From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg

1306493

When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Today's review is over what some may consider the solving of the most important mystery ever uncovered: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

I actually do not remember reading From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in school. But I vaguely knew the story and would catch myself thinking of it during daydreams, so I must have read it. Thankfully, I was reintroduced to the mystery while birthday shopping for my godson. I stumbled across it on the 'Back-To-School' book table at Barnes and Noble and walked out that day with a copy for each of us!

I am not going to share a summary of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The synopsis does a great job and I wouldn't want to spoil the fun for new readers. I am; however, going to start with the one negative thought I have (might as well just get the pesky bugger out of the way). I can understand why some parents would hesitate to share this story with their kids thanks to the whole running away from home thing. I don't have any advice for parents. I'm sure there is a way to share the brilliance of this story while also ensuring kids understand that it's not ok to runaway from home. I'll just leave it at that. Phew…not that that's out of the way.

I LOVE From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Love it. I love the interactions between Claudia and Jamie. I I adored Jamie's penny pinching and sympathized with Claudia's search for something more. I recognize so much of myself in Claudia Kincaid. We share the same need for a good plan, the want of something unique out of life, and a deep love for the mysterious! I found myself desperate to discover the truth about Angel, and was honestly sad when I had to put the book down and deal with life things.

But there is so much more to From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler than my connection to Claudia. Konigsburg's brilliance is found in the details of the mundane tasks of bathing, eating regular meals, and washing clothes. She took a fanciful adventure and made it realistic as the children go about ordinary lives in an extraordinary local. And the setting makes you feel as is you are wondering the museum halls hand in hand with the Kincaids. Her story teaches readers that dealing with mundane chores does not mean one has to live a mundane life and that constantly seeking knowledge is essential for a good adventure.

Museums, mystery…what's not to love?!? From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a story worth revisiting year after year, for as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler observed, you are never too young to experience and learn something new! And this story is the perfect way to remind yourself of that simple truth!

Please share your thoughts on From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! I look forward to hearing them.

Lindsay

Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves

by Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

First school book is Julie of the Wolves! The story of adventure and survival is one I revisit over and over. Here is my original review I shared a few years ago!

Julie, also known as Miyax, is walking from Barrow, Alaska to Point Hope, Alaska.  She is alone on the Arctic tundra and is determined to get passage to San Francisco and a new life.  But she is lost and must rely on the teachings of her father and the help of a wolf pack to survive.  Julie adapts to life on the tundra but still struggles with her identity.  Is she Julie the Alaskan or Miyax the Inupiat?

I first read Julie of the Wolves when I was twelve years old.  I couldn’t put it down.  Here was a young girl (the same age as me) struggling to identify who she was (so was I!) all while surviving on the Alaska tundra.  Plus, she lived with wolves!  I don’t know about y’all, but my dreams at 12 included owning a huge horse ranch with my own pack of tamed wolves.  Yeah, this was the perfect book for me.  I loved it, but a post on The Misfortune of Knowing pushed me to read it again as an adult.  Plus, the story fit in perfectly with my arctic survival theme this month.  I couldn’t put it down!  My skin tingled with goose bumps and a single tear threatened to fall when I turned the last page.  I still love this book!

Now there are some issues with Julie of the Wolves.  The most notable is that it is marketed for 8-10 year olds but contains an attempted rape scene in Part Two.  Julie marries at 13 so she can go to high school.  Her husband, Daniel, has a learning disability but they are content acting like siblings until mocking at school pushes him to force himself on her.  The scene is not descriptive and all that really happens is Daniel rips her dress and pins her to the ground before his fear makes him run.  But, this is not something I would want to explain to an eight year old.  This one paragraph turns many readers away.  I don’t know if the attempted rape is a realistic event, but it fits with the culture and socio-economic issues that plague Julie’s world.

There are so many good lessons found in Julie of the Wolves.  Julie escapes domestic violence and manages to survive in one of the most extreme climates in the world.  She taught me that women could be strong, smart, and resourceful.  George shows the good and bad of all the cultures Julie is exposed to; the gussak (lower 48), the Inupiat, and the wolf.  She shows that it is prudent to hunt for food but wasteful to poach.  Julie learns that she must adapt to survive, both in the wild and in a village.  Julie of the Wolves teaches adaptation, survival, culture, and finding inner strength.  I definitely recommend it.  The good outweighs the bad.

Julie of the Wolves will always be special to me because of its influence on my youth.  What books influenced you during your preteen years?

Lindsay

Back to School!

School has started! I am one of those people who enjoys the start of the fall semester and all the promises of discovery it holds. As such, I wanted to share reviews on favorite stories I discovered during my school days. These novels are historical fiction pieces aimed at youth instead of young/new adults, but each are still very powerful, and adventurous stories. They are all books I find myself consistently rereading as an adult and coming back to over and over again. These are the books, and you can expect a full review of each over this week!

The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg

1306493

Red Dog

by Bill Wallace

205699

Julie of the Wolves

by Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

Let me know if you read any of these! What are your favorite school reads? Happy first day of school!

Lindsay

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen

by Victoria Alexander

 

 

Embark on the breathtaking romantic adventures of The Lady Travelers Society in the brand-new series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander

Really, it’s too much to expect any normal man to behave like a staid accountant in order to inherit the fortune he deserves to support the lifestyle of an earl. So when Derek Saunders’s favorite elderly aunt and her ill-conceived—and possibly fraudulent—Lady Travelers Society loses one of their members, what’s a man to do but step up to the challenge? Now he’s escorting the world’s most maddening woman to the world’s most romantic city to find her missing relative.

While India Prendergast only suspects his organization defrauds gullible travelers, she’s certain a man with as scandalous a reputation as Derek Saunders cannot be trusted any farther than the distance around his very broad shoulders. As she struggles not to be distracted by his wicked smile and the allure of Paris, instead of finding a lost lady traveler, India just may lose her head, her luggage and her heart.

I picked up The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen because the title promised a fun story. I didn’t even read the blurb on the back. I needed an audiobook…the one I came for was checked out…this title caught my eye as I was walking by. Thankfully, I didn’t once regret this impulse read!

Side Note: I initially though The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen was written by the same author as a book I had previously read. A book I will review later this week. I was wrong but you could understand my confusion: Tasha Alexander and Victoria Alexander as somewhat similar names.

I will start this review by saying that I only seem to enjoy reading romance around the holidays. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it is something about that time of year as I only seem to like Hallmark movies around the holidays. Who knows…. So, I may have slightly groaned when I finally realized The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen was a historical romance. I wasn’t really in a mood for a romance; however, I was in the mood for something funny, so I kept listening.

I didn’t stop laughing! Guys, I was laughing OUT LOUD on my morning drive to work. Any book that can make me laugh at 6:30 in the morning is worth its weight in gold! The characters were hilarious; kudos to Victoria Alexander! This book is full of well-rounded, colorful, and unapologetically human characters. I instantly connected with India as her brutal honesty, with both herself and everyone around her, is a trait we share. I also understood her frustration with the awkward self-growth she struggles with. I adored Derek, as his attempts to reign in his aunt’s fraudulent activities and attempts at subterfuge with India were endearing. The banter between Derek and Val had me in stitches every time! The characters are what made The Lady Traveler’s Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen such a wonderful read. I was invested in their journey, and their happiness. Plus, Alexander provides us with a unique lesson on love and acceptance.

So now for the negative points. I only have two to share. First: The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen starts SLOW. I attribute this to India’s rather abrasive personality. She is a hard character to like for the first quarter of the book, but don’t let that deter you. I promise it gets better. Second: the book blurb (once I finally read it) promised a mystery. The whole catalyst for the story is India’s search for her missing cousin, and I expected to read more about the actual search. We get a few details, but sadly the search is very limited, as neither India or Derek are expert investigators. I was slightly disappointed the mystery wasn’t a more prominent aspect of the story. I still enjoyed it! And I picked a mystery up once I had finished this audiobook.

Have I been converted into a romance fan? No. But I am now a fan of Victoria Alexander, and you bet I will be picking up the prequel novella, How to Stop a Wedding in Seven Days or Less, and the sequel, The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger. The sequel is scheduled for release December 2017 and I will have to beg my library to pick up the audiobook version! I anyone else a fan of Victoria Alexander? Have you read The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen? Let me know, and definitely pick up this one if you need a good laugh!

Lindsay

Death at Victoria Dock

Death at Victoria Dock

By Kerry Greenwood

1997733

Driving home late one night, Phryne Fisher is surprised when someone shoots out her windscreen. When she alights she finds a pretty young man with an anarchist tattoo dying on the tarmac just outside the dock gates. He bleeds to death in her arms, and all over her silk shirt.

Enraged by the loss of the clothing, the damage to her car, and this senseless waste of human life, Phryne promises to find out who is responsible. But she doesn’t yet know how deeply into the mire she’ll have to go: bank robbery, tattoo parlours, pubs, spiritualist halls, and anarchists.

Along this path, Phryne meets Peter, a scarred but delectable wharfie who begins to unfold the mystery of who would need a machine gun in Melbourne. But when someone kidnaps her cherished companion, Dot, Phryne will stop at nothing to retrieve her.

Death at Victoria Dock is the fourth book in the Phryne Fisher Murder series, which I decided to pick up on a whim after a particularly exhausting week. I have found that these short, yet intricate, mysteries and the corresponding TV episodes always put a smile on my face when I need a brief escape from adulthood.

Phyrne is out for a late night drive near the waterfront when a bullet shatters her windscreen. In typical Phryne fashion, she leaps from the vehicle to chase down the shooter only to discover another victim, a young man bleeding to death on the dock. He dies in her arms. Phryne takes it upon herself to avenge his death and finds herself thrust into the middle of a Latvian anarchist war. Once again, Phryne just cant seem to stay out of trouble!

This story follows the same formula as the previous in the series; Phryne investigates two separate mysteries simultaneously. The first deals with the Latvian anarchist and the second concerns a domestic matter of a well-to-do Melbourne family. One reason I enjoyed Death at Victoria Dock is that it brings to focus two drastically different cultural elements. On one hand we have Latvian revolutionists who have fled to Melbourne, struggling to find a life and dragging their war with them. Phryne works with Peter, who tells her all about the revolution and the struggles of being forced to constantly relocate. And on the other side we are trust into a petty, sad, selfish mystery of a family so full of self-importance and self-destruction. This contrast drags to the surface an intellectual depth we have yet to see in Phryne, which makes me love her character even more.

Plus, readers get to spend more time with Phryne’s adopted daughters Ruth and Jane, who are always up for their own investigation. Bert and Cec lend their expertise on communism and we hear about their time in The Great War. And we finally get to see the awkward budding relationship between Dot and Constable Hugh Collins!

My only complaint is the differences between the TV show and the story. (I know…I can feel many of you rolling your eyes. It’s ludicrous that I would prefer the show over the book) The show does such a wonderful job showing Phyrne’s very different struggles with her two cases. In the episode we see how the death of the young man traumatizes Phryne; flashbacks elude to to her roll as a nurse during the Great War. The story lacks these tantalizing details of Phyrne’s past. Plus, there has yet to be a mention of her snarky working relationship with Inspector Jack Robinson. (I need this to happen!) Honestly, that’s the only thing I didn’t like. I thought the story was fabulously written!

Of course I recommend Death at Victoria Dock, and I am ready to pick up the next installment. This is definitely the perfect series for a lite afternoon read. (Parents and students: pick up this series! I know you’re dealing with stress with the first day of school right around the corner) I will make Phryne fans out of all of you! Happy reading!

Lindsay

Apollo 11

Moment in History: Apollo 11

I am of a weird generation; a transitional generation. I can remember when my parents invested in an electronic typewriter, and then a desktop computer. I remember the haunting sounds of the dial-up connecting. The bag car phone..the wireless house phone.. the Nokia brick cell phones. I am not very old, and yet it is so easy to forget about such rapid change as I sit here looking up pictures of the Apollo 11 lunar landing on my smart phone.

I believe all historians have a small space inside of them that will always feel slightly empty; a space that aches with yearning to experience history first hand. If I had a time machine, I would go back to watch Neil Armstrong step off the LEM ladder and leave his foot prints in the dust. I can’t even imagine what it was like for him, or the eleven other men who have walked on the moon, as they stood in their pressurized suits watching the Earth rise.

I take a moment to marvel at the science and ingenuity that took them there. And I thank God, and my parents, for the opportunity to watch the last night shuttle launch live in 2010. Amazement is the only feeling a had as I listened to the rockets burn and watched the golden flames speed towards the stars. Amazing.

So tonight I challenge you to put those smart phones down, walk outside, and look up. Watch the stars twinkle and imagine what we look like from up there. And remember that 68 years ago…man walked on the moon!

Lindsay

Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins

by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

I’m not going to provide a summary as the synopsis is perfect and I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. I will admit that I was quite hesitant about picking up Beautiful Ruins because it promised a story about flawed individuals. I am not a huge fan of fiction that doesn’t include some kind of mystery because it typically means spending 300-400 pages reading about barely likeable characters as they struggle to find meaning in their life. So I wasn’t going to read this at all but the cover just kept drawing me in. I’m a sucker for the picturesque coastal cliff towns that populate the Mediterranean. And lets be honest, I needed to push myself to read a different type of historical fiction. So, a story about Italy and old Hollywood wasn’t a bad place to start.

I didn’t necessarily dislike Beautiful Ruins, but even after finishing, I can definitely say that it is not my type of book. I probably wouldn’t have finished if I hadn’t picked up the audio version from my local library. I know what you’re thinking, because I have thought this about many a reviewer in the past: why in the world did this woman read this book if she knew she didn’t like contemporary fiction. Because I am trying to broaden my horizons as a reader! Sadly, this is still not going to be a genre I readily embrace.

But don’t hold that against Beautiful Ruins. Yes, there are a number of barely likeable characters. Yes, I found their parts of the story boring. And yes, it was a well written story, with complex characters, beautiful settings, and an ending that made the book worth reading. I adored the fluid imagery provided by Jess Walter, as I had no problem visualizing Pasquale’s quiet village, the maddening race across the United States, and the vibrant set of Cleopatra. The story is riddled with a snarky, subtle humor and I was honestly surprised to find myself chuckling a number of times during my daily commute. At the same time, I wasn’t surprised to find myself rolling my eyes in disgust when forced to focus my attention on characters that didn’t deserve it. And then I would read a brilliant scene,like the one about paintings on a bunker wall, and would be immediately drawn back in. I found Beautiful Ruins surprising in its ability to pull empathy from me, and yet strangely predictable when it came to character issues and life lessons.

Would I recommend Beautiful Ruins? I honestly don’t know. Yes, if you like these types of stories or are interested in a different historical fiction. No, if you want a lighthearted read or something to keep you on the edge of your seat. I have mixed feelings about Beautiful Ruins, but I’m not disappointed that I finished the story. 

Did you like Beautiful Ruins? Are there other Jess Walter books I need to check out? Let me know. 

Lindsay

Summer Reading!

Last Wednesday was the first official day of summer! I don’t know about you, but for me summer means afternoons with a good book on the beach. And summer always finds me reading stori s about pirates, exotic locals, and dead bodies of beaches. 

(I know what you’re thinking…mystery lovers are pretty morbid. Yes. Yes we are!)
I decided to share my 2017 Summer Reading List for those of you with similar interests looking for a new read! They are separated by subject below; some i have already reviewed and others are still TBR. 

Avast ye book lovers! Let me know what you’re reading this summer! You know i’m always open to recommendations and would to hear from you. 

Beach Mystery

Tan and Sandy Silence

7227055

Fun Mystery Series

Phryne Fisher Mysteries

83927  382843  382847  382840

Iris Cooper Mysteries

1716475  5777339  2157504

Pirate Stories

Pirate Latitudes

6428887

Daughter of the Pirate King

33643994

Treasure Island

17375315

Travel

The Wonder Trail

27069094

History

Moloka’i

3273

Peril Under the Palms

Peril Under the Palms

by K.K. Beck

2157504

1920s Stanford co-ed Iris Cooper vacations in lush Honolulu with Aunt Hermione and solves a mystery for her friend Antoinette Caulfield, Hawaiian sugarcane heiress. Wisecracking newspaperman Jack Clancy is on the scoop, writing sensational headlines and digging up secrets.

Peril Under the Palms is the last novel in the Iris Cooper Mystery series. A Book Olive mentioned a concluding short story and I desperately need to find it! I will update y’all once I have that information but until then…on with the review!

Iris and Aunt Hermione are vacationing in Hawaii and celebrating the engagement of Antoinette, Iris’ college roommate and the heiress of a Hawaiian sugarcane family. Iris is determined to have a good time despite her annoyance at traveling with an engaged couple after recently being stood-up by her old partner in crime, snappy reporter Jack Clancy. Thankfully, bodies start dropping like flies, and Iris is pulled into solving multiple murders and unearthing dark secrets about Antoinette’s family. Good thing Jack Clancy shows up to help out!

Peril Under the Palms is my favorite of the series, and I am sad Beck didn’t continue writing Iris’ adventures. The Hawaiian setting is exquisite and the mystery is twisted enough to keep you guessing until the very last page. I’m so glad that Aunt Hermione is back! Her quick whit and insatiable curiosity was definitely missed in Murder in a Mummy Case. This trip finds Hermione working overtime helping with grief stricken old ladies and gathering intel at bridge games. Iris is once again everything I love in a snarky female detective! This story finds her participating in true ‘behind the scenes’ investigation as she sneaks around looking for clues. She is older, wiser, and just as stubborn, and this time Iris intentionally puts herself in danger in order to uncover the truth.

And what can I say about Jack Clancy? The chemistry between the reporter and novice detective is electric! And that’s all I’m going to say because…spoilers! Just know…the scene on the beach…I’m not much of a swooner but that scene was perfectly swoon worthy!

I am so sad this is the last book in the series. Despite the brevity of the stories, Beck did a wonderful job developing her characters and providing thrilling mysteries. I’m not ready to say goodbye; I want to know what happens to them! Hopefully, I’ll have a concluding short story to share in the near future. Thank you again Olive at A Book Olive! I would have never known about this series without you!

Please pick up the Iris Cooper stories! They are the perfect addition to a quiet summer day. And let me know what you think!

Lindsay

Murder in a Mummy Case

Murder in a Mummy Case

by K.K. Beck

5777339

The second in a scintillating new series full of Art Deco ambience is a mystery set in the 1920’s. Young Iris Cooper visits the home of a fellow-student with a special interest in Egyptology–and an actual mummy in his home that soon contains a new dead body.

Today we continue with book two of the Iris Cooper series, Murder in a Mummy Case. Iris is in her first year a Standford when she agrees to spend the Easter holiday at the home of fellow co-ed, Clarence Brockhurst. He is a young egyptologist interested in courting Iris, but our young heroine gets more than she bargained for when she arrives to house full of eccentric characters only to find the body of a maid hidden in a mummy sarcophagus. What follows is a world wind investigation that takes Iris to China Town and dumps her in the world of the occult.

I’m going to start by saying that this is my least favorite of the three Iris Cooper novels. The Brockhurst family were so frustrating. The male Brockhursts are tedious and boring; females are needy and naive. And they were the perfect stereotypical representation of an affluent family in the 1920s. However well written, it didn’t make Clarence and his obnoxious pursuit of Iris any easier to read! Thankfully, Iris was just as put off. And since I started with the negative today, I’ll continue by saying the archaeologist side of me wanted more information concerning the actual mummy, Clarence’s expedition, and why the mummy was being stored in the house! WHY?!? I need more!

All that being said, the characters are once again fantastically unique and well developed. Beck expertly weaves together a variety of different cultures to present a surprising plot, and we get to experience a deeper look at both Iris and Jack. We see Iris struggling to suppress her opinions and refer to her better upbringing. We get to see Jack actually compose his articles, showing us that there is more substance beneath his snarky exterior. And we get to watch the two of them give in to friendship and a mutual love of the mysterious. (eep! you get some spoilers tomorrow!)

Murder in a Mummy Case is a great transitional story that develops our main characters in preparation for the final installment of the series, Peril Under the Palms. Murder in a Mummy Case will leave you laughing at the outrageous and on the edge of your seat in curiosity. It’s the perfect read to pull you through the work week!

Have you picked up the Iris Cooper series yet? Let me know what you think!

Lindsay