Friday, April 29, 2011

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

I may be one of the few people that have never read a Jane Austen book. 

I really enjoyed this book that takes a step back in time.  A tale of time travel where a modern women not only retains her own identity but also that of a person in nineteenth-century England.
The writing was so enjoyable, I had a good sense of what it might have been like to live back then.
One moment Courtney Stone is a modern-day L.A. career woman lamenting a lost love; the next she is Jane Mansfield, a well-to-do, willowy lady in nineteenth-century England. What could account for this transplant of time and place? Courtney has no opportunity to ruminate over such matters; she must quickly learn to interact with inhabitants of the brave old world in which she finds herself. There's her mother, determined to marry 30-year-old Jane off to handsome Mr. Edgeworth; her artist father, more inclined to his daughter's free-spirited frame of mind; and faithful servant Miss Barnes, who helps her mistress manage everything from chaperones to corsets. (Thank goodness Jane has read Pride and Prejudice more than a dozen times.) It's not long before Jane finds the lines blurred between her two vastly different selves. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Laughed 'Til He Died by Carolyn Hart

The Death on Demand series with Annie and Max Darling is a favorite of mine.  This is the 20th installment and as much as I love Annie and Max, this book dragged a bit for me.  It was too too much repetition of the suspects and their whereabouts.  It almost read as if the hashing over of the same clues again and again were used as filler. 
This time there have been several deaths apparently connected to the island’s recreation center for young people. As the investigation continues, Annie and Max are convinced that the director of the youth center is not the killer, even though she was an opponent of Booth Wagner, one of the center’s board members, who was among the victims, along with two teenagers.  While the police focus on the director, Annie, Max and friends continue searching for the truth.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree by Nancy Atherton

If you haven't read the Aunt Dimity series, I highly recommend it.  Definitely start from the beginning. 
The series is set in a small English Cotswolds village named Finch.  A cozy setting with lovable villagers.  This is a mystery series and rather than a murder - there is a mystery to be solved.  There is always a lot going on to keep the pages turning.
The main character is Lori Shepherd, in this installment, her father-in-law, T. William Arthur Willis Sr., who's retired as head of the family Boston law firm, has relocated to Fairworth House, an old estate in Finch, to be near his grandchildren and son and daughter-in-law.

After much renovation, Lori helps her father-in-law to hire a live-in couple to cook and look after the grounds and to host a welcome party for the locals. When odd things begin to happen at Fairworth, including moving furniture and strange sounds, Lori turns to ghostly Aunt Dimity for assistance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis

This is an excellent book.  I truly enjoyed reading about how a diamond necklace that was bought and shared by 13 women in Ventura, California.

Through the necklace this group of women not only become great friends but also start doing wonderful things for their community through fund raisers.  They share the necklace and bring joy to other women in their community.

It was such a great idea, every woman should be in a group to create and build a fellowship we all need.
One day in Ventura, California, Jonell McLain saw a beautiful diamond necklace in a jewelry store window and wondered: Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and one great leap of faith later, Jonell and twelve other women bought the necklace together–to be passed along among them all.

The dazzling treasure weaves in and out of each woman’s life, reflecting her past, defining her present, making promises for her future. Lending sparkle in surprising and unexpected ways, the necklace comes to mean something dramatically different to each of the thirteen women. With vastly dissimilar histories and lives, they transcend their individual personalities and politics to join together in an uncommon journey–and what started as a quirky social experiment becomes something far richer and deeper.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

The plot of this book is an excellent idea, but I was a bit disappointed in the characters.  Dash and Lily are supposed to be to teens around 16 or 17, but the language they used was more like stuffy english literature profs would use. 

I don't know to many teens that use an over abundance of 4 syllable words that the average person doesn't even know what they mean.  Yes, these teens were supposed to be geeky, but the words they used were even beyond geeky teen.

Who knows, maybe it's just me.  They were just TOOO intellectual for a fun YA book.
This is the storyline:
Two sixteen-year-olds (Lily and Dash), find themselves virtually alone for the holidays because of some family situations. Lily's brother comes up with an ideal project for his sister to help her meet someone and to keep her out of his way while their parents are out of town.

A red Moleskine notebook with a list of literary clues is left by Lily in the stacks at the Strand bookstore. "Bookish" Dash finds the red notebook and is compelled to jump in and leave some clues of his own.

The two create dares for each other in order to leave and receive messages in various ways around NYC. As the dares progress they reveal more and more about themselves to each other in the notebook. Both are intrigued and both wonder what they would really think of each other if they were to actually meet.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

This is a YA book with a great concept, but sometimes a bit too sketchy in the story line.  Even so, it was an enjoyable book and the main characters well rounded and likable.
This is a whirlwind adventure that begins as Ginny, 17, reads a letter from her free-spirited, unpredictable Aunt Peg, who has recently passed away.  The letter contains a plane ticket to London, some money, 4 rules and 13 envelopes that guide her across Europe.

Staying with Peg's contacts or in hostels, Ginny begins to peel away some of the mythic layers surrounding her aunt, even as she falls into thrilling escapades and a blossoming romance.  Throughout her adventures in Rome, Paris, Greece, England, and the Netherlands, the teen collects pieces of Peg's past and learns more about her rapid departure.

The reason Ginny is sent to go somewhere or meet certain people is not always clear; sometimes even she wonders about the point of the exercise.

It's a story to read just for the fun of it.  A good YA book.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Tale of Oat Cake Crag by Susan Wittig Albert

This is the seventh book in the fictional series about Beatrix Potter's life which follows shortly after the death of her fiance.  I love this series.  If your going to read it, I definitely recommend you read the series in order.  Even though she covers her earlier books, they are much more fun to read that way.

That being said, this latest installment (not sure if it's the last one) had way to many references to the previous books in the series to the point that it was almost an advertisement for all the other books, with a bit of a plot tucked in.

As this story opens, Beatrix has returned to visit her farm and get a little peace and quiet. It is now March 1912, and war with Germany is looming. As a result, Winston Churchill, first lord of the admiralty, is becoming increasingly interested in flying machines, and one of his projects involves the testing of a new hydroplane on Lake Windermere, near Beatrix’s farm.

It seems entirely possible that one of the villagers, irate over the noise from the tests, may have taken matters in his or her own hands and attacked the funder of the project, whose body is found at the foot of Oat Cake Crag. But there are other puzzles to solve as well. Someone is writing poison-pen letters to Beatrix’s friend Grace who is planning to marry the local vicar.  There is a twist in Beatrix’s own romance with Will Heelis. As always, the animals, especially Rascal the dog, Professor Galileo Newton Owl, and Thorvaald the dragon, help Beatrix solve the puzzles.

The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle

I enjoyed this book more for it's epicurean delights of French food and a mind boggling assortment of excellent wines.  A sort of travel log for the taste buds.  

There is a mystery to be solved in a predictable plot behind this gastronomic adventure, but I enjoyed this book more for my taste buds than for my sense of mystery.  This book is a pleasant stroll through the French provinces and in the glasses of wine downed and decadent meals consumed.
A Hollywood lawyer's most treasured and expensive wines are stolen, his insurance company calls in Sam Levitt, a gourmand and lawyer-of-all-trades with a varied background, to investigate.

The investigation takes Sam to Paris and Bordeaux, where he hooks up with the elegant insurance agent Sophie Costes, a fellow wine and food snob. The trail finally leads them to a man named Francis Reboul in Marseille, and soon, with the help of Sophie's journalist cousin, Phillipe, they get an in with Reboul and close in on closing the caper.