When it started raining yesterday afternoon I knew it was the perfect time to cuddle up with my cat and start reading The Rules of Magic. Little did I know, that I would be still at it long after the rain stopped and the sun set. Dinner was delayed, phone calls ignored and, with apologies to my best friend, whose birthday it was yesterday, texts abruptly answered. The prequel to Practical Magic, was impossible to put down.
When I was done I felt as if I had been on an emotional journey from joy to despair and back again. Woven throughout is that love, no matter how messy, inconvenient or dangerous it is, can heal even the heart of a witch. The story is made all the more rich by Hoffman's descriptions of nature. Whether it's the vast expanse of NYC's Central Park or a quiet New England cemetery, her flowers, herbs and wild life restore not just the characters but the reader, as well.
Pub Date 10 Oct 2017
My very own "familiar," Sherman, who reads right along side his mom.
If you saw the PBS series, then you will be familiar with the characters from this program. The television series had been commissioned by the BBC to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, following the lives of four girls in the Women’s Land Army. Moore, who wrote the series script, picks up where the series left off.
War on the home front has its own challenges and being a young lady with a past who is married to a vicar is only the beginning. It seems that everyone has their secrets in this charming sequel to the popular television series. This is book I in a three-part series to be completed by Moore, who has obviously done his research. My only complaint is that it reads like a lot of British television dramas, less literary than soap opera.
This is a fascinating memoir about living on an organic vineyard in Saussignac, Dordogne. The Caro and her husband are raising their two daughters to be environmentally aware in one of the most beautiful regions of France. The couple faces countless challenges in their business ventures, cultivating grapes, marketing their wine and strengthening their marriage.
The descriptions of wine and food is delectable but, more importantly, this book presents a persuasive look at the ecological dangers of using pesticides in vineyards. It isn’t easy to find organic wine up here in the mountains of North Carolina but the author has made a convert out of me. Oh, and one other little personal delight, is a meeting between Caro and author Martin Walker (see my review of The Templar’s Last Secret) at a wine fair.
Pub Date: Sept 2017
As a young orphan boy in Victorian London, Wiggins had been trained by the best. Known to us today as the Baker Street Irregulars, Wiggins and his fellow street urchins were initiated into the world of trade craft by none other than Sherlock Holmes. After a stint in the military, Wiggins is back on the streets working for a debt collector. A thankless job that isn’t paying the rent. Enter Captain Vernon Kell from the War Office. It is 1909, trouble is brewing abroad and England will be at war in five years. There are Bolsheviks in Russia, an arms race with Germany and European treaties are in peril. Foreigners are bringing their problems to Great Britain and Kell badly needs agents to work undercover.
Wiggins turns up his nose at the offer to go “official” until an old army buddy is killed by Russian anarchists. Sherlock Holmes, who recommended him to Kell, urges him to put his talents to good use. At first, Wiggins agrees to go undercover in a munitions factory only because he wants revenge. Before long, the investigation quickly becomes a complicated game with alarming consequences for the Empire.
H.B. Lyle was in the film industry and it shows. The story is fast-paced, rich in descriptions and the dialogue is true to the characters. Overall, this book is just plain fun. It is sprinkled with real life personages, such as Captain Kell, Winston Churchill and MI6 founder, Mansfield Cumming, as well as the literary characters of Wiggins, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. There is even a link to Her Majesty’s favorite spy, James Bond.
Pub Date: November 7, 2017
Beatrice “Trixie” von Falkenburg, a Countess of English/Czech decent, is drawn into helping her uncle discover the truth behind the death of her uncle’s former military aide. Outside of reading Sherlock Holmes, the Countess is totally unprepared to be an amateur sleuth, but what she lacks in worldly experience and guile, she makes up for in pluck and intuition.
Before long, Trixie is chasing down disreputable actors, an international thief, a Russian ballerina and an ingenious scientist. Learning as she goes, the Countess travels from Prague to Paris, on to London, and finally to a climactic meeting between Edward VII and Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm in the Czech spa resort of Marinbad.
The evolution from the Countess Beatrice von Falkenburg to Trixie the detective, is the delightful bit about this book. Her husband, the Count, has lost his ancestral home and most of his fortune but is off attending several “bachelor” hunting parties throughout the book. They write letters back and forth, he agreeably sends her money when she asks, but he is never there when she needs him. So, the reader, and eventually Trixie herself, begins to realize that maybe she doesn’t need him at all.
Film director, Stephen Weeks, paints a rapidly changing society that is ten years away from a World War. He propels the beautiful Countess on a confusing and often frightening adventure with masterful superfluities of wit and sparkle. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.