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!

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!!

Everything We Keep... and then some..

Everything We Keep: A Novel - Kerry Lonsdale

Aimee is on top of the world. She is fixing to marry the man she loves, and everything has just been perfect. She has plans to open her own restaurant, and it seems nothing can destroy the happiness that she has... until James takes a last minute business trip.
When he does not come home, the search is on. But instead of celebrating her wedding, she is attending his funeral instead. But when someone tells her that he is not dead, she begins to wonder if he is still alive, and if he is, why has he not come home?
Her journey will take her through every emotion that she has, and some that she did not realize that she could feel. As she begins to rebuild her life, and put the pieces back, she knows that she has to find the answers to all the questions that have been plaguing her. But what will she find, and will she have peace when its done?


This was a roller coaster of a read! It was hard to put down and there were some scenes that I honestly felt could have been left out. I enjoyed the book overall! What a read.

 

**Some sexual content, not recommended for anyone under 21**

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

Harry and his friends are off on another adventure, and this time is it more whirlwind than ever! As they battle through the forces that have been assaulting the school, they are determined to find out what is going on and who is attacking the students at Hogwarts.

When Hermoine is attacked, Harry and Ron know that they have to figure out just what the riddles are and who is going to be next. Will they be in time to save the next student?


Cute little book, easy read!

Black Hills

Black Hills - Dan Simmons

** spoiler alert ** Paha Sapa was just a young boy when the battle of the Little Big Horn took place. When he placed his hands on the lifeless body of General Custer, the spirit of the man flowed into the boy. As his life moves on and the times begin to change, he becomes a powderman on the Mount Rushmore project, and the destruction (in his mind) of the sacred places.


This was an interesting book, and it was both a good and disappointing read. I was frustrated with the way that they portrayed General Custer. I felt that some of the characters were not as developed as they could have been, and that there could have more in places, and less in others.

Confessions of a teenage queen..

The Confession of Katherine Howard - Suzannah Dunn

Katherine Howard was the fifth queen of Henry VIII. She led a life of promiscuity, and could not seem to curb herself once she was in the palace. Her ladies covered for her, and one even lost her head with her mistress over the deception that had been taking place.

Katherine Howard was a sad story. It is the tale of a girl sacrificed for family, and for wealth and honors. A girl that had no business ever being there in the first place, but because of her family connections and the prominence that they wanted to regain, she was thrust forward as a candidate when the king began searching for another wife.


There are to many things that bothered me with this book. One, it really had nothing to do with Katherine. It was all from the point of her maid, so the title is a bit misleading, and she didn't really confess anything. The slang and the wording was frustrating as it was from outside the time period and did not fit what the vernacular of the time would have been.

Could have been a better book, and much more could have been added. There was many holes in the story, and a great many pitfalls.

Field Guide to the Battlefields of South Africa

Field Guide to the Battlefields of South Africa - Nicki Von Der Heyde

STOP! This book is your ONE STOP to all the battles in South Africa! Everything you wanted to know and more!
Nicki Von Der Heyde breaks down each of the battles, beginning with the colonial wars. Each of them are broken down into easy to read articles. Each of the 71 battles depicted give the reader a sense of accomplishment.
Each of these are broken down, making them easy to read and understand. The timelines, pictures and the maps that are included gives the reader a chance to put the pieces all together. If you plan on travelling to the region, I think this guide would be extremely handy to have, as you move from one location to another. Military historians as well should take note. This well documented book has a lot to offer! Teachers, historians and more can glean a lot of information, and use for many different projects!

I was excited to read this book, as I have always had an interest in the history of different places, and being able to find this book and have a chance to put it all together was exciting! This has been a very handy guide for me to use in some of the online college courses I teach, as well as being able to use the pictures and maps in my own children's school work. I look forward to being able to use this book many times over in the many years to come!

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