I have never read a YA fantasy novelette quite like “Spellraiser” and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s a familiar storyline: a rich prep school where those of lesser means are constantly bullied and looked down upon, except that there is a magical mystery underfoot. In the world of “Spellraiser” magic is an accepted thing, so there’s no real need for the characters to explain what’s happening to one another, which helps given the novelette’s unique styling—100 chapters of only one hundred words. In this world, spells are basically spirits that give the wielder—or the person being possessed—a wish-like attribute, be it beauty, strength, invincibility, or even the ability to read minds. The catch is, you have to release the spell every day or risk being completely consumed, and you can’t have more than 5 in you at a time or you will literally burn up. That’s not our main characters problem though. Her problem is that students keep dying mysteriously and she, as an outcast, keeps getting blamed for their deaths.
If you have spent any time looking at my reading history and book reviews, you know that I’m a big YA reader, and I also have a huge interest in reading thrillers and true crime (yeah it’s odd but whatever). So, of course, “Stalking Jack the Ripper” sounds like it should tick every single one of my boxes. Just ignore the fact that I was so late to start reading this. We have Audrey Rose, a young woman of wealth and society that leads a double life assisting her uncle in his morgue. She assists in autopsying the recent corpses that come to his lab, until a slew of horrific murders begins in the Whitechapel area, and the first victim of Jack the Ripper makes it to her uncle’s laboratory, with a startling connection to Audrey Rose’s family. It’s a race to discover who Jack is and put an end to these awful murders; and how could Audrey not win that race when the brilliant, Sherlock Holmes-like love interest is there to help? So, tell me then: why did I not like this book?
Just kidding, I’ll tell you.
“Where Acorns Landed” is literary fantasy with an absurdist fiction flare. Meshing Celtic Mythology with Arthurian Legend, and sprinkled with supernatural elements, the reader follows Lowell and Brighid as they navigate loss, and new beginnings, all while clinging almost too tightly to a sense of normalcy. Under the guise of making a documentary, Lowell and Brighid are thrust together just in time to see their corner of the world succumb to a plethora of supernatural sightings. Neither Lowell nor Brighid know who is orchestrating their mystery project, one that seems impossibly linked to their lives, which gives this novel a dark, and sinister vibe to it that I rather enjoyed. Readers will be kept guessing and in the dark about what is happening and why all the way to the end—just like the main characters.
Picture this: a massive asteroid is careening toward Earth and only one person has the technical know-how in order to save the planet. Then, fast-forward sixty some odd years, to where the world has been saved! Mission accomplished! But now the scientist that saved the world feels threatened, so, naturally, she reaches out to the person who ran her security while she was saving the world. Only problem is, she’s dead when he arrives. Thankfully, in the years following saving the world, our MC (who is unnamed the entire story…) became a detective, so he should be able to handle this, right? Well, sort of. For a book featuring a trained detective, he acts more like a private investigator. A really grumpy, gloomy, cynical middle-aged PI who often wallows in self-pity, but, you know, still a PI. This book sounded so interesting! But I don’t think it delivered on what the synopsis promised, which was a letdown.
“Naked in Death” is my first J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts book, but I’ve been really digging futuristic crime and mystery books that feature actual cops and detectives, rather than amateur sleuths, that I just had to read this! Eve Dallas is a gritty detective who does not stop until she gets justice for her victims. In this case, professional sex workers who are brutally murdered by a client, their last moments recorded and sent to the police. It’s an old-fashioned crime on the backdrop of a futuristic world with flying cars, and where real coffee is a luxury. But for all the developments that this city has, the biggest issue they face is that their advances allow for all DNA to be purged easily. So a violent crime that could have been solved quickly, turns into a mystery and a race to solve before more women end up dead. But the crime itself tends to become secondary to the romance that quickly—and I mean QUICKLY—unfolds between Eve and a potential suspect… Which, and this is probably the first time I’ll say this, would have made this book better if the lead was an amateur sleuth instead of a detective.
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