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Daily Deals: Nancy Drew as a feminist icon, 1969 police procedure,...

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her  by Melanie RehakGirl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

A plucky “titian-haired” sleuth solved her first mystery in 1930. Eighty million books later, Nancy Drew has survived the Depression, World War II, and the sixties (when she was taken up with a vengeance by women’s libbers) to enter the pantheon of American girlhood. As beloved by girls today as she was by their grandmothers, Nancy Drew has both inspired and reflected the changes in her readers’ lives. Here, in a narrative with all the vivid energy and page-turning pace of Nancy’s adventures, Melanie Rehak solves an enduring literary mystery: Who created Nancy Drew? And how did she go from pulp heroine to icon?

The brainchild of children’s book mogul Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy was brought to life by two women: Mildred Wirt Benson, a pioneering journalist from Iowa, and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, a well-bred wife and mother who took over as CEO after her father died. In this century-spanning story, Rehak traces their roles—and Nancy’s—in forging the modern American woman

I loved Nancy Drew when I was a kid. I just didn’t understand why she wasn’t dating one of the Hardy Boys! But this is an interesting book because it examines Drew’s character against the social backdrop of the time. We often talk about whether fiction normalizes or reflects societal attitudes.

PW writes: “Poet and critic Rehak invigorates all the players in the Drew story, and it’s truly fun to see behind the scenes of the girl sleuth’s creation, her transformation as different writers took on the series, and the publishing phenomenon-the highly productive Stratemeyer Syndicate machine-that made her possible. Rehak’s most ambitious choice is to reflect on how Nancy Drew mirrors girls’ lives and the ups and downs of the women’s movement.”

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Sins of the Flesh: A Carmine Delmonico Novel Colleen McCulloughSins of the Flesh: A Carmine Delmonico Novel by Colleen McCullough. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

It’s August 1969, and police Captain Carmine Del­monico is away on a family vacation. Back at home, in the sleepy college town of Holloman, Connecticut, first one, then two anonymous male corpses turn up—emaciated and emasculated. After connecting the victims to four other bodies, Sergeant Delia Carstairs and Lieutenant Abe Goldberg realize that Holloman has a psychopathic killer on the loose. Luckily, Carmine’s beloved wife Desdemona sends him home from vacation early.

Carmine’s team begins to circle a trio of eccentrics, who share family ties, painful memories, and a dark past. They readily admit to knowing all the victims, but their stories keep changing. It’s awkward that one of them is a new friend of Delia’s, a woman she recently befriended along with the respected and innovative head of the mental hospital, who has been rehabilitating one very difficult patient to be her trusted assistant. When another vicious murder rocks Holloman, Carmine realizes that two killers are at large with completely different modus operandi. Like Delia, he finds this case too close to home when he barely escapes being next on the body count. Sud­denly the summer isn’t so sleepy anymore.

Colleen McCullough’s riveting Carmine Delmo­nico books take you back to a time when detectives relied mainly on logic, intelligence, and instinct—and a good home-cooked meal or breakfast at Malvolio’s with colleagues. Sins of the Flesh is her finest mystery yet, pitting her beloved hero against every cop’s nightmare scenario in a plot that turns on the science that McCullough herself knows so well.

This is the fifth book featuring Carmine Delmonico. PW says “The story is set in 1969, though disappointingly, there’s no real connection to that year’s upheavals. However, fans should enjoy the precomputer, pre–cell phone police work. Rather than high-tech equipment, the investigation’s crucial element proves to be Delia’s friendship with two local women: one, the manager of a hip family-owned clothing business; the other, director of the local institution for the criminally insane. “

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Running Back by Allison ParrRunning Back by Allison Parrr. $ Free

From the Jacket Copy:

Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O’Connor, popular NFL running back.

On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she’s not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine…

Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.

I didn’t love the first book but I ended up reading the third because it magically appeared in my Kindle account. (I’ve given some publicists and editors the ability to send stuff to my Kindle and thankfully they don’t abuse it) Anyway, the third one in the series is completely charming and comes out next week. And so I immediately went back and bought book 2, Running Back. It wasn’t my favorite. There was a little too much archeology and the hero is a bit too opaque for me in the story but definitely worth the free price point.

You really get the sense that Parr knows what it’s like to be a grad student as it seems all of her heroines are tangentially connected to post secondary school. The epilogue is very cute. Download it and stow it away for a rainy day if it doesn’t appeal to you right now.

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Dear Emily (Forever Family)  by Trudy StilesDear Emily (Forever Family) by Trudy Stiles. $ .99.

From the Jacket Copy:

Two women. Carly and Tabitha. They each have suffered life-altering events that have left them both traumatically damaged.

Carly Sloan’s life was perfect until her security and innocence were torn from her. The vast repercussions from horrific events threaten to destroy her stability and her chances for a happily ever after. Kyle Finnegan comes into Carly’s life at the height of her turmoil. Can he help her find what she desires most?

Tabitha Fletcher has constantly suffered from a very young age. She has been hiding from her past, which was full of sadness, loss, and abuse. She has been so brutally damaged that she has very little hope for redemption. The revolving door of men only leads her deeper into misery.

What circumstance brings these two women together and can they help each other heal? And will they each find what they need?


“Dear Emily” is the first book in the “Forever Family” series.

This book is not suitable for young readers. It is intended for mature adults only (18+). It contains strong language, adult/sexual situations, non-consensual sex, and some violence.

This was/is an indie blogger favorite. My understanding from the reviews (as the blurb is so oblique) is that Carly can’t have children and Tabitha gets pregnant and/or serves as a surrogate for Carly and Kyle. There are two stories intertwined here and Tabitha’s is unresolved and told in a subsequent book.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Heather Greye
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 14:25:00

    Thanks for flagging the Nancy Drew book!

    I ADORED Nancy Drew as a kid — all my allowance money (and birthday money and spare change) went to get new ND books at the local Waldenbooks.

    A few years ago my mom found my boxed up collection…and instead of just donating it to Goodwill or something, (with my blessing) she found a good home for them with a family with two daughters. :)

  2. Darlynne
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 14:45:16

    Oh, Nancy Drew. What a huge part of my 60s childhood she was. I loved the car, the cases, that George might be a lesbian before I knew what that meant. The original books were, not surprisingly, fairly racist and I think the series gets a reboot occasionally to keep them current.

    The very cool Lost Files of Nancy Drew was published in 2007. It contains Nancy’s notes from some of her cases, her mementos, clues and secret letters to open and read, Hannah Gruen’s recipe for chicken and rice casserole, and a packet of real postcards showing old dust jacket covers.

    A less reverent take was Chelsea Cain’s affectionate and funny Confessions of a Teenage Sleuth. You might look into it, Jane, and all I say, if I remember correctly, is “wish granted.”

  3. Eliza Evans
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 14:51:12

    Another thank you for the Nancy Drew! I wanted to read that when it came out and then it slipped off my radar.

  4. Jane
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 15:05:50

    @Darlynne: I’ll look for that. Thanks!

  5. batgrl
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 16:21:01

    I just started reading the Nancy Drew book – am only on chapter 8 but am really enjoying it so far for the interesting tidbits of information the author uses to describe things like what it was like for women to go to college in the early 1920s (when dancing men had to be 3 inches away from women at a college dance) and the creation of the serial book in publishing (kids traded books like they would later do with comic books). Also I can’t help but love Mildred Wirt Benson, both from her history and the interviews that are quoted. Definitely a great sale price for the content. (I only wish for more footnotes, but I’m weird that way.)

  6. DS
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 17:19:37

    “I loved Nancy Drew when I was a kid. I just didn’t understand why she wasn’t dating one of the Hardy Boys! ” At some point in the early 70’s I was wondering why she wasn’t dating George.

    In a lot of girls adventure series there seemed to be a lesbian undertone. I remember picking up an old falling-apart book in a used book store in the 60’s where the best friend/sleuthing partner was a somewhat effeminate violin player. He however turned out to be a girl disguised as a boy. I can’t remember why she was cross dressing now, but I thought it was a really great idea at the time.

  7. Kaetrin
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 20:53:13

    I used to read some Nancy Drew but I was mainly a fan of the Trixie Belden mysteries. I was always shipping Dan and Honey – I had a whole future planned out for them. So even as a 10 year old I was looking for the romance. :)

  8. LeeF
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 01:53:25


    I still have my Trixie Belden’s AND Cherry Ames’- liked them both better than Nancy Drew but plan to read the Girl Sleuth book.

  9. Janhavi
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 02:32:51

    I had no idea it started in the 1930s, I read the Nancy Drews as a kid in the 90s. Huh. I used to often wonder why she wasn’t in college, maybe this is why.

    On a side note, my absolute favourites were the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys joint mysteries where Nancy kind of gets together with Frank in a couple of the books. I was always very annoyed by Ned.

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