Find it at your library!

The single biggest barrier that prevents me from being the frantic book inhaler I want to be is sleep. No matter how excited I am to read my book, once I get all snuggled up and cozy, it’s just a matter of time before I nod off like Grandpa in front of the TV after turkey and stuffing. Last week I was on vacation from work and determined to use the time to read as much as possible, so I broke out the big guns--I sat in an uncomfortable chair. And through this ultimate sacrifice, I finished this delightfully dark fantasy novel!

I love court intrigue, and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is court intrigue on steroids. Add a heroine who wants power more than she wants a man, and I’ll be a fan for life. Xifeng is beautiful, but she wants to trade on more than just her looks. She has a thirst for power and prestige, and her aunt Guma teaches her to consume the power of other living things (in a really gross way, too! Like I said, this book is dark!). But what Xifeng hasn’t accounted for is that magic has its cost.

Still, I’ve never seen a character more motivated to claw her way to the top, and it makes me really like Xifeng despite her at best selfish, at worst sociopathic behavior. Super glad this is the first in a series--I am definitely on board for the next installment.

Find it at your library!

Is it just me, or is this book criminally under the radar? I’m not even sure where I heard about it or how it ended up on my list, but it’s certainly not one I’ve seen bandied about much. I didn’t even have any immediate plans to read it—I used an Audible credit on it out of desperation one night when the two other books I planned to read next in audio turned out not to be available in the format (#firstworldproblems).

My sweet spot when it comes to mysteries and thrillers is somewhere between cozy and brutal, which in my experience can be a pretty narrow target to hit. I am weirded out by books that are too cutesy or jokey about death, but I also can’t stomach outright gore. So my ideal mysteries are the kind that take crime seriously, but don’t wallow around in the bloody details. As I flipped through my TBR, desperately searching for anything that might fit the bill, I reread the synopsis of The Crossing Places and thought, yeah, that sounds about right. And it totally was!

Ruth Galloway is my jam. I don’t know when I’ve more closely identified with a character. She’s an antisocial nerd, a bit overweight, much more confident in her field of expertise than interactions with people. Her work as an archaeologist leads the police to seek her help on a case dealing with bones found in a salt marsh near her home. The bones turn out to be thousands of years old, and not those of a missing girl, but Ruth gets sucked into the case anyway, partly out of her own interest and partly by forces out of her control. While I’m a little miffed that I hadn’t heard of this series before now, I’m tickled that there are eight other books for me to enjoy, no waiting required.