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