Author: Caitlin Starling
Series: Neon Hemlock
Published: September 5, 2020
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Powerful shipping magnate Evelyn Perdanu lives a tight, contained life, holding herself at a distance from all who would get close to her. Her family is dead, her country is dying, and when something foul comes to the city of Delphinium, the brittle, perilous existence she’s built for herself is strained to breaking.
When one of her ships arrives in dock, she counts herself lucky that it made it through the military blockades slowly strangling her city. But one by one, the crew fall ill with a mysterious sickness: an intense light in their eyes and obsessive behavior, followed by a catatonic stupor. Even as Evelyn works to exonerate her company of bringing plague into her besieged capital city, more and more cases develop, and the afflicted all share one singular obsession: her.
Panicked and paranoid, she retreats to her estate, which rests on a foundation of secrets: the deaths of her family, the poisons and cures that hasten the dissolution of the remaining upper classes, and a rebel soldier, incapacitated and held hostage in a desperate bid for information. But the afflicted are closing in on her, and bringing the attention of the law with them. Evelyn must unearth her connection to the spreading illness, and fast, before it takes root inside her home and destroys all that she has built.
This is another one I saw on Instagram and became downright enamored but this cover. We have definitely found a contestant for the 2021 Most Gorgeous Cover Tournament, maybe even a winner? Well one can hope. But the pages under the cover … I still haven’t figured this book out yet.
It’s definitely a somber, chilling, gothic tale. I liked reading it and the setting and the characters. The story itself held me until the very end. But all I am now is puzzled. I’m not sure what this book was even about. I think the closest thing I can compare it to is Rappaccini’s Daughter, but only if Du Maurier wrote it and not Hawthorne. Thankfully I’m not frustrated by this book. If anything, I want to read it again and try to figure it out again. Overall, I liked it. But I don’t get it. So I will indeed read it again.
Author: Meredith Russo
To Be Published: May 21, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 7-12, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story about two teens bonded for life when they are born on the same day at the same time by award-winning author Meredith Russo!
Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.
Morgan and Eric are born on the same day in the same hospital during a freak September snowstorm, thus beginning their bond for life. Birthday is told from both Morgan and Eric’s point of view every year on their birthday from ages 13-18. Neither boy has had an easy life for various reasons, and Birthday shows both Morgan and Eric coming into who they will become, with Morgan coming to terms in finding her true self.
You can’t help but adore and root for both Morgan and Eric as they discover who they are. They face various individual challenges, including living in small town Tennessee where the only way you may get to leave is through a football scholarship and Morgan’s dad is the high school football coach. Everything about Birthday including Morgan’s anguish and Eric’s confusion felt real. The characters are so well written, yet Birthday is a very easy and quick read.
Meredith Russo brings these characters to life in a way she knows as she is transgender. As with reading If I Was Your Girl, I felt Russo put herself in the character of Morgan. Some of Morgan’s emotions must have been hers as she went through her transition. Thank you for bringing these stories to the page. They are important stories that those who are transgender may need and will help those of us who are not transgender understand what it is like.
There are some tough scenes in Birthday including a suicide attempt but the ending is a good one. There are touching moments throughout dealing with Morgan’s mom. I actually finished reading Birthday on Mother’s Day and that was perfect timing on my part! I would love to read continuing stories for Morgan and Eric.
I feel I can’t give the book a good enough review, this book is that important and powerful. Give Birthday a chance and read it on May 21st.
Many thanks to the publisher Flatiron Books for sending me an arc copy.