Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire: This is a prequel to Every Heart a Doorway. It is the story of Jack and Jill and what happened to them when they wandered into another world filled with darkness and horror. Despite knowing what lies ahead for them in the next book, it was a twisty, excellent story. VGR
Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas: Better than the first, and good enough for me to put the third book on hold, despite some of the same preposterous personalities and plot points. Oh, and the big reveal at the end? Was completely obvious from the beginning.
Jane, Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore: This is a strange book and it’s hard to describe, but I absolutely loved it. I’m not sure why it’s not getting more love on Goodreads, other than the fact that it’s completely different from Cashore’s Graceling Realm books. Jane, a college dropout who makes umbrellas, is grieving the loss of the aunt who raised her when her former tutor invites her to her home Tu Reviens, a mansion on an island where there are a lot of mysteries happening. The book layers multiple concurrent realities branching out from one choice Jane makes (different in each storyline). VGR
Seeing Red, by Sandra Brown: Solid, fast-paced thriller that keeps the reader guessing with surprising reveals throughout. Kerra Bailey is a television reporter who has gotten the interview of a lifetime with Major Trapper, a hero who helped the survivors of an infamous hotel bombing twenty-five years earlier. When the interview ends with assailants entering the house, Trapper shot, and Kerra running for her life, Trapper’s estranged son is drawn into the ensuing investigation.
The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn: Excellent historical fiction that covers two stories. In 1947, college dropout Charlie St. Clare is pregnant and trying to track down her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in France during WWII. She enlists the help of Eve Gardiner, who worked as a spy in France during WWI. I preferred the WWI storyline, but both held my interest. VGR
Wedding Girl, by Stacey Ballis: Cute, fluffy chick lit about pastry chef Sophie, whose life and career explode in a big way when she is left at the altar of her expensive wedding of her dreams. The book is basically a riff on The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail. One great thing about this book: a plus-sized heroine whose size was not the focus of the novel and who unashamedly embraced her body and her love of food.
Things I Should Have Known, by Claire LaZebnik: Solid YA about pretty, popular Chloe who decides her older autistic sister Ivy needs a boyfriend. Her choice: Ethan, a boy in Ivy’s class whose brother David goes to Chloe’s high school and happens to be kind of a jerk. Definitely an interesting read and it didn’t always go where I expected it to.
Some Kind of Hero, by Suzanne Brockmann: Brockmann is back in form with her latest Troubleshooters novel, and I enjoyed this romantic thriller much more than her last few books. You don’t even have to have read any of the earlier books to enjoy this one; there are familiar characters, but the hero and heroine are new to the series. Pete is a BUD/S instructor raising a teenage daughter he’s never had a previous relationship with (slightly crazy mother, recently deceased). Single mom Shayla is his neighbor, a romance writer suffering writer’s block (I’m guessing Brockmann had similar issues that are now resolved, given the publishing gap over the last few years). The thriller part of the story comes in when Pete’s daughter gets mixed up with drug dealers due to her poor friend choices. VGR
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, by Kristin Sutherland: Quirky YA featuring Esther Solar, whose family has been cursed by Death to each develop one debilitating fear which they will eventually die from. Esther keeps a list of scary things to avoid at all costs lest they trigger a phobia. A chance encounter with an elementary school crush, Jonah, leads to them teaming up to conquer her fears.
The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman: A prequel to Practical Magic, which I now need to reread. Terrific story of three magical siblings and a family cursed in love. Franny, Vincent, and Jet each embark on different journeys as they try to escape the family curse. VGR
Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green: Meh. I don’t know, maybe I’m just tired of Green’s style. Parts of the story were done well, but I wasn’t in the mood for his super philosophical teenagers and their angst when I read this. The main character, Aza, has severe OCD, and Green portrays her anxiety and compulsions really well. There’s a weird subplot of a missing billionaire who happens to be the dad of Aza’s childhood friend, and the whole story doesn’t hang together very well, maybe because nothing really happens.
Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas: I really struggled to get through the first half of this book, but then it picked up for me and I’ve gone ahead and put the next book on hold. Celaena is coming to terms with her losses and learning to use her powers in this installment.
The Language of Thorns, by Leigh Bardugo: A delicious, dark collection of stories based on myths and fairy tales. VGR
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann: This was a tough read at times, both due to a rather dry narration and the horrific acts and circumstances detailed in the books, but I think it’s an important read. I had never heard of the 1920s Osage murders, in which wealthy Osage Indians were killed off one by one in an effort to get hold of their rich oil rights. The conspiracy was deep, sinister, and far-reaching, and a very dark part of our nation’s history. VGR