Maine

From Marie K. Schulken
author: Sullivan, J. Courtney
Maine
 This is the first book I have read by J. Courtney Sullivan and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The story evolves around multiple generations of an Irish family who summered at their cottage in Maine.  A definite cast of characters beginning with the Matriarch, Alice, who rules the roost.  A great beach read and a nice respite from my spy novels.

Portrait Of A Spy

From Marie K. Schulken
author: Silva, Daniel
Portrait Of A Spy
 I thoroughly enjoy all of Daniel Silva’s books and this one is no exception.  Gabriel Allon is a truly fascinating character and his adventures tie in with current events.  Would definitely recommend earlier books of Daniel Silva as well.

From splendor to revolution : the Romanov women, 1847-1928

From Eileen Effrat
author: Gelardi, Julia P
From splendor to revolution : the Romanov women, 1847-1928
Vividly portraying the lives and turbulent times of four Romanov women—-an empress, a queen, and two duchesses, this thoroughly researched  book chronicles their lives from unimaginable wealth and grandeur to their deaths in relative poverty. The four leading ladies—-Empress Marie Feodorovna, mother of Tsar Nicolas II, Marie Alexandrova, daughter of Tsar Alexander II and wife of Queen Victoria’s son, the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Olga of Greece, a nieceof Tsar Alexander II and  grandmother of Prince Philip, the present Duke of Edinburgh, and Marie Pavovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir, son of Tsar Alexander II. This is a very readable narrative account of four women who dominated royal society for seventy years. I also enjoyed  reading Gelardi’s previous book, In Triumph’s Wake:Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid For Glory.

A Knife in the Back

From Elaine Pasquali
author: Crider, Bill
A Knife in the Back
This is a fast moving, engaging, light summer read.  English Department Chairperson, Dr. Sally Good, once again teams up with her colleague, Jack Neville, to solve a crime.  Only this time, Jack is the prime suspect.  Having just finished reading a rather dark novel, A Knife in the Back was the perfect antidote.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

From Judy Schroback
author: Larsson, Stieg
The Girl Who Played with Fire
This is the sequel to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Once again Mr. Larsson wows us with intigue and suspense.  Our main character is just as feisty as in book one.  Although young, she has such sophistication and physical strength. She is involved in criminal and ehtical predicaments which put her in grave danger. She is very secretive which keeps the other characters and the reader wondering how things will ever be resolved.  It was great.

Water for Elephants

From Judith Schroback
author: Gruen, sara
 Water for Elephants
 I think I’m one of the few people who didn’t love this book.  I was intrigued with the characters and the story but I felt both could have been developed more.  The leading lady fell short of getting to the hearat of her emotions.  I also would have liked more interaction with the elephant.  I am glad I read it but I would have liked more.

Mockingjay

From Rebecca Segers
author: Collins, Suzanne
Mockingjay
 The final novel in the Hunger Games Trilogy finds Katniss Everdeen underground in District 13 – the supposedly defeated district in the long-ago rebellion – along with the others who’ve also been rescued.  The leaders of the new revolution want to use her as a symbol, the Mockingjay who acts as their unifying face.  District 13 has not only survived but thrived in the 75 years since the last conflict, but only under strict rules and regulations.  Katniss chafes under these strictures, even as she can see that they have a strong insurgency machine in place.  Her old friend and hunting partner, Gale, is less concerned and more willing to throw his energies into the fight.  Meanwhile, her former partner and “fiance,” Peeta, has been captured by the Capitol and is being used as a pawn in their denunciation of the uprising.  As the battles rage, ethical questions are raised and wrestled with, in the midst of a world that is very different and yet has deep similarities to our own.  Once again, Suzanne Collins has woven a fast-paced engaging tale that keeps the reader guessing, as well as rooting for a better future for the characters that s/he has come to love over the course of the trilogy.

Murder on a Midsummer Night

From Francine Schwarz
author: Greenwood, Kerry
Murder on a Midsummer Night
 The is a Phryne Fisher Mystery where she is trying to solve two mysteries at the same time.  The book was set in Austrialia in a different era so I was able to get a taste of what it was like to live in Austrialia in the 1920s (as a wealthy person).  At times some of the slang was tricky but overall the book was a fun read.

Under the Tuscan Sun

From Francine Schwarz
author: Mayes, Frances
Under the Tuscan Sun
Although the plot of the book was different from the movie’s, her descriptions of Cortona made me feel as if I was in Tuscany.  So real is her writing that I found myself craving espresso during the day and cappuccino in the evening.  I have renewed interests in my vegetable garden and in Italian wines.  It you want a trip to Italy without leaving the States read this book!