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Showing posts from April, 2013

Review: In The Garden of Beasts, Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

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Title: In The Garden of Beasts, Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: Broadway Paperbacks/Crown Publishing--Trademarks of Random House, Inc. 2012
First published in Hardcover May 2011
Genre: Non-Fiction
Labels: World War II, Nazi Party, Hitler, Germany, History, Socialism, Communism, Soviet Union, America
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 480
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:
William E. Dodd age 64 is a professor and writer from Chicago, he became the American Ambassador to Germany in 1933. He was reluctant to take this position, even though President Roosevelt personally called him by phone. Dodd, his wife, and two adult children Martha and Bill, arrived in Berlin, Germany July 1933. They are not in Berlin long when the threatening nature and criminal activities of the Nazi Party become apparent. Dodd is a reserved, sober-minded, practical man. His wife is a minor character in the book. She is a loving and supportive wife. In my opinion…

Reflecting on World Book Night 2013

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This is the 2nd year I've taken part in this fantastic opportunity to give-away a box of books. Last year I gave away a box of books to an at risk youth school in Arlington, Texas. These middle school students are at risk for dropping out of school. The books were The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Yesterday, April 23, was World Book Night and I donated a box of books to a local school, Handley Middle School. I shocked the lady in the school office by telling her the books were a donation to the school. The people that work at this school don't know me, and for a stranger to walk in the school office carrying a box of free books to donate to their school just made their day. Which made my day. After explaining a bit about World Book Night, I expressed that, "I was in hopes that a love of reading would be instilled in these kids that would be lasting." This years books that I donated was Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.
Thanks to the …

Review: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Title: The Long Winter
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Illustrator: Garth Williams
Publisher: Harper and Row 1968
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Winter of 1880-1881, Little House on the Prairie Books
Format: Hardcover
Age: 8 and above
Pages: 335
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:
When The Long Winter begins Laura, "is going on 14". Pa reluctantly lets her help him bring in the hay. The work is hard, but Laura perseveres with a positive outlook. Working as a team, they are able to get more done. Later Pa brags about her hard work, building up her self-worth.
Pa soon notices how the birds are leaving the Dakota territory in a hurry---flying south. He also notices animals building up their homes thicker than usual. The first snow storm arrives in early October. Ma has a positive and cheerful attitude, she chooses not to focus on the possibility of an arduous winter. Pa has an unsettled feeling. After an old Indian pays a visit to town with a prophecy, Pa decides to move the family from their clai…

Review: Seduction, A Novel of Suspense by M. J. Rose

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Title: Seduction, A Novel of Suspense Book #5 in The Reincarnationist Series
Author: M.J. Rose
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon & Schuster 7 May 2013
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Suspense, Historical Mystery Fiction, Isle of Jersey, Occult, Reincarnation, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Format: Paperback---Advanced Reader Copy, Uncorrected
Age: Adult
Pages: 384
Rating: 1 Star

Summary:
The time period and setting is late October 1855 on the Isle of Jersey. Victor Hugo, his wife, and children, are in exile on the Island of Jersey. Hugo's "self-imposed political exile" from France has moved him away from his friends and cultural life in Paris. A friend named Delphine, from Paris, came to spend a week with the Hugo's, bringing with her an interesting game, she described it as a new parlor game---a game that channels the dead. Hugo's interest is peaked. The Hugo's beloved daughter Didine had died several years before, and Hugo has been despondent and depressed. T…

Review: Beware this Boy, A Detective Inspector Tom Tyler Mystery by Maureen Jennings

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Title: Beware this Boy, A Detective Inspector Tom Tyler Mystery
Author: Maureen Jennings
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Publishing 6 November 2012
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Mystery, Suspense, World War II, England, London
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 320
Rating: 2 Stars


Late November 1940. A Munitions factory in Birmingham, England explodes. Many of the people that worked in this hazardous place were young women. Detective Tom Tyler is sent to Birmingham to investigate. Was this explosion an accident? Could it have been sabotage? Meanwhile, during the investigation Tyler find out about an AWOL soldier. He also discovers people with communist leanings. The year of 1940 was significant for London, as the London Blitz began.

My Thoughts:
There were three things that I loved about this story:
The setting is in England. The time period is World War II era.I also loved the focus of women working during World War II, and where they worked which required much courage. These women wer…

Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

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Title: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Publisher: William Morrow/Harper Collins 2 April 2013
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Historical Fiction, Orphan, Orphan Train, Adoption, Coming of Age Story
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 304
Rating: 4 Stars

According to Wikipedia there were greater than 250,000 children that were transported to new homes during the years 1853-1929. After research and interviews of several surviving Orphan Train children, the author wanted to write a story portraying a realistic life story. Engaging both good points and negative points of a new life planned for a child.

Summary:
Two lives become intermingled by their life stories, current situations, and the ability to understand and trust one another, but both are of differing generations. Vivian Daly is age 91. She lives alone in her Maine home. Molly Ayer is age 17. She is currently living with a foster family in Maine. Molly is hired to help Vivian clean up and out some boxes in her attic. Molly relu…

Review: A History of the Scottish People 1560-1830 by T.C. Smout

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Title: A History of the Scottish People 1560-1830
Author: T.C. Smout
Publisher: Fontana Press, An Imprint of Harper Collins March 2, 1998 (first published in 1969)
Genre: Non-Fiction
Labels: Scottish History, Scotland, 16th-17th-18th Century
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 540
Rating: 4 Stars
I bought my copy of this book at Waverly Train Station Edinburgh, Scotland in October 2001. This means I've had it in my TBR pile a very long time.
I've had a strong interest in Scottish history a long time. Recently I found out I have Scottish ancestry in my lineage. I'm connected to the Ros and Duncan families. This new information about my ancestry gave a brighter reason to read A History of the Scottish People 1560-1830. 

Summary:
I'm aware that English history seems to trump the histories of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. It seems there are more books available on the royal families, Norman or Anglo-Saxon period, Tudor period, War of the Roses, and Richard III (especiall…

Review: The Black House by Peter May

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Title: The Black House
Author: Peter May
Publisher: Silver Oak/Sterling Publisher October 2012
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Suspense, Mystery, Scotland, Detective, Isle of Lewis, Murder,
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 368
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:
Edinburgh, Scotland Detective Fin MacLeod is sent to The Outer Hebrides---Isle of Lewis. The Isle of Lewis is located northwest of the Isle of Skye, and both are off the west coast of Scotland. It is always windy on the Isle of Lewis.
"That tireless assault blowing in across three thousand miles of Atlantic. Beyond the shelter of Stornoway harbour there was barely a tree on the island." There's been a murder in the village of Crobost. Ironically Crobost is the town of Fin's birth. The craggy Gaelic people will not all be pleased with his return, many will be shocked. He's been gone 18 years. People change. Yet, life on Isle of Lewis has changed little.
During the investigation Fin will have to face the events from his…

Review: Richard III by David Baldwin

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Title: Richard III
Author: David Baldwin
Publisher: Amberley, February 28, 2013
This book was republished to add the recent DNA findings
Genre: Non-Fiction
Labels: Richard III, England, British Monarchy, British History, The War of the Roses, House of York, House of Plantagenet, House of Lancaster, House of Neville, House of Tudor
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 272
Rating: 4 Stars


House of Plantagenet's Armoral

Summary:
David Baldwin quickly states in the first sentence of his introduction, that previous books about Richard III have either painted him as "very good or very bad". Baldwin's aim in his book, was to portray Richard III as accurately as possible---to have Richard III come to life through its pages, showing a dimensional personality. Baldwin wants to put to rest myths about Richard III, and instead show what in fact we do know about him.
Richard III was the youngest child in a large family. An older brother Edmund, and their father, died when Richa…

Review: A Murder at Rosamund's Gate (Lucy Campion Mysteries Volume 1) by Susanna Calkins

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Title: A Murder at Rosamund's Gate (Lucy Campion Mysteries Volume 1)
Author: Susanna Calkins
Publisher: Minotaur/St. Martin's Press, April 23, 2013
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Historical Fiction, Murder, Historical Mystery, Suspense, Romance, England, 1600's, 17th Century
Format: Advanced Reader Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:
Lucy Campion is a chambermaid working in Master and Mistress Hargraves home in London, England. The time period is 17th century England. The year is 1665. Puritan Master Hargrave is a local magistrate. Lucy's duties in the home are lengthy and tiresome, but her employer's treat her well. Lucy's handsome brother is Will. Will is a smithy, working in London. Will is falsely accused of a crime and Lucy wants to help him. Added to Lucy's duties is looking for the real murderer. Lucy must be brave in leaving the secure confines of the Hargraves home to search for the real murderer.  

My Thoughts:
Susanna Calkins is a f…