Monday, January 31, 2011

The Crossing Places/The Janus Stones

Ruth Galloway is a forensic archeologist who lives on the saltmarsh in a desolate area of Norfolk in England. A prickly loner, she enjoys her quiet life by the marshland away from other people's personalities and expectations. The marsh was very important to early settlers of the area and so yields many archeological discoveries. In the first book Ruth is asked by Detective Nelson to consult on the bones of a child which he believes may be those of a child missing for the past ten years. Ruth determines the bones are over 2, 000 years old, so when another child goes missing, he asks Ruth for her help.
In the second book, he asks for her help in investigating the disappearance of two children from a Catholic orphanage in 1973. At a construction site, a headless skull is found beneath a doorway and Ruth is asked to determine if they are recent. Could it be one of the missing children?
You will enjoy the characters in this series. Ruth is a smart and quirky woman who does not mind being thought of as eccentric. She also has very eccentric friends including one who labels himself a druid. She and the married Detective Nelson have a great regard and affection for each other. Both books contain archeological and historical facts to entertain you and the mysteries will keep you turning the pages.
Author Elly Griffiths' husband gave up a city job and became an archeologist. Her aunt lives on the coast of Norfolk. This is where she gets her inspiration.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The House on Malcolm Street

It's the fall of 1920 and Leah Breckenridge's life has changed so much the last year that she is basically lost. Her husband was killed in a train accident, and then her baby son dies from the influenza. If that isn't enough to overwhelm her she couldn't pay her rent, and has found herself along with her six year old daughter Eliza, homeless. She can't go back home to her parents, her mother is dead, and her dad had never really made her feel welcome. The only option she has is to go to Illinois to stay with her husbands Aunt Marigold who runs a boardinghouse. The only issue is Leah has a terrible fear of trains, and that is the only way for her to travel, so she must put her fears aside and do whats best for her daughter.

Upon arriving in Illinois she meets Josiah who offers to take her the boarding house only to find out that he actually lives there with Marigold. Turns out he was a childhood friend of Leah's husband and a distant relative of Marigold. Leah and Josiah don't hit it off at all, she gets the feeling he doesn't want her there, but unknown to her is the fact that he is dealing with his own grief..

This was an amazing story, Lisha Kelly really knows how to draw you into a story and hold your attention until the end. She tells this story from a perspective of two people, Leah and Josiah. In telling the story this way you get swept away with both characters feelings, their pain and grief literally jump off the page. The nightmares and the fear of trains that had plagued Leah most of her life draws us in with a bit of mystery which isn't resolved until the end of the story. The characters develop very well and you quickly become immersed in their stories.

Leah has lost so much, even her faith in God, but her daughter had enough for both of them, and when they get to Marigold's house and see what a kind, compassionate woman she is, they were relieved that they might find a home.

I can easily see how there could be a sequel to this book, I really hope that's the case because I want to read more about the people on Malcolm Street.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Miami Memories

It's difficult to believe that this is author Susanna Daniel's first book. She writes about a marriage spanning 30 years, and I had to keep looking at the author's photo on the book jacket to see if she was old enough to KNOW all this about long-term relationships! She looks too young for those experiences, but somehow she gets it, and she writes about it beautifully. Frances, the main character, travels to Miami, Florida, to a wedding, and meets two people who will become essential to her life: Marse, who becomes her closest friend, and Dennis, who becomes her husband and partner for life. The book doesn't really have much of a plot, other than tracking Frances's life as a wife and mother. I can't stress enough, though, how sensitive and eloquent the author is as she unravels the story of Frances. I truly felt that I knew and loved Frances, and felt her joys and disappointments. South Florida plays a big part in the book also, so much so that I would consider it another character in the book. The title, Stiltsville, refers to a small community of houses built on stilts out in Biscayne Bay. Dennis's parents own one of these houses, and eventually give it to Dennis and Frances. Some of their fondest memories take place there, and Frances grows to love Florida as her adopted home. I have a new appreciation for that part of the country, especially as it was 30 years ago. If you like character-driven books with depth and sincerity, pick up Stiltsville. It won't disappoint you.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World

Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher (Amish Grace) team up once more to offer insight into the often misunderstood world of the Amish. Refreshingly, this study makes a point of focusing on the spiritual and theological aspects of their world rather than simply cataloguing the outward cultural characteristics. Horse-drawn transportation and simple clothing do make their appearances, but they are revealed to be simply incidental to a deeply felt faith rather than something to gawk at. Focusing on a triumvirate of religious beliefs, practices, and affections, the authors weave the spirituality of the Amish through the everyday fibers of existence. Chapters are organized by broad themes including, "nature," "sorrow," and "family," then further subdivided into short vignettes featuring a particular practice or belief. The final chapter contains the broadest appeal. It includes a candid appraisal of the costs of living the Amish way, but, more importantly, also suggest how American culture could greatly benefit from the patient faith of this proudly "peculiar" people. All together, the book reads quickly and provides a fine and appropriately simple introduction to the Amish faith.

Publishers Weekly Review


This, a story written by Frank DeFord, is from the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the end of World War II. Sydney Stringfellow, a naive young swimmer from Maryland goes to Europe to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and meets a young German man, Horst Gerhardt, the son of a high-ranking diplomat. They fall madly in love but are separated during World War II. Love is hard to pursue when you have a heated war between you. Sydney is broken hearted at losing Horst, but eventually meets and marries a kind young American named Jimmy Branch, who then is killed at Guadalcanal. Horst comes to America and they meet each other again but his life is in much danger since he is a spy. Sydney is recalling all of this "remembered bliss" and having her son record the information for she is dying of an incurable illness. Her son and daughter had never heard any of their mother's story of her first love or that she could have been a famous American Olympic swimmer. DeFord comes up with some wonderful surpises that keeps the story from becoming mundane. This book has humor, love, intrigue, history, and action. BLISS, REMEMBERED IS A FABULOUS historical read.