Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas gift to you is...reviews!  Hope you enjoy the holidays and these books:)


The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith

Everything McCall Smith writes fills me with sunshine.  The latest adventures of Precious Ramotswe will warm your soul on these cold winter nights.  Read with a cup of hot cocoa.


Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (i.e.: J. K. Rowling)

The complete opposite of the above-mentioned book, Career of Evil begs to be read with all the lights on and your security system armed.  I love this series, but the bad guys are seriously creepy.

 

X by Sue Grafton

You do realize that this means there are only two more books to go and this series will end?  I am already mourning.  Try not to think about it and enjoy X...it's exceptional!


A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson

The sequel to A Man of Some Repute, A Question of Inheritance continues the saga of Cold War agent Hugo Hawksworth in the English country village of Selchester.  Any mystery set in an English country village is all right by me.


Mr. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie flies to the United States with Churchill and soon becomes embroiled in the mystery of Eleanor Roosevelt's missing aide.  Dangerous forces are trying to ruin Christmas for the free world, but of course Maggie saves the day!


Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The first of four books for young adults that I'd never read before.  The true story of how the Danish people saved their Jewish population from the Nazis.  It made me proud to be part Danish:)
Winner of the Newbery Medal


Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert c. O'Brien

You'll never think of animals the same after reading this book, but more importantly, what are the animals thinking of us?!  A brilliant classic.
Winner of the Newbery Medal


The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Which of sixteen strangers will inherit Samuel W. Westing's vast fortune?  Read more to experience this inventive and incredibly engaging mystery.  Kids of all ages love The Westing Game.
Winner of the Newbery Medal


The View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts

The Nasty next-door neighbor is dead, and Rob saw something from his perch in the cherry tree.  Unfortunately, the adults are too busy to listen.  Will Rob himself be in danger before he can get their attention? A creepy age-appropriate mystery by a three-time Edgar Award winner.


2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Clever, fun and heart-wrenching, 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas is a thoroughly inventive story of heart break and redemption.  Loved it!!


The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

One of my favorite authors and one of my favorite fictional characters.  This time, Inspector Gamache is confronted with a horrific murder and discovery near the quiet town of Three Pines.  Based on unbelievable true events, you'll love The Nature of the Beast.


Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich

Something fun and frivolous for dessert, Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich is just the ticket.  Always laugh-out-loud funny, Stephanie Plum's adventures are the perfect way to end your your year, and this post.  

Happy 2016 to you all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I'm Drowning in Books

It's time to start bailing out the boat. (i.e.: clearing the desk of the humongous pile of books threatening to come crashing down upon me!)  I think I'll start with...




The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

What can I say about this amazing book that hasn't already been said? At its heart it is the story of a mother and son, but like an onion it has many layers. It won the Pulitzer Prize, deservedly so. You will lose sleep reading this book. It will be worth it.


The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Erika Swyler is a brilliant writer. She has created a magical tale of carnival mermaids and curses, mysterious books and horseshoe crabs, all scored by the sound of one family's secrets crashing onto the shore of Long Island Sound. This is her debut novel, and I am anxiously awaiting her next.  Write fast, Erika, write fast.


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Another Pulitzer Prize winner, as it should be. Wow.  Just, wow.  Just read it.  Now.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

(I just realized I reviewed this in my last post...oh well.  I blame Half-zheimer's.)
And now for some comic relief!  Imagine Sheldon Cooper as an Australian and you have Don Tillman, genetics professor. Don has decided to get married, but first he must find a suitable partner.  Hence "The Wife Project" is conceived in the form of a sixteen-page questionnaire to filter out the chaff. Hilarity ensues. When finished with The Rosie Project, immediately begin...


The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simision

Spoiler alert! Don does find a wife, and they are having a baby. Panic is quickly followed by even more hilarity with a few sentimental tears thrown in. Don is adorable. We want more Don!!


Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Charlie Bucktin is a good boy. Jasper Jones is not. So when Jasper knocks on Charlie's window one hot Australian night and begs for his help, Charlie shouldn't agree, but he does and everything changes. Charlie and Jasper have a secret to keep and a mystery to solve, and they must now work together to find the truth before the small-town minds around them decide what the truth is. Loved this book, and wouldn't have known about it if not for meeting the author's girlfriend at a family wedding. Life is full of little chance meetings leading to great things!



Essays of E. B. White

Anyone who has read Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little knows what a wonderful writer E. B. White was, but did you know that he wrote for The New Yorker for over 50 years? Witty, entertaining and touching, White's essays are well worth a read. Who knew there was a genius behind that spider and mouse? Probably our parents.


Euphoria by Lily King

If you loved State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, by should read Euphoria. Loosely based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is the story of three anthropologists in 1930's New Guinea. Tasked with recording the everyday lives of the natives, they must be careful to not lose themselves or their lives in the jungle. Yeah...good luck with that.


Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn

Can we talk about how cute the titles of Quinn's books are? I love the puns. This eighth book in the Chet and Bernie series deals with stolen saguaro cacti, long ago kidnappings, and desert music festivals a la Burning Man. The bad guys are really bad, and they know how to make Chet and Bernie pay for meddling. But we know who comes out on top...or do we? I hope you're at that typewriter, Mr. Quinn!


Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke

This is the true story of Billy Williams who came to Burma in 1920 to work as a "forest man" for a British teak company. This was a solitary and sometimes brutal job, and few lasted more than a year. But Billy thrived in the jungle, and found he had a natural connection with the elephants who were essential to transporting the valuable teak out of the dense forests. When the Japanese invaded Burma at the start of WWII, Billy's invaluable knowledge of and connection with these great animals saved countless lives. This is a fascinating story of a little known chapter in history.


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I'm a sucker for a novel that meshes several storylines in different times successfully, and Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins does this expertly. Set in present day and 1960's Hollywood, we follow the lives of a young starlet, a present day screen writer and a jaded producer, all tied to events on the Italian set of 1962's Cleopatra. This is storytelling at its best.


Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon

A classic British crime novel, Thirteen Guests has recently been republished. Although not as timeless as Agatha Christie, J. Jefferson Farjeon does has a creepy way about him. Let me know what you think.


A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson

Sometimes you just have to buy a book for its cover, and I LOVE this cover. Luckily, the story lived up to expectations. Set in 1950's cold war England, wounded intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth is sent to the quiet hamlet of Selchester to work in "statistics" for the government.  Of course, everyone knows he's still doing intelligence work, and when the missing body of Lord Selchester is found under the flagstones of his castle a real investigation is at hand. It turns out the little village is not so peaceful and quiet after all. A Man of Some Repute is being followed by A Question of Inheritance.  I can't wait!


The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

Being born in 1960 means that the race to the moon was a big part of my childhood. I remember watching early morning launches, and I know exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. So I was fascinated by this look at the wives of the astronauts. From the Mercury Seven to the end of the Apollo program, the astronauts and their wives were treated like superstars, and the job of the wives was to protect that image at all costs. This is really a commentary on how our culture changed from the end of the 1950's to the early 1970's, and it is riveting. I'm glad my husband is not an astronaut.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Some More from May

Yes, I know it's June.  Please forgive me for being a bad blogger.  Here's what I read last month:


Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

"A Modern Retelling" of Jane Austen's classic, Emma delivers as promised.  If you love Jane's version, you'll enjoy this one also.  At least I did!


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman is a brilliant Australian genetics professor who has decided he should get married.  The  problem is he doesn't even have a girlfriend, so he embarks on "The Wife Project".  This requires potential candidates to fill out a 16 page survey to weed out the unacceptable.  Did I forget to mention Dr. Tillman has un-diagnosed Asperger's Syndrome?  What follows is heartfelt and hilarious, and I loved it.  Can't wait to find out what comes next in The Rosie Effect.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Historical fiction at its best, Wolf Hall will transport you to the world of Henry VIII as seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who rose from his abusive father's blacksmith shop to be the King's closest advisor. The story continues in...


Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

In which Thomas Cromwell comes to realize just how precarious life can be in the court of Henry VIII.  Both of these books were awarded the Man Booker Prize for fiction published in the UK, and they were adapted into an outstanding series on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre.  I recommend reading the books before watching the show.  (Mantel provides a "Cast of Characters" at the beginning of each of her books that I found myself constantly referring to, which made it easier to recognize who was who when watching.)  I command you to read and watch!  But I won't send you to the Tower if you disobey:)


The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn

Chet and Bernie are back with a vengeance in The Sound and the Furry. (Chet being a dog and Bernie a private investigator, in case you were not aware of the fact.) Full time partners, Chet and Bernie take on a missing persons case down in Louisiana and soon find themselves in a giant mess of gumbo.  Something funky is happening on the bayou, and it isn't just the scent of a giant croc named Iko. Between corrupt small-town sheriffs, ancient family feuds and the power of big oil, the good guys are going to have a hard time keeping their heads above water. Not to worry, they survive to soldier on in...


Paw and Order by Spencer Quinn

Putting the bayou in their rearview mirror was an easy decision for our two unlikely heros, but instead of heading home to Arizona Bernie decides to surprise his sometime girlfriend in Washington D.C.  Suzie Sanchez is a bright and determined journalist who is hoping for a blockbuster story from a top-secret source, until that same source turns up dead. The victim's proper British father hires Bernie to find out who killed his son, but nothing is as it seems in Washington, and no one is safe. Chet and Bernie have a ruff time in our nation's capitol, but the good guys never give up! 

 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Baker's Dozen Minus One

Hello, It's me!  Here's what I've been reading...

                                                

Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

I LOVED The Gods of Gotham so I had to give Lyndsay Faye's next Timothy Wilde Novel a try. I was not disappointed. Love Timothy and Lyndsay. But before she wrote about New York City in the 1840's, she wrote:


Dust and Shadow, An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson and Lyndsay Faye 

Are you an honorary member of the Baker Street Irregulars, at least in your own imagination? Then read this retelling of the mystery of Jack the Ripper as investigated by Sherlock Holmes and his trusty partner-in-crime, Dr. John Watson. It's delightfully creepy.


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

It's about a girl on a train who sees something out the window. That's about all I can say without ruining this one. Warning: be sure to take care of important obligations before starting this book as you won't be able to stop reading once you start. This is a best seller that completely lives up to its hype! Move this to the top of your reading list.


Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith

It's business as usual with the quirky characters of 44 Scotland Street. Catch up with all of their antics and celebrate when Bertie turns seven and gets a great gift. (Hint: it has to do with his awful mother!)


A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

What could be better than a book about books? Nothing, I say, and that's exactly what A Murder of Magpies is about! Samantha Clair is an experienced London book editor dealing with testy colleagues and excitable authors, but nothing in her past prepares her for murder. I loved Samantha, her hard-to-live-up-to lawyer mother, and the highly attractive Scotland Yard inspector assigned to the case. I'm looking forward to installment number two, please. 


Grantchester, Sydney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

I first saw this on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery and was thrilled to see the book! Sydney Chambers is an unlikely vicar with his good looks and Cambridge education, and he always seems to find himself in the middle of a mystery.  His priestly duties expose him to situations where a policeman isn't welcome, making him a terrific amateur detective. (Sort of a handsome, Church of England Father Brown) If you've seen the show you'll notice that the stories are a little different, but it's still a great read.  (Yes, I know the photo is sideways, but I can't figure out how to change it on the blog:( )


A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs returns from India, stops off in Gibraltar, stumbles over a dead body, gets involved in the Spanish Civil War and finds meaning in her life.  I don't want to tell you more, just read it.  So glad Maisie is back!!


As You Wish by Cary Elwes

The Princess Bride is one of my family's favorite movies. We quote it all of the time, (Anybody want a peanut?), and watch it at least once a year. This is such a fun book for a fan, with loads of anecdotes, photos and back stories put together and written by the Dread Pirate Roberts himself. So retire to the Fire Swamp where you won't be disturbed, (except by the R.O.U.S.'s), and enjoy a great read. Oh, and have fun storming the castle!


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

Three classic children's books that I somehow missed. If you did also, read them now.  The Phantom Tollbooth is one of the most clever books ever written, definitely not just for kids. Caddie Woodlawn is Laura Ingalls Wilder on steroids and also the Newbery Medal winner from 1935. Anyone who loves the Indian in the Cupboard will adore The Castle in the Attic. Get them all for you and/or your kids.


A Study in Sherlock edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger

A Study in Sherlock is a collection of stories written by contemporary authors inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon.  Are you a Sherlockian?  If so, buy it, read it, love it.

That's all for now...TBC

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

To Paraphrase the Terminator...I'm Back!

Well, at least for now!  I've read a bunch of books this past January, and two of them were too good NOT to share.  Here's the whole pile:


Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

If you like food and pirates, (and who DOESN'T?), then you must drop everything and read Cinnamon and Gunpowder. This is a seriously one-of-a-kind book that has something for everyone: action, adventure, romance, intrigue, delicious dishes, oh, and did I mention PIRATES? Set in 1819, the story follows the plight of talented but kidnapped chef-to-the-English-gentry Owen Wedgewood as he attempts to save himself from the plank by cooking incredible dishes from a not-so-incredible pantry aboard the dreaded Flying Rose. If he fails to impress Captain Mad Hannah Mabbot with his culinary genius, any manner of torture could follow. But luckily for Owen, Mad Hannah has a number of other things to think about, including avoiding vicious privateers and the English Navy while she plots the destruction of the Opium trade in China. Slowly Owen begins to see that Hannah is not as mad as everyone thinks. Cinnamon and Gunpowder is simply a delicious story.  I would love to go back for seconds!!

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

I never really thought about it before I read The Gods of Gotham, but the fact is that the idea of a police force was very controversial when our country started. In fact, the New York City Police Department was founded in 1845 amid accusations that it was a standing army among the free citizens of New York.  At the same time NYC is being overwhelmed by mostly unwelcome Irish immigrants as the Potato Famine is devastating Ireland. So, newly-minted "Copper" Timothy Wilde has a daunting task in front of him, made even more so when he literally runs into ten-year-old Bird Daly. Bird tells him that dozens of Irish children have gone missing, and she knows where the bodies are buried. Is this young Irish orphan telling the truth? Is there a serial killer on the loose? Can Tim help to keep the lid on the tinder box of simmering fear and prejudice that is New York City in the summer of 1845? These are all questions that will be answered for you if YOU read The Gods of Gotham. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!



Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Baker's Dozen...and Done

It's been four years of fun, but for now I'm done! (At least for now!) But before I go, here are some sweet picks for you:



The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah is a new murder mystery featuring Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. Love Agatha Christie, love Poirot, loved this book!


Jan Karon's Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is her latest addition to the Mitford Series. The Mitford Series and Fr. Tim rock, but I think the writing itself is getting a little disjointed. Wait for the paperback, or Kindle it.


One of my favorite authors, Louise Penny does not disappoint in The Long Way Home. Chief Inspector Gamache is fascinating as always, and this investigation into the far reaches of Canada takes the reader to a place filled with incredible beauty and skin-crawling creepiness. Terrific!


Sunshine on Scotland Street is the latest in probably my favorite series by Alexander McCall Smith. Everyone who lives in or around 44 Scotland Street is a character, but I am definitely a fan of adorable, put-upon, mother-smothered Bertie. Don't worry, Bertie! Things seem to be looking up. Read and find out how.


Carl Hiaasen is known for his riotous adult books featuring crazy Floridians, but Skink No Surrender is his first book for teens. That's not to say adults won't like it. I did! To read him is to love him.


Another funny man: Dave Barry.  Dave Barry Slept Here is vintage Dave Barry. I like Dave Barry. I vote for Dave Barry for president of everything.


On a more serious note, if you liked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, you will love Songs of Willow Frost. Sweet and heartbreaking but totally worth a read.


And now for some serious escapism in the form of Nora Roberts. The Cousin O'Dwyer Trilogy of Dark Witch, Shadow Spell and Blood Magic. Includes Irish castles, spooky woods, horses, dogs, falcons and hot witches of the male AND female variety. Nothing else required.


The Apothecary and The Apprentices by Maile Meloy. Books one and two of a new series aimed at younger readers, but again for anyone who likes a good story. Takes place in the 50's and brings back memories of bomb drills, black lists and commie paranoia. Not to worry, as usual the kids save the day.


The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear is a stand-alone novel NOT featuring Maisy Dobbs. It DOES give the reader a very real picture of the home front during WWI. I LOVE this author, but do not read if you are depressed.

Adios, amigos! Ciao, amici! Au revoir! Until I feel like writing again...TBC