Here’s a quick look at the books I’ve been curling up on the couch with. Well, curling up with these, a big grey cat, and a hot mug of Earl Grey tea.
My tea and reading are taking a slightly different turn for a few months as I’ve subscribed to the Muse Monthly box. This box sends along a hardcover book and loose leaf tea each month. The January box featured 4oz of Green Tea with Mandarin Orange from TeaSource and the softcover version of Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang. If you enjoy tea and books as much as I do, it’s a nice box to receive – highly recommended!
Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang. As mentioned above, this was the Muse Monthly book of the month, and I really enjoyed the read. Loved the mix of mystical fox energy and day-to-day life in China beginning in 1908. There is food, fashion, and gorgeous descriptions of life as a fox. There’s murder, mystery, intrigue, and a heartwarming story of mother, daughter, and family.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali. A best-seller in England, this book made me want to celebrate the indomitable human spirit and explore the immigrant experience. It’s another book triumphs the strength of powerful women and how they get that way. It’s depressing, it’s beautiful, and you should not miss it. It’s as colorful as a sari, as bitter as a cup of tea with the teabag left in too long.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Yes, that that classic song – and now, the autobiography. I’ve always been fascinated by what makes superstars become superstars, and this book definitely gives me deeper insight into the inner workings of Springsteen. A must for any fan, an intriguing glimpse inside for anyone else.
Early Warning by Jane Smiley. First, it’s Jane Smiley, who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and you can tell. The story-telling is magnificent, just the way she writes about how lives wrap around one another through the years, and how each of us has our own demons, battles, and victories. It’s Midwestern to the core, even with the East coast relatives. Read this one, and anything else by Smiley you can get your hands on. A Thousand Acres is the Pulitzer winner. And Early Warning is the middle book in The Last Hundred Years Trilogy; others in the trilogy are Some Luck and Golden Age.
Book of Kells by R.A. MacAvoy was a wonderful distraction during January. It was Outlander before Outlander was a twinkle in Diana Gabalon’s eye. And I mean that literally because Outlander, published in 1995, is set 1700s Scotland, while Book of Kells was published in 1985 and is set in 900’s in Ireland. Fantasy, fighting, travel by horseback, bardic poetry, the goddess Brigid and, of course, love included.
The Cozy Mystery Reading Festival
I love a good cozy mystery, so it’s not surprise there are so many here. It’s been cold, dark, and who the heck wants to do anything other than read when it’s like that?
Cozy mysteries take place in familiar locations and often feature super-sharp female detectives. The other thing that’s nice about cozies is that they’re nice: no graphic violence, no profanity, no explicit sex. The lead character is often a little bit like you and me…a little anyhow.
All of these books came from my library’s annual sale, so they’re all about twenty years old. They’re all starting to show their age: the main characters don’t use the internet much, most don’t have cell phones – imagine that!
Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle. The setting is a historic coffee shop in Manhattan, the ‘brave, quirky heroine’ is Clare Cosi, and there’s plenty of foolishness afoot with an ex-husband, old friends, and international intrigue. A handful of recipes included.
Corpse Suzette by G.A. McKevett. The setting here is southern California, and the ‘voluptuous and proud of it’ private investigator (and former cop) is Georgia transplant Savannah Reid. There’s an overbearing cousin from the East Coast, a lovable but annoying cop, and a computer-savvy assistant. Throw in a couple of potential murders, and yep, it’s a fun read.
Peaches and Screams by G.A. McKevett is another in the Savannah Reid series. She goes home to Georgia in late summer to participate in a wedding – and get her younger brother out of jail. Her cats and friends from Los Angeles tag along for the fun.
Creeps Suzette by Mary Daheim is not related to Corpse Suzette at all. The main characters here are middle age women who go on vacation to a fancy mansion and find all sorts of things wrong. There’s a former policy chief in this book, too, but he’s not in the action this time around.
I loved the personality of heroine Benni Harper in Seven Sisters by Earlene Fowler, and especially enjoyed the counter-play between Benni and her current husband (who just happens to be a retired police chief.) Then there’s the richest family in the county who just happen to have a dead body in the front room. I was disappointed in the ending, so am hoping that another book in the series finally sets this mystery to rest.