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

Saturday, July 31, 2021

July Books

 

A Most English Princess by Clare McHugh -- At times this book got a bit much with all the Prussian politics, but for the most part, I enjoyed learning more about this time in world history through the eyes of Queen Victoria's daughter, Vicky. This book begins as Vicky is around age 6, but focuses more on her early adult life and years of marriage when Germany was becoming a stronger European power. Pretty good story.



The Girl in His Shadows by Audrey Blake -- After her family dies from cholera, the attending doctor makes Nora his ward. Raised by this eccentric doctor and his housekeeper, Nora has practical medical knowledge and more. Yet, English law prohibits women as surgeons. Pretty good book written by two authors writing under one name.



The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce -- After Andrew hisses that he wants her and Robin to leave the U.S. for home, Sadie finds herself back in London in her mom's former house and her daughter attending her former school...which she hated thirty years ago. Thus follows a suspenseful book as Sadie gets back into legal work, and as Robin has a tough time at school until suddenly the mean PTA lady decides to befriend Sadie. Pretty good story.




Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman -- Pretty good story about Kate as she approaches her fortieth birthday, still working at the grocery store, and still figuring out men... well, one man who asks her to move in with him one week, and then has a "Wobble" while on holiday in France the next week. Meanwhile Kate meets Mrs. Finn, or Cecily, at a place for aging people, and they get to chatting about life and cookbooks!





The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan -- Based on the true story of ethnic Germans whose families had lived in Ukraine's fertile valley since Catherine the Great of Russia invited them there because they were good farmers. Imagine now it's a choice of living under Stalin after World War II, or escaping west with the disgusting Nazis. I'd never read this guy's books before, but the subject matter was interesting, and I did enjoy the family stories. It's a novel because the author made up parts of the dialog and happenings as historical novelists do, but I think much of this story is true, and it's rather fascinating especially as you get further into the book!  I like at the end that he included updates on the family since their finding that "last green valley."



Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan -- The library started a Staff's Favorites section to the online catalog, and I found this book recommended there. It was a good story about sisters Nora and Theresa's journey from Ireland to Massachusetts around the mid-1950s, and their following years here. The book alternates from their first several years in the US to 2009 when a family tragedy brings the family together for a funeral.



The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins -- After Jane ages out of a foster situation, she winds up walking dogs in an upscale neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama. There she's lucky enough to meet a charming, young widower, Eddie, who gets a dog just so he can see Jane more often. As Eddie and Jane become more involved, Jane can't help but wonder about Eddie's wife's death. Pretty good mystery-type book.


The Last Exiles by Ann Shin -- Jin and Suja meet while studying at the same university in Pyongyang where Jin, from a poor region in the north, goes to school on scholarship. Suja is from a privileged Party background, but they fall in love. When Jin is thrown into prison for a minor crime - well, NOT minor in North Korea - Suja seeks to find out information about him. Pretty good story.


The Last Night in London by Karen White -- for the most part, I really enjoyed this book, especially the part that took place in London during World War II. The contemporary part in London was pretty good, too, but I didn't care for the multitude of silly Southernisms because it was just a bit much. I've lived here my whole life, and have never heard some of those, and those I have heard, aren't used except occasionally as a joke. That part got a little off-putting, but overall, I really liked this story of Jeanne "Precious" Dubose and her friend Eva Harlow who were models around the time England went to war with Germany.



Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce -- Alison is a barrister in London with a cute little daughter and a husband who does a lot for the family, but Alison drinks too much and is having an affair with a colleague. A pretty good story if you like thriller type books.


Secret Smile by Nicci French -- When that creepy former boyfriend ends up back in your life because he is dating your sister...and later they end up moving into your apartment while they are house hunting... that's what happens to Miranda. Pretty good thriller type.



Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig -- This book took me awhile to get into, and maybe wasn't quite as interesting as some of her other books, but when you consider the fact that "the Women of Smith College [Went] to War" in France in the summer of 1917, it's quite impressive! In the note at the end of the book, the author states how very many of these incidents are true events that were told in letters these women wrote home and are part of historical record. Thinking of that, this book is quite fascinating, really. But as for a can't-put-this-down type of book...this wasn't that for me. Still, impressive women for sure!



Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen -- After her husband has a come-back-from-the-dead experience, Julia is stunned by her husband's desire to quit his multi-million dollar job, sell their gorgeous house, and do things way differently. Pretty good story.



The Seeds of Change by Lauraine Snelling and Kiersti Giron -- first book in the Leah's Garden series; an easy, wholesome read if not terribly interesting. Actually it wasn't too bad, but just not that exciting. Lark and her sisters leave home suddenly, heading west. They meet up with a wagon train and have exciting adventures as they travel.



Friends Like Us by Lauren Fox -- I didn't really love any of the characters in this book, especially the one telling the story. Willa lives with her best friend Jane, and when Willa reconnects with her former BFF from high school, Ben and Jane hook up. Suddenly Willa feels...weird with her two best friends living together with her. Eh, ok story.



What To Do When Someone Dies by Nicci French -- Ellie investigates after her husband is found dead in a car with an unknown (to her) female passenger. Was her husband not devoted to her as she thought? Pretty good story.



A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner -- A good story about Taryn whose life was deeply affected by the terrorist events of 2001 in New York City, and of Clara who lived in New York one hundred years prior. Clara worked as a nurse at the Ellis Island hospital so it was interesting reading about things from that perspective.


Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin -- A pretty interesting tale told from the perspective of Alice Liddell, the girl who grew up at Oxford where her dad was a Dean, and where she became a muse for a mathematics professor who wrote Alice in Wonderland.



The Best Man by Kristian Higgans -- I like several of her newer books, but this older (I think) one was very "meh." After several years living across the country, Faith returns home and hooks up with the police chief who seemed to hate her all through school. It was pretty lame over all, and very juvenile.



Goodbye to Budapest by Margarita Morris -- This "novel of the Hungarian uprising" was a fairly interesting way to learn more about this part of history. It followed the lives of a father and his daughter and many of their acquaintances. Somehow it ended up on my Amazon Wishlist and I got it for Christmas or my birthday. Decent story.



Chasing Shadows by Lynn Austin --  Good story following three women in the Netherlands during World War II. Lena and her family decide to resist the Nazis by hiding people and feeding those in need. Miriam and her family have to hide, and Ans, Lena's daughter, works in various ways through the Nazi occupation.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June Books

 

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle -- A book of reminiscing mostly. I'm really not sure what else, but it's told from the perspectives of a fearful single mother, Shelley; her son Harvey; and an older couple, Frank and Lil.



People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd -- Emmy is one of those Instamums followed by over a million people in Instagram. Told from the point of view of Emmy and her husband Dan, plus someone who is keeping track of their lives for a nefarious reason. Pretty good.


The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown -- After Lucy falls on ice and lands in the hospital, in a coma, everyone is thrilled when she regains consciousness. Unfortunately a case of confabulated memory disorder means Lucy is no longer in love with her coworker Matt, and thinks she is happily married to Daniel, her former fiancé. Oh my.


The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little -- The story of Gabrielle (aka Coco) Chanel and her sisters as told by Antoinette. This was on the new book shelf when I was in a mad dash to get a few books before the library was closed for Memorial Day. Pretty good story even if I'm not a fan of Coco Chanel. It was interesting reading a bit about her.



A Good Mother by Lara Bazelon -- Abby and Will are tasked with defending a nineteen-year-old mother, Luz, who is charged with killing her husband, an American serviceman stationed in Germany. Decent book.


The Crow's Call by Wanda Brunstetter -- This is book 1 in the Amish Greenhouse Mystery series. Sometimes I need a break from the ultra-modern books filled with bad words so I read a book by one of these Christian ladies who write books about Amish life. I've read some of her other books, and recognized some of the characters in this book (though I couldn't remember all of their backstories.)  Amy steps up to the plate to help her mom and younger brother when three family members are killed when a truck hits a buggy. A decent story, nothing overly-exciting.



Sunburn by Laura Lippman -- Adam was hired as a PI, and ends up falling for the woman - Polly? Pauline? - he's been keeping an eye on. An ok story.


Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson -- A young Jewish woman, Antonina, is taken into hiding as the wife of a farmer in a small Italian village, during World War II.  Good story.



Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica -- A good thriller/mystery book by an author I'd not read before. Told from the points of view of Kate, Deliliah, Leo, and Meredith. Two ladies and one child go missing eleven years prior when the little girl, now 17, is found the story of what happened to the women is in everyone's mind again.



Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna -- Four college friends meet at a posh spa as part of Whitney's wedding week! When a man is found dead, Detective Ramone gets to know more of the story as told by Ginger, Lulu, Elsie, Kim, and others at the resort. Good suspense story.



The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli -- Pretty good story alternating between current Concord, Mass, residents, Victoria and her adopted sister Taylor, and Johanna Suhre, correspondent friend to Lousia May Alcott.



The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson -- High school can be a terrifying place. I'm sure my experience was atypical, but I loved high school and am so grateful my experiences were nothing like this book. I did not enjoy it.



Setting Free the Kites by Alex George -- Told from the perspective of middle schooler Robert, it's the story of friendship and bullies and losses and first jobs and tough family situations. Good story.



The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon -- Her books often have a bit of a spooky, supernatural aspect to them, and this is no exception. In this case the spooky aspect involved a pool made of natural springs of black water in the Green Mountains of Vermont. It alternates between Ethel's thoughts from the 1920s to the present-day telling by Jax who comes back to Vermont when her sister is found drowned in the pool.  Pretty good story.


The Rose Code by Kate Quinn -- I enjoyed this story about Mab, Beth, and Osla who met when they worked at Bletchley Park during World War II, in jobs they could tell no one about. A good batch of characters, interesting work...good book!



The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica -- A suspenseful book about a family that moves from Chicago to an island off the coast of Maine after Will's sister commits suicide and leaves her house and custody of her 16 year old daughter to him. This book is told mostly in the voices of Sadie, Camille, and a little girl referred to as Mouse. Pretty good.



I read the first 3 chapters (70ish pages) of Bridgerton The Duke and I and didn't enjoy it so I gave up on it. I may have enjoyed it if I kept reading, but I just felt it was a waste of time as I had other books to read so I returned it to the library. 



I'm so glad I ditched Bridgerton for these two...

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende -- "news from small-town Alaska" written by an obituary writer and long-time resident of Haines, Alaska. She and her husband left the Northeast for their honeymoon in Alaska "and never left." Pretty interesting tales about her life up there, and people in her small town. I see the library has other books, newer ones and I hope to read them as well. This one was a Staff Favorite - a new feature on the online library catalog - so I decided to try it since I usually enjoy memoirs like this.


In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce -- "A Novel of The Black Widow of La Porte" by a Norwegian author of "speculative and historical fiction."  Such an interesting story about Belle Gunness, a woman from Norway who came to the Chicago area in the 1800s to join her older sister by the same name. Well, their names were Big and Little Brynhild, but both changed her name upon arrival. Older sis was Nellie in the US. (Why do parents give their living children the same name? Are there not enough names to go around?) Wow, what a fascinating story...you don't want to cross paths with Belle!  Good read.

Monday, May 31, 2021

May Books

 

A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser -- When Caroline's husband was in charge of the family Christmas gifts, he opted for DNA tests. How fun! But when a DNA Match reveals a half-sister living hundreds of miles away, Caroline isn't sure how to handle that news. Eventually she meets her half-sister, Sela. An OK story.


Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane -- When Lila's husband Aaron, a beloved teacher, is missing, police investigators focus on her. Meanwhile Lila tries to solve the mystery of what really did happen to her husband, because he's not where she last saw him (presumably dead!)  Pretty good story.


Eternal by Lisa Scottoline -- A very different book for this author as it goes back in time to the Fascists and Nazis in Italy. The story of Sandro and Marco and Elisabetta, three best friends, who are caught up in life under Mussolini and later the Nazi-occupation of Rose. Some videos about the book.


Little Pieces of Me by Alison Hammer -- Paige's life takes a twist when she gets an email from a DNA website that she had a new match - a parent/child match. How is that even possible? Her beloved father died two years ago. A pretty good story.


Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly -- A tale from the Civil War as told by Georgy, working as a nurse part of the time; Jemma, an enslaved woman on a tobacco plantation in Maryland; and Anne-May, the Louisiana-born lady who inherited Peeler Plantation where Jemma lives. Pretty good book.



Day of the Dead by Nicci French -- last of the Frieda Klein series; In this book a student is doing her dissertation and a professor suggests the student do it on Frieda. Lola goes to Frieda's workplace, home, to her friends and family, and realizes Frieda is missing. Pretty good series.



The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff -- Sadie and Ella come from two very different areas of a Polish city, but the two young women meet in an odd place when Ella is on a quest to find cherries for her stepmother's dinner party. Pretty good story.



The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul -- I've read a couple other books by this author so I put more of them on my Amazon Wishlist and I got this one for my birthday. It explores the possibility that Maria, one of the Romanov children, escapes the execution of her family, and a more modern story of Val Doyle, whose Russian father is dying at a care facility in Australia. Pretty good story.


The Wedding Thief by Mary Simes -- When Sara goes home to Connecticut, she thinks she's going to find her mother wasting away on her deathbed. Instead her mom is cooking and singing as she did in usual times. Looks like her mom's plea for Sara to come home was just a ploy to get her to reconcile with her sister, Mariel, who stole Sara's boyfriend and plans to marry him. A bit silly at times, but a light read and easy book to finish.


Forgive Me by Susan Lewis -- This book was OK, it got a little long-winded or something for me. When Marcy, her daughter, and granddaughter flee Claudia's husband and seek new lives in another part of England, they meet a nice group of friends. This book is also about restorative justice.



The Secret Wife by Gill Paul -- Another book about the Romanov daughters - this one about Tatiana and her sweetheart Dmitri Malama. An imagined tale of what could have happened if Malama's quest to free the Romanovs had happened....or if not the whole family, at least his beloved one. Decent book; I like the other one (above) a bit better.



Big Sky by Kate Atkinson -- This book was way different from the only other book I've read by this author. It was somewhat entertaining with interesting and sometimes funny characters, but at times it seemed all over the place with backstories and such. Apparently it's a series starring Jackson Brodie and I stepped into it some place way down the line.



Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson -- I thought this book seemed familiar, but not enough that I stopped reading it. Tillie speaks of her military family and troubles they faced because Tillie had a hard time settling down, her dad was too impatient and tough on them, and her mom just checked out of life most of the time. 



The Affair by Gill Paul -- A book based on the 1960s film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor which was filmed in Rome. The author interviewed a few people who were there, and made a novel about it. An OK story. I liked the character Diana's knowledge as a historical researcher.


If A Tree Falls by Jennifer Rosner -- Last year I read a story by this author, and then saw she had a memoir of sorts about her daughters being born deaf. My library didn't have that book, but I got it for Christmas and finally read it. Part of it is imagined - as the author processes the fact that several of her ancestors were deaf. Since their stories are mysteries to her, she makes up tales for Nellie and Bayla, and their mom's struggles with having two deaf daughters.


The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth -- Since her own mother died when Lucy was just 13, Lucy wants so badly to have a close relationship with her husband's mother. Unfortunately Diana isn't made for close relationships and Lucy struggles with Diana's standoffish ways, and unhelpfulness, and impractical gifts. When Diana is found dead, the police investigate whether or not it were truly a suicide, or if Diana were killed. Good story.


The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard -- When their college-aged son and brother is killed in a freak accident. Olivia and her parents struggle (understandably.) Her mom eventually leaves for her hometown halfway across the country, while Olivia chooses to stay with her dad in California. A decent story.



All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson -- Harry returns home to Maine after his father slips off a cliff and dies. He lives with his young stepmother, Alice, while things are sorted out because the police aren't sure Harry's father fell to his death. Pretty good, thriller-type book.



The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr -- "How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth"; The author uses her knowledges as a medieval historian to make the case that "biblical womanhood" shouldn't include the patriarchal view that is prevalent in many conservative churches today.  I first heard about her on NPR, and decided to get her book for my birthday.



All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese -- Molly has lots of social media followers who watch her makeup and hair videos, but when she's urged to find a cause in order to boost her follower count, she meets Silas who runs a ministry for young adults who have aged out of the foster system. Pretty good story though it ran a bit long, but overall a good message here.



Piece of My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke -- I really should have read the first book in this series because there was a lot of backstory going on, but when I saw this book at the library the other day, I picked it up. It is the last book MHC wrote before she died in early 2020, and I had it on my list to read. So I did. Marcy and Andrew were with their young children in the Hamptons when their son went missing. Who has Johnny and how can they get him back?

Monday, May 3, 2021

April Books

 

Desperate Hours by Richard Goldstein -- "The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria" ; in books we've read about shipwreck divers, this ship has often been mentioned. Andrew found this book at the library, and, you guessed it, told me that I'd like this book so I just read it. Pretty interesting tale.



The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden -- book 3 in the Hope and Glory series features Luke Delacroix and his chance meeting of Marianne Magruder. Unfortunately for them, their families are arch-enemies. Luke joins part of the government-sponsored Poison Squad, young men who volunteered to be part of a study about chemicals in foods. Pretty good book.



Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear -- This book referred back to so many things from past novels in the Maisie Dobbs series that it would have been much better to me if I knew those things already. I knew that might be the case reading this book out of order, but I'd gotten this book at one of those Little Free Libraries, and decided to read it. As the title suggests Maisie is tasked with going to Munich during a time when the Nazis are coming to power. Her job is to bring home a man who was arrested, as well as finding a young lady who went to Munich and never came home to her family. An ok story.



Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown -- A father and daughter struggle with the death of their loved one who never came back from a solo hiking trip. Did she truly die there, or did she fake her own death and disappear? And if she left them, why did she do that? Jonathan and Olive look for clues in the disappearance of Billie, thinking maybe she was alive after all.  Is she being kept somewhere against her will?



If You Were Here by Alafair Burke -- As a former prosecutor-turned-magazine writer, McKenna Jordan has been asked to write about the 10 year anniversary of when a police officer shot a young black man. This story ended her career, and now her second career is at stake. A friend who has been missing might be back in town now. What role does Susan have in everything going on? Not my favorite of hers, but an OK suspense novel.



Friday on My Mind by Nicci French -- another in the Frieda Klein mystery series; Frieda tries to solve the mystery of who murdered her former boyfriend whose body was found floating in the Thames. Pretty good.


The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen -- Josie thought her marriage was going pretty well until the morning her husband went into Starbucks to get them all their favorite treats. Josie asked to use her husband's phone to call in a prescription when she noticed incriminating emails. So the whole book was about Josie working through her husband's affair. It was a bit much at times since it was the whole book, but it wasn't a terrible book by any means. Just that topic. Decent story.



Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins -- Emma London is a single mother of a teenage daughter, living with her grandpa in a suburb of Chicago. One day her wealthy Connecticut grandmother calls her with a tale about her dying of brain cancer, can Emma come out and take care of her, and she will leave her inheritance to Emma's daughter, Riley. Did I mention that Rich Grandma kicked Emma out of her house and life when Emma got pregnant just before her high school graduation? This book is told from a variety of perspectives, some of which made me teary. Good story.


A Necessary End by Holly Brown -- Adrienne is desperate to become a mom, so when a birth mother finally contacts her, she agrees to the terms Leah sets forth. Basically Leah will live with Adrienne, her husband and the baby for a full year after birth, and then the baby will be signed over to the adoptive family. What could go wrong with that plan?




Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer -- I've read some of this author's more recent work so I decided to check out this mystery series from when she first started her writing career. This book was light, rather cute, and silly, but what do you expect with a heroine named Bubbles Yablonsky, a hairdresser who tries her hand at investigative journalism?



As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman -- Sandy and Ben were just cleaning up after dinner when their door burst open. Two men recently escaped from a prison work crew bound into the room. Pretty good story.


Who Is Maud Dixon?  by Alexandra Andrews -- Florence is so excited when the mysterious author who goes by Maud Dixon chooses her as an assistant and the two head off to Morocco for a research trip. After an accident in which Florence winds up in the hospital with only "Maud's" ID, she contemplates taking on this new identity since "Maud" is missing and Florence fears she died in the accident. A bit bizarre, but an OK book.


The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger -- Charlie Silver wants to take her tennis game to another level and actually win some major championships. She fires her long-time coach and friend in order to hire a man who wants to rebrand Charlie's good-girl image and make her into a Warrior Princess. An OK story especially if you enjoy learning more about or know something of tennis.



The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis -- Took me a while to get into this book, but I kept on reading and it turned out pretty good. It's about Hallie and her friends Neil and Gus, and a tragic event that shaped their lives...well, serieses of events really. Later on the book is written from the perspective of Mila, whose mother was killed when she was six.



The Mystery of Mrs.Christie by Marie Benedict -- For eleven days Agatha Christie was missing, and when she reappeared, people were trying to figure out where she had been. Amnesia or a fugue state were suggested. This book explores a possible reason. Pretty good story.


Gravity Is The Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty -- This book was one part oh-goodness-she's-so-literal-it's-funny, one part fairly-interesting story line regarding her brother and marriage and child, and other parts what has THAT got to do with anything filler material. Thankfully, for being a rather long book, it was divided into sections that made it easy to get through. A decent book. I prefer sister Liane's books.



The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard -- Phil, Liz, and Danielle move into a 4,000 foot house in an exclusive community. The only way they could afford to live here is, well, Phil is the guy all the rich folks complain to when things don't go their ways. The house and HOA fees (hundreds per month) were a perk of the job. But Liz is used to being a single mom living in a small apartment so she feels out of place. When Danielle, her slightly nerdy kid, suddenly becomes BFFs with one of the most gorgeous teens around, Liz wonders where this friendship is going. Pretty good book told from the perspectives of both Liz and Phil.



Dark Saturday by Nicci French -- another Frieda Klein novel; I rather like these. In this one Frieda is asked to check into a case involving a lady who was committed to a hospital due to being declared insane after her mom, stepdad, and brother were found murdered. Hannah was accused, but as Frieda investigates, she comes to believe Hannah has been wrongly committed these last thirteen years.



The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen -- A good tale of English Juliet Browning's trips to Venice first with her aunt Hortensia, and later as a chaperone with the school girls studying art. Each time she happens to meet the loveable Leo. Years later Juliet dies and leaves her sketchbook with her great-niece Caroline who travels to Venice to learn more about her aunt's younger years.



The Survivors by Jane Harper -- Kiernan and his partner Mia return to the place they both grew up, where The Storm changed things 12 years ago, and where a seasonal worker is found dead on the beach. Who did this, and why?  Was it a local, or was it some stranger passing through?


The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner -- Sophie Whalen traveled from New York to San Francisco after answering an ad for a widower with a small child. She and Martin marry within minutes of her arrival, and Sophie soon cares deeply for her new stepdaughter Kat, although she can't seem to get her new husband to show any interest in her. This book takes place around the time of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the fire that broke out because of it. Pretty interesting story!


Sunday Silence by Nicci French -- I've almost finished the Frieda Klein series; this one has several of Frieda's close friends being hurt or abducted when someone is copying a madman who has been in her life for awhile.

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


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


SPAIN
 
Will -- 47%
Michael -- 33%
 
 

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


INDIGENOUS AMERICAS - COLOMBIA & VENEZUELA 

Will -- 29%
Michael -- 12%
 

SOUTHERN ITALY 

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


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


GREECE & ALBANIA
 
David -- 13%
Stephanie -- 9%
Daniel -- 8%
Michael -- 1%



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

 
PORTUGAL
Will -- 10%
 
 


Single Digits 



MIDDLE EAST
 
David -- 9%
Stephanie -- 1%

FRANCE 

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

NORWAY
 
Andrew -- 5%

CYPRUS
 
David -- 3%
Stephanie -- 1%

 
WALES
 
Andrew -- 3%
Daniel -- 2%
 

THE BALKANS 

Susanne -- 2%
 

SWEDEN

Andrew -- 2%

EASTERN BANTU PEOPLES
 
Sharon -- 1%

MALI
 
Michael -- 1%

BASQUE 

Michael -- 1%
 
SENEGAL 
 
Will -- 1%
 
EUROPEAN JEWISH
 
Will -- 1%