Audiobook: The Thursday Murder Club

by Richard Osman
Read by Lesley Manville
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Or listen at Libro.fm
Content: There is murder, obviously, and also suicide. It’s in the Mystery section of the bookstore.

The Thursday Murder Club at a quiet retirement community just wants to meet in the Jigsaw Room on Thursdays and look at – and maybe try to solve – old cold cases. Things get heated though, when the four of them – Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim – encounter an actual, live murder: a developer (two, actually) connected to their community turns up dead. The four of them follow the story through its twists and turns, all the while working with (and outsmarting, of course) the police. The real lesson: order people – ones in retirement communities, who are thought past their prime, still have things to contribute.

This book was a delightful romp. I adored the narrator and her voices for everyone. There was a good bit of humor, and a good bit of “you go!” when the older ones were on quicker than the police. Elizabeth is definitely the leader and the “smartest” but the others have their place, too. We got some backstory and some character development along with the twists and turns of the murders. And yes, there was a big cast, but they were really all delightful to spend time with.

Recommended for those who like their murder mysteries on the lighter side.

Monthly Round-Up: August 2022

It’s been a month. That’s really the best I can say. I did have a favorite this month, out of the few that I read:

Tamsyn Muir is brilliant. Period.

Middle Grade:

The Marvelous Land of Snergs

Graphic Novels:

Isla to Island

Adult Fiction

Bookish People (audiobook)

YA:

The Agathas
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

Maybe someday I’ll stop lamenting my “lack of reading” and just accept that this is how much i read now. Someday.

What was your favorite this month?

The Marvelous Land of Snergs

by Veronica Cossanteli
First sentence: “‘Children need rules,’ stated Miss Watkyns.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: September 20, 2022
Review copy snagged from the ARC shelves at the bookstore.
Content: There is some violence, but not really. I was telling someone at the bookstore that this will make a great read aloud but I have no idea if an 8-10 year old will want to pick it up Maybe the right 8-10 year old. It’s in the Middle Grae section of the bookstore.

Pip and Flora are orphans, who have found themselves at the Sunny By Hoe for Superfluous and Accidentally Parentless Children. They are not entirely happy there; the director, Miss Watkyns, is very strict and always going on about rules, and Pip and Flora are not terribly good at following them. until one day, when they are punished and then end up in the woods, and through a gate that was accidenally left over, and they find themseleves in teh land of the Snergs. Their guide, Gorbo, isn’t not terribly bright or put-together, but together they manage to get in a bit of trouble, meet the Snerg Queen and go up against a wicked witch.

No, it’s not a plot-heavy book though Things do Happen It really would make a delightful read-aloud to a 4-6-year-old, someone who doesn’t mind the low stakes and would be entertained by the silliness. Because it is sill. Not ad, just silly. The marketing material says it’s based on the original story by E. A. Wyke-Smith, which inspired Tolkien to write The Hobbit, so there is that. IT does feel like something from the 1920s, with its Capital Letters and morals (but not terribly heavy-handed morals). Even so, I found it delightful. Not deep, but entertaining.

Which is probably all I really needed.

Isla to Island

by Alexis Castellanos
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There is some depiction of violence. It’s in the Middle Grade Graphic Novel section of the bookstore.

IN this wordless graphic novel, we follow the story of Mari, who was born in Cuba in the early 1950s and had a happy life with her parents. That is until Castro took over and Mari’s parents began to fear they weren’t safe. So, they sent Mari to New York to live with a nice older couple – stangers, as part of the Peter Pan program, though you don’t find that our until the afterword until they could find a way to leave as well. Mari was thrown into situations that she couldn’t understand; school in New York was nothing like school in ba. It wasn’t until she find the library, and books about plants, that she begins to feel at home.

This is a gorgeously drawn graphic novel; it has to be since there are no words (to very few). Castellanos knows how to portray emotion through facial expressions and body language so I felt I got the story without needing to have words. Perhaps the best thing was that when Mari traveled to Cuba, the world changed from full color to black and white. It was a very effective tool for portraying how isolated and out of place she felt.

Very highly recommended.

Nona the Ninth

by Tasmyn Muir
First sentence: “In the dream, he told her the words about where he took his degrees his postdoc, his research fellowship.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: September 13, 2022
Review copy snagged from the publisher when it came in.
Others in the series: Gideon the Ninth Harrow the Ninth
Content: It’s violent and sweary. It’s in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore.

Things you should know:

  1. It’s MUCH better if you read Gideon and Harrow right before reading this one. Seriously. I spent so much time trying to remember things, I finally gave up, found a Wiki, and spent time looking up things to remind myself. If you remember stuff from the previous two books, you will better understand and grasp what is going on in this one.
  2. It’s the …. cheeriest? possibly.. of the three so far. Nona is an endearing character and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her, Pyrrha, Cam, Palamedes, and all the new characters we met.
  3. I have no idea what the heck happened in the last 1/4 of the book, and I’m not sure I care that I didn’t know. Truthfully: upon reflection, all the pieces were there, I just didn’t catch them. (See, #1.)
  4. Muir blew my mind in the best. way, and I am utterly impressed with her world-building, with her character development, and just the way this story is unfolding.
  5. Bring on Alecto. I can’t wait to see how this ends.

Audiobook: Bookish People

by Susan Coll
Read by Alexa Morden
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Or listen at Libro.fm
Content: There is some mild swearing and a couple of f-bombs. There is also mention of suicide. It’s in the Adult Fiction section of the bookstore.

A co-worker – the current Children’s Coordinator at the bookstore – turned me on to this one, saying: It’s super accurate, including down to the vacuum cleaner that won’t work. That was enough for me.

The basic plot: it’s one week at an independent bookstore in Washington, DC (not Politics and Prose, though) where everything seems to go wrong. The owner, Sophie, is having second and third thoughts about running a bookstore and just wants to hide away in the hidden room behind the sports section (I think?). Clemi, the event coordinator, has booked Raymond Chaucer, a notorious poet who is basically known because his wife killed herself. Clemi, however, thinks Chaucer is her real father. In between all that is a lot of rain, some pretty weird and funny customers, and a vacuum cleaner that just won’t work.

it’s particularly silly and fluffy; there’s really not much depth or growth here But the author must have some experience with working at a bookstore; there was a lot of insider baseball from Shelf Awareness (which is more like an industry newsletter, not a blog) to receiving and stocking books (though they order a LOT of books) to those weird customers who show up at author events. In fact, it was the author event, where one attendee just started rambling about spotted owls, that had me howling in laughter. I know those people; I have had those people at events I have run.

The narrator was particularly delightful and engaging, doing voices (I particularly liked her voice for Summer), and basically keeping me engrossed in an increasingly silly plot.

So, not a deep or moving book, but it was good for a few laughs, which I enjoyed.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

by T. Kingfisher
First sentence: “There was a dead girl in my aunt’s bakery.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: there is some death by murdering and mild swearing. It’s in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore.

Mona doesn’t consider herself a wizard. After all, all she does is small magic – like make bread rise or gingerbread men dance. But when a girl turns up dead in her the kitchen of her aunt’s bakery, she soon discovers that someone is out to get her (and all the other people who do magic in her town). And, since now of the adults in Mona’s life seem to be doing anything, she and her friend (the brother of the dead girl) soon decide to challenge the powers that be and make someone listen.

People have been recommending this to me for a while now, and I guess I just felt that Now was the time to read it. I mean, who doesn’t love a possibly sentient sourdough starter named Bob? But it was also more than that: it was about inclusiveness, about finding one’s power, even if you think it’s small, and about making and keeping friends. It’s very sweet I get why Kingfisher self-published it: it’s not really an adult book, but it’s not really a YA one either. it sits in that publishing no person’s land, where if you like the sort of thing – baking, slight mysteries, magic, etc – you’ll probably love this book.

I fell on the love it side, and I don’t regret that at all.

The Agathas

by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson
First sentence: “Alice Ogilvie is crazy.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there.
Content: There is some swearing, including 3 F-bombs, some mention of teenage drinking, drug use, and sexual activity.

Alice Ogilvie is persona non grata in Castle Cove: last summer, she disappeared for five days. Everyone in town panicked and sent out searches for her. And then she reappeared, much to everyone’s chagrin, and refused to talk about her summer. She’s trying to get back into school – after being on house arrest for two months – and is failing at it.

Iris is trying to get her and her mother away from her abusive dad. This means she needs money. So, when the school counselor hirs her to be a tutor to Alice, she’s a little wary, but needs the $3,000 enough to take it on. But when Alice’s former best friend, Brooke, goes missing and then turns up dead, Alise is determined to get to the bottom of it. Iris is just along for the ride, and for the reward money. The question is: can two teenage girls figure out the mystery?

If you can’t tell from the title: this is really a straight-up murder mystery, the kind Agatha Christie used to write. It hits all the mystery beats: a dead body, a falsely accused person, and so on. And it did it all really well. I liked the voices of Alice and Iris, and the way the story was told through both of their eyes. I liked that the mystery was just high enugh stakes that I woudl fl a sense of danger when Alice and Iris get into questionable situatons It’s a strong story ad a fun one. Definitely recommended.

Monthly Round-Up: July 2022

I read a few things. I don’t know why I didn’t read more. no rime? just not in the mood? I don’t know. Maybe I just need to accept that I don’t read as much as I used to anymore and move on. At least I’m still reading, right? My favorite this month was an old favorite, a comfort read:

Wee Fee Men (old review)

As for the rest:

YA:

A Hat Full of Sky (old review)

Graphic Novel:

Realm of the Blue Mist

Non-fiction:

Mother Brain
Radical Love (audiobook)

Adult Fiction:

Counterfeit (audiobook)
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (audiobook)

What was your favorite this month?

Realm of the Blue Mist

by Amy Kim Kibuishi
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are some disturbing images and some violence. it’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Tabby’s father was obsessed with a tree in their town, a tree where mist comes out. And where he died, his body having been mysteriously aged 200 years. Tabby has become obsessed with her father’s death and hangs out at the tree even though her mother has forbidden it. It’s there aht she sees Philip, a Keeper from the world Rema. She follows him through the portal in the tree and discovers a world where there are people with powers who are ostrcsed, and nothing is quite what it seems.

It’s very much a set-up book, introducing Tabby to the world and us to TAbby and Philip. there is a slight friendship? Romance? between them that doesn’t quite feel justified (i mean he’s cute, but that’s it, really). I wasn’t sure that I was going to like this initially, but as it went on git got more interesting. So, I am quite possibly invested in where this series is going to go. We’ll see. For now, I’ll call this a tentiteively good start.