Friday, December 27, 2019

A Death in the Rainforest

A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea

A Death in the Rainforest
Don Kulick

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be an anthropologist studying in a remote part of the world? If so, A Death in the Rainforest is a book not to be missed. Don Kulick looks back at thirty years of research into the death of Tayap the native language in Gapun a remote village in Papua New Guinea. His honest account of his work and adventures in this village are no less than fascinating. What he discovered was not just a language that was dying due to neglect and the expansion of Tok Pisin, one of the island's national languages, but a village of interesting people waiting for change to come to their village.

Of course, change doesn't come without a price and Kulick experienced some of it first-hand. As tensions and violence on the island increased, Gapun was not immune. Kulick was at one point threatened by local bandits, and a villager lost his life, which meant Kulick could no longer continue his work. Instead of putting villagers at risk of further violence he chose to stay away for fourteen years. When he returned, the villagers welcomed him once again. His funny, warm and at times sad account of the changing way of life in Gapun makes for an informative an unforgettable read and one that I wholeheartedly enjoyed.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Review: Dressed for Death in Burgundy

Dressed for Death in Burgundy (French Village Mysteries, #2)

Dressed for Death in Burgundy
Susan C. Shea

Katherine Goff, an American expat living in Reigny-sur-Canne, a small village in Burgundy, France, has agreed to take a group of American tourists to a local museum for Sophie Bellegarde, the owner of the local chateau. When they arrive at the museum, they discover a dead body in one of the decorated salons. It doesn't take long to find out that it is the wife of the local butcher. Her death sets the village alight with gossip and innuendo.

Will Katherine and her English friend Pippa, an inspiring mystery writer, who hasn't been able to get to grips with the French language since moving to Burgundy, be able to solve the crime before the police? Or will they become suspects themselves?

Dressed for Death in Burgundy is a solid cozy mystery for anyone who loves a story set in la belle France. It's full of charming characters, village life, and a little romance! Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the mysteries of Reigny-sur-Canne.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Review: Christmas Cake Murder

Christmas Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen #23)

Christmas Cake Murder
Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen and her sisters Michelle and Andrea are worried about their mother Delores. Since their father's recent death, Delores has found it hard to function, preferring to spend most of her time alone in bed. But two ladies from the community have a plan that might get Delores back on her feet again. An elderly member of the community Essie Granger has broken her hip and as a result, is convalescing at a local hospital. To cheer her up, they intend to recreate a Christmas Ball that was once held in Lake Eden, and Delores' organizational skills will be needed. Hannah agrees to bake the cakes needed for the ball. While organizing the event, they discover some notebooks of Essie's that contain a tantalizing story that may turn out to be a mystery.

Fans of Hannah Swensen may be interested to know that this book is a look back at Hannah's younger days. It focuses on how she got her start at The Cookie Jar, her bakery in the middle of town. And while it doesn't follow the outline of some of Fluke's other Swensen murder cases, since the mystery doesn't unfold until the end of the book, it is a pleasant read, albeit at times with dialogue that seemed a bit stilted. Christmas Cake Murder is essentially a story within a story, and that may be what saves this one.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Review: Dark Sky Island

Dark Sky Island (Jennifer Dorey Mystery #2)

Dark Sky Island
Lara Dearman

The small Island of Sark lies in the English Channel and is home to about 450 isolated souls. Jenny Dorey used to spend her summers on the island, so she knows it well. She hasn't been back since the unexplained drowning of her father, Charles Dorey. When the police get a tip about some bones in a cave, Jenny, a journalist with a Guernsey newspaper, heads over to investigate. While she is trying to find out more about the bones; an elderly man on the island is murdered. Jenny can't help but feel something's going on on this dark, secretive island. She wonders if things are connected. Maybe her father discovered something before he died. If only she could find out what it was, she might have some answers about his death. She's hoping her police friend Michael will be able to shed some light on everything happening on the island. But he may be as much in the dark as she is. Until it's too late, that is.

Dark Sky Island is a riveting story told through the lens of past and present, delivering a complex tale of mystery and suspense. Dearman has a writing style that captures the atmosphere of this remote island so beautifully you will feel like you've been there. This book is at once mesmerizing and gripping. I couldn't put it down.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Review: A Noel Killing

A Noël Killing (Verlaque and Bonnet, #8)

A Noël Killing
M L Longworth

Examining Magistrate Antoine Verlaque isn't a big fan of Christmas. But in Aix-en-Provence, residents are getting reading to celebrate the holidays. Verlaque and his wife Marine have been invited to attend a Christmas carol sing-along at the local Anglican Church. Marine is hoping it will get her husband in the festive spirit. But when an American expat, Cole Hainsby dies at the dinner afterward, Verlaque finds he is back in work mode. Now he is faced with a long list of suspects all members of the local church and community. Was Cole's travel business having money problems, or was it something more complex. That is what Verlaque is determined to find out, hopefully before Christmas day.

Set in Provence, A Noël Killing is like a fine wine, something to be savored. With a cast of entertaining characters preparing for the biggest holiday of the year it's hard not to be envious of their surroundings and their choice of food and drink which Longworth showcases throughout. By the time I finished this book, I felt like I had been transported to a dazzling place full of characters I had come to know and love. There was also a satisfying plot and a little romance on the side.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Review: Been There, Married That

Been There, Married That

Been There, Married That
Gigi Levangie

Agnes Murphy Nash is a Hollywood wife, married to movie producer Trevor Nash. She should be happy. She's just published a new book. But, Trevor is having second thoughts about their marriage, catching Agnes by surprise. The divorce that follows is chaotic and threatens to separate Agnes from her daughter Pep if she doesn't pull herself together and take control of the situation.

I was expecting, Been There, Married That to be a funny novel, if not hilarious, and while there were interesting and entertaining bits that I enjoyed, it just somehow wasn't what I'd expected. Maybe I didn't connect enough with the characters. It is still a fast-paced, easy read that fans of the author may enjoy. I found myself wondering if this one might be better on screen than on the page. For me, it was one of those books that I didn't love but, I also didn't hate it. I was somewhere in the middle on this one.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.