Saturday, April 16, 2011

April Reads (So Far)

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
ePub, read on the Borders Kobo device

I decided to go back through each of the eReader devices my library has to try them out again. It's been so helpful to be able to answer patron questions about eBooks and eReaders after putting my hands on several different devices! The Kobo was what was available, so that's the device I used. This title was available and seemed quick and easy, so that's the title I checked out.

I was pleasantly surprised! I've decided that I kind of like "cozy mysteries." That's the surprising part. I enjoyed this book! It required very little effort to get through: brain candy all the way.

It's set in 1930s London. A distant member of the royal family tries to make her way in the world independently. Her family's funds have dwindled thanks to her deceased father's gambling habits. She's used to having servants, and so she must learn to set a fire in the fireplace, clean up a bit, and cook enough to get by.

The mystery comes in when the beneficiary of the gambled estate shows up dead in the bath tub of their London home. No one knows who killed him...or why. The main character, Georgie (rather, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie) and her brother are suspects. Strange "accidents" keep happening to Georgie, though, and she begins to wonder if it is all connected. Georgie is instructed by Her Royal Majesty the Queen to spy on the prince and his American girlfriend. Somehow the dead man in the bath tub, the accidents Georgie experiences, and various run-ins with her boarding school friends, childhood friends, and a new man she meets create a mystery that Georgie must solve in order to survive.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Trade paperback edition

I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by this author, and have wanted to read Shanghai Girls for a while now. While it wasn't quite as good as Snow Flower, I did like it. Loved it, even!

Two sisters, Pearl and May, grew up in Shanghai. In their late teens and early 20's, they were "beautiful girls;" models for calendars and advertisements. They had servants and they were carefree.

Behind the scenes, things were not so glamorous. The girls' father has lost everything to gambling debts (I see a theme forming this month!), and has promised the girls to American men as wives in payment. Then the Japanese attacked Shanghai and everything fell apart. The girls escape, realizing that their prospective grooms in America might be their only option for survival.

Family secrets, the loyalty and bonds of sisters, and the kindness of strangers are all themes in this story. The girls' lives in America is much different than what they are used to, and they are living with a big secret that they can't possibly explain. Read the book for all the details!

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Audio book edition

This story is set in the 19th century, where Gemma Doyle grew up in India. She is sent to boarding school in England after her mother dies. She suddenly begins having visions that she can't explain, but which seem to warn of future events. These visions, she finds out, are related to an ancient group of men called Rakshana, as well as an ancient circle of women called the Order. There have been others at Spence Academy with visions, and Gemma and her friends embrace this power for their own, creating their own Order. The story tells of their travels to the spirit realms, the origins of their gifts, and the consequences of using them. The story is continued in book two: Rebel Angels and book three: The Sweet Far Thing.

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