Book Buzz: Mesoamerican-Inspired Fantasy, Racehorses Gone Wild, Murderous Retirements, and WWII-Era Italy

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For April, we’re looking at a new fantasy novel that draws on ancient Mesoamerican mythology and culture for its worldbuilding, a literary fiction fairy tale, a humorous mystery about retirees solving crimes, and a historical fiction audiobook set in Italy during the Second World War.

Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun (2020)

Kelly recommended I profile this on the blog because it’s a new read she’s especially enjoyed. Thanks so much for the great suggestion, Kelly! A lot of fantasy draws on inspiration from historical cultures for its worldbuilding (such as medieval Europe or ancient classic mythology), but Roanhorse’s evocative and striking worldbuilding instead draws on the culture of ancient Central America.

But beyond the excellent worldbuilding, this first book in the Between Earth and Sky series also features a page-turning plot and complex, fascinating characters. In the midst of a solar eclipse during the winter solstice–a sure sign of trouble–a ship captain takes on a passenger that is described to her as harmless. But she well knows that “harmless” usually means anything but. Complications ensue.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of N.K. Jemisin.

Jane Smiley’s Perestroika in Paris (2020)*

The Perestroika of the title is not a Soviet history reference but is instead the name of a racehorse. Perestroika is a curious horse, and when she gets the chance to escape her stable and explore Paris, she takes it. Along the way, she makes some friends in the animal kingdom (including but not limited to a dog and a pair of rats). None of the animal friends are exactly cut out for life on their own–they’re rather sheltered and naive–but they get by with a little help from some human friends, including one small boy in particular.

*Ebook also available on Libby.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Yann Martel.

Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club (2020)**

The four elderly members of the Thursday Murder Club have a standing appointment to meet weekly in their quiet English retirement village to discuss unsolved crimes. It’s a harmless bit of fun and a way to the pass time–until the property developer of their retirement village is found murdered and they find themselves with a case that is anything but an exercise in theory. First in a series.

**Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Mario Giordano and Anthony Horowitz.

Jennifer Robson’s Our Darkest Night (2021)

This audiobook (which is also available as a book in the system) is the story of Nina, an Italian Jew, and her experiences in WWII. As Italy becomes increasingly dangerous for Italian Jewish families, she makes the difficult decision to leave her parents and their home in Venice to escape to the countryside. But to do so, she must marry a stranger, pretend to love him, and hide her Jewish roots. Despite a steep learning curve for the sophisticated Nina when she lands in the rural countryside, love blossoms between Nina and her husband Nico, but the danger she thought she was escaping is still there.

Recommended for those who enjoyed Beneath a Scarlet Sky and the works of Jojo Moyes.

What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.

Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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