Horror, Psychological, Suspense, Women

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz


Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she must discover the truth—or suffer the same fate.

A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of female relationships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.

My Thoughts

I’ve read several reviews of this incandescent debut comparing it The Plot, The Secret History, and other novels. But I am here to tell you that this is like nothing you’ve ever read before.

This is psychological mayhem at its very best.

All I’m going to say is READ THIS!

Advance Praise

Sex, suspense, and the supernatural fuel this propulsive debut.” —People
“Darkly satirical and action-packed….An absolutely splendid debut!” —Wendy Walker, nationally bestselling author of Don’t Look for Me

“I loved this chilling, tightly plotted, feminist, seriously effed-up thriller…and not just because my brilliant sister wrote it! Can’t wait for everyone else to fall in love with this wicked debut.” —Andrea Bartz, NYT bestselling author of Reese’s Book Club pick WE WERE NEVER HERE

“A sexy, thrilling, compulsive mediation on art and competition amongst women who ought to be sisters, only something malignant gets in the way.” —Sarah Langan, award-winning author of GOOD NEIGHBORS

• “A wild ride from page one . . . This thrill-packed story brims with secrets, intrigue and murder. I dare you to put it down.” —Janice Hallett, internationally bestselling author of THE TWYFORD CODE

“THE WRITING RETREAT is bonkers in the best way, and it left me with a brutal case of author envy.” —Layne Fargo, author of THEY NEVER LEARN

“NIGHT FILM meets THE SECRET HISTORY in Julia Bartz’s bold, brilliant, and genuinely scary debut . . . Palpable atmosphere, sinister characters, full-body chills, jaw-dropping twists, and stay-up-all-night suspense. I am obsessed with this book. I never wanted it to end.” —Megan Collins, author of THE FAMILY PLOT

“Equal parts nightmare and erotic fantasy as five would-be writers are pulled deeper into the secrets of Blackbriar and its inhabitants.”—Jennifer Fawcett, author of BENEATH THE STAIRS


Pryce of Conceit by Kari Bovee

Book Description

Someone’s trying to frame this ambitious theater performer for murder. Can she get back to her adoring public and escape the noose? 

1885. Arabella Pryce is struggling with heartbreak. And with her recently deceased husband’s will demanding she leave her celebrity behind and refurbish her namesake hotel in Colorado, the distressed actress is forced to board a westbound train. But she’s barely arrived at the haunted, broken-down lodge when the town beauty shows up dead in one of the rooms… and Arabella is named the prime suspect.

Already feeling the sting of the community’s disapproval, she grits her teeth and works with a mischievous ghost to help prove her innocence. But with blood-stained evidence, handsome sheriffs, and libelous journalists turning her investigation into a dangerous drama, this determined thespian fears she’s missed her cue for survival. 

Can she shine the spotlight on a killer before more than her reputation dies a horrible death?

The Pryce of Conceit is the suspenseful first book in The Arabella Pryce Historical Cozy Mystery series. If you like driven heroines, atmospheric settings, and dashes of humor, then you’ll love Kari Bovée’s lighthearted twists and turns.

My Thoughts

This is a solid start to a new series described as an “historical/ghost/cozy mystery,” which seems to be a new favorite type among mystery readers. The “history” here is 1885, a time when independent women were rare and the West was still relatively unknown. The “ghost” is the deceased partner of the main character’s late husband, and the “cozy” is evident in the absence of the more grisly aspects of murder.

It took me awhile to connect with the main character, Arabella Pryce, since she is the kind of person who typically irritates me – supremely self-centered and entirely focused on her “adoring public.” However, she soon emerges as a strong, sassy, and very smart woman who cares deeply about those closest to her. She navigates a completely unfamiliar landscape in Colorado – although not without some humorous mishaps – and most certainly rises to the challenge set for her by her late husband.

Bovee is clearly a skilled writer, delivering wonderful narrative descriptions of Colorado. I was especially drawn to her description of Arabella’s first sight of the aspens and the Colorado skyline as she steps off the train. Her characters are nicely drawn, especially Arabella’s progression from the vain, petulant diva to a caring, capable woman. The mystery is clever and will keep the reader guessing to the end.

This is a series I will follow and recommend. I hope the author delivers #2 soon. Recommended.

Book Details

Book Title: The Pryce of Conceit – An Historical Ghost Cozy Mystery by Kari Bovee
Category: Adult Fiction (18 +), 270
Genre: Historical Ghost Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Bosque Publishing
Release date: May 23, 2023
Content Rating: G – Book has no bad language, sex, or violence on the page

Meet the Author

When she’s not on a horse, or walking along the beautiful cottonwood-laden acequias of Corrales, New Mexico; or basking on white sand beaches under the Big Island Hawaiian sun, Kari Bovée is escaping into the past—scheming murder and mayhem for her characters both real and imagined in her award-winning historical Annie Oakley Mystery series, Grace Michelle Mystery series, and Pryce Murder series. 

​In her past life, Bovée worked as a technical writer for a Fortune 500 Company, has written non-fiction for magazines and newsletters, and has worked in the education field as a teacher and educational consultant. 

Connect with the author: Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram
~ Pinterest

General, Grown Ups, Romance, Women

The Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs


This delightfully funny and steamy debut novel about music, fate, and lovefrom beloved songwriter and Bangles co-founder Susanna Hoffsis “a total knockout” and “the smart, ferocious rock-star redemption romance you didn’t know you needed” (New York Times Book Review).

“This isn’t just a book, it’s a love song, and it should come as no surprise that Susanna Hoffs has crafted the perfect one to put on your playlist.” ―Christina Lauren

Jane Start is thirty-three, broke, and recently single. Ten years prior, she had a hit song—written by world-famous superstar Jonesy—but Jane hasn’t had a breakout since. Now she’s living out of four garbage bags at her parents’ house, reduced to performing to Karaoke tracks in Las Vegas. Rock bottom.

But when her longtime manager Pippa sends Jane to London to regroup, she’s seated next to an intriguing stranger on the flight—the other Tom Hardy, an elegantly handsome Oxford professor of literature. Jane is instantly smitten by Tom, and soon, truly inspired. But it’s not Jane’s past alone that haunts her second chance at stardom, and at love. Is Tom all that he seems? And can Jane emerge from the shadow of Jonesy’s earlier hit, and into the light of her own?

In turns deeply sexy, riotously funny, and utterly joyful, This Bird Has Flown explores love, passion, and the ghosts of our past, and offers a glimpse inside the music business that could only come from beloved songwriter Susanna Hoffs.

My Thoughts

I was curious to see this writerly side of Susanna Hoffs because I always thought her pop persona hid a clever, intelligent woman. This novel is a great start for Hoffs showing she’s way more than a cute girl in a mini dress.

She’s writing what she knows here and peeling back the tacky, sometimes gross layers of the life of a pop star. There’s a definite whiff of autobiography which will certainly appeal to fans whether it’s accurate or not. However there is also some damn good writing – appealing characterizations, witty and raw dialog and a dynamite story.

This will be in every beach bag and carry-on this summer and if it’s not, it should be! I’m looking forward to more from Susanna Hoffs, Author!

“Clever and entertaining . . . with an insider’s feel for the mixed blessings of pop fame​.” —Los Angeles Times

“Part British romcom, part Jane Eyre, and one hundred percent enjoyable.” —Tom Perrotta

“In this sexy, page-turning treat, Susanna Hoffs writes as engagingly as she sings.” —Helen Fielding

Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Published By: Little, Brown & Company
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Action Adventure, Magical Realism, Mystery, Mythology, Suspense

The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni


Reality and the supernatural collide when an expert puzzle maker is thrust into an ancient mystery—one with explosive consequences for the fate of humanity—in this suspenseful thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Angelology

“In short: The Puzzle Master = (The Da Vinci Code + The Silent Patient + sprinkle of Stephen King) x gorgeous writing.”—Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek

All the world is a puzzle, and Mike Brink—a celebrated and ingenious puzzle constructor—understands its patterns like no one else. Once a promising Midwestern football star, Brink was transformed by a traumatic brain injury that caused a rare medical condition: acquired savant syndrome. The injury left him with a mental superpower—he can solve puzzles in ways ordinary people can’t. But it also left him deeply isolated, unable to fully connect with other people.

Everything changes after Brink meets Jess Price, a woman serving thirty years in prison for murder who hasn’t spoken a word since her arrest five years before. When Price draws a perplexing puzzle, her psychiatrist believes it will explain her crime and calls Brink to solve it. What begins as a desire to crack an alluring cipher quickly morphs into an obsession with Price herself. She soon reveals that there is something more urgent, and more dangerous, behind her silence, thrusting Brink into a hunt for the truth.

The quest takes Brink through a series of interlocking enigmas, but the heart of the mystery is the God Puzzle, a cryptic ancient prayer circle created by the thirteenth-century Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia. As Brink navigates a maze of clues, and his emotional entanglement with Price becomes more intense, he realizes that there are powerful forces at work that he cannot escape. 

Ranging from an upstate New York women’s prison to nineteenth-century Prague to the secret rooms of the Pierpont Morgan Library, The Puzzle Master is a tantalizing, addictive thriller in which humankind, technology, and the future of the universe itself are at stake.

My Thoughts

Looking for a clever mystery that moves fast and has a weird, weird plotline?

This is for you.

Trussoni is known for unusual interpretations of mythical beings (check out her Angelology series) and here she tackles one of the most terrifying, the golem. There’s one scene involving a living doll parting the curtains in a room that literally gave me nightmares, which speaks to Trussoni’s vivid descriptive abilities.

The last third of the story becomes supremely metaphysical and requires some close reading to keep track of the complicated mysticism mashed up with AI that drives the plot. I expect this could challenge some readers, but stick with it. This unique blend of ancient mysticism, mythology, and religion with modern day quantum computing is fascinating and could spark some lively discussions.


Advance Praise

“[Trussoni] is at the top of her game in involving the reader in the puzzle-solving process, making the most of historic settings, including the Pierpont Morgan Library, and making the book’s Da Vinci Code–like trappings pay off. The Kabbalah meets the New York Times crossword in a brainy thriller.”

–Kirkus Reviews

“The Puzzle Master is a riveting tapestry of a novel. A beautifully layered, fast-paced page turner that’s also dense with history and lore. You’ll want to clear your calendar for this one.”

—Janelle Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Things

“An absolute gem of suspense, with a wholly original and unforgettable protagonist, a superb cast of idiosyncratic supporting characters, a propulsive plot with diabolic twists, and pure reading pleasure on every page. I loved it.”

—Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of Two Nights in Lisbon

The Puzzle Master is an ingenious literary thriller that combines everything I want in a book: immersive, exhilarating, intellectually provocative, unputdownable—an absolutely blistering Russian nesting doll of fascinating stories that unveil and dismantle some of the most deeply engrained ideas about good, evil, and the origins of humankind. In short: The Puzzle Master = (The Da Vinci Code + The Silent Patient + sprinkle of Stephen King) x gorgeous writing.”

—Angie Kim, bestselling author of Miracle Creek

“Danielle Trussoni’s The Puzzle Master is so addictive and effervescent that you won’t be able to put it down. Trussoni displays tremendous range, moving effortlessly from intricate puzzles to a traumatic murder to ancient secrets. A tantalizing and delightful read that engages both heart and mind.”

—Jean Kwok, author of Searching for Sylvie Lee

The Puzzle Master is one of the most insanely compelling novels I’ve read in ages. This story has all the elements I love—dark histories, gothic settings, murder, vivid characters, and a twisty, unpredictable plot—all written in elegant and vigorous English. I am normally a jaded reader, but I could not put down this book. Highly, highly recommended.”

—Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling co-author of Bloodless and The Cabinet of Curiosities

“I loved Danielle Trussoni’s The Puzzle Master, an erudite, super compelling mystery that I couldn’t put down. It’s the story of savant-level puzzle-solver Mike Brink, who’s called to a women’s prison to decipher a drawing that may unlock the secrets of convicted killer Jess Price. Brink falls under Price’s uncanny spell as soon as he meets her, launching a story that’s a thrill ride through space and time, love and hate, and even good and evil. This novel is so original that I was happy to be taken wherever she led me!”

—Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of What Happened to the Bennetts

Publication Date: June 13, 2023
Published By: Random House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Reader Profiles

Reader Profile – Jennifer Byrnes

Jennifer is the Head of the Business Insight Center at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County (NY). An avid reader since leaving the womb, she grew up going to the Paddy Hill Public Library in Greece NY every other day. She strongly believes you are never too old to read Pigeon books.

What are you reading right now? 

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. It’s my book club pick for this month.

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island and why?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – And What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. They have so many layers you could read them a hundred times and always notice something new.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. If someone can find meaning while living in a concentration camp, then I can survive a desert island.

The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Phillip Kapleau. I may as well reach enlightenment if I have nothing to do.

The Poetry of Edward Lear. To remind me to be on the lookout for a sieve. They went to sea in a sieve they did, in a sieve they went to sea…

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

I love Anchee Min.

What book do you wish you’d never read? 

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck. Everyday, and everything, is practice.

Describe your favorite place to read.

On my deck in the summertime.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?


Share a favorite quote from a book you’ve read. Why is it meaningful to you?

“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” – The Cheshire Cat. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

What book challenged you the most when you read it?

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I knew if I just stuck with it, that it would eventually make sense, and it did!

Is there a book you feel is highly overrated?

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. One should be able to get their point across in less than 1,000 pages.

Are there any books that marked milestones in your life? 

Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? by Judy Blume. I read it on a weekly basis from the ages of 7 to 9

Are you a “finisher” or do stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?

I’m a tried a true quitter. Which is why my book club hates me.

Why do you read?

It’s one of the most effective ways to get out of your own head.

Who would you choose to narrate your favorite book?

Someone British. They make everything sound better.

Where do you get your reading recommendations?

Friends, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Do you have a favorite book that you received as a gift?

More Annotated Alice (an annotated edition of Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass) from my grandmother Sophie.

Do you judge a book by it’s cover?

I try not to, but, I’m human.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I loved to steal my mother’s Danielle Steele books.

What book made you laugh out loud? What book made you cry?

I cry if I read Goodnight Moon; it reminds me of curling up with my daughter when she was little.  Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. A rollicking good time.

If you are interested in doing a Reader Profile here, email me at puttaro (at) libraryweb.org.


The Door to Door Bookstore by Carsten Henn


The charming international bestseller about an unlikely friendship between an elderly door-to-door bookseller and a nine-year-old girl that changes his life.

Small-town German bookseller Carl Kollhoff delivers his books to special customers in the evening hours after closing time, walking through the picturesque alleys of the city. These people are almost like friends to him, and he is their most important connection to the world.

When Kollhoff unexpectedly loses his job, it takes the power of books and a nine-year-old girl to make them all find the courage to rebuild their bonds with each other.

A bestselling phenomenon internationally, Carsten Henn’s The Door-to-Door Bookstore is a feel-good novel about books and friendship.

My Thoughts

Charming is an appropriate word to describe this gem of a story. The story is somewhat familiar – older person who is essentially alone makes a much younger friend who transforms their life, picking up more new friends along the way, ultimately transforming everyone’s life. This carries a powerful statement on the power of books to affect and connect people. If you enjoy feel-good, inter-generational stories, this one is for you.

Fans of Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove will enjoy this.

Publication Date: July 4, 2023
Published By: Harlequin Trade, Hanover Square Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Makes You Think, Teens, Women

The Gospel of Orla by Eoghan Walls



“A consistently surprising, evocative, almost impossible to put down, and gloriously original work.” —Booklist

A stunning debut novel from the Northern Irish poet Eoghan Walls, The Gospel of Orla is the coming-of-age story of a young girl, Orla, and the man she meets who has an astonishing and unique ability.

It is also a road novel that takes us across the north of England after the two flee Orla’s village together. Here the mysteries of faith charge full bore into the vagaries of contemporary mores. A humorous, wise, deeply human and sometimes breathtaking work of lyrical fiction. 

“A melancholic, funny, and magical coming-of-age story, The Gospel of Orla is glorious, wise, and totally weird. I loved it.” —Annie Hartnett, author of Unlikely Animals

“Utterly convincing and fresh and original.” —Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician

“In his debut novel, poet Eoghan Walls imagines the intersection of the material and the mystic. . . . As the troubled teenager ricochets between circus illusion and divine touch, she and the reader are beckoned to ponder where magic ends and miracles begin.” —Kia Corthron, author of Moon and the Mars

Advance Praise

“A melancholic, funny, and magical coming-of-age story, The Gospel of Orla is glorious, wise, and totally weird. I loved it.” —Annie Hartnett, author of Unlikely Animals

The Gospel of Orla is written with immense control and precision so that the voice of the protagonist emerges as alive, individual and memorable. Eoghan Walls manages to make every single emotion Orla feels—every thought, response and action—utterly convincing and fresh and original.”—Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician

“In his debut novel, poet Eoghan Walls imagines the intersection of the material and the mystic when a grieving adolescent stumbles upon a struggling savior. Walls provides an authentic and page-turning narrative from the perspective of his restless and ever-beguiling protagonist. As the troubled teenager ricochets between circus illusion and divine touch, she and the reader are beckoned to ponder where magic ends and miracles begin.” —Kia Corthron, author of Moon and the Mars

The Gospel of Orla is an astonishing feat of characterization and storytelling. The prose is both earthy and sparkling and the story—equal parts bravado and vulnerability—is told with both wit and tenderness. Everyone should read this.” —Jenn Ashworth, author of Ghosted

My Thoughts

I will be thinking about this short book for a very long time.

The anger, confusion, pain, and loneliness Orla experiences following the death of her mother peeled back years of forgetting for me. I was Orla in 1984 when my mother died and so I immediately connected with this character. Grief is a lonely and solitary thing. Each person affected experiences it differently, and Walls does a masterful job of depicting the monumental changes to Orla’s life and that of her father.

That feeling that everything will be okay if Orla can just get to Ireland – that’s part of the grieving process. This is a raw look at how grief tears people up and makes them do things they never would have done before the grief took hold. If you know, you know.

Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Published By: Seven Stories Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Action Adventure, Historical, Mystery, Suspense

The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry


From celebrated New York Times bestselling author, Steve Berry, comes the latest Cotton Malone adventure, in which the discovery of a lost historical document challenges the global might of the United States.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was an enigmatic figure who was deposed in 1886, mysteriously drowning three days later.  Eccentric to the point of madness, history tells us that in the years before he died Ludwig engaged in a worldwide search for a new kingdom, one separate, apart, and in lieu of Bavaria.  A place he could retreat into and rule as he wished.  But a question remains:  did he succeed? 

Enter Cotton Malone.  After many months, Malone’s protégé, Luke Daniels, has managed to infiltrate a renegade group intent on winning Bavarian independence from Germany.  Daniels has also managed to gain the trust of the prince of Bavaria, a frustrated second son intent on eliminating his brother, the duke, and restoring the Wittelsbach monarchy, only now with him as king.  Everything hinges on a 19th century deed which proves that Ludwig’s long-rumored search bore fruit–legal title to lands that Germany, China, and the United States all now want, only for vastly different reasons.  

In a race across Bavaria for clues hidden in Ludwig’s three fairytale castles–Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee–Malone and Daniels battle an ever-growing list of deadly adversaries, all intent on finding the last kingdom.

My Thoughts

Fans of Berry’s Cotton Malone series will find the familiar fast-paced action revolving around an historic mystery at the center of present-day plotting by assorted villains. I am never sure if the historic secrets used in Berry’s novels are fact or fiction, so I always find myself doing some research while reading his books. No different with this one.

It seemed to me throughout this typical Steve Berry adventure that he was setting the stage to retire Cotton Malone and elevate “The Frat Boy” Luke to primary badass and new “Captain America” status. However, by the end, I was not so sure!

No matter what Berry chooses to do with these characters, I am confident he will keep turning out some of the best adventure fiction out there. Fans will welcome the fast-paced, action-packed story, told in relatively short sections and chapters which makes this a fantastic weekend read.


Publication Date: February 21, 2023
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Food & Drink, Mystery, Psychological, Suspense, Women

The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell


Every summer for the past ten years, six awe-struck bakers have descended on the grounds of Grafton, the leafy and imposing Vermont estate that is not only the filming site for “Bake Week” but also the childhood home of the show’s famous host, celebrated baker Betsy Martin.

The author of numerous bestselling cookbooks and hailed as “America’s Grandmother,” Betsy Martin isn’t as warm off-screen as on, though no one needs to know that but her. She has always demanded perfection, and gotten it with a smile, but this year something is off. As the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage—sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high—but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.

A sharp and suspenseful thriller for mystery buffs and avid bakers alike, The Golden Spoon is a brilliant puzzle filled with shocking twists and turns that will keep you reading late into the night until you turn the very last page of this incredible debut.

My Thoughts

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this debut and I wasn’t disappointed. The plot is well-constructed and slick in it’s blending of the baking competition show and a semi-locked-room mystery. The format, featuring short sections channeling the thoughts of the characters, might put off readers who like their mysteries complex, but I found it a pleasant change from lengthy prose. The multiple perspectives of the characters added confusion and tension to the plot, leading to the bombshell ending.

I spent some time last year bingeing a rather silly series called The Great Witches Bake Off, so I am guessing that setting murders on set of these kinds of shows might be a new trend. I’d welcome it because The Golden Spoon was a lot of fun!

Highly recommended.

“This delicious combination of Clue and The Great British Bake Off kept me turning the pages all night!” —Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Only Murders in the Building meets The Maid in this darkly beguiling locked-room mystery where someone turns up dead on the set of TV’s hottest baking competition—perfect for fans of Nita Prose, Richard Osman, and Anthony Horowitz.

Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Published By: Atria Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Children's, Fantasy, Magical

Nic Blake & the Remarkables by Angie Thomas


Internationally bestselling superstar author Angie Thomas makes her middle grade debut with the launch of an inventive, hilarious, and suspenseful new contemporary fantasy trilogy inspired by African American history and folklore.

It’s not easy being a Remarkable in the Unremarkable world. Some things are cool—like getting a pet hellhound for your twelfth birthday. Others, not so much—like not being trusted to learn magic because you might use it to take revenge on an annoying neighbor.

All Nic Blake wants is to be a powerful Manifestor like her dad. But before she has a chance to convince him to teach her the gift, a series of shocking revelations and terrifying events launch Nic and two friends on a hunt for a powerful magic tool she’s never heard of…to save her father from imprisonment for a crime she refuses to believe he committed.

My Thoughts

Angie Thomas is well on her way to becoming the best writer of her generation. Not many authors can swap genres, but here Thomas more than succeeds in moving from realistic contemporary fiction to building a brand new world full of magic and unimaginable power.

Nic Blake and her family are some of most engaging characters I’ve read in a while. Their remarkable abilities, drawn out of African folklore, family, and friendship are fascinating and fearful. Nic is the star here. A powerful but still vulnerable female lead in a new middle grade action-fantasy series is GOLD! She’s sassy, smart, and resilient and above all a loyal friend. Every main character is well-developed and the secondary characters show great promise.

This joins The Marvellers and BB Alston’s Amari books for kids and, for older readers, the Akata series and the Murder & Magic series by Nicole Glover in the new and exciting trend of books featuring African magic and power. This one will be the book of the summer.

Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Published By: Harper Collins Children’s Books; Balzer & Bray
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy