About Me

My photo

I am a full-time librarian and a part-time bookseller who is passionate about books. Love reading,  listening to audiobooks and sharing my love with other readers. Tell me what you are reading because I am always looking for the next great book!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The  Hollywood Daughter 

Product Details                             by Kate Alcott                                                                                                                 
The Hollywood Daughter is an interesting book. I love stories and gossip about "Old Hollywood" and this book had lots of references to that, but it focused heavily on the main character's obsession with Ingrid Bergman. Like everyone, I loved Casablanca but, beyond that, I wasn't really that enamored with Ingrid.  The story begins in 1958 where Jessica Malloy is living in New York and working at a boring job, while she submits her writing to various magazines, hoping she will get published. Out of the blue, she receives an invitation to attend the Academy Awards. Her best friend, who still lives in California, convinces her to come back home to attend the awards ceremony. She tells her that their old Catholic school, St. Ann's is being demolished and they must go and see it one last time. Jessica wants to do this, especially since Ingrid Bergman's movie, The Bells of St Mary's was partially filmed there. So, she  reluctantly agrees, and heads back to Beverly Hills to confront painful memories from the past. 

Growing up, Jessica's father worked  as a publicist for David O. Selznick's studio and Ingrid Bergman was his main client. Jessie was obsessed with Ingrid. She and her best friend would pore over movie magazines trying to find gossip about Ingrid and other stars. When Ingrid becomes involved with Roberto Rosselini, leaves her husband and child and has a baby out of wedlock, everything falls aprt for Jessie and her family. 

The Hollwood Daughter takes on  McCarthyism, the Catholic Church and how careers and lives were ruined by the "Red Scare" in Hollywood.  I liked lots of things about this coming of age story but the focus on Ingrid Bergman became tedious for me. But, I was curious to find out who sent Jessie the invitation to the Academy Awards and why, after so many years. I listened to the audio book narrated by Erin Spencer, and her narration was very good. If you enjoy stories set in 1940's and 1950's Hollywood you will probably find something to like in this book.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My "To Be Read" List Is Growing!

If you love thrillers as much as I do, you will want to check out these new books. I am really looking forward to Paula Hawkin's book Into The Water,  She wrote The Girl On The Train.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Murder At The Brightwell: An Amory Ames Mystery

Murder at the Brightwell: A Mystery (An Amory Ames Mystery) by [Weaver, Ashley]

Murder at the Brightwell   (Amory Ames Mystery #1)

                                                          by Ashley Weaver

Five years ago, Amory Ames probably made the worst mistake of her life when she broke off her engagement to Gil Trent to marry handsome, charming and charismatic Milo.  Despite the fact that they are married, Milo has spent his time in Monte Carlo and other exotic locations being photographed with beautiful women while Amory stays at home wondering when her husband might grace her with his presence. When Gil suddenly shows up at her country estate asking for her help, she is surprised. It seems that Gil's sister, Emmaline, is engaged to an unsavory man named Rupert Howe and Gil wants to stop the engagement. He asks Amory to accompany him on holiday to the Brightwell Hotel where a group of his friends are gathering. Gil thinks that Amory, because of her own seemingly disastrous marriage, might be able to talk some sense into Emmaline.
          At first Amory is hesitant but then decides that if Milo is going to travel all over being photographed by gossip columnists, with beautiful women on his arm, then she should have some fun, too. It is after all 1930's Britain and she is a modern woman.  She agrees to accompany Gil, separate rooms of course, and they board the train for the seaside and the Brightwell Hotel.
         When they arrive, Amory meets the rest of their colorful group and it isn't long before there is a murder! When Milo surprises her with his arrival, Gil is accused of the murder, and then another murder occurs, the plot thickens. When it appears that someone might have tried to kill Amory, too, she takes it upon herself to investigate. Soon she is butting  heads with a detective who is less than thrilled with her interference. Amory grudgingly allows Milo to work with her on trying to solve the murders and the fun begins.
         This book has been compared to The Thin Man series because of the often witty banter between Milo and Amory.  Their relationship is complicated and, although she clearly has some unresolved feelings for Gil, Amory wants to believe that her wealthy, playboy husband loves her.
        Murder at the Brightwell is the debut novel for this author. It was an enjoyable mystery that had enough red herrings to keep me engaged.  I loved the period details, the description of the clothing, the people and the  Brightwell Hotel. Readers of Agatha Christie and other light historical mysteries should enjoy this first book in the series. I am looking forward to reading the next book to see what is going to happen with Milo, Amory and their investigations.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Wages of Sin: A Novel by [Welsh, Kaite]The Wages of Sin 

by Katie Welsh  

Sarah Gilchrist wants to be a doctor, something that isn't common in 1892. Because of a scandal, she has fled her home in England and ends up in Scotland, living with her aunt and uncle. She is among a small group of female students who  are the first females to study medicine at the University of  Edinburgh. Sarah is smart, resourceful but headstrong and trying to fit in with the other medical students is difficult. The male students don't want females in their school and Sarah's scandal has followed her to Scotland. Her aunt and uncle only want to get her married so that she can put the scandal behind her but Sarah doesn't want to get married. She begins volunteering at a free clinic where she treats the unfortunate people living in poverty, including prostitutes. There she meets a young prostitute named Lucy, who later dies, and Sarah is convinced that she was murdered. She begins investigating and, by doing this, puts her own life in danger. Sarah develops a relationship with one of the professors at the school but he seems suspect too, especially after she sees him visiting the same brothel where Lucy worked. Who can she trust?

This book has wonderful descriptions of the Victorian time period and the role that women were forced to play.  Sarah is a strong character who suffered the scorn of society, even though she didn't do anything wrong. There is a mystery and a twist that I didn't see coming.  I felt that the ending was rushed so, I am wondering if there will be a sequel to this book. Enjoyable, if not fully developed.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reading copy of this book to review.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Product Details

The German Girl

 by Armando Lucas Correa   

World War II has been a popular subject in fiction over the past couple of years. I have read many of these books but The German Girl covered a topic that I wasn't familiar with despite all of the books about Nazi Germany that I have read.

It is 1939 Berlin and twelve- year- old  Hannah Rosenthal and her family are wealthy upper class Germans who have always been admired by everyone. But things are changing now that the Nazi Party is in charge.  Suddenly Hannah and her family are now "unclean" because they are Jewish. Even the residents of the apartment building that the Rosenthals own will not speak to them. Hannah and her best friend, Leo Martin, spend their days sneaking around the city trying to avoid the "ogres" who are everywhere. Blond, blue- eyed Hannah could pass for a non Jewish girl and one day, while she and Leo are out in the city, a photographer takes her picture and posts it on the cover of a magazine. They call her The German Girl. Hannah's parents are upset about this because it brings unwanted attention to them. As the situation worsens, Hannah and Leo begin to realize that their life, as they knew it in Berlin, is over.  Soon their parents are making plans to escape the city.

The German ship, the SS Saint Louis, will take passengers, who can afford the passage and can acquire visas, to Cube. From there, many Jewish people wait to get permission to go to the United States and other countries. Hannah and Leo,  their families and over 900 other Jewish people board the Saint Louis to travel to Cuba. Aboard ship, the German captain, Gustav Schroder, demands that his German staff treat the Jewish passengers with respect.  On the ship, Leo and Hannah can at least be children as they play and explore the ship. They vow that they will always be together. When the ship arrives in Cuba, the Cuban government decides that only a few passengers can disembark and the rest are turned away.The captain of the Saint Louis leaves the port and tries to find a place for the passengers who were refused entry.

Decades later on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen, who lives in New York City, receives a package from Cuba and her Great Aunt Hannah. Great Aunt Hannah raised the father that she never knew.  Anna and her mother travel to Cuba to meet eighty-seven year old Hannah and the reader will discover what happened in 1939 to the other passengers on the Saint Louis.

This book is a debut effort by the author and it is a good one. It is told from the perspective of two young girls. My only criticism of this book is that I felt like the voices of  Hannah and Anna were too adult for their ages. I didn't know anything about the SS Saint Louis and the part that it and Cuba played during this time period and this made the book different from the others that I have read about this time in history. At the end of the book, the author fills us in on what happened to the captain and the real passengers on the SS. Saint Louis.  He also lists the people who were on the ship. It is a nice tribute to this heartbreaking time in history.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book to review.

Product Details

My Sister Rosa

   by Justine Larbalestier

         Che Taylor has just moved to New York City with his parents and younger sister, Rosa. They have moved around a lot and he wants to be home in Australia and not living in New York City. He especially doesn’t want to celebrate his seventeenth birthday in New York without his friends. His sister, Rosa, is a ten- year old charmer with golden ringlets and dimples. Everyone who meets Rosa is beguiled by her. Che is close to his sister because he was in the room when the midwife delivered her and he has always tried to protect her. But Che knows something about Rosa that no one else will admit: she is a psychopath. Because their parents are always working, Che has been responsible for Rosa since she was a baby. He isn’t fooled by her and loves her fiercely, but he is also a little afraid of her. Rosa is callous, charming, cunning, manipulative and has no empathy. She is also a liar and likes to kill things. When she was little, their parents realized that Rosa had some problems and they carted her off to various doctors who were charmed by Rosa, too. She can turn the charm on and off at will. Now their parents think that she is fine but on Che’s list of things to do, “Keeping Rosa Under Control” is number one on his list. Che has tried to talk to his parents about Rosa but they don’t believe him and won’t talk about it.

        Che is a boxer and at a local gym he meets Sid, a beautiful girl, who is also a boxer. He falls for her in a big way. Rosa realizes this and soon she has charmed her way into his circle of friends. As Rosa continues with her sadistic, complex and disturbing games, the reader knows that something is going to happen and it won’t be good.

        This suspenseful and chilling read has something for everyone. It has diverse characters, plot twists, a teenage boy experiencing his first love and a psychopathic ten-year-old who makes us wonder when she will strike next. The author does a fantastic job of giving the reader clues without telling us what is going to happen. The ending will shock you. I couldn’t stop reading this book and if you like compelling, psychological thrillers, you will love My Sister Rosa, too!
Recommended for Grades 9-up because of sexuality and mature themes.

Similar Titles: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

                        With Malice by Eileen Cook

Monday, November 7, 2016

With Malice With Malice    

by Eileen Cook  

Jill and Simone have been best friends since fourth grade but Jill might have killed her. Or maybe she didn’t. She isn’t sure because she can’t remember anything about the last six weeks. She woke up in the hospital with equipment beeping, her leg in a cast and searing pain in her head. She is told that she was driving a car in Italy when it crashed, killing Simone. Jill was planning a senior year trip to Italy but now her parents are saying that she has already been there. She also learns that she was involved with an Italian man while she was there and was planning to move to Italy to go to college instead of going to Yale. Jill has never really had a boyfriend and she has wanted to go to Yale, since she was little, so why can’t she remember these things?

  Because of the head injuries she suffered in the crash, Jill has lapses in her memory.  Her doctor calls it aphasia and tells her that she should regain most of her memory but she might not remember everything. She also cautions Jill that it will be difficult to tell what is a true memory from a dream or something that she has been told. As Jill continues her therapy in the hospital, and struggles to remember, the accident makes national headlines and she becomes part of a murder investigation. Her wealthy father brought her back to the US, immediately after the accident, for treatment but the Italian authorities want her returned to Italy for a trial.  Soon social media is involved and everyone is portraying Jill as a cold blooded killer who was jealous of her more popular friend. One thing she knows is that she would never intentionally hurt Simone. But as the evidence against her begins to mount, Jill isn’t sure what really happened in Italy. As bits and pieces of her memory begin to return, she is even more confused about what is real and what is not. Is she a heartless killer or was it just a terrible accident?

With Malice is a fast paced mystery with twists and turns that will keep you reading.  The story unfolds from Jill’s point of view, police interviews, emails, newspaper articles and social media posts. This plot device works well to pull the reader into the story. You won’t believe the chilling ending!  
Grades 9-up
Recommended Read-a-Likes: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

                                                The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas