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 September 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!
Loved it — 4/5 stars, readingbetweenwines
“I know everyone raved about her previous book, but Leave No Trace is the first book I have read by Mindy Mejia, and after this one I am definitely going back ASAP to read Everything You Want Me to Be.
What it’s about: Maya is a speech therapist at a psychiatric facility in Duluth when she gets tasked with connecting with a new high-profile patient. Ten years earlier, Josiah and his nine-year-old son Lucas disappeared into the woods surrounding the Boundary Waters never to be seen again. That is, until Lucas turns up trying to rob an outfitter store in Ely in the middle of the night a decade later. He is violent and unresponsive and ends up being transported to the psychiatric facility where Maya works. Both of them have secrets and soon they form an attachment that causes Maya to want to do anything to help Lucas reunite with his father.
This book was a real page-turner of a story, and I did not want to put it down. I think someone could easily read this in a day because the pacing is so on-point. I loved Maya, even if I didn’t always love her choices, but she was a very intriguing character and I liked hearing things from her point of view.
I also loved that the story is set in my home state of Minnesota. It was cool to read about places that I have either been, or at least knew about, throughout the book. I much prefer that to authors entirely making everything up.
Final thought: I don’t really have anything else to say about this book as I think it is best to read it and let it carry you on the journey. And to be honest it left me feeling pretty speechless! Leave No Trace felt very atmospheric and even the places I wasn’t familiar with came alive in my mind. There is a lot of action in the book and the ending was a total surprise for me. Highly recommend and so happy I read this book.”
Outstanding Procedural Mystery — 4/5 stars, lissa00
“This is the fourth book in Lynda La Plante’s Jane Tennison series. This story is set in the late 1970s, and Jane Tennison is a newly promoted detective working in an atmosphere where men rule. In the midst of a labor dispute, England’s trash piles up on the streets along with the bodies. When a dead woman is discovered amongst the rubbish, Detective Tennison is put on the case where the pressure is rising and so is the body count. I haven’t read the rest of this series but it didn’t really matter. I was pulled into this procedural mystery from the very beginning. I enjoyed the mystery but also the office politics, the pre-smartphone 70s setting, and the way La Plante wrote about the constant frustration that Jane feels in not being taken seriously. You can tell that the author knows her stuff, and I enjoyed this book immensely. I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.”
Beautifully written — 4/5 stars, micheleh34
“If you could choose five people—dead or alive—to have dinner with, who would you choose? At Sabrina’s 30th birthday dinner, she is accompanied by five individuals of her choosing. Sitting with her are her absent father, her favorite college professor, her best friend, the love of her life, and Audrey Hepburn. Each is there for a particular reason, which they will soon learn, as Sabrina recalls the past and looks ahead to the future.
This book had it all: love, friendship, abandonment, coming of age, and more! It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The beautiful love story that unfolded really captured my heart. I could relate to the ups and downs, and I felt like part of my own story was being shared. The struggles that Sabrina faced are real and relatable—things we have all gone through in one way or another. I enjoyed the interweaving of the past and present that told a larger story as a whole. One without the other left questions but, when put together, things slowly began to connect and make more sense until it was clear why each person was chosen to be at the dinner. An interesting twist on the classic love story, this book is one I would suggest to anyone! The ending shook me—I will just leave it at that. Pick this one up ASAP!”
Mind-bending, genre-blending, and thrilling to the max – 5/5 stars, labyrinthspine
“The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a difficult book to review, and I mean that in the very best way possible. The book is pitched as Agatha Christie meets Quantum Leap, and oh boy, it definitely delivers on that promise. A good old-fashioned murder mystery is blended with sci-fi and thriller in an immensely twisty new-age whodunit.
Aidan Bishop is trapped in a time loop, cursed to relive the same day over and over at the eerie, atmospheric, gothic Blackheath Mansion. This premise has definitely been seen before, and because of its familiarity, the execution really has to be top-notch in order to impress. Again, 7 1/2 Deaths delivers. Aidan wakes up each day in a different host body, making his way through all the guests at the Hardcastle family’s masquerade in order to discover who killed their daughter Evelyn. A plague doctor seems to have some answers, but is annoyingly cryptic with doling them out—isn’t that just the way in a mystery? LOL—and Aidan discovers many of the ‘rules’ of his new reality on his own. Seeing everything from his host body’s perspective gives him insight into everyone’s motive for killing Evelyn, broadening the suspect pool and ultimately making it harder for him to narrow down the killer and win his freedom from the loop.
This is a thoroughly well-plotted, exacting novel. It’s not a light, easy read, and definitely not suitable for the beach! Unless of course you’re the type to enjoy mind-boggling mysteries, a myriad of suspicious characters, and more questions than answers over margaritas and sunshine. Personally, I found that this was the perfect autumn read. Moody and atmospheric, the setting of the novel is ripe for these chilly nights and would be even better read over winter. Already planning a re-read! I would recommend this to fans of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Sherlock Holmes—the book shares many qualities with each of them, but ultimately is in it’s own league as it redefines the modern-day whodunit.”
Perfect Blend — 5/5 Stars, amac52
“Laurentian Divide is a perfect blend of gruesome and cozy at the edge of nowhere Minnesota! Recluse Rauri Paar has failed to turn up with the spring thaw and beyond missing his eccentricities, the locals are eager to find out who has won the annual ice out pool, information only Rauri can provide. It’s been a hard year in Hatchet Inlet, with the death of two popular citizens, and Sissy Pavola is especially anxious that no more bad news will mar her upcoming wedding. So who will make the arduous trek out to Rauri’s place to check on his welfare? That’s the subject up for debate as Laurentian Divide opens. Like the long-ago TV series Northern Exposure, or perhaps the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, we can’t be sure which path the narrative will take. Sarah Stonich’s new book offers quirky characters in a desolate landscape, which is always a good formula for a page-turning read.”
3.5 stars — 4/5 stars, fastforward
“While this book is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone. This is my first time reading a Wilbur Smith novel and I was fascinated to learn it is the longest running series in publishing history according to the book’s back cover. While I might not be interested in the books featuring the Courtney family set all the way back in the 1600s, I wouldn’t mind checking out the ones that take place during the 20th century.
In Courtney’s War, it’s 1939 and Saffron Courtney and Gerhard von Meerbach are deeply in love but they are forced to separate. He is going to fight for Germany even though he opposes the Nazi regime. Saffron is recruited as a spy working for the Allies and is sent to Belgium to see how the Nazis have infiltrated Special Operative Executive’s network. War forces a person to make tough decisions and soon he must make hard choices just to survive.
What I enjoyed most was Saffron’s interesting storyline, as it was not one you typically see with female characters in historical fiction about World War II. She wasn’t a nurse or working in a factory, she was actually in the thick of things as much as Gerhard.
My only criticism is that, at almost 450 pages, I felt like the book was slightly too long and would have benefited by trimming off at least 50 pages. Overall, it’s a good story and I definitely recommend to longtime fans of the series as well as those who like World War II historical fiction.”