Published by Katherine Tegen (3.14.2023)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Format: ARC, 368 pages
Lydia Chass doesn’t mind living in a small town; she just doesn’t want to die in one. A lifetime of hard work has put her on track to attend a prestigious journalism program and leave Henley behind—until a school error leaves her a credit short of graduating. Undeterred, Lydia has a plan to earn that credit: transform her listener-friendly local history podcast into a truth-telling exposé. She’ll investigate the Long Stretch of Bad Days: a week when Henley was hit by a tornado and a flash food as well as its first—and only—murder, which remains unsolved.
But Lydia needs help to bring grit to the show. Bristal Jamison has a bad reputation and a foul mouth, but she also needs a credit to graduate. The unexpected partnership brings together the Chass family—a pillar of the community—and the rough-and-tumble Jamisons, with Bristal hoping to be the first in her family to graduate. Together, they dig into the town’s worst week, determined to solve the murder.
Their investigation unearths buried secrets: a hidden town brothel, lost family treasure, and a teen girl who disappeared. But the past is never far, and some don’t want it to see the light. As threats escalate, the girls have to uncover the truth before the dark history of Henley catches up with them.
I don’t have all that much to say about this one, other than I enjoyed it! Mindy’s contemporary books are almost always a hit for me, which is funny because I’m not usually a fan of contemporary. Even funnier that her fantasy books usually don’t work for me. Her contemps just knock it out of the park! This one felt so realistic, like the events had actually happened.
There isn’t really a whole lot going on plot wise for a large part of this book, so main focus is absolutely the characterization. Mindy’s books are always so character driven! The best part of this book for me was definitely the Lydia/Bristal dynamic. They’re both from VERY different backgrounds, and even though they were stuck with each other at first, they formed a surprising and tentative friendship. And it’s such a wholesome friendship! (And full of hilarious sarcasm!) I adored it!
I enjoyed the mystery aspect and how everything unfolded, too. What a great twist at the end! I also feel the need to say that I ADORE Uneven Steven the wheelchair cat!!
Writing style: 4/5
World building: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4/5
Mysteries of Thorn Manor by Margaret Rogerson
Series: Sorcery of Thorns #1.5
Published by Margaret K. McElderry (1.17.2023)
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Format: ARC, 192 pages
Elisabeth Scrivener is finally settling into her new life with sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn. Now that their demon companion Silas has returned, so has scrutiny from nosy reporters hungry for gossip about the city's most powerful sorcerer and the librarian who stole his heart. But something strange is afoot at Thorn Manor: the estate's wards, which are meant to keep their home safe, are acting up and forcibly trapping the Manor's occupants inside. Surely it must be a coincidence that this happened just as Nathaniel and Elisabeth started getting closer to one another...
With no access to the outside world, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas - along with their new maid Mercy - will have to work together to discover the source of the magic behind the malfunctioning wards before they're due to host the city's Midwinter Ball. Not an easy task when the house is filled with unexpected secrets, and all Elisabeth can think about is kissing Nathaniel in peace. But when it becomes clear that the house, influenced by the magic of Nathaniel's ancestors, requires a price for its obedience, Elisabeth and Nathaniel will have to lean on their connection like never before to set things right.
This was a quick and fun read! I enjoyed diving back into the world of Thorn Manor. It was pretty fluffy and clearly just filler, but it was cool to see a little more of Elisabeth and Nathaniel. It was super cute, but there was one scene in particular – when the clothes came to life – that was pushing campy in the comical category and was a little much for me. However, I loved the ending! View Spoiler »It is the cutest thing ever that Silas pushed the house into acting up the way it did so that Nathaniel would finally propose *squees* « Hide Spoiler
Side note: CAT SILAS IS ON THE COVER OMG. How did I not notice it before? I only saw it because when I uploaded the cover image it was huge and just happened to pop up on the top left corner! Squeeee!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5