The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean


Description

Truth is found between the stories we’re fed and the stories we hunger for.

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

My Thoughts

So many great debuts this year, but this one STANDS OUT!

Anyone who loves to read will be captivated by this wholly original story centered on the concept of books as actual food, overlaid with what turns out to be a pretty harrowing and fairly dark tale.

This is one the librarians will struggle to genrify – is it fantasy? Horror? Dystopian? Women’s Lit? This spectacular, original story is all that and more. Dean’s writing is some of the best I’ve read this year – tight and descriptive then flowing and expansive – all coming together in a whopper of a story.

Highly recommended.

“A darkly sweet pastry of a book about family, betrayal, and the lengths we go to for the ones we love. A delicious modern fairy tale.”— Christopher Buehlman, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author

Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Published By: Macmillan Tor/Forge
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Back to the Garden by Laurie King


Description

A fifty-year-old cold case involving California royalty comes back to life—with potentially fatal consequences—in this gripping standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.

A magnificent house, vast formal gardens, a golden family that shaped California, and a colorful past filled with now-famous artists: the Gardener Estate was a twentieth-century Eden. And now, just as the Estate is preparing to move into a new future, restoration work on some of its art digs up a grim relic of the home’s past: a human skull, hidden away for decades.

Inspector Raquel Laing has her work cut out for her. Fifty years ago, the Estate’s young heir, Rob Gardener, turned his palatial home into a counterculture commune of peace, love, and equality. But that was also a time when serial killers preyed on innocents—monsters like The Highwayman, whose case has just surged back into the public eye.

Could the skull belong to one of his victims?

To Raquel—a woman who knows all about colorful pasts—the bones clearly seem linked to The Highwayman. But as she dives into the Estate’s archives to look for signs of his presence, what she unearths begins to take on a dark reality all of its own. Everything she finds keeps bringing her back to Rob Gardener himself. While he might be a gray-haired recluse now, back then he was a troubled young Vietnam vet whose girlfriend vanished after a midsummer festival at the Estate. But a lot of people seem to have disappeared from the Gardener Estate that summer when the commune mysteriously fell apart: a young woman, her child, and Rob’s brother, Fort.

The pressure is on, and Raquel needs to solve this case—before The Highwayman slips away, or another Gardener vanishes.

My Thoughts

Often, writers get pigeonholed into a single series. Truly gifted authors are able to transcend a single series and create new stories that are completely different. Laurie R. King has been doing this for years with the Russell & Holmes, Stuyvesant & Grey, Kate Martinelli, and her standalone novels. This new offering, featuring neuro-divergent San Francisco police detective Raquel Laing is one I hope will turn into a series, because Laing deserves more stories!!!

King tells a story here that has roots in the robber baron era of the American West that spread into a 1970s commune, and all the way to a present day California mansion. The robber baron era plays a very small part here, essentially setting background for the 70s commune and present day mystery involving bones discovered beneath a massive statue on the grounds of the Gardener Mansion.

King blends the Gardener mystery with a serial killer who operated during the same time as the commune and is only now being investigated for his crimes while he approaches death. There’s a lot going on here – plenty of story threads that somehow all converge to a very satisfying ending. King evokes the naive, counterculture, freelove of the commune perfectly and brings those characters into the present time with sensitivity and care. But, it’s the character development of Detective Laing that shines here. She’s one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in a long time and I hope we see more of her in the future.

King is a consummate storyteller, and that skills shines through here.

Highly recommended for fans of mystery & suspense.

Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Published By: Random House Publishing Group; Ballantine, Bantam
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Gravebooks by J.A. White


Description

Return to the world of Nightbooks . . . if you dare. Dead stories—and dead witches—are back to haunt Alex and Yasmin. To find a happy ending, Alex will have to write it, in this sequel to Nightbooks from acclaimed author J. A. White.

Alex thought he was done with witches. But when Natacha, the witch who held him captive for scary stories, appears again one night, Alex realizes he’s trapped in a nightmare—literally. She’s found a way to enter his dreams with a new, terrifying familiar named Simeon. And they once again want Alex to write. Transported to a story graveyard with best friend Yasmin, Alex will have to complete an original scary story each night.

But what does Natacha plan to do with his finished stories? And what makes a story good enough? While Natacha might have control of the beginnings, only Alex has the power to write the ending.

Readers can delight in a spooky story while also exploring the craft of writing alongside Alex. As he writes his own scary tales, he learns about plot twists, active characters, identifying originality, and accepting feedback, as well as dealing with writer’s block—making this an ideal book to read for fun or use in classrooms.

My Thoughts

J.A. White’s sophomore effort finds aspiring writer Alex back in a nightmare world where his life once again depends on his ability to tell a tale. This 21st century version of Scheherazade has a decidedly macabre twist as Alex struggles with writers block and lack of confidence while trying to figure out how to best the bad folks.

An old enemy appears and plunges Alex and friend Yasmin right back to where they were at the end of Book 1. But, is everything as it seems? Of course not! There are plenty of twists and scary situations here to satisfy the budding horror fan.

Recommended for confident middle grade readers.

Publication Date: August 16, 2022
Published By: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne


Description

“YA horror has found a new standard-bearer.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Dark, gripping, and gorgeous, Wake the Bones will lead you into the woods and keep you up late. As lush and sweltering as a Kentucky summer… Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a force.” – Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author


The sleepy little farm that Laurel Early grew up on has awakened. The woods are shifting, the soil is dead under her hands, and her bone pile just stood up and walked away.

After dropping out of college, all she wanted was to resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and try not to think about the boy she can’t help but love. Instead, a devil from her past has returned to court her, as he did her late mother years earlier. Now, Laurel must unravel her mother’s terrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everyone she loves is doomed.

Elizabeth Kilcoyne’s Wake the Bones is a dark, atmospheric debut about the complicated feelings that arise when the place you call home becomes hostile.

“Seething with shadows, summer, and uniquely southern magic, Wake the Bones is a powerful debut that captures the ache of home being a place you simultaneously love and loathe.” – Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf

My Thoughts

Holy Hell! I felt like I was reading Stephen King for the first time as I raced through this amazing story. Elizabeth Kilcoyne spins a story so full of terror that your nails will be bitten to the quick before you’re done.

Everything is here – the small group of ordinary humans battling great evil, an outcast with the sight, a small-minded small town, and the greatest evil of all – the Devil himself.

Everything written about this incredible debut is true. This would make an amazing movie. The special effects alone would be incredible.

Highly recommended for horror fans.

Publication Date: July 12, 2022
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Bird Cage by Eve Chase


Description

In the spirit of Lisa Jewell and Kate Morton, an emotional mystery set in the rugged remote landscape of north Cornwall full of dark secrets and twists, about three unusual sisters forced to confront the past.

Some secrets need to be set free…

When half-sisters Kat, Flora, and Lauren are unexpectedly summoned to Rock Point, their wild and remote Cornish summer home, it’s not a welcome invitation. They haven’t been back since that fateful summer twenty years ago—a summer they’re desperate to forget.

But when they arrive, it’s clear they’re not alone. Someone is lurking in the shadows, watching their every move. Someone who remembers exactly what they did…

Will the sisters be able to protect the dark past of Rock Point? Or are some secrets too powerful to remain under lock and key?

My Thoughts

Eve Chase has become one of my go-to authors for recommending something new to friends and library patrons who have tired of Gillian Flynn and Lisa Jewell but still want a twisted, ingeniously plotted domestic suspense novel. Chase totally delivers all that and more in The Birdcage.

As in previous Chase novels, we have a set of sisters who struggle with a deep dark secret from the past and with boatloads of unresolved emotions with the older adults in their now-adult lives. Chase takes the action back and forth between past and present, a technique that she has come close to perfecting in her novels.

Here, we have three very different sisters who have harbored serious emotions about one another, their parents, and the house at Rock Point for literally decades until they are ready to explode. Chase sets that scene with razor-sharp, prickly prose that gets under your skin until you’re ready to pop. Then, she brings you down gently with a full-circle ending.

My only issue with The Birdcage is the sheer number of characters. By the time I got to the end, I felt like I should have kept a notebook of all of them just to keep everything straight. Even so, this is every bit as suspenseful and well-written as Chase’s earlier novels and will be slurped up by fans of domestic suspense.

Recommended.

Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Published By: Penguin Group Putnam
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Omega Factor by Steve Berry


Description

The Ghent Altarpiece is the most violated work of art in the world. It has been vandalized, dismantled, or stolen thirteen times! Why? What secrets does it hold?

Enter UNESCO investigator, Nicholas Lee, who works for the United Nations’ Cultural Liaison and Investigative Office (CLIO). Nick’s job is to protect the world’s cultural artifacts—anything and everything from countless lesser-known objects to national treasures.

When Nick travels to Belgium for a visit with a woman from his past, he unwittingly stumbles on the trail of a legendary panel from the Ghent Altarpiece, stolen in 1934 under cover of night and never seen since. Soon Nick is plunged into a bitter conflict, one that has been simmering for nearly two thousand years. On one side is the Maidens of Saint-Michael, les Vautours—the Vultures—a secret order of nuns and the guardians of a great truth. Pitted against them is the Vatican, which has wanted for centuries to both find and possess what the nuns guard. Because of Nick the maidens have finally been exposed, their secret placed in dire jeopardy—a vulnerability that the Vatican swiftly moves to exploit utilizing an ambitious cardinal and a corrupt archbishop, both with agendas of their own.  

From the tranquil canals of Ghent, to the towering bastions of Carcassonne, and finally into an ancient abbey high in the French Pyrenees, Nick Lee must confront a modern-day religious crusade intent on eliminating a shocking truth from humanity’s past. Success or failure—life and death—all turn on the Omega Factor.

My Thoughts

It’s been awhile since I read a Steve Berry adventure. I’d gotten a little tired of the Cotton Malone series, so was intrigued by this new story featuring Nick Lee. I was not disappointed. This is a gripping, action-packed adventure which mines more of one of Berry’s favorite topics – Vatican secrets.

Ninja nuns, the Cult of Mary, and an inventive plot that blends art history with religious intrigue, all rolled up into a fine story that will keep you turning pages. I hope Berry will continue to spin tales about Nick Lee’s adventures.

Recommended.

Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves


Description

From Ann CleevesNew York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV showscomes the stunning tenth Vera Stanhope novel, The Rising Tide, a powerful novel about guilt, betrayal, and the longheld secrets people keep.

For fifty years a group of friends have been meeting regularly for reunions on Holy Island, celebrating the school trip where they met, and the friend that they lost to the rising causeway tide five years later. Now, when one of them is found hanged, Vera is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . .

But with the tide rising, secrets long-hidden are finding their way to the surface, and Vera and the team may find themselves in more danger than they could have believed possible . . .

My Thoughts

Ann Cleeves just keeps getting better. This newest in the Vera Stanhope series is one of the best mysteries I’ve read this year. Vera is as prickly as ever, although Cleeves throws in several instances of introspection for Vera and her team.

The story takes place on Holy Island, a location in England that has fascinated me since reading LJ Ross’ Holy Island book. Here, in Cleeves’ hands, the island becomes at turns breathtakingly beautiful then creepy and sinister. The characters reminded me of an Agatha Christie cast – they are all likable and detestable at the same time.

But it is the ending that will take your breath away. My knuckles were white, nails dug into my palms as I read, then just when I thought ti was all over…BAM. A totally unexpected ending. It’s what puts Cleeves in a league of her own among crime writers.

Highly recommended.

Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Published By: St. Martin’s Press; Minotaur Books
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries


Description

Agatha Christie’s legendary sleuth, Jane Marple, returns to solve twelve baffling cases in this brand-new collection, penned by a host of acclaimed authors skilled in the fine art of mystery and murder

One doesn’t stop at one murder…

Jane Marple is an elderly lady from St Mary Mead who possesses an uncanny knack for solving even the most perplexing puzzles. Now, for the first time in 45 years, Agatha Christie’s beloved character returns to the page for a globe-trotting tour of crime and detection.

Join Marple as she travels through her sleepy English village and around the world. In St Mary Mead, a Christmas dinner is interrupted by unexpected guests; the Broadway stage in New York City is set for a dangerous improvisation; bad omens surround an untimely death aboard a cruise ship to Hong Kong; and a bestselling writer on holiday in Italy is caught in a nefarious plot. These and other crimes committed in the name of love, jealousy, blackmail, and revenge are ones that only the indomitable Jane Marple can solve.

Bringing a fresh twist to the hallmarks of a classic Agatha Christie mystery, these twelve esteemed writers have captured the sharp wit, unique voice, and droll ingenuity of the deceptively demure detective. A triumphant celebration of Christie’s legacy and essential reading for crime lovers, Marple is a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains one of the most famous detectives of all time.

My Thoughts

Agatha Christie has long been acknowledged as the Mother of Mystery Fiction, and I discovered her early in my reading life. I was delighted when I learned, through the incomparable Elly Griffiths, that a new collection of stories featuring Christie’s Miss Marple and written by contemporary authors was due to be published this year. I was even more delighted to find it available through Netgalley.

These stories equal or, dare I say it, even surpass the original Marple stories in cleverness and boldness while still staying true to the little old lady with the steel-trap mind created by Christie so long ago. It is clear the authors have a fondness for Aunt Jane and a familiarity with her stories. Fans will find comforting nods to the original cast of characters, with nephew Raymond West making several appearances, fast friend Dolly Bantry, and, of course, Sir Henry Clithering. Jane travels in these stories – to China, London, Italy, and even New York City – but she is never far from St. Mary Mead in her mind.

The writing is exquisite in every single story. Typically in short story collections there are the shining stars, the just-okay, and the duds. Here, every story shines with beautiful language, clever plotting, and careful homage paid to Dame Christie’s original work. It would be hard to pick a favorite story, but Leah Bardugo – HOLY SMOKES – loved the twist in her story.

This is just a lovely, lovely reading experience, like getting a long hug from an old friend. This is one I’ll buy in hardcover and add to my bookshelves.

Publication Date: September 13, 2022
Published By: William Morrow
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

The Clackity by Lora Senf


Description

Reminiscent of Doll Bones, this deliciously eerie middle grade novel tells the story of a girl who must enter a world of ghosts, witches, and monsters to play a game with deadly consequences and rescue her aunt.

Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor—the seventh-most haunted town in America—with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert. Des doesn’t have many rules except one: Stay out of the abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town. But when her aunt disappears into the building, Evie goes searching for her.

There she meets The Clackity, a creature who lives in the shadows and seams of the slaughterhouse. The Clackity makes a deal with Evie to help get Des back in exchange for the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope, a serial killer who stalked Blight Harbor a hundred years earlier. Evie must embark on a journey into a strange otherworld filled with hungry witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory-thief, all while being pursued by a dead man whose only goal is to add Evie to his collection of lost souls.

My Thoughts

A new nightmare has arrived and it’s name is Clackity. This wholly original story blends elements of horror with a solid dose of folktales. The main element of a folk/fairy tale is here – a hero takes on a seemingly impossible quest to save a loved one and must prevail over a multitude of horrifying challenges. Readers of folktales will recognize some familiar motifs – 3’s and 7’s abound, the hero is gifted with an animal familiar, and salt saves the day. All of that folded into a beautifully scary story.

Senf’s writing is vivid and evocative, with the reader feeling every tendril of fog or greasy bit of iron. The bad folk here are B.A.D. and the good folk are flawed but awesome. With nods to Coraline and even The Frighteners, this one is a solid read for upper middle grades, teens, and adults who enjoy Neil Gaiman and early Stephen King.

Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Published By: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White


Description

A brand-new middle-grade mystery series that’s spooky, creepy, and filled with gothic twists! Meet the Sinister-Winterbottom twins, who solve mysteries at increasingly bizarre summer vacation destinations in the hopes of being reunited with their parents—or at the very least finally finding a good churro.
Brave Theo, her timid twin Alexander, and their older sister, Wil are the Sinister-Winterbottoms. They’re stuck for the summer with their Aunt Saffronia, who doesn’t know how often children need to eat and can’t use a smartphone, and whose feet never quite seem to touch the floor when she glides—er—walks. When Aunt Saffronia suggests a week pass to the Fathoms of Fun Waterpark, they hastily agree. But the park is even stranger than Aunt Saffronia. The waterslides look like gray gargoyle tongues. The employees wear creepy black dresses and deliver ominous messages. An impossible figure is at the top of the slide tower, people are disappearing, and suspicious goo is seeping into the wave pool. Something mysterious is happening at Fathoms of Fun, and it’s up to the twins to get to the bottom of it. The mystery, that is. NOT the wave pool. Definitely NOT the wave pool. But are Theo and Alexander out of their depth?

My Thoughts

Kids who enjoy a little snark with their scary stories will appreciate this ridiculous romp through the most imaginative water park ever created. Everything about this book works – the well-matched and very capable group of 3 siblings, the kooky and mysterious aunt, the even more mysterious week at the water park and the deliciously odd but appealing mystery to be solved.

I was reminded a little of Lemony Snicket but the tone, plot, and characterizations are unique enough to keep you reading.

Recommended.

Praise from the Field

“Like a big waterslide that you scream all the way down, only to laugh in relief and get right back on, this book is gothically hilarious and an absolute delight. If I have to die in a waterpark, I want to die in this one.”—Holly Black, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Folk of the Air series

“Packed with wordplay and mock-gothic mystery, this first title in the Sinister Summer series is perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket, Edward Gorey and Roald Dahl.”—Shelf Awareness

Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Published By: Random House Children’s: Delacorte Press
Thanks t NetGalley for the review copy