Jane Austen’s Ghost, by Jennifer Kloester
Jennifer Kloester wrote a biography of Georgette Heyer and a book about Regency England that is super helpful when reading Heyer books. This is her first novel and wasn’t widely published, so I wanted to be supportive. Good news, the book was a lot of fun. A bit of romance, a bit of mystery, a love letter to reading. The premise is that Jane Austen was cursed at her death by a rejected suitor. She has remained a ghost in Winchester Cathedral for 200 years. When Cassandra’s aunt tries to reverse the curse, she is almost killed and Cassandra winds up getting a psychic connection to Jane. The best parts of this book are Cassandra and Jane exploring modern life. It’s very well imagined and truly delightful.
When You Trap a Tiger, by Tae Keller
This was a good book. Solid writing and storytelling, but it didn’t really catch me. I think I may not have connected with it because I’m not ten and the audience is firmly meant to be 8 to 11. When Korean-American Lily moves with her mom and sister to a small town in Washington to be with her ailing grandmother, she discovers that her grandmother’s tales of tigers and magic may be true. Her halmoni (grandma in Korean) always told Lily amazing folk tales from Korea. When the tiger from those tales suddenly starts stalking Lily, she knows that the tiger is after her grandmother’s life and she takes steps to keep the tiger away. Really, this is a story about losing a loved one and learning to understand the loss. Good story for kids.
Murderbot Diaries novellas, 1-4, by Martha Wells
I reread these four novellas between other books. I love Murderbot so dang much. There is no human more human than this cyborg killer. For a while, after reading A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, all I wanted to do was reread that. Now it’s Murderbot. What can I say? I love space families.
The Sound of Stars, by Alechia Dow
A YA novel set a few years after an alien invasion of the Earth. Ellie Baker is one of the last surviving humans in NYC, living in a skyrise with her fellow survivors that is completely controlled by the Illori. They have banned anything creative or inspiring, so Ellie runs a secret library. That’s how she meets M0Rr1S, an Illori who has come to love human music. When Ellie is going to be killed as a traitor, M0Rr1s rescues her, both becoming fugitives. This book should have ticked all my boxes, but it really didn’t do anything for me. I think it was because the pacing was uneven and there was a lot of “oh no we’re captured, and now we handily escape” going on. While Ellie was an interesting character, M0Rr1S was kind of boring and one-dimensional. Plus, the book ends where the second one should start. Just give me an ending already.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte
Heavens to Betsy, why have I not read this book before?!?!?! I’ve been reading Wuthering Heights since I was 12 and have loved Jane Eyre since I was 14, so why did I never get around to reading this one? It was so dang good. I probably would not have appreciated as much as a teenager (just like how my views on Wuthering Heights has significantly changed). It was a solid story (with maybe a pinch too much proselytizing) with wonderful characters. I enjoyed the fact that it was part epistolary and part diary—a unique way to tell a story some 20 years after it happened. I find it interesting that both Anne and Emily told their single novels through an unusual voice. Anyway, I will be reading this one again.
Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
This book had a lot of buzz when it came out and it was definitely worth it. The jacket copy labels it, “lesbian necromancers in space.” But it’s a lot more than that. Mystery, adventure, bones … so many bones. Gideon is a master swordswoman and trapped on the Ninth world that values darkness and the macabre. When she has a chance, she goes with her nemesis, Tamsin, a necromancer, to compete for immortality in a decaying castle on a remote world. And it is so much more bizarre than that. I enjoyed this book a lot, though sometimes I found myself rereading paragraphs because the author is very fond of semi-colons and referring to a number of people as he/she within the same paragraph. Still the story very much worked. Gideon was delightfully foul-mouthed and belligerent. Though, I don’t feel like the main characters were in love with each other, which was a main advertising point. I felt that they had a solid friendship built on mutual respect, despite being pitted towards one another as enemies their whole lives. There was a lot of great world-building too.
Hey, Kiddo, by Jarret J. Krosoczka
I’ve been meaning to get to this graphic memoir for a while as Krosoczka wrote/illustrated one of my all-time favorite picture books, Punk Farm. This memoir explored his family relationships—having been raised by his grandparents, with a mom who struggled with a heroin addiction. It was sad, but uplifting too. He didn’t get to know his mom well, but his grandparents were solid stand-in parents and really encouraged his creativity. It’s aimed at teen readers and I think, if I were a teen struggling with absent parents, that I would find a lot to identify with here.
Not the Girl You Marry, by Andie J. Christopher
My one audio book last month. I’ve come to find that “literary” books on audio are hard for me to listen too. Romances is the best, because I can tune out for 20 seconds and still know what’s going on. Not the Girl You Marry was a perfect listen. Sweet story about two people trying to advance their careers by pretending to date wind up being really attracted to one another. Plenty of misunderstandings and a satisfying end make this a delightful read. Both Hannah and Jack have their dating issues, but they both grow so much over the course of their interactions, that they feel like real people. Some very excellent character development.