First, this is the latest - number nine - in one of my very favorite mystery series. Secondly, I've waited seven years for this book to come out. I thought Charlaine Harris was done with the Aurora Teagarden series, and quite honestly I was angry. She left our heroine - who was told several books earlier that she could never have children - pregnant. And then for seven years, nothing. But Aurora is back, still pregnant, newly married, and looking after her teenaged half-brother Phillip. Phillip hitchhiked across the country in anger over his - and Aurora's - father's infidelities, but has been busy making new friends and looking forward to starting school. But when a dead teenager is found, another commits suicide, and Phillip and three of his friends go missing, Aurora is frantic to find answers. This latest installment was worth the wait, but I hope it won't be another seven years before the next one.
During our after-event dinner with Barbara Shapiro last month, she mentioned a book that sounded intriguing. Jill confirmed that she too had read it. Sometimes an interesting subject takes hold, and this was one. Author Martha Stout makes the claim that an estimated four percent of us walk around with an undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is a complete lack of conscience. The trouble with diagnosing sociopaths is that the disorder hides behind such a wide range of behaviors, from the shiftless underachiever who always manages to find someone to take care of him to the megalomaniac overachieving Master of the Universe. Still more difficult, the sociopath is quite happy with the disorder and has little interest in changing - after all, it's a pretty nice life when you can manipulate things to your liking with no recourse. Worse, sociopaths can insinuate their way into and destroy other's lives - again, with no remorse, and for no other reason than for sport. Fortunately, Stout lays out plenty of ways to recognize and disarm the sociopaths who invade our lives, and leaves us with the good news reminder that a full ninety-six percent of us are people who value their sense of conscience and try to use it. This non-fiction book was easy to digest with plenty of examples and absolutely fascinating.
So I've been on kind of a cozy mystery kick lately, and if I were forced to choose a favorite author (and I certainly would hate to commit to that) I would probably still have to choose Agatha Christie. Christie's estate had bestselling author Sophie Hannah pick up the Hercule Poirot (who is without a doubt my favorite detective) franchise and this is a true classic cozy mystery. Lady Athelinda Playford had just announced at dinner that she is bequeathing her estate away from her two children and to her secretary Mr. Joseph Scotcher, who is dying of a liver disease. Mr. Scotcher promptly proposed to his nurse Sophie, and then had the bad manners to turn up murdered three different ways the very next morning. Fortunately, Lady Playford had the foresight to invite Hercule Poirot to her party.... My only real quibble with Hannah's Poirot stories is that she uses first names far more often than was polite. Other than that? This mystery was splendid.
In 1988, Thomas Edison sued George Westinghouse over one word. For a billion dollars. Edison said that he owned the patent for the light bulb. Westinghouse stated that he owned the patent on a light bulb, and he hired newly-minted and untested Columbia Law School attorney Paul Cravath to sort it all out. Author Graham Moore mashes this historical fiction with a legal thriller and peppers it with real people - J.P. Morgan and the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla join Edison and Westinghouse in this fascinating look at ambition, science, high-society, and the race to light up America.
Vivienne Cally is thirty years old, charming, beautiful, and very wealthy - but in name only. The Cally name is an old and respected one in Houston oil-money society, but Vivienne must marry and marry very, very well if she wants to maintain her status. Preston Duffin is shirking his gentlemanly duty by pursuing his passion for architecture school. And while he's both known and loved Vivienne for most of his life, he finds himself both drawn and repelled by Texas tradition and the people who uphold it. This is a 'comedy of errors' novel, inspired by Edith Wharton's House of Mirth, and I found the peek into Houston's rather closed old-money society fascinating.
Celine is a successful Hollywood makeup artist, but on a trip home for the holidays she learns from her mother that her grandmother, Ondine, once cooked for Pablo Picasso who had hidden himself away in the south of France to re-inspire his art. Spurred on by both her mother's stories and hints of family secrets, Celine travels to France for both a rigorous cooking class and clues to her spirited grandmother's life and choices.
Aubray unrolls Celine and Ondine's stories in dual-time narrative, and her lush descriptions of both food and 1930s France are particularly lovely.
Cam Smith has it all - he's graduating from a prestigious prep school, has just been accepted to Princeton (the school of his dreams), and has a beautiful and brilliant girlfriend. Unfortunately, he also has a past. His real name is Skip O'Rourke and he comes from a family of...thieving weasels. And his Uncle Wonderful has just shown up at school to ask why Skip took off with $100,000 of the family 'earnings' to start his new life. And to strongly suggest that Skip assists with one last con...or Uncle Wonderful will turn Cam Smith back into Skip O'Rourke, who will not be invited to attend Princeton.
This YA novel is full of colorful characters and funny plot twists as Cam/Skip attempts to con the cons. And how much fun is the title? Hysterical.
My daughter and I share a (quite small) handful of mutual likes. But when it comes to style, my taste is definitely tailored and hers is....covered in glitter. Which leads to this book, which (not surprisingly) I didn't purchase for myself but as a little 'slip into a moving box' gift as she packs to return to school. It's a surprise, so please don't tell her. This is the first book by the popular British vlogger Louise Pentland, and is full of fun ideas for adding ease and happiness to one's life with tips on travel, crafting, beauty, decorating, and friendship. The writing is breezy, the illustrations are fun, and the book is altogether delightful - even to a pretty un-sparkly mother.
Pete Thorsen hadn't seen his flamboyant Army buddy in thirty years - until Jimmy Ray Evans showed up on his doorstep and uncharacteristically tried to keep a low profile, despite his ebullient personality and bright yellow vintage Cadillac DeVille. When Jimmy Ray is suddenly arrested for crimes he insists he didn't commit, Pete feels obligated by their former friendship to investigate, and finds himself enmeshed in a dirty plot to frame his friend. This is the sixth book in Wangard's Pete Thorsen series, which is set in the Crystal Lake area of Michigan. And since he was here for a signing, we have autographed copies!
Ruddy McCann is back - and so is Alan Lottner, former real estate agent, future father-in-law, and current voice in Ruddy's head. The hapless repo man now has a beautiful fiancee' and a job he's pretty good at. But his boss has died under odd circumstances, Katie suddenly needs some space, his newly-appointed court-ordered psychiatrist insists he take his meds, and a strange woman is telling him that the tragedy that derailed his football career and life may have been a lie - and Ruddy is just trying to juggle it all with the help of his lazy basset hound Jake and the assistance of Alan's running commentary. This is the second in Bruce Cameron's set-in-Kalkaska series, and it's just as fun and funny as the first. Be sure to stop by during Bruce's visit on Saturday, August 27th, from 11:30am until 1:30pm.