Vacation Reads – Part Two

As I have mentioned, I read a lot on vacation.  I wrote about my favorite books from my last cation (https://cecooney.com/2017/11/27/vacation-reads/) In this post, I will talk about some of the other books that I liked.

These books were given to me at no cost as ARC (advanced reader copies) by Netgalley so that I would provide my unbiased review.

Best Laid Plants by Marty Wingate is the sixth in the series called “The Potting Shed Mysteries”.  Pru Parke is an American gardener living in Great Brittan and the non-professional detective in this series. I would suggest that you read the first book or two in the series before you read the other books.  It will help you to know the characters.  In this particular book, Pru and her husband are in the Cotswolds so that Pru can advise on the restoration of an Arts and Crafts garden.  On her second day of inspecting the garden, Pru finds the body of the owner, Batsford Bede. She and Christopher then have to solve the mystery of who killed him and why. There are frequent references to gardening, which mean nothing to me, but they do not distract from the story if you are not a gardener.

This is a very pleasant cozy mystery.  I have enjoyed all the books I have read by Marty Wingate.  It seems that the books are available as eBooks or audiobooks.

Accessories to Die For by Paula Paul is the second in the series of these cozy mysteries.  I would suggest that you read the books in order, once again just to get a full look at the characters.  The first book in the series is A Killer Closet.  The main character in these books is Irene Seligman, who has left her position as assistant district attorney in Manhattan to return to Santa Fe to help her mother, Adelle.  Irene has opened an upscale consignment store.  In Accessories to Die For, Paula steps in to defend her friend Juanita after the mysterious death of an associate of her son.  Seems Juanita has predicted his death which the police find a bit suspicious.

I will admit that I enjoyed the first book better than the second.  But the characters are humorous and the plot does pull you in.

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Furdig is the fifth in the Java Jive mystery series.  While I liked the first book in the series, I think that the series improved with each book.  I think that as Juliet, the main character grows she becomes more interesting and you get more wrapped up in what she is going through.  In this book, Juliet reluctantly investigates the murder of her ex-fiance.  This leads her to work with her ex-boyfriend, Ryder Hamilton to find out what schemes her ex-fiance was involved with back in her hometown.

Once again, I think that this is a series that should be read in sequence.  You would really need to read the first book, Death Before Decaf, to find out about the characters and their history. I think reading the series in order will help with knowing the development of the characters.

All of the books I have talked about today are available as eBooks and most as audiobooks from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.  I also found some of the books available as eBook loans from my local library.  If you are looking for a cozy mystery, I would suggest looking at the Marty Wingate books.  Caroline Furdig’s books are not exactly cozy mysteries but once you get to know the characters, they are very enjoyable.

Thanks for reading!

 

Advertisements
Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Knew “Old Man” Could be a Theme?

The theme of an older man and how, due to his reaction to others, brings on positive life changes has come up in my reading.  Probably my first “old man” book was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  Then a year or so later, I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Both books were enjoyable – I would say that A Man Called Ove was funnier.  Another book was The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. (I reviewed this book in October 2017. Here is a link to the review- cecooney.com/2017/10/17/3207/

The last two books I read had the theme of “old man with dead wife”.  ( A subcategory of the old man theme?)  My two latest books even both have main characters named Arthur.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is the story of Arthur Pepper who, when the story opens, has been a widower for a year.  For the last year, he has done very little.  He does not leave the house much and he keeps to a regimented schedule.  He misses his wife terribly and does not hear from his two children very often. He feels that the one-year anniversary of her death is the time that he should clean out his wife’s clothes.  In doing so, he finds, tucked in a boot in the closet, a locked heart-shaped velvet box. Since Arthur is a retired locksmith, he knows how to open the box. He does look for a key first but does not find one.  Inside the box, he finds a gold charm bracelet. He has never seen this bracelet before and it does not seem in keeping with the woman that he was married to for 40 years as his wife.  On close inspection, one of the charms has a telephone number engraved on it. In a move completely out of character, he decides to call the number.  That act started him on a quest to find out more about his wife and what appears to be her secret life from before their marriage.

Arthur thougth about how it was possible for memories to shift and change with time. To be forgotten and resumed, to be enhanced or darkened at the mind and mood commanded.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a nice story. The story pulls you in quickly and you feel sorry for Arthur, learn to like his neighbor, Bernadette and her son Nathan, and cheer on Arthur on his adventures.

Elizabeth Berg has a new book out.  Those are words that make me happy. I like Elizabeth Berg. If you don’t follow her on Facebook, I think you should.  She writes about people and has wonderful insights into people an the things they do.

The Story of Arthur Truluv tells the story of Arthur Moses, an 85-year-old widower who goes to the cemetery every day to visit his wife’s grave and listen to the stories of the others buried there. At the cemetery, he meets Maddy. Maddy is 17 when they meet and she is at the cemetery to escape high school.  Maddy’s mother died when she was 2 weeks old. Maddy’s father is distant and Maddy has no friends and is bullied at school. After a false start, she and Arthur strike up a friendship. Maddy nicknames Arthur “Truluv” because she is awed by his love for his wife. Arthur also visits with his next-door neighbor, Lucille. Lucille is a retired teacher who never married. The love of her life married someone else but comes back into her life.

He taught her one of her favorite words:hiraeth, a Welsh word that meas homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that maybe never was; it meants nostalgia and yearning and grief for lost places.

Arthur, Maddie, and Lucille’s lives become entwined in ways that would never be expected at the beginning of the book.  This is a lovely story about how people’s lives can be changed for the better when they receive small acts of kindness.

Both books fall into my new category of “old man” stories but they are very different.  Arthur Pepper has adventures getting out of the regimented life he used to shield himself while Arthur Moses’s life changes because he is nice to people.  Both characters are good men just trying to find their way.

Thanks for reading!

 

Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Vacation Reads

Dear Fellow Reader,

I am back from vacation. I read on vacation.  In fact, there are some that would say that I measure my vacations by how many books I read.  The more books, the better the vacation.  It does help that I read fast and that often times the books I read on vacation are pretty light reads.  I thought I would share some titles and brief thoughts about them with you.

 

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman – I really enjoyed this book.  It as about a 34-year-old woman whose mother dies and leaves her a legacy that is not what she expects and is not anything that she thinks she wants. Her legacy is based on a list of things she wanted when she was fourteen. Brett has a well-paying job and a handsome boyfriend. She thinks her life is great.  Or is it?  Did her mother really know best?   This was probably my favorite book of this set of vacation reads.

 

That Month in Tuscany by Inglath Cooper –  After her husband announces at the last minute that he cannot go on the month-long anniversary trip to Italy, Lizzy Harper decides that to go without him.  She has a few glasses of wine to celebrate on the way to Italy and she gets a little tipsy. She gets up to go to the bathroom but stumbles on the way back to her seat and ends up landing on Ren Sawyer.  She doesn’t recognize him at first. He is sweet but she is too embarrassed about her condition to talk to him. Ren Sawyer is a rock star hiding from his life.The trip ends up being full of discoveries for Lizzy, Ren, and Lizzy’s family.

 

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch – Somehow, I stumbled upon a theme this trip.  Several of the books are about motherless daughters.  I don’t really know how that happens but it did.  In this story, Lena’s mother has died and she has been sent to Italy to live with Howard, a man she has never met.  Lena’s Grandmother has told her that Howard is her father but she has some questions about that after she meets him.  Lina fully expects to go back home much sooner than anyone thinks she should. Will the magic of Italy keep her or will she escape back to the life she knows?  When Lena arrives, she is given a journal that her Mother sent to Italy right before her death. It has the mysterious inscription, “I made the wrong choice” at the front of it.  Lena slowly reads the journal to find out more.

 

Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe – Cara Rutledge has inherited her mother’s house on Isle of Palms.  She and her husband, Brett, live in Brett’s house and rent out her mother’s house each summer.  This particular summer, Heather Wyatt has come to the house to paint shorebirds.  Heather was always shy but after the death of her mother in a car accident – she was in the car also – she retreated and has social anxiety.  As a result, she doesn’t interact well with people. She lives at home with her father.  He has just remarried and has rented out the house for her so that she will be able to watch the birds and so that he and his bride will have some time alone.  Over the course of the summer, Cara and Heather’s  lives change drastically.  This is the fourth book in the series.                                                                I think I read the others but the book stands on its own                                                                  without reading the series.

Of the books I read, these are my top four books.  Wondering how many I read?  Well, I was gone for 15 days and did not read a book a day but it was close…

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The 100 Year-Old-Man Who Disappeared

Hello Fellow Reader!

How can it be fall already? This year is truly flying by. I have been trying to keep up with my book clubs and Goodreads lists. I am finding that being in two book groups is good from the standpoint that I read two books a month that I generally would not have read but on the other hand, I miss reading some books that I want to read. Do you ever feel that way? My TBR (to be read) pile just keeps growing!

Today, I am going to review a book that I wanted to read. I don’t know where I heard about this book but it sounded fun and so I borrowed it from the local library. The title of the book is The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. No, it is not a mystery. It is a light-hearted story.

The story starts with the main character, Allan Karlson deciding that he is not interested in attending his 100th birthday party. The party is being thrown by the nursing home where he lives. The mayor and newspaper reporters are coming to the party to celebrate the big event. Allan sees that he could just escape out his window and walk away. So that is what he does. This is the start of an adventure that has Allan boarding a bus with a stolen suitcase and collecting people and an elephant along his way. Oh, and he even gets married for the first time. And the police are looking for him because they think he might be a murderer. Allan does quite well for being 100.

The tone of the book is humorous and reminds me a lot of the humor in A Man Called Ove. The story tells current day events for Allan but also goes back in time and tells Allan’s truly remarkable life. In reviews, Allan is often compared to Forrest Gump. He has traveled the world and met many historical figures – and he drank with most of them. (He really likes vodka.)

Overall, the book is funny and an interesting story. I found that it dragged through the middle. Allan has a considerable backstory and I found myself wanting to get through it. Allen’s life is interesting and the author did a great job connecting everything. Allan had a lot of adventures during his 100 years.

And it seems to have been made into a film in Sweden where it is the highest grossing film of all time.

My review is mixed. It was a fun amusing story. I like the humor in the book. While all the parts come together, it just seemed to drag a bit in the middle. I read the book in e-book form and did not notice that the book is 396 pages. It is not exactly a quick read but I am not sorry that I read it. (Especially compared to the last few book club books I read.)

I still have next week’s book club book to finish and then I hope to hit that TRB pile. I am hoping there are some good quick reads there waiting for me. I’ll let you know.

Thanks for reading.

 

Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Banned Books Week 2017

Hello Fellow Reader,

Everyone has their favorite holiday. Some start the countdown to Christmas mid-summer and some love Thanksgiving or the 4th of July.

I like Banned Books week. I know, it is an odd thing to look forward to but I do look forward to it. I see it as a celebration of freedom. For the most part, books that are challenged are not banned and I think this is a good thing. It means that in this country, we are free to read and publish books even if some find them objectionable.

There are books that I have not liked as there are movies that I found offensive. I know that my standards are not universal.  I do not have the same taste as others and my religious background may not be the same. There is one book that comes to my mind each year duringBanned Books Week. I found the book repugnant but I do not think that my opinion should stop others from reading it. The book made the New York Times bestseller list and was made into a movie so it must have had some popular appeal.

I don’t know about you but I am not willing to give the ability to ban books to anyone. I do not trust anyone to decide what subject matters are not “appropriate” for me. Everyone has their own issues and what is not appealing for some reason to one person may not be a problem for another. I also think that many times when there are objections over books in schools, that a passage is taken out of context.  An adult will often want to protect the youth from what they perceive to be a bad influence when the youth does not have the background or knowledge to view the book in the same way.

When you look at the list of books that have been challenged over the years, I think many would find it surprising.  The Harry Potter books, the Bible, The Hungar Games, 50  Shades of Grey and The Bluest Eye have all been challenged.  The Captain Underpants series has made the list several times. Another book that has been made into a recent movie, The Glass Castle, has made the list.

One of the books that has been challenged four out of the last five years is John Green’s Looking for Alaska.  He is also the author of the book, The Fault in Our Stars, which was very popular and was made into a movie.  You might be interested to hear what he has to say about attempts to ban his book.

If you would like to see the “Top Ten” lists for the last 17+ years, the list can be found at  http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10

In honor of Banned Books Week, maybe you should take a look at one of this year’s books and see what you think.  I would love to hear your opinion.

Top Ten for 2016

Out of 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
  3. George written by Alex Gino
    Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
    Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reason: challenged for offensive language

Thanks for reading.

Posted in Miscellaneous Thoughts | 3 Comments