Pint-Sized, Plucky, and Preternatural


As anyone who follows this blog knows, I am a big fan of Alan Bradley and his Flavia de Luce mysteries. In addition to singing the praises of his latest in the series, I also would like to mention two other authors that may appeal if you like spunky, pint-sized heroines. First, Bradley's Thrice the Brinded […]

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Tudor Queens

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As Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday last weekend, it might be fun to take a look at her female predecessors on the throne, especially the mightiest of them all: the Tudor queens. Alison Weir made her name writing biographies of English royals, including the excellent The Life of Elizabeth I. Her new fictional series, […]

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New Novels of the Indian Diaspora


Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Sanjeev Sahota's The Year of the Runaways is a fierce, political novel. Three men from India and one Sikh woman from London arrive in Sheffield, England early in this century. The men are on fraudulent visas and the woman, Narinder, is helping out one of them by being a straw wife […]

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Saxon Ladies: What to Read While Waiting for “The Empty Throne”

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Bernard Cornwell has done it again: the eighth book in his Saxon Tales series, The Empty Throne, features not only Uhtred, the wily warrior protagonist of the seven previous books, but Aethelfleadh, the widow of the late king of Mercia in tenth-century England. The couple are united in their dream of a united Britain, shoving out […]

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Hooray for the Bookmobile!

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Bookmobiles (or mobile libraries, as they are known in England) serve a vital need in both city and country. Chicago has used them when a branch is shut down for remodeling or rebuilding. However, I am going to be showcasing mobile libraries used in a more rural setting. Two take place in Great Britain, and one in America. […]

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Simon Brett Mysteries

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Charles Paris is painfully aware he's not a successful actor. Or husband. Or much of anything else, except sleuth. In his latest novel in this long-running series, Simon Brett puts Charles through his paces with a collection of murders during the Christmas pantomime season in The Cinderella Killer. Kenny Polizzi is a big-name actor from the […]

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The Problem With Virtue


Often when I read historical fiction, it seems that the 21st-Century world view is imported with the characters.  No more is this true than with the themes of sex and religion.  Fortunately, Marci Jefferson manages to avoid this pitfall in Girl on the Golden Coin. Young Frances Stuart, the protagonist, wishes only to make a good […]

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Beware a Dashing Man

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  England, 1961, is in a full post-colonial hangover. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is sixteen and full of dreams of Paris and the wider world. She gets them for a brief time by becoming the girlfriend of an older man, David (Peter Sarsgaard). David is dashing, glamorous, good looking, and rich. How he gets his money is a bit unscrupulous, […]

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Travel Back in Time to London, England

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  London is my absolute favorite world city.   No matter how many times I visit, I feel like I've not even scratched the surface of discovering all the city's secrets.    But, plane tickets are expensive, so I can't go as often as I'd like.    When I can't be there in person, I […]

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Listening to Sense (and Sensibility)

Portrait said to be of Jane Austen

I confess, I find Jane Austen daunting. I do not fault Miss Austen for that: I have gotten too used to "quick reads" and the literary equivalent of the greasy spoon to easily consume the haute cuisine that are her novels. But listening to them, there's an idea! So a few months ago I downloaded Sense and […]

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