Monthly Archives: April 2012

Alpine Winter

The Alpine Winter by Mary Daheim (Ballentine Books, 2011)

Coming on the heels of The Alpine Vengeance (early 2011) this book may have been written too hastily. I read all the previous 21 Alpine mysteries in alphabetical order as they came out, and I found this one confusing; readers who are new to the series will have no chance. There was no explanation of why Emma’s priest brother thought she committing a sin (Emma and Milo are both single), and only oblique references to a big murder/suicide involving Milo’s ex-wife that should have been a major plot element. I also thought Emma’s sudden infatuation with longtime boyfriend Milo was very out of character – gradually working up to an engagement would have been much more plausible. It’s easy to be a back-seat driver, but I was disappointed.


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Filed under Mystery, Romance

The Garden Intrigue

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig (Penguin Group USA, 2012).

Apparently writing historical romance in parallel with modern romance is the latest trend in novels. It works well, actually. You have two stories running in parallel, and when the one gets too emotionally intense, you write a cliff hanger and switch to the other one. The Garden Intrigue, which is less serious in tone than The Winter Sea, is set in France in the early 1800s and England in the early 2000s. The historical plot deals with British spies, male and female, in Napoleon’s court. It probably isn’t going to win any literary prizes, but it is an absorbing read, witty and entertaining.

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Filed under Historical fiction, Romance


Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain (Random House Audio, 2011). I learned so much from this book that I am planning to go out and buy a hardcover copy of it for myself after I return the 9-CD set to the library. Susan Cain started out as a Wall Street lawyer so her research into the psychology of introversion comes from an outsider’s perspective, at least as far as academic credentials go. However it is clear that she is herself an introvert with a strong sense of self-esteem. I didn’t realize that the U.S. had become such an extroverted culture that introverted children are taken to therapists to be fixed, instead of being accepted for who they are.  She discusses how American business and education (and even evangelical churches) push the “extrovert ideal” and how children from Asian cultures, as well as shy and quiet American children, feel very alienated as a result. Cain offers excellent and quite specific advice for appreciating and making the most of the talents of the introverts in your life, whether they include yourself, your spouse, your children, or your friends or coworkers.

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Filed under Social Science