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

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March Books


The Answer Is ... Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek -- a great book of highlights about a great game-show host who died last year from pancreatic cancer. It made me smile, it made me cry; he challenged me and made me reflect.

MOVIE! I rarely watch movies (like years apart) so I had to make note of this!  Hidden Figures -- since Andrew and I read the book last month, I got the DVD at the library and we watched it tonight (March 1). I'm not a big movie watcher, but it was great! I guess it was even better to me since I'd just read the book within the last couple of weeks. 

The Ex by Alafair Burke -- When her ex-fiancé is questioned for murder, Olivia Randall heads to the police station to see how she can help. She's convinced he's innocent, after all sweet Jack has no dark side, right?

The Divines by Ellie Eaton -- Josephine reflects on her days as a spoiled, bullying, self-conscious boarding school student, her peers, former best friends, roommate, and townies while dealing with a new marriage and later the birth of a child. Not my favorite.

The Choice by Gillian McAllister -- After a woman is harassed at a bar, she feels threatened when she hears someone following her home. (This takes place in London where people walk home.) When she fears this person is going to grab her, she pushes him - hard. And he lands in a heap down 7 stairs. Is he dead? Should she call 999, or hope no one saw her and flee? This book deals with alternating chapters: Reveal and Conceal to show you how it could go either way. Different!

Three Single Wives by Ginai Lamanna -- The story begins with Anna, Eliza, and Penny meeting with self-help author Marguerite Hill when the topic takes a dark turn, discussing how women can be free, even if it involves murder. When someone is later discovered dead, the ladies are questioned by the Los Angeles Police Department in a pretty good, not-too-dark-but-hey-it's-murder whodunit.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah -- After years in foster care, a social worker found greataunt Eva who agreed for Lexi to live with her. Lexi soon becomes friends with Mia, and by extension eventually, her twin brother, Zach. One night their lives change. Pretty good story.

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames by Justine Cowan  -- The author explores her mother's past and discovers that her mom was a "foundling" in England, and what all that entailed for her. Pretty interesting story of how unwed mothers were treated as well as their children, and the "hope" that getting admittance into a foundling hospital could mean for these children.

From This Moment by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Jase left his hometown of San Antonio for a small town in Kansas to take a youth pastor job. Lori and Kenzie are best friends in the church Jase attends. As Jase gets to know them, he finds out Kenzie is thinking of going back home to her Amish family, and Lori struggles with her own issues. Of course Jase is struggling with things too...after all his fiancée died in a car accident. Decent book; nothing special, but not bad.

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel -- Another decent book; nothing special, but not bad type. Moira gets a job in her mother's home country, Ireland, and struggles with the people in this small village as they seem to know more about her background than she does.

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris -- Newspaper reporter Ellis Reeds sees a couple of children for sale, and takes a photo that later involves those children becoming better known than planned. Pretty good story.

The Wife by Alafair Burke -- Angela has a past that she wants to keep hidden. A past that has something to do with her disappearance at age 16, and her return three years later with a little child. When her hotshot husband is accused of sexual harrassment and later rape, Angela's privacy may be an issue...and she doesn't want that to happen. Pretty good story.

The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper -- A psychological thriller, a bit of a mystery among the neighbors when the energetic, sunny, teenage daughter doesn't return from school, and the parents visit the downstairs neighbor and others trying to piece together what happened to Freya. Meanwhile there is a twenty-five years-before storyline involving Kate and her mother, and a cousin who helps Kate in an effort to free Kate's mom from an abusive partner. Good story if you like this type of mystery.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen -- After witnessing a suicide while waiting for a subway station, Shay is comforted by two sisters, Cassandra and Jane, who were friends of the deceased. They help her overcome her fear of the subway system, get a new look, and encourage her as she makes life changes. But then some strange things happen. Pretty good psychological thriller.

Long Gone by Alafair Burke -- Alice Humphrey is approached by an art collector with an offer of a dream job. Is this too good to be true? When she goes one morning to meet with the man offering her the job, the new gallery's windows are papered over and the lights are out. Pretty good suspenseful novel. I seem to be reading a lot of these books lately, huh?

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer -- Eh, not my favorite, but OK. Beth took her little girl, Carmel, to a book fair where she disappeared. The story alternates from both perspectives as time moves on.

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins -- I read this fun book in between sessions with the book below (lawsuit) which was a nice break. A rather cute story about a GI doctor, Nora, who took a leave of absence from her hospital in Boston after an accident. She returned to her hometown, an island off the coast of Maine. There she tries to reconnect with her mom; her niece, Poe, who is staying with Nora's mom; and others. I literally laughed out loud (ok, a bit quietly, but still) at a few places in this book, and I'm not generally an easy one to get to LOL at stuff.  (I'm not particularly difficult, I just don't find things as funny as some people do.) Cute book!  Page 220 still makes me chuckle. After a deer is hit by a car, Nora and her dinner party guests are trying to figure out what to do since the deer is still alive. Nora's mom, a fierce Mainah, figures she will kill it with a knife to put it out of its misery. She will take the fresh meat for use.  One friend says, "'With a little physical therapy, you never know,'" ... "'Could be eating hostas by next week.'"   (Spoiler alert: the deer was able to right itself and ran into the woods). That whole section about the dinner party ... too funny!

Stand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze -- "The battle to save one small community in the wilderness along the Appalachian Trail" ; Andrew read this book and even though it's about a lawsuit (shudder), he said it was interesting reading about the fight to stop a rock mine along Hump Mountain in Avery County. The book has interesting tidbits about the history of the region and the author did tell this story in a non-legalese way so it was not too bad.

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner -- I usually enjoy this author's mysteries, and I liked this new (to me) character, Frankie Elkin, who moves to areas where children have gone missing and works at bars until she feels inclined to move on. This story is mostly in a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation where a lot of Haitian immigrants live. Frankie gets a job and questions people in her quest to find Angelique Badeau. Pretty good story.

Bird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline -- I read a book by her late last year that was really good. This one wasn't bad, but nothing like the other. In it, two couples deal with a book tour about her childhood in the south (Claire), an accident that involves someone getting killed (Alison), and such things. An ok story, an easy read.

Thursday's Children by Nicci French -- Another book in the Frieda Klein series; in this book Frieda is introduced to a former classmate's daughter which eventually leads Frieda back to her hometown, a place she left when she was sixteen. A pretty good story. The scene where her mother died is amusing. Really.

Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman -- A pretty interesting mystery by an author I've not read before. Liz and Paul along with their children are on the way to his family's farm when their children are missing the next morning! Paul decides to look for them, but then, he stays gone too. Hmmm.

Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee -- A few years after the stock market crashed on her sixteenth birthday, Lorena gets a job with the federal government which aims to put writers back to work. She's tasked with getting stories from the formerly enslaved population of Nashville. Pretty good story.

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey -- If you like books about cloning new wives and husbands, you might like this book. It was fairly interesting and bizarre really. I liked it ok, but I'm not going out of my way to read other books by her.

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- Inspired by the true story of Cora Williams Stewart, superintendent of schools in Rowan County, Kentucky, this book introduces us to several likeable and fun characters from the mountain community. My favorites were Finley James and Angie Cooper. Lucy travels from Lexington to help her cousin; it's quite an adjustment for this city girl as she learns to visit the hollars by horse. Pretty good story.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline -- An interesting story about Evangeline, a governess accused of larceny and murder, who ends up on a boat for Australia as part of England's move-convicts-to-another-place policy in the 1800s. In prison she makes friends with Olive and Hazel and the ship's surgeon. Good book.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin -- Not my usual type of book, but a somewhat interesting look at Truman Capote and his "swans," Babe Pauley, Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, and so forth. What a lifestyle!

The Switch by Beth O'Leary -- When Leena is given a 2 month paid leave from her job, she visits her grandmother Eileen who, at 79, is looking for love again. Leena decides to sign up her grandmother on a dating website, but finds there are slim pickings nearby. Then Leena decides she and her grandmother should switch places for two months. That's right. Leena took over her grandma's committees and other assignments in her small village while Grandma Eileen moves to London where there are a few more eligible men. Pretty cute, light read.

The Damascus Road by Jay Parini -- This is a novel of Saint Paul that, I believe, Amazon recommended to me, or maybe I saw it mentioned elsewhere. I got it for Christmas, and decided to read it the last couple of days. Pretty interesting to hear the story of Paul told in novel form from the perspectives of both Paul and his traveling companion, Luke.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

February Books


The War Widow by Tara Moss -- Billie Walker owns a private-inquiry agency in post-World War II Australia. When she's asked to find a missing 17 year old boy, she realizes Adin Brown has been the victim of something much bigger than earlier expected. With her secretary/assistant Sam, Billie is off to investigate!  Pretty good story!

Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson -- The story of Ward Bennett's time as a young man living as a cowboy on a ranch in Nevada where women would live six weeks before their divorces were final. Interesting, huh? Pretty cute story.

Rocket Men by Robert Kurson -- "The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon" -- Andrew read this book and told me, "you'd like this one!" so I read it and I did really like this one! Great story about astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders along with their wives and all the many people who helped make Apollo 8 a success. 
Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little -- I'd like this book better if I were a movie lover, but even without that, this was a rather cute book. Movie editor Marissa Dahl - a loveable quirky character - is hired to work on a movie set based on a real-life murder on an island off the coast of Delaware.

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen -- My mom finished this book and instead of taking it back to the library for her, I decided to read it first since she enjoyed it. I did too!  Takes place mostly in World War II England with the aristocratic folks from Farleigh and the curator's son, Ben. Pretty good story.

The Heiress by Molly Greeley -- I liked her first book better; this was just ok to me. It's subtitled  "The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh" and there are many admirable bits in the book for sure, but it wasn't a favorite.

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson -- So, Andrew decided to find another book by this author and again, "you'll want to read this one" so I did. It's subtitled, "Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship."  The author interviews John Chatterton (from a former book) and his new partner, John Mattera, as they hunt for the Golden Fleece, a missing pirate ship from the late 1600s which was captained by Joseph Bannister. Another good story! 
Unorthodox: the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman -- I found this in a Free Little Library last year, and finally read it. The author talks about her childhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, and her marriage and the birth of her son. An ok story.

The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin -- An interesting story from the Great Plains in the late 1880s when a blizzard surprised folks by its suddenness and timing: when children were just being dismissed from school for the day. Good story!

Adrift by Steven Callahan -- A story from over 15 years ago that I read most of on Valentine's Day since it was cold, wet, and Andrew had finished it so I decided to read it before returning it to the library. The author's story about his seventy-six days lost at sea. I admire how he overcame so many obstacles - wow. Pretty interesting story.

Unveiling the Past by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Sean and Meghan are a husband and wife cold-case detective team who are looking for answers for a young lady whose father supposedly embezzled money and took off. This is completely different from the father Sheila knew. Meanwhile Meghan decides about meeting her absentee father.  A decent book.
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister -- A rather odd story about a father and daughter who lived alone on a small island where the dad, a scent scientist, tried to capture scents much like folks captured pictures on Polaroid cameras. Emmeline knows nothing of the outside world until one day when everything changes. Suddenly she's living off the island and having to get used to people. Pretty good story.

The Bible Doesn't Say That by Dr. Joel M. Hoffman -- this popped up on Amazon's suggestions for me, and I do tend to like stuff like this so I put it on my Wishlist and got it for Christmas. It's "40 Mistranslations, Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings" from both the Old and New Testaments. Decent book; some things were interesting, and others seemed a bit of a stretch to me, but I'm not the language expert as he is so...

Jackie and Maria by Gill Paul -- An interesting book about Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas, and one man they had in common Aristotle Onassis. I didn't know much about these folks despite hearing about Jackie and her second husband over the years. While the author admits much of this is made up, it was still an interesting way to learn more about their personalities and such. Parts of the book had some about the Kennedy family as well, especially the former president. 
All That We Carried by Erin Bartels -- Two sisters who haven't been together in about a decade meet for a hiking trip in Michigan's upper peninsula. Olivia is a prosecuting attorney while Melanie offers uplifting messages to her YouTube and other social media followers. Pretty cute story of their time together in the woods.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly -- Here's another book Andrew read that he thought I'd like. This one didn't capture my attention and excitement quite like the Kurson books (remember rocketing around the moon, deep-wreck divers, pirate ship?), but it was a great look at many women, mostly black women in the book, who were the computers, the math aides, the mathematicians, the engineers behind the United States' flights in wars and later to space.

Recipe For A Perfect Wife by Karma Brown -- good book about "women daring to take control"; alternating between Alice of recent times as she and her husband move from NYC to the suburbs, and Nellie, the lady who lived in the house in the 1950s.

The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson -- Mary Crampton has barely traveled out of Petroleum in her life. After her mother died in childbirth, Mary lives with her father who runs the community's mortuary. A decent story about small-town living and growing up in an odd house.

Fever by Mary Beth Keane -- An interesting look at the life of Mary Mallon also known as Typhoid Mary. I enjoyed this story.

Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French -- More in the Frieda Klein mystery series; pretty good story. Frieda searches for a missing woman, and her house is invaded by people as her niece's friend and his siblings stay with her for a day or two, and as her Ukraninan friend replaces her bathtub.  Troubling situation for an introvert.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen -- Jess is working as a make-up artist in New York when she comes across a study by a Dr. Shields that would earn her $500! The need for some quick money gets her involved in a morality and ethics study which lasts longer than the initial two days. Pretty good story!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

DNA Update 2021 Edition

 I went to Ancestry for something entirely different, and found out they updated the DNA stuff so I will post this here for the record. This includes my parents (David and Sharon), two siblings (Daniel and Stephanie), my brother in law (Will), my husband (Andrew), and nephew (Michael).

Bold:  his/her highest

Italics: second highest

Andrew -- 55%
Daniel -- 44%
Sharon -- 43%
Stephanie -- 38%
Michael -- 31%
Susanne -- 28%
David -- 23%

Will -- 47%
Michael -- 33%

Sharon -- 35%
Susanne -- 32%
Daniel -- 28%
Stephanie -- 22%
Andrew -- 21%
David -- 5%
Will -- 3%


Will -- 29%
Michael -- 12%


David -- 21%
Susanne -- 8%
Will -- 7%
Daniel -- 3%
Stephanie -- 3%
Michael -- 3%

Sharon -- 18%
Stephanie -- 15%
Andrew -- 14%
Susanne -- 14%
David -- 12%
Michael -- 9%
Daniel -- 7%
Will -- 1%

David -- 13%
Stephanie -- 9%
Daniel -- 8%
Michael -- 1%

David -- 12%
Stephanie -- 8%
Susanne -- 4%
Daniel -- 4%
Sharon -- 3%

Will -- 10%

Single Digits 

David -- 9%
Stephanie -- 1%


Susanne -- 6%
Michael -- 5%
Stephanie -- 3%
Will -- 1%
Susanne -- 6%
Daniel -- 4%
Michael -- 4%
David -- 2%

Andrew -- 5%

David -- 3%
Stephanie -- 1%

Andrew -- 3%
Daniel -- 2%


Susanne -- 2%


Andrew -- 2%

Sharon -- 1%

Michael -- 1%


Michael -- 1%
Will -- 1%
Will -- 1%

Saturday, January 30, 2021

January Books


A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell -- A thriller/mystery type book centering on Aidan, a local whom Caroline sees staring at her house from the beach. Caroline is a weekender, who comes up to Aidan's hometown. After a fling, Aidan deems himself in love with Caroline, who is 15 years older, while Caroline finds his ways stalkerish. But the two of them have varying accounts of what is going on.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel -- Eva is a Jewish lady who lives in occupied France. When she finds her artistic skills come in handy for forging papers, the Resistance puts her to work! Good story.

Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould -- first in the Plain Patterns series; Modern day Savannah Mast travels back to her Amish Mammi's house in Indiana after her wedding is called off. While there she gets involved in the community and enjoys the story of an early Amish widow who arrived in that part of the country in the 1800s. The book draws a few parallels between Savannah's experiences and that of her great-something grandmother Emma. Pretty good story. 

The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz -- A pretty good story of Ellie and Brick along with their children Samantha and Reilly during various decades in the 1900s as women's roles were changing beyond marrying and staying home with the babies.

Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia -- Nora is a forensic accountant asked to investigate the ultra-pricey gym she happens to attend. She's enamoured with Logan Russo, the kickboxer celebrity, but her investigation puts her into a role having to find out if Ms. Russo has a devious side. Pretty good story.

To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano -- Parts of this book were cute, but overall it was just OK. This is the first in the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency with a lot of women in a boarding house making up the agency. And some of them are cute characters, but it might be too many characters which I guess is good for a long series (plenty of characters to focus on.) This one dealt mostly with Gabriella who was reunited with her childhood friend Nicholas Quinn. They grew up on the streets until she was sent to an orphanage and lost track of him.

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans -- I received this book along with another of RHE's books last year, but never got around to reading this one. Maybe it's because I knew it was her last that I'd read - new book anyway, as I may read her books again. I sat looking at her face on the back cover last night thinking, "I can't believe she's dead!"  Another good book here! I enjoy her thoughts on the Bible, Jesus, Christianity, faith, skepticism, and so much more.

They're Gone by E.A. Barres -- Cessy Castillo and Deb Thomas lose their husbands on the same night. Both men gunned down in similar fashion. These two women meet and discover they are being hunted down because they might know too much. Not the best "stunning, dark, evocative thriller" I've read, but OK. It was fairly easy to read through though not the most interesting book of this genre.

The Stone Wall by Beverly Lewis -- Anna gets a job as a tour guide in an Amish community two hours from home. She's attracted to a fellow tour guide as well as an Old Amish widower. An ok story; an easy read. 

Tuesday's Gone by Nicci French -- part of the Frieda Klein series; in this book Frieda is asked to help the local police after a social worker discovers one of her clients has a dead man in her house. A dead man that she's been taking care of including offering him tea and iced buns. Pretty good story.

How to Raise An Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith -- I found the newest (2020) book in the series about Mms Ramotswe and the gang. There was one night I was reading a bit out loud to Andrew and I was dying laughing. It probably was not that funny to him, but it struck me funny. Pretty cute story.

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson -- "the true adventure of two Americans who risked everything to solve one of the last mysteries of World War II" -- Andrew saw this book at Barnes & Noble, and checked it out of the library. He kept saying, "you'd like this book" so when he finished, instead of returning it, I figured I'd start it...and, yes, I did like this book! What a fascinating sport (deep-wreck diving), and the mystery for the unidentified U-boat was neat. I realize this book is rather old, but I'd not heard the story or seen the documentaries and shows about it, so it was still a nice (true) mystery for me.

Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney -- A pretty cute murder mystery featuring Clemmie who lives in Fort Mill, SC, in a retirement community. When she goes looking for her neighbor who hasn't checked in as usual, she finds a beautiful glass piece which her greatniece and nephew discover is stolen. Somehow Clemmie gets involved in this murder, but she's also frightened that her past life will be discovered.

Brontë's Mistress by Finola Austin -- An imagined story of Lydia Robinson and her family. Pretty interesting way to learn more about her and a possible way she and Branwell Brontë met.

Falling Home by Karen White -- a bit long, but easy-to-read book with enough little "mysteries" to hold my attention. Not the most exciting book/mystery, but decent. Cassie is summoned to her home in Georgia when her father gets ill. She ran away from her small hometown fifteen years ago, and it's quite something being back in the South after years in New York City.

The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor -- Maggie's cousin Erin disappeared 23 years ago while she was living in Ireland. When a possible fresh lead is discovered, she now a detective, travels back to Ireland from her home in New York. A pretty good mystery from a new-to-me author.

A Midwife's Song: Oh, Freedom! by Patricia Harman -- I've read most of her Hope River novels, but hadn't gotten this one so I put it on my Wishlist and received it for Christmas. This book deals with Patience Hester and her friend Bitsy, but also delves into the backstory of Gracie Potter, the old nurse/midwife whom the ladies looked up to when they were new midwives in the area. Pretty interesting story!

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole -- A "thriller" by an author I had never read, but a friend sent me this book for Christmas so I read it. Sydney is part of a Black neighborhood in Brooklyn that is seeing big changes as more and more of her longtime neighbors are being forced out of their homes. When a white guy who just moved in across the street offers to help her research for her walking tours, Sydney agrees Theo can work for her without pay (part of his "reparations.")  An interesting look at gentrification and evils done to Black communities.

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klasen -- I was delighted to see this standalone novel on the new books shelf the other day. While I like her Ivy Lane series well enough, I couldn't always remember the characters from past books so I didn't enjoy them as much as if I just waited until the whole series was finished and then binge-read them. But her standalone novels are great, and I enjoyed this trip to Cornwall and learning about shipwrecks and people washing ashore. The locals are a pretty interesting lot, too!  This book deals with Laura who helped save a man's life after a shipwreck. Good story.

Always the Last to Know by Kristan Higgins -- A fast-paced book about the Frost family: Barb the town's selectman; Sadie who left her love Noah because he wanted to stay in small-town Connecticut while she wanted to be an artist in New York City; Juliet, the perfect daughter and mother who feels like life is falling apart; and John the husband and father who brings everyone together when he has a stroke while riding his bicycle. Pretty good story.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

December Books


Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Green -- I wasn't sure at first if I'd like this book since the story was told by letters and newspaper columns, but it ended up being pretty interesting. Johanna returns to her hometown in order to be a translator at a German POW camp. The prisoners are there to help farmers with their crops, and Johanna has to translate for the Germans as well as censor their letters if necessary. Pretty cute story.

A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham -- After finding out a shocking secret surrounding her birth, Agnes left her life in Buffalo for the Dakota Territory where she's lived 6 years and taught the area children. When a new doctor comes to town, Aggie is stunned to find it is the sweetheart she left back east. An OK story; pretty good. I thought the part about scarlet fever and quarantining was interesting in these covid-19 times.

Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon -- While at the store one day, Rhonda watches someone dressed up in a bunny costume lure a little girl away from her car. This book was a bit bizarre at times, but fairly good in a weird way.

The Invitation-Only Zone by Robert S. Boynton -- "the true story of North Korea's abduction project;" this was one of Bridget's recommendations from last year that I got for my birthday or last Christmas and finally took the time to read. I am not overly-familiar with this region of the world, but found the background and information about the abductees interesting! I'm still not exactly sure why these people were targeted, but the explanations provided make some sense.

An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham -- An ok book about Greer Hadley, thirty years old, forced to do community service at a music rehab place near Nashville, Tennessee. She helps out a teenager who lost her military father, and also rides out to meet Emmett Lawson, who is also suffering due to his military experiences.

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas -- another book in the Lady Sherlock Series. This time Sherlock Holmes with the help of his clever sister, Charlotte, and her companions are asked to help in the case of Inspector Treadles as he is charged in a double murder.

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty -- This book features triplets - Lyn, Gemma, and Cat - and the adventures of their 33rd year. Pretty cute story.

The Paris Hours by Alex George -- Snippets of the lives of an Armenian puppet maker, a maid to Marcel Proust, a struggling artist, a novelist with dreams of America, but who must stay in Paris because of his search for someone - a lovely book.

Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks -- I am more familiar with this author's late husband as I've read most of Tony Horwitz's books in recent years. But I've read a couple of her books as well, and saw this non-fiction book was available at my library. I enjoyed reading of her growing-up years in Sydney, Australia, especially since I met my Aussie/Greek relative Kos about three months ago. It was interesting reading the author's version of events and thinking, "I wonder what Kos would say about this." The two of them are not very far apart in age, though he is an immigrant to Australia (arriving as a baby from Rhodes) whereas in Geraldine's case her American-born father is the immigrant. (Her mom's family is Irish Catholic in case you were curious.) Geraldine writes of wanting to learn more from pen pals in the US, Israel (a Jew and an Arab there), France, and even a girl on the nicer side of Sydney. Later in life, she travels to find these friends or their families.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline -- I've read a few novels about orphan trains, but somehow had never read this one. Niamh comes to NYC from Ireland hoping for a good life for her family, but after a fire, she is sent to Minnesota where she's taken in by a couple who want her to work (sew) for their business. In more current times, Molly is part of a foster family and has to do community service at Vivian's house where she's helping the 90-year-old sort through her attic. Good story. 

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson -- The author pretends that Marie Antoinette kept a diary starting when she was 13 years old up until her demise. Pretty interesting way to learn more about this historical character, even if most of it was made up.

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon -- There is a bit of a creepy factor to this book about Rose and her older sister Sylvie, growing up at a motel in Vermont before the highway came through and ran them out of business. The books flips from Rose and Sylvie's childhood to Rose's daughter Amy and her two friends Piper and Margot; to modern times when Amy is thought to have killed her family and Piper and Margot investigate. Pretty good story.

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout -- This author writes in a folksy, intimate way...I detected this in her other novels which I read this year. This book dealt with single mom, Isabelle, and her teenage daughter Amy. Pretty good story.

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin -- It took me a while to get through this book. Not because it's heavy; just I read it during the Christmas season and I kept getting distracted. This is like a modern-day (well, World War II) telling of Esther, but instead of the story of Haman and his plot to kill the Jews, it was a story of a ghetto and a young Jewish woman. Pretty good story.

Blue Monday by Nicci French -- first in a series starring psychoanalyst Frieda Klein of London. In this book her client's dream of a son sounds eerily like a recent kidnapping. Frieda shares her concerns with the local police detective and ends up getting involved in the case to find the little red-haired boy. 

A Good American by Alex George -- Frederick and Henrietta called Jette leave Germany for America after they do something that disgraces Jette's family. While they had thoughts of New York in mind, the only ship sailing from Bremen was headed to New Orleans. There the family meets folks who lead them towards Missouri where they chance to settle down in a little place named Beatrice. This book is told by Frederick and Jette's grandson James; a pretty good tale by this British-born author to end the year 2020.

Monday, November 30, 2020

November Books


Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia -- When a dead body is discovered in an abandoned bar, Sheriff Del Goodman is horrified to learn his best friend's daughter was the victim of a murder in this small southern Minnesota town. Hattie had been a popular high school student, a smart person and an actress. Pretty good story.

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy -- Nora Shipley is nearing the end of her college years at Cornell where she's the only female scientist studying entomology. While her stepfather presses her to meet someone and get married, Nora is itching to earn the scholarship in order to get her master's degree and later take over her late father's scientific journal. Pretty good story. I like the part when Nora joins a team researching in India.

The Fiction Class by Susan Breen -- Arabella is teaching a class on fiction writing; in this book we meet her students, and also tag along for her trips to visit her mother in a nursing home. Pretty good story.

The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon -- A suspenseful book about Reggie and the disappearance of her mother over 20 years before. When her mother suddenly reappears, Reggie returns to her hometown to take care of her (her mom's dying) and to get some answers about the murderer dubbed Neptune. Pretty good story if you like this sort of thing.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D. -- I saw this in the library's online catalog a couple weeks ago, and when I went to pick up a library hold, this one was included. I started reading it the day Joe Biden was declared the winner (yay) of the presidential election. This is a somewhat interesting tale of the Trump family through the eyes of Donald's niece. She is the daughter of Fred and Mary Anne Trump's oldest child.

Defending Hillsborough by Clarissa Thomasson -- An OK story about a couple who ran the Orange Hotel and Tavern in Hillsborough, NC. My mom read this one recently and recommended it. It was a rather simple story of Henry and Sarah and their children in the years leading up to and through the Civil War.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell -- This story alternates from Vanessa in 2017, and Vanessa 17 years prior when she attended a boarding school when she was fifteen years old. Her English teacher makes her feel really special, so special that 17 years later - during the Me Too movement - Vanessa still can't call what he did to her, rape. Because she feels like she had the power; that he was weak.

Last Day by Luanne Rice -- When Kate discovers that her younger sister Beth has been murdered, she does her best to figure out who did it, and why. Meanwhile detective Conor Reid is on the case. A pretty good story.

House of Correction by Nicci French -- A fast-paced story about Tabitha Hardy who ends up in prison because a neighbor was found dead in her shed. Her lawyer wants her to agree to a plea deal, but Tabitha is not guilty - at least she hopes not! - and wants to represent herself in court.  I've never read a book by this author - actually it's a husband and wife team so "these authors" - but I might read more of them eventually. Pretty good book.

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty -- Back and forth between the hypnotist Ellen, and her new boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, Saskia, who stalks Patrick. Pretty good book. I tend to like this author and her characters!

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall -- Max and Vivi meet while both ladies are working at the World's Fair in New York in 1939. Max works at the Fair's daily newspaper while Vivi is the star of the Aquacade. Pretty interesting story.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman -- Eliza receives a letter from Walter Bowman, the man on death row for murdering a teen girl when Eliza was 15. Walter wants to reconnect with Eliza, the girl he held captive for nearly 40 days that summer. Pretty good story.

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman -- A pretty good book by a new-to-me author, an actress from North London. This psychological thriller features Dr. Emma Lewis who is called to her hometown in order to work with a patient who washed up on the shore and doesn't have any memories. Or is he faking it?

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin -- I read a book by this author earlier this year which I enjoyed, and this was quite different, but still good. There were a few things I took issue with because the author set the book in a fictitious coastal town in North Carolina, and maybe her research is way better than what I know about my state (which is probably true), but there were a couple things about certain trees that made me take notice. (Do we have fir trees and lemon trees that grow on our coast? We might, but in my mind fir trees = higher elevations, and lemon trees = a bit more tropical climate than we have here.  But I've never lived on the coast so what do I know?) But the author is based in Melbourne so I'll give her a pass. There were a few typos that I caught, but that would be more of a proofreader problem. Besides all that, the story itself was enjoyable. Rachel Krall does a true crimes podcast, and instead of visiting older cases, in this series she's covering a rape trial because unlike murder (which tends to not be quite so controversial in the public's eye), rape is more controversial. Did she give consent, but just regret that she agreed to have sex? It's more of a he said-she said thing.

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer -- Cute, light read about three heavy-set friends, Nola, Deb, and Nancy who read the advice of Belinda Apple, the popular British columnist, and decide to lose weight together. Well, each lady has her own way of doing this, so it's not like they are together together. Nola is a fashion editor and, well, this book was a fun read - especially after reading books about murders and rapes this month!

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon -- A bit different, but overall a good book about Eva aka Necco when she lives on the street. When folks close to her are murdered, Necco is eager to find out who is after her. Luckily, she has Theo and Pru to help her. 

The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan -- Betty Stern was left with her grandparents when she was four, and has helped run their resort in South Haven, Michigan. Now she's experiencing her one last summer before she leaves for New York City where she hopes to finish college and eventually become a fashion editor. Alternating between Betty of that summer in 1951, and Betty of decades later - when she's in her mid-80s - this book is about remembering the past and enjoying friendships that last. Well, sort of like that. Pretty cute book.

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz -- Several of the books I'm reading now were on the New Books shelves of the library when I went in there recently. I thought I'd pick up some smaller fiction books to read over Thanksgiving week, and this was one of those. It was just ok. It wasn't terrible, but none of the three storylines really connected with me. Parts of each were a bit interesting, but when the book was done, I was just like "eh, not sure I'll read this author again."

The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson -- an OK book; fairly cute, but not overly-exciting. Dillon breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, quits her job, and moves back to central Oregon to care for her grandpa and figure out what to do next. Surprisingly her mom has also moved into grandpa's house and Dillion is stuck sleeping on the couch. Until...her grandpa gives her an old camper that his friend left for him when he died. Dillon enjoys fixing up her camper and such.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

October Books


Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin -- After being replaced in her band, Claire licks her wounds and accepts a job as a musician for a playgroup full of wealthy, perfect mothers in New York City. Alternating between the perspectives of Claire, Whitney, Amara, and Gwen, this book tells more about their experiences.  Pretty entertaining story!

The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw -- I don't usually read a lot of war books or watch war movies, but Bedford is a small town in Virginia that Andrew and I have passed through several times on our way to hike at the Peaks of Otter. We had noticed all the memorials to their World War II heroes, and when we stopped at their nice visitor's center this summer, we decided to get this book to read more about "One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice." I don't know that I've read a book with as much dread since I knew ahead of time that these guys who mostly just joined the National Guard in order to make a few dollars for their families, were killed. Many of them were in Company A, which landed first on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. As the book alternated between the boys in the service, and folks waiting back home, I shed a few tears at this great loss.

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell -- Aubrey, Jenny, and Kate were freshmen roommates at Carlisle and became close. Twenty years later, one of them is urged to jump from a bridge where someone died during their college days. A pretty good suspenseful book alternating between the ladies' perspectives.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty -- Imagine yourself at your Friday spin class, you fall and bump your head, and wake up thinking it's ten years ago. That's what happened to Alice in this book only ten years ago for her was 1998. She can't remember the turn of the millennium, no remembrance of 9-11, she can't even remember her children!  Good book; I love the characters!

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio -- After Emily's husband leaves her for another woman, she travels to Bainbridge Island in Washington to visit her aunt, in a place where she spent summers in her younger years. Aunt Bee welcomes her, and soon Emily is interested in reading the journal from someone named Esther who wrote it in the 1940s. It's a bit of a mystery: was this Esther real or was this a novel someone started writing? Pretty good story.

The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan -- After getting demoted from her job with the Women's Voluntary Service, Mrs. Braithwaite decides to visit her daughter who is doing some job for the war effort in England. Mrs. Braithwaite arrives at her daughter's boardinghouse to find out she hasn't been seen in a few days. Thus, the search for Betty and her involvement in spying and such. Quite the cute book with loveable characters such as Mrs. Braithwaite and Mr. Norris.

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks -- The story of David as told from the viewpoint of Natan (Nathan), the prophet. I knew much of this Bible story, but it was still an interesting perspective. 

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine -- a pretty good story about two women: Amber and Daphne. When Amber "accidentally" bumps into Daphne at the gym, the women bond over their shared experiences of losing sisters to cystic fibrosis. Amber finagles her way into Daphne's life and gradually lands a choice job as the personal assistant to Daphne's handsome and super-rich husband.

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer -- Alice's life is busy with a gifted child and another child on the autism spectrum, but when her beloved Babcia asks her to go to Poland to solve some mysteries, Alice takes the trip. Alternating between Alice's life today and her grandmother's life in Poland during the German occupation... well, this is a pretty good story!  And I love that bits of the author's family inspired it.

Deep in the Alaskan Woods by Karen Harper -- I often enjoy this author's historical fiction books (particularly The Royal Nanny), but this book left much to be desired. Alex left her home in Chicago, fleeing an abusive fiancé who happens to be her boss. She meets up with her twin cousins, Megan and Suzanne, who run a B&B in Alaska, and I just thought it was kind of cheesy. But I did finish it.

The Sixes by Kate White -- While recovering from a plagiarism charge, Phoebe Hall is teaching at a small university in Pennsylvania where her good friend from boarding school is the president. Glenda or Dr.Johns asks Phoebe to look into a secret sorority rumored to be vandalizing property and up to no good. When one young lady winds up drowned in the nearby river, Phoebe wonders if the two are somehow connected. Pretty good suspenseful-type book.

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner -- A little girl, Shira, has to hide in the barn loft of her mother's former customer because German soldiers are on the prowl in their part of Poland. Later Shira's mom is faced with a choice of giving up her daughter to a Catholic orphanage or continuing the hiding which is tough on a five year old child. A good story!

The Silence by Susan Allott -- Alternating between 1967 and 1997, this book tells the story of Isla who left London to return to her home in Australia after her alcoholic father is questioned in a missing-person case. The lady had been missing for 30 years before someone looked for her!  Mandy's husband struggled with his role as a police officer who had to remove Aboriginal children from families as part of a racist project. Pretty good story.

Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer -- Years ago, Lynne, Carol, Beth, and Mary Kay met at the end of a PTA meeting and bonded over martinis. When Lynne dies after a long illness, the other ladies fulfil Lynne's request to go through her things, and there the ladies find a message from Lynne asking them to find someone from her past, which they attempt. Pretty good story.

When We Were Young & Brave by Hazel Gaynor -- great book! I loved the setting at the China Inland Mission School where British, American, Dutch, Australian, and other English-speaking children studied while their missionary or diplomatic parents did their work. Things changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and suddenly these students were considered enemies to the occupying Japanese forces. This is told mostly in the voices of a teacher, Elspeth Kent, and her student, Nancy, as they faced the years together. I really enjoyed this book!

Hush by Kate White -- a fast-paced, suspense story about Lake Warren, a marketing consultant who uncovers possible unethical practices at the fertility clinic she's working for. Also, a guy she's interested in winds up dead. What's going on?

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar -- A fun look at ancient Rome when Priscilla and Aqulia of New Testament fame meet, and later serve the Church with the apostle Paul.