The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Bowen’s historical novel, The Tuscan Child, is a gratifying read. 

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Joanna and her father, Sir Hugo, couldn’t be more different. After his death, Joanna is startled to find a love letter to a woman in Italy. 

Intrigued, Joanna goes to San Salvatore in Italy, to discover more about her father’s life. She knew he had crashed while serving in World War II but she had not known the exact location, San Salvatore, a hill town in Tuscany.

Though there are no hotels in San Salvatore, Joanna finds a comfortable place to stay. She feels at home with Paola’s family until a strange event occurs. Someone has drowned one of the local men in the well near Joanna’s rented room.

Police think Joanna, a foreigner, is suspicious, even though she insists she has nothing to do with the man’s murder.

Renzo, the son of a rich landowner in San Salvatore, has a connection to her father and the woman he names in the letter, Sofia Bartoli. Is he the “beautiful boy” her father mentions in the same letter?

The novel takes many twists and turns and Joanna learns what’s true and what’s false. 

At the Corpus Christi festival she beings to see Renzo in a new light.  Though she does not trust Renzo, something is drawing her and him together.

This is a charming World War II story with light intrigue and light romance.


The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp.

Jude hasn’t practiced magic in six years, He is unnerved, however, when, during a poker game with other magical beings, his powers are stolen from him.

Jude, a demi-god known for his talent for finding lost things, has been struggling with his powers after Hurricane Katrina. 

Since the storm his “gift” has been out of control. He tells his Regal how the storm affected his abilities:

“I don’t know if it had to do with how much got lost, or if it was me, or what. But I felt everything…I couldn’t stand being around people without a way to shut it out.”

Thus, after the storm, Jude doesn’t practice magic for six years.

One night, however, during a poker game with other magical beings, things begin to radically change.

At the poker game, something valuable is taken from him that makes Jude reconsider his ban on magic.

His ex-boss, Mourning, gives him an assignment–to find out who murdered the fortune god–but Jude is loath to comply.  

He needs to use everything in his magical bag of tricks to keep up with the machinations of the voodoo gods, vampires, and zombies that threaten him. 

This is a fast-paced supernatural thriller with a wonderful literary creation, Jude Dubisson, at helm. 

National Small Business Week–May 5-May 11, 2019


This year National Small Business Week is May 5 through May 11. For public libraries, it’s the perfect time to promote small business books or small business resources e.g. databases.

National Small Business Week

Public libraries are a hidden resource when it comes to small business. Most small business owners do not realize what treasures they can find at their local library.

Here are some titles that can help small business owners find winning solutions:

Artun, Omer. Predictive Marketing.

Aspan, Maria. Startup Money Made Easy.

Brown, Brene. Dare to Lead.

Hamm, Jon. Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills (eAudiobook)

Morten, Hansen. Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less.

Nelson, Stephen. Quickbooks 2019.

Paul, Jarvis. Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Biggest Thing.

Utley Middle School’s Mary Poppins, Jr.

Mary Poppins, Jr. Utley Middle School

I saw two performances and will most likely see the 7:00 show tonight.

Its easy to forget what a wonderful story this is, especially when presented as a movie with special effects or presented merely as children’s entertainment.

Most get introduced to Mary Poppins through the Disney version; it easy to become entranced by Mary’s magic, her confidence, and no-nonsense approach to life.

Make no mistake, the actress playing Mary Poppins for the Utley Middle School version does a wonderful job.

What impressed me most about this particular play, however, was the job done by the actor playing Mr. Banks.

This is the character that has the most growth. He starts off as a tyrannical father with no idea of how to be parent or be a husband. He learns in the end how to fly a kite, so to speak. He learns how to balance work with fun, how to balance family with responsibility. Its a nuanced role and the kid actor playing this in the Utley version does it well.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A beautiful allegorical story about a young person’s journey from grief to acceptance. Connor has two nightmares that bother him. One comes in the shape of walking yew tree that something visits at 12:07AM. The other monster that is more real and frightening he cannot even describe. He calls it his “nightmare.”

Connor has many troubles: his mother his dying, his father has a new family and has moved to America, his Grandmother who wants to adopt him is obtuse and annoying.

Conor would give anything for his mother to live, even befriend a yew-tree monster who claims he can cure every human ailment.

What’s best about this novel is how psychologically astute the writing is. Conor is isolated and so he feels “invisible.” He asks the yew tree how he helped another invisible being but ends up getting into a physical fight with a boy that has bullied him.

The monster tells stories to help the boy understand psychological truths:

There was once an invisible man, the monster continued, though Conor kept his eyes firmly on Harry, who had grown tried of being unseen…It was not that he was actually invisible, the monster said, following Conor….It was that people had become used to not seeing him.”

Conor learns, however, that there are “harder things being invisible.” At his worst, Conor learns, “They all saw him now. But he was further away than ever.”

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Panned by critics, this is actually a wonderful, inspiring film. A steampunk version, the foe uses automatons created by a giant engine.

Several moments stand out in this film. The moment Clara realizes the sugar plum fairy is not as sugary sweet as she appears. The moment Clara realizes the only one who can save the four realms is herself. She happens to be staring at a mirror and her mother’s words comes back to her.

The film is a feminist victory. The young girl’s bravery and intelligence save the kingdom which is rarely seen in most films.

Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren give great performances here.

Gemini by Carol Cassella

Cassella is an M.D. so there are many accurate medical details given in this story about Jane Doe, the woman brought in to hospital after a hit-and-run.

The novel moves back and forth fluidly between the present and the past. Eric and his girlfriend, the medical doctor treating Jane, want to find out more information about Jane.

The novel also focuses on two people who almost fall in love, Raney and Bo. Raney, who has been raised by her Grandfather to be self-reliant, hardens her heart against Bo because of his privileged background.

The meet each other as kids in Quentin, WA . Even then, Raney is keenly aware of class differences. Bo’s family leaves him in Quentin during the summertime when they travel or get divorced.

Although they sense a spark between them, circumstances keep tearing them apart. They nearly get together when Bo, a freelance writer, has a car accident in Mexico.

Convinced he has abandoned her, Raney casts her love for Bo aside.

Does anyone, however, truly forget their first love?

When its revealed that Jane Doe has a distinctive scar, the attending doctor’s boyfriend realizes he knows the patient.

Since this is a medical drama, the character’s illnesses and medical condition shape the story. For example, Erik, a science writer who also has neurofibromatosis, is hesitant to commit to his girlfriend because of it.

Though no one gets the medical miracle they are hoping for, the ending is deeply satisfying.