Historical fiction

Food Networking

Posted by CathyP on Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 12:00 PM

Everyone likes to eat and judging by the proliferation of cooking shows on television and celebrity chefs, it seems that most everyone--kids and teens included--like to cook. In these books, two very different girls, one living in 1945 and the other a contemporary twelve year old, are both experiencing war's effects  on their families. They also find solace and accomplishment in baking.

My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes by Charlotte Herman focuses on fifth grader Dorrie's determination to win her teacher's "sweet semester" baking and essay contest. She will even get her photo in the newspaper! Each month as she tries a new chocolate recipe in search of the perfect one, readers can, too. Dorrie is engaging as she recounts her kitchen mishaps and the historical details of Chicago life in the post-World War II period. Beneath this lighthearted account is the story of her Jewish immigrant family looking for missing relatives. When her  cousin Victor arrives from Germany we get a glimpse of the terrible struggle of the era. With tips from his family's bakery, Victor helps Dorrie in the contest and she  learns to treasure family times.

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer is set in present day West Virginia, where 6th grader Foster McGee dreams of being a Food Network chef like her hero, Sonny Kroll. But before she can make the world a better place, "one cupcake at a time," she has major challenges to face. Her father was killed in combat in  Iraq, and her mom needed to get away quickly from an abusive boyfriend.  Foster and her mom accidentally land in tiny Culpepper and soon the quirky residents open up a new world of support for Foster. As her stellar baking becomes known throughout the town, she finally has the courage to accept help from a retired actress and face her reading disability. The first book she reads is Sonny's cookbook!

Both of  these fast-paced novels center on appealing girls looking for a little fame in the culinary world and finding lots more along the way.

In the Shadow of Gotham

Posted by on Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 - 11:12 AM

Stephanie Pintoff’s In the Shadow of Gotham is NOT a Batman story.

The Usual Suspects will be discussing the book on Sunday, March 18 at 2 PM.read more

The Madness of King George

Posted by on Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 - 10:38 AM

Jane and the Unpleasantness ... coverThe English Regency is having its bicentennial.  It began in 1811 when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son was asked to mind the throne, and ended with George III's death in January 1820.

According to author Stephanie Barron, in between, along with “fussy furniture … the English got food riots, Luddites, Jane Austen and Waterloo.”

Barron writes a series in which Jane Austen takes on the role of amateur sleuth.  The series began in 1997, and the eleventh book, Jane and the Canterbury Tale, was published in 2011. read more

Those Victorians

Posted by on Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012 - 12:11 PM

Short stories for long winter nights

My ears pricked up last week when I heard about The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Detective Stories on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Edited by Michael Sims, this collection revisits some of the familiar classics, but you will find that it introduces you to a raft of lesser-known writers, many of them women.read more

Austen v. James

Posted by on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 - 3:35 PM

In Death Comes to Pemberley, mystery novelist P.D. James has made her first foray into the world of Jane Austen in what is being called “a rare meeting of literary genius.”read more


Posted by on Monday, Dec 19, 2011 - 11:12 AM

Think the holidays have made chaos of your life?  At least you don’t have the Hittites to worry about.

In Egypt: The Book of Chaos, Nick Drake’s concluding installment in an outstanding trilogy, Ankhesenamun, the young widow of King Tut struggles to maintain power by dispatching loyal chief detective Rai Rahotep to forge a dubious alliance with the militant Hittites.read more

An Authentic Sherlock Holmes

Posted by on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 - 11:47 AM

Everyone’s expectations of Anthony Horowitz’s new book, House of Silk, were high indeed since it was the first time since the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that a new Holmes story was sanctioned by his estate.read more

Raising the temperature

Posted by on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 - 11:16 AM

I had not come up with an idea for today’s posting since I expected to be in New York City on a library field trip, but Mother Nature had other plans, the trip was cancelled, and here I am!

Thought I would just share what I am currently reading—Mercury’s Rise by Anne Parker.read more

Just Dandy

Posted by on Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 - 12:45 PM

If you are growing restless waiting for the second season of Downton Abbey and have always yearned for a sequel to Gosford Park, I have a suggestion.

Give Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains a try.

1926, Edinburgh.  Dandy Gilver is a witty, wealthy, and totally original aristocrat who puts her status to good use by solving crimes. When Dandy gets a letter from a woman who thinks her husband is going to kill her, she goes undercover as a maid to get the complete story.

Publishers Weekly called it “Agatha Christie meets Upstairs, Downstairs.”read more


Posted by on Thursday, Oct 13, 2011 - 11:13 AM

One of the paragons of the historical mystery is something of a newcomer to the genre. Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily Ashton made her debut in 2005 in And Only to Deceive, which was followed in rapid succession by four additional titles, with yet another due later this month. Alexander’s reputation for being extremely careful about accuracy in her novels—due to her meticulous research—has not suffered from the speed with which she writes.  

The Usual Suspects will be discussing And Only to Deceive next Sunday, October 16 at 2.

read more