Bad Magic and the Big Top (Blackwood Bay Witches #2) by Misty Bane

The circus has come to town. But first, Dru Rathmore Davis has to do something about the dead clown on her doorstep. She wakes up one morning to discover her bookshop has been broken into, but something more sinister awaits.

Life in the sleepy seaside town Dru moved to recently has been anything but sleepy. It’s been a month since she found out she’s a witch, can see ghosts, and talk to animals. And now she, along with her Guardian, Harper, have to contend with an influx of acrobats, fire breathers, and – to Dru’s disdain – clowns. As a clown hater myself, I feel her pain.

While Harper and the rest of the police force are on the case, Dru pulls her former life’s private investigator skills out of her back pocket. As circus performers start dropping like flies days after their arrival in Blackwood Bay, it’s all hands on deck despite Harper’s pledge as a Guardian to keep Dru away from all things dangerous.

Bad Magic and the Big Top by Misty Bane is the second installment in her Blackwood Bay Witches series. It’s not as good as the first, but it’s a quick little cozy mystery if you’re into that sort of thing. I enjoyed Harper and Dru’s friends but wishing they were more thing, and their banter is realistic. Dru is the kind of woman who isn’t looking for a hero to save her, and I find it relatable and refreshing. This one needed more Granny and the rest of the Coven. Granny’s sarcastic demeanor and the witches lovable personalities were definitely missed.

But I did enjoy the breaking and entering chicken escapades. As someone who lives in a town where chickens occasionally get loose and stop traffic, it’s frustrating and hysterical and I loved that it showed up in a book I was reading. Also, I’d really like my own cleaning fairies. That would be fire.

Goodreads rating: 2 of 5 stars.

Would I read it again? Probably not.

Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare

Months after the Shadowhunter attacks of the summer, old fears return as a murderer walks loose in dawn hours. Patrols are set up, and Cordelia and her friends take personal interest in the deaths as James finds himself in a waking nightmare. Who is killing their own in the early hours? And why are the bodies located in such places? Why are they missing ruins?

For Cordelia Carstairs and the Merry Thieves, life in London continues on in Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare. Cordelia is married now, and only those closest to her know the truth behind her sham marriage vows. While she loves her husband desperately, she’s unnerved by the fact that he loves another. Together they brave increasingly romantic moments while trying to remind themselves of promises made.

Lucie Herondale discovers a strange new power. She’s always been able to see ghosts as it’s a Herondale family trait, but now she finds she’s able to command them to her will. Together with Grace Blackthorn, the unlikely pair begin to dive into necromancy and illegal magic in effort to raise Grace’s brother Jesse from the dead. Neither trusts the other, but their mutual love for Jesse brings them together in fantastical escapades.

Matthew Fairchild is determined to live his life in an obliterated state. Golden, charismatic, with a cheshire smile – he should have the world at his feet. But between harboring secrets and drowning himself in alcohol, and his friends and family become increasingly worried that he’ll be his own ruin.

While I’ve grown out of Cassandra Clare’s overwhelming descriptions of young love and beauty, I really enjoyed Chain of Iron and was sad to realize there’s no release date for the third installment of The Last Hours series. Clare churns books out like clockwork, but world events have put a damper even on publishing, I imagine. She’s got multiple books in this universe and they have a special place in my heart. I haven’t read all of her side stories, but I do think I’ll revisit the prequel series to The Last Hours, Infernal Devices. It’s been awhile.

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare

I looked up Cassandra Clare recently and had one of those moments where you realize just how old you are. I’ve been reading Clare’s works since 2007 and recently recalled a memory where, upon reading her outline for all her Shadowhunter books, I realized I’d be 30 by the time she finished. It’s been fourteen years; she’s still writing and I’m still reading.

I had to google to see where I’d left off in the universe and was pleasantly surprised to see I was only two books behind. So I’m not terribly late to Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I did have to research a little to familiarize myself with the timeline though.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this installment introduced Will & Tessa Herondale’s children, formally of Clare’s Infernal Devices series. I’d forgotten how much I liked the Victorian era Shadowhunters. I might have to reread that series again.

Cordelia Carstairs has come to London under the cover of becoming parabatai to Lucie Herondale. Together, they will be closer than sisters, warriors bound together in a ceremony many young Shadowhunters take part in with those closest to them. But really, she and her mother and brother have come so that she can seek someone to marry. With her father awaiting trial in Idris for a terrible crime, marriage is the only way her family can save their reputation.

She’s lonely, seeing strangers in every face except her girlhood friend Lucie, and Lucie’s older brother James. Soon, she becomes swept up in the lives of the next generation of Herondales, Fairchilds, Lightwoods, and Blackthorns. There’s fancy dress balls, picnics in the park, and explosions in secret laboratories. Sadly, only a whisper of Church, a cat with the lifespan of a warlock, who appears in most Shadowhunter novels.

Demon activity has been quiet for many years. Even though nephilim continue to train, the young know nothing except stories of what it is to be a true hero. But when demons begin to strike in daylight – unheard of behavior, and Shadowhunters become ill from wounds healing ruins can’t fix, Cordelia, Lucie, and the Merry Thieves (James’ group of social miscreants) become entangled in a story with deep and dark ties to their own. With London under quarantine against the attacks, Cordelia learns the true meaning of family and being a hero.

That Weekend by Kara Thomas

If you’re still looking for the hit of the summer, or you’re looking for that final hurrah pseudo-thriller that’s perfect to curl up with while everyone else is getting salty and sunburned at the beach, That Weekend by Kara Thomas is the book for you.

This is pretty much a roller coaster ride from cover to end.

Claire Keough just dumped her boyfriend, and instead of spending prom weekend with him and his friends, she decides to join her best friend Kat and her boyfriend Jesse on a camping trip. What she doesn’t know is that her weekend is going to end up with her in the hospital from head trauma, and her bff’s missing and later presumed dead.

Claire wakes up in the hospital with no memory of the last two days. Her parents are pissed, she takes a very bad trip down Ambien Lane, and her nurse is a nightmare. Soon, the local sheriff comes knocking to ask questions, the FBI gets involved, and secret after secret is revealed in solid twists and turns. The third act is stunning in a way that isn’t too sensationalistic, something that YA authors don’t typically master well.

I’m a little stunned, a little shook up, and so, so glad That Weekend turned up on my social media. Kara Thomas just became a pre-order author for me. She’s going to be hard to top for sure.

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

It doesn’t feel like summer until a Morgan Matson book is released. Matson has been quintessential summer reading for me since Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour (released 2010), when I first discovered the author. She’s had hit after hit with Second Chance Summer, Since You’ve Been Gone, and Save the Date. Take Me Home Tonight is supposed to be a mash up of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Nick and Norah’s Infintie Playlist, but I’ve seen neither movie (Gasp! Shock!), so I began the book with no knowledge of what I was diving into.

Our main characters, Kat and Stevie, were just going into the city for a few hours.

What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s Stevie’s birthday – and her dad ditched their plans, again, so what else was there to do but head into New York City for the most magical night of their lives?

After a series of unfortunate events the two friends end up separated, their cover story friend gets kidnapped, laundry delivery with a cute boy uncovers an underground poker game, and a dramatic performance is made to keep a dog from being evicted from a dorm room. And that’s when shit gets real.

Funny, engaging, quick – Take Me Home Tonight is a fast little read about theater kids – best friends, who are growing up and not quite ready to move into the unknown world of adulthood. With fantastical situations and an outlandish side story, the pace moves swiftly but there’s a bit of whiplash if you’re too invested. It’s not my favorite Matson, but it does have an interesting little surprise at the end if you’re a fan of her work. She does love to weave former characters into her latest books.

All in all, as someone who works in the city, I’m not very impressed with the descriptions of New York glamour; however, I was completely enamored with the idea of being alone in the MET at night. Points to calling back Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.