The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West – David McCullough

The PioneersThe wilderness northwest of the Ohio River was ready to be settled and Manasseh Cutler was determined to have his conditions included in the Northwest Ordinance: free universal education, freedom of religion and prohibition of slavery. He was not sure that he could succeed in his mission. He was just a small-town minister, what did he know about talking to Congress. But he headed off alone in his one-horse shay and covered 302 miles in twelve days to arrive in New York and deliver his petition to Congress. After many days and much arm twisting, the ordinance passed. The first pioneers left New England for the Northwest Territory in 1788 to settle in a town they named Marietta. I always enjoy the way David McCullough brings history to life. The people and places become real, not just names in a book. This story is told through the diaries and letters of five characters: Cutler and his son Ephraim, General Rufus Putnam, Dr. Samuel Hildreth, and Joseph Barker, a self-taught architect. It spans more than sixty years, and takes the traffic on the river from barges to the steamboat. This was a very good book and I highly recommend it.

eGalley review                                             Publication date 5.7.19

Posted in adult, biography, history, nonfiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted – Robert Hillman

Bookshop of Broken HeartedIt is 1968 in rural Australia. Tom Hope is trying to understand just why his wife left him. Her note didn’t help: I’m leaving. Don’t know what to say, Love Trudy. Tom has never known what to say to people. So he decides that when she comes back (if she comes back) he will think of things to make her happy. And she does come back, pregnant with another man’s child. Trudy never cares much for the boy, Peter, but Tom adores him and Peter adores Tom. So when Trudy leaves again, Tom didn’t care, because she left Peter. Of course, Tom knew Trudy would take Peter away some day, and he was right. Hanna Babel came to town about the time Peter left, and she made quite an impression on the village, outspoken, well dressed, and a Jew! She is there to open a bookshop, and hires Tom to build shelves. One thing leads to another, and when they marry, the townspeople are convinced that it will never last. After Tom and Hannah marry, the chapters alternate between the voices of Tom and Hannah. Hannah is an Auschwitz survivor and lost all of her family, including her small son. She is still trying to cope and Tom is also trying to cope with the loss of a child. This is a beautifully written story. The country, the people, are alive and real, gentle and lovable, (mostly lovable, some are really bad). It is a story about loss and love, which is pretty much what life is all about. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.

eGalley review                                                         Publication date 4.9.19

Posted in adult, gentle reader, highly recommend, historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Where the Heart Is – Jo Knowles

Where the Heart IsFrom the publisher:

If home is where the heart is, what would happen if you lost it? Compassion and humor infuse the story of a family caught in financial crisis and a girl struggling to form her own identity.

It’s the first day of summer and Rachel’s thirteenth birthday. She can’t wait to head to the lake with her best friend, Micah. But as summer unfolds, every day seems to get more complicated. Her “fun” new job taking care of the neighbors’ farm animals quickly becomes a challenge, whether she’s being pecked by chickens or having to dodge a charging pig at feeding time. At home, her parents are more worried about money than usual, and their arguments over bills intensify. Fortunately, Rachel can count on Micah to help her cope with all the stress. But Micah seems to want their relationship to go beyond friendship, and though Rachel almost wishes for that, too, she can’t force herself to feel “that way” about him. In fact, she isn’t sure she can feel that way about any boy — or what that means. With all the heart of her award-winning novel See You At Harry’s, Jo Knowles brings us the story of a girl who must discover where her heart is and what that means for her future.”

This is a quick read about a summer in Rachel’s life.   Rachel and little sister, Ivy, and her parents struggle with money and face foreclosure on their home.  Rachel is also wondering about her sexual identity. The author handles this struggle with taste and class so that the book is well suited for the middle grades.  As with all of the author’s books, her characters come to life and are easily identifiable and relatable.

eGalley review                                                          Publication date 4.2.19

Posted in gentle reader, realistic fiction, Uncategorized

Sky Without Stars – Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Sky Without StarsFrom the publisher,

A thief. An officer. A guardian.

Three strangers, one shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.”

I feel I have read so many books featuring a scrappy girl having to fend for herself.  I am glad that Chatine is written in shades of gray, sometimes doing the right thing, sometimes not.  I often wanted to yell at Marcellus to wake up and see society as it really is but then I am reminded that he has been brainwashed by his grandfather for so many years.  The authors clearly state this is a retelling of Les Misérables, so the plot and characters are not original.  The story is well written at just the right pace.  The target audience should enjoy the book and perhaps it can be used as an introduction to Les Misérables.

eGalley review                                                 Publication date 3.26.19

Posted in dystopian, science fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen – Mary Norris

Greek to MeMary Norris loves all things Greek, but especially the Greek language. Not modern, Greek, mind you, Ancient Greek. This book recounts her studies learning the language, speaking the language. We go with her on solo trips to Greece (Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, Samos, Chios, and Lesbos), and also learn a bit about how the alphabet originated and about some English word origins. This is a fun book, part memoir, part travelogue, a wee bit tutorial, full of her adventures and misadventures and full of her passion for the land and the people of Greece. It’s a quick read that I enjoyed very much.

eGalley review                                        Publication date 4.2.19

Posted in adult, biography, history, nonfiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

The Tale Teller – Anne Hillerman

the Tale TellerJoe Leaphorn is not too happy. Louisa nagged him into seeing her friend, Daisy Pinto. Daisy has something she wants investigated. So here he is at the museum waiting to see her. And waiting and waiting. As it turns out, this is actually something that interests him. An historic traditional dress, recently donated to the museum, has disappeared and Mrs. Pinto wants him to find it. And she wants him to find it quickly. It’s great to have retired Navajo police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn back actively involved in a case. And while he’s busy, Jim Chee is working on some burglaries in Chinle and Bernie Manuelito has found a dead body. So we have three story lines for the price of one. Anne Hillerman has become a very good writer. Her descriptions of the beautiful scenery surround the story. When she talks about food, you can almost taste it. And trying to keep up with the twists of three plots kept me turning pages. I enjoyed this book very much and am looking forward to the next one.

eGalley review                                                    Publication date 4.9.19

Posted in adult, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See

Island of Sea WomenThere is an island, Jeju, south of Korea’s mainland where women have been free divers for generations, harvesting seafood to sell, diving without air tanks or wet suits. They are the heads of households, bringing in the income, while the husbands care for the children, cook the meals. Mi-ja and Young-sook , best friends, are two young girls who live on this island. For several years they have worked hard as apprentices. Now the day has finally come when they will truly dive, the day that fills them with joy and with fear. They are only fifteen and will be called baby divers. Their lives will revolve around the sea. It will be a dangerous life, but they love the sea, and they know they will be best friends forever. The story of the women divers is fascinating, and would be a fine book on its own, but this is really a story of friendships, of misunderstandings, of forgiveness. It spans a huge time line, from the 1930s to 2008, and much of that time the Koreans are repressed, first by the Japanese, then by the occupying Americans, suffering unbelievable hardships. While much of the book is hard to read, dark, depressing, it is beautifully written, and it is a story that needs to be told. This is a wonderful book that I will remember for a long, long time.

eGalley review                                           Publication date 3.5.19

Posted in adult, highly recommend, historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,