Tuesday, January 21, 2020

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Newest Additions to Shelves

Top Ten Tuesday topic today is the most recent additions to my shelves. This will give me a chance to write some mini-reviews of books I've recently finished, and a chance to look forward to some books upcoming. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Arty Reader Girl - check her blog out for links to other participants, and to find future topics.

  • To the Land of Long Lost Friends: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #20  by Alexander McCall Smith (Jan 17)
  • My library has been slow to add this to its catalogue, but I finally got myself on the waiting list, should be a few weeks til I get to spend some lovely time in Botswana with some old friends.

Still Midnight by Denise Mina (Jan 11)
I'm listening to this great Scottish police mystery, the first of five books with Alex Morrow as the tortured lead character. With only two hours left to read, I definitely will listen to more of these books.

  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell (Jan 5)
  • Quick graphic novel read that takes place on the last night of pumpkin season at a pumpkin patch with two high-schoolers who will be heading off to university. It's a sweet friendship book, with amazing food as the two friends make it a night to remember.

  • We Met in December by Rosie Curtis (Dec 30, 2019)
  • Cute little British rom-com that I listened to to start the year. (Should have read this in December, obvs) Two great main characters sharing a flat with other housemates but are interested but know they shouldn't get involved - it's actually a house rule. But as the year proceeds...

The Art of Theft: The Lady Sherlock Series, Book 4 by Sherry Thomas (Dec 29, 2019)

This series does not disappoint at all! Charlotte and her merry gang of misfits head to France to try and obtain a painting that may contain some blackmail information about a client. We learn more about Mrs Watson's previous life, Charlotte's sisters continue to be a part of the story, and Charlotte and Lord Ingram continue their back and forth. Moriarity's are still always in the background. Fans of Sherlock Holmes should enjoy.

  • We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (Dec 25, 2019)
  • I borrowed the audio book after seeing this book on the Tournament of Books 2020 play-in list. I think I get what the author was aiming for, but I found it too bleak, and upsetting to enjoy. Set in a slightly future America, where race relations have not improved like you might hope, a father is trying to get his mixed race son surgery to prevent his birthmark from spreading. I didn't like the father and his blaming, and the author knew readers wouldn't like him and he even gives a speech defending his decisions, but it didn't help me. 

The Huntress by Kate Quinn (Dec 9, 2019)
  • My neighbour teacher brought this historical book in for me, with great recommendations and I can't wait to get to it. 

  • Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li (Dec 5, 2019)
  • I'm in the process of reading this book, a longlist book from last year's Bailey's Prize for Fiction. Set in Maryland, a Chinese-American Jimmy is trying to open up a new restaurant, separate from the family Beijing Duck House. There are a bunch of characters, and I'm not completely sure what the main plot is yet. It is okay so far, and it reminds me of another book that I haven't quite been able to recognize.

  • Disappearing Earth  by Julia Phillips (Dec 5, 2019)
Now this book had a lot to recommend. First of all, the setting was in the far east of Russia, in the area known as Kamchatka Peninsula. I was not familiar with this, wouldn't even have thought people lived in this area; luckily a map is included. Bonus. The book starts with the disappearance of two young girls that we read from their perspective. The rest of the book, one chapter for each month, seems to become a series of stories about other characters in the area. Some of these characters are connected to each other, and then near the end, everything starts to come together in a satisfying way. 

  • A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier (Dec 3, 2019)
  • I did enjoy this book but I read it in the weeks before Christmas, and I didn't get to get absorbed in in time-wise, which is too bad, because Chevalier is one of my favourite authors, and in another time, I should have loved this one because it had embroidery. Chevalier writes historical fiction so well, and her research on a topic is always enjoyable.
  • Set in the early 1930s, after WW1 in London, our main character, Violet has lost her brother and fiance in the war, and is a spinster. She is expected to look after her mother, with no regard to her choices. She rebels a bit, and gets a job in a nearby town, lives on her own, and gradually begins to make a life. She discovers a group of embroiderers at a cathedral, and finds her artistic side. She also makes friends with a male bell-ringer at the cathedral, and we get to learn a lot about bell-ringing. Chevalier covers a lot of social territory and commentary, including family obligations, women's roles in society, lesbians, unhappy marriages that won't divorce so lead to affairs, single mothers, and friendships. I would recommend this one especially for fans of historical fiction, England between the wars, and women's fiction.