Review of two delightful cozy mysteries

As a break from my reading to give my overstimulated mind a rest, I read two light, light whodunnit, cozy mysteries.

The first was Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran, which is the first in a new culinary cozy series.  The recipe in the back of the book was for buttermilk pie, a specialty at the bookshop/cafe where several book clubs met. At the cafe/bookshop, books are sold, three meals a day are served by the owners/waitresses who share a life, are roommates, and , of course, solve a murder.  The victim, “Miss Delia,” one of the older women’s book club’s charter members, is found bludgeoned by a dull, heavy object and totally dead. We are on the “outskirts” of the mystery wondering what “Skully”, a local homeless man was doing skulking ( pun intended) around Miss Delia’s house.  I, an amateur Sherlock, just knew there was a “connection” but still got the “connection” wrong.  Excellent twists and turns, treasure hunters on motorcycles known as “wreckers”, and a touch of romance make an excellent summer read for anyone who loves books, belongs to a book club or just likes to read about food.  Available in paperback.

The second, Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Laverne, a husband and wife mystery writing team, is again, the first in a series of books, the Retired Witch Mystery series.  It has great promise even though I am a good Christian and don’t like reading about witchcraft of any kind, even those as hilarious and delightful as these three witches. The book was a gift, and I enjoyed it very much.  It has a simple, but original plot. Three witches who realize they are now eligible for AARP, must “conjure up a retirement package” and find three young recruits to take their place. A big plus for me is that it is set in Wilmington, N.C., near my original “home state” of Virginia and near Beaufort, N.C. where my husband was born and raised until the age of five.

Olivia, one of the witches winds up dead near the beginning of the book, and the witch hunt (pun intended again) is on!  This is a fast read, an amusing read, and for any reader who likes humor, loves books and thrives on twists and turns.  This book is written by a very talented “team”. Available in paperback. 2014 publication.

Both books are my recommendations for beach reads, escape reads or  a “just- plain take-a-day-off-and- read- a -book- day”.  Both are  also easy to read as a “pick up and put down” book as well.








Review of The Kashmir Shawl

Kashmir Shawl was my Third Tuesday Book Club Selection for the month of May.  I had never heard of Rosie Thomas, and probably would have not read a “romance” on my own, but it was “assigned.”

I soon came to realize that as one member said, “Oh, it is so much more than a romance.” And oh my, it is!

The author, a wonderful gifted writer swept you away to India to the extent that I felt I had been there in that time during the Second World War. The descriptions and characterizations were exceptional, and the theme of the shawl was very vivid as the modern day girl searched out how her grandmother had come to own such an exquisite item, and  unfolded the grandmother’s “secret story.” I could feel the texture and see the colors of the shawl as I was seeing India and its former beauty.

As far as the romance, what woman wouldn’t be swept away as well by the Magician-hero with his tawny mane and his “leonine appearance?”

All in all it was a good read, perfect for summer and get-away-from-everything reading.

This and That/Here and There

My two weeks off from blogging extended into much longer than two weeks, primarily because I couldn’t remember how to “get back on the pony!”  With the assistance and kindness of my former student/”grandson”, Andrew, I am back.

I have read many books in my “absence”.  For starters, The Art of Grace, by Sarah Kaufman,was an excellent, engaging non-fiction read which kept me wanting to turn the page or start the next chapter throughout.

One of the best reads during my hiatus was In the Shadow of the Banyan a novel by Vaddey Ratner.  It was recommended by a book club friend and was as good as she described. It was horrible and yet beautiful, at the same time,thanks in part to the author’s wonderful writing.  I knew nothing of Cambodia during its civil wars and horror during the years 1975-1979 but had a connection to them in that I was teaching 7th graders who were refugees brought to Alvin by a local church.  Since they spoke no English and I spoke no Cambodian, it made for some interesting “aha-teaching experiences”.  The takeaway of the book, the indomitable human spirit ,was so uplifting that this reader came away moved and encouraged rather than sad and depressed.

Two others out of the dozen or more books that I finished were Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling (“Adventures of an American in Britain”), a NY Times bestseller, and Ann Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread . The former I read along with my brother in Virginia in a two-person book club.  He sent the book,printed in large print (which added to my reading pleasure). Ann Tyler is one of my favorite authors, and I believe I may have read everything she has written. I’ll just comment that she lived up to the high expectations I always have for her novels–a great read . Whenever I read in the newspaper she has a book coming out, I drop everything and read her latest.

So much for my reading here of late. What recommendations do you have to add to my lengthy To-Read-When-I-Can- Work-It-In-List?