19. City of Veils, by Zoë Ferraris. This completes my Book Riot challenge for reading a story set in the Middle East. This is the second book in a series set in Saudi Arabia. The two central characters are Nayir Sharqi, a conservative desert guide, and forensic scientist Katya Hijazi. This unlikely duo again wind up working together on a case after a young woman is found horribly mutilated, and with her neck broken. After some digging, Katya discovers the dead woman was an aspiring filmmaker. One project included conversations with prostitutes and the condition of women's lives in general. This alone had caused conflicts. However, Leila also had been working on a far more contentious topic when she was killed. I had really enjoyed Finding Nouf, the first book, and this is an excellent encore. Ferraris paints a fascinating picture of Saudi Arabia - both the country's deep flaws and its beauty and variety of people and cultures (and views). The dead Leila is a fascinating character; without giving too much away, she has her shortcomings as well as her strengths. The rollercoaster relationship between the independent Katya and the deeply pious Nayir has been interesting to watch, and I'm glad the book didn't resolve things to tidily. There are actually several mysteries at work here, and I had no idea how things were going to resolve, and my guesses were generally wrong. Excellent mystery, all in all. I'll have to check out the other books in this series.
20. George, by Alex Gino. This fulfills the Book Riot challenge for reading a book about a person who is transgender. This is aimed at older grade school (third through sixth grade). I finished it in one day. The story centers on George. Everyone sees George as a boy, but George never saw herself that way. She keeps her thoughts hidden until her teacher announces her class will stage Charlotte's Web- and George really wants to play Charlotte. George's teacher reject the idea, but Kelly, George's best friend hatches a plan to make her dream come true - both in playing the role, and in having people see her the way she sees herself. This is a fairly balanced book; the outlook may be a good deal more rosy than in real life. But given that this book aims at education, understanding and promoting tolerance, I don't see this as a flaw.
Currently reading: Novel Without a Name, by by Dương Thu Hương, Nina McPherson (Translator), Phan Huy Đường (Translator).