Archive for the ‘Lake Union Publishing’ Tag

A Tall Tale   Leave a comment

As told through the eyes of Woodrow “Woody” Wilson Nickel, West With Giraffes is Lynda Rutledge’s fictionalized account of the 12-day road trip from New York City to the San Diego Zoo on the Lee Highway in 1938.

Looking back from his vantage point of living more than a century, Woody is suddenly compelled to share his experience as a 17-year-old helping transport the giraffes cross country. He’s enthralled with the long-necked beasts at first sight. They’re something neither he, nor many others, have seen before.

When he learns the giraffes, whom he names Girl and Boy, are en route to California, the Oklahoma-born and raised Woody is determined to make the trek with them. Initially, he’s turned away by Riley Jones (affectionately referred to as Old Man) in charge of getting the giraffes to the zoo in a custom-made truck.  Old Man eventually agrees to temporarily hire Woody, but only for a short distance. Augusta, aka Red, who aspires to be a Life magazine photographer, is the other major character.

Rutledge has crafted an exciting adventure rich with descriptions of the country’s people and landscapes. The former represent the best and worst; the latter reflect abundance and scarcity.

There’s tension as Woody worries Old Man will make good on his word to find another driver and whether or not the animals can survive the journey. Old Man gives directions, Woody drives the truck, which is (somewhat) surreptitiously followed by Red, across country, and all want to leave something behind.

West With Giraffes

Four-and-a-half Bookmarks

Lake Union Publishing, 2021

316 pages, includes epilogue, author’s note, historical notes and acknowledgements


Uncovering the Past   2 comments


The Tuscan Child is a book that makes you hungry for Italy, especially its food. Rhys Bowen’s story alternates between two different time periods: 1944 and 1973.

The former recounts British pilot Hugo Langley’s efforts to survive after parachuting from his stricken plane over German-occupied Tuscany. The latter, and bulk of the novel, picks up with his daughter, Joanna, following Hugo’s death. She discovers an unopened letter addressed to Sophia in a small Tuscan village. The letter includes a reference to their “beautiful boy.” With little else to go on, Joanna travels to Italy learn more about Sophia and the boy, who could be her brother.

The chapters involving Hugo answer some of the mystery; others are left to Joanna to solve.

Sophia discovers the wounded pilot and helps keep in him hidden in a bombed-out monastery. She’s limited by scarce resources and the inability to leave home without raising suspicion among the townspeople and Germans. Although it is only a month, Hugo and Sophia fall in love.

Joanna is unable to learn anything about Sophia and none of the old timers in the village knew anything of a wounded pilot. Still, shortly after her arrival, one man suggests he has information for Joanna. Before he’s able to share anything, he’s murdered and Joanna becomes a suspect.

Bowen has crafted a double mystery: one involving the boy and the other the murderer. In the process of unearthing secrets, Joanna is treated to meals lovingly prepared by her guest house owner.

The Tuscan Child
Four Bookmarks
Lake Union Publishing, 2018
336 pages