The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert

Dear Fellow Reader,

August. Can it possibly be August already? While I want time to pass so I can go on vacation, I don’t want summer to go so quickly.

I seem to have taken up working in the garden this year. It has been good, and it has been frustrating. As usual, I just started without thinking about what I was doing. Just a few years ago, I remember saying that we wanted less beds around the house. We filled in one with grass. (Not entirely successfully…) And here I am this summer digging up grass to put in another bed. All in the quest to have more color in the back yard. And weeding NEVER stops, does it? And there are some more things that I would like in the yard. This is a sickness, I say!

And I have been reading. Although I have been watching the Olympics, so my reading time has been cut back drastically. Oh, next week…

This week’s book is one that I was given in exchange for my unbiased review. So here goes.

The Perfume Thief is a historical fiction book with a bit of a twist. The book takes place in Paris during the German occupation of World War II. Clementine is a 72-year-old American living in Paris. She has lived her life as a con artist. Clem, as she is called in the book, escaped to Paris and opened a perfume shop in 1930. She is known for her elegant suits, which she wears almost all the time. Despite her reservations, Clem agrees to help Zoe St. Angel find the book of recipes from Paris’s most famous perfumer. The book has disappeared. So has the perfumer but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope for him because he was Jewish. To help her search, Clem befriends Oskar Voss, a Nazi officer who thinks he knows all about Paris. Voss is living in the missing perfumer’s house. In order to keep Voss’s interest, Clem tells him her life story – some of which he appears to already know. She has to appear to be helping the Nazi so that she has access to search the house. She also lightly poisons him to make him sick and more dependent on her.

The book has a vast array of characters both in Clem’s present day in Paris and in her murky past. She has been in love once in the past and that relationship had a major impact on her life. She is contacted by her lover’s daughter so she knows that the woman has died.

Is this my favorite book of the year? No. It is also far from the worst book I have read and I did read the entire book. (In contrast to a book I was looking forward to reading and only got 1/3 of the way in and stopped. Sorry, Graham Norton! No review for your latest.) Once again, I don’t think you should put it on the top of your TBR pile but if you run across it, you could enjoy it.

Thanks for reading.

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

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Woman sitting on sofa reading magazine in her cozy loft apartment

Dear Fellow Reader,

Last week, I received an offer for some free books. Yes, my TBR pile is sky high and I need to settle in with those books, I just couldn’t pass these others by without taking a few (Okay, does a few go as high at 12?)

These books were not hard reads. They were like cotton candy. They were very easy to read and I read 4 of them in just a few days. The books were all mysteries and they contained some element of the paranormal. Books that do not take any thought to read.

After binging on those, I had a tooth ache. Not really but I just didn’t feel like reading. I had consumed too much fluff.

But then I got the notice from the library that I had a book waiting for me. So, I had to go get it, right? I started it and was sucked in quickly. Once again, this is not War and Peace. It is a better book than the ones I read last week.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is the story of Sabrina and Ray. Sabrina is from the Wisconsin Dells. She grew up there and her family has been there for years. Sabrina is reluctantly back home because she is broke and unemployed – again. All she wants to do is get away from WI but she comes home to get a job to work off her school loan debt and credit card debt. Part of the issue is that she has anxiety issues and doesn’t like talking to people. She likes to write, which is why she went into journalism, but it is not working out for her. She takes her nieces and nephew to the water park one day and meets Ray. Ray has recently moved to the Dells, but a branch of his family has been there since the town’s inception. He grew up in New York and worked in the family real estate business but doesn’t like it. He came out to care for his Uncle Harry during his last days and found that he loves the town and loves running the supper club in the town.

Ray is fascinated with Sabrina from the very first but can tell that she is hesitant. After several incidents of them running into each other, they start talking. Sabrina has a family secret that makes her feel that others judge her constantly. She was terrorized in school by the “popular girl” and even years later, the woman still tries to make her life miserable. (and she usually succeeds)

Will Ray understand about her family secret and not run away from her? And can she work out why Ray’s uncle’s ghost is hanging?

It is a light read but enjoyable. At this time of year, it is a great beach read. Not too hard to keep the characters straight and easy to enjoy. Also, if you are a Wisconsin fan, this book is a real Wisconsin book. Down to having the recipe for a Brandy Old Fashioned at the end. (Yes, it is a real thing.)

I read another book by this author, The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go, but I don’t really remember it. I must have liked it or I don’t know why I would have requested this book. Anyway, if you are on a wait list for The Kindred Spirts Supper Club, then try one of her other books.

Thanks for reading!

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

Murder at Wedgefield Manor by Erica Ruth Neubauer

Dear Fellow Reader,

Summer has certainly hit with a vengeance, hasn’t it? Hot days and then rain and humidity. I must admit that as much as I want to be outside, I am not a fan of humidity. I hate dripping! It gets the pages damp.

I said the wrong thing to Silent Sam last week. I told him that I hoped it would rain on Saturday so that I could stay under a blanket and read all day. Little did I know that that wish would lead to days of rain. I was half-kidding! While reading always sounds good, I did want to work in the yard. I have never done much but I have been working on it more this summer. I am not fully convinced that it looks any better. It’s a process, right?

 I did take time for a nice break to read Murder at Wedgefield Manor, the second in the Jane Wonderly series by Erica Ruth Neubauer. Last May, I reviewed the first book, Murder at the Mena House. In this book, Jane Wonderly is visiting Wedgefield Manor in England with her Aunt Millie before she returns to Boston. In the first book, we found out that strait laced Aunt Millie was the mother of Lillian, whom she bore out of wedlock. It is a not very secret secret. There are undercurrents in the house that come to a head when Aunt Millie makes a comment about how the house staff should not be fraternizing with the family. After angry words were spoken, the young man (a mechanic working for the family) tears off in a car to blow off some steam. This is the young man’s post-war coping mechanism that the family is familiar has witnessed before.

But then word comes back that the young man had an accident, is dead, and that the brake lines in the car had been cut. And then out of the blue, Mr. Redvers arrives at Wedgefield Manor. Jane has her suspicions as to why is he there (Is Aunt Millie up to her old matchmaking tricks?)

While Jane and Mr. Redvers seek to untangle the mystery, we can enjoy the slowly budding romance between the two and learn the backgrounds of all those in the house.

Yet another enjoyable mystery by Erica Ruth Neubauer. It is a good summer mystery. It is not heavy or bloody or greatly suspenseful. Just a nice read. As I mentioned before, this is the second book in the series. There will be at least three in the series. A great deck or beach read!

I am looking forward to the third installment!

Thanks for reading!

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

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

 

Dear Fellow Readers,

I suppose there are those of you who, knowing my love of mystery series, wonder why I haven’t talked about the Janet Evanovich series featuring Stephanie Plum. Well, because somehow, I had not read them. I don’t know how or why I have missed these books. There are obviously lots of mystery series books that I have not read but even I will admit that the Janet Evanovich books are hard to miss.

Maybe I was being stubborn? I don’t know but I have finally started to rectify the situation.

While I was on vacation, I read the first book in the series, One for the Money. I will start off by saying that I do like when it is obvious in which order to read the books. Like Sue Grafton’s series which follows the alphabet (A is for Alibi), these are even easier because the number is in the title. Could it be easier? I do love that.

In One for the Money, we are introduced to Stephanie Plum. Stephanie is in financial hot water because she lost her job as an underwear buyer. She has been out of work for six months and her car is about to be repossessed. Stephanie lives in Trenton, New Jersey, where she grew up. Her parents still live in the same house in town. At her parent’s urging, she goes to see her cousin Vinnie for a filing job. Vinnie is a bail bondsman. It turns out that the filing job has been filled but Connie, Vinnie’s secretary, tells Stephanie that she can be a “fugitive apprehension agent” (bounty hunter). Stephanie finds how much she can make per apprehension and she thinks this is just what she should do.

The only catch is that the big bucks are for bringing in Joe Morelli. Joe Morelli is a police detective who has been accused of shooting a man without provocation. So far, there is a missing witness and some question about a missing gun but still, he has skipped his court appearance and needs to be brought to justice. To complicate matters, Stephanie has a bit of a history with Joe going back to when she was 8 years old. Seems the Morelli men have a reputation with the ladies in town and Stephanie may have contributed to the reputation.

But she decides, without having any background, that she needs the $10,000 fee for bringing Joe into the police. This is how her life as a bounty hunter begins. She finds help from Ranger, an ex-military bounty hunter who decides to lend her a hand. Stephanie also has Grandma Mazur, who lives with Stephanie’s parents, in her corner to share neighborhood gossip. She can also count on her friend, Eddie Gazarra, who is on the police force.

Stephanie soon finds out that she may be in over her head (might have something to do with the boxer threatening to harm her) but she doesn’t give up despite making mistakes.

The story moves along quickly and throws in many quirky characters to keep it interesting. I have now read two of the series and both are entertaining. They are short and won’t take you long to read. Now, of course, I have to stop myself from just trying to read the whole series (there are currently 25 of them!) when I should be reading other books.

Thanks for reading!

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

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Dear Fellow Reader,

We have another winner. Okay, I think that The Midnight Library is a little better than this book but once again, it is a good story that you will enjoy.

It was fun to read these books back-to-back. In a way, it reminded me why I love to read. You know, you can read books that are just okay. I think I have had a streak of okay books. They were good stories and I liked them but then you read a book or a couple of books that just make you say “WOW!”  It is really fun to get two in a row. I actually read this book under the covers with a flashlight so as to not bother Silent Sam. (Okay, I understand that is a bit weird but so?)

The Thursday Murder Club is a mystery. I would even venture to say that it is a mystery that even those who aren’t that crazy about mysteries will enjoy. There is a rich cast of characters and each one has a story that is interesting and amusing to a certain extent. I’m not saying that there are any laugh out loud moments but I was in a good mood reading this book. The author (first book, no less) has a great touch with the characters.

The Thursday Murder Club takes place in rural England. The Club was started with Penny, Elizabeth, Ibrahim, and Ron. Penny had been a policewoman and had kept her “open case” files. They group met on Thursdays and went over the files to see if they could solve the cases. Before the book opens, Penny has had to leave the group because she is so sick. Joyce has taken her place in the group and Joyce keeps a diary of their adventures. The book moves back and forth between Joyce’s diary and a narrator. (Easy transitions – you will always know who is talking. The typeface is even different when it is Joyce’s diary entry.) Elizabeth is the leader of the group. You never find out exactly what Elizabeth did before she retired but there is a hint that she was a spy or something. She knows a lot of people, some of whom owe her favors and she has traveled a lot. Each of the four have their own area of expertise from their pre-retirement lives.

Then there is a real murder. They decide they can help the police with their inquiries. And while they are working the on the first murder, there is a second murder that takes place in front of them. And then they know there must be something hidden in the cemetery but what is it and who put it there. And were the two murders related or was it just a coincidence?

There is nothing gory in this book. It is a bit of a cozy mystery in that sense but I would not say that it is a cozy mystery. There is just so much going on all the time that you are entertained throughout the book. I would move this book up the TBR pile also.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

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