Don’t Touch That Dial

51ljkfpffvl._sy400_.jpgRadio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford is a historical fiction novel based on the early days of BBC radio and a key female producer named Hilda Matheson.

In part, this is a mystery novel which is told from the point-of-view of an insecure young woman named Maisie who gains employment as a secretary during the 1920’s at BBC Radio. Thanks to the encouragement of Hilda, Maisie slowly works her way up to a better position and gains courage and a voice she never knew she had. This is also a story about women’s rights and Fascism prior to World War II.

Up until the very end, I enjoyed this book a great deal.  I think the story kind of fizzled out. After reading about the real-life Hilda Matheson, I was surprised the author did not choose to tell the story in her voice. She was quite an interesting person; much more interesting I thought then Maisie who I believe is fictional. Still in all I liked the book and learned something about early radio in England while reading it.

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Holy Mystery

41osrdowlel._sy400_.jpgStar Over Bethlehem by Agatha Christie shocked and amazed me. Who ever would have believed the great mystery writer had another side to her?

I happened upon this book in the library and checked the title twice after noticing the author’s name. What? Religious stories and poems by Agatha Christie? I hoped I wasn’t being fooled! Nope! The collection of short stories and poems are by Agatha Christie and more than one of them brought tears to my eyes.

This is a book I definitely plan to add to my Christmas collection. Because the poems and short stories are so diverse, it would be difficult for me to cover all of them.  I can only say I found it beautiful, touching, and creative.  Merry Christmas to all!

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An Accident

faithful-9781476799209.jpgFaithful by Alice Hoffman reinforced my admiration for her work. In this novel, a seventeen-year-old girl named Shelby is driving a car when it hits a patch of ice causing permanent brain damage to her best friend who was riding in the passenger seat.  Guilt-ridden Shelby attempts suicide and ends-up in a psychiatric hospital. For many years she continues to feel worthless sabotaging her relationships and any future happiness she might have.

What I like about this book is how real it seems. Occurrences such as these happen every day. After the initial news coverage of such events, people outside of the inner-circle rarely remember or wonder what happened afterward to those involved. Hoffman’s novel tells a touching story of how a tragedy such as this changes lives forever.
Her characters are vivid and believable. Her writing excellent.
This is a moving, memorable novel I recommend.

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Happy Endings

61gqtf53mpl._sy400_.jpgThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Swedish author, Katarina Bivald  is a book lover’s book. Recently translated into English, I think this book is a treasure.

Amy and Sara are book-loving pen pals. At Amy’s invitation, Sara arrives in Broken Wheel, Iowa just in time to attend Amy’s funeral.  Unbeknownst to Sara, Amy passed away as Sara traveled to visit her.  Believing it is what Amy would have wanted, the residents of Broken Wheel feel obligated to make Sara’s stay a memorable one.

Broken Wheel is shrinking rapidly, but the quirky remaining inhabitants devise scheme upon scheme involving Sara. They come to love Sara after she opens a bookstore populated with the belated Amy’s books.

There’s much more to the story and many book references which made me chuckle. This book would make a great gift for your favorite book-lover. I plan to share it with my family and friends. I think it’s that much fun!

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Voracious Appetites

51lbim2wcvl._sy400_.jpgCooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray is a novel which made me hungry. I say this because the premise of the story is that while hiding-out In the south of France prior to the second World War, Picasso has a very brief affair with a young girl who cooks his meals everyday. The descriptions of the meals prepared for him were so vivid; they made me hungry!

The story involves three generations of women from the same family; the grandmother in France who cooks for Picasso, her abused daughter who ends-up in America, and her granddaughter who is a makeup artist in the US. When the mother becomes ill, her daughter begins a quest to find for a long-lost portrait Picasso did of her grandmother many years earlier in France.

The book paints Picasso as a man who enjoys art, food, and seducing young women. In this story however, the tables are somewhat turned because the young girl who brings Picasso food every day has aspirations of her own. She uses Picasso by cooking him delicious meals believing it will lead to a life she desires away from the small dead-end town in which she resides.

Each of the women in the novel have their own stories to tell and they are interesting and fairly believable. The story kept me engaged up until the end when the granddaughter zeroes in on the lost Picasso and suddenly falls in love with a chef who she didn’t like at the beginning of their acquaintance. Something about it bothered me because I felt as if the author changed the course of the relationship in order to end the book on a happy note. That’s all well and good, but something about it I just didn’t like.

The book is historical fiction and I am uncertain how much of it is true. Either way, it held my interest because of the search for the missing painting and the food. If you enjoy food, art, and mystery you’ll enjoy this book.

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Daydreamer

51jldonpogl._sy400_.jpgThe Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding is a novel about a young man named Henry who lives and works in San Francisco. Henry has a tendency to daydream — often! He is married to all woman who works in real estate. The spark in their relationship has died.

While out shopping last-minute for a bottle of perfume for his wife for Christmas, Henry runs into his old girlfriend. Actually, she’s a woman Henry had an affair with. We also come to discover Henry’s wife is having an affair of her own.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the story and could relate to Henry’s long trains of thought. However, as the story progressed and switch from one perspective to another, I lost my interest in it.

I did finish reading the book and, as I said, liked parts of it.  It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s certainly not the worst. If any of my followers have read it, I’d love to hear your take on it.

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Showdown

51ltiepka7l._sy400_.jpgThe Last Days of Night by Graham Moore is a wonderful historical fiction based on events which occurred in the late eighteen hundreds.

In this story, we find Thomas Edison at war with George Westinghouse over who has patent rights on light bulbs.  Westinghouse claims he invented a better light bulb than Edison’s original one. When push comes to shove, Edison sues Westinghouse who in turn hires an unknown young lawyer named Paul Cravath to defend his case.

The story is told from the point-of-view of the lawyer and I thought it was fascinating. Moore is an excellent writer and although some of the facts and timeframes have been altered, the story was new to me. Edison in no way appears to be a nice guy as portrayed in old movies. In fact, few of the players in this saga are anything but ruthless.

I really liked this book and I think you will as well. Next year, it will appear on the big screen. It is true that fact is often stranger than fiction!

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