I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel — ★★★★★ — If you’re a reader you’ll find at least one thing in this book that is relatable to you! If not the entire book! Sharing your books with friends (or not), repeatedly going to the library and grabbing armfuls of books and holds (even though you have plenty of books at home you own and haven’t read), never leaving the bookstore without buying at least one book, knowing that book recommendations need more than “it’s great!” because readers all have different reading tastes, getting so lost in an audiobook the day has flown by and you didn’t do any housework or errands, rereading favorites because you love them (or not because you don’t want to mess with the memory of them), reading books with your children, racing to finish a book club title (or not and accepting the end will be spoiled), running out of space in your home for your books, buying and building more bookcases, dreading a move because of all the books you own, not owning a whole lot because you go to the library always, owning a lot because you go to the bookstore always, buying books to support authors but never reading them, buying used books because you like holding previously loved books, buying new books and cracking the spine…it’s endless!
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott — ★★★.5 — It’s good. The writing is perfect for historical fiction, the right atmosphere and tone for a Cold War novel. I enjoyed it enough to want to keep reading. But by the end it felt rushed, a little deflated. The love story fell apart/fizzled, and I found Boris to be incredibly selfish and thought Olga had it coming. There may have been some aspects of the CIA storyline that was totally over my head and implied and I simply didn’t catch on—some threads seemed loose, frayed, unanswered. I think my attention fell apart a bit when I spotted a major editorial error in a chapter heading. That said, I liked stylistically what was done with the novel. I liked you didn’t have to read Dr Zhivago in order to read and follow the story. I love that art prevails all, that art can reflect culture and criticize. I want to know more about the Cold War, about how people knew he was writing Dr Z and that the whole world knew before it was even published that it was criticizing the Soviet Union. I wanted more about the spying—lots of drops but not a whole lot of the actual acquisition of things—and perhaps more of Boris’s wife and what she was feeling about all of this (was she targeted too or just Olga? What’s the point of “hiding” the relationship when everyone knows what you’re doing, you pig, Boris? Sorry, moving on…). I loved the development of the CIA love story, and wanted more that too—with a more concrete ending please!
The Trespasser by Tana French — ★★★★ — The sixth of French’s Dublin Murder Squad series held up to her usual literary detective fiction flair. It was a totally new experience for me to listen on audio to a Dublin Murder Squad detective rather than reading—the Irish narrator really grabbed and pulled me in. Hearing the thoughts aloud instead of reading them myself really put me on edge too, truly believing Conway’s paranoia was real and rooted in logic. French’s mysteries have always appealed to me. Her writing is engaging yet literary, smart yet accessible. I would not lump French in the same wheelhouse as Flynn or Hawkins or Ware as so many do—she stands out on her own. She’s a mystery writer for those who aren’t into mysteries (like me!). I also really enjoy that we follow a squad and not the same protagonist with each novel. The secondary character from the previous book becomes the main character for the next—and so forth. The trouble is…I think this series is now complete? Conway was the secondary character of the previous book, The Secret Place, but she’s still with her partner from that book in here too. I’m curious to see if French will continue the series, and how, now that we’ve closed this particular chapter of the Dublin Murder Squad narrative.
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander — ★★★ — Mystery isn’t really my jam to read, but I devour BBC/Masterpiece Mystery shows. This young Victorian woman who goes off on adventures and still stays true to the constraints of her society—a modern woman for her era without seeming anachronistic—happens to be at the center of a mysterious death. Lady Emily is recently widowed and ready to get out of mourning. But upon discovery of her late husband’s journals and fascination with Greek artifacts, Emily starts to fall in love with the man he was and learn that his death was…quite fishy. From London to Paris to Santorini to Cairo, Lady Emily must find the truth to her husband’s death and the mystery of stolen museum artifacts, all without shocking her mother half to death turning down marriage proposals. Emily was loads of fun and super intelligent. This had more dialogue than I expected, but the feel of the novel made me think, “If Jane Austen was born now and wrote historical mysteries, this is what she’d write.” It’s witty and clever, had lots of red herrings, and I was guessing through the end. I’d definitely pick up the next in the series!