Monthly Archives: March 2019

American Carnival by David Skernick. Published by Schiffer

Skernick’s photos capture that uniquely American phenomenon, the carnival or fair. From fried everything on a stick to midway games that no one can ever really win (at least the big prizes) to nauseatingly violent carnival rides guaranteed to make you throw up that fried whatever it was you just ate. There is a mesmerizing kind of beauty, of the lights, the carnival barkers, even the artery hardening food that seems to be the same from Maine to California.

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Underland by Robert Macfarlane. Published by W.W. Norton

Macfarlane has made modern readers look a little more closely at the natural world with his series of books about the important wild things we have lost tough with in out modern, mechanized world. Now, he heads underground, exploring caves and sink holes, burial chambers and catacombs beneath our cities and countryside. His explorations into the dark and claustrophobic world beneath our feet is fascinating, but I was most captivated by his imaginings about the things that may have happened underground centuries, millenia and eons before. A book to both treasure and savour

Outdoor London by Eleanor Ross. Published by Quarto

Mention London and people’s thoughts turn immediately to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Shard or the Eye. Few people know, or suspect that London has plenty of green spaces, if you know where to find them. Ross explores parks, wild areas, wild waterways, out-of-the-way bike paths, forests, even cemeteries. I enjoyed this book because of my own connection to London, my dad grew up in Walthamstow and used to tell me stories of Epping Forest. How delightful to read about it here and imagine my dad playing there when he was a boy.

The American Museum of Natural History and How it Got That Way by Colin Davey. Published by Fordham University

Davey has been a fan of the museum since he was a child, and his love for the museum and planetarium led to the writing of this book. Not a coffee table book full of illustrations, this is instead a book about the many people who made the museum a reality. From the earliest dreams to create a repository for wondrous things, up to the architects, financiers, visionaries, explorers and collectors that made the American Museum of Natural History one of the most famous and beloved museums in the world

Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank. Published by William Morrow

Frank is back with another Southern beach read and this one is especially appealing because the man character is a bee keeper. Holly McNee Kensen tends her hives on Sullivan’s Island and works in the local library. She craves the quiet of her bees and library, all the better to escape from her loud and difficult family.  When Holly’s sister, Leslie returns to the island, the sisters, who are normally oil and water get caught up in neighbor Archie’s love life. It would appear the man is about to marry a most unsuitable woman and while Leslie works on changing that, the girls’ mother ups the ante on her game as family hypochondriac. There’s an old saying about bee keepers telling the bees all that’s happening in their lives, and Holly certainly has a lot to share. I’m not sure if Frank is getting better (her last couple of novels have not been up to par) or whether it was the addition of the bees, but I really enjoyed this book, a light-hearted look at family and all the trouble they cause us

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland. Published by Grand Central

Bourland uses a trick from Daphne Du Maurier, keeping her main character nameless and in the shadow of another woman. After that all similarities cease as we enter the edgy, back stabbing world of art. The main character idolizes an artist who dies and  whose studio was totally destroyed by fire. Jane Doe is now trying to recreate seven huge paintings that are scheduled for the artist”s upcoming show. Faught with tension, deceit and subterfuge, this book is a dark and delicious look into the world of art and the price people are willing to pay for fame

The Perfect Son by Lauren North. Published by Berkley

After the death of her husband, Tess Clarke concentrated all her energies and emotions into caring for her young son, Jamie. But when she wakes up in the hospital the day after his eight birthday, she’s in a panic, her son is missing, she’s been stabbed and her brother-in-law is somehow involved. Pity no one takes her seriously. With strength born of desperation, Tess investigates the accident that caused her husband’s death and what role her brother-in-law may have played in his death, her own stabbing and her son’s disappearance. They say most violent crimes are committed by  someone close to the victim and North writes a chilling, up close and personal novel that will have you questioning the people you trust most in your own life