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

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.