Extracurricular Cross Stitch
I’m kind of surprised that I read eight books last month. But then it also feels like I should have read twenty since the month was so long.
Ink and Bone, by Rachel Caine
This is the first book in a series called “The Great Library” (which is why I picked it up). It’s an alternative history where the Great Library of Alexandria survived and put up ‘daughter’ libraries in other cities. Now the library holds power over all knowledge. The book follows Jess as he leaves his family (of smugglers) in England to become a scholar in Alexandria—a deadly enterprise. The plot is twisty (and sometimes convoluted), and the characters are interesting—all with secrets of their own. It was a fun book, but I probably won’t read the other four books in the series. Not my thing, really.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman
Another solidly good book that didn’t really do it for me. It’s a nice little romance about a woman who prefers the company of books who finds herself (unexpectedly) part of a large family after her unknown father passes away and leaves her something in his will. It is a nice book and definitely the type of book I want to be reading right now. My problem with it is that it takes place in Los Angeles and there are some major flaws in how the author describes the city, which kept taking me out of the story.
Deal with the Devil, by Kit Rocha
I was planning on reading only books about books this month (I got a pile of them). This book is the first in a series called the “Mercenary Librarians.” Of course, I was going to read it. But it had very little to do with books (sigh). However, it had three very kick-ass lady main characters and a steamy hot romance subplot. Set in a post-apocalyptic Georgia, after the U.S. has devolved into different territories after an East v. West civil war, Nina and her partners are information brokers who are trying to level the playing field for common people against the corporation that runs their territory. I’ll likely be reading the next book in the series as the world-building was a lot of fun, though there weren’t enough books.
Network Effect, by Martha Wells
Okay, okay, I had to reread it because it IS SO GOOD. (See my review from February.) Plus, the relationship between ART and Murderbot is so good. They are two man-made beings who are trying to understand how to be friends with each other, when they’re not even sure how to be friends with humans. Can’t recommend this series enough.
The Tenth Girl, by Sara Faring
A YA horror that I read a review of last September and stuck with me until I couldn’t help but buy it. The back of the cover says it has a “twist you’ll never see coming.” And damn, if that isn’t completely accurate. Ostensibly, a horror story set in remote Argentinean Patagonia in 1978 in a decrepit, labyrinthine house, we follow Mavi who goes to the house to be a teacher to ten tween girls. We also follow an unnamed person who seems like a ghost haunting the house, but who comes from the year 2020. There is just enough thrills to make it scary but not enough that I had to put the books down. (I’m a wimp.) I had no idea what the twist would be and was really surprised when it became clear. It’s a good twist.
Flaubert’s Parrot, by Julian Barnes
I had this book in my cart to take out to the Little Free Library and was looking for something not genre fiction, so I picked it up. Heavens, this is a good book. Unique, literary, subtle, and obtuse. The story, of sorts, is an odd biography of Gustave Flaubert by an obsessed fan—retired British doctor Geoffrey Braithwaite. As Geoffrey is telling a story of the life of Flaubert and how his art intersects with irony, sex, aesthetics, and death, we get to know him and his losses that give insight into why he’s obsessed with Flaubert. It’s an experimental, short read, but chockful of ideas and uncanny connections. Really enjoyed it.
Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book. The older I get the funnier it is. So, confession, I’ve only read Northanger Abbey once in high school. I didn’t really like it then. I loved it now. The thing I didn’t like about when I was younger was that it felt like two separate stories—and it is. But now, I really appreciated the first part that takes place in Bath for all of Austen’s wry sarcasm towards the characters. The second part is kinda boring, but its only a third of the book. And, of course, there is a happy ending so all worthwhile. It won’t be on my short list of Austen rereads, but it’s darn good.
The Unknown Ajax, by Georgette Heyer
Northanger Abbey left me in the mood for some Heyer, so another reread. This one has it all—mystery, romance, comedy, adventure, and the best secondary characters that Heyer has to offer. The in-fighting between the two valets, Crimplesham and Polyphant, is hilarious while the august Lady Aurelia totally steals the show. The plot: The large, old family Darracot has lost its heir to a boating accident. The next in line is a man that none of them have ever met because cantankerous Lord Darracot disinherited his father when he married “a weaver’s daughter.” Turns out the new heir, Hugo, is as mysterious as he is large and causes all sorts of (fun) havoc in the family while saving his youngest cousin from real trouble.
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