Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Helpline

A 30-something numbers wiz uncovers surprising truths about herself, her small Australian town and the people in it.

When Germaine Johnson loses her job as a senior mathematician at an insurance company, the 30-year-old Australian numbers wiz and sudoku aficionado's life is upended. Data points, algorithms and variables are how Germaine--with a very high opinion of herself and her abilities--navigates the world. She may be mathematically brilliant, but her social skills are dismal. This makes her virtually unemployable, until her cousin Kimberly offers a lead on a job at a council office in the city of Deepdene. The facility manages the senior citizens helpline, a phone-in service for older residents who need advice, or are lonely and need someone to talk to.

Perceptive, painfully exacting and over-achieving, Germaine soon catches the attention of Deepdene's mayor, who asks her to deal with a parking problem plaguing the senior center and an adjacent golf club. The task brings Germaine in contact with Don Thomas, who owns the club. She instantly recognizes good-looking Don as Alan Cosgrove, the 2006 national sudoku champion. Alan was once a very positive influence--from afar--in Germaine's life. "Sort of like the father I never had," admits Germaine, who is instantly starstruck and smitten. But why has Alan changed his name? Why is he managing a golf club? And is there really a parking problem, or is something else actually going on in town?

These questions form the basis of The Helpline, a clever and moving—often madcap--journey through the realities of everyday life, local politics and power plays. Debut Australian novelist Katherine Collette delivers a hilarious story that is sure to charm readers.

Atria Books, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781982111335, 304 pages 

Publication Date: July 23, 2019

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (July 23, 2019), link HERE

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Aunt Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna

The second novel in a fun, cozy mysteries series about a Bavarian expat-turned-amateur-sleuth on a quest for justice in her adopted Sicilian hometown. 
Sicily's most obstinate Bavarian expat--a retiree turned amateur sleuth--lands in more hot water in the second installment of Mario Giordano's clever, cozy mystery series. Readers were first introduced to Isolde Oberreiter (aka "Poldi")--a spirited, sensual, 60-year-old widow--in Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions. Poldi relocated to a peaceful Sicilian village intending to live out her days while drinking herself to death. Instead, her handsome handyman was murdered, she became swept up in the search for his killer and sparked a romance with Detective Chief Inspector Vito Montana.
Murder and mayhem find Poldi again in the second book, as Mount Etna spews ash, the water supply to Poldi's community is cut off and a neighbor's dog is killed by poison. When an anti-Mafia district attorney dies from a blow to the head with a full bottle of locally produced wine, Poldi deems it part of a larger conspiracy. She's led to the vineyard, where another body is found. Inquisitive, Vespa-driving Poldi goes in search of answers--and justice. Amid her (mis)adventures, she tangles with the locals, the owner of the vineyard, her now-jealous beau and even the Mob. 
Poldi's story is narrated by her nephew--an unemployed, aspiring novelist who is often summoned from Germany when Auntie Poldi is in trouble. He, along with a cast of lovable, madcap characters, becomes embroiled in a plot with as many strands as a pasta bowl heaped with steaming spaghetti. Giordano's passion for the dramatic absurdity of Sicilian life, culture and traditions overflows with fun and wit.  

Aunt Poldi andthe Vineyards of Etna (An Aunt Poldi Adventure: Book Two) by Mario Giordano, translated by John Brownjohn

Houghton MifflinHarcourt, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781328919021, 368 pages 

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (March 26, 2019), link HERE