Reading this book is like being in a dream in which you're standing in front of an interesting, beautiful painting. You spot paint peeling at the corner of the canvas so you grab it and you start pulling, slowly revealing the absolute masterpiece that was quietly waiting beneath. Franny is a scientist trying to follow the migration of Arctic terns, some of the last birds left in a not-so-distant future in which climate change has caused mass extinction of much of our wildlife. She has to barter her way onto a fishing vessel to follow the Arctic terns, having to reconcile her differences with people whose trade is further depleting the ocean of its fish. As we embark on this adventure with her, we get snippets of her backstory, hints of what has led her to where she is now. McConaghy already uses the English language in a way that makes you hungry for whatever is on the next page, but there is a moment when she reveals the true soul of both the story and our protagonist and it's immeasurably powerful, turning the entire book on its head. Migrations has engrossing writing, a protagonist as wild and untamable as the sea, and, THANK GOODNESS, a thread of hope in spite of the world being on the verge of crumbling. I really insist that you read this book.
A really cool look at the lives and habitats of orca, from the point of view of two young orcas! Roseanne Parry did an incredible amount of research to create the underwater world of Vega, her brother Deneb, and their pod as they traverse the Salish Sea in search of food. Throughout the book, we meet all sorts of marine animals, and come face to face with the struggles orcas and other whales are facing in an environment in which it's becoming increasingly hard to find food. We learn about the impact humans are having on the survival of orcas as Vega and Deneb become separated from their pod. It's a story of overcoming loss and continuing forward no matter what gets in your way. I highly recommend it if you love animals!
Classic Gothic horror meets the vivid imagery of Moreno-Garcia's powerful and chilling writing in this twisted tale. Noemi Taboada is from a rich Mexico City family, used to forging her own path and getting her way, but when she rushes to remote High Place after an alarming letter from her cousin who's been living there since her marriage into the English expat Doyle family, Noemi finds the creepy old house is the complete opposite of what she's grown used to in the city - it's stuck in the past, with mold growing on the walls and hidden in the library's books, and oddly strict regulations about her behavior. But culture shock is the least of her worries once she sees the ill state her cousin is in and learns more about the sinister Doyles. Fiercely independent, intelligent, and brimming with confidence, Noemi finds intense supernatural resistance to her strong nature. Moreno-Garcia excels at nightmarish language, descending slowly at first into the uncomfortable, before diving headfirst into grotesque and terrifying horror. This is an original and arresting novel about identity and persisting even in the face of the worst evil.
An assassin who kills for a soulless crime boss, an enigmatic bartender with a big secret, and a snake dancer grappling for control under the guise of naivety all come together to battle against their own fates in pre-World War II Harlem. Johnson’s narration and dialogue land like a jazz brush on a snare drum, with a slick whisper and poetic rhythm. And the characters embody familiar noir tropes as well: the ruthless femme fatale wrestling her past sins, a disillusioned guy who’s struggling with his own morality and humanity… and the story’s atmosphere itself, which is heavy with oppression, menace, and suspicion. Johnson captures the gritty realism and fatalism of the genre; you know their sins will eventually catch up to them, you just don’t know when. Add to it that the U.S. is on the cusp of entering the war, a dark and anxious energy prickling in the air. Even as our main protagonists harbor certain magical abilities that may seem like advantages, the color of their skin serves as a reminder for them (and for us) of the futility of their fight against the powerful scourge of bigotry, specifically white supremacy. This is a rich, intriguing, and powerful work of art.
I went in expecting a blend of mystery and some fantasy and ended up having more fun than I’d bargained for. Bridie Devine is a detective in eighteen-sixties London. She’s every bit the independent and unflappable heroine, barging into rooms where she’s forbidden, too old for marriage at thirty, and she takes absolutely no guff from anyone, including the ghost of an ex-boxer which follows her around while she solves the puzzle of a missing child who has some mysterious properties of her own. Not only does she have this case to tackle, she also has to decipher the riddle of who her new ghost companion was to her when he was living, and why he is haunting her now that he is dead. In the midst of Bridie solving the mystery of both the kidnapped child and that of her own difficult past, we start to question what it means to really be human. If you’re looking for a fun Victorian mystery with a badass detective, unbridled wit, a dash of creature horror, ghosts, and mermaids — even if you’re not looking for all of these things — pick this one up!