Sunday, July 25, 2021

Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

Author: Val McDermid
Publication: Grove Press, paperback, 2013 (originally published 2012)
Genre: Suspense
Description: Stephanie Harker is traveling through O’Hare Airport in Chicago with 5-year-old Jimmy when she is detained at security. During the extended patdown, Jimmy is abducted and Stephanie is tasered by security who misunderstand her agitation.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Fast Girls by Elise Hooper — A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team

Title: Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women’s Olympic Team
Author: Elise Hooper
Publication: William Morrow, trade paperback, 2020
Genre: Historical fiction
Description: In this novel about pioneering women athletes of the early part of the 20th century, the author focuses on three real-life American heroines:

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Love Always by Harriet Evans — family secrets in Cornwall

Title: Love Always
Author: Harriet Evans
Publication: Harper UK, paperback, 2011
Genre: Fiction
Setting: Cornwall and London
Description: The death of Natasha Kapoor’s grandmother, a well-known artist, brings all of her family back to Cornwall to the funeral and reveals tensions that go back to the tragic death of her aunt Cecily as a teen.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz — be careful what you wish for

Title: The Plot
Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz
Publication: Celadon Books/Macmillan, hardcover, 2021
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present-day United States
Description: Jacob Finch Bonner had always wanted to be a writer, that is to say, a published author, admired by readers. He did manage to produce The Invention of Wonder, which got mentioned in the New & Noteworthy section of The New York Times Book Review and generated some nice reviews but only modest sales.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

Title: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood
Author: Varsha Bajaj
Publication: Albert Whitman & Company, hardcover, 2014
Genre: Juvenile fiction
Setting: Houston and Mumbai
Description: Thirteen-year-old Abby Spencer is a normal teen living in Houston with her single mother but she has a deep-rooted yearning to know more about the father she never knew.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Children on the Top Floor by Noel Streatfeild - orphans galore on Christmas Day!

Title: The Children on the Top Floor
Author: Noel Streatfeild
Illustrator: Jillian Willett
Publication: Collins, hardcover, 1964
Genre: Juvenile fiction
Setting: 20th century London
US edition which was in my library
Description: On his Christmas Eve broadcast, television personality Malcom Master told his audience that as a bachelor he envied the Christmas mornings they would have with the patter of little feet and the sound of children opening their stockings. The next morning, his one-time nanny/now housekeeper finds four babies left on the doorstep to rectify the nonexistent hole in his life.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge, a suspenseful series launch

Title: She Lies in Wait
Author: Gytha Lodge
Publication: Random House, hardcover, 2019
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present-day Britain, somewhere near the New Forest
Description: Back in 1983, six teenagers and one younger sibling went camping in the forest. Aurora Jackson was in awe of her older sister’s confident friends and intimidated by their drinking and drug use. She disappeared in the middle of the night and was never seen again.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Forbidden Promise by Lorna Cook - a downed airman in Scotland leads to a family rupture

Title: Forbidden Promise
Author: Lorna Cook
Publication: Avon UK, paperback, 2020
Genre: Dual time line fiction
Setting: WWII and present-day Scotland
Description: Constance McLay is a sheltered 21-year-old when she escapes a groping guest at her birthday party and takes refuge at the loch behind her family’s lovely home, Invermoray House.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Rising Tide, a YA novel of suspense by Mabel Esther Allan

Title: The Rising Tide
Author: Mabel Esther Allan
Publication: Walker and Company, hardcover, 1976
Genre: YA Suspense
Setting: 20th century England
Description: When Fennel Chalfont learns she has inherited three tiny islands near Wales from an aunt, she invites her best friend Sue to go live there with her, as one does.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation – from Eats, Shoots & Leaves to The Thorn Birds

It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place, add six books, and see where we end up. This month’s starting point was a big bestseller when new: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (2003). I think the original cover's cute panda was half the appeal but it was certainly popular with comma fans! Most think of Truss as a grammar guru but she also wrote several mysteries.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

June 2021 Reads

What did you read in June?  My reading was quite varied:


* While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams – a legal thriller set at the Supreme Court by the brilliant voting rights activist – my review
The Killing Kind by Jane Casey – psychological suspense about a barrister in this new standalone from one of my favorite mystery writers.  This present for my sister arrived from the UK after her birthday so I decided to read it first.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Title: Things You Save in a Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Publication: St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 2019
Genre: Fiction
Setting: Present-day Massachusetts
Description: Cassie Hanwell is a firefighter who has fought for and earned the respect of her peers. Yet she has never forgotten the worst day of her life: her 16th birthday when her mother, Diana, walked out on the family.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Innocents from Indiana, a memoir by Emily Kimbrough

Title: The Innocents from Indiana
Author: Emily Kimbrough
Illustrator: Alice Harvey
Publication: Harper & Brothers, hardcover, 1950
Genre: Memoir
Setting: Pre-WWI Chicago
Description: When Emily was 11 and her brother 4, their family moved from Muncie, Indiana to Chicago.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery - an unusual and appealing WWII story

Title: Enemy Brothers: A Story of World War II
Author: Constance Savery
Publication: Bethlehem Books, paperback, 2001 (originally published in 1943)
Genre: Juvenile Historical Fiction
Setting: World War II Britain
Description: When Flying Officer Dym Ingleford uses part of his leave for a flying visit to his brother in the Navy, he has a premonition that he is needed there – and he is right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

WWW Wednesday - June 23

WWW Wednesday is run 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?
I am currently listening to The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult (2020). I have been reading her books since the early 90s when I was given a copy of Picture Perfect at work.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Never Jam Today by Carole Bolton - Votes for Women!

Title: Never Jam Today
Author: Carole Bolton
Publication: Atheneum, hardcover, 1971
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Setting: 1917 New York and Washington, DC
Description: At 17, Maddy Franklin has had a privileged upbringing in New York City, with a lawyer father and a mother who never questions the man of the house. But as the country prepares for war, Maddie reads in the newspaper that suffragists are picketing the White House for the right to vote.

Friday, June 18, 2021

$5 per bag

I stopped at my childhood library the other night to pick up a reserve, and as I was leaving I saw a room full of discarded books and a sign that said “$1/per book, $5/per bag.”  Reader, I had to poke my head in, although I only had a few minutes to spare. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

Title: The Only Black Girls in Town
Author: Brandy Colbert
Cover Art: Jenny Kimura
Publication: Little, Brown & Company, paperback, 2021 (originally published in 2020)
Genre: Middle-grade fiction
Setting: Southern California
Description: Seventh-grader Alberta has been the only black girl in her grade and town, so she is delighted to have new black neighbors when Edie, also 12, and her mother buy the B&B across the street.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Band of Sisters: The Women of Smith College Go to War by Lauren Willig

Title: Band of Sisters: The Women of Smith College Go to War
Author: Lauren Willig
Publication: William Morrow, hardcover, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: World War I France
Description: Based on actual events, this is a novel about a group of Smith College alumnae who traveled to France during the First World War to assist small French villages that had suffered from German destruction.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920-1970 by Martin Salisbury

Title: The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920-1970
Author: Martin Salisbury
Publication: Thames & Hudson, hardcover, 2017
Genre: Nonfiction/Books about Books/Art
Description: This book describes the history of the dust jacket, beginning in the 1920s, as an illustrated art form that is decorative and promotional, rather than merely providing protection.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

While Justice Sleeps - a thriller by multi-talented Stacey Abrams

Title: While Justice Sleeps
Author: Stacey Abrams
Publication: Doubleday, hardcover, 2021
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present-day Washington, DC
Description: Unpredictable and irascible Justice Howard Wynn is the swing vote on the United States Supreme Court and the President is determined to replace him with someone who will support his right-wing agenda.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

A Lion in the Way by Elizabeth Cadell - a glimpse of the last days of the Raj

Title: A Lion in the Way
Author: Elizabeth Cadell
Publication: William Morrow, hardcover, 1982
Genre: Fiction
Setting: 1913-1929, India and England
Description: Annerley Brooke (whose name is really Rosalind Anna Lee, after her deceased mother) has been brought up frugally in India with her maternal grandmother, and father, who coaches the sons of affluent Indian families before they are sent to away boarding school.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation - from The Bass Rock to The Rose Garden

It’s June and time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place, add six books, and see where we end up. This month’s starting point is The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld, winner of Australia’s Stella Prize. This is a historical novel set in 18th-century Scotland about darkness, violence, and madness. Which is right up my alley – sometimes, so I have it on reserve at the library.  Due to a New York Times book review, it is getting more attention than I expected, and what a cool cover!

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Apple Stone, a fantasy by Nicholas Stuart Gray

Title: The Apple Stone
Author: Nicholas Stuart Gray
Illustrator: Charles Keeping
Publication: Meredith Press, hardcover, 1969 (originally published 1965)
Genre: Juvenile fantasy
Setting: Great Britain, 20th century
Description: It was an odd-looking apple – dull yellow and crinkled all over with age – but it had a nice smell. And, as they soon learned, that’s not all it had.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout - the launch of Nero Wolfe's adventures

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: Fer-de-Lance
Author: Rex Stout
Publication: Bantam paperback, 1992 (originally published in 1934)
Genre: Mystery series
Setting: Mid-20th century New York
Description: This is the first book in the Nero Wolfe series, about an omniscient and somewhat reclusive detective who operates from a brownstone on West 35th Street in New York.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Sunday, May 30, 2021

20 Books of Summer

Since the pandemic-caused work-from-home began on 3/17/20, I have moved my laptop and self from the den (too hot in the summer although adding a bird feeder to the window provided entertainment and extended my loathing of the squirrels trying to access the birdseed) to the dining room (too cold in the winter, I had to remove the tablecloth lest the space heater set it on fire) and finally to the small office (which the realtor pretended was a bedroom), which first had to be massively tidied. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

Title: Shadow Spinner
Author: Susan Fletcher
Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Publication: Recorded Books, 1999 (originally published by Atheneum, 1998)
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy/fairy tale retelling
Setting: Ancient Persia
Description: Every night Shahrazad tells the Sultan a story, pausing at a suspenseful moment so that he is intrigued and lets her live another 24 hours to finish, at which point she proceeds to another cliffhanger.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

WWW Wednesday – May 26

WWW Wednesday is run 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?

Currently, I am reading Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  It’s a feminist version of what happened to Cinderella after the ball – did she live happily ever after with Prince Charming? 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer - a crime novel set in Cardiff

Title: Rubbernecker
Author: Belinda Bauer
Publication: Atlantic Monthly Press, hardcover, 2013
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Wales
Description: Patrick Fort is an 18-year-old anatomy student who never recovered from the death of his father when he was a child. As his mother dealt with alcoholism, he tried to figure out how life can be so fleeting and his dissection and examination of animals provides no answers, just freaks out his mother, who does not understand the single-mindedness resulting from his Asperger’s Syndrome.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Do you miss library book sales?

I do!  Mind you, there are hundreds of books in this house I have not had time to read.  But there is nothing as delicious as ambling into a used bookstore or going to a library book sale and finding an old treasure, discarded by the library or a patron, that is not available elsewhere.  Alternatively, sometimes one finds an appealing but unknown book or something one meant to read but had not got around to, such as The Goldfinch.  Or a handful of paperbacks to bring on vacation.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler

Title: The Perfect Couple
Author: Jackie Kabler
Publication: One More Chapter, trade paperback, 2021
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Setting: Present-day Great Britain
Description:  Are they the perfect couple . . . or is everything about Gemma and Danny's new life a complete lie?

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Reb and the Redcoats by Constance Savery (an American rebel in England)

Title: The Reb and the Redcoats
Author: Constance Savery
Publication: Bethlehem Books, paperback, 1999 (originally published in 1961)
Genre: Juvenile historical
Setting: 18th century England
Description: The Reb is young Randal Everard Baltimore, an American prisoner of war, who encounters the Redcoats, the four Darringtons, children of a British officer fighting in the War of American Independence.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Daphne du Maurier's Mary Anne: Rewriting the Regency Romance as Feminist History #DDMreadingweek

I came across an interesting article, Daphne du Maurier’s Mary Anne: Rewriting the Regency Romance as Feminist History, by Katherine Turner, and decided it was perfect for Daphne du Maurier Reading Week despite my not having time to read Mary Anne (1954). 

Coincidentally, the du Maurier books live next to the Heyer paperbacks
Turner describes how du Maurier based this novel on her great-great grandmother (c. 1776–1852), who was the mistress of the Duke of York and involved in a huge scandal for selling army commissions, promotions, and transfers.  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier #DDMreadingweek

Title: The Parasites
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Publication: Doubleday & Co., hardcover, 1950 (originally published in 1949)
Genre: Fiction
Setting: 20th century England and a little Paris
Today is Daphne’s 114th birthday! Please visit Heaven-Ali to read about Daphne du Maurier Reading Week. Happy Birthday also to Ali – I hope there are new books and dinner prepared by someone else.

Description: The Delaneys were an eccentric theatrical family – Pappy, a world-class singer, with a daughter, Maria; Mama, an unforgettable and indescribable dancer, with a son, Niall; and Celia, the only joint child from their marriage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier #DDMreadingweek

Title: The House on the Strand
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Publication: 1969     Genre: Fiction     Setting: Cornwall
Occasion: Heaven-Ali's Daphne du Maurier Reading Week 2021
Description: Publishing executive Dick Young is between jobs when his old friend Magnus Lane lends him a vacation home in Cornwall, somewhat in exchange for Dick’s assistance with a mysterious project.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Her Last Holiday by C.L. Taylor

Title: Her Last Holiday
Author: C.L. Taylor
Publication: Avon, trade paperback, 2021
Genre: Suspense
Description: You go on a retreat to be healed. You don’t expect to die. But two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in the Mediterranean that went terribly wrong.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson - my first summer reading recommendation

Title: The Narrowboat Summer
Author: Anne Youngson
Publication: Flatiron Books, hardcover, 2020
Genre: Fiction
Setting: England
Description: Three women meet by chance and reassess their priorities in this novel about friendship and second chances.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Academy Saga by CJ Daly - an intriguing series launch

Title: The Academy Saga, book 1
Author: CJ Daly
Publication: Trade paperback, 2019; also available in Kindle
Genre: YA series
Setting: Present-day New Mexico
Description: At barely 17, Kate Connolly is stuck in a trailer, raising her precocious younger brothers, with a father who was abusive even before her mother died several years ago.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation — from Beezus and Ramona to My Own Two Feet

It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place, add six books, and see where we end up. This month’s starting point is Beezus and Ramona, the first book in the Ramona series, by Beverly Cleary, who died on March 25, 2021 at 104.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Much Ado About Books by Samantha Young (bookstore wish fulfillment and more)

Title: Much Ado About You
Author: Samantha Young
Publication: Berkley, trade paperback, 2021
Genre: Chick Lit
Setting: Present-day Chicago and England
Description: Evie is humiliated and fed up with the dating scene in Chicago and equally infuriated by the sexism at work where she has done her boss’ job for years without credit or a promotion.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer - for the 1936 Club

Title: Behold, Here’s Poison
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publication: Sourcebooks paperback, 2009 (originally published in 1936)
Genre: Mystery
Setting: 1930s England
This is a final review for 1936 Club, hosted by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.

Description: Gregory Matthews is a tyrant who is disliked or feared by everyone in his household, which includes his sister Harriet, widowed sister-in-law Zoe, niece Stella, nephew Guy, and various servants.

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Hiding Place: A Mercy Carr Mystery by Paula Munier

Title: The Hiding Place: A Mercy Carr Mystery
Author: Paula Munier
Publication: Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s, hardcover, 2021
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present-day Vermont
Description: After serving two tours in Afghanistan where her fiancé was killed, Mercy Carr left the Military Police and is recovering with her bomb-sniffing dog Elvis in Vermont where she grew up.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Revolt - and Virginia by Essie Summers

Title: Revolt – and Virginia
Author: Essie Summers (1912-1998)
Publication: Harlequin, paperback, 1970 (originally published 1969)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Setting: New Zealand
Description: Virginia loves her job managing the advertising of a prominent family-owned department store in Dunedin until the owner’s son improperly snatches a kiss. Hello, Me Too movement!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild - who is your favorite Fossil?

Title: Ballet Shoes
Author: Noel Streatfeild
Illustrator: Richard Floethe
Publication: Random House, hardcover, 1937 (originally published in 1936)
Genre: Children’s fiction

The 1936 Club is hosted by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.
Plot: Great Uncle Matthew (known as Gum) was a noted collector of fossils and lived in a large house on London’s Cromwell Road with his niece Sylvia, and her childhood nurse, Nana. One day he brings home an orphaned baby who Sylvia and Nana name Pauline. Soon there are two more, Petrova and Posy.  

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds - for the 1936 Club

Title: Drums Along the Mohawk
Author: Walter D. Edmonds (1903-1998)
Publication: Little, Brown & Co., hardcover, 1936
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: Upstate New York, 1976-84

The 1936 Club is hosted by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.
Description: When pioneering farmer Gilbert Martin sweeps 18-year-old Lana Borst off her feet and away from her family to help him settle his new farm in the Mohawk Valley, she anticipates a life of hard work and challenges but does not expect Indian warfare, violence, starvation, or Gil’s disappearance for endless periods of time when her husband is conscripted to the Revolutionary forces. She complains much less than I would! 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Susannah of the Mounties by Muriel Dennison - for the 1936 Club

Title: Susannah of the Mounties
Author: Muriel Denison (1886–1954)
Foreword: Susan Tweedsmuir
Publication: Puffin paperback (originally published in 1936)
Genre: Juvenile historical fiction
Setting: 1890s Saskatchewan, Canada
The 1936 Club is hosted by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.

Description: When Susannah’s artist father gets a big commission in India, her parents put her on a train in Montreal with a newly hired nanny to her uncle in Regina.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes - for the #1936 Club

Title: Death at the President’s Lodgings
Author: Michael Innes
Publication: Penguin paperback (originally published in 1936)
Genre: Mystery
Setting: 1930s England
This week Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings are hosting the 1936 Club, where bloggers read and write about books published in a chosen year.

Description: In this series launch, Inspector John Appleby of Scotland Yard is summoned to Oxford for the difficult and delicate task of investigating the murder of the unpopular Josiah Umpleby, president of St Anthony's College.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf - sitting quietly and smelling the flowers with the 1936 Club

Title: The Story of Ferdinand
Author: Munro Leaf (1905-1976)
Illustrator: Robert Lawson (1892-1957)
Publication: Viking Press, hardcover, 1936
Genre: Picture Book
Setting: Spain
This week Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings are hosting the 1936 Club, where bloggers read and write about books published in a chosen year.

Description: Everyone knows the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than engage in bullfights.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie - for the 1936 Club

Title: Cards on the Table: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication: Harper Collins, hardcover (originally published in 1936)
Genre: Mystery
Setting: 1930s London
This week Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings are hosting the 1936 Club, where bloggers read and write about books published in a chosen year.

Description: At an exhibition of snuffboxes, which I am sure we all would have enjoyed, Hercule Poirot encounters the purring Mr. Shaitana, a rich man known for his lavish parties.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Songbird by Karen Heenan - a visit to Henry VIII's court

Title: Songbird: The Tudor Court #1
Author: Karen Heenan
Publication: Trade paperback, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 16th century England
Description: Life in Southwark is hard for Peter Davydd and his family. They lost their only son to the sweating sickness. His wife and daughters do washing and ironing for those who can afford it but barely make a living so he brings ten-year-old Bess to Greenwich Palace. Recognizing his child’s exceptional voice and Henry VIII’s love of music, Davydd sells his child to the king, freeing himself of a burdensome mouth to feed and also securing her the training she needs.