This is Heather Graham’s latest romantic suspense. It’s slightly creepy, but not keep-the-lights-on scary. Just my kind of book!
New Orleans is the setting–graveyards, abandoned plantations, and a voodoo priestesses add to the ambiance.
Danni Cafferty’s dad has recently passed away, and Danni thinks she’s following his final instructions correctly by keeping the family’s antique and curio store open for business.
When a distraught woman comes into the store rambling about an evil statue that Danni must take away, Danni’s journey into discovering her family’s true calling begins.
Michael Quinn, a private investigator, has been tracking the statue. He thinks a string of murders and thefts is directly related to whomever last possessed it. And he hopes to find it before more blood is shed.
Michael had worked with Danni’s father on a number of supernatural cases in the past, but he has his doubts about working with Danni. Especially since it seems that Angus had not explained the full nature of his business. The two seem to have no choice but to work together when more murders are committed in the wake of the statue’s possession…
I like that Danni and Quinn don’t particularly like one another when they first meet. They have to learn to trust one another. Danni surprises both Quinn and herself when she realizes that she is able to contribute to the investigation–even without understanding what Angus’ cryptic message to “use the light” really means.
I figured out some of the key elements of the story faster than the characters did. So I’d say the plot was comfortably predictable. Stay away if you’re looking for twisty, unexpected surprises. But for a solid entertainment ride, check out this first book in the “Cafferty and Quinn” series. I’m looking forward to seeing what these two paranormal sleuths come up against next.
Check the WRL catalog for Let the Dead Sleep
Posted in Books, Melissa's Picks, Paranormal, Readers' advisory, Romantic Suspense | Leave a Comment »
Days before her wedding, Poppy Wyatt loses her engagement ring. Sometime between her girlfriends admiring the ring and passing it around.. and the luncheon programmers finishing up the raffle drawings.. and the hotel staff requiring everyone to evacuate the room for a fire drill… the heirloom ring disappeared. Not only that, but when she goes outside to get a better cell signal, someone steals her phone. Desperate to figure out what to do next, Poppy paces the hotel lobby and spies a cell phone in a trash can. What luck–the phone works! One problem solved. Sort of.
The phone belongs to Sam Roxton’s personal assistant who quit without giving notice, so when Sam calls the number and reaches Poppy, she is able to convince Sam to let her keep the phone until she finds her ring and she’ll forward all his messages.
The crazy plan works, but of course, Poppy reads all the texts that come to Sam and gets a pretty good idea of what’s going on behind the scenes in his office. Sometimes she understands what’s going on better than Sam, who is too busy to read, much less return, most texts.
And because this is a Chick Lit with romantic elements, Poppy and Sam gain insight into each other through this odd arrangement. And they like what they find!
I listened to most of this book on CD. Jayne Entwistle is the reader. I loved listening to her perky British accent–she was perfect for Poppy! It was easy to follow the narrative even with the texts and footnotes read aloud. (Yes, there are footnotes in the book. Why? Because Poppy’s self-important fiance is a scholar, and Poppy was impressed with the number of footnotes in his book.)
Personally, I never thought texts could be romantic, but I changed my mind after listening to the incredibly touching scene where Poppy and Sam are texting each other in the dark woods.
This is a light, fun, satisfying book. I highly recommend it for poolside entertainment this summer. I even enjoyed the secondary characters, even the snarky ones. And rooted for Poppy’s happily ever after with Sam right from the beginning.
Check the WRL catalog for I’ve Got Your Number
Posted in Books, Chick Lit, Melissa's Picks, Romance | Leave a Comment »
Let it Be Me is the enchanting new romance from author, Kate Noble. It tells the story of Bridget Forrester, a gifted pianist, who is, unfortunately, plagued by a terrible case of stage fright and insecurity about her abilities, and Oliver Merrick, a man with a gift for discerning people’s talents and nurturing them.
Bridget, frustrated by the roaring success of her sister’s social debut compared with her own lackluster first season, has been declared a shrew and her “character fixed as ‘unpleasant.’ And there seemed little she could do but endure it.” Until, that is, she receives a letter from the famed Italian composer, Vincenzo Carpenini, inviting her to become his student when he returns to England for an extended stay. Bridget is elated. Finally, proof of her own worth! But after finding out that Carpenini has suddenly changed his mind and no longer plans to leave Venice, she is heartbroken and humiliated.
However, not one to simply accept defeat–at least when it comes to her heart’s desire–and assisted by the convenient collapse of a tree on her family’s townhouse, Bridget manages to persuade her mother, together with her younger sister, to decamp for Venice and warmer climes. When she arrives in Venice for her long-awaited music lessons, she is stunned to discover that the composer does not remember her at all. But Oliver, Carpenini’s friend and supporter does; and since Carpenini has foolishly risked both his career and Oliver’s with a wager against the Austrian composer Klein–the new favorite of the Marchese–Bridget’s sudden appearance is well-timed.
The blossoming relationship between Bridget and Oliver is lovely to read about. As Bridget’s passion for life and love flourishes, so does her ability on the piano. Oliver is unlike any other romantic hero I’ve ever encountered. Very much a beta, he supports and encourages Bridget, and believes in her in a way no-one else has. His character has a good natured temperament and a gentle sense of humor–somewhat refreshing after the big, bad alphas, who seem to get riled up over nothing.
Noble’s writing is lyrical and filled with musical metaphors and similes. Framing the relationship in terms of music was an enjoyable novelty. I particularly liked reading a historical romance set somewhere other than Britain or America, and I’ll admit I’m partial to the romantic setting of Venice. For those seeking a well-written, touching romance with a hero and heroine worth cheering for, I highly recommend Let it Be Me.
Check the WRL catalog for Let it Be Me
Posted in Books, Ceilidh's Picks, Historical Romance, Readers' advisory | 2 Comments »
I continually find myself involved in an internal argument–how can I respect and appreciate Great Britain’s contributions to the world without despising the way the Empire was actually run? While the catalogue of sins across their colonies is infamous, nowhere was their cold calculation of empire’s management more appalling than their treatment of Ireland.
As Coogan demonstrates, the potato famine presented a golden opportunity for absentee landlords to rid their land of their least important asset–the people who actually created the wealth that gave landlords status. The spectrum of methods landlords used to accomplish this depopulation ranged from ‘merciful’ to monstrous. The end results were the same: the Irish were pushed from the homes they’d built, the work that gave their lives structure, the cottage industries that added to their meager income, the churches where they worshipped, and the graveyards where their history lay.
The famine opportunity was also a chance to put in place theories by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Jeremy Bentham, and Edmund Burke. From drawing room discussions, British policy makers took the idea that markets seek their own level, that poor people should just stop reproducing, that selfishness is a virtue, and that interfering in business is a crime against God. Working behind the scenes as advisors to parliamentary ministers and wealthy landowners (often the same people), they managed to implement a system that deprived the peasantry of even life’s basic necessities.
Of course, they never went to Ireland to see people dead and dying along the roadsides, or working under brutal and humiliating conditions in the workhouses, or rendered homeless by the destruction of their cottages. Those who did–especially the Society of Friends–pleaded with all levels of government and with the English population as a whole for some form of assistance. Contributions also flooded in from around the world, including $170 from the Choctaw Indians in the United States, but the scale of the disaster was so great that even the Quakers gave up their efforts when it became apparent that only funding for food, housing, and work from a willing government could end it.
Tim Pat Coogan points an especially damning finger at Sir Charles Trevelyan, a bureaucrat working for the Home Secretary and Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. His virulent anti-Catholic and anti-Irish bent combined with his adherence to Smith and Bentham enabled him to block relief supplies and use his position to steer public opinion onto his course. Under his instruction, others created workhouse and roadbuilding schemes so onerous that even those clinging to the last strand at the ends of their ropes didn’t qualify. At every turn, he frustrated even basic humanitarian acts and promoted the most monstrous of the depopulation schemes.
The end result of the famine was right in line with Trevelyan’s goals and those of whom he served. The generally accepted numbers show that between 1841 and 1852, the Irish population declined from 8.1 million to around 6.2 million. Whether from death or emigration, Ireland lost an enormous part of its population in a short period. While historians in the past have been somewhat passive in tracking causes, Tim Pat Coogan does not hesitate to search out and indict the people he places at the heart of a deliberate genocide.
Check the WRL catalog for The Famine Plot
Posted in Andrew's Picks, Books, Historical Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Political Science, Readers' advisory, Sense of place | Leave a Comment »
Stalina–a strange name until you learn that she’s a Russian Jew born to a poet at the height of Stalin’s paranoia toward Jews. Perhaps her parents thought she’d be protected–after all, who would want to arrest, imprison, or execute someone named after their beloved leader? Even that magic totem doesn’t fully protect her family from tiny divisions of power and influence that rendered the idea of Soviet equality a joke.
When glasnost and perestroika open Russia to the West, Stalina leaves as soon as she can, walking out of her job as a scientist creating scents that cover up the odor of nerve gas, packing a suitcase full of Russian-made bras (expatriate women can’t get any that suit their particular needs) and heading to the United States. A childhood friend has promised her a place to live and a job–a chance to leave her gray life behind and start afresh.
Her job is at the Liberty Motel, a hot sheet hotel that originally catered to weary long-distance truckers but is now a rendezvous for illicit love affairs. That’s fine with Stalina, interested only in hard work to earn a paycheck; when you must change sheets every hour or so, you really earn that money.
Stalina wants to put a twist in the business. With the owner’s grudging permission and a few bucks, she begins transforming those drab anonymous rooms into fantasies: a beachside cabana, a theme park, a gazebo in a rainstorm. Word about the rooms begins to spread; repeat customers want to try the different themes, and business skyrockets. What she doesn’t know is that there is significant competition in the short-stay industry and her success translates to trouble for the Liberty Motel.
Stalina is the ordinary person at the center of an odd world, one which most people don’t know exists. From the businesslike owner to the couple carrying on a long-term affair, Stalina engages with people who ordinarily shun or fear such contact. Stalina is an innocent in many ways with those who want to take advantage of her. As Russians have through the centuries, she endures good and bad with equanimity.
Emily Rubin taught an oral history class in Brighton Beach, a Mecca for Russian emigres, garnering much insight into Stalina’s voice from her students. Her real talent lies in making this woman into a singular and memorable character in a singular and memorable read.
Check the WRL catalog for Stalina
Posted in Andrew's Picks, Books, Characters, Plot, Quirky characters, Readers' advisory, Sense of place, Setting, Subculture | 4 Comments »