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

Thursday, September 30, 2021

September Books


The Last Flight by Julie Clark -- Claire is making plans to leave her abusive, well-known husband, but at the last minute a flight change has her frightened. Her carefully-orchestrated plans are ruined. When Eva approaches her at the airport and the two women decide to switch flights, Claire heads to California as Eva, and Eva takes Claire's place. Interesting, good story! 

Three Words for Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb -- When Violet invites her granddaughters to lunch, Clara and Madeleine haven't spoken in the year since their father's funeral. But for the sake of their dying grandmother, the sisters agree to travel to three cities in Europe (Paris, Venice, and Vienna) on the brink of a world war. Good story! 

The Fiancée by Kate White -- Pretty good mystery type book although the main character, Summer, was a bit too much for me. Too suspicious or self-absorbed or something. But she is part of a family of brothers who traveled each summer to their inlaws' lovely vacation property, but instead of the usual fun times, some tragic events occur. Summer suspects the new addition to the family, Nick's fiancée! 

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly -- Snippets from three generations of women - around 1907 with Venetia who created the garden; 1944 with Diana, Beth, and Stella; and 2021 with Emma as she is tasked with recreating the garden. A pretty good story. 

The Butterfly House by Katrine Engberg -- Apparently this is book 2 in a Copenhagen crime series because when I looked up the author, I saw book 1 in this series at my library. Jeppe and his team of detectives are looking for a serial killer while his usual partner Anette is at home on maternity leave, bored out of her mind caring for her little girl. Anette decides to do some online sleuthing. A decent story. I'm planning to read book 1 so I can be properly introduced to these Danish characters. 

The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter -- Delta is a photographer who likes to pretend she's part of the families she photographs. Especially when the family is as rich and seemingly perfect as Fritz, Amelia, and Natalie. A pretty good mystery type book.

Mrs.March by Virginia Feito -- A rather weird book, but I read it pretty quickly. Mrs. March is very self-absorbed, but maybe this just reflects how many of us are. Who knows? When she finds a newspaper clipping in her husband's office, she suspects him in the disappearance of a woman in Maine. 

The Turnout by Megan Abbott -- Sisters Marie and Dara run a dance studio with Charlie, a former dance student who lived with the family for several years and whom Dara ended up marrying. When the studio needs construction work due to a fire, Derek is recommended to oversee the project. But he never seems to get ahead on the job, and seems to be everywhere making remarks and making folks uncomfortable. This book was just ok for me.

The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng -- One minute Kelly is at her friend's showing at an art gallery in Chicago and the next minute she's back home in Michigan, married to a guy she was barely friends with back in high school. Two totally different lives yet she has long memories of both. What gives? This book was a bit weird because it involves a bit of time travel, but overall I enjoyed it.

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange -- If you want to read an Irish Catholic-style drama, this book might be for you. It was decent. Sunday returns home from Los Angeles after a DUI, and starts helping out with the family-owned pub. Of course there are questions about why she even left rather suddenly five years ago, and all that good sort of family stuff.

Mrs. Rochester's Ghost by Lindsay Marcott -- A pretty good thriller-type book. After Jane loses her job in New York, she sends out an email blast to see if her friends have any leads on a cheaper place to live. She didn't expect Otis's offer of a cottage across the country in California where she could live rent-free as long as she did a few jobs around the property of Otis's cousin, a soon-to-be-very-very-rich Evan Rochester. Jane agrees to a three-month stint there, and deals with the ghost of Evan's wife.

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce -- a follow-up to the book Dear Mrs. Bird, this book follows Emmy in her job with a new editor, her meeting with Anne and other ladies who worked for the war effort, her boyfriend Charles (who is halfbrother to her boss) and so forth. A rather good, somewhat light-hearted book.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter -- This book took me a couple extra days to read because (one) it was a bit longer than some books I've read recently and (two) I was really distracted a couple days because my uncle was seriously ill in the hospital with covid since late August and I finished this book today, September 20, which is one day after he died. So yesterday I was more into grieving and reading sweet Facebook posts and crying at them because I am definitely one of those who cries easily when people offer me sympathy and post sweet pictures and I think of someone I will miss (so basically normal, I reckon?). What's really really weird and cool in a way is that this is the FIRST book I've ever read that is a novel set in covid times. Like, I've read several new books this year where the authors mention quarantine and the pandemic in the Acknowledgements or Author's Note, but this is the first book that has covid as a player in the background during the whole book. The main characters caught covid and one had been seriously ill, and still has lingering issues with her lungs; they regularly masked up, social-distanced; stuff like that. So that was kind of weirdly neat to read while my mom's brother was suffering the sad effects of this horrible virus.  This story was pretty good, but if you have a hard time reading about drug addicts and, in my opinion, maybe too much detail relating to shooting up drugs then you probably won't like this book. It was nearly too much for me. Also, the language is pretty awful. I nearly decided not to read it, but the story line got to me so I continued.  Leigh is a defense attorney in Atlanta, and she is introduced to her latest client who knows her from her teen years. He was a boy she and her sister babysat for. He knows a terrible, secret thing that Leigh and Callie did, and is threatening to reveal it if Leigh doesn't play by his rules. Pretty good story other than the things I mentioned. 

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg -- since I read book 2 in this series a couple weeks ago, I figured I'd read book one. It introduced me to the police team there in Denmark and a few additional characters present in book two. In this book Esther has a tenant who is murdered and Jeppe and Anette and the gang are looking for who would murder sweet young Julie.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty -- A good book about Stan and Joy Delaney, and their four adult children: Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke, avid tennis player all. When Joy is missing, the children eventually go to the police, and the book is back and forth to present time and a few months leading up to Joy being missing. An enjoyable book about tennis, sibling rivalry, and such things.

Where I Left Her by Amber Garza -- When Whitney doesn't hear from her daughter, Amelia, after dropping her off at Lauren's house for a sleepover, she drives by there to make sure everything's ok. Only, the old couple who answer the door have no idea what Whitney is talking about: no Amelia has been there, and Lauren doesn't live there. What has happened to her daughter? Pretty good thriller type book.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel -- When she was only two Inge was stolen from her home by Jerusza who raised the toddler, renamed Yona, in the vast forests in (then) Poland. Jerusza had a sixth sense about things, and taught Yona how to survive and thrive and kill in the woods. She kept her away from civilization for the most part, and the only person Yona ever knew for many years was Jerusza. Sometime after Jerusza died at age 102, Yona came across a little girl in the woods, and helps her and tracks down her family, Jews who escaped from people trying to kill then. And thus the story continues. A good book about people struggling to stay alive while Germans hunted them down.

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell -- A good thriller/mystery book set in London and a country area not too far away. Sophie joins her partner as he takes over the headmaster role at a school for rich-but-troubled youth. While there she gets involved in a missing persons' case involving Zach and Tallulah, who had left for a date night at a pub, but never returned. (I found it amusing that Zach, Sophie, and even Susie and Megs were names of characters in this book.)  Pretty interesting story! 
And thus ends another month of 2021.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August Books


Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic -- Roan Montgomery's life revolves around horses and her Olympic gold-medalist father, Monty. Roan likes that her father is training her to be a winner as he was, but his control is, well, complete. After her mom leaves the family fully knowing the awful secrets of what exactly Roan and Monty's relationship is like, Roan welcomes the friendship of Will Howard, a schoolmate. Pretty good story, but very troubling (read: ick!)  relationship issues.

An Unlikely Spy by Rebecca Starford -- as a quote from the front of the book says, "'An exceptional novel about World War II, bringing 1940s England to life.'"  I enjoyed this book about Evelyn, Julia, Nina, and Sally. Focusing on Evelyn. Good story.

Palace of the Drowned by Christine Morgan -- An OK story about a novelist, Frances or Frankie to most people, who escapes to her friend's place in Venice after a scathing review and "an incident" in a bar back in England. When she meets - or is reunited with - Gilly (hard g), things change.

The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman -- After Joan's article about a prominent publisher accused of sexual harassment puts her in danger, she looks to the Refuge for a secure place to live. Prominent publisher, Caspar's wife, Melissa, is looking for information on what Joan has for her book deal. Good story by a new-to-me author.

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson -- After Bree's son is kidnapped, she's instructed by a deranged woman to follow her instructions or else she'll never get her baby back. In the meantime, Bree's friend Marshall, a former police officer, tries to help. A good suspenseful book with an important message about college parties that go too far.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica -- Mia is abducted by Colin, but instead of turning her over to Dalmar, he decides to hide out in the woods of Minnesota. This story is told from the perspectives of Colin, the detective, Gabe; and Eve, Mia's mom. Pretty good story.

Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman -- At age 11 two white girls took a black baby that they found on the porch of her (black baby's) home in Baltimore. The girls ended up serving time for their crime and then 7 years later after their release, they are suspects in a missing child case. An OK book. I thought some of the descriptions of people in this book were a bit much. Quite a lot of fat-shaming and stuff that just struck me wrong. I like this author most of the time, but this book (nearly 20 years old) wasn't my favorite.

A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin -- Jillian is a NYC-based journalist whose job just dissolved and she's looking for a great story to pitch to her former editor who now has a good job at a reputable news agency. Jillian wants to infiltrate the secret lady's club, Nevertheless, and expose what they did to a promising female mayor whom Jillian had hoped would one day run for president! This book was pretty good for the most part although the ending  and the very -inner circle dealing were a bit much. Of course Jillian thought the same way at first so...!

The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman -- Tess is at a loss when she believes her husband and son are suspects in the murder of a student, Lila, who had been hanging out at their house in recent months. This book explores Tess's own experience at the school, and how things have carried over in the school's history now that she's a high school teacher. Pretty good story.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth -- Rose and Fern are fraternal twins. Fern has sensory-processing issues, and Rose looks out for her by dimming lights, turning down radios, and telling people to stop touching her. Fern is a librarian and meets an American guy whom she calls Wally due to his choice of clothes. When Fern discovers that her sister is unable to get pregnant, she decides the logical thing to do is to have a baby for her sister. A good story.

Sustaining Faith by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan -- Book 2 in the When Hope Calls series. Since I read the first book in this series, I figured I'd read the second one. Ben helps lead orphans from England to Canada where they await new homes. In this case he smuggles aboard a little girl who wasn't on the list, and helps her reach a house where Grace and Lillian keep children who haven't been placed in a family. An OK story.  I might like it better if I remembered more of the backstory from previous books.

An Ambush of Widows by Jeff Abbott -- I've never read this author before, but decided to try this one. It was a pretty good mystery concerning two ladies brought together when their husbands were murdered in Austin. As Kirsten leaves New Orleans to see where her husband died in Austin (when he was supposed to have been in New York), she meets up with Flora whose husband died as well. And thus the mystery of why these two men were together, and why they were killed.

Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins -- A good book; quite the tearjerker though it had lots of funny bits, too. Lauren is dying from a terminal lung illness. During her last few weeks she writes letters for her husband to have at monthly intervals for the first year after her death. Her best friend Sarah delivers these missives to him each month. I did a fair deal of crying at times during this reading. Knowing young people are dying these days from covid...I know of a 33 year old mother, Clair, who died a few days after giving birth to her son, well, this book just hit hard at times.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles -- A good book about librarians and subscribers at the American Library in Paris and an alternate storyline featuring Lily who befriends the mysterious French lady, Odile, who is a librarian from the ALP during World War II. I enjoyed this one.

I Don't Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson -- A pretty good mystery/thriller book. Allie lives in an upscale D.C. neighborhood, but has trouble fitting in with the moms of suburbia. After a few minutes of harmless flirting ends with a guy assaulting her, Allie is shocked the next day when she finds out this guy was murdered overnight. This book involves fake social media profiles and hackers and has quite a lot of bad stuff going on for one person to handle (so a bit overwhelming!), but it was pretty good.

The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope -- Six years after her young son was taken by his father, Megan is thrilled to have her boy home again. Only it's more difficult to adjust to this preteen boy as Megan remembers the loving six year who was taken. Pretty good story.

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine -- Addison Hope is preparing for her wedding to Gabriel, but she wishes she had memories beyond the two years she's lived with Gigi and Ed. Ed found her roaming the street and she had no memories of who she was or where she lived. Meanwhile Julian is looking for the wife he lost two years ago so he can bring her back to their family, especially their daughter Valentina. When Julian chances upon a gallery in Philadelphia, he believes he found his missing wife. Pretty good mystery-type book.

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.