New Fiction Books [Feb. 2021]

I haven’t been buying so many books recently, which I see as a positive: I already have more books than I would need for this year, so there’s no point in spending money just to expand my library. Although it’s nice to do that, it adds some level of stress overall, as I see that huge (mostly virtual) pile of books I want to read and are there, just waiting for me. I recently wrote about ‘backlog vs collection’ in the most recent Geekosaur Weekly issue.

Anyway, I want to share of what I’ve got recently, fiction books only.

Audiobooks

Late january, I got an Audible trial, as Amazon was offering 60 days for Prime members, and a bonus credit also. That gives me 5 books: 3 credits, and 2 from editor’s picks they also give each month. The free books for January and February were: The Queen’s Gambit and The Tea Rose.

The Hatmakers (Tamzin Merchant) (Amazon)

Tamzin Merchant is an actress that was in The Tudors, Salem, Pride and Prejudice, and is currently in Carnival Row along with Orlando Bloom and Kara Delevigne. This is her debut as an author, with this very interesting middle grade book. As a bonus, the book is narrated by Tamzin herself, and as a fan I just had to get it! Planning to listen to it soon!

An enchanting fantasy adventure about the importance of bravery, resourcefulness, and following your heart from a debut celebrity author.

When Cordelia Hatmaker’s beloved father fails to return from an ingredient-hunting expedition, Cordelia is the only member of the family who knows in her heart that he can’t be gone for good. Her grief-stricken aunt and uncle forge ahead to continue the work of their guild and to fulfill a crucial order from the King for a magical Peace Hat. But the enchantments woven into the carefully crafted goods of the Hatmaker, Bootmaker, Cloakmaker, Watchmaker, and Glovemaker guilds begin causing sudden inducements of rage and chaos. As war looms and the Peace objects backfire, Cordelia must find out who is using the Makers’ creations for dark purposes and uncover the truth about her father’s disappearance.


Physical

I want to go back to reading more physical books, and those two were a step in that direction: I bought them online at Indigo. My intention was to also buy in other stores (not Amazon) but unfortunately, while we are staying at home, that’s not so easy. Amazon is just easier to browse, and my copy of Gods of Jade and Shadow arrived with some marks like someone was writing on top of it. That never happened with Amazon, and all my physical books always arrived in good condition.


The Institute (Stephen King) (Amazon)

I’ve never read a Stephen King book, so I decided to give it a try. AND THAT WAS SO GOOD! Binged it in a week.

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.


Gods of Jade and Shadow (Silvia Moreno-Garcia) (Amazon)

I absolutely loved Mexican Gothic, which is the newest release from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and when I saw that this one features the Mayan god of death, I had to get it.

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.


ebooks

Every month, Amazon gives prime members a choice of a free book from a selection, with Amazon first reads. Those two were my selections for January and February.

After Alice Fell (Kim Taylor Blakemore) (Amazon)

Until she discovers the truth of her sister’s death, no one will rest in peace.

New Hampshire, 1865. Marion Abbott is summoned to Brawders House asylum to collect the body of her sister, Alice. She’d been found dead after falling four stories from a steep-pitched roof. Officially: an accident. Confidentially: suicide. But Marion believes a third option: murder.

Returning to her family home to stay with her brother and his second wife, the recently widowed Marion is expected to quiet her feelings of guilt and grief—to let go of the dead and embrace the living. But that’s not easy in this house full of haunting memories.

Just when the search for the truth seems hopeless, a stranger approaches Marion with chilling words: I saw her fall.

Now Marion is more determined than ever to find out what happened that night at Brawders, and why. With no one she can trust, Marion may risk her own life to uncover the secrets buried with Alice in the family plot.


West with Giraffes (Lynda Rutledge) (Amazon)

An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.

“Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes…”

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.

It’s 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world’s first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes.

Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late.