Monday, August 29, 2016

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny- Amazing Read!!!!

When Armand Gamache accepts the position as the new head of the training academy for the Sûreté du Québec , he has to decide who will be accepted into the new class of cadets. He agonizes over one applicant that the prior head had denied. This tattooed, pierced, and surly young lady has a connection to Gamache that she is unaware of.
While in Three Pines, Gamache becomes aware of an old map found in the walls of Gabi and Olivier‘s building that shows topographical information but also has symbols like a pyramid, a cow, and three pine trees.  The map is an oddity because Three Pines is not found on any other paper maps or even with a GPS.  So why was this map made?
At the academy, Gamache fires several teachers, keeps one who is definitely his enemy, and hires the man who betrayed him and all of his officers while in charge of the Sûreté. At the same time, he gives four cadets copies of the map and asks them to investigate it and discover the secrets behind it. One of the cadets is Amelia Choquet, the cadet that Gamache was conflicted about.
What I really enjoyed about this book is the way it addresses one of the loose ends from the big blow up in the Sûreté  in previous books.  The cadet Academy is the last piece of a nasty puzzle that had pieces all over the service and was poisoning it from the inside. By rooting out the poison at the beginning of all of the officer’s careers, Gamache is making a change in the entire force while finally rooting out the last of the bad eggs. When one of the bad eggs is murdered, Gamache has to work even harder to clean up the other baddies while solving the murder.
I also enjoyed the intertwining of the Three Pines map with the Academy goings on.  Introducing the new cadets but pairing them with older characters makes for an interesting blend of old and new. As always the quirky villagers add a touch of humor to a serious mystery but they are also part of a sad history that unfolds as the map’s origin gets uncovered.

Ms. Penny’s books are just so wonderful to read. I found myself reading this one until 2:30AM on a work night because I just could not stop reading it! There are so many little twists and turns but also familiar characters to revisit and new ones to wonder about.  This book is a wonderful mix of mystery, police procedural, and a down home with the family kind of vibe. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde- YAY now published in the U.S!!!

Emily has decided to take a sabbatical from her job as a midwife after having a run-in with a local OB at a home birth. The unit she works for is on shaky ground due to opposition from the local Dr's. When Emily is offered the chance to spend the time off in Scotland working as a cook on a puffer (steamboat) she accepts the offer. Her old friend Rebecca owns the boat with her husband and Rebecca's pregnancy is making her unable to keep up with the kitchen on the boat. So, off Emily goes to help out.
All is not perfect on the puffer. Emily has to share a tiny space with sulky coworker Billie. Rebecca seems to be trying to fix up Emily with her brother in law, Alasdair, a slightly dour Scotsman who turns out to be the local GP. A widower, Alasdair has a young daughter who takes a liking to Emily much to Alasdair's dismay. As the time goes by, the two find more common ground and develop a bit of a romance. Still, Emily plans to go back home and Alasdair doesn't want to disappoint his daughter.

I really enjoyed this story. There was a nice blend of medical, romance, travel, even knitting themes throughout the book. I loved the way that Emily and Alasdair slowly find their way towards each other. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the places the puffer travels to as well as the whole idea of traveling by steamboat. As an American, this British vacation style just seems so interesting! Emily's need for a break makes perfect sense and her final decision about her future stays true to her personality. I'm so happy that Katie's books are becoming more available in the US so more readers can enjoy this wonderful author!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love those Chicago Stars! First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Reading a SEP book is like meeting up with an old friend. You know that when you are done, you are going to feel warm and fuzzy and glad you spent the time with them. In this new book, Piper Dove has bought out her deceased father's detective agency and has her first big client. The job requires investigating former Stars QB Cooper Graham. Unfortunately for Piper, Cooper makes her and she gets fired. The upside is that Cooper hires her to work at his new club after she exposes some shady dealings going on at the site. Since the job includes a free apartment, she agrees and they begin spending a lot of time together. Piper makes some pretty crazy decisions while at the same time giving Cooper some great advice. However, when things get more serious, she can't get over her concern about their different lives.
This is a fun romance with SEP's trademark humor and snarkiness between the couple. The supporting characters are fun too and move the story along. Piper is the feisty chick we wish we could be sometimes and Cooper is that dream guy- gorgeous body but with a nice heart to go with it.
Besides the wonderful main love story, one of my favorite things about a Stars book is seeing older characters pop up in the storyline. This always makes me remember their story and how much I enjoyed it. I especially liked seeing Heath "the Python" Campion in this book. He and Annabelle were one of my favorite couples. The mix of old and new characters was perfect in this book. I hated to get to the end.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer of Love by Katie Fforde

I have loved Katie Fforde's books ever since I read The Second Thyme Around (now called Thyme Out) in 2000. Summer of Love is a wonderful story about Sian, a city girl who moves to the country with her young son. She is settling into village life and meets her neighbor Fiona with whom she develops a strong friendship. When Fiona's son Gus comes home from exploring, Sian realizes he is the one night stand that resulted in her much loved son. 
The results of this news affect Sian's relationships with her new friend and Gus. Fiona is also sorting out her feelings about a man she has met and who she is very attracted to. I enjoyed all of the angst and craziness that ensues while these couples sort out their lives. As always, Ms. Fforde does a great job with her characters even when they aren't behaving their best. 
I'm also excited that American readers can get these great books without having to order from overseas sellers as I have had to do to get the books.