Nutshell: When James Manville, emperor of a billion dollar corporate network, died, he left his widow nothing.
That’s not entirely true. He left her a ruined farmhouse, fifty-thousand dollars, and a note, saying, “Find out what really happened for me, Frecks?” But the billions of dollars, the twelve luxury homes, the yachts and planes and extravagant cars he left to his horrible brother and sister.
Lillian Manville adored her husand. He was her whole world. Now, crucified by the media, nearly penniless, and with no practical skills to speak of, she has to figure out how to survive, support herself, and possibly investigate whatever her late husband wanted. If that weren’t enough, the tiny town nearby is full of odd characters, formed by the aftermath of events surrounding six boys a generation ago, the Golden Six.
Readalikes: I’m going to say Midnight in Austenland, since both are about women in bizarre circumstances finding themselves at the end of a marriage, and hit very similar emotional notes. If you have a better title, drop it in the comments!Read More »
Nutshell: Gracie is a force of nature. She’s broken her collarbone, she terrorizes her older sister, and once she tried to touch a dragon and nearly got crushed. She does things the loud way, takes no guff from anyone, and if something isn’t right, she beats it until it is.
But she can’t beat a Dark Cloud.
Dark Clouds come for people who are about to die, to take them to the afterlife. Gracie’s little brother, Sam is always sick, and the Cloud comes practically up on to their doorstep. Trying desperately to save him, their Dad buys a camper and loads them all in: Mom, Millie, Gracie, Sam, and the neighborhood runaway, Oliver, and takes them on a journey. They’re trying to find the Extraordinary Land, a place where there is no magic and people live easier lives. Lives without Clouds to carry them off.
The trouble is, only crazy people believe in the Extraordinary Land.
Readalikes: This reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles, by DiTerlizzi and Black. The Thirteenth Child, by Patricia Wrede is also about a hostile, magical America, in a very different time. This book is difficult to categorize because I, at least, have not read very many “whole family” adventures. The world itself is most like either Terry Pratchet or Douglas Adams.
Series: The Spirit’s World **This is book five. Spoilers for the previous books abound.**
Nutshell: Eli Monpress gave up his freedom to save the people he loved, but Benehime isn’t about to be satisfied with that sacrifice. She requires everything from him, and she shows him the plan she has designed for the two of them. Pushed to the breaking point, Eli finally pushes back, and Benehime flings him onto the mercies of the Council of Thrones. Eli is locked summarily into Sara’s very best wizard-proof cell. With his father. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Alber Whitefall is using him as leverage against Josef.
But that’s trivial compared to what Miranda is facing. Something is causing massive panic among the spirits across the world, and with Banage in prison, it falls to her to fix things. She knows where to find answers, but she might not get them quickly enough to do anything but watch the world end.
Eli Monpress isn’t trying to be a hero. So why do people keep expecting him to save the world?Read More »
Nutshell: The vicar is a much put upon man. He must deal with the problems of the village, and the gossips, and the problems caused by the gossips talking about the other problems. In addition, his wife is flighty and his maid is awful. So really, finding a man shot to death in his library ought to be the end of enough. But no, not only is the man found shot in his library, but everyone connected with the case seems determined to involve him in the matter. The gossipping ladies share their gossip with him. The principal suspects in the case confess to him, and then un-confess later! The possessions of unrelated persons are found in the woods behind his house, and inside those are the possessions of the muder victim! Really, it’s enough to drive a vicar to drink.
Read-alikes: Dorothy Sayers. Really, I need to read more old detective novels.