Review: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

I loved, loved, loved this unique novel I picked up today at the library on the new releases shelf. Told in pictures and memorabilia from the 1920’s, Frances “Frankie” Pratt is a young woman newly graduated from high school in 1920 and planning the rest of her life. Her mother gives her a scrapbook for her high school graduation, and she finds her deceased father’s Corona typewriter in the barn (Frankie dreams of being a writer). What follows is an engaging look at a young girl becoming a woman in a time that now almost 100 years ago. Told entirely through Frankie’s scrapbook, we follow her from high school, to her first job, to her first fling, to college, to Europe, and beyond.

I really enjoyed this book! I read it in an afternoon.

Love the book trailer from You Tube!

Quick Cookbook Review: “Soup of the Day” by Kate McMillan (Williams-Sonoma)

I had a chance to download this cookbook through Net Galley. I loved it so much I’m going to purchase it (and its companion “Salad of the Day” book).

This cookbook presents 365 soups – one for each day of the year – set off in calendars. As a very non-creative cook, I appreciated all the wonderful recipes and ways to create soup for my family. While some of my friends prefer cookbooks that show step by step prep with pictures, this book had one picture of the finished product for some of the soups (or at least my digital download did). I still really liked it and got some great ideas for soup beyond my two standards: pumpkin at Thanksgiving and chicken.

I’d be curious as to whether others have used and enjoyed this cookbook or its salad counterpart!

Thanks, Net Galley!

Review of the latest Gaslight Mystery – “Murder on Fifth Avenue” by Victoria Thompson

I love, love, love this historical cozy mystery series, set in New York at the turn of the century. Sarah Brandt, midwife and daughter of a wealthy family, pairs with Irish cop Frank Malloy to solve murders and mysteries in the city. Thompson pays great attention to historical details and her books are really a delight to read.

In this installment (apparently number 14 in the series – I’ve read them all but lost track), Sarah’s father, the rather pompous Felix Decker, has called upon Malloy and Sarah to investigate the mysterious death of a friend from his club. It appeared that victim had been stabbed by a small sharp object, didn’t realize he had a mortal wound, and was going about his business until he died in his chair. The victim, Chilton Devries, was a wealthy businessman but truly a horrible and abusive man, and there are no shortage of suspects. Sarah and Frank must work together to figure out who had the means and motive, and then bring the killer to justice (even though most folks were relieved by Devries’ death).

I love this series, and while I loved this installment, I felt it took a good fifty pages to “get going”. There was a lot of time devoted to Mr. Decker asking Frank, and Sarah, and even Sarah’s mother to help out, and then the subsequent conversations between the aforementioned individuals. I also missed the “personal” piece that often figures in this book: Sarah and her daughter, Sarah and Maeve, and – most importantly – Sarah and Frank! I also didn’t like that near the end, the murder weapon was revealed to be a different murder weapon than previously thought. However, all in all, it was another enjoyable read in the series!

I got mine at the library.

Quick YA Review: “Hanging by a Thread” by Sophie Littlefield

Fitting in with my YA supernatural powers reading kick was this novel by first time author Sophie Littlefield. “Hanging by a Thread” is the suspense story of Clare Knight: new teen in town with the power to capture people’s emotions and memories from the clothes they wore. Clare has a gift for fashion and starts her own business designing and making over second-hand fashions. However, the town has a few dark secrets – such as what happened to Amanda Stavros, a teen who disappeared without a trace. Is Amanda dead? And if so, who killed her? When Clare discovers Amanda’s jacket in a bin of used clothes and starts getting emotions from it, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery – even if it means uncovering a murderer.

I really enjoyed this story, which was a quick read for me. The mystery was well-plotted and Clare was a likable character. It won’t release for a few months yet, but you can pre-order it on Amazon. I look forward to more from this author!

Thank you, Net Galley and Delacorte Books, for my copy to review!

YA Review: “The Unquiet” by Jeannine Garsee

I’ve been on a YA supernatural reading kick lately, and got this one from Net Galley last month.

“The Unquiet” is the story of Corinne – or Rinn – Jacobs, a teen who moves with her mom to a new town and new school and is looking to start over. Rinn has some serious mental health issues, and is relieved to make new friends who are accepting and understanding. Not only are these friends popular and fun to be with, the boy across the street is also amazingly cute and interested in her. All is going well until strange things start happening down a deserted hallway at school. The teens are convinced that a ghost is haunting them and Rinn decides that she will get to the bottom of all the happenings.

I really enjoyed this novel, which I would recommend for high school and up (due to mature themes). I also felt Garsee, who is a psychiatric nurse by day, did a sensitive and thoughtful job in writing of the complexities of teens on medication and of mental health.

In this story, the ghost is haunting a deserted pool area which is fenced off, but the students still pass through this dark and deserted walkway to get to class as they are not allowed to “cut through the gym”. I found this rather hard to believe until I read in the afterword that Garsee bases this story on a walkway she had in her own school as a little girl. It, too, had a disused and deserted part over to the side that totally creeped her out and stayed with her, lending itself to this ghost story now.

This book trailer – set to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata – might even be creepier than the novel!

Thanks, Net Galley and Bloomsbury USA, for my copy!