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Reviews of the Week with Manda Collins, Tracy Deonn, Amparo Ortiz, and More!

The Review of the Day has always been a brief, early way to spotlight exceptional upcoming titles on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.

Strong heroines facing fantastic trials abound in this week’s #ReviewsOfTheDay. Booklist wishes you all well.

Monday, September 14

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem, by Manda Collins

When the London Metropolitan Police seem stymied in their search for the Ten Commandments Killer, Lady Katherine Bascomb joins forces with Caroline Hardcastle to offer the public a female’s perspective on crime through their newspaper column, “A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem.” While pursuing their journalistic investigation into the murders, the ladies discover a clue that leads to the arrest of a suspect and to Inspector Eversham’s removal from the case. However, when another murder occurs, it would seem that the wrong man may be behind bars, thus leaving Katherine with no other option than to team up with Andrew to find the real killer.

Tuesday, September 15

Legendborn, by Tracy Deonn

Drenched in Southern magic, Deonn’s first novel puts a modern spin on Arthurian myth while exploring themes of power and heroism, and challenging expectations and racial prejudice. After her mom’s death, Bree Matthews, a Black 16-year-old, flees her childhood home by enrolling in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Early College program. Bree witnesses a demon attack on campus, and a teenage mage (called a Merlin) tries unsuccessfully to erase her memory. Instead, he inadvertently uncovers a buried memory that reveals a Merlin’s presence at the hospital when Bree’s mother died, and that the mage erased that night’s events from Bree’s mind. To find answers, Bree infiltrates the Legendborn, a secret society (traditionally white and racist) descended from the Knights of the Round Table that hunts demons. When she learns that a war is brewing between the Legendborn and demonkind, she must decide how deep into the society she will plunge and if the Legendborn’s war is hers to fight.

Wednesday, September 16

Where the Wild Ladies Are, by Aoko Matsuda and translated by Polly Barton

Preface any storytelling format with “traditional,” and audiences will have no expectations of feminist agency. Thankfully, prizewinning Japanese writer Matsuda imagines reclamation and brilliantly transforms fairy tales and folk legends into empowering exposés, adventures, manifestos. The 17 stories—adroitly translatedby UK-based Polly Barton—are loosely linked via recurring characters who work for the enigmatic Mr. Tei in his not-particularly-discernible company. His name—汀 in kanji—means “water’s edge,” fitting for a man who exists between the living and the dead. While each story easily entertains, there are standouts. In “The Peony Lanterns,” two mysterious women visit an out-of-work salesman one late evening and ply him with melodramatic stories. The aggressive pair briefly reappear as competition for “Team Sarashina,” about an outstanding 10-women working group (job descriptions unknown) in Mr. Tei’s employ.

Thursday, September 17

Blazewrath Games, by Amparo Ortiz

Seventeen-year-old Lana Torres lives in an alternate-reality America where dragons and wizards are real, but so is the discrimination she feels being Puerto Rican. Determined to make her father proud, Lana dreams of becoming the Runner in the Blazewrath games—a televised bloodsport where dragons and their magical riders chase the Regular an unmagical Runner, for prizes and glory. She thinks she’s lost her chance when there’s a dragon attack at her cousin’s birthday party and the fight she survives has her questioning everything she knows about the world: wizards, dragons, and her Blazewrath hero, Takeshi Endo. While grappling with the big questions, she’s invited to be the Puerto Rican Runner, and despite her mother’s misgivings, Lana agrees to the only job she’s ever really wanted. While she learns the game, the news covers a terrorist dragon called the Sire, who might just ruin everything for Lana . . . and for the world.

Friday, September 18

Eartheater, by Dolores Reyes

In the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Eartheater is ostracized by her gift: she sees the fates of the missing when she ingests earth connected to them. First, her aunt flees when Eartheater reveals that her father, who disappeared after killing her mother, is alive. Then, when her teacher, Señorita Ana, disappears, a taste of playground earth leads to her battered body. For years, Eartheater avoids the allure of the earth until she’s persuaded by a mother’s pain to reveal another killer. This, of course, draws other pleas in the form of bottles of earth deposited at her gate, but Eartheater remains repulsed by the pain they hold until Ezequiel, a young cop, enlists her to find his missing cousin. When the girl is rescued, Eartheater finds purpose in her sight and unlikely love with Ezequiel until a friend’s murder reveals Señorita Ana’s killer, and Eartheater becomes an instrument of death instead of its herald.

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About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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