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 October 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!
Amazing. Incredible. A MUST read. — 5/5 stars, katevocke
“Amazing. Incredibly clever and unique. A riveting story that is equally exciting and heartwarming. This is one of the most creative time-travel books I’ve ever read—it just seems so real. It makes you believe crossing time is a possibility in the future. Or maybe it already is. This is hands-down my new favorite for 2018!
Carly Sears is struggling with incredible heartbreak. She’s just found out her baby has a very serious heart condition and will not live. Fresh from the the loss of her husband in the Vietnam war, this baby is all she has left of Joe. She refuses to believe this baby won’t survive.
Her brother-in-law Hunter, a physicist, believes there is something she can do to save her baby. It’s a ludicrous and ridiculous suggestion that is downright insane! And it’s definitely not even possible. Or is it? Does Carly have the courage to go through with this crazy idea that Hunter has? Will she do anything to save her unborn child, even if it defies everything she knows and believes in?
I’m in awe of this novel. I adored every single character. You root for Carly the entire time, and desperately hope she can save her child. I was entranced from the very beginning and in tears by the last page. This story is incredible and I loved every minute of it! Do not pass this one by. It is a must read.”
Lush and rich, a magical mafia tale set in a fantasy 19th century Italy — 4/5 stars, meigan
“With such a unique and intriguing premise, and one that promised magic, political intrigue, and so much more, I couldn’t help but be excited for The Brilliant Death. And if the above wasn’t enough to hook me, add in mafia and gender-fluid characters, all set against a backdrop of a fantasy version of 19th-century Italy, and I knew this was going to be a book that worked for me. And it most certainly did.
The action starts almost immediately, with Teodora DiSangro’s father rendered immobile and on the brink of death from a mysterious letter that was delivered by an equally mysterious courier. The letter reeks of magic but only Teo knows that, since she’s not just an ordinary girl, but one who’s spent her entire life hiding what she is: a strega. In her country, magic is thought of as a myth, a legend, and certainly not something real. But Teodora is real, as is her magic, and if anyone found out, it would mean chaos and probable death for Teo. Her father’s condition means that someone from her household must go to the capital and see the Capo in order to establish a new head of the DiSangro household, but the problem is complicated, to say the least. The only options for a new head are Teo’s younger brother, who’s much too meek and unwilling to lead, and her older one, who thrives on causing others pain, including his own family. The only thing Teo wants to do is save her father, and it’s up to her to do it with the help of a new and very interesting ally.
The Brilliant Death was such an interesting and immersive read and I really loved everything about it. The writing was lush, lyrical, and a perfect companion to the equally rich setting of an imagined 19th-century Italy. The biggest selling point for me, though, was having a fantasy intertwined with the mafia and everything that goes along with it, including politics and power plays. That part was definitely the highlight for me. Two other highlights were Cielo, a character who effortlessly transforms into both a male and a female, and Teo’s journey of figuring out her own sexual identity.
The ending, however, didn’t seem very final to me and I’m hoping that The Brilliant Death is the beginning of a new trilogy or series. I’m hoping to see these characters again in the future and have my questions answered, so my fingers are definitely crossed in hopes of more to come.”
A fearless, high-octane submersion into the deadly world of firefighting — 5/5 stars, bookreaderchronicles
“Consumed was a fearless, high-octane submersion into the deadly world of firefighting. Ward’s vivid portrayal of the physical and mental risks of being a first responder took a no-holds-barred approach, perfectly setting the story up with an intensity that blazed wildly and kept burning throughout the novel. I fell hard for the gut-strong Anne and the all-consuming attraction she had to the unwavering man in her life that was Danny.
The bold themes in this love story were all-encompassing—the lead and secondary characters perfectly depicted the repeated effects of loss, sexism, trauma, and mental health issues in this field and beyond. Ward effortlessly penned a heroine that could be strong and inventive while showcasing her innate vulnerabilities. I found it easy to relate to her struggles in opening up and felt close to her along the entire length of her journey. The easy camaraderie she had with Danny was wonderfully written and I was all-too involved as it ebbed and flowed. Most of all, I loved Danny’s raw honesty in his struggle to maintain his connection to her while so many things pushed them further apart.
Consumed was an exciting and emotional novel. I wasn’t expecting the depths and themes it delved into, but I came out of it all the happier it did. This story goes there with confidence and it pays off.. With Ward’s skilled writing and her penchant for character-driven stories, this was an amazing book for reasons that I still cannot capture in words. Take the journey with this crew and you’ll be as excited as I am for what’s to come.”
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Quirky and thought-provoking — 5/5 stars, bridgettem
“How did I get so lucky as to win an ARC of Virgil Wander?! It’s a quirky, humorous, profound, incredible book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Virgil Wander owns an old movie theater, The Empress, in a small, economically depressed town in Minnesota. He also just survived driving off a bridge and is suffering the effects of a traumatic brain injury. His memory is shaky, he gets bouts of vertigo, and he has trouble finding the right words when he needs them.
In spite of this, Virgil befriends a newcomer named Rune, who loves flying kites and is searching for the son he never met. What transpires is unexpected and thought-provoking. Virgil Wander explores such tragic themes as death, decline, and depression in a way that is neither overly dramatic nor flippant. It’s infused with just the right amount of humor and quirk. Ultimately, I think Virgil Wander is about community: the family you’re born with and the family you choose. As Virgil says, “Your tribe is always bigger than you think.”
I can not recommend Virgil Wander highly enough. It has shot right up to the top of my list of favorite books.”
Looking for a romantic mystery? — 3/5 stars, sforney
“In an era where doom and gloom face us at every turn, A Sparkle of Silver is a heart-warming romantic mystery full of hope. Ben Thornton and Millie Sullivan are two down-on-their-luck young adults working multiple jobs to care for others. Millie’s Grandma Joy has dementia and needs specialized (and expensive) care. Ben is doing everything he can to pay reparations to strangers his mother has swindled. Both have devoted themselves to their care-taking and, along the way, lost sight of themselves and the importance of having someone to turn to.
In a moment of lucidity, Grandma Joy mentions that she is ‘not her father’s daughter,’ sending Millie on a treasure hunt and a search for her heritage at the Chateau, a grand estate where her great-grandmother had stayed during the summer of 1929 before the Great Depression hit. Millie soon meets Ben, who is working as a security guard, and offers to share the unidentified treasure if he helps her.
This twisty tale artfully blends past with present on the glamorous beachfront Georgia property of the Chateau and will draw you in with its cast of likable characters. The used of mixed media as Ben and Millie discover the past through a series of letters, journals, and historical research adds to the intrigue. I highly recommend A Sparkle of Silver and I will be sure to look out for the next releases in the Georgia Coast Romance series.”
Loved it! – 5/5 stars, bewitchedreader
“Even though sci-fi isn’t my typical genre, my expectations going into this book were pretty high. The blurb sounded amazing and I’ve heard people rave about how amazing Jennifer Armentrout’s books are for several years. I am happy to say that The Darkest Star did not let me down.
This book was fantastic. It has the mystery and adventure of a YA sci-fi book with the angst of an enemies-to-lovers romance. Luc is your typical cocky and sarcastic hero with enough swagger to spread from coast to coast. And I loved every sarcastic cocky word he spoke. I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book. Even the supporting characters seemed well rounded and added a lot to the story. Grayson is one character I really hope to learn more about. He is intimidating and so unapproachable, but I’m betting he has one big heart behind his hard lollipop-loving exterior.
The Darkest Star is the first book in a new spinoff series from JLA’s Lux series, which I have not read, but I didn’t feel like there were big chunks of back story that I was missing. I did enjoy this book so much that I’ve already added all of the Lux books to my TBR!”
Please note that some reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.