Uncategorized

Spring Cleaning Book Tag

The first time I saw a the term “Tag” I erroneously thought the author was referring to a search word for a book. For example, “I want a book about England in the 1800’s and includes a nice battle scene.” My inner librarian / reference addict would then type (1) England, (2) 1800’s, (3) battle into the search box. But this is so much better! Tags are more like little threads and people can be “tagged” (like the game) or can voluntarily enter. So, the tag takes on a life of its own and becomes a delightful little conversation taking place in many different sites.

I found this tag over on the delightful Thrice Read and it really resonated with me, especially since I am still purging after reading The Complete Book of CleanSo, here I go with my first ever tag.

A little side note: this Tag becomes tricky for me because I do not bother with negative reviews. But, I am going to make it work.

(1) The Struggle of Getting Started: a book or series that you have struggled to begin because of its size.

Outlander1

This is a hunk of a book (pun totally intended) and I really wanted to read it but, to be honest, it hurt my puny little wrists to hold. I kept borrowing but not diving into it. I finally downloaded it on my e-reader and I have never looked back. Now, I am a huge fan and my puny wrists are safe and sound.

 

 

 

(2) Cleaning Out the Closet: a book or series that you want to offload.

bossypants

I will only part with this book because I have two copies. I saw this copy in a little free library and I took it in a panic. I don’t know what I thought was going to happen to it but it is safe now. Anyone want it?

 

 

 

 

(3) Opening the Window and Letting in Some Fresh Air: a book that was refreshing

Gertie

There are so many books out there that are written from the perspective of a child intended for children to read that are rife with peril. It is exhausting. It is almost like, as adults, we have forgotten how hard it is to be a kid and so we add things like death, divorce and large scale crisis to all the books (and movies) intended for this aged audience. Since I tutor and interact with students in elementary school I am always on the look out for books that are really about kid things.  Gertie’s Leap to Greatness hits the nail right on the head. Even though it includes parental abandonment (no spoiler – it’s right on the dust jacket) Gertie is more concerned with new kids at school, teacher favoritism and trying to be the best 5th grader ever. It was so refreshing.

(4) Washing Out Stained Sheets: a book where you wish you could re-write a certain scene 

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Mmmhhhmmm.  We all know why I put this here.

(5) Throwing Out Unnecessary Knick-Knacks: a book in a series you didn’t feel was necessary

jaguarknights

This book is as superbly written and enjoyable as anything else I have read by Dave Duncan. And, I can see how it is connected to the rest of the Chronicles’ of the King’s Blades series but it is so very different it almost felt like it should be on its own. Or there should be more books written that are similar to this story.  Hint, hint Mr. Duncan.

 

 

 

(6) Polishing the Doorknobs: a book that had a clean finish.

Echo

Hug it, kiss it and love it forever. Echo is the book that you recommend. Then, when your friend is halfway though, they give you the side-eye and frown. You can tell they are wondering, “Why would you give me this?!?” With your encouragement they read until the end and join you in the bliss that is this book. You can read my more complete (spoiler-free, of course) review here.

 

 

(7) Reaching to Dust the Ceiling Fan: a book that tried to hard to relay a certain message

These were good books but the theme was a little over done – you do not have to have external beauty to validate your existence.  They have compelling characters and a building storyline but this is the only series I could think of that fits into this question.

(8) The Tiring but Satisfying Finish of Spring Cleaning: the book or series that was hard to get through but completely worth it.

Darn, I should have kept Outlander for here!  Ah well, here is my other pick.

Zero complaints here. These books were amazing. For me, the most difficult thing was that I became a fan when the first book was published. By the time the second book came out, I had to go back and catch myself up on the who, what, when, where and why. Repeat for the third book. It was totally and completely worth it. These books are amazing.

And there it is, my first tag! Thanks again to Thrice Read for inspiring me and putting out a general tag to be shared. For anyone that has yet to do some Spring Cleaning – tag, you are it!

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Beauty by Robin McKinley

I am back in the book saddle!!! After a long two weeks not finding anything that sparked my interest I have read three books in the last two days. Sometimes you just have to take a step back. I took a little friend of mine to see the new Disney remake of Beauty and the Beast. I am not a huge Disney fan but this was an enjoyable remake. And it spurned me to look into the story that started it all.

There are dozens of retellings of the tale as old as time. In fact, while researching for this post I found multiple blogs ranking the retellings as well as a Goodreads list of 122 of the top retellings of Beauty and the Beast. My favorite list however has to be from book riot.com.

I was surprised by the number and variety of this story.  Truthfully, I have never been a fan. Beautiful girl is kept captive by a cruel hideous man-beast but since she is now living in the lap of luxury she….sigh…..feels bad for him and grudgingly comes to love him. Then he is pretty too! Barf.

beautyBut, Robin McKinley’s Beauty is the retelling that makes me believe in the fairy tale. Here, Beauty is a nickname given to the least pretty of a trio of sisters. She is dedicated to her family and her education above anything else. Their merchant father is rich, due to his vast shipping empire, and the older two daughters have fallen in love and life looks grand. Then, the shipping empire crumbles and the the family is forced to move to the country and live a much more simple life.

In the country their new home is on the edge of the forest. They must scrub their own floors and make their own food and work and work. But, because they love each other it is all working out and they are happy. Until dear old Dad wanders into the forest and we meet the Beast and his demands.

From here the storyline becomes more familiar but still contains elements unique enough to be interesting. I won’t spoil it but I really enjoyed the Beast and the cast of (limited) characters that live in the castle. If Beauty is not so pretty, the Beast is, likewise, not so awful. He is kind and gentle from the start. Still hideous though.

I think that if you enjoyed Disney’s original or new live action Beauty and the Beast you will, likewise find Beauty to be a good story.  But, if you just really can’t see the appeal of Belle this story might be right up your alley.  And, don’t worry, the author didn’t neglect the amazing library.

Audible

The Spiderwick Cronicles: Book 1-5

I remember a time when I believed – no, I absolutely knew – that fairies lived in the world around me. I couldn’t see them but they were there. spiderwickToni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s book The Spiderwick Chronicles transported me back to this wonderful state of mind. The illustrations and the narrative are whimsical, innocent and fantastical. I adored these books.

Right before a long car trip I grabbed the audiobook at the library. As I have mentioned, I have a really hard time absorbing auditory information so sometimes I listen to the audio version of books I have already read. But this audiobook is narrated by Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill people. I adore him as an actor but as a voice actor he is unparalleled in his talent.

Hamill really breathes life into all the different characters of the Chronicles alive. You do not need to see the illustrations, they become three dimensional through his voice. I actually listened to this story on the way to my destination and on the way back home again. To this day, if you say “hobgoblin,” I hear it in his voice.

This is a fantastic story brought almost completely to life by the talents of Mark Hamill. Reading it is fun but listening to it is as close to living it as you can get.

 

nonfiction · not a review

What Should I Read Next?

It is Friday night. It has been a long week and you just want to relax. So, you turn on Netflix and you flip through the options, maybe start one or two, and find nothing that captures your interest? The frustration begins to build. So, you head over to Amazon Prime or maybe even shows you have saved for just this occasion and again, nothing feels right. Meanwhile, you have spend two hours looking and zero minutes. This is me for the last 10 days with my books.

Sometimes after reading a really great series or a new author I come out of the book’s world in a daze. Nothing seems as good as the book I have just finished. Usually this malaise or withdrawal lasts a day or two and I am back in my book-packed saddle. Occasionally, I sink into a true funk and I cannot find anything to suit my mood. I write you now from this dark place. I need a good book!

So, how do we figure out what to read next? I have a whole bookshelf of books yet to be read. I have an enormous stack of library books (photo below) that I requested and wanted but none feel quite right.  What do I do!?! Well, I actually own two great books designed to help me answer the question, “What should I read next?”

top10Books, Over 100 Top 10 Lists by Fid and Sue Backhouse is a compilation of lists broken into six major categories.  World of Books, Compelling Characters, Out of this World (Sci-Fi), Relativity (humans and their relationships), Imagine That (kids and teens) and Page Turners are the major categories. As a list lover this book is soothing in its organization. As a book lover I appreciate the breadth of choices. There are over 1000 books and the authors acknowledge the subjectivity of their lists. I would love to have a book club meeting about this book just to discuss some of the inclusions and exclusions. I would also like to break one of my cardinal rules and write in this book – just check away at all the ones I have read.

1001BooksHallie Ephron, Ph.D is a prolific writer from a writing family and her book 1001 Books for Every Mood is my go-to when I cannot seem to find something to read. Do you want a book that will make you laugh? She has solid suggestions. What about a book to celebrate friends or one to celebrate the seasons? Covered! This book really does have something for whatever mood you are in and I really appreciate the ranking system that includes twelve different bits of information ranging from the literary merit to whether the book was family friendly or made into a movie. This book is out of print but if you see it, grab it.

After thumbing through these books and finding nothing to sate my literary thirst I turn to the internet for answers. Can the Book Seer help me? This website is hilarious and sometimes I just like to plug in books to see what I will get back. Book Seer will give you recommendations from Amazon and it used to give you recommendations from LibraryThing.

I enjoy Book Seer mostly as a little game to see if I agree with the website’s answers. Book Seer is brought to the world by Apt Studio and their blog post about the Book Seer’s analytics is a fascinating look into the mind of a person in need of a book. It is a fun place to start and I have found books this way.

If not, maybe Whichbook can help me! Whichbook is another wonderful website that allows you to use toggles to limit the searches so that you can get a (1) really happy book that is also (2) unexpected and (3) short.  Or, you can have an (1) easy (2) optimistic (3) scary book.  You can also change the toggles to search by character, plot or setting. Whichbooks has what they call “W” lists as well and you can read through their lists or guests lists and create your own.

I have found that Whichbook gives me a much more varied result to my queries than other websites. You can also read a little excerpt from the book, get parallels or books that are very similar or even use a book as a jumping off point to find more books. The toggles take some getting used to but I enjoy them and this is a website I turn to frequently for ideas.

And, of course, there is Goodreads. Goodreads was my first book-based website crush.  “It’s like Facebook for people that like to read!” I cried. I can see what my friends are reading and give and take suggestions! Authors on Goodreads will talk to me through the magic of the internet! This is amazing!!

But, then my crush talked to me and ruined it. Goodreads is great but it can be overwhelming. I never remember to plug in the books I have read. I am just not great at consistently using it. It is not hard to use, it is just my fault for not following through. The real deathblow for our relationship came when I got a smartphone and found out that I could scan books into my list. Then I was a woman on a mission. That mission seems to be: Make as long a to-be-read list as possible.

And here is my actual problem. I have loads of things to read. I am rich in books. I just need to suck it up and take my Mother’s advice. “Give it three chapters,” she would tell me. If I wasn’t immersed after that I could put the book down.

Like skimming through titles on Netflix I just keep reading the first 10 pages of a book and then tossing it aside. I need to jump into the story with both feet and take my hand off the remote (or, in this case, the next book).  Only then do I stand a chance of really entering into the world the author was trying to create. When I have finished reading this stack of books and the ones on my bookshelves then I can ask, “What Should I Read Next?”

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funny · nonfiction

Cleanliness and Clutter

Happy First of May! On New Years Eve I make resolutions. Lots of them. On my birthday I set goals for my year. And, on May 1st I begin my spring cleaning.  This is mainly so I can free up my summer hours for fun, sun, and reading.

With that in mind I started where I always do with things, at my library. I picked up two books. The first, The Complete Book of Clean, Tips and Techniques for Your Home is by Toni Hammersley from A Bowl Full of Lemons. The second was The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t all Over the Place by Jennifer McCartney. Obviously, I’m torn.

Toni Hammersley’s website is gorgeous. I have been reading A Bowl Full of Lemons for years. Two years ago I purchased her budget worksheets and they were wonderful. They really laid out where I was going wrong in my spending. She is great at coming up with plans, explaining them, and sharing them with people.

Her last book, The Complete Book of Home Organization was beautiful and I loved paging through it but I knew that my home would never look like hers. I just don’t care enough to get my rooms that beautifully organized and de-cluttered. But still, I was excited to get a peek at her Complete Book of Clean because even if I don’t care if my rooms to look Pinterest-ready I absolutely want a clean home.

I got Complete Book of Clean home and I immediately flipped to the middle. This is a bad habit of mine with non-fiction books. Years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to always read the introduction and view the table of contents before leaping into the book (see? I make them!). This resolution was made for books like this. When you open Toni’s book to the middle your eyes are smacked (with no warning at all) with a photo of her gorgeous, immaculate refrigerator. It is full of organized fresh fruits and veggies. And right there next to that image is tip #63. This is a reminder and instructions on how to dust the condenser. Ummmm, what? I’m still ogling her fresh out-of-the-shell coconut and wondering how she accomplished that feat without a hammer and tears and she wants me to dust a part of my fridge that no one can see?!?

This is why you start with the introduction. Toni and A Bowl Full of Lemons has never been the idea of perfection.  It is all a process.  So, I flipped back to the introduction.  Sure enough there she is letting me know,

“Every day, I find myself sweeping the floors, wiping up spills, picking up glitter and straightening pillows on the sofa. An hour later, I do it all overt again. Messes are a part of life, and cleaning them up is essential to our well-being. Whether you live in a 4,000-square-foot home or a small one-bedroom apartment, implementing a cleaning routine is the key to success.”

With this in mind, I went tip by tip through the book. There are an alarming number of things that Toni believes needs to be done once a week that I, frankly, never do. I DO wash the toothbrushes once a week. However, I DO NOT dust the window treatments once a week. She absolutely has higher standards than I.

While the routine may not be completely for me, this book is a veritable bible of how to clean your home. And Toni really emphasizes natural make-it-yourself cleaners. I had a unbelievably good time flushing my drains with salt, baking soda, vinegar and boiling water. It was like a happy little science experiment! And, I made toilet bombs. They are like bath bombs but they make cleaning your toilet a breeze and your bathroom smells minty fresh. Toni also recommends de-cluttering as you clean which makes the job easier every time. She has a 31-day purge that is supposed get things going….in the direction of the donation center.

And here is where The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place comes into play.  There are a LOT of books out there that will tell you that your life will be less stressful and more peaceful if you just let go of stuff (ahem, Konmari method).  As a book lover and full blown Nerd – I took the quiz – I have a huge collection of books and all the cool quirky adorable Nerd-like things you can collect.  This includes a burgeoning collection of Funko Pops.  (I tried to resist but damn you baby Groot, you are irresistible!).

I am also a crafter.  Which is why I already had the silicone molds, mason jars and ample baking soda required to make and store the natural cleaners and toilet bombs. I play several musical instruments.  I have a dog and two cats.  I have stuff that is important to me that belonged to members of my family or were given to me by people special to me.  This is not clutter. These are my things. They are the difference between my house and my home.

According to The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place I am winning at life. Jennifer McCartney’s book is hilarious and validating for people who love things. Some minimalist methods allege that books are clutter and direct you to rip out pages and throw away the rest. NO! Books are friends! If you don’t love them you don’t kill them. And I would certainly rather practice my music, play with family and friends, or sew something than unpack my purse.

However, as enjoyable as this book is, it did make me aware that I do not feel comfortable with all of my clutter. I cannot stand piles of papers or clothes all over everywhere. And, I really hate picking up things I was too lazy to put away just so I can vacuum.

It seems that am somewhere in between. So, what to do? I have decided to try A Bowl Full of Lemons decluttering.  I have things I could donate and I could certainly get rid of stacks of papers and magazines. That way, the light will be shown on the items in my house that really make it a home. And, when people come over to visit those things will all be dusted.

Uncategorized

The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner

For me, this book was an eighty-six page epiphany.  Ben Lerner argues, “Many more people agree they hate poetry than can agree what poetry is.”  I would never be capable of explicitly defining poetry.  Before the book I would have said I liked poetry.  Now I feel that I don’t really know what poetry is and the little exposure I have to it has been unchallenging.

When I read a book I use my little note card system.  I just take a 3×5 and jot down things to look up, items that interest me and sometimes quotes I love.  Then I use it as a bookmark.  This slim little book’s notecard is covered in things I had never heard of, people to research and mind blowing new ideas.  I was delighted to find someone else’s little list tucked into the back of this library book.

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Of all the things written on the front and back of the notecard there were two items that will stick with me forever.  One is Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings.  I had, obviously, heard of Dickinson.  I was completely unfamiliar with her envelopes.  Now, I am obsessed.  I love the way each one is its own little unique piece.

Emily-Dickinson-envelope-poem-1

The second is the idea that Plato felt poetry was so detrimental to society that it should be suppressed.  The author quotes Olinde Rodrigues, “‘the power of the arts is…the most immediate and fastest way’ to achieve sociopolitical reform.'”  Visual arts and music are consumed more by the mainstream.  Perhaps this is why, as the author highlights, every few years they is a cry that poetry is dead.

I do not want poetry to die.  I want to be part of the struggle.  I will still always love Shel Silverstein, Robert Frost and Walt Whitman.  But I am looking forward to challenging myself until perhaps I too will decry “I hate poetry!” Not because I don’t understand it but because I have seen the possibilities and felt the limitations and embraced the frustration.

fiction

Fangirl and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

I like the way Rainbow Rowell describes her work on her website.  “…She always writes about people who talk a lot.  And people who feel like they are screwing up.  And people falling in love.”  This is such an apt and lovely description of her work that I feel I could not do any better.  She writes for a variety of audiences but she mostly definitely is targeting those of us who feel we just might not quite fit in.  Which, realistically, could be any human being who isn’t a raging narcissist.

Fangirl had me in a total friend crush with the main character.  Cather, or Cath, is in her first year of college.  While trying to balance all the things that are new to a college freshman she is also dealing with her twin sister’s desire to be separate units and worrying about her Dad who is all alone.  And a boy.  Of course there is a boy.

Cath has been obsessed with the novels of Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) since she was a little girl.  Her twin sister Wren has outgrown Simon and is attempting to outgrow Cath.  But Cath continues to return to the magical world by writing very popular fan fiction.  When I wasn’t busy identifying with Cath and cheering on her attempts to find her way, I became totally intrigued by the world of Simon Snow.  I was even sad to find that the Snow books were invented by Rowell and I couldn’t read them.

 

I should not have worried!  Rowell took her imaginary series and wrote a whole book about Simon Snow and his room mate Baz and their wizarding world.  Hello Carry On and thank you Rainbow Rowell!  Carry On is everything I imagined that Cath would write in a full length wonderful story that highlights the tense frenemies situation of Simon and his roommate Baz and their hidden longstanding romantic love for each other.  And, (slow clap here) at the genius that is Rowell.

Carry On comes out in paperback on May 9th.  That should give everything time to read Fangirl and fall in love with Cath before picking up a copy and watching to see if Simon and Baz fall in love.

Author Profile

Author Obsession: Sophie Kinsella

I have long felt that Sophie Kinsella understands the many beautiful shades of gray that women can occupy.  Women are not all the same, our experiences are not identical and certainly, our reactions to life will not be carbon copies of each other.  Regardless of whether I personally identify with a character, Kinsella writes female protagonists I feel like a know experiencing stories that ring true all with a heavy dose of humor and, often, a lovely added romantic element.

I started, as many people do, with The Confessions of a Shopaholic.  Kinsella has experienced great success with this series.  As of now there are ten books in the Shopaholic section of Kinsella’s published shelf.  I enjoyed these books.  I liked Becky even though it was hard to watch her make the same mistake over and over again.  And I do know people like Becky.  Sometimes, I am like Becky!  I call it “retail therapy” and I think everyone does it.  Unfortunately, the success of these books has created a little pigeonhole.  Some people who read the Shopaholic and did not enjoy it went no further with this author.

That is a shame.  Before she was the commercial success she is now she published seven books under her real name, Madeliene Wickham.  Now, these were enjoyable books but my real author obsession stems from the eight non-Shopaholic books she has published as Sophie Kinsella.

When I say that I adore a book I mean:

(1) I own a hardcopy (if the copy wears out I will buy another copy).  I need full-time access.

(2) I have read it more than once all the way through.

Of the above Kinsella books I adored Twenties Girl and The Undomesticated Goddess most of all.

When I say that I love a book I mean:

(1) I have a copy, probably on my Kindle

(2) I read excerpts from it just to revisit moments in the story.

I loved Can You Keep a Secret and I’ve Got Your Number.

I have not yet read Finding Audrey.  It is Kinsella’s first Young Adult publication, which is probably how I missed it.  I will rectify that immediately!

Now, there was nothing wrong with either Remember Me or Wedding Night.  I read them both and enjoyed them tremendously.  I recommend them!  However, when I run into a Sophie Kinsella book I must admit that I do not give these two hugs.

Her latest book My (not so) Perfect Life goes straight into the adore category.  I was lucky enough to grab this one off the new books display of my local library and it is going straight on my to-be-owned list.

mynotsoperfectlifeThis book is the story of Katie Brenner at the beginning of adulthood and all the mistakes we make when we use social media as a litmus test for life.  The jacket describes this book as “Part love story, part workplace drama…” but I disagree.  Yes, there is a romantic angle but I don’t know if it took up even twenty percent of the total story.  Instead, I felt that this book was truly a butterfly story – we got to see Katie look back on herself, reaccess herself and take steps into her future self.

Katie, like many people today, spends a great deal of time cultivating a social media image that portrays her life as the glamorous Londoner she longs to become.  At no point did I think she did this with any acrimony.  In fact, even when she is posting pictures of other people’s hot chocolates while eating another round of butternut stew it never occurs to her that other people’s Instagram feed might not be the whole story.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is when she meets a man in the elevator and proceeds to speak to him like she would anyone else.  Only later does she learn he is her superior and, upon Googling him for hours, finds out that he is a big deal.  Her take?  “This is the trouble with meeting people in real life: They don’t come with profiles attached.”

I love this!  When social media comes into the picture so many of us stop acting like normal people.  We think we know someone from their Instagram feed or their Facebook page.  Then, we change how we think and behave based on those preconceived notions.  It is like we are all minor celebrities trying to live up to or explain our online image.

One thing that Katie talked about extensively is her West Country accent and upbringing.  I must admit that I almost always read these books with a standard English accent.  So, I felt like I was missing out a bit on the real Katie.  I did a bit of digging (6-7 minutes on youtube) and found Anna from English like a Native who is a self-proclaimed British / English pro.  She has some great videos on the different British accents and I quite enjoyed her video on the West Country accent.  I felt quite sorry for my family though because Anna makes me feel like I could finally conquer that Cockney accent.

 

 

 

 

fiction

Echo by Pam Muniz Ryan

I was very fortunate to be raised in a home rich with music.  So, I have always believed that music (and books, obviously) are a means of escape and adventure.  Music can transport you, encourage you and instantly change your mood.  So, when I saw the blurb for Echo I knew I wanted to read it.  After all, “..a prophesy, a promise and a harmonica…” is just too cryptic and wonderful to not read more.Echo

Echo tells the story of three children struggling through some of the most difficult moments in modern history.  The rise of Hitler’s Germany, the Great Depression and segregation in America are all experienced through the eyes of these young and brave kids.  It is the harmonica – an immensely popular instrument in its own time – that provides a means of escape for the each of them.

There is no real way to describe the book without spoiling the story.  I almost think it is better to read Pam Munoz Ryan’s version of how she stumbled upon the story idea.  I do, however, feel confident in recommending it.  Echo is beautifully written and when I see a copy I always feel the overwhelming need to hug it.

Mystery

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

farleighField

Secrets and the inability to share them create a tense and wonderful mystery story set in the English countryside during World War II.  Farleigh is the ancestral home of the Sutton family.  One morning a soldier dressed in Royal West Kent uniform is found dead in the fields of the grand home.  His parachute failed.  When examined more closely, the soldier is deemed a spy.  The question is, why would a spy even attempt to land at this remote and rural location?  What was his objective?

The author provides a lovely little bit of history with the inclusion of the seven rules for the civilian population of Great Britain during the war.  This was circulated throughout Great Britain in 1939.  One of the most important: Keep All Information to Yourself.  Within the story the question then becomes, how will anyone solve the case in an era of secrecy so severe that you could not even tell your family the nature of your job?

While solving the delightful mystery this story simultaneously highlights the tireless, important and sometimes overlooked work of women during World War II.  I think anyone with a basic knowledge of history remembers that women played an essential role in the war effort.  But even with a background in history (American though I must admit), the book reveals to me more of the countless ways women were vital to the war efforts.  For example, there are a number of references to Land Girls.  I had to look this one up and I was fascinated to learn that by 1941 women were conscripted into the Women’s Land Army to provide agricultural support.  These women had a non-compulsory uniform and were referred to as Land Girls.  And, please, pay attention to how they determined that the soldier was a spy.

Bowen focuses her story on the Sutton family since Lord Westerham, his wife Esme and their five daughters call Farleigh home.  I genuinely appreciated that these five women were a diverse group.  All of the women’s personalities and responses to the needs of the times were vastly different.  I must admit, there was one daughter I adored and one I would pay good money to slap.  Amazon put together this adorable little infographic but pay attention to the author’s cast of characters as well.  FarFieldFamily

Rhys Bowen is a prolific writer and this stand alone novel is my first experience with her mysteries.  This, to me, is truly a gift.  I read an exceptional story and found a new author to obsess over.