The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick – Book Review

the curious charms of arthur pepper

 

This is a novel about Arthur Pepper whose wife Miriam has died unexpectedly of pneumonia.  One year to the day of her death Arthur decides to go through her belongings and discovers a charm bracelet hidden in her boot that he doesn’t recognize.  Confused, he decides to go on a quest to discover who his wife was before their long and loving marriage.

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Of course, Arthur discovers many things about his wife that he hadn’t known before, but most importantly, he discovers the parts of himself that have been hiding in the dark.  I loved this novel.  I’ll just say that the charms bring him adventures, confusion, and in the end he realizes that the life he lead with Miriam was more than what he originally thought.

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I highly recommend this book.  Well done Phaedra Patrick!  I’ll be thinking about Arthur Pepper and his story for some time to come.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – Book Review

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This novel is not for the faint of heart.  The three women who make up the story are Caroline Ferriday a New York socialite who volunteers at the French Embassy as a liaison dealing with the French orphanages after WWI.  She is invested in providing food and clothing for the orphaned children.  Kashia Kuzmerick, a young Polish girl was picked up by the Nazi’s and sent to the concentration camp Ravensbruck along with her mother, sister and family friend.  As an aside, the character of Kashia and her sister are based on real sisters Nina and Krystyna Iwanska who were prisoners at Ravensbruck.  And finally, Herta Oberheuser, a German doctor working at Ravensbruck.

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Caroline Ferriday

The novel goes back and forth between all of the characters, giving us a wonderful background and understanding of each of them.  Caroline was a warm and highly interesting woman, and I really felt that I knew her due to this portrayal in this book.  Kashia was my hero in this novel, since she endured the surgeries, torture and starvation that the Nazi’s forced upon their prisoners.  The character of Herta was so outside of my own understanding that reading her sections was difficult.

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Ravensbruck Rabbits

 

I highly recommend this book.   Herta Oberheuser was indeed the only woman doctor who was found guilty of crimes against humanity at the trails after WWII.  I’ve read extensively on the subject of the Holocaust, but I’d never heard of the Ravensbruck “Rabbits” before.  The way that Kelly wrote this novel was outstanding.  This is one novel that I will be thinking about for some time.

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Dr. Herta Oberheuser

 

American Housewife by Helen Ellis – Book Review

Book Review American Housewife

This is a collection of short stories about the American housewife.  I absolutely enjoyed this book.  Each story was completely different, and extremely entertaining.  Some of these stories had a twist at the ending, some were short and to the point.  Ellis gives fully developed characters within a short time-frame.

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Some housewives are subversive while others are hilariously frightening.  These stories were told in a variety of ways.  Personally, I found the one told strictly through emails most riveting. Ellis’ tongue-in-cheek writing is very arresting and I thoroughly enjoyed the more sarcastic aspects of her various characters.  I highly recommend this book.

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Just a warning, though, don’t irritate your neighbors.

 

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters – Book Review

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I loved this novel.  It has everything a reader could want – a likeable, feisty main character; a murder (or accident?); a questionable step-father; a ghost; some all-round discrimination; and a mystery.

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The book takes place in Oregon, during the 1920’s, so there is a little prohibition, some poverty, and white supremacy.  Hanalee Denney, our main character is still mourning the death of her black father, Hank when she begins to hear that his ghost is haunting the road where a white teenager accidentally hit him, causing his death.  To add to her misery, Hanalee is a biracial teenager, confronting ill-will on the part of boys she grew up with; a white step-father; and a released murderer who claims her father’s death was not his fault.

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Is her step-father to blame?  What were the real circumstances of Hank’s death?  What does the Ku Klux Klan have to do with it?  And, are Hanalee and her mother going to come out of this unscathed?

I highly recommend this book.  The writing is great, character development good, and I learned things about Oregon, and the 1920’s and race relations I had not known before.  Good book!