Stacking the Shelves (#63)

I spent about half of the past month expecting that this would be another one where I didn’t add very much to my TBR list but I ended up really surprising myself. Partway through the month, I once again suddenly remembered that Goodreads had a feature that allows me to look at month-by-month lists of upcoming releases, with each list containing up to 200 options. I say “up to” because even though the lists technically all go to 200, there are many cases I’ve seen of books getting repeated a few times on the same list. I find that tends to happen more often when the release date is still further away, but it’s a bit annoying that the repetitions are taking spots away that could go to other books instead. Just browsing the lists for the rest of 2023 alone brought my total up a lot! Nearly three full pages out of the four that I added to my list this month were books that I added all on that same day. I ended up with a total of 80 books added through the month, which is definitely my highest total in quite a while. I was especially excited to see that many of the books were upcoming releases from authors that I either had on my radar or that I’d already read and enjoyed!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week. It is hosted by TyngaReviewsand ReadingReality.

1) Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

I’ve only read two of Lisa See’s books so far, and I’ve really enjoyed them both! I keep meaning to go back and read more of her books since I now have a total of 6 on my TBR that I have not yet read, but keep putting them off. This one is her most recent release due out this June, and it is about a woman named Tan Yunxian, who was born into an elite family and is being raised by her grandparents. Yunxian’s grandmother is one of the only female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian about medicine and how to treat female patients. From a young age, she is taught about women’s medicine alongside a young midwife-in-training named Meiling, and the two become fast friends. When Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, she is forbidden from seeing Meiling and from helping women and instead become a “proper” wife. I didn’t realize it at first, but Tan Yunxian is a real physician who lived during the Ming dynasty, and many of her remedies are still used today. I absolutely loved Lisa See’s writing style in the two books that I’ve read so far, but kept putting off the rest because there were always other books that were higher on my priority list at the time. Now that I’m starting to get back into historical fiction in general, it might be a good opportunity to catch back up on her books again.

2) We Love to Entertain by Sarah Strohmeyer

Of course, I was drawn to this book because of the house on the cover because that seems to be my pattern, but it’s also a book that I’ve recently seen a few vloggers mention. I actually ended up adding both of this author’s thrillers to my list at the same time, but this is the one that I’m a little more interested in. Sarah Strohmeyer is one of those authors who previously wrote in other genres, including cozy mysteries, romances, etc. She released her first adult thriller Do I Know You? last year in 2021, and this book is her new release due out at the end of April. It is about a couple of real estate investors, Holly and Robert, who are competing in a home renovation competition with millions of dollars in endorsements and online followers at stake. However, things go wrong when the couple suddenly go missing just hours after their seemingly perfect wedding, and suspicions quickly fall to their young assistant Erika, whom the town has never forgiven for a tragic accident back when she was in high school. Erika’s mother Kim is determined not to let the small town’s gossip ruin her daughter again, and the two of them team up to find out what really happened to the missing couple. For some reason, even though I have zero interest in home renovation shows, I’ve been very interested in multiple books that involve them lately. It definitely seems like it’s become a trendy topic in publishing recently somehow. The storyline of this one is a bit different from what I expected, but it still sounds very interesting!

3) The Whispers by Ashley Audrain

I’ve actually recently preordered this one thanks to a great sale from Indigo on some of their most anticipated upcoming titles. I haven’t even read The Push yet, although I’m hoping to get to it within the next couple of weeks! This book is the author’s upcoming release for this June, and it is about a woman named Whitney whose son has fallen from his bedroom window in the middle of the night, and now Whitney just sits by his hospital bed and refuses to speak to anyone. Back at home, their neighbours are coming to terms with their own roles in the incident, including their best friends who live across the street, a couple who desperately wants children of their own, and a quiet elderly couple who likes to watch their neighbours from their porch. The story takes place over the course of one week, as hidden truths come out that connect these four families. The synopsis for this one took me a little longer to figure out than The Push since it seemed quite vague, but it reminds me a bit of Lisa Jewell’s Watching You because of the focus on one neighbourhood. I definitely haven’t heard as much hype around this one so far, but I’m very curious to try it anyway! The Push was one of the books right at the top of my list last year, so it was a little embarrassing that I didn’t get to it! I’m really looking forward to reading them both.

4) Good Bad Girl by Alice Feeney

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that Alice Feeney had a new thriller due out this year! Daisy Darker was another book that was right at the top of my priority list to read last year that I somehow didn’t get to, and it’s another one that I’m intending to prioritize very soon. This book is about two separate crimes twenty years apart, that are somehow linked — twenty years ago, a baby was stolen from their stroller, and now a woman is murdered in a care home. An 8w-year-old woman named Edith is planning her escape from the care home that she feels she has been tricked into moving to, where she soon bonds with a staff named Patience, even though Patience is lying to her. Patience, Edith, and her daughter Clio have every reason to distrust each other, but must work together to solve a mystery that might explain what happened to the baby who was taken all those years ago, the mother who lost her, and the connections between the two cases. To be honest, I find the synopsis for this one incredibly confusing and it took me multiple tries to even begin to decipher what the book was about. However, I have read and loved multiple other books by this author already so I trust that I will love this one too! This one is not out until August, so I’m interested in see if any more information comes out before then, or at least some early reviews that might clarify the plot a tiny bit.

5) The Woman Inside by M.T. Edvardsson

I added this one to my list mostly because I recognized the author’s name from another book on my TBR. I’ve been meaning to read A Nearly Normal Family for a while but forgot about it, partly because I forgot where I put it after I rearranged my books a while ago. When I shifted everything around last time, I found it and it reminded me all over again that I really wanted to read it. This book is another one that is due out in June, and it’s the author’s first release in about 5 years. It is about a recently widowed man named Bill who is desperate to provide for his daughter Sally, and decides to take in a lodger named Karla to help with the rent. Karla is a law student and aspiring judge whose clients are a wealthy couple, in which the husband seems controlling but that may just be out of concern for his ill wife’s health. As Bill’s situation worsens, Karla is forced to make a difficult choice, but when her clients are found dead, she is pulled in for questioning and finds herself needing to defend some parts of her past that she’d rather stay hidden. The synopsis for this one definitely didn’t grab me quite as strongly as the one for this author’s previous book, but it does seem like a very character-driven thriller which is something that I tend to really like. I’m a little confused about why the synopsis mentions Bill at all when the story seems to focus mostly on Karla, but I’m sure that will become more clear when I actually read this one.

6) Miss Matched by Wendy Million

In addition to a ton of thrillers, I also added quite a few contemporary romances to my list this month! This book is about a woman named Talya who pays a fee to try out a cutting-edge matching service that is supposed to help her find her soulmate. When it pairs her with Simon, the one man she hoped never to see again after he broke off their engagement six years ago, she decides to give up and just try to get her money back. Simon shows up on her doorstep promising that he can get her the refund by showing the service that the match was wrong, but in return, she wants him to agree to date him again for one month to prove that things really can’t work between them. Simon has been desperate for a second chance with Talya after messing up their relationship all those years ago, but with so much time that has passed, Talya doesn’t know how well they really fit anymore. There have been quite a few books that I’ve read or at least seen lately that involve some kind of matching service, and this one seems like it could be especially cute since it is a second-chance romance. To be fair, I’m not sure how much I can really buy into a romance between a couple who have already ended badly once and where so much time has passed, but I’m curious to see what the author does with it. This one has the potential to be absolutely adorable, so I’m planning to go into it with an open mind.

7) A Fatal Affair by A.R. Torre

This is another book that I added mostly by author recognition alone, since I already have this author’s previous three thrillers on my list too. I didn’t even realize that this was the same author who wrote The Girl in 6E, which I haven’t read but kept seeing all over Goodreads for a while. This book is the author’s upcoming relase due in June (apparently June will be a great month for new releases!) and it is about an actress named Nora who is in love with two men, philanthropic movie star Hugh, and his twin brother Trent, with whom she is having an affair. When Trent and another woman are found dead in the family’s home, both Nora and Hugh’s reputations are at stake. The investigation suggests murder-suicide, but as detectives sift through the evidence, it starts to seem that there may be more to the case than anyone originally thought. I’m not usually so interested in books that focus on Hollywood or celebrities, but this one seems interesting enough to give it a try! This author may be one that is worth adding to my priority list next year since her books seem to be stacking up fairly quickly on my TBR list. I think of all of them, the one that interests me the most is probably The Good Lie, but they all sound very intriguing. I’m hoping I’ll end up enjoying them all when I finally decide to try them.

8) Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

This book caught my attention the second I saw the cover and realized that the characters were using sign language! It is a YA romance about a girl named Lilah who has hearing loss, and who decides to become a counselor at a camp for the deaf and blind. Lilah has always felt stuck in the middle because she doesn’t feel “deaf enough” to be Deaf, or hearing enough for everyone else. While at camp, she meets a Deaf counselor named Isaac who agrees to help her with her sign language, and soon starts to fall for him although she is not sure that he feels the same way. The plotline for this one seems relatively simple, but it is the focus on Deaf culture and sign language that really drew me in. I have only read a handful of books that involve Deaf characters or characters who sign, but it’s something I really want to read more about. I learned a tiny bit of sign language through my work with individuals with special needs, including a few who are deaf and some who are hearing but non-verbal and use sign language to communicate. I’m especially interested to see how sign language can be represented effectively on the page since it is such a visual language, and I’m very interested by the focus on how Lilah feels stuck between both communities because she doesn’t quite fit into either one. I’m not quite sure how high this book will be on my TBR since I’ve drifted away a bit from YA romances lately, but it’s one that I would like to try eventually.

9) Murder in the Family by Cara Hunter

It was only after I’d added this one to my list that I realized I already had another book by this author on my TBR, although that one has been sitting untouched on my TBR for years. This book is about a Netflix series investigating the cold case of Luke Ryder, who was found dead in the garden of their family home twenty years ago, and the show is headed by Luke’s stepson Guy Howard. His wife and two daughters were in the house at the time of the murder but all of them insist they saw nothing. Despite the high-profile investigation and endless media attention, no one was ever charged, and the production team decides to scour the evidence again to see if they can get the truth to come out on camera. This is exactly the kind of thriller that I’ve really been loving lately, and it sounds absolutely amazing! I love books that focus on some kind of documentary and I was especially excited to see that this one might include a mixed media element since I saw a few reviews mentioning text messages, newspaper clippings, etc. I think the main reason I haven’t tried this author yet is because the book that I previously added to my TBR was the first in a detective series, and I generally prefer standalone mysteries and thrillers over series. I believe this book is the author’s first standalone so it could be a good opportunity to try out her writing style without such a “commitment” to reading a whole series. On the other hand, the books in the series all do interest me too, so I might have to pick them up at some point.

10) The Love Plot by Samantha Young

Samantha Young is another author with multiple books on my TBR even though I haven’t read any of hers yet. I’m only really interested in reading her romance books with illustrated covers, although she apparently has multiple other series as well. I was also surprised to realize that I had a couple of YA romance books by this author on my list which have been there for years. I definitely did not think they were by the same author! This book is her latest adult contemporary standalone which is due out at the end of August this year. It is about a woman named Star who was raised by hippie parents and believes in having no stress or expectations. When she meets a birthday girl’s grumpy uncle Rafe while working at a princess party, she can’t help but irritate him assuming she will never see him again. Rafe is a vet with more patience for animals than for people, but when he runs into Star again, he decides to offer her more money than she makes from all her odd jobs if she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at family gatherings. As tensions between them rise, Star’s rule of “no strings attached” is tested and it seems that opposites will attract. I love the fake dating trope, although the set-up for this one seems a little elaborate, and it also seems like this one is grumpy-sunshine too, which can also be a lot of fun. If I don’t get to any of this author’s books within the year, I might need to add her to my priority list for 2024.

11) Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner

This is yet another author who has been on my TBR for a while, ever since Something to Talk About came out in 2020. This book is the author’s third romance due out in mid-September, and it is about a woman named Grace who has been sidelined from her position with the US Women’s National Team due to an injury, and a bold newcomer named Phoebe takes her place. The last thing Grace expects is to become friends with benefits with her rival, but Phoebe has long admired her soccer skills and is excited to finally train alongside her idol and after one kiss, she’s falling for her. As the World Cup approaches, both women decide to find a way they can play together instead of competing. Off the field, Grace is worried that she may be falling for Phoebe, who already thinks they are dating. As tensions grow, the women must figure out whether they care more about their relationship or making the team’s roster. I’m not interested at all in sports, but this book managed to capture my attention anyway! Of the three books by this author that are out (or at least announced so far), this is probably the one that interests me the least although that’s mostly because of the focus on sports. Other than that, it sounds like a very cute romance and I’m definitely interested in giving it a chance. I have at least one of this author’s books on my list for this year so I’m hoping to get the chance to try it!

12) This Is How We End Things by R.J. Jacobs

This book caught my attention immediately because of the cover, and even moreso when I saw that it had been compared to Riley Sager and If We Were Villains. It is about a group of five grad students who are studying the science behind lying under the instruction of Professor Joe Lyons. When the test goes wrong and one of the students is found dead, the students find themselves trapped by a snowstorm on an empty campus with a local detective investigating the case. As secrets begin to surface, the students must find out who is lying and which of them may have been capable of murder. I have one of this author’s other books already on my TBR and I’ve considered adding his other two, but it’s always put me off a bit that his books are so short! Most of them come in under 300 pages and even this one itself is just barely 300, which often seems too short to me for a story to fully develop. This one just sounds so interesting that I might be willing to give it a chance anyway. It sounds like a dark academia mixed with a closed circle mystery, which are two of my favourite tropes. This is another book that is not due out until mid-September, so I’m curious to see what others think closer to the release date. It’s another one that is not necessarily at the top of my list right now, but I can easily see it getting there pretty quickly given that it contains so many tropes that I love.

13) Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

I was very surprised to see a new book by this author! I absolutely loved The Favourite Sister, although I know a lot of people didn’t, and I’ve been looking forward to trying Luckiest Girl Alive for such a long time. It took forever for me to find a hardcover copy, but now that I have one, I’m hoping to read it very soon. This book is due out in early October, and to be honest, I initially bypassed it while browsing the lists because I was put off by the cover. This book is about a Florida sorority president named Pamela who decides to stay home one night in 1978, but when she is startled awake at 3 am, she decides to investigate. What she finds is a horrific scene of violence, with two sorority sisters dead and another two injured, thrusting her right into the heart of the mystery. On the other side of the country, a young woman named Tina has finally found peace in Seattle, where she has a chance encounter with Ruth, a woman with secrets of her own, and the two form an instant connection. When Ruth goes missing in broad daylight, Tina devotes herself to figuring out what happened, and when she hears about the tragedy in Florida, she knows it was committed by the serial killer who has been in the papers lately. Determined to make him answer for what happened to Ruth too, she travels to Florida which puts her right onto a collision course with Pamela, who is also in pursuit of the truth. This book is inspired by the real-life sorority that was targeted by a serial killer. I think I know which killer it is referring to, but I’m not sure whether including their name counts as a spoiler at all, so to be safe I won’t mention it. Given how much I enjoyed this author’s writing style in The Favourite Sister, I expect this one will be very interesting too.

14) The Way I Am Now by Amber Smith

This author’s book The Way I Used to Be was one of the only books that I could honestly say triggered me, which was completely unexpected since I don’t typically have any triggers. That book was about a teenage girl named Eden who was raped by her brother’s best friend, and follows her through her four years of high school as she navigates the trauma. The opening chapters of that book detailing the assault made me feel so sick that I had to put the book down and seriously consider if I wanted to continue reading. It was pretty surprising since it wasn’t even the most graphic book that I’ve read (and I’ve definitely read much worse since), but I found it so disturbing. Luckily, I did end up reading the rest of the book and found it so impactful. This book is a sequel that follows Eden as she starts college while her case is going to trial, and reconnects with her high school boyfriend Josh. Just as it seems like this may be their opportunity to give their relationship a real chance, Eden begins to question whether it can be strong enough to withstand the challenges of college and the realities of her trial which she hopes will finally bring her justice. The only downside to this book is that by now, I remember literally nothing of the first one so if I do want to read this, I’ll probably have to reread it first and I’m not sure how strongly that scene will impact me again. I suspect I’ll have an easier time this time around since I’m mentally prepared for it and have read many other books on similar topics and that involve much more graphic content since then, but it’s a little hard to get past the anxiety.

15) The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa Matlin

This is completely petty, but the fact that the synopsis for this book is one big text block on Goodreads puts me off a bit. This book is about a social media influencer named Sarah Slade who buys a crumbling Victorian house with her husband that seems like the perfect opportunity to reach a new audience with her lifestyle blog. This house, known as the Black Wood House, was the scene of a gruesome murder-suicide, and Sarah soon starts to realize that even the renovations can’t cover up the house’s secrets. Workers who come to the house are acting strangely and experiencing strange accidents, and when menacing notes starts to appear everywhere, she becomes convinced that someone or something might be out to kill her. The more she remodels the house, the angrier it seems to become and as her life and her sanity both start to spiral out of control, she clings harder to the lies that she’s crafted to hide her own secrets. I absolutely love haunted house stories, even though they very easily freak me out! This is another one that I’m a little on the fence about since it is relatively short (just 270 pages), but it sounds so interesting. To be honest, it reminds me a bit of the episode of The Simpsons where Marge becomes a realtor and sells the Flanders family a murder house, but I’m sure the book will be nothing like that. It’s definitely one that I’m interested in finding out more about closer to it’s release toward the end of September.


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