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 January 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!
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Great read! — 5 stars, jennifer88
“Let’s just pretend you’re Jess. You’re in your late twenties and as a hardworking cosmetic artist, you need to find a way to make some extra cash to send home to cover the expenses of a disabled sister.
An opportunity presents itself. You take it.
At first, getting paid to be the anonymous subject in an ethics study seems pretty harmless. It’s an easy way to make some good extra cash. Just sit at a computer and answer some questions. The questions start to get personal, and you convince yourself that no one will ever know. Just type your answers and collect your money. Done. But one day, you aren’t subject 52 anymore. You are the sole subject in Dr. Shields’ study. You meet her. Your relationship gets personal. You reveal things about yourself that seem to flow out of your mouth. Dr. Shields seems so helpful, so professional. Will you regret getting involved? But the money is so good. Her help is so welcomed. Why you? Does Dr. Shield’s want to help you or does she have an ulterior motive?
This is a chilling story of a vulnerable young woman who has some secrets she is hesitant to reveal to a doctor who also has secrets she is hesitant to reveal! I loved this story. Two talented authors strike again!”
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
My favorite book of 2019! — 5 stars, 24hr.yabookblog
“It’s very early in 2019, but I know for a fact The Gilded Wolves is at the top of the list of my favorite books of the year!
Set in 1889 Paris, The Gilded Wolves is a masterfully crafted historical fantasy with secret societies, heists, and puzzles to solve at every turn! Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is a treasure hunter and hotelier who is joined by Enrique, Tristan, Zofia, and Laila, his closest friends. I loved the dynamics between members of the crew so much. I also loved that aside from the great banter readers get to see so much vulnerability and strength in these characters throughout the book.
Everything about this book was fantastic, including the world-building, characters, dialogue, magic system, and dynamics and banter between the characters!
There are multiple heists and puzzles that bring even more mystery to this brilliant story.
The search for the artifact was suspenseful and the high stakes kept me turning the pages. This is easily one of my favorite books of the year. I loved every moment of it and I can’t wait to read the sequel!”
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
Bittersweet and Nostalgic — 4 stars, bridgettem
“‘I wish you enough.’ Excuse me while I go use every tissue in the box. The Red Address Book is a remarkable book about a remarkable main character.
96-year-old Doris Alm lives alone in Sweden. She has no family other than a grand-niece in California. Her health is declining and she has the urge to share her memories with her niece. So Doris begins writing letters to her niece about her life and the people she has encountered along the way. As a guide, she uses the red address book her father gave her when she was young. Throughout her life she has kept a record of those important to her in that book and crossed out their names as they have passed away.
One by one, readers learn of the people that have come and gone in Doris’s life and the impact they have had on her, whether good or bad. Doris travels to France and the United States, experiencing peaks and valleys along the way.
Filled with nostalgia, this novel made me contemplate the difficulties of aging. It also made me want to go hug all the people I love and forgive those who have wronged me. When you get a chance, read this book!”
An Improbable Pairing by Gary Dickson
Love Between Two Worlds — 5 stars, loraine oliver
“This book was an incredible read. I enjoyed it from the first page and was instantly captivated by the story. It takes place in the 1960s when Scott Stoddard, a 23-year-old student from the United States is leaving by ship to go to graduate school in Switzerland. After getting underway, he meets the Countess Desiree de Rovere from France, and he is smitten immediately! Desiree is also intrigued by him.
They run into each other again and fall in love, much to the disappointment of not only the countess’s mother, but Scott’s parents as well. Desiree’s ex-husband is insanely jealous. As they become very close, everyone seems to want to tear this couple apart! They have many differences including religion and financial background, but none of those differences seem to matter to them.
This book is well written and the plot moves swiftly. There are a lot of wonderful tender moments. As time goes by, they fall madly in love. Will their differences keep them from getting together? You will have to read and find out!
I gave this book 5 stars and hope to read more by this author!”
We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels
History Wrapped in Mystery — 5/5 stars, lh171
“We Hope for Better Things is a remarkable and memorable story that spans 150 years and winds through the lives of three women between the Civil War and the present day. Each of these women are vastly different but all three are still curiously alike.
Mary is a young woman who has to take care of the family farm while her husband is fighting in the Civil War. Without thinking of the consequences, he sends a freed slave to Mary and asks her to help keep him from harm. Her husband doesn’t stop there; she soon has a house full of men, women, and children who are recently emancipated or on the run from their former owners. The backlash in the community is only one of the problems she has to contend with. Mary soon cares deeply for one of the men sent to her home.
Nora falls in love in the turbulent 1960s. Her life was forever changed when she met a young, talented photographer. Will she be willing to give up her family, her wealth, and her comfortable life to be with a man who loves her, but who society does not approve of?
Lastly there is Elizabeth. She works as a successful journalist but is abruptly fired after standing her ground on a story she is passionate about. Shortly thereafter, a man contacts her about her great-aunt Nora. Since she is adrift in her professional life, she travels to see Nora. There she unwittingly begins to dig into her family’s past. She has no intention of staying in the house that has been inhabited by Mary and Nora, but the deeper she digs, the closer she feels to them and the ghosts of our nation’s past. Her investigative nature will not let her stop digging until she solves the mystery she encounters.
The characters are interesting and full. They come to life on the pages, pulling the reader into each of their lives and stories. As the author masterfully alternates between the lives of the three women, I read long into the night to find out what was happening in the different decades. The farmhouse each of them lived in further links the women together as it whispers of the past and adds hope for the future.
Erin Bartels gives her readers a gift wrapped in history, shrouded in the past and present race relations in the United States. Her beautiful prose pulls readers into the story and lives of the characters. This is her first novel, and I am anxiously awaiting her second novel, which will be published in fall of 2019.”
Please note that some reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.