Category Archives: Book

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries….

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Death at Victoria Dock – Kerry Greenwood (1992, Poisoned Pen Press, Arizona)

Phryne Fisher and her entourage encounter all sorts of danger and political intrigue when faced with a group of anarchists hell-bent on executing a secret attack in Melbourne.  Plenty of blood, sex, and twisted alliances in this one – but Miss Fisher takes it all in stride, and never fails to wear the perfect outfit and shoes while on the case.  Great light reading, as usual.

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The Green Mill Murder – Kerry Greenwood (1993, Poisoned Pen Press, Arizona)

A death at a popular jazz club leads the always intrepid and impeccably-dressed Phryne Fisher on an adventure over Australia, as she takes to the treacherous skies and does some slumming in the mountains to help a wealthy family resolve a messy inheritance – and figure out whodunit, of course.  As usual, Greenwood’s mysteries are fun and frivolous, easily digestible in an hour or two.

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Blood and Circuses – Kerry Greenwood (1994, Poisoned Pen Press, Arizona)

The usually unstoppable and ever-fashionable Phryne Fisher dons theatrical rags and shows her vulnerable, emotional side as she joins a travelling circus to uncover the reason behind a series of unsettling sabotages and the bloody murder of a beloved performer.  Phryne relies more heavily on her allies and friends in this one than usual – and the reader gets some interesting p.o.v.’s from members of the police department, including the determined Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, and the young, eager constable Tommy Harris.  In tone and style, this book marked a bit of a departure from the others in the series so far, with mostly positive results.  I was particularly impressed with the detailed descriptions of circus life – although they took up a sizeable amount of ink, I found them just as fascinating as Phryne does.

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Kerry Greenwood – Ruddy Gore (1995, Poisoned Pen Press, Arizona)

The exquisitely stylish, cool-as-a-cucumber Phyrne Fisher sets out to solve a murder which occurs during a production of the Gilbert and Sullivan play “Ruddigore.” While the motivations and passions of the theatre group’s players muddle and twist (and often mimic the play itself), Miss Fisher risks life and perfect limb to sort it all out.  Along the way she is thwarted by a ghost and makes the very intimate acquaintance of a young Chinese man who has secrets of his own.  This was one of my favourite Miss Fisher books so far; I was pleased to see that the strong, mostly-implacable Phryne was back (I had been a bit alarmed at her lack of independence in “Blood and Circuses, “ and had worried that our delightful heroine had lost her a bit of her strength, nerve, and resolve).

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Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.

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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things – Jenny Lawson (2015, Flatiron Books, New York)

I wasn’t previously familiar with Jenny Lawson’s work as The Bloggess, but since reading Furiously Happy, I’m a follower-fan; her sense of humour and positivity in the face of serious illness is entertaining and inspiring.  Everything is fodder for her wacky, unique take on the world, and while her completely no-filter style and raunchy language may not appeal to everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of frequently outrageous, laugh-out-loud, yet poignant (and occasionally devastating) essays.  I regret not reading Lawson’s first memoir Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) before I got to this one; a bit more background on her life and her family would have been useful.  Let’s Pretend… is now at the top of my TBR pile.

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Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) – Jenny Lawson (2012, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York)

(One month later) Okay, so I just ripped through Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, which, as it turns out, is just as satisfying, rewarding, and unladylike-guffaw-inducing as Lawson’s second book.  I read most of this in public spaces and although I tried really hard not to burst out laughing, it happened more than a few times.  Zombies in the backyard, gigantic metal chickens, taxidermy alligators, laundry, colon cleanses, giving birth…it’s all here.  And more.  And it’s priceless.

Aaaaand…we’re back!

I just couldn’t stay away.  😉

Juliana Rew, Editor – Keystone Chronicles.

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Keystone Chronicles – Juliana Rew, Editor (2016 Third Flatiron Publishing, Colorado)

Third Flatiron Publishing recently released another highly entertaining anthology, Keystone Chronicles, and once again, I’m delighted with the creative theme. For this volume, writers were encouraged to place a keystone object or concept at the heart of their stories and run with it – and they certainly did.  Standouts for me include Marilyn K. Martin’s walloping opener “Our Problem Child: Langerfeld, the Moon” (also available as a podcast here), Brandon Crilly’s dark and brilliant take on a VR world in “Coding Human,” Maureen Bowen’s delightful mythology of the Three Fates (“Splinters”), the gut-kicking development of Edward Palumbo’s “Desol8,” and Bascomb James’ “TANSTAFFL,” in which there are serious repercussions for tapping into resources of unknown origin. As always, the humorous flash fiction pieces that are included with every anthology are a treat; I especially got a good chuckle out of Larry Lefkowitz’ “Rejection” (the scourge of writers everywhere), and Damian Sheridan’s “Remembrance of Saint Urho” was laugh-out-loud fun. The diversity of style and voice and the solid talent of all of the writers involved makes for a fantastic read. Throw this one on your e-reader for the holidays, you’ll be happy you did.

 

Lee Kvern – 7 Ways to Sunday.

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7 Ways to Sunday: Stories – Lee Kvern (2014, Enfield & Wizenty, Winnipeg)

The dynamics of human relationships comes out in dark, often uncomfortable, and always thought-provoking ways in this powerful collection of shorts from Alberta writer Lee Kvern. Standouts for me include the heartbreaking “Snapshots (in Bed),” a catalogue of all of the losses of a dying woman, “LEAD,” a brilliantly-told vignette of a lonely teenager, and the title story, which recounts the unspooling lives of a selfish man and his family. These are not quiet stories; they crackle and explode with hard lessons and gut-wrenching surprises.

Rebecca E. Hirsch – Plants Can’t Sit Still.

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Plants Can’t Sit Still – Rebecca E. Hirsch (2016, Millbrook Press, MN)

You might exclaim “huh?” when you first glance at the title, but when you consider roots and shoots and flying seeds, it’s true – plants really can’t sit still. I love Hirsch’s lively perspective, and the book has a ton of excellent info for kids and adults alike.

Charley Harper – A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

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Charley Harper’s A Partridge in a Pear Tree – Charley Harper (2014, Pomegranate, Portland)

Charley Harper’s A Partridge in a Pear Tree is guaranteed to put a grin on the face of the adult reading it aloud – the humorous commentary regarding the growing list of gifts is absolutely precious. The little ones, of course, will like the counting and the repetition of the song. Add to that the almost-stick-figure crayon drawings that are brilliant in their simplicity. Track this one down for the holidays and enjoy!