Wednesday, January 14, 2015

PNW Book Awards, Happy Birthday U Bookstore, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder Mystery series, As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by Alan Bradley, and The Paris Winter by Iomgen Robertson

I have read two books on this list (Jackaby and the Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender) and I want to read All the Light We Cannot See, as soon as I can afford to buy a copy. So congrats to these authors, who are all very talented. My book group read a book by Molly Gloss called "The Hearts of Horses" which I read and thought interesting, but not really my thing, as I am not a horse person.

The winners of the 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Awards, sponsored by the
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association <>, are:
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories by Renee Erickson
(Sasquatch Books)
If Not for This by Pete Fromm (Red Hen Press)
Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Jackaby by William Ritter (Algonquin Young Readers)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
(Candlewick Press)

Happy Birthday to the wonderful UW Bookstore, where I've met many a famous author and enjoyed many a book signing.
Congratulations to University Book Store
which is celebrating its 115th anniversary with a 25% off sale today and
tomorrow, bookmark-making in the kids' department, birthday cookies
today and free tote bags to customers who spend more than $15. "It's
going to be crazy in here," Pam Cady, manager of general books, said.
"And so much fun."
We read the Chocolate Chop Cookie Murder last year in my library book group, and though it was something of a lightweight book, it was fun and interesting.I know that my fellow book group bibliophiles are excited to see how this series goes!

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will launch an original TV movie franchise
based on Joanne Fluke's bestselling Hannah Swensen culinary mystery
series, and starring Alison Sweeney (Days of Our Lives) and Cameron
Mathison (All My Children). The first film, Chocolate Chip Cookie
Murder, is scheduled to premiere this spring. The project is produced by
Brad Krevoy Television and Stephanie Germain Productions, with Brad
Krevoy, Stephanie Germain and Eric Jarboe as executive producers.

"I am absolutely thrilled that Crown Media and Hallmark Movies &
Mysteries have chosen to film Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, " said
Fluke. "It's what the Hannah fans have always wanted, and I know that
Hannah Swensen has found the perfect home."

Fluke's Hannah Swensen mystery series debuted 15 years ago with
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. The 18th book, Double Fudge Brownie
Murder, will be released February 24 by Kensington.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is the 7th book in the Flavia deLuce mystery series by Alan Bradley. I dearly love Flavia, who is a funny, smart teenage girl who manages to beat every adult around her to the punch when it comes to finding the clues and figuring out who dunnit. Here's the blurb: Flavia de Luce—“part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (The New York Times Book Review)—takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.

Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.
It was nice, this time, to see Flavia "out of her element" at a boarding school, away from Buckshaw, her family's estate in England, and from her tormenting sisters, Daffy and Feely. Unfortunately,Flavia is also far from her chemistry equipment and therefore unable to do many experiments on the bits and pieces she finds in relation to the murder.  However, being Flavia, she doesn't let that stop her from sussing out the truth and making sure that the bad guys (or bad women) are caught and brought to justice. I found the ending to be very satisfying, and now I am primed and ready for the next installment of this grand series, written in rigorous prose (and with a tight plot) by Alan Bradley. It deserves nothing less than an A, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves British mysteries and smart young women.

The Paris Winter, by contrast, is the first book I've read by Imogen Robertson, who has apparently written other novels, but she worked in television/radio and film before settling down to authorship. Here's the blurb:
Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie.
Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art.
But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge that will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.
I enjoyed Maud's descriptions of painting in Paris, and the characters she encounters while honing her art are fascinating, but what really drives this novel is what happens when a woman is conned out of everything, including her life, and yet manages to wreak revenge on her own terms? If Maud hadn't encountered the evil Morels, she might have stayed a timid innocent woman who couldn't imagine thieves and cutthroats planning their cons and setting upon people like herself to carry them out. During the course of her revenge, Maud grows up and sees the world with adult eyes, which informs and adds to her paintings. Robertson's prose is lush and sensual, and her plot moves at a sedate, yet measured pace. I'd give this book a B+, and recommend it to those who enjoy books set in Paris during the Belle Epoque, and artists who enjoy mysteries.

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