I had a good reading month in January.
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Flavia is a young girl who finds a dead body in the family's garden. She is a very smart girl and decides to solve the mystery of who the man is and how he died and who did it. She actually does a good job of figuring it out - she doesn't figure it out perfectly, but neither do the police. Comparable to The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but more readable. Also the same feeling as I Capture the Castle.
The Little Giant of Aberdeen Count by Tiffany Baker. Truely has a medical condition that causes her to grow abnormally large. Her mother dies in childbirth and her father later dies of alcoholism. Her beautiful sister Serena June is raised by the pastors wife and Truely is raised by one of the poorest families in town - outcasts like she is. The town is filled with good people - Amelia and Marcus, and bad people - Bob Morgan who marries Serena June. Very well written with interesting characters.
La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith. A stand alone novel. Very nice story set in England mostly during the second world war. La is a young woman fresh out of college when she experiences marriage, widowhood, and the war. She is stuck in a place where she wants to have a job and do more to make a difference and a time when women didn't have much opportunity or encouragement. During the war she starts a small village orchestra, and that orchestra gives people hope for the future. McCall Smith is a very subtle writer. His works are very pastoral in tone but not meaning. Interesting characters and a good sense of the time and place. Like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
A Matter of Class by Mary Balough. A short romance novel, with no extra characters. The story moved along. Reginald Mason and his neighbor Lady Annabelle are forced to wed by their fathers for their transgressions. The flashbacks give foreshadowing of the twist at the end.
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. This was for my library book club. We had a wonderful discussion. It's a beautifully written book. How one woman and one village deal with the plague.
When the Duke Returns and An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James. Numbers 4 and 2 in the Desperate Duchess series. The later books in the series are better than the earlier ones.
Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe by Jennie Shortridge. Mira's marriage is falling apart so she just runs away from it all - her family, friends and job. She ends up in Seattle and just happens to find a job in a coffee shop - called Center of the Universe -and a cheap apartment over the shop. Things just happen too easily. Mira supposedly finds herself, but to me it didn't seem like it. It was disappointing that in the end, nothing seemed to change.