September Micro-Reviews


2686AB76-18BB-4C05-B351-3D3D38698006Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

A tragic heroine with a dark secret paired with mysterious, sometimes villanous men, and a fascinating look into the art world – all things we’ve come to expect from M.J. Rose and all things that play a part in this lovely new story. Rose has a skillful ability to blend mystery, romance, and history into readable, un-put-downable stories and she has succeeded admirably here.

The peek into the world of Louis Comfort Tiffany is an extra treat here, and Rose captures the heady atmosphere of creating art in New York City in the early decades of the 20th century with color and panache. The characters range from appealing to repulsive, the action suspenseful, and the outcome deliciously romantic. And has there been a better named character than Minx Deering? I don’t think so! Recommended.

Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Published by Simon & Schuster Atria Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

B01FF0E0-18D7-4147-8C90-637270FEE18BGolden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley

There isn’t another series of which I am aware that does such a masterful job of growing a protagonist from child to teen to (eventually) adult. Flavia de Luce has engaged readers since her first appearance in Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and continues to do so throughout the series. Initially a precocious, brilliant but still vulnerable child, we have traveled with Flavia as she has become a (still) brilliant and cheeky teen tempered by tragedy and change. Her insatiable desire to know the world, coupled with her tender regard for Dogger and need for acceptance by the Hewitts has made Flavia into a classic.

In this new entry in the series, we find Flavia and Dogger tackling a new case, precipitated by a gruesome discovery in sister Daphne’s wedding cake. The relationship between Dogger and Flavia continues to develop as they grow their detecting business, and provides a vehicle for the author to demonstrate Flavia’s maturity. Absent both her parents, Flavia looks to Dogger to guide her through difficult situations.

As we have come to expect, Bradley delivers a clever and funny story that keeps the reader guessing. Fans of the series will eat this up. Recommended.

Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Penguin/Random House Delacorte Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

2FDE50A8-07FC-4BE9-9741-70C8387B159FLouisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

With every new story, I am more certain that Kate DiCamillo must be acknowledged as one of the most talented authors of this generation. In this newest offering, DiCamillo tells the story of Louisiana Elefante and how she came to live with Betty and Burke Allen in Georgia. Fans of DiCamillo will remember Louisiana from Raymie Nightingale and will be at once delighted and crushed as they follow her adventures from Florida to Georgia.

As DiCamillo writes here, there is a “great deal of power in writing things down,” and it is true that her stories always contain power, and gentleness, love, and heartbreak. Additionally, they also contain some of the most inventive and memorable dialog and description out there. For instance, there’s this gem:

It occurred to me that the Georgia sun was different from the Florida sun. I knew that it was the same sun —of course I did. There is only one sun, no matter where you go on this infinitesimally spinning earth. That is a fact. But there are facts and there are facts. And one fact is that it is the same sun, and another fact is that if you are far from home, and you don’t know who you are, it is a very different sun.

Any child (or adult) struggling with figuring out their place in the world will surely identify with Louisiana and find comfort and strength in her story. Highly recommended for middle grade readers.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Penguin/Random House Candlewick Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

BB19610D-1E20-4D37-95AD-BF6404841117Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey

In this age of immediate gratification and super-multi-tasking, it’s inevitable that a book like Chris Bailey’s would surface. There are dozens of books out there that are intended to help you focus, but few that explore the science behind attention and focus in the chatty, informative way that Hyperfocus offers. The information provided here actually works and has helped me change the way I work and organize myself. Recommended.

Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Published by: Penguin Group Viking
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy