Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When Silence Isn't Golden

I noticed in the comments on my last post that Dorte figured I must be feeling better because I was blogging more. Well, she's right. I am at long last well, but now life is getting in the way of my reading and blogging. We just returned from a quick trip to Philadelphia to see Dave's neurologist and now life is extremely busy until next Monday so I probably won't be blogging until next Tuesday.

I've been reading Brunswick Gardens, a Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery by Anne Perry. It's very good and I'm enjoying it although I must say it's slow going. The story is dragging as the investigation into a young woman's murder progresses like molasses in January. The saving grace is that the characters are fascinating and well depicted, and Perry has made an issue in this one of the fact that women were second class citizens in England in the 19th century. Not that things were different here of course. The fact that Charlotte's brother-in-law (was married to her late sister) is involved causes strife between this happy couple and adds interest. Apparently Charlotte had been more than half in love with him herself.

This short post is just to let you know I'm here, I'm well, and I will return with a more interesting post next week. Meanwhile, I have ironing to do today without fail, tax stuff to put together for our accountant, and lots of other lovely chores, while it snows outside although it's supposed to change to rain.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Until the Next Time by Kevin Fox

This is an Amazon Vine book that took me out of my comfort zone; it required me to fancy myself Irish and just accept what I read. If it hadn't contained such marvelous characters, I don't think I would have suspended disbelief so well but these characters have such depths to them that I'll be thinking about them for a long while.

The story begins when Sean Corrigan, of New York, is given a journal kept by his father's brother Michael. Sean had never known about an Uncle Michael, but apparently his uncle had been a NY cop who ran to Ireland to escape a murder charge. As the story continues, Sean goes to Ireland to solve the mystery of what happened to his uncle there and meet the people who knew his uncle.

Now it gets really intriguing and mysterious. Sean doesn't know what's going on half the time and I could only figure things out in retrospect in some cases. Still I was glued to the pages as I needed to find out. All I could do was settle in for a wild ride, particularly when Anne, the girl who is sent to pick Sean up at the airport, is driving. This girl is one of the most fascinating characters in the book, and her driving is absolutely insane.

The beautifully described settings vary from lonely islands, one of which Sean's family owns, to city streets. The IRA is involved, the Troubles, killing of innocent people in the cause of a free Ireland, guns and money from the U.S., revenge killings, and the British fighting back. You will wonder throughout who is Declan? You will wonder what happens to Kate and Michael and Sean and Anne. And unfortunately if I tell you anymore I'll spoil the story for you.

I'll have to be satisfied with saying that the story is very Irish, and that it is illogically logical. If you have "eyes that see and ears that hear", you will understand. I highly recommend this haunting book.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lillian Lorraine, The Life and Times of a Ziegfeld Diva by Nils Hanson

This unusual book was a win from LibraryThing, and I enjoyed it immensely. Nils Hanson's mother was hired back in the 1920s to be a sort of companion to Lillian Lorraine but mostly to rein in Lorraine's wilder tendencies. Hanson actually met the Ziegfeld girl as a boy. Despite that, he wasn't really interested in his mother's connection with the Ziegfeld Follies until after her death when he found a small trunk in her attic full of memorabilia from those days. His parents had believed it was better to shield him from the lives of celebrities. The trunk finally opened that world to him.

He now heads a Ziegfeld Club in New York where he has access to surviving Ziegfeld girls and their treasured memories. This book represents his retirement project and I wouldn't want anyone to pick it up thinking it is great literature. There are a few repetitions and sometimes the story can jump around a little, but all in all, despite many setbacks, Hanson has written a captivating book.

You'll learn mostly about Lorraine herself of course, but also about stars such as W. C. Fields (and his illegitimate son), Will Rogers, Florenz Ziegfeld and his women, Billie Burke (Ziegfeld's last wife), and the splashy lives some of these people led. Lorraine, for instance, didn't have any sense about money so she lived it up when she had it, and got by when she didn't. Her later life is a tragic story, much of it her own fault.

Ah, but when Lillian Lorraine was 17 and unbelievably beautiful and genuine and a fresh-faced Ziegfeld Follies girl, she was on top of the world. Ziegfeld was said to love her from the day he met her. He made her a star like no other.

There are pictures on almost every page in this book of the stars, the Follies, the big names of the 1920s. It's worth buying the book just to have the pictures, but the story of an entertainment genius and his protege, and a city reveling in an anything-goes atmosphere before the crash is all here as well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

So it's a Hallmark holiday. I'm still going to wish all my blogger friends a happy valentines day and hope your sweetie pays special attention to you today. Mine doesn't often do anything for this day anymore but then he tells me many times every day that he loves me, so it isn't really needed.

I did, however, receive a box of wonderful See's chocolates from my cousin-in-law in California. What a nice surprise!

OK, let's see. I finally got my stitches out and the first thing I did was wash my hands. They hadn't felt clean since I had my right hand operated on. Every try to wash one hand without getting the other one wet? Then I also enjoyed a lovely hot shower without a plastic bag on my hand. Doesn't take much to make me happy. :)

By that time I was in the throes of bronchitis for which I took an antibiotic (I've been living on them this winter) and it has now morphed into an old-fashioned head cold. I simply cannot win this winter.

My plans for today are to stay home, stay warm, drink lots of tea and water, eat oranges, and sleep. I'll reemerge when this is all over. Maybe I'll hibernate until spring.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Invasion of Privacy by Perri O'Shaughnessy

A few weeks ago I read and reviewed the first O'Shaughnessy book fearing Nina Reilly, attorney, who had moved to Lake Tahoe following her divorce. In Motion to Suppress Nina and her son Bobby were living with her brother and his family as she established her new practice. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and the Lake Tahoe area, so I was anxious to read the second book in the series.

Invasion of Privacy continues their story and the connection between Nina and an investigator from California named Paul Van Wagoner. We also learn the identity of Bobby's biological father. All of the characters, both personal and business, anyone connected with Nina actually, are in terrible danger in this book because of Nina's client, a woman film maker named Terry London. I was pretty sure everything would work out all right, but I was definitely afraid for some of the characters, including Nina and her son. This is a edge-of-the-seat read that has you holding your breath more than once. I suspected who-dun-it early on but couldn't be sure until near the end.

The plot involves four young women who disappeared several years earlier and a movie London made about one of them who hasn't been seen in 12 years. Nina represents London in an invasion of privacy case brought by the parents of the girl and others who are horrified by the movie and don't want it released. That case and what happens as a result involve fascinating legal issues, and bring Nina up against an attorney she has faced off with before. He's everything a lawyer shouldn't be, a character you'll love hating. He discovers that Nina is much too clever and versed in the law for him to be crossing her.

I loved this book as much as the first one. Now I see I don't have the third one so I'll be off to the library to borrow it. We have so many mystery lovers in this area, I'm sure they'll have it. I do recommend both O'Shaughnessy books I've read so far.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard

I finished reading this Kindle book yesterday and have been puzzling over how to review it ever since. Previously I've read, reviewed, and loved four of Gillard's books. In fact, I ranted about how they are categorized as romances since I don't normally like romance novels and felt that her books are so much more than that.

This book was technically difficult to write as it is not told chronologically, nor is it told in one long flashback. It begins with the death of one of the main characters and then the story is told in bits and pieces jumping from year to year, back and forth, to fill in what happened. I do believe this was the best way to tell such a complicated story because it is easy to follow and you understand the motivations of the characters better this way.

The two main characters are twins Flora and Rory Dunbar, and my problem is with those characters. Gillard's forte is characterization. In her other books I was totally taken with her heroines. With Flora, though, I mainly want to just slap her silly. Flora's passionate love for one man is too much for me to believe, and it doesn't have anything to do with who he is, rather that she is unable to function in any sort of a life without him. Her husband, on the other hand, is just too good, too understanding, too gentle to be believed. And her twin, Rory? He is a brilliant pianist who is forgiven anything because of his genius, but he goes from horrible to kind so fast my head spins.

I hate writing criticism of an admired author's work; in fact, I considered just not reviewing A Lifetime Burning at all. In the end I decided that friendship or no, admiration or no, I must review honestly because that's my job as a reviewer.

I'm certainly not saying this isn't a good book. What I'm saying is that this book is written beautifully and most people are going to be absolutely fascinated with the story. As an aside, it has been getting rave reviews on and on other blogs. All I'm saying here is that after beloved books such as Star Gazing, Emotional Geology, and Untying the Knot that touched my heart, I'm disappointed in this latest book from my friend, Linda Gillard.

Movie Review: "The Help"

Yes, I finally got around to watching the movie version of "The Help." I don't usually like to see a movie made from a book I loved; don't have much confidence in it matching my expectations. However, several bloggers I follow had seen the movie and recommended it, so finally I caved in and ordered it from Netflix.

We watched it before the Super Bowl yesterday while all the nonsense hype was on. I'll agree with critics that it didn't stay completely true to the book, but as a visual medium a movie can't really do that. I loved this movie.

My husband, who hadn't read the book and isn't a history buff, didn't quite get how much danger the maids and Skeeter were in, but I don't think that was the fault of the movie. The scene where Aibilene and the luncheonette man are forced off the bus the night Medgar Evers was killed depicted the violence surrounding the Civil Rights struggle very well. When calm, cool Aibilene stumbled into Minnie's kitchen that night, she was scared out of her mind.

I thought the actors portrayed those housewives who lived under Hilly's strong rule well, and the ostracized housewife was a hoot. The best part of course was the story line about Minnie's pie, and the actors' portrayal of the maids.

In short, I laughed, I almost cried, and I was very happy that I watched "The Help." Anyone who has missed it really should get it on DVD ASAP.