AMISH INSPIRED QUILTS by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins

Piece O’Cake Designs creates quilts with lots of cheerful and fun fabrics. I don’t usually buy their books, because there are a small number of pages with photographs of quilts in a book mostly taken up with patterns. Someone gave me this book as a gift and I read a bit of the introduction (before the patterns). I was pleased to have done so, because they had written some really interesting information on using solid fabrics more effectively. Reading the bit in the front also made me examine the photos of the quilts more closely. I learned some great information about using solids in a more interesting way than I have done in the past.


At a small training college for Anglican priests, the son of a high powered businessman is found dead on the beach. The father is not satisfied with the results of the inquest and demands that Scotland Yard send an investigator out to look into the situation. The death hastens the ongoing discussions about closing the college. As a result, other issues cloud the situation surrounding the first murder, including the fact that other murders follow. This is the first Adam Dagliesh mystery that I read and I really enjoyed the character. I liked the way James writes as well as her weaving of a complex story, which makes sense at the end. Throughout the story, the author continues to contribute to the information as if she were part of the investigation team feeding you information. Numerous twists and unexpected turns.


Denyse Schmidt seems to be on a mission to single handedly engage young people’s interest in quiltmaking. Her designs are simple and elegant and have interesting color combinations. The emphasis is not on matching points precisely, but making quilt projects with a lot of movement and fresh color choices. She also has a variety of different projects, one of which made me think that I actually could make a tote bag. Her writing style is fun. While some of the directions are a bit confusing, I think a beginner could walk away from this book with some nicely completed projects. I don’t usually buy project based quilt books, but I bought this one, because the designs stuck in my mind. And it is proving to be a good investment as I keep looking at it over and over.


I was inspired to read this book after hearing Jance speak at Internet Librarian last year. The book is a about an “over 40” news reporter who is fired from her job for being too old and subsequently finds herself with her life falling apart: husband sleeping around, no job prospects, injured father and embroiled in the aftermath of the death of her friend. I enjoyed the story, but thought that it was really complicated and not going anywhere until 7/8ths of the way through the story when suddenly all the pieces fell into place. The interesting part [from a librarian’s point of view] was that the main character starting blogging. This element introduced a variety of random voices into the story, something ,I think, that all who engage in the Internet experience on a daily basis. It gave the book a level of reality that I haven’t experienced in other books thus far. I do hope the author writes about the character again.

FORTUNE’S ROCKS by Anita Shreve

Anita Shreve has become one of my favorite authors. She captures the feelings of new love so accurately that it was almost painful; the sensation of being in complete control until you realize unexpectedly that your whole life is out of control. The descriptions of a young, wealthy girl who engages in a completely unsuitable lover and then stands up for her rights and what she wants with compassion and feeling for others is extraordinary. Shreve has a gift for descriptions.


I listened to the audio version, which Bryson narrates. It is a great book and will make you laugh out loud. Although from Iowa, he has an interesting accent, which is vaguely English (where he spent many years) and vaguely indefinable. This book is VERY VERY funny. I thought that I should immediately give it to my brother-in-law, who is Australian, but then it occurred to me that it may not be quite so funny for Australians. A lot of Aussie history is included, which was completely unfamilar to me. The sights, both famous and not so famous, are analyzed quite well. This allows the reader (or listener) to get a good idea of the scope of Australian history, geography and landscape as well as the wonders, manmade and natural, which come across as well worth visiting.

LOCKED ROOMS by Laurie King

Another in the Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes mystery series. I wasn’t that enamored with the last book and it took me a long time to get through. This one, however, was fantastic. First, it is set in San Francisco and I always enjoy reading books about The City. Second, the book delves into Mary Russell’s past and resolves some issues that make her character prickly in the other books. In most of the previous books, Holmes comes across as not really caring about his wife and this book starts out that way as well, but the reader finds, as the book continues, how he really feels about her. The 1906 earthquake and fire are mentioned in great detail, as are various figures in San Francisco history, which all come together to make a good story. This is definitely a book I would read again.

PATHS OF DESIRE by Dominique Browning

The editor of Home and Garden has written this book about redoing her garden. Some of it is interesting and some of it is hard to read and/or a little too self indulgent. Lots of references to different kinds of plants and relations with neighbors. It is an excellent description of how a defined project can grow from “adding a few plants to the garden” to taking out trees, repaving the driveway, replacing bricks in the front walk, etc. I didn’t finish the book, because I got tired of the stream of consciousness style of her writing. I enjoyed her first book much more.


This book was interesting, but I didn’t find it to have as smooth a transition from the first book in the series to this one. The book starts with a funeral pyre in Golden Gate Park and the death of homeless people. It is an interesting look at the way homeless people survive and the communities they make among themselves, though I have no idea how accurate King’s descriptions are. In these descriptions, it highlights how everyone is the same regardless of their financial circumstances. The central character, Kate, is getting back into the swing after the near death of her lover int he first book and an, apparent, disastrous case between the cast in the first book where we met her and the case that makes up the plot of this novel. The descriptions are not as complete as in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books and this particular volume came across as choppy.

SORCERY & CECELIA OR THE ENCHANTED CHOCOLATE POT by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

I am constantly on the hunt for new and interesting books to engage my 10 year old, especially if they have nothing to do with Yu-gi-oh or Pokemon or Shonen Jump, Avatar, Goosebumps, Animorphs, Lemony Snicket or Naruto. This book is based on a game called the Letter Game, where two people take on different personas and write letters as that persona for a defined period of time. It works better if there are some agreements on time, place, era, etc. I don’t think that the authors intended to write a book, but found one at the end of their game. The authors (letter writers) write about cousins just after the Napoleanic wars in an England where sorcery and magic are part of every day life. The story tells the trials and tribulations of two teenaged girls who are trying to save people they care about from death by magic. One is in London having her “Coming Out Season,” while the other is left behind in the country. The book was a little hard to follow in the beginning, but I came to care about the characters and their adventures. The authors tidied up the ending very carefully and not-too quickly.

VENETIAN AFFAIR by Andrea Di Robilant.

Another story of forbidden love between a Venetian patrician and an English girl of “unsuitable” parentage. This book is also told through letters and the amazing part is the things the lovers put down on paper. When they were angry at each other, they didn’t hem and haw around the subject, they told it like it was. It was an interesting book to learn about the singular Venetian culture (did you know they wore masks much of the year?), but it was a little bit hard to get through, because much of it was repetitive.

These book reviews were first posted at NOCALL News, March/April 2007 issue with slight variations. For more reviews, visit the newsletter.