Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

4 stars
PG-13 (adult themes, intense scenes)
Contemporary, historical

Connie Goodwin, a Harvard student up for Professorship, has to clean up her grandmothers house to sell before the IRS takes it away (her mother hasn't paid taxes on it in over 20 years). While there she discovers an old Bible and a key that gives her the name, Deliverance Dane. Connie, needing a primary source for her doctrinal studies, decides to chase down who Deliverance Dane was.

This story also jumps back in time to the 1600s and the time of the Salem Witch Trials and explores the theory of why there was a mass hysteria toward witchcraft in Salem that year (1692?) and asks the question: What if some of the women really were witches? Eventually the two story lines come together in a surprise that will shake Connie's world.

I have always been interested in the Salem Witch Trials, so this was a very fun, interesting read. The author is actually descendant of two women who were accused of being witches--one who got off and one who was hanged. I also enjoy Ms. Howe's writing style. Once she describes a corner as having a skein of webbing. I loved that and the book is filled with little visual gems.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
5 stars
PG
historical fiction

I can't really say enough good things about this book. It is written as a series of letters from a journalist to a community of people who live on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands south of the UK. It takes place following WWII and talks about a literary society that was formed on Guernsey while they were under German Occupation during the war.

The characters were well written and likable. I had a hard time putting this book down. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Lost Hours

by Karen White
4 stars
PG (intensity, adult themes)
mystery, women's fiction

Piper Mills' parents died when she was six and her grandparents raised her. While recovering from an equestrian related accident that leaves her terrified of horses, her grandparents die. Piper remembers an old box she helped her grandfather bury when she was twelve, so she unearths it and finds her grandmother's girlhood scrapbook and returned letters with her grandmother begging for someone named Lilian's forgiveness. Also in this box, there is a key that leads to a secret room in her house. Realizing that she never knew her grandmother, Piper decides to contact Lilian.

Lilian refuses to see Piper, unwilling to dredge up old memories, so Piper visits their horse ranch under a false name. As she begins to research her grandmother's life and get to know the aristocratic 90-year-old Lilian and her grandchildren, Helen and Tucker, she discovers a dark secret that tore three women apart and changed the course of their lives forever.

I stayed up late in the night to finish this book. At the heart of it, is Piper learning how to live again by researching her grandma's life. It made me want to call up my grandma and learn her story before it is too late. It is a happy and hopeful book that I became completely immersed in. I highly recommend this novel.

The House on Tradd Street

by Karen White
5 stars
PG (action, inuendos)
Romance, Mystery

Melanie Middleton hates old houses, so she is not happy when an old man she barely knows leaves his old Charleston family house to her in hiswill. The will stipulates that she must live in the house for a year before she can sell it. She decides to move in, drawn in in by the house almost against her will. Then she starts to see people who aren't there, including an evil presence that wants her gone.

Jack Trenholm, a handsome writer, contacts her, wanting to write about her house in one of his new books. She agrees to let him, even though his play-boy attitude can get on her nerves. As they begin renovating the house, the discover the mystery of a loving mother who disappeared without a trace. As Jack and Melanie try to figure out what happened to her, they realize that more than one person would like to keep them from finding out, and will stop at nothing to keep them from the truth.

I could not put this book down. I love all of Karen White's books and this one was no exception. It had the perfect blend of romance, mystery, and beautiful prose that really made me feel like I was walking through the house on Tradd Street. I will definitely read it again and recommend it to my friends.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interrred With Their Bones

by Jennifer Lee Carrell
4 stars
PG-13 intensity, murders
Mystery, Thriller

Kate Stanely is directing a production of Hamlet in London's famed Globe theatre when her estranged mentor, Rosalind Howard, visits her with a box and the cryptic direction to open it and follow where it leads. That night the Globe is set on fire and Rosalind is found dead, murdered by poision in the same manner as Hamlet's father. Kate then opens the box and discovers a mystery as old as Shakespeare that leads her to chase clues through London, Cambridge, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

At her heels is a theatric killer, recreating several famous murders from Shakespeare's plays, who will stop at nothing to keep Kate from discovering the secret. With the help of Ben, someone sent to protect her, she explores who Shakespeare really was, clues he left in his plays, and if perhaps he wrote one more play that is hidden to the world.

I really liked this novel. Once the mystery began I had a hard time putting it down. It really gets into Shakespeare and his plays (two things that I love) and effectively intertwines a story that spans history and links to the present. At times it read like a history book and some of the lengthy descriptions of certain historical figures could pull me out of the action. Ms. Carrell gives an intelligent and plausable basis for her mystery and I would highly recommend reading this.