Mini Book Reviews // March Library Reads

Happy Monday!  I hope you had a great Easter weekend – I sure did!  It feels like I just did one of these posts, but as it's really been a whole 'nother month since I did it last, I guess it's time again!

I am here today to do mini reviews on the books I picked up from the library last month for the Snagged @ The Library Challenge.  Reading three library books a month keeps me on track for my target number of 36.  I am talking about two today because one of the books I reviewed in full last month counted towards the three since it was a library book.  In case you missed it, that review is here.  You can read last month's mini reviews here.  Let's get into the books!
A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King – Another month, another Mary Russell book.  This one was so good.  I absolutely loved it.  I think it's my second favorite one so far in the series, right after A Monstrous Regiment of Women.  I don't have a single complaint about it.  This book comes directly after A Monstrous Regiment, so Holmes and Russell are getting used to being married, and it is delightful.  This series is laced with very subtle romantic bits, and I don't think I would want a romance involving Sherlock Holmes any different.

I don't usually love the mysteries in King's books – I am more in for the relationships and characters, but I absolutely loved the mystery in this one.  It requires Holmes and Russell wearing disguises and infiltrating households as people they aren't, and that was so much fun.  We also get to see Russell's seriously awesome detecting skills in this one.  She is brilliant.  And hilarious.  There was one point when I was reading this at work on a slow day, and I just died laughing.  A particular young man was attempting to make advances with Russell, and she "accidentally"  puts him out of commission.  It was the best thing ever.  I kept busting up every time I thought of it the rest of the day.  I wrote down while reading this that I was absolutely relishing this book.  It was so good.  But seriously, the mystery in this book was so good and I loved the way it wrapped up.  Ugh, I can't even.  It was so great.

A Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – Now, I read most of this book on the way down to Arkansas in a bus filled with a ton of noise, listening to music to block some of it out, wedged between my dad and brother all the way in the back, and so I didn't take a lot of notes, and basically just "experienced" the book, if that makes sense.  That said, this might not be that long and detailed, but I'll do my best.  When I started this book, I wasn't sure I would like it as much as The Secret Keeper (which I talked about here), because I didn't connect with the main character, Cassandra, who was the grandaughter in present day, but I was kind of wrong.  This book was amazing.  Kind of blew-my-mind-amazing.  It had a very magical property that The Secret Keeper didn't have.  The plot was complex and intricate, and I would have to stop every other chapter or so and untangle what was going on, which just added to the enchanted feeling.

I'll attempt to explain the plot... which may just end up being suuuper confusing.  The main character is named Cassandra, and she is the granddaughter of a woman named Nell.  Now Nell has a secret, but unlike in The Secret Keeper, she died before she can tell Cassandra.  Nell is an orphan.  Her "parents" weren't her biological family – they found her at a ship dock as a little girl, with just a suitcase all alone – and brought her home and raised her as their own.  When Nell was nearly twenty, her father told her the truth, and it shattered her life.  She grew distant from her sisters and parents, and began to try untangle the truth of her origins and real family.  She has distant memories of The Authoress, a mysterious woman who played games with her, but on the ship that brought her to that dock where she was forsaken, she had suffered from an illness that wiped her memory.  When Cassandra learns that her grandmother had purchased an old cottage in England, she travels there after Nell's death to try and uncover more clues to her grandmother's secret.  She learns that her grandmother descended from an old Tudor family.  She learns of The Authoress, the strange woman who was tied inextricably into Nell's life and who wrote fairy tales inspired by her own messy life and the lives of others.  Cassandra discovers not only uncovers her grandmother's past and secret, but she finds the purpose she desires for her own life in that old cottage down by the sea encircled by the garden that had played such a big part in the story of her grandmother.  Also, I won't give anything away, but there is a wonderful spoiler-y bit that I totally guessed ahead of the book, but that in no way made me like it less.  It's so good.

This book was amazing.  It was beautiful, but some really hard, painful things happened to the people in this story.  The story was twisted and complex and brilliant.  The complexity only added to the magic of the story.  The format was similar to The Secret Keeper, but different as well.  Once again, there are three different story lines going – the story line of Nell's mother and Eliza, The Authoress, best-of-friends turned enemies.  It follows the storyline of Nell all grown up, trying to make out where she came from – why she was left at the dock all alone – who her parents were.  And it follows Cassandra's story – her journey to the Cornish coastline to her grandmother's cottage and the old tangled garden, and her journey to her true home.  Morton also includes several of Eliza's fairy tales, beautiful stories of loss and magic and love.  Those were beautiful and one of my favorite parts.

Once again, Morton shows her talents as a brilliant storyteller – weaving stories and lives and emotions together into one beautiful sweeping tale.  I absolutely loved this book – it was not a fun read at parts and there were lots of horrible things that happened, but there was also lots of love and hope and redemption.  If you are a fan of family sagas and mysteries, then I encourage you to pick this up!  It is an absolutely beautiful story.

And those are the books I read from the library last month!  I read some awesome ones, and can't wait to continue reading from these authors.  Thanks for reading and I will be back on Wednesday for a really fun post.  xo, Ella

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