Here’s a spot for easy reads that I’ve enjoyed recently!
Aunt Dimity & the Heart of Gold by Nancy Atherton
This is a rip-roaring little tale of life in the Cotswolds, England, where Lori and Bill, and their three children are in the midst of the Christmas holidays. But many of their small town neighbors have come down with the flu, or something like it, leaving the annual holiday festivities with no participants and no audience. Emma and Derek, along with a handful of others, are gathering for the only holiday festivity, the holiday dinner at Anscombe Manor, their home and riding stable. As everyone enjoys the meal and story-telling afterwards, an ice storm rains down on the town, bringing a stranger, Tillie Trout, sliding, literally, into the ditch outside the door. Gossip, mystery, and romance fill these pages, a fun and fast-paced tale, with Lori and her journal in the center of it all.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith
Ulf “the Wolf” Varg is head of the detective team in Sweden which investigates the unusual, and a victim who was stabbed in the back of the knee fits the bill. Ulf and his partner Anna begin by visiting the site of the crime but the location of the stab wound impresses Ulf as being the most important clue. In addition they are tasked with solving the disappearance of a young students makebelieve boyfriend. Another of Smith’s delightful little novels, this time in Malmo, Sweden.
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
Emmeline and Bunty are best friends during WWII and the story takes place as the Luftwaffe begins its bombing raids on London. Emmeline dreams of working as a war correspondent, but the job she interviews for is actually assisting with an advice column written by a woman of extremely strict morals, Mrs. Bird. The slightest hint of immorality and Mrs. Bird advises Emmy to throw the letter in the trash. But Emmy is so touched by the plight of many of these young women struggling through the horrors of the war that she begins to secretly reply, just once or twice to begin with, then more boldly. When Bunty’s fiance is killed during an air raid their friendship threatens to fall apart, along with her job after someone notices that she has gone against Mrs. Bird’s orders. A sweet little story and you can’t help but notice so many things that time has changed.
The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans
When Charles James (a distant relation to Jesse) misses his O-Hare flight only to see it crash on the runway, killing everyone on board, he sees opportunity. His life, though very successful in terms of career, leaves lots to be desired, especially his broken relationship with his ex-wife and son, who live in Santa Monica. Now that he’s dead, he takes some time to rethink things, then decides that walking the whole of Route 66, from Chicago to California, might be a way to get his ex-wife back. He will use the time walking to try to figure out where things went wrong and develop a plan to make things right. He is a wealthy man but since he’s officially dead, he doesn’t have access to most of his money. He takes with him what cash he can gather up and sets out. As you can imagine, things don’t go exactly as planned.
Circe by Madeline Miller.
This takes me back to high school and the old Greek gods, Latin class and Ancient history! Yes, it’s a book about Circe, the goddess who turned Odysseus’s men to swine and trapped him on her island. The daughter of Helios, God of the Sun, Circe is banished to her island after she defies her father by practicing witchcraft. Apparently, witchcraft is something even the gods feared back then. It’s a very interesting story, with so many of the ancient Gods we learned about in school, Athena, Hermes, Prometheus (punished for his gift of fire to mortals) and the larger than life mortals of the times: Agamemnon, Achilles, Jason of the Golden Fleece, and Odysseus himself, his wife, Penelope, and sons. A very enjoyable read. Sadly, it shows that the ‘gods’ as the ancient people knew them were mostly shallow, self-serving, childish and many times cruel rulers. It’s a stretch to think of them today as any kind of deity.
The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith. Another sweet little story by McCall Smith, this time about a border collie named Peter Woodhouse, named by a simple lad who saw the name printed on the dog’s crate, not realizing it had come from a mover by that name. The story takes place during WWII in England, where a local lass meets an American pilot. Even as the war ends planes are needed for the great air lift into Berlin. I love this author for a lighter book in between some of the more hefty tomes that I prefer.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon. I enjoyed this story about Anna Anderson, the young woman who claimed throughout her adult life that she was the royal princess Anastasia Romanov who had miraculously escaped the murder of her family during the Russian revolution. The story has an interesting timeline, switching between Anastasia’s life up until the murder, and Anna’s life in Germany and the United States. Once I got used to the changing back and forth, it was an interesting read, very well done.