The Seven Husbands…

79-year-old former Hollywood actor Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell her story. She handpicks an inexperienced magazine journalist, Monique Grant, to write her biography. Monique is confused but delighted to be hired to write the legendary film actor’s life story. One requirement Evelyn insists upon is that the book must be published after her death. Evelyn also promises that all proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Monique.

Evelyn has much to share. She was born to Cuban immigrants in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. She knew she needed more than that life. So, in the 1950’s Evelyn changed her appearance, got married, and headed to Hollywood. The book follows her life for the next 30+ years. Beautiful Evelyn became an adored Oscar winning movie icon who just happened to get married seven times.

This is an incredible story of old Hollywood glamour. Finally at the end of the book, Monique discovers why she was chosen to write Evelyn’s story.


Want to Watch Something?

I’m the first to admit when I’m in a reading slump. Like right now. Good thing there are so many leaves in my yard to rake. And, good thing that I have been keeping myself busy by binging a couple of awesome TV series that are based on books.

Based on musician sisters Tegan and Sara Quin’s best-selling memoir of the same name, High School tells the coming-of-age story of identical twins who are struggling to find themselves amidst the backdrop of ‘90s grunge culture. This honest, sometimes raw and moving show is about queer adolescence and explores themes of family, love and friendship. It has a killer soundtrack that sparks all the nostalgic feels. Fans of My So-Called Life, the band Tegan and Sara, or anyone looking for a story about discovering one’s self should check out High School, which is free to stream on Freevee. Oh, and if you want to read the memoir or listen to Tegan and Sara’s music, we’ve got those at the library for you to check out, too.

In other TV news, Masterpiece Mystery! has adapted Anthony Horowitz’s 2017 mystery novel Magpie Murders into a satisfying series that will soon be available on DVD from the library. The plot revolves around Susan Ryeland, a British book editor who is has been handed best-selling author Alan Conway’s latest novel. The day Susan finishes reading the manuscript and realizes that it is missing its last chapter – the part where readers learn “whodunit,” is the same day she learns that Conway has been found dead. When Susan goes in search of the book’s final pages, she unknowingly involves herself in a murder investigation. Both the book and TV show feature a story within the story and the action moves seamlessly between the historical novel and present day, despite multiple characters playing dual roles. If you enjoy British mysteries (à la Agatha Christie), a clever twisty plot, engaging characters and a satisfying conclusion, I recommend reading the book first. Then, tune into PBS Sunday evenings or place a hold on the DVD to catch Magpie Murders on the small screen. And, as a second season is in the works, prepare to become obsessed.


Historical Fiction

In September 1938 a hurricane ripped through the East Coast. This is the story of two young giraffes that crossed the Atlantic in shipping crates and survived the storm. Their eventual destination would be the San Diego Zoo where Belle Benchley was the zoo’s director. The trip to California would be a twelve-day road trip and the person telling their story is the rig’s driver, Woodrow (Woody) Wilson Nickle. (Woody was a dustbowl orphan from the Texas panhandle.) Now at 105 years old Woody, who is living in a VA nursing home, is writing down the adventures before it is too late.

The trip cross country made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America. The trip was dangerous at times. The roads and the weather were often rough. A couple of times different people tried to steal the giraffes. The “Old Man” who oversaw the giraffes and was employed by the Zoo named them “Boy” and “Girl”.

This is a witty, charming, heartwarming, not to-be-forgotten tale


This Book is Your Perfect Match

Sara Glickman made waves in her New York Lower East Side neighborhood as a female matchmaker in a Jewish community where devout men traditionally played that role. Sara discovered her talent as a young girl in 1910, and despite having to keep it secret, she used her gift to bring couples together for decades.

When Sara dies, her granddaughter Abby, a high-powered Manhattan divorce attorney, inherits Sara’s collection of handwritten journals. At the same time, Abby begins to have notions that a couple she is helping to divorce shouldn’t untie the knot. Despite her jaded outlook on love, Abby realizes that she has inherited her grandmother’s gift. With her eyes newly opened, Abby begins to think that love at first sight might truly exists. But, is she willing to sacrifice her career in order to fulfill her destiny?

The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman is a charming novel that is filled with fascinating details about Jewish history and culture. Part historical fiction, part contemporary fiction and with a sprinkling of magic realism, this funny and poignant read is about people finding each other. This book is sure to delight.


New Historical Fiction

This is the story of three Korean “picture brides” during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Many young women left everything they had known in Korea to become brides in Hawaii. The only contact these women had with their future husbands was in the form of photographs. The pictures may or may not have been that of their future husbands. Many brides were disappointed when they finally met their husbands.

Arriving in 1918, Willow’s husband is Taewan. He did not want to get married. The woman he loved died. Willow’s friend Hongju, a young widow, was disappointed after meeting her new husband. Songwha, the daughter of an outcast in Korea, is stuck with an abusive old husband.

Willow agreed to become a picture bride because she believed she would attend school in Hawaii. That did not happen. Instead, she needed to take care of her father-in-law and support her family. Willow’s husband joined the movement to gain Korea’s independence from Japan. He even traveled to China to fight the Japanese.

Lee Geum-yi is a popular prolific Korean author. This is the first of her books that have translated into English. It is a story for fans of historical fiction revealing what it was like to become a “picture bride”.


What we’re reading now…..

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng 

 In the dystopian world of Celeste Ng’s latest novel, books are banned, children are re-homed, and Asian Americans are outcasts. Amidst it all, twelve-year old Bird is left with a handful of memories of his mother. Her presence and poetry have faded from his life, but a familiar image sparks his curiosity and forces him to revisit her disappearance. Melinda

The Making of Her by Bernadette Jiwa

Raised in a Dublin housing estate by an alcoholic father toward the end of the 1940s, Joan and her sister had to grow up fast. Working in a factory by age fourteen it made sense she would find the love of her life at eighteen. Martin Egan, son of a successful business owner, promised Joan the world until she became pregnant and he persuaded her to place the baby up for adoption. Thirty years later when their secret child makes contact, how will they each respond? Family relationships are seen from the women’s perspective and as we get to know the characters better, we understand how difficult and limited their choices truly were, making Joan, in particular, even more endearing. If you enjoy spending time with interesting characters, this is the book for you! Stacey

Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid

A sheltered wizard’s daughter falls in love with a ballet dancer while a monster stalks the streets and the bodies of brutalized men appear all over the city. A reimagining of the classic fairy tale “The Juniper Tree.” Shannon

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher 

Marra is a princess on a quest to save her sister with the help of a reluctant grave-witch and a dog she creates out of bone and wire. Along the way, their party grows, with the addition of Marra’s fairy godmother, whose blessings turn out to be curses and a loveable disgraced knight, whose heart is in desperate need of rescuing. Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher is an adult, revenge-filled fairy-tale that is equal parts action-packed, humorous, and original – a perfect feminist fantasy novel.  Carol

The Divorce Colony:  How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White

In the 19th century, Sioux Falls, SD, became a haven for women seeking a divorce. Among the laxest laws in the country, women came from all the States and Europe to gain their freedom during a time that women had few rights. The book explores not only the  social drama but political and religious drama, while telling detailed and entertaining stories of the women who took hold of their futures. Christine

Murder in the Park by Jeanne M. Dams

This story takes place in 1925 in Oak Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago. Elizabeth Fairchild is a close friend of Mr. Anthony, owner of a quaint antique store. Mr. Anthony is found stabbed to death and the local police think they have the killer. Elizabeth and a few others, including Mrs. Hemingway are certain the police have arrested the wrong man. At this point in the story the search is on for the real killer. Please stay tuned… Emma

The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo

In post-WWII Japan, Detective Kindaichi is called and warned that the reading of a local magnate’s will is certain to set off a series of murders. Though skeptical of the prognostication, Detective Kindaichi travels to the small town and awaits the reading. However, immediately upon his arrival, he is witness to a life-threatening accident that portends the danger to the magnate’s family yet to come. The detective must first uncover the family secrets to unravel the mystery. Trent

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

The final installment in the Beartown trilogy, about the resilient and closely knit community that puts hockey above all else. Taking place over two weeks, Beartown residents must prove their love for each other and for their town, struggling to move on from the past in the wake of numerous changes. Told in Backman’s signature reflective style, it’s hard to put this one down. Linnea

Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor

When a 12-year-old girl goes missing in a rural Australian town during the worst heat wave in decades, tempers flare and townspeople with skeletons in their closets, and long histories together, begin to fall apart, and also to come together to search for the young girl. Kept me guessing for quite awhile. Sara

A Must Read

This biography was published in 2001 and written by Terry, one of Evelyn Ryan’s daughters. Evelyn and husband Kelly had ten children, six sons and four daughters. Her abusive husband was an alcoholic who often drank away a third of his weekly take-home pay. To supplement the family’s income often providing basic necessities, Evelyn entered contests during the “contest era” of the 1950’s and 1960’s. She was at times successful with her jingles even winning enough for a down payment on a house at one point. Over the years she won a Triumph TR3 sports car, a jukebox, a trip to New York, an appearance on the Merv Griffin show, a Ford Mustang, a trip to Switzerland, and her weight in gold. Mostly she won lesser amounts of cash just when it was most needed.

Evelyn found fun in whatever life sent her way. Her family was her focus. She was a firm believer that miracles were an everyday occurrence. In short, this is an uplifting tale filled with hope that Evelyn was able to pass on to her children.


New Fall Mystery

The story takes place in 1925 in Oak Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago. Young, attractive, wealthy Elizabeth Fairchild has been living with her parents Mildred and Kenneth Walker since the death of her soldier husband in WWI and unborn child seven years ago. Elizabeth’s friend, Mr. Anthony (Enrico Antonelli) is the owner of a quaint antiques shop she likes to shop at. Sadly Mr. Anthony is found stabbed to death and the local police quickly arrest a local music teacher as the killer.

Elizabeth announces publicly that she is determined to find the real killer with the help of a few friends including: Mrs. Grace Hemingway, lawyer-friend Fred Wilkins, Fred’s Aunt Lucy, her father, and a sympathetic police officer. With the public announcement Elizabeth and others are in danger from gangsters and the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, an auxiliary group that supported the Ku Klux Klan.

The first installment of the Oak Park Village mystery series is a slow-paced, old fashioned mystery with a little romance. I look forward to the next installment.


New mystery


The Desert Flowers Detective Agency is at it again. This time Tanya Cook, pretending to be a home health care aide, is fleecing her clients. Detective Poppy Harmon poses as a weakened elderly widow needing assistance and hires Tanya as her aide. It is a trap. Tanya and her two partners are arrested. Someone does not want Poppy to testify in court and attempts to kill her. Sadly, her neighbor is killed when the woman borrows Poppy’s car, and it goes over a cliff. Poppy’s new air conditioner unit explodes after a phony technician supposedly repairs it. Most people assume Poppy died in that explosion

Poppy masquerades as Matt Flowers’ advisor, his elderly Aunt Bea, when he appears on a reality show titled “My Dream Man”. Matt and Poppy fear that Jesse, the bachelorette on the show, is the stalker’s next target.

These quick cozy mysteries are fun to read.

Desert Flowers Mystery series

Poppy Harmon Investigates – 2018

Poppy Harmon and the Hung Jury – 2019

Poppy Harmon and the Pillow Talk Killer – 2021

Poppy Harmon and the Backstabbing Bachelor – 2022



New Fiction

In November 2016 three momentous things happened. Donald Trump was elected president; the Chicago Cubs won the World Series; and Bud Sullivan died. Bud and Rose Sullivan were owners of JP Sullivan’s, a restaurant and bar in Oak Park, Illinois for decades. Three generations lived and breathed the restaurant. After Bud dies, the extended family is particularly concerned for Rose as she enters assisted living. Without Bud, the restaurant is floundering. Teddy would love to take control, but no one seems to listen to him. After Rose’s death it is suggested that the grandchildren invest their inheritance to update Sullivan’s. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be interest in that. Gretchen, Jane, and Teddy have other plans for their money and not everyone agrees.

I was curious about the title of the book and was unfamiliar with the phrase. A bittersweet story full of family drama.

marrying the ketchup