Author Archive


Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

“Being a Jane Austen Mystery,” I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this derivative work by Stephanie Barron. Baron’s Jane, a character based on her historical counterpart, solves murder mysteries. (No zombies.) Barron has captured Austen’s tone, if not Austen herself, with early 19th century humor and gentile snark. The story takes place in an English country […]

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

Early in Andrew Sean Greer’s The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, Greta walks with her beloved twin brother, Felix, near their childhood home, a brownstone in Patchin Place, Manhattan. It’s their 31st birthday and they’ve just left the party, happy in each other’s company. When a neighbor is outwardly unkind to them Felix asks her, […]

Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses

Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses shimmers with blue: the bright blue of a Norwegian summer sky, the dark blue of a moonless night, the blue-black of a flowing river, even the faded blue flowers on the cloth of a woman’s dress. From his perspectives as a 67-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, Trond Sander tells […]

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” The opening sentence of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar reflects the ambivalence of her main character, a young and talented woman who’s discovering that what she wants (to be a great writer) […]

Wiggle Waggle 2014

Wiggle Waggle 2014

Every year, the Pasadena Humane Society’s Wiggle Waggle Walk unites families and dogs to raise funds in support of dogs that don’t have families. There will be a fashion show and a look-alike contest. I don’t much resemble Wilma except in lounging posture, and neither of us is ready to be in such a big crowd. […]

The Safety Godmothers

The Safety Godmothers

I wanted a fairy godmother when I was a young Cinderella. A fairy godmother has your happiness in mind. But fairies are hard to find. But now we have The Safety Godmothers, Ellen Snortland and Lisa Gaeta, who have our safety in mind. Their book, The Safety Godmothers: The ABCs of Awareness, Boundaries and Confidence […]

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Madame Michel, the concierge at an exclusive hotel particuliere in Paris, believes the rich people she serves think her ugly and dull. She’s wrong. They don’t notice her at all. Madame Michel, in Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, does her best to keep it that way by playing the stereotypical concierge. She wears […]

The Amado Women

The Amado Women

From its shocking opening to its dream-like ending, Désirée Zamorano’s The Amado Women dishes out secrets, lies, and hurts as fast as we can gobble them up. Mercy, the family matriarch, rules over her three daughters not with an iron hand but with a constant hope that they’ll find happiness. Mercy’s secrets are old ones. […]

Without a Net

Without a Net

Esther Bradley-DeTally has had adventures most of us will never undertake, nor would we want to. On a whim and a (literal) prayer, Esther and her husband Bill lived in Russia in the early 1990’s, for several months at a time, as missionaries of the Baha’i Faith. Bradley-DeTally’s Without a Net isn’t about the Faith, however. […]

Parnucklian for Chocolate

Parnucklian for Chocolate

My parents lied to me: “Nobody cares how much you weigh;” “You’re the smartest girl in your class;” “Everything’s going to be fine.” I’ll bet your parents lied to you, too, in small ways or large. But few children grow up hearing and believing the kinds of lies Josiah grows up with in B.H. James’ […]

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Maude Woods - Opening October 22nd in Pasadena

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