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Dear friends,

Here are some books I’ve been reading lately:


Where the Crawdads Sing:

I had already purchased this book and intended to read it before my book club chose it as a monthly read. While many of my friends loved it, it was just okay for me. The setting is “atmospheric” and claustrophobic. We learn the story of Kya the “marsh girl,” a child who was abandoned in a shack near a swamp, and follow her through adolescence as she copes with loneliness while studying the flora and fauna of the marsh. Over the years, she makes a few friends, one of whom teaches her to read and write. When a local man is found dead at the foot of a fire tower near the marsh, Kya becomes a suspect. For me, the story moved slowly until the murder investigation began, when the book took on more of a mystery/thriller element. There’s a twist at the end that’s surprising and charming. 3/5 stars.


House of Salt and Sorrows:

This is a gothic thriller, based on the fairy tale of the “12 Dancing Princesses.” We learn of a family of sisters who live in an island kingdom that worships a god of the sea, and when someone dies, their body is sent “back to the salt.” The book opens with the funeral of one of the girls. Several of her sisters have already died under mysterious circumstances, and there are 8 of the 12 sisters remaining. One of the elder sisters, Annaleigh, is convinced that her sisters were murdered, and that a villain has been picking them off one by one. She finds herself in danger as she attempts to solve the mystery. While I enjoyed the story, I sometimes felt like the “12 Dancing Princesses” trope was being imposed on this narrative. There were so many sisters (both alive and deceased), that I found it hard to keep track of them all. And while they did sneak away at night to go dancing at balls, I didn’t feel this was strongly tied to the rest of the story. 3/5 stars.


Shadow and Bone:

I enjoyed every minute of reading this book, then went on to listen to the audiobook as well. The story takes place in a beautifully constructed fantasy world that is detailed enough to feel realistic. In a land reminiscent of old Russia, an orphaned boy and girl join the army, where each learns of their special talents. The people of this land are mostly peasants, but there is an elite group called “Grisha” who possess special powers. Children are tested to determine if they are Grisha, and if they are, they are sent to a special school to learn how to harness their powers for the good of the kingdom. If one of our protagonists turns out to be Grisha, will they be separated? Will they be placed at odds with one another? This is the first book in a trilogy (and the other books are equally amazing). These books are also being made into a series for Netflix, coming late 2020. 5/5 stars.

Happy reading, everyone!


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Books for review can be sent to:  Annette Hamel, P.O. Box 19252, Kalamazoo, MI  49019-0252