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Book Review | The Accomplice by Lisa Lutz

From the publisher: Everyone has the same questions about best friends Owen and Luna: What binds them together so tightly? Why weren’t they ever a couple? And why do people around them keep turning up dead? The Accomplice examines the bonds of shared history, what it costs to break them, and what happens when you start wondering if you ever truly knew the only person who truly knows you.

This book has a hook. I still can’t identify what it is, exactly, but once I started reading I wasn’t going to stop. Luna and Owen have a frankly strange relationship. They are very good friends who make Luna’s husband say that he and Owen’s wife Irene “had a similar sense of being the third wheel in our own marriages.” (p. 157 of the Advance Reader Copy)

Luna and Own have both been on the periphery of more deaths than is normal for a…

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Book Review | Boys Enter the House by David B. Nelson

From the publisher: As investigators brought out the bagged remains of several dozen young men from a small Chicago ranch home and paraded them in front of a crowd of TV reporters and spectators, attention quickly turned to the owner of the house. John Gacy was an upstanding citizen, active in local politics and charities, famous for his themed parties and appearances as Pogo the Clown. As public interest grew, victims became footnotes and statistics, lives lost not just to violence, but to history. Through the testimony of siblings, parents, friends, lovers, and other witnesses close to the case, Boys Enter the House retraces the footsteps of these victims as they make their way to the doorstep of the Gacy house itself.

I was a senior in a suburban Chicago high school when the John Wayne Gacy story broke. I…

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Book Review | The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews

From the publisher: Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

I’m a big fan of Mimi Matthews, who began her fiction career by self-publishing romance novels set during the Victorian and Regency periods. She has now caught the attention of traditional publishing, and The Siren of Sussex is her first book with Berkley. Matthews is also a historian, and her books are ruthlessly researched. She may stretch a likely outcome, but her characters follow the behavioral standards of the day.

I have read all of the author’s works, and The Siren of Sussex was a little slow starting for me…

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Book Review | Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond

From the publisher: A stunning collection of short stories about the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of teens, from bestselling and critically acclaimed authors, including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco.

This unusual anthology contains 13 stories by 13 authors about different people who live in the same town and are all connected to a string of restaurants that feature cuisine from different traditions. Like most anthologies, it contains some stories that are stronger than others, and some stories resonated with me more than others.

The collection opens with what I think is its strongest entry, “Rain” by Sangu Mandanna. This is a lovely story about grief and remembrance. Next up is “Kings and Queens” by Elsie…

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Book Review | A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

From the publisher: When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath. Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren’t actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?

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Book Review | The Last Guest by Tess Little

From the publisher: A glamorous birthday dinner in the Hollywood Hills ends with the famous host dead and every guest under suspicion in this dark, cinematic suspense debut.

The Last Guest is a different kind of psychological thriller than most I’ve read lately. It’s not so much about “who done it” as “what happened” and “what led to this.” It’s about the unraveling of relationships, the consequences of one’s actions, and the fakeness of Hollywood.

I’ve seen The Last Guest described as a locked room mystery, which I think will, unfortunately, lure in some readers who won’t like it. While the murderer (if the party host…

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Book Review | Believing by Anita Hill

From the publisher: From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.

I recently attended a library conference, and Anita Hill was announced as one of the speakers. The Clarence Thomas hearings seem so long ago, and I thought she must be elderly by now, but nope – she is only a few years older than me. She was 35 when she testified about the sexual harassment she dealt with from Thomas…

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Book Review | A Reckless Match by Kate Bateman

From the publisher: Can lifelong hate turn to true love? Meet the Davies and Montgomery families – two households locked in an ancient feud, destined to be on opposing sides forever. Until now…

A Reckless Match is the first in new historical romance series set during the Regency period, about feuding families and childhood enemies who grow up to be lovers. A good enemies to lovers story is often a lot of fun, and clearly the author thinks so.

Maddie and Gryff have known each other since childhood, so there is no “meet cute,” but there is a cute intro all the same. Every year on the spring equinox, a member of the Montgomery family and a member of the Davies family must meet on a bridge dividing…

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Book Review | Kneel by Candace Buford

From the publisher: The system is rigged. For guys like Russell Boudreaux, football is the only way out of their small town. As the team’s varsity tight end, Rus has a singular goal: to get a scholarship and play on the national stage. But when his best friend is unfairly arrested and kicked off the team, Rus faces an impossible choice: speak up or live in fear. “Please rise for the national anthem.” Desperate for change, Rus kneels during the national anthem. In one instant, he falls from local stardom and becomes a target for hatred. But he’s not alone. With the help of his best friend and an unlikely ally, Rus will fight for his dreams, and for justice.

Kneel is exactly what I expected from a book about a Black high school football player in Louisiana who kneels during the national anthem after his best friend is falsely accused of…

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Book Review | Red Rising by Pierce Brown

From the publisher: Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. But soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice and the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the proving ground for the dominant Gold caste. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Red Rising came out in 2014, and I’ve been wanting to read it for some time. Although not…

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