The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb – Book Review

Unquiet-Grave

I really loved this novel, however, the best thing about it was that it was based on a true story, and almost every single character in it had been a real person.  This is the story of how a murderer was uncovered and sentenced to prison by way of a ghost’s “testimony”.  Seriously, how unbelievable is that?

In the 1890’s spirited and beautiful Zona marries “Trout” Shue against her families’ wishes.  Mere months after having wedded, Zona “falls” down the stairs and dies.  Trout manages to circumvent the doctor from examining her, and prepares her body for burial himself.  His actions are strange and far from what is considered normal under the circumstances, leading to his mother-in-law’s suspicious.  As evidence mounts against Trout, Mrs. Heaster, Zona’s mother, is not letting this death go unpunished.

Zona Heaster Shue

Zona Heaster Shue

The story is told from the perspective of Mrs. Heaster, and the black lawyer, James Gardner, who was the second lawyer for Trout at his trial.  James tells the story to his doctor (in 1930) while undergoing therapy in an insane asylum.

One of the best things about this novel is the fact that McCrumb pays great attention to detail, giving the reader a true glimpse into life at that time.  I really enjoyed this novel, and highly recommend it.  Well done, McCrumb!

mccrumb-sharyn

Sharyn McCrumb

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The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld – Book Review

The Child Finder

Naomi Cottle is a child finder.  She spends her life rescuing lost children.  Most times she succeeds in finding these children alive, but sometimes they are dead.  This is both what she does, and who she is.  Naomi herself is a “lost” child who somehow rescued herself.  However, for Naomi her memories begin in the field she ran across while running away.  From what she doesn’t know.

When confronted with a difficult new case, Naomi’s memory begins to come back.  She is trying to find a child who wandered away into the wilderness before Christmas, and was lost during a snowstorm.  The police have had no luck finding her, and three years on, Madison’s parents have put the last of their hopes on Naomi’s shoulders.

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I thought this novel was excellent.  The mystery was one just begging to be solved.  We get the story of young Madison who has figured out a way to survive her capture and imprisonment with the man who found her, along with Naomi’s recurrent fragmented memories coming back.  There is also the story of “B”, the man who is holding Madison.  I highly recommend this novel.  The storytelling is excellent, and it’s one of those novels that you find yourself thinking about for quite a while.  Well done, Denfeld!

rene-denfeld

Rene Denfeld

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain – Book Review

The Stolen Marriag

The year is 1943, and  nursing student Tess, is pining for marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Vincent to finally occur.  While waiting, Vincent, a new doctor, goes to Chicago in order to help out with a new outbreak of Polio.  Tess is left holding the bag, so to speak, as communication with Vincent dwindles to nothing.  Heartbroken, Tess visits Washington with her friend, drinks too much and disaster befalls her.

Caught in a web of her own mistakes, Tess leaves Baltimore, moves to North Carolina, and marries Henry.  Although theirs is a marriage of convenience, Tess is hopeful of eventually loving Henry.  I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, since I want you to read this novel.  There are plenty of problems for Tess and Henry to overcome, just to mention a few:  sexism and racism are the most prominent.

I really enjoyed this novel, and highly recommend it.  Well done, Chamberlain!

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Diane Chamberlain

Inferior, How Science Got Women Wrong by Angela Saini – Book Review

Inferior, How Science

I usually don’t review non-fiction, since I don’t read much of it.  However, I think that this is an important book for many reasons, but most particularly for our health and medical care.  How can it be that until very recently, only men were studied for the medical effects of the various pharmaceuticals that many people, women included take?  This is only the start, as Saini takes on the established view of women by science, how this view originated, and whether or not it is valid.

Saini gives us a thorough history of scientific research, but don’t assume that this is a dry, boring book.  It is not.  I found it interesting and engaging.  Saini’s writing is both informative, amusing and full of facts.  I really enjoyed this book, and felt that I learned a lot.  This is an important book if you have any questions about how science comes to the conclusions it does about the difference between men and woman; but also, why scientists come to these conclusions.  I highly recommend this book.  Well done, Saini!

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Angela Saini

 

The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber – Book Review

The Velveteen Daughter

I originally picked this novel up mostly because the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams has always been one of my absolute favorite books of all time.  However, this novel was much more than a fictionalized biography of Margery Williams.  This is a novel that burrows its way into your mind, and you just have to keep reading.

The novel follows the life of Margery Williams, who unknown to me, was the author of many books, and the troubled life of her daughter, Pamela Bianco.  Pamela was one of those unfortunate children who is touted as a genius at a young age, and seems almost destined to fail later in life.  She obviously suffered mental problems, much like her father, and had a hard time trying to simply live.

I love the way that the novel is told, jumping between Margery’s story in 1944 and Pamela’s life in her later years.  The problems that both women faced, made the art they made all the more wonderful.  As a mother, Margery’s regrets and worries made her accomplishments in the literary world all that more extraordinary.  Pamela’s life was spent dealing with her mental issues, and her art was both aided by her problems, and prohibited by them.

I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Huber!

Laurel Davis Huber

Laurel Davis Huber

Are You Sleeping? by Kathleen Barber – Book Review

Are You Sleeping

This novel is a mystery/thriller where you don’t really know what is fact and what is fiction.  Twins Josie and Lanie have a typical “twin ship” until their father is murdered one night.  From there, their lives unravel in two distinctly different ways with Lanie becoming the “bad” twin and Josie the “good” one.

Thirteen years later, former “investigative” reporter, Poppy Parnell begins a podcast, which seeks to re-examine the guilty verdict concerning their next-door neighbor.  This novel examines how Josie chose to live her life by running away and concealing her identity from everyone in her life, including her boyfriend.  It also concerns the relationship between Josie and Lanie.  I actually felt that the real story was Josie’s mental health and her lack of any relationship with her twin.

I really enjoyed this novel.  It made me examine the ways in which our society intrudes on victims of criminal acts and how too many of us use other’s misfortune to our own advantage.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Barber!

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Kathleen Barber

The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher – Book Review

The Silent Wife

This was one of those disturbing novels where most of the characters miss the clues, make assumptions and therefore act accordingly.  When Maggie marries Nico, her sister-in-law Lara unfortunately comes across as a cold, buttoned-up woman, not interested in becoming friends with Maggie.  Outgoing Maggie feels rebuffed; however, she really warms up to charismatic brother-in-law, the handsome Massimo.

This novel really underscores the truth that the only people who know what really goes on in a marriage are those inside it.  Secrets abound, and I really don’t want to give anything away here, so I’ll simply say that I really liked this novel.  The characters were well-developed and likeable, the story was interesting and I kept turning those pages.  I highly recommend this book.  Well done Fisher!

Kerry Fisher

Kerry Fisher