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The Midnight Library

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Genre: post-apocalyptic time travel/science fiction

Everyone has been talking about this book. Seems like I can’t escape the buzz. And, like always, I knew nothing about it when I started reading. I didn’t even know what genre it was. Turns out, it was a book right up my alley. Fantastical, but not really fantasy. Great characters, interesting plot, well-written. Who could ask for more?

From Goodreads: Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

What was really great about this was that Haig kept the plot fresh. It isn’t just about Nora living in various lives, one after another, until they blur together for her and for the reader. She definitely visits a few lives that you spend some time in, but various other events keep the plot from getting stagnant. Nora, even though she was struggling when we meet her, becomes much more dynamic as the book goes on. You feel her pain in the beginning, and you really root for her to “find” the life that’s perfect for her. I read this one in just a couple days. I really couldn’t wait to see which life Nora found for herself.

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Beneath Devil’s Bridge

Title: Beneath Devil’s Bridge

Author: Loreth Anne White

Genre: thriller

I gasped out loud at one point in this book. And in a good way. Anytime that happens, you know it’s a good book. I’ve been a fan of Loreth Anne White’s for awhile now. So far, I’ve read A Dark Lure, The Dark Bones, and In the Dark. I have a few others on my Kindle that I’m look forward to. She’s one of my new favorite authors. When I saw my library had this one on order, I knew I had to request it, and boy, was I pleased with this one!

From Goodreads: True crime podcaster Trinity Scott is chasing breakout success, and her brand-new serial may get her there. Her subject is Clayton Jay Pelley. More than two decades ago, the respected family man and guidance counselor confessed to the brutal murder of teenage student Leena Rai. But why he killed her has always been a mystery.

In a series of exclusive interviews from prison, Clayton discloses to Trinity the truth about what happened that night beneath Devil’s Bridge. It’s not what anyone in the Pacific Northwest town of Twin Falls expects. Clayton says he didn’t do it. Was he lying then? Or now?

As her listeners increase and ratings skyrocket, Trinity is missing a key player in the story: Rachel Walczak, the retired detective who exposed Pelley’s twisted urges and put him behind bars. She’s not interested in playing Clayton’s game – until Trinity digs deeper and the podcast’s reverb widens. Then Rachel begins to question everything she thinks she knows about the past. With each of Clayton’s teasing reveals, one thing is clear: he’s not the only one in Twin Falls with a secret.

I am a true crime podcast junkie, so this plot was right up my alley. And even though Pelley confessed to the crime, some things just didn’t add up back then, leaving Rachel always to wonder what really happened. But with a confession…..how do the police ignore that? I really loved how all this came together. The story is told in past and present timelines. The ones of the past are from Rachel’s perspective, and the present ones are from both Rachel and Trinity’s perspectives. You follow the case as it unfolded back then, but those reveals are unraveled in the present day. Alternating timelines is a hard way to write, but this book handled it perfectly. And yes, the gasp was from a plot twist/reveal that I didn’t see coming. What a great book. I’ll definitely be recommending it to fellow thriller fans.

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The Vanishing Half

Title: The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennet

Genre: Black and African American literary fiction

Books like this one are always on my radar, but I don’t make them a priority to get to. I’m just so stuck in my horror/dystopian/thriller genres of choice that I don’t always get to literary fiction like I mean to. But I’ve been doing better about putting these kinds of books on hold and then reading them once the library sends them to my kindle. And I am so thankful I did. What an amazing book!

From Goodreads: The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

This book was really character-driven, and said characters were just perfect. The twins, Stella and Desiree, are so different from each other, and their lives diverge so much. Stella, passing as white, never seems happy, always looking over her shoulder, expecting her truth to be revealed. The story is told in chunks of time, not only about the twins, but also their children. Jude is Desiree’s daughter Kennedy is Stella’s. Jude is also trying to escape her past and figure out who she is. Kennedy is doing the same but for many different reasons. Don’t get me wrong; there is a plot, of course. But these women jump right off the page and take control. I couldn’t get enough of their stories and understand why everyone raves about this book.

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Far Gone

Title: Far Gone

Author: Danielle Girard

Genre: thriller

Thank you Netgalley for this book!

I requested this one because I had the first book, White Out, on my kindle to read. So, I read that one a few weeks ago and thought it was okay. The plot was a bit over-the-top for my liking. But I thought the characters were great and was excited to revisit them in this one. And again, this plot was a bit preposterous for my liking but seeing the characters was a lot of fun. Some time has passed since the previous one, so we got to see the characters mature a bit. But these books are solid and even though the plots are bit too much for me, I think most people will really enjoy these.

From Goodreads: When a North Dakota couple is shot down in their home in cold blood, the sleepy town of Hagen wakes with a jolt. After all, it’s usually such a peaceful place. But Detective Kylie Milliard knows better.

Despite not handling a homicide investigation in years, Kylie is on the case. A drop of blood found at the scene at first blush promises to be her best evidence. But it ultimately only proves that someone else witnessed the murder—and the results are shocking: the DNA reveals a familial match to a crime involving local nurse Lily Baker from over a decade ago. This unveiling stirs new nightmares for Lily as she’s forced to reckon with the most traumatic time in her life.

Haunted by their pasts and hunting the killer, Kylie and Lily uncover hellish secrets and impossible truths, finding answers that put both their lives in jeopardy.

Seeing Kylie and Lily again was a lot of fun. Both are strong, dynamic, real characters who you cheer for. And while Lily isn’t in danger this time around (unlike White Out), she is still very important to the plot. But it’s nice to see her doing better, happier, more stable. Because I like these two ladies so much, I will definitely be revisiting this series, assuming more are published at some point.

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Six of Crows

Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA fantasy

I’ve been meaning to enter the Grishaverse for awhile. Once I saw it was a Netflix show, I consulted a friend who told me that the show covers both Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows, sort of. She recommended reading both before the show just to avoid small spoilers. I recommend this as well, because enough of Six of Crows’ characters are in the show that meeting them in the book is a lot more fun. And while I enjoyed the plot of Shadow and Bone more, maybe because it was my entry into the books, I LOVE the characters in this one. Every single crow is fantastic, but Jesper is hands down my favorite.

From Goodreads:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book is actually a prequel of Shadow and Bone, so it’s perfectly fine to read it first. Either entry into the world would work. They both explain what Grisha are in a way that assumes the reader is unfamiliar. The events in this book are entirely unrelated to those in S&B, also. Now, the Netflix show puts them on the same timeline and gives the crows something to do in regards to the plot of S&B. I didn’t mind the change because it was so delightful seeing the crows. The person cast as Jesper is PERFECT, which just increased my love of the character. I’m always skeptical when it comes to YA fantasy, because it’s just not my thing, but these are excellent, and I will be reading more.

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White Out

Title: White Out

Author: Danielle Girard

Genre: thriller

I got this book from Kindle First Reads quite some time ago. I put it in my “to read” folder to get to at some point. But I got the sequel from Netgalley awhile back, so I made a point to read this one first, so I wouldn’t be thoroughly confused. I really only knew this book was a thriller, but that was about it. I like going into books blind, so I don’t really read reviews or blurbs. I prefer making my own judgements as much as possible. And I’ve had some success with Kindle First Reads, but this one was just okay for me.

From Goodreads: After surviving a car accident on an icy road in Hagen, North Dakota, Lily Baker regains consciousness with no idea where or who she is. Scattered Bible verses and the image of a man lying in a pool of blood haunt her memory.

The same night of the accident, a young woman is murdered and tossed in a dumpster. Kylie Milliard, Hagen’s only detective, doesn’t immediately recognize the victim, but Kylie soon discovers that Lily and the dead woman share a dark past…if only Lily could remember what it was.

Lily and Kylie both want answers. But Kylie has to play by the book. Lily has to play it safe. And the more Lily learns about her identity, the more she fears the truth.

I liked the characters of Kylie and Lily, but the plot was a bit too convoluted for me. It also relied on more “telling” than “showing,” which isn’t the best type of writing. Information was just dumped on the reader without any one actually coming to those conclusions. It was a very odd choice of how to present the big reveals to the audience. I say reveals because there is more than one mystery in this book (not a spoiler). This book also relies on the “I’ve lost my memory” trope that I despise. It’s just cheap storytelling. I’m going to read the second one, but if it’s not a lot better, I don’t expect to continue on with the series, if more are published.