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

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Books

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray  -- this is a follow-up book from the book I read last month; It takes place during the Chicago World's Fair, and features Eloisa Carstairs and her friendship with the Irish police officer Sean Ryan, as Detective Ryan seeks to find out who has been preying upon high-society women. 

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance -- I saw this book listed online and put it on hold with my library.  After several weeks - months even - it was my turn to read it.  And it was an interesting read about Appalachia.  I could relate to some of it regarding people I know.  It made me sad in many ways, but grateful, too, that people like J.D. were offered hope through positive role models.  It challenged me to be a good role model for others because that's more important than I might have thought. 

The Promise of Palm Grove by Shelley Shepard Gray -- I read this book one in the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, and hoped it would get better, but it never really did.  Just a very predictable, rather silly and boring account of Leona and her friends traveling from cold, snowy Ohio to a warm winter destination.  Leona leaves behind a fiancé who doesn't take her thoughts into account, and she meets caring, thoughtful Zack.  End of story.

Bringing Jesus To The Desert by Bradley Nassif -- another colorful, informative book in this series; This one focused on Middle Eastern saints like Anthony of Egypt, Moses the Ethiopian, Makarios of Egypt, Pachomius, Melania, John the Little, and Simeon the Stylite.  The author is from a Lebanese family (though he grew up in Wichita, Kansas), and he gives examples from his own family. I'm also glad he included a few family pictures in this small book. 

A Texan's Promise by Shelley Gray -- Book 1 of The Heart of a Hero Series; eh, it was better than the last book I read of hers, but nothing special.  Since I had it here, I went ahead and read it before returning it to the library. 

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen -- another delightful book, and this one was a bit of a mystery.  Abigail moves to the Pembrooke manor after a solicitor contacts her nearly bankrupt father about a distant relative wanting his family to move there.  I enjoyed reading much of this while enjoying a lovely day or two outside.

Among the Fair Magnolias -- four short (~80 pages) stories from Tamera Alexander (the best of these four), Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser -- not my favorite stories by far

Bryson City Seasons: More Tales of a Doctor's Practice in the Smoky Mountains by Walt Larimore, M.D. -- My mom read this book years ago. I remember her telling me about these doctor stories from WNC, and I found this book the other day while browsing.  I enjoyed this because Bryson City is a charming place and it was so interesting reading about it back in the 1980s. Also, doctor tales are interesting to me. 

The Road to Somewhere: Travels with a Young Boy Through the Old World by James Dodson -- apparently this guy is famous in the golf-writing world, and he does look a bit familiar, but I got this book at a book exchange (I think), and finally got around to reading about the summer he and his 10 year old son, Jack traveled to various European destinations. I enjoyed the account especially to places I've been (Ghent, Paris) and places I'd love to go (all the rest of them!) At the time of this writing James lives in Maine, but I looked him up now and see that he and his wife live in North Carolina presently.  I wonder what happened to Jack (who'd be about 27 now..wow.).

Softly & Tenderly by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck -- This is book two in a series that I never started so some of Jade's story was reviewed in its pages.  It was fair, and a quick read. 

In the Shadow of Denali by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse -- first in the Heart of Alaska series;  Allan Brennan travels to Curry, Alaska, to get information on why his father died six years ago on a mountain-climbing trip. He meets the guide who took his father up Denali.

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould -- first in the Courtships of Lancaster County series; a very cute book about Cate and her sister Betsey, and the stranger in town who is suddenly interested in Cate (whom no one else wants to court).  Is Pete being bribed to court her? 

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen -- Emma travels with her father to the estate of two former students so her father - a tutor - can privately teach the troublesome twins.  Another good book with some mystery to it. 

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders -- This is a Laetitia Rodd Mystery which my mom passed along to me after she finished reading this library book. The lady reminded me of the Murder She Wrote lady - or I kept picturing her anyway - during this story.  A pretty good story.

Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist - this is actually a book that comes before the other book I read about Texas spinster Essie Spreckelmeyer.  Now I know the story of how book two came to be.  She's a pretty funny, likeable character!

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas -- I saw this book on my library's website and put it on hold. It's a new book in a new Lady of Sherlock series.  Charlotte Holmes' deliberate fall from grace means she has to support herself.  She becomes the female Sherlock, and solves mysteries.  Pretty interesting book!

Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist -- sometime after the American Civil War, women were brought to the PNW as brides for men. However, some of those "brides" didn't know they were going over to marry. They had contracts to be domestic helpers, nannies and so forth. This book explores one such situation in a rather humorous way.  Anna believes she is going to be a cook for a lumberjack, Joe, and his crew.  But Joe needs a wife in order to keep the 640 acres of land he's been working the last decade.

Lydia's Charm by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- an Amish book about a young widow and her son, Josh, who move to Charm, Ohio, to live with Lydia's mom and ailing grandfather

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell -- When an aging London actress tries to come back to the stage, she falls apart and her estranged daughter checks her out of the hospital where she's recovering, and they live for a time in a small English village.  Thus is the setting for Charlotte and Rosalind's tale in this book.  I rather liked it!

The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould -- Part of The Women of Lancaster County series; this book is about Lexie, a nurse-midwife, who travels from her home in Oregon to Pennsylvania to get answers about her adoption. She works with a Mennonite midwife who delivers babies for Amish women, among others. 

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen -- Unlike most of her books, this one seemed to equally focus on a male character, dancing and fencing master Alec Valcourt, recently of London, but now in a small village after something scandalous happens in his family.  In this village, he meets Julia Midwinter who seeks to leave this boring, small place where her mother keeps a way-too-watchful eye. 

Hidden Affections by Delia Parr --  Harrison and Annabelle were forced to marry after their stage coach was robbed and they were handcuffed together. Yeah, a likely scenario, but whatever.  As Harrison seeks an annulment, they have to put on appearances of being a young couple in love. 

How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler -- After recovering from a bad accident, Deena moves from Atlanta to Bryson City, North Carolina, where her grandpa left her his cabin - if she promises to teach a cooking class to children in a community center for six months. 

The Trouble With Tulip by Mindy Starns Clark -- Jo Tulip writes a newspaper column offering household tips. In this book, she and her best friend Danny are caught up in solving a mystery about their elderly neighbor's sudden death. Was it just an accident or was Edna Pratt murdered?

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth --  Three generations of midwives, Floss, Grace, and Neva tell parts of their stories and reveal secrets. 

All the News Unfit to Print by Eric Burns -- I found this at a book exchange or perhaps I bought it at the 25 cent sale, but I've had it way longer than Donald Trump has been President.  Yet, I felt it was something he would like to read because it talks about journalists and stories that have been made up or omitted or sensationalized or changed from centuries ago to not so long ago (copyright is 2009).   Some rather interesting stories. It had me googling certain people since I often like putting names and faces together. 

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon -- book 1 in the Guardians of Justice series; U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor is assigned to protect a federal judge, Liz Michaels.

Blind Dates Can Be Murder by Mindy Starns Clark -- book two in the series about Jo Tulip; another mysterious death leads Jo and Danny on another adventure: this one involving some tough mafia-type guys and missing, stained money.

Monday, February 27, 2017

February Books

Revealed by Tamera Alexander -- I read book 1 in this series so I needed to read the final two.  This one had a few characters from book one, and told the stories of Annabelle Grayson and her brother in law Matthew Taylor as Matthew took her to her husband's land in Idaho. 

Remembered by Tamera Alexander -- This book was about a lady from France who came to the Colorado Territory in search of her father who had left Paris decades before.  Véronique hires former trail-man-turned-mining-camp-supplier Jack Brennan to take her into the mountains to search for the father she thinks abandoned her.

Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof - book one in The Cadence of Grace series.  I picked this up when I was hurriedly choosing books one day at the library.  Pretty good, simple tale of two young people, Gideon and Lonnie, forced to marry, and their struggle in the early days and weeks. 

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen -- The story of Mariah Aubrey, a young lady banished to her aunt's house far from home, and the people she meets while living near a poorhouse.  Another good story by this author.

Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman -- a rather cute (quirky? silly?) book about Lilly, a "fun-loving flapper" who ends up at the home of a young man, Cullen, injured and scarred by war and his mother, Betty Ruth. 

Though My Heart is Torn by Joanna Bischof -- book two in the above-mentioned series; This book follows Gideon and Lonnie as the couple is tricked into returning home so Gideon can face some pretty serious charges that will affect them and others in big ways.

My Hope Is Found by Joanne Bischof -- book three; continued story of Gideon and Lonnie with the characters added in book two - Cassie and the reverend, Toby.  An enjoyable series.

Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West by Peter Hessler -- I've enjoyed Peter's tales the last few years.  This one had a few familiar stories from past books, but several new things. I really enjoyed the bit about the Japanese organized crime ("All Due Respect" chapter), and the story of his friend from Missouri and later Japan, Jake Adelstein. What a character!   I love the stories from when he and his wife move to the US for a short while. They chose Colorado and he told a super-interesting tale about "Dr. Don" the druggist in Nucla.  Neat guy!   I found his words on page 325 sad because he said small-town Americans were not curious about his story!  So different from me, the ever-curious one!   I really enjoy Peter's books. I hope he writes a new one sometime about his life in Egypt because last I heard, he and his family moved to Cairo.

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen -- I have read a few of her books now, and I love them.  Love them!  I am not sure why, but there is something about her stories. I could picture myself there in that house with the children and the comings and goings of the earl and his son.  Great story about Olivia, Edward, Audrey, and Andrew.  Really enjoyed this one!

Anna's Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher  -- "An Amish Beginnings" novel ; I read a few of her books last year, and discovered a new book which I'd not read. Only it was second in this series and I hadn't even read this one soo... I read about this Amish community's journey across the ocean from a small village in Germany to Fort Philadelphia.  Most times I read Amish books in the context of them on their farms, working in quilt shops or what not. But this book was almost entirely about the trip over the Atlantic after a delay in the English Channel.  It's the story of Anna, one of the lone Amish people aboard who knows English, and, therefore, works as a translator between her people and the ship's crew.

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander -- I enjoyed getting to know about Belmont Mansion and the fascinating character Adelicia Acklen, although the author admits she took liberties in fleshing out the real woman. Still.   This book is mainly about Claire, a young lady from Paris who had lived in New Orleans where her father ran an art gallery - forging art, that is.  When Claire flees to Nashville, she ends up working for Mrs. Acklen.   Also in this book I was introduced to a real life person, Henrietta Caroline LaVert nn Cara Netta. 

Beguiled by Deeanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand -- I've read a few of Deeanne Gist's book in recent months, and this one was quite different.  She teamed up with a suspense writer to create a bit of a different book. It takes place in Charleston and the heroine - or maybe she's the Robin Hood thieving from wealthy clients - is a dogwalker, Rylee.  Pretty easy read. I think I prefer Ms. Gist's old-timey books, however.

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander -- a great follow-up story to the earlier Belmont Mansion book although it focused on Adelicia Acklen Cheatham's niece Eleanor who comes to Nashville in order to put her father in an insane asylum.  Eleanor doesn't like to make hair art or potpourri sacks, but gets involved in something rather common for someone in her station:  she dares to cook for widows and children in the community!  In the book she meets Austrian Marcus Gregory who is in America in order for things to die down back home, and also to live like a common person for a while.  An enjoyable story!

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden -- The story of one of the few female librarians in the Library of Congress, Anna O'Brien notices an error in the historical record of the sinking of a ship that took her father's life.  She seeks to correct this mistake only to find people in high places keeping track of her and silencing her.  She enlists the help of her life-long friend Neville, and the highly-emotional congressman from Maine, Luke Callahan.  Not my favorite Elizabeth Camden book, but fine for an easy read while sitting out enjoying these beautiful February days (feels like spring!)

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen  -- another good tale from this author; Margaret flees her household when she overhears her stepfather plotting with his nephew over a way to acquire Margaret's inheritance.  Somehow Margaret ends up working as a servant in the house of people she knows - yikes!  Can she stay hidden long enough to turn 25 so she can inherit?

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley -- more of a suspense/mystery book starring Taylor, a victim profiler instructor near Seattle who travels home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to help resolve family disputes involving land, and also to figure out who is stalking her!  Why did these odd gifts and photos start showing up when she wondered whatever happened to her father? 

A Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley -- book two in the Logan Point series; this one follows the acting sheriff, Ben, and the new doctor in town, Leigh, who used to live in Logan Point.  They work to find out who is setting fires, shooting at people, and shipping guns to Mexico.

The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan -- The stories of Mary, the town recluse who lives in the marble mansion overlooking the town, and her only friend Father O'Brien plus the newcomers.  My mom recommended this book.  I like how the author wrote that she thought "it would be interesting and challenging to build a story around a character who is misunderstood or different in some way, and to show that even someone who is seemingly far removed from his or her community may in fact be more special and integral than anyone could imagine."  (pg. 376)

In Siberia by Colin Thubron -- another travel adventure with the author; interesting tales!

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- book two of the "Amish Beginnings Novel" series; this one continues the story of the group of Amish who landed in Fort Philadelphia.  They travel to settle the land. 

Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray -- Rosalind leaves her farming family in Wisconsin to travel to Chicago during the World Fair time in order to work at the house where her sister worked before she disappeared. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

January Books

We were in Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia, from the end of January until today so I'm a bit late posting this!  Wow, February already!  Christmas will be here before we know it. :)
Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse by Janice Hudson -- I have read a few books in the last couple of years by doctors or EMS workers. This one was similar, but different because of the flight aspect.  It was a fairly easy read in that you could read it quickly, but the material wasn't always easy especially when children die. Still, it was a good book which my mom had read last year and passed along to me when I saw her on New Year's Eve.

Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader by Matthew Qvortrup -- I certainly learned a lot about German politics!  And some personal things about Mrs. Merkel's upbringing and life.  This was in the new books section at the library and I figured I needed to read a biography instead of more fiction. Right?

Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island. by Ed Stafford -- I read his book about walking the Amazon so I decided to read this one where he was left on an island for sixty days.  Pretty interesting read if you enjoy this sort of thing. 

Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- When an Old Order Mennonite man arrives in their hometown with news about a favorite aunt's death and her inheritance, Marie and Beth have to decide whether or not to go back to Marie's former hometown in Sommerfeld where she left twenty years prior.  Because Aunt Lisbeth's business and home can be Beth's, but only if she agrees to run the café for three months before selling it.

Beginnings by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- This book continues the story of Marie and Beth with more of the focus on Beth's new stained-glass window business in Sommerfeld. 

Blessings by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- This is the last book in the Sommerfeld trilogy.  While Beth plays an influential role in this book, the main character is the café owner's daughter Trina who wishes to pursue a career as a veterinarian because she feels God put that desire and love for animals in her.  The only problem is her Old Order Mennonite district has never approved of higher education.  No one has done schooling above grade nine.  Also, her boyfriend Graham is wanting to marry.

Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler -- I've read a couple of his earlier books, and added this one to my Amazon Wishlist.  I always enjoy his tales about people he meets in China.  I like that he told about the Chinese language and characters in this book.  Lots of interesting stuff!

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen -- A great novel about Charlotte and her time in a lying-in manor, her experiences in a foundling hospital and as a wet nurse in England. I enjoyed this book, and will look for others from this author.

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander -- I read a few books from this author last year, and enjoyed them.  This one takes place at Belle Meade, a plantation in Nashville, Tennessee, not long after the Civil War.  It's about horse racing, and confronting stereotypes, and an arranged marriage in order to save the family farm.  The story of Maggie, the Southern horsewoman, and Cullen, the Irishman trying to make a new life in a prejudiced South. 

Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist -- a bit more lighthearted than the other books of hers that I've read, this one takes place in the oil cities of Texas back when bloomer-wearing women on bikes was gaining popularity (or not.)  Tony Bryant comes to town after he is disinherited by his father.  He wants to work for another oil company and comes to find out Judge Spreckelmeyer's daughter, Essie, runs things.

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander -- another Belle Meade Plantation novel; This one focuses on Olivia Aberdeen a young widow who comes to the plantation as a personal assistant to the lady of the house.  She meets Ridley Cooper a South Carolinian who fought with the Federal Army...though she and no one else on the plantation - save one - knows this until much later.

The Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen -- The story of two brothers Wesley, the artistic brother who travels to Italy on a whim, and Stephen, the duty-bound younger brother,  and Sophie, the painter's daughter, who somehow comes between them. 

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell  -- a biography about the French teenager who came to the US to help fight in the Revolutionary War.  I only chose this book because of the author!   Soon after reading this, Andrew and I were in Savannah and saw Lafayette Square in the historic district. 

The Sister Circle by Vonette Bright and Nancy Moser -- I was at the library the other day picking up a Zoom pass for the Durham Museum, and grabbed a few books. This was one of them.  A recently widowed lady realizes her husband left her with little insurance money so she decides to take in boarders.  These ladies and their friends form a friendship - or a sisterhood of sorts.  In this book you meet Evelyn the lady taking in tenants, and Mae, Tessa, Audra and her little girl, Summer. Also, friend Piper and Gillie. 

Rekindled by Tamera Alexander -- I've enjoyed her other books so I figured I'd read the Fountain Creek Chronicles; this is about Kathryn Jennings whose husband leaves one Christmas morning saying he'd be back at the end of the week. Only he doesn't come back.  And folks speculate on whether or not he survived the feet of snow that blew through that day.  What happened to Larson?  As Kathryn goes on with her life, she meets a kind ranch hand Gabe and later the disfigured Jacob who works at the big-time ranch owner's place.  A good tale.

No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan -- a book I picked up while gathering several books; I like to try new authors, but this one wasn't that good. It was OK, but a bit too silly and predictable.  Still, I may read more in the Heart of the West series since it was an easy read. We'll see.  This was about Crystal Clark, the Southern belle from Georgia, who visits her Aunt Kate in the Rocky Mountains.  She does her best to fit it.