Reader Roundup: February
A false spring led to dashed hopes of winter’s end. Another round of snow, icy winds, and days to stay inside hit our area resulting in a dash to the library and stockpiling books. I blend my own special recipe of cocoa and so February was a month of mostly consisting of reading books and sipping cocoa in the easy chair.
Catherine’s War by Julia Billet ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Based on the novel of her mother’s experience in occupied France, the author presents readers with an award winning graphic novel that tells the story of a young Jewish French girl who must constantly move to avoid the Nazi round ups. Through expressed thoughts and photographs Rachel/Catherine’s story is told simply, yet elegantly.
The Wings of a Falcon by Cynthia Voigt ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
This title can read as a standalone, even though it is the third book in Voigt’s Kingdom series. The adventures of Oriel and Griff are thrilling as they escape their imprisonment of the Damall’s rule to make their way to the eventual destination of The Kingdom. Voigt is an accomplished storyteller and this story rings of medieval times without resorting to fantasy. A memorable tale of devoted friendship.
The House on the Gulf by Margaret Peterson Haddix ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Haddix weaves a mystery within a mystery and throws in a plot twist on top of a plot twist in this standalone coming of age story.
Britt and her brother Bran are being raised by their single mother and are a tight little family facing hard times. Bran manages to get a house sitting job for the summer so his mother can attend college classes. It seems like a great situation, yet Britt notices he is acting strange, furtive even. When the truth comes out about who they are housesitting for, it is a shock and the outcome could have dire consequences for the family.
Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
The second book in the Lily Adler series in which the recently widowed Mrs. Adler assists in solving a murder. Set in the Regency period the author captures the hierarchy of social class and the intricacies of class conversations. Her attention to historical research adds to the overall story and understated theme of class consciousness. The murder mystery has sufficient twists to make it an engaging read and with the added tensions of the various interpersonal relationships the series is well set up to keep readers interested. This title can read as a standalone. For fans of Miss Scarlett and the Duke PBS series.
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Fans of Narnia will appreciate Cooper’s introduction to her Dark Is Rising series: Over Sea, Under Stone. Set in England, probably in the 1950s, the three Drew children are up for a splendid family holiday with their eccentric great-uncle Merry Lyon (which does sound like Merlin, doesn’t it?). Bored one rainy day, they explore the house and discover a map which leads them on quite an adventure. Beyond Cooper’s impressive wordsmithing, she presents children who on one hand act like siblings, calling each other names, being worried about getting in trouble with their mum and dad, and plunging into situations, and on the other end she also has these children imbued with reasonable rational thinking skills, able to accomplish much while realizing they can’t do everything on their own and do need adults to help them at times. An exciting story with hints of Arthurian adventure.
Murder is a Must by Marty Wingate ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
In this second book in the series Hayley Burke is finally establishing herself as curator of Lady Fowling’s First Edition Library of Golden Age Mystery Writers. Her literary salons are a hit and now it’s on to something with more public fanfare: an exhibition paying homage to Lady Fowling. Plans go seriously awry when the events manager is found dead at the bottom of the stairs, mimicking the death of a character in one of Dorothy Sayer’s valuable first edition mystery novels—which happens to be missing. While still a lively read, this plot focused more on character actions. Not much sleuthing and the murderer was a fairly easy guess. Still a fun read and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon when the snow won’t stop falling.
My reading habits seem to be switching between mysteries and fantasy. Escapism at its best, I suppose. And I do want to escape winter’s kidnapping of spring. I’m feeling like I’m stuck in the Narnia chapter of continual winter. Where is a Pevensie child when needed to break winter’s spell?