The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye (review)

theparagonhotel_faye_putnamssonsWhat immediately strikes the reader in Lyndsay Faye’s The Paragon Hotel is the strong, unique voice of the narrator.  Alice “Nobody” James is a brash and tough but vulnerable chameleon in her mid-twenties is on the run, taking a train to get as far from Harlem as possible, hopefully leave her criminal past behind.

She soon finds herself convalescing from a gunshot wound, the only white woman in the only black hotel in a very racist 1920’s Portland.  And as she shifts from one role to another, Alice meets various residents of the hotel, forming tenuous bonds and unable to keep from rooting out secrets. Continue reading

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An Amish Homecoming: Four Stories by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Shelley Shepard Gray, Kathleen Fuller (review)

anamishhomecoming_zondervanI’ve enjoyed each of these themed Amish novella collections that I have read, and they widened my reading of authors of Amish fiction, but I tend to get a little more excited about them when Shelley Shepard Gray is thrown in to the mix.  So it’s no surprise that I liked this particular set of four stories very much.

In the first story, No Place Like Home by Amy Clipston, a sympathetic character who is a mainstay in the background of her Amish Homestead series becomes the focus as she returns to her family home.  When firefighter’s widow Eva Dienner’s young son asks to meet his other grandparents, she can’t tell him no. Continue reading

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith (quick review)

cozyminimalisthome_smith_zondervanIf, like me, you find the concept of minimalism appealing but the images of minimalist homes on social media to be a bit stark, this is a guide for you.

I found myself nodding in kinship and sympathy as Myquillyn Smith relates how she came to reassess her home and her stuff, and the realizations that led her to being a Cozy Minimalist.  She then proceeds to give direction to those of us who want to be Cozy Minimalists but don’t know where to start.  And she gives an order to how to decorate a room and it just makes sense Continue reading

Christmas at High Rising by Angela Thirkell (review)

christmas-at-high-rising_viragoAs far as collections of short stories go, the selections in Christmas at High Rising are definitely on the short side.  Originally included in publication such as Harper’s Bazaar from 1928 through 1942, only two of the eight take place at Christmas time (“Pantomime” from 1935 and “Christmas at Mulberry Lodge” from 1940) with others ranging over the rest of the year.

In “Pantomime,” the reader new to Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire series is introduced to several characters, foremost among them a slightly pretentious writer of biographies who meets his match in Continue reading

I Love You, Funny Bunny by Zonderkidz, illustrated by Sean Julian (review)

iloveyoufunnybunny_zonderkidz“I love you Funny Bunny, from your whiskers to your toes.”  So begins this love letter of a picture book, a rhyming explanation of the different ways Funny Bunny inspires love.  Accompanied by adorable illustrations that perfectly capture the mood and the message, and somehow, through the anthropomorphized child and parent bunnies, conveys their love along with a feeling of snuggly comfort and joy. Continue reading

Code Name: Lise : The True Story of the Spy Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Woman by Larry Loftis (review)

codenamelise_loftis_gallerybooksShortly after beginning to read Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis, I had to stop and double check that this was intended to be non-fiction.  The writing was engaging, the story briskly paced, and even when giving brief back story of a new individual or situation, there was a consistent narrative thread.  And that feeling continued for much of the book, even through the torture Odette Sansom, code name Lise, endured at the hands of the SS. Continue reading

Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer (review)

whyshootabutler_heyer_sourcebooksYou should always beware of alibis… (p.214)

The ‘rudest man in London,’ barrister Frank Amberley, turns amateur detective after happening upon a murder victim while taking a supposed short cut to his Aunt and Uncle’s country house near Upper Nettlefield.  And though it is the local constabulary that requests his assistance, he hasn’t told them everything he knows. Continue reading