Thursday, February 25, 2021

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson - first in a trilogy set in Revolutionary-era New York

Title: Chains: Seeds of America #1
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publication: Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 2008
Genre: Juvenile Historical Fiction
Setting: 18th-century New York
Description: Isabel (13) and her younger sister Ruth are slaves and orphans, having lost their mother a year earlier and their father, sold away from his family when Ruth was just a baby. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

The English Wife by Adrienne Chinn – historical fiction that begins in WWII England and leads to isolated Newfoundland

Title: The English Wife
Author: Adrienne Chinn
Publication: One More Chapter, trade paperback, 2020
Genre: Dual-timeline fiction
Setting: England and Newfoundland
Description: This is a story of two sisters living in Norwich during World War II and their descendants.  Ellie has always planned to marry her childhood friend George until she meets an outgoing Canadian soldier from Newfoundland.  Her sister Dottie disapproves because she doesn’t want Ellie to move away and her father disapproves because George is not Catholic, but Tom persuades her to tie the knot before he gets sent overseas.   

Friday, February 19, 2021

Chocolate Caramels for Anne Shirley

For the L.M. Montgomery Cooking Challenge, I decided to make Chocolate Caramels

But Anne could not eat. In vain she nibbled at the bread and butter and pecked at the crab-apple preserve out of the little scalloped glass dish by her plate. She did not really make any headway at all.

“You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed. 

“I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?” 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Title: The Thursday Murder Club
Author: Richard Osman
Publication: Viking, hardcover, 2020
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Present-day England
Description: Four senior citizens at Coopers Chase, an upscale retirement community in England, meet on Thursdays to discuss unsolved police cases, and then they encounter a real murder . . .

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Be Mine

For Valentine's Day, I thought I’d look at the last ten books I read with 💙 in the title.  
You're wrong if you think they're all romances:

Hearts in Trim by Lavinia R. Davis (1954) – YA 
Jointly inheriting a book collection leads to romance between Serena “Squeak” Bruce and her high school classmate Cliff.  I have to say this is one of my favorite covers and it does make you immediately want to read the book.   Thank you to Phair who sent me this book from her own collection when I mentioned my mother enjoyed Davis growing up.  But why did those 50s heroines have such dreadful nicknames? Beany Malone, Dinny Gordon, Twink Elliott, and more . . .  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation - from Redhead By the Side of the Road to The Face on the Milk Carton

It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place as other readers, add six books, and see where you end up.   This month’s starting point is Redhead By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler.  I have read one or two of Tyler’s books but not this one; however, it did start me thinking about redheaded protagonists.  Anne Shirley may be the most famous but I realized I had read about many others . . .

First Degree
To the Tiger in the Zoo, Madeline just said "Pooh, Pooh!"

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Right now I am reading Secret Places by Janice Elliott (1981), set during World War II, in which teenage Patience Mackenzie befriends Laura Meister, a refugee from Germany, who joins her girls' day school in England.  There is also a movie with Jenny Agutter in the cast; here is the beginning.

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Proper Place by O. Douglas

Title: The Proper Place
Author: O. Douglas aka Anna Buchan
Publication: Kindle, originally published 1926
Genre: Fiction
Setting: 1920s Scotland
Description: The Rutherfurds were an energetic and happy family not long ago: Sir Walter, a pillar of the neighborhood; his quiet but much-admired wife, Lady Jane; two splendid sons; daughter Nicole; and niece Barbara Burt, who has been part of the family since childhood.   However, Nicole’s brothers were killed in the war, and Sir Walter took their loss badly, faded away and died three months ago.  There is no longer enough money to support the ancestral estate so the lawyer has persuaded Lady Jane to sell and move somewhere smaller and more manageable.  As the story begins, the wife of a self-made prosperous businessman from Glasgow has come to inspect Rutherfurd with the idea of acquiring a country estate.  Mrs. Jackson is sure her husband will like it, and she is charmed by 24-year-old Nicole’s tour and friendly demeanor.  

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Five Things, including RIP to Sharon Kay Penman

* So sorry to hear of the death on January 22 of Sharon Kay Penman, one of my favorite historical fiction novelists.

My Bookshelf Traveling post for June 26th described how I found a copy of The Sunne in Splendor one summer when I had no books, no library card. and no money, and was instantly enthralled.  I have never read so slowly in my life as I tried to make the book last as long as possible!   I haven't read The Land Beyond the Sea yet but I will never forget it was the last book I purchased in March 2020 before the bookstores in Massachusetts closed for the pandemic (I definitely wanted to own it and like long books but 688 pages would have lasted some readers through the entire pandemic!).  I always hoped to meet Ms. Penman and am sorry not to have had the chance. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Backwater War by Peggy Woodford - WWII in the Channel Islands

Title: Backwater War
Author: Peggy Woodford
Publication: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, hardcover, 1974
Genre: Juvenile Historical Fiction
Setting: Guernsey, Channel Islands, World War II
Description: German forces have occupied Guernsey, appropriating food and resources from the islanders who are British subjects.   Anna Hardy’s younger brother has been evacuated with most of the Island children but at 17 Anna refused to go, feeling she could not run away.   When the Germans requisition the Hardys’ house, Anna and her parents have just a few hours to pack clothing, food, and valuables and take refuge with a difficult aunt five miles away. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Long Bright River by Liz Moore – a dark mystery about twisted sisters

Title: Long Bright River
Author: Liz Moore
Publication: Riverhead (Putnam), hardcover, 2020 
Genre: Mystery 
Description: Mickey Fitzpatrick is a Philadelphia policewoman who likes her job and whose only stress should be whether the babysitter for her 4-year-old son turns up on time. Yet, while they haven’t spoken for years, she worries constantly about her younger sister Kacey, a drug addict who turns to prostitution when she needs money for her addiction, right on Mickey’s neighborhood beat.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

WWW Wednesday: January 20

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

My book group decided to read a book by John LeCarré (1931-2020) for our January meeting after several members expressed sorrow at his passing and enthusiasm for his body of work. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was chosen as both one of his best and one that would work as a standalone for those unfamiliar with him.  Normally, I like suspense and espionage fiction but I found this tedious and had not finished tonight when we met so I am still reading it.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: when a grocery store visit goes viral - and why

Title: Such a Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid
Publication: Putnam, hardcover, 2019
Genre: Fiction
Description: Nothing has gone exactly as planned since Alix and Peter Chamberlain moved to Philadelphia from Manhattan.  Peter does have a great job as a TV anchor but he misspoke on live TV, offending and angering some of his viewers.  Alix is worried her career and brand will suffer from being away from New York. However, she is pleased with Emira, the recent Temple grad, who has been babysitting the two little Chamberlain girls, which enables Alix to get work done. Late one night, during a crisis, she calls Emira and asks if she can distract Briar, the precocious toddler, by taking her out to a nearby gourmet food store. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Favorite Reads of 2020

Like most of you, I read a lot of books in 2020, including many books I owned but had never read. I was relieved, however, when the libraries opened their doors for curbside pickup – by the time they did, I had 50 books on hold! I don’t read to achieve specific numbers, but I like to keep an eye on what I’m reading, so here are my top ten and the runners-up for this extremely long and stressful year: 


The Deepest Grave by Harry Bingham (2017). This is the sixth book about Fiona Griffiths, a police detective in Wales who is complaining when the book begins about how long it’s been since she had a murder to solve. She is thus thrilled to learn an archaeologist has been found murdered and decapitated, plunging Fiona into a complicated quest to find the criminal. Fiona’s erstwhile-criminal father, a fascinating character, plays a bigger role in this book than usual. I love this series and wish it had a bigger audience. Start with Book 1, Talking to the Dead. I keep lending my copy to people, which is dangerous. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Simon by Rosemary Sutcliff - a new-to-me and absorbing historical novel

Title: Simon 
Author: Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92)
Illustrator: Richard Kennedy 
Publication: Oxford University Press, hardcover, 1959 (originally published 1953) 
Genre: Juvenile Historical Fiction
Description: It had never seemed of much importance during their boyhood that Simon Carey was for Parliament and his friend Amias Hannaford a Royalist. But when the Civil War between the parties broke out, and two years later they were old enough to take part in it, they found themselves on different sides.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Betrayal at Ravenswick: A Fiona Figg mystery by Kelly Oliver

Title: Betrayal at Ravenswick
Author: Kelly Oliver
Publication: Historia, 2020, Trade Paper
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: England, 2017
What’s the best way to purge an unfaithful husband?

Become a spy for British Intelligence, of course.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Marsha On-Stage by Amelia Elizabeth Walden

Title: Marsha On-Stage
Author: Amelia Elizabeth Walden
Publication: William Morrow & Company, hardcover, 1952
Genre: YA fiction
Description: Lovely Marsha Blake, a senior at New Sharon High School in Connecticut, has always been acknowledged as the star of a talented drama department, led by Mrs. Graham, who studied at the American Academy (like Walden herself).  For years, Marsha and her older brother Ricky, now at college, had hoped to launch their own production at the local community theater, which closed ten years ago. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation - from Hamnet to Something's Rotten in the State of Maryland

It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place as other readers, add six books, and see where we end up. This month’s starting point is Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, a book about Shakespeare's son that has been widely recognized as one of the best books of 2020. I decided to buy it for my sister for Christmas and called the bookstore to ask them to hold it for me (“You want the book with the feather on the cover?” asked the guy on the phone dubiously). There wasn’t time to finish it before I had to mail it to New York (and it still didn’t get there for Christmas – boo!) but I liked what I read and am now on the reserve list at the library.