Review: The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

In The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker, Ren Scarbourough is a girl caught between two worlds. Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, she and her brother, Neven, are never accepted in Britain. When things fall apart and she decides to go looking for her mother and a place among the Japanese Shinigami she finds an adventure and fairy-tale horror awaits in the dark.

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“I took one step into the void, and the darkness breathed me in.” – Kylie Lee Baker, The Keeper of Night

Review

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker came to me from Book of the Month and I couldn’t be more excited to see Japanese lore coming to mainstream stories. I was impressed with the stories that were incorporated into this retelling. Japanese lore has always struck me as darker and more sinister than other lores and this lived up to that reputation. There are so many night-beasties and things that go bump in the dark in this book. I devoured them all.

As for our main character, Ren and her brother, Neven, I often felt that these two were all alone in the world. There was a desperate, lonely quality to this story which is highlighted in the moments of possibility and connection with others. This world is all or nothing and more often than not, it’s nothing. More than the horror of the beasties, the loneliness and rejection are haunting.

Once this story came close to the ending, I felt that it became almost a montage of increasingly terrifying discoveries. While there were so many vignettes of stories in the journey, the ending was quick and severe. I am pleased to say that there will be a follow-up as this is the first of a duology, so there might be some redemption.

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker lived up to the promise of telling a Japanese-centric tale of death and the under-realms. From the exciting beginnings came brutal endings that may only be softened by a second novel. Thankfully for us all, Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker is expected Oct. 4th 2022.

I recommend this book if you’re interested in reading fairy lore from Japanese culture.

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Review: If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

In If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy, Cindy, a plus-sized recent graduate of Parsons is looking to find her next step in life. With a stepmother in Hollywood, she finds an alternative to going on America’s Favorite Reality love story: Before Midnight. When Cindy arrives on set she realizes the competition she’s up against and looks for her own path through the competition. With her design skills and take-charge personality, she soon captivates the hearts of America. 

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“‘Use it,’ he says. ‘Whatever it is that had you hung up. An ex, a death, or just plain old depression. The best part about crossing any bridge is the chance to look back and be able to fully understand where you came from. You’re not a machine. You’re not a computer. You’re an artist, and any good artist knows life feeds into art and art feeds into life.’” – Julie Murphy, If the Shoe Fits

Review

I have loved Julie Murphy’s books and their messages about body positivity and loving yourself for a while If the Shoe Fits is no exception. As someone who has enjoyed a season or two of the Bachelor, I instantly loved the backdrop to this love story. The set-up of competition & dates was perfect to give the book a good cadence to the action. I’m honestly surprised that I haven’t seen this premise before for a romance novel, it worked out well.

Honestly, I was all in just for the descriptions of the shoes! Murphy has an eye towards the important details, the shoes being key for this book. She has a way of humanizing and allowing us to see behind the curtain of what it’s like for marginalized groups of people but still keeping the story campy and light. Murphy writes fully realistic and human characters; I totally identified with Cindy and loved her outlook on not only the competition but also what she wanted for her life’s goals. I even appreciated the ending, as this was a story about Cindy and her success, not necessarily about getting the guy.

I recommend this book if you like well setup romances and if you binged the last season of the Bachelor!

I received an e-book arc of If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy from the publisher Disney Publishing Worldwide.

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Review: The Maidens by Alex Michaelides with spoilers

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

When, in The Maidens by Alex Michaelides, a young woman shows up dead at Cambridge, Mariana Andros leaps into action to come to the side of her niece, Zoe. The longer that Andros is at the school, the more she is convinced that the person responsible for this and other murders of young women is Edward Fosca, an enigmatic professor. Fosca has a group of young female students, called The Maidens which he hosts parties for and pays special attention to. All of the murdered young women were a part of this group. As more and more of The Maidens show up dead, Andros becomes more desperate to find evidence of her suspicions and bring the killer to justice.

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“Reading about life was no preparation for living it.” ― Alex Michaelides, The Maidens

Review

I have not read a book like The Maidens by Alex Michaelides in quite a while. The aesthetic reminded me of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, but the book was much more grounded in reality than fantasy. Still, the story had an almost dream-like quality to it where nothing felt certain. The writing itself has an almost hesitant quality which I found readable and endearing. The interludes of the letter that are woven throughout also had a nostalgic quality which allowed me to get lost in what it was saying until the very end.

With a main character that is certain that she has solved the case almost immediately, it wasn’t a surprise to me that she hadn’t in fact, gotten the culprit pinned correctly. I was surprised by the ending, even though I had felt it coming. The twist was deeper and broader than it was going to be. I felt instinctively that most of the characters had some trauma or another, but didn’t think this extended beyond the walls of Cambridge. Even so, I did feel like the resolution of the story was satisfying even if it was a little vague.

I recommend this book if you like murder mysteries that have a twist you won’t see coming.

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A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas with Spoilers

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas brings us back to the night court. Nesta Archeron has been lost ever since she arrived at the court. Blaming herself for past mistakes and loathing her new powers, she has fallen into drinking and partying the […]

Review: The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien with Spoilers

The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien In The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien, Myrra is a contract worker on her way to a new world. For generations, she and her ancestors have served the ruling class on the ship. One day, she learns of a horrible secret – the ship is breaking apart […]