I’ve changed this stack around several times, but I think I finally have it filled with possibilities that I’m eager to pick up. I’ve already finished reading ROAD OF BONES, which was a creepy and atmospheric read. While I would have thought I could breeze through it in a handful of days, I actually found it to take me a bit of time. I also started the audiobook for AS THE WICKED WATCH. I put this in my February TBR and was bummed I didn’t get to it, so I pushed it over to be my first audio selection for March. I’m really enjoying the premise and the main character and I can’t wait to see where things finally end up.
Last night I picked up THE STITCHERS, which is the first book in a Middle Grade series called Fright Watch. I always forget themes for months, but I put this and THE COLLECTORS aside last Fall specifically to read for Middle Grade March. I didn’t get very far, but the first few pages set up an interesting premise. I also decided to start LADY KILLERS over coffee this morning. It comes as no surprise for me to say that I love reading about serial killers and this is the perfect selection for Women’s History Month!
I’ve got a handful of highly anticipated new releases and upcoming releases in my stack that I’m excited to get to along with a few older books.
ROAD OF BONES by Christopher Golden: Kolyma Highway, otherwise known as the Road of Bones, is a 1200 mile stretch of Siberian road where winter temperatures can drop as low as sixty degrees below zero. Under Stalin, at least eighty Soviet gulags were built along the route to supply the USSR with a readily available workforce, and over time hundreds of thousands of prisoners died in the midst of their labors. Their bodies were buried where they fell, plowed under the permafrost, underneath the road.
Felix Teigland, or “Teig,” is a documentary producer, and when he learns about the Road of Bones, he realizes he’s stumbled upon untapped potential. Accompanied by his camera operator, Teig hires a local Yakut guide to take them to Oymyakon, the coldest settlement on Earth. Teig is fascinated by the culture along the Road of Bones, and encounters strange characters on the way to the Oymyakon, but when the team arrives, they find the village mysteriously abandoned apart from a mysterious 9-year-old girl. Then, chaos ensues.
A malignant, animistic shaman and the forest spirits he commands pursues them as they flee the abandoned town and barrel across miles of deserted permafrost. As the chase continues along this road paved with the suffering of angry ghosts, what form will the echoes of their anguish take? Teig and the others will have to find the answers if they want to survive the Road of Bones.
AS THE WICKED WATCH (Jordan Manning #1) by Tamron Hall: When crime reporter Jordan Manning leaves her hometown in Texas to take a job at a television station in Chicago, she’s one step closer to her a dream: a coveted anchor chair on a national network.
Jordan is smart and aggressive, with unabashed star-power, and often the only woman of color in the newsroom. Her signature? Arriving first on the scene—in impractical designer stilettos. Armed with a master’s degree in forensic science and impeccable instincts, Jordan has thus far been able to balance her dueling motivations: breaking every big story—and giving voice to the voiceless.
From her time reporting in Texas, she’s sure she has covered the vilest of human behaviors, but nothing has prepared her for Chicago. You see, Jordan is that rare breed of journalist who can navigate a crime scene as well as she can a newsroom—often noticing what others tend to miss. Again and again, she is called to cover the murders of black females, many of them sexually assaulted, most brutalized, and all of them quickly forgotten.
All until Masey James—the story that Jordan just can’t shake, try as she might. A fifteen-year-old girl whose body was found in an abandoned lot, Masey has come to represent for Jordan all of the frustration that her job—with its required distance—often forces her to repress. Putting the rest of her workload and her (fraying) personal life aside, Jordan does everything she can to give the story the coverage it desperately requires, and that a missing black child would so rarely get. Three young boys are eventually charged with Masey’s murder, but Jordan remains unconvinced.
There’s a serial killer on the loose, Jordan believes, and he’s hiding in plain sight.
THE STITCHERS (Fright Watch #1) by Lorien Lawrence: Something strange is happening on Goodie Lane . . .
Thirteen-year-old Quinn Parker knows that there’s something off about her neighbors. She calls them “the Oldies” because they’ve lived on Goodie Lane for as long as anyone can remember, but they never seem to age. Are they vampires? Or aliens? Or getting secret experimental surgeries? Or is Quinn’s imagination just running wild again?
If her dad were still around, he’d believe her. When he was alive, they’d come up with all sorts of theories about the Oldies. Now, Quinn’s determined to keep the investigation going with the help of Mike, her neighbor and maybe-crush. They’ll have to search for clues and follow the mystery wherever it leads—even if it’s to the eerie pond at the end of the street that’s said to have its own sinister secrets. But the Oldies are on to them. And the closer Quinn and Mike get to uncovering the answers, the more they realize just how terrifying the truth may be.
THE COLLECTORS (Fright Watch #2) by Lorien Lawrence: After defeating the Oldies, Quinn and Mike thought that things would settle down on Goodie Lane. But then new neighbors move in. Maybe it’s because they all work at the interior design firm, but Abigail, Eleanor, Jade, Brea, and Cami seem to always be together, dressed in only white.
After everything that happened last summer, Quinn’s a bit wary of the Ladies in White, but her friend Lex is thrilled that someone in town finally has some style. But when Lex starts volunteering at the Ladies’ design firm, things get strange. Lex is acting less like herself, and Quinn begins seeing strange shadows lurking in their neighborhood. She knows the Ladies are to blame; she just has to prove it.
LADY KILLERS by Tori Telfer: When you think of serial killers throughout history, the names that come to mind are likely Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy. But what about Tillie Klimek, Moulay Hassan, and Kate Bender? The narrative we’re comfortable with is one where women are the victims of violent crime-not the perpetrators. In fact, serial killers are thought to be so universally male that, in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared that There are no female serial killers. Inspired by Telfer’s Jezebel column of the same name, Lady Killers disputes that claim and offers fourteen gruesome examples as evidence. Although largely forgotten by history, female serial killers rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite. Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different female serial killer and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media as well as the stereotypes and sexist cliches that inevitably surround her.
SLEEPING BEAUTIES by Stephen King and Owen King: In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare. One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain?
Abandoned, left to their increasingly primal urges, the men divide into warring factions, some wanted to kill Eve, some to save her. Others exploit the chaos to wreak their own vengeance on new enemies. All turn to violence in a suddenly all-male world. Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a woman’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously dramatic father-son collaboration that feels particularly urgent and relevant today.
THE RAVENOUS DEAD (Gravekeeper #2) by Darcy Coates: He’ll never let go…
Keira, hired as Blighty Graveyard’s new groundskeeper, lives surrounded by the dead. They watch her through the fog. They wordlessly cry out. They’ve been desperately waiting for help moving on—and only Keira can hear them. But not every restless spirit wants to be saved.
Sometimes the dead hate the living too much to find peace.
As Keira struggles to uncover the tangled histories of some of the graveyard’s oldest denizens, danger seeps from the darkest edges of the forest. A vicious serial killer was interred among the trees decades before, his spirit twisted by his violent nature. He’s furious. Ravenous. And when Keira unwittingly answers his call, she may just seal her fate as his final intended victim.
THE WRONG NUMBER (Fear Street #5) by R.L. Stine: It begins as an innocent prank, when Deena Martinson and her best friend Jade Smith make sexy phone calls to the boys from school. But Deena’s half-brother Chuck catches them in the act and threatens to tell their parents, unless the girls let him in on the fun. Chuck begins making random calls, threatening anyone who answers. It’s dangerous and exciting. They’re even enjoying the publicity, and the uproar they’ve caused. Until Chuck calls a number on Fear Street.
To his horror, Chuck realizes he has called THE WRONG NUMBER. The jokes are over when murder is on the line. The murderer knows who they are and where they live — and they have nowhere to call for help.
SCANLINES by Todd Keisling: In 1987, Congressman Benjamin Hardy III died by suicide on live television amidst accusations of political corruption. Years later, rumors of a recording surfaced among VHS trading groups and urban legend chat rooms. Dubbed the “Duncan Tape,” after the deceased cameraman who attempted to sell the video, the rumors allege that anyone who watches the tape is driven to suicide.
Or so the story goes. In truth, no one has ever seen the supposed Duncan Tape, presumably because it doesn’t exist. It’s a ghost story perpetuated on the forums and chat rooms of the internet, another handful of bytes scattered across the Information Superhighway at blistering 56K modem speeds.
For Robby and his friends, an urban legend is the last thing on their minds when a boring Friday night presents a chance to download porn. But the short clip they watch turns out to be something far more graphic and disturbing, and in the coming days, they’ll learn even the most outlandish urban legends possess a shred of truth…
AFTER THE FUNERAL (Hercule Poirot #33) by Agatha Christie: When Cora Lansquenet is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard’s funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say,“It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it.…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?”
In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery.…
DUNE MESSIAH (Dune #2) by Frank Herbert: Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known–and feared–as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the known universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremen, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne—and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.
And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty…
THE NIGHT SHIFT by Alex Finlay: It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again.
Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive.
Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words… “Goodnight, pretty girl.”
In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive.
THE RESTING PLACE by Camilla Sten: The medical term is prosopagnosia. The average person calls it face blindness—the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face, even the faces of those closest to you.
When Eleanor walked in on the scene of her capriciously cruel grandmother, Vivianne’s, murder, she came face to face with the killer—a maddening expression that means nothing to someone like her. With each passing day, her anxiety mounts. The dark feelings of having brushed by a killer, yet not know who could do this—or if they’d be back—overtakes both her dreams and her waking moments, thwarting her perception of reality.
Then a lawyer calls. Vivianne has left her a house—a looming estate tucked away in the Swedish woods. The place her grandfather died, suddenly. A place that has housed a dark past for over fifty years.
Eleanor. Her steadfast boyfriend, Sebastian. Her reckless aunt, Veronika. The lawyer. All will go to this house of secrets, looking for answers. But as they get closer to bringing the truth to light, they’ll wish they had never come to disturb what rests there.
THE CAGE by Bonnie Kistler: On a cold, misty Sunday night, two women are alone in the offices of fashion conglomerate Claudine de Martineau International. One is the company’s human resources director. Impeccably dressed and perfectly coiffed, she sits at her desk and stares somberly out the window. Down the hall, her colleague, one of the company’s lawyers, is buried under a pile of paperwork, frantically rushing to finish.
Leaving at the same time, the two women, each preoccupied by her own thoughts, enter the elevator that will take them down from the 30th floor.
When they arrive at the lobby, one of the women is dead. Was it murder or suicide?
FAKE by Erica Katz: Can you spot the difference?
Emma Caan is a fake.
She’s a forger, an artist who specializes in nineteenth-century paintings. But she isn’t a criminal; her copies are commissioned by museums and ultra-wealthy collectors protecting their investments. Emma’s more than mastered a Gauguin brushstroke and a van Gogh wheat field, but her work is sometimes a painful reminder of the artistic dreams she once chased for herself, when she was younger and before her family and her world fell apart.
When oligarch art collector Leonard Sobetsky unexpectedly appears with an invitation, Emma sees a way out—a new job, a new path for herself, and access to the kind of money she needs to support her unstable and recently widowed mother.
But every invitation incurs an obligation . . . and Emma isn’t prepared for what’s to come. As she’s pulled further into Leonard’s opulent scene, she will discover what’s lurking beneath the glitz and glamour. When she does, the past she’s worked hard to overcome will collide with the present, making her wonder how much of her carefully curated life is just as fake as her forgeries . . .
Disclosure: A huge thank you to William Morrow, Harper, Minotaur Books, and Poisoned Pen Press for sending me free copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.
Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.