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Til Death–another fantastic Zoe Chambers mystery

Til Death

by Annette Dashofy

If all mysteries were as good as Til Death, readers would be glued to their easy chairs and no work would get done. Annette Dashofy continues her series with main character Zoe Chambers being promoted to Chief Deputy Coroner and giving up her job as an EMT. This is a huge change with lots of responsibilities, a big learning curve, and people and events that challenge her.

The story opens with County Coroner Franklin Marshall collapsing in the autopsy suite—and not out of a squeamish response to the procedure. The action takes off from there and doesn’t stop until the last period. There are several deaths, a cold case, attacks on law enforcement, and berserk ex-wives. Among all the cases could there be more than one criminal? There are three modes of murder, so maybe? Or do they all somehow tie together? 

Philandering Dustin Landis is released from prison when a judge overturns his conviction. The D.A. is going to try him again. Dustin has always insisted on his innocence. Now pieces are coming to light that indicate a serial killer was operating in the area at the time. When Franklin’s most recent ex-wife explodes on the scene, chaos follows her. She tears Franklin’s office apart, apparently in search of a document, and summarily kicks out Zoe and the Coroner’s Office with her.

Zoe’s attention is divided as she and Police Chief Pete Adams are getting married in two weeks, an event that brings seemingly inevitable family drama to the forefront. A staff romance in the Vance Township Police force causes a crisis of a different sort. Meanwhile Zoe and Pete have to work together and independently to fit all of the puzzle pieces together with the goal of solving all those mysteries simultaneously.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #10 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, but holds up well as a standalone.

Publication:   June 16, 2020—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

If Loretta Marshall’s dark hair had been half white, Zoe would’ve warned her friends who owned Dalmatians.

“Good old Dr. Davis. Politician first. Forensic expert second. Human being? Somewhere way lower on the list.”

Zoe collapsed onto her stacked boxes, staring out the dirt-streaked window, thoughts and emotions racing inside her skull like deranged bumper cars.

The Screwtape Letters–twisting good into evil

The Screwtape Letters

by C.S. Lewis

Welcome to the inside-out, topsy turvy world of The Screwtape Letters, correspondence supposedly written by Screwtape, an experienced devil who is mentoring his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter, in the process of keeping the human assigned to him from becoming a Christian and making good choices. The human is considered a “patient.” God is called “the Enemy,” and Satan is referred to as “Our Father Below.” As you can imagine, this short book is not a quick read as you have to turn familiar designations of God and Satan, as well as your whole thought process, around so that the book will make sense.

First published in serial form in a newspaper, it is divided into chapters which are letters generally focused around one topic such as gluttony or humility and gives advice on how to twist things that God has created in beauty and purity into something that will draw the patient away from God and onto sinful paths.

I am glad I read this book, but I didn’t enjoy it in the same way I would an entertaining mystery or a gentle romance. It is quite witty with tongue-in-cheek humor throughout. It challenged my mind and spirit as I tried to decipher C.S. Lewis’ message. Reading The Screwtape Letters is rather like looking into a mirror. Beware! As you see a reflection of yourself in some of the passages, you may be inspired to make changes in your own life that will result in your reflecting God’s image rather than the one Satan would appreciate. With much food for thought, The Screwtape Letters could be read and studied many times, especially over the course of a lifetime, deriving a new depth of meaning applicable to you personally with each reading.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Fiction

Notes: C.S. Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century. He is the noted author of many works of fiction and nonfiction including The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity. The Screwtape Letters was originally published in 1942.

Publication: 1959—Macmillan Publishing Co. 

Memorable Lines:

All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, “By jove! I’m being humble,” and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear.

Music and silence…how I detest them both!…Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile—Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires.

And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another.

A Pho Love Story–kitchens in conflict

A Pho Love Story

by Loan Le

Perfect for Valentine’s Day—or any day for that matter! Loan Le’s A Pho Love Story, written with a teenage or young adult audience in mind, is a modern day Vietnamese-American “Romeo and Juliet” tale. Báo and Linh, seniors in high school, do not understand the family conflict that has gone on for as long as they can remember. Their families’ restaurants, serving authentic Vietnamese dishes, are situated on opposites sides of the same street. The parents, however, clearly dislike each other. In fact, the children are not allowed to talk or play together. Is this conflict a result of competition for economic survival or is there a deeper reason going back to their days in Vietnam and the dangerous boat trips to safety and freedom? Cultural norms for showing respect to their parents prevent both Báo and Linh from questioning them about the deeply felt social boundaries in the neighborhood.

Báo and Linh are sympathetic characters; Báo is trying to decide on a career and  Linh wants to make her passion and talent for painting acceptable to her parents. The Vietnamese flavor throughout is authentic and reflective of the author’s family heritage. Because both families own restaurants, food plays an important role. Vietnamese culture is also prominent in descriptions of the parents and the family dynamics. As someone familiar with Spanish, French, and Latin, I can usually read expressions from those languages when added to the text for authenticity, but the phrases included in this book sent me scurrying to a translation app. Most meanings could be divined from context, but I really like to know the exact meaning of words, whether in English or another language, for a deeper reading experience. A Pho Love Story was enriching in that respect.

I am sure most readers can predict the outcome, but not how the characters will arrive there. The journey is bumpy, but fun, as the author weaves literary magic within the plot. The story is told by the teenagers from alternating points of view by chapter, a technique which works really well in this book. There are several interesting  adults who act as mentors to the pair without telling them what to do. This would be an engaging read for teenagers and young adults.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Teen and Young Adult

Notes: There is some bad language sprinkled throughout the book.

Publication:   February 9, 2021—Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Memorable Lines:

My parents—my mom, really—has now perfected the art of non-encounters; knowing their schedule right down to when they close and when they leave. In a way, their schedule has become ours. We’re background characters in each other’s stories.

She trusts Viet to do his job, as well as make sure I do mine. The concept’s not perfect: We’re the same age, and letting him watch over me makes as much sense as letting a horse and a pony run the show. But somehow it works.

I like the writer’s style. One person can say something that’s been said before but in a way that’s completely different; their unique experiences and personality infuse their words, their sentences.

Booked for Death–murders, books, and suspicion

Booked for Death

by Victoria Gilbert

Victoria Gilbert, a retired librarian, has started a second series for those who love all things bookish. In Booked for Death, Charlotte, a widow, has inherited a large home from her Great Aunt Isabella whose life was a mystery to her family. Already an established B&B, the inn is called Chapters because of the extensive library it houses which includes many rare books. In keeping with the various themes, Charlotte hosts special events centered on authors and books.

In Booked for Death, the week’s focus is British writer Josephine Tey. As the participants dive into one of her mysteries, there is a murder at the B&B.  There are many suspects with legitimately plausible motivations for killing bookseller Lincoln Delamont as he was not a very nice man. Charlotte tries to find out as much as she can about all the people who were at the B& B at the time of the murder. Information comes out gradually as to backgrounds and alibis. Charlotte, who has a reason to wish Lincoln dead, is one of the suspects but soon finds her own life in danger.

There are many interesting characters. Some of those will clearly appear in future books in the series—her friend Julie, housekeeper and cook Alicia, and neighbor Ellen. Others may or may not make a reappearance. Charlotte’s investigations take her to the dusty, cluttered attic to try to understand her great aunt’s complicated past. 

Most of the book is well-written. There is a small portion that has stilted dialogue between Ellen and Charlotte, but most of the book, which is written in first person, flows smoothly. I did not guess who the murderer is, but the reveal is both surprising and nicely disclosed. The conclusion is very satisfying and so well played that I read the last few pages twice just to enjoy both the implications for future books and the written words themselves. It is easy to see how this book can segue into even bigger mysteries in future books with legitimate, not contrived, investigations.

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1.#1 in the Booklovers B&B Mystery Series

2. The second book in the series, Reserved for Murder, is scheduled for release on June 8, 2021.

3. I have one criticism of the book (in its ARC form) which may well have been altered for publication. The author overused the term “narrowed/narrowing his/her eye” (15 times) and “side-eyed” (8 times). I’m sure with a little creativity, the author can find other ways to explain the character’s expressions. This issue was overshadowed for me by the intricacies of the plot, some beautifully written passages, and the excellent ending which left me looking forward to the next book in the series.

Publication:   June 9, 2020—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

Her vivacious beauty, undimmed even in her later years, had seemed far too exotic for our rather unexceptional family. Like a butterfly among the moths, I thought, as I laid down the photo and picked up another.

“I was hungry,” Tara said, fixing me with a glare that would’ve frozen the blood of most adults. But I’d taught high school for far too long to be intimidated by such tactics.

“…she wasn’t believed when she told the truth as a child. And honestly, it’s not always easy to share our deepest pain, even with the ones we love.”

Double Trouble–Elvis and trouble on the loose

Double Trouble

by Gretchen Archer

There are plenty of laughs in Gretchen Archer’s Double Trouble set in the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Davis Way Cole, former police officer, mother of toddler twin girls, and part-time security for the Casino absolutely could not get into more trouble if she tried. Davis is left in charge of the casino while all of the upper level staff along with her husband, manager of the resort complex, are attending a convention. Her problem starts when five million dollars goes missing, and the week just goes downhill from there.  As Davis and her sidekick Fantasy try to find the missing money, locate disappearing people, and in the process discover murders, the storyline becomes a written version of T.V. slapstick comedy a la Lucy and Ethel.

Both the dialogue and Davis’ inner tongue-in-cheek monologues move along the plot which includes her mother whose passions are cooking and feeding those she loves—all the time, an ex-ex mother-in-law who shouldn’t be there, and her daughters who are addicted to Frozen. To make the plot even more crazy, add in potted tomatoes enhanced with aromatic Black Kow organic fertilizer (yep, you know what that is!), a safe room with lots of wine, missing employees, an abandoned baby, very shady wire transfers, and a slick lawyer—just for starters. The whole city is inundated with people disguised as Elvis to participate in an Elvis convention sponsored by Bellissimo. That makes identifying any villain virtually impossible.

My favorite character is Birdy James, a confused ninety-five year old in charge of Lost and Found. No one wants to fire her, bless her heart. Unfortunately, she is the only one who can locate items in the Lost and Found room. As a retired librarian, she created her own Dewey Decimal System for storing lost articles, she makes notes in shorthand that only she can read, and she is the sole person with the keypad combination to the storage room. She plays hilariously into the story and is important in solving the mystery. I know you’ll enjoy this Southern gem.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #9 in the Davis Way Crime Caper Series. Prior knowledge of the characters is nice, but it could act as a standalone.

Publication:   June 9, 2020—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Birdy yelled, “Did someone say liverwurst?”  Bexley asked, “What’s a worse sandwich?”  She tugged at the hem of my t-shirt. “Do we like worse sandwiches, Mama? Worse than what?”

“Your stove isn’t worth taking out back and shooting, Davis.” My mother and I were so, so different. If I were going to shoot the stove, I’d shoot it where it stood.

“The plumbing and the wiring are the only fings that connect to anyfing elshe.” I tried to count the empty wine bottles, because for sure, I think I shlurred a word or thoo in there.

Death by Auction–fun event turns deadly

Death by Auction

by Alexis Morgan

Abby McCree is new to Snowberry Creek, but wants to contribute to her community, so she spearheads a fundraiser in support of a local veterans’ group. It is a fun bachelor/bachelorette auction which will be followed in a few weeks by a World War II era dance. Well, it would be fun if Abby had not discovered her celebrity Master of Ceremony’s dead body and if her boyfriend’s ex-wife hadn’t made a surprise visit to Snowberry Creek.

Abby is not happy to be in the middle of this mess, but she responds in her usual hospitable manner to the unwelcome ex-wife whom she privately  calls “the barnacle.” With her never ending stash of muffins and cookies tucked away in the freezer, she even feeds the law enforcement officers who show up on her doorstep.

The story, which varies in mood from humorous to serious, moves quickly. As much as I wanted to know who committed the crime, I still didn’t want the book to end. From adventures at a biker bar to the joys of having her boyfriend’s ex-wife, who is one of the suspects, as a houseguest, the plot has a high energy level. The characters’ interactions are interesting. I’d love to join Abby at her kitchen table for a chat and the chance to pet Zeke, her slobbery ninety pound mastiff mix who is a good companion for her because of his intimidating size and his abilities in judging character. Abby is astute in her investigations and instrumental in solving the crime. All in all, Alexis Morgan’s Death by Auction is a very satisfying cozy mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Abby McCree Mystery Series, but would be excellent as a standalone

Publication:   May 26, 2020—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

They settled in at the table while Zeke parked himself between them in case someone dropped food on the floor that would require an emergency cleanup. He was good about things like that.

“I’ve learned never to underestimate your total inability to stay out of trouble, but also every guilty thought you have flashes across your face like it’s a billboard.”

Mount St. Helens had nothing on the eruption Abby could sense brewing in Tripp. His fists were clenched so tightly that his knuckles stood out in stark relief. One wrong word at this point, and she had no doubt he would go ballistic.

Murder with Clotted Cream–cozy mystery with an emphasis on relationships

Murder with Clotted Cream

by Karen Rose Smith

You can jump right into Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery Series with Murder with Clotted Cream, the fifth book in this series by Karen Rose Smith. The author does an outstanding job of providing information on the characters for the new or returning reader.

Daisy Swanson is co-owner of Daisy’s Tea Garden. In this book, Daisy is hired to provide a tea for the actors preparing a play for the Little Theater, newly built by a real estate developer and his actress wife. When a murder occurs at the tea, Daisy finds herself in the middle of yet another investigation. Other major parts of this plot are relationship oriented: Daisy and her boyfriend Jonas, Daisy’s daughter Jazzi and her biological mother, Daisy and her own mother Rose, and Daisy’s other daughter who suffers from postpartum depression. As you can see, Daisy has a lot on her plate, and it doesn’t help that the detective on the case has an ax to grind with Daisy’s boyfriend.

There are a lot of suspects to keep you guessing and some danger along the way for Daisy. The book also deals with important parenting issues across the generations. Some of Daisy’s investigations are digital or local to her town, but others involve a train trip to New York City. We get to view her not as a one-dimensional heroine but as an independent businesswoman, a caring mom, a widow exploring a friendship blossoming slowly into romance, and a careful observer of those around her.

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes:  1. #5 in the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery Series, but great as a standalone.

  2. Includes 3 original recipes

Publication:   May 26, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“She knows how to ask questions, and she doesn’t treat everyone she meets as if they were hostile witnesses. You might be better served to do the same.”

November has descended with a cold grip, and today was a perfect example of a steel-gray day with the reminder of winter in any wind that blew.

Daisy heard Jonas gasp as if Zeke had punched him in his solar plexus. In that one statement Zeke just might have changed Jonas’s attitude about life, about love, and about moving forward.

When We Were Young and Brave–kindness in the midst of despair

When We Were Young and Brave

by Hazel Gaynor

During our current tumultuous times, When We Were Young and Brave was somewhat of a difficult read for me, but I’m glad it is now a part of my personal reading journey. Hazel Gaynor’s latest book relates a fictional version of the events following Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor as they play out for the students and teachers at the China Inland Mission School in Chefoo, China. With Japan’s invasion of China, the Japanese seize and occupy the school, later interning the residents in the much larger prison camp known as the Weihsien Civilian Assembly Center where sanitation facilities are disgusting and meals are meager, nutritionally inadequate for growing children, and almost inedible. Despite the harsh conditions, the teachers protect the children as best they can while rallying them with insistence on routines, cleanliness, and a hearty “chin up” attitude. Of particular note is the role of their Girl Guide troop and standards that help the students in maintaining a positive outlook.

The last sections of the book, “Liberation” and “Remembrance,” are remarkable in the beauty of the skillful writing that describes the impact of the American liberation on the camp residents. They gain relief from the fears that haunted them daily, but endure the substitution of new anxieties and questions for the future. Where will they go and what will they do? Is anyone waiting for them at home?

The story is told by alternating narrators. Elspeth is a competent, well-organized, and kind teacher who has a special motherly feeling for Nancy, the daughter of missionaries in China. Their relationship is always teacher and student, but as months of internment become years, Elspeth takes on increasingly more of the commitment for safe care that she made to Nancy’s mother as they departed by boat to sail to the school, both as first-timers. We view their ordeals from both Elspeth’s and Nancy’s points of view.

There are a lot of themes in the book including resilience, relationships, releasing the past, and looking to the future. Symbolism is also important in the kingfisher that becomes the emblem of the new Girl Guide patrol and the sunflower which holds a special meaning for teacher and students. 

The characters emerge as three dimensional figures as they are well developed. Realism comes into play with descriptions of the harsh conditions; no one’s story is fairytale like or even positive. The setting is well-executed with vivid word pictures. As the Chinese workers slosh through the camp, the odor of the filth of “honey-pot” buckets they pull from the latrines makes an unforgettable olfactory experience. There are also more pleasant descriptions of the beauty outside the camp, but glimpses are rare for those interned. The last two sections make the book a winner for me, but the first sections are also well written and essential to the success of this historical novel.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction

Notes: There is a very informative section at the end of the book that describes the author’s research and thought processes and some historical background. The author has also included a brief history of the Girl Guides as that organization plays an important role in the girls’ lives. Other additions are a list of books and websites for further reading, including original source documents found at weihsien-paintings.org, and some questions for discussion.

Publication: October 6, 2020—Harper Collins

Memorable Lines:

When she was cross, Miss Kent spoke in a way that reminded me of brittle twigs snapping underfoot on autumn walks. I felt my cheeks go red. Without giving me a ticking-off, she’d done exactly that.

I knew the smile she gave us that morning was the sort of “we must be brave” smile adults use when they’re trying to pretend something awful isn’t happening.

But, as I’d come to realize about life during a war, nothing stayed the same for long. Just when you thought you’d adjusted and adapted and found a way to cope, the situation changed.

Candy Slain Murder–lots of food and mystery

Candy Slain Murder

by Maddie Day

December arrives to provide a Christmassy backdrop to this cozy mystery set in the little town of South Lick, Indiana, where Robbie Jordan owns a breakfast and lunch restaurant that also features vintage cookware for sale. There is a cast of regulars making their appearance in Maddie Day’s Candy Slain Murder, but remain fearless, dear Reader, as the author’s talents include bringing the reader quickly on board with Robbie’s friends and family.

This mystery includes a cold case and a new murder case that appear to be connected. There are a number of characters with potential motives that Robbie has to sort through as she informally interviews various persons of interest as well as those whose knowledge might contribute to her investigations.

Another thread in the story is the surprise appearance of the mysterious half-brother of one of Robbie’s employees. Protective of those she loves, Robbie is concerned that this man’s claims might not be legitimate. Even his religious ties as a former Quaker turned Muslim are odd. They lead to a discussion of inclusiveness versus discrimination in South Lick with some B&B guests. This thread is interesting, but seems an afterthought as the couple appears only once besides meal times.

I enjoyed the book as I tried to discover the murderer or murderers along with Robbie. There were plenty of distractions to keep me guessing, although I had in mind a resolution that I wanted to see. Happily, I was correct, but it was fun to follow the characters to a satisfactory conclusion.

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes:  1. #8 in the Country Store Mysteries Series. I have read, out of order, a few of the books in this series. All, including Candy Slain Murder, have worked well as standalones.

  2. Six recipes are included in the book and several are holiday appropriate.

  3. I am puzzled by Robbie’s critical comment on the celebration of Christmas in the little town. They were having a Christmas tree lighting and a visit by Santa. Robbie said of the mayor, “Corrine could have slanted the celebration in a more secular direction.” As a Christian, I think the celebration was very secular. There was no nativity scene and no mention of the birth of Jesus, which is the origin of Christmas celebrations. 

Publication:   September 29, 2020—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“You’re more full of questions than one of them robots on the phone. At least you ain’t asking me to press one for this and two for that.”

Buck poured on the syrup and tore into his cranberry pancakes so fast I thought they would catch on fire.

“It’s one of them, you know, fifty percent of one and a dozen of the other.” My jaw dropped at his fractured metaphor.

Consider This, Señora–newcomers in a Mexican village

Consider This, Señora

by Harriet Doerr

If asked what a particular country is like, the wise respondent does not declare that the whole country is mono-anything. Cities are different from villages, mountains from deserts, and north from south. At the same time, there are cultural aspects that transcend regional differences. This is certainly true of Mexico as I can attest to after being privileged to live in that country for seven years. In Harriet Doerr’s Consider This, Señora, she captures the essence of rural Mexico, the things that make me nod and smile as I remember the way it is.

Here are things from the book that are, for the most part, neither bad nor good, just typically Mexican. I list them out, but in the book, they are integrated into the story:

  • Workmen that don’t finish jobs. 
  • Problems solved by greasing the wheels with a little cash. 
  • Extended family relationships determining work placements.
  • Government promises for utilities only partially or never fulfilled. 
  • Accidents caused by disregard for traffic “suggestion” signs.
  • Brilliantly colored fiestas.
  • Beautiful vistas.
  • No understanding of queues, but extreme politeness one on one.
  • Animals roaming free.
  • Very young mothers.
  • Children working from a young age.
  • Beautiful babies with wide brown eyes and shy smiles.
  • The staple food—taco.
  • Popsicles sold from street carts.

The story is the tale of Sue Ames and Bud Loomis, strangers trying to escape their pasts who meet by chance in a property agent’s office in Mexico and buy a large plot of land to both live on and subdivide. Other people join them. Fran is a travel author. Fran’s mother, Ursula, is widowed and in her late 70’s. Don Enrique, the original owner of the land by ancestry finds a home there. Later the mysterious musician Herr Otto is added to the  community. There are locals that make an essential supporting cast including Patricio, gardener and so much more for the Norte Americanos and Father Miguel who is a friend to all. 

Consider This, Señora is a gem, a tale of travelers to another culture and how their lives intersect with the land and the lives of the locals. Although not a romance, love is a major theme in the book. Even though she is divorced, Sue has never fallen out of love with her husband. Fran, divorced twice, continues to search for an exciting but long-lasting love with men she meets in her travels. Ursula, widowed, is still in love with the husband she spent her life with. She, especially, contemplates what it means to love. 

Sue is altruistic and generous, helping those in need. She takes on Altagracia, her part time maid from a young age, providing needed dental work and opportunities to bathe. As the girl emerges from her cocoon at age sixteen, Altagracia is described as one who “merely by her passage, turned the heads of men.” When Altagracia takes on a different domestic position, she supplies Sue with three of her little cousins who are starving. Sue opens her heart to them and provides help to the family.

Harriet Doerr’s descriptions are so well-written that the background comes to life enhancing the story without belaboring the details. She also includes a sprinkling of Spanish words adding to the authentic flavor, but most can be understood from context. The book flows, and I read it in one day wanting to know more and more about the characters and the little village of Lomas de Amapolas.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Fiction

Publication:  August 15, 1994—Harcourt (A Harvest Book)

Memorable Lines:

Today had stopped happening. Already it had consigned its events to memory. Touched by the evening chill, she sat outside until dark, wrapped in the mists of her brief, uncertain future and the brilliant patchwork of her never-ending past.

The Mexican sky was excessive too, she believed. Wider than others, it stretched over people who appeared no fonder of life than death, as they darted on bicycles between trailer trucks and buses and hurried hand in hand, whole families strong, across divided freeways.

On all sides of the dead man and the mourners, headstones tilted into weeds. Two cypress trees shaded the crisscrossing tracks of animals, both tame and wild. A crumbling adobe wall bounded the pantéon  and protected the dead.

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