Warm up with a good book

Her Quiet Revolution: A Novel of Martha Hughes Cannon,

Frontier Doctor and First Female State Senator

by Marianne Monson

This novel is based on the life of Martha (Mattie) Hughes Cannon. Martha was born in Wales in 1857. The young family emigrated to New York when she was just 2 years old. They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon church), and after saving enough money the family headed west to Utah. Their goal was to settle in Salt Lake City. During the journey Mattie’s little sister, Mary Elizabeth, died. Her father died just days after arriving in Utah. It was during that time period that Mattie decided to pursue a career in medicine. Doctors were scarce, and women doctors were nonexistent.

For most women, their lifetime goals included marriage and lots of children. Polygamy was openly practiced. This was not the life Mattie wanted. She got her undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah). With some financial help from the Mormon church, she attended medical school at the University of Michigan. Her education continued at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a degree in pharmacy. She attended the National School of Oratory and learned how to speak eloquently in public. 

In addition to all her professional accomplishments, when Mattie moved back to Utah, she wanted to become a wife and mother. She soon became the fourth wife of Angus M. Cannon, a leader in the Mormon church. By this time the U.S. government was actively prosecuting polygamists, especially men. To help safeguard her husband, she left the country with her daughter.

In addition to being a physician, Mattie’s amazing life also included being a Utah State Senator (the first woman to serve in any state senate anywhere in the United States), a prominent women’s rights advocate and suffragist. In 2018, the Utah state legislature voted to honor Martha Hughes Cannon by sending a statue of her to Washington D.C. to represent Utah in Statuary Hall. The statue will be placed in Statuary Hall in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which allowed women the right to vote in the United States. (It was intended to be installed in 2020, the 19th amendment’s official centennial, but that has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.)

This book is a treat for fans of historical fiction and women’s history in the late 1800’s.


Cozy up with a new mystery

Murder in an English Glade

by Jessica Ellicott

Set in England in the 1920’s, Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport are owners of the “Helliwell and Davenport Private Enquiry Agency”. The women are asked by neighbor Constance Maitland to determine if Ursula, her sister-in-law who is recently married to her brother Hubert, is having an affair with world- renowned artist Louis Langdon Beck. Constance is certain they are not but wants to satisfy her live-in cousin Cressida that it’s being investigated. Ursula and her husband are hosting an artists’ colony at Maitland Park, and Louis is in attendance. (I wasn’t aware that an artists’ colony offers respite from everyday distractions, a quiet place to work, and a sense of creative community for artists in different fields.) Sadly, Louis is found strangled and Constance wants Beryl and Edwina to help in solving the murder along with the local constable who is also a woman.

There are lots of twists and turns in this mystery along with a second murder. Beryl and Edwina are fun characters with differing personalities that shine through. I heartily recommend the entire series.

Beryl and Edwina Mystery series

Murder in an English Village (2017)

Murder Flies the Coop (2018)

Murder Cuts the Mustard (2019)

Murder Comes to Call (2020)

Murder in an English Glade (2021)

Murder Through the English Post (2022)


A Picture Book – a break from my tradition

Norman Didn’t Do It! (Yes he did)
by Ryan T. Higgins

Norman, a gabby porcupine, has a best friend named Mildred, a silent tree. The pair do everything together, even if it is one-sided. Life is great until a sapling appears close to Mildred. Norman becomes very jealous, especially when the trees touch. He needs to do something. He doesn’t want to lose his best friend Mildred. So Norman sneakily transplants the sapling far far away. Mildred misses the sapling and Norman begins to feel guilty. What should he do?

I love everything about this picture book: the plot; the characters’ names; the illustrations. I also love the message about friendship shared with small children.


Warm up with a Good Book in the New Year

Scandal in Babylon Barbara Hambly

This is the first entry in the “Silver Screen Historical Novels’ series by Barbara Hambly. It’s 1924 when Emma Blackstone joins her sister-in-law Kitty Flint, a Hollywood actress whose stage name is Camille de la Rose, on the set as Kitty’s girl Friday. (Emma’s American husband is killed in WWI and her extended family died from the Spanish flu.) Kitty’s first husband, Rex Festraw, is found shot to death in her dressing room, and someone is trying to frame Kitty for the murder. Emma and her significant other, cameraman Zal Rokatansky, are very clever in figuring out who the murderer really is.

For fans of historical fiction and Hollywood in the 1920’s, this is a quick fun read by the prolific author Barbara Hambly.



My Top Ten+1 in ’21

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear

Dear Miss Kopp by Amy Stewart

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

The Operator by Gretchen Berg

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Three Sisters by Heather Morris

The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff


A break from my tradition

This week’s book recommendation is a little different from what I usually suggest, but I was so tickled by this particular book I needed to share it with you. Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion is a delightful picture book with “explosions” by Stephen W. Martin and “cuteness” by Dan Tavis. The book is about Fluffy—an adorable kitten. So adorable, in fact, that anyone who sees her will spontaneously explode into balls of sparkles and fireworks. KABOOM! Find out if there’s any hope for Fluffy in this story about self-acceptance and finding friendship in unlikely places.

~Emma (KABOOM!)

Warm Up with a Good Book

Miss Iris Sparks (a former British Intelligence Officer) and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge (a young upper class widow), co-owners of the “Right Sort Marriage Bureau”, are contacted by Lady Patience Matheson a cousin of Gwen’s who works in the palace. A letter meant for Princess Elizabeth was intercepted. Someone claims to have damaging information. Supposedly this blackmailer has correspondence written between Alice, Phillip’s mother, and a lover. Lady Matheson wants Iris and Gwen to authenticate the assertions and find out who sent the letter. The information needs to be proven true or false before the Princess and Philip become engaged. The investigation must remain hush-hush.

The second entry in the Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series is a delight and a sure winner for fans of British mystery series and the royal family.

Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series

The Right Sort of Man – 2019

A Royal Affair – 2020

Rogue’s Company – 2021

Unkept Woman – 2022


Fall into a Good Book

The Bookseller’s Secret: A Novel of Nancy Mitford and WWII

by Michelle Gable

This is the story of two bestselling authors, modern-day fictional novelist Katharine Cabot and legendary author Nancy Mitford (1904-1973). Nancy, the eldest of the famous Mitford sisters, worked at the Heywood Hill Bookshop in London during the second half of WWII. Katherine, who is staying with a friend in London, ends up working at the same bookstore. In walks Simon Bailey. He is hunting for an unpublished manuscript and is convinced it is in the Mitford files housed at the bookstore. Felix, owner of Heywood Hill, carefully guards those files not granting access according to the Mitford family’s wishes. There is some link between Simon’s grandmother Lea and Nancy. Simon wants to prove the connection and Katherine is pulled into the mystery. Of course, a close relationship develops between Katherine and Simon.

For fans of historical fiction, bookstores and those committed to finding answers.


Fall into a Good Book

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede was originally published in January 2002. The book chronicles how the citizens of Gander and neighboring towns sheltered, fed and supported 6,579 airline passengers and crew whose U.S. bound planes were forced to land. This was as a result of the September 11th attacks. At 9:26 a.m. Tuesday, September 11th the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shut down its airspace, forcing over 4,000 planes to land at the nearest airport. Inbound flights from Europe were diverted to Canada. 38 planes landed at Gander International Airport. The airport in Gander marks the closest point between Europe and the U.S. and is a preferred emergency landing spot.

The population of Gander is fewer than 10,000 people but they took up the challenge of helping people in need. Many citizens took passengers home with them. Others brought basic supplies (blankets, towels, toiletries, etc). The passengers could not get to their luggage. Schools, churches, Salvation Army centers, and community centers were opened to serve as shelters. Bus drivers, who were on strike, came back to work to transport people to shelters. Stores stayed open 24 hours a day and often donated necessities. The good deeds went on and on.

The Broadway musical “Come From Away” is based on this book.


Fall into a Good Book

God Rest Ye Royal Gentlemen

It’s 1935 when newlyweds Georgie and Darcy O’Mara plan a small gathering of friends and family over the Christmas holidays at their new home. Their plans change when an unexpected invitation arrives from Darcy’s eccentric Aunt Ermintrude. Ermintrude had been a lady-in-waiting for Queen Mary and is living at Wymondham Hall which is on the edge of the royal Sandringham estate. The invitation implies that the Queen would like to visit with Georgie. The O’Mara’s feel they must accept Ermintrude’s invitation. Georgie’s mother, brother Binky and his wife Fig are also invited along with their two children. The Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson are in attendance. The Prince is duty-bound to his family’s holiday traditions especially since the King’s health is failing and this may be his last Christmas. Wallis is unhappy that she is left behind at Wymondham Hall while the Prince is at Sandringham.

Awful accidents happen at Sandringham, and the Queen wants Georgie (along with security and the police) to figure out what is going on. She feels that the estate is cursed. The Prince is shot at. An equerry (an officer of the household of a prince or noble who had charge over the stables) died last Christmas and another died this Christmas. Wallis Simpson is left unconscious when a collapsible staircase falls and hits her on the head at Wymondham Hall.

I won’t give away any more of the plot and invite you read the novel. I thoroughly enjoy the Royal Spyness series and recommend that the books be read in order. The stories and characters build on each other.

  1. Her Royal Spyness – 2007
  2. A Royal Pain – 2008
  3. Royal Flush – 2009
  4. Royal Blood – 2010
  5. Naughty in Nice – 2011
  6. The Twelve Clues of Christmas – 2012
  7. Heirs and Graces – 2013
  8. Queen of Hearts – 2014
  9. Malice at the Palace – 2015
  10. Crowned and Dangerous – 2016
  11. On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service – 2017
  12. Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding – 2018
  13. Love and Death Among the Cheetahs – 2019
  14. The Last Mrs. Summers – 2020
  15. God Rest Ye Royal Gentlemen – 2021