Archive for July, 2008

The Tightening String


The Tightening String
Ann Bridge
250 pages
copyright: 1962

An exciting, suspenceful novel and tale of escape set in Hungary early in World War II, The Tightening String is the story of a woman’s courage and deeply personal convictions as, far from home, she watches frontier after frontier fall to the enemy.

The herione is Mrs. Eynsham, wife of the British counsellor in Budapest, a woman of character adn charm, whose committment in the war is great. While the pressures mount on all sides, she witnesses the supreme testing of her loved ones–her son in battle, her husband during an illness brought on by a serious heart attack, adn her daughter caught up in a poignant love affair overshadowed by diaster.

As the last moment for escape approaches, there are painful farewells, then flight to freedom by the last route open, with unexpected tragedy waiting at the frontier.

Building to its dreamatic conclusion amid smober overtones, The Tightening String is more than a novel of wartime intrigue. Through Mrs. Eynsham, the reader relives the trails of war with its fears and moments of high drama. It is an inspiring novel, filled with beauty of place descriptions, and the accuracy about haut-monde detail that are the hallmark of Ann Bridge’s suspnse narratives.

Of The Tightening String and its relation to real life, Ann Bridge says, “There was a real British Legation in Budapest in 1940-1941, full of real people, of whom I was one–the Minister’s wifel; in the novel they have been exchanged for purely invented characters. But the facts given–the long delay in parcels from England reaching the prisoners-of-war in Germany, and the extrordinary generoisty of the Hungarians in helping to meet their needs, are purely a piece of modern history.”



Antoinette Stockenberg
334 pages
copyright: 1999
isbn: 0-312-96975-9

Keepsake, Connecituct is a quaint, peaceful town–a cozy haven for families, friends and old memories. Then Quinn Leary returns, reopening a scandal the town would rather forget: a murder his father was accused of seventeen years ago. Quinn has come back to clear his father’s name and right the wrongs of the past. Olivia Bennett doesn’t realize it, but she has been waiting for this moment…for the return of the only man she has ever loved. Soon family secrets, shattered dreams, and fierce rivalaries come together in powerful and unexpected ways, offering a once-in-a-lifetime chance for new beginnings…



Jesse Kellerman
copyright: 2006
isbn: 0-14-305840-1

The blazingly original novel from the most exciting new voice in crime fiction today-a brilliantly crafted modern noir filled with secrets, heartbreak, and mordant humor.

Gloria Mendez is single and thirty-six, and secretly and somewhat hopelessly in love with her oblivious boss. He is both single and solitary, and far too old for her, but she has worked for him, side by side, for ten oddly companionable years. But when he disappears on his annual trip to Mexico-the one aspect of his life to which she’s never been privy-Gloria’s sudden and impulsive search for him reveals the wreckage of a hidden past. Carl Perreira was not who Gloria thought he was-nor was he anything she could have imagined.

As Gloria travels this twisted road into Carl’s backstory, she realizes she might not have known him at all. Her investigation discloses as much about her own life as it does about her mysterious boss-and leaves her fighting for her life. Sunstroke is everything a thriller should be: circuitous, thought provoking, and brimming with edge-of-the-seat suspense-and the start of a brilliant career.

Sweetness In The Belly


Sweetness In The Belly
Camilla Gibb
338 pages
copytright: 2005
isbn: 1-59420-084-x

Lilly, the main character of Camilla Gibb’s stunning new novel, has anything but a stable childhood. The daughter of English/Irish hippies, she was “born in Yugoslavia, breast-fed in the Ukraine, weaned in Corsica, freed from nappies in Sicily and walking by the time [they] got to the Algarve…” The family’s nomadic adventure ends in Tangier when Lilly’s parents are killed in a drug deal gone awry. Orphaned at eight, Lilly is left in the care of a Sufi sheikh, who shows her the way of Islam through the Qur’an. When political turmoil erupts, Lilly, now sixteen, is sent to the ancient walled city of Harar, Ethiopia, where she stays in a dirt-floored compound with an impoverished widow named Nouria and her four children.

In Harar, Lilly earns her keep by helping with the household chores and teaching local children the Qur’an. Ignoring the cries of “farenji” (foreigner), she slowly begins to put down roots, learning the language and immersing herself in a culture rich in customs and rituals and lush with glittering bright headscarves, the chorus of muezzins and the scent of incense and coffee. She is drawn to an idealistic half-Sudanese doctor named Aziz, and the two begin to meet every Saturday at a social gathering. As they stay behind to talk, Lilly finds her faith tested for the first time in her life: “The desire to remain in his company overwhelmed common sense; I would pick up my good Muslim self on the way home.” Just as their love begins to blossom, they are wrenched apart when the aging emperor Haile Selassie is deposed by the brutal Dergue regime. Lilly seeks exile in London, while Aziz stays topursue his revolutionary passions.

In London, Lilly’s life as a white Muslim is no less complicated. A hospital staff nurse, she befriends a refugee from Ethiopia named Amina, whose daughter she helped to deliver in a back alley. The two women set up a community association to re-unite refugees with lost family members. Their work, however, isn’t entirely altruistic. Both women are looking for someone: Amina, her husband, Yusuf, and Lilly, Aziz, who remains firmly, painfully, implanted in her heart.

The first-person narrative alternates seamlessly between England (1981-91) and Ethiopia (1970-74), weaving a rich tapestry of one woman’s quest to maintain faith and love through revolution, upheaval and the alienation of life in exile.

Trouble In Spades


Trouble In Spades
Heather Webber
274 pages
copyright: 2005
isbn: 0-06-072348-3

Landscaping is Nina Quinn’s business, but trouble seems to be her middle name. Saddled with a recently expelled, faithless local-cop husband, a teenaged terror of a stepson, and the yappiest, most unhousebreakable Chihuahua in capitivity. Nina needs a respite–and the backyard makeover she’s undertaking for her sister Maria and Nate, Maria’s fiance, may do the trick.

But, of course, Nate vanishes mysteriously, and Nina’s gardening, magic inadvertently turns up a corpse. And with a thief on the prowl who’s preying on the neighborhood elderly, a suspicious Pandora’s Box of a package arriving on her doorstep, and yet another body inconveniently turning up, Nina’s going to have to dig into her community’s dirtest littel secrets to regain her peace and sanity–if she can manage to stay alive long enough to enjoy it

The Day Freedom Died


The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction
Charles Lane
African American History
266 pages
copyright: 2008
isbn: 0-8050-8342-1

Southern blacks viewed the three post–Civil War constitutional amendments as guaranteeing them equal protection under the law. Yet postwar dreams of equality would be dashed during Reconstruction. Much of that failure traces back to the Colfax Massacre. During Reconstruction, white supremacist groups such as the KKK used violence to prevent southern blacks from exercising their legal rights, and elections were deeply influenced by the de facto disenfranchisement of terrified blacks. After one disputed election, a group of black Republicans peacefully occupied the courthouse in Colfax, Louisiana. A white vigilante mob gathered, and on April 13, 1873, they attacked the courthouse, setting it and gunning down those who fled. Blacks who surrendered were executed, with the death toll reaching 60. The outraged U.S. attorney, James Beckwith, sought to convict the killers but got no cooperation from Colfax’s white community, and little help from blacks, who feared further reprisals. Charles Lane expertly describes the legal proceedings against nine whites, charged by Beckwith with federal crimes. In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Colfax killers were subject only to state law: “the Supreme Court had decreed,” summarizes Lane, “that the Negroes must look to the states for protection.” Predictably, the white defendants were freed by state authorities, and southern states began to restrict rather than protect civil rights. The federal government would not interfere with Jim Crow for nearly a century.

Accessory To Murder


Accessory To Murder
Elaine Viets
261 pages
copyright: 2007
isbn: 978-0-451-22258-9

Someone has killed Halley Hardwicke, the hot young designer of thousand-dollar Italian silk scarves, in the mall parking lot-and police have their eye on Jake, the husband of Josie’s best friend Alyce. The couple lived near the wrap maven, but it seems Halley and Jake were a little too neighborly.

So Josie decides to do what she does best to help out her friend-go undercover and see if she can find some clues. Because this time, there’s a lot more at stake than a scarf, even if it’s to die for…

I Gave You My Heart, But You Sold It Online


I Gave You MY Heart, But You Sold It Online
Dixie Cash
328 pages
copyright: 2006
isbn: 978-0-06-082972-8

To single mom Allison Barker, men are a heap of heartbreak. So when her twelve-year-old daughter confesses that she’s posted Allison’s profile on an Internet matchmaking service and has been pretending to be her mom, Allison hits the roof . . . just before the doorbell rings. Standing on the porch is her date—he’s Hollywood handsome and all male and he looks somehow familiar.

Turns out he’s famed ProRodeo bull-riding champion Quint Matthews. He whisks Allison off to dinner, but it’s not Quint who captures her interest—it’s his old friend, rodeo bull fighter Tag Freeman.

But Quint’s got something—or rather, someone, more on his mind than Allison—because the very next day he’s off to visit Debbie Sue Overstreet. Debbie Sue was once taken in by Quint’s sky-blue eyes and tight jeans, but that was before she remarried the best-looking man in Texas, Buddy Overstreet. When Quint turns up at Debbie Sue’s door begging for help, she can’t turn him down. Seems that Quint has finally gotten his comeuppance—his identity has been stolen, by a woman no less, one he met through an online dating service.

The Equalizers take the case—after all, Quint is an “old friend” and, even better, he can pay! But no one would ever have guessed that the investigation would lead to murder . . . or that gender-confused Eugene/Janine—whom the Equalizers have tangled with before—would return to stir the stew. Or that there would be mixed messages and broken hearts all over the place.

Of course, as Edwina has often said, there’s nothin’ that a pitcher of strong margaritas and some serious snooping can’t cure . .. but not until Debbie Sue and Edwina go on a crazy ride across West Texas!

Let’s Get Lost


Let’s Get Lost
Sara Manning
Young Adult
303 pages
copyright: 2006
isbn: 0-525-47666-0

Isabel’s friends are terrified of her, her teachers can’t get through to her, her family doesn’t understand her, and that’s just the way she likes it. Nothing gets to Isabel–not even her mother’s sudden death. When she meets an enigmatic guy named Smith, Isabel fights hard to keep hold of her cool, snarky image, but she soon finds herself coming apart at the seams, feeling the pain, and missing her mom. Let’s Get Lost is a poignant and utterly compelling novel, told with all the author’s trademark wit and sharp observation.

The Best Day Of Someone Else’s Life


The Best Day Of Someone Else’s Life
Kerry Reichs
428 pages
copyright: 2008
isbn: 978-0-06-143857-8

Despite being cursed with a boy’s name, Kevin “Vi” Connelly is seriously female and a committed romantic. The affliction hit at the tender age of six when she was handed a basket of flower petals and ensnared by the “marry-tale.” The thrill, the attention, the big white dress—it’s the Best Day of Your Life, and it’s seriously addictive. But at twenty-seven, with a closetful of pricey bridesmaid dresses she’ll never wear again, a trunkful of embarrassing memories, and an empty bank account from paying for it all, the illusion of matrimony as the Answer to Everything begins to fray. As her friends’ choices don’t provide answers, and her family confuses her more, Vi faces off against her eminently untrustworthy boyfriend and the veracity of the BDOYL.

Eleven weddings in eighteen months would send any sane woman either over the edge or scurrying for the altar. But as reality separates from illusion, Vi learns that letting go of someone else’s story to write your own may be harder than buying the myth, but just might help her make the right choices for herself.