Hey Book Lovers and Book Dragons! Welcome to the dog days of summer, or as I like to call it, "stay inside with the AC on high and read some good books while avoiding the sun's deadly radiation!" I've been enjoying some ebooks and a couple of regular books, but my reading has been interspersed with medical woes, as my husband was in the hospital all last week, and just got home late Friday. He's requiring a lot of support, so I haven't been able to concentrate on reading as much as I usually do. However, next week I'm having a tooth removed, so that will also eat into my reading time, I'm sure. So here are 4 book reviews from me and some tidbits from Shelf Awareness.
This actually sounds like a fascinating book. I will have to scrounge up a copy.
Children's Review: The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers
"The useless bits. The leftovers. The bad patch jobs." These are the
anatomical exhibits in Rachel Poliquin's brilliant museum for budding scientists. A wisdom tooth and a disappearing kidney guide the audience through a series of intriguingly bizarre wings within the human body, each containing some vestigial structure. The talking molar delivers fascinating background through delightfully witty dialogue, and Clayton Hanmer's illustrations ingeniously reinforce the concepts with clever detail and comic appeal. The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers is an enjoyable tour that will educate the whole family.
Throughout the tour, a mystery unfolds about the wisdom tooth's
assistant kidney. Tooth points out, "You're a kidney. Kidneys are very important. They are not leftovers. You do not belong here." But the kidney insists that it does. It also vanishes periodically during the excursion, leaving nothing but, hilariously, a tiny pair of shoes. Subtle clues lead up to a final reveal of how the organ fits quite appropriately into the museum.
Young readers will find myriad reasons to love learning science in this innovative presentation of the human body's transformation. And readers of any age are likely to learn a fascinating tidbit or two. The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers is the hottest ticket in town, don't miss it. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
This is an awesome idea, and I hope that it helps in the fight for women's right to bodily autonomy.
Cool Idea of the Day: Authors for Abortion Rights Event
Next week, Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the National Network of Abortion Funds are partnering for an online event in support of abortion rights .
Authors Jasmine Guillory (The Wedding Date), Jenny Han (To All the Boys I've Loved Before), Emily Henry (Beach Read), Taylor Jenkins Reid (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) and Jia Tolentino (Trick Mirror) will join for a night of interviews, conversations, games and fundraising, while Emma Straub, author and owner of Books Are Magic, will host.
The event is ticketed, and money from every ticket sold will go to one of six abortion funds the participating authors have chosen. At any point during the event, viewers will be welcome to send donations to the bookstore's Venmo, which will then be sent to a fund of the sender's choosing or distributed evenly among the six chosen by the participating authors. More information can be found here .
Spellbound: A paranormal historical romance by Allie Therin was a bargain ebook that I snapped up on Amazon for two bucks. After reading it, I realize I would have paid full price or more for a book this delightful and full of mystery, romance and adventure, not to mention the gay male protagonists! YEAH! I'm waving my PRIDE flag over that! Anyway, the prose was sassy and fun, and the plot ran off like a runaway horse carriage, but that was just fine with me, as it never felt labored or dull. Here's the blurb: To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…
New York, 1925
Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.
Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.
Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.
Rory and Ace are amazing characters whose love story is everything a romance reader could want. I also loved Mrs B and the other paranormals that Ace has gathered to help save the world from magic artifacts. The historical component adds a great deal of depth to the narrative, and the chasm between the classes is highlighted and shown for the cruel game that it is. I'd give this enjoyable book with an HEA ending an A, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys LGBTQ romance/mystery adventures.
Widow's Web and Deadly Sting, books 7 & 8 of the Elemental Assassins series by Jennifer Estep were interesting stories, but unfortunately they remained part of the "color by numbers" pattern set up by the first couple of books, so that readers now know exactly what will happen within the confines of Gin's world. There's also way too much time spent in recapping previous plotlines/story arcs, so that about half the book is taken up with what happened three or four books ago, explaining all the background and history of Gin and her family in dull detail. I think if you've gotten this far in the series, you don't really need an extensive recap, because you've read it all before, again and again. Here's the blurbs:
I used to murder people for money, but lately it’s become more of a survival technique.
Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town anyway. Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.
Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot.
Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me— Gin Blanco, aka the Spider—it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’s priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.
Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color.
I find myself, once again, wondering why Gin has so many friends/relatives and a boyfriend who are all pretty worthless when it comes to saving the day or dealing with threats to everyone's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Even her supposedly "accepting" boyfriend Owen, who loves her knowing that she's an assassin, turns on her the minute she kills an INSANE ex-girlfriend who clearly is a sociopath and set to kill everyone Gin and Owen have ever cared about, along with a lot of innocent civilians. But Owen, who is normally pragmatic, seems to think that his crazy ex can be redeemed by therapy, though she will have murdered a ton of people by the time they get her in handcuffs, if that is even possible. Gin, as usual doesn't care about some fantasy of redemption, and she finally does what needs to be done and kills the bitch, but Owen decides to break it off with her because his feelings are hurt...like a big pouty baby. Ugh. Anyway, I hope Gin dumps Owen and moves on with her life, and only keeps her sister around because Bria seems to be the only person with the balls to kill the bad guys and back her sister up (the two dwarf ladies are good for healing and helping get rid of bodies, so I'd keep them too). Finn is a sexist creep and keeps getting his "sister" into life-threatening danger while he's busy messing around. Anyway, I'd give these two volumes a B- and recommend them to the patient folks who waded through the redundancies of books 4-6.
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill is a mystery within a mystery wrapped in a meta-mystery/thriller. It's one of those books that British people would call "Too clever by half" and I think the conceit of the book being written while the books being written and the characters interacting about the books being written about their characters can be fairly confusing just for the sake of style. Still, the prose was good, if a bit arch, and the plot, though labyrinthine, eventually gets the job done in fairly good time. Here's the blurb:
"Investigations are launched, fingers are pointed, potentially dangerous liaisons unfold and I was turning those pages like there was cake at the finish line." —Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times must-read books for summer 2022
Ned Kelly award winning author Sulari Gentill sets this mystery-within-a-mystery in motion with a deceptively simple, Dear Hannah, What are you writing? pulling us into theornate reading room at the Boston Public Library.
In every person's story, there is something to hide...
The tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.
Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.
The reason this book becomes a page-turner is that it's like a runaway freight train..it starts moving at a regular pace but picks up speed and complications so that by the time you look up you've been reading for several hours straight and are almost at the end. After all the complex plot points, death and mayhem, the ending was something of a disappointment. I was expecting something explosive, but what I got was a creepy letter and two women who are stupid enough to fall in love with murderers. So of course all their common sense and logic flies out the window and they immediately become whining, obsessed, desperate, giggling cretins. It's so cliched and weak that I wanted to barf. I realize it's a trope that love makes fools of us all, but still, women don't automatically become brainless dogs, following around at their master's heels, willing to die for them, when they fall in love. I didn't become a blushing ninny when I fell in love with my husband, and I know a number of other women who managed to maintain their sound minds after being in a relationship. Still, I'd give this novel a B- for the attempt at a novel within a novel. Now if the author could just ditch the sexist stereotypes.