought something noteworthy to the story and was wonderfully and carefully crafted.
The best part of having so many different perspectives depicted in Nottingham was how it contributed to the idea that there are endless grey areas in morality and how truly unclear and fuzzy the lines of what’s right and what’s wrong in life really are. You could easily be reading the POV of a specific character, fully understanding their reasoning for an action they aim to undertake, and then you switch over to someone who opposes the previous character’s opinions and suddenly find the previous argument utterly repulsive and incomprehensible. Makaryk is a master at both creating charismatic characters that are neither fully good nor fully bad.
Makaryk also does a great job in the realm of world-building. This isn’t a fantasy so there’s nothing exceptionally ‘new’ or unheard of that Makaryk has to create, as much of it is drawn from the relevant historical period, but he still creates a highly realistic layout of the time period and presents the struggle of the rich versus the poor extremely well. This also leads me to the praise of the political drama and scheming that is highly present—and rather crucial—to the entire story. There is so much scheming in this book, all of which is done with a superb hand and in a manner that makes it impossible to stop reading.
I had a fantastic time reading this book. It has the perfect balance of drama, humor, intriguing plot points, and a highly charismatic and well-developed cast of characters.”
Please note that some reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.