by Lori Copeland
Rebecca just knew Jesse Montgomery would join the Amish life in Apple Grove, Kansas, if she could just find him. When she hears of his whereabouts, she decides to take off to Lawrence, Kansas to find him. Leaving home at age 17 by herself probably wasn’t the smartest thing she ever did, but finding Jesse was worth any trouble she might face.
Little did she realize that trouble would be time in a jail cell for disturbing the peace. The women, all of whom are marching for temperance, help Rebecca. But her ninety day sentence may just get the best of Sheriff Colin Maddox. Colin only has a few more weeks before the new sheriff arrives and he is free to pursue his calling of becoming a minister. But with a woman in his jail cell and wanted men being sighted in town, that few weeks seems like an eternity. I actually read A Plain and Simple Heart from Sunflower eLibrary on my tablet, but it is available in hard copy. Highly recommended to those that enjoy this genre!
This young adult book is about Francis, a Chinese American young woman. Bitter Melon tells of Francis’ struggle to try please her mother. You see her mother was never pleased by anything Francis did. Finally, Francis decides that if nothing she does pleases her mother, she will please herself. Her mother expected Francis to excell, and she did, but never quite well enough. When Francis accidentally ends up in Speech instead of Calculus, Francis chooses to stay. Here Francis finds something she loves and is extremely well at. Only, her mother must never find out.
Tuberculous is a dreadful diagnosis any time but especially before antibiotics existed during the first half of the twentieth century. Queen of Hearts is a realistic and heartwrenching story of how this disease touched lives in a Canadian sanitarium at the beginning of World War II. This young adult book hooked me and kept me emotionally charged as I followed the story of Marie Claire and her family as they battled this disease. People of all ages and all stations in life spent months to years in TB sanitariums. This historical novel does what I love in any good novel set in a prior time; it made me want to find out more about the history of tuberculosis. In the nineteenth century it was named the romantic disease because people suffering from tuberculosis were thought to have been bestowed with heightened sensitivity. The slow progress of the disease allowed for a “good death” as sufferers could arrange their affairs. It wasn’t until the development of streptomycin in 1944 that cures became the norm. Now with multidrug resistant strains there has been a resurgence of the disease. Every year, nearly half a million new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis are estimated to occur worldwide.
Christmas in January? Well, I’m just catching up from an overly busy holiday season so that means that I’m just finishing my books that were intended to put me in the holiday mood. Marcia Willett’s Christmas in Cornwall easily can be enjoyed at any time of year. Her charcter-oriented novel overflows with interesting people, including a young widowed father, his endearing five year-old son, Jakey, a cast of nuns (some with halos and some without), and a widowed caterer who is always looking for love in the wrong places. The picturesque English countryside, descriiptions of quaint homes and decades old architecture add to the charm of this sweet story. There is a side story of unscrupulous real estate dealings that add a bit of mystery to this engaging cozy.
Finding Rapture Here On Earth a Memoir
by Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson tells her story of her love of this earth and all nature. She sat by the ocean and watched over seal pups. She went down the Colorado River in the depths of the Grand Canyon. She tells of many of her adventures in nature. She loved the earth and all it’s pleasure. She tells of her family of Southern Baptists and there ideas, which were ideas she had rather leave behind. Even her nieces and nephews called her Aunt Wuu Wuu, because of her strange ideas. I Want to Be Left Behind is told with much humor and you’ll grow to care about Brenda and her family.
Nora Roberts concludes her Boonsboro Inn trilogy (The Next Always, The Last Boyfriend) with The Perfect Hope, the story of the third Montgomery brother Ryder and the innkeeper Hope. Hope has come to Boonsboro after losing her heart to the wrong man and her hotel manager job in Washington, D.C. She loves the restored Inn Boonsboro and runs the inn with care and attention to detail. Her close friends Avery and Clare are in relationships with two of the three Montgomery brothers who worked to restore the old inn to it’s current grandeur. Ryder has always been a mystery to her–a man of few words who appears short-tempered and not particularly sociable. When her former boyfriend appears with a less than respectable proposal, Ryder comes to Hope’s defense, and both realize the unavoidable attraction between them. Roberts writes with humorous, witty dialog and touching family interactions. The entire family becomes involved in trying to solve the mystery of the inn’s ghost Lizzy’s “Billy”–who was he and why is she waiting for him? This is a charming story with likeable, strong and independent characters, a sweet love story and a strong-willed ghost–a perfect ending to this trilogy.
by Brian McGrory
Pam, a veterinarian, and Brian, a writer, have differing opinions about the chicken that has come to live with them. Pam’s children raised the chick for a science project and fell in love with her. Brian who usually gets along great with animals and children, doesn’t relate to the fowl and the chicken doesn’t much like Brian either.
Buddy the Rooster is thought to be a hen until about half way through the book. It’s the Brazilian cleaning lady that sets them straight. Roosters aren’t known for being friendly, so the family fears that Buddy will have to go, and that makes Brian happy, although he would never have admitted it to Pam and her girls. Throughout the book Brian’s hopes of ridding his life of Buddy are dashed. But in the end Buddy has a special place in his heart.
Little Bertie is showing signs of brillance as a four year old. He already is able to divide twelve by three. Isabel and Jamie must decide what is important to teach Charlie and at what age. Everyone hates a push parent! But this time the pushy babysitter is the problem. Will they let Grace continue coaching Bertie in math?
Another question Isabel must ponder is why do people keep asking her to help them work out their problems. Her reputation for solving problems is getting around. This time a very valuable painting hanging in the home of a wealthy country gentleman has disappeared. Duncan Munrowe has inherited a number of valuable paintings including a Nicholas Poussin which he intended to donate to the Scottish Nathional Gallery. The theft of this favorite painting has left him heartsick so he calls on Isabel to help him recover it. Now she must deal with an unsavory women lawyer representing the thief and ransom payments.
This philosopher is always having to apologize for not paying attention to others speaking as her mind wanders off on rabbit trails that we accompany her on. All through this delightful book are thoughtful observations regarding human nature. McCall-Smith is excellent at pointing out the way we misunderstand each other by leaping to conclusions when simply stepping into another’s shoes will prevent so much of our unfortunate interactions.
The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds is number 9 in the Isabel Dalhousie novels.
Sean Dolan has spent his adult life traveling from war zone to disaster zone, offering his services as a nurse to the injured and sick. He has distanced himself from his home and family in Massachusetts both physically and mentally. Following the lingering death of his mother from Huntington’s, Sean decides to commit his life to helping others as long as he is able, not knowing if he carries the gene for Huntington’s. Treating the injured in the war-ravaged areas of Africa have taken a toll on Sean, and he returns to his home. There he finds his elderly Aunt becoming confused, his quirky nephew is having problems at school and his sister is ready to head off to New York. Sean reconnects with old friends and his family while leaving open the option to return to his nursing career in third world countries. But his ties to home and the people he cares about draw him in a different direction, even though his life becomes more complicated. The Shortest Way Home is a charming novel about the complications and love that comes with being part of a family, along with the importance of forgiveness and understanding. The characters are appealing, interesting and well-drawn–a touching portrait of a family with all of it’s flaws, humor and joys. Fay is also the author of two other novels about family life, Shelter Me and Deep Down True.
Aaron Miller had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. Yet, since the war, he lived a lonely life in a small trailer park as a handyman. Aaron struggled with life after the war, becoming such an undependable alcoholic that his wife divorced him and refused to allow him to see their two children, even years later when he had gotten his life back together.
Dave Russo, a journalist, was working on his first book about the Vietnam War. As he interview veterans, he came across one man who wanted Aaron Miller found because he thought Aaron was the one person that needed to be in Dave’s book. He gave Dave a very generous expense account and asked him to find Aaron. Through his search, Dave also finds love.
The Reunion is an immensely touching story of the heros that were often down graded and of a man who continued to be a hero in the lives that he touched. You must have tissues close by for the last three chapters or so.
Catherine Ann Benson is a child forced to move from California and an exclusive lifestyle to a small town in Texas after her parents are killed. She moves in with her grandmother and is befriended by two boys in a similar circumstance–both have been abandoned by their parents. The three forge a bond of friendship that lasts throughout their school years. The boys are football stars, revered in their small Texas town, and Catherine is planning to attend medical school. Tragedies occur that change their futures and send them all on separate paths. Over the next twenty years, their lives change and all follow their own course, but all have secrets that they carry. One of the three returns to their small town after 20 years away, determined to reveal the secrets that caused the divisions between them. Filled with themes of friendship, betrayal, loss and forgiveness, Tumbleweeds is a saga with twists, turns and drama that will keep the reader captivated. Roses is the previous novel by Leila Mecham that also takes place in Texas.
This exquisetly written first novel by Vaddey Ratner is the story of the tragic results of the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970′s, as seen through the eyes of 7 year old Raami. Raami’s father is a part of the royal family and is a poet, who has instilled in Raami a love of stories. Her father returns home one day bringing news of rebellion and chaos in the city. Soon, rebels force Raami and her family–her parents, sister, aunt, uncle, cousins and grandmother–to leave their home. They are taken into the countryside and into forced labor as the Khmer Rouge attempt to eliminate all class and personal identities from the citizens of Cambodia. As her childhood is stripped from her, Raami must learn to live with violence and death–her memories of the stories and poems of her father are the only remainders of her former life, and her courage and strength are what allow her to survive. This compelling, touching and beautifully written story is one that imparts both the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and the loving memories and stories that Raami treasures of her father and her family.
In the Shadow of the Banyan is based on the author’s own experiences as a 5 year old child in Cambodia during this revolution. Her story is also one of amazing resilience–after surviving 4 years of forced labor and starvation, she and her mother (all that remained of her family) came to the U.S. in 1981 as refugees with no English language skills. In 1990 she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and graduated with highest honors from Cornell University. Her ability to convey her experiences in the form of a novel is exceptional and moving and, with over 2 million Cambodians killed during this revolution, she tells a story that is important for the world to remember.
With the first chill of autumn in the air, I carried my warm weather house plants inside that survived the intense Kansas heat. Just one day into cold temps and I am already dreading the long, cold winter. Reading is a respite when the story’s setting is lush and tropical. My latest read is set in the low country of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. Porch Lights is Dorothea Benton Frank’s newest. All thirteen of her books revolve around this small town at the entrance to Charlestown harbor and draw you into the laid-back, charm of beach life.
Jackie McMullen has recently lost her NYC firefighter husband to a tragic accident. She takes her ten year old son, Charlie, home to Sullivan’s Island for the summer. Jackie finds a part time job and her mother does everything she can to make Jackie feel at home. Jackie feels over mothered and even pushed into a relationship with the widower who lives next door. Charlie finds friends and distractions from his sadness and wants to stay permanently. The ending is satisfying as they begin healing in the love and warmth of family.
Balthazar and Hebe Jones were very happily married and parents of a small son, Milo,when Balthazar accepted a new job in a very unique place. The family moved to the Tower of London so Balthazar could serve the Queen as a Beefeater.. The adjustments were many, such as adjusting to living in rooms with no square corners only rounded walls with ancient markings left by the centuries of prisoners who were held there while imprisoned. Balthazar is nominated to become the Keeper of the Royal Menagerie. Gift animals given to the Queen by heads of state had been kept in the Tower from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries when they were transferred to the London Zoo. Now they are being returned to the Tower to attract more visitors. Hebe and Bazlthazar are upset over the new responsibilities, but their most difficult problem is learning to deal with their grief over the loss of their son. The curious setting and unique, zany and funny story is actually a very charming love story with much historical interest. Like most historical fiction there is some truth to the story of the Royal Menagerie explained in this link.
Open the back cover of Calling Invisible Women and you will hoot with laughter. The photo of the author, Jeanne Ray, is as imaginative as this story.
Clover Hobart is a middle aged mother of two young adults and the wife of a pediatrician with an insanely busy practice. One day she discovers that she is invisible. As any middle age woman knows, this is not uncommon, however, Clover was actually gone. She could not see her own hands, face or anything else. This crazy situation was being experienced by other women that Clover finds through a newspaper ad she stumbles over while searching the notices. The 10 a.m. meeting at the Downtown Sheraton of equally invisible women brings comfort to Clover and a determination to discover the source of their invisibility. Could a combination of prescription drugs that all of these women have taken actually lead to this result? How are they going to battle a major pharmaceutical company? When will her family actually take notice of her condition?
Jeanne Ray wrote her first book as a retirement project after working forty years as a registered nurse. This New York Times bestselling author has a wonderful sense of humor. I can’t wait to see what else she has written.