Based on the author's great grandmother's memoir this is a tale of danger, adventure and greed in Alaska's Yukon Territory. 1895 Yukon is no place for a woman let alone two but that is where Alice follows her sister after the family hits a major gold vein. Alice yearns to escape from home and is eager to find adventure but gets frustrated that her role is little more than housekeeper and companion to her fragile sister. When a major theft happens and the suspects, a native brother and sister, are not reported Alice takes matters into her own hands. She further asserts herself by marrying her brother in law bonding the two families twice over. With great wealth should come great responsibility but as we see in two generations this is not the case. A fascinating account of adventure, success at incredible odds, greed and who has rightful ownership of the land and its riches.
For any Jack London fan or those of us who think we would have wanted a stake in the wild west - this is your historical adventure dogsled into the promised land. 4 stars
Another brilliant chapter in Hercule Poirot and his friend Inspector Catchpool's case files. A quiet Christmas holiday is what they both want but Catchpool's mother drags them both to a remote family estate to solve one murder and prevent another. Once there they must deal with obnoxious sparring siblings, an anxious soon to be widow and her children as well as dealing with the truly confusing and irritating Mother Catchpool. Hopefully they will solve the case before they have to endure more of the bad food, unpleasant company and useless police inspectors. Once again Agatha Christie's spiritual hand must be guiding the very talented Sophie Hannah as she pens another very convincing and multilayered murder mystery. A fun time for all amateur sleuths and full of Poirot's deadly wit. 4 stars
At a remote private hunting lodge in the woods during the summer of 1976 the annual gathering of the founding families becomes the scene of multiple deaths. Set up for the reader as the ultimate guide to solving murder mysteries we are introduced to the main players, the deaths and the interrogation that follows first by the P.I. hired by one of the owners and then a mystery narrator and given classic examples of how it was employed in other books. This "smoking gun" novel delights in using all the tricks from the famous mystery writers and literary detectives to confuse and challenge the reader to solve the crimes. Fans of Anthony Horowitz and classic mystery greats like Agatha Christie will enjoy being toyed with and see if their detective skills are up to par. 3 1/2 stars
It is 2019 and the country finds itself in the middle of lies and liars. One day one the biggest whopper tellers of all decides to rob a bank and take the teller as a hostage (sort of). Boyd and Angie set out on the getaway trail which turns into a revenge roadtrip for Boyd and a husband shopping/soul saving crusade for Angie. Staying one step behind those they seek and one step ahead of those who are after them equals a Thelma and Louise style roadtrip with Carl Hiaasen off beat characters plus the colorful commentary of Tim O'Brien. He pokes fun at government, politics, COVID conspiracy theories, dark and sinister mega millionaires and journalism. Moving at the speed of light it is easy to get lost in all the characters and their connections but it is an off the rails speeding train fun read. 3 1/2 stars
Claudia lives in the all black town of Freedom Mississippi in the 50's. She knows all too well the hurdles she will face later in life and is determined to succeed. A decision to help a white boy found almost dead will change her life and force her out of Freedom. She goes on to have a career in banking even with the added challenges of not only being a woman but being a black woman and is supported by her husband. Her path also takes her to Italy where she finds love again. This is a unique story of one woman's quest to find true freedom, success and love during the Jim Crow South, Civil Rights Movement and Women's Liberation. Taking place on two continents gives us a very different vantage point but also highlights the similarities in cultures. Claudia has a lifetime of love and strives for the full acceptance of the world around her. 4 stars
The madness that supposedly took June's mother and the Farrow women before her is now coming for June. Hallucinations of a red door and shadowy glimpses in the corner of her eyes call to her until her grandmother's friend gives her a locket and letter that changes everything. June will move towards the red door and step through in time to unlock her family mystery to stop the unspooling of time and answer the questions that fuel her journey. Small town community, generational love and trauma meet THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE or OUTLANDER in a love story that can survive everything. Young's writing is mesmerizing and flings fairy dust over what would be a small town murder mystery. 4 1/2 stars
Watching THE BEAR tv series has given me a new understanding and appreciation for those Michelin star seeking crazed chefs. THE DISH has given me an appreciation and greater understanding for the massive undertaking and everyone who contributes to getting that food on the table. Looking at one Chicago restaurant, the author takes one dish and dissects the myriad of people involved to make it happen as well as their dedication, work ethic and absolute faith in creating the best. From the organic small farmers and butchers who supply the restaurant to the head dishwasher and chefs, every history and struggle is laid out on the table. We can also get a taste of what is ahead for the restaurant industry and the pitfalls of its workers. This is not just a book for foodies but should serve as a reminder to give those people behind the scenes and in front a bit of patience, understanding and a round of applause for the magic they pull off every day.
Must reading for armchair bingers of TOP CHEF and readers who live vicariously through chef's memoirs. 4 stars
In the British Isles in the 20's spiritualism is all the rage but Evelyn is not prepared when her mild mannered husband announces that he feels connected to the spirit world and has decided to become a medium. At first she hopes this is just an unfortunate hobby. Her family is appalled and even Evelyn's sister turns her back but as Robert's fame and success "helping" people grows Evelyn is pulled into the open doors and invitations from high society and influential people. She is a woman searching for answers - afraid of what she will learn as much as she is of not getting any answers at all. Evelyn struggles with insecurity and her new found freedom. This is historical fiction with shades of gothic mystery and an examination of a nation dealing with mass grief from war and disease coupled with a ghost of dry humor.
3 1/2 stars
Two sisters grow up with their grandmother deep in the forest of Norway practicing magic. Now with their grandmother's passing Kaija sees her chance to return to the village and live a regular life without magic while Minna feels the powerful need to obliterate the village that burned her mother at the stake. Living apart both women will use magic in secret for good and evil purposes and each will lose something because of it. A beautiful fairy tale of Norwegian lore and ancient magic mixed with a story of persecution, fear and the need to blame someone for bad luck and natural events. This book will be enjoyed by adults and young adults for fans of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING meets THE VIKINGS. 3 1/2 stars
It has been a tough year for Eva after losing her beloved grandmother and working 24/7 to open the shop of her dreams. She barely has gone home to change clothes, sleep for a few hours and maybe wave at her husband. When he lays down the law that she has to go to their friend's house party for a couple of days at Christmas, Eva goes but drags her overworked assistant with her. Of course they get snowed in. Eva's grandmother appears as a ghost to tell her that she will wake in someone else's body and replay Christmas Day until she can fix the situation. Will Eva finally understand why everyone is on her case or is she destined to repeat Christmas on repeat forever? A contemporary version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL with lessons for all of us to slow down and smell the gingerbread latte. A sweet romcom with some heavy themes that are handled with grace and care. 3 1/2 stars
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