A small sampling of my to read pile (some to reread)

I hate to start a posting with negativity, however, I was recently reading one of the many book blogs I get and found something that I found strange and bothered me.  I am of the firm belief that everyone is entitled to their opinion, I teach that to my students and try to live by that philosophy.  One can disagree with others and have an on going conversation/discussion and respect each other’s opinion…in this case, I totally disagree. Maybe I don’t understand what the description of a genre is….

A very dear friend of many years, Barbara Varro, adores mysteries and tried, for years, to get me read them.  I didn’t think I would like them at all.  I did and do love a good English mystery on BBC and PBS and now Acorn TV but really didn’t read them.  She has created a monster…they are basically all I want to read now other than my fashion books, of course!  I also really enjoy any story about real (historical) people told in fiction.  One such book I have been recommending to everyone is Oil and Marble, a marvelous read!

Here’s the problem, I have mentioned that I do love a good mystery and one of my favorite authors is Louise Penny, the reviewer said they had an issue with her work saying it was a “cozy mystery”, that there wasn’t any deep substance to her writing (I am paraphrasing here)!  What???? Tell that to all of Ms. Penny’s fans.  I have absolutely nothing against cozy mysteries, happen to read them myself, but would certainly not classify this brilliant series as “cozy”.  In my opinion, the character studies are fascinating and involve you with small town living, I happen to love that. Perhaps that is why the reviewer found them “cozy”, maybe too much warmth…but there is always undercurrent and tension.


Enough of that let’s look at this body of work, I have read them all and have enjoyed all of them.  Armand Gamache and the cast of characters in the village of Three Pines draw me to them with each chapter of their lives.  I always want to read my new treasure the minute I get my hands on it, but try to save it for awhile because I know there will be a year until the next book appears.  I discovered Armand and Three Pines while on a trip to Stratford, Canada, where I often go for the wonderful theater, fantastic dining and charm of the town (of course, there will be at least one or many posts of my trips there!).  There is a wonderful Independent bookstore in town and the owner always recommends books by Canadian authors for me, many of which aren’t available at the time of publication in the States.  At the time, Still Life, the first in the series, had just been published…well I was hooked.  If you haven’t read any of Ms. Penny’s books please get yourself to your local Independent bookstore and treat yourself to all of them.  I’m sure you agree that with a series it is best to start with the first book, then you can go from there. Her new book is A Great Reckoning.

Speaking of a mystery series another one I am partial to is by Charles Finch and his series with his protagonist, Charles Lenox. His newest The Inheritance doesn’t disappoint. This series begins with A Beautiful Blue Death which I found at The Lake Forest Bookstore (one of my favorite Independent bookstores) and yes, I must admit, I picked it up because of the cover art and then found it was set in late 19th century England, my favorite mystery periods. Again I was a devotee immediately and couldn’t wait for the next and the next.  Finch, by the way, is a Chicagoan.


I am holding on to both of these newest treasures from two of my favorite authors to read between Christmas and New Year’s so I can immerse myself in both Penny and Finch’s worlds.

A few other authors I follow are Tasha Alexander, love Lady Emily (perhaps a bit on the romantic mystery side of the coin, but I still enjoy the books).  Tasha lives in Chicago and the UK, lucky Tasha!. Cara Black, mysteries set in Paris, found her in an Independent bookstore outside of Kansas City…again the cover drew me to the book.  As for cozies….I have been enjoying Jeanne Dams and her American expat living in a small village in England, Jeanne lives in South Bend, Indiana!  I found her when trolling the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.  If you really want cozy go to Laura Childs, all her series are fun reads…sort of a palate cleanser.  I have shared my favorites with my Columbia College Chicago Library friend, Heidi Marshall, and she has in turn given me a verrrrrry long list of her favorites, many of the authors I am unfamiliar with…oh my, looks like many new series coming up!

visit Louise Penny on Facebook or

Charles Finch

Tasha Alexander

Cara Black

Jeanne Dams

My Independent Booksellers:  (Chicago, Illinois)  (this will be the store I will be using when I recommend books) (Lake Forest, Illinois) (Winnetka, Illinois)  (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)  (Fairway, Kansas, outside of Kansas City)

All, by the way, have wonderful newsletters, do subscribe.

I’ll post more as we go along, there is nothing like a wonderful Independent bookstore and their staff, love them…please share your favorites in the comments box.





6 thoughts on “BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS

  1. Abra Wilkin November 29, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    Wow! Lots to read and enjoy! A reminder about the Comment Box. I still can’t read what others are saying. Hope you can.

    Feel better Monday.


    Sent from my iPhone


    • nenasnotes November 29, 2016 / 2:06 pm

      Thanks so much. You know I really appreciate your support. I’ll check to see how you can view other comments. I haven’t, as yet, gotten many. Need to promote more.

  2. Alberta November 29, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    Wow, thanks Nena for these treasures, I’m so ordering some of them, that’s why I look forward to reading your blog.

    • nenasnotes November 29, 2016 / 3:25 pm

      Thanks so much Alberta. They are REALLY good. Let me know when you have read the first ones.

  3. literaryplum March 10, 2017 / 2:15 am

    I personally love Louise Penny’s books, I feel that Gamache is a member of my family! In fact my first book review post was on Louise Penny’s A Still Life. I also just finished reading A Great Reckoning last week and thought it was one of her better Gamache books. I am excited to look up the other authors you’ve suggested, and will be following your blog!

    • nenasnotes March 10, 2017 / 2:25 am

      Thanks so much. I’m thrilled that you are starting to follow me. Can’t wait for our her next one. Hope it is soon. Do share some of your other favorite authors.

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