Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dark Night: a True Batman Story by Paul Dini

Dark Night: a True Batman Story
An exceptionally well-written memoir about a brutal beating, Dark Night recounts the traumatic recovery the author survived to overcome fear, pain, and rage. Eduardo Risso's illustrations in watercolors are phenomenal and add a complementary beauty to a truly horrific survivor's tale. Dini is unflinching in his portrayal of himself and others; he is frequently a rather unlikable person yet remains completely empathetic by baring his humanity, flaws and all. The DC comics characters and other cartoon characters periodically inserted as part of Dini's imagination and thought process might jar some readers but will feel right at home and even necessary to comic and graphic novel lovers.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend Nick, she imagines this will just be a fun summer and a great chance to meet his family and see Singapore before returning to the simple life they live in New York. But Rachel has no idea that Nick is Nicholas Young (of the Youngs, one of Singapore's most established and wealthiest families). Rachel is thrown into a storm of gossip, money, interfering relatives, family secrets, and some seriously mean girls. The bonds of love are tested, and Rachel must decide whether she can handle being with Nick and therefore being tangled up in his family.

This book is so, so much fun. Kwan's writing style is snappy and electric, fizzing across the page and leading you ever further into this vivid world of designer clothes, exquisite architecture, amazing houses, and old family drama. The characters in this book are definitely the kind that you love to hate.

There is a sequel out (China Rich Girlfriend), and a third book (Rich People Problems) is expected to come out May 2017.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

The Soldier's Scoundrel
Former thief Jack Turner makes a living as a private investigator working for women and the poor. Oliver Rivington, a straight-laced retired army captain and the younger son of an earl, barges into Jack’s office, demanding the return of £200 spent by his sister for Jack’s dubious services. To prove his business is legitimate, Jack invites Oliver to observe his next appointment, a wealthy lady blackmailed by a former lover. Bored with no other occupation, Oliver inserts himself into Jack’s investigation, believing Jack will resort to illegal methods to resolve the case. Alternatively, Jack is deeply distrustful of the aristocracy and wants nothing to do with law-abiding Oliver. Initially drawn to each other for physical comfort, their attraction blooms into something more, but can love breach the distance between classes?

Verdict Debut author Sebastian solidly portrays the prejudice of class differences and the injustice of a flawed legal system skewed in favor of rich men. Sweetly prim Oliver and the roguish Jack will quickly win the hearts of readers, while the mysterious blackmail investigation keeps them invested to the end. An excellent choice not just for M/M romance fans but also for Regency fans with a penchant for vigilante justice.

This review was originally published in Library Journal Xpress Reviews: E-Originals, September 29, 2016.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

A Study in Scarlet Women
Charlotte Holmes was an odd child and becomes even more unconventional as a grown woman, as a scarlet woman, tarnished according to Victorian decorum. Fortunately, her nonconformity hides a brilliant mind, one she uses to survive and thrive. When some of her family is suspected in the murders of several prominent members of Victorian society, Charlotte determines to solve the crimes and prove her loved ones innocent, but first she needs to take on an assumed name to protect her identity and to have her skills as a genius puzzle-solver taken seriously by the police and the world at large. What could be more natural than Sherlock?

The first in the "Lady Sherlock" series, A Study in Scarlet Women, is a complex mystery with multiple deaths, multiple motives, and multiple suspects. While Thomas could have made her female Sherlock impervious to doubt and secure in her supreme intellect, Charlotte Holmes is extremely vulnerable simply due to the time period and her gender, and it isn't without a great deal of luck and help from a few friends that she is able to succeed. An incredible start to a series, readers will come to love the flawed but intelligent heroine and will be eager to read more of Lady Sherlock's future adventures.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
The Wayfarer isn’t the most beautiful ship ever to roam the galaxy, but for Rosemary Harper, it’s now home. Rosemary isn’t a spacersomeone who lives primarily out in the open of the Galactic Commonsfar from it. In fact, she’s never even left her home planet before. But open space does seem to be the ideal place to escape her troubled past, so she accepts a job aboard the Wayfarer. The ship has a truly motley crew, both human and alien, and life aboard tends toward the chaotic. When the captain decides to take a lucrative commission building a wormhole on the other side of the galaxy for a strange and largely unknown race, things get downright dangerous and Rosemary must learn to trust her crew mates in order to survive.

Though this is Becky Chambers’ debut novel, her writing is masterful and already feels classic. The galaxy she has created feels lived-in and true, thanks largely in part to the care with which she crafts the many species that people it. An absolute must-read for sci-fi aficionados and fans of series like Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Even readers who have never picked up a science fiction title before will appreciate Chambers’ quirky characters and careful world-building.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris

Travelers Rest
The Addisons-Julia and Tonio, ten-year-old Dewey, and recovering alcoholic Uncle Robbie-are traveling east from Washington back to South Carolina over winter break. When a terrifying blizzard strikes outside the town of Good Night, Idaho, they seek refuge in the town at the Travelers Rest, a formerly opulent but now crumbling and eerie hotel where the physical laws of the universe are bent. Soon, the family is separated and they must fight to escape the building's alluring yet frightening pull.

With its slow burn pacing, readers are swept up into a time bending, haunted house story that is terrifying without any blood, but features a menace that is definitely not of this world. It is a story about familial love, memory, and identity that will make you think, but it is the creepy tone that will continue to haunt you after the final page. Travelers Rest is both a mind-altering meditation on the nature of consciousness and a heartbreaking story of a family on the brink of survival.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

The Wedding Girl
This is a big week for Milly. On Saturday, she is going to get married. Her mother has been furiously making the final preparations, and her sister is about ready to fly in for the big day. There is just one little problem. Milly is already married. None of her family or friends know about it. It happened years ago and was just a favor for a college friend, so to her, it shouldn’t even count. In fact, shortly after the wedding, she lost touch with "her husband." The event was so inconsequential to her that she hasn’t even told her fiance, Simon, about it. Unfortunately, when she meets her wedding photographer, she comes face to face with someone from her past. He was there the day she got married all those years ago, and he could potentially give away her secret. How is she going to dig herself out of this situation?

Madeleine Wickham has written a light, breezy novel that is sure to please readers of Sophie Kinsella, Jane Green, Lauren Weisberger, and Jennifer Weiner.