Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Secret Refuge Series

Fiction by Lauraine Snelling.

Daughter of Twin Oaks (Secret Refuge Series #1)
Sisters of the Confederacy (A Secret Refuge Book #2)The Long Way Home (Secret Refuge Series #3)

This series is a set of three books that take place during the Civil War. I read this all in one volume from a library edition. This is the way I prefer to read a trilogy: all at one time!

Together, these made one good story with memorable characters.

I also read recently by this author: Reunion

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Fiction by Lisa See

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

I have read everything I can find by Lisa See, and loved it, so I was excited to get this new book. It's as good as I expected, a story about a girl born in modern (late-twentieth-century) China but in a hill village so remote that she might have been born hundreds of years ago.

There are many different Chinese minorities, apparently, and they all have their own customs and ways. I did not realize how diverse a country China really is, although it should have been obvious, just based on how huge it is. Even the appearance that we think of as "Chinese" is only representative of one kind of ethnicity, called "Han majority" in this book. One of the ideas explored in this story is the difficulty of maintaining these small authentic cultures in the modern world.

Another thing the book talks about that I hadn't really thought about has to do with all this Chinese girls adopted by Americans in the past thirty years or so. How do these girls feel about all of this? Not to mention all of the young men growing up as only sons in China with no suitable wives around.  The One Child policy doesn't seem to have turned out as well as it could have. It is a lot to think about.

All of that aside, this is a great story about mothers and daughters that is worth reading.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Edge of Eternity

Fiction by Ken Follett.

Edge of Eternity: Book Three of the Century Trilogy

This is the final book in the Century Trilogy, which began with Fall of Giants and continued with Winter of the World . This story begins in 1961 and continues until the end of the twentieth century. . The main focus is the Cold War, so the narrative pretty much ends in 1989.

It was a well-written, character-driven story, as I expected, and I was particularly interested to read about "historical" events that actually happened within my lifetime, since I was born around 1970. Reading this definitely helped me understand things that were going on as I was growing up, although I will note that the author's political leanings definitely colored his view of the events. I suppose all of history is like that; it depends on who is telling the story. As always, Ken Follett does a wonderful job of showing all the characters in the story as multi-dimensional and fully human, despite their nationality or political leanings. Except Nixon. Apparent Richard Nixon is right up there with Adolph Hilter as pure evil in this author's view. But I'll forgive him that; it's still a great book and a great ending to the Century Trilogy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Never Again Goodbye

Fiction by Terri Blackstock.

Never Again Good-Bye (Second Chances Series #1)

This is a straight romance with a pretty predictable but kind of implausible plot. It's okay but I just couldn't get interested in the characters for some reason. It's one of Terri Blackstock's very early works. She's improved quite a bit since then.

I also read by this author: Downfall, Twisted Innocence, and If I Live

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Boy is Back

Fiction by Meg Cabot.

The Boy Is Back

Meg Cabot is a entertaining writer! This story is written in the form of text messages and emails, and it's really funny. This is a great little lighthearted straight romance.

I recommend anything by this author for fun reading!

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Masterpiece

Fiction by Francine Rivers.

The Masterpiece (Signed Book)

This is a good straight romance, about a couple of interesting characters from troubled backgrounds.

I also read recently by this author: An Echo in Darkness

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Alternate Side

Fiction by Anna Quindlen.

Alternate Side

I love all of Anna Quindlen's books. The characters are so engaging; you really believe in them and want to know what happens to them.

This story is about a couple who live in a privileged Manhattan neighborhood on a dead-end street. (That's apparently a big deal by NYC standards.) The wife is a die-hard New-Yorker who never wants to live anywhere else, and the husband is not, and some of the neighbors have issues. I'm not describing the plot very well, but trust me: it's really good.

I also read recently by this author: Black and Blue

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Blue Asylum

Fiction by Kathy Hepinstall.

Blue Asylum

In this story, set during the American civil war, a woman is sent to a private mental asylum after being declared crazy by her husband (who was believed unquestioningly by a judge and the admitting doctor). It's astonishing that men used to have that kind of power. The question is whether she can ever convince anyone she is actually sane.

It's a good book.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Prayers for Sale

Fiction by Sandra Dallas.

Prayers for Sale

I thought this book had an odd title, because who would sell prayers? It doesn't really mean that though; it's explained on the story that at one point the main character says she's so happy that it seems like all her prayers are answered and so her husband puts up a sign for a joke that says, "Prayers for Sale."

Anyways, this is a really good character story about a mining town during the depression where a very old widow and a very young wife become friends.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Like A River From Its Course

Fiction by Kelli Stuart.

Like a River from Its Course

Set in the Ukraine during the second world war, this was a really good story about recovering from the terrible things that can happen, especially during a war.

The characters were very believable. I especially liked how they were not stereotyped as Bad Nazi and Good Oppressed Person, but instead were multidimensional, as real people are.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

If I Live

Fiction by Terri Blackstock.

If I Live (Signed Book) (If I Run Series #3)

This is the final book in the If I Run trilogy, the sequel to If I'm Found.

It's a really good thriller, and a good ending to the series. I recommend getting all three books at once time and reading them together. Exciting!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Passing Strangers

Fiction by Angela Hunt

Passing Strangers

In this story, three different people are taking a train trip. All of them are trying to escape something and they meet each other and learn something.

That's not the best explanation, but this was a good book!

I also read by this author: The Note

Friday, April 27, 2018

A Skeleton in God's Closet

Fiction by Paul Maier.

A Skeleton in God's Closet

This was kind of like a Dan Brown novel, but not really as good.

I don't want to give anything away on this one, because the best part is the surprise, but there is an exciting archaeological find that could really mess with Christian tradition. The plot was good, but I could not get interested in the characters at all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Fiction by Matthew Costello


In this story, there is creepy, unknown thing threatening the world, and specifically certain people who seem unconnected. It's all very vague and I got a little bored with the non-explanations, but I was somewhat interested in the characters and wanted to find out the ending, when I figured all would be revealed.

Well, let's just say that only some was revealed and it still seemed rather vague. I didn't get it, but true fans of horror-type fiction might feel differently.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Live Wire

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

Live Wire (Myron Bolitar Series #10)

This is number ten in a series. The last Myron Bolitar mystery I read was One False Move, which was number five. So I'm really out of order here, which is usually against my series-reading rules.

But this series is a bit odd, because the later novels seem to be way better than the earlier novels, so I decided to jump ahead a bit. Call me a rebel.

This was a better story than the ones in books number 1-5, so the queue-jumping might have been a good move. In this story, Myron uncovers some secrets from his own past while trying to help a pregnant client find her husband.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Book of Tomorrow

Fiction by Cecelia Ahern.

The Book of Tomorrow

This was a fun little book, about a girl who finds a diary than can tell her what she would have written tomorrow. But the weird thing is, she never actually writes anything. She just reads and then has to decide if she wants to change what happened or not. She of course also finds out that changing events doesn't always work out....

As terrible as I am about keeping journals, I think this bit of magic would be extremely helpful to me. Then I wouldn't have to write anything at all! But I digress; obviously that isn't the point of the story.

I am always interested in the concept of fate and how the choices we make direct our paths, so I enjoyed this book a lot.

Although the copy I read had a better cover, plus it had a little ribbon bookmark, which was awesome.

(image from>>

Monday, April 16, 2018

Until We Reach Home

Fiction by Lynn Austin.

Until We Reach Home

Three sisters in the late nineteenth- century leave Sweden for a new life in America in this interesting book. I enjoyed the story, although I thought it wrapped up a bit too quickly at the end.

I also read recently by this author: All Things New, A Woman's Place, and  Wonderland Creek

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Wife Between Us

Fiction by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us

Vanessa is obsessed with the woman who has stolen her husband Richard and seems to be stalking the new couple, hoping to win him back.

Nellie is excited about her new fiance Richard, but seems frightened at times because she thinks someone is constantly following her.

But maybe all is not as it seems....

This was a good and exciting thriller!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Little Fires Everywhere

Fiction by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

This was a very good story about a "perfect" suburb where real people can mess things up.

I also read by this author: Everything I Never Told You

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Big Four

Fiction by Agatha Christie.

The Big Four (Hercule Poirot Series)

Continuing in my perusal of Agatha Christie's novel in order, I found this book to be up next. This is not one of my favorites, although it is still pretty good.

In this story, Poirot and Hastings are reunited, although Cpt. Hastings has married and moved all the way to South America. I suppose this means Mrs. Christie caved to pressure to bring the pair back, after she tried to retire Poirot in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Anyways, as long as you manage to willingly suspend disbelief with some of the more fantastic elements, this is a fun mystery of the "master detective versus master criminals" variety.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A House to Die For

Fiction by Vicki Doudera.

A House to Die For (Darby Farr Series #1)

Since I am currently selling my house and buying a new one, it seemed like a good time to read a real-estate murder mystery!

Maybe not the best call?

No, seriously, this book was all right but I had some trouble getting into the story. It's first in a series about a real-state agent who solves murder mysteries, but I'm not sure about reading any future volumes. It does seem like people being murdered would put a damper on home sales, after all.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Winter of the World

Fiction by Ken Follett.

Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2)

This is the sequel to Fall of Giants, which I read and loved recently.

As you can see, it is clearly marked on the cover "BOOK TWO OF THE CENTURY TRILOGY," so that everyone knows it is part of a series. This is how it is supposed to be done, folks. Publishers, PLEASE take note.

But I digress.

This story centers on World War Two, which is probably the best setting in history for a novel. The Nazis represent such a quintessential evil force, it just makes for great literature.

Still, this story manages to humanize everyone, showing all sides pretty equally. It's really a wonderful story, especially the audio version!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Northern Light

Fiction by Jennifer Donnelly.

A Northern Light

This is a historical novel centered around a real event: a suspicious drowning in the Adirondacks in 1906. The book jacket says it is supposed to be for teens but it seemed a little depressing and slow-moving for that age group. But then, what do I know about teens?

It was pretty good but not great.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Keep Your Friends Close

Fiction by Paula Daly.

Keep Your Friends Close

Okay, I believe I have just run through Paula Daly's entire body of work in the past week or two. Theses are some great thrillers!!

Like the book Saving Grace  by Jane Green, which caused me great anxiety a  few years ago, this story involves a trusted friend who turns into an evil husband-stealing witch. So it also inspires a bit of the "Oh-No-I-Can't-Look-Syndrome," but it does a better job of countering my need to anxiously fling away the book with my stronger need to FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!

It's a great book!

I also read recently by this author: The Trophy Child