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Pub Date: 4-13-21
YA - Thriller

The Mary Shelley Club- Goldy Moldavsky: After surviving a home invasion, Rachel Chavez is hoping to start fresh at Manhattan Prep. When she's dragged to a party, she witnesses a prank and discovers a secret society of students that pull off elaborate hoaxes inspired by horror movie tropes. Desperate to be included, Rachel is overjoyed when she's recruited into the elusive Mary Shelley Club, and relishes in the power of pranking her unsuspecting classmates. By playing into the fears of her classmates, Rachel finds she's finally able to bury some of the memories that haunt her every day since her attack. But when these jokes turn deadly, Rachel must confront her past and uncover who the true murderer is before she becomes their next target.

This is said to be a mix of Gossip Girl and Scream and I'd say that's a decent comparison. It did have me going into this thinking it was going to have more of a slasher vibe when it was more of a psychological thriller. That's not to say it was bad, it just wasn't necessarily what I was hoping for. The premise was still cool and had a lot going for it, but just felt watered down in some places. There wasn't anything about the pranks that was scary, but they did all bring about a sense of unease that grew throughout the whole thing, which I appreciated. I also liked how you got to see the pranks through the eyes of the victim rather than the club members. The characters were entertaining enough, and you could tell that Moldavsky was gunning to have Rachel come across as the stereotypical Final Girl. If you're familiar with Scream then you'll also probably be able to guess the big reveal, but despite figuring out what was coming, I did still like how it ended, even though I thought some things were left ambiguous. While it wasn't the best thriller I've ever read, I'd still recommend it just for the horror movie references alone.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 4-6-21
YA - Historical Mystery

Pride and Premeditation- Tirzah Price: Lizzie Bennett is an aspiring lawyer who no one takes seriously due to her being a female. When a murder rocks London's high society, Lizzie jumps at the chance to prove her worth and show her father that she deserves a spot at his law firm. While digging for clues to prove that Mr. Charles Bingley has been wrongfully accused, Lizzie crosses paths with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the broody heir of the prestigious firm, Pemberley Associates. As a close friend to Bingley, Darcy refuses to let some random person help him, but Lizzie is relentless. The pair begrudgingly combine their efforts and soon discover there are darker motives at play. Lizzie can't help but feel a thrill at finally living her dreams-- not to mention, being around Darcy-- but when she finds her life is threatened, she'll have to decide if the risk is worth the reward.

I've read a ton of Pride and Prejudice reimagining's, but this one managed to feel so fresh and unique. Lizzie is known for being a strong-willed character and that translated so well into her being this fierce force determined to do anything to solve a murder. I think Price did a great job at keeping the core values everyone loves about Lizzie Bennett but making her feel new. The other characters also fit so well into this new world and it was fun to read and try to solve the mystery alongside Lizzie. The pacing was good and there were so many twists that I was intrigued the entire time. I also enjoyed how Price including little callbacks to the original story. My only slight complaint was that I wish there was a little more romance between Lizzie and Darcy, but other than that this was very entertaining and I'm interested to see where the series goes from here.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 4-6-21
Adult - Historical Romance

The Duke Undone- Joanna Lowell: While on her way to class at the Royal Academy, painter Lucy Coover stumbles upon a drunken man passed out naked in an alleyway. Not wanting to leave this poor man, Lucy covers him up and gets help before rushing off. Unable to get the vision of the man's naked form out of her mind, Lucy paints him in very vivid detail. When it's discovered that the man was the Duke of Weston, Lucy's life is turned upside down. As a second son, Anthony Philby was looking forward to getting away from his family's sordid history and striking out on his own. But when his brother dies, Anthony is left to inherit everything...with a few stipulations. If Anthony falls into any scandal, he can kiss his independence goodbye. Needless to say, Anthony does not need a naked painting of him circulating high society. When Anthony confronts Lucy, the pair agree: Anthony will help Lucy save her home, if she helps him find his sister, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As the pair work together, neither can deny the feelings brewing but with mysteries swirling around them, is it worth the risk?

This was not at all how I expected it to be. I went in thinking it'd be a fun historical romp about a woman accidentally painting a nude duke, and while that was a sliver of the overall plot, it was more of a family drama/mystery. There were so many things happening at once: from Lucy trying to save her building from being condemned to Anthony trying to gain his inheritance and find his missing sister that it made the story feel muddled. I think if Lowell had just picked one plot point to focus on it would've made this much more enjoyable and less of a mess. The writing itself was also bland, and the banter and chemistry between the pair felt very forced. There were a few moments that I thought were sweet, but overall, this just didn't do it for me.

Rating: 2/5

Book of Secrets- Claudia Blood (Pub Date: 5-15-21): Joshua Lighthouse never wanted to be a hero, but when the Earth he knows undergoes a dangerous Merge with the magical world of Myth, he finds he has no choice. Those who survived the Merge formed into factions-- human and the Others. Joshua leads the Human Protection Agency, which tries to keep the peace and maintain the safety of all humans in the city. If that wasn't enough, Joshua is also tasked with keeping the legendary Book of Secrets from falling into the wrong hands. With the anniversary of the Merge creeping closer, Joshua finds his life once again turned upside down when the book is stolen. He's betrayed by those closest to him and a bounty placed on his head. Now, Joshua is on the run from the same organization he spent his life serving and is thrust into a race against time to prevent an all-out inter-species war that would effectively end all life as they know it.

This had a few things going for it that I liked: 1. I enjoyed the premise of earth colliding with this other world and how the remaining humans have to learn how to coexist with all these different life forms. 2. The diverse cast of creatures you come across. Some I'd never heard of in fantasy before such as lizardfolk or death kitties (some bat-porcupine hybrid which sounds like it'd either be cute or terrifying to look at). The writing is very easy to digest and I did fly through, however, some bits felt too wordy and repetitive which made it feel clunky. The character themselves were fine, but I would've liked to have seen a little more depth to them because they occasionally felt a tad one-note. I think if you tend to lean more towards urban fantasy but you want just a sprinkle of sci-fi on the side then this would be a good one to pick up.

Rating: 3/5


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