Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fifty Shames Of Earl Grey, by Fanny Merkin

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Synopsis: Young arrogant tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naive coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery and Magick)?  Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?

Thoughts: A HILARIOUS parody of the Fifty Shades books! Earl buys Walmart so Anna can leave work early to go out with him, drains the Pacific Ocean to save her when the car she is goes over a ravine (and then fills it back up again once she is safe).  Anna is not the brightest coed on the block, which leads to some interesting conversations between the two of them. I laughed through the entire book, and may have to buy a copy so I can use it to cheer me up on down days!

Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story Of His Trip To Heaven And Back, by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, and Colton Burpo

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Synopsis: A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to Heaven.

Heaven Is For Real is the true story of the four-year-old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters Heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each other. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and His chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from Heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is Heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Thoughts: This is actually a re-read for me. I read this a while ago, but wanted to have it fresher in my head before I see the movie. There are so many emotionally touching movies in this book, and so much that is thought-provoking. I can hardly wait to see the movie!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs

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Synopsis: Published in 1861, this book is an autobiographical account of the author's experiences as a slave in nineteenth century North Carolina, from her relatively happy childhood to the brutality she experienced as a teenager and a young woman to her eventual escape to the North. One of the few slave narratives written by a woman, Jacobs's work deals frankly with the horrors of slavery, shedding light on the abuses female slaves in particular often endured at the hands of their masters.

Thoughts: I thought that 12 Years A Slave was a tough read, because of the abuse that was depicted in it...but it was nothing compared to what I read in this book. Female slaves were totally degraded in a variety of ways---unimaginable ways at times. This poor woman was forced to hide in a tiny cramped space for seven years before she was able to escape to New England---and had to watch her children growing up without her. Thankfully, once she went North, she was able to make a home for the three of them.

Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J. Watson

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Synopsis: Every day, Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memory disappears every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he's obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis--all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac. With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben." Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. What kind of accident caused her condition? Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her?

Thoughts: This story was SO confusing, but in a good way.  Trying to separate the truth from the lies is a complicated thing, for sure. And the ending is totally surprising.....I definitely didn't see it coming.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cruel Harvest: A Memoir, by Fran Elizabeth Grubb

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"Get out here, now, or I'm gonna kill you!" he hollered.
Little girls are hardwired to hold their daddies in high esteem, so it comes as a shock the first time a daughter feels the back of her daddy's hand across her face . . . or watches him punch and kick her mother to within an inch of her life.
How could this be? Her older sisters teach her how to survive, even when he comes for her in the night.
A girl learns to become invisible, to look the other way, to say nothing when a curious stranger asks if she's okay. To lie. To expect nothing, not even from relatives.
To cry without tears.
To pray silently.
When she is fourteen, and weary, a girl begins to wish she were dead. Cruel Harvest is the compelling story of how she lived instead.

Thoughts: I can't find the words to describe how this story touched me. So much pain, emotional and physical, that Fran and her siblings had to endure, as well as their mother, stepmother, stepsister and half brother. No one should have to witness or endure even one of the things they did, and they all had to deal with years of being under the thumb of a monster--a monster they knew, from experience, was capable of killing if his rage ran hot enough.

Reading how the children escaped one by one, and then learning what had happened to them afterwards, was a bittersweet part of the story. Fran has a good life now, as do three of her siblings that she was able to find. And yet, they all carry lasting emotional impact of their beginnings.

I would heartily recommend this story to anyone who thinks THEY had a rough childhood.

A Deadly Grind (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery), by Victoria Hamilton

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Synopsis: When vintage cookware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton spies an original 1920s Hoosier brand kitchen cabinet at an estate auction, it’s love at first sight. Despite the protests of her sister that the 19th-century yellow-brick house they share in Michigan is already too cluttered with Jaymie’s “junk,” she successfully outbids the other buyers and triumphantly takes home her Hoosier.
But that night on the summer porch where they’ve left the Hoosier to be cleaned up, a man is murdered, struck on the head with  the steel meat grinder that is part of the cabinet. Who is this stranger—and what was he doing on their porch? Does his death have anything to do with the Hoosier?
As the police struggle to determine the man’s identity, Jaymie can’t help doing a little digging on her own, accompanied by her three-legged Yorkie Poo, Hopalong. But in her bid to uncover the truth about the hidden secrets of the Hoosier, Jaymie may be the one who ends up going, going…gone.

Thoughts: Thanks to a Facebook page, I'm discovering many new writers of what are known as "cozy mysteries."  I've read several series of them in the past, but never knew they had a name/genre all their own. This is a good story, and it kept me guessing as to the murderer for most of the story. The interaction between the characters is very believable,and the characters are easy to care about. Looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Amen, Amen, Amen:Memoir Of A Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things), by Abby Sher

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Synopsis: Until the age of ten, Abby Sher was a happy child in a fun-loving, musical family. But when her father and favorite aunt pass away, Abby fills the void of her loss with rituals: kissing her father's picture over and over each night, washing her hands, counting her steps, and collecting sharp objects that she thinks could harm innocent pedestrians. Then she begins to pray. At first she repeats the few phrases she remem-bers from synagogue, but by the time she is in high school, Abby is spending hours locked in her closet, urgently reciting a series of incantations and pleas. If she doesn't, she is sure someone else will die, too. The patterns from which she cannot deviate become her shelter and her obsession. 

In college Abby is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and while she accepts this as an explanation for the counting and kissing and collecting, she resists labeling her fiercest obsession, certain that her prayers and her relationship with G-d are not an illness but the cure. She also discovers a new passion: performing comedy. She is never happier than when she dons a wig and makes people laugh. Offstage, however, she remains unable to confront the fears that drive her. She descends into darker compulsions, starving and cutting herself, measuring every calorie and incision. It is only when her earliest, deepest fear is realized that Abby is forced to examine and redefine the terms of her faith and her future. 

Amen, Amen, Amen is an elegy honoring a mother, father, and beloved aunt who filled a child with music and their own blend of neuroticism. It is an adventure, full of fast cars, unsolved crimes, and close calls. It is part detective story, part love story, about Abby's hunt for answers and someone to guide her to them. It is a young woman's radiant and heartbreaking account of struggling to recognize the bounds and boundlessness of obsession and devotion.

Thoughts: This story is so raw and emotional places I could totally feel her OCD in myself! She's been through a lot of rough times in her life, along with a lot of therapy, medications, interventions, etc. And the ending (or beginning!) of the story is full of hope and love.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Murder Simply Brewed (An Amish Village Mystery), by Vannetta Chapman

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Synopsis: When the coffee shop manager is murdered in Middlebury’s Amish Artisan Village, two women from different walks of life must join together to solve the mystery. Spring has arrived in Middlebury, Indiana, and Amber Wright is optimistic about the growing profit from her collection of Amish shops---until she receives a call that Ethan Gray is dead. Hurrying over to A Simple Blend, she finds a solitary hole in the front window and the store manager lying next to the espresso machine, dead from an apparent heart attack. All the money is still in his register. When Amber hires a young Amish woman, Hannah Troyer, to take over the shop’s duties, the two women become fast friends---as well as amateur sleuths. The police believe Gray’s death is a by-product of vandalism, but Amber and Hannah aren't convinced. Clues that don't add up, a neighbor who is pulled into the midst of the investigation, a town with secrets to hide, and a blossoming romance---all will combine to push Amber and Hannah into unfamiliar roles in order to reveal answers to the mysteries around them.

Thoughts: I love novels about the Amish, and I love murder mysteries, so this series is going to be one of my new favorites. Amber is a fascinating heroine, and she and Hannah make a great team when it comes to solving mysteries. The shops in the Artisan Village provide a great backdrop,and the people in them add some cute side plots.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Wedding Dress, by Rachel Hauck

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Synopsis: Four brides. One Dress.
A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.
Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?
Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”
Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.
Thoughts: There were several stories woven together in this book....each of the three women who had worn the dress told their stories from the past in between Charlotte's story in the present. It was a great way to show how all four of them were actually tied together. And in spite of the difficulties and obstacles, everyone eventually got their happy ending! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, by Kevin and Alex Malarkey

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Synopsis: In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. “I think Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad. But two months later, Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the angels that took him through the gates of heaven itself. Of the unearthly music that sounded just terrible to a six-year-old. And, most amazing of all . . . Of meeting and talking to Jesus. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is the true story of an ordinary boy’s most extraordinary journey. As you see heaven and earth through Alex’s eyes, you’ll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father’s love.

Thoughts: With all the stories I've read of people with similar experiences, I'm not sure how I missed this one, especially since the family lives right here in Ohio. It tells the story of the accident and the aftermath from the father's point of view, and then tells Alex's story of what he heard and saw in Heaven. Alex is still progressing toward what his family believes will be a full recovery.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Broken On The Back Row: A Journey Through Grace And Forgiveness, by Sandi Patty

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Synopsis: Sandi Patty, the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian Music, saw her stellar career go into a tailspin. Now she tells the story of her long road to restoration. From the agony of divorce nearly ten years ago, Sandi has moved from center stage to the back row of the church balcony and back into the spotlight.
This book is the heart-touching narrative of her years as an acclaimed recording artist balancing her role as adoring mother to four children, her fall from public acclaim, and the steps she worked through with her church and pastor to find forgiveness and peace —- all under the harsh glare of national media attention.
Sandi's story also includes insightful vignettes from their bustling blended family (Sandi's four children and three stepchildren) and the inspiring way God worked in the adoption of an eighth child, their precious Sam.
Sandi's performance schedule is full once more but there's a difference in her music and her heart that reflects the unforgettable journey she's made to reach the other side of hurt and find healing and forgiveness in Christ.
Thoughts: As I went through this book, I found myself identifying with so many of the emotions she felt during her difficult time. I went through the same situation, without the national media attention, back in 2002, and remembered feeling separated from God and my church family, feeling guilty for turning so many lives upside down. Going through the book and taking in the advice Sandi got from her pastor, among others, I could hear God speaking to MY heart (which has been happening a lot lately), letting me know those words of grace and forgiveness were just as much for me as for Sandi.

I enjoyed the stories of the blended family and the incredible story of how they brought Sam into their family. That was a truly miraculous event!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Goodbye Witch (A Wishcrafter Mystery), by Heather Blake

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Synopsis: As Enchanted Village’s resident Wishcrafter, Darcy Merriweather has the power to make other people’s wishes come true, but what she really wishes is that she had the power to uncloak the invisible man who’s stalking her best friend....
Darcy’s closest friend and fellow witch, Starla Sullivan, hoped she’d never see her ex-husband, Kyle, again. Two years ago he tried to kill her, and he has been a fugitive ever since. Now Starla claims to have seen him back in Enchanted Village, but it seems she’s the only one who can see him. To everyone else, her ex is invisible.
Darcy only wishes his motives were as transparent as the rest of him. Since the police can’t arrest someone they can’t see, it’s up to Darcy to find the secret behind Kyle’s latest disappearing act—before he does something they can’t see coming….

Thoughts: There was so much going on in this story, but it wasn't TOO much for the reader. Aside from the mystery described above, there was a subplot regarding Darcy's upcoming birthday, and another involving the declining health of a supporting character (the way that one wrapped up was predictable and bittersweet, making me cry AND laugh). 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Easter Bunny Murder (Lucy Stone Mysteries), by Leslie Meier

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Synopsis: Spring has come to Tinker's Cove, and Lucy Stone has a mile- long to- do list. From dyeing eggs with her grandson, to preparing the perfect Easter feast, to reviving her dormant garden, she hardly has time to search for a killer. Lucy is covering the annual Easter Egg Hunt for the Pennysaver. But when she arrives at the estate of its hostess, aging millionaire Vivian Van Vorst, the gates are locked and a man dressed as the Easter Bunny drops dead at her feet.

Thoughts: A quick easy read, with a bit of comedy tucked in with the mystery.It's been a while since I've read anything by this author, but I will probably be picking up some more of her work in the future. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

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Synopsis: The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd's wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio- shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she's pregnant.

Thoughts: Who would have guessed that a novel about death and mourning could be so hilarious? The three Foxman brothers, their sister, their mother, and their significant others all have issues which come to light during their week of forced togetherness. The movie based on this book is scheduled to be released in September, and while I'm not impressed with some of the casting, I still hope it will be a fun film.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen:Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey, by Leanda de Lisle

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Synopsis: Born into aristocracy, the Grey sisters were the great-granddaughters of Henry VII, grandnieces to Henry VIII, legitimate successors to the English throne, and rivals to Henry VIII's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Lady Jane, the eldest, was thrust center stage by uncompromising religious politics when she briefly succeeded Henry's son, the young Edward VI. Dubbed "the Nine Days Queen" after her short, tragic reign from the Tower of London, Jane has over the centuries earned a special place in the affections of the English people as an abused child and a "queen of the public heart." But as Leanda de Lisle reveals, Jane was actually more rebel than victim, more leader than pawn, and Mary and Katherine Grey would have to tread carefully in order to avoid sharing their elder sister's violent fate. 

Navigating the politics of the Tudor court after Jane's death was a precarious challenge. Katherine Grey earned the trust of Mary I, only to risk her future with a love marriage that threatened Queen Elizabeth's throne. Mary Grey, considered too petite and plain to be significant, looked for her own escape from the burden of her royal blood—an impossible task after she followed her heart and also incurred the queen's envy, fear, and wrath. 

Exploding the many myths of Lady Jane Grey's life, unearthing the details of Katherine's and Mary's dramatic stories, and casting new light on Elizabeth's reign, de Lisle gives voice and resonance to the lives of the Greys and offers perspective on their place in history and on a time when a royal marriage could gain you a kingdom or cost you everything.

Thoughts: A very informative book on one of my favorite periods in history. Learned a few things about the Grey sisters I hadn't been aware of previously. Amazing how many people were imprisoned for years, just because their marriage and children might threaten Elizabeth's role as queen. It definitely wasn't a good time to be part of the royal family.

Calling Me Home, by Julie Kibler

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Synopsis:Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a soaring debut interweaving the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship.
Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.

Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.

Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son's irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her.

Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family's housekeeper--in a town where blacks weren't allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle's first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.

Thoughts: This book was a very emotional one for me. I was totally engrossed in Isabelle's part of the story, and also found myself wondering what was going to happen next with Dorrie. The chapters alternated points of view, with Isabelle's being mainly about the past and Dorrie's about the present. I got blindsided at least 3 times in Isabelle's story, while Dorrie's was a bit more predictable. By the end of the book, I had tears streaming down my face--and I had to take some time to digest it all before I could get on with my day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Surprised By Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being A Mom, by Lisa-Jo Baker

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Synopsis: A lawyer with a well-stamped passport and a passion for human rights, Lisa-Jo Baker never wanted to be a mom. And then she had kids. Having lost her own mother to cancer as a teenager, Lisa-Jo felt lost on her journey to womanhood and wholly unprepared to raise children.

Surprised by Motherhood is Lisa-Jo’s story of becoming and being a mom, and in the process, discovering that all the “what to expect” and “how to” books in the world can never truly prepare you for the sheer exhilaration, joy, and terrifying love that accompanies motherhood.

Set partly in South Africa and partly in the US (with a slight detour to Ukraine along the way), Surprised by Motherhood is a poignant memoir of one woman’s dawning realization that being a mom isn't about being perfect—it’s about being present.

Thoughts: This is, without question, the best book on motherhood that I have ever read. I would recommend it to every mother, no matter the age of your children.  I laughed, I cried, I shook my head in agreement as I remembered similar experiences in my motherhood journey....and through it all, I managed to hear the still small voice of God telling me that I did NOT fail as a mother, that I was the best mother I knew how to be and that the wonderful adults my children have become are proof of my success. The lessons this book holds were just what I needed to hear to FINALLY accept what people have been telling me for years---because this time, I heard it from HIM.  

(Having listened to my library's audiobook version, I will now always hear Lisa-Jo's beautiful South African accent when I read her blog or Facebook posts!)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, Book One), by Richelle Mead

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Synopsis: In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Thoughts: This is the same author who wrote the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series....but for me, this series is not as good as either of those two. It started slowly, which I am used to with her books--but it never reached a point where it finally grabbed my attention and hooked me. I don't plan to read the rest of this series.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Good,the Bad and the Witchy (A Wishcraft Mystery), by Heather Blake

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Synopsis: Darcy Merriweather is Enchanted Village’s newest resident Wishcrafter—a witch who can grant wishes for others. But as Darcy prepares a celebration for a magical florist, she discovers that every rose has its thorns…

When magical florist Harriette Harkette decides to throw a lavish eightieth birthday party for herself, she hires Darcy’s Aunt Ve’s personal concierge service, As You Wish, to plan the soiree. But turning eighty isn’t all Harriette is celebrating—the Floracrafter has recently created the midnight black Witching Hour rose, the first all-natural rose of that color. 

Darcy works hard on planning an extravagant celebration that will make Harriette feel like the belle of the ball. But when cake delivery boy Michael Healey—a former employee at Harriette’s greenhouse—is found dead, the celebration takes a turn. Now Michael’s ghost has imprinted on Darcy, meaning that they’re bonded until she can untangle the thicket surrounding his murder—and what exactly it has to do with the Witching Hour rose….   

Thoughts: Another quick, easy read which I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved how one of the subplots actually tied into the main plot of the murder---in a way I never would have expected.  Nice to see Darcy's romance with Nick progressing, as well as her relationship with Nick's daughter, Mimi. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Witch Before Dying (Wishcraft Series Book #2), by Heather Blake

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Synopsis: Darcy Merriweather is Salem, Massachusetts’ newest resident Wishcrafter—a witch who can grant wishes for others. While Darcy isn’t able to grant wishes for herself, she does possess a certain knack for solving problems—including the occasional murder… 

When Darcy is hired by Elodie Keaton to clean up her missing mother’s disorderly home, the Wishcrafter is certainly up for the task. After all, the motto of her Aunt Ve’s personal concierge service As You Wish is “No Job Impossible.” But beneath the piles of old newspapers and knickknacks Darcy discovers something much more disturbing—Patrice Keaton’s body.

Darcy’s determined to give Elodie peace of mind by investigating her mother’s disappearance and death. Patrice was last seen over a year ago after a fight with her Charmcrafter boyfriend. Was her murder a crime of passion? Or were Patrice’s troubles caused by the Anicula, a wish-granting amulet? Now Darcy has to not only find a killer, she has to find the Anicula— before the power of ultimate wish fulfillment falls into the wrong hands…  

Thoughts: Another fun yet suspenseful story from The Enchanted Village. Enjoyed seeing various relationships progress from the first book to this one.  Can't wait to see what happens next!!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Twelve Years A Slave, by Solomon Northup

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Synopsis: Hard working Solomon Northup, an educated free man of color in 1841, enjoys family life with his wife and three children in Saratoga Springs, New York. He delights his community with his fiddle playing and antic spirit, and has positive expectations of all he meets. When he is deceived by "circus promoters" to accompany them to a musical gig in the nation's capital, his joyful life takes an unimaginable turn. He awakens in shackles to find he has been drugged, kidnapped and bound for the slave block in D.C.
After Solomon is shipped a thousand miles to New Orleans, he is assigned his slave name and quickly learns that the mere utterance of his true origin or rights as a free man are certain to bring severe punishment or death. While he endures the brutal life of a slave in Louisiana's isolated Bayou Boeuf plantation country, he must learn how to play the system and plot his escape home.
For twelve years, his fine mind captures the reality of slavery in stunning detail, as we learn about the characters that populate plantation society and the intrigues of the bayou – from the collapse of a slave rebellion resulting in mass hangings due to traitorous slave Lew Cheney, to the tragic end of his friend Patsey because of Mrs. Epps' jealousy of her husband's sexual exploitation of his pretty young slave.
When Solomon finally finds a sympathizing friend who risks his life to secret a letter to the North, a courageous rescue attempt ensues that could either compound Solomon's suffering, or get him back to the arms of his family.

Thoughts: While the language of the 1850s is a bit stiffer and more formal than the language of today, this book is still well worth reading. It is a very moving first person account of the inhumanity of slavery. I laughed, I cried, and thoroughly enjoyed the story.