Tag Archives: books

Sonia Sotomayor, Girl Detective


Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has cited Nancy Drew as one of her role models.

She’s in good company. Many other modern, powerful women have said the same, including the Supreme Court’s other two female members.

I loved reading Nancy Drew books. When I was young, my mother signed me up for the Nancy Drew book club. I got two books every month and would instantly devour them. I couldn’t wait for the next delivery. She was my childhood heroine. She was only a teenager and she solved crimes!

Nancy Drew was an intelligent, independent woman, who went after a case no matter what. Fear didn’t stop her, bad guys could not deter her. She was determined and clever. Nancy Drew was a modern woman at a time when stories for girls were filled with princesses and faeries.

And she drove around in really cool roadster.

Read more about Nancy Drew, Girl Detecive and Role Model on abcnews.com.


My Current Reading

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin

lilly-aphroditeBorn in Berlin at the dawn of the twentieth century, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, is orphaned at an early age, struggles to survive WWI, being alone, hungry and poor. She eventually becomes a silent movie star. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. You’ll have to read it to find out what happens. Here is a segment from the opening:

Lilly Nelly Aphrodite was born in the final moments of the last hour of the nineteenth century. She was caught in a dark blue handwoven cloth threaded with real gold instead of the obligatory white receiving shawl and was declared perfect by everyone around the bedside, including the landlady and the Bavarian lover. Unfortunately, the dye, though a beautiful shade, was not fast and the cloth stained her creased and slippery newborn skin.

Available at Amazon.co.uk

What I’m Reading

girl-with-dragon-tattooMy current reading has taken me to Sweden. I’m devouring the international bestseller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s a mystery that takes place in Sweden featuring a financial journalist and a young female computer hacker. The journalist is hired to simultaneously write the history of a wealthy industrial family and solve a decades-old murder.

Here is the opening:

Prologue, A Friday in November
It happened every year, was almost a ritual. And this was his eighty-second birthday. When, as usual, the flower was delivered, he took off the wrapping paper and then picked up the telephone to call Detective Superintendent Morell who, when he retired, had moved to Lake Siljan in Dalarna. They were not only the same age, they had been born on the same day — which was something of an irony under the circumstances. The old policeman was sitting with his coffee, waiting, expecting the call.

“It arrived.”

“What is it this year?”

“I don’t know what kind it is. I’ll have to get someone to tell me what it is. It’s white.”

“No letter I suppose.”

“Just the flower. The frame is the same kind as last year. One of those do-it-yourself ones.”




“Same as always, all in capitals. Upright, neat lettering.”

With that, the subject was exhausted, and not another word was exchanged for almost a minute. The retired policeman leaned back in his kitchen chair and drew on his pipe. He knew he was no longer expected to come up with a pithy comment or any sharp question which would shed a new light on the case. Those days had long since passed, and the exchange between the two men seemed like a ritual attaching to a mystery which no-one else in the whole world had the least interest in unravelling.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is book 1 of “The Millenium Trilogy” by Stieg Larsson, who handed in all three manuscripts to his publisher, then died suddenly in 2004. The book features many characters and manages to handle gory crime content without being explicitly gross. I’ve lost many hours of sleep staying up late to read as much as I could.

The second book in the series will be released in July 2009.

Have you read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

Books About Women: Kitty Foyle

Ginger Rogers

Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman by Christopher Morley was famously made into a Hollywood film starring Ginger Rogers in the title role. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1941.

I found a used copy of the book on Amazon. Here is the opening:

What a grand guy. Sometimes he used to sneak a slug of whiskey in the forenoon, against doctor’s orders. “What I like about this Daylight Saving, you don’t have to wait so long for a drink.” Once and a while, when I’m fixing in front of the glass I give myself a wink, I can catch just a shadow of that mischief look of his when he took the bottle from the cupboard. He said “Rum, Rheumatism and Rebellion” as he felt the stuff warm up his giblets. That wasn’t a bad summary of his troubles.

“Pop’s Rheumatism” was one of the sayings of my childhood. It made things different in a lot of ways…

I love books about strong women.

Midnighters #1: The Secret Hour

The Secret Hour

I’m hooked on Scott Westerfeld books. I know they are written for young adults but I find them captivating.

I enjoyed Uglies/Pretties/Specials so much that I sought out his other titles.

I just finished Midnighters: The Secret Hour. It is a trilogy about a small town in Oklahoma, where time stands still at the stroke of midnight for one hour. Five high school students, who all happened to be born exactly at midnight, can walk freely among this frozen world. But so can dark, dangerous creatures of the night. These students each have a gift which arms them against the darklings.

This book wasn’t scary as much as it was creepy. I was reading it late at night and found myself getting really creeped out. I’m going to order the other two books in this series.

Have you read the Midnighters?

The Secret Hour

Uglies and Pretties

Uglies, Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld

My neice told me about a book she was reading called Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. She was enjoying it so much I thought I would give it a try even though it falls into the category of Young Adult Fiction.

The story is about a young girl named Tally who lives in a future society where everyone gets an operation at age 16 to make them pretty. Until kids reach their 16th birthday, they are referred to as Uglies and segregated from the rest of society. But shortly before her birthday, Tally meets a new friend named Shay, who wants to run away and live in a place called The Smoke, where no one wants to get the pretty operation.

The books deal with themes of beauty, betrayal, friendship, society, government, environmentalism, and much more. It is fast-paced with rich characters, and the author doesn’t talk down to its readers.

I enjoyed Uglies so much, I ripped right through the sequels, Pretties and Specials.

Have you read these books?

Words, Words, Words

Here is my current reading list:

The Knowledge of WaterThe Knowledge of Water
By Sarah Smith

A novel about murder, art forgery and love. It takes place during the Paris flood of 1910. Rich in characters and full of details of Parisian life at the beginning of the 20th century.

Opening lines: It takes a second to shoot a man. Thinking about it takes the rest of one’s life.

Free Gift with PurchaseFree Gift with Purchase:
My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup

By Jean Godfrey-June

A fun memoir by the beauty editor of Lucky Magazine. An insider’s look at the world of women’s glossies. I love reading memoirs and biographies of women.

Opening lines: You know all the studies, how beautiful people make more money, do better in school, etc., etc., than everyone else? I think when you look at a truly beautiful person, you think, We’re the same species, no?

The Complete Book of OzThe Complete Book of Oz
By L. Frank Baum

This has all of the Oz books in one big volume. I never read these as a kid. But The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies. I was surprised to learn that the Judy Garland version was the third or fourth time the story was made into a movie. There are several silent adaptations.

Opening lines: Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles.

What are you reading?

Shopping Amazon UK


I confess. I’m an Amazonaholic. My wish list is 15 pages long.

You can buy almost anything on Amazon. And if you can’t find it on the U.S. version of the megastore, try Amazon UK.

Here are some books I bought in British pounds. Remember to check a currency converter before you finalize a sale.

The Goddess Guide
The Goddess Guide
By Gisele Scanlon, £9.00
This beautiful book with its velvet cover makes a great gift for any woman interested in fashion.

The Survival Guide
Trinny & Susannah: The Survival Guide – A Woman’s Secret Weapon for Getting Through the Year
By Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, £12.58
I love every book Trinny and Susannah have published. This one has some UK-specific references but is universal enough for American women, too.

How to Walk in High Heels
How to Walk in High Heels: The Girl’s Guide to Everything
By Camilla Morton, £4.79
Literally a guide to everything from how to practice walking in high heels to how to drive a stick shift. Witty and indispensible.