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Friday, January 8, 2016

Ruby Milk by Lucy English

When social worker Penny Wade meets her new client, Dani Martin, she thinks her job is to help the sixteen-year-old cope with her mother’s sudden death. But Dani raises some troubling questions about how Anita Martin died.
The police call it an accidental death. After all, people die from anaphylaxis every day. Dani is convinced her mother was murdered. Where was her always-handy EpiPen? Who was with Anita when she ate a pastry contaminated with nuts?
When a second murder victim turns up, Penny risks her life to uncover the disturbing truth about Dani’s family, whose illicit connections reach from the back alleys of Boston’s art world to the underworld of India’s gem trade

I don't normally like to read mysteries, but this was good. ...The book was fun and an easy read that I enjoyed.  The main characters had depth and charm. From 16 year old Dani who is sure her mother has been murdered to Penny Wade the case worker assigned by social services.

There are a few pg-13 style sex scenes and a bit of a romance that lends this book not just in the accidental mystery category but also a bit of chick lit. 

This story is an accidental detective story primarily, however, with the fact that Penny is a social worker her investigating Dani's mom's death seemed right to me. No one else wanted to help this girl and a social worker is who she would turn to. 

I liked this more than a thought I would. It was obvious the author did her own research into the different government departments (like social services) and convincingly wrote about Boston's art scene and the India Gem Trade. Simply put; she put a lot of time and hard work into writing this. 

Four stars instead of five because there were some grammar, narrative and formatting issues, but I tend to over look those. I mean I self publish and have an editor for my own work and still things get missed. I don't like solely  to judge a novel on this, especially when I liked reading it. Plus I find these sorts of issues in professionally edited books sold at Barnes N Nobles. This novel could stand right along side in the Mystery Section as far as I am concerned.

Also, I love the cover. 

This novel does end on a small cliff hanger, put I enjoyed the way the story wrapped up. Writing a review on a mystery is hard! I don't want to give away anything. All I can say is read this book and check it out for yourself. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and the 2016 Reading Challenge

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

First off I have done a little bit of reading already in 2016, mainly things I re read whilst bored on New Years Day. However, 84, Charing Cross Road was a delightful way to ring in the new Year.

My husband and I are doing a 2016 book challenge, the list is pictured above. We started with recommendations from each other for the month of January. He is going to read 13th Child by Patricia C Wrede, which is one of my favorites. I, on the other hand, was given a slim non fiction novel...the inside pages simply the correspondence of Helene Hanff and 20 years worth of back and forth letters between herself and an English book store.

This book was simplistic and wonderful, I laughed, got teary eyed and gobbled it up in about an hours time. A proper review is difficult since there is no real plot, no "meat" to the story, so to speak. I cannot explain how beautiful this one tiny book is. If you love reading, especially if you love holding and smelling a book and the joy of physically owning them...you will love this novella.

Helen was funny, ordering books while not understanding how to translate the British Pound and sending goodies to employees at a book store during war ridden Britain where everything was rationed. Frank, his wife and other employees of Marks & Co were warm and genuine. All of which was abundant and very apparent in the brief letters they exchanged.

Sadly the book store mentioned in this novella is no longer there, something that made my heart chill. From the Wiki article:
The shop has since been knocked through into 24 Cambridge Circus, and the premises were converted for restaurant usage. A plaque on the wall commemorates the shop and the book. In May 2015, the premises was opened as a McDonald's. The sign remains on the front of 84's original building.

I find this appalling, after reading this novella I would like nothing more than to visit Helene's beloved book shop. I leave this review with a picture of the plaque that stands where the bookstore SHOULD STILL BE.