Allen Say, Portland, Oregon author, reflects on moving to California from Japan only eight years after World War II.  A cold father dumped Allen into a youth military camp where he endured persecution, finally being thrown out.  His alter ego, a cartoon based on himself by his Sensie,  Noro Shinpie, was his only companion.  But opportune guardians helped him with  kindnesses along the way:  Willard who taught him to drive, the train engineer, Mr. Price who called him son, and Mrs. Swope, the art teacher who set him on the path to his eventual career.  He gives homage to them while not minimizing the trials.  Artfully done!

I am a fan.  Rather “Grandfather’s Journey,” or “The Boy of the Three-Year Nap” (Caldecott winner), Say has a way of harvesting a human experience from the reader’s heart by sharing his own.

say_allan_lg                                                                         inkers

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Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams of true love reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril.

Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone.

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Donna Hatch is the award-winning author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series.” She discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. A sought-after workshop presenter, she juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, her six children (seven, counting her husband), and still makes time to write. Yes, writing IS an obsession. A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

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The Suspect’s Daughter by Donna Hatch
Review By Joan Enders of Bevy of Books Blog

I must concede that I am a young adult book reviewer. But interestingly, my forays into reviews of adult literature have wandered smack into some form of historical fiction. Now, here I am, strolling into the realm of Regency romance novels. For my usual YA readers, you do not need to puzzle about the conventions of a Regency romance novel. Just think Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice but written now. There you go; you are ready for The Suspect’s Daughter by Donna Hatch.

And one more confession: I have not read any other books in the “Rogue Hearts” series with its interrelated characters. That will be corrected. The Suspect’s Daughter is the fourth in the series. Now, on to the review…

Jocelyn Fairley (The Suspect’s Daughter) critiques her father’s London home in her last minute walk-through ensuring all is ready for the ball that will catapult her father into the office of Prime Minister of England. As she inspects, a light in the study alarms her and she cat-paws into the room only to have her mouth clamped by a large hand, “an unyielding force push[es] her back against the wall,” and another hand at her throat….coarse coat and voice, contrasting hint of mint and bergamot, a threat, and jump from a window. Jocelyn is left alone in the study with nothing taken, not even her pearl necklace at her throat. Showing her pluck, she walks to the window to lock it, tidies herself, and marches to the drawing room to host her father’s ball, determined that this is his season to govern and to wed again. Jocelyn’s prospects are nil. In fact the man who attacked her with his big hands, broad chest and low voice is the closest she had been to man in a year.

Grant Amesbury landed outside the Fairley house, disgusted. Despite how he feels about women, he has never threatened any woman. Tonight he sunk to a new low. His mission is foiled. Nonetheless, that night he would find himself back in the same home with a vastly different mission.

And so, the game begins between Grant Amesbury, Napoleonic Wars veteran and aristocrat, and Jocelyn Fairley, the privileged and guileless daughter. In true Regency form, conversations between protagonists entertain the reader. Practices of “the ton” (The higher classes of England) juxtapose the depravity of street life. The manners of the times clash with true feelings.

Grant is the gallant but bitter war hero who is plagued by “vent du boulet” (PTSS) and scars from a personal treason. Despite his heritage, he chooses to live alone in London assisting a local magistrate, and tries to save a young local prostitute from the profession. He vents incessantly over the betrayal of women, he never smiles, he rejects his family, and he is ferociously loyal to his friend and his cause. And yes, he needs to be tempted to dance.

Jocelyn is a capable young woman, runs a peer’s household in two locations, cares for tenants, improves people’s situations without permission or blessing, shows bravery and nerve, and berates herself for not having an amazing waif-like figure like most women of the time.

Well, this is a Regency romance so there is no doubt about the building action of this plot. The joy in reading is the delicate dance to arrive at the climax of this relationship story. Luckily, there are still questions to answer at the conclusion of the novel to be tickled in another novel.

I enjoy the immersion into the society of London, and the allusions to practices of the peers. I appreciate that the chalking of ball floors, seasons, squabs, runners, wastrel, chit, light-skirts, whist, faro, vingt-et-un, loo, and other lingo of the day lightly skip as stones on a pond rather than sink in the detail of definitions on-page. Also, Regency romances prove that love off-page can be as powerful as on-page.

On the suggestions side, I grew tired of Grant’s endless venting about women. There were three prepositional typos that a spellcheck would not catch, but the story was not compromised. In chapter seven Fairley was once written as Fairly.

The runners of Bow Street intrigue me. I did a little research discovering that the runners of London preceded the peelers of London. Sir Robert Peel’s peelers started around 1829, just a few years after this novel. If you want to travel forward in time and enjoy an quirky fantasy novel with peelers, the reader might want to follow up The Suspect’s Daughter with Dodger by Sir Terry Pratchett.

I was requested to post an honest review based on my reading of the ebook.


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April returns home to find her apartment ransacked.

Her spirit could not get much lower as the probable love of her life died just a week before.  Interestingly her mail was not disturbed by the vandals, but it was just as disturbing as Peter’s death.  In the pile was a manila envelop from him, postmarked the day before his death.  Inside was the mysterious ring of Remaliha, with a note urging her to trust no one, not even authorities.  With the state of her apartment: note that.

Both Egyptologists, she and Peter shared love and respect for antiquities which had grown into love for each other.  As teaching summer school drew to a close at Columbia, April was approached by a suave Nathan Hayes to accompany him on an assignment to Luxor to pursue the ring with anachronistic hieroglyphs on the band…her ring!  Despite her better judgment and harassing phone calls, she decided to go on the adventure, all funded by Hayes’ client.  In a series of desperate situations, April doggedly pursues the mystery of the ring.  As the chase comes to a conclusion, roles twist and turn, and the ring rollicks through the desert with all the characters in tow.  If you are looking for a tense mystery read, this is it!  It is a page-turner, easy to imagine on the big screen.


WP_20150911_16_40_33_Pro 1Michael Morphurgo doesn’t fool around. His stories aim for the heart and hit every time. In Half a Man Michael recounts his slow-growing relationship with his grandfather who was terribly disfigured and scarred while in the merchant navy during World War II. When Michael was little, his mother invited her father to family dinners and for holidays, after many years of being separated from him after her mother left.  She told Michael to never look at grandfather’s face! But he did. As Michael grew older he spent summers on the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall with his grandfather. As their easy relationship grew from reading in silence to fishing, his grandfather finally shared the attack on his ship, the hospitalization, the healing, and the separation of the family. Michael said that he was closer to his grandfather than anyone in his life. After his death, Michael read a note left by his grandfather, “Thanks for looking at me like you did.” If Michael had not, his grandfather’s story would have died with him. No one else was told. Ever. Makes you want to buy a ticket to go talk with your grandparents, doesn’t it? Buy it. Give it. Cry over it.

Michael’s WebsiteWar Horse by Michael Murpurgo

once alphabet“A is for …” has died. Oliver Jeffers has created a entertaining style of wacky alphabet books that honors the humor and intelligence of children! Twenty-six stories are inspired by letters rather than being soundly beaten into submission by them. My interest level rating shows my enjoyment level and desire to share with my grandchildren who have amazingly raucous senses of humor. Consider the story of Edmund the Astronaut who wishes to meet aliens during his adventure. There is only one little problem: Edmund is afraid of heights. Cup was sick of living in a cupboard and wanted to live by the window where there was a clear view. He went for it, forgetting that the cupboard was very high and concrete very hard. Out in the ocean octopus and owl search for problems to solve, responding to cries for help on other alphabet pages. Edmund needs help. Why didn’t they help him? A particular parsnip is rather daft, sure that he is a potato and even ids a peanut as a parsnip. And if that is not bad enough, question has disappeared. Read it. Enjoy it. Buy it. Give it.  Rated all the stars that shine on the sea.oliverjeffers

Jeffers Website


I must shrug on a mourning dress and pin on a brooch to commemorate Timothy Wilde, whose demise I grieve.

The third book of the Timothy Wilde mysteries has drawn its last extraordinary breath, having shared the stories of the New York City coppers starring Tim and Val Wilde, with Mercy Underhill, Elene Boehm, Silkie Marsh and Bird Daly.

In the first novel, The Gods of Gotham, the fledgling police force, powered by George Washington Matsell the police magistrate, served as night patrols throughout the city and waterfront. The police chief was a real New York presence. In 1859 Matsell published Vocabulum, or, The rogue’s lexicon: compiled from the most authentic sources. In various scenes throughout the trilogy he made notes of the “flash” language of the streets that Tim, Val and other characters spoke throughout the books. (Each novel has a handy glossary of flash terms).

Tim, he and his older brother being orphans due to a barn fire, was a talented bartender who had scrapped together savings with his sights on a future with lovely Mercy Underhill. Ironically the gigantic fire of 1845 changed his wealth, face and profession. His brother Val, a brilliant but well-rounded addict to anything, snagged Tim a job as a new policeman for the Five Point area, Ward 6, of New York, pretty much the armpit of the 1840s city. Child prostitutes, disease, starving Irish immigrants/rats, and ever-present corruption were punctuated with a new horror, the butchering of child-mabs.

Seven for the Secret, the second novel of the trilogy, peeked under the vermin-infested and opportunistic rocks of New York of the 1840s, this time exposing a hugely successful slave “recovery” scam carried out by blackbirders who captured free blacks and ship them off to a period, or lifetime, of slavery. As he and his partner sloshed through the crime, Timothy Wilde tenaciously puzzled through the murder of a beautiful black woman. The slavery ring proved lethally entangling and the murder exasperating to solve. Tim’s powers of deduction were noticed in the department. His experience sharpened him without hardening him, quite a delicate character development maneuver by Lindsay. Even though he did not know how to title this copper job, Tim was excellent at “deciphering unsolved mayhem”.

With the May 2015 release of The Fatal Flame Tim and his colorful partner, Jakob Piest, are on the trail of Ronan McGlynn who is turning an amazing profit sweet-talking lovely Irish maidens right off the ships into “manufacturing” jobs that are hellish introductions into prostitution. His description of their natural affinity for the profession leaves even readers feeling sullied. McGlynn was not the brain behind the operations. Tim wanted the mastermind.

Faye’s power of description is superlative. For instance I would recognize Piest anywhere. Lynday’s description of him as “honest as the frayed cuffs on his frock coat” and “resembles your friendlier breed of barnacle and talks like a knight-errant” set the stage for entertaining images each time he appeared. Add to that his physical description: “Mr. Piest’s bulging blue eyes and absent chin admittedly resemble a carp’s.” Throw in his heroism and the reader has another well-inked character to love. It makes a reader want to luxuriate in Lyndsay’s prose, rereading full pages and even chapters for the soothing salve of delicate word choice.

I found that flash had an allure or its own. The brothers, mabs, and new hawks use the language as it was intended, to conceal: “She was his peculiar…though she savvies now he was naught but a rabbit-sucker.“ Flash wording staccato in a dissonant rhythm. “…”I’m as prime on the muscle as any professional milling cove.”

New York City 1848 was the site of horrid employment conditions for women seamstresses. The lucky ones were employed in legitimate shops. Nonetheless the conditions and wages were unregulated and minimal. Malcontent male tailors’ livelihoods were threatened by their competition. Even worse was “outsourcing” to huddles of women who sewed in extreme conditions with little light, little food with desperate lives with emotional and mental instability. Lives of many of these women interweaved into the narration, with particular emphasis on an educated and spirited young woman who was willing to strike, Sally Woods. Seen as a spurned woman and an unsuccessful trouble causer, she was the first suspect when the fires at Alderman Robert Symmes’s properties started.

In a previous novel the alderman had offered to “take care” of Tim as he was tied to a chair in Tammany Hall. Now Symmes tried to bribe Val Wilde with his newest group of virginal Irish prostitutes, right off the boat. Val may have had his vices, but he was cavalier and full of integrity. Furious, Val determined to run against the alderman in the upcoming election.

Shrouded in mystery, Tim Wilde’s unrequited love, Mercy Underhill, returned from England and boarded with actors who hovered about her, sensing her fragility. When the first fire began on Pell Street at a Symmes establishment “saturated with tenants” Tim found traumatized Dunla Duffy watching the conflagration. Since Mercy adored helping the less fortunate, Tim asked her to care for Dunla. A symbiotic choice, as Mercy was a brilliant and charitable heroine, riddled with her own demons, not unlike her father in Gods of Gotham.

Fires at Symmes’ properties continued. Tim’s investigations lead him to questioning Sally Woods, whose intelligence and glibness memorized him. With all the evidence pointing toward her, she was eventually jailed at the Tomb. Seemingly unrelated events and people continued to bounce around Tim’s head and escaped into his doodles. He sketched a memorable personality into a warp and woof of the crime’s resolution.

I found myself searching the Internet for Tammany Hall, The Fifty-first Street Catholic orphanage, copper stars, the great fires of New York City, blackbirding, Five Points and its Old Brewery. Hats off to Lyndsay for piquing interest in New York City history. A doff for her thorough research into the Copper Stars first years. A curtsey for the authentic voices. Brava to the finely executed characterizations of Tim, Val, Jim, Mercy, Dunly, Mrs. Grimshaw, Symmes, Piest, Elene, Sally and all.

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

Author Lyndsay Faye

May the “gentle chain saws” of editing ever be in Ms Faye’s favor. Her fans, current and to come, will twitch for her new ventures. Is there a hope of resurrection or reincarnation of Detective Timothy Wilde? Perhaps not, but I can luxuriate in the re-reading. And readers, please read prologues and epilogues, just sayin’.

Joan Enders has reviewed new books for 29 years, was the recent librarian of Robert A. Long High School, and now is a trainer for Follett School Solutions and director of the Family History Center in Longview.

[For reading to augment your reading Faye’s trilogy, readers might consider the nonfiction title CITY OF WOMEN Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 by Christine Stansell].

The Graveyard Book, Volume 2

Posted: January 13, 2015 in General Fiction

Craig adapts one of my favorite Neil Gaiman stories, The Graveyard Book, into a spectacularly tense and visual graphic novel that will not disappoint Gaiman fans. This is the second half of the hysterical and haunting story in which Bod has toddled from his home to the local decrepit graveyard unknowingly escaping being murdered with his entire family. The colorful ghosts take it upon themselves to raise Bod. As volume two begins Bod is accosted by Thackery Porringer, 1720-1734, who is incensed that Bod borrowed his only earthly possession, a copy of Robinson Crusoe. Bod’s vampire guardian finally tells him about the murder of his parents eleven years prior, in the hopes that Bod will understand the danger that he is in. But of course, that would be too compliant and Bod’s actions place him and his girl friend from the past in danger. If I were in a middle or high school library I would certainly buy both volumes. I appreciate the high quality glossy illustrations.

gaimangraveyard v2

By raise of hand: Where is Angel Island and for what is it known? I did not know either. It was the site of the San Francisco Bay immigration station for most Asian immigrants who were detained, interrogated and scrutinized for extremely lengthy periods of time. In 1970 the buildings of the station were slated for demolition, but the new park ranger, Alexander Weiss, noticed engravings over the interiors of the barracks that were dismissed as graffiti. They were reflections and poems written by the detainees! He told a former professor about them, and suddenly activists in the Asian American community visited, touched and successfully campaigned to save the structures. The former professor was George Araki. His mother had come through the island herself as a Japanese immigrant. I have always admired Freedman’s exposure of history that needs to be known, and this is another welcomed addition to his arsenal of shared knowledge.


angel island

Hiaassen fans, enjoy this new romp through Florida with Malley, who runs away with a disreputable older DJ to avoid being shipped off to boarding school.  Yep, rational thinking pill needed!  Her cousin Richard knows that running off with a guy she met on the Internet spells trouble and gallops off to rescue her. He is aided with a vagrant, Skink, whose apparent claim to fame is burying himself as a decoy turtle nest to capture turtle egg poachers.  (You can tell his nest hill.  It is the one with the breathing straw).  Richard made the acquaintance with Skink inadvertently pulling out the straw. Skink, incidentally, is a former governor of Florida and has amazingly straight and white teeth for a tramp.  Before Richard knows it, Skink has joined and commandeered the rescue effort, and elevating the quest to hysterical proportions. Another laugh out loud reading encounter with a zany Hiaasen character while presenting the serious contemporary issue of internet stalking and runaways.skink

hiaasonCarl’s Website

Scoot over Lois Duncan and share your “on the end of the seat” suspense chair with Jennifer Wolf.

Jaycee’s estranged friend, Rachel, has been murdered in a drive-by killing.  Her once lovely little home is trashed by the police investigation, her mother’s sorrow and the horrid blood stains in Rachel’s bedroom.  Jaycee is tormented by not having answered Rachel’s texts the night of the shooting. Added to that, the memory of  Rachel and she going to meet someone at the local vacant, vandalized house still haunted Jaycee.  What Rachel saw that night frightened her enough that she ran, through broken glass in her bare feet, all the way home. After that, Rachel chose a dangerous, seductive path that Jaycee just could not understand and their friendship was severed.  Now Jaycee is determined to find the murderer. Hovering around her are sweet Skylar who obviously loves her, and his smooth brother Evan, who would love to have her.  Jaycee’s lawyer father insists that she stay away from both young men.  But she cannot, as they appear to float around the solution to the murder.  In tense and terse building action, Wolf creates a nail-biting situation that will suck you in.  How much is Jaycee willing to risk to solve this murder that everyone else says is just a freak coincidence?  Is there really a rabid, powerful gang in town?  Rachel trusted only one person.  Can Jaycee trust him, or is he the key to all the danger?

Check it out.  Buy it.  Read it. And “always do the right thing.”dead girls

jennifer wolfJenn’s Website