Monday, May 15, 2023

My April 2023 Reads

April was a busy and varied month that I nearly forgot to share (I guess I did forget my March summary!). One book, in particular, stayed in my mind. I did not have a chance to review Wrong Place, Wrong Time, which I listened to while commuting and found somewhat compelling as the heroine finds herself reliving previous days in her life in a desperate attempt to change something that happened. My sister Clare read it about the same time (unplanned, as sometimes happens) but did not like it much. However, this is one that grew on me and I decided it was well done.

The Wrong Good Deed by Caroline Cooney (2023). Clemmie’s neighbor Muffin freaks out when she sees someone from her past at her church, and it turns out she has a secret someone might like to keep hidden forever.  Clemmie is caught in the middle. This is a sequel to Before She Was Helen. My review.

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie (1945). George’s wife Rosemary died tragically a year ago, and at the time it was ruled suicide. Now George has received several anonymous letters saying it was murder and he is investigating – which could be dangerous.  This was for ReadChristie23.  The May book was one she wrote as Mary Westmacott which do not appeal to me.  My review.
Lightning by Dean Koontz (1988) (audio). Laura Shane has a secret guardian who appears mysteriously during moments of great crisis to protect her. The only clue that danger approaches is dramatic lightning that Laura learns to fear.  Okay, I will admit I am not always discriminating about my audiobooks because sometimes the ones I want are delayed at the library.

Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh (1940).  When the Lampreys' unpleasant uncle turns them down for a loan and is subsequently murdered while leaving their building, they are the obvious suspects and it takes Roderick Alleyn to untangle their misrepresentations.  My review.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister (2022) (audio). Late one night, Jen looks out the window and sees her son kill a man. Horrified and desperate to protect him, she finds herself in a time loop, going back in time, a day at a time. She hopes this is her opportunity to change something that led to that fatal night but she is operating in the dark.  This was very British which not everyone likes as much as I do.
Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone (2022) (audio). When Ariel wakes up in her Lisbon hotel, her husband is missing and left no note. The police and US Embassy think she is either overreacting or that he has left her. Then Ariel gets a ransom note that warns her not to go to the police and she realizes she is on her own if she wants to save him. My review.

Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth (1929). Returning to Britain four years after his fiancĂ©e Margaret broke off their engagement, Charles finds a secret meeting taking place in his home. He would call the police on the masked man and his gang except that Margaret is with them!  This is Miss Silver's first appearance.  My review.

A Game of Snakes and Ladders by Doris Langley Moore (1938). Two women attached to a theatrical company in Egypt are friends but suddenly Daisy’s fortunes improve while Lucy’s spiral downward out of control. Will Lucy ever be able to afford a ticket back to England? My review.


The Naughtiest Girl in the School by Enid Blyton (1940). In one of Blyton’s popular boarding school series, Elizabeth vows to behave so badly at the Whyteleaf School that she will be expelled and sent home. But what if school turns out to be more fun than she expected? Is it too late to reform? My review.
Blue Willow by Doris Gates (1940). For the last five years, since Janey’s father lost their ranch in Texas, the family has traveled from place to place while he worked temporary jobs. Janey’s one valuable possession is a china plate in the famous Blue Willow pattern but she won’t unpack it until they have a real home. This book was a runner-up for the Newbery Award as the best children’s book of 1941. In my review, I also explain how this book once got me a job!

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (1940). In which Betsy Ray meets Tacy Kelly for the first time and they become lifelong friends. First in the famous Betsy-Tacy series!  You could say this book and the friends I have made through the BT community changed my life.  My review.

Too Bright to See by Kyle Luboff (2021). After Bug’s uncle dies, the ghosts in the spooky old house she and her mother live in become more disturbing and she slowly realizes that there is a message about her own identity that needs to be grasped. This was a predictable but sweet story about transgender youth. The author did an event in Boston last month but it was on a Friday afternoon so I was not able to attend.
Six-Dinner Sid by Inga Moore (1991).  In this beguiling picture book, Sid is a cat who lives in multiple houses on Aristotle Road so he can dine at each - until he get caught.  My review.

Historical Fiction

The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier (1931 ). In her first novel, du Maurier captured the struggles of a shipbuilding family in Cornwall and her own passionate love of the sea. This was for Heaven-Ali's annual Daphne du Maurier Reading Week.  My review.
Lavender Road by Helen Carey (1995). First in a series set in South London during WWII, this book focuses on the families who live on this narrow block, from the affluent Rutherfords at one end to the ne’er do well Carters. Mr. Carter is in prison, forcing his wife to go clean for the Rutherfords. My review.


The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor-The Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown (2022). The inside story of the British royal family's battle to overcome the dramas of the Diana years, only to confront new, twenty-first-century crises. This was a very enjoyable read right before the Coronation (yes, of course, I got up at 5 am to watch).
Capital Kaleidoscope by Frances Parkinson Keyes (1940). Better known for her lengthy historical novels, this book is a memoir of Keyes’ life in DC as a senator’s wife in the 1930s. My favorite parts were her interactions with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. I had thought they did not get along but I was wrong.  My review.

England Was an Island Once by Elswyth Thane (1940). Thane, one of my favorite authors, was originally from Iowa but became an obsessive Anglophile, traveling to Britain frequently for research and vacations. She wrote this book just as WWII was looming over London so Americans would understand the importance of the war. My review.


A Springtime Affair by Katie Fforde (2020). Gilly Claire and her daughter Helena are too busy for romance, Gilly with her B&B and Helena with her art, but they unexpectedly are swept off their feet by two men, one suitable and one not. In addition, Gilly’s son is trying to bully her to sell the B&B to fund a lavish new home for his family. I bought this in Wells last June as a few hours with Fforde is always enjoyable and I appreciate her more mature heroines now I am closer to their age.

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer (1940). When Sir Richard Wyndham sees a youth climbing out a window to escape his home, he knows he should ring the front doorbell and turn him in. But he has his own reasons for wanting to get out of London, so they are soon heading to the country on an adventure – and the young man turns out to be a young woman! My review.
The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson (2022). Maggie has never been able to hold onto a job but when her best friend asks her to manage her bookstore while she is out on maternity leave, Maggie agrees, although she is not a reader and does not approve of the shop’s classics-only rule. Maggie’s plotting to make the bookstore and town more commercial are entertaining although it bothered me that her friend trusted her and she was jeopardizing that friend’s livelihood and reputation. This book was on a lot of Best of 2022 lists but I found it hard to like Maggie, I didn’t like the way she made fun of the classics or broke into places that would get her boyfriend in trouble, so it was only a 3 for me.


Cath said...

Wow, you had an 'excellent' reading month, I love how eclectic your choices were. I'm attracted by The Palace Papers as I'm still feeling the royal thing after The Coronation. It was all so amazing. I can't believe it was only just over a week ago. I also like the sound of A Game of Snakes and Ladders and that cover is gorgeous. The Corinthian has been one of my favourite GHs for ages. I'm just reading a book you read a few weeks back, Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn. And I'm also probably going to read Horse by Geraldine Brooks for a challenge this month - I seem to recall you liked that a lot.

CLM said...

I saw you are reading Killers of a Certain Age and I am eager to hear what you thought about it. My book group discussed The Thursday Murder Club last night and although I was inside finishing the dinner preparations part of the time, everyone seemed to like it a lot. Writing about older characters seems very trendy (there was also an Elly Griffiths recently).

We got very ambitious and decided on Middlemarch for next time but decided to read it in two segments because it is *very* long!