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

Monday, November 30, 2020

November Books


Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia -- When a dead body is discovered in an abandoned bar, Sheriff Del Goodman is horrified to learn his best friend's daughter was the victim of a murder in this small southern Minnesota town. Hattie had been a popular high school student, a smart person and an actress. Pretty good story.

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy -- Nora Shipley is nearing the end of her college years at Cornell where she's the only female scientist studying entomology. While her stepfather presses her to meet someone and get married, Nora is itching to earn the scholarship in order to get her master's degree and later take over her late father's scientific journal. Pretty good story. I like the part when Nora joins a team researching in India.

The Fiction Class by Susan Breen -- Arabella is teaching a class on fiction writing; in this book we meet her students, and also tag along for her trips to visit her mother in a nursing home. Pretty good story.

The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon -- A suspenseful book about Reggie and the disappearance of her mother over 20 years before. When her mother suddenly reappears, Reggie returns to her hometown to take care of her (her mom's dying) and to get some answers about the murderer dubbed Neptune. Pretty good story if you like this sort of thing.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D. -- I saw this in the library's online catalog a couple weeks ago, and when I went to pick up a library hold, this one was included. I started reading it the day Joe Biden was declared the winner (yay) of the presidential election. This is a somewhat interesting tale of the Trump family through the eyes of Donald's niece. She is the daughter of Fred and Mary Anne Trump's oldest child.

Defending Hillsborough by Clarissa Thomasson -- An OK story about a couple who ran the Orange Hotel and Tavern in Hillsborough, NC. My mom read this one recently and recommended it. It was a rather simple story of Henry and Sarah and their children in the years leading up to and through the Civil War.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell -- This story alternates from Vanessa in 2017, and Vanessa 17 years prior when she attended a boarding school when she was fifteen years old. Her English teacher makes her feel really special, so special that 17 years later - during the Me Too movement - Vanessa still can't call what he did to her, rape. Because she feels like she had the power; that he was weak.

Last Day by Luanne Rice -- When Kate discovers that her younger sister Beth has been murdered, she does her best to figure out who did it, and why. Meanwhile detective Conor Reid is on the case. A pretty good story.

House of Correction by Nicci French -- A fast-paced story about Tabitha Hardy who ends up in prison because a neighbor was found dead in her shed. Her lawyer wants her to agree to a plea deal, but Tabitha is not guilty - at least she hopes not! - and wants to represent herself in court.  I've never read a book by this author - actually it's a husband and wife team so "these authors" - but I might read more of them eventually. Pretty good book.

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty -- Back and forth between the hypnotist Ellen, and her new boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, Saskia, who stalks Patrick. Pretty good book. I tend to like this author and her characters!

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall -- Max and Vivi meet while both ladies are working at the World's Fair in New York in 1939. Max works at the Fair's daily newspaper while Vivi is the star of the Aquacade. Pretty interesting story.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman -- Eliza receives a letter from Walter Bowman, the man on death row for murdering a teen girl when Eliza was 15. Walter wants to reconnect with Eliza, the girl he held captive for nearly 40 days that summer. Pretty good story.

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman -- A pretty good book by a new-to-me author, an actress from North London. This psychological thriller features Dr. Emma Lewis who is called to her hometown in order to work with a patient who washed up on the shore and doesn't have any memories. Or is he faking it?

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin -- I read a book by this author earlier this year which I enjoyed, and this was quite different, but still good. There were a few things I took issue with because the author set the book in a fictitious coastal town in North Carolina, and maybe her research is way better than what I know about my state (which is probably true), but there were a couple things about certain trees that made me take notice. (Do we have fir trees and lemon trees that grow on our coast? We might, but in my mind fir trees = higher elevations, and lemon trees = a bit more tropical climate than we have here.  But I've never lived on the coast so what do I know?) But the author is based in Melbourne so I'll give her a pass. There were a few typos that I caught, but that would be more of a proofreader problem. Besides all that, the story itself was enjoyable. Rachel Krall does a true crimes podcast, and instead of visiting older cases, in this series she's covering a rape trial because unlike murder (which tends to not be quite so controversial in the public's eye), rape is more controversial. Did she give consent, but just regret that she agreed to have sex? It's more of a he said-she said thing.

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer -- Cute, light read about three heavy-set friends, Nola, Deb, and Nancy who read the advice of Belinda Apple, the popular British columnist, and decide to lose weight together. Well, each lady has her own way of doing this, so it's not like they are together together. Nola is a fashion editor and, well, this book was a fun read - especially after reading books about murders and rapes this month!

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon -- A bit different, but overall a good book about Eva aka Necco when she lives on the street. When folks close to her are murdered, Necco is eager to find out who is after her. Luckily, she has Theo and Pru to help her. 

The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan -- Betty Stern was left with her grandparents when she was four, and has helped run their resort in South Haven, Michigan. Now she's experiencing her one last summer before she leaves for New York City where she hopes to finish college and eventually become a fashion editor. Alternating between Betty of that summer in 1951, and Betty of decades later - when she's in her mid-80s - this book is about remembering the past and enjoying friendships that last. Well, sort of like that. Pretty cute book.

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz -- Several of the books I'm reading now were on the New Books shelves of the library when I went in there recently. I thought I'd pick up some smaller fiction books to read over Thanksgiving week, and this was one of those. It was just ok. It wasn't terrible, but none of the three storylines really connected with me. Parts of each were a bit interesting, but when the book was done, I was just like "eh, not sure I'll read this author again."

The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson -- an OK book; fairly cute, but not overly-exciting. Dillon breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, quits her job, and moves back to central Oregon to care for her grandpa and figure out what to do next. Surprisingly her mom has also moved into grandpa's house and Dillion is stuck sleeping on the couch. Until...her grandpa gives her an old camper that his friend left for him when he died. Dillon enjoys fixing up her camper and such.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

October Books


Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin -- After being replaced in her band, Claire licks her wounds and accepts a job as a musician for a playgroup full of wealthy, perfect mothers in New York City. Alternating between the perspectives of Claire, Whitney, Amara, and Gwen, this book tells more about their experiences.  Pretty entertaining story!

The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw -- I don't usually read a lot of war books or watch war movies, but Bedford is a small town in Virginia that Andrew and I have passed through several times on our way to hike at the Peaks of Otter. We had noticed all the memorials to their World War II heroes, and when we stopped at their nice visitor's center this summer, we decided to get this book to read more about "One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice." I don't know that I've read a book with as much dread since I knew ahead of time that these guys who mostly just joined the National Guard in order to make a few dollars for their families, were killed. Many of them were in Company A, which landed first on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. As the book alternated between the boys in the service, and folks waiting back home, I shed a few tears at this great loss.

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell -- Aubrey, Jenny, and Kate were freshmen roommates at Carlisle and became close. Twenty years later, one of them is urged to jump from a bridge where someone died during their college days. A pretty good suspenseful book alternating between the ladies' perspectives.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty -- Imagine yourself at your Friday spin class, you fall and bump your head, and wake up thinking it's ten years ago. That's what happened to Alice in this book only ten years ago for her was 1998. She can't remember the turn of the millennium, no remembrance of 9-11, she can't even remember her children!  Good book; I love the characters!

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio -- After Emily's husband leaves her for another woman, she travels to Bainbridge Island in Washington to visit her aunt, in a place where she spent summers in her younger years. Aunt Bee welcomes her, and soon Emily is interested in reading the journal from someone named Esther who wrote it in the 1940s. It's a bit of a mystery: was this Esther real or was this a novel someone started writing? Pretty good story.

The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan -- After getting demoted from her job with the Women's Voluntary Service, Mrs. Braithwaite decides to visit her daughter who is doing some job for the war effort in England. Mrs. Braithwaite arrives at her daughter's boardinghouse to find out she hasn't been seen in a few days. Thus, the search for Betty and her involvement in spying and such. Quite the cute book with loveable characters such as Mrs. Braithwaite and Mr. Norris.

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks -- The story of David as told from the viewpoint of Natan (Nathan), the prophet. I knew much of this Bible story, but it was still an interesting perspective. 

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine -- a pretty good story about two women: Amber and Daphne. When Amber "accidentally" bumps into Daphne at the gym, the women bond over their shared experiences of losing sisters to cystic fibrosis. Amber finagles her way into Daphne's life and gradually lands a choice job as the personal assistant to Daphne's handsome and super-rich husband.

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer -- Alice's life is busy with a gifted child and another child on the autism spectrum, but when her beloved Babcia asks her to go to Poland to solve some mysteries, Alice takes the trip. Alternating between Alice's life today and her grandmother's life in Poland during the German occupation... well, this is a pretty good story!  And I love that bits of the author's family inspired it.

Deep in the Alaskan Woods by Karen Harper -- I often enjoy this author's historical fiction books (particularly The Royal Nanny), but this book left much to be desired. Alex left her home in Chicago, fleeing an abusive fiancé who happens to be her boss. She meets up with her twin cousins, Megan and Suzanne, who run a B&B in Alaska, and I just thought it was kind of cheesy. But I did finish it.

The Sixes by Kate White -- While recovering from a plagiarism charge, Phoebe Hall is teaching at a small university in Pennsylvania where her good friend from boarding school is the president. Glenda or Dr.Johns asks Phoebe to look into a secret sorority rumored to be vandalizing property and up to no good. When one young lady winds up drowned in the nearby river, Phoebe wonders if the two are somehow connected. Pretty good suspenseful-type book.

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner -- A little girl, Shira, has to hide in the barn loft of her mother's former customer because German soldiers are on the prowl in their part of Poland. Later Shira's mom is faced with a choice of giving up her daughter to a Catholic orphanage or continuing the hiding which is tough on a five year old child. A good story!

The Silence by Susan Allott -- Alternating between 1967 and 1997, this book tells the story of Isla who left London to return to her home in Australia after her alcoholic father is questioned in a missing-person case. The lady had been missing for 30 years before someone looked for her!  Mandy's husband struggled with his role as a police officer who had to remove Aboriginal children from families as part of a racist project. Pretty good story.

Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer -- Years ago, Lynne, Carol, Beth, and Mary Kay met at the end of a PTA meeting and bonded over martinis. When Lynne dies after a long illness, the other ladies fulfil Lynne's request to go through her things, and there the ladies find a message from Lynne asking them to find someone from her past, which they attempt. Pretty good story.

When We Were Young & Brave by Hazel Gaynor -- great book! I loved the setting at the China Inland Mission School where British, American, Dutch, Australian, and other English-speaking children studied while their missionary or diplomatic parents did their work. Things changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and suddenly these students were considered enemies to the occupying Japanese forces. This is told mostly in the voices of a teacher, Elspeth Kent, and her student, Nancy, as they faced the years together. I really enjoyed this book!

Hush by Kate White -- a fast-paced, suspense story about Lake Warren, a marketing consultant who uncovers possible unethical practices at the fertility clinic she's working for. Also, a guy she's interested in winds up dead. What's going on?

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar -- A fun look at ancient Rome when Priscilla and Aqulia of New Testament fame meet, and later serve the Church with the apostle Paul.