A Tale of Two Pages

Books, Books and More books! There is never enough time in the day for all the books, but here we will post books worth reading, discuss why some are not worth wasting your time and more!

A child who was loved more in death than in life...

The Boy in the Box: The Unsolved Case of America's Unknown Child - David Stout

I have to give this five stars for the excellent work that the author put in to writing this heartbreaking history. The tragedy of losing a child is made harder when the child is not reported missing or people coming forward to claim or identify a missing child.
The case of the Boy in the Box, from Fox Chase Pennsylvania, is something that consumed the careers of many police officers and left many of the brightest minds scratching their heads. Discovered in February 1957, the young boy was seen a case that would be easily solved, as someone would come forward to claim the body. The medical examiner noticed the bruising and wounds on the body. Each person who worked the case of the Boy in the Box became so involved, that the child became an silent member of each family. With the hope of a fast solve quickly becoming dashed as the days turn into weeks and then stretch into months and years.
The Boy in the Box was buried by the police department, everything being donated and contributed by the community and the homicide detectives. The case was never closed and they continued to work the case and follow any and all leads. Nothing was considered to small to follow up on, and the case moved from small files to the several boxes of notes and mementos. Today the case is still open, and the young boy who was more loved in death than he was in life, remains nameless, cared for by the policemen who take over the case and the community who have adopted him as their own..

This book was a hard read. I love true crime and the many facets of what can make a person tick, but this story... this was enough to keep me awake nights. I don't often cry while reading or watching a movie, but this book had me in tears more than once. I found myself asking questions throughout this entire read.. how could anyone do this to a child? Who could not claim the young boy and give him his full identity back. I found myself wishing that they could have done more, even though they did everything they could and then some. While this case is still open, given the length of time, its entirely possible that this case will never be solved, and that makes it even worse. As a mother, I can't imagine how any parent could not come forward and claim their little child. I hope that this case will continue and that maybe with the leaps and bounds that forensic science has taken, that this little boy will be identified. Even if the person who caused the injuries or placed him where he would be found is gone, knowing the full story and getting a conclusion to the story would help complete the thousands of hours of work that the original officers and medical examiner put into trying to find the answer. Closure will never fully happen, but a completion and explanation will go a long way to helping a community and police department close the case of the young child who became the "Boy In The Box."

 

Not your average grandparents!

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules: A Novel - Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

A delightful and funny read!!

Martha and her group of friends had decided that they were all going to live in the same retirement home. For the first few years, things were good. But when management changed, they find their luxury living is coming to an end. Nurse Barbara is a constant thorn in their sides. They are bored and looking for excitement.
That is when Martha gets the bright idea to commit a crime so that they can go to prison, where they would get better food and have a bit more freedom. But when they commit their crime, and go to the police to confess, they are initially brushed off as crazy. But they lay out how they have committed the crime, the police have no choice but to charge them and bring them to trial. As they spend their time in prison, they find it is not all what it was cracked up to be. But they spend their time working on planning new crimes, trying to figure out what happened to part of their ransom money, and wanting to get away with the next one.
Brains and Martha find a way to send messages back and forth through a clergyman who has been visiting them.
What transpires is a tale of hilarity, with the League of Pensioners center stage working to get a better life, and find a way to help other senior citizens who are in the same boat that they are.

This book was such a delight to read. It was funny and engaging. The characters were well fleshed out, and one can almost imagine Martha being their grandmother! This is a book that everyone needs to read and pass on to someone else to enjoy!

Taming the Wild...

The Black Stallion - Walter Farley, Keith Ward

Alec of off to visit his uncle in India for the summer. One his way home however, he is shipwrecked. He and a wild black stallion are the only survivors of the tragedy. As they learn to survive on a desert island in the middle of the ocean, Alec wonders how long they are going to be there. After a couple of weeks, they are rescued when his hut catches fire and the smoke and flames are seen by a passing boat. Alec refuses to leave the island without the stallion. Although the stallion is wild, they have formed a fragile friendship over the past couple of weeks, and a bond is beginning to form between the two.
Finally getting the horse on board the vessel, they are taken to a port, where Alec's parents have wired money for him to get back home to America on. Securing passage for himself and the stallion, Alec wonders what his parents response will be when they see the horse.
When they agree to let him keep the stallion, providing he pay for the upkeep through his allowance and finding a stable to keep him in, Alec already has the perfect place in mind. He asks the neighbors if he can stable the stallion there. They agree, and a new friendship begins to form between Henry and Alec. Henry was a jockey back in the day, and he and Alec decide together to start training the stallion to perhaps be able to enter races one day.
But when the chance for their dream becomes a possibility, they are beyond excited...

This book is such a fantastic read! I am looking forward to hearing my son read it out loud to me over the next couple of weeks, and hear his thoughts on the book. This is a story that the entire family will enjoy.

Delicious desert mystery

The Last Camel Died at Noon - Elizabeth Peters

The Emerson's are off on another adventure, and this one is bound to leave you begging for more! Don't be deceived into thinking this one will not be as grand as the others. While we are not spending much of our time in Egypt, there is quite a bit that this book has to offer. Grab your book, a great beverage, and spend the day on the couch reading.

As they travel for their yearly digging expedition, they are bothered by the events that happened before they left England. Having a map brought to them, with the claim that their might be to British subjects still alive and held captive in distant land, there are questions that they have asked, but with no clear answers. As they begin to dig, they are beset by the nephew of the gentleman that visited them, who is determined to find and bring his parents back to England, if they are still alive. But when he vanishes into the desert, the Emerson's are forced to go after him and try and bring him back alive. Instead they are deserted by their servants, and as their camels die, they are left to face certain death in the desert. When Kemit, their last remaining loyal servant disappears, they are almost sure they will die quickly. But they are saved when he returns with men to help bring them back to a safe haven (or so it seems) and nursed back to health. In the days that follow, they understand that there is a struggle for power, and Kemit is really a prince. As they try to avoid intrigue and stay alive, it is hard to know who to trust and who to be wary of. Kemit, who is really Tarek, (name shortened and used as it is in the book), is being hunted by his brother who wants the crown for himself. As events unfold and the Emerson's are sure that they will be put to death, they are determined to help their friend Tarek as much as they can. But as always with the Emerson's, there are so many surprises and hilarious scenes that are bound to keep you begging for more, and crying when the book is finished.

I cannot recommend these books enough! They are some of the best that I have come across, and the character definition is something that is lost on many today. You will become intertwined into the lives of the Emerson family, and miss them as soon as you turn the last page.

Delving into history..

Raven Queen - Pauline Francis

Lady Jane Grey has often been delegated to only a couple of lines in a history book. But her life was so much more than what was contained in those texts. As Pauline Francis delves into the life of Lady Jane, she brings her to life in a way that has not been done before.

Jane Grey is destined for great things. Her parents have been working tirelessly to ensure that she makes a good marriage, and one that will bring prestige to the family. They are looking for a royal connection. Jane on the other hand, would rather be left alone with her books and studies. No amount of beatings or berating from her parents can deter her. She has is completely wrapped up in her faith and education.
Ned is just thankful to be alive. Lady Jane saved him from a terrible fate, and has shown him nothing but kindness in return. The only sticking point in their relationship is that he is Catholic and she is of the Protestant faith. While they secretly love each other, there are insurmountable differences that they know can never be over come.
When Jane is proclaimed queen by her new father in law, shortly after the death of the King, she is shocked. She has no desire to become queen. She thought she had made that quite clear, however, her feeling are entirely put aside by those who are looking to advance themselves through her.
When the Princess Mary gathers an army to reclaim her throne, she is met by thronging people who are enthusiastic that she has come back. Jane is not a popular queen, the people did not view her as the legitimate heir of their last ruler. Mary is met with open arms, and supplies by the people who are ready to see her in their rightful place. But now the question will become, what will happen to Lady Jane, the poor girl who reigned only nine days?

This was an interesting read, but I cant pretend that I just loved it. I felt that it was a bit stretched in parts, and some of the scenes were entirely to out there for me. While this is a work of fiction based on real characters, I was just a little disappointed with it. I did however, enjoy the historical accuracy that was wound around the characters. While some scenes are entirely fiction, others really hit on the reactions and hopes of each of them. Ned is a made up character to add a dimension to the virtually unknown Lady Jane. I would recommend this for late Junior High to High School students for reading.

Death comes knocking

Hanging Mary: A Novel - Susan Higginbotham

American history has come back to life in this thrilling historical fiction novel!

Mary Surratt was a woman who has been defined as one of the most evil women in American history. But what role did she actually play in the affair that would claim the life of a President? As we dive into the story, we see a woman who is attempting to make the best life she can for her family. After the death of her husband, she decides to lease out the tavern that they own, and move back into Washington D.C. There she opens the home as a boarding house. With one son fighting for the Confederacy, and one working in secret, Mary is walking a fine line. As a sympathetic supporter for the South, she wants to do her bit, but she also knows that she has to be careful.
With the boarders in her home, she has an array of backgrounds, but there are some that are long term boarders, such as Nora Fitzpatrick and Louis Weichmann. Mr. Weichmann works for the War Department and Nora is just a young lady living in the D.C. area, close to her father, but leading her own life. She spends her time reading to the soldiers who are convalesing in the hospital, cheering their spirits. While Mrs. Surratt is a staunch Southern supported, Nora is firmly Union.
When her son befriends John Wilkes Booth, he begins to spend more time at the boarding house. Nora and Anna Surratt are beyond excited with the attentions of such a distinguished actor, and they spent many happy hours doing reading, singing duets, and visiting with the young actor.
With the war going against the South, there are many who are working behind the scenes to do what they can to help the cause. Johnny Surratt asks his mother to let people stay once in a while. He has also started running blockades and taking messages and other items back and forth.
Mary knows that something is up but does not ask a lot of questions. In time though, she begins to understand more of what they are doing. Johnny confesses there is a plot to kidnap the President. She is appalled, but does not know who to talk to, and how can she turn in her own son?
With time becoming shorter and shorter, the plot to kidnap the President turns into one for assassination, and one evening while the President and his wife are attending a play, he is shot by John Wilkes Booth.
With the death of the President and the country baying for blood, the conspirators are quickly rounded up. After some initial questions, the boarders in Mrs. Surratts boarding house are arrested and re-questioned. Some are let free, while others spend a considerable amount of time in prison. Nora remains faithful to Mrs. Surratt, and does not give any information she doesn't have to, but there is really not much that she could tell anyway. Mrs. Surratt was not in the business of sharing secrets with the boarders. Only one, Mr. Weichmann seems to think that something is going on with all the comings and goings. In the end, only 7 are brought to military trial, Mrs. Surratt being the only woman to stand trial. Mr. Weichmann speaks for the prosecution, and his memory makes Mrs. Surratt wonder if there is anything that he does not remember from his time in the boarding house. Nora also bears witness for the prosecution, but after her release from prison, speaks for the defense as well. But try as every one might, the verdict is guilty. Mary Surratt and three others are condemned to death by hanging.
Nora and Anna exhausted their resources trying to get a stay of execution and have the sentence commuted, but they are getting nowhere and time is running out..

This book was amazing! From the first I was drawn into the story and the history. I highly recommend this book! The author does a fantastic job of fleshing out the characters and bringing them to life in a way that has never been done! Don't miss this fantastic read!

Throw Convention aside and take a walk through a different time

Leaving Everything Most Loved - Jacqueline Winspear

Get ready for a fresh and fantastic adventure that will keep you engaged through the entire book!

Maisie Dobbs is a woman who is not afraid to buck convention. As she and her team work through different cases, each one builds upon the other, in ways of information and reputation. When Maisie is approached about a murder that happened a few months earlier, she is eager to learn more, but dismayed to find that the police do not have much to go on. As she begins to dig into the young woman's past, she finds a picture that is disturbing. At the same time, they are trying to solve the disappearance of a young boy who is believed to have run away from home.
Usha Pramal is a young Indian woman who had been working as a governess. After leaving the employ of the Allison's she took rooms at an Ayah hotel, where she began to keep houses to earn money to pay for her passage back to India. Before she can realize her dream of returning home and opening a school for young girls, she is murdered and her body found floating in a canal close to where she lived. As Maisie begins to prod into the young woman's life, she finds a few surprises along the way. But this is no open and shut case. As she begins to make headway with a few of the people who knew Usha, another young woman is killed. Maisie believes that she was killed to keep her from telling what she knew. Knowing that there is something deeper going on, Maisie and her team keep looking for answers.
As the cases unfold, and the two merge into one, Maisie is determined to close them both, once and for all. But while she follows leads and clues, she is considering her own future and what it holds. James Compton wants her to marry him and settle down, but giving up her independence is not something that Maisie is sure that she can do. While she knows that she cannot string him along forever, she is not sure she is ready to give him an answer. He finally gives her an ultimatum, and a date for her to give her response. But just when the case seems to be over, there are still a few surprises yet to come...

This book is a fantastic read! Beware that you may suffer from a book hangover, because you will be unable to set it down until you finish it! You will be drawn in from page one, but this is one adventure that you will not want to miss! Join Maisie and her team as they work to solve the murder of Usha Pramel and bring some closure to her family. Not only will you be enthralled with this delightful story, you might just learn a few new facts about a culture that many of us are unfamiliar with! Grab your favorite beverage and settle down for a delightful and enchanting book!

The sands of Egypt cannot cover all secrets..

Join Amelia and Emerson as they are off on another adventure! Things are never quiet for the Emerson family, and this digging season is proving to no different from any other. But there are quite a few surprises on their way!
As the digging season gets underway, they are upset over the location of their dig, but they will take whatever they can get. While initially disappointed, things begin to happen that make Professor Emerson believe that there is more to the site than meets the eye. As the “accidents” continue, there are even more surprises thrown into the mix.
Amelia is determined to figure it out, but the more they try, the more dangerous it becomes. Will they find the culprit behind the attacks before someone gets seriously injured?

These books are the best! These run a gambit of emotions! Laughter, sorrow, anger, and more! If you have not read any of her books, you are really missing out! Once you start, its hard to put it down and get anything else done!

Not so scary..

Haunted Scottish Castles and Houses - G.  Stewart

Short overview of the castles and houses that line the Scottish countryside that have some sort of legends attached to them. More history than anything else is given in this book. This would be a great starting point for anyone wanting to delve deeper into the history on some of the houses and their occupants. There seem to be quite a few good stories that are lurking, but the author did not take the time to delve into them on a deeper setting.

Update on the Reading..

Well for some reason, the tracker is not keeping all my books. So, I am going to write them in here! I have been enjoying this years reading challenge, and looking for some great new books to add to my list this year!

 

I can't wait to share these book reviews with each of you!! Here is what I have read so far:

1. Black Ships Before Troy - Rosemary Sutcliff

2. Royal Ghost Stories - R. B. Swan

3. Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters

4. Pilate's Daughter - F. V. Smith

5. Throne of Fire - Rick Riordan

6. Hamlet for Kids - B. Kelso

7.Memory of Us - Camille di Maio

8. 10 British Royal Ghosts - Joanne Hayle

Not so scary ghost stories..

10 British Royal Ghosts: Ghost Sightings And Hauntings At Royal Palaces - Joanne Hayle

Well.. this is a interesting book, but something that would provide a starting point if you are looking for more to research..

 

This is a short synopsis of some of the royal ghost sightings. Not to much on each person, but its a fast read. The entire book took me about ten minutes to go through. The book begins with King Arthur and moves chronologically through the ages.

Interesting for a jump off point if you are looking for some royal ghosts. This should give you a starting point to delve into other stories if you are inclined to do so!

SPOILER ALERT!

Love and Forgiveness with a little Redemption too..

The Memory of Us: A Novel - Camille Di Maio

When the young and beautiful Julianne meets the handsome Kyle McCarthy, her entire life is about to change. Before she found her parents dark secret, her life revolved around parties, pageants and prosperity. When she secretly begins to visit her twin brother who has been kept in a home, due to his disabilities, she meets the groundskeeper. She begins to visit more and more, just to spend more time with Kyle. When her mother hires him to do some work at their home, they are able to spend even more time together.
She knows that he is to become a priest, however, their budding romance cannot be put off forever. She does her best think about anything or anyone else, but her thoughts always return to Kyle. When his father becomes seriously ill and refusing to see a doctor, Julianne puts her nursing skills to use and spending time with the father to make him more comfortable in the little time that he has left. After his fathers death, Kyle tells her that she is his world, and he is going to leave the seminary, if she will agree to marry him.
While they are happy and planning their new life together, her parents throw a wrench in their plans. They refuse to allow the couple to marry, but true to her rebellious streak, she and Kyle are determined to marry anyway. Considering Kyle below their class, the Westcott's are horrified at their daughters choice. When the couple runs off together anyway, her parents are devastated and she is told that she is no longer welcome in the home. When war breaks out and Kyle joins up, little does Julianne realize just how much their lives are going to change. When a bomb destroys the bomb shelter that she and her friend are taking cover in, her life takes the biggest turn of all, and one that will have huge repercussions for all...

This story is more than just a great novel. It draws you in and keeps you hooked from page one until the end. The story of Julianne and Kyle is not your typical happily ever after. There are so many twists and turns that you are left holding the box of kleenex and wondering what surprises are going to jump out at you next! I absolutely loved this read! If you are looking for an author that can weave a web as delicate as this one and then strand by strand draw you farther in until you finish and can come up for air, this is the one for you!!

Just another adventure..

The Throne of Fire - Rick Riordan

Save the world and survive!? Nothing to it! Join the Kane siblings as they work through another harrowing adventure and save the world from being engulfed in Chaos.

Apophis is close to escaping the prison that he was cast into thousands of years ago, and the Kane's have to find the three parts of the Scroll of Ra to prevent it from happening. Only thing is, they have to find Ra as well and awaken him from the sleep that he was put into by Isis in favor of her son Horus. But they know they have one chance, and they cannot fail or the entire world is finished.
Sadie and Carter have some differences of opinions at times, and both are just as determined to get their way. Sadie wants a day off, (right in the middle of the world falling apart), so she takes off for her birthday, and ends up in trouble instead. But when Carter decides to follow a clue to find Zia, it could not have come at the worst time. The window for what they have to do closing fast, but he runs off to find her,and get a couple of surprises in the process.
As Sadie and Carter reunite to find Ra, they know they are almost out of time, but they have to do everything within their power to keep the world from falling apart, and keeping Menshikov from unleashing a power worse than what they have faced before...

This book was GREAT! I loved reading through it and was captivated from page one! I cannot wait to dive into the next books to find out what happens next! Next couple of years, I will start reading these aloud to my boys, I think they are perfect adventures with a little history thrown in.

Things that go BUMP?

Royal Ghost Stories - R.B. Swan

If you love a good spine tingling ghost story, this book is not for you! But if you love something that delves into the ghost stories of the Royals, then check this book out.

 

Interesting glob of ghost stories from all over the world. The writer does a fairly decent job at fleshing out the stories, but at the same time, writing is not this authors strong point. If you are interested in tidbits of history, royal ghosts and don't mind jumping around a bit, then you will really enjoy this book. From Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany and more, there are some age old tales and some new ones thrown in that you might not have heard before!

As stated above, writing is not the authors strong point, and there are several sentences that made my brain tingle, but overall, I enjoyed the stories that were laid down in the book! Some of them are rather short, while others are a bit longer.

To be or Not to be...

Shakespeare's Hamlet for Kids: 3 Short Melodramatic Plays for 3 Group Sizes (Playing with Plays) - Brendan P. Kelso, Hannah Sidaris-Green, Shana Lopez

Want to share Shakespeare with your kids but afraid of scaring them away from away from literature for good?? Well then you HAVE to check out this book!! For a small family to a group that want to try something new and fun with a twist, this is exactly what you are going to need! A new age twist on a classic work, while still capturing the essence of the entire play.

Masterfully written and the entire book is a fast read for an adult that wants to sit and read through each scenario on their own before they sit and go through it with the kiddos. This was fun and will make you chuckle as you go through! Don't let this great book slide past unnoticed!! As stated, its written for different group sizes, so you can choose to have as many or as few people involved if you want, but honestly... GO BIG! SO much fun and everyone will enjoy the entire process!

Order your copy today!

Fell off the wagon

Well I completely fell off the "keep track of the books" read wagon. Its been a crazy busy year!! I will do much better next year to stay on track better, and continue to share those books that are completely worth reading!

 

So that being said.. have you set your challenge for next year yet!? I am already planning mine, and have a book challenge that I am putting together - 50 categories and five set books that will be read over the course of the year. It is MUCH harder than you think! Trying to get some books to fit a category can be quite interesting! 

 

What was the best book you read this year? I think mine would have to be "The Memory of Us" by Camille di Maio, and "Jamaica Inn" by Daphne du Maurier. Those books just spoke to me, and they draw you in so entirely that you are not sure if you can walk a straight line when you are finished with them!

 

Merry Christmas all!!

Currently reading

The Nazi Officers Wife: Summary and Analysis of The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived The Holocaust by Edith Hahn Beer by Summary Station
The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas by Alison Weir
The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones by Thomas Asbridge
The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Rosemary Sutcliff