Thursday, May 19, 2022

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

We stood, feeling others nearby, but unable to see them. I was alone with Liliana, in a private wrapper of darkness.

“Cristian,” she suddenly whispered. “Do you ever wonder . . . if any of it’s real?”

“If what’s real?”

“The things we see in videos – in American movies.”

It was an odd question. Or maybe it felt odd because I had wondered the same thing but never had the courage to say it out loud. But it also felt . . . suspicious somehow. Too honest.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Glass-Blowers by Daphne du Maurier – for DDM Week

Title: The Glass-Blowers
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Publication: Doubleday & Company, hardcover, 1963
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 18th and 19th century France
Description: In this historical novel, du Maurier tells the imagined story of her actual ancestors, the Busson family, glass-blowers in rural France, and how they were affected by the French Revolution.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Six Degrees of Separation – from True History of the Kelly Gang to Crooked Heart

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 Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, about an Australian bushranger/outlaw.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

She Shall Have Murder by Delano Ames

Title: She Shall Have Murder
Author: Delano Ames
Publication: Rue Morgue Press, paperback, originally published in 1948
Genre: Mystery/series
Setting: 20th century London
Description: Jane Hamish is a law clerk for a firm of London solicitors that seems to specialize in real estate. It was the frequent visits of the paranoid Mrs. Robjohn and the urging of her boyfriend that inspired Jane to consider writing a thriller in her spare time, although she had not got round to it when an actual murder takes place.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

My April 2022 Reads

Historical Fiction

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (2021) – Historical fiction set at Bletchley Park during WWII which follows three unlikely friends during the war and beyond. I had been saving this for months, so was pleased when my book group decided to read it. For once, everyone seemed to enjoy our choice!  I did not review this because many had already done so very eloquently!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Take a Bow
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication: Scholastic, hardcover, 2012
Genre: Young Adult
Setting: New York
Description: Emme, Sophie, Carter and Ethan are seniors at an exclusive performing arts high school in New York. Emme is a talented songwriter whose songs are usually performed by her friend Sophie.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

WWW Wednesday – April 27

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

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

Tonight I started a book called Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg about four friends who are students (or rivals) at a performing arts high school in New York. It has all the drama of Glee but the characters seem more believable. I enjoyed the author’s Prom & Prejudice several years ago.
I am also reading The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay as I hope to visit Bletchley Park in June.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Highland Rebel by Sally Watson #1954Club

Title: Highland Rebel
Author: Sally Watson
Illustrator: Scott Maclain
Publication: Image Cascade, paperback, originally published in 1954
Genre: Juvenile Historical Fiction
Setting: Scotland, 1745
Description: Lauren Cameron may be a girl in a family of claymore wielding Scottish warriors but she knows how to use a rapier and dreams of defending Bonnie Prince Charlie and fighting the British.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron #1954Club

Title: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet
Author: Eleanor Cameron
Publication: Little, Brown & Company, hardcover, 1954
Genre: Juvenile fantasy
Setting: 20th century California
This review is for the #1954Club, hosted by StuckinaBook and Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, in which bloggers are invited to read and review books that were published in a chosen year.

Description: David Topman is reading Dr. Doolittle in the Moon when his father sees a notice in the newspaper:
WANTED: A small space ship about eight feet long, built by a boy or two boys, between the ages of eight and eleven.

Friday, April 22, 2022

The Native Heath by Elizabeth Fair #1954Club

Title: The Native Heath
Author: Elizabeth Fair
Publication: Furrowed Middlebrow, Dean Street Press, paperback, originally published in 1954
Genre: Fiction
Setting: 20th century Northern England
Description: Julia Dunstan, a recent widow of a certain age, is delighted to learn she has inherited her uncle’s home, Belmont House, in the village of Goatstock.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis #1954Club #Narniathon21

Title: The Horse and His Boy
Author: C.S. Lewis
Publication: Puffin, paperback, originally published in 1954
Genre: Juvenile fantasy/series
Setting: South of Narnia
Description: Shasta, a poor fisherman’s son in Calormen, Narnia’s traditional frenemy, is used to the abuse he gets from his alleged father, Arsheesh, but when a Tarkaan (great lord) demands hospitality and offers to purchase Shasta, he is afraid it might be out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Cuckoo in Spring by Elizabeth Cadell #1954Club

Title: The Cuckoo in Spring
Author: Elizabeth Cadell
Publication: Thorndike Press, hardcover, 1954
Genre: Fiction
Setting: 20th century England
This review is for the #1954Club, hosted by StuckinaBook and Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, in which bloggers are invited to read and review books that were published in a specific year.

Description: Edwin Hurst and his son, Oliver, solicitors, have an eccentric client in Yorkshire who wants his paintings valued. They persuade Oliver’s brother Julian, an art dealer, to undertake the project, which Julian does only because there might be something worthwhile and because he plans to visit his godmother in Scotland afterward for a lively house party.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston #1954Club

Title: The Children of Green Knowe
Author: L.M. Boston
Illustrator: Peter Boston
Publication: Harcourt, paperback, originally published in 1954
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Setting: 20th century Cambridgeshire
Description: As the story begins, Toseland is on a train (alone at 7 years old; times have certainly changed) going to visit his great-grandmother after the autumn term at school. It is December and there is flooding at the station: he is picked up by taxi but then taken by boat by the family retainer, Boggis, to a manor house that is lit up against the darkness.

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff #1954Club

This is a special guest review of The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff for the #1954Club, hosted by StuckinaBook and Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, from my mother, Stephanie Martin, in honor of one of her favorite authors:
When I made my long-anticipated visit to Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, I knew a lot about the history and archaeology of the area, but I wasn’t thinking about any of that. My mind was focused on a young Roman soldier named Marcus whom I had read about years before. And that goes to show that when Rosemary Sutcliff’s characters get a grip on you, they never let go.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

I’m Deborah Sampson by Patricia Clapp

Title: I’m Deborah Sampson
Author: Patricia Clapp
Publication: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., hardcover, 1977
Genre: Juvenile historical fiction
Setting: 18th century Massachusetts and New York
Description: In this historical novel about Deborah Sampson, the Massachusetts native who famously disguised herself as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War, Clapp provides a convincing background for Sampson’s decision to enlist and her ability to carry out such an improbable undertaking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Spell the Month in Books – April 2022

Spell the Month in Books is the creation of Reviews From the Stacks and usually occurs on the second Saturday of each month, so I am late but intrigued:

Monday, April 11, 2022

Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie

Title: Murder in Three Acts (US title), aka Three Act Tragedy (UK title)
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication: Dodd, Mead & Co., hardcover, 1934
Genre: Mystery
Setting: 20th century Great Britain
Description: Sir Charles Cartwright is a retired actor who has built a charming home in Cornwall where he enjoys entertaining.  At a house party that includes guests from London as well as locals, his secretary warns the group will be 13 at dinner unless she joins them.

Friday, April 8, 2022

It's Better to Be Feared by Seth Wickersham

Title: It’s Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness
Author: Seth Wickersham
Publication: W.W. Norton & Company, hardcover, 2021
Genre: Sports/Nonfiction
Description: Wickersham, a writer for ESPN, has chronicled the story of the Patriots football team from 2001 when Tom Brady became its quarterback through 2020 when he left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During that time frame and through the Patriots’ success, many speculated whether Tom and his dour coach, Bill Belichick, were successful because of each other and how each would fare if on his own.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

My March 2022 Reads

Children’s Books

Which Way is Home by Maria Kiely (2020) - A debut novel about a family escaping Czechoslovakia after the 1948 Communist takeover, based on the author's mother who was the co-master of Adams House at Harvard when I was in college.

Monday, April 4, 2022

The Bound Girl by Nan Denker, set in Colonial Boston

Title: The Bound Girl
Author: Nan Denker
Publication: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, hardcover, 1957
Genre: Juvenile Historical Fiction
Setting: Colonial Massachusetts, 1712
Description: Félicie Charreau fled France with her father, an affluent textile merchant, and uncle when the persecution of Huguenots under Louis XIV became too intense for them to ignore. But when her father dies on the voyage and her uncle hears there are French agents waiting to arrest him in Boston, he slips away and the kindly sea captain promises to place the girl with a good family.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Six Degrees of Separation – from Our Wives Under the Sea to Joan Aiken's Kingdom . . .

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 Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (2022), described as “fathomlessly inventive” by the publisher, if you like puns.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Title: The Silver Chair
Author: C.S. Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
Publication: Puffin, paperback, originally published in 1953
Genre: Juvenile Fantasy/Series
Setting: Narnia
Description: Eustace Scrubb, cousin of the better-known Pevensie children from the earlier Narnia books, was introduced in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace attends a progressive co-ed boarding school (clearly despised by Lewis, although it is hard to tell which horrifies him more, coeducation or progressive education; maybe it’s a tie) with Jill Pole.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Jeannie's War by Carol MacLean

Title: Jeannie’s War
Author: Carol MacLean
Publication: Hera Books, ebook, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: WWII Scotland
Description: It is 1939 and the country is now at war with Germany. Jeannie Dougal lives with her widowed mother and siblings on Kiltie Street in the Glasgow tenements. Her younger brother and sister have been evacuated to the countryside with other children while 15-year-old Kathy yearns to be grown up and is cruising for a bruising.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Ash Grove, a Welsh folk tune

At Mass this morning, I noticed in the hymnal that the recessional, “Let All Things Now Living,” uses the tune of “The Ash Grove,” a Welsh folk tune, which made me start thinking about the Wales Readathon sponsored by Paula at Book Jotter.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Literary Trails, British Writers in Their Landscapes by Christina Hardyment

Title: Literary Trails
Author: Christina Hardyment
Publication: The National Trust/Harry N. Abrams, hardcover, 2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardyment is a British writer who more than shares my love of literary pilgrimages. This oversized, illustrated book contains eight chapters of essays, pictures, vignettes about particular authors, timelines, maps, and more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

WWW Wednesday – March 23

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

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
After seeing a New York Times review, my sister Andrea recommended The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk, a mystery set in the rare books department of a large university.

Monday, March 21, 2022

The Case of the Dotty Dowager by Cathy Ace – Reading Wales 2022

Title: The Case of the Dotty Dowager
Author: Cathy Ace
Publication: Severn House, hardcover, 2015
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Present-day Wales
Description: The Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth claims she found a dead body in her dining room in the middle of the night but when her son arrived to check it out, the room was empty.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

Title: They Came to Baghdad
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication: Pan paperback, originally published in 1951
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Iraq
Description: After Victoria Jones loses an office job she did not much like in the first place, she is contemplating her prospects when she encounters Edward, a handsome young man about to take up a new position in Baghdad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Hotel Portofino by J.P. O'Connell, coming soon on PBS

Title: Hotel Portofino
Author: J.P. O’Connell
Publication: Blackstone Publishing, hardcover, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: Italian Riviera, 1926
Description: Bella Ainsworth set her heart on opening an upscale hotel in Italy – she thinks the change of scenery will solve all family’s troubles –so has coaxed them all to Portofino: her caddish husband, Cecil, who married her for her money; their son Lucian, who nearly died in the Great War, and has still not fully recovered; their spiteful daughter Alice, widowed in the war; and Alice’s daughter, Lottie.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan: for Reading Ireland Month

Title: The Good Turn
Author: Dervla McTiernan
Publication: Blackstone Publishing, trade paperback, 2021
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Setting: Present-day Ireland
Description: Three separate storylines are deftly brought together in the most recent book by Dervla McTiernan, an Irish writer who now lives in Australia. The story begins with Anna and her suddenly mute 9-year-old, clearly in trouble.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Kate Hardy by D.E. Stevenson – an unexpected look at class

Title: Kate Hardy
Author: D.E. Stevenson
Publication: Dean Street Press, paperback, 2022 (originally 1947)
Genre: Fiction
Setting: English countryside
Description: Richard Morven is surprised when someone buys the Dower House he has put on the market sight-unseen and everyone in the village of Old Quinings is agog to see Kate Hardy when she moves in. When he calls on his new neighbor, Richard is immediately captivated by the outgoing woman he guesses to be about 30.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Carrie's War by Nina Bawden – based on the author's WWII evacuation to Wales

Title: Carrie’s War
Author: Nina Bawden
Publication: J.B. Lippincott Company, hardcover, 1973
Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction
Setting: WWII Wales
US cover
Description: Like many other London children in 1939, Carrie and Nick Willow were evacuated from war-torn London for safety with a case each, gas masks slung over their shoulders, and their names on cards around their neck like labels.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Six Degrees of Separation – from The End of the Affair to Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words

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 The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951), who was one of my grandmother’s favorite writers.  

Thursday, March 3, 2022

My February 2022 Reads

Seven of my nineteen February books were rereads, a much higher percentage than usual; indicating some comfort reading, I suppose. Sometimes with Elizabeth Cadell and D.E. Stevenson, one can’t tell if it was read before until halfway through as both were prolific and the titles sometimes sound interchangeable even when the stories are distinctive.  But my favorite new-to-me read was Dead Wake by Erik Larson, the story of the Lusitania’s last voyage, which I highly recommend.

King Cake

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Title: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Author: C.S. Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
Publication: Puffin paperback; originally published in 1952
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Setting: Narnia
Description: When Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are forced to spend the summer holidays with their dreaded cousin, Eustace Scrubb, they try to avoid him by hiding out in Lucy’s room and talking about Narnia, the country they have visited twice.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet

Title: Death of a Cozy Writer
Author: G. M. Malliet
Publication: Chivers, paperback, 2008
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Present-day England, near Cambridge
Description: When Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, a bestselling mystery author, writes to each of his adult children and his ex-wife, inviting them to his wedding, no one thinks he is planning a pleasant family reunion.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd

Title: Time at the Top
Author: Edward Ormondroyd
Illustrator: Peggie Bach
Publication: Bantam Skylark paperback, originally published by Parnassus Press, 1963
Genre: Juvenile fantasy
Setting: 20th century, United States, probably New York
Description: One Wednesday in March, late in the afternoon, Susan Shaw vanished from the Ward Street apartment house in which she lived with her father.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

WWW Wednesday – February 23, 2022

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

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
I just started Mercy by David Baldacci (2021) about FBI agent, Atlee Pine, who has been searching through three previous books for her twin sister, Mercy, abducted at the age of six and never seen again.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Child Life Mystery-Adventure Book: Stories for Boys and Girls

Title: Child Life Mystery-Adventure Book
Author: Compiled by Marjorie Barrows and Frances Cavanah
Publication: Rand McNally & Company, hardcover, 1936
Genre: Children’s Short Story Collection
Description: Child Life was an illustrated American children's magazine that began in 1922 and contained stories, games, people profiles, and other columns. It was incorporated into Children’s Digest in the 1960s, which stopped publishing in 2009. I can’t tell if this volume of adventure stories was specially commissioned or was a compilation from that year’s issues. There are some prominent names included: writer-illustrators Genevieve Foster (a Newbery Honor recipient four times) and Marguerite de Angeli (Newbery Award winner in 1950 for The Door in the Wall).

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Title: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Author: Erik Larson
Narrator: Scott Brick
Publication: Random House, audiobook, 2015
Genre: History
Description: The Lusitania was a British-owned luxury ocean liner that departed from New York for Liverpool on May 1, 1915, carrying nearly 2000 individuals, of whom 1,265 were passengers.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Bluebird by Sharon Cameron – a German teen comes to post-war NYC on a revenge mission

Title: Bluebird
Author: Sharon Cameron
Publication: Scholastic, hardcover, 2021
Genre: YA historical fiction
Setting: WWII II Germany, Post WWII America
Description: Arriving in New York from Germany in 1946 with her friend Brigit under her wing, seventeen-year-old Eva has a deadly mission.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Death of a Valentine: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M.C. Beaton

Title: Death of a Valentine: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery
Author: M.C. Beaton
Publication: Grand Central Publishing, hardcover, 2010
Genre: Mystery
Setting: 21st century Scotland
Description: Hamish Macbeth is a comically unambitious police sergeant in the small town of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands, where he is surrounded by eccentric locals who know nearly everything about each other’s business and clearly invent the rest.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

The Light Heart by Elswyth Thane, one of the Williamsburg Novels

Title: The Light Heart
Author: Elswyth Thane
Publication: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, hardcover, 1947
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: America, Great Britain, Germany
Description: The fourth Williamsburg novel is about Phoebe Sprague, daughter of Sedgwick from Yankee Stranger and great-great-granddaughter of Julian Day, hero of Dawn’s Early Light. An aspiring writer, she has just turned 21 and is invited to travel to London with her Murray cousins for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022

I have decided to join the Book Bingo Reading Challenge at Unruly Reader. I learned about this challenge from Cath at Read-warbler and Tracy at Bitter Tea and Mystery who are very ambitious/adventurous in their reading while I tend to alternate between my library books and my TBR (now on a cart to help me prioritize, although there are piles everywhere). Then I realized I had the perfect book to start me off next week, so here we are!

How to Play Book Bingo 2022:

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd

Title: The Cardboard Crown
Author: Martin Boyd (1893-1972)
Publication: Text Publishing, trade paperback, originally published in 1952
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: England and Australia
Description: Guy Langton, the narrator and author’s alter ego, is a writer who fought in WWI and became a published author in England. When he returns to Australia in 1949, he tries to restore his grandparents’ home, Westhill, about 30 miles from Melbourne, but he realizes this project isn’t really helping him reestablish his roots.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar

Title: Midnight in Everwood
Author: M.A. Kuzniar
Publication: HarperCollins, 2022, hardcover
Genre: Historical fiction/fantasy
Setting: Nottingham, England 1906
Description: Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered because her father has decreed that she must give up ballet when she turns 21.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Six Degrees of Separation – from No One is Talking About This to Rachel's Holiday

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 No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (2021). It's a Booker Award Finalist novel about manipulation, human interdependence, and social media which I haven’t read.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

My January 2022 Reads

I only read fiction last month (not counting books used for graduate school research) and my favorites were Love at First Spite, The Lost Love Song, and The Girls I’ve Been (see below). Hmm, maybe I should have saved some of this love for February 14th!

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke (2021) – A quirky, appealing story about a song that is passed from musician to musician around the world, building bridges and reuniting lost souls, until it returns to the grieving boyfriend of the woman who wrote it.