The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen

This was quick read and fun delve back into this universe. Much less racism this time. However, there’s a foreword at the beginning of this one about the awfulness of sexual assault of servants by the lords of the manor that was interesting. I mean, obviously, that’s wrong and we know it’s wrong (and it was known to be wrong then too!), but the fact that the author felt the need to include this foreword when one hadn’t been provided in previous books that contained situations and actions that are known to be abhorrent today (the aforementioned racism, Nazism, etc.). I’m more curious what made that foreword be added as we don’t get any explicit mentions of this abuse and it’s only told in flashback.

Anyway, Georgie’s at loose ends when Darcy goes away and after finding no one in London to hang out with, she comes home to find her friend Belinda has returned from Paris. Belinda has inherited some property in Cornwall and they decide to go see it. It’s less than they expect and end up staying with an old childhood friend of Belinda’s. I thought we might get through this book without death, but about halfway through someone turns up dead and Belinda is the suspect. I really thought Georgie’s guess was going to be correct, even if some of the facts didn’t fit as that was my immediate thought as well. The ending is a bit dramatic and hyperbolic, but things are looking up for Belinda, so that’s good.

I’m happy to have this universe back and I look forward to dipping in once a year as long as Ms. Bowen keeps writing books.

No Offense by Meg Cabot

I liked the first book in this series, so I was excited when my turn finally came for the next book. I haven’t seen any news about any further books in the series, which doesn’t seem fair of me to ask since this book just came out last month, but still. Luckly, Meg Cabot is a prolific writer and her series’ usually have at least three books in them (and I’m not counting the novella that kicked this off!), so fingers crossed! Though I wouldn’t blame her if it’s been slow-going as the pandemic’s been hard on all of us.

The heroine from the first book makes a couple of appearances in this one, but January feels like SO long ago that I totally didn’t realize it was her at first. I remembered dogs and a hurricane and that was it! Anyway, this book features Molly, a children’s librarian who’s new in town, and John Hartwell, the new sheriff who’s newly divorced and back to town. And a baby found in the bathroom of the library where Molly works. Both Molly and John are pretty insufferable at the beginning and I was starting to wonder why you’d root for either of them. I’m still not entirely sure, but Meg Cabot is very good at what she does, so I enjoyed the read nonetheless. The last chapter skips too far ahead for me, but at the same time, it does the job. Really wish there was more island character or flavor in this one because this book felt like any small-town Hallmark plot. I’m not saying every book needs to have a hurricane, but it was very easy to forget that it was set in the Florida Keys.

Nonetheless, I shall grab the next book in series when/if it comes out next year!

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

There will be spoilers here because it’s too good not to talk about, so click off if you haven’t read the book/series, but think you may in the future.

I took the summer off from this series after the last book, not intentionally, but it was good to have a rest. Especially considering one of the major plot lines of this book is the unfair trial and scheduled execution of a black man in racist Virginia, complete with members of the KKK working for the governor. Everything turns out okay there (or as okay as it’s going to be for a black man who murdered a white man in 1941 in Virginia), but given the summer we’ve had in America, it’s a little disheartening to read historical fiction set nearly 80 years prior without much change.

Maggie Hope is joined by her friend David and her sometimes boyfriend/fiancé, John, who continues to be a dick about everything. Luckily, circumstances conspire to keep them apart for most of the book (since neither one seems to really like the other and I can’t stand him!) and in the end (spoiler), he stays in Los Angeles to work with Walt Disney on some propaganda films about gremlins he saw on his plane while flying missions (not kidding). Maggie heads back to Britain and they break up, which is best for everyone. Unfortunately, she seems rather upset about this, so I’m nervous that they’ll get back together someday, but if so, hopefully, they’ll show us why she likes him or at least have him be nice to her because I just don’t get it. I’m still holding out hope for her spy partner from a couple of books ago, but I’m not holding my breath.

There’s also some nonsense about Maggie’s mother and father that’s best left behind, but of course, Clara Hope has escaped her prison (again), so she’s out on the loose and I’m sure this will come up in the next book, since Maggie’s half-sister Elise is on her way to London as well. I’d much prefer to leave the Hope family drama with the romance with John, but that does not seem to be the case.

I’m halfway through the series now (book #9 was published this year) and I’m still enjoying where it’s going. It’s a nice little universe to return to every few months.

1980 Project – September Update – I’M DONE!

Previous updates: December / January | February | March | April | June | July | August

I am finally going back and updating my progress on this challenge, but I’m happy to report that I have surpassed my goal with two months to go! One of the unexpected “benefits,” if you will, of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the great number of charities to which to donate. My donations have been a bit scattered as I was partially furloughed this summer and down to about half my income, but in previous months, I had definitely outpaced the $165 monthly goal, so it all worked out.

I don’t plan to curtail my charitable donations as the pandemic and wildfire season rages on, saying nothing of hurricanes, tornados, and all the other “normal” things to which one donates to charity. I had thought this would be a more difficult challenge and perhaps if I had been traveling and going out like a normal year, I would have had less income to dedicate to these efforts. But here we are.

September – $100

  • Latino Community Foundation
    I don’t know if you’ve heard, but California is on fire. (And so is Oregon and so is Washington. We are on day 3 of very unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area, and that is the least of our problems.) This Wildfire Relief Fund supports several organizations that help Latinos and immigrants who have had to evacuate, lost employment, lost their homes, and/or all of the above due to the wildfires raging around the Bay Area.

So, in summary, in the past ten months, I have donated:
195.66 + 138.27 + 41.56 + 504.35 + 457.50 + 439.82 + 62.18 + 100.18 + 100 = $2,039.52

1980 Project – August Update

Previous updates: December / January | February | March | April | June | July

This month, my furlough was reduced, and I was recalled back to full-time work, so I was able to be more generous than previously this summer. And I’m VERY close to achieving my goal, two months early!

August – $100.18

  • California Academy of Sciences
    I have been a proud member of the Academy for many years and having to have their doors closed for so long has really hurt them. Once I found out that I was being brought back full-time last month, I was able to more easily give to charity again.
  • Donors Choose
    When I checked to see if my friend’s project had been funded one day last month, I noticed that the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation was matching donations to projects. I sorted by “amount needed to finish” and started adding projects to my cart. I was able to complete 5 projects for about $40! As this school year kicks off in a very weird and sometimes scary way, teachers deserve all the help they can get to help students learn.

Running Total: 195.66 + 138.27 + 41.56 + 504.35 + 457.50 + 439.82 + 62.18 + 100.18 = $1,939.52