March 21, 2022

The Last December by Velda Allard McElroy - A review

The Last December by Velada Allard McElroy
293 pages - Paperback
Published September 19th, 2019
ISBN: 9781088588451

About the book:
Eighteen-year-old Pearl Hardisty discovers the small town of Silver Lake in Eastern Oregon has more to offer than dry sage brush, old farmhouses, and unbearable freezing cold winters when she met Frank Bunyard. The kindhearted, handsome cowboy made her glad she decided to move with her family after all. Through stories Frank shares with her she learns about friendship, survival, and an unforgettable story of privation and loss from a small band of Modoc Indians who were left behind after the Modoc war. When the tightly knit community of Silver Lake experiences its own tragedy on Christmas Eve in 1894, they learn just how fragile life really is and how important it is to lean on one another and open their hearts and homes to those they once tried to destroy.

Meet the author - Velada Allard McElroy:
Velada Allard McElroy is proud to call Eugene Oregon her home. Her ancestors settled in the Oregon Territory mostly in Lake Co. around the mid 1850's after crossing the plains. Hearing stories that were passed down through generations she learned about the Silver Lake fire on Christmas Eve in 1894 where several of her relatives perished and about her third great grandfather, George C. Duncan, who was instrumental in helping several Modoc Indians after the Modoc war.

Velada is an Office Manager & Bookkeeper for a non-profit who loves creative writing, genealogy, studying history and cultural anthropology.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed reading this book from a new to me author.  Reading this book felt like you were right there feeling the same emotions as the characters.  The author did a good job of making you feel as if you were a part of the story. The Modoc Indian War was not one I had heard of before and I am thankful to have learned more about it through the author's telling of it.  Another tragic event in the Native American History.  I also liked how this was based on true facts and that the author had a person connection to the characters.  A very good book in my opinion. 

Murder Under the Tuscan Sun by Maureen Klovers - A review

Murder Under teh Tuscan Sun by Maureen Klovers
#5 in tht Rita Calabrese Culinary Series
318 pages, Paperback
Published March 10th, 2022
ISBN: 9780999494165

About the book:
An idyllic retreat in rural Tuscany seems like the least likely place for a murder….

Rita Calabrese is a lover of all things Italian—especially the food. So she is overjoyed when Sal, her normally oh-so-unromantic husband, proposes a second honeymoon at a villa in Tuscany. For two weeks, she’ll get a respite from her hectic life as a reporter, sleuth, and mother and be able to just lounge by the pool, traipse through vineyards and olive groves, and gorge on gelato and tiramisu.

Then Rita meets a suave Italian art crimes detective convinced that the villa is the epicenter of an antiquities trafficking ring, and her romantic getaway becomes a working vacation. As she quaffs glorious vino and learns to roll pici pasta by hand, Rita sizes up the other guests. Ostensibly, they have gathered for the nuptials of Alessandro and Giovanna, the Romeo and Juliet of the Italian archaeology world. But is one of them also a criminal mastermind?

When the villa’s owner is found dead in an ancient Etruscan tomb, Rita begins to wonder if something even more sinister is afoot. Plunging into an investigation filled with star-crossed lovers, bitter professional rivalries, long-buried secrets, and fabulous food, Rita finds that Italy never loses its ability to amaze.

Featuring delectable, authentic Italian recipes for caponata, pear and almond tart, peaches with mascarpone, and more!

Meet the author - Maureen Klovers
Maureen Klovers has held numerous positions in government, including a stint as a U.S. intelligence officer, and was a political commentator on DC 101’s talk radio show "Neighborhood Stuff." Ms. Klovers has traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, China, India, and Latin America. She’s hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, been escorted through a Bolivian prison by a German narco-trafficker, and fished for piranhas in Venezuela. She received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations (with a focus on Latin American politics) from the College of William and Mary in 1999 and a Master’s of Public Policy and Master’s of Business Administration from Georgetown University in 2006. She lives with her husband, Kevin, in Arlington, Virginia.

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My thoughts:
This is my first book in this series that I have read and I really enjoyed it.  I had no trouble reading this as a standalone book.  One of the reasons I liked reading this book is that I enjoyed the setting: a villa in Tuscany, a dream vacation of mine.  The characters were a pleasure to get to know and to try to figure out whose motive was the strongest for getting rid of teh villa's owner.  Just when I thought I had it figured out I was thrown for a loop and it took me until the end to figure it out.  I think that is part of what made this a good mystery to read.  A very enjoyable weekend read for me.  I will have to check out the rest of the series. Don't forget to check out the recipes in the back, they sound delicious.