It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit by justin a. reynolds – GUEST POST


Guest Reviewer Heather Maniero

I am a reader, teacher, techno-wizard, and librarian originally from North Dakota. I finally ventured out of the Midwest in my early thirties to get my library degree at Syracuse University and fell in love with the area. I am currently a students with disabilities aide at Spencerport High School, a substitute librarian in the Children’s Center at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, and the music director at Spencerport United Methodist Church.

Description

Gordon Holloway’s entire summer has been strategically planned to culminate on THE summer event: Beach Bash. In his twelfth year, Gordon has been given more flexibility for the summer. Gordon can do as he sees during the day as long as he keeps his nose clean and gets his chores done. With careful planning and organization (and by wearing an ugly Christmas sweater in June), Gordon has calculated that he can go all the way until Beach Bash without doing a single load of laundry. He has his bathing suit ready to show the knees Ava B. has already commented on. The Bronster (Brother/Monster for those not in the know) is headed out of town to visit with his girlfriend. This will be WBD (Wanna Be Dad’s) first big outing out with the family, but even that can be managed. What could go possibly go wrong?

My Thoughts

The story started out with that pre-pubescent boy humor that is so endearing, creating a quick bond with the reader. I was even starting to draw parallels to the Wimpy Kid. Wasn’t it genius for the narrator to start with chapter 100, for those meddling teachers and parents who are checking our reading process?

Unfortunately, the stellar start dragged a bit after it took more than half the book to even get to the set-up. If this is a planned series, I can, in a way, understand the long set-up. Students and young readers may be a bit more forgiving on this point than myself. It will be interesting to see.

Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Published By: Scholastic Press
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy

A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear


Description

In the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series, a series of possible attacks on British pilots leads Jacqueline Winspear’s beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs into a mystery involving First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

 October 1942. Jo Hardy, a 22-year-old ferry pilot, is delivering a Supermarine Spitfire—the fastest fighter aircraft in the world—to Biggin Hill Aerodrome, when she realizes someone is shooting at her aircraft from the ground. Returning to the location on foot, she finds an American serviceman in a barn, bound and gagged. She rescues the man, who is handed over to the American military police; it quickly emerges that he is considered a suspect in the disappearance of a fellow soldier who is missing. 

 Tragedy strikes two days later, when another ferry pilot crashes in the same area where Jo’s plane was attacked. At the suggestion of one of her colleagues, Jo seeks the help of psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs.  Meanwhile, Maisie’s husband, a high-ranking political attaché based at the American embassy, is in the thick of ensuring security is tight for the first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, during her visit to the Britain. There’s already evidence that German agents have been circling: the wife of a president represents a high value target. Mrs. Roosevelt is clearly in danger, and there may well be a direct connection to the death of the woman ferry pilot and the recent activities of two American servicemen.

 To guarantee the safety of the First Lady—and of the soldier being held in police custody—Maisie must uncover that connection. At the same time, she faces difficulties of an entirely different nature with her young daughter, Anna, who is experiencing wartime struggles of her own. 

My Thoughts

I have so enjoyed following Maisie Dobbs through this wonderful series by Jacqueline Winspear. This entry gives us a supremely adult Maisie who is settling in to a comfortable if somewhat dangerous life during World War II. She’s busy with her investigative work, still in love with her American husband, and learning how to be a loving and effective mother to Anna, her adopted daughter. There’s not much to say about Winspear’s writing that hasn’t already been said. She is one of the best authors of historical mysteries out there today. Her plots are well-constructed, her characters written with depth and attention, and her historical research impeccable. Here, she treats us to an inside look at the work of women pilots in England during World War II, something of which I was not familiar prior to reading this book. I spent several enjoyable hours afterwards researching the female pilots, an activity which for me demonstrates the effects of a great historical novel.

If you haven’t read the series before, start at the beginning and savor every one. I also recommend the audiobook versions, which are extremely well-done.

Published By: Harper
Publication Date: 3/22/2022
Thanks to Netgalley for the the review copy

Art of Papercraft by Helen Hiebert


Description*

Paper artist and teacher Helen Hiebert compiles a one-of-kind collection of 40 unique projects, each using just one sheet of paper. Combining decorative paper techniques like marbling, stamping, and stenciling with dimensional techniques like origami, cutting, folding, quilling, stretching, weaving, and pop-ups, The Art of Papercraft offers a rich variety of projects that will delight crafters, artists, and designers alike, including paper votive lights, pop-up cards, folded paper gift boxes and envelopes, woven paper wall hangings, miniature one-sheet books, and much more. Every project is beautifully photographed and accompanied by step-by-step visual instructions. Guidance on selecting tools, materials, and paper selection; in-depth technique instructions; and profiles of contributing paper artists make this a rich and practical celebration of papercraft.

Anyone serious about papercraft will find this book useful, practical, and a pleasure to read. Hiebert provides plenty of technical and historical information about paper which casual paper folders will likely skip, but which is gold for artists just entering the field.

The projects range from very simple origami to complicated sculpture, and are presented in a way that makes this useful as a textbook for someone seriously learning the art.

There are recipes for glues (the homemade wheat paste is particularly intriguing and something I plan to try soon), practical advice on paper, including how to determine the grain and weight, and, best of all, gorgeous photos of completed projects from artists as young as 11.

This will make a great addition to library art collections and to personal collections of paper artists.

Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Published By: Storey Publishing
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy

Lady in the Silver Cloud by David Handler


Description

Ghostwriting sleuth Stewart Hoag investigates the murder of his wealthy neighbor—and discovers her dark, mobbed-up past.

A 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud is a fantastically expensive car, especially in the pristine condition of the one owned by Muriel Cantrell. Living in a luxury apartment building on Central Park West, the delicate, sweet 75-year-old woman is a neighbor of Merilee Nash, the beautiful movie star, and Stuart Hoag, whose first book was a sensation but whose career crashed when he became involved with drugs and alcohol. Divorced ten years earlier, Hoagy has been welcomed back into Merilee’s life and apartment.

Apparently universally beloved in her building, residents are shocked when Muriel is murdered after a Halloween party. No one takes it harder than her long-time chauffeur, Bullets Durmond, whose previous job was as an enforcer for the mob. Who in the world would want to harm the silver-haired lady whose major vices were buying shoes and Chanel suits (always in cash), and watching day-time soap operas?

Lieutenant Romaine Very of the NYPD is called to investigate and again seeks help from his friend Hoagy who, along with his basset hound Lulu, has been an invaluable aide in the past. The investigation leads to the unexpected source of Muriel’s wealth, the history of her early years as a hatcheck girl at the Copacabana, how her chauffeur came to be called Bullets, her desperate meth-head nephew, and her wealthy neighbors, who have secrets of their own.

My Thoughts

Handler’s Stuart Hoag mysteries are always a treat to read. They bridge the gap between cozy and hardboiled, nicely blending elements of both. The recent proliferation of cozy mysteries has resulted in a lot of ridiculous but mostly fun stories that can be read in an afternoon. What I enjoy about the Hoag series is that the stories incorporate the basic element of a cozy ( very little to no graphic, gory detail) with some well-crafted writing and plotting paired with witty and clever dialog.

The characters introduced here, especially Muriel Cantrell and her driver Bullets Durmond, are as over the top as we expect in a Hoag story. Their backstory was well-done and fitted into Hoagy’s world of cool, calm, and unexpected. I will say, however, that Lulu tipped her beret at the killer early on. Always listen to the pup!

Handler delivers his trademark witty dialog and a well-crafted mystery, along with plenty of whimsy in the form of Lulu, Hoagy’s trusted sidekick and my favorite literary basset hound. If you’re a cozy mystery fan looking for something a little different, try this series. You can start from the beginning, but each book stands alone so you can really pick up any title in the series and start there.

Publication Date: February 22, 2022
Published By: Mysterious Press
Thanks to the Publisher for the review copy

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian


Description

Known for her wonderfully addictive characters, multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian introduces her newest heroine in this heartfelt series debut. Under Lock & Skeleton Key layers stunning architecture with mouthwatering food in an ode to classic locked-room mysteries that will leave readers enchanted.

An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.

After a disastrous accident derails Tempest Raj’s career, and life, she heads back to her childhood home in California to comfort herself with her grandfather’s Indian home-cooked meals. Though she resists, every day brings her closer to the inevitable: working for her father’s company. Secret Staircase Construction specializes in bringing the magic of childhood to all by transforming clients’ homes with sliding bookcases, intricate locks, backyard treehouses, and hidden reading nooks.

When Tempest visits her dad’s latest renovation project, her former stage double is discovered dead inside a wall that’s supposedly been sealed for more than a century. Fearing she was the intended victim, it’s up to Tempest to solve this seemingly impossible crime. But as she delves further into the mystery, Tempest can’t help but wonder if the Raj family curse that’s plagued her family for generations—something she used to swear didn’t exist—has finally come for her.

My Thoughts

I found Gigi Pandian’s books through another favorite author – Juliet Blackwell – and was thrilled to find a new series featuring two of my favorite things: magicians and hidden staircases/rooms. Pandian introduces Tempest Raj, the youngest in a line of magicians on her mother’s side and artists and builders on her father’s side. Tempest is an appealing, sassy, smart female lead who has tremendous potential to grow through the series.

Tempest is calm, cool, and collected – most of the time – and lives in a magical compound with her father and grandparents. Readers who grew up with Nancy Drew, Narnia, and the Secret Garden will fall in love with the setting.

Pandian uses the familiar series set up of a singular mystery that is introduced, investigated and solved in the course of the book, overlayed by a bigger mystery that will span multiple books. Here that bigger mystery is what happened to Tempest’s mother 5 years earlier when she truly vanished during a magic act.

I was especially happy to see the inclusion of the master of “locked room” mysteries – John Dickson Carr – used as part of the investigation here. I hope that continues. I’m looking forward to the next in this series.

Published By: St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 3/15/2022
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd


Description

From the critically acclaimed author of The Book of M, a highly imaginative thriller about a young woman who discovers that a strange map in her deceased father’s belongings holds an incredible, deadly secret—one that will lead her on an extraordinary adventure and to the truth about her family’s dark history. 

What is the purpose of a map? 

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field, and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable, and also exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence… because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.

But why?

To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret, and discover the true power that lies in maps…

Perfect for fans of Joe Hill and V.E. Schwab, The Cartographers is an ode to art and science, history and magic—a spectacularly imaginative, modern story about an ancient craft and places still undiscovered.

My Thoughts

I devoured this book in one night! There’s adventure, mystery, danger, and daring imagination here all spun into one of the best stories I’ve read in ages.

The vibe reminded me a bit of Mr. Penumbras 24 Hour Bookstore, but the story is wholly original. As a librarian, the setting in NYPL added an extra appeal.

While this is a fantastic adventure, there is also an underlying cautionary tale about mapping and the increasingly intrusive role of AI in mapping our locations and movements. The megalomaniac mapmaker in this story is probably out there in real life and that is a bit scary. This would be a fascinating topic for book discussion group debate regarding the value of all the information gathering that occurs without our knowledge today through things like Alexa and Siri, our cell phone location services, our smart cars, our computers, our smart TVs, etc.

I’ll be recommending this a lot in the coming months.

Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: 3/15/2022
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Savory Dinner Pies by Ken Haedrich


Description

Author and savory pie expert Ken Haedrich takes you on a global tour of dinner pies from food cultures across the world.

Dinner pies have become a favorite go-to for one-dish recipes. Perfect your own crust or, dare we say, buy a pre-made crust and the variations are endless. Learn how to make Classic Americana Chicken Pot Pie, British Steak and Ale Pies, Swedish Meat Pies, Italian Easter Pie, and many more crust and no-crust versions of one of the world’s most prolific go-to dinners. Recipes for a range of crusts and make-ahead ideas are included along with how to use the almighty leftover to create pie masterpieces that are all your own!

With 75 recipes and amazing four-color photography, this is both a cookbook and an around-the-world tour of culinary traditions that can be incorporated into your own home kitchen weekly menu. Great for parties, families, Sunday night dinners, neighborly welcomes, holidays, and any-old-night-of-the-week dinners, and breakfasts and lunches—Savory Pies from Around the Globe offer something for every kitchen.

My Thoughts

Pies seem to be the trendy form of baking these days, and Ken Haedrich offers dozens of recipes for a savory version of pie that will turn heads at dinner parties. His recipes for savory pies are mostly delicious (there are some odd ones, but I’m sure they are just odd for me). The traditional Steak and Ale pies, pot pies, Easter pies, and my personal favorite – hand pies – are nicely balanced and accompanied by generally clear instructions.

The basic recipes for pastry dough are fairly simple even for beginning cooks and the ones I tried were quite tasty. This will make a solid addition to library shelves everywhere.

Published By: Quarto Publishing/Harvard Common Press
Publication Date: 1/18/2022

Thanks to Edelweiss & Netgalley for the review copy

A Game of Fear by Charles Todd


Description

In this newest installment of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is faced with his most perplexing case yet: a murder with no body, and a killer who can only be a ghost.

Spring, 1921. Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Rutledge to the sea-battered village of Walmer on the coast of Essex, where amongst the salt flats and a military airfield lies Benton Abbey, a grand manor with a storied past. The lady of the house may prove his most bewildering witness yet. She claims she saw a violent murder—but there is no body, no blood. She also insists she recognized the killer: Captain Nelson. Only it could not have been Nelson because he died during the war.

Everyone in the village believes that Lady Benton’s losses have turned her mind—she is, after all, a grieving widow and mother—but the woman Rutledge interviews is rational and self-possessed. And then there is Captain Nelson: what really happened to him in the war? The more Rutledge delves into this baffling case, the more suspicious tragedies he uncovers. The Abbey and the airfield hold their secrets tightly. Until Rutledge arrives, and a new trail of death follows… 

My Thoughts

Another solid entry in the Ian Rutledge series positions the reader in Essex as Rutledge investigates a “murder” witnessed by Lady Benton and committed by the “ghost” of a man she knows to be dead.

Charles Todd has created a relatable, vulnerable, but very capable character in Ian Rutledge, who struggles with PTSD from WWI as he conducts his business as a Scotland Yard detective. There are nods to previous Rutledge adventures but a reader new to the series can follow along with ease.

The plot was a little slow to start, but picked up and kept me going well past my bedtime to a satisfying conclusion.

Recommended for historical mystery fans.

Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2/1/2022
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose by T.A. Wilberg

1

Description

The envelope was tied with three delicate silk ribbons: “One of the new recruits is not to be trusted…”

It’s 1959 and a new killer haunts the streets of London, having baffled Scotland Yard. The newspapers call him The Florist because of the rose he brands on his victims. The police have turned yet again to the Inquirers at Miss Brickett’s for assistance, and second-year Marion Lane is assigned the case.

But she’s already dealing with a mystery of her own, having received an unsigned letter warning her that one of the three new recruits should not be trusted. She dismisses the letter at first, focusing on The Florist case, but her informer seems to be one step ahead, predicting what will happen before it does. But when a fellow second-year Inquirer is murdered, Marion takes matters into her own hands and must come face-to-face with her informer—who predicted the murder—to find out everything they know. Until then, no one at Miss Brickett’s is safe and everyone is a suspect.

With brilliant twists and endless suspense, all set within the dazzling walls and hidden passageways of Miss Brickett’s, Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose is a deliciously fun new historical mystery you won’t be able to put down.  

My Thoughts

I enjoyed the first Marion Lane adventure so much that I was worried the sequel would be less. My fears were unfounded as the author has delivered another cracking good adventure featuring Marion, Kenny, Bill, and the rest of the crew from Miss Brickett’s.

This time, Marion must unravel the mystery surrounding the mysterious Florist while at the same time figure out what the heck is happening internally with the mysterious posters and clandestine meetings that are splintering Miss Bricketts from within.

One of my favorite things about this second novel is the introduction of Ambrosia Quinn, a minor character who I hope we see much more of in future books.

There’s plenty of action, witty dialog, and enough suspense to support the exploits of our plucky heroine.

Recommended.

Published By: Harlequin Trade/Park Row
Publication Date: 2/1/2022
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Deadliest Sin by Jeri Westerson


Description

Crispin Guest is summoned to a London priory to unmask a merciless killer. Can he discover who is committing the deadliest of sins? 

1399, London. A drink at the Boar’s Tusk takes an unexpected turn for Crispin Guest, Tracker of London, and his apprentice, Jack Tucker, when a messenger claims the prioress at St. Frideswide wants to hire him to investigate murders at the priory. Two of Prioress Drueta’s nuns have been killed in a way that signifies two of the Seven Deadly Sins, and she’s at her wits end.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing outside of London when the exiled Henry Bolingbroke, the new Duke of Lancaster, returns to England’s shores with an army to take back his inheritance. Crispin is caught between solving the crimes at St. Frideswide’s Priory, and making a choice once more whether to stand with King Richard or commit treason again.

My Thoughts

The final Crispin Guest story?!? I was crushed when I read the author’s introduction to The Deadliest Sin because I have enjoyed this series very much. Here, we find Crispin’s past returning with a vengeance when his former Lord and Master John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, dies in the first chapter, foreshadowing radical historical events that will change Guest’s life.

At the same time, he is called in as The Tracker of London to unravel a series of brutal murders happening in a a Priory where nuns are being killed according to the Seven Deadly Sins. This part of the story is a tricky mystery which Guest handles with his usual aplomb, discovering the truth behind the murders about halfway through the books, leaving the remaining chapters to deal with the brewing battle between Henry and Richard for the English throne.

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this series. I would recommending starting the series from the beginning, although this one can be read on its own.

Publication Date: December 7, 2021
Published By: Canongate Books; Severn House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy