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Hello, again.  While I haven’t read anything spectacularly worth reviewing this month, here’s a quick look into what I did read, just to have things to talk about at parties.  (I do not go to parties.  I am usually staying home at reading.  But feel free to use these synopses next time YOU are at a party, friend!)  Same rules as last month apply: a quick overview, what I liked or did not like, and a thumbs up/thumbs down review, in the style of overseeing a gladiatorial bout.  (None of these books will be fighting to the death.  They don’t have hands.)

The Aviary, Kathleen O’Dell

  • Clara is an invalided tween whose mother is the live-in caretaker for an invalided octogenarian on an estate which boasts a sizable aviary.  After the lady’s death, Clara starts uncovering the mystery of what really happened to her mom’s boss’s deceased children, as strange things start happening with the birds.
  • Weighing in: A really good mystery with a surprising twist.  Unlike other books I read last year, there is a slow and reasonable build to supernatural happenings.  Kidnappings, mystery, mind control, and codes, all used well.
  • Worth reading, yay or nay?: Yay.

Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley

  • School integration in 1959 Virginia, what a playful romp!  I’m just kidding, it’s got all the overt and casual racism you’d expect, with aggressive use of the n-word tossed around.  Plus, in these already high stakes world, black integration student Sarah and proud segregationist Linda are forced to work together on a school project, AND are both struggling with their lesbian identities.
  • Weighing in: This is pretty heavy-handed all of the time, and the eventual romantic payoff does not really feel earned in the slightest.  It feels a lot like they’re trying to cure racism and homophobia all at once, which while admirable, is a lot to cram in one go, and in a historical context, to boot.
  • Yay or nay?: Yay.

This Dark Endeavor, Kenneth Oppel

  • A prequel to Frankenstein, where Victor Frankenstein is a moody teen boy perpetually jealous of his twin brother.  The brother gets sick and Victor undergoes a quest to gather hard-to-obtain (but conveniently located?) items to create an elixir of life to save him.
  • Weighing in: The quests fall on the duller side, the villain is a little too suspicious right from the get-go, the threat is minimal, and the love triangle is blah-blah.  Victor, in this, comes off as a surly alchemist with little regard for science, and no real motivation beyond being an irritating teenage boy.
  • Yay or nay?: Nay.

Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

  • Carry On makes the most sense if you’ve read Rowell’s Fangirl (I did!), since it is a bastardized version of Fangirl‘s Cath’s fanfic, Carry On, Simon.  (Which itself is based on the fictionalized world of Simon Snow – so Carry On is ostensibly a fanfic of a fanfic of a book within a book.)  It’s about young mage Simon Snow in his last year of mage school, trying to stay alive while the Insidious Humdrum is after him.
  • Weighing in: God, was this fun.  It starts off at the end of a (fake) canon but manages to make you feel like you read the other books (that don’t exist).  Plus, the magic used in this is actually incredibly creative, the female characters are developed, and the big reveals all feel earned.
  • Yay or nay?: Yay.

Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith

  • The third in Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike detective series, this one starts rough when Strike’s assistant/secretary/partner Robin gets sent a dismembered lady’s leg in the mail.  This sends her and Strike on a manhunt investigating all three candidates he knows that might send him body parts in the post.  Meanwhile Robin is still edging ever closer to her wedding, but her relationship is very far from perfect, less so as she is being sent body parts.
  • Weighing in: I think my favorite in the series yet; it doesn’t have all of the gruesomeness of The Silkworm, but the working relationship of Strike and Robin is really evolving.  There are times when I felt the references to their non-working relationship were A Bit Much, but it is actually natural in the context of their friendship deepening.  Plus, did I mention there’s a trunk of body parts somewhere?
  • Yay or nay?: Yay.