"Love is a soft thing. It smells like woodsmoke and sounds like rain. It tastes like sugared apples." ~ Jennifer Donnelly, Poisone
Hello! January seemed to last forever and we’re already halfway through February–time is weird, isn’t it? Or, I guess, our perception of time is weird. Whenever the kids get really bogged down into asking questions or making commentary on time and the hours in the day versus the hours in the night, I want to say: look, kids, the way we organize time is just a construct, a tool to help us navigate through our lives in community with other humans. It doesn’t really matter. At your age, don’t get too bogged down in the details of time.
Now, how about some news? My second novel is scheduled to release in November 2022 with Black Rose Writing! I know, right?! It’s very exciting, and also still nerve wracking. My challenge to myself over the next several months will be ordering my time in a way that allows for both the work that comes with the publication process, and also writing new things.
Anyway, I wanted you all to be the first to hear about the new book. If you know someone who might be interested in keeping up with details of the publication, share this newsletter with them!
And now, let’s talk about what we’ve been reading…
I thoroughly enjoyed this second Inspector Gamache novel. It’s nice to start a long established series, knowing there are many more installments waiting for me. A Fatal Grace has the central mystery–who killed CC when nearly everyone WANTS to kill CC?--plus more layers to the enigmatic past case that still haunts the Inspector. I was talking about the Inspector Gamache novels with someone recently, and said that while they’re a bit slow paced, it’s a pleasant slowness, like taking a leisurely stroll versus a power walk.
Sarah Addison Allen is another author with a nice back list that I’ve been slowly working my way through. Allen’s stories often have very realistic problems (cheating, abuse, loneliness, heartbreak), but she manages to infuse them with hopefulness and joy. That might not appeal to every reader, but I think Allen makes it work. The touches of magical realism probably help with the balance of light and dark (and this book has the best magical gift—Chloe’s gift that causes the exact right book to just turn up when you need it). I also liked the fact that while the ending was a happy one, not all the relationships were tied up with a pretty bow.
The world of Red Sister is a harsh, cold world, full of myth, legend, and magic. Convents train and teach not only nuns devoted to their religion, but nuns trained as magic wielders and deadly fighters. Nona is a child sold into a fighting ring, and when she’s accused of murder, set to hang. She’s rescued by the Abbess of the Convent of Sweet Mercy, and given the chance to train as a nun and discover if she has access to any of the world’s magics. In the convent, Nona makes friend, and enemies, and holds her secrets very close. Red Sister introduces readers to the world of this fantasy trilogy, sets the ground work for some large-scale intrigue and questions, and also tells the story of a young girl coming of age, and learning who she can trust.
Library of Legends is a historical fiction-fantasy novel set in China during World War II. The story was interesting–a group of university students flee the war and travel across China, transporting an invaluable and treasured collection of the history and legends of China. Against the backdrop of war–both the external war with Japan and the internal war between the Nationalists and Socialists–the students travel, and the gods of China depart for the Celestial Palace. I really enjoyed the setting, the fantasy elements, and the look into Chinese history that I wasn’t familiar with. That said, my only tiny complaint is the pace dragged a bit for me, but if you like historical fiction, it’d be worth trying out.
This was a charming rom-com with a quirky set up and a lot of emotional depth. Tiffy needs a cheap place to live, and Leon needs to earn extra money to help his brother. Tiffy works days, Leon works nights. So they share a flat–but never at the same time. Both have some pretty heavy things they are dealing with in their life, and form a surprisingly supportive friendship through notes left throughout their apartment. Of course…things don’t go quite according to plan. The characters have really distinct voices, and the author does a great job of balancing the heavy and series with the lighter, romantic side of the story. (There’s maybe one open door scene, but honestly I can’t remember, which means it’s either easily skippable, or not graphic enough to be memorable).
This cozy mystery stars a unique, atypical, and absolutely endearing heroine. Molly works as a maid at a fancy hotel, and while she is still grieving the loss of her gran her days are ordered and predictable just as she likes it. Until the day she finds a dead body in one of the hotel beds. The story is unique because there is a lot the reader sees and understands that Molly does not, yet Molly may also not be the most reliable narrator. All in all, this story was an absolute delight.
My kids may not be into watching movies they’ve never seen before (they’re weird, I know), but a couple of friends “made” me watch Encanto and I loved it! Did I laugh? Yes. Did I cry? Also yes. Have I played the soundtrack since and danced through my house? Absolutely. It’s a lovely story about family, belonging, and identity.