Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Red Hat Club Rides Again

This novel by Haywood Smith is just a fun, quick read, especially for ladies "of a certain age". This is a follow-up novel to The Red Hat Club, but you do not have to read the first one to fully understand and enjoy this one. It's told from the perspective of Georgia Baker, one of a group of women who have been friends since they were all involved in a sorority-type club in highschool called the Mademoiselles. There were six of them, however Pru Bonner lost her way through drugs and alcohol. In her recovery she lives out of state. The other five are now red-hatters, over fifty and ready for adventure. They get plenty when Pru falls off the wagon and is endangered in Las Vegas, so the ladies rush to her rescue. Teeny is a gazillionaire, so ready cash makes the difference in staging a kidnapping. Of course there's more "mundane" adventures, too. A mid-life pregnancy test, a health scare, the perils of internet dating, and a surprise celebration. Through it all the friendship remains strong with the help of their twelve rules.

The Red Hat Society, an international organization with chapters worldwide, does not endorse either of Haywood Smith's books about a group of women in one Red Hat Club.

Friday, November 25, 2016


The final installment of the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead. This one was probably my favorite. Friar Tuck helps Rhi Bran to his rightful place as king of Elfael. He brings spiritual support to the band of merry men, as well as translation services and care of the wounded. Tuck, the bandy-legged friar, is instrumental in suing for peace between the Norman King William Rufus and King Bran, the Welsh lord of Elfael. The story resolves satisfactorily. It also tells how Alan A'Dale joined the group, the wandering minstrel with translation ability. Part of the text is in verse, supposedly from Alan, telling of the exploits of King Raven and his men. A good read.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


This is Book II of the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead. William Scatlocke, better known as Will Scarlet, has lost everything to the Normans. He has heard the tales coming from Wales of the exploits of King Raven (who modern readers know as Robin Hood) and decides to join his band of loyal followers. However, during a bold adventure Will is captured. He is subsequently rescued by his friends. And he has uncovered a plot to overthrow the Norman king William the Red. They rush off to warn William Rufus, hoping he'll be grateful enough to return the land of Elfael to King Raven.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Her Fearful Symmetry

This is a novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Julia and Valentina Poole, spoiled mirror-image twins from the suburbs of Chicago uninterested in college or employment receives a letter from a London solicitor. Their Aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her flat. They must live in it for a year and their parents may not enter it are stipulations of the will. They did not know Elspeth; she and her twin, their mother Edie, were estranged before they were born. The estrangement is shrouded in mystery. The twins get to know their new neighbors; Martin, intelligent crossword puzzle creator trapped in his apartment by severe OCD; and Robert, Elspeth's lover and a historian writing his thesis on Highgate Cemetery. Then there's the Cemetery itself, a character in its own right, just behind the apartment building.

This is an outright ghost story, so if you're not a fan of the paranormal this book is not for you. I wish I had had that warning; I wouldn't have wasted my time. Niffenegger hit it out of the park with her first book The Time Traveler's Wife and I guess I was expecting something on an equal footing. This wasn't even close.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Wow! A colossal novel by Stephen King; another colossal success for him. And by colossal I mean size; this book would make a good door stop if you could put it down that long. However, it is far too compelling to be set aside.

Jake Epping is a high school English teacher who loves his job. He teaches GED courses during the summer. One of the reasons he is divorced, according to his ex-wife, is that he is not in touch with his feelings. He gives his GED students the essay topic, "The Day That Changed My Life". And gets from Harry, the high school janitor, a description of the night his father murdered his family. Jake cried over this essay. Soon he was given the opportunity to go back in time through a portal in Al's Diner. He decides to save Harry's family. He also tries to stop the Kennedy assassination. But the past is obdurate and resists change. And no good deed goes unpunished.

Stephen King is well known for horror stories; this novel is found in the science fiction section of the library. (Thank goodness, I can't, and won't, read horror any longer. The nightmares are too close.) There is suspense in 11/22/63, but not much to disturb the sleep. It's well researched, well written, and moves very quickly in spite of being so large. A real tour de force. Highly enjoyable and recommended.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Marriage Plot

By Jeffrey Eugenics, this novel is a bit disappointing. It centers on Madeleine Hanna, a privileged student at Brown University in the early 1980s. She is writing her thesis on Victorian authors and the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the great English novels. Meanwhile, she falls in love with Leonard Bank head, full of boundless energy and high intelligence. There is also Mitchell Grammaticus, in love with Madeleine and Christian mysticism. The book details their last year in college and first year in the real world. It is willful and depressing. I didn't care much for it.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Glittering Images

A hefty novel by Susan Howatch, Glittering Images is all about the dangers of facade; especially if we believe our own facade, losing sight of our true self. Charles Ashworth, a young Anglican clergyman on the fast track to success is given an odd assignment by the Archbishop of Canterbury; see if there is possibility of scandal within the unusual living arrangements of the Bishop of Starbridge. That Bishop, Adam Alexander Jardine, is charismatic and proud, living with his ineffectual wife Carrie and her companion, the competent, gorgeous Lyle Christie. 

I had real trouble getting through this book. I didn't find the characters likeable or relatable nor was their behavior believable. Toward the end of the first part I considered putting it away without finishing it, something I never do. I'm glad I stuck with it. The characters were written as they were because they were playing a part, so to speak. They were trying to hide their true selves so their glittering images would be all anyone saw. But the real man kept jumping out. Also, if I had quit reading at part I, I would have missed the best part of the book. Charles undergoes a Spiritual crisis and makes a lengthy retreat at an Anglican Monastery receiving Spiritual direction from the Abbot, Jonathan Darrow (far and away my favorite character).  Part 2, the Spiritual direction, is worth wading through the rest of the book.

This is the first in a series of novels about the Church of England in the twentieth century. Her next novel after this one is called Glamorous Powers, is set in 1940 and focuses on Jon Darrow. I haven't decided whether to read it or not. I may not like the character so much after a tome dealing with him. And as a Roman Catholic, I find the doctrinal errors annoying. And since we are dealing with clergymen of the Anglican Church, doctrine is discussed.