Old Books and New Books

More recent reading…

Shattered Silk and Search the Shadows by Barbara Michaels
Grade: an A for each

Barbara Michaels (a.k.a. Barbara Mertz and Elizabeth Peters) writes books in the genre of romantic suspense. But don’t judge her by her genre, and don’t judge the genre by the tripe that is usually found there. Many of Michaels’s books are enjoyable and even a bit educational. I’ve loved these two in particular since I was a teenager and I read them again to see if they were worth keeping now that my reading tastes are a tad more refined (but just a tad).

Shattered Silk is a story about a woman in her late twenties who finds herself unceremoniously dumped by her jerk of a husband. She goes “home” to her aunt and uncle, and there she meets with a group of people, old friends and new, who want to help her build a new, better life. That is, if someone else doesn’t kill her first. The author blends facts about vintage clothing with famous ghost stories and puts them all together in the wonderful setting that is Washington, D.C.

In Search the Shadows, a young woman finds out that she’s a carrier of a rare genetic disease. Both of her parents died when she was young, so she can’t ask them about it, but she knows it means that the man who married her mother cannot possibly be her biological father. She goes back in time, so to speak, by scheming her way into the lives of the people that her mother knew at college, in the Egyptology department, searching not just for her real father, but for answers about her mother’s premature death. But as she learns more about her mother’s last days, she may be getting dangerously close to her own.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Grade: B+

A charming story about a painter named Mr. Popper, his family, and his troupe of performing penguins. Younger children might really love this story, but for older folks, the series of humorous events is likely to feel contrived.

Matilda by Roald Dahl
Grade: A-

Though there is nothing in this story that feels real, the author’s exaggerated characters are so fun to read about that one is easily pulled into the story. Tiny little Matilda, born into a family of boors, and stuck at a school with the meanest headmistress ever, has the advantage of genius, and when she puts her mind to it, she can overcome anything. I can see why it made the list of Top 100 Children’s Books.

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