Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from October 5–9 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday, October 5
The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan
Magnus Chase is dead. Literally. To be honest, it’s kind of an improvement; he’s been living on the streets since his mother was brutally killed, and now, after a brief confrontation with one seriously creepy dude, 16-year-old Magnus finds himself deceased, spirited away by a Valkyrie to Valhalla with a host of people who have died heroic deaths. But even though his father was apparently a Norse god, Magnus still may not really belong. Worse, the apocalypse, Viking-style, is looming, and Magnus must find a mysterious, magical sword.
Tuesday, October 6
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
It’s Simon Snow’s last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and it’s not going as planned. His magic, always unstable, has been even more unpredictable, which is bad news with the magical world’s most infamous bad guy after him. His girlfriend is distant, and he’s afraid he’ll lose touch with his best friend after graduation. But most unsettling of all, Simon’s frustrating, evil, pretty-sure-he’s-a-vampire nemesis/roommate hasn’t come back to school.
Wednesday, October 7
Tasting Wine and Cheese, by Adam Centamore
This very focused and gorgeously illustrated book is a necessary purchase for all active public-library cooking collections. It will be enthusiastically circulated, and a noncirculating copy may be helpful to keep on the ready-reference shelf in the general reference department. And what’s the fuss? Start with the book’s dedication: “For those who like to eat, drink, and learn.” Don’t we all want to feel we are that kind of person?
Thursday, October 8
The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende
Themes of lasting passion, friendship, reflections in old age, and how people react to challenging circumstances all feature in Allende’s newest saga, which moves from modern San Francisco back to the traumatic WWII years. As always, her lively storytelling pulls readers into her characters’ lives immediately. Irina Bazili, personal assistant to elderly designer Alma Belasco, suspects her employer has a lover. What else would explain her secretive excursions from her nursing home and the mysterious yellow envelopes arriving in Alma’s mail?
Friday, October 9
Avenue of Mysteries, by John Irving
The giant dump in Oaxaca, Mexico, hardly seems like fertile ground for a future novelist, yet Juan Diego, the only one who can understand his sister’s extraordinary pronouncements as a mind reader and clairvoyant, teaches himself to read Spanish and English, burning his hands as he pulls books from dump fires. Those wounds heal, but an accident leaves him with a smashed foot and severe limp. Now a famous writer living in the U.S. with alarmingly high blood pressure, Juan Diego tells his fantastic story in trancelike flashbacks.