Earlene Fowler’s quilter’s series consists of about a dozen novels that feature Benni Harper and Police Chief Gabe Ortiz. Each book in the series is named for a quilt pattern. The first novel, Fool’s Puzzle was published in 1995. I read it then so it has been awhile. Below is feedback on that book:
From Publishers Weekly
Young, recently widowed Benni Harper, the foolhardy heroine in this predictable debut, leaves her ranch after her husband’s accidental death and becomes the curator of the folk-art museum in the coastal California town of San Celina. Benni is frantically trying to assemble a quilt show when she discovers a local potter stabbed to death in the museum studio. Benni’s flaky 21-year-old cousin Rita, whom Benni had seen driving away from the museum, disappears and becomes a prime suspect. When Rita calls asking for money, Benni determines not to tell the police, whose new chief, Gabe Ortiz, has warned her not to interfere in the investigation, and decides to clear Rita by finding the real murderer. The day that the quilt show opens, Benni finds a plastic bag filled with money in the attic of the museum but waits to tell Ortiz until after the opening party. When he goes to the attic to investigate, he finds, instead, the body of the museum handyman. Fowler connects all the deaths in her plot, leaving no threads hanging, but Benni’s reckless actions and her love-hate relationship with the enigmatic Ortiz yield an unconvincing narrative.
This review describes the book as predictable; maybe that is so but I know that I loved this series and read every single entry. Today, Goose in the Pond is an e-book bargain. While it is best to read the series in order, this could be your chance to start your Earlene Fowler collection. I would especially recommend this series to readers who like Susan Wittig Albert’s Pecan Springs novels.
Today in my class on Adultery in 19th century fiction, we spoke about the Kreutzer Sonata. Are any of you familiar with this? I was not. It was agreed that this is either a novella or a short story. If reading Anna Karenina or War and Peace just feels like too much, you can get an idea of Tolstoy through this work. It was advised that we listen to the Kreutzer Sonata as a framework for the story I recommend doing so. There is a certain rhythm, a coming together, lyricisim, intensity and breaking apart that matches the ways in which the main characters relate. In the sonata, neither the violin nor the piano dominates but each finds its place, not always easily.
Tolstoy asks the reader to think about marriage, mores, possible affairs, the roles of women and the actions of those in marriages. It was pointed out that the reader becomes involved in the main character’s story and has empathy for much of what he says. But…how do you feel about him, after you find out what he does? Read this and see. Next week it will be Jude the Obscure. As a teaser, it was pointed out that this is the first book that we will have read that is named for a male character.
The Paris Spy is part of a series set during WW II; The cover illustration for this latest entry is appealing but does not not reflect the gravity of Maggie and her fellow SOE operatives’ risky lives. This book is NOT a cozy mystery; the scenes with interrogation and torture were difficult to read.
The Paris of the occupation was well drawn and there was an interesting mix of fictional and historical personages, including Coco Chanel. I connected with the characters and worried about their safety.
Occasionally, the plot relied on coincidence and was not completely believable. Nonetheless, I rooted for Maggie and hoped for her mission and England’s success as D-day comes closer. I have read all of the other books in this series; the books do not have to be read in order to be enjoyed as some backstory is provided. If you read the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, I think that you will like this. If you have not read Maisie Dobbs, I think that you should!
NOTE: The next book in the series will be out this summer. Here’s the cover. I will blog once I have read this. Thanks NetGalley!
Little Beach Street Bakery-Jenny Colgan writes light, easy but enjoyable romance/comedy novels. This one is about starting over in a seaside community, baking, romance and, if I remember correctly, a puffin.
The Affair-This one is in my TBR pile. Gill Paul wrote a book that I blogged on that was about Wallis Simpson and her best friend, Mary. I thought that was well-written and fascinating. I hope that this one will be too. The Affair is about Taylor and Burton.
Three good reads on sale today…Elizabeth Buchan is a terrific author of British women’s fiction. I read and enjoyed this novel when it first came out. You will be engrossed as you follow Rose and observe the ways in which her life falls apart and the ways in which she rebuilds it.
If you have not already read Under the Tuscan Sun, now is your chance. It is about starting over and starting well. Note that a new novel by Frances Mayles has just come out. I look forward to reading it soon.
Finally, the classic, I Don’t Know How She Does It. This one is likely to appeal to all of you over worked moms. As is true for Mayles, Pearson’s new book was just released.
I loved this book! The author speaks to the middle school reader without ever being condescending or talking down. When historical background is needed, it is simply included in the text.
Eleanor Roosevelt comes alive with her bravery, deep desire to do right and also in her doubts and difficulties. The reader learns the basics of Eleanor’s biography; not being beautiful for her mother, having a father who was an alcoholic, being orphaned. There is an excellent chapter or Eleanor’s schooling in England and its impact on her. The joys and imperfections of her relationship with Franklin are acknowledged. The young reader learns of affairs but gently.
The author shows the ways in which Eleanor’s consciousness was raised. She describes the prejudices with which Eleanor grew up and how she began to overcome them and fight for her beliefs.
I have read a number of books on the Roosevelts so felt knowledgeable going in. Yet, I still learned a lot. Of note, too, are the illustrations which make historical personages real and present.
I recommend this book highly for readers from middle school through adulthood. Thank you NetGalley!
I have enjoyed other books by this author and feel pretty sure that this will be worth reading too. Today it is $2.99.
Also, I want to again mention yesterday’s post on The Great American Read which will be a show on PBS. The list is too good to miss if you like to plan future reading or see where you have been. Here is the list.
The Shadow of Death is a cozy mystery by an author who is new to me. The novel’s protagonist, Sister Agatha, is a Jessica Fletcher like amateur detective. In the book the reader finds murder, financial shenanigans and characters who have troubled pasts. The delights in the novel are the setting, the insights into modern (un-stuffy) religious life and the warmth of the characters. My guess is that we will be reading a sequel this time next year!