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, 2021

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.