Sunday, April 16, 2017

Advice from Baba Yaga by Brenda L Baker

Advice from Baba Yaga by Brenda L Baker

Lissa Jackman still misses advice from Baba, her grandmother, ten years after her death.  She's left Baba's room exactly as it was in the aging family home, Swan House.  She wears Baba's clothes and is searching for any bit of advice she can from Baba to keep her life on track.

But when a dead body is found in the stables, everything changes.  Lissa's struggling tea house is forced to close and there is not much left in the family vault to sell and pay for repairs to the expensive slate roof.  Baba is watching over her, leaving small clues in unexpected places but it takes more than a little detective work on Lissa's part to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed Advice from Baba Yaga.  Some of Baba's clues were too simple and others simply didn't make sense to the story but all added another piece to the puzzle.  But to Lissa's life they made sense because she and Baba had a special connection.  The tales of her childhood with Baba were both tender and entertaining.  I pictured Baba Yaga as a shriveled, old Russian witch.  The real Baba was anything but even though she hid a mysterious past as a spy.

This novel is full of interesting characters, love, espionage and an unsolved  murder.  A perfect mix for a Baba Yaga.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

There was a time when I too was crazy about orchids.  Not quite as crazy as LaRoche but enough that I was familiar with the people and places he ran up against in his dealings.  During the time The Orchid Thief takes place, I lived in Delray Beach, home of the American Orchid Society.  I had a backyard with colorful orchids hanging from every available tree branch.  I loved my orchids but I didn't love them enough to go traipsing through a remote swamp teaming with mosquitos, snakes and alligators in search of a rare ghost orchid.

The Orchid Thief tells the true story of obsession with these rare and beautiful plants.  The book tells many interesting tales of the Everglades and South Florida.  The Seminole Indians also played a large role in the development of the area.  LaRoche, the orchid thief, was just another nut, one of many that live in sunny Florida and creates the centerpiece of the story.

I had read The Orchid Thief once before, several years ago, and remember enjoying it.  But this time it seemed sluggish to me.  Susan Orlean is a journalist and the book is written in a journalistic style which is much more dry and to the point than a work of pure fiction.  Or maybe since I moved north to Melbourne out of the fray that is South Florida, the characters didn't hold as much appeal.  Or I might just be a little bit like LaRoche in that once my obsession is over, I'm done.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

This story starts out in the toilets of Soweto and propels us around the globe only to land hanging out with the King of Sweden on a potato farm.  This book is a hysterical farce where everything can go is certain to go wrong.  It is pure fun from start to finish.

Nombeko is a poor girl in the ghettos of South Africa who has a head for figures.  Her mind is always calculating where and what to do next. And she has patience, plenty of it, to wait for her next golden opportunity.

Alternately we are in Sweden immersed in the lives of twin brothers, Holger One and Holger Two.  Their father has a grand plot to destroy the King of Sweden.  Part of his plan involved registering the birth of only one of his sons so the other would not exist.  The flaw in that however was that Holger One was quite stupid and Holger Two, brilliantly smart.

As you can imagine, Nombeko gets involved with an atomic bomb in South Africa that also doesn't exist and lands with the bomb in tow in the Holgers back yard in Sweden.  One unbelievable event leads to another and another and another.

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is just plain fun.  You never know what awaits on the next page and and no matter what you are anticipating, you will most certainly be surprised.   

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...