An e-book bargain-Mr. Churchill’s Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary: A Maggie Hope Mystery by [Macneal, Susan Elia]This is the first novel in the Maggie Hope mystery series which takes place during WWII.  I have enjoyed the entire series and recommend it.  If you enjoy historical mysteries with an appealing protagonist, you might like to try this one.

From Goodreads:

London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character,  Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.

Advance praise for Mr. Churchill’s Secretary

“This wonderful debut is intelligent, richly detailed, and filled with suspense.”—Stefanie Pintoff

“A terrific read . . . Chock full of fascinating period details and real people including Winston Churchill, MacNeal’s fast-paced thriller gives a glimpse of the struggles, tensions, and dangers of life on the home front during World War II.”—Rhys Bowen, author of Royal Blood and winner of the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards
“Think early Ken Follett, amp it up with a whipsmart young American not averse to red lipstick and vintage cocktails, season it with espionage during the London Blitz, and you’ve got a heart-pounding, atmospheric debut. I loved it.”—Cara Black, author of Murder in Passy

“England in 1940 is the perfect backdrop for a courageous young woman who outwits the enemy. A vivid tapestry of wartime London.”—Carolyn Hart, author of Escape from Paris

“An engrossing page-turner, with a delightful and spirited new heroine in the aptly named Maggie Hope.”—C. C. Benison, author of Twelve Drummers Drumming

Now Out-A Hundred Kisses Before Bedtime

A Hundred Kisses Before BedtimeThis is a gentle and sweet read aloud story. At bedtime, Chick visits all of her animal friends and there are many including a hedgehog and ducklings, among others. Chick helps each animal to settle down for the night and even helps the owl to settle down for sleep in the day. Young listeners will like the repetition on a theme and they can also learn the names of many animals too! This one is a nice addition to the bedtime shelf with its simple sentences and appealing illustrations.

Be Happier-The Happiness Passport by Hayes

When I was in college, I took an Anthropology course.  The professor spoke about how different cultures have words for the things that they need; an example of this was the many words for snow that those who lived in very Northern climates traditionally had and the number of words for cars in the U.S.  I thought about this as I began to read through The Happiness Passport.  The connections between words and culture are every where in this lovely book.

The Happiness Passport is organized into sections.  They include chapters on the following:

Home and Environment

Community and Relationships

Joy and Spirituality

Balance and Calm

As I began to read, I was bookmarking and underlining so I could share with you.  I was starting to have no un-bookmarked pages so that had to stop!  Instead I will say that many countries and cultures are represented in the book.  Some terms will be familiar to you like “hygge.”  Others you will not have heard of.  I can tell you that each word and write up will make you think about your life and what you value.

This book is enhanced by what I found to be very calm and lovely muted color illustrations.  I recommend that you take a look at this one.  It is a perfect antidote to the frenetic holiday season.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Quarto for this one.

From the book:  Some examples

#TheHappinessPassport #NetGalley

Now in paperback-The Seagull by Cleeves

The Seagull is a Vera Stanhope mystery, a novel in one of Ann Cleeves’ two series, both of which are excellent. (The other books are the Shetland novels.) Both are also TV dramas available in the U.S. and originally from Britain.
I especially enjoyed this book because of the back story. The reader learns more about Vera’s parents and her childhood. I also enjoyed spending time with favorite characters, including Holly and Joe.
This novel is about an historical crime with implications for the present. The story is well told and the pages kept turning. Highly recommended.

A true favorite-Almost Everything by Anne Lamott

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by [Lamott, Anne]Praise for Almost Everything:

“Anne Lamott has a rare talent for making writing look easy… Given the warmth, liveliness and intimacy of her prose, time with one of her books can feel like a visit with a friend.”Wall Street Journal

“Part memoir, part manual and part sermon from the church of Lamott, this satisfying escape points to notes of beauty in our uncertain world.” People

“Like a feminist C.S. Lewis, [Lamott] talks about God, politics and other unmentionables, and gently exhorts her readers, as she does herself, to find joy in a bleak and chaotic world: a leftie guru of optimism.” The New York Times 

“[Lamott] cheers us on with her blend of sobering truth and essential inspiration.”Parade Magazine

“Many are deeply blessed by Ms. Lamott’s down-to-Earth spirituality, her cleverness, her ability to tell a story with a moral, or at least with a sensible point.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

And me…

I have been listening to Almost Everything as a recorded book and it has been a wonderful (full of wonder) experience.  Narrated by the author with her cadences and emphases, this has been a moving listen.  Ms. Lamott captures wonder and despair; anxiety and joy; reasons against hope and reason to hope. There is talk of death, addiction, the perils of advice giving and the beauties of life and connection.  There is much understanding along with good reason not to despair.  The author’s  humanity, warmth, sensitivity and humor are truly special.    I recommend Almost Everything most highly.   FIVE STARS!!!

Come to Mure; It is worth the trip: Jenny Colgan

The Endless Beach: A NovelThe Cafe by the Sea: A NovelChristmas on the Island: A Novel

The Endless Beach is one of three novels set on Mure, a fictional town in northern Scotland.  The first in the series was The Cafe by the Sea and the newest entry is Christmas on the Island.

Here are my earlier thoughts on The Cafe by the Sea:

Jenny Colgan is a talented writer of light, humorous women’s fiction. I find that her novels are good reads for when I want to escape. In this book, The Cafe by the Sea, the escape is to the fictional island of Mure in very northern Scotland. The scenery is beautiful, the family life complicated and the romance eventually works out as it tends to in this kind of fiction. Recommended for a relaxing, stressfree read.

My thoughts on The Endless Beach:

This novel picks up where the earlier one left off.  It can be read as a standalone or as part of the series.

In The Endless Beach, old characters are back and the town is as idyllic as ever, although the characters’ lives are not.  Story lines felt deeper and more complex than in some of the other books that I have read by this author.  The story of Saif was especially moving.  A refugee and physician, Saif’s wife and sons were left behind in Syria when he was given asylum in Scotland.  In this novel, his sons are located and the trauma that they experience is explored.  The reader watches as Saif tries to help the boys to adjust.  For a writer of light fiction, this is a story of some depth.

Then there are Fintan and Colton, two gay characters whose relationship forms a key part of the novel.  The author presents their deep love for one another while also making the reader well aware of a major obstacle that they face.  No spoiler so I will not say more.

Flora and Joel are also working on their relationship.  For reasons that the reader comes to understand more fully, commitment is frightening to Joel.  What will happen to them?  Will there be a good next step for them?

I found this to be the best book that i have read by this author.  I was sorry to leave Mure but glad to know that I still have one more book in the series to read. If you have read/plan to read these novels, let me know your thoughts.  Thanks.


A search and find book-Where is My Car? by Richard

This is a challenging search and find book for children. Each section starts with a sentence like “I lost my favorite truck-my fire truck. Where can it be hiding?” Then on the following page the child is told “Look at my red truck. Keep the picture in your head, turn the page, and if you see it, show me.” This is followed with illustrations of many similar vehicles. There is then another quote and illustration of the next vehicle to be found.

I think that children will need patience for this book. They will need to examine the differences among similar objects. They will feel quite rewarded if/when they make the match!

#WhereIsMyCar #NetGalley