Friday, July 30, 2021

Every line on your face tells a story somebody knows: THE NIGHTINGALE

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A touching portrayal of family and love during wartime

In 1930s France, Vianne says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he leaves to fight in the War. She's left behind to care for their daughter Sophie. Her younger sister, Isabelle, is in Paris with their father when the war starts. Reckless and impulsive, Isabelle wants to fight for her country, but their father sends her to stay with Vianne. But soon, after being betrayed by the young man who helped her find her way to Vianne's home, Isabelle is fighting for the Resistance. As for Vianne, she finds herself forced to house Nazi soldiers and make horrible sacrifices to protect her family.

This was an excellent and informational portrayal of World War II. It's haunting and heartbreaking and hopeful all together. Hannah tells the story of the War through our two sisters--looking at how they approach the war, along with their father. Vianne is the practical older sister, who worries for her safety and that of her daughter. Meanwhile, Isabelle has felt betrayed most of her life after the death of their mother and perceived abandonment by her older sister and father. This feeling spurs her to join the Resistance. Following their different paths allows us to see many varied sides of this awful and terrifying War. As you form attachments to the characters, the snatching of Jewish families and children and the concentration camps become even more stark and brutal--it's horrifying.

While I cannot really know what happened during this time period, this book seemed realistic and authentic to me. It made me cry. It's sad and yet somehow sweet at times. It's a vivid look at loss and love--for sisters, family, and your country.

I read this book as part of my new reading project--choosing books off my shelves based on their Goodreads rankings. This is my first book of the project, forcing me out of my comfort zone and to try books in genres I don't usually read!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

I'm not who I used to be: THE THERAPIST.

The TherapistThe Therapist by B.A. Paris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An average locked neighborhood thriller

Alice and Leo have been in a long distance relationship for eighteen months when they finally move in together and buy a house in the The Circle, a development in the middle of London. It's a gated estate made up of twelves house designed to be especially safe and secure. But Alice soon discovers a horrible secret about her new home and becomes obsessed with Nina, the therapist who lived there before her. She starts trying to figure out what happened to Nina--at the expense of her relationship with Leo and her neighbors.

"It's only as I stand there, shrouded in perfect stillness that a thought slams into my head. I don't like this house."

This thriller was slow to start and was one of several locked neighborhood books I've read lately. I'm sort of over the trend of average folks up in everyone's business thinking they can solve murders. I didn't quite buy why Alice cared so much, even though there's supposed to be a "reason" for her attachment to Nina (she shares a name with Alice's late sister).

As with many of these types of thrillers, there's a cast full of mostly unlikable characters and a bunch of somewhat interchangeable neighbors. Alice forms an odd bond with a Private Investigator, Thomas, who is quickly added to the mix. She seems fast to accuse basically everyone she meets of nearly anything, so I suppose that added to the suspense/red herrings. The book does have a slightly ominous feel, though I think many of her problems would have been solved by simply changing the darn locks!

There are some good twists and the story held my interest once it picked up the pace. However, I'm afraid it will get lost in the swirl of recent locked neighborhood books and not stand out in a few months. 3 stars.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Oh, you're my holy place: PLAYING THE PALACE.

Playing the PalacePlaying the Palace by Paul Rudnick
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Funny and sweet romantic comedy

Carter Ogden fantasized about the Prince of England growing up--who didn't? Openly gay Prince Edgar is handsome and easy to adore. When Carter meets Edgar through a work event, sparks fly. Before he knows it, it seems like the two are dating. But their relationship receives intense media scrutiny--and the disapproval of the Queen of England. Can they find a happily ever after when it seems like everything--and everyone--are against them?

"He was destined to become the king of England, and I was a nice Jewish boy from New Jersey; we both knew what we were supposed to be doing, but we were fighting it. When it came to emotional stability, neither of us had a prayer."

This is a cute and funny story overall. We have Carter, who is reeling from a breakup and does not feel worthy of love and then Edgar, who is scared to trust. It's not easy to be in a relationship when you're the Prince of England. As Edgar states, he's "a symbol and an institution." The two meet at the United Nations and there's definitely some insta-chemistry, but they are also pretty sweet together. You can't help but root for this pair.

"Because ever since I can remember, there's been only one unthinkable sin, and that was disgracing my family and my country, in any way. I was being held to a different standard, which I agreed with. I had one job: to represent the royal household and to make England proud, and I was a calamity."

The book is a little ping pong-ish in its highs and lows. Everything is good... and then it's not. Rinse and repeat. At times, it seems a little insane that Edgar and his family cannot trust Carter, yet you can understand how utterly crazy and invasive the British media is--we see it all the time. I would have liked to see the two communicate a bit more, but new relationships are hard.

The cast of characters in PALACE are wonderful--completely engaging. Carter's family and friends are adorable, especially his sister and aunt Miriam. They make you laugh and cry. There's an excellent vomiting scene with poor Carter that will have you cringing and chuckling. Parts of this story are just plain hilarious. But it's also serious in its look at finding love after loss, insight into homophobia, and seeking acceptance for yourself and your partner, no matter what kind of relationship you may be in.

Overall, this is a fast and fluffy romantic read that also offers a good take on acceptance. 3.5 stars.

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Friday, July 23, 2021

You don't have to feel like a waste of space: SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY.

She Drives Me CrazyShe Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stand-out queer romance

Scottie Zajac is reeling from her breakup with her toxic ex-girlfriend, Tally, whom she can't get over, no matter how bad she was for her. After losing to Tally's basketball team, she gets into a fender bender in the school parking lot with her nemesis, cheerleader Irene Abraham. Scottie is still smarting from when Irene had her car towed at a party. Unfortunately, Scottie and Irene's parents' decide that Scottie needs to drive Irene to school once the accident puts her car out of commission. Forced together, Scottie and Irene's tenuous relationship only gets more strained. But when Scottie sees a chance to get back at Tally, she bribes Irene to take part in a fake dating scheme. One that threatens to unravel when both Scottie and Irene realize they may have some very not fake feelings for each other.

Ok, I don't always love fake dating romances, but this book was practically perfect. I love a good (queer) YA rom com and basketball, so I thought this might be good. It was amazing: just so funny and sweet.

Quindlen captures Irene and Scottie perfectly--their vulnerability and their sarcasm. The book is often hilarious, but it also portrays the heartbreaking loss Scottie feels after breaking up with Tally and how she feels less worthy and less of a person after. We can understand that even though Tally is clearly wrong for her--and all her friends and family know it--it's so difficult for Scottie to grasp this and move on.

The story here is so genuine for a fake dating book. The cast of characters is wonderful, including Irene's best friend and Scottie's sister. I'm such a sucker for basketball, and I adored how Scottie's love of basketball was woven into the plot. This is a beautiful story about finding yourself as well as a funny book that made me grin goofily throughout. The ending definitely had me shedding some (happy) tears.

Easily one of my favorite queer books and one of the best books I've read this year.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Since the top of the world came crashing down: ACE OF SPADES.

Ace of SpadesAce of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A dark thriller that delves into racism

Devon and Chiamaka are both Senior Prefects at Niveus Private Academy, a super elite school for the wealthy. Chiamaka has been working her entire life to attain success and popularity at Niveus, while Devon, a scholarship student, focuses on his music. The only black students in their school, they aren't exactly friends. But then the two of them suddenly become the target of Aces--an anonymous texter and bully who seems determined to ruin their lives. Aces knows all their secrets, ones that could destroy everything they've worked for. This seems beyond a high school prank. Who is Aces and what do they want?

This was a very hyped book and while I enjoyed it, it didn't live up to the hype for me. This is a really rare opinion, so please take it with a grain of salt. It got better over time, but I had a hard time getting into it, finding it slow and choppy. The plot seemed disjointed and when the big twists are revealed, they seem off with the earlier pieces of the story. I understood the concept, but couldn't really see how it all related, or believe that it all worked together so seamlessly.

The book certainly is timely and its themes of racism and hatred are strong and well-done. It's terrifying because it's true, so to speak. You'll feel for Chia and Devon, though I found myself wishing I knew more about them and that their stories didn't jump from one place to another. Perhaps taking a step back, seeing the tale as an allegory, helps more, but even then I'm not sure (trying to avoid spoilers).

Overall, this is an interesting story, but it was jumpy and made some crazy leaps at times. 3.5, rounded up to 4 stars here.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

If these are life's lessons, she'll take this test: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.

Too Good to Be Real: A NovelToo Good to Be Real: A Novel by Melonie Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very meta romantic comedy

Julia is a writer desperate to save her job. She's tired of posting nothing but quizzes and lists. So she pitches an article to her boss in an attempt to save her job: a new resort that's letting its guests live out their romantic comedy dreams via role playing. Julia doesn't believe in love, of course, but she'll play along if it means keeping her job. But when she and her two best friends show up, she meets a handsome man by the lake via the quintessential meet-cute: a humorous seagull incident. She thinks Luke is taking part in the rom-com experience, but he's actually one of the event planners, along with his best friend and sister. Luke decides to take part in the experience in order to impress a reviewer arriving. Sparks fly between the two, but can their love be real when no one is being honest about who they are?

"I'm as likely to find the wardrobe to Narnia as I am to find my own Mark Darcy. Life isn't like a romantic comedy."

This was a perfectly cute romantic comedy and it's important to remember that 3-stars is in no way a negative rating. Did this book wow me or sweep me off my feet? No. But it had its funny moments.

The concept is an interesting and original one: a rom-com resort, where guests are assigned a character, a role to play, select activities, and then the games begin. The characters get funny names associated with famous romantic comedies (think Sally, a la Harry Met Sally) and there are a ton of references to all sorts of rom-com favorites. If you're a romantic comedy fan, you'll love all the little inside jokes.

"For the chance to achieve his dreams, Luke had to do one thing. Make the fantasy real."

I liked Julia's character and enjoyed Luke, although I must admit the guy was a bit of a clueless idiot. The seagulls were easily the best characters in the book and some of their scenes made me laugh out loud. I'm never a fan of "lying by omission" plots, so it was a little hard to stomach that the story that was based off of falsehoods. Julia and Luke did have chemistry but also suffered a bit from instalove--maybe it was the seagulls?

Overall, this is a fun, fairly quick read, peppered with rom-com references. It's definitely silly and a bit cheesy, but sweet too. 3 stars.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Friday, July 16, 2021

A peace of mind, always takes me by surprise: THE GUNCLE.

The GuncleThe Guncle by Steven Rowley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful, funny, and sweet story of finding hope after loss

Patrick and Sara were best friends in college. Then she married his brother, had two kids, and life went on. Until Sara dies, leaving Patrick's niece and nephew motherless. Patrick has always adored Maisie and Grant--for small time periods. But when his brother Greg asks Patrick, aka "Gay Uncle Patrick," or "GUP," to take the kids for a bit, he's faced with a dilemma. It's time to actually step up. So GUP and the kids head to Patrick's house in Palm Springs, where Patrick leads the life of a very single (and gay) slightly faded actor. Once there, he institutes the "Guncle Rules" and they set out trying to survive. But as Patrick bumbles his way through parenting and trying to help his little charges heal, he realizes they may be helping them more than he could have ever imagined.

"He promised when they'd met that he would never let her go. And then life intervened. She went north and married his brother. He went west and found fame on TV. And slowly, over time, he did. Let go."

Oh this book. I'm not sure a book has ever made me cry so many times, yet I loved it so much. It's often sad but also incredibly funny and heartwarming. Rowley does something special here, capturing Patrick, Maisie, and Grant so beautifully and authentically. This is a lovely story about family and coming together after loss.

There's not much I can say to do this wonderful book justice. The Guncle is made up of a million little moments--obviously Maisie and Grant are hurting, but you learn Patrick is as well. Who needs who more? Patrick is bitingly caustic, and he talks to the kids as if they are tiny adults. But the warmth and love that comes across in his humor--that he uses as his shield--is so clear. The book is a quiet and beautiful journey of all three characters learning to live again, and it's so well-done. It's such a tender and honest story. And the acceptance that comes across here--oh, it just warmed my heart. (A scene where Maisie didn't want to wear her bathing suit, and Patrick didn't force her, but let her wear a t-shirt instead, promising to buy her a rash guard--well it brought tears to my eyes.)

I promise if you give this sweet book a try, you will love it. I love Patrick, Maisie, and Grant. I adored the welcoming message of the book. It's a sad premise, but a hopeful book. 4.5+ stars.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Always falling down without a place to land: HOW TO FIND A PRINCESS.

How to Find a Princess (Runaway Royals, #2)How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A repetitive and lackluster romance

Makeda Hicks loses her job and her girlfriend in the same day. Reeling, she's forced to move back with her grandmother and help out at her bed and breakfast. Being back with Grandmore means hearing more about when Grandmore supposedly had a passionate affair with the Prince of Ibarania--leading to Makeda's mother. Makeda has no patience for this story, as her mother's obsession with being a Princess dominated Makeda's entire childhood. When it never panned out, she disconnected from life (and Makeda), receding into alcoholism and forcing Makeda to grow up fast. When Beznaria Chetchevaliere, an investigator for the World Federation of Monarchies shows up at the B&B, claiming to be looking for Ibarania's missing heir, Makeda wants nothing to do with it. But the beautiful and chaotic investigator is surprisingly persuasive. Can she convince Makeda to go with her--and is Makeda indeed the heir to Ibarania?

"No adventures, no drama, and always there to lend a helping hand, even when her hands were full, that was Makeda."

This was one of my #Pride reads for June, and it sounded so cute. There were definitely funny and enjoyable moments, and I'm always glad to see queer romances in the world, but overall, this one didn't really work for me. I am a sucker for a good Hallmark movie, but even I couldn't get into this crazy idea--an unhinged royal investigator, a reluctant heir... and eventually a lot of fakedating and a cargo ship. It was all too much.

It's hard to believe the instachemistry between Bez and Makeda, especially as we do not get a lot of backstory on the two women. Makeda's "will I go with Bez or won't I" takes an inordinately long time--it was incredibly frustrating. Just decide already! Things are repeated over and over, making the story feel inordinately long. Being unable to get into the characters or their romance, it was just hard to really love this one. The pacing and timing always seemed off. I wound up skimming the last half just to find out what would happen, otherwise it would have been a DNF. 2 stars.

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Monday, July 12, 2021

Too scared to own up to one little lie: THE STRANGER BEHIND YOU.

The Stranger Behind YouThe Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An atmospheric and twisty thriller

Reporter Joan Lurie becomes famous when her story in Manhatta exposes Globe owner Caspar Osgood as a sexual harasser. But as she returns home the night of the publication, she's attacked in her apartment. Terrified and feeling ill from a severe blow to the head, she moves to a super secure building in Manhattan, called the Refuge, to write a book that further details what she's discovered about Casper. At the Refuge, she meets her elderly neighbor, Lillian, who has lived there since it was the Magdalen Laundry and Refuge for Fallen Women in the 1940s. She becomes sucked into Lillian's stories, which often remind Joan of her own life. Meanwhile, Caspar's wife Melissa must deal with the aftermath of learning her husband is sexual predator. Soon, these women's lives will intertwine: in potentially dangerous ways.

"I'm here because four weeks ago someone tried to kill me."

This was an often confusing but incredibly intriguing book that combines the #MeToo movement with a story about wayward girls. You're never quite sure what's going on, as Joan can be an unreliable narrator (head injury + fear, anyone?), leaving one feeling very off balance for the entire book. There's a story within a story here, as Joan goes after Caspar and his transgressions, combined with Lillian's story and her past.

"What kind of person is more concerned about their hard drive than their body?"

I loved the 1940s piece, learning about Lily, the Magdalen laundry, and the Refuge when it was a home for girls. It's fascinating even while being quite sad. Joan could be a very frustrating character (just go to the doctor for your head injury and stop drinking already), but you cannot fault her reporting skills. Caspar's wife Melissa adds a certain depth to the tale, as she wrestles with what her husband has done. Telling the story from Joan and Melissa's point of view really expands what we learn. This is also an atmospheric read, with the Refuge becoming its own character, especially as we learn about its history from the 1940s on. Goodman is always excellent at setting the scene.

While I sometimes found this book frustrating, it was also a page-turner, with compelling characters and an interesting story with some great twists. 4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from William Morrow and Netgalley via the Scene of the Crime program in return for an unbiased review.

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Friday, July 09, 2021

I wonder what we would’ve become: THE NIGHT HAWKS.

The Night Hawks (Ruth Galloway, #13)The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Captivating and atmospheric mystery featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway

In the 13th entry in the Ruth Galloway series, we find Ruth and her daughter Kate back in Norfolk. Ruth is now head of the department at the university, dealing with the perils of being in charge. This includes handling David Brown, her replacement as lecturer, who always seems to be in Ruth's business. As for Nelson, his boss Jo wants him to retire--something Nelson is firmly against. Instead, Nelson and team find a body washed up on shore, as well as a skeleton that Ruth believes may date to the Bronze Age. Thrown together again, Nelson and Ruth find themselves investigating a series of murders--all of which relate to a group of local metal detectorists, who keep finding the bodies, and the myth of the Black Shuck, a black dog who forewarns of death.

I love all of the Ruth books, but oh, this one was a particular favorite. It's creepy with the references to the Black Shuck filling you with an ominous sort of fear. There's the usual atmospheric feeling from a Ruth book, especially with Ruth returning to her beloved Norfolk--with the marshes, the sea, and the tides playing their own role in the story.

Griffiths writes with her typical charm and wit where you feel like you know Ruth, Nelson, and the whole gang. Clough shows up and Cathbad, our lovable druid and partner to Judy, Nelson's faithful DI, has a strong role. Everyone seems like an old friend at this point. The book is filled with Nelson and Ruth banter and plenty of tension between the two; it was excellent!

The mystery in this one is superb, as the bodies pile up and Nelson tries to figure out how the Night Hawks relate to his case, and why David Brown seems to follow Ruth everywhere. It kept me guessing, which is something I always appreciate! The Black Shuck myth adds a creepy element on top as well.

Overall, this is a lovely book with an captivating mystery and wonderful characters who are beloved. I'll be so sad when this series ends, but I'm loving it right now. This book will stand alone, but you'll fully appreciate the Ruth and Nelson nuances/dynamic if you read them all. 4.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in return for an unbiased review.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2021

I'll see us through the thick and thin: HAZEL BLY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA.

Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue SeaHazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea by Ashley Herring Blake
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A beautiful story about love and loss

Hazel Bly lived a great life with her Mum and Mama until a kayaking accident. Then her Mum died, leaving Hazel with a scar on her face and terrible anxiety. She wants nothing more than to keep her little sister Peach safe. The Blys move around a lot now. Two years after the accident, they are in Maine. It turns out that one of their new neighbors is her Mama's old childhood friend, Claire. The introduction of Claire into Hazel's world--along with her chatty daughter Lemon--makes Hazel feel unsettled. Plus Lemon is fixated on a local legend, the Rose Maid, a mermaid often seen in the waters. Hazel notes a resemblance between herself and Rose and soon she finds herself as fascinated by the mermaid as Lemon. Because sometimes everyone needs to believe in a little magic, especially when their world is crumbling around them.

"Now it's two and one, with me as the odd one out."

Oh this book is excellent-- an absolutely stunning read, which captures grief and loss so viscerally. I truly felt traumatized at times on Hazel's behalf. With the death of her Mum, she is so afraid something will happen to Peach, or even her Mama, and this fear comes through the pages so strongly. It's heartbreaking. Her fear of being happy again. You just want to wrap this sweet kid in your arms and hug her until everything is okay. Blake writes Hazel so well, and her grief, passion, and emotions come across so well.

Everything in this book is amazing--the magical and whimsical myth of the Rose Maid; the diversity of the characters; and the total acceptance of Hazel's parents being gay and bi. It's not a big deal in this book for parents to be queer or friends to be nonbinary. How wonderful for a YA story.

This is an exceptional tale about family, love, loss, healing, and magic. It made me cry, but it left me hopeful too. It's touching and heartfelt. Highly recommend. 4.5 stars.

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Monday, July 05, 2021

All the years seemed to take up air: THIS POISON HEART.

This Poison Heart (The Poison Heart, #1)This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wonderful and captivating YA fantasy

Briseis knows she has a rare gift--with just a touch, she can grow plants. But this gift also attracts attention. So when she inherits an estate in rural New York from a relative, Briseis and her moms see this as a chance to get away and perhaps learn to control her power. Upon arriving at her new home, Briseis finds it to be beautiful--and mysterious. The property is filled with secret gardens and the house itself with notes and clues about her family's past. Then the local townsfolk start showing up at Briseis' doorstep, and she realizes the house once served as an apothecary. Briseis has an uncanny knack for whipping up the healing potions everyone desires, but the more she investigates, she realizes there is a darker side to the house and its powers. One that could have dangerous consequences for Briseis and her entire family.

"I was pretty sure that growing a poisonous bush in the park wasn't what they had in mind for how I should spend my summer."

This was a completely awesome book! The story is totally engrossing. There are poisonous plants, secret gardens, Greek mythology, and a gothic vibe--what's not to love? Briseis is an amazing character. She's strong, brave, and tough; she's also bisexual and loved unconditionally by her two moms, Mom and Mo. The book offers such a great family dynamic, with an excellent attitude toward adoption. It's no big deal that Bri is bi or that she has two Moms--it's just a fact of life. How I appreciate that in a YA book.

"'Did I--did I inherit the Addams Family Mansion?'"

I've read several books lately with Greek mythology and didn't care for them, but this one broke the mold. The stories are woven in perfectly and add to the plot flawlessly. The story is completely captivating and I loved all the strong women in it. It's also part mystery, part myth, which adds to the page-turning aspect. (Be forewarned, this is book #1, so this ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.)

Overall, cannot recommend this book enough. It's a unique and mesmerizing fantasy. The fact that it's so queer inclusive is lovely. I'll be impatiently waiting for book #2. 4.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's in return for an unbiased review.

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Friday, July 02, 2021

My sense of progress has me going in circles: THE ZIG ZAG GIRL.

The Zig Zag Girl (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #1)The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Captivating mystery set in the 1950s

When DI Edgard Stephens sees the body of a girl, cut into three, it reminds him of a magic trick: the Zig Zag Girl. His friend, Max Mephisto, used to perform it. Max and Edgar served in the war together as part of a secret unit called the Magic Men. Max still performs, but when another person turns up dead, he reluctantly helps Edgar look into the deaths--especially since this one seems tied to magic as well. Both men feel like the murders may be linked to their war days, and if they're not careful, their whole unit could be in danger.

This was the twenty-sixth (and final!) book in my #atozchallenge! I challenged myself to read a book from my shelves that started with each letter of the alphabet.

"'The way the body was cut into three, each part put into a black box, it reminded me of a magic trick. One you used to do before the war.'"

I absolutely adore Elly Griffiths, but I don't read a lot of historical fiction, so I've always kept this series in my back pocket. When I needed a "Z" book for my challenge, this seemed like a perfect fit. No surprise, really, but this was an easy and interesting read. Griffiths is such a good writer, and this is written in what I've come to think of as Elly's style--a fun, enjoyable form, where she captures the essence of each of her characters so well.

The book is filled with magic and war stories. The mystery is quite captivating--it's a good case, which draws you into the story. And Edgar, Max, and their crew are very compelling. I enjoyed the themes of friendship and wartime, plus the surprising vulnerability that shone through in both Max and Edgar. I would certainly read the next book in the series. 4+ stars.

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