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Author Archives: virginiagruver

About virginiagruver

I am working on a mystery novel and have written monthly articles for Women's Edition. I have published a short story and once had a column in a local newspaper. I am fascinated by the writing process.

March Mystery #3

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Wow, I think I have found my favorite book so far for 2023. This was hilarious. LOVE it when I find a new author I love. Finlay Donovan is a hoot. When a young divorcee mom suddenly has to worry about her cheating ex-husband trying to get custody of her kids and she is a struggling novelist who is finding it hard to pay her bills and keep afloat, what should she do? Of course, become a hit mom. A miscommunication in a Panera with her agent leads a Panera customer to think she is a hit man and leaves her a note asking her to kill her husband for a substantial sum of money. Finlay is not a killer but everything she does to get out of the mess causes her to dig deeper into a bad situation. If you like cozy mysteries that make you lol, you will love this series. I can’t wait to read the next one.



View all my reviews

I shared my Goodreads review above but I wanted to add a little more for my own followers.

I have watched several booktubers talking about how great different books are and had been disappointed, until now. None of the other suggestions had panned out so far, until now.

This truly is a new favorite. The writing flows well as she spins her ridiculously funny story. She makes the unbelievable believable. The characters are well rounded and you get to know them so you care about what happens to them. Finlay gets herself into such awful situations, it actually made me nervous worrying about her. It is a story and I know it isn’t real but as far out there as the situations were, I believed it was possible.

If you love cozy mysteries that are not gory but are hilarious, I hope you take my suggestion and read this one. Let me know what you think.

Also, if you are on Goodreads, follow me for all of my reviews. I would love to follow you as well. If you have read this series, what are your thoughts?

Until next time,

Virginia

 

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March Mysteries # 2

I really had high hopes for this one. It is actually a horror novel but I felt it held enough mystery to add it to my March reads. I did do a little research to find out what a spite house is. It is a house built to spite someone. Usually they are built to ruin someone else’s view or be a reminder of something to someone who may not appreciate having to look at the house everyday. There are hundreds of them all over the country and I will probably keep my eyes out looking for them when I travel now.

Spite House is the story of a father, Eric Ross, and his two daughters who are traveling around the country like fugitives. We slowly learn why as the story progresses. Eric Ross takes a job in the hill country of Texas in a house that legend says people disappear in it. The owner neglects to disclose that information when she offers him the job. Eric does understand that the house is haunted and Eunice, the owner, wants proof of the afterlife and she is willing to pay plenty to get that information.

If Eric can complete the task he and his daughters will be comfortable for a while. I did think the backstory was interesting and it might explain what was happening in the house in current time but no one really explained how or why that could happen. I can’t explain too much because I don’t want this to be a spoiler. The author did use a fresher idea as to what the ghosts were capable of doing to humans and there was a twist at the end as to who the live people should actually fear.

I love a good ghost story. This was not one. I was able to read this at night which is one clue for me that it isn’t scary. It also isn’t gory which I did appreciate. I enjoy more psychological thrillers. The ghosts weren’t believable and neither were most of the characters. This story had potential but the author didn’t follow through. Everything felt like hints of horror but I never felt the horror. This is the author’s debut book so there probably will be more books in his future and if other readers like them, I probably would give him another shot. I did like the cover art and that is probably what drew my attention to the book as well as a book seller who said he wanted to read it. But for this one, I gave it 2 stars. It wasn’t a satisfying read for me.

What do you look for when you read horror? Have you read this book and what are your views?

I am already in the middle of book three for March and I am loving it. It is a mystery and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

In the meantime, keep reading.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2023 in Book Review, Mystery Novels

 

Death on The Nile

Book and Movies

I re-read Death on the Nile in February and watched a couple of the adaptations. The first was the British one from the Poirot series. That adaptation followed the story line more closely then the 1977 movie.

Peter Ustinov starred as Poirot and I probably would have liked it more if I hadn’t already discovered David Suchet who was in the series. Suchet will always be Poirot for me now. In the series Suchet plays the character more seriously. Though Poirot is kind of humorous because of all of his little idiosyncrasies, like working so hard on his appearance and knowing that his little grew cells will help him solve the crime.

Ustinov played the role a little more slapstick. I noticed one scene where he sat down in another characters room on the ship and because the character wasn’t hungry, Ustinov took the tray of food and helped himself. I am fairly sure that did not happen in the book and I could never see Suchet doing that.

I don’t want to give away spoilers so will only give a little information about the storyline. It is about Linnet Ridgeway, a young , beautiful, wealthy heiress. From the beginning of the book it is obvious everyone is curious about her. Everyone appears to be jealous and she admits that no one likes her.

Jacqueline de Bellefort, Linnet’s friend confides that she is in love and newly engaged. She bemoans the fact that her fiancé, Simon Doyle lost his job and begs Linnet to hire him as her estate manager. Linnet asks her to bring him to see her.

That request is the inciting incident. Everything that follows is because of that request. That is the fateful first step toward murder.

The book is one of my favorites and there have been several adaptations. It is a story about love and jealousy. The love of a man and a woman and the love of two friends. Jealousy, hate, and revenge are the other motives allowing Christie so many suspects.

The 1977 movie was filmed on location with major stars. Besides Ustinov there was Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Mia Farrow, and Olivia Hussey who had become famous for her role in the early seventies as Juliet in an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Their day on location started at 4:00 AM daily for makeup so they could start filming by 6:00 AM. The afternoon temperatures often hit 130 degrees so they would break for a couple hours mid day. They did film at the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. One scene supposedly was at the top of a pyramid.

I read this book before I found out about the ChristieReads2023. Each month Christie fans are reading a selected story. February will be The Moving Finger. I will obviously need to play catch up with the January and February reads but I am sure that will not be a chore. You can find out more online by going to ChristieReads2023.

Death on the Nile is one of my favorites and while Goodreads gave it 4.19 stars, I gave it 5 because I would read it again.

If you have never read Christie, I would suggest checking out her books. What is your favorite Christie?

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2023 in Uncategorized

 

March Mysteries # 1

The sun is shining bright today so I should get out a little bit but in the meantime, I finished my first book for the month. It was J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton.

I love Sue Grafton’s ABC series. I had never completed the series so decided last year to start from the beginning and read them through. This one was excellent. It pulled me into the story and would not let go.

This was the story of Wendell Jaffe who made it look like he’d committed suicide off of his boat several years earlier after he and a business partner pulled off a Ponzi scheme. He owed so much money the logical thing to do would be commit suicide or turn himself in, or fake a suicide. When the story begins. We don’t know for sure what happened. The wife filed for a death ruling to be able to collect on his half million dollar life insurance. Kinsey Millhone, the protagonist of this series is called in when someone from the insurance company she used to work for, sees Wendell in Mexico. Kinsey starts her investigation. Meticulously following leads, she is like a little bull dog tugging on a bone while everyone is trying to stop her. This book was complex enough to make me keep wondering what really was going on and who was involved. It had a very satisfying ending. Ms Grafton’s characters always feel rounded and there are enough quirky ones to make you want to come back and visit again. She is able to make even the bad guys have something about them that makes them human so that you care about them and she did do that with Wendell in this story. She is adept at describing the setting. One scene in particular made me feel the spray from the ocean and the bitter cold of the water. I would give this book 5 stars.

I plan to continue this month reading mostly mysteries. I want to read at least one Sue Grafton novel a month until I complete the series. I also started re-reading the Diane Mott Davison series set in Colorado about a caterer who solves mysteries. Same situation, never completed the series so last year started from the beginning.

Instead of waiting until the end of the month, I decided it might be easier to review each book as I complete it. I have been weeding through my bookcase this past month but I have also added a few more to my collection so I have a lot of books I want to read this month.

I hope to have a fun reading month but I do plan to enjoy the first signs of spring.

Enjoy the day but try to read, just a little.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2023 in Uncategorized

 

February Reads 2023

My Goodreads goal for the year is 40 books and February was good for my goal. I managed to read six books and since this is the 28th, there is a possibility I might finish a seventh. Since I am not positive I will finish the last book, I will leave it out of this post and count it toward March.

Booktubers read romance in February so I did include a couple. I am following some of the Booktuber’s monthly themes but will add other genres to spice it up. I tend to be a mood reader. All of my books came from my home library and that is another one of my goals, to get through my to be reads. How do you choose to read a book?

I started out the month reading a biography about Agatha Christie written by Lucy Worsley. You can find Lucy doing documentaries on PBS or Masterpiece. I had seen a few about English history and the witch trials and enjoyed her work so when I saw she’d written a biography about one of my favorite authors it was a given that I would read it. The book is 363 pages full of information about Agatha’s life. She did have a section about the time that Agatha disappeared. It wasn’t anything startlingly new but the information was written in a warm style that almost felt like I was reading a novel. If you have an interest in Agatha Christie, I would highly recommend this book. I have a few more I hope to read about Agatha later this year. I would give this one 4.5 stars.

My next book was a romance – Beach Read by Emily Henry. I had heard a couple other Booktubers talk about this being their favorite book so I had to read it even though I had recently purchased a more recent Emily Henry romance that now sits on my shelf. This story was about Augustus Everett, a literary fiction writer and January Andrews, a romance writer. January’s father died recently and left a lake home to her. When she goes to sort through his stuff, she discovers that her father had been living a second life with another woman. While January is trying to digest that information, she finds herself in a slump with her writing. That is also when she discovers her famous author, August living next door. The book has quirky characters and a budding romance. It was an entertaining book but I can’t say it was my favorite but that may be because even though I used to read a lot of romance many years ago, I haven’t consistently read them recently. I have had stories from the past that touched my heart and made me cry. I can’t say that this story did that for me. Even though I am giving it a 3 star, I would still recommend it as an interesting read. It is definitely a good example of a modern romance. I guess I will have to read a few more to see if the modern authors have eliminated the heart felt emotion I remember from the past. Do you read romance? What do you recommend?

The third book on my list this month is How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix. I have to admit this is my first Grady Hendrix novel but I have picked up his earlier one The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. I just never crossed that line and purchased it. This one intrigued me because I used to be a Realtor and had a little experience with a haunted listing or two. This was an enjoyable read. It was about a couple of siblings whose parents died in a car accident, leaving their home to be sold by the sister and brother. The two siblings had not been close over the past several years so they had to work through their own issues until they could trust each other enough to deal with the haunted property. I don’t want to give too much away but the mother was a puppeteer so there were some scary puppets and dolls in the house. It was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t as scary as I had hoped it would be but it entertained. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes a little supernatural and again quirky characters. I would give this one four stars.

The fourth book I read was a cozy mystery written by a friend of mine. Risky Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford. This was an enjoyable read. Set in small town Iowa, the protagonist and her friend publish those cookbooks used by different organizations to raise money for charitable causes. This series is called the Sugar & Spice Mysteries. There are three in the series and this is the second. Sugar Calloway is a former magazine editor and in this story their newest project is a fundraiser organized by the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Book Club, famous for their all-you-can eat biscuits and gravy events. The back cover says – When a group member is found dead. Sugar and Spice’s priorities change from raising dough to figuring out who put murder on the menu. This series has a cozy Murder She Wrote feel but set in a small town in Iowa. I wish this publisher had given this series another chance. Mary Lee’s writing flows so well and I loved the premise of this series. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves cozy mysteries. I know we will see more from this author in the future and I will keep you posted when something new is available. I am giving this one 5 stars because this is one of my keepers and will give this a re-read.

The fifth book on my list is another romance – Better than Fiction by Alexa Martin. This book is set in Colorado. The protagonist is Drew Young, she was named after her father. Her grandmother, who she was very close to, owned a book store. Drew spent a great deal of time there helping her grandmother even though she calls herself a book hater who doesn’t read. So when her granny dies, it seemed pretty obvious why she left the store to Drew who is also feeling guilty because though she loves the bookstore, she’s had to give up her passion for photography. As she mopes through life, a book group of old ladies called the Dirty Birds. I loved that group of women. If I could give any advice, I would have liked to see more of their story in this book but I guess I read enough to make me interested. When the Dirty Birds invite Jasper Williams – a sexy male romance author – to come talk, sparks fly between Jasper and Drew. As the story goes, Jasper helps Drew become a reader and Drew takes Jasper around Colorado to get background information for the setting of his next book. Well if you read romances, you know there will be a happy ever after and there is. It is an enjoyable read and I would give this book 4 stars.

The last book on my list for February is Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. This was a re-read and I plan to do a post next week going into more detail about this book and maybe a couple of screen adaptations, so for now I will say that I do enjoy most of Agatha’s work and this is one of her more popular stories. I am giving this book 4.5 stars and will probably read it again one day.

Next month is Mystery March and since my favorite genre is mystery I anticipate another good month.

What do you enjoy reading? Have you read any of these books and if so, what are your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2023 in Uncategorized

 

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What I Read in January

2023 is starting out to be a good reading year. I always read but I don’t usually set a reading goal. This year, I did. I re-connected with Goodreads and set a goal of 40 books this year. Compared to many Booktubers that really isn’t as impressive as most of them but that’s okay. I want to continue to enjoy reading and not make it feel like a chore. If you are on Goodreads, let’s connect. I do like to follow friends to see other people’s interests.

I am trying to buy fewer books. My home library is packed with books and I need to get busy reading them. I have spent some time this month organizing my book shelves. Maybe when I post my February reads I will post a picture of my main book shelves in the family room. I do have a small book case in my office and a credenza full of books too but I have been weeding through my boxes of books and paring them down. I want to get to the point where I limit my books to what actually fit on my book shelves. One side are books read and the other are books to read. I even alphabetized my books read. I didn’t feel the need to alphabetize the books I need to read. I think it’s more fun to just peruse the books to find my next read.

How organized are you about your books? If you are, how do you do it? I’d really like to know.

Before I let this post get too long, here are my reviews for the three books I read in January.

The first was – The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey by Serena Burdick.

This was the first book I’ve read by this author. Her voice was easy to read and her way of telling the story kept me motivated to keep going. It was told in two timelines – England 1898 and California 2006. Abigail from 2006 was in search of her father’s identity after her mother’s death. This search leads her to England when she discovers her great-great grandmother was the author Evelyn Aubrey. She meets distant relatives who help her discover her family’s curse and secrets. I would recommend this one if you like to read novels about writers. I believe I gave this book 4 stars.

My second book of the month was the newest Louise Penny. My bookshelf of read books shows that I own all of her novels and she is one of my favorites. This one is – A World of Curiosities. It is set in Three Pines, the fictional small Canadian village where most of her books are set. Read a few of her books and you will understand why everyone wants to visit Three Pines. The village is populated with quirky characters that you will grow to love. This book is about a couple of siblings who come to Three Pines during a celebration and Inspector Gamache becomes concerned about their presence in the village. Inspector Gamache is the head of homicide for the Surete. As the series has evolved, he has now moved himself and his wife to Three Pines. He’d been involved in a murder case surrounding the two siblings when they were children and he doesn’t totally feel comfortable with their appearance. This story is told using two timelines, the present as well as when the murder happened in the past. It was a good read, as all of her books are but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I have some in the past. This one was a little darker than previous books but I would still recommend it. I believe I gave this one 4 stars.

The third book I read in January was non-fiction. I don’t read as much non-fiction as I do fiction but I plan to add more this year. This book was – Spare. What can I say? I have always been curious about the Royals. Especially since one of my cousins did a family tree many years ago and traced my mother’s family back to 1600 Kent, England. The oldest couple he was able to find were named Spencer. So who knows, I may be distantly related to Princess Diane. I guess I was drawn to read this book partly because of all the attention it got and from watching the first episode of his Netflix interview. (I do need to finish watching that show.) His ghost writer did a decent job of telling Harry’s story. At times it felt like reading a novel. Some of the stuff he disclosed might make some people blush but from what I have seen of Harry’s personality, I wasn’t surprised that he revealed it. If you have a similar interest in the royals and would like to know more about what their lives are really like, I would recommend this book. I gave this book 4 stars.

In all honesty, if it had been possible, I would have rated these books somewhere between 4-5 stars. 3-4 star books are all worth reading by my method. I try to limit 5 stars to books I definitely will be reading more than once and I feel could become classics. I enjoyed all of them. They helped me through a few cold wintry days inside with my tea or hot chocolate, and a warm blanket where I could occasionally glance outside and watch it snow.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews. Let me know what you are reading. Even though I have so many books to read, I am always open for suggestions. Do you set reading goals? If so, what is your goal for this year?

Look forward to chatting again later,

Until then, keep reading.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2023 in Book Reviews, What I'm Reading

 

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Starting Over… Again

I have been missing in action and I do apologize. When I first retired in February 2020, I thought I would have so much time to write and do the things I love. Then the pandemic hit. I felt like I lived in fear for the next two years. My motivation to do much of anything dwindled to nothing. I can’t say I was depressed, not medically because I never sought help for it. I figured I wasn’t the only person moving around in a fog.

I can’t honestly describe all the feelings I felt at that time. Anxiety, worry, fear were probably the big ones. But I feel confident that if we are not at the end of that crisis, we are very near the end. I feel much better about life, more hopeful.

It wasn’t just the pandemic but the results of it that made life difficult. I lost a lot of friends during those two years. I am not sure why they died because most of the time, I found out afterwards and didn’t have anyone I felt comfortable with to call and find out the details.

My most difficult loss was my best friend Susan. Her death was not Covid related but I do blame Covid for her situation. She had a heart condition and needed a valve replaced. Because of Covid, she had to wait to have the procedure done. That is the part I blame on Covid. If we had not been dealing with Covid, I believe she would not have had to wait so long. She did not survive the surgery.

Susan and I were like Lucy and Ethel. We attended writer’s groups, retreats, workshops, and we met for lunch and chats either at Barnes and Noble or my patio when weather allowed. Susan was also my casino buddy. We would meet at either the casino near me, or the one near her and have lunch together and tried our luck at the slots. We used to joke about building up our arm muscles so we could carry out the bags of money we hoped to win. Susan was a more quiet, reserved person, until you got to know her. She could come up with stuff out of the blue and I would look at her like, “Did you really say that?” and then we would burst out laughing. She has been gone for a little over a year now and I still miss her. She was the only friend I felt comfortable enough with to call on a daily basis.

This year I have taken a deep dive back into writing and reading. I attend a couple of writer’s groups. I have attended those continuously, virtually for a couple of years, now again in person. One is a new critique group and they have helped motivate me to begin writing again. Their encouragement doesn’t actually make me run to my office and laptop everyday but it does make me sit down a few times a week and work on my current project.

I decided this evening to go back to my abandoned blog and maybe re-connect with some old friends on here. So I hope to post on a regular schedule. For now book reviews and maybe a chat or two, mostly writing related. I will share information about author events in the future as I become aware of them.

I hope you don’t think too badly of me for not blogging. I had to wait until my heart was actually in it again. I am hoping this is the time. Please comment to let me know you read this and if there is anything you would like to chat about in the future.

Hopefully you will welcome me back. I look forward to hearing from you. Are you writing and reading? If so, tell me about it.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2023 in Uncategorized

 

Sorrow Road by Julia Keller

Finished my third book for the month. This one is part of a series I started reading many years ago. I have several to read to catch up. These stories are set in West Virginia in a fictional town called Ackers Gap. The protagonist is a county prosecutor named Belfa Elkins. She goes by the name of Bell. Her county is riddled with drug abuse and most of the cases involve drugs except for the occasional murder investigation.

Bell is divorced and the mother of a young woman Carla who is now in her early twenties. The previous book involved a killer who kidnapped Carla when she was a teen and she witnessed some horrific things. Afterwards she left Ackers Gap to live with her father who is part of a legal team in Washington DC. That was difficult for Bell but she and her husband work together to do what is right for their only child. Bell had once been part of that lifestyle in Washington DC but with their divorce she felt compelled to come back to her hometown to do some good.

This book is set during the winter and the author’s descriptions of the blustery snowy weather made me feel like I should be able to see my breath. Luckily I didn’t and was able to wrap up in a blanket with a warm drink and enjoy the ride.

She meets with someone she went to college with who was also from the area whose father is in a local Memory Care facility. The father has died recently and the woman asks Bell to investigate his death because she does not believe that he died from Alzheimer’s.

She meets the friend, Darlene, at a bar and she notices that though the woman ordered a drink, Darlene swished it around but never actually took a drink. The next day, Bell discovers that Darlene missed a turn on one of those back roads and that she had a high level of alcohol in her system. Bell also discovers that Darlene had an anniversary chip on her for staying sober. Darlene and Bell had not had a good relationship in the past and so wasn’t even sure if she wanted to get involved in Darlene’s father’s death but when the woman’s female love interest shows up and tells Bell she found a note from Darlene asking her to contact Bell in case of her own death, Bell gets involved.

Julia Keller slowly presents the story with interviews from locals and employees of the care facility. The book also jumps back and forth between the past and the present to tell about the friendship of three young men, starting when they were just boys. They are involved in a secret from their past that has caused one of them to feel the need to confess over the years. One of the young men had always had the ability to persuade his friend that for all their best interests they need to let it go. Darlene’s father was one of those young men. This storyline is skillfully weaved between the telling of Darlene and her father’s deaths along with an employee of the facility and another older woman who were found shot as the story started unfolding. The author tells you just enough to make you want to keep reading. This was another book that I stayed up way too late to finish.

This series of books has the ability to pull you into the story. They have well developed characters that you care for. The small town has a handful of regulars that are quirky enough to make you want to visit again and again.

Julia Keller is an excellent writer. Her books shine with just the amount of description needed to make you feel as if you are there in Ackers Gap. She has developed the kind of characters who feel real and her stories are gritty enough to feel like something you might have read about in the newspaper. If you enjoy Louise Penny’s books, I do think you would enjoy this series.

Julia Keller spent twelve years as a reporter and editor for the Chicago Tribune, where she won a Pulitzer Prize. A recipient of a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, she was born in West Virginia and lives in Chicago and Ohio.

What have you been reading this month? This is my third completed book, so far, so fairly sure I will make my goal of four books this month. I hope you have missed out on the tornado season that has started down south. We are currently coming out of a few days of colder weather and heading into a warmer Spring weekend. My hubby and I have been trying to spend a little time each day walking. I have also turned more toward books than T.V. When I finish a book, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

May you escape into a book this week.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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Between Books

My Bookstore by Ronald Rice is full of essays written by authors about their favorite independent bookstores. I haven’t completed reading this one yet, I have about a fourth of the book left to read. This is one of the books that I pick up whenever I am in the mood to read it a little knowing I wouldn’t be completing it in a month. It’s interesting to see what different authors appreciate in their local bookstores. Most love the way the owners arrange book signings and promote their work. Most owners appear to help them with research and suggest books related to whatever subject they need information about for the works in progress. Many owners hand sell their books.

Since I am reading it during the pandemic, once I have completed it, I plan to do a little research to see which of these indie bookstores survive the pandemic. This is strictly out of my own curiosity. I have always thought it would be fun to travel and check out indie bookstores, so I think that is why this book appealed to me. I don’t recognize the majority of authors but that too gives me something to research in the future. If I am introduced to a book from an (unknown to me) author, it might open up new books to read.

So far, this has been an enjoyable read but it isn’t the kind of book I could sit down and read though in a short period of time. Most of the essays are basically praising book stores so kind of repetitious.

I would recommend this book to book lovers because of everything addressed above. I do like the cover and I will give it a proper review once I have completed it and I may be able to share some of my research about how the pandemic has affected the bookstores listed.

I hope I find that all of the bookstores are still open and serving readers but even without the pandemic, I think that may be impossible. I have visited the independents that I am aware of in my area. The main one is Beaverdale Books. I wish I could say it is my favorite, I really do, but it isn’t. It is very small and every time I visited it before the pandemic, I often felt a little claustrophobic. I did attend both writer’s and a reader’s groups there before. The writer’s group didn’t meet my needs at the time and the mystery reader’s group felt closed even though they opened it to the public. I was surprised that the store was unable to buy some of the books for the reader’s group. I don’t know enough about how book stores work so it is still a mystery to me. I also haven’t felt as welcome there as you would think a reader would. Whenever I have walked in there I have never had the owner or staff ever act as though they remembered me. I have been there several times over the years for author talks and to find books locally that I was unable to find at the local Barnes and Noble. I usually tried the Independent bookstore as a last resort before ordering it on-line. I do think the fact that I have a membership at Barnes and Noble that offers a discount makes it more painful to pay more for books just to say I bought it from an independent when that independent has not attempted to make me welcome when I do visit.

This independent is usually the bookstore who is asked to provide books for author talks that the local library conducts each year. I dutifully purchase books at that time when I want them autographed. So I do feel that I have contributed to their being able to stay open. But after reading this book, I feel like I am missing the same experience other’s have with their local independent bookstores. I wonder if it is because I am a reader instead of an author because I do have author friends who love our independent. I do wish them well. I want to see all bookstores thrive.

I do believe the pandemic has affected everything that we purchase. I have bought both kindle books as well as a lot more books from Amazon this past year. I think part of it is the fear of Covid and it is so easy to order on-line. I also think knowing I have a package coming gives me something to look forward to so it may have become more addictive to use Amazon.

Barnes and Noble has been open throughout most of the pandemic and for some reason, I have felt more safe their. I told my husband that I believe it is because readers are smarter than those who don’t and have rarely see anyone ignore the mask mandate. The one person I did see was in the café and the barista said he couldn’t be served without a mask. I usually go during the middle of the week when most people are working so the store is never too crowded. The store enforces mask wearing and I do not linger near others. I don’t spend a lot of time there, just enough to browse and then I head back home.

I have had my first Covid vaccine along with my hubby. We are waiting to get the second in a couple weeks. Reading has helped make our situation better. I have been able to escape in a lot of books this past year. Though it is not as satisfying as real travel, it will suffice for now. How have you been coping? Do you buy strictly from independent book stores or not? How are you doing? I feel that we will be getting back to a more normal life. I hope that rather than settle for normal, we can continue to work to make it better. I hope that our struggle will pay off and like the independent book stores, we too survive.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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The Mystery of Mrs. Christie – Marie Benedict

“A winning whodunit from the thrilling life story of the mistress of whodunits, Agatha Christie herself, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie is a deft, fascinating page-turner replete with richly drawn character and plot twists that would stump Hercule Poirot!” – Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network.

I have had an interest in Agatha Christie since the early eighties when my daughter was old enough to attend story time at the library. While she listened to stories and socialized, I loaded up with books to read at home for the next week. I quickly read all the Agatha Christie novels, our local library had to offer. I have since read as many biographies about her as well.

This is a novelization of what might have happened those eleven days that Agatha Christie disappeared. From everything that I have read, this feels like a good explanation. Agatha was a very private person and I don’t believe anyone except Agatha knows the true story.

Marie Benedict researched this famous author and put the bits and pieces of information together to form a plausible explanation. She did it in a way that created tension, conflict, and well rounded characters. It doesn’t put a very good light on Archie Christie, her husband. It makes him appear to be unworthy of Agatha. The author has attempted to tell the story with two narrators, Archie and Agatha. Archie explains how he was so besotted of Agatha in the beginning but after childbirth and her inability to get back to her youthful figures, he strays. Of course, Archie makes it seem like the obvious solution.

Agatha shows their story from her point of view. She is in love with Archie and when she discovers his infidelity the reader connects and feels her heartbreak. If it had only been Archie it would have been difficult enough but when you add in Agatha’s mother pushing her to ignore everyone else, including their only child, Rosalind, in order to stroke Archie’s ego and ensure her husband’s attention.

There is a definite character arc for Agatha. Though she’d written several books before her disappearance, this might explain how she became the powerhouse writer throughout the rest of her writing career. If I hadn’t known that Agatha does re-marry and apparently had a happy union later, I would have been more sad for her. Archie seemed to negate her writing. Not sure if it was ignorance or jealousy because of her success. If this book is anything like the truth, I am happy to see how it ended.

If you love Agatha Christie’s novels or are an anglophile and love everything from the UK, I think you will find this an enjoyable read. I have read several of her novels but not all. I do intend to remedy that by reading them regularly.

Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is also the author of The Only Woman in the Room, Lady Clementine, The Other Einstein, and Carnegies Maid. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy a taste of spring wherever you are. Here in the Midwest we’ve had a string of days filled with sunshine and seventies. May you find some time to get outside and to read this week.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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