Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Pink Carnation, #7)The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was very entertaining! Lauren Willig's sense of humor is delightful. I could see the scenes in this novel being acted out in my mind. All of her books have elements that are so comical, but this one is the best I've read so far. And making Arabella friends with Jane Austen was a great addition. I caught the references to characters in Austen's books - I haven't read all of them, but I did recognize the ones mentioned. I loved the character of Arabella and Turnip was just fabulous. I feel as though I'm gushing, but I really enjoyed this book. What a great way to spend the Christmas season - reading a Christmas book in the Pink Carnation series. Thank you, Lauren Willig for writing such an entertaining one!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I listened to the audiobook which is always a good idea with Jane Austen novels in my opinion. I love listening to the accents of the narrators. Catherine is portrayed as a 17-year-old girl who doesn't really think for herself - although she did make it all the way home from Northanger Abbey on her own. She goes to Bath with a neighbor couple as a companion to the wife. They meet up with an aquaintance from this woman's girlhood and Catherine makes friends with her daughter. Their son, James Thorpe, beoomes interested in Catherine, but she becomes interested in another - Henry Tilney. James exaggerates Catherine's family's wealth to Henry's father, General Tilney, to make her appear more worthy of James' interest. The General wants Catherine for Henry, so he invites her to Northanger Abbey for a visit. Henry, Catherine and Eleanor - Henry's sister, spend happy times together for about 3 weeks. Then overnight, The General sends Catherine home and forbids Henry to pursue her because he has heard from James Thorpe another exaggeration of Catherine's family's financial status - her being poor. Henry, probably the most stable character in the novel, proves himself chivalrous and goes against his father's wishes and travels to Catherine to ask her to marry him. Catherine's parents are in favor of the match, but only if they can convince Henry's father to give his consent. Henry's sister, Eleanor, comes to the rescue by spontaneously (at least in the novel - apparently not in the novelist's mind) marrying a man of means, a Viscount, and making her father very happy. In his happiness, he forgives Henry and grants his consent. This novel was only 179 pages long, but it took me a while to get through it because Catherine did so much imagining and sighing, etc. This novel is meant to be a parody of the Gothic novels of Jane Austen's time. It was amusing, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods

A Chesapeake Shores ChristmasA Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the first book I read in the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge this year. It is one of the continuing stories of the O'Brien family who built and live in a town called Chesapeake Shores. Megan married Mick O'Brien, the builder of the town, but left him when their 5 children were young because she thought he loved his work more than his family. She made a place for her children to be with her in New York, but their father convinced them to stay with him. After many years, Megan and Mick reconciled and all of their children accepted her back in the family except Connor, their son. He was now a successful divorce lawyer and didn't believe in marriage. But, this is a Christmas novel, so all worked out in the end, but I only gave it 3 stars because the first half of the book was full of arguments and tension. There were many stubborn men and a few stubborn women involved. The resolution was rather ironic which I did enjoy, but I didn't like the fighting and manipulation (the characters didn't either). As I said, it is a Christmas novel, so there was a happy ending which I really like even though it was a tad unrealistic. But I've never been accused of being a realist, so Merry Christmas!

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

April Lady by Georgette Heyer

April LadyApril Lady by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I expected this book to be a light, Victorian-style romance novel. It was light and it was Victorian - the ton and everything, but it wasn't exactly your typical romance novel. The heroine was sought out when she was a young thing by an older, wealthy, well-established man, Giles Cardross. According to her mother, she was to be his "show" wife because he had a mistress. So, Nell, the young wife, went about doing all the things a young wife was supposed to do in Victorian England - she went to parties and bought expensive gowns for each one, etc., etc. In due course, she racked up extensive debts. Nell's brother, Dysart, was a dandy and gambled to excess. Nell lent him some money which she did not want Cardross to find out about. When Nell's debts were brought to his attention, he reprimanded her a little, then paid them all, or so he thought. Nell got a letter from her dressmaker asking for payment of yet another bill. Since she had lent Dysart money, she didn't have any more funds to pay the bill and she didn't want to tell her husband because she didn't want him to think she married him for his money because she really did love him. The rest of the novel is about how Nell and Dysart go about coming up with a scheme to pay the dressmaker's bill without Cardross finding out about it. Also, Nell's sister-in-law, Letty, lives with them and contributes her own part to this comedy. She is young and in love with a man with no position who is about to go off to Brazil to work for the ambassador. Letty wants to marry him in the worst way, but Cardross won't hear of it. She whines and cries and has hyterics which has no affect on Cardross. Then she comes up with a fantastic scheme at the climax of the book. I enjoyed this book very much. It was a nice change to read something funny and entertaining, but light.

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2012

Of course, I am participating in the
2012 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge!
This challenge is hosted by The True Book Addict at The Christmas Spirit Blog. This is the 4th Year and I'm pretty sure I have participated at least 3 of the 4 years. I love Christmas! If YOU love Christmas - Christmas books, Christmas movies, Christmas cookies - you should go over the The Christmas Spirit Blog and sign up, too. (The challenge doesn't include cookies, but I'll be sure to be nibbling on some while I'm reading or watching movies!)
Here are the details:
The Challenge runs from Monday, November 19, 2012 through Sunday, January 6, 2013 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany).
Crossover with other challenges is permitted and encouraged!
The books must be Christmas novels about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and, for the first time, there is a children's Christmas books level!
Visit The Christmas Spirit Blog to see a list of new Christmas books for 2012.
Here are the reading levels:
Candy Cane - read 1 book
I read "A Chesapeake Shores Christmas" by Sherryl Woods. Find my review here.
Mistletoe - read 2 to 4 books
I read "A Wallflowers Christmas" by Lisa Kleypas. 12/5/12
I read "The Mischief of the Mistletoe" by Lauren Willig 12/30/12. Find my review here.
Christmas Tree - read 5 or 6 books
Additional levels: FaLaLa 
Films: watch a bunch or a few Christmas movies
I've watched too many Christmas movies this year! At least one every night since Thanksgiving.
Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children and share what you read
The additional levels are optional, but you still must participate in the reading levels.
Have fun!!!
Check out The Christmas Spirit Blog to sign up and to read about the giveaway!
I'll probably start out at the Mistletoe level and then go to Christmas Tree if I can.
Christmas movies have already started and I have seen at least 3. We watch a Christmas movie or special every night in December at our house.
Did I mention I LOVE Christmas?

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

My Name is Mary SutterMy Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was our book club selection for November. It is the story of a young girl, Mary Sutter, who is determined to become a surgeon. She applies to Medical College and is rejected, then tries to find a surgeon who will apprentice her to no avail. She finally seeks out Dorothea Dix to apply to be a nurse in the war effort (Civil War, that is). Ms. Dix rejects her as well because she didn't fit her picture of a nurse. Mary was a very strong, determined woman. She found the Union Hotel which was a ramshackle building converted to a hospital for the war wounded. She made herself indispensible to the surgeon in charge and helped clean up the place as best they could. She helped him perform a couple of amputations and convinced him to teach her what he knew. The story goes on from there. Believe me, I haven't spoiled it for you. If you are a fan of life during the Civil War, you will enjoy this book. So many people lost loved ones and so many people died of battle injuries or just of disease which ran rampant through the troops and hospitals. It was very sad. This is a very sad book even though it has somewhat of a happy ending. She loses so much, but she is successful in achieving what she wants - yes, that is a spoiler, but you know it's going to happen from the beginning.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Guardians of Stone by Anita Clenney

Guardians of Stone (The Relic Seekers, #1)Guardians of Stone by Anita Clenney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anita Clenney's books are always exciting. Things are happening and there are twists and unexpected turns. This book lives up to that promise. The story is about a girl, Kendall, who has the gift of discovering things about people and objects by touching them or something that belonged to them which makes her unusually adept at finding lost items. She works for Nathan, a rich collector who is searching for a specific ancient box for reasons he will not disclose. Then there's Jake who also works for Nathan as a "tough" guy, good in a fight, and skilled at finding and protecting people. Nathan sends Jake and Kendall to Italy to find the box. The box is under the protection of the Protettori, an organization begun many many years ago. The locals say the castle is cursed and anyone that goes there doesn't come back. Their adventures are exciting and the situations they find themselves in are comical as well as extremely dangerous. There are lots of secret passageways and strange guardians all over. Kendall is having revelations like she had been to the castle before, but she doesn't remember that. Of course, there is a bit of a love interest between Jake and Kendall as well as some kind of relationship between Nathan and Kendall, but we don't know exactly what. The only thing I didn't like about the book was the ending. I know it is leading up to a sequel, but it didn't seem finished enough to move on. We didn't discover the truth about Jake or Nathan or their relationship. I was just a little disappointed that at least one of the mysteries didn't get solved.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dark Nebula by W.J. May - cover reveal

Nothing is as it seems anymore.

Leery from the horrifying incident at the end of her first year at Guilder Boarding School, Rae Kerrigan is determined to learn more about her new tattoo. looks Her expectations are high, an easy senior year and a happy reunion with Devon— the boy she’s not supposed to date. All hopes of happiness fade into shattered dreams the moment she steps back on campus.

Lies and secrets are everywhere, and a betrayal cuts Rae deeply. Among her conflicts and enemies, it appears as if her father is reaching out from beyond the grave to ruin her life. With no one to trust, Rae doesn’t know where or who to turn to for help.

Has her destiny been written? Or will she becomes the one thing she hates the most-- her father’s prodigy.

Dark Nebula is available December 15th
It is the sequel to Rae of Hope, part of the Chronicles of Kerrigan
See my review of Rae of Hope here.

Wanita May grew up in the fruit belt of Ontario - St.Catharines. With a crazy-happy childhood, she has always had a vivid imagination and way too much energy.

The youngest of six -- four older brothers, and a sister -- taught her at a young age to be competitive in all aspects of life.

At sixteen, she began competing in athletics (track and field) and before she turned seventeen, she was representing Canada in high jump. She continued to compete, breaking Canada's JR High Jump record (1.92m - 6' 3 1/2" for those metric-ly challenged). She attented University of Toronto, and Kansas State University - winning CIAU's and becoming All-American 6x - NCAA Indoors Runner Up + more.

But you're not interested in her athletic career - unless of course you're curious to know she stands 1.70m (5'7") and has jumped 20cm over her head on more than one occasion. She's represented Canada at the World Championships, World Jrs., won Francophone Games, and loved every minute of every competition. From the grueling workouts, the crazy weights she lifted on her back, the days she thought her lungs were going to spit out of her mouth for lack of oxygen, the traveling around the world and the opportunity to read - her favorite past time.

Life continued with her husband (a distance runner from Liverpool, UK, who she met at KSU) and then their first, then second and finally third child. Their house became full of more imagination and stories. Wanita and her husband run an online business, dealing in antiques and collectables - particularly jewelry and porcelain

After her father passed away in 2009, from a six-year battle with cancer (which she still believes he won the fight against), she began to write again. A passion she'd loved for years, but realized life was too short to keep putting it off.

Her first book, Rae of Hope - from the Chronicles of Kerrigan, published by Mitchell Morris Publishing debuted Oct 2011. Rae of Hope, the first book in the series is going to be free to download on Amazon October 15th.

Here is the link:

Dark Nebula is available December 15th, 2012.

She is represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Wanita is a writer of Young Adult, Fantasy Fiction and where ever else her little muses take her.



Twitter: @wanitajump



Book Trailers:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Where Rainbows End by Cecilia Ahern

Where Rainbows EndWhere Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was written as a series of letters - well, e-mails, letters & text messages. I know there's a name for that type of book, but I can't remember it right now. Anyway, I liked the way it was written. The story was about Rosie and her best friend, Alex. That's the bottom line. They went through their whole lives from age 7 to 50 something corresponding with each other, standing up at each other's wedding, supporting each other across an ocean and loving each other although neither one was brave enough to admit it. At age 17, Alex moved to Boston because his Dad got a glorious job there. He couldn't make it to Rosie's end-of-school dance, so she went with someone else, got very drunk and got pregnant! Yes, her dreams of going to school in Boston were dashed when she decided to have the baby. The father split immediately. Alex went on to medical school to pursue his dream of being a doctor. They still kept in touch though. Their lives went on with missed opportunities and bad marriages, etc. The book is rather predictable. You know what is going to happen in the end, but getting there all you can think is "what roadblock to true love is going to appear next?" I know this is a spoiler, but with a title like "Where Rainbows End" you should know that they get together in the end. It takes a LONG time, but they finally get together IN THE EPILOGUE!!! I did really enjoy this book. I especially liked the fact that Rosie's daughter, Katie, was the key to getting them together. If you are a lover of love stories, I recommend you read this book.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Literally Dead by James Conroy

Literally DeadLiterally Dead by James Conroy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was asked to read and review this novel by the publisher. It interested me because there were several authors mentioned in the blurb I read. I'm not a fan of crime fiction, but this book held my interest. Many famous authors' names were dropped - Ernest Hemingway, Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay - there's also a plug for James Conroy! The story takes place in Chicago and deals with the effort to start workers' unions and the corruption of Chicago's police force. I guess it held my interest because I have family that would have lived in Chicago when the story takes place AND my father was a steelworker and belonged to the Steelworkers' Union. The young writer who is at the center of this story was also son to a renowned union organizer. His father was killed during a worker strike in an attempt to get better wages and working conditions for the workers of a shoe company. It turns out that he was actually murdered and now his son is trying to put the pieces together to find out who murdered him. Hemingway is depicted as you would expect - garrulous and independent; Sandburg and Millay are very important people in this Chicago and help the boy out as much as they can. They also bring along Clarence Darrow to get him out of jail and help with his puzzle. Writing it here, it seems rather fantastic, but reading it, it flows together. It was a very good book. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I don't particularly like crime fiction, but this was okay - almost historical. I recommend it.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The White Garden by Stephanie Barron

The White Garden: A Novel of Virginia WoolfThe White Garden: A Novel of Virginia Woolf by Stephanie Barron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite authors and this book is a fictionalized account of events surrounding her death. Stephanie Barron does an excellent job making you believe the events she creates are true. The way things progress makes this book exciting and very hard to put down. If you like mysteries and puzzles, you'll love this book. She gives you bits and pieces and weaves them together, extending one piece, then another, then weaving around to join them to complete that part of the puzzle. Wonderful! And, I just love Virginia and Stephanie's story does her justice and kind of justifies her actions that others have labeled "crazy". I definitely recommend this book.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Blogger Hop 9/21 - 9/27/12

Book Blogger Hop

I haven't participated in a Book Blogger Hop in a while and I really missed it...soooo, here goes!
This Book Blogger Hop lasts from 9/21/12 to 9/27/12 and is hosted by Crazy for Books. This is the question of the week:

What is the one thing your blog readers probably do not know about you? will be interesting to read what other people answer to this question. I'm trying hard to think of best friend is my eldest sister, Betty, who is 12 years older than I am. She thought my parents had me just for her and we have always been close. Now we go to water aerobics classes, sing (well I'm the accompanist) in the church choir, and sew costumes for our local high school musicals. She certainly doesn't act or look like she is 12 years older than I. I'm hoping I'm as healthy as she is when I'm her age.
If you want to participate in this Book Blogger Hop, create a blog post and go to Crazy for Books and add your link.  It's really fun!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Uncontrollable by S.R. Johannes

To enter the "Uncontrollable" ebook Giveaway, just complete the form at the upper right.
This giveaway ends at noon on September 15th!
Good Luck!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The Martian ChroniclesThe Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has two things going for it - it is science fiction and it's a classic. This is a series of stories about people from Earth who travel to Mars and what they did there. All the stories have a 1950's vibe to them, in my opinion, even though they claim to take place from 1999 to 2026 and they are going to Mars! They must have some kind of advanced technology. It was the words that were used and the images that played in my mind - I saw people dressed as in the 50's and acting as people did then. Ray Bradbury has quite the imagination. My favorite story was the one about the House of Usher - creepy but very cool. I also liked the Hathaways and Tom and his parents. Bradbury touched on all kinds of social issues - racism, bookburning, greed, etc. I'm sure there is a story in this book for everyone. I recommend it! It is a little book, but it gives you a lot to think about.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Uncontrollable by S.R. Johannes

Uncontrollable (The Nature of Grace, #2)Uncontrollable by S.R. Johannes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great story by Shelli Johannes! I loved "Untouchable" and "Uncontrollable" is just as exciting. Grace, the heroine, is just so amazing. She has been through hell and still tries to help the people and animals she loves. I felt her sadness at her losses and I especially felt the cold when she fell into that snow drift. Johannes knows how to write to keep you turning pages and anticipating what will happen next. Her villains are believable and she gives you little clues, but you have to be clever enough to notice them. Twists and turns abound. The relationships are real - not sappy and gross. Grace is a teenage girl and her relationships are age-appropriate. This is a great book. If you care about the environment or wildlife conservation, you need to read this book. Fantastic! Next week - on September 14th - I will be hosting a giveaway for this ebook! Come back and enter to win a copy!

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Monday, September 3, 2012

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood -- moving up on my TBR list.


On The Classic Club blog, this is the September Meme Question:  

Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?

I chose Beachreader's review of "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. My favorite quote of the review was this:

"What I particularly liked is that Offred is not a hero in the "have bow & arrow - will shoot - Hunger Games sense." Her heroism comes in the telling of her story. There must be people who remember what it was like before there was a Republic of Gilead."

I admire strong heroines and can't wait to read this book. Both of my daughters have read it and have told me I MUST read it. And that I will LOVE it. So, "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood has moved up to #4 on my 50 Classics in 5 Years book list (I'm reading #3 now.)

If you are interested in reading more classics, gather 50 to read over the next 5 years and go to The Classic Club blog and sign up! Here's a link to my book list.

The Classics Club

I'm joining The Classics Club. I know, I'm crazy, but I've been wanting to read more classic literature for a while now. To join The Classics Club, you have to make a list of 50 books you want to read over the next 5 years! It's harder than you think. There is a list on the site, so I just went down through the list and picked ones that sounded interesting or that I have heard of before. I can change my titles if I want over the next 5 years, I just have to read 50 classic books by then. I'm setting my start date as July 15, 2012, so I can include "The Uncommon Reader" by Alan Bennett and "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins. I read "Watership Down" by Richard Adams in January, but I didn't want to go back that far. That means I should have read at least 50 classics by July 15, 2017. So, here is my list:

The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett  read 7/26/12  review 
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins  read 8/20/12  review 
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury  read 9/13/12  review
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Edward Albee
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
A Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen  read 12/27/12  review
The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow
Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Lady Audley's Secret, Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte
The Professor, Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
The Making of a Marchioness, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Evelina, Frances Burney
Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Burns
Erewhon, Samuel Butler
A Lost Lady, Willa Cather
Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
Sapphire and the Slave Girl, Willa Cather
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
Three Sisters, Anton Chekov
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
My Mother's House, Colette
Armadale, Wilkie Collins
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Stephen Crane
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
Barnaby Rudge, Charles Dickens
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
The Winds of Heaven, Monica Dickens
The Lost World, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
Belinda, Maria Edgeworth
Daniel Deronda, George Eliot
Murder in the Cathedral, T.S. Eliot
Absalom! Absalom!, William Faulkner
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cousin Phillis and Other Stories, Elizabeth Gaskell
Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Island, Aldous Huxley
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
Daisy Miller, Henry James
The Bostonians, Henry James
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

These are in alphabetical order by author - except the first ones, of course, but not in reading order.
There is more to this list, I only put 50 here. This should be interesting!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Time for the next 4-Month Challenge!!!

I love these challenges sponsored by the Book Drunkard. These are the categories:

5 points Challenges
Read a book whose author begins with S – first or last
Read a book set during WWII
Read a book with a fruit on the cover or in the title
Read an Indie
Read a book with a tree/trees on the cover or in the title
10 Point Challenges
Read a book whose author begins with O – first or last
Read a YA book whose author published their debut novel in 2012
Read a book set in Europe
Read a book with an embrace or kiss on the cover
Read a book with a light source on the cover (lamp, candle, torch, sun, etc.)
15 Point Challenges
Read a book whose author begins with N – first or last
Read something related to the circus (fiction or non-fiction)
Read a book set in the USA
Read a book by a ‘new to you’ author
Read a book with a one word title that’s a proper noun
20 Point Challenges
Read a book written in the 1990′s
Read a book whose author begins with D – first or last
Read a book set in Canada
Read a YA Historical 
Read a book published from September to December, 2012
So, here goes...

The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins

The Big Steal (Sterling Glass, #2)The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The thing I liked most about this book was that it was set in southern central Virginia - not far from Charlottesville. I love that area. There were several mysteries in this book and solving them made it interesting. You never knew what was around the next bend - or on the next page. Sterling, the antiques appraiser, was very good at what she did, but she was also very clever and could figure things out well. She took the time to learn about the people involved and how they thought. The house, Wynderly, seemed fascinating with its secret rooms and passageways. This was a very good book and I may search out other titles by Emyl Jenkins to read.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

The Royal Sheikh by Kathryn Lane

The Royal SheikhThe Royal Sheikh by Katheryn Lane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book to review. It was a typical romance novel however, it was set in the Middle East in a country called Bahir. A young architect was splashed by a limo that was arriving as she standing outside a restaurant in London. The man in the limo, the Royal Sheikh, was mesmerized by her and bought she and her friend dinner to make up for the splash. And it went on from there. He happened to see a drawing that she did on the back of a book and he asked her to design a house for him in Bahir. They fell in love; he thought she was using him to advance her career; she found out he was engaged to an Arabian Princess; she goes back to London; he gets out of the engagement and goes to London to find her; she won't have anything to do with him; he gets his assistant to make an appointment with her; he goes; she falls again; he tells her he isn't married; they resume their relationship, get married and go off to live in Bahir in the new house she designed. It was a good story, typical, but good. Sometimes I like to read something light. This was a fun, quick read.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in WhiteThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this classic book! I wanted to read a classic and I wasn't sure which one to choose. After reading reviews of "The Woman in White" where it was described as a mystery comparable to contemporary mysteries, I decided to try it. Even at over 500 pages, it never dragged. There were twists and turns, mistaken identity and downright nastiness. Yes, it was written a long time ago and it takes place in Victorian England, but it plays with your head and makes you question each character's loyalty to the other characters. My favorite characters? Walter Hartright of course, and Laura. Laura was so innocent in all of this and Marian was so clever and strong. Wilkie Collins knew how to write a mystery!!!

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon ReaderThe Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a short little book - a novella. It was quite entertaining to think of the Queen of England sneaking around to get an opportunity to read and how obsessed she was. Aren't all of us booklovers obsessed with reading? I carry a book everywhere with me in case I get a moment to read a chapter while I'm waiting for an appointment or something. The objections of her ministers to her reading irritated me especially when they got rid of Norman. Even though he benefitted by getting a college education, it bothered me that they removed her fellow booklover and her friend. She didn't seem to have many friends. I'm afraid I didn't really understand the ending - I guess it brought back the fact that it was a work of fiction. I could imagine the Queen actually doing some of the things that happened in the book and then the ending smacked me on the forehead reminding me that it was a work of fiction - none of it was true. How disappointing. Anyway, I did enjoy the book just didn't like the end.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

The ChaperoneThe Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book because I loved the cover and Louise Brooks intrigued me. I first heard of Louise Brooks when I was doing costumes for our local high school's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie". She was an interesting character in this book, but the bulk of the story is about Cora, her chaperone. Her story has several quirks and turns.. Various issues were dealt with and shown in the perspective of the times when they were happening. There is a lot of depth to the story - many layers - but I don't want to ruin it for you. Cora was a little girl in an orphanage in New York City who was sent on an orphan train to the Midwest. She was adopted by a kindly couple and, when they died in a freak accident, a young lawyer from Wichita helped her settle their affairs. Later Cora and the young lawyer married, but nobody ever knew about her childhood. Many years later - 20 or so - Cora accompanied Louise Brooks, then 15, to New York City so she could attend the Denishawn Dance Academy where her career began. Cora looked for records of her birth parents and along the way she had some experiences that followed her back to Wichita and affected the rest of her life.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Irish Crystal by Andrew M. Greeley

Irish Crystal: A Nuala Anne McGrail NovelIrish Crystal: A Nuala Anne McGrail Novel by Andrew M. Greeley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book for the April (crystal) selection in the Rainbow Reading Challenge. It was a cute book, but it dragged a bit. I liked Nuala. She is Irish and typically spunky and her brogue came through really well. She and her husband, Dermot, are amateur - well, according to Dermot Nuala is never wrong - detectives. I couldn't really follow their method of discovering information, but they did solve the crime in the end. There was a lot of sexual references - albeit they were between Nuala and Dermot who were married, but still it was a little excessive for me. I guess anyone would be lucky to have a spouse who was so enraptured with him/her. Anyway, the book was okay, but I'm not going to run out and find another book in this series. Oh well.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt

Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls, #1)Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was given this book to review by the author in January and I am just getting to it. I apologize to Ms. Foyt, but it was really worth the wait! Yes, this book is about a post-apocalyptic society, but it's very different from other post-apocalyptic society books I've read. Light-skinned people, Pearls, are at the bottom of the pecking order and dark-skinned people, Coals, are the ruling class. Eden, a Pearl, undergoes getting a coating periodically so that she will appear dark-skinned and not upset the Coals. Her father, a Pearl, is also a scientist and the man who owns the Combs where they live sets him up with a laboratory so he can conduct research experiments. He is looking for a way to adapt the human race using characteristics from various animals so that humans can survive the outside world. At the time, everyone lived in tunnels underground called The Combs. On the night of the big trial, things happen and Bramford, the owner, ends up volunteering to be the test subject for this experiment, then kidnaps Eden and her father and takes them to a jungle far away. This story is about Eden's experiences with survival and how she learns what is truly important. A really good read!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Rae of Hope by W. J. May

Rae of HopeRae of Hope by W.J. May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book from the author to review. I loved it! It is a coming-of-age story, but it certainly is not typical. Rae spent her first years in England. One day, when Rae was 6, her mother told her to go play in her treehouse until she came to get her. Then there was a fire in the house that killed both her mother and father. Rae was taken in by her Uncle Argyle and his wife and led a typical life in New York until she was 15. Then her Uncle sent her back to England to a boarding school. She soon found out it was a "special" school for uniquely talented teenagers. This book just flew for me. I didn't want to put it down. It had the perfect balance of twists and Rae's developing emotions and friendships. I hightly recommend it and can't wait to see if there is a sequel.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5)City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed all of the Mortal Instruments books that Cassandra Clare has written; however, the story seems to be being dragged out. This book was good, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it felt as though it was in the wrong place. There were spots where it seemed that not enough time had passed from the first book to this book. I didn't think Clary should have been unused to being in battle - certainly she had been fighting demons since book 1. I mean, the story didn't drag for me -it moved along well. I liked the way Simon's character is developing - love Simon. Sebastian was deliciously evil, Jace (the fake Jace, not the real one) was romantic but wimpy, and I liked Alec and Isabelle. I noticed there were several references to the Infernal Devices characters which I really liked. I love discovering how the two series are intertwined. I heard an interesting theory about Brother Zechariah that I won't share here, but I can't wait to see if it is true. I would like to see Cassandra Clare write a new and different series of books, although I will read any and all books in the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series because I think she is a wonderful writer. I would just like to see her do something else. I'm sure she has several characters just waiting for an amazing venue to come alive.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Upsetting the Tides by David Englund

Upsetting the TidesUpsetting the Tides by David Englund
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was asked to review this book by the author. It reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" except that the traveler was an adult. It was full of foreign planets and strange creatures. The writing style suggested to me that it was written for a young audience except that, as I said before, the main character was an adult with a job and a house and a potential girlfriend, etc. which may not appeal to a younger audience. There were fights with aliens and technological devices that did cool things like enable the user to fly and translate alien speech, quests and all kinds of aliens. Maybe that would make up for the relatively elementary writing.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Turquoise by Anya Seton

The TurquoiseThe Turquoise by Anya Seton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book as the March selection of the Rainbow Reading Challenge. "The Turquoise" is the story of a girl whose parents were Mexican and Scottish. She was named for the city of her birth, Santa Fe, but her father called her Fey. Her mother died in childbirth so she lived the first years of her life with her father who was a Scottish doctor. They discovered that Fey had the gift of "sight". Later, when Fey was about 7, her father was killed when he went to help a fellow doctor with a surgery. Fey went to stay with the family of the woman who had helped her father when Fey was a baby. There are so many things that Fey went through in her life. One significant thing is that she met a wise Indian who realized her gift and gave her a turquoise necklace and told her to wear it always and to let the Spirit lead her on her path. He said she would encounter two paths and the Spirit would help her choose the right one - unfortunately, Fey didn't listen. She struggled across the country with a man who ran a medicine show, fell in love with him, and was convinced they were married by an old scout who ran an inn. When Fey and her "husband" got to New York City, they stayed together a week, then he left for greener pastures in Chicago. Meanwhile, Fey discovered she was pregnant and she had to figure out how to support herself and eventually her child. I'm not going to tell the whole story here, but I want to say that I love the way Anya Seton writes and I love the way she blends in religion to her stories. Fey considered having an abortion, but as she was standing on the steps of the place where it could happen, she looked around and noticed the construction of St. Patrick's Cathedral nearby. She turned and went in to the Cathedral and prayed. She ended up not having an abortion and found an Infirmary that cared for women and children and was run by female doctors. Here she made a wonderful, lifelong friend in one of the doctors and she helped out at the Infirmary and learned a lot about caring for the sick. Fey was a very honest character - and direct in her approach when she decided what she wanted. She got everything she worked for, but she ended up making atonement for the times that she didn't listen to the Spirit. I really liked this book. Previously, I had read "Katherine" by Anya Seton and that is why I picked this one up. They were both great reads and what I liked most were the religious tendencies and the fact that, even though sex was obviously part of the story, Ms. Seton didn't describe it in graphic detail, only in a romantic suggestive kind of way. I look forward to reading more of Anya Seton's works.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sleepers by Megg Jensen

Sleepers (The Swarm Trilogy, #1)Sleepers by Megg Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in two days! It's amazing to me how different two books with similar themes can be. The last two books I've read - this one and the last one - have been about young women who were warriors and on a journey to return to their homes. Of course they both had love to deal with - should she love this one or that one? But this book, Sleepers, handled the story so much better. The action sped along with twists and turns everywhere. The setting seemed to be medieval, which I love, and the characters - Lianne, Bryden and Kellan - seemed to have the coloring of the Irish, which I also love. I know it's a fantasy, but I seemed to connect with the story and it seemed "believable". And there was love and physical attraction, but no explicit sex. I liked the way Bryden could calm the fires inside Lianne. She was a true heroine and always wanted to do the right thing. It may seem strange to some people, but I liked the way the entire story took place in what seemed to me to be a relatively small space - the castle, the river, the surrounding land - one area. No crossing mountains and forging rivers to a distant land. There are things I wonder about concerning the Dalagans and the Fithians that hopefully will be explained in the books to come. Good job, Megg Jensen! I loved your book!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

Butterfly Swords (Tang Dynasty, #1)Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmmm...this book was okay. I was interested in the beginning when Ai Li escaped from her wedding procession and went on her way home to report her intended's nasty deeds to her father. And it was kind of exciting when she was rescued from her bodyguards by Ryam. It continued to be interesting as they made their way back to Changan, and then on to the mountains on the border. But after she gave herself to him, it became just another predictable love story. I would have appreciated more intrigue or culture and less sex. I hate to say it, but I skipped over some of the last pages just to get to the end.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The House of the SpiritsThe House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book took a little doing to get into, but in the end it felt as though I read a classic. It's the story of a couple of generations of a family living in an unnamed country in South America. Some of the characters are eccentric to put it mildly. To begin, Rosa has green hair. I have no idea how that could happen. She dies young - before her fiance can come and claim her. When he finally does come, he marries her younger sister, Clara, who communes with spirits and moves objects with her mind. She had been voluntarily mute since her sister Rosa's death until she proclaimed she would marry her fiance. That's only the beginning. Esteban Trueba, the fiance and later husband to Clara, was definitely a rake - albeit an ambitious one. He started several businesses and succeeded in many of them making him a wealthy man eventually. He is the central figure in this book even though it seems as though it is about the women. He ties them all together. It was interesting to read the historical part of the book. It dealt with the country's changing political views - Socialism and Communism - and how the people, peasants and patrons, handled the changes. There were things that happened that were brutal and disgusting, but they told the story of the wildness of Trueba and his political opponents. There were also ribbons of love woven in that showed support and how love lasted through all the tumultuous years. The ending was satisfying and poignant, but not necessarily happy. I really liked it contrary to what some people say I like to read. There was violence, sex, rape, torture and sadness, but it was still a good book. 

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Katherine by Anya Seton

KatherineKatherine by Anya Seton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book as my selection for our book club's "biography" month. What a wonderful love story. I was very impressed with Katherine. Through everything she experienced, to me she seemed true to her self. Even though her love for the Duke was adulterous (what can you do about love?), she seemed in everything else to have a strong desire to do the right thing. She never fell into the courtly traps of plotting against other people, etc. She concerned herself with her children, her friends, and the people who served her - and the Duke, of course. I could feel God's love for her throughout her life, even if she couldn't. She started out so innocent and faithful and, after all her trials, ended up loving and faithful again. She was right to make atonement and realize that everything happened for a purpose. To me she seemed a beautiful, strong woman. I won't spoil the ending by recounting it here, just suffice to say that I was happy that things came around as they did. Now I have to go look her up and place her on the English royal timeline and write up what I will share with my book club.

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron (Incarceron, #1)Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought I would like this book a lot more than I actually did. The Prison was a very scary place to be. At first when I read that the Prison was alive, I didn't believe it. I thought the characters were just imagining it. As the story goes on, you believe it. The inmates just seemed to go from one bad place to one that was worse. The Prison seemed to go on forever. And there were "eyes" everywhere...watching. On the flip side, the other world was beautiful on the surface, but it was all a game. The story was a bit confusing, but that's because the two world stories were interwoven. The end could have been the end, but I could see it leading to a sequel. There's enough questions there to warrant it. I guess I just didn't like the atmosphere I imagined as the Prison (of course, you aren't supposed to like it) and the darkness and the hanging chains and spiders. Creepy. It was like they were going through a big maze and, if you like that kind of thing, you will love this book.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wrap up Post for The 4-Month Challenge Part 8

Tomorrow is April 30th and the last day for the 4-Month Challenge Part 8 hosted by Book Drunkard. Here's how I did this time. I did okay, not great.

5 point category:
Author's name that starts with "J" - "Untraceable" by Shelli Johannes-Wells
A book by an author writing under another name - "India Was One" by An Indian
A book I've been meaning to read for ages - "A Wrinkle in time" by Madeleine L'Engle

Total - 15 points

10 point category:
Author's name that starts with "F" - "Wildflower Hill" by Kimberley Freeman
 A book with a flower in the title or on the cover - "Comfort and Joy" by Kristin Hannah

Total - 20 points; Grand Total so far - 35 points

20 point category:
Author's name that starts with "M" - "I Am The Messenger" by Marcus Zusak

Total - 20 points; Grand Total so far - 55 points

25 point category:
Author's name starts with "A" - "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party" by Alexander McCall-Smith
A Dystopian novel - "Incarceron" by Catherine Fisher
Author's first and last name has 12 letters - "Watership Down" by Richard Adams
A book about a royal - "Clockwork Prince" by Cassandra Clare
A book with an animal in the title or on the cover - "Sisters of the Confederacy" by Lauraine Snelling

Total - 125 points; Grand Total - 180 points

When will the categories for the next one be up? Even when I don't do well, I really like these reading challenges!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig

The Orchid AffairThe Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another of Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series. I loved it. I haven't read one of hers for a little while, so I was happy to return to the series. Her strong female characters are wonderful. This one is about Laura Gray, Governess, who is also the Silver Orchid - spying in France for the British government. She is 32 years old and has been on her own since her parents died when she was 16. She learned to be a governess to survive and she was quite good at it. And, of course she falls in love with the man she is supposed to watch - Andre Jaouoen - but you knew that would happen. Anyway, in the course of their adventures, Miss Gray pulls off these wonderful portrayals astounding Andre and the reader as well as the people she is trying to fool. It was GREAT! The best quote came near the end in her altercation with DeLarouche (the evil assistant Minister of Police) when he asks her, "Who ARE you?" and she says, "The Governess!" in a very BA tone (at least it was in my ears). Be afraid, be so afraid! Anyway, it's a great story based on some historical facts with lots of embellishment. Lauren Willig is so good at this.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Untraceable by Shelli Johannes-Wells

Untraceable (The Nature of Grace, #1)Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was very exciting and fast-paced. It is the story of Grace whose father has recently gone missing in the mountains of North Carolina. He is a park ranger and Grace learned all he could teach her about survival in the forest. She goes out every day searching for clues to his whereabouts, but the law enforcement in her little town doesn't give her any credit for the things she finds. She is determined to find her father, dead or alive. She doesn't want to admit he may be dead. Her mother is barely holding on without her father and makes Grace go to a therapist to help her deal with her father's disappearance.

It's also the story of Grace's relationship with two boys: Wyn, who she has known since she was little, and Mo, who she met in the woods while searching for clues. I think the way the two relationships were handled was very realistic. Wyn really likes Grace and Grace really likes Mo -- yes, it's another book with a love triangle. Poor Wyn. I mean Mo has that great British accent, how can Grace not fall for him. Anyway, I liked the way their relationships developed and didn't go too far.

I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't read this book, but the action is pretty constant and intense. I don't recall reading a "slow" part. It is a very, very good book. I recommend it highly. Oh, and by the way, it's part of a series and I can't wait to read the next one! 

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Patriote Peril by Thomas Thorpe

Patriote PerilPatriote Peril by Thomas Thorpe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Patriote Peril" was sent to me by the author, Thomas Thorpe, to read and review for him. It is a relatively short book, 214 pages, but it is filled with exciting situations, mystery and the feel of treading through the wilderness of the early 1800's in Canada. In my youth, I used to make believe I was a pioneer, so this book was right up my alley. It is the story of an English family who spends the summer together at the home of one of the daughters, Victoria, married to a Canadian, Richard Hudson. The story begins when 5 members of the family go on an outing and are ambushed and kidnapped. The 6th member, Elizabeth, had stayed behind and, upon realizing the others' fate, sets out to find them. All sorts of twists happen in this story, but what I liked most about it was the way the author told part of the story from one character's perception, then retold the same events from a different charater's perception adding to what the reader already knew. In this way, the author leads the reader along. As I stated above, there are several twists within the story and especially a big one at the end. So, if you like historical fiction AND you like mysteries and figuring out the chain of events, this book is for you. I really enjoyed it.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crimson Mountain by Grace Livingston Hill

Crimson MountainCrimson Mountain by Grace Livingston Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laurel overhears a plot to blow up the new munitions plant. Will Phil be able to save her from the web of deceit and danger that is slowly closing around her?
Grace Livingston Hill is the beloved author of more than 100 books. Read and enjoyed by millions, her wholesome stories contain adventure, romance, and the heartwarming triumphs of people faced with the problems of life and love.

This book was an unexpected joy! I found it at the library when I was looking for a book to read with a "red" word in the title. This one came up and it is a little unassuming green library book - no picture on the cover or anything. It is a lovely story or a young woman, Laurel Sheridan, who sets out on her own after he parents die. She stays with a cousin for a while, but that cousin is only interested in finding her a rich husband who is well-known in society. That isn't what this young woman wants. She goes back to her hometown and finds a job as a substitute school teacher. She also meets a young man, Phil Pilgrim, while she is driving around on Crimson Mountain reminiscing, and her car breaks down. He stops to help her and saves her from a stampeding herd of cattle. It sounds very predictable and common when I read what I just wrote, but it's such a sweet story and it isn't mushy. It's romantic and exciting things happen. Phil is on his way to report to camp as a soldier. Before he goes, the two of them go to visit a woman who befriended him when he was a child. They accompany her to her little church and eventually both declare their love for Jesus and begin to seriously live a Christian life. After he goes off to camp, things happen up on Crimson Mountain where the government is building a munitions plant. It doesn't sound as if all this would go together, but it does - beautifully. The book is written in a lovely, 1940's fashion and I just loved it. It just goes to show that you never know what you will find between the ordinary covers of a library book. What a treasure!

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The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen HouseThe Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.

Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

This book was our book club selection for March. We all liked it very much. It inspired a great discussion of slavery and how a white girl could end up in such a situation. My ancestors are Irish and some of them could have been in a similar situation in Ireland during the potato famine. I know some of them came over on ships, but none than I know of ended up in the South. They arrived at New York or Boston. Many of them worked in the coal mines in West Virginia and others lived in Pittsburgh, PA and eastern Ohio. Some went as far as Chicago in the 20's. Anyway, my sister and I felt a connection to this Irish girl who was indentured to Captain Pyke. Our book club was interested in how the story actually got on paper as well. The author, Kathleen Grissom didn't want to write about slavery, but she felt compelled and the story, if she was true to her inspirations, came to her and demanded to be told. If she strayed from it, the inspiration was lost. Quite interesting to us. The actual story seemed quite sad to me. The reading of it moved along partly because the chapters alternated between Lavinia (the Irish girl) and Belle (a slave girl on the plantation and daughter to Captain Pyke), and because events kept happening that made you want to see the results. There were times when we just wanted to shout "No more secrets!" and "Just tell them!" I listened to the audiobook as I read which was very enjoyable to me. I like hearing the interpretations of the narrators. It makes the book come alive in a wonderful way. I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and those interested in what happened in the South before the Civil War.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Jinx by D. F. Lamont

The JinxThe Jinx by D.F. Lamont

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Jinx is the story of Stephen Grayson, a 13-year old whose run of bad luck gets so bad he worries he is endangering his family. Fearing he is cursed, he flees home to protect his family, only to find that he is in the middle of a tug-of war between a cult obsessed with order and misshapen monsters known as “Chaons” who seem bent on hunting him down.

This book was a really quick read -- a little over 100 pages. It was obviously written for a junior high audience since the main character, Stephen, was 13 and his adventures (and misadventures) were things that a 12-year old boy would love to read about. Lots of action, monsters, strange creatures, wild technology, and saving the world. Stephen thinks he is a jinx. He runs away from home so that his family doesn't suffer because of it. From the time Stephen decided to run away to the last chapter of the book, I kept expecting him to wake up and it all to be a dream. Things just kept happening so randomly and monsters and people in helicopters appeared and reappeared when they were supposed to be gone. Seriously, a 12-year old boy would LOVE this book.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Debut novelist Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense--a richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

This book seemed daunting at first because it is 579 pages long, but I never got bored with it. It's the story of a woman, Diana Bishop, who just happens to be a witch. She represses her magic most of her life because she thinks it doesn't have a place in her life. She is more concerned with academics and her research on alchemy. However, her magic slips out of her in "little" ways that she thinks are inconsequential. While she is at Oxford in England, she comes across a manuscript that she realizes is enchanted, and opens it when noone had for hundreds of years. This alerted the attention of other creatures around her including a vampire named Matthew Clairmont, a witch named Peter Knox and several daemons hanging out in the library. The rest of the book is about her relationship with Matthew and the consequences of a witch loving a vampire. Since I am a fan of historical fiction, I was intrigued (as Diana was because she was a historian) by the many lives Matthew had lived and the people he had known. As much as he tried to hide it, he had feelings and a capacity to love that you wouldn't expect in a vampire. The blending of Diana's and Matthew's families along with their daemon friends was interesting. My favorite character though had to be Diana's house -- yes, her house. It was haunted by ghosts of her ancestors, but it also had a mind of its own and welcomed and dismissed visitors at will. Some of the things that Diana discovered she was capable of were somewhat fantastic, but it is a fictional story after all. Apparently, "A Discovery of Witches" is the first in a trilogy which explains why it took so long to get close to a confrontation between the collected families and the Congregation -- a tribunal of sorts made up of vampires, witches and daemons -- which attempted to enforce an agreement made hundreds of years ago to keep evidence of these creatures out of the sight of humans. I'm looking forward to picking up the next installment of this trilogy, but I have a lot to think about from this book until then. Also, my book club is reading this for their February selection. I'll be back to update this review with their thoughts after next Wednesday.

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