Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Speaking of Gone Girl, I apologize for being absent for so long. Let me just say, it’s been a tough few months. But I’m back and I’m back with a cool mystery. Gillian Flynn’s latest book, Gone Girl, is intriguing and surprising. My biggest issue is I figured out the surprising part way too soon in the book. It’s about a young New York City couple who move to Missouri after the husband Nick’s mother takes ill. Transplanting is hard enough but going from the Big City to a tiny rural town with no friends is beyond difficult for Amy. The ideal marriage soon falls apart but when Amy goes missing and Nick is the main suspect in this possible homicide, the surprises start to pop up. Amy’s parents join him and stand behind him 100 percent, but how long can that last? Once the “affair” goes public, the parents are suddenly unavailable for Nick. His twin sister Go (short for Margo) is also behind him but has some doubts after awhile. Finally, Nick has to hire a big-time and sleazy lawyer. But we soon find out the twists in the story when “stuff” happens. I’ll not give anything else away. If you love a good mystery and a well-written story, you’ll love Gone Girl. However, if you’re really into mysteries you’ll probably figure it out before long. I did and that was the only disappointing part of the book.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The Stockholm Octavo: A Novel, by Karen Engelman is bassed on the 1792 assassination of King Gustav III. The novel centers around Emil Larsson, a bachelor and gambler, and Mrs. Sparrow, who owns a gambling venue. But the two become connected through Mrs. Sparrow’s ability to “read the cards” and her belief in each person’s Octavo. Although this is a novel, there is much history to be absorbed in this intriguing story. Of course, there is the problem of keeping fact and fiction in their right category. Emil needs to find a wife and completing his Octavo will supposedly help him find her. Mrs. Sparrow has to complete hers. All the while, the two are trying to prevent or at least warn Gustav of his future, which has been read in the cards. All of this is intertwined and interesting, albeit not necessarily true. Nonetheless, Ms. Engleman has written a very interesting story that should keep your interest.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Chocolate Passion Dessert Recipes, by Lisa Joy Taylor is the perfect book for Valentine’s Day baking! It’s chockfull of recipes for cakes, pies, candies, cookies, brownies, mousse and ice cream – all chocolate, of course. It has something for everyone including vegans and those who like to bake with a touch of booze! But, beyond the recipes, you’ll learn some interesting facts about chocolate and why we all seem to love it. Chef Taylor teaches us about the history of chocolate and its benefits. Knowing its health benefits will alleviate guilt when consuming this heavenly food. Just like red wine, it’s GOOD for you! Who knew? Most of these recipes can be made with what you have in your pantry right now. But there are a few ingredients you may have to make a special trip to a gourmet store to find. For the most part, these recipes are easy and pure chocolate! Life is good. Treat your Valentine to something sweet this year. Make it chocolate!
Monday, February 11, 2013
John Grisham has done it again. That is, he’s written another book, but certainly not his best. The Racketeer isn’t even close to being his best, but it was enjoyable and a quick read. It’s about Malcolm (or Max, depending on where in the book you’re reading) who was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. After five years and a lot of pre-planning, he manages to make a deal with the Feds when he claims to know the killer of a Federal judge. Oh, but it goes way beyond that and I can’t give away the ending. Max manages to lead a wild life for a few months and even escapes the witness protection program. But, in the end, he gets what he deserves – or not. No, this is definitely not one of Grisham’s better books but it’s quite entertaining. I think most Grisham fans will be disappointed but will also enjoy reading it. They just may soon forget it and hope his next book is back to the old Grisham style. Give me A Time to Kill or The Firm anytime.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, by Susan Elia MacNeal, is a mystery set in London during the Blitz. I first thought it was historical fiction and there are some good history lessons here, but it’s mainly a mystery so don’t expect to learn anything new about that time period. That said, it’s a good mystery and was fun to read and hard to put down. Maggie, born in Britain but raised in the U.S. by her aunt after her parents were killed in a car accident, returns to London to sell her grandmother’s house. She gets caught up in the events of the time. She gets a job as a typist in Churchill’s office even though she should be earning that graduate degree at MIT. But her math background helps solve some big time mysteries and helps save people and St. Paul’s. Bombs, murders, and spies fill this book although there’s a bit of romance thrown in too. This is a good book for a snowy afternoon by the fire. And you may pick up a few new historical facts along the way.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Robyn Carr’s My Kind of Christmas is a sweet romantic novel. It is fairly predictable from page one but, nonetheless, a nice story. Patrick comes to Virgin River to deal with his issues after seeing his best friend shot down. He’s also heading to spend Christmas with his friend’s widow and son who he’s promised to take care of. Angie is visiting her aunts and uncles to get some space from her overbearing mother. Angie is recovering from a near-death accident and is not sure if she wants to continue medical school. Both Patrick and Angie need some to heal and figure out their next steps in life. The sudden mutual attraction is something both their families aren’t happy with. But it continues until the day Paddy has to leave. Yes, it’s predictable but it’s also enjoyable. And you don’t have to wait until next Christmas to read it. It’s a sweet book any time of year.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Crisco, by Tom Reiss, is a wonderful historical lesson. I love reading history but admit many interesting topics become dull reads. Not so with this book. Reiss keeps the story going and makes this a very readable biography of General Alexandre Dumas. Dumas was the father of the novelist Alexandre Dumas, who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. In fact, many of the Count’s adventures and predicaments in “The Count of Monte Cristo” were developed from the real count’s life. This book begins in France and then travels to Saint Domingue where the future General is a slave. It shows how he is brought back to France by his father and is “freed” once he sets foot on French soil. It continues through his schooling and his military career. This is nothing short of splendid story telling of a true story. General Dumas overcomes obstacles yet is also given some interesting advantages due to his mixed blood. But life isn’t always rosy and he spends some tough years imprisoned before again returning to his home and family in France. This well-researched history lesson is absolutely fascinating. If you like history, this is a must read. If you’re not so sure, give it a try anyway. You’ll find it surprisingly easy to read.