Book Blog: December 2021 Favorites
Happy Christmas everyone, and I hope you had some time to read and relax during this holiday season. I’m writing this during the first snow of the winter, accompanied by very cold temperatures (for Seattle), in the teens and twenties. So it’s giving me a chance to cuddle up with the cats and make my way through 11 fantastic books this month.
My next blog will be a 2021 best books special with my favorites for a variety of tastes — I hope you’ll come back to check it out!
Half Life (Jillian Cantor): I am *such* a sucker for a Sliding-Doors type book, and I am doubly intrigued when it is about a kick-ass historical woman like Marie Curie. Cantor is bold in telling Curie’s story and alternating a fictionalization of her life with an alternate path as Marya (her birth name) who stays in Poland and marries her love and pursues a different set of passions other than discovering radioactive elements. I really appreciated how the same characters could have different lives and how Cantor’s Marya has some of the person’s characteristics and attributes, albeit it in another setting. I really do adore Cantor’s books and cannot recommend this one enough.
The Island of Sea Women (Lisa See): Wow, Lisa See continues to write fantastic narratives about strong and complicated women, and she always weaves in enough history to help you learn about unknown places and times in history. This book covers the lives of two friends from the 1930s through the early 2000s. Young-sook is the daughter of the leader of the village’s diving collective on the island of Jeju, Korea; unlike mainland Korea, this is a matrilineal society. At the age of seven she meets her best friend, the orphaned Mi-ja, who lives with her aunt and uncle in the same village. The story explores their journey to become divers, their marriages and families, and the massacres and violence than impact them. The way that these women’s lives intertwine is what makes this story true soar.
Magpie Murders (Anthony Horowitz): If you like quirky, fun mysteries, you will enjoy this book! I loved Horowitz’s previous novel, Moriarty, and this one is just as clever. What I loved about the book was that it was a book within a book. The first half of the book is a manuscript of a murder mystery, but we are left without the ending. The novel then switches to the perspective of the book’s editor, Susan, who has realized that the death of the author is strikingly similar to the murder in the book.
As in all murder mysteries I can never quite figure out the ending, but Horowitz is clever without rubbing it in your face. If you enjoy mysteries, I can’t think of a better summer read for you!
First, Murder in Mesopotamia: I find this to be one of the better Poirot novels, perhaps because it has an intriguing narrator (Nurse Leatheran), an intriguing setting (Iraq) and a rather mysterious central character, Louise Leidner. But when she is found dead in the compound in a closed room, it’s a really tricky murder to solve. But what a fantastic book — it has been one of my favorites thus far!
And then Murder on the Orient Express: Ah, the best known Christie mystery and I have met again, and yet again I loved it! By pure chance Poirot is traveling on he Orient Express on the night when it crashes into a snowbank and a man is found dead in his berth. Because of this, our suspect list is quite short. As he begins to investigate, Poirot discovers that not everyone is who they say they are, and thus, the solution comes to him!
I got nothing for you. It’s been hard end-of-year for this category, but I will have lots for you in the next blog post.
Merry Christmas from us to you!