In the Study with the Wrench – Book Review

In the Study with the Wrench: A Clue Mystery, Book Two by Diana Peterfreund

In the aftermath of their headmaster’s brutal murder, Blackbrook Academy has been thrown into chaos. Half the student body hasn’t bothered to return to campus—but those who have include Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Scarlett Mistry, Beth “Peacock” Picach, Phineas Plum, and Sam “Mustard” Maestor, now warily referred to by the other students as the Murder Crew.

When another staff member is found dead, each teen’s reasons for sticking around come to light. Orchid and Vaughn grow ever closer to having their secrets exposed, Peacock and Scarlett struggle to change their stripes, and Plum and Mustard question everything. As everything comes to a boiling point at Tudor House, nobody’s life will ever be the same.

Where the previous novel felt a bit claustrophobic, being mostly stuck in the house, this sequel is just as suspenseful and full of intrigue. Once again, each chapter rotates from each of the main characters’ points of view. It’s a great way to tell the story, as we only get snippets from each, adding to the mystery and each of their own motives. We are introduced to several more “colorful” characters (pun intended); and everyone seems like they have something to hide. The interpersonal drama develops in this installment, with a bit of romance. And a surprising finale builds to a bit of a cliffhanger ending. I certainly look forward to the final novel in this fantastic mystery trilogy.

The Bone Maker – Book Review

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst

Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived.

Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband. But such a task requires both a cache of human bones and a sacrifice—for each day he lives, she will live one less.

She’d rather live one year with her husband than a hundred without him, but using human bones for magic is illegal in Vos. The dead are burned—as are any bone workers who violate the law. Yet Kreya knows where she can find the bones she needs: the battlefield where her husband and countless others lost their lives.

But defying the laws of the land exposes a terrible possibility. Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all.

Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”

I haven’t read many long, fantasy novels lately, as I have so many books in my TBR pile. But this sounded like a unique twist on magic, and I’ve pretty much read (and reviewed) almost every children’s and YA novel written by Durst. She’s a favorite author of mine. So, of course, it didn’t take any coaxing to check this out. And I wasn’t surprised at all to quickly get caught up in this story.

Kreya lost the love of her life 25 years ago, but has been trying to bring him back ever since using illegal magic. But the past evil that killed him seems to be back. This is an exceptional fantasy packed with engaging character, gruesome magic, and a complex and captivating plot. It’s a thrilling read with adventure, drama, friendship, romance, and intrigue. I enjoyed every bit of this impressive novel.

In the Hall with the Knife – Book Review

In the Hall with the Knife: A Clue Mystery, Book One by Diana Peterfreund

When a storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students—including Beth “Peacock” Picach, Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Sam “Mustard” Maestor, Finn Plum, and Scarlet Mistry—are left stranded on campus with their headmaster. Hours later, his body is found in the conservatory and it’s very clear his death was no accident. With this group of students who are all hiding something, nothing is as it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder. Fans of the CLUE board game and cult classic film will delight in Diana Peterfreund’s modern reimagining of the brand, its characters, and the dark, magnificent old mansion with secrets hidden within its walls.

As a fan of the game and the film based on it, I knew I had to check out this new trilogy. There are clever characters with familiar names and nicknames. It’s easy to keep track of them all as they all have vastly different personalities and motivations. Each chapter is from a different rotating, major character. This is a very fun and well-developed whodunnit for teens and adults alike. From the colorful characters (maybe a pun indented) to the suspenseful plot, mystery and Clue fans will enjoy this fresh take. To be honest, I did guess the killer, but I wasn’t sure of the motivation – so it was still a thrilling adventure with several surprises along the way. I’m definitely reading the next in this fantastic series soon.

The Revenge of Magic: The Timeless One – Book Review

The Revenge of Magic: The Timeless One by James Riley

The future has been saved, but at a cost: Fort Fitzgerald has been expelled from the Oppenheimer School, and some of Fort’s friends have been lost in time. But time is the one thing Fort, Rachel, and Jia don’t have, as they’ll soon be facing one of the eternal Old Ones, the Timeless One, for the fate of the world.

If they lose, the Old Ones will return, and humanity is doomed. If they win, the Old Ones will still return, and humanity is doomed. Because the Timeless One can see every possibility, and plan for it.

How can Fort and his friends defeat a creature like that? And what does this all have to do with the real-life Merlin, from King Arthur’s days?

This is the 4th book in The Revenge of Magic series. Fort finally has his father back.. as well as a young dragon who thinks of him as a father. Meanwhile, he and his friends try to prepare for the return of the Timeless One. This could have been just a filler novel, as Fort has left the magic school and is just back home, trying to hide his dragon from prying eyes. But the excitement and adventure don’t lessen in this installment. Shocking secrets are revealed. And a seemingly hopeless situation grows more dire. But there are plenty of lighthearted moments as well with young dragon, Ember, and the annoying fairy who has a mission to bring back a dragon to her queen. Fantasy fans, from middle grade to adults, should enjoy this engaging series with unique magic, colorful characters, and a suspenseful plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment and look forward to the next (and final) book in this great series.

The Conductors – Book Review

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

Hetty Rhodes and her husband, Benjy, were Conductors on the Underground Railroad, ferrying dozens of slaves to freedom with daring, cunning, and magic that draws its power from the constellations. With the war over, those skills find new purpose as they solve mysteries and murders that white authorities would otherwise ignore.

In the heart of Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward, everyone knows that when there’s a strange death or magical curses causing trouble, Hetty and Benjy are the only ones that can solve the case. But when an old friend is murdered, their investigation stirs up a wasp nest of intrigue, lies, and long-buried secrets- and a mystery unlike anything they handled before. With a clever, cold-blooded killer on the prowl testing their magic and placing their lives at risk, Hetty and Benjy will discover how little they really know about their neighbors . . . and themselves.

This is a unique historical fantasy/mystery set not long after the Civil War. The magic that Hetty and Benjy practice is based on constellations. But there are other ways to wield magic as well. The two are drawn into investigating the murder of someone they know. And as they grow closer to answers, the danger increases. There are a lot of characters, so I was often confused. But as the story went along, I was able to catch on better. Some of the highlights of the novel were the flashbacks of Hetty and Benjy’s time during the Underground Railroad and helping people to freedom. The first half of the book is a bit of a slow burn, despite the murder. But as the pacing picked up, and Hetty and Benjy closed in on the killer, it became more exciting and captivating. The story is dramatic and heart-wrenching, yet with a bit of sweet romance and hope. This is an impressive debut, rich with history and inventive magic.

Exploring Gotham City – Book Review

Exploring Gotham City (DC Comics) by Matthew Manning (Author) and MUTI (Illustrator)

About the Book:
Explore Gotham City, home of the mysterious crime fighter the Batman! From the depths of the Batcave to Wayne Manor, Arkham Asylum, and beyond, these pages take you on a fully illustrated journey through the crime-riddled city. Inside you’ll learn all about Gotham City’s shadowy history, encounter infamous villains from The Joker to the Penguin, and find out what the Batman, Robin, and other heroes are doing to stop them.

Exploring Gotham City is a huge book – larger than any coffee table book I own! Each page is a full-page, full-color, illustrated spread. Each 2-page spread is a look at a different part of Gotham City: from Wayne Manor and The Batcave to notable areas within the city such as The Narrows and Blackgate Penitentiary. And within each area, there are short descriptions, anecdotes, historic significance, and mentions of familiar characters. The artwork is detailed and impressive. And even though it’s a short book, at only 47 pages, there’s a lot packed into this trivia-laden book. It would probably take the same amount of time to read as a standard graphic novel. It’s a fun, all-ages book for Batman-lovers.

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