Hello everyone! I went and got my second COVID shot which means I'm officially vaccinated. It's such a relief to finally be at this, almost milestone-like, moment. Thankful doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling right now after the year that has been the pandemic. I was super lucky with my home state of Ohio allowing people in my age range to get the vaccine fairly early. I know others haven't had that kind of access though so I'm sending best wishes to everyone during the wait.
Stay safe everyone.
Disclaimer: This blog post will contain affiliate and referral links. I may earn a small commission to feed my book hoarding tendencies if you use these links to make a purchase. This in no way impacts my opinions of the books listed - they are all my own.
Kingdom of The Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★
Description: Two sisters.
One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…
And an intoxicating romance.
Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…
About The Playlist: Kingdom of The Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco is for sure one of the more dark-aesthetic fantasy books I've read. It turns a simple premise into a magically gothic tale of witchcraft and demons. The vibe of the book is almost as important as the plot itself with the story taking place in Sicily while alluding to the Kingdom of The Wicked where Wrath and the other princes of hell reside. It sets it up so you'll have the opportunity to explore more of this dangerous world of deception in the sequel coming out later this year.
I really wanted to choose songs that capture the oftentimes very turbulent relationship in the book. Emilia and Wrath are always at war with one another even when they're falling in love. They never relent in their battle for survival, wielding pointed jabs and insults like weapons, knowing it will drag one or both of them down alongside it. It's almost as if they're powerless to stop the spinning wheels long ago set in motion. Part of the reason I chose the music I did was for their vulnerability and softness that contrasts with the sparring we see in the book.
Favorite Songs: Older Than I Am by Lennon Stella, You by Wrenn, and Mean It by Gracie Abrams
The Cousins by Karen M McManus
Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★
Description: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they've never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they're surprised... and curious.
Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother's good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it's immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family's past is.
The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn't over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.
About The Playlist: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus is, of course, a predominantly YA book, but it is also a very solid mystery novel. Frequently in Karen M. McManus books, she delves into the more difficult facets of being a teenager in the modern age. It explores the tumultuous aspects of YA characters in extreme circumstances. There's always plenty of teen angst to be found amid the twisting plot of murder and mayhem.
I tried to choose songs for the playlist that capture the youthful misadventures and conflicting emotions of these teenagers. The book isn't all doom and gloom like a traditional mystery can be which is something I wanted to portray. You'll find songs about the good, the fun, the bad, and the terrifying parts of young adulthood. Songs on the playlist will find their place beside each other and will vary wildly. This includes ones about the loss of innocence that are accompanied by those about the simple joys of friendship and young love.
Favorite Songs: Antidote by Faith Marie, Thrills by Claire Frazier, and Couple of Kids by Maggie Lindemann
The Winter Sister by Megan Collins
Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★
Description: Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.
In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.
As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.
About The Playlist: Usually, when I'm creating a book playlist, it's for the book overall. I go for songs that capture the vibe of the whole book more than specific moments. I think it's because I want the playlist to be universally played from start to finish. However, when it came to The Winter Sister, I found myself choosing songs that were attached to individual scenes in the book. I decided to do it this way because I think the small moments of impact are where this book in particular is at its best.
I discussed this a little bit in my review for The Winter Sister, but it's in almost insignificant moments that you find yourself lost in the story. The perfect example of this was when I chose Astronomical by SVRCINA. Its lyrics for me connected to one of the most prominent memories the main character has of her sister, Persephone. It is of her painting a constellation to encapsulate Persephone followed by a sibling spat that ruins the image, yet somehow holds more true to their relationship than the original.
Favorite Songs: Astronomical by SVRCINA, Like Everybody Else by Lennon Stella, and Just Say by Nine One One
If you're interested in buying some new books be sure to check out Book Depository .
Follow My Bookish Adventures: