The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

“In life, the murderer is anyone. The reasons, the methods, the circumstances – the paths to becoming a murderer are as numerous as the stars.”

The Vanishing Stair was one of my most anticipated sequels for 2019 after falling absolutely in love with Truly Devious last fall. I was really excited to see what happened after that incredibly rude cliffhanger, and hoped to get more answers in this installment. 🕵️ I am pleased to say that we got some much-needed answers (& some new questions!), as well as more actual investigating, but overall this one fell into themiddle book syndrome for me. It was an enjoyable and I will finish the series, but if I am being honest I could have done without the first 40% of this book.

My friend Hamad @ Book Prescription summed up my feelings pretty well in his review:

“The Vanishing Stair was what I expected it to be; an unnecessary bridge to the third book and this whole series could have been a duology.”

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The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

“It’s worse than creepy in here. Let’s find what we need and get out.”

What a fantastically atmospheric ghost story! I was really excited when the publisher offered me this eARC for my honest review because I love tales of the supernatural even though I am a total skeptic about it. Interestingly enough, my one unexplained ghost experience happened on a ghost tour in the Underground Vaults in Edinburgh, so I was extra excited for this one! While the character’s backstories and initial conversations felt disjointed at first, the story definitely shines with building tension and crafting a truly spooky read.

For those of you that have never walked the streets and closes of Edinburgh, they definitely have a haunting atmosphere to them. Our main character is Hannah, a recent divorcee that’s relocated from England to Edinburgh to as an actor and guide for haunted walking tours of Henderson Close. While Henderson Close itself is fictitious, there are countless walking tours where the guides dress up as people from the past to lead the tours and discuss ghost sightings around the city (I’ve been on one!).

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Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

BRIEFING NOTE: After absolutely falling head over heels in love with Illuminae , I didn’t think it could get any better. Hahaha joke is on you, this one is ███████ fantastic and I loved it even more than the first book.
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Chums, I was sucked into Gemina immediately. It builds on the action from Illuminae and starts with a court proceeding of sorts for BeiTech. The evidence provided are the documents provided by the Illuminae Group, and the briefing notes we read in Gemina are part of the official record. I thought this was such an innovative way to frame the story, and I love books that start at the end and watching how things got to that point. 

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Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

“People aren’t supposed to have lives in two eras. You know that, right?”

Friends, this book took me completely by surprise in the best of ways! I had been in a reading slump for 20 days and nothing that I picked up could hold my attention, but when I picked up Here and Now and Then it was like I had been waiting for this book. This is a genre-bending and unique tale of love, and I loved every heartbreaking second of it.

The story is so much more than just a science fiction story about a man stuck between two times: it’s about the love our main character feels for his family and being torn between two lives. Kin is from 2142 but was stranded during a mission in 1996. Despite there being strict rules about maintaining the timeline, he goes against them when it becomes obvious that he won’t be rescued. Eighteen years later he remembers nothing of his past life in 2142 but snippets he wrote down in a journal about time travel and the bureau he worked for, but nothing of the life he left behind. He has a wife and daughter and is happy. But rescue finally comes and it is time for him to leave the only life he knows – the one that should never have existed – for the one he left behind. But he will do anything to protect them, include leaving them without a word.

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Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder and James Lovegrove

It’s been almost sixteen years since Firefly was cancelled by FOX, and honestly I’m still not over it. As a person that lives in a reality where Serenity does not exist, I was more than eager to dive back into the black with the crew that started my love for space opera and ragtag crews. But I was also apprehensive: would the series hold up? For me this book was everything that I was looking for and I am so excited for the next books in the series!

Firefly: Big Damn Hero contextually happens in the middle of the short lived tv series, which means that some jobs and events from the eleven episodes are referenced, but the great thing is that a reader new to the Firefly franchise will not feel lost among references. Holder and Lovelace did an excellent job of including references for fans of the tv series without alienating an entirely new audience.

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