Monday, October 31, 2022

October Reading Wrap-Up

Our October has been all over the place as far as weather goes.  We have had highs in the 40's and highs near 80 and everything in between.  One thing we have not had much of is rain.  Right now, the leaves are falling like rain.  Soon the trees will be bare.  

As far as reading goes, I read 7 books in October.  Here's the breakdown:

Mystery:  3
Historical Fiction: 1
Christian Fiction: 2
Classic: 1

The links will take you to my review.


A Tourist's Guide to Murder (Mystery Bookshop, #6)

Historical Fiction:

Christian Fiction:

Tending Roses (Tending Roses #1)

Autumn by the Sea (Muir Harbor #1)

Autumn by the Sea (Muir Harbor #1) by Melissa Tagg (review coming soon)



I have also been reading some picture books, mostly from the Mr. Putter & Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant.  Here's the latest one I read:

Mr. Putter & Tabby Stir the Soup

I hope you've had a good October and were able to curl up with some good books!

~ Gretchen

I am linking up with The Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight. 


Thursday, October 27, 2022

Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

DraculaDracula. Bram Stoker. Everyman's Library (2010) (First published 1897). 386 pages. Genre: Classic.

First Lines: "Jonathan Harker's Journal. (Kept in shorthand). 3 May. Bistritz. - Left Munich at 8:35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving in Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late."

Summary:  Jonathan Harker is sent to Castle Dracula to conduct some business for the Count.  After arriving, he notices some strange things and begins noting them in his journal.  He feels as though he is a prisoner in the castle and wonders if his mind is playing tricks on him.  After finally escaping and returning home, he and four friends attempt to discover the mystery of the Count. 

My thoughts:  Dracula was so different than I expected it to be.  First of all, it is written entirely in journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings.  Second, it was a great quest story filled with some excellent characters.  I wouldn't classify it as a horror story like you might some of Stephen King's stories.  The atmosphere of the novel is gothic with the crumbling castle, unexplained sights and sounds, mist constantly rolling in, moonlight and the tricks it can play on our eyes.  There are definitely some creepy scenes and unexplained occurrences.  But mostly, it is a mystery where the characters are trying to discover what is causing illness in a friend and then tracking down the source of the trouble.  

Each of the characters had a specific role to play and I loved how they worked together, each using their strengths.  The main female character, Mina Harker, is kind, brave and very well organized.  Without her meticulous note keeping, the others would not have been able to solve the mystery.  The men are all brave and self-sacrificing, while also being deeply moved when someone they love is suffering. 

The book deals with themes of good vs. evil, sanity, bravery, duty, friendship, religion, superstition, science and mystery.  Dracula was very easy to read and I found myself unable to put it down at times.  I am so glad I finally read it. BUT, Dracula is not for everyone, so I can't say that I recommend it because it may not be right for you.


"Oh, Madam Mina, good women tell all their lives, and by day and by hour and by minute, such things that angels can read; and we men who wish to know have in us something of angel's eyes.  Your husband is noble nature, and you are noble too, for you trust, and trust cannot be where there is mean nature."

"Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot? But there are things old and new which must not be contemplate by men's eyes, because they know - or think they know- some things which other men have told them.  Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain."

"Beyond the green swelling hills of the Mittel land rose mighty slopes of forest up to the lofty steeps of the Carpathians themselves.  Right and left of us they towered, with the afternoon sun falling upon them and bringing out all the glorious colours of this beautiful range, deep blue and purple in the shadows of the peaks, green and brown where grass and rock mingled, and an endless perspective of jagged rock and pointed crags, till these themselves were lost in the distance, where the snowy peaks rose grandly."

Monday, October 24, 2022

Book Review: Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate

Tending Roses (Tending Roses #1)Tending Roses (Tending Roses #1). Lisa Wingate. Signet (2001). 336 pages. Genre:  Christian Fiction.

First Lines: "Indian wisdom says our lives are rivers.  We are born somewhere small and quiet and we move toward a place we cannot see, but only imagine.  Along our journey, people and events flow into us, and we are created of everywhere and everyone we have passed."

Summary:  Kate Bowman, her husband Ben and their baby son move temporarily to her grandmother's home in Missouri.  Except Grandma Rose thinks they are just visiting for the holidays.  The other members of Kate's family think the time has come to move Grandma Rose to a nursing home. Kate is reluctant.  Her grandmother is more forgetful and just as stubborn as ever.  But as Kate spends time with her, she learns so many things about what is important in life.  Moving from her home will break her heart.  But what is best for the family and most of all for Grandma Rose?

My thoughts:  This is Lisa Wingate's first published novel and it is a great one.  Her inspiration for the story was taken from her own relationship with her grandmother.  

Kate is on maternity leave from her job in Chicago.  She loves her job and hates being away from the office.  Her husband, Ben, is able to work remotely so they are the best candidates to stay with Grandma Rose.  She recently started a fire in her laundry room when she forgot to turn off the iron.  The memories Kate has of her grandmother are of someone who would inspect people's shoes for mud when they entered the house or put a coaster under their drink and especially listening to the plumbing to make sure no one was flushing too much toilet paper.  In other words, she didn't miss a thing.  So, it is hard to imagine how she could forget to turn off the iron.  Dealing with Grandma's stubbornness and forgetfulness is trying.

However, Kate is getting to know her grandmother for the first time in her life.  In between her tirades, she surprises Kate with words of wisdom that she can't ignore.  One afternoon when Grandma Rose has fallen asleep in her rocking chair, Kate notices a notebook lying next to her.  She knows she shouldn't open it, but can't seem to help herself.  There she finds a reflection about life that touches her deeply.  She begins to reevaluate her priorities and imagine her life in a different way.  After that first reading, she seems to find the notebook waiting for her just when she needs a boost of encouragement. 

The characters and the struggles they go through are so realistic.  The story just flows along so smoothly.  That is not to say that their lives go smoothly, quite the contrary.  There are lots of difficult things to work through such as deciding what is best for Grandma Rose, getting by on one income, dealing with estranged relatives, finding fulfillment outside of the workplace and dealing with a baby and an elderly relative at the same time. 

Tending Roses is a beautiful story, beautifully told. I didn't realize going in that the story takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas and would make a great Christmas read.  I marked so many quotes to copy into my commonplace book, but I will try to keep it brief here.


"In a perfect world, babies are born healthy, and medical bills don't snowball into the tens of thousands of dollars, and grandmothers don't almost burn down their houses, and family members don't go years without speaking to one another, and Christmas is a time to look forward to...."

"Sinking into the quilted cushions of Grandma's swing, I took in a deep breath of warm air.  It smelled of green winter wheat and freshly tilled earth, drying puddles of water and decaying leaves.  Just a hint of winter."

"'We children knew not to complain or we would leave the table hungry.  My father would say the Lord served up the meals and it wasn't our business to complain about the menu.'"

"Your children are the greatest gift God will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands.  Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God.  Be a person in whom they can have faith.  When you are old, nothing else you've done will have mattered as much."

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Book Review: A Tourist's Guide to Murder by V. M. Burns

A Tourist's Guide to Murder (Mystery Bookshop, #6)A Tourist's Guide to Murder (Mystery Bookshop #6). V. M. Burns. Kensington (2021). 250 pages.  Genre: Cozy Mystery.

First Lines: "'Attention.' I clinked my knife against my glass.  'Attention.' Unfortunately, no one listened, and the chatter got louder rather than softer."

Summary:  Sam, Nana Jo and the ladies from the Shady Acres Retirement Center are headed to London on a mystery tour.  Sam is really looking forward to visiting the places some of her favorite mystery authors called home.  But when the head of the mystery tour company is found dead and another member of the tour group dies shortly afterward, Sam is suspicious.  She and her traveling companions set out to discover what is going on before someone else pays with their life. 

My thoughts:  The mystery tour added a unique setting for this well-written mystery.  But it is the characters that make it a lot of fun to read.  Each of them seems to get equal play in the pages of this story.  As usual, I found myself giggling and rolling my eyes at some of their antics.  

Sam continues to write her mystery series and allows us to read what she has written.  This is always really fun and that mystery is just as well written as the main story.  

The author includes some information about some of the sights they visited on the tour, including a Jack the Ripper walking tour, Agatha Christie's home called Greenway, and a view of Buckingham Palace from the windows of the bus.  She also took the time to briefly describe some of the different areas around England, which was great for someone like me who has never been to England. 

The mystery in this book was very well done.  After the owner of the tour company was murdered, we learned that there were plenty of people who would have benefited from him losing his life.  When the second murder happens, things get even more interesting.  I enjoyed the way Sam and the ladies were able to divvy up the suspects in a way that made sense for each of them.  

A Tourist's Guide to Murder was a lot of fun and I look forward to reading the next installment in this great series. 


"This was the last straw.  My nerves were gone, and I had nothing left.  I opened my mouth to ask the flight attendant if there were any other seats available.  However, what came out was a wail and then more tears.  I'm not one of those women who can cry cute.  Nor am I a woman who can have an intelligent conversation while crying."

"The cabby launched through the city.  Red busses, Trafalgar Square, and monuments flashed by at the speed of sound.  Far too quickly, we pulled in front of the hotel."

"I learned from research for this trip that Oxford has produced an abundance of crime writers, including Dorothy L. Sayers and P. D. James.  Its academic ambiance, ancient towers, and hidden quads set the scene for an extensive list of mysteries."

Monday, October 17, 2022

Book Review: From This Day Forward by Lauraine Snelling


From This Day Forward (Song of Blessing #4). Lauraine Snelling. Bethany House Publishers (2016). 368 pages. Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance. 

First Line: "'When will it be my turn?' Deborah MacCallister paused to sniff a spray of lilac."

Summary:  The town of Blessing, North Dakota is growing quickly.  The hospital is now well established, but short handed.  The men of the town have their hands full trying to build a school and some homes before winter comes.  Since the school teacher moved away, they are in need of a new teacher before summer's end.  Head nurse Deborah MacCallister needs to go to Chicago for training on hospital administration.  Tensions are running high as the people are overworked.  Led by Ingeborg  Bjorklund and John Solberg, the residents pull together through prayer and hard work.  

My thoughts: It is always refreshing to return to this series.  The town of Blessing was settled by the Bjorklund family in the late 1800's.  From This Day Forward takes place in the early 1900's.  Each of the stories in this series has a strong sense of family, community and faith.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the hospital and how much I learn about medicine and doctoring during this time period.  This story has less of that than the others in the series, but there is still enough to satisfy my curiosity.  

Ingeborg is our main character and all of the other characters are touched by her in some way.  Some are related, others are just loved by her.  She is a woman with a strong faith in God.  She helps out in whatever way she can, whether by preparing food, driving the tractor or just being available to talk. She is always taking care of someone.  She is now a widow and her children are grown, but she has "adopted" a girl and a woman in need of a home.  

Another main storyline involves Head Nurse Deborah MacCallister.  She has loved Toby Valders since they were children, but he doesn't seem to be able to make a commitment.  Toby does care about Deborah, but realizes he is afraid of making a commitment.  After doing some soul searching and talking with trusted friends, he begins to realize his fear has to do with his past.  It is only after acknowledging his fear that he can begin to change. 

This is the final book in the series and I am sad to see it end.  The entire Blessing series is twenty books long, however it is made up of smaller series.  I have only read the four books in The Song of Blessing series.  I imagine the entire series is great, but I had no problem starting here.  If you are interested in this series I recommend you start with the first book in the Song of Blessing series, To Everything a Season.  If you are really ambitious and want to start at the very beginning, the first book is An Untamed Land. 


"Back in bed, she listened to the night sounds, the singing crickets, an owl hooting, the breeze lifting the lace curtains."

"'How come your house always feels so peaceful?'
'I imagine because the Lord of peace lives here.  And He fills our house and hearts with His love.'"

"She could feel the smile lifting her face and see the morning breeze setting the lace curtain to dancing."

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Book Review: Hot and Sour Suspects by Vivien Chien


Hot and Sour Suspects (Noodle Shop #8). Vivien Chien. St. Martin's Press (2022). 320 pages. Genre: Cozy Mystery.  

First Line: "'You young folks and your weird dating concepts,' my father, William Lee, said with an amused smirk."

Summary:  Ho-Lee Noodle House is hosting a speed dating event.  This is something new for them and the hope is it will bring new customers.  As manager of the restaurant, Lana Lee is in charge of the event.  The evening goes better than expected.  Just as Lana and her best friend Megan are planning to host another event at the restaurant, Rina Su, fellow Asia village shop owner, calls to let Lana know that the man she was matched with at the speed dating event has been murdered.  Rina is the number one suspect.  

Lana and Megan don't believe Rina is capable of murder, but the facts are pointing to her.  As the two of them begin digging into the murdered man's past, they discover he has left a trail of offended co-workers, angry neighbors and several spurned women.  The line of suspects is long.  Complicating matters is the fact that Lana's boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, has been assigned to the case.  This means that involving herself in the case will not only possibly get her in trouble with law enforcement, but could ultimately mean the end of her relationship.  Even though the stakes are high, Lana can't help but get involved.

My thoughts:  One of the things I like about this series is the relationships Lana has with her friends and family.  She has a great family that is always there for her, but sometimes things don't go smoothly.  One of the secondary storylines involves Lana's sister, Anna May.  Lana and Anna May are complete opposites and Lana views her sister as the perfect Chinese daughter, while she views herself as the rebellious one.  Anna May has been dating a man, who it turns out is not who she thought he was.  Lana is tempted to be snarky with her about it, but instead does her best to be a supportive sister.  This scenario gives the reader a glimpse into the workings of a Chinese family.  News spreads like wildfire amongst the women in the Asian community and if the truth comes out about Anna May's relationship, it will cast a negative glow on the family.  In Lana's attempt to be a supportive sister, she decides to spread a false rumor about her sister's relationship that will be better than the truth.  But that plan backfires and ends up making matters worse.  This added some comic relief from the tension of the main storyline. 

Another thing I appreciate about this series is the author's ability to write a tight mystery.  The mysteries are well thought out and believable.  You don't have to take a leap of faith to go along with the story. There are no loose ends.  There are always plenty of layers to uncover and that is definitely the case in this mystery.  

Dating the detective on the case definitely made it harder for Lana and Megan to dig around.  However, I appreciated the way that Lana and Adam discussed the situation.  Adam is unbelievably understanding of Lana's propensity to have to figure out what happened.  But, Lana also completely understands why Adam doesn't want her to get involved.  

Hot and Sour Suspects is a great addition to this series.  Each book has been equally strong and I hope the series will continue.  

There is an author's note at the beginning of the book letting the reader know about the author's recent struggle with ovarian cancer.  I appreciate author's notes of any kind and this one gave a little perspective to the story.  


"Naturally, because I felt a sense of urgency, Kikko did not.  She took her sweet time smelling individual blades of grass while I tried to calm my nerves."

"One thing my mother taught us growing up that stuck with me is never to take ourselves too seriously.  She took great care in guiding my sister and me on navigating the differences between joking around and mean-spirited comments."

"I'd been slipping on some self-care items, like perusing a bookstore at my leisure.  It was one of my favorite things to do.  There is no better place to cast out all your worries."

Monday, October 10, 2022

Book Review: Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower


Because I Could Not Stop for Death (Emily Dickinson Mystery #1). Amanda Flower. Berkley Books (2022). 336 pages. Genre: Mystery.

First Line: "Icy rain slapped the dirt road, turning it into mud."

Summary:  Willa Noble has just been hired as the new maid at the Dickinson household.  She didn't expect to get the job and she especially didn't expect to get it immediately.  But, when Emily Dickinson overheard her interview with the head housekeeper, she insisted that Willa be hired immediately.  Emily explains that she "likes someone who would sacrifice herself for her family and duty" and she believes Willa is just that sort of person. 

Soon after Willa begins working for the Dickinson family, her beloved brother, Henry, is killed by a horse at the stable where he works.  The police and stable owner claim it was an accident caused by Henry's carelessness.  However, Willa knows her brother wasn't careless and finds it hard to believe he would do what he is being accused of doing.  Since Henry can't speak for himself, Willa feels she must get to the bottom of what really happened to her brother.  Fortunately, Emily Dickinson feels the same way and is eager to join Willa in her investigation.  

My thoughts:  Other than reading some of Emily Dickinson's poetry, I know very little about her life. Whether or not her character is true to life, she is enjoyable.  She is a young woman who knows her own mind and isn't afraid to speak it, often upsetting her father.  She also knows that her father would do almost anything for his children.  According to her sister, Lavinia, it is only for Emily that their father would do almost anything.  Lavinia is very protective of her sister.  She doesn't like Willa because she sees her as being a bad influence on Emily.  What Lavinia doesn't know is that it is Emily who encouraged Willa to begin looking into her brother's death.  

The story is told from Willa's point of view and really she is the main character.  She is a young woman who knows her place, works hard and is kind.  It is no wonder that Emily likes her immediately.  Her brother was the only family she had left in the world, so it is devasting when he is killed.  At first she is not sure if she wants to know what happened to her brother.  But the more she learns, the more determined she becomes to find out.  

The Dickinson family lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Mr. Dickinson is in politics, so the family travels to Washington D.C. for a short while.  This made for an interesting look at the country during this time period (1855). Politics come into the story not only because of Mr. Dickinson, but also because of the mystery.  Slavery was a big topic in many peoples minds.  The Underground Railroad was in operation and there were people called Slave Catchers who pretended to be part of the Railroad, but would actually catch slaves and take them back to their owners in the south.  And this was legal.  All of this comes into play in regards to what happened to Henry.  It was fascinating to learn about all of this and to see the layers get peeled away as the story progressed.  

There is an author's note at the end of the book which sheds a little more light on what is fact and what is fiction. This is a great start to a new series and I look forward to seeing where the next book takes Willa and Emily.


"He gave a portion of his meal to the mouse family that lived in the walls.  He was kind.  Yes, he had a way of finding trouble, but his motivation was kindness and doing what he believed was right. Maybe that didn't follow convention and maybe it made his life more difficult, but he did not care."

"As soon as I stepped into the room, I inhaled the post office scent.  It was a mix of fresh paper, old books and lavender.  The lavender came from a wreath on the door."

"This ice cream cone that might have only cost a few cents was proof to me that there was still joy to be found in the world."

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Book Review: Active Defense by Lynette Eason


Active Defense (Danger Never Sleeps #3). Lynette Eason. Revell (2021). 288 pages. Genre:  Suspense, Christian Fiction. 

First Line: "September. Kabul, Afghanistan. Dr. Heather Fontaine strapped her feet into the sandboard and pushed off."

Summary:  Former field surgeon Heather Fontaine is trying to reorient herself to civilian life. She is glad to be home, but she is haunted by nightmares.  She can't forgot the young boy with the bomb strapped to his chest that she was unable to save.  One evening, she returns home after a party to find someone has been in her home. She had noticed someone following her recently, but thought it was her imagination.  Now she is not so sure. The intruder left a message on her refrigerator that causes her to believe her friends are in danger.  Rather than ask for help, she decides to leave town and hide out for a while hopping the stalker will give up on her. Unfortunately, the stalker is more tenacious that she suspected.

Travis Walker suspected there was something more going on with Heather when she left the party, so he followed her home.  He got there too late.  She had already left.  Travis owns a security agency, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him find Heather.  But, things only get more complicated once he locates her.  Will the two of them be able to figure out who is after Heather and why?

My thoughts:  Lynette Eason is an automatic read for me.  I have read everything she has written and her writing keeps getting better.  

Heather Fontaine had a difficult home life while growing up.  Her dad was abusive.  But, it was because of these difficulties that she became interested in becoming a doctor.  At an early age, she had to fend for herself.  She was in the foster care system and went through many homes.  She learned that the only person she could depend on was herself.  She is still trying to learn how to let people help her. She finds it hard to imagine that others could care enough about her to want to help her. Her friends mean a lot to her, so when she realizes they may be in danger, she flees.  Throughout the course of the story she works on allowing others to help her.  It is not easy.  Heather is a kind, caring, strong woman, but she is also vulnerable.  

Travis Walker grew up with a loving family that he is still close with.  In fact, he has recently built a home on the large ranch property owned by his parents.  Travis is brave, kind and caring and he is discovering that he cares about Heather.  As Heather comments in the story, he is good at picking up strays.  He is direct without being pushy  and people feel at ease around him.  The romance story line develops naturally without interrupting or taking away from the main story line.

The pacing in this one was just right.  There were times of edge-of-your-seat suspense, but they were nicely balanced out with some more calm times.  During one of the more calm times, Heather and Travis took shelter in a cabin they discovered in the woods.  It was here that they met Ryker, an eighteen-year-old boy who is hiding from something.  I loved how Ryker became part of the story.  He was a great character that I would love to see in future novels. There was also time spent at Travis' family's ranch riding and tending to horses.  That was a nice addition.

The way this one wrapped up took me completely by surprise!  There were lots of pieces to the puzzle, but when they finally came together it was pretty tense. 

I highly recommend this series and I would start at the beginning with Collateral Damage.  I think this was the best one yet. 

Content note:  There is discussion of violence done to children.  It is not graphic, but it plays a large part in the story.  


"The only person who blamed Heather was Heather. She said a short prayer for wisdom instead of wasting time questioning why all this was happening."

"In the beginning, the gravel road was more narrow, winding, and treacherous than he'd expected.  If he slipped, he'd go over the side of the mountain, so his fastest speed was turtle for the first mile."

"He loved all of it - the horses, the cows in the back pasture, the rolling hills that would be green come springtime, and the mountains surrounding the property."

Monday, October 3, 2022

Book Review: The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin

Book Cover

The Librarian Spy.  Madeline Martin. Hanover Square Press (2022). 400 pages. Genre: Historical Fiction.  

First Line: "Ava. April 1943. Washington, DC. There was nothing Ava Harper loved more than the smell of old books."

Summary: Ava Harper loves her position in the Rare Books room at the Library of Congress.  When she is approached to help the war effort by becoming a spy, she hesitates.  However, when she thinks of her brother fighting in the war, she can't refuse.

Elaine Rousseau and her husband live in Lyon, France.  The Nazis have occupied the area making it hard to live normally.  Elaine longs to join the Resistance, but her husband is adamant that she does not.  After an argument, her husband does not return home.  As the days increase with no word from her husband, Elaine fears the worst.  A friend of her husband's finally contacts her and lets her know that he has been captured.  Against his better judgment, the friend allows Elaine to begin helping the Resistance.

Ava and Elaine's lives intersect when a Jewish mother and her son need help to get out of France.  Through a series of codes and connections, they try to help the two escape the clutches of the Nazis. 

My thoughts:  Madeline's Martin's The Last Bookshop in London made my list of tops reads for 2021.  I was excited when I heard she had a new book out and my expectations were high.   Unfortunately, this one left me with mixed feelings.

The story is told by alternating chapters between Ava and Elaine. Ava works as a librarian in the Rare Books Room at the Library of Congress. It is her dream job and she couldn't be happier, except that with the war on her brother has enlisted.  She worries about his safety and wishes she could do something to help the cause. Because of her ability to speak German and French, she is invited to join the Office of Strategic Services under the information gathering program called the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications.  Basically, she is recruited to be a spy who collects foreign books and newspapers and submits them to the US government.  She is sent to Portugal.  All of this sounds very interesting.  But, I felt like I kept waiting for the interesting part to happen.  The author does explain that much of the work of spies is rather tedious, especially for those in this particular department.  Somehow I felt removed from the story.  Really, this story line took a back seat to Elaine's story.

Elaine is living in Lyon, which was occupied by the Nazis.  The author did a great job of helping the reader understand how grim things were.  Rations were severe.  Most citizens feared leaving their home because they could get stopped at any time by the Gestapo and asked for their ID card.  They were always at the mercy of that officer.  If he didn't like how they looked or had any other reason to suspect them of anything, they would end up in jail. Nobody wanted to end up there.  Most never came out again. This was contrasted with conditions in Portugal.  There were many refugees there who spent their time waiting for visas by lounging in cafes drinking coffee.  While the waiting was difficult, there were no rations.  The refugees were well fed.  In Lyon, citizens were not allowed coffee or sugar.  Most were not getting enough food to eat. 

The middle section of the book was dark and it moved rather slow.  The first few chapters really drew me in and I was eager to learn more, but the middle dragged and was a bit too graphic for my taste.  I do realize this is a book about WWII and these types of things really happened. The last few chapters, the Epilogue and the Author's Note were great. I also loved the daily details of living the author included such as how the women dressed, the foods they got with their ration cards and best of all, some of the fancy dinners Ava attended.  

The Librarian Spy is well written and definitely worth the read. However, because of feeling disconnected from the story and the characters, my enjoyment of the story was diminished. 


"There were many ways in which one could read.  Either tucked into the corner of the sofa with a strong cup of coffee or lying in bed with the book hovering above one's face - though admittedly this is not done without peril.  But there were also unconventional methods, like while cooking dinner or crossing the street - sometimes even while brushing one's teeth if the story was truly that engrossing."

"He put the car into gear, and they took off, turning this way and that to navigate the streets of Lisbon.  Soon the twists and turns of the city gave way to a long stretch of road and the ocean came into view, the moon glinting off distant waves like flecks of diamonds sparkling in the great, dark sea."

"The written word held such importance to her through the years.  Books had been solace in a world turned upside down, a connection to characters when she was utterly alone, knowledge when she needed answers and so, so much more."