Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jana Bibi

I have fallen in love with Jana Bibi. I normally read more nonfiction than fiction, but a friend recommended Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes. Set in the early 1960s, Jana Bibi is a woman more at home in India than Scotland her ancestral home. She inherits her grandfather's house and becomes part of the community. As the story progresses you meet the neighbors, deal with the crisis of the impending dam and more. A charming tale that would appeal to readers of Major Pettigrew, The Guernsey Literary Society and the Number One Detective Agency novels. Love Potion Number 10 is the second Jana Bibi tale.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Thrones, Dominations

I am an admitted Lord Peter Wimsey fan. He is the detective hero of Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries. I will also admit that I am not a fan of people finishing, writing new endings, etc of books after their author dies. So I have avoided Thrones, Dominations for years. What a waste of time! I have been missing a great book. Sayers started this mystery in the 1930s and put it aside for other works and it was not completed at her death. In theory Jill Paton Walsh has finished it, but I found it to be seamless and true to Sayers style. It tells the story of Harriet and Peter after the Busman's Honeymoon and is set in London. It deals with how two very intelligent people learn to create a relationship where they are true to each other and themselves. And there is a murder half way through. :) If you are a Sayers fan, it is okay you can read it and won't be horrified, but delighted.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

American Chinatown

When I was a child, we would go into NYC to go to the museums, shop etc. Then with regularity we would eat at Wo Pings. It was a restaurant in the basement of a building in Chinatown. Downstairs restaurants were often cheaper and we would normally be the only non-Asian faces there. The owners like that my family ate family style and that we were adventurous eaters. We often tried new dishes with the only the vaguest idea of what we had chosen in the pantomime of ordering, but it was always good and the staff welcoming. So it was with delight that I saw Bonnie Tsui's history of American Chinatown: A people's history of five neighborhoods. I loved how she captured the essence of the communities and their histories. She looks at San Francisco, NYC, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Las Vegas. She looks at the racism that separated early Chinatowns. She talks to residents about the pluses and minuses of living in a neighborhood where things are familiar and convenient, but also stagnating. And so much more! An excellent book

Saturday, July 06, 2013

French by Heart

I think my love of memoirs that include travel is well established. Rebecca Ramsey leaves her home in the Carolinas with her husband, three kids and the cat to live in Clermont-Ferrand. The city south of Paris is the corporate home of Michelin for whom her husband works. Ramsey works hard to learn the language, to fit in and make a French friend. I enjoyed her stories of their time in France and her finger waggling neighbor Madame Mallet. Very enjoyable.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Starting Now

I keep reading Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street novels and I want to like them more. Starting Now is the story of workaholic Libby Morgan, who is downsized at her law firm instead of being offered a partnership. In the vacuum of time, she starts knitting again, befriends a young girl and meets Dr "Heart of Stone." The book reads quickly and would be a good summer read. I think I was disappointed in how her work life was resolved, but Macomber fans won't have a problem with it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Confections of a closet master baker

Living in the shadow of her sister isn't fulfilling for Bullock-Prado, so baking becomes the passion she abandons Hollywood for. In a book that follows the course of a day in the bakery, the memoir tells the tales of her life and her mother's influence. A lovely memoir

The return of Captain John Emmett

If I am straddling the fence on Mr Churchill's Secretary, I am not about Speller's The return of Captain John Emmett. Set after WWI, it is a mystery that will appeal to Maisie Dobbs and Ian Rutledge readers. It is well written and fully rounded characters. Bertram Lawrence survived the war in theory, but experience at the front and death of his wife and child have led him to hide from the world. Mary, the sister of a friend, asks him to look into the suicide of her brother. What will he find? Is anything as simple as it seems?

Mr. Churchill's secretary

I love the Maisie Dobbs mysteries, so I decided to give Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series a try. Hope was born in England and raised in America by her aunt, a university professor. Hope has returned to England to sell off her grandmother's house. She is pulled into the war effort and a family secret. I really liked this but felt some of the attitudes and issues were too modern for the book. I will try the next mystery and let you know.

My Charmed life

I do migrate to memoirs and Beth Bernstein's My charmed life : rocky romances, precious family connections and searching for a band of gold called out to me. She comes from a line of wonderful women, whose stories are linked together by family jewelry. If jewelry designer Bernstein's family is wonderful, her choices in men... not so much. Will she find love or learn to find contentment in herself?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Irish Country Wedding

I just read Patrick Taylor's latest novel Irish Country Wedding. Turns out I missed one and jumped ahead to this. Doctor O'Reilly is going to marry his sweetheart from the past. Young Barry is still trying to sort out his love life. And of course our two doctors are trying to sort out the problems of the village - Ballybucklebo. It is still a pleasure to revisit the village. If you haven't read the series, you'll want to start with An Irish Country Doctor. While these are novels, the series will appeal to readers of James Herriot.