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Friday, December 4, 2015

November Reading Round-up

"I'm late! I'm late! I'm late for a very important date!"  What the heck happened to November?  I was just making preparations for Thanksgiving and the next thing I know it's December. YIKES!

So, I apologize for getting my November reading list out late, but truly, someone must have wiped a week out of my calendar. I'm sure everyone is feeling the same  at this time of year. So much to do; so little time to do it all.  And to top it all off, half of the books I read this month were duds.  Here's my review:

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy



This historical fiction book was one of my favorite reads this month. The story flips back and forth between Civil War era and present day America.  It follows the story of Sarah Brown, daughter of John Brown of Harper's Ferry fame. Sarah was a talented artist who painted secret code maps for the Underground Railroad--a little known fact. These maps were thought to sometimes be hidden in the heads of dolls to be carried by the children of escaping slaves.  As Sarah's story unfolds, so does the twin plot line of Eden, a modern day woman who is emotionally ravaged by years of failed attempts to conceive a child.  Eden and her husband try to restart their life in a new home in West Virginia near Harper's Ferry.   This Civil War era house just happens to be the very home where Sarah stayed while her father was executed after his attack on Harper's Ferry.  When Eden unearth's a doll in a secret root cellar in the home, the secrets of the house begin to unravel.  I loved the coincidences the author creates between the two time periods and how the author shows that the actions of one generation can affect the lives of many generations to follow.

Bed and Breakfast by Lois Battle

I chose this book because of the title.  I just love bed and breakfast places. Bob and I have a favorite B&B that we patronize whenever we visit Cape May.  It's called Inn at the Park, and it is owned and operated by two very lovely people, Jay and MaryAnn.  Unfortunately, they just announced their retirement and will no longer be hosting their B&B after January.  Just wanted to give them a shout out and to let the blogworld know what truly welcoming and sweet people they are.  Here are just a couple of shots of them and their beautiful Victorian home:


MaryAnn, an avid tennis player at age 70, was dressed for a big tourney that was to take place immediately after breakfast.  You go girl!

The parlor where hors d'oeuvres are served to guests every day at 5:00.

Back to the book... the setting for Bed and Breakfast is Hilton Head, South Carolina.  The main character is Josie, a close-to-seventy-year-old woman who tenaciously runs a B&B that she insisted she and her husband buy after years of nomadic wandering as her husband "Bear" pursued his military career.  Josie has been widowed for many years when the story opens and the reader can see how much the B&B gives meaning to her life.  The plot is complicated by the sibling rivalries of her three grown daughters. Life is never dull when you have nosy guests, and even nosier friends, not to mention a sister who lives next door.  A fun read.

Ruth's Journey:  the Authorized Novel of Mammy from Gone With the Wind by Donald McCaig

This sounded like a fascinating story, but was such a disappointment.  I couldn't get past the first two chapters.  The setting begins in the Caribbean Islands of the slave trade days where the French are unsuccessfully trying to quell a slave uprising.  The graphic violence and history book reporting was too much.  I wanted to get into the mind of Mammy and hear her thoughts of Tara and the O'Hara's but that never happened...I peaked at the ending (Oh Horrors, yes I did)
 and still didn't see any glimpses of the Mammy of Gone With the Wind. 


Lesson Plans by Suzanne Greenberg


This one also made the loser list. I thought I would be so interested in a book whose characters decided to homeschool their children, but the two families who were the focus of the story were so messed up and dysfunctional, I just couldn't stand reading any more about them! The main character was a father who mourned the loss of his liberal, activist lifestyle of his youth after being forced to do the adult thing, like go to work and support his family. So, since wifey made big bucks, he decides to quit the workforce and homeschool his three girls in a completely free environment.  Just imagine what that looks like...Montessori in hyper-drive!  Kids with no limits, no schedules, no plans!!! Hmmm...no comment.  Then there was the other homeschool novice, a mother (recently separated from hubby) who has become so overprotective of her highly allergic and asthmatic daughter that she might as well have put the girl in one of those John Travolta Bubble Boy glass domes.  This woman seriously needed help, and hubby just walks out because he can't cope with his wife's phobias.  Hello?? there is a child here in need of an education and guidance...Step up man and take charge!  I had to leave these guys to muddle to the end of the book alone. I just don't have patience for irresponsible adults. I was especially disappointed because I really think homeschooling can work for many kids and was hoping this book would paint that picture for me...alas not to be.


That's it for November...gotta get shoppin'...Let me know what you have been reading.  Take a stab at reading my two duds, maybe you can change my mind.  Any disagreements about my reviews are welcome too.