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Search tags: hqn-vintage
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review 2018-01-16 03:43
Light on romance, heavy on mystery
The Red Carnelian - Phyllis A. Whitney

I'm going to use this one for the "W" square in the Women Writer's Bingo Project. Originally published in 1969, this is a fairly early effort in Whitney's transition away from juvenile fiction into adult gothic style romance. It's set in a Chicago Department Store during the glory days of the window display industry. One of my favorite aspects of the book was this deep dive into the narrow historical moment during which window displays in department stores were a place for copywriters and artists to get paying work that got a lot of attention.

 

The main character, Linell, is a copywriter at Cunningham's, a Chicago Department Store. I pictured the old fashioned, multi-story department store, like Macy's, that took up a whole city block. Linell's former fiance, Michael Montgomery, who goes by Monty, is returning from a honeymoon with a different woman, after basically dumping Linell and running away. The book opens to the heroine trying to figure out how best to deal with the fact that the two of them, and his new wife, are all going to be working at Cunningham's.

 

It quickly becomes clear that there is trouble in paradise between Monty and his new bride, and by about page 35, someone has taken a golf club to Monty's head. I certainly can't say that he didn't deserve it, because he was clearly a total d-bag. 

 

This is really a closed circle mystery. It's well plotted, and there is a romantic sub-plot involving Linell and another young male employee at Cunningham's that isn't particularly convincing. There is one pretty solid suspenseful scene that occurs when Linnel is wandering around the mannequin storage area. 

 

At this point, I think that Open Road has reissued most, if not all, of her adult gothics. I found this one fairly enjoyable, but I think I'd like to dip my toe in one of her historicals next - I'm thinking Skye Cameron or Thunder Heights.

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review 2018-01-12 18:10
Death of a Toy Soldier
Death of a Toy Soldier: A Vintage Toyshop Mystery - Barbara Early

 

Ok, first of all, I have an ulterior motive for picking up this book. You see, I know the setting very, very well. East Aurora, a small town outside of Buffalo, NY, is home to landmarks like Vidlers, The Roycroft, and of course, Fisher-Price and all of its toys. So when I saw that Death of a Toy Soldier was set in that tiny speck on the map that few people outside of Western NY know about, I had to read it. The book was full of recognizable places and captured the flavor of the town so well that it made me feel like I was transported back to the bricked lined Main Street with its wide sidewalks and cute little shops.

 

The plot surrounds a man who brings a box of old toys to be appraised at the vintage toy shop owned by Liz McCall and her retired police chief father Hank. When the man and is later found dead in the middle of the night, murdered with a lawn dart and Hank falls under suspicion, there's no choice for Liz and her father to investigate, turning up family squabbles, a possible haunting and some mischievous fun.  Lots of red herrings and false clues made this an enjoyable and puzzling plot and I loved the charming characters that truly embodied the warm community atmosphere of the town. The surprise twist and exciting ending capped it all off and left me eager to read more.

 

An excellent debut mystery set in a place close to my heart and I definitely recommend it for cozy mystery fans looking for a fun and enjoyable read.

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photo 2017-12-18 00:42

Do crisp pages do it for you? The musky scent of an older tome? Or are you into leather (covers.)

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text 2017-12-05 17:30
Books I Read In October and November
The Diamond Empire (A Diamonds Novel) - K'wan
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward
Brazen - Katherine Longshore
The Longest Memory - Fred D'Aguiar
The Tragedy of Brady Sims (Vintage Contemporaries) - Ernest J. Gaines
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole
A Hope Divided (The Loyal League) - Alyssa Cole
Perennials - Julie Cantrell
Driver's Seat (Penguin Modern Classics) - Muriel Spark

I read six books in October and five books in November. I'm pretty pleased about my progress. There were a few books that I thought I'd love and a few that I was unsure of that after reading became favorites. Here are the reading results:

 

 

5 Star Reads

 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

 

*I listened to most of it on audio and then switched to the ebook. This book is worth all the hype. It is an unforgettable read. I will definitely re-read this book and I highly recommend if you enjoy WWII books and stories about family.

 

 

The Longest Memory by Fred D'Aguiar

 

*This was definitely a hard read. There's family betrayal, heartbreak and the harsh realities of plantation life. The characters in this book will stay with me for some time.

 

 

4 Star Reads

 

The Diamond Empire by K'wan

 

*Crazy characters, violence and deception all play into great entertainment. I love this series and can't wait for the next book. K'wan knows how to keep you captivated, on edge and panting for that next read.

 

An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League) by Alyssa Cole

 

*Absolutely more than I anticipated. I loved the premise, characters and the writing. This book has interracial love, familial love and characters that stand for what they believe in. Another that I highly recommend to lovers of romance and historical fiction. Alyssa Cole is an author I will continue to pick up.

 

A Hope Divided (The Loyal League #2) by Alyssa Cole

 

*Loved it! Just as great as the first, but I fell in love with Socrates (Ewan). Marlie and Ewan had their own personal struggle, but manage to fight for what's most important, love.

 

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

 

*I listened to the entire book by read-to-me function on my Kindle Fire during the seven hour ride to Las Vegas. Perennials is what I call a slow burn. There's much going on throughout the book, but it all comes together like an intricately weaved  fabric at the end. I love family books. This book was heartbreaking and sweet.

 

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

 

*I'm trying to clear out the last of my YA books. I read the first two books in The Royal Circle trilogy and enjoyed them so, I decided to read Brazen before I donated it. I'm finding that the YA books I purchased are truly written for a very young audience and I can't read them. The writing is too juvenile in language and tone. However, I was able to read this and enjoyed it. It was a fun engaging read.

 

 

3 Star Reads

 

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark

 

*Okay, but completely forgettable read. I would've preferred someone to have just told me the story and saved my money and time.

 

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

 

*Another okay read that I had too high expectations. I get the parts about the importance of traditions with the tea ceremony, but even that wasn't enough of a grab to save this little book. Someone could've just told me the plot and I could've skipped it.

 

 

None Rated Books

 

The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines

 

*This definitely didn't turn out the way I thought it would. It's strange it's a book in my opinion. I don't read short stories, but I would call this one. I'm baffled and don't have much to say. Another book I could've skipped.

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

 

*This is the third book that I've tried to love by Ms. Ward. I just don't think we get along. The first book I read of hers was Salvage the Bones. After I tried The Men We Reap. I found it to be slow and melancholy to the point of distraction. My mind would wonder while reading the words. I get the point of the books or what's trying to be conveyed. I just don't enjoy the process of getting there. I find her books have the same formula. Therefore not agreeing with my tastes. Many readers love Ms. Ward and she's won numerous awards. I'm sure she'll continue with much success and I do wish her well.

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text 2017-10-30 00:51
Books I Read in October 2017
The Diamond Empire (A Diamonds Novel) - K'wan
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward
Brazen - Katherine Longshore
The Longest Memory - Fred D'Aguiar
The Tragedy of Brady Sims (Vintage Contemporaries) - Ernest J. Gaines
The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

I read 6 books in October and am pleasantly surprised. I thought I'd only read 2 or 3. Has that ever happened to you? My highly anticipated read was The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Earnest J. Gaines. It was also my biggest disappointment. I was not wowed by it and the interest I had for the build up in this short novellla wasn't and was what I thought it would be. The other shocker was Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I connected with only one of the characters (the son Jojo) and the story was a bit of multiple stories I'd read before. I didn't enjoy Salvage the Bones by her either. I think I stopped 75% through. I don't think her style of writing is for me. However, she is well regarded, loved and accoladed. 

 

The Nightingale and The Longest Memory were the "show stoppers" this month. These stories gutted me. Oh, the pain I felt. These two books I would highly recommend to anyone. It doesn't matter if you pick them up today, next month or years from now. Put them on your tbr or wishlist and read them! You won't regret it, I promise. I'm clearing out my YA shelves and have donated hundreds to date. This last purge I decided to keep some series that I started and loved, but didn't finish. Brazen (Royal Circle) is one of those I decided to keep. I had already read Guilt and Tarnish and enjoyed them. Brazen didn't disappoint. I do love historical fiction. Longshore wrote these in a style I could enjoy as well as her intended audience. 

 

 

 

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