Category Archives: Fiction

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR #BoneClocks2017

Meme badgeReading and Bloggiesta-ing at the same time today, adding one more day to the weekend, thanks to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday!

Mini Bloggiesta January 13 to 15 badge
This week I’m reading Bone Clocks by David Mitchell for a readalong (#BoneClocks2017) hosted by Care at Care’s Books and Pie and Melissa of Avid Reader’s Musing. I also just downloaded Slade House by David Mitchell for audiobook listening this week, because I heard through the readalong crowd that there is some connection between the two. I hope I won’t get the two confused!

What is Bone Clocks all about? I have no idea, really…It appears so far to be a quest story with elements of fantasy and literary fiction, tucked inside a coming of age story. (Or the other way round.) Set in England. In other words, one of my favorite kinds of book! I knew nothing about Bone Clocks going into the readalong (and I wasn’t planning to sign up for challenges, etc. this year) but the other books by David Mitchell that I’ve read (Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas) were so good that I couldn’t resist this chance to read Bone Clocks and talk about it at the same time.

The first part of Bone Clocks is narrated by a fifteen-year-old girl who is starting to assert her independence from her parents, especially her mother. Holly Sykes is a handful, but loves her younger brother, Jacko. (Holly reminded me a little of Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, who also had an unusual younger brother, but I don’t know if there were any deliberate references, as I haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time in ages.)

The narration in Bone Clocks has just switched to Hugo Lamb, a horny undergraduate at Cambridge, who seems callow and obnoxious at first, but if he turns out to be on the side of good (vs. evil) I expect he will redeem himself. He’s older than Holly – who is callow and obnoxious at age 15 – but boys mature later than girls?

If you want to jump in for the rest of the #BoneClocks17 Readalong, it’s not too late! It’s scheduled to go through February.

Bone Clocks Readalong button
The Bone Clocks Readalong Kickoff (Melissa)

The Bone Clocks Readalong Kickoff (Care)


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in, everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

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Cute Cozy Culinary: Pies & Peril by Janel Gradowski #weekendcooking

cover image of Pies and PerilPies & Peril by Janel Gradowski – the first in the Culinary Competition cozy mystery series, set in Michigan – is a fun read for foodie mystery fans. Readers with a sweet tooth will drool over the descriptions of the prize-winning baked goods made by the main character Amy, such as Bumble Apple Crumble Pie, Lemon Cheesecake Muffins, and Hot Fudge and Pound Cake Trifle.

As in all cozy mysteries, the person found dead at the beginning of the story was someone who wasn’t much liked and won’t be missed much by anyone, but friendly, generous Amy, the perennial baking contest winner in town – at first a suspect, herself – quickly finds herself in danger of becoming the murderer’s next victim.

Here’s a short paragraph from the early part of the story, where Amy’s friend Carla is trying Amy’s latest “chocolate therapy” – a fresh-out-of-the-oven batch of Quadruple Chocolate Muffins – the morning after Amy discovered the dead body of her main competitor in the annual baking contest:

“Carla peeled the paper wrapper off a muffin and took a bite. Heavenly was too weak a word to describe the taste. Tender, intensely chocolate cake studded with pockets of gooey, melted chocolate. If there was a more decadent thing to eat for breakfast, she couldn’t think of one at the moment. Poor Amy was exhausted and stressed out, but she still turned out muffins that were ten times better than anything Maxson’s Bakery ever served.”

The recipes in the back of Pies & Peril are not on my diet, so I haven’t tried them, but they sound delicious!

Fruit & Nut Brownies
Savory Parmesan & Salami Muffins
Tomato Pies for Two
Spicy Maple Dipping Sauce

The Culinary Competition Mysteries series titles in order so far are:

  1. Pies & Peril
  2. Chicken Soup & Homicide
  3. Christmas Canapés & Sabotage
  4. Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes
  5. Fudge Brownies & Murder
  6. Banana Muffins & Mayhem (June 14, 2016)

Pies & Peril
Gradowski, Janel
Gemma Halliday, 2014
9781500385835

Disclosure: I won a free SmashWords download from the author in a Novel Meals giveaway in July 2014. I don’t read many cozy mysteries, but I like culinary ones the best, so I’m glad I finally got around to reading Pies & Peril!

Other opinions on Pies & Peril:
Joy’s Book Blog

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

Male Family Dysfunction in Maine (Even the Narrator is a Boy): The Miracle on Monhegan Island by Elizabeth Kelly

cover imageThe publisher of The Miracle on Monhegan Island calls it “another rollicking, summertime family saga” from author Elizabeth Kelly, but I think “rollicking” is a slightly misleading description, unless you’d also call the stories of the dark dysfunctional family summers in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart or Maine by Courtney Sullivan “rollicking.”

Although The Miracle on Monhegan Island overflows with humor and is narrated in its entirety by Ned, a purebred Shih Tzu who is wise beyond his years on the subjects of both human nature and dog breeds, the humor is mostly dark. The Monahan family is still recovering from events related to mental illness that broke up the family in the past.

I am a big fan of author Elizabeth Kelly, although you might not know it from my blog. I was so impressed with her two previous novels – Apologize, Apologize! and The Last Summer of the Camperdowns –  that I was afraid my reviews wouldn’t do them justice. But after reading an advance copy of The Miracle on Monhegan Island, which is coming out on May 10th and is written in the same understanding, unsentimental tone – a blend of light and dark, heavy on the dark– as her earlier books, I want to make sure my blog readers don’t miss hearing from me any longer about author Elizabeth Kelly (not to be confused with Canadian romance author Elizabeth Kelly, or Catholic inspirational author Elizabeth Kelly.)

Monhegan Island is a real island in Maine with cliffs overlooking the ocean, miles of walking trails, unspoiled natural vistas, and no cars.

photo of Monhegan Island
Photo from Monhegan.com http://monhegan.com

Before Spark, the prodigal adult son, returns after an absence of many years to the family home, he steals a dog as a gift for his young teenaged son Hally on impulse from the backseat of a car, thus changing Ned’s life completely, as Spark’s return to Monhegan Island also changes the life of his son Hally, who has lived alone with his artist uncle and stern preacher grandfather since the death of his mother when he was little. Pastor Ragnar is either a crackpot or inspired by God, but his faithful following grows exponentially when Hally reports seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary, igniting a firestorm of media attention and obsessed visitors to the isolated island.

Ned muses frequently on how different and more meaningful his life turned out to be from the petted and pampered life he had believed was his lot; his witty observations of the behavior of the members of the human family he now belongs to and the other humans (and dogs) on the island are equally keen and thoughtful.

You don’t have to be either a dog person or a God person to appreciate the dark humor of this story of the fine line between religious fervor and psychosis and the strength of blood lines and family ties. Add this one to your summer reading list, if you don’t mind a few loose ends and unanswered questions to ponder over after you close the book!

The Miracle on Monhegan Island
Kelly, Elizabeth (@ElizabethKelly8)
Norton, May 10, 2016
9781631491795 (hard.)
$25.95

Disclosure: I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.