Archive for April, 2021

On Deadly Tides

April 15, 2021
On Deadly Tides by Elizabeth J. Duncan

The 11th Penny Brannigan title in the series is a cozy mystery set in the north of Wales. Our main character, Penny, has gone away on a painting weekend where she stumbles into a murder mystery by finding a dead body washed up on the shore. Like the other 10 titles preceding this one, On Deadly Tides fits squarely in the ‘cozy mystery’ category. As Penny conducts her amateur sleuthing, she meets an attractive single man who seems to return her interest. Although earlier Brannigan mysteries had some romantic interest for Penny, this one goes deeper and I was happily surprised at the development. More than the solving of the mystery, the familiar characters return from previous books and round out the story line. A satisfying, simple read. Enjoyable.

The Vanishing Half

April 14, 2021

Brit Bennett has written a fascinating novel about 16 year old twin sisters who disappear from a small town in the South. They run away to New Orleans, and live together for a short while, until one sister leaves abruptly without any notice, and her twin spends a great deal of her future life wondering why. The girls are both very light skinned African Americans; one sister marries a man with very dark skin and has has a child of “blueblack” color. She flees her marriage due to abuse, and winds up back in the town she grew up in. The other sister makes the decision to pass for a white person, and tells no one, not even her husband. Until one day when their daughters cross paths, and one girl figures out what happened. Both sisters experience being the “odd one out” in their circles, and the reader can empathize with both characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Flowers of Darkness

April 8, 2021
Cover image for Flowers of Darkness

A gripping, creepy novel that takes place in Paris, France, Flowers of Darkness is a moody and sinister with a dystopian theme. Clarissa Katsef has just left her second husband of 20 years and needs to find a place to live. As a writer, she is eligible to interview for a residence with beautiful views of the city where only artists are admitted. Although the building is modern and comes with a virtual assistant that beats ALEXA hands-down, Clarissa is growing more suspicious about the management and the amount of control they exert as well as her a lack of privacy. The setting is in the future where the Eiffel Tower has been destroyed and Clarissa describes the changes to the city and the world as the plot develops (for example, no more bees and extreme heatwaves). Clarissa refuses to reconcile with her husband (we learn towards the end exactly what came between them) and is close with her daughter and only grandchild. While several questions remain unanswered, Flowers of Darkness slowly grabs hold of the reader building to a haunting resolution that is disturbing and lingers with the reader.

Large book Publishers

April 7, 2021

According to Library Journal, the “Big 5 ” publishing houses based in the U.S. shrunk to 4 last November, when Penguin Random House acquired Simon & Schuster, which was then the nation’s 3rd largest publisher, according to the New Republic. As of March 29, 2021, HarperCollins, one of the “Big 4,” acquired Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Rudolph Murdoch’s New Corp owns HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House is owned by Bertelsmann, a private German corporation. It seems that the large publishing houses just keep getting larger. Where will it end, I wonder?

The Lost Manuscript

April 3, 2021

This title is definitely one of the most enjoyable books that I have ever read. It opens with a French woman, Anne-Lise Briard, who has returned a cherished manuscript to its author, Sylvestre Fahmer. Finding it in a nightstand drawer in a French hotel by the sea, Anne-Lise read and loved it and decided to locate its author. Sylvestre had lost it in Montreal in 1983, and the novel is a series of letters written back and forth between these two characters and many more, as they trace the path of the novel from April of 2016 in France, back to its origin in Canada, thirty-three years before. The characters are wonderful; they feel like friends once you have finished reading the novel. I give it 5.5 stars.


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