Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Series

I've enjoyed several book series recently - some new, some old, but all very good.


I discovered The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries at the library and completed the first three of these easy-to-read cozy mysteries very quickly. Gemma Doyle owns The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Cape Cod and finds herself involved in a variety of murder mysteries. She also has the innate ability to notice things that other people often overlook. Her best friend, Jayne Wilson, runs Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room, which is adjacent to the bookshop, and is often an unwilling "assistant" in Gemma's investigations and their run-ins with Detective Ryan Ashburton, Gemma's ex-boyfriend.

In Book 1, Elementary, She Read, Gemma is actually one of the suspects because she discovers two bodies that are mixed up with the disputed estate of a wealthy Bostonian. I have to admit that I did not figure this one out until it was all revealed at the end of the book! In Book 2, Body on Baker Street, an author drops dead while doing a book signing in Gemma's store. There are several suspects - the author's assistant, the publisher, a Sherlock Holmes collector, an overly enthusiastic fan, an unpublished author wanting credit for the book idea, etc. The lively characters make for a good read as Gemma attempts to help her friend Donald (the collector) clear his name by finding the murderer. In Book 3, The Cat of the Baskervilles, Jayne's mother is actually a suspect because she knew the actor who was killed at a tea party for the cast of a local production of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Again, there are lots of suspects, as well as the question of whether this was a murder or a suicide. I definitely recommend these books for some easy reading and lots of Sherlock Holmes references.


The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley was one of this year's book club selections. This is an excellent hard-to-put-down story told from the perspective of Ada, a ten-year-old who was born with a club foot. Ada's mother treats her like an illiterate cripple and won't let her walk or go outside. The story is set during World War II, and when children are evacuated from London, Ada sneaks off to the meeting place with her little brother Jamie. When they arrive in Kent, none of the townsfolk pick them and they are taken to Susan Smith. At first, Susan doesn't want them, but she takes good care of them and they settle into a routine. Because Ada had never been outside her mother's apartment in London, there are many words and situations she doesn't understand, causing frustrations for everyone.

This is a beautiful story of one girl's fight to better herself. Ada says, "there are all kinds of wars," and in this book she is fighting the war to be treated like a normal person. Of course, the war is also going on around them, so there are historical elements that play a large part in the story. When survivors from Dunkirk arrive in town, Ada helps out by passing out water for the men. It's the first time she's felt like she could be useful and realizes that there is a "before Dunkirk Ada" and an "After Dunkirk Ada." I really enjoyed this feel-good story and couldn't help but root for Ada and Jamie and Susan as they all learned and changed and grew.

Then I discovered there was a sequel! The War I Finally Won picks up the story with Ada in the hospital to have surgery on her club foot. She and Jamie are living with Susan in a cottage on the Thorton's property. Maggie Thornton is Ada's best friend. When a Jewish girl from Germany joins them at the cottage, there's conflict among the inhabitants as some question whether or not she is a spy. The war continues and Ada continues to figure out who she is. Horse riding and helping tend the Thorton's stables are like therapy for her. She receives the gift of a dictionary and uses it often to look up words that she doesn't understand. This is another well-written book.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a series of books about four high school friends who spend their summers apart. When they discover a pair of jeans that fit each of them perfectly, despite their varying dimensions, they devise a plan to share the pants so each of them has them for a short time before sending them on to the next one in line. Each book covers one summer of the girls' lives. There are lots of story lines - friendship, losing a friend, boyfriends, jobs, family secrets, grief, blended families, sex, misunderstandings, etc. I first read these books when they came out in the early 2000s and enjoyed re-reading them as part of my goal to re-read all the children's and young adult books in my collection.

I own all the books in The Mitford Years Series, and I recently re-read book one (At Home in Mitford) on a day I just wanted to read something wholesome and uplifting. These stories center around Father Tim, a small-town rector surrounded by wonderful characters in the town of Mitford - "an American village where the grass is still green, the pickets are still white, and the air still smells sweet." This is a great series that I'll return to again when I've completed some of my reading goals for the year.

What series have you been reading lately?


  1. I just finished the last of the Louise Penny mysteries starring Armand Gamache. I've loved them all. It's important to read them in order. The next one (#14) comes out the end of November. I read quite a few of the Mitford novels a long time ago, and enjoyed them.

  2. I've bookmarked this post, as you've recommended some really interesting titles (all of which are new to me) - keep an eye out for my reviews in 2019! Thanks!

  3. I am also a big fan of the Mitford series. I like that in one of the books Jan shared the recipe for the famous marmalade cake (col). Thanks for the other recommendations.

  4. I've just put the Mitford books to one side to read through - or decide to give away. I like the idea of easy to read mysteries so will look for those.


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