Devastated from being dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start in a small village in Upstate New York. The town is almost too good to be true. When Annie meets Sophie, an ageless beauty with a strange hold over the townspeople, she immediately wants to become her best friend. As they grow closer, Annie begins to realize that Sophie might be more than she could imagine. This is a great story about owning oneself even if it means incurring the wrath of others. Watching Annie go from a depressed nothing to a self-confident woman is a delight. The only scary thing in the book is the spiders, but they are really friendly.
The Best Man, by Richard Peck
I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I heard it had been banned because two men marry each other in it. This is such a heart-warming story. Archer tells the story about two weddings. The first when he meets his best friend when he’s six and the second when his uncle marries his former student teacher. In between we get to read about Archer’s experience at school, with other kids, and with his beloved grandfather. I really liked how the idea of gay marriage is introduced—Archer is a little dense when it comes to other’s feelings—it never occurring to him that his uncle and teacher have feelings for each other. A really great story.
The Great Bear, by David O. Robertson
I read the first book in this series, The Barren Ground, last year and really enjoyed it. I listened to this book and, I have to say, this is an excellent series so far. Eli and Morgan have spent every night of the last few weeks visiting Misewa, the magical otherworld of Cree folklore. But when their foster parents forbid them from going to the attic at night they are bereft. So they sneak into the attic during the day, wind up going to Misewa in the past, and helping to subdue the Great Bear that wants to destroy their village. [Side note: at the bookstore a girl was asking for books by indigenous authors in YA. I showed her Darcie Little Badger’s books, but seeing that she was about 12, I took her to the middle grade section to show her these books. When I described the books, she beamed. She too had been a foster kid and is native American. Made my heart grow.]
Confessions of a Bookseller, by Shaun Blythell
This was my bedtime read for awhile. Shuan runs a bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland. The book is a diary of a year of running his store. It was good, but not great. Shaun himself is a bit of a curmudgeon and not always that interesting. But his interactions with customers—both sellers and buyers—is where the story is great.
Murder Under Her Skin, by Stephen Spotswood
Another audio book. This is the second in a mystery series and follows two lady detectives in 1946 as they travel to North Carolina to help solve a murder of a circus’s tattooed lady. Willowjean Parker had been a part of the circus before joining Lilian Pentecost in New York as a detective, so this case is personal to her. Nicely written mystery and the two leads were compelling, so much so that I might read the first book in the series. (Though there were some anachronisms that were tough to ignore. Such as using the phone to dial direct to New York. Exchanges were still very much in use in 1946.)
‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King
I just don’t get why Stephen King is so famous. I’ve read three and half of his books now and while they’re good, they’re not great. I don’t think they are terribly scary either. I supposed this version of vampires in the mid 1970s was new for its time, but I just wasn’t scared. It was fine, except for all the references to women’s jahoobies. Maybe I’ll try reading something newer next time.