Monthly Archives: May 2014

Teaser Tuesday: May 27th

Hello! I have missed you and missed too many Tuesdays.  Figuring out the new normal here in Cleveland, Ohio.  The normal will always include reading.  I just needed to get “settled”.  But today I have knocked out 3 book reviews from the past month.  Check them out here:

The Right Thing by Amy Connor (3 bones & out TODAY!)
Beatrice Munson by Lorena Bathey (4 bones)
All for a Story by Allison Pittman (4 bones)

And today’s teaser comes from another “older” book, but free through Amazon this week, and one that described my life a little too perfectly lately (trusting God in making BIG decisions).  Composing Amelia: A Novel by Alison Strobel (click book below for description).  Review hopefully coming much more timely now.

“His excitement for Amelia morphed to guilt when he returned the phone to his pocket and his hand felt the letter he’d stuffed in there.  He’d had plenty of chances to tell Amelia about it since its arrival yesterday, but each time he’d chickened out.”
(4% into book.)

 

Thanks for stopping by today, more to come more regularly (hopefully!)  Share yours in the comments please!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

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Book Review: Beatrice Munson by Lorena Bathey

Beatrice Munson (click on book or see below for description)
By Lorena Bathey
Downloaded free through Amazon on 5/5/14 (came out in March 2011)

Rating: 4 bones

Finish Time:  A few nights.  3 reviews in one day.  This must be a record.  This was an impulse download.  I had just made it up to Ohio and needed a light read.  This was light, yet so much more.  This is the kind of book I troll the free titles under Kindle Best Sellers for.  It was really inspiring and a perfect read to fill in between some of my “heavier” reads.

The scene is suburban America.  All the houses are the same color, everyone is a slave to routine, no one ventures out because of fear, unknowns, or maybe just the comfort.  But everyone is bored just waiting to be shook up.  Enter Beatrice Munson.  A colorful, lively woman who won’t accept status quo.  She has traveled all over the world, has crazy stories to tell, but also has an amazingly big heart.  She insights action within people who has laid dormant for so long, and people’s lives were changed for the better because of her.

Realistic?  The optimist inside me hopes so.  To this extent, I guess you’ll never really know unless it happens to you.  The main character is Marissa.  Stuck in what I described above until Beatrice moves in from across the street.  A girl who invoked strong emotion in her in high school, one she will soon learn was far from what she believed to be true.  Already feeling the energy, she walks across the street and introduces herself.  The following night is neighborhood Bunco, with a little apprehension, Marissa introduces Beatrice to the ladies of the neighborhood.  It goes better than expected and changes start happening.

New business is opening throughout the town, new relationships are explored, some old faces come back into the picture, and it’s just a happy story.  Not without struggle for some, but a feel good story that did not disappoint, in fact really surprised me!

I love when that happens.  If you need a pick-me-up or just a fun read, check this one out!

Description from Amazon:

In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige. 

Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will arrive with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.

How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt.

This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties.

Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.

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Book Review: All for a Story by Allison Pittman

All for a Story (click on book or see below for description)
by Allison Pittman
Downloaded free from Amazon on 5/4/14 (Released October 2013)

Rating: 4 bones

Finish Time: Too long because of my move.  But a fun book that I really enjoyed!  Monica Bisbaine aka “Monkey”, is an anonymous writer of a gossip column  titled “Monkey Business” for a local New York paper during the 20’s (a decade I very much enjoy reading about.)  I found out this book was loosely based on an actual writer known as “Lipstick” who wrote for The New Yorker in the 1920’s.  (Fun fact the author shared at the end!)

To gather material for her column, Monica frequents many local speakeasies and is the topic of much conversation when her articles are published as they are vague, but could lead to trouble for some of the owners.  Thus her need for anonymity.  She has her share of male friends, one in particular, Charlie, who pops up throughout the book.

Early in the book, her boss, the owner of the paper where she works, passes away suddenly and everyone is worried for their jobs, especially Monica, as he tended to look the other way when it came to her column.  But in comes the owner’s great-nephew Max Moore.  With a strong faith, he has a different direction in mind for the paper, particularly Monica’s column.  First order of business was to investigate the rising popularity of the “Anti-Flirt Club.”  Again another real fun fact thrown in.  Many chapters begin with one of their “rules” in their movement to empower women against unwanted male attention.  (See below)

Flirting was definitely a gift of Monica’s (and I’d dare to say necessity in her field), so this “mission” was quite an interesting fit for her.  But through it she meets other women, gets some good/bad (depends how you look at it) press from her column, and grows alongside Max.  Both thrust into a world of unknowns, it is a good story with a few twists and turn thrown in.   One being a bit unexpected, but really an almost coming of age, questioning who you are/want to be story.  Monica is spunky, stubborn, opinionated, and makes for a fun main character!

Great read, fun read, I think you’ll like it!

And just for fun – here are the rules of the Anti-Flirt Club:

  • Don’t flirt: those who flirt in haste oft repent in leisure.
  • Don’t accept rides from flirting motorists—they don’t invite you in to save you a walk.
  • Don’t use your eyes for ogling—they were made for worthier purposes.
  • Don’t go out with men you don’t know—they may be married, and you may be in for a hair-pulling match.
  • Don’t wink—a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other.
  • Don’t smile at flirtatious strangers—save them for people you know.
  • Don’t annex all the men you can get—by flirting with many, you may lose out on the one.
  • Don’t fall for the slick, dandified cake eater—the unpolished gold of a real man is worth more than the gloss of a lounge lizard.
  • Don’t let elderly men with an eye to a flirtation pat you on the shoulder and take a fatherly interest in you. Those are usually the kind who want to forget they are fathers.
  • Don’t ignore the man you are sure of while you flirt with another. When you return to the first one you may find him gone.
    220px-Anti-flirt

 

Description from Amazon:

Monica Bisbaine loves being a modern girl in the Roaring Twenties. Her job writing a gossip column allows her access to all the local speakeasys in Washington, D.C., where she can dance the night away—and find fodder for her next article. But when the owner of the Capitol Chatter newspaper passes away, Monica wonders what will happen to her job, and the lifestyle she loves.

Max Moore may hold the title of editor-in-chief for evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s paper, The Bridal Call, but Aimee calls all the shots. So when Max learns that his great-uncle has passed away, leaving him all his earthly possessions, Max resigns and heads to D.C. Determined to take over the Capitol Chatter, infuse it with his values, and turn it into a respectable paper, Max is soon bumping up against the equally determined Monica Bisbane.

Under Max’s direction, Monica embarks on her most challenging assignment yet: infiltrating and reporting on the Anti-Flirt Society. Though reluctant at first, as Monica meets and mingles with the young women of the club, she begins to question the innocence of her flirtatious lifestyle. And when romance begins to blossom between Max and Monica, she must choose where her loyalties lie: with the young women of the society or the alluring pull of the speakeasy and its inhabitants.

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Book Review: The Right Thing by Amy Connor

The Right Thing
By Amy Conner
Releases 5/27/14
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time: A few nights.  I guess this is fitting, as this book comes out today!  Even though I finished this book a few weeks ago.  Moving had me a bit busier than I would have hoped.  So forgive me if this is not my best or most thorough review, I have read 2 other books in between so my memory is not as fresh as it should be.

I found I read this book easily and I was eager to find out what happened next, but it just didn’t “wow” me like some others.  I did laugh out loud at parts (Queen for a Day is hilarious!), and others just made me sad (Starr’s family), both made for an interesting, keeps you guessing, read.  At times I didn’t quite think that the actions of some of the characters matched up with their personalities, but I guess people can always surprise you.  Annie, especially, has a lot of self-discovery and actions not quite characteristic of her previous, safe self (as described by the author.)

The book bounces back and forth between the early 60’s when Annie and Starr meet as 7 year olds (suddenly ripped apart with no explanations), and then when they re-unite some 30 years later in a department store.  Their social classes are about the same (one in the upper, other in the lower) but Annie’s loyalties quickly come back and she goes out of her way to help an old friend.

A wild adventure ensues from there, and the book is full of crazy characters and unexpected (and some expected) turns.  As I said, a good read, but some parts frustrated me, and others just left me confused.  I wasn’t crazy about the ending either.   But comes out TODAY, and a good read that makes you wonder what you would do!

Description from Amazon:

On a scorching August day in 1963, seven-year-old Annie Banks meets the girl who will become her best friend. Skinny, outspoken Starr Dukes and her wandering preacher father may not be accepted by polite society in Jackson, Mississippi, but Annie and Starr are too busy sharing secrets and playing elaborate games of Queen for a Day to care. Then, as suddenly as she appeared in Annie’s life, Starr disappears.

Annie grows up to follow the path ordained for pretty, well-to-do Jackson women–marrying an ambitious lawyer, filling her days with shopping and charity work. She barely recognizes Starr when they meet twenty-seven years after that first fateful summer, but the bond formed so long ago quickly reemerges. Starr, pregnant by a powerful married man who wants her to get out of town, has nowhere to turn. And Annie, determined not to fail her friend this time, agrees to drive Starr to New Orleans to get money she’s owed.

During the eventful road trip that follows, Annie will confront the gap between friendship and responsibility;between her safe, ordered existence and the dreams she’s grown accustomed to denying.

Moving, witty, and beautifully told, The Right Thing is a story of love and courage, the powerful impact of friendship, and the small acts that can anchor a life–or, with a little luck, steer it in the right direction at last.

 

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1st week in the Midwest!

Hello again from Ohio!  We could not have asked for a prettier week here to get acclimated.  It’s been busy, some fun stuff – some not so fun, but enough to warrant a new blog post for those of you wanting an update!  And I have been reading, actually have finished 3 books since my last review, so hopefully next week I can get some reviews up and get back into Teaser Tuesdays.

From where I left off (see our drive from a week ago here), our first stop, even before unpacking, car dealerships.  With 2 little ones, and not a lot of patience for car salesman, we made one stop to check out the Pathfinder at a local Nissan dealership.  We went in wanting the captain’s chair 2nd row (LIKE a minivan), and although I had read online that this was an optional feature, that was sadly the one feature we did not end up with.  That is okay though, only having 2 kids, we will only need it on special occasions, and this came fully loaded with everything else (including 4×4 which I’ve heard may come in handy during the winter months!) and so much more.  So we can check that box off!

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Next stop – Ohio BMV.  Yes I said B not D (GA friends) – Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  I’m now licensed to drive in Ohio.  Check that off!

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Next stop – find local Chick-fil-A.  Here we are at Westgate Chick-fil-A in Rocky River.  “Taste of Home” as I proclaimed on Facebook!

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Also while in Rocky River, we stopped by Rocky River Park.  Beautiful spot along Lake Erie, complete with a playground!

And another fun playground later in the week, this one complete with a Fire Boat for our LM!
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Even checked off a few places on my “Why they say Cleveland Rocks” post from a few months ago.

We joined the Lake Erie Science and Nature Center.  All their camps for the summer are full – but hoping maybe some spots open up for LL.  (And I love that lizard with his tongue out – keeping that around for when I need a quick smile!!)

The Westside Market.  Picked up some local produce and scoped it out for many future trips!

Some fun around our rental.  Rope swing in front yard, watching a bunny & chipmunks in the backyard, and pulling out some good old college dorm room decorating with posters!

And Crocker Park is a really neat area.  Great restaurants, great shopping, live music and other events, chess sets (regular and giant size), a splash pad, and a train ride!  We checked out the B Spot (by Michael Symon).  Good stuff.  Will be back to this fun area!

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I’ll say it again – great week to be up here, and more to come as it’s only a half-day into our 3-day weekend!  Daddy made it home from work each day for dinner (yay!), so settling into the new normal.  We purchased a new jogging stroller/bike trailer too, which has and will accompany us on many more adventures.  So stay tuned!  (And come visit – we miss family and friends to do all of this with!)

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Greetings from Cleveland, OH!

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All packed and ready to go!

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My Co-Pilot!

Hello!  The first half of our drive from Atlanta to Cleveland was filled with tears, but also inspiration for a funny blog post.  I had snapped a few pictures entering Tennessee and had a rolling voice note in my phone of all sorts of witty things to write about.  You’ll just have to take my word for it, but it included lost hits from the 80’s & 90’s, cows wagging tails, llama farms, monster mini-vans, and I’m sure so much more, and I think it was funny!

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Pretty shot through TN!

Once we hit Kentucky, all of those thoughts faded and the drive because so very stressful (and I’m not including the pouring rain which accompanied us through TN.)  My 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid, going around 70 miles an hour, proceeds to completely shut down and kindly tell me to “Stop Safely Now.”  So I drift over to the shoulder of I-75 and do just that, shut down.  Thankfully Steven was close by in our rented Budget truck, but he had 2 dogs with him, and I had 1 dog, and 2 kids with me.  200 miles to our 1st stop in Dayton, OH, 400 miles from Cleveland.  Panic set it.

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It was pretty though – wish we could have enjoyed it more!

I start-up again and for the next few hours I grasp the steering wheel white knuckled and hold my breath at various points and have both words of anger and pleading with my Creator.  It happens 7 more times on the way to Dayton.  We do some research, seems like a common problem, albeit annoying.  Could be a computer glitch, could be a small problem, could be major.  We decide to push forward Sunday morning and TRY to get to our final destination. (After enjoying a nice night with family!)

I do need to mention that my kids are ROCKSTARS, seriously.  They are the best passengers I could have asked for during this time.  What should have been maybe 12 hours in the car, turned into closer to 16, and they powered through.  Much better than I.

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8 more times this happens between Dayton and Cleveland.  I plead with AAA, they can tow my car, but can only call us a rental or a taxi for me and my small kids.  Yes Steven was there, but we all couldn’t fit in that truck.  And it was Sunday, no rentals available, and I’m not even going to guess what cab fare from middle OH would be.  We push through.  And we made it Sunday afternoon.

So to the point of this post, we are in our rental house at our intended destination.  I’m sure I have a few more gray hairs, my kids have heard words they shouldn’t have, and we apologize to anyone that came in contact with us yesterday.  But we are here and things can only go up from here.  We had some great family help us unload, received our first welcome basket, and are started to get unpacked.

We were hoping house searching would commence this week, but our new plan – buy a new car.  Now don’t think I’m crazy extreme, but from what Google is telling me, they haven’t pin-pointing this issues, so it COULD happen again – you just don’t know until you go 100-300 miles on the highway.  Not risking that ever again.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
Psalm 107:6

But in conclusion, we were delivered, yet again, and as always by our gracious, yet always teaching God.  Not quite sure what to take from this lesson yet, but all I can do is be thankful it is over and push forward.  I miss you all and look forward to some happier posts, but for now – greetings from Cleveland, OH!

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And just for fun (as I have a million pics from the last few weeks – here is Steven and I when we moved into our house in June 2009, and when we moved out in May 2014!)  We did have  of the pups, but look how our family has grown!  So blessed!

 

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Because I knew you – I have been changed FOR GOOD!

I’ve heard it said,
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are lead to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.

Wow, I cannot believe I have to write this.  My heart is so heavy, which may be why much of it will be staying in GA as we head up to OH.  To all of our friends, family, neighbors, to all of those who have been in our lives the last 11 years for me, 18 for Steven, 4.5 for Molly, and 2.5 for Cooper, we will miss you.  You have all taught us, comforted us, loved us, prayed for us, prayed with us, grown with us, celebrated with us, grieved with us, helped us, been with us through good and bad, ups and downs, and because of that, we are all who we are today.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you’ll have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

This song brought me goose bumps when it was just a song in a musical (albeit the best musical ever – Wicked), now I could not think of a better way to express my feelings on physically leaving all of you.  And you all know by now I like to express myself in song, so this is my chosen Swan Song (Sing Off anyone?)

In Wicked, Glinda, the good witch, sings this song with Elphaba, the “wicked” witch, when their lives take different directions and they must part ways.  They started as enemies but developed an unusual friendship which each of them came to cherish.  Their paths may never cross again, but because of knowing each other, they were changed for good.

I think I will keep it short, because this song really says it all (and I could probably ramble on for quite sometime), take a listen below.  Each one of you has left a hand-print on my heart, and in a great book metaphor from this song, has been rewritten my story by you being my friend.  This also is true of all the other chapters in our lives, God places people in our lives at very specific times for a reason, and this song speaks to that truth.  I hope it is not the case, but we may not meet again, as everyone moves on, but I am still so thankful I knew you, even if only for this chapter.

“Whatever way our stories end, I know you’ll have rewritten mine by being my friend”

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we love you, we will miss you, and we have been changed for the better because you were in our lives.  Keep in touch, come visit, and we will be back.

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good”


*Not the full song from Wicked (find that here) but the best video I could find to embed.  Or here are the lyrics.

And a post from me would not be complete without a few bible verses.  Here are a few on friendship and the companionship of others that I’ve been meditating on this week:

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future.
Proverbs 19:20 

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

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Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Amen – thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for much more from OH, love you all!

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Book Review: Moving Day by Jonathan Stone (Guest Review!)


Moving Day (click book or see below for description!)
By Jonathan Stone
Releases 6/1/14
Kindle 1st Preview for May

Rating: 4 bones

Guest Review from my husband!  (Hopefully the start of something new!)

Finish time: 5 nights.

So often, we change scenery as an indicator that the next chapter of our lives should be beginning, almost to force the transition. This is the central idea of “Moving Day”, a story about a couple in their 70s whose cross country move to Santa Barbara to enjoy their golden years goes horribly awry, with violent consequences. Stanley Peke and his wife Rose have had a model marriage and raised their children well, although there is a distance between Stanley and his family that seems like it may never be resolved. But as their moving crew, led by Nick, enter their home, Stanley has no idea the transitions that he is about to endure.

I really enjoyed this book, which takes a multilayered look at the “stuff” we carry with us from place to place, and the lengths to which some of us must go to get rid of it. While Stanley’s backstory is far deeper and darker than my own, I found myself identifying with many of his reactions to the events taking place. “Moving Day” manages to be both thought-provoking and action-packed, a great combo. The action and suspense, along with a cross-country flight, allowed me to surpass my usual snail’s pace and finish the book in just five nights (if you are a regular reader of this blog and find yourself dismayed that you can’t finish books as quickly as my wife, don’t worry, I can’t either). I highly recommend “Moving Day”. Although I must admit, the central action of the book has me a bit nervous heading into our own moving week!
Description from Amazon:

Forty years’ accumulation of art, antiques, and family photographs are more than just objects for Stanley Peke—they are proof of a life fully lived. A life he could have easily lost long ago.

When a con man steals his houseful of possessions in a sophisticated moving-day scam, Peke wanders helplessly through his empty New England home, inevitably reminded of another helpless time: decades in Peke’s past, a cold and threadbare Stanislaw Shmuel Pecoskowitz eked out a desperate existence in the war-torn Polish countryside, subsisting on scraps and dodging Nazi soldiers. Now, the seventy-two-year-old Peke—who survived, came to America, and succeeded—must summon his original grit and determination to track down the thieves, retrieve his things, and restore the life he made for himself.

Peke and his wife, Rose, trace the path of the thieves’ truck across America, to the wilds of Montana, and to an ultimate, chilling confrontation with not only the thieves but also with Peke’s brutal, unresolved past.

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Book Review: Murder on the Home Front by Molly Lefebure

Murder on the Home Front (click book for more information)
By Molly Lefebure
Released 4/1/14
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish time: too long.  I know I’ve been saying that too much.  This week for good reason, our house is under contract and we finally get to make some moving plans.  But unfortunately this book, as strong as it started, just didn’t hold me through to the end.

A little background is that this is a re-print of the original book published in 1955 titled Evidence for the Crown.  The book is a collection of true stories (of morgues, murderers, and mysteries) from the author, Molly Lefebure, aka Miss Molly (I’ll admit one of the reasons I was drawn to the book) aka Molly of the morgue aka Miss L.  Miss Molly served as secretary to forensic pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson for five years during the London Blitz.  Not your typical secretarial job, Molly was Dr. Simpson’s right hand gal for all of his p.m.’s (post-mortems) which included being up close and personal with the dead, day in day out.  A job most were intrigued with, but most wouldn’t be able to handle, let alone a woman in that time period.  But personally fascinated with the subject, Molly excelled at her job and even kept a detailed journal, from which this book is derived.

It started out strong, but then I felt like it was just more of the same.  Almost like watching 30 Law & Order episodes back-to-back-to-back.  Nothing to break up the constant death and devastation.  Not that this was a shock, but I personally would have liked more personal details thrown in, for instance from Molly’s home life.  At the end we find out some, but details throughout would have been a nice break.  While her voice is very clear and distinct throughout the book, we don’t know really know anything about the woman behind it.

It took the reader through wartime London from an insider’s view, probably not one that is looked at often, which was enjoyable, to the extent that I am glad to not have been a part of it.  Definitely well written with such vivid details, but more a collection of stories, versus a story that I was drawn into and couldn’t wait to pick up each night.  But one I learned from and glad I read.

It looks like Miss Molly just passed away last April, so I’m guessing maybe this “new release” was a tribute to her death.  Here are a few interesting articles if you care to learn more about her and her book:

Death Became Her: Molly Lefebure’s Wartime Years of Murder and Suicide
Molly’s Biography

Description from Amazon:

It is 1941. While the “war of chaos” rages in the skies above London, an unending fight against violence, murder and the criminal underworld continues on the streets below.

One ordinary day, in an ordinary courtroom, forensic pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson asks a keen young journalist to be his secretary. Although the “horrors of secretarial work” don’t appeal to Molly Lefebure, she’s intrigued to know exactly what goes on behind a mortuary door.

Capable and curious, “Miss Molly” quickly becomes indispensible to Dr. Simpson as he meticulously pursues the truth. Accompanying him from somber morgues to London’s most gruesome crime scenes, Molly observes and assists as he uncovers the dark secrets that all murder victims keep.

With a sharp sense of humor and a rebellious spirit, Molly tells her own remarkable true story here with warmth and wit, painting a vivid portrait of wartime London.

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