Monday, October 8, 2012

Not to Miss Books

One of the cutest books I've read in a long time, this is one of those novels that will keep you smiling long after you've turned the last page. I call it my "word of mouth," book because I have told so many people to read it - and they have all loved it. What happens when a young, fabulously talented cook is widowed in South Philly? 

Well, the next thing you know Angelina is cooking for her neighbor and soon he is joined by six other other bachelors. Her relationship with the seven bachelors, their bonding over food (plus the great recipes) makes for a delightful tale. Don't miss this feel good book that is better than a homemade chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven!

A boy and a girl, a rivalry, magic and a skilled writer weaving a tale that will enchant even the most jaded reader - THE NIGHT CIRCUS, is spellbinding and a one-of a kind novel. You won't soon forget this one and you'll wonder where the author came up with the idea for the magical mystery tour that will awaken your childhood imagination and leave you wanting just a little more.

Perhaps the most reviled woman of her time, Wallis Warfield Simpson who became the Duchess of Windsor was an intriguing personality and enigma. This book of historical fiction focuses on her early life and ends with her first meetings with the Prince of Wales. It is entertaining and at times heartbreaking. A sympathetic if stark look at how a young woman from Baltimore became the woman for whom the King of Great Britain  abdicated his throne. Rebecca Dean is a gifted writer and this is well up to her usual great writing. I'd highly recommend any of her other books too. Several of her earlier books mention minor characters from this novel that also featured the young Prince of Wales - later King Edward VIII. I really enjoyed The Golden Prince.


Taken from the heart of the Talmud, a name - Rav Hisda's daughter was also the wife of well known, scholarly rabbis. Author Maggie Anton takes the name of the most mentioned female from the Hebrew text and weaves a wonderful historical novel about Hisdadukh (Persian for Hisda's daughter), and her thirst for knowledge in 3rd century Persian Babylonian society that did not look favorably upon female Torah scholars.   

From Hisdadukh's (Dada) first person perspective the reader gleans her love of knowledge and quest to escape household chores and instead study at her Father's school where he molds the minds of young scholars. One of the most fascinating characteristics of this book is how young Dada's becomes something of an enchantress or spell maker, using charms to protect patrons who purchase her work. Most importantly, however, it is a story of the heart, a timeless book of a girl struggling to define herself in a society that assigns traditional roles to both males and females. The reader sees a girl grow up and take charge of her life, from travels, to sorrow, joy to even a career, Hisdadukh becomes a woman who walks toward her destiny instead of being carried by fate. 

This is the first of two books that Anton is writing in the series and if the second book is half as intriguing as the first it will be another great read. For anyone who enjoys historical fiction with heart, that is well written, and a historical time period that seems to be little written about then this book is an excellent choice!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Midwife of Hope River

Coal mining West Virginia during the 1930’s is the setting for Patricia Harman’s engaging debut novel THE MIDWIFE OF HOPE RIVER. Patience Murphy is making a new life caring for pregnant women in Appalachia, as she reconciles her past with her new surroundings.

With the heart of Sandra Dallas, the intensity of Gay Courter and a nod to Barbara Wood the author integrates historical notes (the Great Depression, Appalachian coal mining, unions for miners and lack thereof, Emma Goldman the anarchist, Mother Jones, the Ku Klux Klan) into a seamless story about womanhood and the inherent risks of childbirth. She writes of a world where poverty, malnutrition and unequal access to quality healthcare can mean the difference between life and death. And while Patience’s story is the story of her female clients and their children’s births it is also her story.

Harman weaves Patience’s personal tale with gentleness and sudden details that leave the reader wondering how she can escape her own sadness to help her patients. Can the town vet be counted on as an ally for Patience? Can Patience reconcile her own past and move forward to be the midwife Hope River needs? Can she face the challenges for both her poorest and wealthiest of her clients? Can she train an apprentice?

An excellent book about the fragility of life, the miracle of birth, the community of neighbors, the Great Depression, love and healing and a woman’s journey to find her place in the world.  Beautifully written and a joy to read. 

A couple of other suggested books along this line are by Sandra Dallas -  any of her books are wonderful... personal favorites of mine are: Alice's Tulips and Whiter Than Snow.  From Gay Courter The Midwife and The Midwife's AdviceAnd from Barbara Wood Domina.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Reading Suggestions

 You cannot go wrong with a Steve Berry book if you want a fun, thrilling and enjoyable read - plus some great historical tidbits. His latest still in hardback is THE COLUMBUS AFFAIR, and it is one of his better books this time focusing on Christopher Columbus - and everything you THOUGHT you knew from grade school - well forget that! Pick up the book for a tantalizing peek at a time and place long forgotten with history you really missed! Berry at his best!   If you like Steve Berry try his newest paperback too - the Jefferson Key is about the pirates who made America what she is today - the land of the free.  Believe it or not - and this is no bedtime story, (unless you plan to be all up night turning pages) you'll find some little known history from the American Revolution along with a plot that includes a Jeffersonian cipher, a document forged by the founding fathers and an assassination plot against the current US president. This is another great Cotton Malone thriller for those familiar with Berry's Magellan Billet series.  But any of Berry's books are great stand-alone novels - so pick one up to enjoy a summer beach read...

Summer Reading 2012

Prions, the CDC, a stolen Mayan codex, a race to stop an epidemic and the approaching date of 12/21/12 make for a heart pounding novel and a fun summertime read. A cross between a Robin Cook/Michael Crichton medical/biological thriller and a Clive Cussler/James Rollins action/adventure novel, it combines the best of both in an intelligently written book that takes the reader on a journey from the lab to the museum to the jungle. From the land of the ancient Maya to present day Los Angeles there is little chance for boredom and a great chance that the reader will spend time worrying about the truth behind this original story.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A WALK ACROSS THE SUN is  the  haunting and heartbreaking story of two young Indian sisters whose lives are transformed when a tsunami leaves them orphans and they become caught in the web of the international sex trade. An idealistic, but soul weary American lawyer learns about their story and begins to unravel the buying and selling of children across international borders for the sex and vows to unite the two sisters. Elegantly written and thoroughly researched, it's hard to believe that this is Corban Addison's first novel. It is at once enlightening but also a satisfying book that will keep you turning the pages as you share the thread of hope and the thread of fear  that weigh equally upon the reader. Don't miss it.