Book Recommendations: Music Lovers Edition

If you are on Bookstagram or Booktok, I’m sure you’ve seen the novel, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid recommended time and time again. It’s an amazing, quick read and I definitely recommend it, but there are even more novels out there in the same style. So if you loved Daisy Jones & The Six or are a music lover in the general you definitely need to check out these books.

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton


The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton is a novel about the rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s. As a tie in with their reunion tour, both Opal and Nev have agreed to a tell-all book. As these artists tell their side of the story, nasty allegations are revealed that could threaten the whole reunion.

Told in the same oral history/interview style as Daisy Jones & The Six, Walton manages to weave real life events with her fictional events making for an incredibly believable story. Because it is told in an oral history style I found it to be a super quick read. It reflects the 70s and today incredibly well, showing everything from the good, the bad, and the ugly. Walton never shies away from tough topics and handles them with care. There is revelation about halfway through the book that shocked me, and left my mouth gaping open.

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes tells the story of Cassidy Holmes aka “Sassy Gloss” of the fictional pop group Gloss. They were the hottest pop group in the early 2000’s, until they fell apart. Now Cassidy Holmes is dead, suicide. The media and her former bandmates are reeling from this news.

The story jumps back and forth in time. All the past chapters are from Cassidy’s point of view, while the present chapters are told from the other band members. This book tackles tough topics, mental health, eating disorders, and sexual assault. Essentially, anything that a young female pop singer might have gone through in the early 2000s. It isn’t an easy read by any means because of the topics discussed, but they are handled with care. As someone who grew up listening to early 2000s pop, this was such an interesting read.

#FreeBritney

Mary Jane: A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau

“Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this funny, wise, and tender novel about a fourteen-year-old girl’s coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for–who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.”

I just finished this and it is the perfect summer read. The author manages to perfectly capture the voice of a 14 year-old and Mary Jane is incredibly relatable. This book is about a young girl finding her voice and branching out for the first time in her life. It definitely gives off Almost Famous and Daisy Jones & The Six vibes. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down.

These are just some of my recommendations, and let me know if you decide to check them out! Also let me know if you have any recommendations to add to this list.

Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality. Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.”

REVIEW:

Lore has been on my TBR for the last couple of months because I am a sucker for any type of involvement of Greek Mythology. I was a little hesitant because I had read some mixed reviews from reviewers I normally agree with, but it became available at my library so I just had to grab it.

I’ve seen Lore described as Greek mythology meets Hunger Games, which feels pretty accurate. We follow Lore, whose entire life had been built around family legacy and the Agon. She is the only surviving member of her family, who were victims of the last Agon. Because of this destruction and other traumas that have happened to her being a part of this world, Lore made the decision to leave it all behind. She has been successful in blending into the world around her until now. Her old friend Castor has re-entered her life after she thought he was dead and now an injured god is on her doorstep. The next Agon has begun and Lore has been brought right into the middle of it.

Lore had a bit of a slow start for me. The first 100 pages were a slog to get through, but it definitely begins to pick up after that. It took me a while to remember which family was which and who was loyal to who if I’m going to be perfectly honest. I felt like I needed a pinboard or chart so I could go back and reference to make sure I was correct.

There was a lot that I really enjoyed about this book. It has a really interesting concept that hooks you in and is definitely explored well. Lore has been through the wringer, she really has never had an easy life and this book does not get any easier for her. I loved the cast of characters and friendships as well. Lore and Miles are incredible together and I loved how they meshed with Castor and Van.

This story is definitely brutal, and a lot is happening at any given time which, for me, sometimes hurts this book. The characters are constantly on the move which keeps the pacing exciting. I do wish that this had been told from a dual POV. I think it would have added an interesting element to this story if it had bounced between Lore and Castor. It grew frustrating when they were separated from each other and would have no idea what was happening with the other group, and you are never really filled in on those events

Overall, I enjoyed Lore. It was different than anything I have read recently. Fair warning, this book is absolutely brutal at times, deals with heavy topics such as sexual assault and murder, and doesn’t shy away from violence.

RATING: 4/5

Review: A Heart So Fierce & Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.”

REVIEW:

A Heart So Fierce & Broken is the second book in the Cursebreakers series by Brigid Kemmerer. I absolutely loved A Curse So Dark & Lonely so I was excited to pick up this book. This is the second book in the series, so there will be a few spoilers. Proceed with caution.

This book picks up with the big reveal of Grey being the missing heir. The kingdom of Emberfall has been thrown into chaos. The curse has been broken, the “monster” is now gone, but a civil war is brewing over the missing heir. There is also discourse over the kingdom of Disi. Princess Harper promised (non-existent) troops and the people grow leery of this promise. Grey must come to terms with his new status, and make the ultimate decision about the future of Emberfall.

Okay, so I didn’t love this book which was really frustrating. First, let’s talk about the things I liked. The pacing is great in this book, even though I didn’t really love it, the plot really moved. I liked learning more about the kingdom of Emberfall and the addition of characters from the kingdom of Sylh Shallow. I also enjoyed the relationship between Lia Mara and her sister.

Now, let’s get to the parts that I didn’t enjoy. The thing I loved about A Curse So Dark & Lonely was Harper and she is nowhere to be found. The book mainly alternates between Grey and Lia Mara’s points of view, which makes sense since this is more Grey’s book. I just figured that there would be some chapters with her, involving what was happening in Emberfall. I also felt that this book shoved Rhen back to the starting point. All the character growth shown in the first book was completely lost. I guess my struggle was that it felt like this book had no point. They spent the whole book traveling, and Grey was so lost personally that it felt like the character just lost his voice. I still feel like I don’t understand why Grey wants the throne. With the epilogue reveal, it feels like we are just back to the very start of the series which I don’t love.

Overall, this book was a disappointment, so much so that I considered not finishing it. It is a testament to Kemmerer’s writing that I was compelled to finish. I’m still going to pick up the last book in the series because I need to know how Harper’s story ends.

RATING: 3/5

Review: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s deicision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?”

REVIEW:

Another Book of the Month choice winner! I’ve had Ariadne on my radar for a little while now. When I saw it was one of May’s options, it was an easy choice.

Growing up on Crete, she listens to stories of the gods and heroes. Ariadne then watches as her mother becomes a pawn in the gods’ revenge on her father, the King. She wishes to never be apart of the heroes plans for glory and the gods schemes. Ariadne is meant for something bigger, and soon finds herself apart of those very stories.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint is a greek mythology retelling of her life, in the vain of Circe and A Thousand Ships. I originally thought this was just going to be the myth of the Minotaur from her eyes since I don’t know much about Ariadne beyond that, but this book explores her whole life. Ariadne is a compelling heroine, who you are rooting for during her highs and lows. The pacing of this book can be a little slow at times, but I don’t think this hinders the story.

I enjoyed getting to know more about Ariadne, her story, and her ties to Dionysus. I also loved the focus and commentary on women’s roles in the god’s lives. That they are often the one’s to suffer and be used as pawns in the god’s plans. I enjoyed Jennifer Saint’s writing style. Many of the characters recount tales of themselves and other important Greek figures which feels like a great choice since the significance of oral history in greek mythology.

I definitely recommend if you are a lover of Greek mythology, or loved Circe, Song of Achilles or A Thousand Ships.

RATING: 4/5

Book Hopefuls for June

I am a mood reader. Making a solid TBR is incredibly hard for me. It depends what mood the last book left me in that really decides what I read next. So here’s some books I would love to try and read this month.

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

This is an ARC that I received recently, and I actually have already started it. It is so good so far, and exactly what I need after a lot of heavy fantasy books. It also is a great book to start off Pride month.

A Vow So Bold & Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Hoping to close out this series! I was pretty disappointed by A Heart So Fierce & Broken, but I want to see how Harper’s story ends. This happened to be at my library when I was picking up some holds, so I just had to grab it.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

This one has been sitting on my TBR for awhile but my library finally had it. I will always check out a book that incorporates mythology in the modern world. I’ve been seeing some mixed reviews for this book, so hopefully I enjoy it.

Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry

I saw this when I was scrolling through Instagram, and I had to check it out. I love Emily Henry, and really enjoyed Muse by Brittany Cavallaro when I read it earlier this year. With a Thelma & Louise type plot, this seemed like a no brainer. It also feels like it would be a great summer read.

The Duke Undone by Joanna Lowell

I’m a sucker for historical romance, so when I saw this sitting in the brand new section of my library I had to grab it. The summary sucked me, and it sounds like it is going to be a quick fun read.

Like always, there will probably be more books added to this as the month goes on. Who knows what I will pick up next? What are you excited to read this month?

May Reading Wrap-Up

After a bit of a reading slump in April, I read some really wonderful books in May and can’t wait to see what books I pick up in June. Here’s a look at what I read this month. Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these, or what you read in May that you absolutely loved.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

rating – 5/5
I started May out strong with this book choice. I completely loved this book and it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this month. The world building is amazing, and I love how the mysteries play out. This book felt so different than anything else I had read recently, and I immediately bought the next book in the series.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

rating – 5/5
Another strong contender for my favorite book I read this month. I was eagerly anticipating this release since I finished Beach Read last summer, and this book did not disappoint. Emily Henry’s characters are always amazing, and once I picked this book up I really couldn’t put it down. Another perfect romance by Emily Henry!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

rating – 4/5

Another series that I didn’t know existed, and very happy I stumbled upon it while wandering the bookstore. Honestly, this premise sucked me in and knew I needed to check it out. Nuns training assassins, I’m sold! The pacing of this book is perfect. You have short exciting chapters that make you just want to keep going. So I definitely had some late nights with this one.

Make Sweet by Kristen Callihan

rating – 3.5/5
This was fun, simple romance that I picked up on Kindle Unlimited. I loved the premise and was sucked in immediately. This is a quick, easy read that is perfect for the beach. The romance is steamy and I just really enjoyed every minute of it. It is fairly predictable plot, but that doesn’t hurt the story at all.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

rating – 4/5
After sitting on my TBR for months I finally picked up this book! This book was a bit too mysterious at times, but overall still really fun to read. It gives both Night Circus and Phantom of the Opera vibes, so if you are into either of those I would definitely recommend. Where Dreams Descend ending on a massive cliffhanger, so I’m now eagerly awaiting the next book.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

rating – 4/5
Greek Mythology is one of my favorite things, so I am always interested in a mythology retelling. I didn’t know much about Ariadne besides the myth of the Minotaur, so this book was super interesting. This book is in the same vain as Circe and A Thousand Ships, so if you loved those I definitely recommend Ariadne.

A Heart So Fierce & Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

rating – 3/5
This was probably my least favorite book that I read this month. This is the second book in the Cursebreakers trilogy, and I was so excited to pick it up at my library. I absolutely loved Harper in A Curse So Dark and Lonely, only to discover that she was nowhere to be found in this sequel. This book felt like it was unnecessary, and didn’t do anything to advance the story.