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

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March Books

Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser -- a novel as if Martha Washington is telling about her life; the book begins at the death of her first husband; pretty good

Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain -- While this is not one of my favorite from this author, it did keep my attention. Namely I was wondering WHY this ER doctor's husband was so infatuated with "Saint Anne" of Kill Devil Hills.  When Annie O'Neill is brought to the emergency room on Christmas evening with a gunshot wound, Dr. Olivia Simon is forced to treat the lady who had held her husband's attention for months.  What is the story behind that? 

The Underground River by Martha Conway -- often when I get books from the free little libraries, they are just OK; this one, however, was great! I really enjoyed the story of May, the straight-talking costume maker and expert seamstress, who joins a traveling river theater after the steamer she was on with her cousin sinks in the Ohio River.  Comfort, her actress cousin, takes on the role of spokesperson for an abolitionist group, and May is left to fend for herself.  I love the character of May in this story, and I really like many of the actors and other people on board the boat. 

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore -- Upon hearing that her estranged father has died, Jillian returns to the place of her birth, Louisiana, more out of curiosity than anything else. Unlike she had been lead to believe, her grandmother did not invite her there, but the caretaker of her grandmother's churched-turned-into-apartments, Adella, did.  Jillian finds a whole other way of life and cast of characters there. This book was somewhat good, not the best, but had a pretty good message over all.  I did appreciate that aspect.

Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke -- Claire shows up unannounced at her aunt's house in the north of England. With her she has five Jewish children escaping France.  Claire is eager to get back to Paris, but instead is stuck helping Aunt Miranda with the children.  Things are not going as she planned. Later German Jewish children arrive making for an even better story.  Pretty good book, nothing spectacular.

That Summer by Lauren Willig -- I tried one of her books recently so I thought I'd read another.  When Julia inherits a great aunt's house in England, she takes off to sort the house with hopes to sell it.  Instead she gets caught up in the memories of her mother's family, and searches for reasons a rare pre-Raph painting was hidden in the back of a bureau.  This book flips from modern-day Julia to the family back in Herne Hill in the 1840s, the story of Imogen and Arthur, Evie and Gavin Thorne. 

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom -- This book was really good although not enjoyable. How can it be when dealing with the emotions and trials of enslaved people?  When Lavinia's parents die on their way to America, she is kept as an indentured servant to the captain of the ship.  She hangs out with and works with the slaves who form her new family. Later, though, she's sent to Williamsburg where her status in life changes.  I really liked this book. 

Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict -- When Clara Kelley arrived in New York City from Ireland, she had hopes of meeting up with a second cousin and sending money back to her family.  Not long after getting off the ship, she heard her named called.  She realized it was a summons for another Clara Kelley - one who died en route to the US - and takes the opportunity to fill the deceased Clara's shoes.  As a maid to the Carnegie family. And not a scullery maid, but the lady's maid to Andrew Carnegie's mother; pretty good book

The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb -- not my normal type of book, but not bad for a ghost story!  When Hallie James is contacted by an attorney with news of her mother - whom Hallie was told died in a house fire when Hallie was just five years old - her life changes when she travels to a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes.  Pretty good story

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom -- so, several years after she wrote The Kitchen House, the author wrote this book with some of the characters from the first book.  This book starts out with Jamie Pyke in Pennsylvania where he is living as white.  He has taken a young colored boy into his house, and when Pan is kidnapped from the Philadelphia docks, he takes a trip to Edenton, North Carolina, with plans to rescue Pan.  Another good story by this author!

The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs -- a novel about the life of Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler.  Eliza seemed like an amazing woman, and I hate she had to deal with the betrayal of her husband, and the death of her son the way she did.  Pretty good book if you want to know more about this couple in a historical fiction kind of way.

Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood -- a rather cute book about Lilia Brooke who is too unconventional for her backward English village.  Lilia left the church when the pastor dared to preach about the subservient role of women, and she shuns marriage as archaic.  Free unions are for her!  But then her renewed acquaintance with her childhood friend Paul poses a problem. For his chosen profession is as a Anglo-Catholic clergyman.  How will these two relate now that they are together in London?

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano -- when Silias Rotherham travels to the debtor's prison to collect the affects of the recently-deceased younger brother of Lady Eudora, he expected a battered trunk or two; not a couple of trunks plus a young lady, the daughter of the deceased who had grown up at the debtor's prison.  Aurelie Harcourt inherits her father's stories and continues to write the serial published weekly under the name of Nathaniel Droll.  A rather cute book; I liked it, and look forward to others by this author.

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig -- When her mother dies, Rachel Woodley discovers a picture of her father - the botantist who died 23 years prior, when Rachel was 4. Only this picture shows her father with another daughter - and claims he is an earl. What gives?  Rachel is befriended by Simon who has a plan to introduce Rachel to her father and half siblings.  It includes Rachel cutting off her governess-style hair and changing her clothes in order to become Vera Merton.  Pretty good story!

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier -- When Jem and Maisie move with their parents from Piddletrenthide to London in order for their father and Jem to make chairs for the circus owner, they meet Maggie and other interesting characters including their neighbors William and Catherine Blake.  Jem and Maisie learn their way around the streets with Maggie, and the three learn from each other and it's just a rather cute book.

Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain -- A story about a teenager with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and his older sister and widowed mother. When Andy attends a church lock-in and the church catches fire, at first he's lauded as a hero for knowing a way to escape.  But later people wonder why he knew how to get out: had he started the fire?

The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper -- A good way to learn more about the Tudor family in England. I liked this story of Katherine "Kat" Champernowne Ashley and how she was the governess for Anne Boleyn's daughter Elizabeth. An interesting peek behind the scenes at the royal family as told from Kat's point of view. 

The Observations by Jane Harris -- After her employer dies, this Irish teen doesn't want to return to life with her mom so she escapes and finds employment with the Reid household where Mrs. Reid has a peculiar way of observing her maids. Bessy soon grows to like Mrs. Reid, but when she snoops and finds Mrs. Reid's manuscript, she isn't quite sure what to think.  A rather strange book, but cute in a way.  Bessy's style of writing took a few pages to get into, but she's really a cute character.  The Reid family is just odd. 

The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor -- When Dolly Lane gets a job as a maid at The Savoy Hotel in London, she has dreams of catching the eye of somebody big so she can get her chance to be a star.  She meets Perry Clement and later finds out that his sister is the actress Loretta May.  Interesting tale from the Roaring 20s!

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig -- I gotta admit that if THIS were the first book I'd read by this author, I'd probably not read any more from her. It's not that there were no redeeming qualities or funny parts, but mostly this book was not that good to me.  I see there are many follow-up books in this series, but I will probably skip those for the stand-alone novels.  That said, this book was about Amy's return to her native France during the rule of Napoleon.  (She'd been in England for years with her English mother.) She has a deep desire to find out the identity of the masked hero, the Purple Gentian (think Scarlet Pimpernel) and help spy for the sake of the royals. 

An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser -- A story of an Italian family - the widowed mom and her two daughters, Lucia, 24, and Sofia, 15, and their work as seamstresses.  Through their work Lucy becomes friends with the super-rich Rowena, and the two have some adventures in Newport when Lucy is asked to come mend some tears in Rowena's wardrobe.  An easy read.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

February Books

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander -- third in the Belmont Mansion series; This book is about Rebekah who wants to play in an orchestra, but is unable to because she's not a man.  She does, however, qualify to assist the maestro, Tate Whitcomb, whom she greatly dislikes because he is the conductor who refused to let her play in his orchestra. 

The Devil's Puzzle by Clare O'Donohue -- final book in the Someday Quilts Mystery featuring Nell Fitzgerald; the town of Archers Rest is planning a founders day celebration, and a skeleton is found in Nell's grandmother's garden

The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain -- after their friend Noelle kills herself, Emerson and Tara look for clues.  Emerson discovers a half-written note to "Anna" about a baby whom Noelle stole from a hospital over fifteen years ago. 

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander -- a Belle Meade Plantation novel with some returning characters from previous books, and also Alexandra Jamison who leaves her family to teach at the black school in her area, Fisk University.  I enjoyed learning more about the Jubilee Singers through this book. 

Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C. Beaton -- another murder mystery featuring the lovable, quirky Agatha Raisin; book 2 in this series; I read much of this at the park while Sophie played with many "best friends"

Thirty Years in a Red House by Zhu Xiao Di -- "a memoir of childhood and youth in Communist China" -- a book I found at a free little library in Damascus, Virginia, last year

A Thread of Truth by Marie Bostwick -- I read this book about 9 years ago, but I recently read the first book in this Cobbled Quilt series and decided to reread this one.  It had many of the same characters as book 1, but focused more on Ivy who had come to New Bern, Connecticut, after fleeing an abusive husband.  The quilt club rallies behind her to help her fight her demons...or Demon in this case.

The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty -- a rather cute story about Evelyn Bucknow from Kansas; it starts with her around 10 years, growing up with a single mother who is rather immature about handling things.  I appreciate Evelyn's observations as she sorts through life and later gets through the middle school years.

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison -- Anticipating the danger of Germany bombing London, Anna Sands' mom makes the difficult decision to send Anna away to the countryside until it is safer in London. Anna, 8 years old, is taken to the home of Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, a handsome, childless couple who host several children and open a school for them to attend during the war.  Initially Anna is attracted to the lovely Mrs. Ashton, but later realizes she much prefers Mr. Ashton, who teaches them poems and Latin and such things.  A good book, over all.  A bit weird towards the end.

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott -- At the last minute, Tess secures a spot for herself aboard a ship sailing for the United States as a maid for Lady Duff Gordon.  Tess wants to learn from the famous designer and get out of servitude.  Along the way, the ship sinks, but Tess and the Duff Gordons make it onto lifeboats, and come to the US with stories to tell of what happened aboard the Titanic.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen -- This is book 2 in her first-ever series, Tales from Ivy Hill.  I liked it, but would have enjoyed it better in the beginning if I could have better remembered what happened in book one. It's been a few months since book one, and I've read a lot of books since then.  And, I guess the old memory just doesn't remember as well as I'd like.  But this book follows Rachel as she looks for a way to support herself and decides to run a subscription library (since she inherited her father's vast book collection.)  It continues more with other characters from Ivy Hill - Jane the innkeeper;  and Mercy and Matilda who run the girls' school at Ivy Cottage where Rachel lives with them.  Nice book.  (I jotted down a few notes which I put in the calendar in the kitchen drawer; that way when book 3 comes out, maybe I can remember a bit better.)

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate -- an interesting story about Riss Foss aka May who was taken to the Tennessee Children's Home along with her four siblings after her parents were tricked into signing over their rights; I looked up Georgia Tann, a truly wicked woman who stole and trafficked children for several years starting around 1939

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers -- Two adults with tough childhoods meet when Roman Velasco hires Grace Moore as a personal assistant from a temp agency.  Roman deals with his childhood, growing up with a mother who entertained men in order to support the family, and Grace dealt with her own issues dealing with her parents dying when she was 7.  Pretty good book; not my favorite from this author

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott -- ever wonder what it would be like to be a personal assistant to a star?  And what it was like to be on the set of a movie so famous, such as Gone With the Wind?  In this book Julie is in Hollywood trying to make a name for herself as a writer. In the meantime she catches the eyes of Carole Lombard and becomes her PA during the time of life when the actress is hoping to marry Clark Gable.  This isn't my typical type of book, but I'd read two others by this author and enjoyed them so I read this one.  Pretty interesting. 

The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden -- I nearly put this book aside in the first few pages because I was distracted by the slave dialect as they talked among each other, but I kept at it, and found this a pretty good book.  The ending confession was a surprise.  

Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams -- a gift from a friend about "rediscovering the lost city one step at a time;" Peru seems like such a fascinating country with strenuous hikes and gorgeous views and so much history!  What a way to learn more about it. Now I'd kind of like to go!

Masquerade by Nancy Moser -- When Charlotte Gleason and her maid Dora leave England to meet the Tremaines of New York, they devise a plan where Charlotte gets to go on an adventure while Dora becomes Charlotte with the hopes of marrying the wealthy Conrad Tremaine.  What could go wrong?

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti -- A small Pennsylvania town with economic troubles + a thousand dead starlings falling onto a high school baseball field.  An accusation of an affair between a coach and his student. What is up with Lucia and all those other teens? Friends or foes? 

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman  -- Josef and Lenka were married around the time things were greatly deteriorating for Jews living in Europe.  When Josef's father secures passage for his family and Lenka to escape to New York, Lenka chooses to stay behind with her own parents and sister with hopes that Josef can sponsor all of them later. Soon after Josef's family leaves, Lenka's family is moved to TerezĂ­n where Lenka and her family struggle to survive with thousands of other Jewish people. 

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake -- This book was just okay to me. Parts were somewhat exciting, and I did like the message of it as it pertains to immigrant populations today, but I didn't really love any of the characters except maybe Frankie, the American lady who was in London reporting on the war, and somewhat Otto, who was watched because folks in this small town thought he might be a German spy.  The author's final sentence in "the story behind the story" on page 326 was thought-provoking, though!

The English Wife by Lauren Willig -- I saw this in the new books online and decided to try out this author.  I enjoyed this book about Bayard Van Duyvil's trip to Europe and his chance meeting with a struggling actress, Georgie Evans.  The book goes back and forth from Bay and Georgie's meeting to their eventual marriage and coming back to New York as "Bay and Annabelle" where Bay's family is a prominent member of society.  The circumstances surrounding their deaths is a mystery. Was it a murder-suicide?  If so, who killed whom? And why?