Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen

A story of mistaken identity and secrets abound in this story set in 1819 England. After a carriage accident while moving with a wealthy couple, Hannah, a ladies companion, is recovering.  House staff and others believe she is Lady Mayfield, her employer. She continues with the guise and takes over Lady Mayfields's position. Hannah is believed to be dead instead of Lady Mayfield.  This book contains mystery, history, and romance. and some danger. Hannah keeps meaning to reveal herself but for a multitude of reasons (or excuses) the deception continues. I really enjoyed this Regency novel with it's plot twists and historical details.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery by Tom Cotton

This book describes Tom Cotton’s time with the 3rd U.S Infantry regiment, nicknamed the “Old Guard.”  Now a United States Senator, Cotton’s mission at Arlington National Cemetery included exacting military funerals, being prepared for ceremonial duties such as reviews by President Donald Trump and state guests, and, for a select few, the honor of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As Cotton explains, the Old Guard’s standard, their requirement, is perfection.  Pick up this book and better understand how our military honors the dead at Arlington.  Bottom line:  Don’t miss it.

Monday, May 20, 2019

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

I enjoyed this novel about the life of Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest child Alice. Bold and brash, Alice Roosevelt lived life on her own terms no matter what the cost. Known as “America’s Princess” when her father was president, Alice went on to marry a prominent congressman and was a savvy political activist throughout her whole life, which spanned the majority of the 20th century.

I thought the author did a good job of weaving the various historical figures and world events throughout the story too. I was completely absorbed by the era depicted in the book, and often paused to research many of the characters and events. I would recommend this novel to any historical fiction fan.

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

True confession of a reader of non-fiction - I decided to read The Beantown Girls as a source to find other works on the subject of this book. I am discovering that many works of historical fiction are well documented and researched, and, open doors into non-fiction.  I was not disappointed in this book as author Jane Healey put together an entertaining work on this chapter of our country's World War II history.
So what is The Beantown Girls about? It is about the exploits of Red Cross Clubmobile Girls and how they served our nation during the war. Probably more familiar to some by the less-than-respectful name of "Donut Dollies" these women drove large buses and service vans to bring coffee, donuts, candy and a piece of "back home" to our troops serving overseas.
Main character Fiona, and her friends Viviana and Dottie (all from Boston, thus the title) join up to become Clubmobile Girls. Fiona hopes that opening this chapter of her life will help her find out what happened to her fiance who was shot down on a bombing mission over Europe. She talks her two friends into joining her.
The book follows these women through training and eventually into Europe in 1944 and 45. Healey uses experiences of actual Clubmobile Girls to flesh out the experiences of our main characters. What happens to them actually happened to women working for the Red Cross in Europe during the war. This is a very much unknown part of our history. Unless you had a Clubmobile Girl in the family you may have never heard of them.
Healey writes with great humor and emotion in The Beantown Girls, and I think you find it very engaging. Written from the Fiona's viewpoint, the story has many characters the weave in and out of the action and keeps you turning pages until the end.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I loved this book! Do you believe in fate? Do things happen coincidentally, or is it providence? There are two main characters in this book; Molly and Vivian (me?). Young Molly and ancient Vivian become friends through a set of providential(?) circumstances.
     Molly is a teenager it today’s foster system and Vivian is one of the children sent to the Midwest from New York on an “orphan train”. Although they are years apart in age, they share similar experiences in the form of: loss of loved ones, living in numerous homes (ranging from horrible to very good), trying to fit in, expected to be always grateful, treated with suspicion, etc.
     My husband and I recently took a trip to Ireland, the lovely “green emerald island”. Vivian started out as Niamh (pronounced Neev) in Kinvara of County Galway in Ireland. How fun and interesting it was to read about places I had recently visited (coincidence?).
     The lives of these two women pulled me in and I so enjoyed reading about their lives. At the end of the book the author tells how she researched before writing and used actual details of kids who rode the “orphan trains”. Now I am anxious to read more of this author as I see she has written four other books.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

What I like about Gretchen Rubin's books is her approach.  She doesn't think there is one RIGHT way to do something.  Instead, she researches and reports on many different methods for a given topic, urges the reader to use what works for them, and discard the rest.

This book tackles clutter and organizing.  It's a quick read, composed mainly of tips (suggestions?) rather than a narrative.  Some I found compelling, some I didn't. But that's exactly her point.  There isn't really any new groundbreaking information, just a nice summary of what's out there.  In a nutshell, I would summarize her overall approach as "Keep something only if you use it, need it, or love it", with many suggestions for accomplishing that.