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

Monday, August 31, 2020

August Books


Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble -- This book was a murder/thriller type without the real scary aspect which was fine. It wasn't as good as some books of this type, but not too bad.  I think some of the characters are from past series as I noticed LOTS of them by this author. In this book Harper meets her half sister, Annabelle, after a DNA test matches them. Both ladies have a mystery surrounding the deaths of their moms. Also both women are suddenly being sought by someone with sinister motives.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold -- Bridget and her mom both recommended this book last year, and I got it for my birthday. Although much of the book is speculation based on social norms and "what people often do in these situations," a lot of it is fact-based due to all the research on census forms and registers. I enjoyed learning more about this interesting period in history. I noted the soldiers' lives and their women (pg. 77), abstinence from drink pledges (pg. 109) and how sex workers were checked by local officials for syphlllis and other STDs (pg. 148, among others.) There was lots more in the book, but for some reason I noted those pages.

Liberation by Imogen Kealey -- I read a book about Nancy Wake a few months ago, so this was a nice surprise to open up to read it and discover it talked about her some more. Since I'd read the earlier book, I knew most of what would happen, but it was a nice refresher course. She was a brave lady! I admire how she did things despite her fears and the many obstacles in her way!

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah -- an interesting look at the Kenai Peninsula area of Alaska in the mid-70s! Leni's father came home from Vietnam a changed man. The family was never able to settle in one place for long until one day when the Allbright family is informed about a bit of land and a cabin left to her father in a remote area of Alaska. The family moves there, and learns how to be Alaska Tough (which all that was rather fascinating to me!). Leni's father continues to struggle with nightmares especially in winter when they only get a few daylight hours each day. A good story!

Officer Clemmons by Dr. Fran├žois S. Clemmons -- This is a memoir by the man who played on the popular children's program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He discusses a bit about his childhood in the South, and their relocation to Ohio to escape his father. He also talks a lot about his music education and career, his friendship with Fred Rogers, his experiences as a black man and a gay man.  (I'm listening to him sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot on YouTube as I type this.  He loves old Negro spirituals.)

The Wrong Man by Kate White -- When Kit hooks up with a stranger while she's in Key West, she never knows showing up at his apartment in New York for a second date will be an extremely disturbing experience. The guy who answers the door and answers to the name of the guy she met in Florida is NOT the same person! Somehow Kit ends up involved in some mystery where two people are murdered.

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette -- book 3 in the Cities of Refuge series; In this book Rivkah is betrothed to her late husband's younger brother who is two years younger than herself, but she doesn't want to marry Malakhi because she remembers what a teasing, troublesome child he was. When her friend Nessa decides to flee the city to escape her own betrothal, Rivkah joins her. What awaits them in Laish, and beyond?

Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini -- a somewhat interesting look at Mary Todd Lincoln and her family through the eyes of her sisters - Elizabeth, Frances, Ann, and Emilie. It went from present (to them) time to flashbacks when Abraham Lincoln was a rising political figure. Several parts were quite a good way to learn about his character.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty -- this book centered around a kindergarten class and their parents. A new kid in town, Ziggy, is accused of bullying at kindergarten orientation and that rep follows him and his mom, Jane, as they try to make friends in town. Madeline believes Jane, whereas other powerful moms circulate a petition to get Ziggy thrown out of kindergarten!  Another good story from this author!

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer -- I felt like I'd read this book before because so much of it seemed familiar, but I checked my blog and my paper list of books I've read and didn't find it. And there were enough new things in it, but wow, there must be a very similar story out there. It was somewhat predictable (as are many books), but it was a good story about doctors who are engaged, and Lexie's sister Annie calls her when she's having trouble with her pregnancy. Annie hadn't told her sister she was pregnant. Not only is she pregnant, but she's been taking about a gram of heroin a day. Poor baby having to get off that stuff. This is a very touching book and would probably be very sad for readers especially if you know someone struggling with drug addictions.

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette -- final book in the Cities of Refuge series; Tirzah gets a role as a spy for the Hebrews; meanwhile Liyam vows to avenge the death of his little girl who was run over by a trader. A look at what that area might have been like during the time of the Judges.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis -- I like how this author tells the story of an interesting building - in this case the New York Public Library - by creating a cast of individuals to make it come alive. Laura Lyons lives in the apartment within the library with her husband and two children. Laura's desire is to become a journalist, but in 1913 it's a tough career for a married mother. In more contemporary times, Sadie works at this library where her great grandmother lived. When a series of book thefts happen on her watch, she delves into her family's past to learn more about them and their former home - the library.

The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield -- using Gustav Kleinmann's cryptic diary, his son Fritz's short memoir, plus many other sources, the author shares a gripping tale of this father and son from Vienna who survived over 5 years in concentration camps. I was amazed at their resourcefulness and found it interesting to learn about life within the camps, kindnesses that kept them going, yet I was once again saddened by the evil of many Germans and other people at that time who thought that this cleansing was acceptable and needed!

Shamed by Linda Castillo -- I decided to try this author, and enjoyed this suspenseful novel which takes places in Holmes County, Ohio, among an Amish community. The chief of police is a former-Amish lady, and Kate Burkholder is trying to figure out who committed a gruesome murder of an Amish grandmother, and took a seven-year-old girl. 

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz -- Unlike most of his books, in this one the author doesn't mix history with his present travels, but tells the story of John Brown. While I missed the Tony aspect of the story, he really kept my attention sharing intriguing facts about John Brown, his family, his beliefs, friends, supporters, and so forth. Good story. I still hate that Tony Horwitz died last year, as I really enjoy his books. I think I've read most of them now. My library didn't have this one, so I got it for my birthday.

East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter -- Blue, Maya, Renee, and Hannah were best friends in high school, but after a tragedy, the girls have had a hard time staying connected the last twelve years. When Blue informs Maya of her grandmother's plan to sell the family cottage where the girls used to go each summer, Maya wants to recreate those wonderful days one last time.

Monday, August 3, 2020

July Books

The Return by Rachel Harrison -- Elise's friend, Julie, was gone for exactly two years before she reappeared. Most everyone thought she had died after disappearing from a hike, but Elise had a gut feeling that her best friend was alive. Elise, Julie, Mae, and Molly agree to reconnect at a resort and Julie's appearance shocks the other friends. Strange things keep happening at the hotel, with the staff's disappearance, and this book takes a really weird turn. I liked it OK, but then it just got a bit too weird for my tastes.

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier -- A parent's worst nightmare - Marin's son is kidnapped while they are at a crowded market days before Christmas. As she works through this nightmare, the private investigator she hired finds out that her husband is having an affair with someone named Kenzie. Marin gets advice from her best friend, Sal, on what to do about Kenzie. Meanwhile Kenzie is trying to see how she can advance her status in life with her rich, married boyfriend. Sounds terrible, I know, but it was actually an interesting story if you like this sort of thing.

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones -- most all the books I've read recently are New Books that I put online at the library pre-covid shutdown. Most were still On Order, but have come in in recent weeks so I have had lots of holds arrive...and most of them are decent. I read two from this author earlier this year, and this was pretty good as well. It begins with Kate and Lauren with their families visiting their mom for the traditional Sunday lunch. Kate is struggling with getting pregnant, and Lauren is struggling with her bully of a husband. What else does the family need than a knock on the door with a young lady claiming to be their half sister (thanks to a DNA match on an ancestry site.)  Kate thinks there is no way that her beloved father had another child while Lauren doesn't seem surprised. 

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty -- I've found another author whom I enjoy a lot! I've only read two of her books, and am happy that more books exist so I can get to them eventually. In this story Cecelia finds a letter her husband wrote for her to open in the event of his death. Initially she abides by his wishes to not read the letter, but when he returns home from America and she finds him rummaging in the attic for the letter, she decides she better take a look. This puts her in a bind as to what to do about his secret. Meanwhile Tess has come home to Sydney after her husband and favorite cousin have surprising news. Also, Rachel, the school secretary, deals with her emotions after her daughter was killed over two decades ago. Interesting story and characters!

The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman -- I really enjoy her fiction midwife stories, and this was similar except it was her own story! Really interesting tales. I got this for my birthday, but it was late coming and then I got to reading a bunch of library books, finished all that I had of those, and decided to read this until the library reopened today (July 6). Good book!

Transcription by Kate Atkinson -- Pretty good story though I had a little hard time following it at times. I saw someone at the local library recommend it so I checked it out. I really like the main character Juliet Armstrong and how she sees the world. She gets a job with MI5 during World War II, and this story follows that as well as ten years later when she runs into some of her former coworkers.  I may check out more from this author.

Eyes on You by Kate White -- Another fast-paced suspenseful novel; Robin is part of a hit TV show focusing on celebrity news and a little bit of crime. She and her co-anchor, Carter, have that spark that makes it a ratings success. Robin is stunned when nasty notes and mean things start happening to her. Is someone at her workplace out to get her?  And if so, why?

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer -- Beth struggled to get pregnant, and now that she has a sweet little boy, she struggles with feelings of not wanting to be a mother. Or, rather, that she can't parent him properly. While cleaning out her father's house, Beth comes across notes from her mother, and learns more about the woman who gave birth to her, and died when Beth was a small girl. A good story.

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinbrough -- about a third of the way through, I wished I hadn't read this book because there were just some things I didn't like at all (I have my own level of ick factor in books), but I kept reading because I really wanted to find out what happened. And the rest of the book was decent enough that it was redeemable in the sense that I liked the bit of mystery (whodunit) if not the activities of certain characters. Keisha is the new foreign second wife fresh in the South from London. Margie notices how all the guys are attracted to her because she's stunningly beautiful. Margie is jealous that Keisha is after her husband, but then Jason asks her to become friends with Keisha in order to influence Keisha's older, super-wealthy husband.  And it goes on from there. 

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd -- Have you ever wondered if Jesus were married? And if so, what was his wife like? And how was he as a husband? This book delves into this a bit with the story of Ana, a product of the author's imagination. It was interesting looking at Jesus's life through her own perspective, and not always from a front-row seat as you may expect.

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia -- When a young man turns up after disappearing with his father ten years ago, he is taken to a psychiatric hospital where Maya Stark is asked to help him "find his voice."  As a former resident and later orderly, and now speech therapist, Maya is determined to help Lucas. Lucas finds Maya fascinating, and she connects with him in ways no other staff are able. What happens when she finds out that Lucas's dad is still in the Boundary Waters forest - and in desperate need of help?

The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon -- the story of Emilie who grew up in a very scientific household with her father training her from infancy to be a thinker. Later her head is turned by a visitor to her family's estate, and, well, her time in London with her husband Aislabie is a learning experience since she'd never been out of the country. A pretty good story.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty -- This book goes back and forth from present day to The Day of the Barbeque where something happened to forever change the lives of Erika, Oliver, Clementine and Sam, Tiffany, Vid and their children.

The Lost Orphan by Stacey Halls -- When Bess gives up her infant daughter, she vows to one day come back for her little Clara. Six years later, when Bess has saved what she thinks she owes the Foundling Hospital for caring for her child, she learns that someone took home her daughter the day after her birth. That someone signed Bess's name and address, and Bess has no idea where to find her child! Meanwhile Alexandra's story is told, how she came to care for Charlotte. Pretty good story.

Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly -- Kate is drawn back to her hometown by her former best friend who calls asking Kate if she can "save" the town. She is intrigued by the Barton house and while there discovers a murdered lady on the doorstep. This book was decent enough, but not super-exciting or interesting. I might read more in this series just to see what becomes of the town. (It's a Victorian Village Mystery, in case I need to find that information again.)

March by Geraldine Brooks -- Have you ever read Little Women and wondered more about the girls' father. In this book the author imagines life for Mr. March as he serves as a chaplain for the Union during the Civil War. Pretty good story.

Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt -- quite often Andrew has me pick up books for him at the library and this was one he finished last week. I had finished my final library book so I decided to read this one before picking up the book the library had on hold for me. It was a good challenge from this pastor as he hiked in the Himalayas with a local person who worked with the various villages to meet needs. In the book we were introduced to a man who lost his eyeball due to an infection that could have been easily treated in many places in the world; we "met" villagers who sold their daughters to sex traffickers, and even a few followers of Christ. I appreciated the pastor's prayer in his journal where he asked God to "teach him what that means."  "That" being how to love God with all our hearts and minds and how to love others as God called us to do (see pgs. 82-89).  Around page 97, I appreciated the reminder to come to God boldly in prayer and how privileged we are to have Someone love us and care for us so that we may come to Him for our many needs. Page 158 reminded me that it's not easy to be a Christian in many parts of the world. No one there followed Christ because it was "culturally acceptable to be a Christian, and not one person is here because this is the most comfortable way for him or her to live." They knew it was a sacrifice, made things hard, and often cost them their families, yet they wanted to follow Jesus.

The Lost Husband by Katherine Center -- After her husband dies in an auto accident, Libby and her young children, Abby and Tank live a couple years with her mother before "crazy Aunt Jean" invites her and the children to live in the Texas country on a goat farm. Eager to get away from her mom, Libby decides to give it a try. Not only does Aunt Jean not believe in carbs (except for her whole-wheat pancakes), she doesn't own a television! Libby learns how to milk goats and make cheese, and has hairy O'Conner, a neighbor, to help her learn the ropes. Pretty cute story; an easy read.