Love Objects by Emily Maguire – “Nic is a forty-five-year-old trivia buff, amateur nail artist and fairy godmother to the neighbourhood’s stray cats. She’s also the owner of a decade’s worth of daily newspapers, enough clothes and shoes to fill Big W three times over and a pen collection which, if laid end-to-end, would probably circle her house twice. The person she’s closest to in the world is her beloved niece Lena, who she meets for lunch every Sunday. One day Nic fails to show up. When Lena travels to her aunt’s house to see if Nic’s all right, she gets the shock of her life, and sets in train a series of events that will prove cataclysmic for them both.”
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – “Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later, just after a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.”
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – “Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy’s estranged mother. Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The relentlessly deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner details with humour and precision. Daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike. Allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks, and stories shared through sewage pipes. Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line – until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny and culminating in a climax of almost unbearable intensity.”
The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – “When Ambrosia first arrives at prestigious college Wesleyan, she’s desperate to fit in. But Amb struggles to navigate the rules of this strange, elite world, filled with privileged ‘nice’ young women – until she meets the charismatic but troubled Sully, with whom she forms an obsessive friendship. Intoxicated by Sully’s charm and determined to impress her, Amb finds herself drawn deep into her new best friend’s dangerous manipulations. But if she wants to play Sully at her own game, Amb has no idea just how devastating the consequences will be…”
Sweet Valley High Super Edition #1 – Perfect Summer – “It’s summer in Sweet Valley, and the Wakefield twins and their friends are taking a bike trip up the beautiful California coast. What could be more exciting than four weeks of glorious sunshine, sandy beaches, and endless fun at every stop? But the dream of a perfect vacation soon fades. Elizabeth Wakefield is about to break up with her boyfriend, Todd, over another girl. Her twin, Jessica, chases after sexy Robbie October, who ignores her. Bruce Patman is mean to his cousin Roger, Lila Fowler holds a grudge against Ms. Dalton, and Ms. Dalton is barely speaking to Mr. Collins. Can this feuding group unite when an unexpected disaster threatens their lives?”
Sweet Valley High #23 – Say Goodbye – “Elizabeth Wakefield’s heart is breaking; Todd Wilkins, her longtime boyfriend, is leaving Sweet Valley and moving to Vermont. Todd and she have only one week left. After that the only boy Elizabeth has ever loved will be gone – forever. Jessica, Elizabeth’s scheming twin, is ecstatic; she never liked Todd anyway. The moment Todd leaves, Jessica begins to hunt for a new boyfriend for Elizabeth. But when Jessica’s plot backfires, it threatens to destroy Elizabeth and Todd’s enduring love!”
Sweet Valley University #20 – Here Comes The Bride – “Billie Winkler doesn’t know what’s gotten into Steven Wakefield. She thought he was ready to tie the knot, but now he’s busy quoting divorce statistics. Steven’s acting like a nervous wreck – not at all like the man she wants to marry. Steven Wakefield is not a happy groom. His fiancée, Billie, is downright moody, the Wakefield house has turned to chaos, the caterers have left town with the deposit, and the wedding rings are missing. Is it time to call the whole thing off? Jessica Wakefield is furious at her ex-husband, Mike McAllery. Just when she thinks he’s out of her life for good, Steven asks Mike to be best man at his wedding. But Jessica refuses to walk down the aisle with Mike again! What’s a poor bridesmaid to do?”
Sweet Valley University – Thriller Edition #5 – Running For Her Life – “Elizabeth Wakefield’s journalism paper my cost her her life. She wrote up her theory that a young movie star’s suicide was actually a murder, and two days later her dorm room is trashed. Somebody doesn’t like Elizabeth’s theory. Somebody may even be willing to kill her for it. Jessica Wakefield is minding her own business in the campus coffeehouse when a bullet just misses her head. Suddenly she and her twin sister are running for their lives. Tom Watts, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, is frantic. His girlfriend has narrowly escaped campus with her life. Can he help her catch a murderer before the murderer catches her?”
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle – I was in desperate need of a palette cleanser after my reading slump in February, and this was an excellent way to kick start the month. This was a love-to hate-to love romance, which is apparently something I’m really into? News to me. But it was a lot of fun, an easy read and I managed to smash it out over the course of a weekend which kicked my reading vibes back into gear.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – This was such a beautiful book. I know a book was special for me when I finish reading it and I can still remember the character names (lol, honestly the bare minimum), and I can still picture events in the book playing out in my mind. This book is still so vivid in my mind, it was elegant and magical and I know it will linger with me for a long time.
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez – This romance contained all of my least favourite tropes, tropes I never even realised I hated until reading this book. It was an easy read, the romance was fine, but a few of the “twists” left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. A decent enough romance, but not for me.
Sweet Valley University #35 – Undercover Angels – “Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield have each been investigating the same murder at the Verona Springs Country Club. They’ve kept their undercover schemes a secret from each other… and their true identities a secret from the club. When their paths cross, will their looks be a dead giveaway? Scott Sinclair is madly in love with Elizabeth. He’ll do anything to take her far, far away from her lovesick ex-boyfriend, Tom Watts. But will Scott try to take her too far? Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman have all the fun money can buy, including an exclusive membership at Verona Springs. But when the Wakefield twins hit the scene, will Lila and Bruce wind up exiled from the land of the young, rich, and fabulous?”
Sweet Valley University #38 – Good-Bye, Elizabeth – “Elizabeth Wakefield is about to say hello to an exciting new school. But first she has to say good-bye to everything–and everyone–she loves. Good-bye to Nina Harper, her best friend. Good-bye to Todd Wilkins, the ex-boyfriend who’s stood by her through thick and thin. Good-bye to Tom Watts, the guy who broke her heart into a million pieces. But how can she say good-bye to her twin sister, Jessica?”
Sweet Valley University #39 – Elizabeth ♥ New York – “When Elizabeth Wakefield wins a summer fellowship to produce her own play in New York City, no one is more surprised than she is. It’s an offer Elizabeth can’t refuse, even though she and Tom Watts vowed to spend the summer together. So Tom gives up his prestigious summer internship to be with her! Will Elizabeth have to give up something in return and make a sacrifice she’s not yet ready for? Jessica Wakefield is embarking on a wild, adventurous, and totally butt-kicking journey this summer to a training camp in Florida for her specialized security agents! Hand-to-hand combat, stunt driving, hot guys in uniform… this place has it all. Will she submerge herself in total excitement? Or will Jessica end up over her head in trouble?”
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim – “In rural Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine – a pressurised oxygen chamber that patients enter for “dives”, used as an alternative therapy for conditions including autism and infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community. Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night–trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges–as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.”
Honeybee by Craig Silvey – “Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below. At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette. The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other.”
Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre – “Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality. Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door. As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous.”
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – “Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name – and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognised for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help. The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation – but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered – and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases – and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.”