If you read the title from my review last month, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, you will probably like Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons by Denise Grover Swank. Although there really isn’t much mention of said reasons, it has the same feel as the first book. The same cast of characters appears in this story, as well as some new friends for Rose.
When Rose gets a summons for jury duty and is chosen, things take a turn for the worse. She has a vision and knows that the person accused of murder in the trial, is not guilty. Her run-ins with the Assistant DA and the judge will keep you amused, and as usual, Joe shows up to bail Rose out of trouble.
This is an easy, quick read, although in my opinion – not quite as good as the first. But see what you think….and let me know.
If you enjoy legal thrillers, especially ones with some sex and humor, then you must read The Jezebel Remedy by Martin Clark. Lisa and Joe Stone are law partners in a small Virginia town. They have been successful and happy for twenty years. Most of their cases deal with minor issues and they have learned very well how to navigate small town politics. Joe works with one client who particularly annoys Lisa. Lettie VanSandt files frivolous lawsuits and changes her will almost weekly. Although she is the town’s eccentric, Joe and Lisa are shocked when she dies while she is apparently cooking meth. Another shocker is that at the time of her death, a will is in place which leaves everything to Joe. When a nephew shows up (who was occasionally an inheritor), Joe turns everything over to him. A drug company shows interest in one of Lettie’s “poultices”. Then all the legal maneuvering begins and Joe is facing disbarment. What if Lettie is still alive? A twisty plot and colorful character make this a great read.
Madeleine’s War by Peter Watson tells the story of a war hero of a type that literature usually doesn’t feature. In fact the actions of the women similar to the fictional Madeleine were not disclosed until many years after WWII ended. Madeleine is part of a small group undergoing secret training at a remote location in Scotland. They have been recruited to join Churchill’s Special Operations Executive to work with the French Resistance and to send reports back to England. They have become spies with only a fifty/fifty chance of surviving the war. Matt Hammond had been a spy in France until he was injured and lost a lung so he became a trainer. He works with very small groups, but the training is intense. He is brutal to his students because he hopes that thorough training will mean they will live to come home. Madeleine becomes a very special recruit for him. She is sent to France just before D-Day even though it is understood many of the Resistance rings have been infiltrated. The spy techniques, the interpersonal relationships, real war events, and Winston Churchill give so much reality to this novel.
All Together Now is the phrase generally used by a conductor when he/she wants a choir to begin a song. Gill Hornby’s novel with that title is about a community choir in Bridgeford, England. The local choir is getting ready for the yearly competition when the longtime director is involved in a serious car accident. The choir membership has been stagnant for a number of years and the average age is increasing. Without a leader, the group realizes that they need new members. One new recruit is Tracey, a single mother in her forties. She is not a typical choir member because she only listens to rock. Her voice is a real surprise to the group though. Other new members are a recently divorced and unemployed man, a young waitress who hopes to become a reality star, and a group of young petty thieves. The way this group comes together creates an intriguing novel that has almost all types of family struggles. It has some sad and some sweet surprises.
In my opinion, journalists often write the best books. Kati Marton has written an enjoyable memoir, Paris a Love Story, which focuses mainly on the periods of her life which were spent in Paris. During the sixties she was an American student at the Sorbonne. Paris was a time of wonder and enjoyment, and then the student riots began. After she went home she drifted into reporting, eventually becoming a TV news reporter. When she was transferred to Bonn, Germany she met and married ABC news anchor Peter Jennings. Time in Paris was always a part of the background. A second marriage was to renowned diplomat Richard Holbrooke and they were frequently in Paris together. The book is a window on an exciting, absorbing life and a beautiful and charming city.
Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt is the story of an incredible walk by two remarkable women. Helga Estby and her daughter Clara walked all the way across the country from Spokane, Washington to New York City in 1896. They did it out of necessity rather than from a sense of adventure. Helga had heard about an offer of $10,000 to any woman who would do this while wearing a bicycling costume. The family farm was close to foreclosure because her husband had been injured and could not work. This was the only way Helga could help her husband. The story of their journey is very dramatic, but the social background of the time is even more interesting. Women just didn’t do these things then. The possibility of giving women the vote was just being discussed and an intense presidential campaign had begun. Helga and Clara had very strong views that show how strongly women felt about politics even though they could not vote. The walk had many dangers and difficulties, but the most difficult thing was how the family felt about their effort. The women’s negative experiences resulted in the family developing a “silence” about their experiences. The author explores how often families can ignore and bury some extraordinary stories. It takes a book like this to make us realize just how much women’s roles have expanded in the last hundred years.
Hermione Eyre’s debut novel Viper Wine is an unusual treatment of the life of Venetia Stanley. Venetia was an outstanding beauty, but with increasing age, her looks are declining. Like any modern beautiful celebrity, she is willing to try almost anything to keep up her appearance. Time and place are 17th century London and beauty treatments have no supervision by an agency similar to the FDA. Venetia persuades an apothecary to secretly sell her “viper wine” for a stupendous price. This viper wine is made of expressed snake venom and other even less attractive ingredients. Venetia must hide her potion use from her husband because he is a competent enough scientist to understand how dangerous her treatment can be. The novel makes use of actual writings by prominent people for authenticity. Another technique used by the author is to imagine communication between the novel’s time period and present day. Venetia’s home was used as a base by code breakers who worked there during WW II. The atmosphere that is created is what sets this novel above an ordinary historical novel.
Want more information about Viper Wine? Check out Hermione Eyre’s book talk on Book Zone TV