Welcome to my blog where I share book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Case of the Hidden Flame by Alison Golden

Alison Golden is a prolific writer and very generous with the number of novellas she offers free - The Case of the Hidden Flame was free for Kindle (you can receive more free novellas by e-mail after signing up on her web page).
I liked this story which has been compared to Hercule Poirot in many reviews and it takes place on the island of Jersey (off the coast of France) which is a lovely setting. Maybe I missed something but I'm not sure why is was called the Case of the Hidden Flame.

Detective Inspector David Graham has just arrived on the island of Jersey, taking over a rag tag team of questionable commitment and skill at the Gorey Constabulary, a team that he is supposed to lead and develop into a cohesive investigative unit.

Within minutes, his first challenge presents itself when ex-soldier, Colonel Graves, finds a dead body on the beach. As the military man kneels down, he discovers it is his soon-to-be fiancĂ© half buried in the sand… 

In a small resort like Gorey, this event is monumental, and almost unheard of. The rumors swirl yet it is the new Detective Inspector’s job, with a bag still packed and travel dust on his shoes, to ferret out the clues and solve the case…while bringing his team along to assist. 

Note: The plot wasn't original, as noted on one of the reviews, and was used in a Death in Paradise episode - a great Caribbean series for cozy mystery lovers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Log Cabin Village, Fort Worth, Texas

Although there were a few rain clouds overhead, it was a nice day on Sunday for a walk along the Trinity River and visit to the Log Cabin Village. The wooden cabins have been moved from other locations, including the Parker family home, and now form a village with a blacksmith shop and grist mill. It's always interesting to see how pioneers lived and survived.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Front Page Murder by Peter Bartram

Front Page Murder (another story of Crampton of the Chronicle) by Peter Bartram will be out in just 12 days and I was fortunate to get an early copy in the mail yesterday in exchange for a review (I'll post my review on November 30).

I'm about half way through the read and find myself slowing down because I don't want it to end. Colin Crampton is a humorous character and delivers zingers and sarcasm beautifully. The art of bantering seems to be lost on the world outside England and I must say it's something I miss. Fortunately I do have one English friend here in Texas who can banter well.

Anyway, back to the story: The mystery is about the murder of a comic postcard (saucy postcard) artist and many of you might not have heard about comic postcards. I don't know about now, but in the sixties the postcards were available in all seaside towns, usually with saucy pictures and double entendre. Some of the postcards did not escape censorship though, due to the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 and in the 1950s many were banned. (The Post Office had to give permission for them to be sent through the mail.) One of the main artists of the postcards was Donald McGill who received very little income from his work, but his postcards are now worth thousands and The Donald McGill Museum has been opened on the Isle of Wight, in his honor, by his grandchildren.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Plantation by Dorothea Benton Frank

Plantation by Dorothea Benton Frank wasn't so much about the Plantation, which didn't really come into play until half way through the novel, but about Caroline who was living in New York at the story beginning. It was still a pleasant read with typical South Carolina quirky characters.

From the cover:
Caroline Wimbley Levine always swore she'd never go home again. But now, at her brother's behest, she has returned to South Carolina to see about Mother - only to find that the years have not changed the Queen of Tall Pines Plantation. Miss Lavinia is as maddeningly eccentric as ever . . . but she soon discovers that something is different this time around. It lies somewhere in the distance between her and her mother - and in her understanding of what it means to come home.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro

Gypsy Moth Summer
Julia Fierro weaves a story in The Gypsy Moth Summer between the residents of East Coast Avalon Island during the summer of 1992 when the island is invaded by Gypsy Moths. The novel is told from the point of view of several islanders and covers a spectrum of ages from teenagers to those on the brink of retirement. Julia Fierro draws the reader in quickly and each voice helps the reader to see the events from a different point of view. I was a little surprised at how much explicit sex was peppered throughout the novel, but regardless, I'll be adding to my favorite reads for this year.

From the cover:
Gypsy moth caterpillars have invaded Avalon Island, an islet off the East Coast. Leslie Day Marshall, only daughter of Avalon's most prominent family, has returned to live in "The Castle", the island's grandest estate. Leslie's husband, Jules, is African American, and her children biracial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals.
Maddie LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precinct of East Avalon as well as the crowded working-class quarter of West Avalon - home to Grudder Aviation's factory, the lifeblood and bread and butter of the community. . .  Gypsy Moth Summer is about love, gaps in understanding, and the struggle to connect: within families, among friends, and between neighbors and entire generations.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Sheik by E.M. Hull

I have several back copies of This England magazine passed on to me by a friend and came across an article about Edith Maude Henderson (E.M.Hull). After visiting Algeria as a child and subsequent visits to the Sahara, she wrote many novels with a North Africa setting. The 1920s books were considered scandalous at the time. The Sheik was made into a movie starring Rudolph Valentino. Thanks to a team of volunteers who have retyped the books and made them available in digital form, they are easily accessible for Kindle (The Sheik is currently free).

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Victoria and Abdul

Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim: After John Brown's death ...I haven't read the book Victoria and Abdul by Shrabani Basu, but recently viewed the movie version starring Judy Dench as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal as Karim Abdul.
Because there was great jealousy of Queen Victoria's relationship with Karim Abdul, whom she called her son in letters to him, her family tried to burn every remnant of him after Queen Victoria died and evicted him from his home on the Queen's estate and sent him back to his hometown in India. The story came to light 100 years later when journalist Shrabani Basu discovered a bust and paintings of Karim at the Queen's summer home on the Isle of Wight. After further research where she found journals written by Queen Victoria in Hindustani located at Windsor Castle, Ms. Basu found that it was Karim Abdul who had taught the Queen the language and become her confidant and friend. Historians had dismissed the journals and their contents because they were not written in a western language.
There are mixed reviews of the movie, but I found it intriguing and humorous at times and Judi Dench is such an accomplished actress that her portrayal of Queen Victoria was brilliant. Joined with Ali Fazal, they both filled the screen with their friendship and admiration for each other.