All the Greys on Greene Street, by Laura Tucker
This middle grade novel is set in 1981 in a gentrifying, artist section of Manhattan. It follows Olympia as her family breaks down. Her dad has fled to Europe, her mom is in such a deep depression that she can’t get out of bed, and she is relying on friends to help her keep that a secret. Olympia comes from a family of artists and is a burgeoning one as well. She looks to her art to help her make sense of what’s going on around her. I liked this one alright. I don’t think it was made clear in the beginning that this was a “historical” book and I’m not sure why it had to be set in 1981. Olympia and her friends are well drawn characters and her frustration with the adults around her not telling her what’s going on is palpable. Overall it was OK, but not one I’m excited about.
Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer
Reread of one of my favorite Heyer’s. Basically, a young earl, to get his inheritance early, marries a childhood friend in a fit of pique. However, she has no notion of how to get along in society, so her new husband has to continually rescue her from her faux pas. This situation makes him grow up and take responsibility, and to finally realize that he is in love with his wife. From this description, it sounds like a serious book, but it is so dang funny. Not only are Hero’s, the wife, scrapes hilarious, the couple is surrounded by a trio of very young, kinda dumb, but earnest friends. It’s always a treasure to read this book.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbard
When a friend told me about this book, I had to read it. It’s a romance about a woman with fibromyalgia (like me) who is a compulsive list maker and goal setter (also like me) as she sets to turn her life from boring to exciting after a near death experience. Relatable heroine—check. Hot artist apartment superintendent—check. Sparks flying across the page—check! This book had a little more of the sexy sex than I tend to like in a book, but I still really enjoyed it. It’s the first of three and I will definitely be reading the other two.
Barakamon, vols 16-18, by Satsuki Yoshiro
I’ve been reading Barakamon for years. The volumes I read last month constitute the final three volumes. When you get involved in long-running manga (comics), when they come to the end it can be very bittersweet. Barakamon follows a young calligrapher who, after a temperamental outbreak in public, is sent to a remote island to pull himself together. Reluctant to get involved with the locals, he gets pulled into village life through a parent-less girl who has no sense of boundaries. It’s been a wonderful story to follow all these years. When things get tough, I want to live in a village like the one found in this book. The series ends about a year after it began, leaving the wonderful characters to go on living their lives.
13 Doorways Wolves Behind Every One, by Laura Ruby
I listened to this on audio. I recently subscribed to Libro.fm and have been enjoying listening to books through the app on my phone. This is a young adult novel from a much-lauded author I hadn’t read before. I really liked this one. It took me awhile to get into it, as the book builds stories upon stories like a Wagner symphony. The story is narrated by Pearl, a ghost who died some twenty years earlier. She is fascinated with a teenaged girl named Frankie who is being raised in a Catholic orphanage, despite having a living father. Pearl tells us about Frankie’s harrowing experiences, her frustrations, and hurts, while she also gives us a glimpse into her own sad history. For fear of spoiling the story, I’ll leave it at that. I really loved the way the lives of the two girls are “grown” throughout the book, with a surprising and true-feeling ending. Highly recommend.
Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge
A new book by one of my all-time favorites! This book sees Hardinge return to world building like she did in her earlier middle-grade books. The last three young adult books were all set in real history—even though there were fantastical elements. This one is about an orphan boy, Hark, who just wants to save his best friend. In the Myriad, an archipelago that for hundreds of years was assaulted by gods from the Undersea—a magical ocean that underlies the real one in the island chain—but the gods died years before. They left behind their bodies—and the magic they contained—which are now exploited. Hark finds the heart of a god and it helps keep his best friend alive, but the cost is very high. It’s always hard to succinctly describe a Hardinge novel because there are so many layers of imagination and plot. I loved this one, maybe not as much as The Lie Tree or Fly By Night, but it’s still so, so good.
Devil Darling Spy, by Matt Killeen
This is the sequel to Orphan Monster Spy and continues the story of Jewish, German Sarah as she remains undercover as a spy working to defeat the Nazi’s. In this one, she and her guardian/handler go to the heart of Africa to undermine a German missionary unit that is weaponizing a deathly illness. So much of what makes this book so good, as well as the first one, is that Sarah is tough as nails on the outside and all squishy vulnerability on the inside. She doesn’t like what she feels compelled to do but is determined to rid her country of Nazis. She wants to help, while her job is to tear things down. She seeks human warmth and connection even when she knows that will leave her open to deceit. Killeen has created a wonderfully human, vibrant, and contrarian character in this series. And I didn’t even mention how action-packed these books are. Never a down moment.
The Bromance Bookclub, by Lyssa Kay Adams
Ah, and another comfort read. This romance is about a group of men in Nashville who suck at their married relationships and help one another by reading romance books. It makes sense. Romance books teach them what their wives want and help them to understand that tired old marital roles aren’t going to cut it anymore. Gavin’s wife has kicked him out and wants a divorce. Thea wants a husband who doesn’t behave like one of their toddlers. Gavin needs to understand how to me a good partner, while Thea needs to realize her childhood upheaval is holding her back. A very romantic, very funny book. It’s a sweet story with a romance about romantic troubles in a full-fledged marriage, which I could very much get behind.