A gender-bent YA take on the legend of the Muskateers. Tania has been raised by her dad, a retired Muskateer, to be a swordswoman. Even though she is chronically ill with near-constant dizziness. When her father is murdered, she finds that he made arrangements to send her to a ladies finishing school—which is the exact opposite of what she really wants. But when she arrives, she finds the mistress is an old friend of her father’s and is really running an all-female version of the Muskateers. Their current mission coincides with Tania’s mission to find her father’s killer. This book is so much fun. Great action, sympathetic and realistic characters. A great mystery too.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, by Ruth Hogan
I wasn’t quite as into this Hogan book as her others. It’s interesting and she writes characters as rich and varied as Maeve Binchey, but the story didn’t quite click for me. The story follows Tillie as she moves into her recently deceased mother’s apartment in Brighton. Her mother kept deep secrets from her and now, in her 40s, she must figure out the real story behind her father’s death. This involves real world sleuthing, reading her mother’s hidden diaries, and speaking with ghosts.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie
After watching the new remake of Death on the Nile, I realized that I haven’t read that many Hercule Poirot books. So I started with the first. A fun mystery set during WWI on a rural country estate. Hercule is in the village as a refugee from the war front in Belgium. While a little stodgy to read, it was fun to read Hercule’s origin.
Burn Down, Rise Up, by Vincent Tirado
Raquel is a denizen of the Bronx and loves her hometown. But groups of teens keep disappearing and when her friend disappears, she works with her crush (and his cousin) to find him. At the same time, her mother is stricken with a mysterious, contagious disease and Raquel believes that the disappearance and the disease are connected. To solve the riddle, she must undergo a deadly internet challenge/urban legend to get to the underside of the Bronx—another dimension where all the trauma of its history is played constantly on repeat. Great debut novel, scary and well-plotted. I also learned important history about the historically black neighborhoods in the Bronx.
Answers in the Pages, by David Levithan
A lovely middle-grade novel made up of three different stories: a town gone berzerk trying to ban a book, sections from that action-adventure kids’ novel, and two fifth graders who become more than friends. Short and to-the-point, Answers is about standing up for yourself and your friends and that, even when adults disagree, it’s important to stand up for what you believe. I CAN’T WAIT for this book to get banned (and it’s going to). It will be so meta!
The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie
In looking for Christie books in the public domain, I came across this one. I hadn’t heard of the Tommy & Tuppence series before and thought it looked like fun. And it was! Out-of-luck Tommy and friend Tuppence decide they are ready for adventure and stumble into a big one—a secret plot to overthrow the British government by Bolsheviks. (It takes place in 1919.) They are fun characters and the mystery (while a little contrived) makes a good read.
The Love Hypothesis, by Ali Hazelwood
I’d heard that this was a fun romance, and it definitely was. I really enjoyed the hijinks of scientist/grad student Olive and her fake relationship with famous professor (and jerk) Adam. Fake relationships are always a favorite for me, and this one was perfect. Especially the #metoo moment towards the end.
Like a Sister, by Kellye Garrett
A murder mystery that deals with racism, privilege, and living the influencer lifestyle. When Lena’s half-sister, influencer Desiree, is found dead, the police are happy to call it an accidental overdose. Lena knows that can’t be true. There are too many loose strings. But investigating—even against her family’s wishes—proves dangerous as the murderer is following her every move. Good mystery, well-done characters. Not a book I’ll read again, but I enjoyed it.
One by One, by Ruth Ware
I felt like reading a Ruth Ware book and this was the only ebook of her work available from my library. Not my favorite. Although, I can see where she was influenced by Agatha Christie’s (theme this month?) And Then There Were None. A posh tech company goes on a ski retreat in the Swiss Alps. When one of them goes missing on the ski slope, just after an avalanche knocks out their connection to the nearby town. Isolated and trying to understand where their colleague was lost, more people begin to die. But why?
The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, by Mona Eltahawy
I’ve been a fan of Mona for ages and meant to get to this book earlier. It was great. It consists of essays about ways women can subvert the patriarchy. Although, the compounding of examples of women being oppressed got to be a lot. This book aims to show women that it is OK to be angry, to swear, to want power, to be sexual, and more. Absolutely worth reading.
When the Tiger Came Down, by Nghi Vo
Chih is a monk who travels to gather stories. When he and his guide go deep into the mountains, they are cornered by three tigers who can take on human forms. Chih entices the tigers not to eat them by telling them the human version of their story about a tiger goddess and her human scholar lover. If he can last the night, they might survive. An interesting novella about the power of storytelling and the power of who is telling the story. I had been wanting to read something by Vo and this was a good beginning.