The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas -- book 4 in The Lady Sherlock Series; nice book featuring these clever characters! I just wish I could always remember what happened in previous books so I could enjoy the story more, but that's my fault for not retaining the information as well as I should. Charlotte, her sister Olivia, and Mrs. Watson along with a crew of men agree to help recover letters being used to blackmail Mrs. Watson's old friend, a maharani ( Definition of maharani. 1 : the wife of a maharaja. 2 : a Hindu princess ranking above a rani.)
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith -- Maybe it was because this book was a few pages longer than the previous books, but I had more causes to chuckle out loud (which I rarely do when reading). Mma Makutsi and Mma Ramotswe's discussion about airplanes and the government's control of the air was humorous especially when Mma M said pilots could see each other well enough to control the air by themselves and they would not fly through clouds, but drive around them. Cute conversation! Also, Chlorine...I mean Clovis Andersen visits the detective agency, Fanwell gets arrested, Charlie pulls a pretty good stunt (though it is criminal, but funny), the lady at the orphan farm fights for her job, and Phuti Radiphuti builds a house. Lots happening in this book!
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict -- an interesting story about Mileva Marić, who studied alongside Albert Einstein and a handful of male students in Switzerland and eventually married Albert. If he's anything like the book portrays him, he is not an admirable man IMO.
The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini -- Elm Creek Quilts novel; I recently read all of these books, but they were written over the course of 20 years (!), and the author had been contacted by readers missing the Elm Creek quilters. So...she wrote one for Christmas! Much of this book was a summary of the stories of the ladies - Sylvia, Gwen, Diane, Sarah, and so forth, but there were little bits of new things and it was a comfortable read. Like visiting old friends.
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith -- Mma Ramotswe had to do some detecting on her own because Mma Makutsi (the new Mma Radiphuti) had a baby boy which they named Itumelang Clovis Radiphuti in case you were wondering.
The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar -- pretty interesting story about American women doing their parts during World War II as they flew planes to bases; I enjoyed the characters Audrey Coltrane and her fellow pilots - Ruby, Nola, Carol Ann, and so forth.
All the Forgivenesses by Elizabeth Hardinger -- the story of life first in Kentucky then Missouri (I think) and Kansas as told from the perspective of Albertina "Bertie" Winslow, the oldest daughter and keeper-of-the-children after her mom just sort of gave up on life and her father was a mostly useless drunk. A good story.
No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky -- I've read a few novels about orphan trains where US children in the east were taken west to families who either desired children for work on farms or other business, or to welcome as loved family members. This book is similar, only the poor and/or orphaned children were sent from England to Canada with varying degrees of success. This book followed Katie, Garth, and Grace as their mom was sick and they were sent to a children's home - and somehow ended up in Canada although their mom recovered from her hospitalization. Their older sister Laura, who heard about their departure too late, heads to Canada to find her siblings.
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson -- When the new-lady-in-the-hood Roux shows up at the neighborhood bookclub, she takes over the house, the drinks, the conversation, and eventually starts a game where each person reveals the worst thing she did that day, the previous day, week, month, and so on. If you lose, you drink. Roux collects secrets and Amy is on to her rather quickly. And then the blackmail begins. An interesting story; enjoyed it!
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms -- Three years go Amy's husband left for a business trip to Hong Kong and stayed gone. Now he's back asking for a week with the children, and Amy reluctantly agrees. She sees that there is a library conference in New York City, a place she loved as a young adult, so she texts an old friend about staying with her. Talia is part of a fashion magazine and Amy gets sucked into a story about #momspringa, and finds out what all she'd been missing since being a single mom (and having children since that really limited her nights out as well.)
Diamond in the Rough by Jen Turano -- second in the American Heiresses series; eh, not the best book I've read; Poppy is just too accident-waiting-to-happen (unrealistically) for my taste and the whole story was just OK.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty -- I wasn't sure if I wanted to read stories about a young adult working the Cremulator at her first job at a funeral home in California. The author shares her story as well as interesting tidbits about the funeral home industry, her wishes for Americans to not look away from death quite so much, some interesting stuff from other cultures, and why she became preoccupied with death at age 8. I'll quote one bit here:
"What is most surprising about this story is not that an eight-year-old witnessed a death, but that it took her eight whole years to do so. A child who had never seen a death would have been unheard-of only a hundred years ago.
North America is built on death. When the first European settlers arrived, all they did was die.If it wasn't starvation, the freezing cold, or battles with the Native people, it was influenza, diphtheria, dysentery, or smallpox that did them in. At the end of the first three years of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, 440 of the original 500 settlers were dead. Children, especially, died all the time. If you were a mother with five children, you were lucky to have two of them live past the age of ten." (pg. 30)
Also, do you know when embalming became a big thing here in the United States? during the Civil War ; families wanted their soldiers' bodies brought home and folks would "perform a new preservative procedure called embalming - right there on the battlefield." Also they placed "advertisements in local papers reading, 'Bodies Embalmed by Us NEVER TURN BLACK.'" (pg. 78)
The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café by Alexander McCall Smith -- Mma Makutsi is thrilled when the building she wants to rent comes through, and she makes plans to open a unique café. Meanwhile Charlie is fired from his job due to lack of funds so Mma Ramotswe finds some funds so she can hire him as an assistant detective or ... assistant secretary. Hmm.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett -- A riches-to-rags story of sorts as told through Danny's point of view. Danny is young when his mother leaves the family, yet he has a loving, nurturing older sister, Maeve, whom he loves. When the siblings' father remarries, and then he dies, and the house and his company go to their father's new wife, they are stunned to find themselves homeless and mostly penniless, except for a educational trust. Maeve urges Danny to go to medical school despite the fact he doesn't want to be a doctor. Later he follows his dream (doing pretty much what his father did to get rich) and the siblings visit the Dutch House (well, they sit in the car and look at it from the street) to relive their childhood there. A pretty good story.
Blood Sisters by Jane Corry -- Alison and Kitty are half-sisters with a complicated relationship. Alison ends up teaching art at a community college and later gets a job in a prison system where she meets interesting characters (of course). Kitty meanwhile is in a home for people with traumatic brain injuries. A pretty good story.
My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding by Wendy Wax -- Lauren and Bree were BFFs from the time they were little girls. Only the forever part of BFF didn't last past Bree's change of mind when the two planned to travel together to New York City to live. Lauren went on her own while Bree stayed in her safe place on the Outer Banks. Years pass, both women are turning 40, and Lauren returns home because of her recent engagement and she figures her fiancé ought to meet her mother. Pretty cute story, and easy read, and I often find it interesting to learn more about the publishing world through this author (as I recall her books often touch on her characters writing novels and trying to get published.)