Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen – Mary Norris

Greek to MeMary Norris loves all things Greek, but especially the Greek language. Not modern, Greek, mind you, Ancient Greek. This book recounts her studies learning the language, speaking the language. We go with her on solo trips to Greece (Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, Samos, Chios, and Lesbos), and also learn a bit about how the alphabet originated and about some English word origins. This is a fun book, part memoir, part travelogue, a wee bit tutorial, full of her adventures and misadventures and full of her passion for the land and the people of Greece. It’s a quick read that I enjoyed very much.

eGalley review                                        Publication date 4.2.19

Posted in adult, biography, history, nonfiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

The Tale Teller – Anne Hillerman

the Tale TellerJoe Leaphorn is not too happy. Louisa nagged him into seeing her friend, Daisy Pinto. Daisy has something she wants investigated. So here he is at the museum waiting to see her. And waiting and waiting. As it turns out, this is actually something that interests him. An historic traditional dress, recently donated to the museum, has disappeared and Mrs. Pinto wants him to find it. And she wants him to find it quickly. It’s great to have retired Navajo police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn back actively involved in a case. And while he’s busy, Jim Chee is working on some burglaries in Chinle and Bernie Manuelito has found a dead body. So we have three story lines for the price of one. Anne Hillerman has become a very good writer. Her descriptions of the beautiful scenery surround the story. When she talks about food, you can almost taste it. And trying to keep up with the twists of three plots kept me turning pages. I enjoyed this book very much and am looking forward to the next one.

eGalley review                                                    Publication date 4.9.19

Posted in adult, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See

Island of Sea WomenThere is an island, Jeju, south of Korea’s mainland where women have been free divers for generations, harvesting seafood to sell, diving without air tanks or wet suits. They are the heads of households, bringing in the income, while the husbands care for the children, cook the meals. Mi-ja and Young-sook , best friends, are two young girls who live on this island. For several years they have worked hard as apprentices. Now the day has finally come when they will truly dive, the day that fills them with joy and with fear. They are only fifteen and will be called baby divers. Their lives will revolve around the sea. It will be a dangerous life, but they love the sea, and they know they will be best friends forever. The story of the women divers is fascinating, and would be a fine book on its own, but this is really a story of friendships, of misunderstandings, of forgiveness. It spans a huge time line, from the 1930s to 2008, and much of that time the Koreans are repressed, first by the Japanese, then by the occupying Americans, suffering unbelievable hardships. While much of the book is hard to read, dark, depressing, it is beautifully written, and it is a story that needs to be told. This is a wonderful book that I will remember for a long, long time.

eGalley review                                           Publication date 3.5.19

Posted in adult, highly recommend, historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

The Malta Exchange – Steve Berry

Malta ExchangeOh boy, Cotton has come out of retirement again. He’s working freelance for British intelligence – a simple buy and sell of letters between Churchill and Mussolini which had been lost in 1945. But now his orders are to steal them, things are getting complicated, and he finds himself on Malta involved in more than he’d bargained for. To spice things up, Luke Daniels is also on Malta, sent by Stephanie Nelle to monitor the movements of Cardinal Gallo just before the concave to select the next Pope. This is a good book, full of the history of Malta, the Knights, the Catholic Church, most of which was new to me. I loved every page. What’s not to love: plots, murders, fantastic narrow escapes, all kinds of blood and gore. Typical Cotton Malone. And at the end, Berry separates the fact from the fiction, which is a very good thing. If you enjoy action and adventure mixed with a nice dose of history, don’t miss this.

eGalley review                                             Publication date 3.5.19

Posted in adult, adventure, history, suspense, Uncategorized

Unto Us a Son Is Given – Donna Leon

Unto Us a Son is GivenCommissario Gido Brunetti is having a difficult conversation with his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier. The Count is hoping that Brunetti will agree to look into the affairs of a mutual elderly friend. It seems that the friend is planning on adopting a younger man as his son, which would make the young man heir to a large fortune, and Brunetti’s father-in-law feels that is not a good thing. But Brunetti thinks that it is not his business, that the friend should be allowed to do as he pleases, and he is reluctant to interfere. I sometimes wonder if these books should be classified as mysteries. As is often the case, most of the book is devoted to Brunetti’s family life, the everyday interaction with his wife and children, his associates at work, the books he is currently reading. And this is what I love most. Life in Venice is slower than it is here. Much more civilized. Brunetti even goes home for a long, home cooked lunch with wife and children. The prose is beautiful, describing lovely food, and a lovely Venice. There is, eventually, a murder. And quickly, and neatly the crime is solved. This is the 28h book in the series. It would be possible to enjoy it as a stand alone, but so much back story would be missing.

eGalley review                                       Publication date 3.5.19

Posted in adult, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

If Cats Disappeared from the World – Genki Kawamura, trans by Eric Selland

If Cats DisappearedIf you were given only a few more days to live, just what would you do? Well, the young postman in this story is faced with that situation and sits down to write the 10 things he wants to do before he dies, but his effort isn’t very successful. So the devil shows up to help, and of course he has a bargain. To gain one more day of life one thing must be removed from the world. The catch is, the devil gets to pick what will disappear each day. This is an odd little book, translated from the Japanese. It is advertised as a “quirky and charming homily on the true meaning of life,” and sold over a million copies in Japan. It might have lost something in translation, but I suspect that the Japanese see the world differently, for while it was an OK read, it didn’t really grab me.

eGalley review                                  Publication date 3.12.19

Posted in adult, Uncategorized | Tagged

Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England – Kate Hubbard Harper

Devices and DesiresHardwick Hall was built in the 1590s, when Bess was in her seventies. It is still remarkable with clean lines,  amazing windows –  more glass than wall. It was the grand finale of building projects for Bess of Hardwick. being preceded by Chatsworth, which she worked on for thirty years, the Old Hall at Hardwick and Owlcotes, built for her son. This was an age of great builders and Bess fit right in. Daughter of a Derbyshire squire, her first marriage was arranged to Robert Barley, who died when he was fourteen. She began her climb up the social ladder with her marriage to Sir William Cavendish which brought her into London and the court. They acquired the manor of Chatsworth, beginning Bess’s building career. Her final marriage was to the Earl of Shrewsbury, which made Bess the Countess of Shrewsbury. By the time of her death, she was a most wealthy and powerful woman. Everything is highly documented. There are more than 230 of Bess’s letters between husbands, children, friends, and even the queen. There are notes sharing court gossip. I found all of these fascinating, revealing a strong woman, a very modern woman who learned how to take care of herself quite nicely. Household and business accounts abound. I loved the detail in the household accounts, but if you find it too much, just skip over them. This is a most interesting story of an amazing woman.

eGalley review                                                  Publication date 2.26.19

Posted in adult, biography, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,