Gentle readers, I am ashamed. I abandoned you for several months because I could not bring myself to tell you this truth: that budget cuts, the bane of libraries everywhere, caught up to me at my lovely new school job. It's probably the hardest job I've ever had to lose, even as I understood why I lost it. But the world has brightened again, and I am re-employed at a bookstore and a local library (both part-time). But the more important questions in life: what's good lately?
The Ascendant by Drew Chapman
Full disclosure: I picked this up at work as an unsolicited ARC and enjoyed myself quite a bit reading it. The Ascendant is a digital age thriller, focused on the possibility of a subtle cyber-financial war in our modern era. I can't say that it was revelatory, but it was fun. Snowy day, stay inside, winter fluff fun. Political machinations are involved, which pleases me. The protagonist actually experiences personal growth over the course of the book, which is even better. A very strong debut novel for Drew Chapman, good enough that I'm passing my ARC along to my father and freely recommending the title at work.
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
I picked up Her Royal Spyness (first in a series of six) because my mother looooves Lady Victoria Georgiana - Georgie to her friends. Georgie is thrown headfirst into detective work when she discovers a Frenchman drowned in the bath of her family home. Bowen has a good sense of humor and develops Georgie - a broke demi-royal - fairly nicely, from hapless nobility to vaguely self-sufficient, with a good deal of flailing along the way. I would pass this one along to my friend who loves the Jeeves and Wooster series.
I'll be honest, I wanted to like this book. I really did. I'd read Force of Nature, the book in which protagonists Robin and Jules came to the fore, recently and picked this one up from the Christmas books display at my library. Alas, equal rights include the equal right to mediocre thriller fiction. There's one drama after another after another all barreled through at enormous rates of speed with minimal development. I understand that this is a short-and-sweet interlude sort of book, but I feel like Brockmann had 8 different possible plotlines and, instead of pruning, decided to shove them all in. I'd pass along Force of Nature, but skip this one.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
You couldn't possibly imagine getting through without a re-told fairy tale, could you? Me either. This one ticks all my boxes: strong female protagonist, well-defined magic, political intrigue. Check, check, check. When her lady-in-waiting attempts to assassinate her and seizes her role, Ani must learn to stand on her own two feet, using her talents and wits to prevent her greedy betrayers from throwing two kingdoms into chaos. If you read this and like it, try Hale's Princess Academy series as well. I would pass it along to Rayna, who I think might love re-told fairy tales as much as I do.