I really enjoyed this new book and direction by Deborah Coonts. Not a mystery, but a story about starting over/fresh with a new project and the possibility of love. Sophia Stone, a widow of five years, has been caring for inherited grapevines from her grandfather, and she is on the brink of a new wine. Nico Treviani is a winemaker for a large winery that wants to sell lots of wine inexpensively, and seems not to care much about its taste. Nico also has recent tragedy in his life; the death of his brother is the loss of a best friend, and a gain of custody of his twin 13 year old nieces. Thanks to Sophia’s daughter, who works for Nico, Sophia’s wine meets Nico, who finds the missing link to make it great. Looming over the project is the possibility of Sophia losing her vines, and Nico losing his job. Can these two people, and their families figure out how to make great wine together?
I loved this book, and as it’s the beginning of a series set in California’s wine country, I’m looking forward to the next book! This was sent to me by the author and her publicist for a review....more
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig was a lot of fun for this reader. It combined romance, adventure and mystery in a classic RegencyThe Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig was a lot of fun for this reader. It combined romance, adventure and mystery in a classic Regency setting.
Gwendolyn Meadows has been second-in-command to the spy the Pink Carnation in Paris. She returns to England to help find the Pink Carnation's younger sister who has gone missing from her boarding school. Young Agnes has run away accompanied by her friend Lizzy, whose father has returned from India to be with his daughters. Gwen ends up joining Lizzy's father, William Reid, and together, with compatriots, they search the English countryside for the girls.
Gwen and William's adventures include witty banter, each taking care of the other as situations arise, and a romance begins despite their worries.
One of the best things about this book for me was the age of the characters. Gwen admits to being in her forties, and William is in his fifties. Yet they are not kept on the shelf or made to be comic characters on the sidelines. This is their story and their romance is front and center. As a reader in my late forties, I thank the author for writing this particular book.
Happy Reading! Patti
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig 2013 Penguin 9780451414724
This book was sent to me for review by Penguin; no other compensation was offered or accepted for this review.
I am a lucky reader of an advance reader's copy of Benediction by Kent Haruf. I fell in love with Kent's writing and characters with Plainsong, which remains my favorite of his books.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bene... defines benediction as 1. A blessing. 2. An invocation of divine blessing, usually at the end of a church service, among several other definitions. These two I feel are most appropriate to this book.
As with other books by Mr. Haruf, this book has several storylines: the end of Dad Lewis's life as he succumbs to cancer; the story of young Alice as she adjusts to living with her grandmother, neighbor to the Lewis's; how a minister and his family come to an early end of his career; and how a older mother and daughter move in and out of the lives of these people of Holt, Colorado.
There is sadness in this book, but also happy moments, as people come together, and look over the good moments in their respective lives. Regrets exist too, but those are there for everyone.
I believe the title Benediction refers to the blessing that people can be in other people's lives. Almost all of these characters are a blessing to each other. It's what we can do for others, and what we can appreciate when others do for us.
Happy Reading, Patti
Benediction by Kent Haruf 2013 Knopf ISBN 9780307959881
This book was sent to me for review by Knopf; no other compensation was offered or accepted for this review....more
Stories and information about the Titanic will be popular this year, with the 100th anniversary of the iceberg tragedy occurring on April 14. The DresStories and information about the Titanic will be popular this year, with the 100th anniversary of the iceberg tragedy occurring on April 14. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is one of those stories.
Tessa Collins is a talented seamstress who has been working as a housemaid as the novel opens. She seizes an opportunity to leave employment, and is very lucky to obtain new employment as a lady's maid to famed designer Lucile Duff Gordon who is sailing with her husband on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Lucile begins to teach Tessa things about design as the ship travels to America, but also blows hot and cold; Lucile can seem quite friendly, then distances herself. Tessa also meets two very different men, Jack Bremerton who is a self-made man on his second divorce, and Jim Bonny who is a sailor on this voyage.
Then the Titanic hits the iceberg, and many things happen under the dark of night. Tessa is separated from her benefactors, but makes it into a lifeboat, caring for two young boys whose father stayed on the ship. The Duff Gordons and Jim end up in the same lifeboat, where all does not go as it should.
Tess is reunited with Duff Gordons on the Carpathia, and stays with them at the Waldorf-Astoria as their lives are sorted out. Tess begins to work again with Lucile at her design studio as they prepare for their spring show. Despite all the kindnesses shown to Tess by Lucile, Tess begins to see that, according to Lucile, the world and its truths must revolve around Lucile, and Tess has quite a decision to make.
The Dressmaker is an involving novel on several fronts; it delves into the trial that occurs regarding the sinking of the Titanic, and also into the world of couture and design on the brink of change and World War I. These fronts are joined by romance as two men show great interest in Tess. Ms. Alcott weaves these threads together quite well, and the result is pleasing.
Restless in the Grave is another terrific book by Dana Stabenow, who is one of my favorite authors. This book features both of Ms. Stabenow's AlaskanRestless in the Grave is another terrific book by Dana Stabenow, who is one of my favorite authors. This book features both of Ms. Stabenow's Alaskan series characters, Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell.
It is State Trooper Liam who indirectly contacts Kate to go undercover to solve the murder of a wealthy aviation businessman, Finn Grant. Grant had alienated almost everyone in his town by buying them out to turn it into a destination for hunters and other explorers of the Alaskan wilderness. Kate goes to work at the main bar in town, and manages to ask a few questions and is working on answers when things start to get a little too interesting for her. The apartment she is renting is search, and as Kate interrupts that search, she is shoved into deep freezer. She escapes from that, but other situations occur to let her know she is being too nosy. It takes a few more near-misses for Kate to get to the bottom of what is going on and why Finn Grant was killed.
As a fan of Dana Stabenow, it was wonderful for me that she brought Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell together to solve a crime. I consider Kate to be one of the strongest characters in crime fiction; strong of heart and strong physically. She is a hero of mine and I live vicariously through her with every installment of this series.
Another strong character in this series is Kate's dog Mutt. She is part wolf, and all partner to Kate. In Restless in the Grave, Mutt proves time and again that she is an equal partner to Kate in their relationship.
I can't recommend enough that readers start at the beginning of this series, although this is the 19th entry in the series. Learning all about Kate Shugak and her Alaska is wonderful story. That said, Restless in the Grave can stand alone; long time series characters are introduced easily, and the reader should not feel they're missing much by not having read the previous books.
I highly recommend Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow, and look forward to hearing other readers' opinions on this excellent book....more
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma is very much about the promise (also known as The Streak), and the relationship AThe Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma is very much about the promise (also known as The Streak), and the relationship Alice had with her father. The books are mentioned, some having more meaning than others, but it is Alice and her father that we are reading about.
The Reading Promise was made when Alice was in elementary school, and the goal was to read for 1000 nights. And so Alice and her father (who was an elementary school librarian) sat down to read together every night from that night until Alice went away to college. This occasionally presented some challenges; Alice had her father read to her when she was all dressed up and ready for the prom, as she would not be home later to be read to. Alice's father did all the reading, and worked hard at making the the stories and characters interesting.
A promise such as this is a great one to make with those who have children; I have even heard of couples who read aloud together in the evenings. I very much recommend this book.
Everyone should be reading Deborah Coonts!!! So Damn Lucky, the third in the Lucky O'Toole series set in Las Vegas, is damn good! Lucky O'Toole is a hEveryone should be reading Deborah Coonts!!! So Damn Lucky, the third in the Lucky O'Toole series set in Las Vegas, is damn good! Lucky O'Toole is a hard-working, smart, funny, occasionally insecure and brilliant at her job as Head of Customer Relations at the fictitious Hotel Babylon.
Lucky does have her romantic issues in this series entry, but it never stands in the way of customer service. Other exciting things going on include a conference of Area 51 believers, Halloween weekend, and a group of magicians, one of whom ends up being murdered. And Lucky's parents, her mother a madam of a local brothel and her father the owner of the Hotel Babylon decide to get married, mostly because of their deep love for each other, but Lucky's mother is also pregnant. Lucky's cup does runneth over.
In my opinion, Lucky O'Toole is who Stephanie Plum wants to be (I know I may get flak for that statement, but I stand by it). Lucky is a strong character, with a lot of common sense and wise customer service skills. She also has good investigative skills, which draws her into the magician's murder, and several other small mysteries.
So Damn Lucky stands alone well, but readers will enjoy the previous entries in the series, Wanna Get Lucky and Lucky Stiff. Highly enjoyable and highly recommended!!! ...more
A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch is the fifth book in the Charles Lenox series, which takes place in England in the 1870. Charles Lenox is a former prA Burial at Sea by Charles Finch is the fifth book in the Charles Lenox series, which takes place in England in the 1870. Charles Lenox is a former private detective who now serves his country in Parliament. He has been asked by his brother, also of Parliament, to publicly go to Egypt to see the Suez Canal, but privately, he will also be investigating the death of several English spies.
Charles sets sail on the Lucy, on his first true sea voyage, and he is the only passenger. In the middle of his first night on board, a the well-liked second lieutenant is found dead on deck. This is truly a locked room mystery, and whoever killed the second lieutenant must still be on board. Everyone is a suspect, and it makes for a very tense voyage. Charles is determined to solve this murder, as well as trying to prevent any other incidents from occurring.
I found the hierarchy on ship to be very interesting, and the fact that Charles and other officers were able to bring their own food and drink was surprising to me. Mr. Finch did a wonderful job of describing life aboard ship, and the schedule that keeps everything shipshape is stringent, but with a strong purpose.
The story takes some excellent twists and turns, right up until the end. This is a mystery with a terrific adventure! Recommended!
Wicked Autumn is the first of Agatha Award-winning author G. M. Malliet's books I've had the opportunity to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
For me, it wWicked Autumn is the first of Agatha Award-winning author G. M. Malliet's books I've had the opportunity to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
For me, it was a combination of a cozy murder mystery and a village story (like the Miss Read stories, which I adore). Max Tudor is a former MI-5 agent turned Anglican priest. He is still adjusting to his new parish of Nether Monkslip when the village's self-appointed organizer of all things, especially the annual Harvest Fayre, Wanda Batton-Smythe is murdered. Many secrets of Nether Monkslip and its residents are brought to light in the process of solving the murder.
This a slow-moving book, taking its time to introduce the reader to the main and minor characters and the village they reside in. I enjoyed getting to know Max Tudor's character especially how he came to the priesthood.
Now that I've met Max Tudor and the residents of Nether Monkslip, I look forward to returning....more
Sirensong is the book that's taking me back into reviewing young adult novels. Jenna Black's Sirensong is the third in her Faeriewalker series, and I was very brave and started with this volume; I prefer to start at the beginning of a series. I'm glad I didn't wait.
Dana Hathaway is a Faeriewalker; she is part human, part Faerie. She lives in Avalon, a sort of no-man's land between those two worlds. Dana's father is a politician of sorts, and when Dana is invited to be presented at the Seelie Court in Faerie, he insists on the trip. The trip is a hazardous one, with lots of warring magic and other troubles. Dana is not supposed to have any magical powers, but she does, and she keeps it hidden until it becomes absolutely necessary.
There is a lot of magic, characters, creatures, species, adventure, danger and heroism in this book. The first two books must be interesting also, to build this world.
Slight problems I had with this book were popular culture references; they jolted me out of the story several times, and weren't necessary to the plot.
Definitely recommended for fantasy readers....more
What a wonderful book! The Night Circus completely takes you away into the world of a very special circus and the magic that creates it and holds it tWhat a wonderful book! The Night Circus completely takes you away into the world of a very special circus and the magic that creates it and holds it together.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is the story of two magicians who bet that each of them can teach a young person with magical talent to win a competition. Ms. Morgenstern brings these two young people together with a circus that is partially created to showcase their talents. Each of them contributes to its ongoing success. The night circus, Le Cirque des Rêves is an amazing concoction itself--its only colors are black and white, it's only open at night, and it is different from any other circus that visits one's town; truly magical. Not only does it change the lives of those in the circus, but it affects the lives of those who attend and who were part of its creation.
I've been trying to think of a book that takes you somewhere as completely as this one did for me, and I haven't been able to think of it. There are other books that I have read that have done so, but my memory seems unreliable at this writing.
This is a beautiful fantasy, a love story, an adventure, and a tribute to magic and to circuses.
Thanks to HarperCollins, I now have another author to read. They very kindly sent a review copy to me of Alafair Burke's Long Gone. And I'm hooked.
LonThanks to HarperCollins, I now have another author to read. They very kindly sent a review copy to me of Alafair Burke's Long Gone. And I'm hooked.
Long Gone is the story of Alice Humphrey, the 30-something unemployed daughter of a famous (and philandering) Hollywood director. At an art gallery one evening, she is offered a dream job of opening a gallery and running it herself. The hitch is that an undisclosed owner has taken an artist under his wing, and Alice must open the gallery with that artist's exhibit. She agrees to these conditions, then discovers that the art could be considered to be pornographic. The opening goes forward, but is picketed by a religious group. Two days after the gallery's opening, Alice is to meet the owner's go-between at the gallery; she shows up, only to find the gallery completely cleaned out, no sign of any occupancy, except for the dead body on the floor.
This is only the beginning of Alice's nightmare. She wants to trust the police, but she's their prime suspect. Eventually the nightmare evolves to encompass her family, her friends, a missing girl and the FBI. What I appreciated about this suspenseful story is that despite all that happens to her, Alice usually takes a split moment to think through her actions, and her safety; this is not always the way in suspense novels.
I'm happy to report that Harlan Coben has made a successful jump from adult mysteries and thrillers to young adult mysteries!
Shelter is the story of Mickey Bolitar (nephew of Myron Bolitar, protagonist of Coben's adult mystery series) as he adjusts to a completely new life with his uncle. Mickey has recently lost his father, his mother is in drug rehab, so Mickey is starting a new high school in his sophomore year. He meets the beautiful and sweet Ashley during orientation, but after only a week or so of school, she disappears. Mickey starts asking questions about her, as well as checking into the interesting house nearby. The house supposedly belongs to the Bat Lady, and it's one of those creepy houses that's in every neighborhood--there are rumors about it, it's not kept up, and kids dare other kids to knock on the door.
Being a new kid at school, Mickey doesn't seem to fall into any particular crowd, and starts to make friends with some of the oddballs in his class who join into his adventures. They look for Ashley, information about the death of Mickey's dad, and what's going on at the Bat Lady's house.
Shelter by Harlan Coben contains lots of suspense, along with some humor and good friendships. Recommended.
I know I told you all how much I loved The Night Circus just in the last week or so, but Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is AWESOME!
If you like:
1980s video games 1980s music, movies and television shows "Star Wars", "Star Trek" and "Firefly" Japanese anime & monster movies Dungeons & Dragons World of Warcraft Online gaming Geek heroes Wil Wheaton and Cory Doctorow
This is the book for you! I love 80s pop culture, and I played my share of Centipede and Ms Pac-Man at the arcade in the early 80s.
This is the story of Wade/Parzival and one of the greatest treasure hunts of all time. Set in the future, where the world is slowly disintegrating, one amazing man who invented all sorts of video and online games, dies, and leaves his fortune to the one who can find the treasure. This is a competition that takes years, and pits the little guy against a corporation. Wade and several friends he makes along the way, go up against a company whose sole purpose seems to be to win this competion. The clues are found in the history of the games inventor, and his fixation of all things gaming and 1980s.
I found Ready Player One to be a great quest and adventure novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the 1980s. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy gaming, a good adventure, and quite a bit of trivia. ...more
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal first attracted me because of its Regency time period setting, then for its fantasy elements. It was an interesting mix.
This first struck me as a novel of manners, and reminded me much of Jane Austen's characters and their interactions. One of the largest fantasy elements of the novel is that of "glamour" which I find a bit hard to describe, but importantly to this novel, it is a skill that young ladies should acquire, in addition to playing music, drawing and embroidery. Our heroine, Jane, is very skilled with glamour, but is just unattractive enough to be close to becoming a spinster. Her sister, Melody, is the pretty, younger sister, who despite her beaus, is actually jealous of her sister's accomplishments.
As the novel begins, the neighbors have hired a famous glamourist, Mr. Vincent (apparently, men can be skilled with this art too), to enchant their dining room while they entertain a young Army Captain. Other neighbors are active with guests as the novel progresses; Mr. Dunkirk also brings his sister Beth to visit for the summer. The book brings together society's hierarchy, romance, art, lies, jealousy and betrayal. I thought I knew where Shades of Milk and Honey was going, but I was happily deceived with a few twists in toward the end.
Recommended and I look forward to Ms. Kowal's next book....more
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was an interesting book, some of it sad, some of it very hopeful. Victoria Jones is brought up in the foster care system, but at around ten years old, Victoria is taken to Elizabeth, a foster mother who owns a vineyard. Victoria doesn't make it easy for their relationship, but as they learn from each other, they discover a love for flowers and what they mean, and together they explore the world of flowers and grapes.
Elizabeth's sister Catherine lives next door, and grows flowers. Elizabeth and Catherine are estranged, and as Elizabeth's love for Victoria grows, she realizes she wants to reconcile with Catherine. Victoria is threatened by this, causes trouble between the sisters, and is removed from Elizabeth's care, just when there was the possibility of adoption.
Victoria spends her life until age 18 back in the system, becoming very tough, but retaining her love for flowers and the meanings of each. Upon being released from foster care, she finds her way to working for a florist, and finds that her knowledge of the language of flowers brings magic to those who need the right flowers for the right relationships.
Victoria also reconnects with Catherine's son, Grant, and a relationship blooms between them. Victoria's background makes it very hard for her to maintain relationships, and they travel a tough road together and apart before they figure how the language of flowers speaks to them....more
"Grace Interrupted is an excellent title for the second Manor House Mystery by Julie Hyzy. Poor Grace is constantly interrupted as she goes about her job as Marshfield Manor's curator.
Marshfield Manor's grounds are serving as an encampment for a group of Civil War re-enactors. One of the group's members, about to be promoted to general, is killed after fighting with the Manor's gardener, Jack, and his brother, Zachary. As the police work the case from the outside, Grace sends the nosiest person she knows, her secretary Frances, undercover into the encampment. A lot of information is discovered, but Jack remains the main suspect.
Ms. Hyzy takes the reader into the beautiful Marshfield Manor and what it takes to run an tourist estate; additionally she takes the reader to a Civil War encampment and all the details involved with re-enacting. Grace and all the characters are fleshed-out, interesting, intelligent and humorous. They are an enjoyable group to spend time with, and I look forward to Grace's next adventure.
I think the titles are very appropriate for this book, Grace Interrupted, and the first in the series, Grace Under Pressure. Hmmm, maybe based on these titles Grace needs a vacation. Just until the next book comes out!"...more
Random House very kindly forwarded a copy of Dreams of Joy to me for review. I had heard of Lisa See, but hadn't read anything by her. It was also recommended to me that I read Shanghai Girls by Lisa See first, and I recommend the same to readers of Dreams of Joy. Dreams of Joy picks up immediately where Shanghai Girls leaves off.
Nineteen year old Joy runs away to China after the death of the man she knew as her father, and revelation of a deep family secret from her mother and her aunt. Joy had studied at the University of Chicago, and had heard of the great changes taking place there (1958); she travels to the homeland of her family to join the revolution.
Upon reaching China, Joy searches for and finds her birth father, who is just being transferred to a small village to teach art. Joy leaves with him, and sees how China is really living, though this does not sway her beliefs in the Great Leap Forward.
Joy's mother, Pearl, follows her to China, to find Joy and bring her back to the United States. The search, reunion and the time it takes Joy to become disillusioned with China takes several years, but Pearl stands by her daughter, displaying a mother's strong love for her child.
Both Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy are difficult reads, because of so many of the hardships the characters go through; just when you think you can breathe, something else happens. I learned a lot reading these books, but for me, the books were a little more stressful than enjoyable. Yet I kept turning the pages, wanting to know what would happen to these strong women. They are well researched and well written, and the stories told are very interesting. Recommended....more
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson is an illuminating book. I learned so much with the narIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson is an illuminating book. I learned so much with the narrow focus or window that Mr. Larson provided via the Dodd family. William Dodd becomes ambassador to Germany in Berlin in 1933, and brings his family, along with their Chevrolet with him; his wife Mattie, his son Bill Jr., and daughter Martha.
The reader is given a variety of viewpoints of the changes occurring in Berlin as Hitler becomes more and more powerful as the President’s, Paul von Hindenburg health declines. The viewpoint of the ambassador is very interesting; Mr. Dodd is a scholar and professor, slightly out of his element, but determined to do a good job for his country. Mrs. Dodd does her best in diplomatic society, somewhat restrained by her husband’s determination to live within their salary. Most diplomats of this era seem to have a wealthy background, and living within means is not an issue for them. Bill Jr. remains primarily in the background of this book. Martha, on the other hand, embraces the diplomatic circle of parties, and becomes involved with a variety of men, including a Russian spy, and is even introduced to Adolf Hitler as a possible way to get to her father.
There is so much revealed in this book of the day-to-day darkening of Berlin, and therefore Germany, as Hitler becomes more and more powerful. President Roosevelt does not seem to see the problems that Hitler presents as a leader. The “Jewish question” or “problem”, depending on what country it is being discussed, seems to be something that governments outside of Germany seem to want to approach, and Germany continues its restrictions and eventual persecutions that began before the Dodds arrived in Berlin. (Note: these are my understandings of what I read; any historical mistakes in this paragraph or review are mine).
I found this to be a somewhat frightening read, as the world knows the result of these beginnings in Berlin. What is also scary to me is that different, yet equally evil, situations have evolved in the world since World War II.
I highly recommend In the Garden of Beasts as the viewpoints of one family is a different approach to history.