Sunday, April 29, 2018

Look at Me Not Procrastinating

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Fans of Alfred Hitchcock will love this one, especially fans of Rear Window. 
Whether suffering from a broken leg or agoraphobia, what would you do if you think 
you've witnessed a murder but can't leave your house to prove it?  
What if no one believes you, especially because of the surplus of pharmaceuticals 
and empty wine bottles in your kitchen? I certainly wouldn't want to be the woman in this window.
This is a terrific psychological thriller and will make a great movie...already in the works!

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Finally got to this one and was glad. A revealing look at late 1800's Chicago/America and the planning of the 1893 World's Fair. Oh, and a serial killer going about his business right under everyone's noses.  Fascinating and terrifying at the same time, I loved it!  

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

German Marianne is stuck and unhappy, and decides to take matters into her own hands.  
Through a quirk of fate she ends up in Brittany, that magical part of France where all things seem possible and life can begin anew at "the end of the world."
Like The Little Paris Bookshop
this is a story about new beginnings growing from the mistakes of the past.
Je me suis vraiment bien amuse.
(I looked up how to say that!)

In the Balance by Patricia Wentworth

A Miss Silver Mystery...who knew?!  Amazon did, and I have to thank the all-seeing-powers-that-watch -over-our-on-line-purchases for the recommendation. Apparently a contemporary of Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth has created her answer to Miss Marple in Miss Silver, a clever and no-nonsense retired governess.  If you've read everything Agatha ever published, try Ms. Wentworth.  
I think you'll be glad you did!   

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

The story of the German officers who opposed Hitler and what happened to them and the families they left behind. A revealing look at Berlin and Germany in defeat, where bravery, determination and luck would determine the fates of the survivors.  

To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear

Another WWII novel by one of my favs!  
Maisie Dobbs is back in the days surrounding Dunkirk. 
Love Maisie and Jacqueline need to say more:)

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith

And finally, another of my very favorites with another winner!

A lovely stand-alone by McCall Smith, this is a WWII story of an English land girl, an American reconnaissance flier and the good pilot Peter Woodhouse, who just happens to be a dog.  
Perfection, per usual:)

Until next time...TBC

Monday, April 2, 2018

Two Quick Reviews

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

My friend lent me this book, so I thought I'd better write about it quickly so as to return it in a timely fashion.  Perhaps the key to overcoming procrastination is borrowing and not buying!
Anyway...I LOVED The Heirs!  It's a terrific story about a family and their secrets, exploring the question of just how much we really need to know about those closest to us. Susan Rieger is a superb writer, jumping back and forth in time seamlessly, all the while creating characters that jumped off the page and into my heart.  I finished the book wanting more.
Thank you, Karen!!

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Karen, when I bring back The Heirs I'm bringing this for you.
Just be sure to start it on a day when you have nothing else planned.
OMG...this is a winner.  Agatha Christie on steroids, clever and suspenseful,
with a lot of creepy in the mix.  I think atmosphere is Ruth Ware's special skill.
One more thing:  DO NOT read this on a cruise ship.
You've been warned!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Hello, It's Me...and My Books.

Once again, lots of reading, too little writing going on. 
About to remedy that situation...

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Hands down one of my favorite books ever.  Rules of Civility was fantastic, and this is even better.  Read it now, and let me know if you agree:)

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

 The Lying Game is an atmospheric triumph that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end, so prepare to lose some sleep over this one.  A cautionary tale/thriller/mystery that everyone can to some degree relate, as we've all said or done things as teenagers that we regret. I'm a little late to the party when it comes to Ruth Ware.  I can't wait to catch up on what I've missed!

Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

Grave robbers, headless bodies, zombies and an escaped boa constrictor named Ethel are just business as usual for Trenton bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. For me, it's another laugh-out-loud joy ride with Janet.  Can't wait for Twenty-Five!!

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

I admit it, I read the Twilight series.  It was definitely entertaining, and so is The Chemist. If you like Jason Bourne you'll like The Chemist, if Jason Bourne were a brilliant scientist, and a woman.
A perfect vacation read:)

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

Love and Other Consolation Prizes revolves around Seattle's two World's Fairs,  the first in 1909 and the second in 1962. Ernest Young, our half-Chinese orphan hero, finds himself as the raffle prize at the 1909 fair, where he goes from a loveless boarding school to the houseboy at a high-class brothel. There Ernest finds love in the unlikeliest of surroundings, but all might be lost in this competing world of vice, suffrage and intolerance. Inspired by true events, it is an astounding story, one that will remind you of what humanity is capable of, both good and bad.

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

Sherlockians everywhere will love The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. Well, at least I approve, as does the Conan Doyle Estate. Actually, I recommend anything he writes, including the amazing Foyle's War on PBS. Thank you for all you do to entertain us, Mr. Horowitz!

The Usual Santas
A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers

Love me some crime short stories, some more than others!  There's a stocking-full to choose from in this great collection.  Enjoy:)

The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith

Another gem from my favorite author.
The eighteenth book in this series,
McCall Smith and Precious Ramotswe never disappoint.
Start at the beginning if you haven't read any of these.
You're welcome.

A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith

It's a toss up as to which of the above two series I love more, but I must say that Bertie Pollock is my most favorite character.  Follow the adventures of seven-year-old Bertie and all of his neighbors in this latest from the 44 Scotland Street series.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

You wouldn't expect an author that lives in Stockholm, Sweden could write a novel about small-town life in Iowa, but that's just what Katarina Bivald has done, and very convincingly.
Besides, it's a book about books.  What's not to like?!

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Another favorite is Louise Penny. Her books featuring Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec are intriguing and suspenseful, and Glass Houses exceeds all expectations.
So glad I found you, Ms. Penny!

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

This series just keeps getting better. Maggie Hope finds herself pretending to be an Irish bride shopping for a wedding trousseau in Nazi-occupied Paris.  Of course fashion is not her real mission, which is very dangerous and in the end, very revealing.  Definitely read these books in order!

 The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley

It always amazes me that a man can write so convincingly about a twelve-year-old girl, but
Flavia de Luce is not your average young girl.  Once again our little chemistry genius has stumbled upon a murder in the English countryside, but the solution to this mystery might also be the solution to all of her family's considerable problems.  Have a cuppa and enjoy!

A Matter of Loyalty by Anselm Audley and Elizabeth Edmondson

I am so sorry to say that this is the third and final book in a terrific series. Elizabeth Edmondson died unexpectedly before she could finish A Matter of Loyalty, so her son/editor Anselm Audley finished it for her. He decided at that time to end the series here. Both will be missed.

The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler

This is a 2017 book, but it is part of the beloved Stewart Hoag Mystery series that Handler wrote from 1988 to 1997.  It is set in 1992, which means very few cell phones, not much internet and a lot more legwork for any good detective, even one who is supposed to just be a celebrity ghost writer.
 I LOVE this slice of the recent past as portrayed by Handler, so of course I had to read the whole series! When I bought this book I also bought and read the first two in the series, The Man Who Died Laughing and The Man Who Lived by Night. However, the rest of the original eight book series is mostly only available on Kindle, which is how I read them.

The series in order is:
The Man Who Died Laughing
The Man Who Lived by Night
The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Woman Who Fell from Grace
The Boy Who Never Grew Up
The Man Who Cancelled Himself
The Girl Who Ran Off With Daddy
The Man Who Loved Women to Death

Of course, once I finished these, my Kindle kindly let me know of the other books he has to offer.  I much prefer paper to screen, but it was super easy just to order up the next series as e-books since I was already there.  (My bookshelves are thanking me.) This is how I started reading The Berger and Mitry Mysteries, of which there are currently eleven.  Set in a picture perfect coastal New England town, full of not-so-perfect people, a most unlikely pair fall in love and solve all the murder mysteries.  I'm hooked.

I've finished the first four:
The Cold Blue Blood
The Hot Pink Farmhouse
The Bright Silver Star
The Burnt Orange Sunrise

One more thing, I just found out that a NEW Stewart Hoag Mystery is coming out in August!
I ordered it in paperback.  Sorry, bookshelves.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

“So many books, so little time.” ― Frank Zappa

That about sums it up.

Moriarty and Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

If you love Sherlock Holmes or just murder mysteries in general, you'll love Anthony Horowitz.  Also, he did screenwriting for both Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War, both favs of ours:)

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Fans of historical novels take note!  
The Woman on the Orient Express blends fact with fiction, giving the reader a terrific tale of exotic mystery and suspense, as well as an insight into the life of the legendary Agatha Christie.
 The Aviator's Wife illuminates the private lives of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Charles Lindbergh, leaving us with an greater understanding of their triumphant and tragic lives.

Introducing Agatha Raisin by M. C. Beaton 

The Man Who Died Laughing & The Man Who Lived by Night by David Handler

I am late to the party with both of these authors, but I am excited to find two new series, at least to me, that I love!

Agatha Raisin has been around since 1992, and after reading the first two books in this edition, (The Quiche of Death and The Vicious Vet), I am tickled that there are 26 more to go!  M. C. Beaton is prolific, and Agatha Raisin is a crack up.  And the books have been turned into a TV show.
What more do you need?!

David Handler published the first book in this charming series in 1988, with 8 more follow.  Protagonist Stewart Hoag is a writer with a successful first novel and subsequent writer's block.  Lulu is his ever-present bassett hound.  Together they begin a life of ghost writing that leads to a life of crime fighting.  Clever and sarcastic dialogue drive these books, making for light-hearted and hilarious reads.  LOVE!!

The Bird in the Tree, The Heart of the Family and The Little white Horse
by Elizabeth Goudge

Love me some Elizabeth Goudge.  Pilgrim's Inn is one of my favorite books, and it also happens to be the middle book of a trilogy.  The first is The Bird in the Tree, and the last is The Heart of the Family.  I'm glad I've now read all three, but Pilgrim's Inn is still my favorite:)  The Little White Horse is a delightful children's book.  Introduce it to yours!

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

This is a corker!  By the author of Big Little Lies, Truly Madly Guilty has something that everyone can relate to:  the affect guilt has on relationships.  Don't miss out on this great read.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Dystopia for geeks.  If you or your loved ones appreciate 80's pop culture, classic video games, classic sci-fi movies and Willy Wonka, you'll love this one.  Soon to be a movie by Steven Spielberg.

Prince Harry Boy to Man by William Kuhn

The author of Mrs. Queen Takes the Train has done it again.  You'll be fascinated with this tale of Prince Harry and his adventures as the "spare" who can't seem to fit in.  Humorous and humanizing, this is a great tale of expectations and how we can all find fulfillment as prince or pauper.

The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan

The newest addition to the case files of the Baby Ganesh Agency.  Engaging and charming, we are again submersed into the sea of humanity that is Mumbai as Inspector Chopra and his baby elephant, Ganesha, tackle the case of the missing Bollywood Star.  If you haven't heard of this series, start reading now.  You'll love it!

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

WWI that is, and Beatrice Nash has just arrived in East Sussex to take the position of Latin Master at the local school. Much too attractive and free thinking to suit most of the population of the small coastal town, she finds herself with her own immediate battles to fight while the rest of England waits for news of war. A fascinating and terrible time in history, and a very good read.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

I LOVE KATE MORTON!!! All of her books are fantastic, and The Lake House if no exception. The 70-year-old mystery of a missing child, an abandoned country house in Cornwall, a successful but secretive London author, all are expertly woven together to create the perfect plot, with not a loose end to be found.  Warning:  once started, can't stop.

Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich

Finally, the delightful escapism that is Janet Evanovich. Emerson Knight and Riley Moon investigate a missing island, sinister National Park rangers, and a 100 year-old conspiracy.  What could possibly go wrong?! Everything, of course:)  Enjoy!!

Some final thoughts:
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” 
― Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Teetering Tower of Tomes

Maybe not exactly "Tomes", but still quite a tower.

The cure for "Too Much Bad News Syndrome":
Rosamunde Pilcher.
I dug these out of the paperback cupboard, because everyone needs a little reassurance that all will be okay in the end.  Enjoy with hot tea and scones:)  Also, I want to move to Cornwall.

Agatha Christie.  No explanation needed.

When I found Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me by Lorilee Craker, I realized I hadn't read Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery since, well a long time ago.  I reread it.  Wow.  Read it again, and you will realize what an amazing book this is.  Anne is a whip-smart heroine for any modern-day book, but when put in the context of 1908 she is absolutely amazing.  And the fun she had without computers and iPhones will make you pine for simpler times.  Anyway, the memoir by Lorilee Craker is a heartfelt book about orphans, adoption, being left behind and finding a home, but you don't have to be an orphan to appreciate her story.  You SHOULD read the original Anne first, so pour yourself some raspberry cordial and get started!

Secret Daughter and The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Two the the best books I've read recently, and maybe ever!  

The Golden Son is the story of Anil, the brilliant eldest son of a close-knit family in a small Indian village.  Anil leaves tradition behind and follows his dream to medical school in Dallas, Texas, a place that could not have been more different from the home of his childhood.  Soon dreams clash with duty, and Anil must learn to find peace with his decisions.

Secret Daughter delves into the plight of the rural poor of India, to whom male children are everything.  When Kavita gives her newborn daughter to a Mumbai orphanage, she does so to save the baby's life, but the sorrow almost kills her.  Adopted and brought to America, Asha eventually returns to India to seek the missing pieces of her story.  It is here in Mumbai that this tale of impossible choices comes to a very satisfying conclusion.

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

 Fredrik Backman has taken a character from My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry and given her a story of her own.  Oh my goodness, Britt-Marie can be so annoying!  Obsessive and unbending, she has rules for everything, especially cleaning.  But hidden under that straight-laced exterior is a heart of gold, and all it takes is some scruffy soccer-playing kids, a Snicker's-loving rat and various other Somebodies to break through to her soft center.  You will love this story of redemption, hope and finally, belonging.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Attention, fans of Jane Austen!!  If you passionately love Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Mr. Bingley, et al, you will be delighted with this modern update of Pride and Prejudice.  Set mostly in Cincinnati and New York City, the Bennet family is up to their usual schemes (Mrs. Bennet), and dreams (Sister Jane), with plenty of nastiness from Miss Caroline Bingley. But, when you read Eligible, first impressions will NOT deceive you, I promise:) 

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

If you adore Homefires on PBS Masterpiece, you will really enjoy The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.  Set in a small English Village at the start of WWII, we see how the women of Chilbury survive and even thrive with the men off fighting.  Weaving together the stories of five main characters, we find that hardship can bring out the best and the worst in people, but a spirit willing to fight for what's right will usually prevail.  (Sounds corny, but it's true!)

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear

Another WWII Story by one of my favorite authors.
At the very start of the war, Maisie Dobbs is enlisted to solve the mystery of the murdered Belgian refugees.  But they have been living in England since the First World War, so why has death come to claim these men now?  At the same time, a mysterious little girl is evacuated to Maisie's country home.  No one knows who she is, and she literally isn't talking.  For good or bad, this is a mystery that will go straight to Maisie's heart.

The Whole Art of Detection by Lyndsay Faye

Oh, Lyndsay Faye, my Sherlockian heart adoreth thee.  Thank you for adding new gems to the Holmes Canon, and many thanks again for the wonderful Jane Steele.
Love, The Book Chick

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Welcome aboard the Literary Apothecary, a barge anchored on the Seine and filled with books that Monsieur Perdu will prescribe to solve your particular troubles.  You'd think someone so in tune to the ailments of others would be able to heal himself, but a twenty-one year-old broken heart is a doozy of a problem.  Now, the protective walls of books he has built around himself are about to come crashing down.  A long un-opened letter is about to be opened, and a river adventure is about to begin.  With the help of new friends and old, M. Perdu sails south to the past he must confront in Provence.  Charming and impossible to put down, I loved The Little Paris Bookshop.
Merci beaucoup, Nina George!  A bientôt in The Little French Bistro:)

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!