Book Review: After You Died


Dea Poirier

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

published: 27th July 2021
spoilers? probably

Goodreads

Bisexual teen, Asher remembers nothing from the night in 1968 that the police found him covered in his girlfriend’s blood. He knows he’d never hurt anyone, least of all her. But the only person who believes him is his twin sister. He’s sentenced to five years at the Dozier Reform School. And like Asher’s memory, Dozier hides violent secrets of its own.

Juvenile boys serving time for everything from truancy to murder are hidden away in the sinister School for Boys. Those who manage to escape its bounds with broken bones and scars are the lucky ones. Asher’s afraid he may end up like many of the other students buried beneath unmarked graves. Worse, his fellow inmates may become his next victims.

In hopes of recovering the events from the night of the murder, Asher visits the school’s psychiatrist. But when the memories return, he finds many aren’t his own. Thoughts, feelings, and visions from another life, and another time, slip into his mind. And each new memory brings consequences. First days disappear, then weeks. As the weeks slip away, students follow. He starts seeing his murdered girlfriend Olivia in the woods around the school. One morning, after following her ghost into the forest the night before, he wakes up outside covered in blood with no memory, and fears he’s killed someone else.

On top of that, he learns that his sister―who had feared she was being stalked by a boy from their school―has disappeared. Could Asher himself somehow be responsible?

As Asher’s possible body count grows, he knows the answers he needs are trapped within his own mind, and in ghosts from the past. He needs to find out who he is and prove the murders aren’t connected to him or risk losing his sanity and freedom forever.

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Book Review: Velvet Was the Night


Silvia Moreno Garcia

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 17th August 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a riveting noir about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman that brings them together.

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.

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Book Review: The Dead and the Dark


Courtney Gould

Rating: 5 out of 5.

published: 3rd August 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

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Book Review: Girl, 11


Amy Suiter Clarke

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 3rd June 2021
spoilers? yes

Goodreads

Full of adrenaline-inducing twists and emotional nuance, Girl, 11 is a heartstopping suspense novel where the detective is a podcaster.

The countdown has begun…

True-crime podcaster Elle Castillo has been obsessed with The Countdown Killer for decades. Twenty years ago, he established a gruesome pattern of taking and murdering three girls over seven days, each a year younger than the last. No one’s ever known why he followed this pattern, or why they stopped abruptly after the eleventh victim. Most believe him to be dead. Elle knows he is not and is hellbent on serving historic justice.

When the kidnappings start up once again, Elle must confront her responsibility in forcing the killer out of hiding. She needs to stop the deadly countdown and convince both the authorities and her podcast audience, before the Countdown Killer can claim his next victim.

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Book Review: A Master of Djinn


P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

published: 11th May 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…

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Book Review: Winterborne Home for Mayhem and Mystery


Ally Carter

Rating: 5 out of 5.

published: 2nd March 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Five orphans. Two sword-wielding vigilantes. One mansion. No rules.

April thought she had her happy ending. After all, she has her new house and new friends and new guardian. But she also has a very big new secret.

The kids of Winterborne House are the only ones who know that Gabriel Winterborne—famous billionaire and terrible cook—is really a sword-wielding vigilante.

What they don’t know is that he’s not the only one.

When a masked figure breaks in, looking for something—or someone—it’s clear that Gabriel has met his match, and now no one is safe. April and her friends will have to solve a decades-old mystery in order to hang on to the most important thing in the world: each other.

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Book Review: The Rose Code


Kate Quinn

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 9th March 2021
spoilers? yes

Goodreads

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter – the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger – and their true enemy – closer…

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Book Review: Dead Space


Kali Wallace

Rating: 5 out of 5.

published: 2nd March 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

An investigator must solve a brutal murder on a claustrophobic asteroid mine in this tense science fiction thriller from the author of Salvation Day.

Hester Marley used to have a plan for her life. But when a catastrophic attack left her injured, indebted, and stranded far from home, she was forced to take a dead-end security job with a powerful mining company in the asteroid belt. Now she spends her days investigating petty crimes to help her employer maximize its profits. She’s surprised to hear from an old friend and fellow victim of the terrorist attack that ruined her life–and that surprise quickly turns to suspicion when he claims to have discovered something shocking about their shared history and the tragedy that neither of them can leave behind.

Before Hester can learn more, her friend is violently murdered at a remote asteroid mine. Hester joins the investigation to find the truth, both about her friend’s death and the information he believed he had uncovered. But catching a killer is only the beginning of Hester’s worries, and she soon realizes that everything she learns about her friend, his fellow miners, and the outpost they call home brings her closer to revealing secrets that very powerful and very dangerous people would rather keep hidden in the depths of space.

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Book Review: The Conductors


Nicole Glover

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

published: 2nd March 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred: Introducing Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.

In this vibrant and original novel, Nicole Glover joins a roster of contemporary writers within fantasy, such as Victor LaValle and Zen Cho, who use speculative fiction to delve into important historical and cultural threads.

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Book Review: Down Comes the Night


Allison Saft

Rating: 5 out of 5.

published: 2nd March 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

A gorgeously gothic, deeply romantic YA debut fantasy about two enemies trapped inside a crumbling mansion, with no escape from the monsters within.

Honor your oath, destroy your country.

Wren Southerland is the most talented healer in the Queen’s Guard, but her reckless actions have repeatedly put her on thin ice with her superiors. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate to cure his servant from a mysterious disease, she seizes the chance to prove herself.

When she arrives at Colwick Hall, Wren realizes that nothing is what it seems. Particularly when she discovers her patient is actually Hal Cavendish, the sworn enemy of her kingdom.

As the snowy mountains make it impossible to leave the estate, Wren and Hal grow closer as they uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear. But choosing love could doom both their kingdoms.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched, gothic, romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

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