The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

August 4, 2021 by

The latest novel by Chanel Cleeton is set in the late 1800’s during the Spanish-American War. Three main female protagonists are Grace, a newspaper reporter; Evangeline, a young Cuban woman unjustly imprisoned, and Marina, a Cuban woman trying desperately to feed her daughter while interned in a work camp. Their lives intertwine, as Grace and Marina aid in planning Evangeline’s escape from the horrible prison Recogidas. William Randolph Hearst is another central figure in drawing attention to the plight of the Cubans, who are attempting to overthrow the Spanish, and ultimately involving the U.S. I enjoy reading historical fiction, as much information can be learned about the past in an entertaining fashion.

Sorrow and Bliss

July 31, 2021 by

Meg Mason’s Sorrow and Bliss revolves around the 40 year-old Martha and her mental illness. While the author purposefully never names Martha’s diagnosis, we learn she has returned to live at her parents’ home in London after her husband has walked out on her and the marriage. Her husband, Patrick, has been patient and loving, but Martha’s illness has conquered even his strong reserves. Once back in her childhood home, Martha ruminates on her past, her marriage, and why she ‘is the way she is.’ Her sister, Ingrid, about to have a fourth child, tries to intervene in a helpful way, but at some point all of Martha’s family are at a loss as to how to help her. Meg Mason describes Martha’s fumblings with humor although we know she can’t control herself. Sorrow and Bliss is an interesting study of a woman wishing she were healthy and her family who try to support her.

The Disappearing Act

July 29, 2021 by
Title: The Disappearing Act: A Novel, Author: Catherine Steadman

Catherine Steadman’s latest mystery did not outdo her previous titles. Steadman (an actress as well as author) has written a mystery set mostly in Los Angeles, CA. British actress, Mia Eliot, is sent to LA from London by her agent to audition for a part that may make her career. Looking for a change of scenery since her boyfriend of 5 years just broke up with her (by text!), Mia is eager for a change. While waiting to be called to read for the part, Mia meets another actress (Emily) in the waiting room who is going for the same part. Emily asks Mia to go ahead of her because she has to ‘feed the meter’ so she doesn’t get a ticket. Instead, Mia offers to go out and feed the meter herself. When she returns, Emily is gone. Mia reads next, but when she finishes Emily still hasn’t shown. This convoluted plot continues to become more mired in unbelievable twists as Mia searches for the missing Emily. While she doesn’t seem very heartbroken over the end of her relationship, Mia is determined to find out what happened to Emily. However, Steadman’s chain of events are bogged down in unimportant details and fail to engage the reader. While somewhat entertaining, The Disappearing Act ultimately is not worthwhile.

Just a Story

July 28, 2021 by

This new title by Jeff Mack is a great story to read aloud to the preschool set. A young boy finds a book in a library, and his imagination runs wild. He is almost captured by pirates, stomped by a herd of elephants, stepped on by a baby dragon, and worst of all, ALMOST KISSED by a frog. A whimsical ode to the power of imagination and the power of stories to take us anywhere we like…

A Dream of Death

July 24, 2021 by

Connie Berry has set her first novel in the Kate Hamilton series on the Isle of Skye, in the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland. Kate, an antiques dealer in Ohio, is summoned to Skye by her not so favorite sister-in-law, Elenor, to help ease her fears about something, without giving an explanation. When Elenor is murdered shortly after after Kate arrives, and a local mentally impaired man is accused, Kate decides to investigate. Berry writes a fast-paced thriller, with a bit of romance thrown in, and I thoroughly enjoyed this.

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