Jessica Rentcome at Murder By The Book since 2018
Jessica is a full-time medical and scientific writer/editor at MD Anderson during the week and a part-time bookseller on the weekends. In addition to bookselling, Jessica helps manage Murder by the Book's social media platforms and graphic design needs. When she isn't working, Jessica is probably getting overly invested in television shows.
Favorite authors include: Brandon Sanderson, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, V.E. Schwab, Agatha Christie, Patrick Rothfuss, Genevieve Cogman, and Octavia Butler. You can follow her monthly reading round-up on Instagram, @jessthemess25.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us by Edgar Cantero is a raunchy, vulgar, hilarious take on the hard-boiled detective/noir mystery with a Jekyll and Hyde twist. Adrian and Zooey Kimrean (known as AZ Kimrean) are chimeric twins that share the same body but control different hemispheres of the brain (Adrian is the logical one and oftentimes reminds me of Sherlock Holmes, while Zooey is the emotional one and is often easily distracted and a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac).
The story kicks off when San Francisco PD calls in a favor and AZ are asked to investigate the murders of 2 sons of a local mobster/gang boss. From there, the story takes on a life of its own as the fourth wall is frequently broken, dozens of pop culture references are made, and archetypes and tropes of the noir genre are played out for laughs. Despite the heavy humor elements of the novel, it remains a deeply satisfying case to investigate and the balance between Adrian’s Sherlockian observations and Zooey’s outrageous people skills combine for the best of both detective worlds.
I loved this book so, so much and spent more time laughing out loud than I probably should have during a murder investigation. I cannot wait to read it again. - Jessica
A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal is easily going to be my beach pick for the summer—ironic given the subject matter. A fast-paced, quick read (despite the 400 page length of the novel), A People’s History documents the rise of a vampire subsection of society—called Gloamings—as they integrate with the world. Their rise and history is told from the point of view of CDC operatives, an FBI agent, a political operative, a religious terrorist, and politicians. Interviews, newspaper articles, diary entries, and TMZ blurbs help tell a story where Taylor Swift is a Gloaming, the Pope may be have been assassinated by vampires, and a budding trail of bodies start to make everyone a little uneasy.
The story is jam-packed with pop culture references that had me literally laughing out loud and then a swift juxtaposition with sobering murders and terrorist attacks. At times, it becomes obvious Villareal’s Gloamings are representations for “others” in today’s society (there’s a fun entry about Gloamings reclaiming the word ‘vampire’ and another Facebook-style entry in which a suburban Mom doesn’t want to sound ‘un-American’ but she just doesn’t trust those Gloamings….)
A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is out 6/5/18 and is best enjoyed on a beach with a mojito in hand. - Jessica
84K by Claire North is a dark sci-fi novel that fans of 1984, Taken, and Brave New World will enjoy. In this British dystopian future, all civil services have been commercialized by The Company. Crimes are audited and valued and a price is established. The cost of murder is £84K. If you can’t pay the crime, you are sent to the patty line—a euphemism for forced labor camps. Theo Miller works in the Crime Audit Office, assigning and assessing the value and cost of the crimes that come across his desk, but is generally unfeeling and numb to the world around him. When a woman from his past approaches him with information that may bring down The Company but is later murdered, Theo finds himself investigating her murder and the information she uncovered about The Company. But at every turn, The Company is looking to shut him up before the truth gets out.
This novel reads like literary fiction and the 1984 influences are strong. At other times, the lack of punctuation and stream-of-consciousness style writing combined with specific formatting of paragraphs and page breaks means that the novel also sometimes comes across like poetry. 84K is at times suffocatingly bleak and you want to rage right alongside the characters. The violence in the novel is startling and explicit but it never feels gratuitous. With each turn of the page, you sink lower and lower into despair before Claire North finally—finally—shines a ray of hope. While a dense read (and definitely not a casual, beach read), 84K delivers a startling, bleak sci-fi thriller that leaves you completely stunned. - Jessica
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik is the spiritual sequel to Uprooted in that it has the same feel and style and is once again a modern retelling of a fairytale. Miryem is the daughter of a moneylender—a bad one. Instead of letting her family slip into poverty and letting those in her village escape their debts, Miryem hardens her heart into ice and goes collecting, lifting her family out of poverty. She draws the attention of a Staryk King—a mythical ice being—who issues a challenge: turn piles of silver into gold three times over and he will take her away and make her a Staryk queen. But the challenge sets off a chain of events in Miryem’s kingdom and village that may mean an endless, cold winter forever.
In Spinning Silver, Novik weaves together the voices of 6 distinct characters to tell a beautiful story of debts and bargains, loyalty and honor, of love and family. While the story is undoubtedly a fantasy—there’s a fire demon inhabiting a tsar and a race of winter beings who rule the land and a woman who can turn silver into gold—Spinning Silver will appeal to everyone who loves beautiful, classic stories.
In terms of representation, this book raises the Jewish voice high and it was really amazing to read such a subversive text that turned Jewish stereotypes into a fairytale and then turned that fairytale on its head. This book is also incredibly empowering for women. All of the female characters—who range in class and education—use their resources to get themselves out of terrible situations, frequently outsmarting the men who underestimate them.
Spinning Silver is out 7/10/18 and I cannot wait to add it to my shelf. - Jessica