Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Farewell, Miss Zukas

by Jo Dereske
June Creek Books, 2011

Alas, as the bard said, parting is such sweet sorrow. This is the final installment in the Miss Zukas mystery series, starring the indomitable Helma and her colourful sidekick,  Ruth. I will miss them both.

Helma has finally said 'yes' to Chief Gallant's proposal of marriage, hence the double-entendre in the book's title. Miss Zukas is to become Mrs. Gallant, and we are indeed wishing her a bon voyage.

Shortly after the book opens, Miss Zukas finds herself in the middle of a case. Her mother and aunt's apartment has been broken into, and a young man lies dead in the parking lot below, having fallen, or been pushed from, their apartment window. Aunt Em's memory has become increasingly unreliable, and her claim that she herself pushed the victim to his death, seems incredible. Helma's mother, Lillian, was out of the apartment at the time, and is unable to confirm Em's story.

Helma to the rescue! Will she be able to sort out the mystery? Was robbery really the only motive? And if so, why were only minor items apparently stolen? What is the identity of the second thief, and why has he or she been returning all but one of the stolen items? What, if anything, was in Aunt Em's Stelmuze box, and what exactly was she buying from the young Lithuanian man in the apartment building lobby? Does the crime have anything to do with the death of Rimas Klimas, a fellow member of the Lithuanian club to which Aunt Em belonged? And will Mr. Dubois, former make-up artist to the "stars," be able to transform Helma into something beautiful for her wedding day?

Stay tuned, or better yet, read this wonderful finale to Dereske's enchanting series.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hannah's List

by Debbie Macomber,
MIRA, 2010

Dr. Michael Everett is a lonely man, still grieving the loss of his wife Hannah to ovarian cancer a year earlier. On the anniversary of her death, his brother-in-law, Ritchie, gives him an unexpected "gift" - a letter Hannah wrote him when she knew she was going to die, a letter in which she asks him to do her one last favour.

There's nothing Michael wouldn't do for Hannah, his soulmate and the love of his life. But Hannah asks the unthinkable - she asks him to move on with his life and to find love again. So determined is she that he find a suitable second wife that she gives him the names of three women she thinks would be a good match, and urges him to get in touch with them.

With additional pressure from Ritchie and great reluctance on his part, Michael begins dating. Will one of the women on Hannah's list capture Michael's heart? If so, which will it be? Hannah's cousin, Winter, a wonderful cook and owner of the French Cafe? Leanne, an oncology nurse who treated Hannah with such compassion and care during her illness? Or Macy, an irrepressible artist with a penchant for collecting pets and people?

Macomber has written an engaging story and populated it with compelling characters. If you're looking for a gentle romance that will tug at your heartstrings, this is it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

They Almost Always Come Home

by Cynthia Ruchti,
Abingdon Press, 2010

Libby's lacklustre marriage is on the verge of complete disintegration when her husband, Greg, disappears in the Canadian wilderness during a solo canoe trip. The authorities conduct an investigation and have searchers fly over the area of Quetico Park he was supposed to be in, although they suspect he's not run into trouble, but deserted his wife.

Despite their marital problems, Libby knows Greg is too faithful and loyal to leave her. Taking the search into their own hands, she, her father-in-law Frank, and her best friend Jen, decide to follow Greg's route to see if they can find him, or at least discover what happened to him.

This is a fascinating and well-written story on the subjects of love, loss, and faith. While the author seems to have only one other story in print, I look forward to reading it along with any future books she may write.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What I've Been Reading

I had hoped to report on these titles individually, but time is passing and I'm remembering less and less about them. If you click on the title(s) you're interested in, I'll take you to Amazon or Chapters, where you can read up on content and reader reviews.

You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. Waterbrook Press, 1999. Parenting. Discipline. Strong-Willed Children. Highly recommended.

Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom by Kristin Van Ogtrop. Little, Brown, 2010. Parenting. Motherhood. Marriage. Also see this review, which first spurred me to read the book.

Glom Gloom by Jo Dereske., 2006. Juvenile Fiction. Teen Fiction. Fantasty. For the record, I really enjoyed this one.

Devil's Food Cake Murder  by Joanne Fluke. Kensington, 2011. Mystery. Hannah Swensen novels are usually an entertaining and enjoyable read, and this one was no exception.

All That is Bitter and Sweet: a Memoir by Ashley Judd. Ballentine Books, 2011. Memoir. Celebrity Biography. Though we're not on the same page on everything, after reading this book I have an increased respect and admiration for this talented actress and activist.