LAST WOMAN STANDING, by Amy Gentry
THE JANES, by Louisa Luna - Maybe reading the sequel on the heels of the original was a bad idea. There's a slow-burn romance here, and now I can't bear the thought of sitting through another whole mystery to find out if these two sleep together. Damn you, isolation-brain. (See also - GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW.)
TWO GIRLS DOWN, by Louisa Luna - It f eels so good to read a book you can't put down even when there's a global health crisis and you don't have time to be reading (some of us have less time now, not more). It's a long book, full of twists and details that tested my tortured attention span, but I persevered because I had to. It's not an unusual story. A kidnapping in a hard-luck town, an enigmatic PI with hidden scars, a disgraced cop. All things that crime fiction snobs sneer at on Twitter because they are tropes, clichés. This book is a shining example of my best-loved writing belief: execution is king. You can do anything - old, new, original, cliché - as long as you do it well. This book delivers-plus on everything it attempts, and the result is a strange, intense thriller in which ordinary elements are skillfully manipulated into wonder and terror.
GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia - Wish I'd read this book before my brain turned into a pile of sensory-seeking mush, so I could appreciate its rich history and myth instead of just thinking is this girl gonna fuck this death god, or what?
UNTAMED SHORE, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, by Steph Cha
THE NIGHT CIRCUS, by Erin Morgenstern - I finished this book, turned to page 1 and started reading again, which is what I do with books that can teach me something about writing, but are too engrossing to read slowly and with a technical eye the first time through. Books get called "magical" all the time, whether or not they are actually about magic. The true magic of this book is how simply its written, despite its fanciful subject matter; how much the author accomplishes with how little. It's a visual, sensual book, and yet the writing is not flowery-floofy. It's simple, clear, precise. When the author means wet, she says wet. When she means red, she says red, not carmine, crimson, or vermillion. It's this simplicity that gives the book its power, its magic, its ability to attach itself to your mind. And it's very much a book ABOUT this process of losing yourself in a dream both public and private. This is a book about art.