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review 2017-02-09 02:25
The Persian Pickle Club
The Persian Pickle Club - Sandra Dallas

This was an impulse purchase at one of my local library sales, I think.  It's set in 1930's Kentucky during the dust bowl years and featured friendship and quilts.  How bad could it be?


Turns out not bad at all - it was excellent.  AND what they don't tell you on the cover is that there's a mystery to be solved, so of course I loved it even more.


Queenie is a young farm wife and part of the quilting circle called the Persian Pickle Club.  Rita is a newcomer to town and the club; a city girl who has just married a hometown boy reluctantly returned to the farm.  Queenie decides to make Rita feel welcome and tries her best to fold Rita into the daily routine of life in a farming community, but Rita doesn't want to be a farmer's wife; she has ambitions of her own to be a journalist and in her pursuit she digs up secrets people would rather remain hidden.


The beauty of this book is that it isn't trying to be anything it isn't; it feels like an authentic snapshot of time and place (and warning: it includes some language common to the time that we consider verboten now).  It doesn't make any moral judgements and the plot doesn't adhere to the strict definition of justice.  And that's all I'm saying because anything else would spoil it.  Let's just say I was giddy over the way it surprised me.


It's an easy read with potential to be a comfort read as well.  Definitely one of the better impulse buys I've made.

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review 2016-07-27 07:08
Sprig Muslin
Sprig Muslin - Georgette Heyer,Sian Phillips

I'm being kind with 3 stars.


I totally get why people love this Heyer book so much; I do.  But I really disliked it.  It's beautifully written and the narrator of this version did a fantastic job (although her Mr. Theele kept making Peter Sellers' Sidney Wang character pop into my head; I couldn't shake the feeling that when she read it she had a rictus-like smile on her face.  But I digress.)


So what didn't I like?  Amanda.  Dear God in heaven; at her best-behaved I'd have left her on the side of the road, taken Joseph with me, and buried her in the carriage's dust.  At her worst I wanted to slap her stupid. I very nearly didn't finish the book.


I know I was supposed to find her and her antics a hilariously entraining romp, and I have no problem understanding why most people do, but she's just such a spoiled rotten brat and I was stuck listening to her ridiculous tantrums and schemes for 2/3 of the book.


Why didn't I just dnf it?  Because everyone I know and trust loved it, and I really liked Lady Hester and Sir Gareth.  I'd have loved this book if it had more of them and less of that little idiot Amanda.


But after saying all of that, this is a personal thing; the book is superbly written and flows beautifully.  I hated the predominant character but that's not because she's badly written; likely the opposite.  If you can laugh at the antics of a teenager scheming to get her own way with careless but cheerful disregard for others, I highly recommend you put this Heyer at the top of your list.  If you're disinclined to find charm in spoiled teens, you might want to stick with Heyer's other titles.


N.B. - notwithstanding the rictus-smile narration of one of the characters, I'd totally listen to this narrator's work again; she did an excellent job.


N.B.B. - OH!  I just realised!  I can use this for summer book bingo for the Planes, Trains or Cars square!!  More than half of this story takes place in carriages.  Woot!

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review 2016-06-06 01:43
Love, Lies and Spies
Love, Lies and Spies - Cindy Anstey

I feel like I'm not going to do this book justice.  It's marketed as a YA, but I'd happily hand this over to a middle school reader who wants to tackle something different.


The writing is really, really good, but it's written on a slightly more juvenile level than the YA I normally dip into.  So we have a well plotted story, very solid characters, a well-researched setting and time period, and characters that come to life on the page.  Once I got past the opening scene's silliness, the story moved along for me at a reasonable clip.  But instead of wanting to rate it 4-4.5 stars at the end, I was just left trying not to use the word "cute", and I think that's a reflection of the reading level the book is written in.


Overall, I thought it was good, definitely not a waste of time or money, but I'm just *sniffle* a little too old to give it the kudos it deserves.


(Summer Book Bingo for either YA or Romance; I haven't decided which yet.)

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review 2016-06-04 07:39
Old Herbaceous
Old Herbaceous: A Novel of the Garden - Reginald Arkell

Well this one is just a cozy read that hit me in just the right way.


Spanning from the late 1800's through the end of WWII, this is the story of a manor house's head gardener, from his inauspicious beginnings as a foundling through to his last days.


I'm left confused about the narrator: for much of the story it feels like you're listening to Old Herbaceous himself telling his story as he looks back; in fact I'm sure it is him.  But there are moments of omniscient third person: the narrator lets the reader in on  conversations and the internal dialogues of secondary characters that Old Herbaceous couldn't know about.  It flows well if you don't focus too hard on it; it didn't throw me out of the story so much as just slow me down a little bit.


This was the perfect book for a cold, rainy do-nothing kind of day, and I closed the book smiling.  


(This fills a Bingo square for Historical Fiction.)


edited because I just read it again and found so many errors....

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review 2016-04-08 03:21
Death Comes to Permberley
Death Comes to Pemberley - P.D. James

“Heaven and earth — of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?” 


Austen had no way of knowing it, but it wasn't Elizabeth Bennett that would pollute the shades of Pemberley; it was P.D. James.


A couple of pages in, I thought "oh, this is looking good - 4 stars at least".  


After a few chapters and the mindless, never ending digressions started piling up, I thought "blah, blah, blah. 3 stars."


Then the part where Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam and a lawyer start debating the merits of England adding an appeals court to their judicial system, with Darcy's monologue about how it would work, how many judges it would have, etc. and I thought "are you kidding me with this?  2 stars".


The ending of the "mystery" (there is no mystery, only a murdered man and the most ludicrously contrived plot I've ever read) was so sputteringly (made up word) ridiculous, and the epilogue a mind-numbing, insulting rehash of the ending to P&P that my last thought as I closed the book:  


Stick a fork in me, I'm done.  1 Star.  This was awful.

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