Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The July Book Report

Through no specific plan, it seems as though the books of July focused on three topics: Paris, New York and England (specifically, London and Penzance). They include a guide book, three mysteries, a novel of historical fiction, a chick-lit novel and a non-fiction history of a renowned hotel. It's summer -- and the reading is fun and easy!


"Paris" by Eleanor Aldridge


I wrote about this excellent new guidebook to sites, restaurants and more in Paris in far more detail during Paris in July. If you read the post then, move on! If not, you can find it well detailed in THIS POST.

"The Paris Key" by Juliette Blackwell


If you read my Paris in July post on this book, you can skip this one. In fact, unless you like a predictable novel set in Paris, you can probably skip the book, too. It's plot is routine (a woman divorcing her husband inherits a locksmith shop in Paris and moves there hoping to manage the shop and create a new life for herself.) Yes, there is a handsome Irish neighbor, an elderly and charming viscount who is a client of her uncles, an unusual cousin, an exuberant new French friend and a selection of kind neighbors. But will she be happy?

And, as she explores Paris and her uncle's home and shop, she discovers a secret about her past. Don't they all?

To give it its due, the setting is lovely and as one who has been to Paris, it was fun to see some of the spots I dearly loved featured in the book, which gives it an added visual. And I learned a good deal about antique locks and the Paris catacombs, so not all bad. It's not badly written, just trite. Hallmark movie formula.

"To Perish In Penzance" by Jeanne M. Dams


This is the fifth or sixth entry in the "Dorothy Martin" series by Jeanne M. Dams. These are relatively cozy mysteries featuring the American ex-pat (Dorothy), who has resettled and remarried in a small British town. After a long spell of bad weather, she and her husband, retired police commissioner Alan Nesbitt, decide to visit sunny Penzance, in Cornwall, where Alan was once a member of the police force and had one unsolved crime that still haunts him.

Their first day in the resort town they meet a beautiful young woman, Alexa, and her terminally ill mother, Eleanor. Alexa, adopted by Eleanor as a child and the birth daughter of her best friend, has decided to search for her father. But within days she is dead, in a scene reminiscent to that of her mother.

The last Dams I read did not impress me and I took a long break. But this one -- a fast read -- was very entertaining, revealing a great deal about the Cornish history of smuggling as well as the beauty of its rocky cliffs. The plot seems far more realistic than some of her work and I think the balancing element of Alan on the scene is a big plus. For a fun, quick read, it's rather fun.

"The Sentence Is Murder" by Anthony Horowitz


This is the second in Anthony Horowitz's "Hawthorne" series, in which the author himself plays a lead character in the mystery.

This one finds Hawthorne called in to investigate the murder of a prominent divorce attorney and the suspects abound. There is his husband (who is having an affair); the wife of his most recent client, who is an acclaimed author with a temper; the client himself, who may have his own reasons for wanting his lawyer dead; his former cave-splunking buddy, terminally ill and who knows a secret (or his wife); a woman who is the widow of another cave-splunker and is a beneficiary in the victim's will... the list goes on! 

Adding to the fun, a race to the finish between Hawthorne (and Horowitz) and the detective assigned to the case and one who seemingly has it in for Horowitz.

All in all, this is another delightfully fun mystery with good humor, twists and turns and a fun and fast summer read!

"New York" by Edward Rutherfurd


In short, well worth it. All 1020 pages of it.

Edward Rutherfurd writes the kind of historical fiction I like -- he tells great sagas of fascinating places with intriguing characters, following through their families, rich and poor, through generations. Now and then, a famous person makes an appearance, but in their historical context. It's not a fake biography of people but true fiction with enough now-and-then "guest appearances" to be interesting but only in their own historical context. For example, during the Revolutionary War segment we see a fair amount of characters encountering George Washington, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Did the encounters happen as written? Of course not -- it's fiction. But they COULD have!

The real interest is the families and in telling the saga of New York, Rutherfurd focuses on several. The leading players of the book are the Master family who come to New Amsterdam in the 1600s. Their story takes them through the Revolutionary War, where father and son are on opposing sides, the father being a loyalist, the son a patriot. It continues through future generations, right up through 9/11 and covering such events as the Civil War, the Draft Riots, Prohibition, the influx of immigrants from Italy and Ireland, the Triangle Factory fire, the Great Depression and more.

We also meet the O'Donnells -- Mary, the sister who becomes a maid and eventually a companion to Hettie Master, and Sean -- Mary's brother and a key player in Tammany Hall. From Germany, we meet Gretchen Keller and her brother, photographer Theodore. The Caruso family, particularly Salvatore, Luigi and Angelo are later immigrants from Italy. Sarah Adler and her family represent the Jewish men and women who made New York their home. Many of these characters are encountered by members of the Master family, if only in passing, but their stories are told, representative of the experiences of hundreds of thousands of new arrivals to America. 

I think it's fair to call "New York" a family saga -- as well as a saga of a city. It's a very long book. And I found myself racing through it, reading late at night and not wanting to put it down. 

"The Plaza" by Julie Satow


As long as I was reading about New York City, I thought I'd venture into non-fiction and the history of one of the city's oldest and arguably most famous hotels, "The Plaza." Satow's book has enough factual history to be enlightening and enough gossip and stories to be entertaining.

If you are a fan of history or architecture, the sections on how the Plaza was created and its ravishing details might be what fascinates you most. Or, if you were a fan of Kay Thompson's "Eloise," you'll delight in learning how the little girl who lived at the Plaza came into being -- and what an impact she made on its guests! Or perhaps you recall stories of Truman Capote's black-and-white ball with a guest list that was as eclectic as it was large.

Over time, the Plaza has changed owners several times, ranging from Conrad Hilton to Donald Trump and many others before and after. With each came changes in the structure and the interior design of the famed hotel. Often, those changes infuriated the "39 Widows" -- some of New York's wealthiest widowed women who called the Plaza their full time home.

Today on Broadway, Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite" is getting a revival with Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. No matter what the reviews, they cannot compare with the star-studded story of the famed hotel itself.

"The Night Hawks" by Elly Griffiths


Several books I ordered from Amazon arrived here at the cottage and within two days I had finished "The Night Hawks," which I found hard to put down. It is the thirteenth book in the "Ruth Galloway" series by Griffiths and it was a good one. Although the mysteries are self-contained, this is a series with rich character development over time and best read in order. 

They are dropping like flies in the area of Norfolk where Ruth Galloway has returned after an academic stint at Cambridge to be the department of archeology at the university where she once worked. A new term has barely begun when she is called to investigate bones found on a nearby beach following a murder reported by a group of detectorists called The Night Hawks. (A detectorist is one who goes out metal detecting in search of treasure.)

It's not long before the body count begins to pile up and the Norfolk police, under the leadership of DCI Harry Nelson, are called in to solve a baffling case that includes the legend of a fierce black dog that is a harbinger of death, more bones in a garden, a presumed murder-suicide, and the deaths of several more Night Hawks. 

Fans of the series will be glad for the return appearances of Nelson's team -- Judy, Tanya and the new Tony; Judy's Druid partner, Cathblad; Nelson's wife, Michelle, and a surprise appearance by his former colleague Clough. New characters abound and the final chapters make me want to find the next in the series soon!

49 comments:

Pamela said...

I always like to read about what you are reading. I haven’t read much since the start of the pandemic and as much as I want to, my mind wanders to world events or the past or other things. I do spend a lot of time with my stitching and hope I will again want to read more. Thanks for sharing your books and reviews.

Debra@CommonGround said...


all your books sound wonderful. I started reading Elly Griffiths a few years ago and really love the Ruth Galloway series. I'm on the list for the newest book, and have been waiting several months. The fact that she's an archeologist drew me in, and the setting in Norfolk is a bonus. take care, hope you all are doing well and enjoying late summer!

Sue in Suffolk said...

I've read just 1 - The Night Hawks- out of your list, although the Horowitz is on order from the library.
I'm reading so much at the moment as the days are too hot to garden or walk far.

Valerie-Jael said...

You have been reading some good books. I read a lot just now, as it's too hot to go out, but mostly with my Kindle. I am not buying any more 'real' books as I just have no more space for them, everything in my little apartment is full. And I listen to the books when I paint, Alexa reads them to me. Keep losing yourself in good books, it's always a great way to go! Hugs, Valerie

kathyinozarks said...

good morning thank you for sharing your book list. I do enjoy seeing what others are reading Happy thursday

Lisbeth said...

A good reading month for you. As usual an interesting pile of books. I have two Rutherfurd in my book case. I think it is the length that stops me from starting them. Although, as you say, once your into it, it is difficult to put down.
Some place names have a magic sound to them. Penzance is one of them for me. Maybe because of The Pirates of Penzance. On top of this Cornwall seems to be a magical place. Seems this one is a must read for me.
Reading about old houses is really interesting, and maybe the Plaza more than most. Has to go on my list.
Also the Night Hawk will go on the list.
Thank you for sharing your reading at the lake. Enjoy summer.

Joyful said...

The Dams book sounds interesting. I read New York by ER several years. I loved it and I've loved each of his other books I've read. I have a few of these books on my 'to read' pile. I'm glad you've been enjoying some good books.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

My favourite read in July, by far, was "Finding the Mother Tree" by Suzanne Simard. Quite fabulous.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Jeanie

Great book reviews, I see a few I can add to my "to be read list". I did enjoy Elly Griffiths, The Night Hawks. I have read all her books. I hope she is coming out with another in this series, I like all the characters. The pitcher and flowers look beautiful. Take care, have a happy day!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

Adding The Plaza to my reading list!

La Table De Nana said...

Watching a Horowitz series on TV INJUSTICE.very good!

DUTA said...

Thanks to your post, I've enriched my english vocabulary with a new word: 'detectorist'.

Julierose said...

I am reading "Stranger Diaries" by Ellie Griffiths--a stand alone book. I've read all her other ones and do enjoy them a lot!! I also love the VERA series books--very absorbing reading and great plots...
thanks for sharing your books--I think I will try "The Sentence is Death"--I hope your upcoming weekend will be cooler than ours--we are in a heat advisory until 11 p.m. tomorrow night!! Good reading days, huh? :)))
hugs, Julierose

This N That said...

You make me want to read a book...almost

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Jeanie, your book reviews are wonderful. An insight to each book is always interesting. One day , I shall get back into reading or listening to audio books.

bobbie said...

I love me some Ed. Rutherford! His "SARUM" was fabulous ~
I'll have to get my paws on "New York"
Thanks for the tip!!

R's Rue said...

Many good books.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

You had a great reading month! I am going to skip The Secret Key. But I am having a hard time finding books set in France for my France book club! We have read sooo many already.

I want to read more of Rutherford's books. I loved his book about Paris!

My name is Erika. said...

Elizabeth asked me to pass on this info: Bleubeard and Elizabeth are still unable to access her computer but want you to know they are not avoiding you and will visit once they are back online.

anno said...

Nice bit of summer reading here, Jeanie. That Horowitz mystery looks especially appealing... and it's been so long since I've read anything by Rutherford that I'd forgotten how much fun he can be. Thanks for the reminder!

Joanne Huffman said...

Always love your book reviews.

Sandra Cox said...

The purple in that first picture is stunning.
Thanks for the recommendations.

My name is Erika. said...

This was an eclectic mix Jeanie. I read Edward Rutherford's book London many years ago, and I enjoy his writing also.I haven't read any others of his though, and I actually forgot about him so thanks for the reminder. And you can't go wrong with Elly Griffiths. I haven't read that Horowitz series, but I have read book 2 in the Magpie murder series. There are really some great new British mystery writer write some clever stories, aren't they? I always enjoy reading about books, and it's especially fun to read about books that I might even or have already read. Hope you're having a nice day. hugs=Erika

Lowcarb team member said...

Certainly looks a good reading month, always interesting to read your thoughts on the books.

All the best Jan

acorn hollow said...

wow I am very impressed!!! I have barely picked up a book or a hook for my rugs. My attention span is about 2 seconds. Sounds like you had some wonderful reads.
Cathy

Pam Richardson said...

I always enjoy your book reviews. New York and The Plaza both sound like books that I would enjoy. Enjoy the rest of your week, Jeanie!

Sherry's Pickings said...

i too love elly griffiths! i must check out whether i've read the latest one. I have to say (sadly) that whenever i see a book that says NY times best selling author it is VERY very helpful 'cos i know to stay clear!!. They are always just dreadful books!! Hope that's not too offensive to an american blogger :-)

It's me said...

Wowwww you read a lot books!!…enjoy your weekend love from me and Leaf πŸ€πŸ’—πŸΎπŸ€

Rustic Pumpkin said...

you do write good reviews! My reading is now very limited due to what I can hold, and with the attention span of a gnat I don't do audio books. Anyway, somehow you were one of my lost links, but that's been rectified!

roughterrain crane said...

It's too hot in my area. I don't feel like taking a book. After two weeks, it will be cool a little. Have a nice weekend.

crackercrumblife said...

The Elly Griffiths books sound really good. And so does the Dams book. I love reading books set in Cornwall!

Have a good one Jeanie!

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

The one that stands out to me is New York. That sounds like my kind of book, and it's going on my list!

gigi-hawaii said...

Paris and New York, two great cities! How can you go wrong?

Victoria Zigler said...

Sounds like another great reading month for you.

Arti said...

Do you know Anthony Horowitz's "Magpie Murders" has been adapted into a mini-series with Lesley Manville starring. I look forward to that albeit I know it probably won't reach here any time soon. I like AH's Hawthorn mysteries. The book within a book is intriguing.

Iris Flavia said...

I have left only few paper books and "fear" I have to go back to my kindle.
For summer days on the balcony I prefer the good old fashioned paper book.
I admit, I only overflew your impressive, long list cause... I have way too much already!

Pam said...

I love the purple flowers in the white pitcher. They just really pop. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Betty said...

If only I could make myself sit still long enough to read a good book! all of yours here look worthy.

Little Wandering Wren said...

It's great to see what you have been reading, I feel you have been on a whirlwind of travel via these pages and I certainly find that books I can relate to the destinations grip my attention a little more. I am writing this from sunny Cornwall, having just been to Cambridge! Wish I could say I was going to Paris but will be in NY in a few weeks - your books are spot on for me!
Happy Reading!
Wren x

george christensen said...

No cycling books? There are a couple of recent ones worth a read—Two Wheels Good and 1001 One Voices on Climate Change. The latter is by a woman, a young Harvard graduate who could appeal to your largely woman readership. I see only one comment from a guy among your first thirty-eight.

Nancy said...

What a great review… I always enjoy your reviews. You are an amazing reader. Lots of books in one month.
You traveled some with your books… how fun was that.
Happy Sunday to you my friend!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Finally back online, I want to read the Horowitz tale. I have gone spelunking before and it is fascinating to think there are characters in that book who explore caves that need to be mapped or studied.

I also want to read The Plaza. It sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing all of these. Heck, I would love to find time to read any you shared this month, dear.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I remember reading the Dorothy Martin mystery you discussed. It was a pretty good one. All the others are new to me - some I'd probably like too - that is always the hope when reading about books - to discover a new treasure.

Veronica Lee said...

All your books sound like compelling reads.
I am especially piqued by The Plaza.

Hugs and blessings!

Parisbreakfasts said...

I’m so impressed with your list and reviews to boot. Like a child again I want books to have pictures 😊
Something has changed…hmmm

thepaintedapron.com said...

I always love to see what my friends are reading! The Plaza book intrigues me, as does The Night Hawks, they're going on my to read list, thanks Jeanie!
Jenna

Carola Bartz said...

Many many years ago I read "Sarum", the only book by Edward Rutherfurd I ever read. I liked it especially since I was always very fond of Salisbury. I still have way to go with Ruth Galloway, I'm at no 5 or 6. I currently love to read some of the "regional" German mystery series and I found a new, very interesting one.

Marilyn Miller said...

Elle Griffiths books sounds like one I would enjoy.
I always have enjoyed Edward Rutherfurd books; so this one is particularly tempting.
Thanks for your book list, I always enjoy reading them.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

You have read a very intriguing list of books! The New York-themed ones sound especially interesting to me. The area of Brooklyn where I lived had many old Dutch houses that dated back to the 1600s New Amsterdam era, and I celebrated my 50th birthday at The Plaza Hotel. We'd often visit the Plaza at Christmas time as it was always beautifully decorated and then have a martini at the bar. I've been reading mainly book club selections and a few ARCs that I get from a Harpers Collins editor who promotes new authors' books to book clubs.

Popular Posts