A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (★★★★☆½)
Everyone’s favorite smutty couple is back in this lengthy novella that bridges the gap between ACOWAR and the next — as of yet untitled — book in the ACOTAR series. While it was great to hang out with all my friends again, I think Maas spent too much time setting tiny things into motion for her next trilogy (wasn’t there enough of that in ACOWAR?) when all I wanted was 200 pages of Feysand fan fiction.
Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau (★★★☆☆½)
I had high hopes for Dividing Eden, a young adult novel whose premise promised to focus on an epic, backstabbing rivalry between two royal twins fighting over one throne. Unfortunately, the rivalry was far from believable thanks to a main character who suddenly becomes a murderous monster after one five-minute conversation at a party. It’s not really character development if it develops from nowhere.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (★★★★☆½)
Michelle McNamara is the queen of compulsively readable true crime. Sadly, she suddenly passed away before she could finish the first (of what should have been many) nonfiction books, leaving the novel to be finished by her two researchers. Despite this setback, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark still feels like a mostly complete look at the rapist and serial-killer McNamara dubbed the Golden State Killer. And a unique glimpse at the true crime author who was obsessed with discovering his identity.
The Power by Naomi Alderman (★★★★☆½)
The Power is set in a world very much like our own … until teen girls discover they have the ability to harness electricity within their own bodies. What follows is an exploration of the next ten years as women, now armed with their own internal defense system, seize power. Despite the premise, Alderman’s novel is at its core a thought provoking exploration of our contemporary gender divide, including a deep dive into rape culture.
All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle Teller (★★★★☆½)
All the Ever Afters combines two of my favorite things: fractured fairy tales (in this case a Cinderella retelling), and stories rewritten from the supposed villain’s point of view. Even better? Teller’s tale is a super lush, historical fiction origin story exploring what life was like for a female peasant … albeit an incredibly clever one who eventually becomes Cinderella’s not-so-evil stepmother.
Cast Long Shadows by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan (★★★★☆)
In the second of the Ghosts of the Shadow Market shorts, Clare and Brennan take us back in time to visit the cast of the eventually to be published series The Last Hours. While it was nice to revisit the characters from The Infernal Devices again, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep track of all the Shadowhunters. Especially when those Shadowhunters exist in a series that has yet to be published.
The Pisces by Melissa Broder (★★★☆☆½)
I thought I was getting a story in the vein of The Shape of Water (see also: Grinding Nemo), but The Pisces was less about banging a merman and more about a woman dealing with depression. And surprisingly, I enjoyed the pre-merman stuff way more. Fair warning to the faint of heart: this book is super descriptive when it comes to well, everything, sexytimes and otherwise.
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke (★★★★☆)
I enjoy listening to Mahnke’s podcast, but aside from a few new stories (which were very short and shoehorned at the end of the book) and one oddly placed fiction tale, this collection is just a word for word transcription of previously released Lore episodes. This isnt really a complaint, but more of an “FYI” for anyone wondering exactly what these collection are about.
And I Darken by Kiersten White (★★★★☆½)
And I Darken reimagines the early life of the infamous Vlad the Impaler, but with a twist. That twist: what if Prince Vlad were born Princess Lada instead? Full of court politics and intrigue, romance, diversity, stellar world building, and vivid historical settings, the first book in White’s series blew me away. I never expected to fall in love with ruthless Lada and her precious cinnamon roll brother Radu as quickly as I did. Come through book two!