Saturday, March 23, 2019

Late March, 2019 Postcards

1929.  Oslo, Norway
PETER SEVERIN KROYER (1851-1909)
Hello Chris, My name is Linda.  I live in a small town near our capital city of Oslo.  I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, ages 12-22 years.  I retired 6 1/2 years ago and like having more time for my family and my hobbies.  I like books, music, art, the theater, my garden, and traveling when I can.
Best wishes, Linda

1927.  Kent, England
This exclusive design by Lauren Radley captures the essence of Ken't historic buildings and stunning countryside.  From the home of Winston Churchill and Jock the cat, fairytale castles, and iconic coast houses to the famous White Cliffs of Dover.
Hello from London!  Kent is just southeast of here and I was there last week for a short seaside holiday in a place called Whitstable which is lovely but not on the map.  Best wishes, Catherine

Sunday, March 17, 2019

28. The Body Counter by Anne Frasier

#2 Jude Fontaine
listened on Audible
Read by Emily Sutton-Smith
Unabridged audio (8:31)
2018, Thomas & Mercer
297 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 3/17/19
Goodreads rating:  4.36 - 2107 ratings
My rating:4.5
Setting:  contemporary Minneapolis/St. Paul

First line/s:  "The woman in the apartment upstairs was screaming again."

My comments:  I remembered quite a bit about the first novel as I listened to this one, even though I read it quite a bit ago.  Jude Fontaine is difficult to forget, the corrupt governor's daughter, up-and-coming detective in the Minneapolis police who had been abducted and held captive in a dark cell for three years.  Discovering her father  and brother too, I think) was cruel and corrupt, she had killed him/them in the line of duty.  That was book number one.  In this book she is pitted against a serial killer who is following the Fibonacci sequence in his bloody slaughters.  Very bloody....  Fascinating story - one of those truly gritty, horrifying serial killer tomes.  Jude Fontaine is fascinating, as is her partner, Uriah Ashby.  Looking forward to number three.
     An added note to remember before reading number three and forgetting all the nitty-gritty of this one:  at the very end we discover that Elliot Kaplan, her downstairs neighbor and photo-journalist "friend" - and even suspect at one time for the murders - is actually her illegitimate brother.  She does not know.  Apparently her father had had an affair with or raped Elliot's mother.  Alsto, the relationship between Jude and Uriah is getting a little bit interesting in a vague way.  (Elliot is just out of the hospital.  He had been locked into "her" cell for three days and left for dead, but she realized it just as they were starting to demolish the house, which she had purchased.)

Goodreads synopsis:  From a New York Times bestselling author comes the chilling follow-up to the Thriller Award winner The Body Reader.       
          Months after discovering the mastermind behind her own kidnapping, Detective Jude Fontaine is dealing with the past the only way she knows how: by returning to every dark corner of it. But it’s a new, escalating series of mass slayings that has become her latest obsession at Homicide.      
          At first, Jude and her partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, can see no pattern to the seemingly random methods, the crime scenes, or the victims—until they’re approached by a brilliantly compulsive math professor. He believes that the madman’s next move is not incalculable; in fact, it’s all part of a sequential and ingenious numerical riddle. His theory is adding up. The body count is rising.
          But when the latest victim is found in Jude’s apartment, the puzzle comes with a personal twist that’s going to test the breaking point of her already-fragile state of mind. For all she knows, her number may be up.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

27. This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong

Listened on Audible - with one of my Audible credits
2018 Minotaur Books
359 pgs.
(12:11) Unabridged Audio read by Terese Plummer
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 3/13/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.07 - 4010 ratings
My rating:  3 (4 with some parts a 2....)
Setting:  Contemporary wilds of northern Canada

First line/s:  "The season may have officially started two months ago, but it isn't really spring in Rockton until we bury our winter dead."

My comments:  I have put a quick synopsis with all sorts of spoilers at the end of this brief review.
     Most of this novel takes place in the forest outside Rockton, with Casey and Dalton and their dog, Storm, doing a lot of running around, fighting all sorts of prey - human and animal - discovering one body after another and doing a great deal of swearing.  For some this has probably been quite exciting to read, for me it got a little tedious.  Way too much for me about Storm, the dog.  The also pay a lot of attention to taking care of wounded forest animals, which I discover is definitely not my thing, either.  Ms. Armstrong also is writing Casey as the brains of the police department, making Dalton more of a patsy, IMHO.  The cliffhanger ending is frustrating.  But of course I'll read the next installment asap....as much frustration as I have, I also love Rockton!

To remember before starting next in the series:  This Fallen Prey ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.  Rockton has been given a supposed serial killer, Oliver Brady, to guard for six months.  He escapes into the forest with Val (the community "leader" and only person who can communicate with the council) as a hostage.  (Note:  Val ends up on Brady's side, and also ends up dead....) Brady's stepfather, Wallace, is flown in by Phil, only known previously as the council voice on the other end of the phone.  It is soon discovered that Wallace is the serial killer.  Lots of deaths, and a very dangerous 14-year-old first settler female come to light.  Kenny, Casey's friend and the town carpenter, ends up with a bullet lodged beside his spine.  So at the very end the stepfather, Wallace, and the teenage girl have flown away, Phil has been left as the person in charge of Rockton, Brady (who Casey discovers was not innocent, he was actually an accomplice to Wallace) has been killed by Petra, who has apparently been ordered by some unknown to do so, and Casey is going to see if she can find a way for her sister, April, who is a neurosurgeon, to be flown in to remove the bullet from Kenny, the only way he'll survive.

Goodreads synopsis:  In This Fallen Prey, the next installment of New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrongs thriller series, Casey Duncan is about to face her toughest job as police detective in Rockton yet.When Casey first arrived at the off-the-grid town, an isolated community built as a haven for people running from their pasts, she had no idea what to expect, with no cell phones, no internet, no mail, and no way of getting in or out without the town councils approval. She certainly didnt expect to be the homicide detective on two separate cases or to begin a romantic relationship with her boss. But the very last thing she expected was for the council to drop a dangerous criminal into their midst without a plan to keep him imprisoned, and to keep others safe.Of course Oliver Brady claims he's being set up. But the longer Brady stays in town, the more things start to go wrong. When evidence comes to light that someone inside Rockton might be working as his accomplice, helping him to escape, Casey races to figure out who exactly Brady is and what crimes hes truly responsible for committing. In the next page-turning entry in Kelley Armstrongs gripping series, life in Rockton is about to get even more dangerous. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

MOVIE - Captain Marvel

PG-13 (2:08)
Wide release 3/8/19
Viewed Sunday evening 3/10/19 in Carlisle
IMBd: 7.1/10
RT Critic: 79   Audience:  62
Critic's Consensus:  Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU's latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise's signature formula.
Cag:  3.5
Directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Marvel Studios

Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law

My comments:  Not much to say, hard to follow at the beginning, somehow came together near the end, as usual a lot of battle scenes that I'm not very fond of - I'm sure most of the younger kids watching in the theater with me didn't understand much of what was going on but, oh well.

RT/ IMDb Summary  The story follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. Set in the 1990s, Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

26. On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

listened on Audible
narrated by Heidi Baker
Unabridged Audio (7:02)
2012 Penguin
346 pgs.
Adult Contemporary Romance
Finished March 6, 2019
Goodreads rating:  4.13 - 68,819 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: a tiny island in the Maldives area of the Indian Ocean, early 2000

First line/s:  "I was thirty years old when the seaplane T. J. Callahan and I were traveling on crash-landed in the Indian Ocean.  T.J. was sixteen and three months into remission from Hodgkins Lymphoma.  The pilot's name was Mick, but he died before we hit the water."

My comments:  Chapters went back and forth - first, Anna, then T.J.  The story is exactly as the Goodreads synopsis outlines, two people learning to live and survive on a beautiful island in the middle of the Indian ocean.  It becomes a love story, replete with hardships, dangers and sorrows, as well as joy, happiness and love - the kind of novel you read just for fun and end up totally enjoying!

Goodreads synopsis:  When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.
          T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments -- instead of his friends. 
          Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.
          Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

25. Widowmaker by Paul Doilron

#7 Mike Bowditch, Maine Game Warden
listened on Audible - from TPPL
read by Henry Leyva
Unabridged (10:00)
2016, Minotaur Books
306 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished March 5, 2019
Goodreads rating:  4.03 - 1668 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting:  Contemporary Maine Woods

First line/s:  "On my first day as a cadet at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, the instructors showed my class the most disturbing video I had ever seen."

My comments:  Mike Bowditch, much like Harry Potter did through each of the continuous novels about him, grows up and learns and becomes more and more of a thinker, better and better at his job and his impetuousness, as the years pass. He's really grown on me, and these stories - both the complex plotting and the much-loved setting in the woods of Maine, make these mysteries one of the very best series I've ever read.,

Goodreads synopsis:  In Paul Doiron's Widowmaker, When a mysterious woman in distress appears outside his home, Mike Bowditch has no clue she is about to blow his world apart. Amber Langstrom is beautiful, damaged, and hiding a secret with a link to his past.. She claims her son Adam is a wrongfully convicted sex offender who has vanished from a brutal work camp in the high timber around the Widowmaker Ski Resort. She also claims that Adam Langstrom is the illegitimate son of Jack Bowditch, Mike’s dead and diabolical father. He is the half-brother Mike never knew he had.
          After trying so hard to put his troubled past behind him, Mike is reluctant to revisit the wild country of his childhood and again confront his father’s history of violence. But Amber’s desperation and his own need to know the truth make it hard for him to refuse her pleas for help.
          In search of answers, Bowditch travels through a mountainous wilderness to a place hidden from the rest of the world, where the military guards a top-secret interrogation base, sexual predators live together in a backwoods colony, and self-styled vigilantes are willing to murder anyone they consider their enemies.
          Mike Bowditch must exorcise the demons of the past before the real-life demons of the present kill him first.
 

Monday, March 4, 2019

A Few Postcards from the Beginning of March, 2019

1924.  Leipzig, GERMANY
Dear Chris, Greetings from Sazony in Germany, where I'm at the moment with musical visit.  I live actually in Berlin, but travel quite a lot around the world.  Leipzig is very musical city with two big orchestras, opera, and Thomas Church where Bach used to work.  Hope you like my card choice.  Antoinette

1923.  Molodechno, Belarus
Hello Chris.  My name's Olga.  I'm originally from Molodechno, a town with over 90 thousand inhabitants, 75 km from Minsk, the capital of Belarus.  I like art, reading, watching movies, travelling, and cooking (but not so often :) Hope you like this card.  Have fun with postcrossing!  Best wishes, Olga

1920.  Hamburg, Germany
Hallo Chris!  Sending you lovely greetings from Hamburg.  At the weekend I love to visit flea markets and search for unwritten postcards.  It makes a lot of fun and sometimes I've got luck - like this card!  Wish you all the best and a lot of beautiful cards, Rebecca

1919.  Moscow, Russia
Room in New York, 1932, Edward Hopper
Zdravstuii!  Greetings from Moscow.  I like Japanese manga, calligraphy.  I learn Japanese so I read Harry Potter in Japanese :) EAsy and fun!  Have a nice day, Raisa

Sunday, March 3, 2019

24. A Shroud of Tattered Sails by Scott William Carter

#4 Garrison Gage, Oregon Coast PI
Listened on Audible
Read by Steven Roy Grimsley
Unabridged (8:43)
2015 Flying Raven Press (2016 for Audio)
282 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished March 3, 2019
Goodreads rating: 4.22 - 376 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting:  Contemporary Barnacle Bluffs, Oregon Coast

First line/s:  "They walked side by side, but alone."

My comments:  Garrison Gage seems to be even more sarcastic and witty in this fourth installment, set again in Barnacle Bluffs, a beautiful tourist town on the Oregon coast.  By the end of this book, Garrison's life seems to be coming together in a really positive way - both with Zoe and a new love interest for himself.  And I'm not sure how I feel about that, to tell the truth.  I'm not sure how having a close relationship will work for him.  This was another good mystery, but not my favorite so far.  But still a 4!

Goodreads synopsis:  A beached sailboat. A missing man. A distraught woman staggering ashore. There to greet her—Garrison Gage, full-time curmudgeon and part-time private investigator, who quickly finds himself thrust into his familiar role of crusader for the desperate and downtrodden. The woman claims to have no memory, but is she lying? 
          When a body later washes ashore, the mystery deepens and the stakes ratchet up another notch. Dark money and even darker intentions. Violence both threatened and real. The woman may be at the heart of it all, or merely an innocent interloper who chose the wrong boat at the wrong time. Only Gage can discover the truth.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

One-Sentence Summaries

The Newbery Award is an annual award for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year.  (It was the first Children's Book Award in the world - 1922.)

The Caldecott Award is an annual award for the artist of the best illustrated American children's book of the previous year.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to an outstanding African America AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR.

Hello Lighthouse by Blackall, Sophie
     2019 Caldecott Award Winner
          Follow a lighthouse keeper's life in a tiny, isolated lighthouse that sits on a rock in the middle of the sea -  first alone....then with his wife....then with a child, until the lighthouse becomes automated.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
     2019 Newbery Award Winner
          Merci Suarez is a scholarship student at an expensive academy in Florida - dealing with all the complications of being a preteen/middleschooler both at school and at home.  It's a really heartwarming story.

The Stuff of Stars by Ekua  (AY-kwa) Holmes
     2019 Coretta Scott King Illustration Winner
          Using hand-marbled paper and collage, Ekua Holmes created a stunning visual re-creation of how the universe was formed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

23. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

listened to on Audible - Unabridged (12:12)
narrated by Cassandra Campbell
2018 G. P. Putnam's Sons
370 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction 1952 - 1970
Finished 2/27/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.54 - 98,680 ratings (wowzer!)
My rating: 5
Setting: 1952-1970 northern NC coast

First line/s:  "The morning burned so August-hot the marsh's moist breath hung the oaks and pines with fog.The palmetto patches stood unusually quiet except for the low, slow flap of the heron's wings lifting from the lagoon.  And then, Kya, only six at the time, heard the screen door slap."

My comments: What a beautifully crafted story, how I enjoyed listening to it!  I have a feeling that if I had read it I would've been impatient with some of the description of the marsh, the animals, the winds and grasses and beaches.  But listening to it read in Cassandra Campbell's lilting voice, it became poetry.  Loneliness and aloneness, beauty and nature, described brilliantly.  This is a wonderful piece of storytelling.

Goodreads synopsis:  For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
          Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Another set of recent postcards

1918.  Arras, FRANCE (it's in the north)
Bonjour Chris, greetings from Arras.  I'm Ornella.  I'm a nurse.  I love reading.  Her is a box of books, you put the books you have read and you take another if there is one that you like.  Through me it develops a lot.  I deposit more than I take because I already have a lot to read at home.  I love to find flea markets.  I wish you the best.  Oerie

1917.  San Diego, California
Official Jackalope License
Hello Chris, Greetings from sunny San Diego.  I'm giving this another shot, since my fierst card has gone missing.  I love cryptozoology too :} ,,, such a classic American thing.  I like to travel, cook, swim, red, go to museums, concerts, plays and escape rooms, spend time outdoors and learn new things.  Wishing you a full mailbox!  Sue G.

1916.  Oregon
Hello Chris, we hope you like this Oregon Map postcard and postage stamps  We live in Western Oregon, near the city of Eugene and 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  We are retired.  My wife, Nancy, is a quilter.  She is part of a group that makes quilts for Lutheran World Relief as well as "baby" quilts for our local AID (Food Pantry).  I am a collector of used postage stamps.  Take care , Larry and Nancy Clough

1915.  Gold Canuon, Arizona (near Phoenix)
Dia de los Muertos Paper Dolls
Hello!  Greetings from Arizona!  My name is Tilly and I live in Gild Canyon, near Phoenix.
Random Facts:  1) I'm originally from Wisconsin; 2) I love the smells of wet dirt, musty basements and skunks; 3) South Africa is my dream trip; 4) I've never had a pet, not even a fish; 5) I don't like coffee, tea or cold pizza; 6)I love chicken livers; 7) Monument Valley is my favorite place in AZ; 8) I'm going to China for two weeks in June.
Wishing you all the best.  Hope you're enjoying you new life in PA.  Tilly

1914.  Aerial View of Wichita, Kansas
Hello Chris, Greetings from Wichita, Kansas, United States of America.  Hope you'd like this card. :)  Aliessia

1913. Minsk, Belarus
MAHILIOV "Monument to the Astrologer"
Greetings from Minsk, Belarus from Ivan and his family.  The postcard shows the beautiful city of Mogilev and its central square of stars.  On this square there is a seven-meter memorial to the stargazer.  According to the sign you need touch to the stargazer.  On a sign in it a huge amount of energy from space gathers, the person will be loaded with good luck for all the works.

Monday, February 25, 2019

22. Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely

Listened on Audible - an Audible Freebie
2019 Audible Studios
(2;25)  100 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 2/25/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.42 - 2188 ratings
My rating: 3

My comments:  An easy, cute, quick, trite romance that was fun to listen to while knitting.  I liked the relationship between Kristen and her grandmother.  Definitely cute.

Goodreads synopsis:  Kristen Leonard is done with setups. She’s not interested in your son or your nephew or your butcher or the guy who mows your lawn, thank you very much, grandma! After all, she’s a modern woman—she’ll take her chances on the algorithms of online dating to find her ideal man. Before long, she meets a man who might just be the one—he’s hilarious, quick-witted, and full of heart. And when she meets up with Cameron in real life, he certainly looks exactly like his profile picture…but something’s not quite right.
          There’s really no telling what brought them together and all bets are off as to whether or not they can trust their hearts over their heads. After all, can you fall in love with someone you’re not sure you really even know?

Sunday, February 24, 2019

21. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

#2 Truly Devious Trilogy
Listened on Audio
Read by Kate Rudd
Unabridged audio (9:13)
2019 Katherine Tegen Books
384 pgs.
YA Mystery
Finished 2/24/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.36- 3966 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary Vermont With Flashbacks to 1930s

First line/s: " 'Has anyone seen Dottie?' Miss Nelson asked"

My comments: I remember being extremely frustrated after finishing the first book because it left everything so incredibly up in the air. I think I feel even more frustrated after just now finishing this second installment. So unsatisfying! Decent mystery, especially since it’s YA and a good YA mystery is a bit unusual. I listened to this one and enjoyed all the “voices“ that Kate Rudd used except for that of Stevie, the protagonist. For some reason she used a very flat and expressionless tone for her, which didn’t suit the character at all....so that too was disappointing. A year to wait before the sequel comes out. I think I will include, below, a brief outline of the story and characters so that I can refresh my memory before reading book number three!

Goodreads synopsis:  All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.
          For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.
          The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

20. The Au Pair by Emma Rous

listened on Audible
read by Elizabeth Sastre
Unabridged (11:31)
2019, Penguin Group
379 pgs.
CRF with Flashbacks, lots of them...
Finished 2/21/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.72 - 3363 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting:  Contemporary Norfolk, England seaside, with half the book flashing back to a period 25 years prior.

First line/s:   "We have no photographs of our early days, Danny and I."

My comments: Another wonderful book that I read in one long gulp.  It was told in two voices 25 years apart, by two innocent young women, one whose decisions and silence profoundly affected the life of the other. A mystery that one could almost… but not quite… figure out.  Well defined characters. Lovely British setting.  And read beautifully by Elizabeth Sastre.

Goodreads synopsis:  Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.
          Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.
          Who is the child and what really happened that day?
          One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

19. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

listened on Audio
read by Myra Syal
Unabridged (10:34)
2017, William Morrow
304 pgs.
Adult CRF, quite racy in places!
Finished  2/19/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.91 - 25,470 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting: Contemporary London

First line/s:  :Why did Mindi want an arranged marriage?"

My comments:  This book IS actually full of exotic stories, as well as insight into the Punjabi/Indian/Sikh culture in contemporary London. Told from the point of view of a modern British young woman of Punjabi heritage, the twists, turns, inter-generational friendships, arranged marriages, and honest peeks into a fascinating culture enthralled me totally. And listening to the lilting accented reader was a special added treat.

Goodreads synopsis:  A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.
          Every woman has a secret life . . .
          Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.
          Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.
          As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.