Quick Reviews: The Lending Library, The Heirs of Locksley, and Nightshade

The Lending Library

Author: Aliza Fogelson

Published: July 1, 2020

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Number of Pages: 300 pages

Genre: Adult Fiction / Contemporary / Romance

Format: eBook

Source: NetGalley

A heartwarming debut novel about a daydreamer who gives her town, and herself, an amazing gift: a lending library in her sunroom.

When the Chatsworth library closes indefinitely, Dodie Fairisle loses her sanctuary. How is a small-town art teacher supposed to cope without the never-ending life advice and enjoyment that books give her? Well, when she’s as resourceful and generous as Dodie, she turns her sunroom into her very own little lending library.

At first just a hobby, this lit lovers’ haven opens up her world in incredible ways. She knows books are powerful, and soon enough they help her forge friendships between her zany neighbors—and attract an exciting new romance.

But when the chance to adopt an orphaned child brings Dodie’s secret dream of motherhood within reach, everything else suddenly seems less important. Finding herself at a crossroads, Dodie must figure out what it means to live a full, happy life. If only there were a book that could tell her what to do…

The Lending Library is a new release from Aliza Fogelson and Lake Union Publishing!  I found this book to be charming and fun, exactly the book I wanted to read as a fan of contemporary YA books who is actually an adult.  There is just enough romance to be fun, but not overbearing with sweatiness, and of course there are books!  This book reminded me a lot of The Bookshop starring Emily Mortimer.  Dodie Fairisle is a socialite turned teacher after a nasty breakup who has moved from the City to a quaint town in the “country”.  Dodie is an avid reader who loves her students, but when the local library closes for renovations, she decides to take it upon herself to create a lending library in her house to bring books to her community. 

Dodie is a wonderful character who is well-written and interesting, she’s definitely lived a life outside of her quaint town!  Along the way, Dodie learns lessons about love, loss, grief, and the importance of family and community.  It’s a feel good read that makes you consider your connections with your family and community on a deeper level.  I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to other books from this author!

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The Heirs of Locksley

Author: Carrie Vaughn

Published: August 4th, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Number of Pages: 128 pages

Genre: Folklore Retelling, Adult

Format: eBook

Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: Carrie Vaughn follows up The Ghosts of Sherwood with the charming, fast-paced The Heirs of Locksley, continuing the story of Robin Hood’s children.

The Heirs of Locksley is the second book in the Robin Hood Stories series.  I found it to be more like a novella at 128 pages, but the pacing is quick and it was a great, if short, read!  So far, this is a duology, but it may evolve into something more. 

Several other reviewers have mentioned that historically, Robin Hood has been a less than accurate figure, but in Carrie Vaughn’s interpretation, Robin Hood becomes almost historically accurate.  At least, he becomes less mythical and more real in this re-telling/original story about his heirs. 

Mary, John, and Eleanor, the children of Robin and Marian, are fun characters who are headstrong, but also duty bound.  Mary is the eldest, a whiz with a bow and always looking out for her younger sister.  John is following in his father’s footsteps, encouraging the new king to experience things he’d never experienced before and completely headstrong.  Eleanor is the youngest, she doesn’t speak and avoids crowds, she sticks close to Mary usually.

The plot is interesting, with Robin’s kids navigating the political sphere created by the death of the former king.  Now, England is ruled by a king who is no more than 13 years old and close in age to John.  The pacing is fast and the book was over before I really realized it.  I did enjoy the character development and the world. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book!  I received a galley copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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Nightshade

Authors: Annalena McAfee

Published: August 4, 2020

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Number of Pages: 272 pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Format: eBook

Source: NetGalley

Family life. Reputation. They took a lifetime to build and a second to wreck.

Eve Laing, once the muse of an infamous painter, is now — forty years later — an artist herself. But she has sacrificed her career for her family and she resents the global success of her old college roommate, a celebrity of the conceptual art scene. When Eve embarks on her most ambitious work yet, she takes a wrecking ball to her comfortable life, jettisoning her marriage for a beautiful young lover, a drifter half her age, who seems to share her single-minded creative vision.

Nightshade charts Eve’s nocturnal walk through London, from her former family home in the west of the city back to her studio, a converted factory in the east, where her recently completed masterpiece hangs and a fatal reckoning awaits.

This brilliant and timely novel explores sexual politics and the excesses of the contemporary art world, asking if the true artist must relinquish the ordinary human need for love and connection. Can the creative urge be the most destructive — even deadliest — impulse of all?

When I requested this ARC, I thought the premise sounded interesting:  A renowned artist, fed up with domestic life triggers a series of events that lead to the implosion of her life/social standing/etc. in order to create her greatest works of art which happen to be depictions of the world’s deadliest flowers.  The cover is beautiful, which helped in my decision to request, but this book is much more than what I was expecting.

Something readers need to know going in is that this is a slow burn sort of book.  It’s told from the perspective of Eve, though in a third-person, detached narrator sort of style that mirrors the sophisticated, yet frenzied thoughts of the main character.  This is also an introspective book, dealing with issues that women struggle with everyday  – motherhood, guilt, depression, anxiety, etc.  These are not issues that are exclusive to women by any means, but they are the themes that are dealt with in this book, though not always explicitly.  All the while, Eve is suffering for her art and some of the suffering is self-inflicted. 

It takes a while to really get going, as other reviewers have noted and I agree.  Like I said, slow-burn.  This is a novel you want to pick up when you’re tired of romance novels and want something different that it’s sci-fi or fantasy.  This is the book you pick up when you are feeling mischievous!  I loved the poetic and frantic style of the prose!  The story is largely told in flashbacks, but there are some details included in a masterful way that bring you to the street in London at night time, or into the studio.  Some words I had to look up, but I felt it was a learning opportunity and they absolutely fit the intellect and depth of the character.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book!  This is my honest review.

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