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Books, Books and More Books

Stop by and read a few sentences about the books I love and the books I hated. Leave a comment or two. I am a former librarian and a voracious reader.
The Guardians - Limited Edition - John Grisham
THE GUARDIANS by John Grisham
Quincy has been rotting in prison for years convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Cullen Post, a minister and a lawyer, along with the rest of the Guardians agree to help him.
Who are the bad guys? They are really bad, well protected. and have no compunction against killing a minister, a lawyer, a prisoner, or anyone else who gets in their way.
Grisham, a master of the crime field, has another winner in THE GUARDIANS. The clever plot is convoluted enough to keep you guessing, but not enough to discourage you as you race to discover the bad guys.
As usual with a Grisham novel, few “bad words”, few sex scenes, the violence takes place off page, but the twists and turns, riveting plot, fully developed characters and excellent writing are all there.
5 of 5 stars


Berachah story is good, Skip the present day concurrent story

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls - Julie Kibler
I had a hard time reviewing this book. There are two concurrent stories in the book. One concerns the Berachah Home in Arlington Texas (1903 -1935) that was supported by the Nazarene Church and was unusual in that unmarried, but pregnant, girls were not just encouraged to keep their child, but were given a home for themselves and their child for life if necessary and training for a job if they wished to leave with their child.The second story concerned a librarian in Arlington in 2017 and the college student she has befriended.
The Berachah story is excellent. The librarian story is strained, unnecessary, has little to do with the Berachah Home and makes the book entirely too long. I kept waiting for the author to reveal a connection between the two stories – it didn’t happen.
So… read the story about the Berachah Home and skip all the parts about the librarian. You will have a really good read about an actual Home that did good work for the duration of its existence. The research is impeccable and the girl’s stories are interesting and well written. Lizzie and Mattie’s stories are based on real people and are heart rending.
5 of 5 stars for the Berachah story 2 of 5 stars for the Librarian story


My grandmother lived this book

Glow - Megan E. Bryant
GLOW by Megan E Bryant
GLOW tells the heartbreaking story of the young women who went to work for the companies that used radium to make glow in dark objects, mostly watch faces for the soldiers of WWI. My grandmother worked briefly for The Radium Dial company in Ottawa Illinois. Fortunately she remained healthy although she went every year of life (she died at 96) to The Argonne National Laboratory for extensive testing.
GLOW is unflinching in relating the horrific illnesses that plagued the radium workers. Although GLOW is aimed at young adult audience, adult readers will also react favorably to this tale.
Bryant uses the true stories of actual workers to underscore her fictionalized work. Sisters Lisa and Lydia help support their family by the “easy work and good pay” offered by the companies. This mostly untold story is also related in THE RADIUM GIRLS by Kate Moore.
Very sensitive readers may be upset by the descriptions (accurate) of the results of “tipping” to paint tiny numerals on watch faces with the radium based paints.
5 of 5 stars


Sweet story

The Prayer Box - Lisa Wingate
THE PRAYER BOX by Lisa Wingate
When the book begins you will want to shake Tandi and tell her to grow up. As the book progresses, she does exactly that, although in fits and starts. Concurrently with Tandi’s story is Iola’s story of growing up unwanted and shunted aside because of the circumstances of her birth.
Sympathetically written, the story details what it is like to escape from one bad situation into another… and another until you feel you have no options left. But people are ultimately good in this tale and Iola’s house becomes a beacon of light.
Tandi is well developed as are Paul and Iola. Iola’s story is one of redemption and survival under trying circumstances. If you like uplifting, positive stories, this one is for you. There is no sex, no cursing and no violence.
4 of 5 stars


About 100 pages too long

The President is Missing - Bill Clinton, James Patterson
THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by James Patterson and Bill Clinton
Patterson would have done well to use former President Bill Clinton only as a resource and kept him away from the actual writing. This book is about 100 pages too long.
Terrorists are planning an attack on the United States and the president is a prime target. The plot is interesting and well plotted. The writing can be very verbose with little addition to the storyline. That said, I enjoyed the book and I skimmed parts of it with no impact on my enjoyment or the story.
3 of 5 stars


A little known part of history

The Third Daughter - Talia Carner
Batya, the third daughter in a family of Jews forced out of their home in one of Russia’s endless pogroms, is married off to an apparently wealthy and kind American businessman. Unfortunately, his “America” is Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Batya is forced into a life as a prostitute.
Many young, innocent European girls fleeing hard times found themselves suffering Batya’s plight in lawless Argentina of the early 1900’s. Carner’s well researched and well written book follows Batya as she is betrayed and then sold into a form of slavery. Carner tells the stories and lives of Batya and the other residents of the brothel with great feeling, empathy and realism. When Batya is offered the possibility of helping to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, it is at great personal peril.
Carner tells the tale of a little know part of Jewish and Argentine history. Her research is impeccable and her storytelling is impactful. This will be a good book for groups to discuss. 5 of 5 stars


An interesting series

Books of a Feather - Kate Carlisle
BOOKS OF A FEATHER by Kate Carlisle
This series (Bibliophile Mysteries) concerns a book binder/conservator who becomes involved with a murder very early on in each book. John James Audubon’s bird paintings figure prominently in this outing.
You will learn a wee bit about painting and book conservation while solving an interesting mystery. Brooklyn, the main character, has a long-term romance that seems to get regularly stalled while she is sleuthing.
The mysteries are well plotted and well written with an occasional humorous incident. The characters are well rounded and Carlisle knows and relates interesting information about book binding, collecting and reading along the way. Series readers will like following Carlisle’s mysteries and characters.
These easy to follow mysteries won’t tax your brain but will provide hours of fun.
4 of 5 stars


IN The Hall... a Clue Mystery

In The Hall With The Knife - Diana Peterfreund
IN THE HALL WITH THE KNIFE by Diana Peterfreund
This middle grade to young adult mystery based on the board game CLUE is a quick read. The usual suspects are presented early and with enough characterization to identify them.
Beyond that there is little development of the stock characters. The plot is interesting and there are enough red herrings to keep interest in the story.
Both boys and girls will identify with the characters and the setting (an isolated boarding school). There is little violence beyond an upper cut to the chin (described) and the off scene knife stabbing. There are no curse words and no sex. There is a satisfying resolution to the mystery.
3 of 5 stars


power to the people

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel - Marie Benedict
CARNEGIE”S MAID by Marie Benedict
Andrew Carnegie made an about face at some point in his life from a wealth and power obsessed businessman to one of the world’s biggest philanthropists. This book attempts to answer why and how that happened.
Although this is a light romance book, it also sheds light on one of the most important businessmen in this country’s early industrial age. The glittering world of the VERY wealthy Carnegie’s is contrasted with the plight of the downtrodden working man slaving at hard labor for minimal wages as well as the equally hard working and often ignored servants who made the Cargenie’s life style possible.
This is a quick read that offers food for thought in how people with power exert that power. Book groups can have a discussion that centers on the romance of upstairs/downstairs as well as on the power of wealth and social standing.
4 of 5 stars


THE BIG FINISH - Brooke Fossey
THE BIG FINISH by Brooke Fossey
Duffey, the unrepentant reprobate, and his side kick, Carl, are roommates at the “nice” assisted living home. They live in fear of being tossed out and forced to move to the “hellhole” of the only full nursing home in the area.
Nora is the nurse who makes life bearable. Anderson is the aide who aids and abets Duffey and Carl and all the other inmates at the 20 bed Centennial Assisted Living Home. The activities mentioned all ring true as do the shenanigans the inmates get up to.
Told in spare and occasionally uncomfortable prose, the tale is filled with gentle humor and lots of empathetic sympathy. The senior citizens are never disparaged except by the home’s kill joy and money mad proprietor.When 19 year old Josie enters their life needing a place to stay and help with her life choices, the fun begins and doesn’t end until the Big Finish.
Lots to think about and discuss in book groups, especially ones that have a few older members or members with loved ones in assisted living or nursing homes. The importance of hope, honesty, friendship, and sympathetic attention is laid forth with good natured respect.
4 of 5 stars


Truus, a Dutch woman, works to save children from sure death in Nazi Germany in the run up to WWII. This story is based on the real Truus Wijsmuller and the Kindertransport. Well written and researched it will live with you long after you finish reading. While the subject is terrifying, the book itself is full of hope, love, bravery, altruism and redemption.
The fiction part of the book details life in Nazi Germany for two young people, one Christian and one Jewish. Fifteen year old Stephan works hard on writing plays, stories and poems. He idolizes the author Stefan Zweig, whom his very wealthy Jewish family has actually met. Zophie-Helene’s mother is a well-known newspaper journalist who fearlessly writes columns disparaging Hitler.
When these two stories collide, the tension rises palpably. Both families struggle to get their children out of Germany and to relative safety in England as the Nazi web comes ever closer to the families. Meanwhile Truus takes ever more daring risks to save the children of Germany.
Book groups will find much to discuss. This would be a good book for a parent child book group, a group interested in WWII and one devoted to learning more of ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
5 of 5 stars


A really good mystery

Thirteen  - Steve Cavanagh
TH1RT3EN by Steve Cavanagh
This one will keep you up far into the night. The plot is diabolical. So is the killer.
Eddie Flynn is the one person who believes the actor accused of killing his wife and her body guard is innocent. The bodies are falling fast and thick. The plot twists are delicious.
For a mystery with lots of deaths this one is free of sex, unwarranted violence and curse words. Just a really good story.
5 of 5 stars


I couldnt make it past 150 pages

The Hundred-Year House - Rebecca Makkai
I made it through 150 pages before deciding I didn’t really care about these people and their foibles and meandering progress through what passed for life. A failed writer, a failed artist, a failed mother, a failed son – who cares.
The writing is lovely, the story failed.
3 of 3 stars


A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) - Louise Penny
A BETTER MAN by Louise Penny
I have only one other Armand Gamache mystery. This one convinces me I should read more!
Armand is back at work, demoted and brushed aside for another – his son-in-law! A flood is happening and Three Pines is in the crosshairs. A woman is missing and her husband, who may be a murderer, is unconcerned. A new agent is pushing for Gamache to take over the case. The missing woman’s father is threatening to murder the husband. And then there is the dog.
Oh my – all these plot points and we are only in the first few pages. The tension doesn’t stop until the last page in this engrossing mystery. Penny keeps the tension alive with just enough red herrings and plot twists to compel reading far into the night.
A well written, engrossing mystery with a familiar character in a new and uncomfortable situation.
5 of 5 stars



Ellie and the Harpmaker - Hazel Prior
This is a lovely book. Ellie, married to a controlling husband, meets Dan, who lives in solitary splendor meticulously carving exquisite harps.
The writing is detailed and engaging. Prior uses words to describe the woods and creatures surrounding the harp barn with great charm. Her characters grow and become clear as the story progresses.
Although she never uses any words to indicate Dan is autistic (or at least on the spectrum), it is readily apparent through her word pictures. She writes with sympathy and tenderness about her characters allowing the reader to see them change and develop with her eyes.
As the tale unfolds danger and fear emerge, but the overriding feeling is always sympathy and gentleness.
A good book for groups interested in music, woodworking, nature, personality development, marriage, autism, forgiveness, family dynamics, and love.
5 of 5 stars


The Grave RObber's Secret

The Grave Robber's Secret - Anna Myers
I have read and enjoyed other books by Anna Myers. This one left me slightly off kilter. It wasn’t bad or poorly written, I was just uncertain to the point of the book. The ending didn’t seem to have a conclusion and for a middle grader book, there was no clear right and wrong.
Robby’s Pa takes him with him to rob a grave. They sell the body to a hospital for teaching purposes, but Robby is very disconcerted by stealing the body and defiling it. He thinks about the family whose loved one is now being dissected.
Right, wrong, the value of education, concern for others, empathy, all come into play as the book proceeds. Because the book caused such ambivalent feelings, I am hesitant to recommend it. Parents may want to read and discuss the book with their preteens.
3 of 5 stars with reservations