Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rough Passage to London by Robin Lloyd

Lyme, Connecticut, early nineteenth century. Elisha Ely Morgan is a young farm boy who has witnessed firsthand the terror of the War of 1812. Troubled by a tumultuous home life ruled by the fists of their tempestuous father, Ely's two older brothers have both left their pastoral boyhoods to seek manhood through sailing. One afternoon, the Morgan family receives a letter with the news that one brother is lost at sea; the other is believed to be dead. Scrimping as much savings as a farm boy can muster, Ely spends nearly every penny he has to become a sailor on a square-rigged ship, on a route from New York to London—a route he hopes will lead to his vanished brother, Abraham. 

My Take:  I won this advance proof in a Goodreads Giveaway and feel very fortunate for that.  I loved the story and the premise behind its writing. I enjoy researching my family history also and found the story even more engaging because it was an idea born from his family tree. I only wished he would have included a genealogy chart at the end to show us the family that followed and his relationship to the Sea Captain Elisha Ely Morgan.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book -- a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.

My Take:   I enjoyed this book and I really didn't expect to like it much.  It was a gift and I'm not usually a reader of things set in Australia, but even though I wouldn't have selected it myself, I'm glad I read it.  It was truly a woven tale.  I especially enjoyed the surprise twist to the mystery at the end.  No spoilers here!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Moving House

Well, I've moved again and survived it.  Twice in less than a year is exhausting, but this time I hope to stay here for at least a year. Of course the house still looks like someone has ransacked it looking for a hidden key, but all my belongings are at one address.  Now the challenge is to find somewhere to put all of the things sitting in the middle of the room.

I always enjoy a new town.  Learning where things are, learning what the town has to offer and how to navigate the area are enjoyable challenges.  This town is rather small by comparison to others I've lived in though, so it may not take long to learn.  I'm sure I will be restless if I'm here much more than two years.  That is a personal flaw of mine in most people's opinion.  I become complacent when things are predictable and routine; I'm always ready to start anew.  I think I'm maximizing the time I'm given by exploring and experiencing as much as possible.  You only live once. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss

Lucy Derrick is a young woman of good breeding and poor finances. After the death of her beloved father, she becomes the unwanted boarder of her tyrannical uncle, fending off marriage to a local mill owner. But just as she is resigned to a life of misery, a handsome stranger—the poet and notorious rake Lord Byron—arrives at her house, stricken by what seems to be a curse, and with a cryptic message for Lucy.

With England on the cusp of revolution, Lucy inexplicably finds herself awakened to a world where magic and mortals collide, and the forces of ancient nature and modern progress are at war for the soul of England . . . and the world. The key to victory may be connected to a cryptic volume whose powers of enchantment are unbounded. Now, challenged by ruthless enemies with ancient powers at their command, Lucy must harness newfound mystical skills to preserve humanity’s future. And enthralled by two exceptional men with designs on her heart, she must master her own desires to claim the destiny she deserves.
My Take:  Intriguing story and I enjoyed this very much.  I loved the historical setting and the whimsical characters.  I plan to read more from this author.

Jefferson Key by Steve Berry

Four presidents of the United States have been assassinated—in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963—each murder seemingly unrelated. But what if those presidents were all killed for the shocking same reason: a clause contained in the United States Constitution? This is the question faced by former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone. When President Danny Daniels is nearly killed in the heart of Manhattan, Malone risks his life to foil the murder—only to find himself at odds with the Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first assembled during the American Revolution. Racing across the nation and taking to the high seas, Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt must break a secret cipher originally possessed by Thomas Jefferson, unravel a mystery concocted by Andrew Jackson, and unearth a document forged by the Founding Fathers themselves—one powerful enough to make the Commonwealth unstoppable.

My Take:  I love a good conspiracy theory and this book held my interest.  If you are a history buff and mystery enthusiast, you should enjoy it.  This is a new author for me but I would like to read more from him.  It's a book a can recommend.

Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegone by Garrison Keillor

In the little town of Lake Wobegon, a wedding is planned down to the last detail, from the cheese and pâté to the flying Elvis to the pontoon boat. Meanwhile, a good Lutheran lady prepares to die, her daughter meets a lover at the Romeo Motel, and a delegation of renegade Lutheran pastors from Denmark comes to town. It is Lake Wobegon as you've imagined it—good, loving people who drive each other slightly crazy.

My Take:  I know of Garrison Keillor but am not a PBS follower so I didn't know any details about the Lake Wobegon books.  I do enjoy a good series drama though and the pitch sounded interesting.  However, the book was not.  I made it almost half way through and quit.  I couldn't even tell you what happened in the part that I read because it didn't hold my interest at all.  I wouldn't recommend it myself and I'll never try any Garrison Keillor again.  Personally, I find his voice irritating on the radio, but I know he is widely acclaimed and admired by many.  It's just not for me.

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Based on Jennifer Worth's bestselling memoirs, Call the Midwife is the true story behind the beloved PBS series. Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London's East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women—from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English, to the prostitutes of the city's seedier side.

My Take:   I enjoy the TV series so I wanted to read the book.  The book was interesting but I think I enjoy the midwife characters in the BBC series more than those described in the book. They are more colorful and upbeat.  Likewise, I preferred the TV version of the patients more because they were less gruesome.  I'm sure the book depicts a more realistic portrait of her time spent in this profession but sometimes I'm not seeking reality.  I didn't initially realize that it is the first book in a trilogy and I have only read the first one, but I would recommend it to anyone who likes the show.  I didn't like it well enough to seek out book 2 and 3 though.