I had grandiose dreams of reading books and working on a puzzle or two after our little guy showed up. I haven’t read a single page and I’ve only put about six pieces in the puzzle I started just before birth. Real life sure didn’t care about those relaxing dreams of mine. Thankfully, I read a bit extra before going on my self-employed maternity leave and I’m even more thankful that I have a friend who helps me with these book reviews. So without further ado (and with no break in the action), here are three fun reads for your mid-summer days and nights. . .
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Nina Hill is a quiet person who loves schedules, trivia, solitude, books, her cat, and her neighborhood in LA. She likes men but can’t quite be bothered to keep up a relationship. Not to mention – her family is limited to her former nanny and her globe-trotting mother.
Nina may still harbor a hope that her father is Magnum, PI, but her mother has never revealed the truth. That is until one day a lawyer arrives at Nina’s bookstore to tell her that alas, her father is not Tom Selleck, and, unfortunately, also deceased. Not only that, but she has a large family eager to learn more about her just around the corner. This, along with a budding romance with a trivia opponent, starts to force Nina to confront the fact that perhaps her love of schedules is starting to cut her off from others.
Like many others, I devoured Eleanor Oliphant in Completely Fine – and enjoyed it a great deal. It was, in the end, though, a far different book than I was expecting when I started it. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, on the other hand, is almost exactly the book I thought I was getting with Oliphant, and I enjoyed it just as much – just the thing for when you want a quiet, cozy read.
Murder in Spite by Anne Cleeland
Murder in Spite is the book 8 in the Doyle & Acton Mysteries. I shared my review of the first book in the series Murder in Thrall back in November. I thought I was caught up in the series, only to discover Murder in Just Cause came out in paperback just a few months ago – guess what was ordered ASAP!
Anyway, Murder in Spite continues the story of Doyle, an Irish lass, and Lord Acton, her husband who’s yet again caught between enforcing the law and taking matters into his own hands to see that justice is done.
In this installment, the couple heads to Dublin for a holiday. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, they’re greeted upon arrival by a murdered priest on the steps of Doyle’s former station house. With their newborn at her side, Doyle knows she’s being kept in the dark about, well, just about everything! Even across the sea, Doyle just knows all this is tied to the corruption ring back in London. Of course, visits from the deceased in her dreams help her slowly piece together the whole story. Now she has to figure out what’s really happening, what side her husband is playing, and how she can try her hand yet again to let the law and God enact justice and not her wily husband.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
In Sarah Gailey’s first full length novel (after her incredible alt-history novellas, beginning with River of Teeth), we are introduced to Ivy Gamble, PI. Ivy has all the traits you’d expect of a Bay Area private eye – hard as nails, a worrying drinking habit, and a distinct lack of money. She also happens to have a twin sister, Tabitha, who teaches at the exclusive Osthorne Academy of Young Mages – and thus a window into an entirely different world than the rest of us ordinary people inhabit.
It’s this connection that lands Ivy the job of investigating the brutal death of a fellow teacher at the school. Dismissed by the authorities as an experiment gone awry, Ivy quickly begins to learn that not all is right at the Academy. It’s a world of the unimaginable made real, and one that has been explicitly denied to her during her childhood when it became clear that she had exactly zero magical aptitude while her sister wielded immense power.
As Ivy explores deeper into her sister’s world, it becomes clear that this investigation is going to open secrets not just about the murder of Sylvia Capley but Ivy’s own life. Magic for Liars is a beautifully written, exquisitely funny, and emotionally fine-tuned book about the lies in which we wrap ourselves. Absolutely perfect for fans of both hard-boiled detective stories and urban fantasies.