Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Girl in the Painting

 This was the first work by Tea Cooper that I have read.  After reading this historic fiction set in Australia I intend to read more.  

This book features 2 main characters who are a brother and sister ,Michael and Elizabeth Quinn, who have come to Australia from Ireland via England.  The story features a dual timeline that alternates between their arrival and establishing themselves in Australia to a more modern time in the early 1900s where they have taken in a young orphan, Jane and mentored her to work in their business with them.  

The story does a marvelous job of interweaving Elizabeth's growth and independence in the 1800s when they arrived in Australia with the developing relationship with Jane and her growth into a young woman.  There is a bit of a mystery that comes to light a bit more than halfway through the story which balances quite well with the initial story focus on the characters and their relationships.  

All in all it is a wonderful work with strong characters and an interesting look at the Sydney region of Australia that is quite different from the metropolitan city it is today.  Having visited Sydney it is hard to imagine it as the up and coming city that is found in this novel.  

Cooper does intersperse some bits of her native country's cultural history and development into the story.  There is a bit of discussion and information on the immigrant aspect of the nation that highlights the mixing of cultures doesn't always go smoothly anywhere and is not unique to the US.  

An additional sub story that I found interesting was the Gold Rush that occurs around the initial arrival of Michael and Elizabeth and plays a factor in their development of their personal wealth.  I did learn about some of the gold found in Australia while visiting their Mint in Perth so this was a unique way to have the story have a personal connection.  

All in all I found this book quite enjoyable and I think most fans of historic fiction would like it as well.  I didn't give it 5 stars because I felt there was some information that could have been wrapped up regarding Jane's past so that left me feeling a bit unresolved.  

The Girl in the PaintingThe Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very enjoyable historical fiction set in late 1800s/ early 1900s Australia. I enjoyed the strong female characters and the depth of the relationships they had with male characters in the story
It was interesting to see how the different immigrant populations interacted in the early days of the country- the English, the Irish, the Chinese. The context of the Australian Gold Rush was a piece of their history I wasn't too familiar with. All in all this was a wonderful work of historic fiction that had a bit of a mystery interwoven into the story.

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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #66
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes-   Australia
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #73
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #86
  5. Historic Fiction  #histficreadingchallenge   Book #11
  6. BooklistQueen   # 30. Set in Australia
  7. Pick your Poison #18-1 A book with the word "picture" in the title

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Fatal Reservations

 This is the 6th Key West Food Critic cozy mystery by Lucy Burdette.  While I did enjoy the story and the characters the mystery itself wasn't the strongest in the series.  It kind of felt like the pieces were rushed together to end the book rather than create some of the clues and witnessing the problem solving by Hayley Snow.  

This book was full of character development and Hayley's relationships with family, friends and beaus.  There was lots of Key West culture and dynamics outlined in this book which made for a fun read.  There were lots of descriptions of the performers at the Sunset at Mallory Square and it gave a lot of insight into the culture and quirkiness of the island.  It just wasn't too strong on the mystery part.  

The lack of strength in the mystery is the main reason I gave it a 3 star,   it is really more like a 3 1/2 star because I really do like Burdette's ability to capture the charm and reality of Key West. 

Fatal ReservationsFatal Reservations by Lucy Burdette
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

this is the 6th in a series and I do enjoy these cozy mysteries although i think this one was a bit less about solving the mystery and more about the characters and the romantic strife the Hayley is going through. i still enjoyed it but felt the strength of the mystery wasn't as up to par with the others in series

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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #67
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  Key West Food Critic #6
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #74
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #87
  5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  6. Cruisin thru Cozies  Free choice #44
  7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #70
  8. Craving for Cozies  Book #60
  9. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
  10. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 2
        • Lake or ocean
      • Row 4
        • Street or sidewalk
    • Weapons
      • Row 1 
        • Rope
      • Row 5
        • Household object
    • Detectives- Hayley/Branson
    • Victims- Bart Frontgate/Julie Lynn
  11. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #8  Shot #6

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Sharp Objects

 It feels like I was one of the last people to read Sharp Objects or any book by Gillian Flynn for that matter.   Wow is her book intense.  I listened to the audiobook and it is definitely not for public consumption.  If you are offended by language or sexual content you will want to avoid this book.  

It is a psychological thriller that has a cast of very blunt characters.  Camille is sent home to Missouri to cover a missing person's case involving a 10 year old girl.  The second tragic crime to happen in this very southern Missouri small town in less than a year.   Camille's return home it quite startling and it opens many old memories and insecurities.  Flynn definitely captures the cruelty of teenage girls especially in a small town that is divided by the wealthy and the working class.  She creates characters that are complex and unlikeable.  

Witnessing Camille struggle to fit into her family which consists of a very passive aggressive mother- Adora, a timid step father, Allan, and a half sister, Amma, she doesn't know is intense and heartbreaking at times.  Her personal struggles to deal with the loss of her younger sister, Marian when she was a 13 yr old and the resulting spiral of grief is intense.  

The mystery of the crimes is intense and is wrapped into glimpses of Camille's past, Amma's current duality of life and Adora's terrifying mothering.  The mystery has plenty of twists and turns and pokes fun at the small town stereotypes that come up in the characters.  An attempt to relieve the intensity of the psychological topic I would imagine.  

I am not sure whether I want to watch the show based on this book or not.  It could be very engaging but also disturbing.  I may need to watch though since I have managed to survive watching Riverdale and it has some similarities in topics.  Maybe on a hot summer day when hiding in AC I will try it out.  

I think I am interested in reading Gone Girl at some point but I do need to retreat to cozy mysteries and the lighter presentation for a bit before doing so.  

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an intense psychological thriller. If you are easily offended by sexual lingo/scenes or foul language then do not read this book. It is definitely not for the faint of heart as it deals with the murder of children but it is an amazing ride that takes the reader through dealing with abuse, self injury and the consequences of it all. The ending is a twisty one although I had my suspicions about the guilty party at times while reading. It was still a shocking ending.

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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #65
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes MO
  3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #46 good book, bad cover
  4. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge # 2 controversial book
  5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #72
  6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #85
  7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #69
  8. Bookworm  #10.) Read a book that's been turned into a TV series or a Movie
  9. Pick your Poison #11-3 A book about something that scares you
  10. Medical Examiner Challenge 4 Toe Tags
  11. Audiobook  #2021AudiobookChallenge  Book #7