A pub day re-post (O’Donohue)

Clare O’Donohue has written several mystery series. I was familiar with her quilting mysteries which I enjoyed. I was excited to see that the author had written something in a new series and that it was set in Ireland. The descriptions of places in the Emerald Isle did not disappoint. I also enjoyed watching the relationship between Finn and Hollis evolve, each has a distinct approach to life at the start of the novel. Anyone who has been married or in a relationship will be able to relate. The mystery itself was a bit too based on chases for me. In that way, I think that perhaps the book could have been more tightly written. Nonetheless, a good read.

E-book bargains

The Unexpected Mrs. PollifaxDorothy Gilman’s books are lighthearted spy stories.  These tales are not at all like the plot of  The Americans.  Mrs. Pollifax is a woman of a certain age who wants to help her country and experience adventure.  These are fun reads that were first published in the mid-60s.  If you crave an easy read, the series is worth considering.

Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent. This time, the assignment sounds as tasty as a taco. A quick trip to Mexico City is on her agenda. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and our dear Mrs. Pollifax finds herself embroilied in quite a hot Cold War–and her country’s enemies find themsleves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady.

Dead as a Dinosaur (The Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries Book 16)The Mr. and Mrs. North books are set in New York.  They remind me of nothing so much as the Thin Man movies.  The books were originally published in the 1940s and 1950s.  I think that they were out of print for awhile.  Mr. and Mrs. North solve their cases pretty much between martinis.  As is true for Mrs P above, the series is a light, relaxing one.

So, there you have it…bargains and nostalgia both!


A great walker (Hughes)

This is a perfect book for questioners and young city planners! In this engaging, short read, with wonderful illustrations, Ms. Hughes tells the story of Jane Jacobs. Jane was an “outside the box” thinker from her earliest childhood when she rebelled by refusing to promise to brush her teeth every day. When Jane moved to New York City as a young woman, she began to think about how people live together and the ways in which cities should work for their residents, not the builders or those who wanted to build highways. Her clashes with Robert Moses and her love of where she lived and what she did shine through.

A quote:

“Throughout her lifetime and beyond, Jane Jacobs urged city planners to make cities better for the people living in them.  She inspired communities to take a stand..She also encouraged everyone living in cities to look around…”  Good advice and a good book!

Thanks NetGalley and the publisher.

What a man! (Mandela)

Grandad Mandela is a picture book that teaches young, through elementary grade, students about Nelson Mandela, African politics and how Mandela fought (without weapons) for his beliefs. The schema of the book is that Mandela’s great grandchildren ask questions and their grandmother tells the story. Concepts such as apartheid are simply and clearly explained. This book is a good starting point for children who want to learn about Mandela, social justice and what they, themselves, can do to further Mandela’s legacy . Of note is that this book is written by members of the Mandela family.

#GrandadMandela #NetGalley

Thank you bookreporter.com (McLain)

Readers of this blog know that I recently wrote about Love and Ruin by Paula McLain.  I gave this novel a very positive review and highly recommended it.  See below re: Bookreporter.com and resources for this book.

Bookreporter.com Talks to Paula McLain,
Our Latest Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight Title
and a Bookreporter.com Bets On Pick

Our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight of LOVE AND RUIN wraps up this week with our review and interview. In THE PARIS WIFE (a Bets On title), Paula McLain focused on Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to his first wife, Hadley Richardson. This time, she shifts her attention to Martha Gellhorn, one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century, who became Hemingway’s third wife. Paula is a fabulous writer, and I love hearing her speak about her work, which is one reason I am so glad to bring you an interview with her. If you ever get an opportunity to attend an event with Paula, go! She is both informed and gracious.

Amy Haddock has this to say in her review: “With prose as rich and complex as the historical landscape McLain covers, the past comes alive in her latest novel. LOVE AND RUIN is expertly written with well-timed pacing, wonderful descriptions, and themes that will inspire and stay with you long after the final page has been turned.” As I noted, Amy also had the opportunity to ask Paula some questions about the book and why she decided to write about Hemingway again. You can read the interview here. LOVE AND RUIN also will be a Bets On pick; find out why in next week’s newsletter. Paula has made me want to reread so many Hemingway titles, as well as Gellhorn’s writing; she is brilliant at bringing the women in Hemingway’s life to the forefront for us.

And also this…Paula McLain’s 2011 novel, THE PARIS WIFE, captured the love affair between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Seven years later, McLain revisits the literary giant in LOVE AND RUIN, this time focusing on his passionate, stormy marriage to his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. In this interview, conducted by Bookreporter.com’s Amy Haddock, McLain discusses what drew her to Gellhorn’s story and why she felt compelled to write about Hemingway again. She also describes her research process, explains how she was able to maintain a strong sense of place throughout the novel, and even shares the recipe for a Hemingway-esque daiquiri that can be enjoyed while reading the book or discussing it with your book group.

Go to Bookreporter.com for the link.  Also, you might want to subscribe to this excellent newsletter.

A star for young children (Chagollan)

This is a charming book.

Have you and your child ever looked up at the night sky to study the constellations? Do you make up stories about them? Can you recall their names? This clever book, illustrated in gold, black and white for the nighttime setting, shows pictures of children dreaming and wishing and then shows the appropriate constellation. For example, “In the sky tonight, Oscar dreams of a starstruck crowd of fans,” is followed by the constellation Taurus for Oscar the matador.

This is a lovely book for a young child. They will love the repetition of theme and the cozy feel of this read aloud.

#StarrySkies #NetGalley

What I plan to read next (George, Griffiths, Macneal)

So…classes finish next week and it is time for some serious fun reading.  The books at the top of my mystery pile are pictured below.  I feel pretty sure that they will all be great.  I bought the first book; the others are courtesy of NetGalley.  THANK YOU NetGalley for the wonderful anticipation that comes with thinking about these reads.

The Punishment She Deserves: A Lynley NovelThe Dark Angel (Ruth Galloway Mysteries)The Prisoner in the Castle: A Maggie Hope Mystery

These novels are all part of on-going series that are among my very favorites.  Give them a try.  You could be lucky enough to make some fun discoveries with some great reads ahead.

Not so obscure in the annals of great fiction (Hardy)

This is the next to last book that we read in the class on Narratives on Adultery in 19th century fiction. Interestingly it is the only one named for a male character.  This novel is a true heart breaker in which there are tragedies too numerous to mention.  Jude, orphaned young, and  living with his aunt in Hardy’s fictional Wessex, has dreams beyond his social class.  Inspired by a teacher, Jude dreams of going to Christminster, a stand in for Oxford.  He dreams of an education and feels that he will find it in this city of learning.  Jude is determined but also led astray by his desires for sex and alcohol.  He marries unwisely, loves a cousin (perhaps also unwisely), and the novel ends in tragedy.  Some of the people in my class talked of having to take breaks when reading Jude.  No spoilers but one tragedy just is of epic proportions.  I kept wanting to intervene with Jude as if he were a real person.  “Stop,” I wanted to say, “consider what you are doing, what you said you wanted and what you are choosing.”  This is one of those novels that I believe forms a part of a good education.  It is a tough one though.  It is Hardy’s indictment of marriage without love and a statement of the boundaries of social class that cannot be transcended.  Has anyone reading the blog read Jude?  Your thoughts?


See if you are charmed…(Haines)

Carolyn Haines has been writing her Sarah Booth Delaney series for years. I am pretty sure that this is book number 18. The first novel in the series, Them Bones, was original and charming. Part of the charm has to do with the presence of Sarah Booth’s “haint” Jitty.  She is a ghost from plantation days. Don’t let that put you off the book; Jitty is a fun character and somewhat of a truth teller/foil for Sarah Booth. The many residents of Zinnia, MS also come to life in the series. There is Sarah Booth’s partner, Tinkie, along with many love interests for Sarah Booth over the course of the novels. These are character with whom I love to catch up.
The latest book has to do with witch sisters who want to set up a very ecologically conscious school. There is plenty of skulduddgery, attempted murder and mayhem. While this was not my favorite book in the series, it was still a fun read. Readers might want to start from the beginning and watch how the characters’ lives develop.

#CharmedBones #NetGalley

E-Book Bargains (Rendell and Ashley)

Not in the FleshRuth Rendell aka Barbara Vine writes two kinds of books.  The Ruth Rendell/Inspector Wexford books are in a series and are typical British mysteries/police procedurals.  The Barbara Vine books are generally spooky and darker.  I prefer Inspector Wexford.  The first book in the series is From Doon with Death and there are at least fifteen altogether.  I read these novels a while ago but remember starting with one and just keeping on going.  You can read the series in order or try this one that is on sale today.  If you like traditional British mysteries, you may have already read these.  If not you have a treat in store.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In addition to solving two long-ago murders, Chief Inspector Wexford is troubled by female genital mutilation in the local Somali community. The temptation would be to cut the subplot, but this abridgment retains the richness of the novel. Tim Curry’s performance is splendid, even better than Daniel Gerroll’s excellent performance of Rendell’s End in Tears. Curry does a particularly marvelous job with the minor characters, such as the two wives-in-law of a local author, who cackle at the sexual innuendos of their own jokes. Then there’s 84-year-old Irene McNeil, alternately supercilious and weepy. Throw in the obsessive Grimbles, on whose land the bodies were found; some migrant fruit-picking Roma; Wexford’s family; Somali immigrants; and Curry somehow sounds like a full-cast audio. If only Wexford sounded less like his assistant Burden, the performance would be absolutely perfect. A Crown hardcover (reviewed online). (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Little Teashop of Lost and FoundI blogged this one just last month and today it could be yours for just ninety-nine cents!  Review reprinted below:

The following quote sums this novel up nicely:  “Glorious escapism . . . A foundling turned star baker, a tough childhood, the Yorkshire moors and a dashing neighbour are a winning mix in this bittersweet novel with nods to the Brontes.” —The Lady

I notice that I am doing a lot of comfort reading recently…hmmm.  Well, I do still have Anna Karenina with its vast panorama, complex relationships and depiction of the Russian social classes to finish.  Meanwhile…this novel was a soothing read.  We watch as Alice rebuilds her life following a tragedy, is helped by many along the way and finds herself.  There is adoption, romance, baking, antiques, friends…great ingredients indeed!  Try it.