As this week in the news alone has shown us, the times that we all are going through right now are troubling to say the least.
While keeping informed on all fronts(which sadly includes the unjust invasion of Ukraine), it’s also a good notion to keep your spirits up with a good book or two at hand. I’ve been doing that as much as possible lately, starting with the newest entry in one of my favorite cozy mystery series.
Bake,Borrow and Steal is Ellie Alexander’s latest Bakeshop Mysteries title, set in the idyllic town of Ashland, Oregon where Juliet “Jules” Capshaw is happily expanding her family’s bakery into a budding edible enterprise.
When asked to prepare a Shakespeare themed meal for a special presentation of recently discovered papers from the Bard that include a never before seen play, Jules is thrilled to tackle this task despite feeling that she may be biting off more than she can chew.
However, it turns out that the food will be the least of her worries on the night of the Shakespeare event as the papers are stolen seemingly right before everyone’s eyes and the guard for the literary display dispatched in an untimely manner!
Can Juliet find the papers and the killer before both are permanently lost to time and misfortune? I do enjoy these books and their delightful cast of characters suitable for any form of Shakespearean entertainment.
It’s also fun to see the various Elizabethan treats being prepared here like lardy bread and imprime cakes. When it comes to a satisfying story recipe, Alexander definitely takes the cake:
For a change of pace, I decided to try a library loan from an author that I haven’t read before, Christina Baker Kline, best known for the novel Orphan Train.
The Exiles is like that previous work, historical fiction that follows the lives of three young women forced into resettling to and in Australia during the 19th century .
Two of them,Evangeline and Hazel, are transported prisoners from England who like many others, were given unduly harsh sentences in order to expand the growing colonial population in that part of the world.
The third girl, Matthina, is taken from her people at the whim of the governor’s wife who wants to show off a “civilized “ local to visitors.
When Hazel is granted a work release position at the governor’s house, she finds an unexpected ally in Matthina, who longs for freedom just as much as she does. Can they help each other out without making more sacrifices than they already have?
I have to say that this is quite a captivating book and I do plan to read more of Baker Kline’s work. Getting more empathetic insight into this point in time for women is one of the reasons that I engage with this genre so much:
I was beginning to feel like a reading slump was about to arise, so to rev up my bookish engines, Stephen King’s Billy Summers was the right ride to catch.
Our leading man of the title is a professional hitman who keeps his literature loving intelligence under his hat. Looking for a good payday for one last job, Billy agrees to a deal that has him waiting in plain sight for his target which seems too good to be true.
His cover story for this setup has Billy posing as a writer working on his big debut book, an opportunity that he is taking on for real. The job does go wrong of course, yet it appears that this could provide one hell of an ending for his story in more ways than one.
So far, Billy Summers is a steady trip that lets you enjoy the sights along the way. I like the vibe of this book, sort of a “what if Stephen King wrote an episode of HBO’s Barry”(I don’t know if King has even watched that show but he does like a lot of pop culture TV). That makes this even more fun for me:
Well, it’s going to be a good long while before things get better out there but if we hold on and support each other as best we can, good times might come back sooner than we think.
In the meanwhile, I intend to spread the good word about reading and maybe do a little rereading as well. There seems to be a revival of interest in Julia Child as HBO is planning a new series based on her life and Food Network is about to air a new competition show called The Julia Child Challenge (she probably would have much to say about that, I’m sure!).
With My Life in France , plus Julie & Julia, on my shelf, I can finally go back to some nonfiction reading that I’ve put on hold for the most part these last two years. Julia Child lived life on her own terms and is certainly a solid source of inspiration to draw from indeed: