"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, July 1, 2019

June Books

Gone by Lisa Gardner -- Finishing up the last of these books at the local libraries. I think I have one to go. This one takes place in Oregon as former FBI profiler Quincy and his wife Rainie have moved back to her part of the US. After Rainie starts back drinking, Quincy moves out in order to give her some space. During that time her car is discovered running, door open, purse in the seat..but no Rainie. The local police along with Quincy and his FBI daughter and her boyfriend work to solve the case.

After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson -- Charlotte Brown works to make life a bit better for people who've fallen upon hard times. Especially those in England affected by the War (WW2). This book almost seemed like a sequel to another book, but it was fine as a standalone as there were plenty of flashbacks to earlier days. A pretty good story.

Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini -- an Elm Creek Quilts novel -- I took a break from reading these even though I had only this and one other book left. This story didn't focus as much on the Bergstrom family in Pennsylvania. Rather it took place in California. It's the story of Rosa and Lars who were mentioned in a previous books when a Bergstrom cousin, Elizabeth, and her husband went across the country to claim the ranch they purchased sight unseen. Well, Rosa became friends with Elizabeth, and Lars was part of the Jorgensen clan. It was good reading their story some of which was alluded to in that previous book. Also, this book shared an interesting perspective of wine-sellers in Prohibition times.

Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack -- first book of the Mayfield Family Series; after his wife dies and his governess marries the vicar, Peter interviews a few ladies to care for and educate his daughters. Julia is actually his last choice, but she ends up with the job. And she does a splendid job with the children - and even assists in Peter's dog business. A pretty good book.

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline -- I figured I'd read another in the Rosato & Associates series; this book focused more on Judy Carrier, one of the attorneys who finds out that her favorite aunt is facing a double mastectomy -- in, like 2 days. Aunt Barb kept her cancer and chemo treatments a secret from her sister and niece.  Judy rushes to visit Barb, and meets her Mexican friend, Iris. Sadly, Iris is discovered dead later that day of an apparent heart attack. But when Judy starts putting together some clues, the death looks more like murder than dying of natural causes!

A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks -- I enjoyed this mystery as told by the servant of Charlotte and Louise. Many years have past, so Jane Prescott is telling the truth about a murder that happened in 1910 when Norrie was killed in the family's library. A pretty good book.

Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline -- I really enjoyed this story from the Rosato & Dinunzio series; Bennie takes on a murder case for a young man she knew from 13 years prior when she worked to get him out of juvenile detention. Part present, part 13 year in the past, and part trial...a good read!

The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams -- A cute, easy read about a book seller and bibliotherapist Nora, and her friends in Miracle Springs, NC, who find themselves involved in solving a mystery when a stranger is flattened by a train. They are determined to prove he was murdered and who did this awful deed!

Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack -- book 2 in the Mayfield Family Series; I read the earlier book in this series and figured this would be a good easy read while the kids were in town. Sure enough I read several pages in it while Sophie played at the park for hours while Zach was visiting Michael. In the book, Maryann is back in London for the Season and she meets up with her friend Timothy who is looking for a wife. He confides his list of the perfect wife to Maryann - a list of a lady who is pretty much nothing like Maryann, but she decides to help him find that match. A pretty cute and predictable book.

Montauk by Nicola Harrison -- After her brother died in a car accident, Beatrice marries well and lives away from her rural Pennsylvania family amongst the good society of New York City. One summer she and her husband Harry went to Montauk where Beatrice stayed to be pampered and entertained while Harry worked his job during the week with plans to join her on weekends. It ended up not always working out quite that way, and Beatrice ends up helping the lighthouse keeper when he is injured while she visits. A pretty good story.

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig -- Emily travels to Barbados from her home in England with her cousin Adam and his wife, her best friend Laura. Emily is curious about this plantation her grandfather left her as it was a surprise from his will. A good story from this island nation in the 1800s!

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline -- another in the Rosato & Dinunzio series; Mary is asked to represent a ten-year-old boy who has dyslexia and was recently in trouble for violence against a teacher's aide. Good story.

Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse -- a decent book and easy read about boarders at Si and Dolly's house in Alabama during World War II. People from all over the country are headed to this area to work in munitions plants.

How to Listen to God by Charles Stanley -- This short book appeared in my mailbox in a bag with a note of thanks for supporting the ministry. It didn't have a mailing address/postage though I'm guessing it was just sent a different way. Anyway...figured God was sending me a message because I used to joke that I wished God would send me a letter and just tell me His will for my life. Since this appeared in my mailbox, I read it.  I always like the story about the disciples in Acts 4:13, "...and they realized they had been with Jesus."

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick -- a rather cute, easy read about a librarian, Martha, who is surprised one evening when a book dedicated to her is left on her door. The dedication was from her grandmother, Zelda, but the date was 1985, three years after Zelda disappeared from her life, supposedly dead.

The Friends We Keep by Jane Green -- Imagine making friends while in college - such good friends that you all lived together, going off to your separate ways, and then later in life coming back together again, as good friends and living together just like your college days! Only, not really because so many years have passed and things have happened. That's the story of Maggie, Evvie, and Topher, two Americans and one Englishwoman who met while in England, and later met up again. Pretty good story.

The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- an Elm Creek Quilts novel; finally!  I finally finished this series. Some books were better than others, but they are all kind of comfortable especially towards the end when you feel you know Sylvia and the crew through and through. Only this time, they have some quilters in for Quiltsgiving, a time after Thanksgiving when quilters come for a free week of quilt camp with the purpose of making quilts for a good cause.

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard -- Although the characters are fiction, the town and what they did there in East Tennessee is true. The book starts with June Walker's grandfather being kicked off his land because the government wanted it for the war effort. June later gets a job at the newly-constructed "city" and later finds out they are helping create the atomic bomb!

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner -- this, I believe, is the last of this author's books at my local libraries! And they were good. Well, some were really creepy and dark since they are crime books, but some aren't quite so bad. And this was one that wasn't so dark although still...violence. It's about Quincey and Rainie who are fostering a 13 year old girl, Sharlah, with hopes of adopting her later in the year. Sharlah's estranged brother goes on a shooting spree and the hunt is on to locate him!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Solving a DNA-Match Mystery

If you've read my blog for a couple of years, you may remember how startled I was by my high Europe South (Italian/Greece) DNA results from Ancestry.com awhile back. Then, of course, the results were updated and I wasn't quite as Italian after all, but my dad stayed strongly Italian. I figured if my results refined to more Great Britain (which is much more understandable and likely), his should as well. That wasn't the case.

I figured it was just one of those mysteries that the Fuqua side held. Who knew if I'd ever figure it out?

But then I started contacting some of the closer cousin DNA matches which brought me some "new" cousins on the Truax, Wilkinson, Ferrell, Wilson, and other sides. I even convinced a guy from California that he was my Truax cousin, and what fun detective work that was last year!

What's been odd, though, is that some last names I'd hoped to find are absent from my list. And then there are a host of these Greek and Italian surnames showing up - a few as close family. Like close enough that they are in the same category as my nephew Michael. Yet...I have no idea who they are. And at least one of them has replied back that they are puzzled on their end as well as they've never been to the South...and they live in Ohio.

I've put more things together, and I think I've figured it out. My dad's sister did a DNA test recently, and when her results come in, I'm pretty sure that I will have more answers.

Unfortunately the responsible parties aren't alive to confirm anything, but with the DNA results plus my online sleuthing, I'm going to make the best scientific-and-mystery-solving guess that I can!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Death and Funeral of Rachel Held Evans

Last month I was shocked to read of Rachel Held Evans's death as her body succumbed to a terrible reaction to the flu plus a UTI plus medication. I remember reading in mid-April that she'd been hospitalized for treatment, and later her husband's updates about the medically-induced coma due to brain seizures. I remember he posted that they were going to try bringing her out of the coma, and had hopes that she'd be OK eventually.

Instead God took her home during the early hours of May 4th. Andrew and I were getting ready to go somewhere together that Saturday around noon, and I glanced at my phone while waiting for him. I was stunned at the headlines I read about her death at age 37!

I don't remember exactly why and when I came to know of Rachel Held Evans, but I have read and own two of her books.  (The others I put on my Amazon Wishlist after her death.)

In May 2013, I recorded:

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans -- If you think a twenty seven year old should never write a memoir, you'd probably not enjoy this, but I read Rachel's other book last year and loved it. This book tells her spiritual journey of how she went from being a fundamentalist-type evangelical (one who knew all the answers) to someone who questioned her faith, and came to different conclusions.  I really enjoyed this book especially when she talked about pond-scum theology. I could relate to many of her thoughts.

(this book has been re-titled since I bought it) 

I remember Rachel's disclaimer about her 27-year-old self writing a memoir, but now that she's gone just ten years later ... well, I'm not sure how to feel about that. Clearly, I read the book and liked it. I want to read it again now.

A few months earlier, I recorded this about Rachel's definition of biblical womanhood after reading her first book (mentioned in this post).

All that so say, her funeral was just held yesterday. I'd hope to watch it, but we took a day trip to the mountains so I looked for the link and saw I could watch it today. Yay.

Here is the video, and the order of service and liturgy.  The PDF also gives the speakers' and singers' names. I didn't watch every minute of her funeral (it's pretty long), but I listened to Rachel's sister's eulogy if not her song to Rachel, and I enjoyed The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber's sermon which started around the 50 minute mark. The Communion hymns were delightful to this Baptist girl's heart! And I loved the Benediction (which you can read at the above link, or listen to on the video.)

This was the beginning part of the PDF. It was a beautiful service!

Rachel Grace Held Evans 
Saturday, June 1st, 2019
 The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too shall be raised.The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

This joy, however, does not make human grief un-Christian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow with those who mourn. 

The communion table is open to everyone without a single exception. You are invited to come forward and receive the bread and (non-alcoholic) juice, which, for many, is the body and blood of Christ. If you choose not to commune, you may remain seated or come forward with your arms crossed to receive a blessing. Ask your communion server for the gluten-free option, if needed.


In conclusion

I remember reading this was the ending of Rachel's final post on her blog. From March 6, 2019

It strikes me today that the liturgy of Ash Wednesday teaches something that nearly everyone can agree on. Whether you are part of a church or not, whether you believe today or your doubt, whether you are a Christian or an atheist or an agnostic or a so-called “none” (whose faith experiences far transcend the limits of that label) you know this truth deep in your bones: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” 

Death is a part of life. 

My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone. 

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  

 -- Rachel Held Evans.

Pray for Rachel's husband, Dan, their two young children (she left behind a 3 year old son, and a little girl not quite one), her parents and sister, and many family and friends who knew her personally, and will miss her incredibly.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

May Books

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor -- I like this author so I was glad to see this book on the New Books shelf at the local library. I like how I learn a bit about an historical character while reading her books. This one was about Grace Darling, who helped her family keep the light in Longstone in Northumberland, England in the 1830s. The other narrative is fictitious, but interesting as Matilda leaves Ireland to stay with a distant relative in Rhode Island, Harriet who happens to be a lighthouse keeper as well.  Cool

After by Kristin Harmel -- I've read a couple of her books before, and liked them so I put this one on my Amazon Wishlist and received it for my birthday. It's more of a YA book which is fine. It's about Lacey, a junior in high school, who loses her father to a car accident. This is the few months after that.

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen -- this is another book I requested on Amazon after reading the only one from this author that my library had; Hannah is excited after a business trip because she is told she is due for a big promotion. She travels home, eager to tell her boyfriend, but when she arrives home, he's gone. And every single thing he brought into the house upon moving in is gone too. Her phone pictures of them together. Her Facebook pictures of them. All gone. What happened to Matt? Why did he leave when she thought things were fine?  Pretty good although Hannah really bugs me some.

Broken Wings by Terri Blackstock -- when I put this book on hold, I thought it was in the New Books offered at the library, but ... it's from 1998 so??  And honestly I usually like her suspense novels pretty well, but this one about Erin the airline pilot who struggles to fly after her friend is killed in a crash was really a dud. 

We Hope For Better Things by Erin Bartels -- This book covers three time periods with some of the same characters, but it wasn't too hard to keep track of. It involves black-and-white relations in Detroit during the Civil War, around 1960 and present day. Pretty good book.

The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner -- I realized I had stop reading these and only had about 3 left that the library has so I put this one on hold. It's about Kimberly Quincy's first weeks at the FBI training academy and a body she discovers while running one morning. She and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations guy (whom the author made to be waaaay too weirdly southern, in my opinion, Sugar) race to solve the mystery and hopefully save one of the victims.

Sugarland by Martha Conway -- a "Jazz Age Mystery" that takes place in Chicago during Prohibition; This book follows Eve and her stepsister Chickie who sing and play piano in night clubs. They meet Lena, a tall, white lady, who helps them as they try to solve a mystery.  Pretty good, nothing special.  I got this from my Amazon Wishlist quite awhile ago and procrastinated on reading it.

The Gown by Jennifer Robson -- "a novel of the royal wedding" focusing on a couple of ladies who embroidered for Norman Hartnell, famous for designing the wedding gown for Princess Elizabeth when she married Philip Mountbatten. My mom read this first, and recommended it.  Good story. 

The Nowhere Child by Christian White -- a pretty good story by a new author; Kim is approached during a break in her photography class in Australia by a guy from America who claims she was kidnapped as a two-year-old child. From Kentucky.  After some convincing proof (a 98.4% sibling match on a DNA test), she travels to the US with hopes of figuring out this mystery.  Pretty good book. I liked the author's ending note quite a lot for some reason.

The Huntress by Kate Quinn -- Jordan McBride is a late-teen, enjoying photography, wishing to go to college (dad says "no") when her father - a widow for many years - falls in love with a refugee from Germany who happens into his antique shop in Boston. Nina grows up as a "barbarian" in the far east of Russia on Lake Baikal and later leaves home to follow her dream of becoming a pilot. Ian and Tony are a team who hunt down Nazis, and Ian is especially interested in the one who killed his younger brother, after feeding him a meal and making him feel safe. Nina joins Tony and Ian who eventually travel overseas to find die Jägerin.  A long book (500+ pages), but interesting and good!

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly -- In her first novel, the author introduced us to Caroline Ferriday and her mother, and in this book she goes back a generation to focus mostly on Caroline's mother's work supporting Russians fleeing the Reds when that country was in a huge upheaval. This book is told through the voices of Eliza Woolsey Ferriday based in New York and Connecticut; an aristocrat from Russia, Sofya, who escapes Russia and is searching for her young son; and Varinka, the peasant girl who is hired as a nanny just before the revolution that separated Sofya from her son.  A good story!

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman -- Ruth and Millie's relationship is complicated by a childhood where Millie was adored and Ruth felt resentment towards her little sister. This story follows the sisters through parts of World War II when they move from Brooklyn to Springfield, Mass, where they both find jobs in the Armory. A decent story.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith -- a fun little book a friend sent for my birthday. After her father dies, Precious Ramotswe sells his cattle (her inheritance) and invests in a new house and opens a detective agency. The book follows Mma Ramotswe as she hunts down clues in Botswana and surrounding areas. I saw that my library has more of these books so I think I'll read more of them when I need some lighter reading. A cute story and character!

After the Party by Cressida Connolly -- This book was OK. I got to not liking the main character towards the end. She just sounded a bit whiny even though she had fair reason to feel as she did. It's about Phyllis, the youngest of three English sisters, who support the Party to various degrees.  The Party is some sort of fascist group, which quite frankly, I wasn't very familiar with so this was at least a somewhat interesting way to learn more about them, I suppose.


Making Minty Malone by Isabel Wolff -- another of her not-so-great-early (?) - books that I'm glad I didn't start with or I probably would never have read the books of hers that ARE really good. This one was a bit better than Tiffany Trott, and a good one to read while sitting on a bench at the children's museum as Sophie played with friends because it was OK being interrupted while reading this. Minty - short for Araminta - works for a radio show in London, and all her coworkers are present when her fiancé leaves her at the altar on their wedding day.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey -- this is a "Mystery of 1920s India" given to me by a friend for my birthday. I enjoyed this look into other cultures (Parsi, Indian, Muslim Indian, British in India) much more than I expected. The mystery aspect was pretty good, not great, but overall, a nice book that I'm glad I read and learned from!

Accused by Lisa Scottoline -- I found this at a little free library at a local park, and decided to read about Mary DiNunzio who works for an all-female-lawyers law firm (their investigator is a guy thus my qualifying the all-female-lawyers part).  Apparently the author has a bunch of books in this series, but took a few years off from it, and restarted it with a little twist of Mary being made partner. Thus this series is technically a spin-off, but I'm going to look into reading more of them because I liked the characters.  This case involves a 13-year-old girl from a rich family who came into her inheritance and wants to look into the murder of her then-16-year-old sister, Fiona. Allegra thinks the wrong person was jailed, but her parents are not wanting to reopen the case. 

ETA another book I finished before the end of May!  Finished it today after getting it from the library yesterday.  

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis -- Darby leaves Ohio to start secretarial school in New York City. She's fortunate enough to live in the all-girls' Barbizon Hotel in 1952, and what adventure awaits! In modern times, Rose is searching for the story of the ladies who lived in the Barbizon Hotel back then - the few left who live on the fourth floor. Will Darby and the others share their secrets? And what's with this story of a maid who was pushed from the terrace by a friend who was cut in the face?  I liked this book! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April Books

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse -- A YA fiction about a young Dutch woman during World War II when her country was occupied by Germany. Hanneke works with new acquaintances to help people in Amsterdam.

The Quilter's Kitchen by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilts novel; the new chef Anna joins Sylvia as they clean out the old cabinets before the kitchen is expanded and remodeled. This book was mostly recipes of which I did not read word for word so this book was a quick read!

Mending Fences by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- first in the Deacon's Family series, this book dealt with Luke and Izzy, two young people, living as Amish at Amos and Fern's house and working on the couple's farm.  Luke grew up Amish, but developed a drinking problem. After his third time in rehab, he's trying to get his life sorted out. A pretty good book

Pretend She's Here by Luanne Rice -- a YA book about a 15 year old, Emily, who was abducted by her best friend's family after her best friend dies. Rather weird.

The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilts novel; a great book - the story of Joanna, the enslaved lady whom readers met in earlier Elm Creek books. This tells her story more thoroughly. I really enjoyed this one.

The Widows by Jess Montgomery -- Inspired by the story of the first female sheriff in Ohio, Lily Ross is appointed sheriff after her husband is murdered. Along with her husband's friend Marvena, Lily tries to solve the mystery of who was behind Daniel's death. A lot of unionizing coal mines talk in this book as well.

The Forgiving Jar by Wanda E. Brunstetter  -- book 2 in The Prayer Jars series; The real Sara Murray travels to her grandparents' house to spend time with them, only to find The Imposter has been invited to stay with them as well.  Will the girls ever get along?

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis -- a good story, and an interesting way to learn more about artists in the 1920s in New York. This story takes place at Grand Central Terminal - part of it in the 1920s when Clara Darden teaches at the art school, and part of it in the 1970s when the Terminal was in jeopardy of being torn down or built over with a skyscraper.  I enjoyed this one!

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff -- I really enjoy her books and this one was no exception.  The story starts with Grace making her way through Grand Central (which was a main feature in the book I read before this one) and finding an abandoned suitcase. Overcome by curiosity, she looks inside and finds some photographs. This story also follows Eleanor, who advocated for women being sent into France to transmit radio reports and courier and commit sabotage if necessary. Marie is one of those women. Good story!

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette -- book 1 in Cities of Refuge series; Moriyah is a famed cook in her neighborhood and on an herb-gathering mission with her little friend Eitan, some oleander blooms are added to the mix.  Blooms which can make people very sick. When something horrible happens, Moriyah is forced to flee to a city of refuge in order to share her side of the story. 

A Quilter's Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilts novel; as is tradition, the Elm Creek Quilters meet the day after Thanksgiving in order to quilt Christmas projects and gifts. Readers learn even more about these women's lives. Pretty good story.

Forget Me Not by Isabel Wolff -- a book from my Amazon Wishlist; the story of a Londoner, Anna Temple, who balances single motherhood with running her own garden design business. I often enjoy this author's books because I learn facts about things: in this case, plants and flowers.  (Other books told about dogs and vintage clothing, for example.)  A rather cute story.

The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis -- When his daughter Sylvie unlocks her father's tinderbox, she discovers mementos from his life before he became Amish. One of which is very troubling.

Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette -- book 2 in Cities of Refuge series; Eleven years have past, Eitan is now a grown man and wants to join Darek's army to protect his people. Meanwhile, two strange young women, Sofea and Prezi, are found on a beach. One is seriously injured, and the other is fierce in her defense of her friend. No one can talk to these ladies initially due to their language barrier.

We're Just Like You, Only Prettier by Celia Rivenbark -- I got this book years ago from a book exchange and kept it in my car in case I was ever stranded somewhere and needed something to read. Well, we moved on to another main car, and I only found this book when I was cleaning out stuff from the older car. It's a funny group of essays by a newspaper columnist based in Wilmington. As the title states it: "Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle."

Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd -- The local libraries had the first two books in this series, and I wanted to read this novel of Elizabeth I. It's told through the eyes of Elin von Snakenborg (Helena) of Sweden, and her time serving the queen at court.

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilts novel; As Bonnie waits for her divorce to become final, she travels to Hawaii to help a college friend get her own quilt camp set up. 

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview -- Caroline Bingley escaped to the library to cry when "her" beloved Mr. Darcy marries. Unfortunately, someone was already there and sees her display. He's none other than the newly-married man's cousin, Mr. Robert Darcy, recently of Boston, USA. This follows a short time in their story together. 

The Trials of Tiffany Trott by Isabel Wolff -- I really enjoyed her books that the library has, but if I had first read this book of hers, I would probably never have picked up another. It was just not good. If you like hearing about ladies looking for dates by placing ads, and going to clubs, then you'd probably enjoy this book. But it was a far, far cry from the books I've enjoyed from this author. 

The Address by Fiona Davis -- A thirty-year old lady from London is invited by architect Theodore Camden to travel to the US to help run the staff of the Dakota, a new apartment building for the wealthy.  A pretty interesting story about Sara Smythe's first year or two in the United States.

The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilts novel; This one goes ahead 25 years to when Matthew and Sarah twin daughter, Caroline, is getting married! Thankfully the book does fill in some details that readers missed in those 25 years - the twins' birth, some new staff, some departed staff (by retirement and death). This series is winding to a close.

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan -- Suzanne is delighted when her three daughters agree to join the family in the Scottish Highlands for Christmas. While Beth and Posy can be counted on each year, it's been tougher getting Hannah to join the clan. This time of year is particularly hard on the family as the girls remember their parents who died in a climbing accident, and as Suzanne relives that time when her best friend and her husband died.  An OK story.

Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner -- I'd not read any of her books lately, and I am nearly through those the library has, but I happened to see this one when I was there the other day. I've finished all the D.D. Warren books, and this one shifts to Atlanta and north Georgia and features FBI agent Kimberly Quincy whom I've "met" as D. D. Warren contacts her on occasion. But in this dark book - I guess they all are to some extent - prostitutes go missing and it involves a horrible horrible person who kidnaps young boys and has a pet spider collection.  I'm not even that grossed out by spiders generally, but this book, yes, was creepy and dark and made me sad to live in such an evil world. 

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin -- Four siblings in Bexley, Connecticut, survive childhood and The Pause, as their mother takes to her bed for a few years after their father drops dead in his dental office. This book was ok; I liked her other book better.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

March Books

The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel -- I'm glad my library is getting more of her books. This was about an American woman who married a French man and went to Paris to live with him. Unfortunately Hitler was already causing trouble in Europe and soon their lives changed  - a lot. When Ruby finds out Marcel is aiding the Resistance, she wants to help. A pretty good story!

Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano - a book I put on hold from the online new books list, and enjoyed on this sunny morning. It's book 1 in the American Heiresses series and features Isadora who is being pursued by an atrocious duke. In order to hide, Isadora's friend comes up with a plan to have Izzie apply for a position as a housekeeper in "the wilds" of Pennsylvania. No worries...except that Isadora has no idea how to use a washing machine, bake biscuits, or even how to properly boil water! A cute, easy read.

Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg -- a cute story about an Irish family in Chicago during World War II. The three daughters - Kitty, Louise, and Tish -  regularly write service members which provide an interesting look at life overseas and life at home in one of America's larger cities. I found this at the Little Free Library in Southport a few days ago.

The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn -- I read one of her books last year that the library had, but they didn't have much else. I got this two-book series for Christmas and decided to start this Novel of the Borgias a couple days ago. Prepare to go back in time to Rome around 1492. Giulia Farnese is married to a guy who leaves her on their wedding night because Guilia is really promised to Rodrigo Borgia as his latest mistress. An interesting tale for sure. It's told through the eyes of Giulia and two fictional characters whom I enjoyed: Carmelina the cook and the dwarf Leonello who was hired by Rodrigo's son as a personal bodyguard for his father's mistress and his sister. A good book.

Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin -- this is the sequel to a book I read awhile back: I somehow missed this on the new books online catalog, but my mom mentioned enjoying it so I checked it out after she returned it to the local library. This continued the story of wealthy Chicagoan Anneke who found her grandmother - Geesje - in book one. Anneke's mom died in a shipwreck, and Anna was adopted by the Nicholson family when she was 3. This book follows Anna (or Anneke) during her engagement to William, and Geesje back in Holland, Michigan, as she welcomes a young Dutch immigrant into her house.

The Quilter's Legacy by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another book in the Elm Creek Quilts series; it alternates between Sylvia's modern-day quest to locate a few of her mother's old quilts which were sold by her late sister, and the story of Sylvia's mom, Eleanor Lockwood who died when Sylvia was a child. 

Thou Shalt Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money by Rabbi Daniel Lapin -- I admit I skimmed this book; it's one a friend of Andrew's from church gave him to read. Andrew thought I'd enjoy the aspects of Judaism which frequent the pages so I read (or skimmed) this book with that in mind. That part was pretty interesting since I actually enjoy learning about what different religions and cultures teach.

The Master Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilt novel; this time it focused on all the modern ladies of Waterford, Pennsylvania, whom we were introduced to in earlier books. I kind of feel like I know Diane, Bonnie, Sylvia, Sarah, Judy, Summer and the rest at this point.

The Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilt novel; this story went back in time to share about Dorothea Granger, age 19, as she worked to change things in her little community. First the quilt with authors' signatures so they can raise funds for a library, and later to helping runaway slaves. A good story!

The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn -- the last of the Borgia Chronicles; it continues the story of Pope Alexander VI and the interesting cast of characters surrounding him. Two of the main characters in this story are fictional, but the author does a good job of describing life in those times through her stories.

American Duchess: A novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt by Karen Harper -- decent book; I admire her work in helping others, but I'm over super-rich people with multiple residences.

The Gift by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- this book 2 in the Prairie State Friends series continues more of what happened in book 1 except it focused more on Leah, the young lady who practices reflexology, in order to help her Amish friends and neighbors heal.

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner -- the latest D.D. Warren book; this one the team is tracking down leads after a high school math teacher's husband is killed. She's arrested for murdering him although she says she only shot his laptop 12 times. Something about protecting the legacy of her husband for the sake of their unborn child. Another good one!

The Christmas Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilt novel; in this book I learned more of the story of Sylvia's upbringing especially focused around Christmas traditions and helping others during the Great Depression; this book talked more about Sylvia's mother as her health declined and about Sylvia's marriage and meeting of her brother's childhood friend, Andrew. 

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright -- I saw this on the News Book online thing, and put it on hold. It was different. Thea went back to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, looking for information about her mother, and Thea's own story since she was left at an orphanage. As a photographer of families - many of which used her services when a family member died in order to have final photos with the deceased - Thea makes her inquiries. In present day, there is Heidi, whom I never warmed to as a book character. I guess that's why I didn't love - or even really like this book very much. Still, I read on as I wanted to find out the answer to the little mysteries.

The Restoration by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- since I read the other 2 books in this Prairie State Friends series, I figured I should see how it ends. It was a good book to read while at the park with Sophie. It focused on many of the same characters, but moreso on Priscilla who is desperately wanting her long-time boyfriend to propose marriage already!

Circle of Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilt novel; as the Elm Creek quilters' retreat has 2 staff members leaving, the staff holds interviews. This book tells parts of stories of a few of the applicants and their experiences with quilting.  

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly -- I've had this one my to-get list for a while and finally did. An interesting story told from the perspectives of a Nazi female doctor, one of the Polish "rabbits," and the lady in New York who worked for the French consulate, Caroline Ferriday.  Two of the three ladies are real historical figures whom the author researched and the third is a fictionalized version of real people in the camps.  A good story!

The Quilter's Homecoming by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilt novel; In this book we are told more of the story of Sylvia Compson's older cousin Elizabeth who marries Henry Nelson and leaves the family in Pennsylvania to live on a cattle ranch in California. It was good reading their story about life on the West Coast! 

The New Year's Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilt novel; Sylvia and Andrew married at Christmas, now they travel to Connecticut to break the news to Andrew's daughter Amy who wasn't happy about her father's engagement. Along the way, Sylvia finishes up a quilt that she plans to give Amy for the New Year. This was probably my least favorite book in this series, but it was all right.  I read it alternatively while reading this next one . . .

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton --  I really enjoyed this author, but this was probably my least favorite of her books. Still, it was good, just not my favorite. It takes place - mostly - at Birchwood Manor which draws interesting characters. The story is about those characters who've visited over the years - from the 1860s, when Edward Radcliffe invited his artist friends and younger sisters to stay there, to 2017 when Elodie is seeking answers to her mother's final days. Telling more of the story is the ghost who lives there, Birdie Bell, the Clockmaker's Daughter.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts  -- I really enjoyed this story about Maud Gage Baum, the wife of the author of The Wizard of Oz.  It was such an interesting way to learn about her home life, her married life, her activist mom, and the shaping of the movie and book. I also really liked the last paragraph of the author's acknowledgements section where she honors the memories of many of the main characters.  Good read!

The Winding Ways Quilt by by Jennifer Chiaverini -- another Elm Creek Quilt novel; after all these novels, you would think readers knew everything about the main characters, but then another book comes along which treats you to more backstory.  This was pretty good and an easy read. I finished it on our way home from the beach today.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

February Books

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent -- A somewhat interesting book, but not what I consider an easy read in that it was written in a more old-fashioned way, or, rather, with older phrases and such. Martha Allen is sent to stay with her cousin's family as her cousin gets ready to have her third child. Martha assists Patience around the house while two hired men - Thomas and John - help around the farm while Patience's husband travels for work. Pretty good story.

Round Robin by Jennifer Chiaverini -- This is book 2 in the Elm Creek Quilts series which I decided to start from the beginning (as I mentioned in last month's books post). This book delves into more of the stories of the ladies making up the quilt club - introducing their families, past conflicts, and current ones. A decent, easy read.

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner -- another D.D. Warren novel featuring the Boston Police Department trying to solve crimes where whole families were killed. They were staged as if the fathers killed the mothers and children before they killed themselves, but is that what happened? This was an interesting look into children's psych wards and into families who deal with mentally ill children.

When Light Breaks by Patti Callahan Hentry -- an easy read for museums and parks while Sophie is in town; Kara is engaged to a PGA star, but thinks back to her old childhood friend Jack Sullivan and wonders whatever happened to him; an OK book

The Lost Man by Jane Harper -- as the book jacket states: "Three brothers, One death, No answers..." ; this book takes place in the Australian Outback, and while reading it, I'm amazed at the planning these people must make in order to survive. When the river floods without it raining (due to rain hundreds of miles north), you may be trapped in your house for a couple of weeks. When you need supplies, you better think what you want for your meals for a few months. When the cooler room needs fixing, the repairman won't come unless he has a few other people's properties to be serviced because it costs a hundred in fuel to drive there and back. When you see someone stranded, you better stop to help as it may be a death sentence for the stranded person. It's the code of that part of the land. When Cam - the clever, well-liked middle brother - is found dead several kilometers from his well-equipped and supplied vehicle, people wonder. Was this Cam's way of killing himself?  I discovered this author last year, and enjoyed her mysteries from Australia so I was glad to see this on the new books list at the library. 

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner -- Adeline was born with a genetic condition which allows her to feel no pain. She can feel the pressure of scissors or a razor blade, but she won't flinch or scream from the pain of cutting. She's the daughter of a serial killer who died decades ago, but her father's murders are back in the headlines after a couple of murders in Boston which have similar aspects to her father's MO. This book also deals with Shana, Adeline's older sister who was incarcerated at age 14 after being accused of murdering a neighborhood boy while she was in foster care. This was another good book in the D.D. Warren series by this author.

The Patchwork Bride by Sandra Dallas -- a rather cute, easy read on the New Books shelf; Ellen tells her granddaughter about a friend of her's - Nell - who worked as a hired hand on a ranch, as a waitress, and as a teacher - and she also broke off 3 engagements  of marriage.  What a gal!

Saints at the River by Ron Rash -- Which side would you be on? A 12 year old girl vacationing in a SC mountain area is stuck under the water, caught behind a rock in a hydraulic. This river is designated Wild & Scenic and protected by federal law. Yet, the parents from Illinois understandably want a temporary dam built so they can retrieve their daughter's body for burial! Yet, the local environmental types argue for the sake of the river: it cannot be altered since this sets a precedent for future alteration, for developers to come in and ruin the river. That's essentially what this book dealt with from the point of view of Maggie, native of this area who now is a photographer based out of Columbia.

The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich -- "an oral history of women in World War II" -- this book was highly recommended by Bridget, and her mom spoke highly of it, too. So I got it for Christmas from my Amazon Wishlist; a great look at the tasks women performed, the unique hardships they faced as women fighting for the Motherland (Russia) during the war shared through interviews with dozens of women

The Hope Jar by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- I saw this online as a new book and put it on hold; book one in The Prayer Jars series; an easy read; Michelle, a former foster child on the run, is mistaken by an Amish couple as their just-discovered (by letter) granddaughter, Sara. Michelle decides to pretend to be Sara and spends weeks with the Lapps. What could go wrong?

The Cross-Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini -- This is book 3 in the Elm Creek Quilts series; it follows the lives of a group of mostly-strangers (the actress Julia; the quilt historian Grace; Megan and Donna, who are already online friends; and Vinnie, a camp regular)  who meet at the quilt camp. They leave that week with promises to overcome challenges and to work on a quilt that they will complete together the following year.

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline -- Rose is one of the two volunteer lunch moms when a small explosion in the cafeteria causes a deadly fire. Rose doesn't know whether to rush three girls in her charge out the door to the playground or go back for her own daughter Melly who had fled to the bathroom after one of the girls bullied her. As Rose tries to clear things up, she takes it upon herself to figure out what caused this explosion in the first place.

Home Front by Kristin Hannah -- A family in Washington - Jolene, the Black Hawk helicopter pilot, her attorney husband, Michael; preteen daughter Betsy and four year old Lulu.  Life is already a struggle, but then when Jolene is called up to go to Balad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Michael has to learn how to be there for his daughters. Jolene has to decide how much to tell the family back home. And the girls have to adjust to their mom being overseas, in a war zone.

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa -- A look at the passengers of the St. Louis, desperate German Jews, who thought they would have a place to stay in Cuba. But the Cuban President passed an order that allowed a fraction of them to disembark. That story told through the eyes of Hannah, the German girl.  A touching story.

The Decision by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- I often like having a soft-cover, easy read when the kids are in town, and while I mostly read this one after Sophie was back home, it was an OK story about Prairie State Friends (book 1). It takes place among the Illinois Amish, and talked about Elaine who was struggling with her forgetful grandmother, and about Jonah who was getting over a failed marriage attempt. Maybe a predictable story, and at times a bit too ... simplistically annoying, but, eh, I might find book 2 just to read more about these folks.

The Next Accident by Lisa Gardner -- this was not a D.D. Warren novel, and, frankly, probably one of my least favorite books by this author. It was OK, but the story of Rainie and the FBI profiler Pierce Quincy wasn't that great to me. Maybe if I'd read the previous books featuring these two, I'd like them more, but the library didn't have those so I had to start with this one. Pierce's oldest daughter and ex-wife are murdered by someone targeting those close to him, and so it's off to looking for this person.

Searching for You by Jody Hedlund -- Final book in the Orphan Train series; this one focused on the youngest Neumann sister, Sophie, who had run away from her older sisters when she thought she would have to give up the care of the two little children, Olivia and Nicholas, whom she had cared for after their mom abandoned them. Sophie is struggling to provide for them, and decides to join the orphan train as an orphan. They head west to a farm in Illinois where they come across a couple of familiar faces. 

The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini -- This is another in the Elm Creek Quilt series and combines modern-day Sylvia and her friends who run the quilting retreat with glimpses of Sylvia's ancestors who lived around the time of the US Civil War. I got many more glimpses of the people familiar to me from the first book I read in this series which happened to be way later in the series if I were going in order. It was nice reading more about Anneke and Hans Bergstrom and Gerda, Han's older sister who lived with them. Sylvia found Gerda's memoir which revealed some family secrets and kind of created more.  Good story!

Death Books a Return by Marion Moore Hill -- this book from the Scrappy Librarian Mystery series was displayed at my local library so I decided to give it a try. It was decent and an easy read while I was at the beach and riding home from the beach today (2/26.)  Juanita, the public librarian, is trying to write a history of the town and is tracking down people who might know something about an unsolved murder involving some high schoolers back in the late 1950s. A black teenager was killed and his murderers were never arrested.  A decent book.

Maid by Stephanie Land -- "hard work, low pay, and a mother's will to survive"; I saw this offered online in the new books section of the library's website so I put it on hold a few weeks back. It was an interesting look at the author's life as a single mother working hard to provide for herself and her daughter.  I admire her hard work, but not her life choices.

A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden -- Eloise returns to the valley near where she grew up as part of New York City's accounting department. She's there on official business as the City plans to buy out the folks in Duval Springs so they can dismantle the town and flood it. NYC needs drinking water, ya know! This book wasn't my favorite of this author's, but it was a decent, easy read.