A classic and a delight. I’ve had this book on my list for a while, after people in my Georgette Heyer group recommended it. I loved it. It’s 1930s, in a small village in rural England and Miss Buncle is in need of money so she writes a book based wholly on her neighbors. Her publisher can’t decide if it’s satire or sincere, but it doesn’t matter because the book is a hit. Except in her neighborhood where those who look the worst in the book (because they are the worst in real life) are out for blood, trying to determine who among them is the snake that exposed them. The story is hilarious and has a lovely ending.
Pumpkin, by Julie Murphy
This is to be the last entry in Murphy’s Clover City trilogy, and it follows Dumplin’ (wonderful) and Puddin’ (so great). Waylon is a fat, openly gay boy just about to graduate from high school with his twin sister, Clementine. When he is nominated for Prom Queen, and his sister’s girlfriend, Hannah, is nominated for Prom King, they decide to run with the joke and go for it. As part of the process, he is teamed up with Prom King nominee, Tucker, who is a long-time frenemy. But turns out Tucker might have some secrets of his own. Just like the other two books in the series, this is highly readable story of an outsider making it and reading along as Waylon truly comes into his own was a pleasure.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire
This is the origin story of Jack and Jill, two of the main characters in McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway. Jaqueline was raised to be a girly girl while her identical twin Jillian was raised to be a tom boy, neither of which was who they really were. When they step through a doorway into the world of the Moors, they get to become who they most are, which for Jill is not so good. This was an interesting addendum to the original novella. It seemed to drag for me as the story was a lot of explaining and not much action. I think it was meant to read as a fairytale, but that got lost in the twee language and its length.
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers
I have been very excited for this fourth installment in the Wayfarers series. It did not disappoint. The story takes place just after the action in A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and includes the character Pei who is a minor character in that book. She is staying at a small enclave during a layover between space hops along with a few other disparate species. When an atmospheric accident strands the travelers along with their hosts for a few days, they learn about each other, their differences, and how they can overcome them to be friends. A lovely, quiet sci fi book. A perfect ending for this beloved series.
Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, by Jess Kidd
And on to a horror-ish book. This is an odd one to describe. It’s a thriller, a ghost story, an odd couples story, and a story about grief and guilt. Maud is a caregiver to the elderly and her latest project is Cathal Flood who has a reputation for scaring his caregivers off within a few days. Yet, he and Maud find a balance. Maud’s life is circumscribed, going only to work and visiting with her agoraphobic landlady. She also sees and interacts with Saints who flit in and out of her life. Maud uncovers a mystery surrounding Cathal’s long-lost daughter that seems to mimic a tragedy in Maud’s life and she becomes obsessed with discovering the truth. I liked this one a lot. Tons of stuff going on, but nothing that doesn’t add to the story. It left me with lots of thoughts, which is a good thing.
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, by Jose Antonio Vargas
A short, bittersweet somewhat memoir about Vargas’s life as an undocumented Filipino immigrant. He was brought to the U.S. as a 12-year-old and had no idea about his status until he was 16. He describes his life as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist while constantly fearing his deportation. It is a worthwhile book to read that everyone should read. This quote towards the end stuck with me: “Home is not something I should have to earn. Humanity is not some box I should have to check.”
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton
This book is written in an interview format with passages identified as “Editor’s Notes.” It is a retrospective on the lackluster start and meteoric rise of the (fictional) early 1970s pop punk duo known as Opal & Nev. Researched and written by a music journalist, Sunny, who has a tragic connection to the duo, the story examines the history of singer, provocateur Opal (black) and the pop songwriter Nev (white), their work together, including the tragic death of their drummer, and the aftermath of their work together. Along the way it morphs into a story of Sunny’s own connection with Opal and how the racism Opal dealt with in 1972 is still occurring today. The format made this a difficult read for me, but the ending was so so satisfying.