Jan 20, 2024

New Books: Super Smart Main Characters

 

Two novels with "freakishly smart" young female protagonists



Wordhunter: A Novel by Stella Sands
Publication: August 6, 2024; Harper Paperbacks, NetGalley
Genre: contemporary fiction, police procedural


I was intrigued to find out how word forensics or forensic linguistics is used in crime solving, done by analyzing written evidence, papers, letters, email, etc. to find the authors suspected of being criminals. A genius with words, Maggie Moore has always been fascinated by words, and as a college student she was recommended by her prof to help the police track down a cyber stalker, by analyzing his emails and letters.

Looking at word choice, dialect, syntax, spelling, use or misuse of punctuation, writing style, and more, Maggie pored over his emails to find traits leading to the stalker and, with Detective Jackson, goes on to tackle another case - finding the kidnapper of the mayor's missing daughter, through his correspondence.

I liked how the relationship between the detective and insecure Maggie develops into one of trust and reliance during the events, some of them life threatening.

An interesting read with an unusual, quirky character Maggie, who finally learns to stand up for herself with both a predatory boss and with her personal life.





Life, Loss, and Puffins by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publication: May 14, 2024; Lake Union Publishing, NetGalley
Genre: fiction, travel, YA
 

I loved the adventures that 13-year-old Ru, a "freakishly smart" college student, and her 17 year old friend Gabriel, undertake in order to see the aurora borealis in Northern Canada near the Arctic Circle. They also consider going to Newfoundland to see Atlantic puffins. 

Ru is on her journey to deal with the recent death of her mother and having to move to Kentucky to live with a controlling, unsympathetic aunt. Underage runaways, Ru and Gabriel are wanted by the police, but how they manage to find help along the way is surprising but gratifying.

A lovely read that made me side with the young teens in their October-November planned adventure by car to the Arctic Circle.  It may be a bit unrealistic they were able to pull this off, but they did, with so many different people helping them. Theirs is a heartwarming journey and an informative one too about the Northwest Territories in Canada. 

Ru and Gabriel spent four amazing nights on the frozen tundra in a wooden cabin/geodesic dome watching  the northern lights/aurora borealis for hours, from indoors and from the outdoor walkway at the top of the dome, close to the Arctic Circle.

They didn't go to Iceland or Newfoundland to see the puffins, but Gabriel did lead Ru to some Atlantic puffins in a local zoo when they returned to the U.S.

Sure they had to face the music back at home in California, but for them the journey of a lifetime seemed worth it.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

27 comments:

  1. Huh, Wordhunter sounds fascinating! That's the first time I've come across this book, I'll have to check it out.

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  2. Linguistic analysis was a strong part of how the Unabomber was finally found -- when his manifesto was published, someone recognized his style of writing!

    A novel about a trip to the north pole sounds interesting! It's not a setting that's used much. Someone asked me just last night where puffins were from, and my wild guess was New Guinea, Boy, was I off! XD

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    1. The Atlantic puffin is found in the North Atlantic, in Iceland, Greenland, etc. I guess there are about three different kinds of puffins. Ru and Gabriel had to find them back home in a local zoo.

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  3. Ok. I 100% need to read this. It sounds fantastic!!

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  4. I love the sound of Wordhunter! Using word forensics or forensic linguistics to solve crimes sounds fascinating to me!

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  5. Sound good. I do find super smart characters can be a little too perfect at times in some of what I've read. It's a tricky balance for authors.

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    1. Good point. In this case, Maggie the wordhunter, is a bit insecure and not at all a perfect character, just very good at her skill with words.

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  6. I've always loved to read about supersmart characters in both fiction and nonfiction, so both of these books would be books I'd enjoy. I'd especially like to meet Maggie in Wordhunter, a person who uses her knowledge of words to solve crimes. Thank you for sharing these with us.

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  7. Both of these sound good.

    Wishing you a great reading week

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  8. Wordhunter sounds really good. I'm getting a little tired of the thriller-type crime novel now, and I've found the more cerebral crimefighters to be much more satisfying. I suppose that explains, too, why even as a kid I preferred Sherlock Holmes stories to more contemporary mysteries. I'll look forward to reading the Hyde novel when it's published; I've read and enjoyed her work in the past.

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  9. I'm just about to start 'Double Indemnity' by James M Cain. Next up will be 'Fathoms - The World of the Whale' by Rebecca Giggs.

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  10. Wordhunter sounds really good. Is there a lot though about her personal life issues?

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    1. Just enough to make her sound less robotic and to balance out the nerd factor.

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  11. I hope you enjoy both of these. Have a great week!

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  12. Both of these books sound so good! I love freakishly smart female protagonists. :D

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  13. Wordhunter sounds really interesting. I love linguistics and grammar. Thanks for putting this on my radar.

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  14. That aecond one sounds unique!

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  15. I always enjoy and cry my way through Catherine Ryan Hyde's books.
    Have a nice week of reading.

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    1. I see I gave 5 stars to one of her books, Allie and Bea.

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  16. I've read a couple of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books and really enjoyed them. This one has been catching my attention because I love the cover. Glad you are enjoying it. Hope you have a wonderful week!

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  17. Both books sound good. I'll have to add them to my wishlist. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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  18. Wow, both books look good. Have a nice week!

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  19. I've never heard of forensic linguistics. Wordhunter sounds intriguing.

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  20. Wordhunter definitely sounds good to me. Thanks for sharing and Happy Reading!

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  21. Puffins are so interesting looking. I like Arctic kind of novels -- so I will look for Hyde's book. Sounds like it has some good info in it.

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I appreciate your comments and thoughts...

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