Category Archives: Series

Parable of the Sower

Finished Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. 

Lauren lives with her dad, stepmom and little brothers in a scary world. The economy has collapsed; between that and global warming, it’s a hard existence. People are routinely robbed, assaulted (beaten, raped or both) and killed. Lauren wants to leave their community but there’s no guarantee that anyplace is better (and every likelihood that it will be worse). Soon, though, she’s got no choice. 

There’s a lot more going on than that, of course. Lauren has some unorthodox religious beliefs (a new religion, really; she calls it Earthseed) and an unusual illness (she can literally feel other people’s pain like it’s her own). 

This book is amazing. It feels so real (and it doesn’t help that it’s set in the near future—it begins in 2024—and while things are much different and worse, it also seems not too unlikely that we could get there from here. 

There is a sequel and I definitely want to read it. 

Highly recommended. 

The Late Show

Finished The Late Show by Michael Connelly. I received a copy for review. 

This is the first in a new series about Detective Renee Ballard. She’s working “the late show,” or overnight shifts in the LAPD. Here, she’s investigating two different cases–and reluctant to turn them over to the day shift, which is what typically happens. 

This isn’t a departure from his usual series. Like his Harry Bosch novels, this is a police procedural. And, like Harry, Renee tends to maybe skirt acceptable cop behavior a tad in order to get results. Not like Dirty Harry or anything, but the ends definitely justify the means. 

October will see the release of a new Bosch novel, and I am very happy about that (he is my favorite). But I very much like Renee Ballard, too. I look forward to spending more time with her. 

Recommended. 

Beware the Ranger

Finished Beware the Ranger by Debra Holt.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Twelve years ago, Kaitlyn Russell had a dream: living happily ever after with Clay Morgan. Except her grandmother had bigger plans for her beloved granddaughter and they didn’t include life in the small town of McKenna Springs as the wife of a young, poor deputy. Kaitlyn’s heart was broken when Clay and her grandmother convinced her to pursue her second love, Broadway stardom.

Texas Ranger Clay Morgan is a widower with a young son to raise. A dozen years before, he had to make the most difficult decision of his life when he agreed to let go of the only woman he’d ever loved so that she could pursue her dreams.

Now, fate and an old woman’s guilty conscience conspire to bring Clay and Kaitlyn back together once more. Will they be able to lay the past to rest and rekindle their love from the ashes?”

I completely adored this story! The characters feel like people I know and the chemistry between Clay and Kaitlyn is almost tangible.

I absolutely dare you to read this and not smile and/or sigh at least once a page.

The best part is that this is the first in a series! I can’t wait to see what happens next and I hope that Clay and Kaitlyn make a cameo (and I bet they will).

Recommended.

Keys to the City

Finished Keys to the City by Lisa Schroeder. 

Lindy is not enthused about her summer homework (she has to find something she’s passionate about and good at). Her friends already have their things: music, dance, stuff like that. But Lindy loves books and emojis and that’s not exactly a career in the making. She has the summer to find what she excels at…except she has no idea how to even start. 

This book is adorable and amazing. I feel like we all know people who have their lives together and they’re intimidating enough now, so I don’t envy Lindy having to deal with this in middle school. 

If you’ve ever felt lost when it comes to the future, this book is for you. (Either way, this book is for you. It’s clever and incredibly sweet.) Lindy and her friends stole my heart. 

Highly recommended. 

Gwendy’s Button Box

Finished Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. 

Gwendy met a stranger with a black hat the summer before middle school. He gives her a button box–a magic thing with buttons corresponding to six of the seven continents, plus a red one and a black one. There are also two levers (one dispenses chocolate; the other, valuable silver dollars). We aren’t told explicitly what the buttons do but the implication is that it’s not good. 

THIS BOOK GUYS. First, it’s a Castle Rock story (yaaaaaaaaaaaaaas) and second, it’s connected to the Dark Tower. 

The box and the man who gave it to Gwendy are two of the creepiest things ever. The story is unsettling, which is a really neat trick given the fact that for most of the 175 or so pages, nothing really happens. We just see the effect the box has on Gwendy’s life (a good one, to be fair, until it isn’t). 

This has a co-author but it feels like the most Stephen King story in ages. Highly recommended. 

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Finished Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. 

This is the third Lara Jean book and it’s supposed to be the last. I hope Jenny Han changes her mind because I need more Lara Jean and Peter and especially more of the Song girls. (Kitty needs her own series, too.)

Everything about this book and series is perfect. This isn’t surprising, because I am a huge Jenny Han fangirl and everything she writes is amazing. But this series feels different and I love it. 

These book made me feel a little nostalgic for the summer before college. It’s a little sad (things will be different and it’s hard leaving your high school friends behind) and a lot exciting (your life is about to start!) and also a little scary. This book completely encapsulates that. 

Highly recommended. 

The Scattering

Finished The Scattering by Kimberly McCreight. 

This is the second book in the Outliers trilogy. I’m going to skip the synopsis this time because you’re probably only reading this if you’ve read the first one. 

This started off fairly slow for me, but it didn’t take long before I was caught up in it (maybe 30 pages?) and once that happened, I couldn’t stop reading. I think that’s one of Kimberly McCreight’s strengths: these amazing books that are so insanely readable that you’ll be late to work or up all night because you need to read one more chapter which, of course, turns into ALL THE CHAPTERS. 

This ends on a major cliffhanger (of course) so be prepared to need book three, like, IMMEDIATELY. 

Highly recommended. 

Dreamfall

Finished Dreamfall by Amy Plum. I received a copy for review. 

Seven teens agreed to participate in a sleep study/treatment that will, in theory, cure their respective disorders (insomnia and night terrors, mostly). Something goes wrong and they are now trapped in their nightmares. The good news: they’re together. The bad news: in the best horror movie tradition, if you die in the dream, you die for real. 

This is so creepy, guys. Some of the nightmares are seriously terrifying. And pretty much no matter what you’re afraid of, there’s something here that will prey on said fear. Of course, there are clowns…but that wasn’t the worst one. 

Also, it ends on a cliffhanger so be prepared to want the sequel immediately. (Unfortunately, we all have to wait.) 

Recommended. 

Dangerous Ends

Finished Dangerous Ends by Alex Segura. I received a copy from the publisher for review. 

Pete and his friend/partner Kathy have been hired to investigate a murder case. A cop was convicted of brutally murdering his wife–but their daughter is convinced he didn’t do it. That’s about as much as I can tell you without ruining anything. 

This book is INSANE. There is danger everywhere and people keep turning up dead and everything seems so random until it all clicks into place. Alex Segura is an evil genius. 

It’s the third in a series but this functions as a standalone (I do want to get to his backlist though, and SOON).

Be warned: if you’re squeamish, this book is most emphatically not for you. Otherwise? Highly recommended. 

Fallout

Finished Fallout by Sara Paretsky. I received a copy for review. 

V.I. Warshawski leaves Chicago to head to Kansas to find a missing actress and the documentarian hired to film her “origin story,” growing up in Lawrence. The two have gone missing and the clannish locals don’t want to discuss it. And most of them take a near-immediate dislike of Vic. (It’s not a spoiler to say that there are a lot of moving pieces here, and that everything is connected.)

As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of Sara Paretsky’s and this book didn’t disappoint. The most interesting aspect is the fact that Vic is out of her comfort zone: everything and everyone she relies on is gone. (With one exception: her dog, Peppy. Her other dog, Mitch, is on vacation but Peppy is here.) It’s sad, in a way. Of course she’s more than capable of handling things on her own, but I feel better, in a way, with Lotty and Max and (of course!) Mr. Contreras nearby. 

It doesn’t help that these are also unfamiliar people and places. And, of course, things are far more dangerous than they initially appeared to be. 

Highly recommended.