The Enchanted April by

Genre: Fiction
Subject: Italian holiday, shared quarters
Setting: San Salvatore, Italy
Main Characters: Mrs. Lotty Wilkins,Mrs. Rose Arbuthnot,Lady Caroline,Mrs. Fisher,Mellersh Wilkins, Mr. Briggs
Series: no
Dates Read: June 24 - June 27
Number of pages: 361
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes , audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Extra curricular activites

"To Those Who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine" - how enticing can an advertisement be than to lore you in with the thought of flowers and sunshine? So four unrelated ladies decide to rent an Italian castle for 4 weeks to escape from their everyday lives.

Four ladies so uniquely different - Lottie is a demoraliized house wife who decides that this is what she wants to do with her nest egg. Having met Rose Arbuthnot, who is of like mind, they advertise for two additiinal ladies to share the cost of the rental and head off to Italy for the month of April. Each lady has her own reason for avoiding their normal home environment, and friendships are formed as well as lives repaired amid the flourishing gardens and idyllic setting.

The writing brings a sense of peace to the reader as we picture the buzzing bees, blazing flora, and the puffing floating clouds on the hill overlooking the Mediterranean. There are also moments of amusement as well as self-analysis.

A great beach read IMHO.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel


Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: Thomas Cromwell
Setting: England
Main Characters: Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour
Series: no
Dates Read: June 10 - June 23
Number of pages: 640
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Extra curricular activites

Wolf Hall is one of those books that shows that not everyone will feel the same about any one book. The majority of readers appear to gush over this book, extolling the writing and the narrative manner, but I found it tedious, constantly trying to follow the story as it was told even though I knew the story quite well.

My English teacher from high school would have been horrified at the poor sentence structure and unidentified pronouns throughout. It was an interesting concept using Thomas Cromwell as the central character, but for me, the book fell flat.


Calamity Jayne by K.C. Bacus


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: ineptitude
Setting: Iowa
Main Characters: Tressa Jayne Turner, Rick Townsend, Joe Townsend
Series: yes, #1
Dates Read: June 18 - June 20
Number of pages: 326
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, Public Library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography class

Tressa Jayne Turner is accident prone. She also seems to manage to get herself into, shall we say, unusual situations. In this introductory story, Tressa manages to inadvertently "steal" a car without realizing it and then finds a dead body in the trunk when she goes to change a flat tire.

Since she finds the body and then loses it, she has to prove to everyone she knows that she hasn't lost her mind and so sets out to solve the murder that hasn't been recorded yet.
It was a fun story but I have a hard time with somebody being that dumb. Also the cover of the book has this straight haired blonde while through out the book Tressa complains about her unmanageable curly hair.


Contrary Blues by John Billheimer

Genre: mystery
Subject: Federal subsidies, fraud, extortion
Setting: Contrary , West Virginia
Main Characters: Owen Allison, Mary Beth Hobbs, Stony Hobbs, Stuart Hobbs, Purvis Jenkins, Dwight Armitage
Series: yes, #1
Dates Read: June 4 - June 17
Number of pages: 278
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no , Public Library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography Class

Okay, it's filled with stereotypes - hillbillies, moonshine, less than smart individuals, revenue runners, etc. but it was still fun!

Contrary, West Virginia has been receiving a federal grant for 4 years for buses to run in their town, but this year when the DOT sends an auditor he ends up dead. Well, the audit has to be finished so DOT sends another - Owen Allison - to Contrary to finish up and he ends up un the middle of a can of worms that nearly gets him killed too.

The problem is just a "small clerical error" on the request changing 2 buses to 20 buses and the DOT didn't notice so they been sending $500,000 a year. Well, the town of Contrary didn't want to live up to its name so they kept the extra funds and used them for other things. Trouble comes when a "disabled" veteran wants a bus ride to his "job" of guarding the local still.

Well, you can see how this is filled with the stereotypes but they are woven in so humorously, you just keep going with a smile on your face.

An absolutely entertaining read - and perfect for my West Virginia state visit!


Rutherford B. Hayes by Dale Whitaker

Genre: History
Subject: Biography of President Hayes
Setting: Ohio
Main Characters: Rutherford B Hayes
Series: no
Dates Read: June 1 - June 12
Number of pages: 558
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, public library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: History Class

Trying to find biographical information on the 19th POTUS isn't easy so when I found this book available and with more than 120 pages, I thought I had finally found what I was looking for. Unfortunately, not so. This book was primarily a collection of the correspondence and early political speeches of RB Hayes.

The early part of his life is adequately covered - his military service during the Civil War, and his start in political life. He served three non-consecutive terms as the governor of state of Ohio after being elected to Congress directly after the Civil War. But the book stops just before he takes office as the President and mentions his death in 1893.

Unless you enjoy the long winded speeches of the political arena, this is not a book that I would recommend.


Balkan Escape by Steve Berry


Genre: Mystery
Subject: danger
Setting: Bulgaria
Main Characters: Cassiopeia Vitt
Series: yes, #5.5 Cotton Malone
Dates Read: June 12
Number of pages: 20
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, Overdrive
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Lunch

This was just a short story where Cassiopeia Vitt is caught in an unfortunate circumstance that could turn very deadly. It is a prelude to the Cotton Malone Emperor's Tomb which hopefully I will get to this month.


Summer of Fire by Linda Jacobs

Genre: Fiction
Subject: marriage separation, personal communications
Setting: Yellowstone National Park
Main Characters: Clare Chance, Steve Heywood, John Deering, Devon Chance
Series: yes, #1
Dates Read: June 3 - June 10
Number of pages: 483
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography Class

Actual events are frequently used as the backdrop of fiction. In this novel the wildfires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988 are the driving force for the adventures told.

Clare Chance is a firefighter from Houston who volunteers to help fight the inferno that Yellowstone has become. Because of her background she is set the task of training the soldiers that are sent by the Army to assist.

The battles of the characters against the fires and their inner demons makes for good reading.

This was the first book that I read that was a Freebie from Barnes & Noble's Free book Friday. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing and story. It was the first in a series set in Yellowstone. I hope to see these characters again though from reviews of the other books In the series, they don't appear prominent.


Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: impulses, self-defense
Setting: Shakespeare, Arkansas
Main Characters: Lily Bard, Claude Friedrich, Marshall Sedaka
Series: yes, Lily Bard #1
Dates Read: June 2 - June 7
Number of pages: 224
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography Class
Lily Bard has a past. She's been living in Shakespeare, ARK for 3 years, working to clean the homes of many of the residents of this little town. Trouble threatens to expose what she's hiding when she witnesses a hooded figure wheeling a mysterious bundle into the nearby park. When she goes to investigate, she finds the area landlord dead.
This was a simple little cozy. More time was spent on Lily and her relationships with the town residents than maybe was necessary. The main characters and secondary characters do need a bit more development but since this is the first in the series, there's time. The mystery was light but entertaining. Hope for improvement in future installments.


Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: friendships, competitive businesses
Setting: Scottsdale, ARIZONA
Main Characters: Melanie Cooper, Angie DeLaura, Tate Harper, Christie Stevens
Series: yes, #1
Dates Read: May 31 - June 2
Number of pages: 240
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography Class

Fairy Tale Cupcakes - just the name of the business for the main characters of this new cozy series makes my mouth water and long to taste the scrumptious-sounding confections this minute. But that's not the best part. The best part of this book is that the mystery is well-written, the central characters are believable and the secondary characters are humorous and entertaining.

Melanie and Angie have been friends since grade school and with the help of their friend Tate, they open their dream - the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery. Tate is engaged to Christie Stevens and he has persuaded her to have the girls make cupcakes rather than a regular wedding cake. Neither Mel or Angie are "fond" of Christie but because of their friendship/partnership, they make all efforts to appease this bridezilla. But 'tragedy' occurs and Melanie is the one to find Christie dead with a sample cupcake in her hand.

To prevent the repercussions on their business, Melanie and Angie have to find out who really did kill Christie before their customers are all scared away.

I loved it. I have Buttercream Bump off, the next in the series sitting on the shelf so I'm set to continue this funny and yummy series. Thanks to Linda P for the recommendation.


All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming


Genre: Mystery
Subject: marriage separation, personal communications
Setting: MillersKill, NY
Main Characters: Russ VanAlstyne, Clare Ferguson
Series: yes, #5
Dates Read: May 30 - May 31
Number of pages: 322
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Speech Class

Linda van Alstyne is dead. She is founded dead in her kitchen, stabbed and mutilated. Who is the prime suspect - none other than Chief of Police Russ van Alstyne and so the state police are "called in" to head the investigation. Russ continues to try to find the murderer and runs into trouble.

Throughout this book I was torn as to who I really wanted to be the murderer. We know in our hearts that it can't be Clare or Russ, but then who? Russ seemed so terribly broken-hearted even though he professes that he loves Clare. So where is it going, how can there be a satisfactory solution?
As the story begins to head to resolution - the clues start mounting up and it is easy to foresee the outcome. But the ending - oh, no I didn't see that one coming!


Question about your reading #1

Club Read at LibraryThing have asked several question about their reading. I never notice the thread before, but when I read some of the question I was wondering what others out here thought. So I will ask some of the questions that I find personally interesting and hope that any visitors will let me know what they think.

Looking over the last 50 or so books you have read, which book presented its action on the smallest stage?
Tell us about it. Why that particular stage?

I looked at the books that I have read in the last 5 months - 56 books and realized that most had a very wide stage but one was extremely narrow. The book - Tuesdays with Morrie. The stage was mostly Morrie's apartment. I had to think about how the "stage" effected the story and recognized that the size of the stage in this book was vital. Morrie's life which had been so vibrant was being ended by a disease that cut into his vitality and caused him to be a shut-in. As his life dwindled down so did the amount of space in the apartment that he would occupy. Definitely, the "stage" was a vital portion of the story.

So what about the books that you've read? Has the "stage" played a major role?