Thursday, March 31, 2022

 

While Iona Iverson's second rule of commuting is "Never talk to strangers on the train," due to her flamboyant persona, she attracts a lot of attention during her daily train journey to her job as a magazine advice columnist.  She has a seat that she always sits in, and her French bulldog Lulu is usually in the seat beside her.  The layout of the seats includes a table for four people.  Iona notices the regulars and gives them all nicknames such as "Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader." Iona is in her 50s and dresses to attract attention -- bright colors and patterns in a train carriage of browns and blacks.  Her fellow commuters also have nicknames for her, such as "Rainbow Lady" or "Magic Handbag Lady."

Some of her fellow commuters include: Sanjay, an oncology nurse with panic attacks; Martha, a teenage school girl dealing with a sexting scandal that's made her an outcast; Piers, the "manspreader" whose high-flying career isn't all it's cracked up to be; and Emmie, who is dealing with a possessive boyfriend.  As we get to learn more about the various characters and their problems, it seems that everyone must ignore the rules of commuting in order to make connections that will benefit everyone.

The story was very comforting and I enjoyed reading how all the characters came together to help one another with their issues.  The story dealt compassionately with subjects such as bullying, LGBTQ discrimination, age discrimination, etc.  An enjoyable story and tying up of all the storylines!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

 

I'm always thrilled to see there's a new No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency adventure.  Stepping into Botswana and into the gentle world of Mma Ramotswe is such a pleasure.  This new adventure features all the favorites (except we don't see much of part-time assistant detective Charlie, as he's on paternity leave).  The various problems facing detectives Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are as perplexing and heartbreaking as usual:  a man who fears his father's caretaker has exercised undue influence to get the will re-written in the caretaker's favor and a new arrival at the Orphan Farm who claims she had been held as a slave and other children were still there.  The detectives must use their unconventional methods to learn more about the situation and to solve the problems as only they can.

The main story running through the book, however, concerns Mr. JLB Matekoni and his apparent "male menopause."  After being persuaded to attend a conference and networking event for small businesses, Mr. JLB Matekoni encounters an old school friend who seems to have become very successful.  While previously happy enough with his life and small garage, the friend persuades Mr. JLB Matekoni that he should invest in a new business opportunity: a bus company.  Suddenly, Mr. JLB Matekoni becomes excited in a way he hasn't felt in a long time.  He begins to see the possibilities of expanding his business holdings and living up to a potential he didn't know he had.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have an unlimited supply of pula just lying around, so he uses the only asset he has:  he's going to take a loan on the building that houses not only Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, but also the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  Although those around Mr. JLB Matekoni are dubious about his new plans, when the man from the bank arrives to value the property and gives his dismissive evaluation, the alarm bells really start to ring.

While I always enjoy reading the adventures of these characters, this book left me with a decidedly uneasy feeling.  Everyone seemed to be plotting and scheming behind Mr. JLB Matekoni to ensure he would not be able to invest in this new business.  While he wouldn't be the only one affected if the business did fail, it was very discouraging to see that absolutely no one supported him in this venture.  In the same manner, the case the lady detectives were investigating about the will and the undue influence also seemed to go in an unpleasant and unprofessional direction.  Another book I recently read talked about fanfiction characters behaving "OOC" (out of character) and it seemed to me that most of the people in this new book were OOC.  I can imagine it can be difficult to come up with new situations and dimensions for the characters to grow, but this felt as if every character (except the reliable Mma Makutsi) had gotten a personality transplant.  I didn't recognize them.  I hope the next book will have everyone back to their old selves, even if that means not a lot happens.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

 

Christine Donovan is living a complicated life. She's busy keeping up with her active toddler Heidi, recently married her long-term boyfriend Greg, and is carrying on a torrid affair with a married man.  In the twisty thriller She's Mine, Chrissy soon learns that betraying her marriage vows will have devastating consequences.  While out shopping with Heidi, Chrissy gets a phone call from her lover, telling her that their affair is over.  Distraught, she moves away from where Heidi is sitting in a stroller to get a better signal on her phone so she can try to plead with her lover not to end things.   When she eventually walks back to where she left Heidi, she's alarmed to see the child is not there.  Heidi has been kidnapped.  Although an immediate search is launched, the child is never found.

Fast forward 20 years, and Chrissy is a shell of her former self.  Although she and Greg are still married and eventually had two more children, Ella and Daniel, she's never recovered from the abduction of her firstborn daughter.  Due to that heartbreak, she has been an aloof and distant mother to her other children.  She has also become addicted to exercise and is extremely thin and underweight.  Greg has continued with his high-flying legal career, but he and Chrissy don't really communicate or even interact much anymore.  Chrissy's friends Miranda (who has her own history with Greg) and Janine convince her to start seeing a new psychiatrist, Dr.. Freya Cousins.  Although quite young, Dr. Cousins's direct and unsympathetic style resonate with Chrissy, whose guilt over losing Heidi has never abated. After so many years, it seems as if someone is trying to re-awaken the mystery of what happened to Heidi as anonymous notes, emails, packages and photos begin to arrive.

The chapters are told from varying viewpoints, and we get to hear from nearly all the characters who are mentioned.  We see what they are thinking, their histories with Chrissy and Greg, and how they all feel about the situation and each other.  I enjoyed the different voices, but sometimes I had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to discover who the "I" and "you" were that were being discussed.  There are plenty of clues to lead the reader to several possible suspects.  Even though it's not too difficult to guess "whodunnit," there are some final twists at the end that are surprising.

I received this book as a subscriber from the monthly Tea and Book Box  from Quaintly & Co.  Each month I receive a lovely book along with a delicious selection of teas and snacks.  I have been really impressed with everything I've received so far, and am anxiously awaiting the next installment!

About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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The Gherkin Scale

5gherkinsb Brilliant!

4gherkinsb Good, innit?

3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

0gherkins3Don't be givin' me evils!

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