Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

Fairies, trees, switching places, family, trust, secrets, longing to return........

Henry Day was tired of babysitting his sisters and ran into the woods after his mother insisted that he help more with them.   The changelings took him that very afternoon. 

The changelings steal children after watching their daily routines for about a year to see if the child is the right one for the change and if it is the life the fairy would want to live.   The "stolen" child who replaces the fairy has to adapt to new surroundings, learn new things, and become used to a new life without any familiar people or family.  The fairy duplicate usually makes out better since he knew everything about the stolen child and his family thus making acclamation to the new life in the human world a lot easier.

The changelings that lived in the forest were scavengers, thieves, and had mean dispositions....they ate bugs, berries, killed rabbits and squirrels, and stole things from the humans…they went directly into homes and businesses.  The descriptions of their antics, how they lived, and what they did “grabbed” you so much that it made you afraid to go into the back yard in case they were hiding there doing their nightly stealing of clothes off the line or food in the houses since they could slip through any cracks by making their bodies squeeze thin.  :)

The book goes back and forth describing the lives of the switched children...each telling his story...the one growing into adulthood and the other remaining a child.

A childhood stolen is what I would call what happened...I felt bad for the AniDay (Henry Day), the child who was taken by the changelings and went into the fairy world...he seemed to have a difficult time with the change…he wanted to go back, but couldn’t…he had to wait his turn.  It would be difficult to forget everything from your past, but eventually they do.

The book was interesting, definitely different, and also so mysterious that you couldn't stop reading, but you also kept looking over your shoulder....4/5.

I enjoyed it as the pages continued to turn…the ending was thoughtful and heartwarming.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom


I absolutely loved this book...couldn't put it down.

You will fall in love with the characters and share their joy, sadness, triumphs, and defeats...you will want to be right there with the ladies in the kitchen house preparing meals and being loved by them.

The book is during the time of plantation owners and slavery. On his boat trip back from Ireland, James Pyke brought Lavinia with him...she is a seven-year-old white child whose parents died on the boat during the return trip.

Lavinia is sent to work in the Kitchen House, and the black families learn to love her and she learns to love them as the only family she knows...her memory is gone when she arrives and remembers nothing about her parents and her childhood.

Lavinia works alongside the ladies in the Kitchen House and then learns to take care of the Mistress of house's new born baby...the Mistress begins to teach Lavinia how to read and write. Lavinia is the main character along with Belle, Mama Mae and Papa George and of course the harsh plantation owners

The book takes you through the loyalties the black families have for each other and their Master and his family. It also makes your heart ache at the truths of what really occurred on the plantations concerning the relationship between the slaves and the plantation owners.

A lot of tragedies throughout the story, a terrific account of occurrences, excellent depictions of the surroundings and people.

Through the author's wonderful descriptions, you feel you are right there......the novel is fabulously written.

If you loved THE HELP, you will love this book as well or you may like it even more.

ENJOY!!!! It is wonderful.

The Clouds Beneath the Sun by Mackenzie Ford

An archeologist excavation in Kenya filled with brilliant paleontologists is the setting of the book…the characters' work, cultural differences, and inter-personal relationships encompasses the main plot. In the first few pages the main character, Natalie Nelson, is on her way from Cambridge University to the camp, and she comes across a herd of elephants actually carrying out a mourning ritual...her first glimpse of the mesmerizing sights and sounds of Africa. The descriptions of the wildlife in Africa and the land itself was vividly and beautifully described by Mackenzie Ford.

When Natalie does arrive at the camp site, she is happy to see everyone has his/her own tent with private bath facilities. This is especially comforting the following evening since she didn't get a warm welcome at dinner as a result of her being the novice paleontologist and making a comment that was viewed as criticism of one of the veteran archeologists.

Just as things got better with that situation, and as the excavating continued, two veteran paleontologists, Richard and Russell, do something unthinkable, and a murder occurs. The sole witness happens to be Natalie. Natalie tries to relax and forget about the trial each night with a drink and a cigarette while listening to the African animals that circle the camp. The trial gets pretty complicated and worrisome for Natalie....a plea made to the Maasai chief concerning the trial is denied....the legal and cultural issues are of the utmost concern.


The book was a little slow, but does become a lot better in terms of "action" as you turn the pages to the final chapters....the focus of the archaeological dig, the murder trial, Natalie's turmoil dealing with it, the power of money, societal issues within Africa, relationship issues among a group of people working and living together, personal secrets, and family issues that included sibling rivalry, betrayal, and deceit keep your interest.

It wasn't a riveting novel, but it was intense at times, and it did bring you culturally into another very interesting society. The characters were well developed, and you could feel their pain, fear, triumphs, comradery, and all emotions that may have been felt from living in the middle of a beautiful, exotic African landscape. Being a passionate, knowledgeable paleontologist would have been even more helpful for enjoying the book.

My rating is a 4/5 because the "dig" was very interesting and the cultural aspect made you think how we are all the same, but also different. Even though the ending depicted the beautiful symbolism of the Maasai people, it will haunt you and make you realize what cunning, cruel, jealous, self-motivated creatures we humans can be.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Little Bee by Chris Cleave




Nigeria, London, Little Bee, Sarah, Lawrence, Andrew, and Batman....all different lives all connected through good and bad situations.

Friendships, suicide, family life, choices, oil, and government...put these all together, and you have a powerful story about how lives inter-twine and are touched no matter what the distance is between all parties.

The story is told by Little Bee, a sixteen-year-old Nigerian refugee and Sarah, a successful journalist....everything isn't given away at once, because the author lets both women "talk" to the reader about events.

The beginning pages are very clever and creative and you think it will be a funny book...it is intense.

You will be drawn into the story very easily, though, through excellent descriptions and situations. You will live and feel all the heartache, emotion, and fear of the circumstances for each character.

It is a powerful, thought-provoking novel.

The Scent of Rain and Lightening by Nancy Pickard




MAY BE SPOILERS

Rose, Kansas, the Linder Ranch, and the Linder family.....

..............Jody Linder was left an orphan at the age of three, and the man who had been accused of killing her parents 20 years ago was being released from jail on this hot, muggy, rainless day in Rose, Kansas. Her uncles arrived together at her home to tell her the news.

The story then moves from the present back to the events that led up to the murder of Laurie and Hugh-Jay Linder. The Linder family owned a huge cattle ranch, and every family member except Belle along with hired hands, which included Billy Crosby, worked for them. Hugh-Jay Linder woke up one morning to broken fences and a dead, pregnant cow....he KNEW it had been Billy Crosby. Hugh-Jay planned a scenario to get Billy at the ranch and have him arrested for the crime.

As a thunderstorm is raging outside the tavern where the Linder children are enjoying their evening, along comes Billy Crosby saying there was no evidence that he broke the fences and killed the cow, and he was free and clear....he was also very drunk, crude, and loud, and was thrown out by the tavern owner. When everyone woke up the next morning, Annabelle Linder was rounding up her children to get some pancakes at a local restaurant. She had to go to her son's house to waken him and his wife but found the doors all locked, and that was unusual. She then found her son dead in an upstairs bedroom.....her screaming roused the neighbor, and he came running over to find the grisly scene. Billy Crosby was of course the sole suspect because of his previous actions and drunkenness from the night before and a trial took place.

The trial of Billy Crosby got him forty plus twenty years in prison for the murder....meanwhile the Linder family and the town of Rose, Kansas had to try to carry on.

It was always difficult when Annabelle Linder ran into Valentine Crosby and Collin Crosby....Billy's wife and son. Valentine and Collin were ostracized in the town, and poor Collin had a rough time at school as well.

Along with mourning their son and his wife, the senior Linders had to raise Jody and help her cope with the tragedy. It was a difficult ordeal for everyone. When things finally started getting back to normal, Billy Crosby is released from jail and the fear, memories, and pain all surface again. What made the release worse was the talk that some folks believed Billy never did kill Jody's parents, and that he had been framed.

Events lead to more trouble for the small town of Rose, Kansas, and the Linder family. The ending is a little predictable, but also a surprise. You will like the story. The ending is definitely a page turner. The love and the kindness the Linder family has for everyone draws you into the storyline. I am going to rate it a 4/5 because it was a little slow at times, but the mystery keeps you guessing.

Juliet by Anne Fortier


Julie saw Umberto at the back of the room as she was leaving the stage. She knew this wasn't going to be good news because he wasn't smiling like always. "Aunt Rose has died" were the words that tumbled out of his mouth. As sad as Julie was, she also knew there would be something even more distressing....she had to face her twin sister Janice. Janice was four minutes younger than Julie, but she always upstaged her no matter what, and there was always conflict when Janice arrived on the scene.

It was pouring down rain the day they buried Aunt Rose. As soon as she was buried and they were leaving the gravesite, Janice demanded to see the will right then. The attorney did have the will and showed it to both girls, but nothing had been left to Julie...everything was left to Janice.

Julie was devastated, but then Umberto said he had something that her mother had left for her....a key, a passport, and a letter. The letter wanted Julie to go to Italy, but Julie knew she couldn't go to Italy because she had been thrown out of the country when she was 18. Umberto had another means to get her to the country she was born in and to carry out her mother's wishes that Aunt Rose kept secret until she had passed away. Julie had no desire to go to Italy, but Umberto insisted...who couldn't resist a trip to Italy...mama mia :)

Julie Jacobs aka as Giulietta Tolomei was on the plane to Italy the next day and met Eva Maria, an Italian citizen. She informed Giulietta that she knew her family and that her family and Giulietta's family were rivals back in the Middle Ages. Eva Marie took her under her wing and insisted that her grandson show Giulietta the town of Siena and keep her safe.

The next day Giulietta went to the bank with her key. The bank manager had known Giulietta's father, and he took Giulietta to the safety deposit box with the matching key. What Giulietta found was her family and frightening and wonderful adventures. The key, the box her mother left her, and the story of Romeo and Juliet is the novel's main theme with lots of mystery and intrigue surrounding them.

Your interest won't wane especially if you look at Random House's website ( http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/featu...) that corresponds with the book in pictures from the scenes of the book. I loved it as the mysteries unraveled.

This book is outstanding...the storyline, the descriptions, the characters, and Italy.

I loved how the book went back and forth from the 1300's to present day using the story of Romeo and Juliet as the main plot and how the main characters unraveled family and life-long mysteries....you will love the present-day characters Julie and Janice Jacobs also known as Giulietta and Giannozza Talomei.

I couldn't put it down. I loved "being in Italy" again, and could just see the buildings and all the quaintness of the country and the city of Siena. The web page Random House set up for the book adds to your interest because the pictures go along with the pages of the book.

I can't see how it wouldn't be liked...it is a book you won't want to miss. It has something for everyone...history, romance, mystery, betrayal, life in the 1300's in Italy, ancestors, middle-age family feuds, suspense, and a great author. Ms. Fortier did a superb job with her novel.

It is absolutely wonderful right up to the last page. You will not want it to end. What an extraordinary novel. ENJOY!!

The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum

"Twindar," bipolar, secrets, family life, manslaughter....

Birthdays and phones...two things Karena likes to forget about, but her birthday and the phone ringing off the hook with bad news both happen on the same day.

The news did help in other ways, though. Karena was learning about what stormchasers do, and she was closer to finding her twin brother who she hadn't seen for twenty years since he too is a stormchaser.

Karena is invited, or rather she invites herself, on a stormchasing tour in the role of newspaper woman, which she is. She meets people who knew her brother, but she didn't get good news about him. The book mainly talks about chasing storms and finding Karena's brother. It also flashes back to Charles and Karena's childhood describing what their life was like as twins and what the life was like with their "absent" parents. Love of course comes into the picture as well...brotherly and sisterly love as well as romantic love.

It wasn't bad, kept your interest....4/5.

Small Island by Andrea Levy

Small Island begins with a chapter about Post-War London and Hortense, a Jamaican bride, arriving in London to meet her husband whom she married but hasn't seen for six months. The reunion is quite a tale.

The book then moves back to the time period at the beginning of Hortense's life as a child, her life in teacher college, her life as a teacher and then how she met Gilbert....the way Hortense and Gilbert meet and decide to get married is amusing.

Gilbert is not the most reliable man, though. He has big ideas about making money, which he needs to get a boat to London, but his schemes never amount to much money. Gilbert arrives in London first and tells Hortense he will send for her when he is settled. Gilbert had been in the RAF and knows what it is like to live in London....Hortense isn't as keen on "the way the English live." Gilbert and Hortense were the main characters at the beginning, and then Hortense "falls" out of the book for a while and Gilbert and Queenie take center stage.

The story continues and tells about the lives of the four main characters before and after the war....Queenie, Hortense, Gilbert, and Bernard....their lives are interesting and complicated. The characters grow on you, and you get caught up in their life stories and are eager to see what happens next and at times hope for a different outcome.

Queenie was my favorite character. You will find a favorite character as well as you get absorbed in their pre- and post-war stories.

The book brings to light how immigrants were treated and viewed during Post-War in England. It was an education into how and what went on during that period in history.

At first it was a little difficult to get completely into the book...at times it was just plain confusing, but Andrea Levy has fantastic descriptions of the characters as well as the era. Very profound book. It also makes you laugh out loud at some of the things that happen and some of the things the characters say.

The book is a little slow at the beginning, but as you continue it draws you in and you "need" to know what happens next. The chapters are divided into sections for each character to tell his/her story.

Just as the book BEGINS, it ENDS with Hortense's story. Hortense became my favorite character as you got to know her better...she was sweet, trusting, and very likeable.

Andrea Levy is an excellent author and storyteller.

I really enjoyed the content even though I was confused at times.....4/5 for interest, but 5/5 for the historical aspect and explanation of the Post-War Era in London

Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain

Eleanor was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but oh what a strict, boring silver spoon it was for her as a child.

As she grows, she wanted her life to be: "A Firework. I wanted to live in an explosion of color and light." Page 319. As the book continues, I believe she gets her wish about her life.

Eleanor lived in Tintenbaum with her father...her mother and sister had died of augu....her father then died, and she was left under the guardianship of Mr. Merrill who was even more strict than her father. Tintenbaum was a marshland in England...Mr. Merrill always wanted to have the land drained, but Eleanor's father forbade it.

Once her father was dead, Mr. Merrill knew the only way to get the marshland to be drained was to marry Eleanor off to someone who agreed about draining the marshland. Edmund came into the picture, and Eleanor having no experience with men or any social outings, fell madly in love with him. Edmund was very cold and unaffectionate and would leave for long periods of time. Meanwhile, his friend Richard was quite passionate as well as charming, and Eleanor couldn't get him out of her mind.

The book focuses on Eleanor Glanville's life and her passion for science, butterflies, her family, and RICHARD.

An historical novel and an interesting one for women of today whose careers and interests are an important part of everyday life which wasn't so for our female ancestors. Eleanor was noted as an out-of-the ordinary/strange woman because of her love of butterflies and science and it caused her trouble because of the lifestyle of 1600's concerning the constraints and rules for the conduct of women and the narrow-mindedness of the commoners.

The book will hold your interest, and you will cheer at what Eleanor does even though she herself feels guilty about everything and claims things are her fault because of her strict upbringing.

Included for all the romantics is a pretty interesting love life for a woman of the 1600's. My thoughts about yearning for something or specifically someone is this: What you yearn for is not always the best or not what it might seem....you can read between the lines. :)

You will be glad you read all of the 527 pages. :) I really enjoyed the book.

The Exile of Sara Stevenson by Darci Hannah


MAY BE SOME SPOILERS......

Love, mystery, secrets, betrayal, ghosts, letters, smugglers, Scottish history and life in the 1800's.....Sara Stevenson was a privileged Scottish lass who wasn't one to conform to the norms of Scottish rules for young ladies.

Her father was a famous lighthouse engineer and had Sara accompany him on a boat trip when she was 18 years old. While on the voyage, she fell in love with one of the sailors who of course was not of her social rank. Her father suspects this love affair and is completely against their relationship since he has another wealthy man in mind for Sara.

Sara gets herself pregnant by this sailor, and her father banishes her to Cape Wrath which is a remote place on the northwesterly point of Great Britain north of Edinburgh, Scotland. Cape Wrath had terrible weather no matter what season it was and is a place that had no luxuries Sara was used to. Sara, along with her maid, Katie, and the maid's husband, Robbie, endure the life at Cape Wrath. Sara has to cook and clean which is something she never had to do. Sara yearns daily for Thomas, her lost lover. She hasn't seen him since they planned a never-to-be elopement.

Sara, Katie, Robbie, and Mr. Campbell, the lighthouse keeper, are four of only a few inhabitants living there. A few cottages are also on Cape Wrath. Sara and her maid venture out one day during an awful snowstorm to find their neighbors because Sara is feeling so lonely and isolated. They take off on horseback and do meet a woman that they befriend and who will trade cooking lessons for learning how to read and write.

The woman they visited (Mrs. MacKay), her husband, and their two children appear at the lighthouse one day and Sara finds out some things about Mr. Campbell during a heated argument with Mr. MacKay. Apparently Mr. Campbell and Mr. McKay had some sort of mariner disagreement last fall and Mr. Campbell "lured" him and his family to the lighthouse to try to make amends.

Meanwhile Sara and Mr. Campbell develop some sort of trust relationship, and Mr. Campbell knows he has the responsibility to keep Sara safe and take care of her during her pregnancy. One morning a package and a letter arrive at the dock from a man named Mr. Seawell, and this brings more mystery about Thomas and why he never showed up the day they were going to run away. Afterall, Thomas said he loved her and would move heaven and earth to be with her. Sara writes back to Mr. Seawell questioning about Thomas and the watch that was in the package....the very watch that Sara had given Thomas and had inscripted a lover's message on the back. Sara asks Mr. Seawell to shed some light about Thomas and if he is alive. They began a correspondence that tells of Mr. Seawell's life and Thomas's life.

After all the tension about the package and letter and also a letter to Katie from Sara's mother, Sara takes off from the lighthouse and goes to Mary MacKay and her family because she is disgusted about what she finds out her family had written to Katie and something about Mr. Campbell. Sara stays for a week, and Mr. Campbell is fuming about this visit since he is to be taking care of Sara according to Sara's father who had made these arrangements before Sara's original arrival.

Another letter was in post at the jetty when Sara returns from the visit, and she begins to become suspicious about who is really sending her these letters. The letters, Sara, Thomas, and Mr. Seawell make the ending confusing, unbelievable, but unforgettable....terrific writer.

You will enjoy the book, and I want to end my review with this quote that is from Page 56, but rings true until the end of the book: "But all too soon it came back to me, and once again I found it hard to sleep at night knowing he was out there....somewhere."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

When I picked up the book I thought for sure they were going to be talking about an attorney that Abraham Lincoln used, and when I mention the book to others, they think the same thing.

But....the Lincoln is his car. :)

This book was the first I ever read of Michael Connelly's and just couldn't put it down...you will love the story and the ending.

It is frightening how innocent people can get "framed" or blamed.

Excellent read. (

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Three wives, all three are different. Ken Kimble marries these ladies for different reasons and also leaves them. One he leaves with children and the other one he doesn't.

Despite his leaving they manage to carry on their lives.

You want to hate him, but you can't....the story is well told. I love the cover with the three dresses that are depicting the three women.

Not sure which woman I like the best, but you will love the book....it kept your interest. Gifted author.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

I never was aware about the life of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick..I only knew of his talents as an architect.

It was a good read, but how could ANYONE leave their children and run off with another man...to me that was totally irresponsible and unthinkable.

She may have re-thought her decision the last time she went to visit her children since they almost totally ignored her and were just being polite, but it was too late.

And....the ending....oh my...what a tragedy...my question, though, is this: Did that really happen at Taliesin?

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus


Loved the book...it is in journal form and tells of how the government asked the American Indians to trade one thousand white women for horses...their main reason was to "civilize" the Indians and make them aware of and become familiar with the white people's way of life.

Very interesting book...topic not as bad as it sounds.

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

A murder in a bistro during a busy Labor Day weekend in Three Pines, Quebec, makes for a great novel...add in beautiful Canadian landscapes, quiet village life, artists, hermits, bed and breakfasts, Inspector Gamache and his team, secrets, codes to break, antiques, and you can't stop reading.

Louise Penny has an intriguing method of keeping your interests through the descriptions of the characters, the settings, and the lives of those involved in the story.

Absolutely LOVED the book...a lot of life's lessons as well.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Excellent author...everything flowed smoothly...too bad history wasn't as smooth and kind.

The book was about when France was occupied and specifically Vél d'Hiv when the French police were instructed to carry out the horror at the camps by the Germans...July 16, 1942, was the roundup of Parisian Jewish Citizens.

It makes you cry and hope that history won't repeat itself.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Down River by John Hart


Mystery, Suspense, Murder.....loved this book....lots of surprises at the end. :)

Adam Chase returns to North Carolina after five years and his acquittal of murder.

Little does he know that his troubles haven't disappeared and the mysteries of family members and friends is overwhelming.

He finds things out that he never knew...most of them not good. The characters pull you in and make you want to keep reading to find out what makes them "tick," what they are about, and what they are experiencing.

Excellent writing...I want to read more of his books.

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford



Oai deki te ureshii desu ....How are you today, beautiful?

That quote from the book says it all....what an incredible, heartfelt, interesting story...this book is set during during World War II and is about the childhood love of a Japanese girl and a Chinese boy during World War II and takes place specifically during the encampment of the Japanese people who lived in Seattle, Washington...it will keep your interest and teach you some history...I learned about The Panama Hotel in Seattle, Washington.

It also is about the conflict between Henry and his Chinese father and the beauty of friendships...it also has some music facts in it for all you jazz fans.

I don't want to give too much away, but it is a nostalgic book and one you will want to tell others about....it is similar to Snow Falling on Cedars.

You will absolutely enjoy it and love it. I loved the story and the lessons learned.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield



I recommend this to everyone who asks.

Great read...gothic, murder, mystery, twists and turns.

Vida Winters tells a great tale that will keep you interested non-stop. You don't want it to end. Loved the characters.

You will be confused and think you have it figured out and then ah ha....you were wrong.

I loved this book...I would put it in the same category as the classic: REBECCA

The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley

Eastern Jewel was a head strong woman from childhood. All her actions were for herself, but you can't really blame her...she was not loved by her mother and her father sent her away because of some infraction when she was a child....but she found out that was not the only reason she was sent away...but not going to tell what that reason was. :)

The look into how different the life is in Japan and China is very interesting and makes me thankful I live where those customs are not practiced. I liked the book, but the erotic descriptions were a little too much.

I read MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA and SNOWFLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN....similar in content but not totally.

I liked the book.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

"Everyone's past, I try to rationalize, is nothing more than the collection of memories they choose to remember"...pages 487 and 488...paperback edition.

A porn star burned in a car crash, a wealthy schizophrenic, undying friendships, and beautiful love stories.

The Gargoyle was full of creative ideas, love stories, life lessons, and strange thoughts and happenings, but the title doesn't allow you to even think these things would be inside the book.

The Gargoyle goes back and forth in time and is a story about the treatment of a burn victim and how another patient from the mental health ward visits and eventually takes care of him at her home. There had been a previous connection between them according to the schizophrenic, Marianne Engel, that leads back to the 1300's.

Quite interesting storyline...don't want to tell too much because don't want to give the ingenious story away.

Book was different and strange, but made you think anything is possible. :) It definitely holds your interest after you get through the first 50 pages.

ENJOY!! It was an excellent book.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

"Beto nki tutasala? What are we doing?" quote from Page 523......and...I asked myself that question throughout the book as the Price Family continued with their missionary work and all the hardships and heartache the family endured.

The Price Family...Father Nathan, Mother Orleanna, and their four daughters pack for their mission in the Congo trying to figure out what they should take...not knowing that most of the things they take will be useless and not knowing what is in store for them in terms of day-to-day living. While they are there, the country fights for its independence from Belgium.

Nathan Price is a very controlling, mean person....he treats his wife and his daughters like second-class citizens while he preaches to the people of the Congo. He is oblivious to what he is putting his family through. The family endures the hardships of a third world country while enduring the abuse from Nathan.

It was interesting to see how the people in the Congo live. I definitely wouldn't want to live there for even a day....no niceties of life at all. I know the book was about more than the family's living arrangements and treatment of them by Nathan Price, but that encompassed all of it for me. :)

I enjoyed the Price family...all except the father...the daughters made some life decisions that definitely had their father's influence.

The book is superbly written......you won't want to put it down. You also learn that your childhood and what you learn does follow you throughout your entire life, influences your decisions about career and spouse, and that you are like your parents no matter how much may not want to admit it.

A definite must read...it will haunt you long after you have completed the last page.

Two Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens


The book is fun, clever, and a feel good theme throughout....Andy Dunne's life is revealed through all the episodes in his personal and professional life...it also carries the theme of how important family is.

.....AND as quoted from page 347...."But nothing is certain and there's no such thing as absolute." I believe most everyone's life really can be described by that quote.

You will like the book and the characters...ENJOY!!

Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written

Two couples, friends, an accident, a change in lives.

Bird in Hand seemed to be more about the relationship between Ben and Claire and Charlie and Alison than about the accident that happened at the beginning of the book.

The book was well written, but I thought it would be more about how Claire was dealing with and healing from what happened in the accident she was in.

I enjoyed the book, though. I was also amazed how Alison's mother could read Charlie, Alison's husband, better than Alison herself and how she knew an affair was going on and Alison didn't.

The ending really had a lot of good advice and thoughtful insights.

I will give it a rating of 4 out of 5 because I did like how the book was written with the back and forth in time, and Kline did do a good job with the events that were going on.

My Wife's Affair by Nancy Woodruff

I was wavering between a 4 and a 5 the entire way through the book, and then the ending brought it all the way up to a 5/5.

The book is narrated by Georgie's husband...it goes back and forth telling about the life of Dora Jordan also an actress/comedian who Georgie portrays in a one-woman show and Georgie's life with her husband and three boys.

Georgie left the stage in New York to be a stay-at-home mother, but now that her husband has been transferred to London and the children are enrolled in London schools, she wants to go back to work in the theater.

Georgie lands the role as Dora Jordan on her first tryout. The play is a hit for Georgie, and she ends up traveling and leaving her husband and children for long periods of time and having an affair with the director. Her heart aches every time she leaves her children, but she still won't give up the touring. The ending will haunt you long after you turn the last page.

....you will enjoy the book and not want to put it down.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks



Using this horrible era in history as the basis of the book, it takes you into the homes and into the lives of the people in the 1600's who had old myths about witchcraft, awful ways of curing illnesses, and describes their ignorance of medical procedures and cures and lack of them.

The main character Anna Frith takes in a lodger, George Vicars, after her husband was killed in a mine accident. He was an itinerant tailor and had a bolt of cloth delivered from London to Anna's home. The cloth had the plague fleas and eggs inside and thus began the epidemic. The tiny, remote village had entire families wiped out from this one incident.

The clergyman talked the townspeople into isolating themselves from the rest of the surrounding villages to protect others from the plague...no one was allowed in or out of the village. Anna, the clergyman, and his wife helped with all the deaths and also births that occurred during this year of death and mourning.

The characters are described in detail and are quite interesting. It definitely isn't a boring historical account of this epidemic...the weaving of the lives and the history makes you aware of what it was like to live during that period of time in Europe and encourages you to continue reading.

Here is a website describing Eyam village and the crisis that fell upon them....Geraldine Brooks definitely did her research.

http://www.beautifulbritain.co.uk/htm...

ENJOY...you will love the book.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

I would give this book a 10 if I could. Loved it...absolutely amazing....the writing is a masterpiece.

All the mysteries and secrets of the Mountrachet family are revealed....the ending is superb.

The story goes back and forth in time telling the story of how little Nell was put on a boat to Australia without an adult and how the portmaster and his wife in Australia took her in as their own. Nell's life makes a complete turn around for her when her father tells her on her 21st birthday that she isn't really his child.

The book tells of the generations before and after Nell. It is masterfully written...you don't want to put it down until you find out who Nell really is and until you find all the secrets about how she arrived on the boat and in Australia and the significance of the forgotten garden....the garden plays a huge part in the unraveling of the secrets and mysteries in the book.

I usually don't re-read books, but I would re-read this just to be sure I "got" all the facts straight...it was just fantastic....the story was very clever and the characters unforgettable....I didn't want the book to end.

Cathedral of the Sea by Idelfonso Falcones

 SOME SPOILERS.

Proud Spanish families, medieval times, the feudal system, lords, serfs, peasants, submission, the plague, and, of course, beautiful Barcelona....all of this and more are the makeup of Cathedral of the Sea.

Beautiful Barcelona was the salvation and dream of all peasants and serfs...it promised freedom if you lived there for one year and a day. Bernat Estanyols and his infant son Arnau fled to Barcelona to obtain their freedom after they lost everything to the Llorence de Bellera, lord of Navarcles. Llorence was a brutal, greedy man.

Luckily Bernat's sister lived in Barcelona and was married to a wealthy potter. His sister allowed him to live in their complex....Bernat worked for his brother-in-law but had to live with the peasants and slaves. Arnau was educated along with his cousins and was allowed to live in the mansion.

Bernat and Arnau achieved their year and one day in Barcelona with hardships and heartaches happening in that time frame and then Arnau was forced out of the house because of an incident, became sad because of the incident, and was no longer allowed to live in the mansion and be educated along with his cousins. Arnau has nothing to do during the day but watch his cousins play. One day he meets a tattered young boy with nothing to do either, and they become friends. During their daily searches and playtime, they find the Santa Maria church under construction. They are fascinated with the way the HUGE stones are pulled to the top and put into place. They spend their days at the site providing water to the workers and enjoying their company.

As much fun as they were having and despite the friendships they were making, Arnau's father was still despised by his brother-in-law's NEW wife and so was Arnau. She tried to get them in trouble and forced her serfs to do things that would make Bernat and Arnau look like the guilty party. Misfortune continued to plague Arnau and his father as everyone in Barcelona except the rich and noble were starving because there was no wheat to feed anyone or it was at an unreachable price.

Arnau gets into some trouble of his own, and the heartache continues in beautiful Barcelona....serfs were never respected and blamed for things they didn't even commit. One piece of good fortune does come to Arnau through his friendships with the bastaixos, the workers who carry the giant boulders for the building of the great cathedral, and Father Albert's kindness and feelings for young Arnau.

Arnau becomes favored among his fellow bastaixos and his adopted brother, Joan, studies for the priesthood. Arnau becomes enamored by a girl whose father won't let him marry her and then marries another since his brother said he won't go into the priesthood until Arnau is married and has someone to take care of him. Arnau can't refuse his brother or let him not become a priest so he marries someone he really doesn't love. His wife, Maria, was so kind, affectionate, loving, and trusting and Arnau was not being faithful. He got tired of being unfaithful to his wife since she was such a good person and decided the only way to get away from his mistress was to join the army. His wife was accepting, but his mistress was not.

Adventures continue for Arnau...good and bad adventures that include his mistress.

When the war was over, Arnau came back home to his wife but happiness still avoided him...the plague had arrived in Barcelona. The Jewish people were blamed for the plague...the citizens of Barcelona were killing the Jewish children and adults...Arnau came between three small children and a citizen who was going to kill them. Arnau was hurt while defending the children, but it turned out to be the best thing that happened to him. The Jewish family nursed Arnau back to health and became very fond of Arnau. To repay Arnau for saving his children, the children's father helped Arnau become a money changer.

Another Jewish child had no parents and Arnau was asked to adopt her. Mar lived with Arnau and was educated and very happy. Mar was devastated when the King demanded that Arnau marry his ward, Eleanor, for repayment of saving Barcelona from another invasion. He didn't want to get married, but couldn't refuse the King so he married. As you can imagine, it wasn't a happy union...in fact, they rarely talked to each other or slept together. Eleanor got tired of waiting to consummate their marriage not because she loved Arnau, but because she was worried what would happen to Arnau's fortune if he died. She didn't want Mar to receive all the riches, and that could be done because under the law at that time, if a marriage was not consummated, then the wife had no right to anything. Because of this concern, Joan and Eleanor devised an unthinkable plan for Mar.

Everything went downhill for Arnau after the incident with Mar...friends betrayed him, the de Belleras came back for revenge along with others, and his business was in jeopardy, but his beloved church was progressing and his Virgin of the Sea was still there for him.

The book was a little slow at first, but the history of Barcelona, the building of the church, and the way people lived and were ruled was fascinating. It also makes one glad to not be living during that era.

It is a long book, but it gets better so don't give up. I enjoyed the history lesson and, of course, the descriptions of ancient Barcelona...what a beautiful, historical city then and now. 5/5

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson


Chicago, Chicago, my kind of town.....Chicago won the spot for the World's fair beating out New York City and Washington, D.C.

A challenge between Chauncey Depew and the Whitechapel Club arose after Chicago won the spot. The challenge was to see if Chicago can make the World's Fair the best and biggest of the time....better than the one that just ended in Paris. Quoting from Page 14: It was the big talk, not the persistent southwesterly breeze, that had prompted New York editor Charles Anderson Dana to nickname Chicago "the Windy City."

Meanwhile Chicago was growing and architects were becoming wealthy and successful, but the city was so large it was starting to become dangerous and dirty. And all during this, in comes H. H. Holmes also known as Herman Webster Mudgett claiming to be a doctor and pharmacist. He actually did train as a doctor, but had a very shady past. His shady past began surfacing as he built a strange building across the street from a pharmacy he bought from a widow that mysteriously disappeared. His charm and charisma got him out of a lot of trouble and even out of paying his debts. Not one person could even suspect him of any wrongdoing in any aspect. His thoughts, though, were of young, single women and Jack the Ripper.

While he was building this strange building, Chicago had its architects looking for a place to build their "fabulous" World's Fair. Everyone was still waiting for them to fail since Paris in everyone's mind couldn't be surpassed. Finally on December 15, 1890, the committee decided on a location for the World's Columbian Exposition. It was going to be right next to H. H. Holmes' building...this made him very pleased and thrilled. The cost and organization was going to be astronomical. The architects hired were the best in the nation, but none were from Chicago.

H. H. Holmes was thinking more and more about completing his building and also turning it into a hotel and building a furnace in the basement that was able to go up to 3,000 degrees...the mason was a little leary about the shape and size he wanted. The mason said it looked like an oven they used to cremate dead bodies. Lots of signs had been appearing indicating that he was not normal, but no one paid any notice since he was a pretty smooth operator...he still didn't pay any of his bills either unless it became absolutely necessary.

The fair took all the time out of each architect's day...it was slow, and they were afraid they wouldn't get done in time. Obstacle after obstacle kept appearing...if it wasn't the land, it was that the blueprints were late, or that they were worried about sanitation and crime. During all of this, good old Mr. Holmes was still up to his tricks with money and women. He would steal down to the basement and light the furnace and loved to feel the incredible heat.

The building of the fair continued to be a disaster...hurricanes and storms knocked down buildings that were built, men died, architects didn't get along, and Mr. Holmes continued to swoon women and ask them to marry him - he already had two wives and two children. Something always happened to the women he targeted after he won them over and asked them to marry him....he knew which women were weak and which women would be able to help him with their financial assets or family connections.

Opening day was one day away, and the rain kept pouring down causing puddles everywhere. The trash from workers' lunches were still scattered on the ground and they had to do makeshift planting to cover up some of the holes caused by all the rain. They had found the one thing they needed and hoped would be the symbol that identified the World's Fair as being successful and one that would top the Eiffel Tower that had been the attraction in Paris for their World's Fair. Even though the Ferris Wheel was not ready for opening day, they hoped the Ferris Wheel would be their saving grace. It was designed by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bridge builder George Washington Gale Ferris.

The fair was a success, it was over, the fair was missed, and Mr. Holmes was missing.

The book was great historically...seeing all these names of people who invented things was great...the mystery surrounding Mr. Holmes was gruesome, but fit nicely into the story's plot. You will enjoy the book, but can skip some of the pages telling about the constructing of the the World's Fair Buildings.

4/5 would be my rating.

Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport

Pittsburgh, steel mills/iron works, unions, wealthy families, servants, 1800's....a great story about Pittsburgh.

The book has something for history buffs and also those readers who are interested in the lives of the people during that time period which stretches from the 1800's to December 1941...the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.

The book talks about the steel mills...specifically the Scott Iron Works...and how they grew and how the lives of its owners and workers were totally immersed and devoted. It also discusses unions and how difficult it was to get them started, and how the classes were more apt to snub each other which gave an indication of how life was in the 1800's.

I was not really expecting the book to be what it was, so don't get discouraged from the title and the subject matter. You will enjoy it. It doesn't get too technical...it is more about the Scott family and their lives through the generations. My rating is a 5/5

The Scott family and their history will keep your interest. The love and loyalty between Mary Rafferty and the Scott family was the main theme carried through up to the last pages of the book.

Mary, the main character, was about the same age as William Scott's daughters when she arrived for service at the Scott residence. Mary was a strong girl who held her poor, working class family together even though she only saw them once a week since she had to remain as a live-in servant at the Scott residence. She along with her brother, who worked at the Scott Iron Works, were the breadwinners since their father had been paralyzed by a mill accident a few years before. As Mary's brother James continued to work long hours each day in the mill he also was desperately trying to get a union started in hopes of better working conditions.

Mary's brother and Paul Scott, the son of William Scott, worked together on an invention to help steel production even though Paul was the owner and James was a steelworker. Meanwhile Paul begins to fall in love with Mary and she with him. This is not an acceptable match of course, and Mary tries to discourage it; but they both know that is difficult.

One of Mary’s MANY duties was her responsibility for Constance, the daughter of William and Clarissa Scott. This was a very trying situation because Constance was a handful. Mary's "side job" was to TRY to keep her in line.

Constance then does something unthinkable, and the family, especially her father, would like to disown her. She moves away, and Clarissa Scott insists that she take Mary with her as her personal servant. Mary and Paul are heartbroken. Mary remains with Constance for four years and then is summoned home....both she and Paul are thrilled.

As the months pass, a strike occurs at the mill, and it wasn't a pleasant affair. Paul and Mary continue to struggle with their relationship. Many good and bad things continue to happen to the Scott family both personal and business.

Life went on for the Scott family, and when the parents were gone, the children were left to live their lives as a distant family.....they didn't get along too well. Constance returned from London for a visit, Elizabeth and her husband were still uppity, and William Scott, Jr. and his wife also felt they were too good for the rest of the family. Jealousy and greed were a large part of this family's structure.

During all of this, the mill was flourishing, and Paul and Edgar were responsible for its success, but accidents and deaths in the mill were occurring and Edgar had other plans.

Relationships were starting to get edgy...especially Paul and Louise's marriage.

Mary held all the characters together and was the "glue" and stronghold that got the family through everything that happened in the lives of the Scott family....all the happiness, heartache, tragedies, decisions, births, and deaths. Every Scott loved Mary as if she had been a family member...she was the matriarch.

The story was wonderful....I admired Mary for her strength and loved how Marci Davenport allowed this female character to hold such a strong position throughout the book. It makes you want to be a part of that family and have the care and love that Mary brought to all of them. And....pairing up Mary and Claire made a power-house ending.

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

This book is excellent for any word lover, but is a bit stilted and detailed.

It was very clever how the author put a page from the dictionary as the beginning of each chapter and the subject of that chapter dealt with the word. From page 220..."The total length of type--all hand-set, for the books were done by letterpress, still discernible in the delicately impressed feel of the inked-on paper--is 178 miles, the distance between London and the outskirts of Manchester."

Dr. Minor, the madman, was an interesting character and the perfect person to "write" the English Oxford Dictionary...the professor, (Professor Murray) was perfect as well. You feel sorry for Dr. Minor in his circumstances, but rejoice at what he did.

His death and burial are described as this: From Page 219..."Dr. William Minor, who was among the greatest of contributors to the finest dictionary in all the English language, died forgotten in obscurity, and is buried beside a slum."

It isn't of high interest, but keeps you reading because of the history.

I was wavering between a 2 and a 3 but am going with 3/5 rating.

How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu

It started out as not too interesting of a lead in, but it does get better as you share the characters' lives and see why they ended up the way they did and how the lives of immigrants is not always a pleasant one.

There were a lot of powerful, thought-provoking messages throughout the book....it definitely isn't just a "surface" read.

My rating is a 4/5 for interest and a 5/5 for the author's writing style....he is excellent at character development, scene description, and of course storytelling.

The book began describing a scene of the narrator's parents leaving on a vacation and then moves into his life and the life of his girlfriend who work as a social worker and an attorney in an immigration center. It continues with incidents about their life in and out of the immigration center.

The book goes back and forth describing the narrator's parents and then his life and the problems all of them had with the main focuses being: relationship problems, lack of communication, family, love, and finding out who you really are. The book also followed Jonas through his childhood and talked about how his life was in that house with his parents who really wanted nothing to do with each other....not a pleasant childhood. It also traced the path of his father from Ethopia to the United States.

It was sad hearing what kind of life Jonas' mother had and how they didn't really keep in touch after he was an adult. Also very sad was the description of his relationship with his father and how it completely affected his life. Taken from page 101 concerning his relationship with his father...."and, I realized then that all I had to do to avoid him was blend into the background. That knowledge followed me from there so that eventually I thought of my obscurity as being essential to my survival."