Mister Magic, by Kiersten White
This book was fantastic. I don’t even know where to begin. Mister Magic is an almost mythological kids TV show that abruptly went off the air 30 years ago. The kid stars coming together for what they are told is a reunion podcast. And Val, one of the stars, but who has no memory of the time she spent with Mister Magic, goes along. As she learns about her past, we learn too, building up to a terrific ending. This book has everything—cults, creepy TVs, and so many secrets. The less you know going in, the better.
The First Death, by Kendra Elliot
A police procedural set in Oregon. This was a fine story, but pretty run of the mill. Rowan and her brother were kidnapped as children and tortured. Rowan was lucky and escaped, but her brother was never found. Twenty years later, she works on a search and rescue team with her dog and still looks for her brother. When the man who rescued her all those years ago is found murdered, signs begin to point to the people who may have taken her.
Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata
I had seen a lot of great reviews of this book, and I thought it was…OK? It was a good, quick read. The main character, Keiko, is pretty obviously on the Autism spectrum, but without a diagnosis. She is happy working as a convenience store clerk, even though everyone else thinks it’s weird. To fit in, she tries to pretend to want more than she does even taking on a terrible guy as a boyfriend. Fortunately, she ultimately remains true to herself.
Wild Spaces, by S.L. Coney
This novella is a wild ride that starts by describing an idyllic boyhood on the shores of South Carolina and ending in monstrous horror. I listened to it, the reading very good, and the juxtaposition of the narrator’s down-home, warm voice with the rising tension made for a great listening experience. I recommend this book, but only if you are into creepypasta horror.
The Savior’s Book Café in Another World, vols 1-3, by Kyouka Izumi, Oumiya
I was really excited about this manga about a bookworm/baker who is sent to another world to be a powerful magic-wielder, but who prefers just to run a small book café. The first two volumes are fun and sweet—emphasizing the romance over the action. They cover one story arc. The third volume was kind of meh, so I won’t be continuing with this series. The story is based on novels by Kyouki Izumi and I think I would rather read those, but I don’t think any have been translated to English.
Chaos Terminal, by Mur Lafferty
I couldn’t wait for this follow-up to last year’s Station Eternity, literally. This book doesn’t come out until November, so I read a digital arc (which I prefer not to do). It was a blast. Not quite as fun as the first book, as so many of the mysteries surrounding Mallory had been explained. But wherever Mallory goes, murder is sure to meet her there, only this time she doesn’t have the hive mind to help her solve it. The world Lafferty builds is fun and exciting and full of aliens who are their own type of special. Love this series and look forward to more.
The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright
This is an old middle grade book from the 1980s that came across my radar. This is not a long book, but there is so much story packed into it. Amy is spending time with her aunt in the old home of her great-grandparents, helping to clear out the house to sell it. Amy finds a pristine dollhouse in the attic that is an exact replica of the house, complete with figures that looked like the inhabitants from thirty years before. Amy is enchanted, but finds there are family secrets that the dolls are reenacting on their own. Wonderfully sad and scary. Full of detailed family relationships. Amy growing from petulant to confident. It is really good.
Plague-Busters! Medicine's Battles with History's Deadliest Diseases, by Lindsey Fitzharris and Adrian Teal
Children’s nonfiction, this was an entertaining read about the diseases that have caused the most human deaths. Each disease, including black death, rabies, smallpox and others, gets its own chapter filled with a history of the disease and how it was wiped out. Humorously illustrated, the book brings these scary diseases down to the science behind them, making them not quite so scary.
The Undetectables, by Courtney Smyth
A delightful fantasy mystery where a town of witches is being stalked by a ritual murderer and a group of young women make their tweenage dreams a reality by becoming investigators. Also, their sidekick is a ghost of a fussy man who died wearing cat ears with whiskers drawn on his face. I enjoyed the heck out of this book. Plus it has plenty of queer, fat, and disability rep. I think it might become a series, and, if so, I will read more.
Kin: Rooted in Hope, by Carole Boston Weatherford
A middle grade novel in verse. Although, novel is not really the best description of it. It is interconnected poems that describe the people—both white and black enslaved—who lived on a historic plantation in Maryland. The author can trace her ancestors to the plantation through its intact records from the 1600s. Sometimes a poem will be from the POV of a servant, a master, a wife, a child, a laborer, the house itself, an object in the house, or even the river that runs alongside it. These all come together to make a full picture of of slavery and the white owners and firmly presses into place in the reality of that history. Interspersed are poems from the author’s POV on her family history and it is illustrated with line-cut drawings by the author’s son. All in all a very moving book that is both interesting and arresting.