Monday, May 30, 2011

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

In 1893, Cora Cash is one of the richest heiresses in America. Her mother is determined that Cora will marry a husband with a title, preferably British. While in England for the season, Cora meets the Duke of Wareham and is smitten. He also seems enchanted by her and appears to be a good match, since he is in need of a wealthy wife to help maintain Lulworth, his large estate. Can anything prepare Cora for the life of an English duchess, steeped in history and traditions so different from her American upbringing? Also, what will be the impact of the Duke's past--about which everyone except Cora seems to know? The American Heiress is similar to the novels of Edith Wharton and the PBS miniseries Downton Abbey. It also reminded me of The Help because both books explore employers' and servants' lives and both are page turners. I was simply fascinated by the world to which Goodwin exposes the reader in this book. It will be published in June.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

Kim Larsen only has a few weeks left at home before heading off to college. One afternoon, she disappears and is reported missing the next morning. Her parents, Fran and Ed, struggle to get the help they need from the police while doing their own searching and enlisting community and media help to find their daughter. In Songs for the Missing, the reader sees through the eyes of people close to Kim--Fran, Ed, Lindsay (her younger sister), J.D. (her boyfriend), and Nina (her best friend) how her absence and uncertainty of her whereabouts affects them. O'Nan has written a character-centered novel that pulls the reader into a story of loss and courage.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Red Wolf by Liza Marklund

Stockholm journalist Annika Bengtzon still has nightmares about being trapped by a killer while working on a previous story. Her latest project is investigating the explosion of a jet on a northern Swedish air base in 1969. When a local reporter who recently wrote a story about the event is murdered, Annika believes she's onto something. Soon, more murders follow and Annika is on the trail of a mysterious terrorist that goes by the alias Ragnwald. At the same time, she's got to take care of her home life, with two children and a husband (Thomas, who finds himself thinking about having an affair). Annika, however, is determined to follow the story to the end despite being told to stop by her boss. While I enjoyed Red Wolf, I felt at times that I was missing something, having not read the previous books in the series, especially The Bomber. I also think the translation at times was disjointed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum

The Seaside Knitters gather each Thursday night at Izzy Chambers knitting shop to eat, knit and converse. There's Izzy, her Aunt Nell, eighty-year-old Birdie and lobsterwoman Cass. When Angie Archer, the knitting store's upstairs tenant, is found dead in the water, tangled in one of Cass' traps, the women have a hard time digesting the news. When the police reveal that Angie was murdered and bring Angie's brother, Pete, in for questioning, it hits even closer to home. Lead by Nell, the woman decide to conduct their own investigation, hoping to be able to put the awful event behind them, so they can move on. With the close bond of friendship between the women and details about knitting and food, Death by Cashmere is the first book in the Seaside Knitters series. If you enjoy cozy mysteries, give it a try.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

An assassin is on the loose in Oslo. When he realizes that he's killed the wrong man, he becomes even more determined to carry out the job. To stop him, Harry Hole and his colleagues on the Oslo police force must delve into the lives of the victims--brothers Robert and Jon Karlsen of the Salvation Army. Harry also begins the task of tracing where the killer-for-hire is from, which leads him all the way to Croatia. In The Redeemer, Nesbo continues the adventures of Detective Hole and his co-workers, creating a complex police procedural that's hard to put down--once you get into it. The Redeemer, while not yet published in the U.S., comes in the series before The Snowman, which was just published. This is very frustrating, since there are important events in The Redeemer that help you appreciate The Snowman even more. That might be OK if The Snowman were a better book than The Redeemer, but that's not the case. Too bad Random House couldn't publish them in order!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Deceptions by Rebecca Frayn

Julian, an art authenticator, lives with his girlfriend, Annie, and her two children, Dan and Rachel. Soon after Julian and Annie announce that they plan to get married, Dan disappears. All the time he's missing, Annie keeps his room exactly the same and holds out hope that he'll return. After three years, a call comes from Glasgow saying that Dan has been found and is on his way back to London. By this time, Julian and Annie are living apart, mostly because Julian has wanted Annie to move forward with her life--he's seen firsthand how Dan's disappearance has made Annie so depressed. The Dan that returns home is very different from the boy that left. Now fifteen, Dan looks and acts differently and has no memory of where he was all that time--or even memories of growing up. Annie doesn't notify the authorities of Dan's return and refuses to press the issue of where he's been, which deepens the rift between her and Julian. But for Julian and the reader the question remains, where was Dan...and is it really Dan at all? Deceptions is similar to the novels of Ruth Rendell, Tana French, and Sophie Hannah.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Bride's House by Sandra Dallas

Women of three generations--Nealie, Pearl and Susan--will occupy the Bride's House over the years in the small mining town of Georgetown, Colorado. In 1880, Nealie Bent falls in love with the home as it's being built and dreams of living there one day. Later, Pearl lives there with her over-restrictive father who will not allow her to spread her wings and grow. In the mid-20th Century, Susan spends her summer in Georgetown, but her family's fortunes at times bring her pain similar to her grandmother's (but in the opposite way). With The Bride's House, Dallas has written another historical novel focusing on how women's lives are shaped by the times in which they live. Once I got into the novel, I had a hard time putting it down. One of her best.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

For Christine, going to sleep is the worst possible thing she can do. When she wakes up each morning, she has no idea what happened the day before--or the last twenty years, during which time she has had amnesia. She also wonders about the man she lives with, whom she discovers each day to be her husband, Ben. Even worse, she finds an entry in a journal that she's been keeping that says "DON'T TRUST BEN." It was Mr. Nash, Christine's doctor, that suggested she record what happens each day. Christine has been seeing him secretly and it seems she's making progress, remembering her past by re-reading her diary. But instead of helping her, it could become a nightmare.... A first novel that stays with the reader long after the story's over. It will be published next month.