Jul 9, 2014

Book Review: Tailing a Tabby by Laurie Cass

Tailing a Tabby
Tailing a Tabby  is the second in the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series by Laurie Cass, published July 1, 2014 by Signet. I have not yet read the first, Lending a Paw, but plan to soon.

What's not to love about a bookmobile, a bookmobile driver who lives on a houseboat on a lake, and a friendly cat?

Minnie Hamilton is the librarian in a small lake town in northwest lower Michigan, and Eddie is the cat who showed up one day at her bookmobile and didn't want to leave. Minnie took him in and now he's a vital part of the bookmobile, though Minnie's strict boss at the main library doesn't know about it. The bookmobile patrons love Eddie, however, so he stays.

In Tailing a Tabby, Minnie drives a famous artist, Russell McCade, in the bookmobile to the hospital after he had a sudden stroke. She becomes more involved when this artist she so admires is later discovered at the home of a murdered woman. With Eddie for company, Minnie plans to find the real murderer and save the artist from prosecution for the crime. Along the way, she also has to deal with her cantankerous library boss and a quirky aunt.

The librarian and her cat in the traveling bookmobile stick in your mind and make me eager to read future adventures featuring these two. Humor, a good plot, easy reading, likeable characters, great setting....

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book for a book tour.   

Jul 7, 2014

Book Review: The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

The Sea Garden
The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson (published June 24, 2014; Harper) is an unusual historical novel and a novel of wartime romance.

The book deals with the French resistance in Provence in WWII and the people who died and who survived it, both those resisting or collaborating with the enemy. The novel is divided into three books - The Sea Garden, The Lavender Field, and A Shadow Life, with the stories linking in the third and final book.

Book I
is set on the island of Porquerolles in the southern French Riviera, present day, where garden designer Ellie Brook travels from England to restore the gardens of an estate owned by Lauren de Fayols and his mother. The gardens overlook a bay and lighthouse through a distinctive topiary arch made of plants and trees, as seen on the book cover. Porquerolles played an important part during the wars, an island of ten forts forming a defense for the southern coast of France.

In this story, Ellie is frightened by the rantings of the matriarch of the estate, Mme. de Fayols, rantings that make no sense to Ellie. The gloom of the house and estate is foreshadowed by the death of a young man on the sea crossing to the island, by Ellie's being clawed by rose thorns on the estate, and her sense of foreboding on seeing the butterfly and moth collection in the house, insects pinned for display.
"Go. Go as soon as you can," Jeanne whispered to Ellie as she passed.
Book II
The Lavender Field, gives us a story of the French resistance in Provence against the Germans and the collaborating Vichy government. The setting is April 1944 in a village where events unfold from the point of view of a blind perfume maker, 19-year-old Marthe Lincel. Marthe comes in contact with Allied soldiers hiding from the Germans and her life is changed by her love for one of them.
"Marthe...dear sweet Marthe, its better you don't know."  
Book III 
A Shadow Life, is set in London in 1943, where Iris Nightingale, an intelligence assistance with the government, helps to send enlisted or drafted secret agents into France in the middle of the war. The question is what happened to some of them who never returned to England. The missing include Xavier Descours, a pilot. This book ties the three books together to give us a fuller picture of how the characters are linked.

My comments:
As an historical novel based on much research, The Sea Garden is very informative about a specific location - Provence during WWII. The story of the French resistance there is compelling as are the efforts of the British to infiltrate wartime France with secret operatives, a dangerous and controversial mission that cost many young people their lives.

The three main characters in the books - Ellie, Marthe, and Iris - take us into the fictional world that buoys up the historical facts and brings them into focus. Very different, these young women are interesting characters in their own way. Ellie keeps you in suspense with her fears and forebodings; Marthe, the blind perfume maker, tugs at your heart strings; and Iris' love story is heart warming.

The descriptions in the novel are delightful to read. The author has a way with words that allows you to see the views as she wants you to. Lovers of France, history, romance, and the scents of lavender will love this book!

Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter and lives in Kent, England. She and her family spend as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, the setting for her novel The Lantern and inspiration for The Sea Garden.

See the TLC tour schedule, for other reviews

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy of the book. 

Jul 6, 2014

Sunday Salon: Fireworks

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey, and Mailbox Monday each week. Also visit Tynga's Reviews at Stacking the Shelves.

Taking it easy on the last day of the holiday weekend. Gardening, swimming, cooking, and eating. And of course watched lots of unusual fireworks....on TV. This one reminds me of a giant jellyfish with long glowing tentacles....or hanging chandeliers.

One interesting book came in last week:

by Marie-Helene Bertino.
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. (publisher)
I enjoy books with precocious kids as the main characters. How about you?

Jul 4, 2014

Book Review: Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Mambo in Chinatown
Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok is set in modern day America and has several ethnicities represented in its American story of immigrants old and new.

Book beginning:
My name is Charlie Wong and I'm the daughter of a dancer and a noodle-maker. My mother was once a star ballerina at the famed Beijing Dance Academy before she ran off to marry my father, the handsomest noodle-maker in Beijing - or at least that's what she always called him before she died. Hand in hand, they escaped to America to start their family. 
Page 56:
The dress was quite modest but revealed my neck and collarbones. I understood the moment Pa paused that I'd done wrong.
"Don't you like it?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"You look like a dancing girl," he said.
"Ma was one," Lisa said.
"Your mother was a dancer," he said. 
My comments:

Charlie Wong is American-born Chinese (ABC) and her parents were born in China (FOB - fresh off the boat. Don't you just love these acronyms!).

Charlie breaks out of a Manhattan Chinatown mold and enters the world of dance, a world her mother, a former Beijing Opera dancer, had introduced her to. Charlie meets Caucasians, American Blacks, Hispanics, and international dancers and changes her limited future to one that opens for new opportunities. She also helps her troubled younger sister Lisa to find optimism and her place in American society.

Informative look at some new Americans and some of the difficulties between the modern and the traditional cultures many young American immigrants face. Excellent characterizations and storytelling, Mambo in Chinatown pulls you into the world of a young woman inspired by her mother to make a better life for herself in America.

 *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice Also Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader.

Jul 3, 2014

London's Book Benches

I found out about the book benches of London through a post from Euro Crime which had a picture of a fabulous painted bench.Check it out on her blog.

For more benches, check out Books About Town, which will give you links to the locations and pictures of various literary book benches. Here are a few:

Peter Pan

Sherlock Holmes

Pride and Prejudice

Hercule Poirot and the Green Shore Folly

War Horse
The themes also include children's books.

That's not my meerkat

Go ahead and look at all the London book benches at Books About Town....have fun! Which one would you choose for a seating place while you read?

If you must have one of those benches, they are being auctioned later on, in London!

Jul 2, 2014

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar: Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar will be published in paperback August 26, 2014 by Emily Bestler/Atria.
In a remote village in the Suffolk countryside,
"...this gripping psychological thriller follows a young woman who uncovers a terrible secret in her idyllic suburban neighborhood—but who will believe her?"
I have read and reviewed Millar's The Playdate, a light psychological suspense novel about three neighbors, one of whom needs after-school care for a child. I am eager to see what the author has written in this new novel.

What new book release are you waiting for?

Jul 1, 2014

Murder, Simply Stitched by Isabella Alan: First Chapter

Murder, Simply Stitched
Book beginning:
When my mother enrolled me in the Little Miss Texas Butterfly Beauty Pageant at the age of eleven, I don't believe it ever crossed her mind that one day I'd be lying in the dirt with my arms around the neck of a runaway goat. 
Petunia the Nubian goat baaed and kicked at me with her sharp hooves. I shifted my body away from her reach, and one of her long tawny-colored ears smacked me in the face. Two minutes ago when Petunia had raced past me as I made my way to the auction barn, jumping on her back seemed like a fantastic idea. 
From the book description: Angie, owner of an Amish quilt shop, decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction... The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. 

Based on the opening sentences and the book description, would you keep reading?

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro. Intellect having "heart" Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of suc...