All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James, is a sequel to Jane Austen's classic, Pride and Prejudice.  Although it is a risky endeavor for the very successful mystery writer, James succeeds in capturing the tone of its predecessor and the nature of Austen's characters.  James builds a natural extension of the story that is as engaging and timeless as the original.

Set on the eve of the Darcy's annual ball, the mystery unfolds when Elizabeth's youngest sister Lydia arrives at Pemberley alone and hysterical.  Lydia reveals that she had just left a pub with her husband, Wickham and his friend Denny, when the two left their carriage in a state of disagreement and ran into the woods as they were en route to Pemberley.  She is convinced one or the other is hurt or that harm would come to them.  What Darcy and his compatriots find after searching for the pair is Wickham with bloodied hands, weeping over the dead body of Denny, and uttering what seems to be a confession.

The novel unfolds as the investigation takes place, Wickham is arrested, and further evidence is given. The story, of course, is not so simple.  More mysteries are unraveled that relate to the deadly event, and since readers of Pride and Prejudice already know a bit about Wickham and Lydia, they will agree that James does a remarkable job recreating these characters for Death Comes to Pemberley.

This sequel will not disappoint, and is a perfect poolside read.  Death Comes to Pemberley was published in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Starlite Drive-in, by Marjorie Reynolds

The Starlite Drive-in, by Marjorie Reynolds, is a murder-mystery love story, set in the heyday of drive-in movie theaters.  When a decomposed body is found during the excavation of the old movie theater, Reynolds allows the story to unfold through the eyes of 12-year-old Callie Anne Benton, the daughter of the drive-in theater manager.  The plot centers around a drifter named Charlie Memphis, who is hired to help with the theater's maintenance. Callie's agoraphobic mother falls in love with Memphis, and the tension between Callie's parents and the handsome stranger draws Callie into the drama.

Callie Anne's narrative is funny but also touching.  Her life revolves around her changing feelings about boys, popular music, and confusion about her parents' relationship.  When she discovers that Memphis likes her mother, she is crushed and embarrassed since she imagined that Memphis might be a perfect match for her.  Callie's abusive father is burdened by his ambition to build a theater business of his own and his wife's mental illness, while his wife is paralyzed by panic attacks and is unable to leave their small home.

Reynolds is a master storyteller.  Her characters are realistic. There's no lack of clarity about who is the hero and who isn't, although Reynolds gives the readers an opportunity to make their own judgments in the gray areas, and draws out the mystery until the end.  A quick and engaging read, The Starlite Drive-in has all the makings of an excellent summer read.

The Starlite Drive-in was published in paperback by Harper Collins in 2011.