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 reviews of February 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!
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
A Must-Read in 2019! — 5 stars, mnorman9
“Wow! Four Dead Queens is a thrilling ride from start to finish! Set in world where resources are found in specific territories, and strict enforcement limits trade and technological growth, a black market flourishes. Enter Keralie, a street-hardened thief who is more than she seems.
Readers will instantly connect with Keralie as she navigates who she sees herself as and who others believe she can be, all while uncovering the conspiracy of the dead queens. The plot doesn’t disappoint, with twists and turns this English teacher and YA enthusiast didn’t see coming! The use of multiple narrators is an interesting and effective way to fully engage in the world and people of Quadara. Readers are in for a satisfyingly fast-paced murder mystery!”
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Brilliant Debut! — 5 stars, jess_reads_books
“Alicia Berenson appears to lead a perfect life with her doting husband, Gabriel. One night the police are called to their house. Gabriel has been been shot five times in the face by Alicia, who refuses to say one word. She finds herself sentenced to a life at a secure institution. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has followed Alicia’s story. He’s is determined to get Alicia to speak and reveal the truth about what happened the night she murdered her husband. As he gets closer to the truth he finds himself falling further and further into Alicia’s world. Will the case consume him or will he find answers?
Alex Michaelides’ debut novel, The Silent Patient, is a character study done with precision. Michaelides has meticulously plotted out one of the best stories I have recently read in the crime fiction genre. With each new chapter the reader unpacks a little more about Alicia and Theo, until they find themselves with their jaw on the floor at the end. I have to say, I didn’t see that coming! The way the ending came together was absolute perfection, but it’s just one piece of this book that I loved.
When I first read the synopsis for The Silent Patient, I made the assumption that Alicia would be narrating, but Theo is actually the one who takes center stage. I love that Michaelides chose to focus on Theo and tell Alicia’s story through his eyes. The narrative is laid out in a way that allows the reader to dig deeper into Alicia’s past alongside Theo, while also being immersed into Theo’s past and present. As the reader is putting the clues surrounding that murderous night together, you get the feeling that something isn’t right. Someone is hiding something. That sense of tension and anxiety that builds because of this feeling makes the book an effortless read. I found myself lost within its pages for hours at a time.
I can’t say enough good things about this book and I certainly don’t want to give anything away. The Silent Patient is intoxicating, deceptive, and absolutely brilliant! It is a book that will linger with you far past the final page. Trust me, you want this book on your TBR!”
Widows’ Revenge by Lynda La Plante
Excellent Novel! — 5 stars, wmlee1928
“I had not read the previous novel in this series, but was brought up-to-date quickly in the first part of this book and immediately became interested in the sticky, tricky, and totally precarious situation in which these four ladies have landed themselves. One of the four widows finds out her husband is still alive and has been living another life while married to her. She decides to take him for everything he’s worth!
Lynda La Plante’s dialogue between the characters, her shifting of scenes, and her descriptions of people, countries, and emotions are absolutely spot-on! She is a terrific writer and definitely knows how to write a page-turner.
I thoroughly enjoyed following the exploits of these ladies when they learned the hubby who’s really alive is now on their trail. I also liked reading about the many ways they try to throw him off their scent! If you enjoy puzzling thrillers with laughs, you’ll enjoy this one!”
Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
Dennard Is a Fantasy Powerhouse — 5 stars, meigan
“The Twenty Year Truce is on the verge of ending and war is on the horizon for the empires. Each character in this series has their own adversary to deal with this time around, but the adversaries all come back to the same thing—something is behind the destruction and the looming war, and each character needs to figure out their role in this battle and how to save as many people as they can, regardless of where they come from.
From the Bloodwitch’s very first appearance in Truthwitch, it was apparent that he was not only going to play a large role in the series, but that he was also more than he seemed. Much more. Through his narrative, readers learn that dear Aeduan isn’t the bloodthirsty demon the world thinks he is, but simply a man with the same thoughts and feelings and emotions as any other man, only he feels everything on a much deeper, gut-punching, heartbreaking level. Aeduan is complicated, to put it simply, and Bloodwitch is his book. His journey, his life, his future.
Bloodwitch furthers the main story arc quite a bit, but the heart of this series is still Iseult and Safi and their unflinching, incredible friendship. Readers already know how powerful they are as a team, but Bloodwitch takes it a step further and shows growth and personal achievements, individual sacrifices and resiliency as each woman ventures off on her own journey. Most importantly, this book showed that Safi and Iz aren’t two halves of a whole: They’re two incredibly dynamic individuals that are stronger together, and strong in their own right as individuals. These girls and their friendship truly make this series, and I can’t express in words Dennard’s brilliance in creating these characters. And while the series will always revolve around them, that’s not to say the secondary characters are just decorations. In fact, they’re so incredibly rich and deep and solid that I even hesitate to call them ‘secondary.’
All told, Bloodwitch is my favorite in the series to date, and not just because I’m a huge fan of Aeduan. This book continues to expand the phenomenal world of the Witchlands. It also continues to showcase Dennard’s incredible characterization, her meticulous and skillful worldbuilding, and her mastery of creating such an intense and complex fantasy series. This series landed on my favorites shelf from the very first book, and it moves closer to ‘Favorite Series Ever’ with each new installment. I highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of these beloved characters. ”
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Emotionally Gripping — 5 stars, sbojo32
“Knowing what The Girls at 17 Swann Street is about before diving in is key. The reader should know that this is a story about a woman dealing with anorexia, written in a stream-of-consciousness narration.
This narration style is different than other novels. It makes the novel flow quickly, but it also allows the reader to truly feel and experience what Anna, a 26-year-old woman with anorexia, is experiencing.
Anna, in almost a journal-esque form, tells her story. She is mostly in the present, dealing with anorexia at 17 Swann Street (an in-patient rehab center for women with eating disorders). However, she also gives background on her relationship with her husband and how she ended up where she is
The reader feels Anna’s pain as she literally has a breakdown over having to eat a bagel and cream cheese. Her feelings toward food are extremely accurate for anyone suffering from the disease, and it provides a lot of awareness for those that don’t know what it’s like to literally starve yourself.
Anna is driven by the love and dedication of her husband. Dealing with an eating disorder is hard, and this book does not shy away from that pain. However, it also provides hope. By giving insight into interactions between the other girls at 17 Swann Street and Anna’s life, this book grabs you and gets you invested in each of their stories.
The way this book is written makes it feel very real. The author alludes in the acknowledgments section to having had her own struggles with the disease, and this comes through in a positive way in the writing.”
The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
Amazing! — 5 stars, bridgettem
“The Lost Girls of Paris is my first five-star read of the year! It’s an emotional tale full of strong female characters set during World War II. As soon as I started reading, I fell into Grace, Marie, and Eleanor’s world and didn’t want to leave until the very end.
First, there’s Grace. She lives in New York in 1946. On her way to work one morning, she finds an abandoned suitcase with photographs of a few girls inside. Intrigued, Grace is determined to find out who these women are, what happened to them, and why their photos are in that abandoned suitcase. Along the way, we find out more about Grace’s own heartbreaking war story.
Then there’s Marie. She is a young English woman living in London in 1944. She is recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) for deployment to France due to her excellent French. After a whirlwind training in which her limits are tested and strong friendships are formed, she is dropped into France for a dangerous covert mission.
Finally, there’s Eleanor. She heads up the female operatives of SOE. Although she doesn’t have children of her own, she feels responsible for all of her girls in the field. After the war, that feeling of responsibility does not diminish. She is determined to find out what happened all of the SOE women who did not make it home.
The Lost Girls of Paris sucked me in, had me on the edge of my seat, broke my heart, and ultimately left me with hope. It’s got all of the ingredients for an excellent read: strong characters, moral ambiguity, lots of tension, love, betrayal, and so much more. If historical fiction with strong female characters is your thing, then The Lost Girls of Paris is for you.”
The Afterward by E.K. Johnston
What Happens After a Quest Ends? — 4 stars, treehugger
“This book takes the reader on a quest and also shows the reader what happens after the quest ends. It was a lovely method to pack twice the adventure into one book. Chapters are labeled Before or After to aid in identifying the time frame of the action. The book shifts from from third person to first person, so it’s best to pay attention while reading. I couldn’t multi-task while reading The Afterward, which turned out to be a strength because I was forced to focus my attention rather than let it wander!
The two main characters were fierce and scary, yet lovable at the same time. We get to know Olsa the thief and Kalanthe the knight. Their romance was sweet. Yet as with many romances, most adventures, and fantasy quests there are many obstacles in the way. The secondary characters support the action beautifully and allowed E.K. Johnston to provide a richness of diversity.
This was a fun fantasy to read, and I hold out hope that we hear more of the characters’ stories in later books.”
Please note that some reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.