Reviews in a Minute: Early July ’19 Books

Oh yay, July books! I liked all of these quite a bit so that’s extra fun. And as of now, they are all standalones!

I still have a lot more July books to come, so stay tuned!

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Salvation Day by Kali Wallace
The Last Word by Samantha Hastings



Reviews in a Minute: Early July ’19 Books The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
Published by Simon Pulse on July 2, 2019
Pages: 352
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

Told in alternating timelines, Thelma and Louise meets Gone Girl in this twisted psychological thriller about the dark side of obsessive friendship.

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Ohhh this book is messed up! You know, in the good way! Since the whole book revolves around the thriller/mystery aspect, I am going to keep this purposely short. Basically there are two main components: The relationships of the characters, and the unsettling mystery.

The Characters and Their Relationships: So, this is a huge part of the book. Not only do we delve into Remy’s relationship with Elise, but her relationship with her late boyfriend Jack, and her family and other friends. And of course, the effect that they all have together, because that is sort of the key. Remy and Elise found each other when they both really needed a friend. Their relationship goes through all the ebbs and flows of typical friendships, until it becomes something far more sinister (and far less healthy). And that is the basic tone of the book: how much is too much? How far is too far?

Remy’s relationship with Jack is far less complex, for the fact that it was a seemingly healthy and normal one. Through it all, she struggles to find her footing with her family and other friends. Meanwhile, Elise is struggling with an abusive relationship of her own, and things are pretty messy for everyone.

The Unsettling Mystery: Obviously, keeping this short! But as all these relationships come into focus, we start to see what everyone’s motivations seem to be for the way they’re behaving. Sometimes it’s selfish, and sometimes it’s worse. But as it unfurls, you’ll be hooked into the secrets, deceptions, and motivations that all the characters have hidden.

Bottom Line: A really intense mystery based on an equally intense series of relationships.


Reviews in a Minute: Early July ’19 Books Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
Pages: 368
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

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I really enjoyed this one! The whole vibe was so deliciously so eerie, the author really nailed making me feel like this is an island full of awfulness. The ambiance reminded me of The Callwhich is an absolutely good thing. The Tox is… well, it sounds dreadful. It has taken the lives of many, and left its survivors with a whole host of physical maladies.

The characters are appropriately desperate to survive, to save each other, to do whatever it takes to live another day. The main focus is on three surviving roommates/friends, Hetty, Byatt, and Reese, though Hetty’s POV is the main one. Hetty cares deeply for those she’s come to love as family, even as she fights for her own life. Hetty’s blossoming relationship with Reese despite the horrific landscape around them is beautiful, and makes the world seem slightly less dismal. We even get some insight into Byatt in her own POV chapters after the girls become separated.

One of the things I found refreshing was that these young women had the same issues that others have in our current world. Fights and hurt feelings didn’t end just because the world seemingly had. Sure, they became different, but in fact the worth and value of their friendships skyrocketed, making them feel even more deeply.  Setting the story in an isolated school was a great choice too, as it led to further opportunity for secrets and lies , but also opportunities for familial-like closeness among the characters as a whole.

My only real qualm with the book occurs toward the end so I am spoiler-tagging it. View Spoiler »

Bottom Line: Wholly atmospheric and delightfully messed up, this tale of young women clinging to survival- and each other- will do nothing less than captivate.


Reviews in a Minute: Early July ’19 Books Salvation Day by Kali Wallace
Published by Berkley on July 9, 2019
Pages: 320
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
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A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.

They thought the ship would be their salvation.

Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.

But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.

And then they woke it up.

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This was such a high energy, eerie adventure through space. Our main characters, Zahra and Jaswinder, had incredibly differing motivations for everything that happened, and it was easy to relate to both of their stances, though as the reader, it’s clear to see that Zahra is being manipulated. Zahra is a member of what basically amounts to a cult which operates under the guise of “helping/saving” (don’t they all?) Jas has absolutely no plans to throw himself into any sort of conflict, but when your ship is taken hostage… well, we do what we must to survive.

And that is the crux of it: these people are all trying to survive, but there is so much that they don’t know. Obviously a good portion of the book is devoted to uncovering the myriad of things that have been shoved under the rug, things that neither character was ever aware of. And ultimately, there are a lot of questions about who they can and can’t trust.

It’s such an action-packed book (it would make an incredible movie, by the way, someone should get on that) that you definitely won’t be bored as you try to figure out what our main characters will discover next. The entire vibe of the book really nails an eerie, creepy ambiance that fits perfectly with the world the author created. My one qualm was that I didn’t feel as much of a connection with the characters as I would have liked too. The side characters especially felt a bit disposable. But overall, the plot and the unfurling secrets and discoveries were intense enough to keep me well entertained!

Bottom Line: Definitely a plot driven novel, the action and mystery kept me on the edge of my seat.


Reviews in a Minute: Early July ’19 Books The Last Word by Samantha Hastings
Published by Swoon Reads on July 9, 2019
Pages: 288
Format:ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
GoodreadsAmazonBook Depository

1861. Miss Lucinda Leavitt is shocked when she learns the author of her favorite serialized novel has died before completing the story. Determined to learn how it ends, Lucinda reluctantly enlists the help of her father’s young business partner, Mr. David Randall, to track down the reclusive author’s former whereabouts.

David is a successful young businessman, but is overwhelmed by his workload. He wants to prove himself to his late father, as well as to himself. He doesn’t have the time, nor the interest, for this endeavor, but Lucinda is not the type to take no for an answer.

Their search for the elusive Mrs. Smith and the rightful ending to her novel leads Lucinda and David around the country, but the truths they discover about themselves—and each other—are anything but fictional.

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I hadn’t really been sure I would read this when I found it in my FierceReads package. It seemed awfully cute, which isn’t bad, I just didn’t know if it was my “thing”. Anyway, after reading a ton of books set in the future, I was jonesing for some historical fiction (and fine, something relatively short, don’t judge). So I grabbed it off the shelf, and I am so glad that I took a chance on it! It’s such an unexpected gem!

Yes, it’s cute, but not in a cheesy, sugary way. It’s more that yes, there are very swoony moments, and it overall made my insides feel happy, but the characters also went through some junk too. It wasn’t just adorableness and magic, it was real. Basically the author did an amazing job of toeing the line between adorable and saccharine.

The main character, Lucinda, thinks that the nineteenth century norms of treating women like possessions is garbage. I agree with Lucinda, so we were getting along right from the start. While her father wanted her to get married and Idk, trot around in fancy garb (look, I have no idea what women did then, but seems frilly and boring), Lucinda wanted to use her amazing math-wizard brain to help the family business. Her father’s partner (and her former childhood pal) David seemed to be down with Lucinda doing some work. Because she was awesome at it and he knew it.

Lucinda was also pretty bummed because the author of her favorite serial story is dead… and has left no clue to the ending. Lucinda is bound and determined to find out the ending, and she enlists the help of David. Sure, she has to bend the truth a little, but such is life. David doesn’t want to get in the middle of family arguments, even though he does seem to agree with Lucinda’s desire for independence and purpose. They get along quite well, and you can tell that even when they’re on opposite sides there’s an undeniable spark.

Bottom Line: Ultimately, it’s impossible to not cheer for Lucinda and want her to break free from the nonsense societal norms. Watching her use her intellect and wit to do just that is an adventure you won’t want to miss. 

Have you read any of these books? Plan to? Let us chat about them! 

Posted July 7, 2019 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 16 Comments


16 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: Early July ’19 Books

  1. It’s funny, they tried to sell that dead author part of The Last Word so hard, but it wasn’t the biggest part of the story for me. It was really about Lucinda trying to break through those barriers that kept women from reaching their full potential, and about her desire to be more than pretty piece of property. It was a fun little part of the story, which helped bring her and David back into each other’s orbits, though, and I enjoyed this book too. It had more substance than I anticipated.

  2. I’ve been seeing Wilder Girls around a lot. I like how the characters continue to struggle with everyday issues even when the world is in a bad place. I agree that it’s realistic. Hopefully there’s a second book. Sometimes open endings work out, but it sounds like there are too many questions that need answering.

    The Best Lies sounds really interesting. I love how it explores complex relationships, and the mystery looks like a page turner. Adding it to my TBR!

  3. Ahh these are wonderful reviews, I’m really curious about both The Best Lies and the Last Word. I was already intrigued by the first book and how complex the relationships seemed to be, but I didn’t know much about the Last Word until just now… I think I’m going to add it to the TBR, thank you! 🙂

  4. Wilder Girls! I think I’m talked into that one… I might have the same issue you did with the spoiler, but I still want to try it. Island of awfulness haha sounds pretty good. 🙂

    Ooh Salvation Day sounds like my kind of book too.

  5. I loved Wilder Girls! But I agree with you on the spoiler part. I’m crossing my fingers for another one. I’ve never heard of Salvation Day before but after you’re review I am adding it to my TBR!

  6. Beth W

    Oh YAY! Look at all those great reads! I’m stoked to see them highly rated, as I have all of them on my TBR list. 😀 Thanks for reviewing these!

  7. I had no idea what Wilder Girls was about – I thought it was a contemporary – so I’m surprised! I’m definitely intrigued now. Also, really glad you liked Salvation Day. I added that to my TBR and want to give it a shot.

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