If you’re looking for a cozy thriller that has a team of young women with Charlie’s Angels vibes, tech that even James Bond would be jealous of, and with just a sprinkling of sweet romance, then “Spies Never Quit” may just be for you. In the first book of the series (each book following a different woman in the group) follows Mari, a brand-new college freshman, as she attempts to rescue her mother. Mari’s mother is a brilliant scientist working on nano-bot technology who has been kidnapped in order to force her to give up her specialized codes for evil gains. Mari would do anything to save her mother, and, lucky for her, retrieving her mother’s work just so happens to be the Banana Girls mission, too. Normally, I am all for a spy thriller with a predominately female cast of characters, but something always felt just a tad off to me throughout the story.
I’m going to start by saying that pretty much everything “big” about this series has been spoiled for me long ago because of how insanely popular this series is, and all the incredible art that gets done for it. That’s no one’s fault but my own because I have no chill about those kinds of things. But, despite nothing really being a mind-blowing surprise, and considering the beast this book is in terms of length, I still DEVOURED it. Really, that should tell you everything you need to know and it’s all I’m really letting myself focus on when it comes to “A Court of Mist and Fury”.
“Temple of Ice” follows Tama, a winter mage on the cusp of becoming an elite warrior alongside her two best friends. In Cura’s world, the land has been punished by their goddess to be forever encased in ice, with an evil goddess threatening to emerge and plunge their world into darkness; and no, the bad goddess is not the same as the one who put this land in a deep freeze. Tama learns to appreciate her friends’ differing talents with ice magic, and also finds love in the arms of a beautiful woman who loves Tama’s wild spirit. But Tama, her friends, and her land are suddenly thrust into violence when a betrayal from within threatens to unleash the dark goddess once and for all. The world concept is very cool (heh) and while I liked the sapphic representation in this book, the story as a whole felt like I was reading a companion novella to an already established world/story.
“Verena’s Whistle” is an urban fantasy adventure that is steeped heavily in Slavic folklore. We follow our main character, Verena, who finds out very quickly that her families dwindling magical talents are needed in order to close a portal that has allowed monsters from another place and time to enter our world. Verena’s family has always known that they are the last line of magical defense should this very thing happen, so there really isn’t much of a secret there. But Verena’s particular talent manifestation comes as a surprise, especially as their magical strength has been dwindling over the centuries. But while the synopsis claims there are secrets and Verena must decide if she’s capable of leading, you’d never know that by reading the book.
“Thrill Switch” is equal parts “Ready Player One” and “Silence of the Lambs” with a sprinkling of “Altered Carbon” for good measure. You have detective Ada Byron who has become an expert on Jazlin Switch, a notorious serial killer who managed to murder people in the real world by destroying their avatar in the virtual space known as the Holos. Ada has dedicated her life to studying Switch and becoming a cop all because Switch killed her father seven years ago. Now there’s a new killer out there copying Switch’s style, but are they really? Ada has to face her fears and stop more people from dying, but in order to do that she needs to team up with Holo “native” and FBI agent, Joon, and venture back into the Holos, a place she hasn’t been to since her father died. Worse yet, she may need Switch’s help in order to unravel the conspiracy this new killer is at the center of. Hawkin does an excellent job blending a virtual MMO style world with a real, vaguely dystopian Las Vegas in order to craft a violent and thrilling (heh) cat and mouse murder mystery. This was a fast-paced futuristic crime and mystery story, but was light on the procedural investigation aspect, so take that as you will.
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