Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Book Review: A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance

 

A Splendid Ruin


I just finished a wonderful historical novel by Megan Chance and I couldn't wait to start this post and review it for you.  The novel takes place in San Francisco before and after the historic earthquake of 1906.

Plot Synopsis


The story unfolds as May Kimble, whose mother has died, leaves New York and travels to San Francisco to live with relatives she didn't even know existed. When she arrives she finds her relatives living in luxury and she is introduced to a life she only dreamed existed.  Her cousin Goldie takes her under her wing and introduces her to society and everything about San Francisco.  Goldie helps her shop for a new wardrobe, introduces her to all her friends, and takes her to see the sights of the city.  For the first time May wears beautiful gowns and attends balls.



As the plot continues to unfold May sees that everything is not what it seems and she may be in real danger.  She wonders who she can really trust and must use her wits to survive a possible terrible future.  How will she escape?  This is a compelling novel that shows just what a human being must endure in order to survive.

Main Characters


This book is full of interesting characters.  Of course there is May who is a talented undiscovered artist. 

May's relatives the Sullivans are certainly interesting.  Goldie the cousin who is all about being in societies limelight.  Uncle Jonny  is so generous to May, but is there an ulterior motive?    Aunt Florence  is May's mothers sister.  Why is she so ill she cannot visit with May?  There are so many questions May wants to ask her about her Mother and Father.  In the Sullivan household are several servants and one in particular, Shinn, is a big help to May.

Other characters of interest include Ellis Farge, an architect who admires May's artwork and Stephen Oelrichs, an attorney and Goldie's former fiance. Then there is Alphonse Bandersnitch, a writer for the society pages of the newspaper.  Don't you just love that name?  Bandersnitch is not his real name and everyone is trying to guess his identity.  He does a great job of remaining anonymous even while attending all of the society happenings around town.

Recommendation


I could go on and on talking about the book, but I don't want to spoil it for you.  Let me just say it is full of mystery and intrique with lots of twists and turns.  I recommend this as a must read!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Homeplace Saga Books Reviewed


The Homeplace Saga Books Reviewed

Author William Leverne Smith has Integrated his deep passion for genealogy study and family history into the Homeplace Saga series of books. He has created this fictional community and brings the characters to life in this four-book series.

Back to the Homeplace

Murder by the Homeplace

The Homeplace Revisited

Christmas at the Homeplace

Back to the Homeplace

The book begins in February of 1987, just after Mildred Bevins has passed away. The funeral and the unusual terms of the will of Frank and Mildred Bevins bring all four children and their families back to the family farm, The Homeplace.

The farm is located in Oak Springs Missouri in the Ozark Mountains and has been in the family for over 150 years. Bart Bevins is especially concerned about the terms of the will, as he is the only one who stayed in Oak Springs to run the family farm. 

You will meet and come to know each member of the Bevins family. Learn about their different backgrounds, their family secrets, and see how each of them struggles to hold onto their share of the family legacy. All while dealing with their own family secrets and problems.


Murder by the Homeplace

This is a short story that begins one week after the end of “Back to the Homeplace” A body is found on the Bevins property. This brings some of the secondary characters from the first novel to the main characters in this short story.  Introducing Penny Nixon a part-time reporter for the local newspaper. Penny springs into action and begins a series of interviews hoping for a story when the body is found. Penny is warned by her father who is also the editor of the newspaper to keep it to a human-interest story and do not get too involved. You will see how dangerously close that she comes to interviewing the real killer.


The Homeplace Revisited

The family saga continues, now in 1996 nine years later. The family has survived so much conflict, but there is more to come. 

Learn how the grandchildren of Frank and Mildred Bevins carry on, side by side with their parents to run the family business now known as the“The Bevins Trust”.

 How they continue the family legacy and continue to build Oak Springs into a thriving small community of family and friends. 

Christmas at the Homeplace

Continued in 1996 Karen (Bevins) Winslow the oldest daughter of Frank and Mildred is expecting all of her children to return home to Oak Springs for Christmas. Will they all make it? Find out, along with some other surprises that may change the inner workings of the family business “The Bevins Trust”. This one was special to me, as I finished reading it on Christmas Eve.

For me, these four books were a wonderful read, as I have a big family myself. Oak Springs and the characters in these books were so real to me; it was like I lived there and knew every one of them.

This series of books takes you on a journey with the Bevins family,  starting in February of 1987 and ending in December of 1996.

The author places news blurbs at the beginning of every chapter. I enjoyed reading what was in the news on that day. So the reader has a little history lesson.

A quote from the author William Leverne Smith: “May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind.”

Find more Book Reviews here: ReviewThisBooks.com




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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Crisis by Felix Francis – Book Review




The title given to a book often reflects what the story is about. And sometimes the meaning of the title only becomes clear as you read further into the story.


In Crisis, a horse-racing thriller by Felix Francis, we learn in the opening paragraph that the main character, Harrison Foster (known as Harry), is a legal consultant and that his specialty is crisis management. 


And today's crisis involved a murder – not that anyone knew it at the time.


Synopis


Harry is sent by his London firm to Newmarket, the well-known center of thoroughbred horse racing in England, to investigate a fire which destroyed a stable block in the Chadwick family's stables and killed seven very valuable horses. One of the horses – Prince of Troy – was the odds-on favorite for the Derby. Turns out that there is far more to the  'simple' fire than initially thought when human remains are found in the burned out shell of the stable.  Since all the stable staff are accounted for, who is the mystery victim?


Harry knows almost nothing about horses; indeed, he actively dislikes them. But since he represents Prince of Troy's Middle Eastern owner who wishes to learn the circumstances surrounding his prize horse's death, Harry is thrust unwillingly into the world of thoroughbred racing. 


Soon it is clear to Harry that the Chadwick family who own the stables where the horses died in the fire is a dysfunctional racing dynasty. There is deep resentment between the generations and sibling rivalry is rife beneath a thin crust of respectability. As Harry delves deeper into the unanswered questions surrounding the fire, and as he learns more about the secrets held by the Chadwick family, his life is put in danger. Can he solve the riddle before he is bumped off by the fallout?


Author Felix Francis


Author Felix Francis
Felix Francis is a British author, son of the famed author Dick Francis (former steeplechase jockey for the Queen of England and fictional crime writer of numerous horse-racing mysteries). Felix co-authored with his famous father on the last four of his novels. Since Dick Francis' death in 2010, Felix has continued writing Dick Francis Novels in the same vein, with 9 current books to date.  Number 10 (Iced) will be published in 2021. 




Summary


Crisis is available in
several formats on Amazon


Crisis by Felix Francis is an edge-of-your-seat horse-racing thriller in the Dick Francis tradition.


Related Links:


A book review of Crisis by Felix Francis, written by (c) Wednesday Elf.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Return by Nicholas Sparks – Book Review

The Return by Nicholas Sparks


. . . in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.


The above quote from the jacket of The Return, rather speaks to the meaning of the title of Nicholas Sparks' latest novel.  As always, Sparks brings together fascinating characters and a love story for the ages. 


Synopsis


The Return
By
Nicholas Sparks

The Return is the story of Trevor Benson, an injured Navy doctor, and the two women he meets whose secrets will change the course of his life. 


Trevor has returned to New Bern, North Carolina, to his grandfather's home he has inherited, to try and get his life together after the devastating injuries he received in a mortar blast in Afghanistan.  He finds that the familiarity of the home he spent so many happy childhood hours in, and tending to his grandfather's beloved beehives, is beginning to bring peace and healing back to his life. 


Then things get complicated.  First, he meets Natalie, a local deputy sheriff. From their very first meeting, Trevor feels a connection to her and soon realizes he is falling in love.  But even as Natalie seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains distant and Trevor wonders what she is hiding.


Later, Trevor meets a sullen teenage girl – Callie – who knew his grandfather.  Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding his grandfather's death, but she appears reluctant to discuss it with him. 


Suddenly a crisis triggers a  race to uncover the true nature of Callie's past.  While attempting to unravel what his grandfather's last cryptic words meant, and to discover the secrets both Callie and Natalie are keeping, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness. 


Author Nicholas Sparks


Author Nicholas Sparks
One of the world's most beloved storytellers, Nicholas Sparks has had over 100 million copies of his books sold, plus has had fifteen #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition, eleven of his books, including Message in a Bottle, have been adapted into major motion pictures. 

You can visit him at NicholasSparks.com




Related Links:

  • Two By Two - a Nicholas Sparks book review by Wednesday Elf
  • The Choice - a Nicholas Sparks movie review by Sylvestermouse Cynthia
  • Safe Haven - a Nicholas Sparks movie and book review by Sylvestermouse Cynthia.



Book Review of The Return is written by (c) Wednesday Elf.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Review of The Shadow Box by Luanne Rice

Stoningham Connecticut





If you are looking for a thrilling mystery with an interesting mix of characters this book by Luanne Rice is the book for you.  Along with a great story the book also explores spousal abuse among unlikely people.

The Author


Luanne Rice is a New York Times best selling author of 35 books.  She loves to write about nature  and the sea and bases many of her novels on her home state of Connecticut.  

I had read her books before and really enjoyed them so when I picked up The  Shadow Box, I knew I'd find a good novel and I was not disappointed.  This was another of those books that I was hooked from page one.  


Basic Plot


The setting for the book is the Connecticut coast and specifically a posh enclave called Cataount Bluff.  It is an area occupied by five luxury homes whose owners have long standing roots in the community.

The main character in the book is Claire Beaudry Chase, an artist who makes unusual shadow boxes.  Her husband, Griffin, is a very well connected man who is going to run for governor.  One of Claire's shadow boxes depicts a figure that could point to Griffin as a participant in a decades old crime and could hurt his political future.

The men of Catamont Bluff belong to a secret society called the Monday Club.  There are also other members of the small and secretive society and they all stick together no matter what.

When Claire is attacked in her garage and left for dead the plot unfolds.  After her attacker leaves she is able to escape and hides out for weeks while she tries to solve the crime.  While she is in hiding she discovers that another women who has worked as a decorator for several of the families has been found dead on the same day Claire disappeared.

Questions Claire trys to Solve


The book has lots of twists and turns and lots of questions to be answered.  Who can Claire trust?
Her husband has much of law enforcement in his pocket so she doesn't know who to turn to and is forced to stay hidden.

Claire hears about Sallie, the other woman who died, and wonders if that is connected to her disappearance.

Are the other  members of the enclave involved?  They are all very close and all working hard to make sure Griffin is the next govenor and able to help them in their businesses.

Are Claire's two stepsons Ford and Alexander somehow involved?

Who was her attacker?  Claire feels sure it was Griffin and yet he had on a mask and it all went so fast she isn't sure.

A Must Read Book


To find out the answers to the mystery you will need to read the book.  I am sure you will find it as intriquing as I found it.

For  more information on the Connecticut coast here is a review I wrote about Stoningham.  It includes my photos from a trip there. Stoningham Connecticut




 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Where the Blind Horse Sings - Book Review

To be in a place of sanctuary is a true blessing.  To be the sanctuary that another individual needs, whether human or animal, is one of the greatest privileges in life.  To know beautiful beings who have helped transform others, and themselves in the process, is often the impetus for ordinary people to become extraordinary instigators of deep community, deep healing, deep peace, and deep joy.

Reading about Kathy Stevens, and her Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), was more than enough to convince me that sanctuary is something that rescue animals gift to their extended human family.  Through a series of moving vignettes, Stevens illustrates the often unexpected intelligences (including emotional intelligence) that farm animals possess and use in relationship with one another and their humans.  

Who knew that an ornery, previously mean cockfighting rooster could come to crave human contact (eventually choosing to sleep in bed with his rescuer)?  Paulie knew.

And what gives with Rambo (a former sheep terrorist known for inflicting bruises on the unsuspecting)?  When and how did he become the early alert system for animals in peril?  Was this altruism in action?

You will meet a fire survivor (Dino the pony), a duck afraid of water (Petri), a goat found wandering in Manhattan (Oliver), and a blind horse afraid to move even one inch (Buddy).  There will be pigs, cows, rabbits, and a yellow lab named Murphy.

Mostly, there will be love—the kind of love that enables animals and people to live in harmony with those much different from themselves (at least on the surface).  

Where the Blind Horse Sings is a call to compassion.  It will speak to anyone who wishes to offer up sanctuary as her gift to the world.  

Reading this may change the way you see animals and your relationship with them.  It is likely to cause reflection about the sensitivities, the emotions, and the personalities of animals.  

Finally, for anyone at a crossroads in life, just as Stevens was before launching Catskill Animal Sanctuary, this book may raise the following questions: What do you love?  What do you do best?  What do you believe in?  What makes your heart sing?

Learning to move forward without fear made Buddy's spirit sing.  His story brought me to tears.  It also inspired me to move beyond those things that stood between me and my song.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Every year Canada's Broadcasting Corporation or CBC as it is more commonly known, releases a short list of five Canadian books. It's a battle of the books competition in which the five books are brought forward by five Canadian celebrities and in March they come together over five days to debate the merits of the books eliminating one each day. On the final day, a winner is proclaimed the book that we should all read. 

I thought I would give you a brief review of the Canada Reads program and the books that were nominated this year. It was interesting to learn a bit about each of the books and consider adding them to my reading list. Obviously since I have not read them, I cannot personally vouch for them though I can give you a brief description, share the official Canada Reads book trailers, and, at the end, tell you the name of this year's winner.  I might help to know that these books have often been nominated for other literary awards.

Here we go, the nominated books for 2021 under the theme 'One Book to Transport Us'.


BUTTER HONEY PIG BREAD BY FRANCESCA EKWUYASI 

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread transports the reader from Lagos to London to Halifax. It is the story of three generations of women from Nigeria, a mother and her estranged twin daughters. The mother "believes that she is an Ogbanje, or an Abiku, a non-human spirit that plagues a family with misfortune by being born and then dying in childhood to cause a human mother misery. She has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family but lives in fear of the consequences of her decision." This book is about food and family and forgiveness, about choices and consequences, and about friendship and faith. 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.4 out of 5 by Goodreads readers. 

Writing on The Suburban author Meredith says that this book "ended up being her personal favourite to win the 2021 competition. It was a book that she simply didn’t want to put down and a story that she didn’t want to end."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




TWO TREES MAKE A FOREST: IN SEARCH OF MY FAMILY'S PAST AMONG TAIWAN'S MOUNTAINS AND COASTS 

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

Two Trees Make a Forest transports the reader to Taiwan and is a book about memory, love, and landscape, about finding a home, about the distance between people and places and how they meet. 

The author uncovers letters written by her immigrant grandfather that take her from Canada to her ancestral home in Taiwan where she searches for her grandfather's story while learning about the land that he grew up on. She hikes and bikes and swims. She learns about the mountains and the flatlands, the flora and the fauna. She discovers the similarities between natural stories and human stories that created her family and this island. The book is about the world of nature but it also looks at the colonial exploration of Taiwan. It "encompasses history, travel, nature, and memoir."

Rated 4.1 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 3.6 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

The reviewer on Bomb says, that this book is "A remarkable exercise in careful attention, be it to the nuances of language, the turns of colonial history, or a grandfather’s difficult-to-read handwriting, Two Trees Makes A Forest is a moving treatise on how to look closely and see truthfully, even as the fog rolls in."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN BY C.L. POLK

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain transports the reader to Regency England. It is a fantasy novel set in a world that looks like Regency England where women must give up their ability to perform magic when they get married. Obviously, this means that you have something else to think about when you are a mighty sorceress and aspire to be the best female magician. In this book the main character wants to be come a full Magus and continue pursuing magic like men do but her family needs her to be a debutante during Bargaining Season and marry to save them financially. She finds the key to becoming a Magus but it is twisted up with the brother of a handsome, compassionate, wealthy man. The question becomes, will she become a Magus and ruin her family or will she marry the man she loves and give up her magic and identity? 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.2 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

Colleen Mondor on Locus says, "The witty exchanges are indeed sparkling and the verbal cuts are of the sharpest varieties. Polk is so clearly in her element that readers will be carried away by the sheer radiance of her smartly crafted prose and, like me, sorely miss Beatrice when they make that final and satisfying turn of the page."

Here's the official Canada Reads trailer for The Midnight Bargain:




HENCH BY NATALIE ZINA WALSCHOTS 

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench transports the reader to the world of superheroes and villains. As a young woman working as a temporary office employee, she finds a great job as a hench. Howver, things go wrong, the hero leaves her injured and she gets laid off. Using her internet prowess, she finds out that what happened to her is not unique and when she shares her story, she no longer feels powerless. She discovers that the differences between good and evil may boil down to marketing, which she knows how to manipulate. When she is once again employed, albeit this time to one of the worst villains out there, she discovers she could save the world. 

This book is a novel of love and betrayal and revenge and redemption. It is a look at the cost of justice via "a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics." 

The readers on Amazon gave this book a 4.5 out of 5 and the readers at Goodreads gave it a 4.15 out of 5.

In the promotional information about the book, Seanan McGuire says "Hench is fast, furious, compelling and angry as hell." On NPR, Jessica P. Wick says, "Although the author tackles serious issues like how women are treated in the workplace, or how friendships might splinter under the weight of fear, Hench is steeped in the glorious campiness of Golden and Silver Age superheroes. There are lava guns! Mind control devices! Costumes! Lairs! Supercars! Awe! Names like Doc Proton, the Accelerator, the Tidal Four, Electric Eel, the Cassowary, the Auditor. It's fun. It's emotional. It feels like a friend. But it's not comforting. I think it might be terribly honest, and I honestly can't wait to see what Natalie Zina Walschots does next with the genre."

Here's the official book trailer for Hench:




JOHNNY APPLESEED BY JOSHUA WHITEHEAD 


Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Johnny Appleseed takes us to the world of an Indian glitter princess. Our main character is trying to forge a life off of the reserve in the big city and becomes a cybersex worker in order to survive. He has to go back to the 'rez' and his former world for the funeral of his stepfather. What follows are seven days. Seven days full of stories that include "love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition and heartbreaking recollection of his beloved grandmother." As he readies to return home, he figures out how to put together his life in this look at "First Nations life which is full of grit, glitter, and dreams."

Amazon reviewers give Johnny Appleseed a 4.3 out of 5 and reviewers on Goodreads, a 4.1 out of 5.

The Globe and Mail says, "Despite its often serious subject matter, Jonny Appleseed is a very funny book, in the same way that Indigenous people themselves are often very funny despite our traumas. In that way, reading this book felt to me like home. Every line felt like being back on Six Nations, laughing with my family, even though I was in my apartment in Brantford. With its fluid structure and timelines, Jonny Appleseed creates a dream-like reading experience – and with a narrator as wise, funny and loveable as Jonny, it’s the sort of dream you don’t want to wake up from."

Here's the official book trailer for Johnny Appleseed:




AND THE WINNER IS...


After five sessions of debate that you can watch on CBC by clicking right here, the panel voted Johnny Appleseed as the winner. In my mind, though I have yet to read any of these books and they may not all appeal to everyone, these books are all winners in their own ways.  

Here is the highlights reel from the five debates. It gives a further insight into each of the books, into the passion behind the individual presenting the book and into the varied and interesting stories written within.



That's it. The 2021 Canada Reads book list. There are a bunch of books here that I would never have picked randomly but some of the storylines and some of the reviews from other individuals have left me thinking that I might read them. How about you? Are there any books on this list that you find intriguing? Any that you have read?

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:



CBC's Canada Reads Book List 2021






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Monday, March 15, 2021

Book Review: The First-Time Gardener Growing Vegetables

Perhaps you want to grow your own food but are afraid and have no clue where to begin. Or maybe you can relate to me, having had some experience and success growing literally a couple of vegetables over the decades but far more familiar with wasted time, money, and failed gardening attempts. If you would like to grow your own vegetable garden with confidence, The First Time Gardener Growing Vegetables: All the Know-How and Encouragement You need to Grow and Fall in Love with Your Brand New Food Garden by Jessica Sowards is an excellent investment.

The First Time Gardener - Growing Vegetables

With the purchase of my land, construction of my home, and dreams of having a successful vegetable garden, I am familiar with Jessica Sowards of Roots and Refuge Farm fame through her youtube channel. I spend nearly all of my indoor free time watching videos about gardening and homesteading and her channel has been one that I have learned a good deal from. Her love of gardening is contagious and she is a wealth of vegetable knowledge. When she announced that she had written a book I knew I had to buy it.  

The First Time Gardener Growing Vegetables: All the Know-How and Encouragement You need to Grow and Fall in Love with Your Brand New Food Garden 

This 176 page book is written by Jessica Sowards with photographs by Makenzie Evans Photography. It is part gardening guide, part inspirational prose, and part coffee table visual feast. This book is not an in-depth, encyclopedia of plant names, varieties, and specific growing details of each plant. It is summarized bits of encouraging information.

The Chapters include:

  1. Welcome to the Classroom
  2. The Foundation - What Every Gardener Needs to Succeed
  3. Creating Your Garden
  4. Growing with the Seasons
  5. The Needs for Seed... or Not
  6. Grow Something Lovely - Designing a Captivating Space
  7. The Nitty-Gritty of Garden Management
  8. Making the Harvest
  9. Conclusion - Grow on, Gardener
The chapters are short. Brief blurbs hitting the most important parts of gardening. Including some boxes of summarized information, lists, and charts. The information is chunked into small portions that are not overwhelming for the brand new gardener and would be good prompts and reminders for gardeners with some experience. 

aka "fertilizers" - I've only recently learned about coconut coir

a list of some of the best food plants for container gardening


More About Why I Chose This Book

I currently live in a metro area apartment. I have successfully grown some tomatoes (and a small handful of tiny potatoes) on my south-facing balcony. But I haven't tried to grow a garden in the ground for some years (oh my gosh, decades! My how time flies!). With my planned move to four acres, I am dreaming of having a garden with a variety of vegetables that I will be able to eat fresh or can for later. While I am excited about my plans, I am also afraid.

I am afraid of more plant failure. Over my lifetime, I have made many attempts to grow plants: houseplants, vegetables, berries, fruit trees... and I have failed massively. I have wasted so much time, energy, and money only to end up with seedlings that die, plants purchased from a store that I kill, and a variety of plants that never grow anything edible.

I am also overwhelmed by feeling as though there is so much information to remember; when to plant, what to use for fertilizer, when to harvest, and so on. While everything is available on the internet, I want to make sure to have some good reference books in my home. I do not have reliable connectivity on top of the mountain ridge. There will be many times that I will not be able to look up things on the internet. Also, with this book it will be quicker to flip open to a list or a quick reminder.

Last year I impulsively bought a couple of zucchini and cabbage starts from a roadside stand and planted them in my flower garden. Even though I only sporadically visited my land and did not provide care for those plants, several zucchini grew and I was able to make my own zucchini bread. With a little guidance and support from Jessica's book I should be able to have even more success this coming year.

Related Links:

Make sure you check out the Review This! Gardening tab to see the other posts by our contributors. Our group includes some very talented gardeners. Click this link or the gardening tab at the top of this page and scroll down to see previous gardening posts.

To read more about my land and future homestead please visit my personal blog or take a peek at the video of my house under construction. But be advised, I am not a "youtuber". But with a peek at the videos or blog post it will be easy to see why I will do much of my gardening in containers or raised beds. And that I will need all of the guidance I can get.

I mentioned Jessica's youtube channel. If you love to watch gardening videos and/or someone who finds quiet joy in gardening, be sure to check out Roots and Refuge.

To see what others are saying about The First Time Gardener Growing Vegetables: All the Know-How and Encouragement You need to Grow and Fall in Love with Your Brand New Food Garden be sure to check out the reviews on Amazon


The First-Time Gardener Growing Vegetables Book Review



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Friday, March 12, 2021

The Governess of Penwythe Hall (The Cornwall Novels - Book 1) Reviewed

Cornwall Novels
I recently started reading the Cornwall Novels by Sarah E Ladd and thus far, I have really enjoyed all of them.  The stories begin in Cornwall, England, 1811, which is a fabulous setting for historical fiction.
 
The first book, "The Governess of Penwythe", is an excellent foundation for the series. Delia Greythorne is the governess of five children, but she is more than just a governess.  She is the one constant in the children's lives.  When both of their parents die, they must leave their home and everything they are familiar with, to live with their uncle who they hardly know and do not trust. Unfortunately, returning to Cornwall is the one thing Delia never wanted. Her very life hangs in the balance. 
 
 

The Governess of Penwythe Hall Book 1 Synopsis

 
 The Governess of Penwythe Hall
(The Cornwall Novels)
The opening scenes in this book are in Cornwall (1808) and Cordelia (Delia) Greythorne is leaving her home. Recently widowed, her husband's family not only blames her for his death, but believes she knows more than she is telling. Her mother-in-law follows her to the carriage and hurls final insults at Delia.  The Greythorne family has many secrets, all of which Delia knows, and that makes her a threat to them. They want her gone and perhaps would kill her if she didn't have valuable information they needed.  
 
Delia starts a new life as governess to the Twethewey family in Easten Park, Yorkshire which is just far enough away from Cornwall for Delia to feel safe.
 
Randall Twethewey is a wealthy widower with 5 children.  When he is seriously injured in a horseback riding accident, he has a new will written.  Originally, his children were supposed to go live with his sister-in-law, Beatrice, but he worried that her husband would run through the children's inheritance.  With death pending, he decided to make his estranged brother, Jac, the children's guardian.  He also met with the children's tutor, Hugh Simon, and governess to pay them to stay with his children so they would have the two adults they depended upon and trusted so much with them throughout the transition into a new home with an almost unknown guardian.
 
While not as wealthy as his brother, Jac Twethewey owns Penwythe Hall, which was actually the reason for the breach between brothers.  As the oldest brother, Randall expected to inherent Penwythe Hall, but their benefactor left it to Jac instead.  Randall believed Jac had cheated him out of his proper inheritance.  Once you get to know Jac, you know he didn't cheat anyone out of anything.  Their Uncle Angrove simply believed Jac would be a better overseer of Penwythe Hall and left it to him.

Life as they knew it was about to change for everyone. None of them would remain untouched by the necessary move, including their unsuspecting Uncle Jac who had no way of knowing of his brother's death prior to the children's arrival at Penwythe Hall.

However, in Cornwall, their governess was most at risk.

 



Once You Have Read the First Book in this Series, You Will Want More!



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Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Moonlight Child - Book Review

 

Things just aren't adding up.  Late one night, while out on her patio watching a lunar eclipse, Sharon spies what appears to be a very small child washing dishes in the kitchen of the house across her back yard fence.  How can that be?  The neighbors don't have a child that young.  And even if they did, why would she be doing dishes hours past her bedtime?  

Perhaps it is nothing, but what if it isn't?  Sharon Lemke finds herself wondering if her imagination is merely running wild.  Soon, though, when Niki, an eighteen-year-old who has recently aged out of the foster care system comes to live with her, Sharon's concerns become shared.  

As it has been said, it takes one to know one, and Niki knows plenty about what it means to be endangered.  The clues are pinging Niki's internal radar system.  She isn't willing to leave things to chance if there is a child who may be at risk.  

Though Sharon has followed proper channels (notifying the appropriate social services authorities about the unusual circumstance next door), bureaucratic wheels often turn much too slowly for those fearing the worst.

Niki and Sharon decide to take matters into their own hands.  Can they pull off a clandestine investigation without endangering themselves or others?  Is there something sinister at play here? What will happen if they are caught in the act of spying on neighbors who may not be what they outwardly appear to be?  

For me, an exceptional book is one that makes me care.  I was all in shortly after being introduced to Sharon, Niki, Mia, Jacob, and Griswold.  There was so much to love about the redemptive moments.  Of course, there are individuals you will likely despise.  Every powerful story needs that counterbalance.  

I came away from this read thinking about the people who pay attention when they feel something isn't right.  Not only that, I reflected on the difference between those who act on their intuition and those who do not.  This story drove home for me the necessity of being a noticer who actually does something for the lost and the unseen individuals of the world.

I highly recommend The Moonlight Child by Karen McQuestion.  








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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Too Early to Plant, So Take a Trip Through a Garden Instead! A Book Review

March has arrived!  It's too early to plant, so take a nice trip through the outback of Australia with this memorable book!  

 

Many of us are getting very itchy fingers!  We all want to start digging in the dirt!  That's not a bad thing, but here in my neck of the woods, it is far to early to even think about starting all those seeds!  So what's a bonafide gardener to do?  My suggestion, is read a book!  

By accident, I came across this book, "The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart" by Holly Ringland.  I was itching to get my hands dirty, I knew it was too early, yet I needed something to take that itch away.  Talking about flowers seemed to be a good idea.  I must confess that I got this book from the library (thank you Libby app.).  To say that it piqued my interest is putting it mildly.  Alice Hart's life is a story that has been lived by many people in some form or other.  Using her love of flowers, helps her to grow, learn, heal and above all live her life!  The flowers just help her with their stories and meanings.  They help her to express what she sometimes doesn't understand or can't put words to.  

I have always wanted to travel to Australia, but I'm pretty sure that I will only be doing that virtually, especially in these times.  So, I was getting rid of two itches at once (gardening and travelling) while delving into the pages of this book.

Trying to get rid of the itch to garden too early can be difficult, but this book took me away to places I have only dreamed of.  That helped me a lot.  Alice Hart (the main character in the book) grabs you right away.  You want to hold her hand as she traverses a new normal amid family secrets and stories that make life "Okay" again.

So many things are not spoken, and through the language of flowers, Alice finds a way to embrace what is going on in her life. 

Do Flowers have a language?  Oh yes indeed they do!  The first book I read about the Language of Flowers was a book reviewed right here by our own writer, Renaissance Woman!  I was so taken with this book that when I found The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, I knew I had to read this book too!

While enjoying the story, I also learnt of trees and flowers that require a "burn" in order to spread their seeds, birds of the Australian landscapes and flowers that we will never be able to grow here in the north.  In addition, the need to keep our hands off of flowers that will die when we pick them.  

I'm sure that you will enjoy this book as much as I did and it just might help you get through that itch, that for us is starting far too early.

Waiting till April will make our efforts of digging in the ground much more fruitful and successful too.

You can learn a lot by reading and hearing the stories set in far away places. When they are  a novel that is fictional, but interspersed with truths of gardening and the habits of flora and fauna of distant places, you know you will be changed.

Here's hoping that spring will come along in due time and our itches to get our hands in the ground will be fruitful and result in beautiful gardens for the year to come.
 
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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Book Review of Confessions on the 7:45

 


Lisa Unger's Latest Novel


You may remember the novel by Patricia Highsmith called “Strangers on a Train” which became a famous Alfred Hitchcock movie in 1951. It was a psychological thriller about two men who meet on a train and whose lives become entangled after one of them proposes they "trade" murders. 



Confessions on the 7:45
by Lisa Unger is a bit reminiscent of “Strangers on a Train”.  The story begins with two women, strangers to one another, who begin talking when their commuter train is stalled on the tracks. Unlike “Strangers”, there is no proposed murder involved.  Instead, the women end up sharing confessions. Martha confesses she is having an affair with her married boss; Selena ends up admitting she suspects her husband is having an affair with their nanny. The women part ways, presumably never to meet again. 


The Plot


Days after the strange 'confessions', Selena's nanny disappears and soon Selena's near-perfect life begins to turn upside down.  The fractures in her marriage become deeper and the mystery surrounding the missing nanny intensifies. 


Be careful to whom you tell your darkest secrets 


In the midst of all that is going on in her life, dealing with her husband who admits he had been sleeping with the missing nanny and with the police who are investigating, Selena receives a text message from Martha.  Before she can figure out how Martha got her phone number, another text arrives saying:


It's Martha, by the way.


From the Train.


Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha, really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover… 


Summary


The chapters of this book are labeled by names as the plot unfolds.  There are chapters called SELENA, and other chapters labeled PEARL and ANNE. Who are these other women and what do they have to do with MARTHA? Deep into the book we have a chapter called HUNTER. Each of these people have a role in what happens in the story. 


Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting thriller by master of suspense author Lisa Unger about a chance encounter that unravels a stunning web of lies. 




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Book Review of Confessions on the 7:45 written by (c) Wednesday Elf






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