The Pryce of Conceit: An Historical Ghost Cozy Mystery

Title: The Pryce of Conceit: An Historical Ghost Cozy Mystery
Authors: Kari Bovee
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Cozy Mystery


1885. Arabella Pryce is struggling with heartbreak. And with her recently deceased husband’s will demanding she leave her celebrity behind and refurbish her namesake hotel in Colorado, the distressed actress is forced to board a westbound train. But she’s barely arrived at the haunted, broken-down lodge when the town beauty shows up dead in one of the rooms… and Arabella is named the prime suspect. Already feeling the sting of the community’s disapproval, she grits her teeth and works with a mischievous cryptic ghost to help prove her innocence. But with blood-stained evidence, handsome sheriffs, and libelous journalists turning her investigation into a dangerous drama, this determined thespian fears she’s missed her cue for survival. Can she shine the spotlight on a killer before more than her reputation dies a horrible death? The Pryce of Conceit is the suspenseful first book in The Arabella Pryce historical cozy mystery series. If you like driven heroines, atmospheric settings, and dashes of humor, then you’ll love Kari Bovée’s lighthearted twists and turns.

The prologue opens on a slow build up of tension that both foreshadows and overturns expectations of the rest of the book. Arabella Pryce is a complex character, consumed by her fame, in avoidance of grief, and now, suddenly, terrifyingly out of her depth. Her resilience and determination make her an admirable lead, even in spite of her haughtiness. However, she’s unhappy. She’s grieving. Misfortune upon misfortune is heaped upon her. It’s incredibly well-written discomfort, and grief, but it can be uncomfortable at times as a reader. Combined with the slow pace, repetitive introductions to townsfolk, and her lamentations at her situation, the first handful of chapters feel overlong. However, this is soon after remedied.

I understand that this is because she wants to be home, for her situation to be as it was. I can bear that. The repeated explanation, I cannot. For such a well-crafted mystery, it’s almost as though the reader isn’t trusted to retain this particular information which I found frustrating. Bovee does such great character work with Arabella. And the rest of the cast is also interesting. I really love the way Bovee writes their descriptions, especially upon introducing them. It gives such a good, immediate sense of who they are. Even when this is set up to be overturned later. All that character work, and subtlety and subterfuge – unfortunately – makes this hammering stand out all the more.

That said, once it got going, it was propulsive. Bovee has crafted such a delicious tangle of suspects and motives. For myself, personally, I found the stakes too high, and there to be too many stressors, all mounting and mounting and mounting, to be cozy. But discoveries and revelations were exciting. Bovee knows how to end on a moment of perfect tension and I had to turn the page even when I knew I’d run out of time to read and really needed to be elsewhere. Even when I expected a Chekov’s gun to go off, it still ripped the air from my lungs.

I’m happy to see this is not a standalone. I’d love to learn more about the ghost and the lore surrounding the dead. There is one character who’s shown distrust for another and I’m eager to find out why exactly that is as well as how Arabella continues to cope in La Plata Springs.

Much thanks to iRead Book Tours and the author, Kari Bovee.

Author Information

When she’s not on a horse, or walking along the beautiful cottonwood-laden acequias of Corrales, New Mexico; or basking on white sand beaches under the Big Island Hawaiian sun, Kari Bovée is escaping into the past—scheming murder and mayhem for her characters both real and imagined in her award-winning historical Annie Oakley Mystery series, Grace Michelle Mystery series, and Pryce Murder series.

​In her past life, Bovée worked as a technical writer for a Fortune 500 Company, has written non-fiction for magazines and newsletters, and has worked in the education field as a teacher and educational consultant.

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5 Books I Saved in May

There were only a few books that really stood out to me this month. But it was still hard to round it down to five.

Don’t let the first book mislead you. These run the gamut of my reading

Batcat, Vol. 1: The Ghostly Guest by Meggie Ramm | 28 / 03 / 23 – Abrams Books

Batcat loves being all alone in their home on Spooky Island. Up in their tree house, they pass the time playing video games and watching TV. But when Batcat suddenly finds themself haunted by an annoying, ice cream–stealing ghost, they visit the local Island Witch for a spell to remove their ghastly guest permanently! 

With their Ghost-B-Gone spell in hand, Batcat travels across Spooky Island to gather ingredients—to the Cavernous Caves where the bats tell them they’re too round to be a bat, and to the Whispering Cemetery where the cats will help only if they commit to being a true cat. But Batcat is neither and that’s what makes them special, right?

I snapped this screenshot so quick. The bright colour palette and cuddly-cute rotundness made me melt. It sounds like a sweet little story too and I’m so desperately in want of tenderness and sweetness.

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June TBR

It’s been real bad but the end of May left me with a sense of peace. And I’ll need it to get my currently reading down from the mid-60s. Fingers crossed. I’ll be rather bereft of books, unfortunately, as I’m going on holiday. That makes it sound like I’m not looking forward to it. I am! But it doesn’t leave me much time and I am s t r e s s e d.

Library Books

Dragon Mountain (Dragon Realm #1) by Kevin Tsang, Katie Tsang

Deep within the mountain, a great creature stirred in its sleep. Its eyes rolled back in its head, and its wings jerked wide open…
When 12-year-old Billy Chan finds out his parents are sending him to a summer camp in middle-of-nowhere China, he doesn’t know what to expect. There he meets fellow campers Dylan, Charlotte, and Ling-Fei, and together they stumble upon an age-old there are four powerful warrior dragons hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp! They need the children’s help to set them free before terrible evil in the guise of the Dragon of Death is unleashed upon the earth. Billy and his friends must set off on a dangerous adventure that will take them to the heart of the Dragon Realm. But can they save the dragon and human worlds from destruction?

It’s a shame I didn’t get to this last month. I adore dragons and this is such a popular series. A sign which I hope bodes well for me. Particularly because there are five books thus far, and a spin-off series and a binge would be fun.

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The Gentle Ruination of Playing Monument Valley

It had been such a disappointment to go looking for my new Play Point perk and find myself in possession of a Play Pass. I don’t game much. I haven’t in years. But, well, I’ve not been my best of late, and what am I gonna do? Waste a freebie? Certainly not. I wasn’t happy about it though. And I didn’t expect that I would be. The first game that came up was Goat Simulator! I’m glad we live in a world where something that’s so bonkers to me exists, but, personally, a goat is never something I’ve aspired to be. And then, as I scrolled with ever increasing despair, there was Monument Valley. It looked beautiful but I didn’t ever think I’d fall in love with this game and its sacred geometry. But, oh, how I fell in love with this game and its sacred geometry.

I don’t remember when I first learned of Escher and his fantastically mathematical art. When I look back, all I know is I love it, and have loved it longer than I can recall. I wish I had Escher room and I wish I could defy physics whilst there. Monument Valley is the cloest that I will ever get to being able to wander such hallowed halls, and, fittingly, the experience of it also made me cry.

I didn’t take the time to scroll through the gallery or to watch the trailer. As with books, I like to go in as unsuspecting as possible, and that choice, I feel, was extremely rewarding in both instances. I thought it might have been like Gardenscapes or Mystic Mansion – each chapter a fun little self-contained story, more or less. Sometimes with callbacks. But a game that you could play and not have to invest yourself in remembering every plot or the members of the eventually sprawling cast. It was nothing like that.

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2023 Children’s and Middle Grade Releases

This is the second 2023 Children’s and Middle Grade Releases post. In the first I tried to focus on UK authors but here I’ve cast a wider net. The release dates reflect the UK in the first section and US in the second.

The Pearl Hunter by Miya T. Beck | 16 / 03 / 23 – HarperCollins

Set in a world inspired by pre-Shogun era Japan, this is a stunning debut fantasy in the vein of Grace Lin about how a young pearl diver goes to the ends of the earth to rescue her twin sister, who has been stolen by a ghost whale. Kai and Kishi share the same futon, the same face, and the same talent for pearl diving. But Kishi is the obedient daughter, while Kai tries to push the rules, and sometimes they fight. Still, when Kishi is stolen and killed by the legendary Ghost Whale, nothing will stop Kai from searching for her, deep in the ocean, hoping for a way to bring her back to life. But such a rescue is beyond the power of an ordinary mortal. Kai strikes a deal with the she’ll steal a magic pearl in exchange for her sister’s soul. As she journeys across treacherous land scape, Kai must navigate encounters with scheming bandits, a power-hungry war lord, and a legion of conniving fox spirits. And when a new friendship becomes something almost as powerful as her love for her sister, Kai must make impossible choices and risk everything just to get home again.

The Boy Who Saved a Bear by Nizrana Farook, ill. David Dean | 06 / 04 / 23 – Nosy Crow

Nuwan works at the library, delivering books. One day, he accidentally takes away a very valuable key that’s been hidden inside one of the books, and in the process thwarts the plans of some very dangerous thieves. On the run, he hides in a cave, only to discover in the middle of the night that he is sharing it with a big, hairy, terrifying bear! After some hair-raising moments, he and the bear reach an understanding and they travel on together, evading the bad guys and hoping the key will unlock the answers to the mystery so that they can stop running and return home…

Mermaid Academy: Isla and Bubble (Mermaid Academy #1) by Linda Chapman, Julie Sykes, ill. Lucy Truman | 04 / 05 / 23 – Nosy Crow

Hidden deep beneath the waves is Mermaid Academy, a magical school where mermaids are paired with their very own dolphin and must discover their unique mermaid magic, with plenty of adventure along the way!

Impulsive Isla isn’t afraid of breaking a few rules to win the school treasure hunt and her dolphin, Bubble, is always up for a dare. But the seas surrounding the academy are swirling with magic, and soon Isla and Bubble find themselves in very deep water…

Two sequels are also due out within the year, and are as follows –

Mermaid Academy: Cora and Sparkle (Mermaid Academy #2) by Linda Chapman, Julie Sykes, ill. Lucy Truman | 03 / 08 / 23 – Nosy Crow
Mermaid Academy: Maya and Rainbow (Mermaid Academy #3) by Linda Chapman, Julie Sykes, ill. Lucy Truman | 12 / 10 / 23 – Nosy Crow

A Spoonful of Time: A Novel by Flora Ahn | 06 / 04 / 23 – Quirk Books

Maya s grandmother, Halmunee, may be losing her memory, but there s something almost magical about the way she cooks. Whether Halmunee serves salty miyeokguk or sweet songpyeon, her stories about Korea come to life for Maya. Then one day, something extraordinary happens: a single delicious bite of patbingsu transports Maya and Halmunee back into one of Halmunee s memories. Suddenly they re in Seoul, and Halmunee is young. This is just the first of many secrets Maya will uncover: that she and her grandmother can time-travel, and they aren t the only ones with this ability. As Maya eats her way through the past, her questions multiply until a shocking discovery transforms everything she thought she knew about family, friendship, loss, and time itself.

This book contains recipes.

A Bit of Earth by Karuna Riazi | 27 / 04 / 23 – HarperCollins

Maria Latif is used to not having a space of her own. But what happens when she feels the sudden urge to put down roots in the most unexpected of places? Karuna Riazi crafts a tender coming-of-age story about friendship, family, and new beginnings. A Bit of Earth is a reimagining of the classic The Secret Garden for readers of Other Words for Home and The Bridge Home.

Growing up in Pakistan, Maria Latif has been bounced between reluctant relatives for as long as she can remember—first because of her parents’ constant travel, and then because of their deaths. Maria has always been a difficult child, and it never takes long for her guardians to tire of her. So when old friends of her parents offer to “give her a better life” in the United States, Maria is shipped to a host family across the world.

When Maria arrives on Long Island, things are not quite what she was expecting. Mr. Clayborne has left on an extended business trip, Mrs. Clayborne seems emotionally fraught, and inexplicable things keep happening in the Claybornes’ sprawling house. And then Maria finds a locked gate to an off-limits garden. Since she’s never been good at following rules, Maria decides to investigate and discovers something she never thought she’d find: a place where she feels at home.

The Kingdom Over the Sea by Zohra Nabi, ill. Tom Clohosy Cole | 02 / 05 / 23 – Simon and Schuster

My own Yara, if you are reading this, then something terrible has happened, and you are on your own. To return to the city of Zehaira, you must read out the words on the back of this letter . . . Good luck, my brave girl.

When Yara’s mother passes away, she leaves behind a letter and a strange set of instructions. Yara must travel from the home she has always known to a place that is not on any map – Zehaira, a world of sorcerers, alchemists and simmering magic. But Zehaira is not the land it used to be. The practice of magic has been outlawed, the Sultan’s alchemists are plotting a sinister scheme – and the answers Yara is searching for seem to be out of reach.
Yara must summon all of her courage to discover the truth about her mother’s past and her own identity . . . and to find her place in this magical new world.

The Stories Grandma Forgot (and How I Found Them) by Nadine Aisha Jassat | 25 / 05 / 23 – Hachette

Twelve-year-old Nyla’s dad died when she was four, or that’s what she’s been told. So when Grandma Farida insists she saw him in the supermarket, Nyla wonders if she is ‘time-travelling’ again – the phrase she uses when Grandma forgets.

But when Grandma asks Nyla to find her dad and bring him home, Nyla promises that she will.

As Nyla sets out on her journey, she hopes that uncovering the past will help her to understand the mystery at the heart of her family … and to work out who she is.

A page-turning verse novel about memory and identity, and a bond that soars above all else.

Saffiyah’s War by Hiba Noor Khan | 06 / 07 / 23 – Andersen Press

War comes to the streets of Paris and Safiyyah’s life changes for ever. Her best friend’s family have fled, and the bombing makes her afraid to leave the mosque where she lives. But when her father is arrested by the Nazis for his secret Resistance work, it falls to Safiyyah to run the dangerous errands around the city. It’s not long before hundreds of persecuted Jews seek sanctuary at the mosque. Can Safiyyah find the courage to enter the treacherous catacombs under Paris and lead the Jews to safety?

One Chance Dance by Efua Traore | 06 / 07 / 23 – Chicken House

Jomi’s Mum left him to find their destiny in Lagos. Now, Jomi and his friendly bush baby follow her – but their only starting place is a TV dance competition his mum used to love.

If Jomi and his new Lagos friends can get on that TV show, then maybe Jomi’s mum will see him and they can find their destiny together …

The Housetrap by Emma Read | 06 / 07 / 23 – Chicken House

Deliah, Sam and Claude follow little sister Amity inside a mysterious mansion. But no sooner have they found her than the floor beneath their feet starts to twist and turn: the house rearranges itself like a giant Rubik’s cube.

Don’t Want To Be Your Monster by Deke Moulton | 01 / 08 / 23 – Tundra Books

Two vampire brothers must set aside their differences to solve a series of murders in this humorous and delightfully spooky novel for young readers. For fans of Too Bright to See.

Adam and Victor are brothers who have the usual fights over the remote, which movie to watch and whether or not it’s morally acceptable to eat people. Well, not so much eat . . . just drink a little blood. They’re vampires, hiding in plain sight with their eclectic yet loving family.

Ten-year-old Adam knows he has a better purpose in life (well, death) than just drinking blood, but fourteen-year-old Victor wants to accept his own self-image of vampirism. Everything changes when bodies start to appear all over town, and it becomes clear that a vampire hunter may be on the lookout for the family. Can Adam and Victor reconcile their differences and work together to stop the killer before it’s too late?

Undercover Alien by N.S. Blackman | 15 / 08 / 23 – Dinosaur Books

What is going on in the school library?

When Col sees something that definitely doesn’t look human hiding among the shelves, he thinks it must be his imagination (or his love of all things Space-related) getting the better of him.

But his classmate Alicia is not so sure – and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious disasters that keep befalling their school.

It’s a lot more than Col bargained for at secondary school – and a lot more fun! Until now, life beyond primary school has proved to be quite difficult and the library has been a great refuge for him. But now it looks as though Col, and his new friend Alicia, are about to have an adventure that’s out-of-this-world!

Godfather Death by Sally Nicholls, ill. Júlia Sardà | 07 / 09 / 23 – Andersen Press

When a poor fisherman chooses Death to be godfather to his son, he’s sure he’s made a good choice – for surely there’s no man more honest than Death? At the christening, Death gives the fisherman a gift that seems at first to be the key to the family’s fortune, but when greed overcomes the fisherman, he learns that nobody can truly cheat Death…

The Witchstone Ghosts by Emily Randall-Jones | 14 / 09 / 23 – Chicken House

Autumn sees dead people, much to her annoyance… but when her father drowns, he’s the one ghost that doesn’t appear. Then, a clause in his will sends her to the remote isle of Imber. Can Autumn uncover Imber’s dark past before it comes hurtling into the present?

Enlightened (illustrated) by Sachi Ediriweera | 26 / 09 / 23 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers

A spirited young prince longing to learn more about the world grows into a man on a quest to find the cause of human suffering in this first-of-its-kind graphic novel retelling of the life of Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism.

Prince Siddhartha lives in a beautiful palace in the heart of Kapilavastu. His father, the king, ensures that he has the best of everything—he just can’t go outside. He is locked up away from the city, away from anything that might cause him pain. He knows nothing of illness, aging, sorrow, or death, yet Siddhartha feels the pain regardless, and it instills a burning curiosity to understand the world outside—and the nature of human suffering.

Based on the life of the real man who was known first as a prince, then as a monk, and now as the Gautama Buddha, Enlightened is about one boy’s quest to learn the truth that underpins our endless struggle against suffering—and in understanding, break the cyclic existence that perpetuates it.

The Legend of Ghastly Jack Crowheart by Loretta Schauer | 05 / 10 / 23 – Andersen Press

It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li! by Nicole Chen | 28 / 02 / 23 – Quill Tree Books

Pearl Li is ready to spend the summer before seventh grade hanging out with her two best friends, crocheting the cutest amigurumi dolls, and visiting her favorite tea shop, Boba Time. Its quirky owner, Auntie Cha, is the only adult Pearl can confide in about her art—if only her tech-obsessed family would understand her love of crafts!

After Pearl learns of Boba Time’s financial troubles, she decides to sell her amigurumi to raise money for the shop. But as she navigates the ups and downs of running a business, Pearl realizes that monetizing her passion is more complicated than she could’ve ever imagined. Can Pearl save Boba Time before it’s too late?

Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez | 14 / 03 / 23 – Dial Books

Aniana del Mar belongs in the water like a dolphin belongs to the sea. But she and Papi keep her swim practices and meets hidden from Mami, who has never recovered from losing someone she loves to the water years ago. That is, until the day Ani’s stiffness and swollen joints mean she can no longer get out of bed, and Ani is forced to reveal just how important swimming is to her. Mami forbids her from returning to the water but Ani and her doctor believe that swimming along with medication will help Ani manage her disease. What follows is the journey of a girl who must grieve who she once was in order to rise like the tide and become the young woman she is meant to be. Aniana Del Mar Jumps In is a poignant story about chronic illness and disability, the secrets between mothers and daughters, the harm we do to the ones we love the most—and all the triumphs, big and small, that keep us afloat.

Creatures of the In Between by Cindy Lin | 11 / 04 / 23 – HarperCollins

Prince Jin is running out of time. He must find a monster companion before his thirteenth birthday or lose the throne completely, and that means travelling to the only place where monsters still live: the legendary, dangerous Whisper Island. But untold perils await Jin there. The magical creatures he seeks are not so easily swayed, and an even greater threat looms on the horizon–one that could threaten everything Jin hopes to achieve.

In the Tunnel by Julie Lee | 30 / 05 / 23 – Holiday House Inc.

Myung-gi knows war is coming: War between North and South Korea. Life in communist North Korea has become more and more unbearable—there is no freedom of speech, movement, association, or thought—and his parents have been carefully planning the family’s escape.

But when his father is abducted by the secret police, all those plans fall apart. How can Myung-gi leave North Korea without his dad? Especially when he believes that the abduction was his fault?

Set during a cataclysmic war which shaped the world we know today, this is the story of one boy’s coming-of-age during a time when inhumanity, lawlessness, and terror reigned supreme. Myung-gi, his mother, and his twelve-year-old sister Yoomee do everything they can to protect one another. But gentle, quiet, bookish Myung-gi has plans to find his father at any cost—even if it means joining the army and being sent to the front lines, where his deepest fears await him.

Singing With Elephants by Margarita Engle | 30 / 05 / 23 – Viking Books for Young Readers

Cuban-born eleven-year-old Oriol lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she struggles to belong. But most of the time that’s okay, because she enjoys helping her parents care for the many injured animals at their veterinary clinic.

Then Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature moves to town, and aspiring writer Oriol finds herself opening up. And when she discovers that someone is threatening the life of a baby elephant at her parents’ clinic, Oriol is determined to take action. As she begins to create a world of words for herself, Oriol learns it will take courage and strength to do what she thinks is right—even if it means keeping secrets from those she loves.

5 2023 UK YA Releases

So much of the internet is US-centric. Even here, when I go into my local Waterstones, there are so, so many US authors. I don’t begrudge them their success but I do wish that there was more appreciation for UK authors. Here especially. I mean, come on. If we don’t support our own authors, who will? And I know, saying that, that the UK itself is poised so much better than so many other countries.

Game Over Girl by Naomi Gibson | 05 / 01 / 23 – Chicken House Books
Science Fiction, Thriller

Lola’s selected to test a VR game at her new boarding school – Better Than Life.

The only rule? Don’t create real people, places, or memories. But Lola breaks the rule, building a version of the house she left behind in mysterious circumstances.

In her game, her life is perfect. Soon she’s skipping lessons to play. But there’s a secret hidden in the basement of her VR house – and no matter how hard she tries to keep it locked away, dark memories start to surface.

This is a game she can’t win…

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WWW Wednesday | 24 May

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam of Taking on a World of Words. To take part you answer three questions, which are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

📖 What did you recently finish reading?

This is How You Fall in Love by Anika Hussain, narr. Aysha Kala

Zara and Adnan are just friends. Always have been, always will be. Even if they have to pretend to be girlfriend and boyfriend…

Zara loves love in all forms: 90s romcoms and romance novels and grand sweeping gestures. And she’s desperate to have her own great love story. Crucially, a real one. So when her best friend Adnan begs her to pretend to date him to cover up his new top-secret relationship, Zara is hesitant. This isn’t the kind of thing she had in mind. But there’s something in it for Zara too: making her parents, who love Adnan, happy might just stop them arguing for a while. She may not be getting her own love story, but she could save theirs.

So Zara agrees and the act begins: after all, how different can pretending to be in a relationship with your best friend be to just hanging around with them like usual? Turns out, a lot. With fake dating comes fake hand-holding and fake kissing and real feelings… And when a new boy turns up in Zara’s life, things get more confusing than ever.

The course of true love never did run smooth, but Zara’s love story is messier than most…

This is going to be covered more extensively in my Asian Readathon wrap up post. But I wanted to say that, 一) I had finished it, and 二), this isn’t a romance. I absolutely loved it. And I didn’t need it to be. I fully expected that it would be, however, and I don’t think it would satisfy if that’s specifically what you’re looking for.

Tales From the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch

Join Peter, Nightingale, Abigail, Agent Reynolds and Tobias Winter for a series of perfectly portioned tales. Discover what’s haunting a lonely motorway service station, who still wanders the shelves of a popular London bookshop, and what exactly happened to the River Lugg…

I can’t read a Rivers of London book without missing Kobna Holdbrook-Smith but it was such a wonderful return to the world. I’m long overdue for a reread of the series and it made me excited about the upcoming novella. I didn’t hate Reynolds before but I wasn’t interested in her. What a Moment! Unfortunately, (or, perhaps, not) I took so many notes and have had so many thoughts that I have enough to write a dedicated review, which is what I’ll do.

📖 What are you currently reading?

Dracula (Daily) by Bram Stoker (ft. Re: Dracula)

It’s Quincy Morris day! And! I! Have! Still! Not! Had! Time! I’ve abandoned my boy!

So many favourite moments, passed by already. But fingers crossed that I have enough posts scheduled in advance by next Wednesday that I’ll have been able to catch up.

I will say though. I am utterly delighted by people saying ‘you haven’t seen anything mad about this lad yet’.

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

Annhilation is intriguing from the very beginning and atmospheric, though sometimes in ways that distance the reader. The lack of names is incredibly impersonal, as is the log-like style of the writing. Whether the atmosphere balances out the other, I’m not sure; and I did like it.

Thirteenth (Pagham-on-Sea #2) by C.M. Rosens

Katy Porter is the thirteenth child of a thirteenth child in an inbred family of eldritch horrors, and her own eventual metamorphosis will change her into a creature that hungers for her family’s flesh. To some, she’s a threat – to others, a weapon.

Katy needs allies to help her control her Changes, but she’s stuck with her oldest brother, a drug-addled playboy who voted to have her killed but is chaotic enough to have genuinely changed his mind, and her eyeball-eating, god-like cousin, whose idea of protecting her involves abduction, dark rituals, and encouraging her homicidal side.

If anyone is going to survive Katy’s transformation, scores need to be settled and fears need to be faced – and Katy is not the only one who needs to face them.

You can listen to it for free here.

Late as always, I’ve only begun today (Wednesday). I forgot how much I love the first chapter. The first time, I got to page 130 before I buried myself under books (Goodreads currently reading 61, this not yet added). And, to be fair, Wes is a prick.

I’m having a great time listening to it and referring back to the ebook when I can. Which is good. Because the third book in the series is tomorrow’s book group pick and I’ll need all the help I can get.

📖 What are you going to read next?

The Day We Ate Grandad (Pagham-on-Sea #3) by C.M. Rosens

Three possible futures. Two versions of the apocalypse. One chance to save the world.

Wes Porter, a severely depressed insanity-inducing playboy, is detoxing from hallucinogens that have unlocked his ability to see versions of potential futures – and he’s just foreseen two ways the world could end. Normally, Wes would leave the hero bullshit to somebody else, but he can’t abdicate responsibility this time… not when both those apocalypses might be his fault.

With some prompting from a mythological bard-prophet who may or may not be real, and a lot of assistance from his monster-eating baby sister who desperately wants to move out of his apartment, and their soothsayer cousin who has his own demons to fight, Wes attempts to save [his] world… but have his poor decisions doomed them all?

Further 2023 Releases I’m Excited About

I love fantasy but I think I’ve been posting about those releases to the detriment of others. This post is focused on nonfiction, memoirs and anthologies.

As ever, I am Scottish and the release dates listed reflect that.

Also – this one covers some authors I know. I’m so happy for them! But I feel that’s important to disclose up front.

A Stone Is Most Precious Where it Belongs: A Memoir of Uyghur Exile, Hope, and Survival by Gulchehra Hoja | 21 / 02 /23 – Little, Brown Book Group
memoir, Uyghur

A powerful and urgent memoir by Uyghur activist Gulchehra Hoja – a remarkable woman who went from being a beloved star on Chinese children’s TV to a journalist whose reporting on the oppression of her people led to her entire extended family being imprisoned.

In 2018, twenty-four members of Gulchehra Hoja’s family, including her elderly parents, were arrested by the Chinese state. Gulchehra had been forced to leave her family behind when she fled to a new life in the United States, and the arrests were an act of retaliation against her investigations for Radio Free Asia into the plight of the Uyghur people.

For the Uyghurs, this kind of oppression is not unusual. In her stunning memoir, Gulchehra shares her story: an account of life under Chinese rule in East Turkestan, and her journey to becoming a spokesperson against genocide.

The grandchild of a musician and the daughter of an archaeologist, Gulchehra grew up with Uyghur culture and history running through her veins. She showed her gifts early on as a dancer, actress and storyteller, and she became a major television star. But she began to understand what China was doing to her people, as well as her own complicity as a journalist.

As her growing fame and political awakening coincided, she made it her mission to expose the crimes Beijing is committing against its own citizens.

It feels like the Uyghur genocide has fallen out of the public consciousness in many ways. There’s just so much happening, everywhere. I want to draw attention to it again if I can.

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5 Contemporary Romances

With AAPI Heritage Month there’s been a sudden flurry of books by Asian authors showing up – which delights me. Less so for the PI part. And I admit, I’m not well versed in PI writers, and even less so for fiction. Not that I celebrate. But I do love to take an opportunity to gush about Asian authors. These are not books which I’ve read yet, and so not recommendations. I am working on a post of that nature.

For the likewise unfamiliar, I like this beginner’s resource for PI authors.

The Five-Day Reunion (Once Upon a Wedding Book #1) by Mona Shroff | January ’22 – Mills and Boon

They ended their marriage

but they never fell out of love…

Law student Anita Virani hasn’t seen her ex-husband since the ink dried on their divorce papers. Now she’s agreed to pretend she’s still married to Nikhil until his sister’s wedding celebrations are over—because her former mother-in-law neglected to tell her family of their split! The closeness they share during the marriage act gives Anita new insight into the man she once loved so deeply. And reignites Nikhil’s feelings for her…

Read more: 5 Contemporary Romances

Some Bali to Love by Carla de Guzman | 07 October ’22 – Carla de Guzman

Ava Bonifacio’s plan was simple—attend her friends’ engagement party, look good, toast the happy couple and get out. What she hadn’t planned on was kissing Scott Sabio in front of the entire party to ward off the jerk her friend was trying to set her up with. Scott, who she hasn’t seen or spoken to in nine years. Scott, who used to know absolutely everything about Ava.
The kiss makes it a little hard to execute the ‘get out’ part of her plan. Especially when her bride-to-be friend announces her brilliant idea—a five day, all expenses paid trip for their little barkada to Bali to shoot content for her vlog—and Ava’s pride and pettiness refuses to back down on the fake boyfriend ruse she already started.

Scott’s more than happy to spend time with an old friend. He hadn’t exactly expected that she would speak to him, let alone fake date him after he ghosted her nine years ago. But as the unBalievable sun starts to rise and sets in Ava’s eyes, Scott dares to hope in a future for them, one beyond the beach shores.

Circling Back to You by Julie Tieu | 01 September ’22 – HarperCollins

Cadence Lim has transformed from behind-the-scenes number cruncher to an integral part of the sales team at Prism Realty, but despite moving up the corporate ladder, her complicated relationship with her estranged elderly father weighs heavily and she can’t seem to shake the desire for a new beginning.

At least Cadence can always lean on her favorite co-worker and co-conspirator, Matt Escanilla. A top broker with an unsuccessful love life, the forever single Matt is constantly being nagged by his loving Filipino family to settle down.

Their friendship takes a turn when a business trip lands them both in their hometown and Matt enlists Cadence as a pretend girlfriend for a family gathering. The new after-hours setting forces them to see each other in a new light, and the two friends’ previously buried feelings rise quickly to the surface. When competing promotions threaten to separate Cadence and Matt, these office besties must work together to round up their ambitions and families to pursue their overdue romance.

Booked on a Feeling by Jayci Lee | 26 July ’22 – MacMillan

Lizzy Chung has her life mapped out:
* Become a lawyer. Check.
* Join a prestigious law firm. Check.
* Make partner. In progress.

If all goes to plan, she’ll be checking off that last box in a couple of years, making her parents proud, and living a successful, fulfilled life in L.A. One thing that isn’t part of her plan? Passing out from a panic attack during a pivotal moment in her career.

Lizzy decides that what she needs is a place to recharge, and where better than the small California town where she spent her childhood summers with her best friend, Jack Park.

Now that Lizzie is back, Jack has three weeks to spend with the girl of his dreams – while concealing his decades-long crush on her. Something that becomes increasingly difficult when he agrees to help Lizzie revamp the local bookstore.

Romance amongst the dusty shelves and books may not be in Lizzy’s plan,
but could this new page lead her to the love story she never expected?

Coming Clean by Jen Trinh | 1 May ’23 – Books2Read

Mix two lonely misfits, one aloof rabbit, a bag of shrimp chips, and what do you get? 

A terrific scandal.

Diana “Di” Ho is a goth fashion designer failing to make it in LA. After begging the Universe for a sign, she’s answered by the narcissist hiding next door: A-list actor Darien Lee, known to his fans as “Prince Charming,” or sometimes “Space Darcy.” Both desperate for a distraction, the two find comfort in each other’s arms. But when their night of passion is caught on camera, they’re forced to work together to cover up their mistake, despite assuming the absolute worst of one another.

While cautiously collaborating, they begin to realize that things are not as they seem, and there’s more binding them together than their burning attraction. Soon they’re caught in a patchwork of lies, and the only way out is to cut ties or come clean—to each other, the public, and themselves.

But does Prince Charming belong with a dark, moody princess, or was he never that sunny to begin with?