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 releases and use those points to win free books. Here, the Bookish editors have selected the top reviews of December 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!
Watching You by Lisa Jewell
Wonderful! — 5/5 stars, ohyeahbooks
“Lisa Jewell has done it again! Watching You is a great psychological thriller where no one is exactly who they appear to be. The story focuses on Tom, the new headmaster at the local high school and how his arrival causes problems in his family and with his new neighbors. Is Tom the super guy he seems to be, or is he hiding something, as his son and new student Jenna seem to think he is? And what about Joey, who falls for Tom the moment she sees him even as she feels guilty because she’s married and sometimes a bit uneasy around Tom as well? Watching You is full of interesting, complex characters, and has a plot that seems straightforward but has some great twists, especially at the end. This is an engrossing and interesting read. ”
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Be patient as the Folklor-ish Tale Unfolds—4/5 stars, readingrebecca
“This book has elements of magical realism that weave in and out of a very touching tale: A young girl dies and comes back to life. It seems that her presence awakens hope in different families, yet the girl’s muteness makes it impossible for her to help the others unravel her tale. I enjoyed this story and in some ways found myself thinking of Canterbury Tales, folklore stories that also convey lessons about life. I really appreciated receiving an ARC of this book and thought that the lovely cover helped to convey that this book is unique and special. Many modern readers are used to having and many modern writers are told to provide a fast hook and continuous action to keep the attention of the audience. Once Upon a River goes against this traditional approach, but stick with it because, in the end, the mysteries all come together.”
Draw and Paint Super Cute Animals by Jane Maday
Such a cute book — 4/5 stars, evil_queen
“This is a great book for kids and adults alike who love to draw. The author and illustrator really took the time to make this such a neat pick for everyone. I got this for my daughter because of her love for animals and art. It was the exact thing I was looking for and a perfect gift. It has really amazing detail, and it is just an overall beautiful book including thoughtful instruction and fabulous illustrations. I would recommend this to everyone who enjoys art. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this is the book for you. It is super cute and an overall wonderful book with the cutest of animals. I was glad to be given this copy as a reviewer and also as a parent whose twelve year old daughter loves art and animals. This book was the perfect fit.”
Please note that some reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.