Reviews: Cozy Mysteries, Suffragettes, and a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Categories Blog, Reader's Life

Happy Friday, readers and writers alike! Another month is coming to an end in the next few days, and I am… hopeful. These past few months, I’d beaten myself up on that last day because I hadn’t written all that I’d wanted to write. Though that’s the case this month — I didn’t get through a lot of my monthly or quarterly goals — I have been pursuing… good things. Promising things. 

Today, though, I will tell you all about my March reads. I really enjoyed the books I read this month, and I hope that if you are so intrigued by my flash reviews, you’ll be inclined to pick up a copy for yourselves.

So, here is what I read in March:

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

This was my… February pick for Book of the Month? I’ve lost track of which book belongs to which month (I’ve fallen a bit behind) but this was definitely one of the picks.

The Broken Girls tells two different stories, one from the perspective of four boarding school friends in 1950, and the other from the perspective of a journalist writing about the restoration of said boarding school, Idlewild Hall, while battling demons from the past (hers and the school’s). The novel focuses on solving several mysteries — the disappearance of one of the boarding school girls, the death of the journalist’s sister (whose body was found in the fields of the abandoned school), and the eerie spirit that seems to haunt Idlewild Hall.

It’s a cozy kind of read, meant to be enjoyed in a large armchair while a storm brews outside. It took me a while to really connect with the characters, and as I’ve said before characters are everything in a story, but eventually I realized the main character Fiona had a certain charm and gumption that I could admire, and I really started to like her and her story line.

I would read this book again, though, for the horror element of it. Some of the scenes where the spirit — a girl whose story is only rumored to the friends and Fiona — are bone chilling. So much so that getting home from work at 11 p.m. became a problem for me, as the path leading from my car to my house became an open stretch where ghosts and ghouls could take me. If you’re into reading about what goes bump at night, I’d definitely recommend this book (but prepare to sleep with the lights on).

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition by Jason Fry

Ah, Star Wars, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways; a lot of those ways are in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and the novelization captured and expounded on those loves. Normally, I don’t read books based on movies or TV shows, but this one was special.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know it was fraught with the usual Star Wars space battles, alien characters, and Force-sensitive moments, but to me, what was unique about The Last Jedi was its emphasis on an actual balance to the Force, which was exhibited in the protagonist and antagonist of the story, Rey and Kylo Ren respectively. The connection between the two characters was something I clung to throughout all my viewings of the film, and it was what I was looking forward to most in the novelization.

I was not disappointed. The scenes between Rey and Kylo Ren (née Ben Solo) were fleshed out in the book, and they described the thoughts of the characters while maintaining the subtle tone the movie used. The conversations between them were longer and took on a (dare I say it?) teasing quality that made my heart soar with promise. The book also closes a lot of gaps the movie left open, especially during several scenes with Luke, Leia, and Rey. I think if you are as obsessed with Star Wars (and particularly the latest movie) you will enjoy this read.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

Another cozy mystery, this book was my March Book of the Month. The plot follows the family of recently deceased Dr. Isaac Severy, famed mathematician, as they deal with the ramifications of his apparent suicide, and the research he left behind. Before his death, he’d tasked his granddaughter, Hazel, with keeping his last equation out of the hands of people who would abuse it, but that doesn’t stop those people from going after other members on the family tree.

This book was definitely not what I expected; I read the book flap summary thinking I was getting myself into another DaVinci Code-esqe genre, with cross-country adventures and millions of riddles to solve. While there were riddles and some cross-city adventuring, the overall mystery aspect of the novel was on a lighter end.

That’s not to knock it though! All of the characters in this novel are captivating, and twists were present throughout the pages. Often I’ve found mystery writers like to keep the twists towards the end of the story, so I liked how this one kept me swerving turns from page one. I finished this book in less than a week; if you have some free time, get ready to not be able to put it down until the very end.

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth, and Bryan Talbot

I picked this book up at Oxford Comics in Atlanta last month, and I’d been excited to read it since. From the cover summary: “A tale of loyalty, love, and courage, Sally Heathcote: Suffragette follows the fortunes of a common housemaid swept up in the feminist militancy of early 20th century Edwardian Britain.”

Sally, who I don’t think was a real person but definitely embodies the spirit and qualities of first wave feminists, is a powerful character, dedicated to a cause she supported even before she knew all that it was. As this is a graphic novel, some of the illustrations are very depicting. Scenes from rallies, uncomfortable work environments, and inside prison walls show poignant violence, threats of sexual assault, and force feeding, just some of the things feminists faced in the 1920s while fighting for the right to vote.

Sally experiences all of these horrors and yet emerges strong and resilient, a woman who refuses to compromise on her fight for human rights. The militancy of some feminist groups was also an interesting touch to the story, reminding us that most civil rights did not come without the cost of a few broken eggs. With an extensive list of footnotes and a bibliography of books and articles for further research, I think this could be a read to fuel a lifetime of study and activism.

All of the books I read this month were smart, interesting, and well-written. I can’t wait to start my books for April. I will be reading two books, fiction and non-fiction, about former first ladies, my April Book of the Month (whatever that turns out to be), and a book of essays about the writing life (apropos, given the niche of this blog).

So, tell me, what did you all read this month?

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