Book Buzz: The Mona Lisa, Speculative Hi-jinks, Murder, Linguistic Races, Native Cuisine, and a Non-Musical Musical

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For February, we’re looking at fictionalized art history, noir with werewolves and vampires, a thriller featuring three women suspects, a history about the Rosetta Stone, a cookbook that highlights Native American food traditions, and an audiobook novelization of West Side Story.

If you love historical fiction:

Laura Morelli’s The Stolen Lady : A Novel of World War II and the Mona Lisa (2021)

So, technically, the title only name-checks WWII, but there’s a dual narrative in this novel, featuring two very different settings. One story focuses on the efforts of a young Louvre archivist at the start of WWII who is scrambling to secure the museum’s most famous paintings before the Nazis show up and the other on a 15th century servant in Florence, Italy. What do both of these women have in common? Hiding da Vinci’s masterpiece The Mona Lisa.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Stephanie Storey.

If you like comedic speculative fiction:

Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin’s Reboots: Undead Can Dance (2021)

Private detective Humph the Boggart has his hands full dealing with the likes of Skinny Jim the Zombie and Fred the Werewolf. In his world of Reboots, film noir PI tropes meet space opera, with a dash of comedic horror in the way of zombies and werewolves and vampires. Your reaction to that description is probably a pretty good indication of whether or not you would like this book, but it’s a fun, imaginative read.

Recommended for those who like humorous, genre-bending speculative fiction.

If you prefer thrillers:

Paula Hawkins’s A Slow Fire Burning (2021)*

A few years ago, Paula Hawkins made a splash with her atmospheric debut novel, The Girl on the Train. In her latest book, a gruesome murder is the avenue for exploring three women in the victim’s life–a fling who was one of the last people to see him, an aunt, and a neighbor. All of them are brimming with resentment but did any of them want vengeance?

Recommended for those who enjoy the works of Gillian Flynn and Ruth Ware.

*Ebook also available on Libby

If you enjoy nonfiction:

Edward Dolnick’s The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone (2021)

The Rosetta Stone unlocked the key for 19th century scholars to finally understand Egyptian hieroglyphics. Knowledge that had been lost for centuries was restored, but first, there was a race to decode the Rosetta Stone. This fast-paced book chronicles the competition between England and France as they each vied to be the first to crack the code.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Jill Jonnes and historical nonfiction that reads like a thriller.

Freddie Bitsoie & James O. Fraioli’s New Native Kitchen : Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian (2021)

Though I’ve been profiling cookbooks in our themed Cookbook Corner posts, I didn’t want to wait to profile this book in one of those. Chef Bitsoie is a member of the Navajo Nation and the executive chef at the Mitsitam Café at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. He’s passionate about preserving modernized recipes from a wide range of tribal traditions, as well as as using foods indigenous to America. This cookbook blends both and is a truly fascinating read.

Recommended for those interested in cooking and Native American food traditions/culture.

If you want an audiobook:

Irving Shulman’s West Side Story: A Novelization of the Broadway Musical (2021)

West Side Story is a classic musical–you likely know the plot even if you’re not a musical fan. Two teenagers (Tony and Maria) are in love, but they’re on opposite sides of a street gang turf war. It’s Romeo and Juliet but with music and a modern setting. In this novelization, Shulman strips away the songs and writes the story as a crime story.

Recommended for those who enjoy West Side Story but are okay with losing the musical element.

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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