How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

How We Fall Apart book cover

The students of Sinclair Prep have secrets, and The Proctor seems to know them all.

Nancy Luo is shocked to find out that her former friend, Jamie Ruan, is dead. She’s even more shocked when she and her friends are implicated in the murder by The Proctor, an anonymous poster on the Tip Tap social media app. One by one, Nancy’s friends have their deepest secrets revealed to all the elite Sinclair Prep population as they race to determine who The Proctor is and stop them before Nancy’s biggest secret can be revealed. Does this have anything to do with The Incident, which occurred years before Jamie’s death? Or is someone just playing games with their lives?

How We Fall Apart is a fast-paced mystery that will feel familiar to fans of One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus. This story’s strengths lie in its examination of Asian American culture, academic pressure, and the socioeconomic differences between Nancy and her peers. The mystery itself takes many twists and turns, leading to a shocking conclusion. Readers are led to suspect several alternative identities for The Proctor, and any of these options may have been a more logical or satisfying villain for the story. The author’s choice to withhold information as a buildup to the finale can seem forced at times, but the reveals make it all worthwhile. A perfect thriller for those who want diverse mysteries, academic settings, and plenty of secrets to keep them guessing.

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder book cover

By Joanne Fluke

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder is the newest novel in the Hannah Swenson series. Readers familiar with the series know that Joanne Fluke is a New York Times bestselling author. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (2000) was the book that started it all.

The mystery of who killed Mayor Bascomb has people on edge in Lake Eden. Spring is in the air, and Hannah Swenson is busy managing her local shop, The Cookie Jar. Juggling orders for upcoming Easter celebrations and keeping a murder book to record clues and suspicions occupies Hannah’s time. Yet, no matter how busy Hannah becomes, she always seems to have enough time to quell the small upsets experienced by the family and friends that surround her with a fresh plate of cookies or cupcakes.

Readers will enjoy Hannah’s detective work as she uncovers the circumstances that led to the mayor’s demise. Through her attention to detail, Hannah unravels the case and even confronts the suspect at home with two dozen cookies in tow. She tells herself, “You know you’re not supposed to confront a possible killer alone!” However, this doesn’t stop her. Hannah has an endearing sense of commitment and determination that readers enjoy.

It’s no wonder that Joanne Fluke’s cozy mysteries are wildly popular! This was my first introduction to the series and now I understand why. While there is a murder mystery to be solved, it is Hannah’s natural talent for baking and cooking that adds a fun element of engagement for the reader. The reader has the sense that they are right there alongside Hannah, planning menus, whipping up tasty treats, and solving a murder.

Favorite Entrée Recipe: Stroganoff Light

Favorite Dessert Recipe: Tropical Vacation Bundt Cake (Unfortunately, I am not a big cheesecake fan.)

Note: Hannah’s recipes include appetizer, main dishes, and desserts, complete with instructions and anecdotal notes.

I will Judge You by Your Bookshelf

I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf book cover

By Snider, Grant, author, illustrator.

Colorful and clever best describe Grant Snider’s funny and insightful book about everything bookish. Book lovers will enjoy this witty take on how passionate readers and writers feel about everything related to books. Snider touches on how readers come to enjoy and even obsess over books, and to how we challenge what we hold to be true. If you are looking for a comical cure for writer’s block or would like to laugh at yourself the way others might, this is the book for you! The book contains 125 pages of cartoon images that depict everything related to reading and writing and the place it occupies in our lives. Each page creatively captures what books and literature offer us. …Even punctuation is interpreted graphically and comically.

Favorite Page: Types of Readers, page 87. I see myself somewhere between “picky” and “voracious.”

To learn more about Grant Snider, visit his website, http://www.incidentalcomics.com/

The Paris Library

The Paris Library book cover

by Janet Skeslien Charles

Recommended for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife, this work of fiction is based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II.

Young Odile loves books and feels compelled to work as a librarian in France. Her command of English is excellent and she lands her first job at the American Library in March of 1939. As the occupation of Paris by the Germans takes hold, Odile and a small group of librarians at the AML remain committed to serve the public. As war becomes imminent, events unfold quickly and circumstances have a profound impact on this small group of librarians and their families. Odile’s experiences love for the first time, comes to see her parents in a different light, and watches helplessly as her twin brother goes off to war. Yet, Odile remains committed to duty. When she realizes what the Nazis are capable of, she acts heroically to save as many people as she can. Eventually, the repercussions of an impulsive remark made casually in a tense moment will lead Odile to make life-changing decisions.

Throughout the novel, the action moves from Paris to Froid, Montana. It is 1983 and an older Odile becomes a powerful influence in the life of a young teenage girl, Lily. Through this relationship, Odile gains distance from her past shortcomings and  eventually allows herself to move forward with her life.

This book is based on research and tells an important WWII story. Janet Skeslien Charles does a wonderful job developing the characters as the circumstances in the story become increasingly dire. This is a great book –one that is hard to put down.

Favorite Quote: “Morale? Then why books? Why not wine?” …But seriously, why books? …Because no other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people’s eyes. The library is a bridge of books between cultures.”