I know we’re only a week into February. But I’ve already read several great books and wanted to share them with you.
Speaking from Among the Bones, Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce, diabolical chemist and 11-year-old amateur sleuth, returns for a fifth adventure. As the village of Bishop’s Lacey prepares to disinter the bones of its patron saint for a celebration, they find a surprise in the crypt: the body of the church organist, wearing a gas mask. Who killed him and left him there, and why? Flavia, Inspector Hewitt, and a new detective/horticulturalist are on the case. Witty and fun, with plenty of sarcastic asides from Flavia, a few hilarious misunderstandings, and a cliffhanger ending.
The Silver Ghost, Charlotte MacLeod
The eighth Sarah Kelling mystery, involving another old, eccentric Boston family (Rolls-Royces and Renaissance music), bees, and murder. This one dragged, and I spotted the solution long before the detectives did. Definitely a lackluster entry in the series.
The Fever Tree, Jennifer McVeigh
When Frances Irvine’s father dies, she is left penniless, forced to leave London and emigrate to South Africa to marry a doctor she barely knows. Unnerved by the harsh landscape of the Karoo, Frances slowly adjusts to her new life, till a smallpox epidemic breaks out in the diamond mines. Fighting to save those who are suffering, her husband finds himself pitted against the men in power who will do anything to protect their investments. A powerful story of loss and reinvention, and being shaped by a brutal but rich new landscape. Sweeping and beautifully written. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 4).
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
Clay Jannon, unemployed web designer, takes a clerking job at a strange bookstore in San Francisco. Most of the customers are odd types who never buy books: they simply check out books, one at a time, from the stacks in the back. Suspecting (rightly) that the bookstore is a front for something else, Clay investigates with the help of a few friends, including a young venture capitalist, a special-effects artist and a sharp, pretty girl who works at Google. Such a fun ride of tech geekery, typography, puzzles, and a deep respect for how books are bound up with life. Loved it.
The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey
I loved this beautiful, evocative book – part pioneering story, part love story, part fairy tale. Jack and Mabel, childless and sad, leave their families “back east” to start a new life in Alaska. One night, they fashion a child out of snow, and the next day a girl appears out of the wilderness, wearing the mittens and scarf they put on the snow child. Mabel and Jack love her instantly, but they cannot tame her – and for a while they’re not even sure if she is real. Ivey lives in Alaska, and her deep love for the landscape thrums through every line. There is sadness here, and heartbreak, but also so much beauty.
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What are you reading?