Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Light Keeper's Legacy
by Kathleen Ernst

The Light Keeper's Legacy by Kathleen Ernst
Series: Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, book 3

Chloe Ellefson, curator of collections for Old World Wisconsin, is hoping for a respite from her overcomplicated work and personal life when she accepts a week-long consulting gig at another Wisconsin historic site.  Rock Island State Park's rustic charm is just the thing Chloe needs to unwind.  But, when she discovers a dead body on her first night on the island, it's clear that Chloe has more to worry about than just preparing a furnishing plan for the site's historic lighthouse.

The Light Keeper's Legacy is a pretty standard cozy mystery, plot wise. Chloe is an interesting character and not just because she's a museum professional. She has some weird sixth sense, a "gift of perception," that guides her in both her museum interpretation and in her sleuthing (though I will say that I wasn't all that keen on this part of her character, except in one very specific case, which I can't explain without including spoilers). Beyond that, Chloe has also got what seems to be a complex backstory that keeps her from being completely sure of herself.

The best part of The Light Keeper's Legacy was Ernst's use of the split narrative. I enjoyed the juxtaposition between Chloe's 1980s and time period she's trying to research (mid-late 19th century). I found the historical sections and the historical characters to be some of the most compelling parts of the novel.

The Light Keeper's Legacy is the third book in Kathleen Ernst's Chloe Ellefson Mysteries (after Old World Murder and The Heirloom Murders). I liked The Light Keeper's Legacy enough that I got Old World Murder from the library.

The Light Keeper's Legacy will be released in October 2012.
disclosure: I received a review copy of The Light Keeper's Legacy from Midnight Ink Books via NetGalley.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

public service announcement:
get a YA story from Jen Lancaster

Earlier today Jen Lancaster posted a request on her blog. She wants to test the commonly held belief that "social media mentions are tantamount to success" for authors. She's offering a free copy of her never-before-seen (young adult) short story, "The Girl Most Likely," to anyone who talks about her and her work on social media during the next week. And, you don't even need to say nice things. See this post on her blog for full details.

In any case, I like Jen Lancaster (she shares my affection for footnotes) so I have no problem going along with her experiment and I'm interested to hear the results (she's promised to report back). In any case, if you're interested in learning more about her work, I've posted abut Bitter is the New Black (see post) and Such a Pretty Fat (see post). Her blog is also good reading. If you're intrigued, you can post somewhere and earn a copy of "The Girl Most Likely." If not, it's no skin off anyone's back.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

more quick thoughts on more recent reads

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree
by Susan Wittig Albert

Crime-solving highjinks set against the backdrop of Depression-era south.

The first in a series of cozy mysteries set in the early 1930s. The sleuths are members of Darling, Alabama's garden club. The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree features murder, bank fraud, a prison break, a haunting, twelve garden club ladies, and two cucumber trees. That's quite a bit to pack into one novel, but Albert juggles everything admirably. I enjoyed The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree and would be interested in continuing on with the series.

A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

Never judge a book by its cover.

If I had realized that A Hope Undaunted was an inspirational romance (i.e. Christian romantic fiction) I would not have checked it out. I did read it the entire novel because I needed to find out whether the feisty young women's rights advocate would be convinced of the importance of unquestioningly obeying her father and (future) husband. I found it overbearing.

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Self-published novel turned NY Times bestseller.

Set primarily in Salem, Massachusetts, and its environs, The Lace Reader examines Salem's legacy in an interesting way at a time when witchcraft good PR not a crime. Its unreliable narrator is a professed liar, but it is unclear just how much of her story is fiction for the majority of the novel. Compelling reading.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A contemporary fictional meditation on the Victorian language of flowers.

I've been intrigued with the language of flowers since I first learned about it years ago. The problem with floriography is that the meanings of the flowers vary from source to source and the sentiments attributed to a particular bloom can be contradictory. One of the things that I liked most about Diffenbaugh's novel, The Language of Flowers, was the author's inclusion as an addendum of the floriography dictionary developed by her protagonist (and another character) during the course of the novel. The novel itself wasn't quite what I expected it (oh how the protagonist drove me to distraction at times with her inability to trust), but I appreciated it nonetheless.