RaveShelf AwarenessThe story is initially bewildering to readers, almost opaque in its structure and mystery. Chokshi wants readers as mystified as the Bridegroom and as entranced as Azure while she embraces the full range of darkness common in gothic fiction ... Beautiful prose, complicated characters and terrible discoveries will captivate readers until the chilling end.
PositiveShelf AwarenessReally Good, Actually isn\'t all misery or jokes, though. Hidden among the body dysmorphia and self-improvement montages Heisey drops the kind of lines that require a pause.
Lev AC Rosen
RaveShelf AwarenessInsightful ... Andy gets to know every character, with all their petty squabbles and the festering resentments. Underpinning the murder mystery is commentary on queerness, freedom and what it means to be family, which flavors every interaction ... Readers who love queer history, complicated family dynamics, flawed characters and a good murder mystery will be eager for more.
Lev AC Rosen
RaveBookreporter... a queer locked-room mystery that is as enticing as it is historically resonant ... a crisply and cleverly constructed novel: the noir-like mystery at its heart is strong, but it is made stronger --- rather than weighed down --- by the stylish, punchy and historically accurate choices of its author. As Rosen notes in his back matter, history books and our own modern biases often encourage us to believe that queer people were invented with Stonewall and that everyone was straight or yearning before then. They have existed --- and loved, supported and, yes, married each other --- in even the most perilous times ... But Rosen doesn’t dwell on the darkest parts of queer history (though he doesn’t shy away from them, either), choosing instead to show readers what freedom really means to those for whom even existence is a crime. The striking dissonance between the freedoms of his characters and the dark, old-money murder at the heart of the novel makes every chapter immersive, spellbinding and utterly riveting ... An old-world mystery written for a new-world audience, Lavender House is everything readers love about noir mysteries elevated by everything missing from them: marginalized characters, modernized tropes and clear-eyed reckonings with painful histories. Rosen is an absolute gem of an author, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.
PositiveShelf AwarenessHelp! I\'m Alive, Gurjinder Basran\'s insightful, compelling third novel, captures the guilt, confusion and longing for connection that follow the death of a suburban teen...Four people narrate the story, each of whom was close to Jay, a boy who livestreamed footage of his death...Rather than exploiting suicide for character development, Basran opts to probe fractures in the oldest, closest relationships and the beautiful fragility of new ones...Help! I\'m Alive is a masterful examination of what it means to be human, to hope and to connect.
RaveShelf AwarenessHall brings his trademark wit and depth of emotion to Regency-era England ... Fortunately, Hall doesn\'t drag out that discovery, but the depth of hurt on both sides is astounding. Hall has a gift for humor but is also skilled at composing passages that evoke the deepest emotions, whether the ache of long-denied love, crushing grief or the relief and soulful joy of being accepted and adored as one\'s most authentic self.
PositiveShelf AwarenessA dark gothic novel ... The pages of The Hacienda are drenched in these secrets, but also in the real-life horrors of colonialism, patriarchy and the complicated and harmful casta system that reverberates through the generations ... Cañas\'s writing is immersive, and she skillfully builds a robust sense of tension and terror that encompasses the evil that dwells in the house and the human actions from which it grows. The Hacienda is a blend of horror and mystery with a gothic heart, complete with a heroine on the brink of madness, running into the night in fear. This chilling read exposes the rotting soul of colonialism and manages to be wildly entertaining while doing so.
RaveShelf AwarenessAnita Kelly\'s skillful character work, gentle humor and insightful relationship development are center stage ... Kelly deftly balances the romance and individual character arcs and gives readers enough time with the cooking show to up the tension without allowing it to overshadow the romance ... Love & Other Disasters is by turns funny, sweet and hot, but Anita Kelly\'s emotional river runs deep—this romance will stay with readers long after they\'ve turned the last page.
PositiveShelf Awareness... a romantic, fascinating historical fantasy ... Marske\'s writing strikes the right balance, with lovely descriptions of the world she\'s built and the relationships between her large but not unwieldy cast of characters ... A murderous hedge maze, a game of booby-trapped boating, searing intimacy and a doozy of a final act make for a read that\'s in turn funny, romantic and anxiety-inducing. Perfect for readers of Emily Tesh and C.L. Polk, Marske is a writer to watch.
RaveShelf AwarenessAs with so many gothic novels, the house in The Death of Jane Lawrence is a forbidding setting, possibly full of malevolent spirits, possibly just dark corners and spiderwebs. The magic system Starling builds is gruesome, brimming with visceral descriptions, macabre rituals and disturbing situations; this balance of horrors both real and fantastical makes for a truly chilling read ... a grisly, repulsive, compelling read for anyone looking to be properly frightened.
RaveShelf AwarenessZoraida Córdova\'s The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a gorgeous work of magical realism that follows the Ecuadoran and Ecuadoran-American Montoya family on a spellbinding journey as they fight for their home and their future against dangers from an obscured past ... The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a magical story with complex characters, masterful plotting and a sprawling family encompassing a range of Latinx experiences. Readers will be captivated.
Ed. by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington
PositiveShelf AwarenessThe collection takes readers across time and cultures, breathing new life into one of the oldest Western myths ... Maria Dahvana Headley\'s \'Mayday\' is a satisfying, intriguing mystery told via a collection of items and documents found in an abandoned lighthouse ... Sarah MacLean brings the passionate romance she\'s known for to \'The Bladesmith Queen\' ... Alexander Chee closes the anthology with a rather sweet take on Arthur and Gawain set in a space-age future. With nods to the original, Chee\'s story epitomizes the breadth and universality of Arthurian themes as showcased in these stories. The futuristic setting feels as natural as those in the past and present, with characters both true to the source material and entirely new. Fans of Arthurian legends are certain to find a few stories to love in Sword Stone Table--and they just might see themselves in the pages, too.
PositiveShelf Awareness... a fun and warm contemporary romance full of heart and humor ... Heron keeps the story happy and hopeful ... Full of food so lovingly described that the scents nearly waft up from the page, Accidentally Engaged is not to be consumed on an empty stomach ... Like Reena, Heron is an East African Indian Muslim Canadian woman, and she uses food and the act of cooking together to illustrate the deep sense of home and belonging that Nadim and Reena find with each other. It\'s a steady theme throughout the book: home is where you make it--with the people you love.
RaveShelf AwarenessWith The Bright and Breaking Sea, Chloe Neill launches a high-stakes-on-the-high-seas historical fantasy series full of political intrigue, naval battles and well-drawn characters ... Neill drops readers directly into the action with a daring escape aided by heroine Captain Kit Brightling\'s water magic ... The action is continuous, with brief stops along the way ... The Bright and Breaking Sea pits Kit Brightling and her crew against misused magic, cannons and traitors in an adventure that doesn\'t let up. Readers will be eager for the next installment.
RaveShelf AwarenessIntricate world-building, a nuanced and diverse cast and a thrilling plot culminate in the kind of pulse-pounding ending that resolves much, but sets up the next installment with unanswered questions and dangers both new and old ... delivers a heroine working hard to thwart a dark destiny. She\'s determined not to care what her classmates think, making her character arc--based on reluctant friendships and grudging alliances--satisfying, as is her growing mastery of her magical affinity. Novik somehow conjures up a heroine perched on the line between good and evil, a protagonist readers can cheer for even as they wait for her to dip her toe into the darker side of magic. A Deadly Education is a spellbinding start to Novik\'s new series.
RaveShelf Awareness... deeply emotional and compelling, with evocative prose and deep characterization ... While shifting points of view and alternating timelines can become confusing, Bennett skillfully carries readers through three decades and seven narrators. The Vanishing Half handles subjects such as post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence, grief and colorism, exploring them within the context of complicated and messy family and romantic relationships. Bennett exposes the myriad ways people can hurt those they love best--or heal generational trauma.