Monday, February 25, 2019


I was fascinated by the personalities of Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli and the intricacies of Haute Couture and politics in Paris just before and during WWII. But I was also intrigued by the daily life of various classes of people (upper class, middle class, merchants, professionals, wage workers, spies, artists, military, etc.) during that same period. Even the Ritz Hotel and the various cafes became a part of the story.
I was so curious about the gowns being designed, constructed and worn that I looked them up on Google. Yes, they are all there!  I hope the finished book has photographs of Lily’s first Schiaparelli dress and the “tree” costume. 
At first I thought this would be just another mildly interesting romance with clothes. I was delightedly mistaken. THE LAST COLLECTION is well worth your reading time and would be a good choice for book groups.
5 of 5 stars 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

THE GOWN by Jennifer Robson

THE GOWN  by Jennifer Robson
The intimate details of every day life in 1947 England, still suffering from the austerity required by the devastation of WWII, are clearly rendered in the lives of two embroiderers working on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. One woman will become world famous, the other will be lost in obscurity when she emigrates to Canada.
Richly detailed scenes in ordinary home life (rationed, food, clothing, housing), education, and the workplace make this tale of historical fiction come to life.  The reader comes to care about Ann and Miriam as they toil day after day on the peculiarities of embroidered flowers and motifs at Hartnell, a haute couture house of fashion.
Robson has done the research. She ably and seamlessly weaves real events and real people into her story.  Book groups and history buffs will both find much to love and discuss in this tale.
5 of 5 stars

Saturday, February 16, 2019

OF BLOOD AND BONE by Nora Roberts

OF BLOOD AND BONE   by Nora Roberts
Volume two of The Chronicles of THE ONE is a richly imagined world of magic, war, peace, education, and strategy.  The characters introduced in volume one (YEAR ONE) are fleshed out and new characters become real.  Roberts is a master of characterization and plotting. This book demonstrates that.
The training of THE ONE continues with an increase in magic, friendships and war.  Although the middle of the book drags a bit, it is a welcome launch to the heart pounding final chapters. The conclusion of this book ensures readers will wait breathlessly for the third and final installment.
Readers who enjoy their magic laced with realism and great characters will appreciate this book. Can be read as a stand alone.
5 of 5 stars


This was an interesting read, but I am still wondering how to classify it and if I liked it. It is a murder mystery, but also a coming of age and an historical novel. I didn’t much like Kathleen, the main character. The ending was too abbreviated, or not necessary, I can’t decide which.  From reading the notes, apparently this book is a prequel to THE FLAPPER, THE SCIENTIST AND THE SABATEUR.
The 1920’s dialogue, clothing, music and situations all ring true. The Chicago elements are accurate (I am a Chicagoan). Stephens College is a real school in Missouri that debutants and wealthy females attended (and still do). The plot is well thought out and executed.  Kathleen’s adventures are (mostly) believable.
I’m still not willing to give a rave review, but it did hold my interest, had a few humorous parts and a few truly scary parts.  Kathleen was a bit of a twit, but then she was 17 at the start of the book. I’ll be interested to read someone else’s thoughts.
3 of 5 stars

Saturday, February 9, 2019

SOMEDAY WE WILL FLY by Rachel DeWoskin

SOMEDAY WE WILL FLY  by Rachel DeWoskin

Performers in the Warsaw Circus must flee for their lives from the Nazis. As they flee to Shanghai, Lillia’s mother is lost. She and father left with no Choice, continue to Shanghai where Jews are being offered safety, but not an easy life. As the Japanese draw ever nearer, life becomes more tenuous and scary. 
Well written and researched, this YA novel is also a wonderful read for adults.  The Jewish experience in war time China has been little known. This book attempts to rectify that omission and succeeds.  Lillia, her father and those she comes in contact with are fully developed characters. The plot is engrossing. 
5 of 5 stars

Monday, February 4, 2019

THE RECKONING by John Grisham

THE RECKONING   by John Grisham
Grisham is back to writing mysteries instead of “magical realism” and I am happy. When the town’s celebrated hero walks into church and kills his best friend, there has to be a story……and there is.  Why did Pete kill Dexter? Why won’t he talk? How can he be defended?
The court room drama takes us from the Jim Crow south to the jungles of WWII to an insane asylum and back to the court room.  This is vintage Grisham and an exciting read.
5 of 5 stars

Saturday, February 2, 2019

THE INQUISITOR'S WIFE by Jeanne Kalogridis

THE INQUISITOR’S WIFE  by Jeanne Kalogridis
The last 50 pages are heart thumping exciting. The rest of the book not so much.  I had high hopes for an interesting and illuminating story, but it was hard to get past the often jarring word usage. This book needed a good editor.
3 of 5 stars