Mini Review: Play the Fool

Photo credit: Amanda Kay Oaks

Format Read: eBook (ARC via NetGalley)

Rating: 3.5 stars

When I saw the synopsis for Lina Chern’s Play the Fool, I knew I had to check it out. While I don’t read a ton of mystery, I do read a lot of Tarot, and this mystery centers on a Tarot reader turned amateur slueth. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House — Ballantine for the digital review copy. 

Katie True works at a store in the mall and reads Tarot on the side, daydreaming about going into business as a Tarot reader. Then, her mall bestie winds up missing and she is determined to figure out what happened to her… and who she really was. 

This is one of those debuts where you can sort of tell it’s a debut, in that the writing felt a bit forced at times and there’s kind of a lot going on. While I enjoyed the story and the mystery, the pacing was a bit off. Some reading sessions I couldn’t put the book down for wanting to know what came next, while other times it felt like a bit of a slog. 

Katie herself is a bit hard to pin down, and I would have liked to have a better sense of our main character and what she wants. Some of that feels intentional, since Katie doesn’t really know what she wants, but other times I just felt frustrated by wanting to know her better. I did enjoy how she sees the world through Tarot cards, and I felt like the author did her research and got those elements right, for the most part. It was fun to see the cards play a role in the plot and in Katie’s life. 

The plot is engaging and definitely kept me guessing about what would happen next, in a good way. It does all come together relatively quickly, but in a way that I personally found more or less satisfying, if a bit far fetched. I got the vibe towards the end that Chern might be setting us up for a sequel, and I think I’d definitely pick up a second book if so. 

In all, this was an engaging book but most definitely one that feels like a debut novel. I’m interested to see what we get next from Chern and hope that some of the things that made this less than a 5-star read get ironed out over time. 

I recommend Play the Fool to fans of mystery novels, Tarot lovers, and those that enjoy a novel that asks for some suspension of disbelief. Play the Fool comes out this Tuesday, March 28th. 


Book News Corner: Issue 17

Image created by the editor in Canva

Hello and welcome back to Book News Corner! There’s been a lot of adaptation news lately, and honestly not too much else going on that I’ve spotted. 

Nevertheless, there are a few noteworthy stories I want to cover, so let’s settle in, get comfy, and catch up with some of the latest news from the world of books. 

Crying in H-Mart Adaptation to be Directed by Will Sharpe

Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t realize there was going to be an adaptation of Crying in H Mart until I heard the news that Will Sharpe, of White Lotus fame, will direct. 

It doesn’t seem like we have too many other details about the project just yet, though it seems it will be a movie. I really enjoyed this memoir and will be interested to see how it translates to the big screen. 

(Source: Book Riot News newsletter, linking to Vulture)

Manuscript Thief Reveals Motive and Receives Sentence

This is a story I’ve been following since long before Book News Corner, and it’s a juicy one. An indiviual later identified as Filippo Bernardini used fake email addresses to impersonate agents, editors, and other members of the publishing world to fradulently acquire over 1,000 manscripts.

The manuscripts were never sold or released, leading to a bit of a mystery — why did he do it? Bernardini revealed in testimony that he more or less did it because it made him feel special. Like many a book nerd, he liked having access to books before anyone else did. Unlike many a book nerd, he resorted to fraud and impersonation to get his hands on books before anyone else. 

Following this testimony, Bernardini has at last been sentenced. He will not go to jail, but will pay a hefty fine to Penguin Random House and face deportation from the United States. 

(Source: Book Riot News newsletter linking to Guardian piece, Book Riot Podcast episodes over the years of this case).

Author Whose Book Inspired Mean Girls Claims She Hasn’t Been Fairly Compensated 

Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote the book that inspired Mean Girls, is considering legal action against Tina Fey and Paramount Pictures. The film has seen huge success and been adapted into a Broadway musical, but Wiseman claims she hasn’t seen the profits. 

Her contract included a lump sum, plus a chunk of net profits and residual gains. However, Paramount insists sthat due to the expenses incurred during filming and other projects, there are no net profits to speak of. I’m no expert in these matters, but that seems a little questionable to me, and I don’t blame Wiseman for being upset that her IP has sparked so many apparently profitable ventures without her continued compensation. 

(Source: Book Riot News newsletter, linking to Entertainment Weekly article)

That’s it for this week’s trip to Book News Corner! Are there any book news stories I missed this week? Let me know!