Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

I don't read a lot of YA, but Queen of the Tiles combines murder and Scrabble and how could I pass that up? The Queen of the Tiles, Trina Low, is dead. She died a year ago during a championship Scrabble game, but someone has resurrected her Instagram account and is implying that she was murdered. This was just such an entertaining book. It was well-thought-out and just full of wonderful words. The characters were diverse and, while they had the typical teenage jealousies and overreactions, they weren't annoying. I was surprised by who the "bad guy" was and happy with the solution, especially because it wasn't the typical direction a murder mystery heads. I listened to the audio, which was a good choice. The narrator did a good job with the voices and the teenage emotions. I'm also not sure I could have pronounced some of the Scrabble words without help. Those kids had a massive vocabulary. Complicated female friendshipsScrabble and wordplayExploration...
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Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun is the first book in Between Earth and Sky trilogy, and it is a high fantasy inspired by the civilizations Pre-Columbian Americas. The winter solstice in the holy city of Tova usually means a time for celebration and renewal. But this year a solar eclipse will occur with the winter solstice. The story marches toward that Convergence. I listened to the audiobook and each of the four points of view had their own narrator. We have Xiala, a boat captain who can control both water and people with her Song. We have Serapio, a blind man who Xiala needs to make sure is in Tova before the Convergence. The chemistry between them is fabulous. Naranpa is the Sun Priest, doing her best even though she has more enemies than she understands. Last is Okoa of clan Carrion Crow, who we know the least, but seems the most willing to accept what he doesn't understand. They're all compelling...
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My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

As I was thinking about what I was going to write about My Heart Is a Chainsaw, I had mixed feelings. Jade, the main character, is amazing in a damaged, determined, outsider way, but I didn't like where the story left her at the end. Actually, I didn't like how the story treated her all the way through. Even the adults that cared were disappointing. But I didn't realize it was the first in a planned trilogy. That gives me hope. Jade story isn't over. The opening of My Heart is a Chainsaw is perfect, sets the mood just right. Then we meet Jade. She's seventeen, knows all there is to know about slasher movies, and has a terrible home life. Things aren't much better at school or work either. When a new girl shows up, a potential final girl, Jade sees what she believes is a slasher cycle starting in her small town. The book moves slowly in parts, but...
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The Old Fox Deceiv’d by Martha Grimes

The Old Fox Deceiv’d by Martha Grimes

The Old Fox Deceiv'd is the second in Richard Jury series, but can definitely be read as a stand-alone. This time around, Jury is sent to Rackmoor to investigate the killing of a woman whose identity is in question. If she really is the prodigal ward returned, old jealousies, angers, and future inheritance money all come into play. Jury is patient and thorough. As expected, he is focused on solving the mystery, but his soft side does come out once in a while. I was happy that Melrose Plant was back in this one. He is again Jury's sidekick, providing a sounding board and doing a bit of his own investigating. The townspeople and those at the house are an interesting bunch, from the broke artist to the child living more or less on his own with his dog. The situation at Rackmoor is complicated and full of emotions and secrets. The plot has some surprises and the major clue was...
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The Man With a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes

The Man With a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes

The Man with a Load of Mischief is the first in the Richard Jury series. The only reason I picked it up was that it takes place at Christmas, but I'm glad I did. I'm not sure how I missed this series before. I will definitely read more - I might actually be listening to the 2nd as I'm typing this. The book takes place around 1981 - no cell phones, no internet, no tiny cameras. This is the type of mystery where our detective has to watch for clues, talk to people, not rely on technology. Our detective from Scotland Yard is Richard Jury, intelligent, patient, kind. Our sidekick is Melrose Plant, rich, clever, sparkling green eyes. We see the story from their alternating points of view. We only know what they know, we only hear what they hear. The writing style is descriptive and full, without being overly detailed. The book certainly has serious moments, but Plant...
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The Family Plot by Megan Collins

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Dahlia Lighthouse and her siblings had an unconventional childhood, to say the least. They were homeschooled and along with geography, they were taught about famous serial killers and their victims by their obsessed parents. The way they grew up, sheltered, surrounded by historical murders, has obviously affected how they live in the world off the island and how they relate to other people. And now three of the siblings, now adults, are back home. Dad's dead, but someone else's body is found in his grave - Andy, who they all thought ran away years ago. So the mystery is who killed Andy. Dahlia is desperate to find out what happened to her twin. I don't know if mystery is really the right word. Yes, we have some clues and an investigation, but the book is more about the oppressive atmosphere of the Lighthouse home, of the suspicion of the other islanders, of secrets and obsession and coping. The tone is dark and...
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