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

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November Books


A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw -- Due to his unusual ability, Travis is often hired by families looking for missing people. While on a search for Maggie St. James five years after she's gone missing, Travis disappears. Meanwhile in a remote mountain community cut off from the rest of the world, Calla, Bee, and Theo put together clues about life in Pastoral. A different kind of book, but pretty good.

Half Life by Jillian Cantor -- This book alternates between the voices of Marya Sklodowska and Marie Curie, the same woman actually, but one part in which Marya stays in Poland, marries a Polish man (she was engaged to for real), and never becomes the famous scientist and Nobel Prize winner. Of course in the other chapters, the author follows more of the real story of Marya's leaving Poland for Paris where it was acceptable for women to get a higher education - and where she becomes Marie. Really interesting story and look at how things could have been if not for Marya's decision to pursue her love of science.

The New Neighbor by Karen Cleveland -- A new-to-me author and a book about Beth who delivers her last child to college, moves from her childrens' childhood homes, separates from her husband of 25 years, and gets transferred to a less-desirable job at the CIA all in the space of a few days. Fun times! Pretty good, fast-paced book.

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney -- Daisy and her sisters, Rose and Lily, and divorced parents are called to meet Nana at her remote estate. There Nana wants to celebrate her Halloween birthday - on which she will turn 80 - with everyone and reveal the contents of her will. That doesn't make anyone happy. Later that night Trixie, Daisy's niece discovers Nana dead - did she fall off her chair? did someone murder her? A rather weird book, but a pretty good story, I suppose. 

The Florence Legacy by Lauraine Snelling -- After her friend dies, Bree is stunned when her late friend's husband sends her enough money for Bree to take a trip to Italy. This book is half The Italian Trip while the other half deals with things at home: a new relationship with a widower, her daughter's continual financial struggles, Pierre's desire to open a coffee shop to help veterans.  Decent book.

The Favor by Nora Murphy -- Leah and McKenna live close to one another though they have never met. Their lives are similar in several ways, and one evening Leah witnesses something happen to McKenna and she intervenes in a life-altering way. Pretty good book. 

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan -- An enjoyable tale from a small English village during World War II. This one featured the points of view of Grace, the vicar's daughter who is engaged to marry a man of the church; Violet, a rather spoiled young lady with marriage-to-a-duke on her mind; and Cressida, Violet's aunt who has to leave her fashion business in London and ends up back home in the small village.

All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers -- Margot comes back to small town Indiana to help care for her uncle Luke who has some early-onset memory problems. As an investigative reporter, Margot starts looking into the disappearance of a little girl in a nearby town and noticed similarities to her own childhood friend's murder twenty-five years ago. Pretty good story though a difficult subject matter.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager -- Emma returns to a camp where fifteen years ago, her three roommates disappeared. This time she's not a thirteen year old, but hired to teach art to the campers. Pretty interesting story.

The Vicious Circle by Katherine St. John -- When Sveta's wealthy uncle Paul dies, she is informed that she is his sole beneficiary much to her shock! Why wouldn't Paul have left most of his assets to his wife, Kali, who runs their remote healing center in a Mexican state?  Soon Sveta is on her way to Mexico where her uncle's lawyer Lucas advocates for her whereas Paul's wife Kali presents an updated will where she (Kali) is left much of the estate. This book is really about more than contested wills. In fact it's about a cult where Sveta and Lucas are trapped and such things. Kind of a weird book, but ok.

What Lies Beneath  by J.G. Hetherton -- When I noticed this was A Laura Chambers Mystery, according to the front cover, I realized I was reading book two in a series so there was some backstory going on with a few characters that I didn't know. But this book deals with Laura who lives in nearby Hillsborough, NC, who is investigating the death of a lady about her age whose final phone calls were to Laura. Due to the nature of the lady's death, Laura wasn't able to positively identify her, but she thinks it might be a childhood friend who left the area after the friend's parents were murdered. A pretty good book although I got lost a time or two on certain characters.

The Last Housewife by Ashley Windstead -- I know the author had a good, empowering message in this book and some people may love it. I was not one of those people and I wish I hadn't kept reading this book. Shay went to college in New York, and when she hears her childhood friend's True Crimes podcast, she decides to surprise him in NY so she leaves her wealthy husband in Texas while he's away on a business trip. Shay and Jamie try to solve the mystery surrounding Shay's college roommate Laurel's apparent suicide. Only they aren't convinced that the police were correct in labeling it a suicide. What if it were a murder?  This book has several Content Warnings before it begins, FYI.

A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith -- Someone reading this book without already knowing the fantastic characters of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels would probably think this book was so absurd. I mean, a book about chairs in Botswana? Come on. Yet I've read all of the series, and this was a (pardon the pun) comfortable tale, especially after a couple of disturbing books I've read recently. It was good to read about Charlie and Fanwell, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi, and all the others!

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger -- One of those thriller/suspense type books that I tend to like. Quick read. Hannah and Bruce along with her brother and his wife (Mako and Liza) plus Hannah's best friend and her new boyfriend (Cricket and Joshua) go on a weekend trip where everything goes berserk. Pretty good.

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan -- Four women in Fenley compete to become the woman's voice on the BBC show about how to make delicious dishes during wartime rationing. Audrey is a single mother of three boys. Her husband was shot down over Germany, and she dreams of winning because she needs the extra funds in order to keep her house! Gwendoline is her sister who desires to win because she and Audrey don't get along. Plus it would make her husband admire her more...perhaps. Zelda is an evacuee from London who wants to be the head chef, but cannot seem to achieve that rank due to her not being male. Finally Nell, a cook from the big house. Anyway...this was a pretty good book.

I Cried to Dream Again: Trafficking, Murder, and Delieverance by Sara Kruzan -- Recently Andrew finished his library book so I told him I'd pick out something for him. I got three books on the New Books shelves that I thought might interest him, and this one he read quickly and suggested I would like it too. "Like" it in the fact that it's interesting, but not in the fact of what had been done to this lady, of course. The author spent many years in prison because she killed the man who groomed, raped, and trafficked her to men in California looking for a good time with a prostitute. She deals with that aspect and that of her deplorable home life, and also some about her time in prison.  (Note to me: her mom's family (Kruzan) is from Indiana, and the Cruzan I know personally, came to NC from Illinois.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

October Books


Magpie by Elizabeth Day -- Marisa is thrilled when her new boyfriend Jake suggests they get a place together and start trying for a baby!  Marisa's mom left when she was seven years old, taking her baby sister, and leaving Marisa with her father. She never got over that abandonment and just wants someone safe which Jake is. When Jake's business takes a downturn, he suggests renting out a spare room, and Kate moves in. Kate makes herself at home and seems to take over too much personal space. What could go wrong with that scenario? Pretty good book.

Girls of Flight City by Lorraine Heath -- "inspired by true events, a novel of WWII, the Royal Air Force, and Texas;" Pretty interesting story about Jessie and her younger sister Kitty, Texans whose town had members of Britain's Royal Air Force train there before the United States entered the war. I enjoyed this one!

The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith -- After a lot of yard cleanup (I helped Andrew for hours over the weekend) due to Hurricane Ian's remnants, it was wonderful having a string of beautiful fall weather. I sat outside yesterday and read a lot in this book. Greta's parents had an Alaskan cruise scheduled with their four best friends (two couples), but Greta's mom died of a brain aneurysm three months before it could happen. So her father wouldn't be the fifth wheel, Greta's brother talked her into going on the cruise with him. Greta and her father don't get along, but Greta agrees reluctantly to make the trip. This was a decent book. I like that one of the stops was in Haines, Alaska, because within the last year or so, I read a few books by a lady (Heather Lende)  who lives there, and it was neat to read a bit about that place in a novel.

Verity by Colleen Hoover -- A very quick read for me. When Lowen is asked to finish a series of novels for a famous author who was hurt in an accident, she is invited to stay at the family's home for a few days as she sifts through the author's (her name is Verity) office for notes and research. Soon Lowen discovers an autobiography with chilling details about the family. Pretty interesting story with lots of crude language if that's your thing.

The Foundling by Ann Leary -- Pretty interesting story about Mary Engle, a half-orphan who works at an institution for "feebleminded women of childbearing age." Quite a fascinating time in our nation's history when women could be committed to years of imprisonment because they had children out of wedlock or their husbands wanted to send them there. Infuriating!  Sidenote: I was reading this book when I got the most-awful phone call about my little brother dying hours after a same-day surgery. While I took this book with me when I traveled to where his family lives, I didn't open it for a week. I stayed so busy most of the time, and during down times I caught up on emails. I tend to write details in emails to my sister to keep them as kind of a journal.

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan -- Good story. I enjoyed learning more about bees, honey, and beekeeping as the story of single-mom Olivia unfolded as well as Lily, the new girl at school who dated Olivia's son Asher until her death. Asher is charged with Lily's murder, and well, this book had a major plot twist which introduced me more to people whom I'm not very familiar with. It was good for me to learn more about them. And I'm purposefully trying to be vague here, but, yeah, I enjoyed this one and resonated with the Authors' Notes at the end (which has spoilers, FYI.)

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson -- I'm not totally sure about the plot in this book. It was all over the place:  Nellie Coker and her London clubs; her children's roles in everything; the librarian-turned-police informant - much about London's 1926 nightlife.

The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward -- I liked her other book that I read better, but this was pretty good. Charlotte is 71 and enters a contest winning a European cruise for herself and her three adult children, Lee, Cord, and Regan. The book alternates between all four voices, and was pretty interesting as each deals with life struggles and such. 

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward -- This book was beside the book just above so I got it recently on a trip to the library. Maddie, Ian, and Charlie live in Kansas where Maddie grew up and vowed to never return. So boring. While Ian still has his foreign travels with work, Maddie stays home with Charlie and starts seeing a writing therapist. Through her journaling and alternating chapters we learn about her life with Ian, and her life before she and Ian married when Maddie and her friend Joanna lived in Bulgaria and Macedonia - places way more exciting than Kansas! Pretty good story. 

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer  -- An interesting look at the experiences of some Polish people - Jews and Catholics - during World War II. This book alternated between the voices of Roman who lived in the ghetto, and Emilia who traveled into the ghetto with a social worker named Sara. This book also covers a bit of the Red Army's occupation of Poland after the war ended. When Emilia finds herself living with some nuns for a time and is unable to sleep, she rises to light a candle and pray in the chapel. I loved the part on page 354 when she hears the chapel door open and looks up to see Sister Agnieszka Gracja kneel beside her and light another candle. The Sister rose when Emilia rose, and as she and Emilia walked back to their rooms, Emilia questioned, "'What were you praying about at this strange hour?'" and the Sister smiled and replied, "'I was asking God to ease your torment.'"  That touched me because I really appreciate people praying for me and my family, too!