I've got a dozen reviews waiting in the wings for y'all, but I wanted to take a minute and shine a light on a series that I've been enjoying wholeheartedly while the world falls to pieces. I'm a girl who loves a cozy mystery and light-hearted fantasy, but get bogged down in the...how do I put it gently...sameness? Yes, let's go with sameness as the nice thing I will say. The Mangoverse books, commencing with The Second Mango, are Shira Glassman's take on mysteries, with a wonderful sense of humor and big, big heart.
If the books are here, they're queer, and the series has representation all over the place; the main cast is a lesbian queen, her bisexual lover, their demi best friend who disguises herself as a man, and her lover who shapeshifts into a dragon. The question of identity and navigating the world of Perach--a tropical city inspired by South Florida. No generic Western European settings here--the crew travels to lands evocative of the Caribbean and Portugal, and hints of Northern culture are dear to my gentile-but-NYC-born-and-raised heart. Characters live with family strife, different abilities, food allergies and the bad behavior of the powers-that-be, but are not defined by them--they're their own awesome people.
What drew me in was what draws me in for all cozy mysteries--great characters, beautiful settings, and little details that bring alive the world of the mystery itself. The synopses give a good feel for the stories themselves--what I will tell you is how funny and heartwarming the characters are (my particular favorite is Aviva, who speaks in poetry, to the delight and sometimes exasperation of her friends). They are wonderful stories with the rhythms of Jewish folktales and the trials and triumphs of our community, and I can't recommend them highly enough.
Just don't go in without a snack. :D
The Mangoverse Series:
Climbing the Date Palm (love and labor rights): Amazon.com
Tales from Perach (a short story collection, artists and aliens among them): Amazon.com,