Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Too Much Reading, Not Enough Writing

No doubt about it, procrastination will get me every time. I'm once again faced with a MOUNTAIN of books to blog about. So, without further ado...

...I'll start with an easy one.

This happened again.
No explanation necessary.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

If you haven't read this yet, what are you waiting for?! This charming story about a cranky 59 year old man, (I refuse to call him elderly!), will make you think twice about the cantankerous people you may have in your life. I L...OVE...D it!

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

(I actually read this Backman book first. Wow! What a story-teller he is.) 
Elsa is seven and doesn't fit in. Her 77 year old, crazy grandmother is her best and only friend, the spinner of fantastical bedtime tales that sooth little Elsa's battered spirit. But when her grandmother dies, Elsa discovers that these stories are so much more. Sent on a quest that will decide the destiny of her family and closest neighbors, Elsa learns the true meaning of love, and of loving yourself.

Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Ivanovich

Frozen bodies covered in chocolate and nuts, an ex-prostitute and a little person "Naked and Afraid" on the streets of Trenton, and Grandma Mazur hooking up with a tattooed, motorcycle-riding beau. All is as it should be in the life of bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum.  Enjoy the ride!

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

Neva, Grace and Floss are midwives in Rhode Island. They are also related, daughter, mother and grandmother, with all the requisite love and friction that condition implies. And, they are all keeping secrets from one another. This is a fascinating look at midwifery wrapped up in a compelling story of mothers and daughters, each chapter told in turn by one of the characters. Really enjoyed reading this.

The Thickety, A Path Begins and The Whispering Trees by J. A. White

Kara Westfall and her family live on an island completely cut off from the rest of the world, part of a society where witchcraft is the most terrible of all crimes. Of course, Kara discovers she's a witch and must run for her life...into the dreaded Thickety.  This is a story of ignorance and betrayal, and the similarities and differences between magic and inner strength.
The first two books are very entertaining, and the third, Well of Witches, just came out.
I love young adult fiction, especially fantasy. So glad I found The Thickety series!

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

It is 1914, and Constance Kopp and her sisters live alone on a farm in the New York countryside. An unusual state of affairs to begin with, their life becomes even more unconventional when they run afoul of the local big-business bully. Faced with written threats and bricks through their windows, Constance joins forces with the local sheriff to fight for justice. This may sound like the script of an old western, but it is based on the true story of Constance, one of the first female crime fighters in the United States! Based on fact but written like fiction, I loved Girl Waits With Gun. I'm excited for the sequel, Lady Cop Makes Trouble:)

Murder Most Malicious by Alyssa Maxwell

If you miss Downton Abbey and you devoured Agatha Christie, you will love Murder Most Malicious.  (A Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery) 'Nuf said.

The Baker Street Jurors by Michael Robertson

Nigel Heath, solicitor, just happens to lease the premises of 221B Baker Street, London, an address that will live in least as long deluded fans keep sending letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes to said address. As per lease terms, Nigel is required to answer each one. But what happens when even the Crown Court can't tell the difference between truth and fiction and send a jury summons to Mr. Holmes? Nigel is about to find out. When he is chosen as a juror on a celebrity murder case involving a national cricket star, strange things begin to happen, and an even stranger fellow juror starts making strangely familiar remarks.
Michael Robertson is definitely guilty of writing an ingenious series of books!

Murder of a Movie Star by L. B. Hathaway

Posie Parker is back investigating her way into the 1920's London movie scene. (Yes! That was a thing.) But, record heat waves, celebrity death threats and murder make Posie's investigation into the goings-on at Worton Hall very difficult. Exactly who is trying to kill famous and beautiful Sylvia Hanro? Why would someone try to kidnap Posie's best friend? Why is everyone wearing orange make-up?  These and many other questions will be answered at the end of another great Posie Parker mystery.  Enjoy the show!

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

If you are a Jane Eyre fan, you MUST read Jane Steele. Read it even if you are NOT a Jane Eyre fan or have never even read the book.  This is a great read!!
This is Jane re-imagined.  She has guts, and she's not afraid to use them.
So, beware evil schoolmasters, landlords and relatives. Also, spoiler alert, it has a happy ending. Take that, all you fictional wet blankets!

Ending on a high note...the best selling novelist of all time.
Over Two Billion Sold

Currently engaging in a little Agatha Christie binge.

Have a great Spring!

Friday, November 4, 2016

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Bookshelf

In honor of Halloween, or just because I love them, I give you 15 mysteries/and or crime stories.  Some creepy, some not so much, all great reads. (I've been doing too much reading and not enough writing, therefore abbreviated reviews to follow:)

Posie Parker Mysteries by L. B. Hathaway

Set in 1921 London,  Murder Offstage is the first in this delightful newish and new-to-me series. If you love Agatha Christie and Downtown Abbey, you will love the exploits of Nosy Posie Parker as she positions herself to be London's next great private detective. As they should, the next three books just add more layers to the characters of Posie and her cohorts as they investigate crime in the Roaring Twenties. Looking forward to the next one!

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Speaking of Agatha Christie, Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah is the newest Hercule Poirot Mystery. Hannah has taken on the responsibility of continuing to bring such a beloved character to life, and I think she handles it well. A classic mystery of death at a house party, Closed Casket is all that we expect from an Agatha Christie story.  Thank you, Sophie Hannah!

The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal

A copy cat Jack the Ripper is loose on the streets of 1942 London, and MI-5 special agent Maggie Hope is on the case. But can she get to him before he gets to her? Read this latest installment in one of my favorite series to find out.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra and
The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown
by Vaseem Khan

(I gave the Unexpected Inheritance to my daughter, so no photo!)  I LOVE THIS SERIES!!! Set in Mumbai, recently retired police Inspector Chopra inherits the mystery of a dead body and a baby elephant. All on the same day. In the second book, he must find the Koh-i-Noor diamond, stolen from the British Crown Jewels right under the noses of Mumbai's elite special police. Of course, he is an honest man surrounded by corruption, so neither case is easy. Lucky he has that baby elephant. Read and find out why:)

Inspector Singh Investigates: A Frightfully English Execution by Shamini Flint

Usually annoying his superiors in Singapore, Inspector Singh is shunted off to London to participate in a Commonwealth police conference. A man of action, not a paper pusher, he's more than a little incensed, especially when his wife insists on coming along. But things get interesting fast, as murder and terrorism tend to cause that. Can he save the people of London, and it turns out, his much loved wife? Well, he didn't get to be an inspector by pushing papers.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is back! Back in her newest book, and back from her hated boarding school in Canada. She should be happy, but her Father is in the hospital with pneumonia, and nothing can make her feel better...except investigating a murder. Flavia is not your normal twelve-year-old, but that's why I love her so much!

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

The 17th book of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series is just as delightful as the first. Gentle fiction at its best that doesn't shy from the realities of life.  Always my favorite.

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

This is one of my favorite series. (I have many favorites!)  Inspector Armand Gamache is coming out of retirement in the quiet village of Three Pines to take over as Commander of the Surete Academy, where things have been rotten to the core. Determined to clean house, he fights a culture of intimidation by fear while determined to protect the young cadets of Quebec's future police force. But change brings out the worst in some, and death soon follows. 

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

A reclusive, rich and handsome eccentric meets young, beautiful Texan and Harvard Business and Law Grad.  Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. Together they fight evil and win.  The first of the Knight and Moon series.  Yay!

Shoot 'Em Up by Janey Mack

The continuing saga of Maisie McGrane's quest to be on the Chicago Police Force. Despite her family's best efforts and wishes to the contrary, she finds herself deep undercover with a Mexican drug cartel. She couldn't be happier, until it all goes terribly wrong. And where the heck is Hank Bannon, her ex-special forces and soldier-for-hire boyfrend? We'll have to wait for the next book to find out:(

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen

Saving the craziest for last, Carl Hiaasen never disappoints. This one has it fraudsters, beach sand stealers, redneck reality stars, class action lawyers and mobsters. In the middle of the mess is ex-detective Andrew Yancy, now working for the health department after an anger management issue gone awry. If he could just untangle this illegal mess in Key West, maybe he will be reinstated onto the force. Is that too much to ask? But first he has some giant rats to catch.  Really, giant Gambian rats.  Only in Florida.

Monday, August 8, 2016

NOT Cheaper by the Dozen, But Still Buying

This is my pile of finished books.

This is what I think of them:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Holy Cheese, why did I wait so long to read this book?!  Kristin Hannah is a genius. I'm probably the last human on earth that has NOT read this book, but if by chance you haven't,  do so NOW.  
The end.

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

This story of a young writer at a food magazine in New York is truly delicious! (Ha!) Through a hidden treasure of letters to James Beard written by a twelve-year-old girl during WWII, Reichl seamlessly combines the past with our present.  Love this quote from the book: 
"History is the story we tell the future about the past, and we have an obligation to get it right."
Ruth Reichl got it right.

The Oregon Trail, A New American Journey by Rinker Buck

Rinker Buck and his brother Nick cross the 2000 mile Oregon Trail with a covered wagon pulled by three mules.  Hilarity and salty language ensues.  An epic memoir about the first authentic attempt to drive the Oregon trail in over 100 years, it will make you also want to "See America Slowly". 

And now, three by Alexander McCall Smith
#ilovethismansomuch #icanbarelywriteablog #howdoeshedoit

The Revolving Door of Life
A 44 Scotland Street Novel

Happily for seven-year-old Bertie, his mother is stuck in a Bedouin harem, (don't worry, everyone's better off with her there), and his loving Grandmother has come to Edinburgh. Will this happy state of affairs last?  And what of the other quirky inhabitants of Scotland Street?  Read this latest delightful installment to find out:)

My Italian Bulldozer

Okay, now I want to move to a small hill town in Tuscany and drive around the countryside on a bulldozer. Really, how much charming inventiveness can one writer possess?

Chance Developments

The answer to the question above is: apparently a lot more.  Inspired by an exhibit of old "orphaned" photographs, McCall Smith has woven five lovely short stories out of nothing but his fertile imagination.  I've come to the conclusion that reading anything by him is like eating dessert first.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

1950's Irish girl moves to Brooklyn and falls in love with an Italian boy. Expect gentle heartbreak and drama, with a sprinkling of sweet romance. I've heard great things about the movie 
but haven't seen it.  Loved the book! 

The Three-Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway

This is the true story of how dirt-poor "sugar ditch" plantation kids on Maui learn to swim and conquer the world. Well, at least the world of swimming! This is not as well known a story as The Boys in the Boat, but it is just as inspiring.  And timely, too! Read it, watch the Rio Olympics, and wonder at what the human body and mind are capable of.  

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is 678 pages, but a story this big needs lots of words to do it justice. Briefly, two cousins from different worlds collide in pre-WWII New York and create a sensation in the golden-age of comics.  Not "in" to comics, you say?  Don't worry, that's just the vehicle Chabon uses to weave this intricate tale. Give yourself a lot of time for this one.

The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg must have such fun writing books together, because I have a blast reading the results!  Once again FBI agent Kate O'Hare and international con man Nicolas Fox, (get it? Fox and Hare?!), are working together to save the world from really big meanies.  We know they will succeed, but it sure is fun finding out how they do it!  Love these guys.

A Bed of Scorpions by Judith Flanders

Book editor Samantha Clair's second adventure, following A Murder of Magpies, is a literary treat! This time Flanders threw big-time art collecting in the mix. So, in conclusion, any book about books, art, murder and set in London gets a big thumbs up from me!

and finally...

Journey to Munich, A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear

Another of the authors I can't get enough of.  This time Maisie is sent to Munich to rescue an important British subject from prison, and she will have to face her greatest fear to do it. Set in the days just prior to Great Britain's entrance into the war, the tension and danger become secondary characters of the story. This is the fifth story in my pile that deals with the horrors of WWII. That's a good thing, lest we forget.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Holy Cow...It's Already April!!

2016 is almost 1/3 gone, and this is my first post.  I have an excuse, however lame it may be.  I've been bitten by the Binge Bug.  It started off with this:

201 espisodes later, March was upon me, but it was SO worth it!  I'd seen an episode or two of The Office here and there over the years, but I highly recommend watching it from the beginning.  It is a brilliant show with a brilliant cast, and you will end up loving every single character no matter how crazy they may seem at first.  (i.e.: Dwight)

It was therefore quite serendipitous to find this at the bookstore:


The Basoon King by Rainn Wilson. Wilson, the actor who plays Dwight Schrute, is just as fascinating as his Office character. He has lead a most unusual life, and his stories make for a delightfully entertaining book.  His life as a struggling actor in New York made my toes curl, as my daughter is going down that same path.  I gave her the book to read anyway:)  Love you, Rainn/Dwight!

Before and after my next binge, (more on that later...), I did manage to read some great books.

Vintage by David Baker

A well-past-his-prime and writer's-blocked food critic stumbles upon the story of a lifetime.  Seeking self-worth and redemption while on the trail of a mythical WWII French vintage, he must solve the mystery before his rivals do, his funds run out, and/or his ex-wife finds out what he's up to. From Chicago to Burgundy, on to Germany and back, Vintage is a journey well taken. Sante!

The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O'Connor

Once upon a time, Vienna was a place of tolerance, where people of all faiths mixed together and supported a culture of art and beauty. Then the Nazis came. Not many were safe from their evil reach,  especially if you were a wealthy, art-loving Jewish family with Gustav Klimt masterpieces hanging on your walls. Sixty years later, a young Los Angeles attorney is determined to return the Klimt paintings to their rightful owners, taking the Austrian government all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  This book has something for everyone: romance, art, bad guys and good guys. It could be a fabulous novel with a happy ending, except this is a true story, and no real ending can be perfectly happy. 

Time's Up by Janey Mack

If you like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, you will LOVE Janey Mack's Maisie McCrane. Maisie comes from a Chicago family of cops and attorneys, and she is determined to show them that the only/youngest girl of the family has what it takes to make it on the force. Until she washes out of the police academy. Determined to prove herself and make it onto the CPD one way or another, she joins the ranks of Chicago's meter maids, the most hated group in town. Despite her family's horror and her defense attorney mother's get-into-law-school-free card, she dons her official parking enforcement safety vest and stumbles right into a murder investigation. Meter Maid Mahem ensues! Full of crazies and creeps, not to mention her smokin' hot ex-Army Ranger boyfriend, Maisie's adventures have something for everyone.  Lucky for us more Maisie McCrane adventures can be found in...

Choked Up by Janey Mack

In which Maisie becomes the "girlfriend" of a Serbian
mobster and breaks up an international chop-shop ring, all while still a meter maid. Or IS she??
Read and see!

One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Before it was a movie, One Hundred and One Dalmatians was an actual book written by Dodie Smith. Somewhat surprisingly, the movie stays very true to the book, which is quite charming, and the 1956 story holds up well even today. This is only to be expected, as the relationship between dogs and their pets is a timeless one. Love you, Dodie Smith! (I Capture the Castle is one of my favs.)

Now, about that other binge I was on...

The Tudors

Because...Henry Cavill.

Also Starring:

Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Natalie Dormer
Sam Neill
Peter O'Toole

Warning:  NOT for young'uns.

Until next time

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas gift to you!  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'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.