Docket Page 67 – The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir – By Jennifer Ryan

CHARGE: To explore the effects of WWI on a small English village

FACTS: As all the men of Chilbury are taken away by WWI, the women decide to defy the vicar’s wishes that the choir be disbanded and continue to sing. They reorganized as the Chibury Ladies’ Choir. We meet women from very different backgrounds as they come together to share all manners of life and death. The novel serves to show the true strength of the women left behind in times of war.

VERDICT: Guilty, as charged.

Docket Page 66 – A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

CHARGE: To discover how CC could be electrocuted in the midst of a curling match in Three Pines without anyone seeing a thing.

FACTS: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called back to Three Pines to investigate a suspicious death on the day after Christmas. We are re-introduced to some familiar faces, as well as some new arrivals. Some of the facts uncovered are more brutal than the climate of a Canadian winter. What secrets lie hidden beneath seeming innocent facades?

VERDICT: Guilty, as charged.

Docket Page 65 – Still Life by Louise Penny

CHARGE: To discover who killed Jane Neal.

FACTS: In this debut novel we are introduced to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache who is called to the scene of a suspicious death in the town of Three Pines. As Inspector Gamache investigates, he uncovers a cast of intriguing characters, each with their own personal history and possible motives. The Description of the beautiful Canadian setting and its inhabitants is very compelling.

VERDICT: Guilty, as charged. I’m excited tht that this is the first of a series.

Docket Page 64 – Virgin Wander by Leif Enger

CHARGE: To explore brokenness in spirit and i n a community.

FACTS: Virgil Wander experiences a personal crisis which alters his language and memories. As he recovers, he rediscovers his personal history along with the history of his broken town. As he connects in new ways with the town’s inhabitants, he realizes that their destinies are truly intertwined. It is a charming look at the life of a small town dreamer.

VERDICT: Guilty, as charged. This is a magical book.

Docket Page 63 – Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

CHARGE: To discover what happened to Sylvie Lee

FACTS: Amy Lee’s older sister, Sylvie, doesn’t return from a visit to her dying grandmother in the Netherlands. Amy is terrified yet determined as she travels to the lat place Sylvie was known to be. As Amy discovers realities about Sylvie, she learns even more about herself. This is an interesting look at issues of immigration, family dynamics, and the secretes we keep.

VERDICT: Guilty, as charged.

Docket Page 62 – The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

CHARGE: To discover whether constant surveillance, children who weren’t as they originally appeared, or a family that was more than it appeared, would be the motive for murder.

FACTS: Rowan Caine obtains a nanny position with false credentials. Events quickly unravel which lead to her incarceration. The book is made up of letters to her lawyer explaining what has happened. She says she’s not guilty, but who is? “I know what they saw- a crazed woman with a back story more full of holes than a bullet-pocked sign-post.” The plot twists and turns and will catch you unaware.

VERDICT: Guilty, as charged. This is a page-turner!

Docket Page 61 – The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

CHARGE (What was the author trying to say?): Does knowing the date you will die affect the way you live?

FACTS: Four children consult a gypsy known for predicting dates of death. Howwill this knowledge change their lives? Is she accurate or does their belief influence their life choices? I wanted to hatethis book. It is written from four different points of view. I normally prefer a story told chronologically. The opening character lives a life of blatant carnality that I find disturbing. I prefer my literature a little more Victorian. Despite myself, by the time I reached the third child’s story I could not put the book down. The unexpected twists and turns kept me reading. From characters that were not universally likable, I discovered a depth of character and richness that I had not expected. There is a lot to learn and experience from this book.

VERDICT (Was the author successful?): Guilty, as charged. I loved this book!

Docket Page 60 – The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

CHARGE (What is the author trying to say?): To show the effects of the Duke of Windsor’s rule of the Bahamas during World War II.

FACTS: After his abdication Edward, the Duke of Windsor, married Wallis Simpson and he was made governor of the Bahamas. This book follows two story lines – Elfride, who chronicles life during WWI and Benedict who tells of life during WWII. At first I found it difficult to switch back and forth between the two stories and keep the stories straight. The author wraps the story up very neatly in the end. I read this as I was cruising the Bahamas, and found nothing left of the Bahamas the Windsors knew. It was an interesting way to learn the history of the islands.

VERDICT (Was the author successful?): Guilty, as charged. A very interesting read.

Docket Page 59 – Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

CHARGE (What was the author trying to say?): To show the interrelation between physical and psychological shelter.

FACTS: “Unsheltered, I live in daylight. And like the wandering bird I rest in thee.” Kingsolver sets the life of a modern woman against that of the 19th century biologist, Mary Treat. Switching between centuries, Kingsolver interjects too much of her political and social ideology into a story that moves at a ponderous pace. The notions of “shelter” had a different connotation in each of the story lines and they never really jelled. There was not much about any of the characters that was endearing or made you can much about their fate.

VERDICT (Was the author successful?): Not guilty. Very disappointing.

Docket Page 58 – Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber

CHARGE (What is the author trying to say?): To discover how a single mother handles an empty nest.

FACTS: After her children leave home, single mother Jeanna Boltz is faced with the rest of her life. Will she travel? Is she willing to love again? What role will her children play in her new life? This book was a little too predictable and formulaic. It would be an easy beach read.

VERDICT (Was the author successful?): Guilty, as charged – but unexceptional.