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

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%

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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

September Books

 

The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith -- When Theo and Marijke are arrested by Nazis for their work in the Dutch resistance and sent to work camps as political prisoners, Marijke vows to do whatever is necessary in order to survive and be reunited with her beloved husband. Karl is an official at the camp where Marijke is imprisoned.


The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow -- At just over 450 pages, I wasn't sure I would continue this book if it didn't grab my attention in the first 100 pages, but it did and I really enjoyed this story of Mary Bennet!  The first bit dealt with Mary living at home with her nuclear family, and later as she lived with various relatives. Cute story!


Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald -- Eva Hansen wakes up from being struck by lightning and discovers her mother has been murdered. Her fingerprints are at the house and the police suspect she is involved. Unfortunately, Eva's memory from that night is gone. While looking at her mother's house, she discovers a note about her birth and Eva heads from Seattle to London, looking for clues. A pretty good book.



Outsider by Linda Castillo -- the second Kate Burholder mystery that I've read recently; this time Gina, one of Kate's friends from when she first left her Amish community, comes back into Kate's life after Gina is on the run from dirty police officers. Pretty good story.



The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell -- oh good, I found another suspense author, and I liked this book. It alternates between the voices of Tabitha, a struggling waitress in rural New Hampshire, and Nina, an ultra-rich, famous woman fearful that her much-younger husband is plotting to murder her for her fortune.



If I Were You by Lynn Austin -- Eve and Audrey were good friends growing up even though Eve was a servant girl in Audrey's house. They grew apart for a while, but the war brought them together again. This book delves into some of that and a bit of the story in the US where both women end up after the war. Good book!



The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins -- I wasn't sure about this book at first thinking it would just be a little filler book between other good books, but it was rather charming on its own. Sarah Dove is the youngest of the seven Dove sisters from a small mountain town in North Carolina. Dove Pond, NC, has seen businesses shuttered and folks leaving for bigger areas like Charlotte and Asheville. Sarah is the town librarian and like the other Dove family members she's a little quirky. Grace is a former foster child who brings her troubled niece and her beloved foster mom, Mama G., to Dove Pond after a couple of unfortunate events. Pretty cute story.



The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine -- This book alternates between the voices of Piper who has assumed a new identity and started a new business in Connecticut after fleeing her past, and Joanna who is determined to cheer Leo and make him love her and the kids, Evie and Stelli.  A pretty good story!




Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier --  After 14 years of hiding her best friend's murder Geo is sent to prison for five years. Meanwhile the guy involved in the murder is sent to prison for life. After Geo's time in prison is over, she's disturbed to learn of new murders in the area, similar in many ways to the ones committed years ago. Pretty good story.



The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan -- My mom read this recently and recommended it. It was a collection of journal and diary entries, letters to friends or relatives, a somewhat different way to write a book perhaps, but it was a very enjoyable story of a small village in England during World War II.


One By One by Ruth Ware -- The book alternates between the voices of Erin, who works in a French chalet. She is hosting a tech group for a few days; folks from an app name Snoop. The other voice is Liz, a former worker at Snoop and a minority shareholder reluctant to be among her super-hip, former co-workers. A suspenseful book and pretty good, too!



The Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden -- Book 2 in the Hope and Glory series; this one focused on another of the Delacroix siblings, Caroline, who works as the secretary for First Lady Ida McKinley. This was a fun way to learn more about this First Lady from Ohio and also about the secret service's role in protecting presidents. Pretty good story.



The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson -- a great story about Cussy Mary or Bluet who works for the Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky. She traveled her route through the mountains to take library materials to her patrons. These women (mostly) were fascinating. Also, Cussy Mary is a Blue which is why some called her Bluet. But many on her route dubbed her "the Book Woman."



Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson -- a pretty good tale about a bookstore owner, Malcolm, who is contacted by an FBI agent, Gwen, who is looking for someone murdering people according to an old blog post Malcolm wrote about the perfect murders. An easy, entertaining read if you like this sort of thing.



An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen -- Richard Brockwell reluctantly leaves his home in London to return to Ivy Hill where his mom has matchmaking on her mind. Many favorites from past Ivy Hill books make their appearance in this novella. Kind of weird to read a Christmas book in late September, but Christmas IS just three months from today as I type.



Children of the Colossus: The Rhodian Greek Immigrants to the United States by James W. Kiriazis -- Usually this book wouldn't hold my interest as I can't imagine why I'd want to read about Rhodian Greeks in two US cities - Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, and Warren, Ohio. However, since I'd made a connection to the Kiriazis family through my DNA, I have been wanting to read this textbook about James Kiriais's community. Why? Because I'm probably his biological granddaughter, and I figured why not read his book to learn more about this culture that makes up my DNA? I'd given up on buying this book online as it's out of print, and no one seems to have it for sale. Thankfully after talking to a DNA Match in Australia (Kos), I was motivated to reach out to my friend Myrna who works at BYU's library, and she was helpful in suggesting that I check with my library in case they were part of the interlibrary loan program. They were! And the lady from my local library was able to put out a request. Duke University immediately said "no," and Martha told me I might not be able to get it since it's a reference book and some libraries are still closed due to the coronavirus. Over a week went by before she wrote back. I was expecting an update, but didn't expect an email that it was HERE in Alamance County, on loan for four weeks from the University of Georgia! I picked it up Friday, September 25, so I could start reading it over the weekend, and I finished up today (Monday, September 28.)  I took notes on the 8 chapters which I sent to my Rhodian friend/relative and he is discussing them with me by email. Note to self:  The notes are saved in my Gmail folder under Kos's name in case I want to reread them later.



The Clergyman's Wife by Molly Greeley -- This is dubbed "A Pride & Prejudice Novel," and it indeed includes the Bennets, Mr. Bennet's heir, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Charlotte is eager to escape the life of a spinster so she's happy to make the acquaintance of Mr. Collins whom her friend Elizabeth Bennet rejected as a marriage partner. A marriage with him means Charlotte is set as the future mistress of Longbourn. This book takes place before that time when Charlotte, Mr. Collins, and their daughter Louisa live in Kent where her husband is the clergyman. Charlotte visits the tenants and has special friendships with a few. This book was pretty good although it left me feeling some sadness especially where Mr. Travis is concerned.