Thursday, August 19, 2010

50. The Family Vault

By:  Charlotte MacLeod
Rated: 4 stars
From: Library

This is the first book in a series called The Sarah Kelling-Max Bittersohn Mysteries. It's cleverly plotted,humorous and filled with interesting characters. If the rest are as good as this first one was I think I am in for a treat.

Product Description:

Great-uncle Frederick has passed away, and the Kelling clan of Boston has made plans to put the old gentleman's remains in the family vault on Beacon Hill. When the vault is opened, however, there's someone already there that no one could have ever expected -- the skeleton of a burlesque queen who disappeared thirty years ago!

With the help of private detective Max Bittersohn, it's up to Sarah Kelling to hold the shocked family together, and try to find out what happened. What they unravel is a complex murder plot that not only stretches into the past, but also has Sarah marked as a victim! starts with plans to bury deceased Great-uncle Frederick in the family vault on Beacon Hill. When the vault is opened, there's someone already there that no one could ever expect-the skeleton of a burlesque queen who disappeared thirty years ago! It's up to young Sarah Kelling to hold the shocked family together, and try to find out what happened. What she unravels is a complex murder plot that not only stretches into the past, but also has Sarah marked as a victim!

Monday, August 16, 2010

49. To Defy a King

By:  Elizabeth Chadwick
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Loan from Jani

My Comments

I took off a half a star simply because I hated the man that Roger Bigod had become.  I'm fairly sure that the author was showing how the stresses of living through such turbulent times takes a huge toll on personal relationships. But this is fiction after all and I wanted the relationship between him and Ida to have remained as close as it was in The Time of Singing.

But it was a wonderful book.  I love the way the author brings so much authenticity to her books that the reader feels a part of the story.  I also like the way all her characters are so well drawn, warts and all.  I am now inspired to go back and revisit all of her William Marshall books.

Product Description

A story of huge emotional power set against the road to Magna Carta and the fight to bring a tyrant king to heel. The privileged daughter of one of the most powerful men in England, Mahelt Marshal's life changes dramatically when her father is suspected by King John. Her brothers become hostages and Mahelt is married to Hugh Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk. Adapting to her new life is hard, but Mahelt comes to love Hugh deeply; however, defying her father-in-law brings disgrace and heartbreak. When King John sets out to subdue the Bigods, Mahelt faces a heartbreaking battle, fearing neither she, nor her marriage, is likely to survive the outcome ...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

48. The Time for Singing - Audio Book

By:  Elizabeth Chadwick
Rated: 5 Stars

This was a reread for me, or should I say revisit since this time was an audio experience.  I started reading To Defy a King and realized that it began at the point this on ended and I wanted to be fresh on this part of the story.

Product Description

When Roger Bigod, heir to the powerful earldom of Norfolk, arrives at court in 1177 to settle a bitter inheritance dispute with his half-brothers, he encounters Ida de Tosney, young mistress to King Henry II.

A victim of Henry's seduction and the mother of his son, Ida is attracted to Roger and sees in him a chance of lasting security; but in deciding to marry Roger, she is forced to make a choice. As Roger's importance as a mainstay of the Angevin government grows, it puts an increasing strain on his marriage.

Against a volatile political background the gulf between them threatens to widen beyond crossing, especially when so many bridges have already been burned.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

47. Bliss, remembered

By Frank Delford
Rated 5 stars
From:  Library

I really liked this authors writing style.  It was one of those books that I couldn't put down and hated to see it come to an end.  And speaking of the ending - it had a twist that I didn't see coming even though I had figured out most of it.


An award-winning sports journalist and versatile author, Deford (Everybody's All American) has written a work of enthralling historical fiction told in the form of a mother-to-son memoir. Dying of cancer at age 87, Sydney Stringfellow Branch begins telling her 62-year-old son her life story, starting with how she developed her prowess as a backstroke swimmer and attended the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While there, she fell in love with a young German named Horst, an assistant to director Leni Reifenstahl, who had been commissioned by Hitler to make a film about the games. While Sydney's escapades in Berlin bring her into contact with Nazi politicos, most of her time is spent with Horst, as their love blossoms. Inevitably, Sydney must return to America, where she slowly initiates a move from her Eastern Shore Maryland home to New York City and then finds a job and joins the Women's Swimming Association (WSA). With her focus now on competing in the 1940 Tokyo Olympics, Sydney does not foresee that destiny and impending war will bring further surprising changes to her life. Verdict Deford slyly teaches readers something about 1930s-1940s history while also writing convincingly about love and war. Sydney is a spirited narrator whose fictional memoir is sprinkled with innumerable colloquialisms and many reflective of the era. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

BBC Sherlock - YouTube

By:  BBC
Rated 5+++
From:  You Tube

This pilot series is currently playing weekly on the BBC in the UK on Sunday night. and was the most watched program both of the weeks it has been running. Some extremely kind person has put the first two episodes, "A Study in Pink" and "The Blind Banker" up on You Tube for those of us in the US. “The Great Game” will air on Sunday, August 8, 2010. Here is a link to a web page that has already been created.  There are a couple of negative reviews posted on it. Some people apparently don't appreciate anyone messing with the traditional Sherlock Holmes. I am surprised. I thought the Brits had a better sense of humor than that.

DVD Description

A contemporary take on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock is a thrilling, funny, fast-paced adventure series set in present-day London. Co-created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson. Rupert Graves plays Inspector Lestrade.

John Watson: doctor, soldier, war hero, lost soul. Fresh from fighting the war in Afghanistan, a chance encounter brings him into the world of Sherlock Holmes: loner, detective, genius. A woman in pink lies murdered in an abandoned house. The fifth victim of a seemingly motiveless killer. Inspector Lestrade is the best Scotland Yard has got. But he knows he’s nothing compared to a young man called Sherlock. Sherlock can tell a software designer by his tie, an airline pilot by his thumb. He has a unique analytical brain unlike anyone else in the world, who earns his living and staves off boredom by solving crimes. The weirder and more baffling the better…

The two men couldn’t be more different, but Sherlock’s inspired leaps of intellect coupled with John’s pragmatism soon forge an unbreakable alliance. Across three, 90 minute, thrilling, scary, action-packed and highly entertaining television movies, Sherlock and John navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers to get at the truth.

The world’s favourite detective has come out of the fog. With sparkling scripts and unforgettable performances from the two leads, this is Sherlock for a new generation.

46. Lonesome Dove - Audio

By: Larry McMurtry
Read by: Lee Horsley
Rated 5+ Stars

I don't especially like Westerns and Larry McMurtry is an author who never clicked with me. But this book is the exception that proves every rule. I love this story!

Product Description

Lonesome Dove is a dusty little Texas town where heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers embody the spirit and defiance of the last wilderness. Larry McMurtry's American epic, set in the late 19th century, tells the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, a drive that represents not only a daring foolhardy adventure, but a part of the American Dream for everyone involved. Lee Horsley, one of TV's most popular leading men and star of the Old West series narrates this compelling saga

47. River Town

By:  Peter Hessler
Rated 4 Stars
From:  Library

Records the author's experiences as an Peace Corps English teacher in the small Chinese city of Fuling, during which he witnessed such events as the death of Deng Xiaoping, the return of Hong Kong to the mainland, and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

After a very strong start this book started losing steam about half way through.  In the beginning the authors experiences and descriptions of the small city of Fuling and the University were very interesting.  A wonderful inside look at the people, history and culture.  But then he started running out of anything new to say but kept on repeating experiences only in a different  context.  I skimmed the last quarter of the book.

45. A Vintage affair

By Isabel Wolf
Rated 4 Stars
From Library

Every dress has a history. And so does every woman.In Isabel Wolff’s captivating, a treasured child’s coat becomes a thread of hope connecting two very different women.

Her friends are stunned when Phoebe Swift abruptly leaves a plum job at the prestigious Sotheby’s auction house to open her own vintage clothing shop in London—but to Phoebe, it’s the fulfillment of a dream. In the sunlight-flooded interior of Village Vintage, surrounded by Yves Saint Laurent silk scarves, Vivienne Westwood bustle skirts, cupcake dresses, and satin gowns, Phoebe hopes to make her store the hot new place to shop, even as she deals with two ardent suitors, her increasingly difficult mother, and a secret from her past that casts a shadow over her new venture.

For Phoebe, each vintage garment carries its own precious history. Digging for finds in attics and wardrobes, Phoebe is rewarded whenever she finds something truly unique, for she knows that when you buy a piece of vintage clothing, you’re not just buying fabric and thread—you’re buying a piece of someone’s past. But one particular article of clothing will soon unexpectedly change her life.

Thérèse Bell, an elderly Frenchwoman, has an impressive clothing collection. But among the array of smart suits and couture gowns, Phoebe finds a child’s sky-blue coat—an item with which Bell is stubbornly reluctant to part. As the two women become friends, Phoebe will learn the tale of that little blue coat. And she will discover an astonishing connection between herself and Thérèse Bell—one that will help her heal the pain of her own past and allow her to love again.