Archive for August, 2020

The Guest List

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

By Lucy Foley

The Short Take:

Foley took a clever approach to an Agatha Christie type murder, told from five points of view. The identify of both the victim and the murderer remained uncertain until close to the end. That was different.


I get cranky about books that jump around in time and Foley did exactly that. But it worked for her narrative. Her book started with what might be a murder at a wedding and then jumped back to early the day before. It kept up that back-and-forth, ever so slowly progressing to the discovery of a corpse while also advancing through the previous 30 or so hours.

Foley did this to keep the identity of the victim secret for as long as possible, while offering readers possible motivations from her five narrators: the bride, the plus one, the wedding planner, the bridesmaid, and the best man. This added a certain element of fun, as well as tension, to her story.

It’s not the best mystery ever but it was a nice diversion. However you had to overlooks some flaws. I was totally distracted by torches that turned into flashlights and then became torches again (not confusing word choices as the torches flickered/blew out, but not the flashlights). Also the island setting featured sudden cliffs, a rip tide, and quicksand-like bogs. Yet the wedding planner–repeatedly described as professional–had done nothing to keep drunk wedding guests from wandering into these death traps.

The characters weren’t very likable, but since one of them would be murdered and another one would do the killing, that makes sense. It was a fun read that kept me turning pages but not something I would return to.

A Little Plot:

Rich and beautiful Jules is set to marry a handsome TV star on a remote Irish island. All guests will be brought over by boat, with the wedding party coming a day early and staying overnight in a beautifully restored Folly that resembles a small castle. Storms aplenty brew–both between the the guests and in the weather.

Lucy Foley doesn’t appear to have a website but she does have a Facebook page if you care to check it out.

Crooked Hallelujah

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

By Kelli Jo Ford

The Short Take:

Ford’s highly readable book explores the relationships of four generations of Cherokee and mixed race women. Their lives are not shaped by their heritage but by struggles with poverty, unfortunate choices in men, and the demands of a suppressive “Holy Roller” religion.


The complex relationships between mothers and daughter provide ample fodder for novels. What sets this book apart is the fierce love that exists, though that love is not always expressed in loving ways.

The book feels more like a series of short stories, with its multiple points of view and occasional overlapping narratives. However, it presents a cohesive story of women who can’t afford to make bad choices yet do so anyway. The main two characters are in constant motion between Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation and northern Texas yet they can’t seem to break out of the exhausting cycle of their lives. Or fully abandon that conservative faith.

By and large the men are missing, useless, or domineering. The dominance emanates from the pastor of a highly conservative church that sees everything except prayer as a doorway to sin and hell. The community of that church stands united against everyday matters such as revealing legs to play basketball or wanting to visit Six Flags.

The main characters each have the strength to resist what others want of them but that strength repeatedly pulls them apart then slams them together.

It’s written simply yet with rich details, and without judgement on the part of the author. You find your own way into the heart and soul of these women, particularly Justine and her daughter Reney. Ford gives you a lot to think about but never preaches or pushes you in any direction. That’s something to appreciate.

For more about the author click here.

A Little Plot:

Teenage Justine is frustrated with the many restrictions placed on her by the faith of her mother and grandmother. She has small rebellions, like hiding a Rolling Stone magazine under her mattress. Then she sneaks out one night to see a boy.


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August 2020