In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives. Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope—a whispered story, a bird’s song—in even the darkest of times.
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. Since 2020 continues to be a bit of a snot-nosed punk, I dove deep into comfort reading at the end of February. You know what that means if you’ve been rockin’ with me for a minute: mysteries set in Victorian England. Not only did that make me feel better, but I was also inspired to talk to you all about badass lady detectives.
To the club!!
Nibbles and Sips – If you don’t recognize the names of the women who inspired these snacks and sips, just keep reading (in case that needed pointing out)
- Charlotte Russe – I was approximately yesterday years old when I discovered that Charlotte Russe does not indeed only refer to an (I think) now defunct chain of women’s fast fashion stores that got lots of my monies in high school. Charlotte Holmes refers to this rich European dessert in The Hollow of Fear and now I’m determined to make it!
- Scones for a proper cream tea – My girl Charlotte appreciates just about any buttery baked good, but seems to have a soft spot for afternoon tea. I too share this joy and decided to make my own scones AND clotted cream this week, the latter of which was done in my handy dandy Instant Pot!
- A classic whiskey cocktail – Because it’s what Gethsemane would do (when she’s not drinking her spirits straight up)
Let’s Get Sleuthing!
All that comfort reading reminded me how much I love a smart, capable lady sleuth. Make your next book club pick one of these mystery reads featuring clever, formidable women who suffer no fools. Discuss the way each of these women breaks stodgy gender stereotypes and how that defiance changes the flavor of these who-dunnits, especially in the case of my first rec.
Charlotte Holmes from The Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas – Yoooooo, Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson are my new favorite Holmes and Sherlock team! I cannot stress who much I am here for the gender-swapping of both these roles. Their place in society as fallen women is intentional, a push-back to Victorian England’s ridiculous treatment of women. The only thing I love more than Charlotte’s razor-sharp wit, powers of observation, and sex positivity is how much our girl loves her desserts. She shovels them in at every chance she gets and regrets nothing, curtailing the habit only when she’s reached “maximum tolerable chins.” Go off, girl!
- Start with A Study in Scarlet Women
Veronica Speedwell from the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn – When we first meet lepidopterist and world traveler Veronica Speedwell, she has just buried her spinster aunt when an intruder breaks into her home and tries to drag her away. A nice German fellow intervenes, a baron who tells Veronica that he knew her mother and that, in case she hasn’t figured it out, Veronica is in grave danger. He insists on escorting her to the city and leaves her in the care of his friend Stoker, a rough-around-the-edges natural historian and taxidermist, until he can decide on a course of action to keep Veronica safe. Before he can formulate a plan or tell Veronica the truth about her parentage, the baron is found dead in his home, sending Stoker and Veronica on the run and leaving them with a mystery to solve.
Much like Charlotte Holmes, Veronica is allowed agency over her own life, in large part because she’s insisted on that agency to the chagrin of “polite” society. She enjoys the company of men unapologetically, makes clear her desire to remain childless, travels on her own terms, and generally keeps a low reserve of #%$!s to give.
- Start with A Curious Beginning
Gethsemane Brown from the Gethsemane Brown mysteries by Alexia Gordon – Classical musician Gethsemane Brown accepts a less-than-ideal position at a school in the Irish countryside, teaching a bunch of schoolboys (maybe?) how to do music properly. The gig is better than being broke and it comes with lodging at a cliffside cottage so it can’t be all that bad, right? Well! The cottage’s previous owner was kinda sorta murdered and his ghost now haunts the place on the regular. No problem, right? He alleges that he was falsely accused of killing his wife (and himself) and asks Gethsemane to clear his name by solving his decades old case so he can rest in peace.
Now you know I love me a British cozy, but ay Dios mio are cozies just THE whitest! At least they have been in the past, but that’s starting to change. This is one of the first cozies I read with a Black woman protagonist and she’s one of my favorite sleuths. She can knock back whiskey with the best of them, too, which only endears me to her further.
- Start with Murder in G Major
Eater NY has a book club and their next pick is Iliana Regan’s Burn the Place. The scene where Regan recalls falling in love with food when her dad taught her how to cook chanterelle’s in butter and wine just… that’s my love language right there.
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter, get in on the Read Harder podcast, and watch me booktube every Tuesday and Friday too.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.