Three people are asked to be executors for the estate of a woman they never met. Young Benedict is a builder, Armand Gamache is the head of the Surêté, currently suspended, and Myrna is a psychologist who owns a bookstore in Three Pines, Québec. Bertha was a cleaning woman who called herself the Baroness, and may or may not have left millions to her three children. A blizzard strands Benedict in Three Pines, where there are several wonderful food-centered scenes. These scenes provide a relief of tension in a rather dark entry in this award-winning mystery series. Gamache is trying to trace a shipment of deadly opioids before it arrives on the streets of Montreal. He doesn’t share all his secrets with his assistants Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Isabelle Lacoste, who’s slowly recovering from injuries sustained in the previous book. The scene I found most riveting is a house collapsing with people inside. Some story lines from previous books are wrapped up here, while some new developments may take this series in an unexpected direction. Suggested for mystery readers who enjoy cunning plots with very well-developed characters. The first book in the series is Still Life.
Winter is a perfect time to read this first mystery set in the picturesque Luberon region of Provence, France. Middle-aged Brit Penny, recently divorced, buys an old stone house near a charming village, only to discover a body in the swimming pool. Helped by her exuberant friend Frankie and estate agent Clémence, forensic-trained Penny investigates the murder while restoring her house and getting involved in village life. Penny is excellent company, and the food and scenery descriptions are luscious. More books are planned, and will be very welcome. Visit the author’s website for photos of Penny’s Provence.
Maud Gage, daughter of a suffragette, is a student at Cornell College in the 1880s when she meets Frank Baum. This is the story of their marriage, raising sons and struggling to make ends meet in South Dakota and Chicago until Frank’s storytelling makes him a success with the publication of The Wizard of Oz. The tone is bittersweet, especially the scenes with Maud’s sister and niece in drought-stricken South Dakota. Later in life, Maud visits the M-G-M studio during the filming of the Wizard of Oz and encounters young Judy Garland while trying to keep the film true to Frank’s stories. The Baum’s family life is vividly described, especially the ways Frank tried to make Christmas magical for their sons. Though I would have enjoyed more about their life after Frank started publishing the Oz books, Finding Dorothy is an absorbing, engaging biographical novel.
Historical fantasy readers will enjoy this richly detailed novel. Vampire Marcus must stay away from his young fiancée Phoebe for 90 days after she becomes a vampire. In Paris, Phoebe’s struggle to adapt to her new strength, speed, and interests are often funny. While staying in the French countryside with his parent Matthew and Matthew’s wife Diana, Marcus relives his years as a boy and young man in the American Revolution, where he learns to be a medic. Matthew and Diana, a witch, have their hands full with twin toddlers Becca and Philip as their powers emerge. Becca has a tendency to bite and Philip has summoned a griffin named Apollo. This book is a good introduction to Harkness’ novels. Her All Souls trilogy begins with A Discovery of Witches. Francophiles may also enjoy Time’s Convert, as well as Outlander fans, with an intriguing blend of history, magic, and romance.
Simply delightful, this Georgian era romantic comedy is a compelling, entertaining read. Poppy Bridgerton leaves her chaperone in a tea shop while she hikes along the coast of Dorset. Exploring a cave, she is kidnapped and taken aboard the Infinity, ready to set sail for Lisbon. Captain Andrew James, a gentleman privateer with a secret, finds Poppy annoying, brave, and intelligent. With a gift for clever dialogue akin to Georgette Heyer, the author reveals the pair’s growing friendship and mutual attraction. When an outing in Lisbon goes awry, Andrew and Poppy have to work together for any chance at a future together. Laugh-out-loud funny, this is one of Quinn’s best books. Enjoy!
Memorable Books Read in 2018
Carey, Jacqueline. Starless
Cherryh, C.J. Emergence
Davis, Fiona. The Masterpiece
Edugyan, Esi. Washington Black
Green, Hank. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Greer, Andrew Sean. Less
Kingsolver, Barbara. Unsheltered. Library Reads pick
McCoy, Sarah. Marilla of Green Gables
Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere
Pearce, AJ. Dear Mrs. Bird
Robson, Jennifer. The Gown.
Simsion, Graeme and Anne Buist. Two Steps Forward
Titchmarsh, Alan. Mr. Gandy’s Grand Tour
Urrea, Luis Alberto. The House of Broken Angels
Brusatte, Steve. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
Kurson, Robert. Rocket Men
Mearns, David. The Shipwreck Hunter
Books to Enjoy in 2019
Lundberg, Sofia. The Red Address Book. January, Library Reads pick
Letts, Elizabeth. Finding Dorothy. February
Liardet, Frances. We Must Be Brave. February
Heller, Peter. The River. March
Pavone, Chris. The Paris Diversion. May
These are books I enjoyed reading this year. Some are just for fun, others I read to consider for future book discussions or Library Reads picks. Enjoy! Brenda
A remarkable book to savor, about the remarkable journeys made by young Washington, from boyhood on a sugar plantation in Barbados, fleeing by airship and boat to Virginia then following a scientist to the Canadian Arctic. A young slave born in 1830 who doesn’t know his mother’s name, Wash is loaned to his master’s brother Christopher, a scientist building an airship. Pursued by a bounty hunter to the United States, Wash becomes a gifted illustrator and develops a fascination for marine life. Wondering why he was chosen and abandoned propels loyal, curious Wash from the Canadian Artic to Nova Scotia and eventually to London, Amsterdam, and a desert to find his answers. Compelling but not a fast read, character-driven but with a wonderful sense of place, this award-winning novel is one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year.