Night Race (Ashley R. King)

Night Race is the second novel in the Vampire Reality Show series by Ashley R. King.
Finished on: 13.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
Theo has been a vampire for over 300 years, but she is done with being one. She wants to taste food again and enjoy the sun. There is only one way to become human again, though, and that is a magical chalice that has just been announced as the big prize for the winner of Night Race, a reality TV show where contestants race around the world and complete challenges. Theo has been accepted as a contestant, as has Aiden who is human, but wants to use the chalice to become a vampire and avenge the death of his fiancée. Instead of fighting for themselves, though, the contestants are surprisingly paired. Theo and Aiden are teamed up and can barely bring themselves to work together, despite the fact that they are drawn to each other. But then contestants around them start dying and things become very serious indeed.

Night Race is a page-turner, but I have to admit that I didn’t love the turn the series took in this one, moving further and further away from the Reality TV angle that I find the most intriguing bit about it. How much you’ll enjoy it, will probably depend on how much you like this change.

The book cover showing a woman being hugged from behind by a man. Both are wearing leather jackets.
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A Spark of Light (Jodi Picoult)

A Spark of Light is a novel by Jodi Picoult.
Finished on: 19.11.2021

Content Note: abortion, anti-abortion terrorism

Plot:
A hostage situation at the last reproductive health clinic in Mississipi that performs abortions is coming to an end. People have died and the situation is tense, as one can imagine. For hostage negotiator Hugh McElroy they are even more tense than usual – because he realized that his own daughter, Wren, is one of the patients held captive. And his sister Bex, who accompanied her, was already brought to the hospital with a potentially deadly gunshot wound. As Hugh desperately tries to find a connection with hostage taker George, and as the hostages inside – all in the clinic for different reasons, as patients and workers and even as spies for the anti-abortion camp – try to get through the terror, things start to move very quickly.

A Spark of Light is a really good read. A layered look at the complexities around the topic of abortion that gives everyone a say, but still remains firmly in the pro-choice camp. And it chose an interesting structure to tell its story.

The book cover showing the title on an off-white background. At the very bottom are three blots of color.
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Cold & Deadly (Toni Anderson)

Cold & Deadly is the first novel in the Cold Justice: The Negotiators series by Toni Anderson.
Finished on: 28.10.2021

Plot:
Ava Kanas always wanted to become an FBI agent and she just became an agent. When the one guy who has always helped and mentored her along the way dies, Ava is convinced that there is more to it. But nobody seems to believe her – until there is an attack at the funeral service. It is there that Dominic Sheridan, experienced hostage negotiator and friend of the deceased, starts to believe that Ava might have a point. As the two start to investigate, they realize that there might be a target on their own backs. And things get more complicated still when they admit their growing attraction to each other.

Cold & Deadly isn’t the kind of thing I usually read. While I definitely like romance novels, crime thrillers are not so much my thing. But this was included in a free set of romantic suspense novels I downloaded a while ago, and I thought I’d give it a go. For it not being my cup of tea, it worked pretty well, but overall it didn’t quite win me over.

The book covre showing a man in a suit and with an FBI badge embracing a woman in a sparkling top of dress from behind. There is a red filter over everything and shards of broken glass.
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Spellman Six (Lisa Lutz)

Spellman Six (aka The Last Word) is the sixth and final novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 18.4.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Plot:
After Izzy Spellman took over the family business in what could be considered a hostile take-over, her parents have started to be hostile right back. Izzy’s management has generally caused a bit of trouble for the business, and it doesn’t help that she is being accused of embezzling a client. With her bookkeeping skills, Izzy might actually have spent some money that she shouldn’t have, but that’s not the point. The question is whether Izzy will actually run the family business into the ground.

Spellman Six gives us a nice ending to the series, albeit not a simple and clean happy end. But then again, when has Izzy ever given us something clean and simple? In any case, it’s sad but also okay that the series has ended now.

The book cover showing blinds being pulled apart in the shape of an eye, behind it a big pupil.
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The Shaved Man (Anatoly Marienhof)

The Shaved Man is a novel by Anatoly Marienhof. I read the German translation by Brigitte van Kann and Gregor Jarcho.
Finished on: 3.1.2021

Plot:
Mishka and Leo have been friends for a long time. Although friends may be the wrong word – Leo has always dominated Mishka, as the more beautiful, more charming and more cruel of the two. But one night Mishka is done with it all. He murders Leo – and then tries to figure out why he did it.

I read Cynics not too long ago and I really enjoyed it. The Shaved Man didn’t work that well for me, unfortunately. I never really got into the story.

The book cover of the German edition, showing a pencil drawing of two faces taht seem to be lying down.
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My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite)

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite.
Finished on: 1.11.2020

Plot:
Korede and Ayoola are sisters, though they are very different. Korede is rather calm and conscientous, working as a nurse and has been pining after one of the doctors at the hospital – Tade. Ayoola, on the other hand, is lively, super-pretty and seems to do not much more than dating one guy after the other. The thing is, three of her boyfriends already ended up dead – stabbed by Ayoola. Supposedly in self-defense, but Korede – whom Ayoola always called to help with the clean-up – isn’t too sure about that self-defense part. Maybe Ayoola is just a psychopath. When Ayoola comes to the hospital and meets Tade, Korede has to work out her options, urgently.

My Sister, the Serial Killer was an entertaining and very quick read that I really enjoyed. It does have a couple of issues, but they are easy to forgive, especially since it’s a debut novel.

The book cover showing the face of a black woman wearing a headscarf and sunglasses. The sunglasses are red and you can see a raised hand with a knife reflected in them.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Trail of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Trail of the Spellmans is the fifth novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 24.10.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Spellman Investigations is busy as usual, but also as usual, Izzy has to keep a close eye on her family members as well because something is going on with pretty much all of them. Rae and David aren’t speaking, and neither is David’s little daughter Sydney. Rae has gone off to college. Izzy’s mother keeps finding new hobbies for herself so that she is barely home – only it doesn’t seem like she actually likes her new activities. And Henry’s mother is coming to visit and, what is even worse, Henry wants to have a talk with Izzy – two encounters Izzy has been trying to avoid by sneaking and hiding, her usual strategies. And Izzy’s father is working a case that seems to be connected to her own, but he won’t let Izzy peek at his files. Things are complicated indeed.

Trail of the Spellmans gives us some nice twists and turns that continue in the Spellman series tradition, but also add some new elements. It was fun and enjoyable until it ripped out my heart.

The book cover showing a stylized person wearing a hat and trenchcoat. But when you look more closely, you see that the face only consists of eyes that are footprints.
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The Spellmans Strike Again (Lisa Lutz)

The Spellmans Strike Again is the fourth novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 18.8.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Izzy Spellman has finally agreed to take over the family business, but so far nothing has changed all that much. Izzy is still trying to dig up dirt on Rick Harkey, the other PI in San Francisco and a known bastard. Her parents are still doing strange things like forcing Izzy to go on dates with lawyers (despite her boyfriend Connor) and ignoring that small items like door handles keep disappearing from the house. Rae has found something new to obsess about: freeing innocent prisoners. And Henry? Henry tries to be friends with Izzy again but Izzy isn’t sure she is ready for that. Oh, and of course, there is also an actual case Izzy is working on.

The Spellmans Strike Again is a great addition to the Spellman series that I’ve been reading with continuous joy and some heartbreak. We definitely get both here.

The book cover showing many keys next to each other so they are forming a grate with two hands clutching the bars.

[SPOILERS]

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Revenge of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Revenge of the Spellmans is the third novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 19.4.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Izzy Spellman has turned her back on the family business and has been working as a bartender for a few months now, while attending court-mandated therapy. But her therapy is nearing its end (and Izzy definitely doesn’t want to continue longer than she has to), her parents still hope that she will take over the family detective agency, her friend and boss Milo asks her to take on a very simple case for a friend and also fires her. Plus, there is something going on with both her brother David and her sister Rae, and Henry Stone has a new girfriend. Moving into her brother’s basement apartment without his knowledge may not be the only thing that is costing Izzy sleep, but the biggest question is if she can get to a halfway stable place and make important decisions.

Revenge of the Spellmans is again entertaining and funny, but it also has a more serious emotional core here than the first two novels. It worked beautifully and grounded the series in an important way, I thought.

The book cover in yellow with the title and author's name in brightly colored, big letters. There's also a drawing of binoculars in the glasses of which you can see a pair of eyes.
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Curse of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Curse of the Spellmans is the second novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 7.1.2020
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
Private Detective Izzy Spellman has been arrested for the fourth time in three months and she may think it was unavoidable in the course of her duty, but her parents and employers do not. And her neighbor – whom she has been running unsanctioned but, in Izzy’s eyes, entirely necessary surveillance on – isn’t amused either. That would probably be enough to keep her busy, but with a family like Izzy’s there’s never just one thing going on and there are several family members who behave in very suspicious ways. Plus, Izzy has to make sure that her little sister Rae doesn’t overstay her welcome in police inspector Henry Stone’s life.

Curse of the Spellmans is a great sequel, keeping the energy and sense of humor of the first novel, but also managing to introduce new elements. I really enjoyed coming back to the Spellmans.

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