My Take on Portrait of a Murder

Book Reviews

Art, murder, mystery, romance, are all combined in Portrait of a Murder by Kerry J. Charles. This is the first book in the Dulcie Chambers Mystery series. After finishing Portait of a Murder, I can not wait to start on the other books in the series.

Kerry J. Charles has quite an impressive resume. She has worked as a researcher, writer, and editor for National Geographic Magazine, the Smithsonian Institution, and Harvard University. She has also worked for major textbook publishers. All of this experience has surely come in handy at penning her own works.

The mystery is set on the coast of Maine. Dulcie Chambers is a curator for the Maine Museum of Art. She wants to acquire a watercolor by Winslow Homer to complete her exhibit. The museum’s director, Joshua Harriman, volunteers to go to Christie’s auction house in New York to bid on and hopefully obtain the watercolor. But before Dulcie can lay her sights on the watercolor, she instead comes across a body. She is now in a sticky situation, but police detective Nick Black is on the case.

I enjoyed Portrait of a Murder very much. At 137 pages, it was not a super long read, however, it was a page turner. There were just enough suspects to confuse things and keep one guessing. I would recommend this book and I am planning to continue reading the series. The next book is titled, From the Murky Deep. Sounds interesting already! As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on Rules for Visiting

Book Reviews

My latest read was a book I asked for and received for Christmas, Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane. Rules for Visiting was an easy read. This book will make one think of the way in which they live their life and the role friendship plays.

The novel is about May, a botanist, and how she decides to catch up with old friends, and perhaps find herself, during bonus time off from her work. May is a gardener at the local university. Being granted a months vacation from her job, May decides to take four seperate vacations to visit friends from her childhood through her college days. While May does have friends of her own, she is often intrigued by other peoples relationships with their frineds. Why does her life seem lacking? Will she find what she is looking for?

Kane’s novel is a wonderful read. A book about life that could easily be made into a movie. It also has plant and tree facts sprinkled throughout the book. This helps define the character and may also teach the reader a thing or two about plants. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…Bomb Girls

Book Reviews

I just finished reading Bomb Girls by Jacky Hyams. This book is about the women who worked in Britain’s munitions during WWII. The book is a rare treat, especially for those interested in history.

Bomb Girls starts out by introducing the reader to munitions factories and what it was like to work in one of these factories. But what is even better are the following chapters, the memoirs of the actual workers, the stories they tell of their life experiences. The chapters read as though the women are right there, telling their stories in person. Each woman tells a little about her life before working at the factory and then details of her experience at the factory and what she did after the war was over. The last chapter gives more details about each of the munitions factories that the women in the book worked at and what happened to the facility after the war.

This book was an easy read and kept me interested the entire time. I had no idea that once a girl turned 18 they were called up to work in factories of this kind during the war years. It was very dangerous work. Accidents happened and some were deadly. So what got these women through this stressful time? Friendship, doing what they thought was right to help their country, and the hopes of helping the men they knew and loved.

I highly recommend Bomb Girls. If you love history, have an interest in WWII, or want to learn more about women and their efforts during the war, this book is a must read. As always, Happy Reading!

I Have to Read What!

Book Reviews

Back in high school, my teacher assigned the class to read Dracula by Bram Stoker. What! I was none too thrilled to say the least. Of all the books, why on earth did she have to choose that! I had NO interest in reading a book about vampires, or so I thought…

I should have known that this particular teacher (who was one of the best) would not let me down. Shortly into the book, I was hooked. Dracula, of course, is a classic. This is with good reason.

Since high school, I have read Dracula a few more times. I just recently finished reading it again. It is one of the few books that I have read more than a couple of times. It is a great read around Halloween. I am also a fan of reading this book at night; helps to set the scene.

So the moral of my story is… it is hard to judge a book by its subject matter alone. It is a good idea to try reading books one would not normally choose. One never knows what they may be missing.

As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Deep End

Book Reviews

Jeff Kinney is at it again. His latest book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Deep End, is out. I pre-ordered my copy and happily found it in my mailbox a few days ago. I just finished reading the book. Being a fan of the series, I knew things would not go smoothly for the Heffley family. Of course, I was correct.

The story picks-up where we left off in the last book, Wrecking Ball. With the Heffley house left in shambles, they are forced to move-in with Gramma. Of course, this leads them into close quarters and in the needs of a vacation. Having seen how the Heffley’s other vacations have turned out, it was no surprise that this vacation would not exatcly find the Heffley family in paradise. However, when Greg’s mom is determined to do something, do it they do.

Pick-up a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Deep End, and join the Heffley family on their RV road trip. With the Covid pandemic, I think we can all feel a bit of what Greg and his family are going through on their vacation. But don’t forget to laugh.

As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on: Married to Laughter

Book Reviews

Jerry Stiller passed in May of this year. He was 92 years old. I loved watching him as the over-the-top father, Frank Costanza, on the hit television show Seinfeld. Married to Laughter is a book written by Jerry Stiller about his life growing up in New York, meeting and marrying actress Anne Meara, and his life as an actor.

Jerry Stiller was nothing like the character he played as Frank Costanza. He was an actor after all. He attended Syracuse University, where he studied Theater. He worked in clubs and the theater. Even while working on Seinfeld, he worked in theater. He was an actor and he was driven to act. Not only was this his way to earn an income but it was his passion.

I find it interesting to read autobiographies. I feel like I get to know that person better by reading about them in their own words. One gets a sense of who they are and what they are like. It was interesting to hear the stories Stiller told of his life and what his thoughts were on what was happening at the time. I would recommend Married to Laughter to anyone that enjoyed Stiller’s work. I would also recommend it to anyone interested in theater or acting. The book gives a good sense of what it is like for an actor and the struggles they face at keeping the jobs coming in. It takes a lot of drive. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Kingdom of the Blind

Book Reviews

The suspended head of the Surete du Quebec, Armand Gamache, receives a letter informing him of a meeting to discuss a will. Curiously enough, Gamache has been named executor of a complete stranger’s will. As he arrives at the meeting place, which turns out to be an abandoned farmhouse, his neighbor, Myrna Landers also pulls-up in her car. Going inside they are met by the Lawyer and are introduced to a young builder named Benedict who was also named as executor to the estate. Not one of the three persons named executor knew the deceased. How odd…

And thus begins the novel The Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. The threesome decide to accept the role of executor and will find themselves not only asking why they were named executor to a complete stranger’s will, but who done it. Gamache will also try to solve his own mystery. The mystery that got him suspended from the Surete.

With likable characters, such as Gamache’s unique neighbors, and plenty of mystery, The Kingdom of the Blind is sure to keep one guessing and intreaged. This novel has two mysteries in one book that are unrelated to each other. So, it is a bit of a bonus. This is not the first in the Gamache series. Choose to start at the beginning or jump right in with this page turner.

As always, Happy Reading!

Re-Reading and Re-Organizing Favorite Books

life

My stash of books is starting to dwindle. I have started a new book and have only one left in my to read stash. As libraries are closed due to the recent precautions and shutdowns, I will turn to my own resources after I have depleated my stash.

Lucky for me, I LOVE books and always have. I have my own personal library and have even made an Excel spreadsheet listing them in alphabetical order along with their authors and type of book. However, the other day I saw my husband looking at something on his cell phone. “What is this?” I asked. The answer got me curious and excited. Apparently, new technology being what it is, there are sites that allow one to enter ISBN numbers of books to efforetlessly organize and log one’s entire personal library. It even pulls up a picture of the cover, gives a summary of the book, and allows one to rate the book with stars. Oh my word! My new mission is to convert my “outdated” Excel spreadsheet into a “modern” on-line library system. The website I am using is: http://www.libib.com.

Upon using the on-line library system, I must say that I LOVE it! Oh my gosh is it cool! So I entered a bunch of my books and some same up with a different jacket cover the the book. Not to worry… the program allows one to upload a photo of the correct jacket cover and switch them out. Amazing! So, for any covers that differed, I took a photo of my book and downloaded it. It was very easy to do. Also, if a book does not have a ISBN number it can be brought up by title or author. I had one book that would not come up using any of these methods, however, the program let’s one manually enter books of this nature. So cool!

The program also allows one to create multiple libraries. I am going to organize my craft books into their own library, my art books into their own library, and the same for my cook books. One can choose to publish and share their libraries with friends if they wish or keep the libraries only for their own use.

Soon I will have to start re-reading some of my old favorites. Perhaps a Sydney Sheldon? I have not read his books for a while so I am sure they will be full of surprise for me again. Needless to say, it will be much easier to choose that next book once my on-line library is updated.

I can also scan through the shelves of my other family members for some fresh reading material. I got my daughter a book on the great costume designer, Edith Head, that I would not mind sinking my teeth into. I think my son’s copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain might also be of interest to me.

For now, I am set with a rather thick novel. However, it is comforting to know that there are possibilites in house. Perhaps this may even be a good time to start writing my own book… Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Ghosts of Eden Park

Book Reviews

Author Karen Abbott’s The Ghosts of Eden Park set in real life jazz-age America is an interesting read. This nonfiction piece is about bootleg king George Remus and his life as a bootlegger and where it led him. Remus was a famous bootlegger well before the famous Al Capone.

George Remus was a German immigrant who worked in a pharmacy, then practiced law, and ultimately bootlegged whiskey. He was a multimillionaire who threw grand affairs and lavished his guests with expensive gifts. Prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is out to get Remus. She sets investigator, Franklin Dodge, on the case. Dodge, however, plots to get his hands on Remus’ money and his wife Imogene. The outcome…murder.

Karen Abbott has written an interesting work of nonfiction with The Ghosts of Eden Park. According to her note, every word between quotation marks actually is taken from a government file, archive, diary, letter, newspaper article, book, a hearing or trial transcript. The transcipts were so long that she could accurately describe scenes, conversations, and the characters themselves.

The book reads like historical fiction although it is in reality nonfiction. For anyone interested in life as it was in the 20’s, this book is sure to please. Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Masterpiece

Book Reviews

I often pick up books off the shelves by their cover designs and titles. Fiona Davis’ book The Masterpiece had a title that screamed art and a cover that screamed historic novel. I then flip to the back and read the summary. This one was right up my alley.

Fiona Davis starts her novel in 1928 New York told through the eyes of Clara Darden. Clara teaches illustration at the Grand Central School of Art. Chapter two takes the reader to 1974 New York told through the eyes of recently divorced Virginia Clay. Virginia has an appointment with the Trimble Temp Agency, which takes her to a law office located in the Grand Central Terminal . The chapters will take turn throughout the book telling each lady’s story.

Clara will try to make her way in a very male dominated field. Just when she thinks she has the perfect life, the Great Depression hits. Losing everything only to start over when another major tragedy will shake her world.

Virginia is finding herself after her divorce. Her new job is paying the bills and that is all. She comes across an abandoned art school within the Grand Central Terminal where she finds a watercolor. When she tries to find out more about the artist, Clara Darden, she seems to have opened up a can of worms. Let the mystery begin.

I enjoyed this book and by the end found it very hard to put down. (“Fionia Davis ‘The Master of the unputdownable novel.'” — Redbook) I enjoy historic fiction and found this piece to be very interesting. I also enjoy a good mystery and The Masterpiece did not disappoint. The twists in the ending took me by surprise and made for an interesting read. Two thumbs up for Fiona Davis and The Masterpiece. Pick up a copy and see how this one plays out.