One of the nice things about cooler weather is curling up with a quilt and a good book. Although we don’t have a real cool-down yet, I am looking forward to reading this fall and winter next to a cozy fire. While I’ve read several books in a row over the summer that I wouldn’t recommend, these recent reads have been good, and some really wonderful. As you can see from the variety of genres, I like to read a lot of different things. Affiliate links to Amazon are provided so you can shop if you like. I have a link to Goodreads on my sidebar if you ever want to check out my latest reads. So, here are a few books I would recommend.
Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee
The publisher’s synopsis says “Emily and her husband Sandy Portman seemed to live a gracious if busy life in an old-world, Upper West Side apartment in the famous Dakota building. But one night on the way to meet Emily, Sandy dies in a tragic accident. The funeral isn’t even over before Emily learns she is on the verge of being evicted from their apartment. But worse than the possibility of losing her home, Emily is stunned when she discovers that her marriage was made up of lies. Suddenly Emily is forced on a journey to find out who her husband really was . . . all the while feeling that somehow he isn’t really gone. Angry, hurt, and sometimes betrayed by loving memories of the man she lost, Emily finds comfort in a scruffy dog named Einstein. But is Einstein’s seemingly odd determination that she save herself enough to make Emily confront her own past?”
This is an absolutely wonderful story about starting over and second chances, with all the characters in the book having to make adjustments and do some self reflection. There are parts of this story that will make you laugh out loud, once so hard I had to put the book down and get a tissue to wipe my eyes. I am still laughing at the image of Einstein with his head caught in a cereal box. His view is believable doggy, with the distractions of smells and the way he makes his intentions known. I thought it would be a light read, but it is more. The depth of the characters elevates the book into a more complex story, with their insight and growth over the course of the novel. Difficult to put down! I loved this book, and highly recommend!
Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow
The publisher’s synopsis says “It is 1910 and Maria, a talented young girl from the East end of London, is employed to work as a seamstress for the royal family. As an attractive girl, she soon catches the eye of the Prince of Wales and she in turn is captivated by his glamour and intensity. But careless talk causes trouble and soon Maria’s life takes a far darker turn. Disbelieved and dismissed she is thrown into a mental asylum, shut away from the real world with only her needlework for company. Can a beautiful quilt, discovered many years later, reveal the truth behind what happened to Maria?”
Beautifully written and finely interwoven tale in three time periods, centering around an antique quilt. I am rarely surprised by twists, but this one managed to do just that in a unexpected way. The emphasis on the search for information, and the focus on the quilt was genuinely delightful. The story unfolds in interviews at first, gradually working over to the present day search to verify the claims made by the seamstress herself. Unusual in the presentation, this one is a keeper.
A Year on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball
The publisher’s synopsis says “Tired of always dreaming and never doing, Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget make a life-altering decision. Uprooting themselves from their comfortable lives in the suburbs, the three friends buy a run-down mansion, nestled in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley. They christen their new home “Ladybug Farm,” hoping that the name will bring them luck. As the friends take on a home improvement challenge of epic proportions, they encounter disaster after disaster, from renegade sheep and garden thieves to a seemingly ghostly inhabitant. Over the course of a year, overwhelming obstacles make the three women question their decision, but they ultimately learn that sometimes the best things can happen when everything goes wrong.”
A delightful, couldn’t put it down story, devoured in just a couple of days. It is refreshing to read a story that is about real women, three friends, middle aged, who embark on something new to make a significant change in their lives. The money pit of a Victorian home comes to life with more problems than expected, but the end of the year brings a heartwarming resolution to their blended families. I’ll definitely be looking for more from Ladybug Farm.
The House at the End Of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag
The publisher’s synopsis says “Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom. Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in. She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers – literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds – and maybe even save her life.”
This is a delightful read with a magical theme. Women who are at the end of their ropes are drawn to a house with the magical ability to guide them in the direction of their dreams and find a new direction. The story is not very complex, although there are a number of surprises in the story. The writing flows nicely, and draws you into the created world. I’d love to stay there for a few days just to talk to the pictures on the wall of pioneering women in all field, as the pictures all talk back. There is a Guide to the Women of Hope Street in the back of the book, detailing the lives of remarkable real women in the pictures. Short biographies of women in literature, medicine, science, suffrage, and more are listed. Four women find their way through the story, some with surprising results. I enjoyed this novel and will definitely look for more by Ms. van Praag.
Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver
The publisher’s synopsis says “Paul Schumann is a contract hitman for the mob in 1936. But with Prohibition over and the gang wars associated with it coming to an end, Schumann is finding less and less work. He is contracted for a hit. But this time, he’s caught – and finds that he’s been set up. He’s taken to meet an official in Army Intelligence and given a choice: he can spend the rest of his life in jail, or he can help his country. He is to pose as a member of the 1936 Olympic team, travel to Berlin, and kill a high-ranking Nazi close to Hitler. Schumann has been picked because he’s a second generation German-American and can speak the language fluently. Or at least that’s what they lead him to believe.”
Well written and fast paced thriller with a twist in the middle that is truly a surprise. What started out as a straightforward novel about an assassin in Nazi Germany during the 1936 Olympic games, becomes more involved and complex as the story unfolds, leading to a point where the book just simply cannot be put down. This is an excellent espionage novel, recommend!
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
The publisher’s synopsis says “Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen. Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, soon became her patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing. Lady Rowan’s friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education. The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front, where she found—and lost—an important part of herself. Ten years after the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie sets out on her own as a private investigator, one who has learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different. In the aftermath of the Great War, a former officer has founded a working farm known as The Retreat, that acts as a convalescent refuge for ex-soldiers too shattered to resume normal life. When Fate brings Maisie a second case involving The Retreat, she must finally confront the ghost that has haunted her for over a decade.”
It is refreshing to read a mystery that involves a search for truth. This novel is a fairly easy read, and delightfully set in the early 1900s to 1929. Maisie’s story beginning in the early 1900s in a large home is reminiscent of Downton Abby. The butler named Mr Carter reminds me of Jim Carter who played Mr Carson on that series. Glimpsing into her early learning gives an understanding of the way she approaches problems, and finds answers.
Today’s giveaway is a collection of two mystery novels in the cozy mystery genre that I enjoyed with a Halloween theme for Autumn Jubilee. Trick or Deadly Treat by Livia Washington, and A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford. Both are light who-done-its with an amateur sleuth who likes to cook, and are easy reads set in the month of October. Both books also have seasonal recipes, too. All you need to do to enter today is leave a comment on this post. Open for international entries too!! I have really enjoyed reading all your comments, thank you!
What are you reading now?
PS!! Wanna win more cool stuff? Jolly Jabber, the FQS blog, is sponsoring a Mega Quilt Market Sweepstakes! See the Jolly Jabber blog to enter, deadline is October 26th!!
AND, I just found out about a month of free wool pattern giveaways on the Wooly Block Adventure sponsored by the Row By Row Experience. Every other day, two shops will be features with a free pattern download. Get each one while it is up, because it is only available for two days, then it is gone and the next two are posted. Click on Wooly Block Adventure! And keep going back every other day, the event runs through the months of October and November.
Today is the last day to enter the first drawing from last Monday. Each drawing will remain open for seven days, so you have time to go back and make sure you entered all of them for this week. Good luck!!