An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten
I picked this up when I was visiting the excellent Left Bank Books in St. Louis in December. It was a staff recommendation. This delightfully macabre little book was a perfect start to this year’s reading. Octogenarian Maud’s life is just how she likes it, so when other people interfere and create disruption, of any sort, she takes the matter in her own hands. Maud is deceptively spry and makes sure no one knows by using a walker that she doesn’t need. Her mind is sharp, but she pretends to be a confused old lady to get her way. And her way is usually deadly. The book is a series of short stories by a famous mystery writer from Sweden and I highly recommend it.
Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mahalik
In December I listened to the audio for the second book in this series, Aurora Blazing. I couldn’t resist continuing my space princess obsession by reading the first book in the series. So.Much.Fun. This book follows the story of Ada (the younger sister of Bianca from Aurora) as she accidently gets involved in a high stakes game of political intrigue between her family and another powerful family from the Consortium. She also accidentally gets involved with the most wanted criminal in the universe, and the sparks fly as they try to prevent galactic war. This book was a blast. I liked Aurora Blazing a little more, as I identified more with Bianca, but Ada has her own brand of kick-ass that’s just as great. I’m looking forward to the third book in the series which will feature both ladies’ youngest sister.
Diana, Princess of the Amazons, by Shannon Hale
Shannon Hale is a rock star among the under 9 crowd. Her books are always so fun and empowering, for kids and adults. In this one, our future Wonder Woman, Diana, is a little girl on an island full of adults. Taking the story of her own creation to heart, she builds a playmate out of clay and suddenly life is a lot more fun. But her friend has an agenda of her own and is probably up to no good. A fun, quick graphic novel, this has a good lesson about doing the right thing without it feeling like a lesson. Highly recommend.
Love Lettering, by Kate Clayborn
I listened to this on audio and it was just what I needed. Meg is a hand lettering phenomenon in Park Slope, Brooklyn, but her success in business seems to cause a decline in her personal life. Her best friend since high school—also her roommate—has begun to shut her out and suddenly announces she’s moving out. Her friend is her only real connection to the world. Enter Reid, the year before she had created his wedding program and turns out the wedding never happened—partially due to a secret message she’d hidden in it. Reid looks her up to find out why she put it in. Finding that Reid hates New York, Meg invites him to walk the city with her to discover hand-painted murals and signs. I think that’s enough to get you started, I don’t want to spoil the story. Suffice it to say that Reid has his secrets and Meg has to learn to demand what she wants. What I really liked about this book was Meg’s unique way of looking at the world—through lettering and fonts. Another thing I really liked is that Reid was on the autism spectrum, but it’s never brought up because Meg notices, but doesn’t care. For a nice comfort read, invest in this one.
Foiled, by Jane Yolen
This is a graphic novel aimed at middle-schoolers. It was alright. Aliera is a competitive fencer but doesn’t have much else going on in her life. When she’s asked out by the cute new boy, she thinks her life is going to change … and it does. She discovers that she is the chosen defender of the fantasy realm. I feel like it took too long to get into what it was really about. As this was the first of two books, it just didn’t catch me enough to read the second.
Network Effect, by Martha Wells
I couldn’t wait to get my hot little hands on this. Network Effect doesn’t come out until May, but I got an ARC. Since you probably aren’t as obsessed as I am, this is the first full-length novel of the Murderbot Diaries. The first four books were novellas and some of my favorite books of the last two years. Murderbot is such a great character and Network Effect did not disappoint. We learn more about Preservation, the world where Murderbot’s favorite people come from, and we get to meet up with ART again. (If you know, you know.) We also get to see just how shitty the corporations can be and what havoc they can cause when they fool around with alien relics. So good. So good, I might just reread it now.
Rogue Princess, by RA Myers
This is a YA novel that did not quite satisfy my space princess obsession but was pretty good. It’s a gender-bent retelling of Cinderella. Set in a part of space called the Four Quadrants, Princess Delia doesn’t want to be forced to marry a prince from one of the other quadrants. Aiden, a poor kitchen worker, wants to get enough money to get off planet. When they come together, sparks fly, but they also find that there is a secret plot against the monarchy that could destroy their world. I liked this one OK, there was world building, but not quite enough, the characters were likeable, but just not enough. The plot twists felt like deus ex machina—that they were thrown in so that the story would work, not grown organically. It was a fun read and would probably be more liked by someone who hasn’t read a ton of space princess stories.
The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
So, this book. Really long, with such a slow build and an ending that’s devastating, yet kind of hopeful. I read a lot of Margaret Atwood in the 1990s, but not much since. It was nice to catch up with her again. The Blind Assassin is two different stories. One story is told by Iris at the end of her life who tells about her upbringing with her long-dead sister Laura up until she gets married and leaves her husband. The other story is “The Blind Assassin,” a novel about two star-crossed lovers, who meet in dingy rooms. I loved Atwood’s ability to really get into the mind of the characters—Iris is a pretty unlikeable, but I grew to love her. Then, when we get to the end, with the big reveal, my heart broke for her. It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished and I’m still haunted by the trauma. I guess that’s a pretty good way to tell that it’s a really good book.
Watch Hollow, by Gregory Funaro
I picked up this early middle grade “horror” at Vromans when it was about to be returned (as no one had bought it in a year). It was a lot of fun! It owes a lot to The House With the Clock in Its Walls, but brought a lot of new stuff to the table. Lucy’s father is a clock fixer and is paid a lot of money to go spend the summer in a remote Rhode Island mansion and fix the clock that powers the house. Lucy and her brother Oliver go with him and soon find that there are evil forces at work that want the clock to work, but for nefarious reasons. Also, there are carved wood animals that come alive a night and help Lucy figure out what’s going on. This is a good book for the seven and up crowd who like things a little bit scary. I enjoyed it.