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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

JULY-SEPTEMBER Reading Wrap-up

1. An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X. R. Pan (YA Magical Realism) (387 pages) (4.25⭐️)
Luna and Hunter are the children of feuding parents who fall in love. At the same time, a mysterious and magical expanding crack appears in their town. This novel leans much more heavily into the magical realism elements than her debut (The Astonishing Color of After). Both main characters are likable and this is a pretty cute first love story. This is a very solid sophomore novel and I hope the wait between this and her next novel is shorter than the 4 years between her debut and this!

2. A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (Adult Fantasy) (464 pages) (5⭐️)
Jack returns from studying music on the mainland to the island where he was born. He comes at the request of the island's heiress Adaira to help solve the mystery of the young girls who are going missing. This book is so well rounded. The characters and world are both well developed. As soon as I finished this book I was aching to get my hands on the sequel. This is tied with One Dark Window as my favorite fantasy I've read this year.

3. Egg Drop Dead by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (320 pages) (3.75⭐️)
In this installment of the Noodle Shop Mystery series Lana must help clear the name of family friend Donna Feng. I was happy to see that Donna's story line was getting more attention finally after a big reveal about her character in the first book of the series. There are also a lot of different potential angles the story could have taken which kept me guessing.

4. In The Lives of Puppets by T. J. Klune (Adult Sci-fi) (418 pages) (4.5⭐️)
Vic is a human living with a family of robots including his father Gio and his friends Nurse Ratched and Rambo. After the arrival of robot Hap, Gio is taken captive and Vic and the others must rescue him. If you've read Klune's previous two books then you'll know what to expect here: found family and cozy fantasy/sci-fi vibes. I don't like post apocalyptic stories or robots so I was hesitant going in. Yet Klune won me over with the characters to whom I became attached.

5. Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (294 pages) (3.75⭐️)
In this installment of the Noodle Shop Mystery series Lana is solving the murder of a family friend after he dies in a food truck explosion. I am not linking a full review for this one because my review was super short and insubstantial. I liked the plot but I figured out who the culprit was in part because of the small suspect pool. Also there is a trigger warning for domestic violence.

6. Fatal Fried Rice by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (311 pages) (3.5⭐️)
In this installment of the Noodle Shop Mystery series Lana must clear her own name after discovering the body of her cooking teacher. This is another one where I was able to figure out the culprit very early on due to their weird behavior. While I love Lana I must say it feels long overdue for her to be the character in the hot seat.

7. Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (280 pages) (4.25⭐️)
In this installment of the Noodle Shop Mystery series Lana must help clear the name of another employee of the Asia Village Plaza. I'm not linking a review because there aren't any new characters/settings etc. to comment on. I'll just say this is my favorite of the series as I definitely did NOT see that reveal coming.

8. Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T. A. Willberg (Adult Historical Fiction) (340 pages) (4⭐️)
This novel follows the titular Marion who works as an apprentice in a subterranean detective agency in 1950s London. This novel is genre bending (part historical fiction, part mystery, part magical realism). The setting, for me, was the real selling point as I'm a sucker for a story with unsettling places that have secret passageways. If you like locked room mysteries this is one! I do wish Marion took a little more initiative though.

9. Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose by T. A. Willberg (Adult Historical Fiction) (299 pages) (3.75⭐️)
This is the second book in the Marion Lane series. It follows Marion as she chases down a murderer known as the Florist while also dealing with corruption in Miss Brickett's. The internal drama of the novel was personally more interesting to me than the mystery of the Florist. I loved the insidious drama and getting to explore more of the detective agency. There are some minor things I would tweak about the plot, though.

10. Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood (Adult Romance) (389 pages) (4.25⭐️)
Elsie Hannaway is a theoretical physicist and people pleaser while Jack Smith is the experimental physicist who tarnished Elsie's field's reputation. Elsie finds herself falling for Jack despite her reservations. I adored Hazelwood's debut but was letdown by her sophomore novel so I didn't know what to expect with this one. Thankfully, I really liked the main couple - both individually and together. Even if you're not interested in STEM (like I'm not) then there's still lots of banter and spice to entertain you.

11. Marion Lane and the Raven's Revenge by T. A. Willberg (Adult Historical Fiction) (296 pages) (3.75⭐️)
This is the final Marion Lane book and features Marion being framed for a crime while also trying to stop the mysterious Raven who is connected to her dead mother. I had mixed reactions about the identity of the Raven. In some ways I like it because it feels unexpected and like a brave choice. On the other hand, there are some questions I have about the logistics. Regardless, I think this wrapped up Marion's story well - though I wouldn't mind another if Willberg chose to continue the series after all.


1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Adult Mystery) (351 pages) (4⭐️)
Four friends (Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron) who live in a retirement village meet every Thursday to solve cold cases. When a real murder lands on their laps they decide to solve it together. I'd describe this as a cozy mystery and there are multiple mysteries within the novel. I loved this friend group - especially the ladies. I do wish, though, that there weren't sections where Joyce addresses the audience directly. TW: suicide.

2. A Twisted Love Story by Samantha Downing (Adult Thriller) (388 pages) (3⭐️)
Wes and Ivy are in an on and off toxic relationship. When Ivy goes to the police accusing Wes of stalking the ex-couple must team up to keep a detective from solving a murder they once committed. This was my first Samantha Downing read that was a real miss. I found Wes and Ivy's relationship to be very triggering. The novel's story also never seems to go anywhere.

3. Misfortune Cookie by Vivien Chien (Adult Mystery) (326 pages) (3.75⭐️)
This is the most recent installment of the Noodle Shop Mystery which follows restaurant manager Lana Lee as she solves murders. This novel sees Lana and her sister helping solve the murder of their aunt's friend in California. I found the new setting to be refreshing and as an aunt myself I am always happy to see positive aunt-nephew/niece relationships. I did figure out the culprit before Lana and that was a tad frustrating because it was like she was being dense just for the plot.

4. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (Adult Mystery) (352 pages) (4⭐️)
This is the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series and follows the core four as they solve a case of missing diamonds and help protect Elizabeth's spy ex-husband. Elizabeth is my favorite character and I'm glad Osman is drawing on her backstory for this book. As with the first book, this novel has multiple mysteries and I was engrossed while reading.

5. That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey (Adult Romance) (309 pages) (3.5⭐️)
Garland and her sister are attending a summer camp for adults. There she meets the confident and competitive Stevie and romance blossoms. This novel has themes of healing ones inner child and lots of LGBT+ representation. I could have done with more of the sibling relationships. Also, the romance was too rushed. Overall, the novel could have been improved by being longer.

6. A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross (Adult Romance) (494 pages) (4.25⭐️)
This is the sequel to A River Enchanted. I can't touch much on the plot because it would spoil the first book. All I will say is that it deals more with the relationship between the east and west sides of the island and also the history of the elemental spirits. I was more invested in the elements in this book compared to the first though the human political story lines are still what really gripped me. I love all the main four characters - though I was annoyed with Torin this book. It was a great conclusion to the trilogy.

7. Only a Monster by Vanessa Len (YA Fantasy) (416 pages) (5⭐️)
Joan is a human-monster hybrid in a world where monsters steal life from humans in order to tiem travel. When her family is killed by a monster hunter, Nick, she and family rival Aaron travel back in time to try and save them. This is a debut with a stellar plot and impeccable writing. It's one of those books I thought about for a long time after I finished reading it.


1. Never a Hero by Vanessa Len (YA Fantasy) (510 pages) (5⭐️)
This is the sequel to Only a Monster and picks up right where the first one left off. Compared to the first book this one features Nick's character much more heavily with Aaron taking the backseat some. Pretty much all of the questions posed by the first book are answered in this one and the ending sets up what is sure to be a dramatic conclusion to the trilogy. This is one of few sequels I loved as much as the first book. Len is a true talent in her genre.

2. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (YA Mystery) (416 pages) (5⭐️)
This is the first book in the Truly Devious series about true crime aficionado Stevie Bell who attends a boarding school where a murder occurred. This was the start of my yearly reread of the original trilogy (it's since been expanded and there are currently 5 books in the series). This is such a comfort read for me and autumn just feels like the perfect time of year to read it.

3. Business Not as Usual by Sharon C. Cooper (Adult Romance) (320 pages) (4.25⭐️)
Aspiring business owner Dreamy and venture capitalist Karter fall for each other despite coming from different worlds. Compared to a lot of romances I've read this one was a lot more lighthearted. If you're looking for a quick, easy read featuring a cute couple then look no further!

4. Zero Days by Ruth Ware (Adult Thriller) (365 pages) (2.25⭐️)
When Jack's husband is killed she is accused of his murder. She flees from the police and attempts to uncover the true killer. Ware's previous book was a snore for me so I was initially excited when I read the synopsis for this release. It was definitely a more thrilling read but I was frustrated to no end by the protagonist. Every decision Jack made was terrible and she was too stupid to have survived.

5. Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross (YA Fantasy) (368 pages) (3.75⭐️)
Iris and Roman are competing journalists in a world where humans are fighting in a war between two opposing gods. This wasn't my favorite Ross book largely because despite being set in a fantasy world it has a lot of technology that snaps the immersion for me. Much like with the Elements of Cadence duology, however, Ross wrote characters that I grew to genuinely care for. It also had really solid atmosphere and really emphasizes the power of the written word.

6. A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourne (Adult Historical Ficiton) (339 pages) (3.5⭐️)
In 1887's London Veronica Speedwell is an scientifically minded world traveler. After the death of her aunt she is informed by someone claiming to have known her mother that she is in danger. When that man dies she teams up with his friend Stoker to solve his murder. I tend to enjoy books like this that cross the genre barrier (it's both historical fiction and mystery). Veronica and Stoker made a good duo due to their similar interest and personalities, I just wish Veronica was less superior-minded.

7. Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliot (Adult Mystery) (305 pages) (3.5⭐️)
Addie inherits her late aunt's mansion and opens up a bookstore in town. Soon after her move, however, she begins to be followed and her home is broken into. Her new friend, Serena, is also accused of murder and Addie must help solve the cases. This is a cozy mystery that is very fast paced. I sometimes got whiplash from how quickly things moved from one event to the next, but I was never bored while reading. Addie is a tad naive but likable protagonist. There's no real romance but rather than promise of one to come.

AVG. RATING (JUL-SEP): 99.5/125 (3.98⭐️)
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