Friday, June 24, 2016

Kaiulani, The People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White

Kaiulani, the People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White is one of The Royal Diaries series books. The diary begins in 1889 when Kaiulani (Victoria Kawekiu Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Ka'iulani Cleghorn) was in line to the throne of Hawaii and at a time when there was unrest in the Hawaiian islands. The monarchy was eventually overthrown and a provisional government claimed themselves the Republic of Hawaii . In 1898 they received status as a U.S. territory.

From the cover:
At Iolani Palace, Father and I met with Papa Moi and Mama Moi in the throne room. Papa Moi was solemn, as he reminded me that it will be my responsibility to do as well as possible, and in that way, further the hopes of our nation. . . 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Typhoon by Charles Cumming

Typhoon by Charles Cumming is a spy novel set in Hong Kong and China at the time leading up to and after the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong.
I tend to get a bit confused when reading spy novels with all the code names and name changes, but Typhoon was an intriguing read.
Under cover as an employee of the large firms moving into China, operatives from the British MI6 and the American CIA have set up spy rings, many of which are based in Hong Kong with access to China. Things dramatically change when Hong Kong is changed from British Rule to Chinese. The story revolves around Joe Lennox a Secret Service agent for British SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) MI6 and Miles Coolidge an American CIA officer.

Hong Kong History:
During the First Opium War  Britain invaded Hong Kong which was then a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of China. The opium was Britain's answer to importing tea to Britain without draining the crown's coffers by exchanging China tea with opium from India (another British colony). The Chinese government objected to this practice of bringing large quantities of narcotics into the country. To end the trade war, China ceded the island to Britain as a Crown Colony via the Nanking Treaty.
Because Hong Kong was such a small area, surrounded by smaller islands, rather than risk another battle, the British agreed to a lease with China. There were two leases, the second one added the islands (New Territories) ending in ninety-nine years with the agreement that Hong Kong would remain capitalist with the political freedoms they had lived under during British rule.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Penny Saved

If you haven't been over to my A Penny Saved Blog, hop on over and take a look. I started the blog a few years ago when I began living more frugally and this year my goal is to post a tip each day.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned is a quote most commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It is also noted that similar phrases were used by others, but for me it came from my Aunt Rene and those words have stayed with me since childhood.

So, taking those words of wisdom to heart, I’m on a quest to make the most of every penny/cent and waste neither money nor resources and have shared tips on my blog A Penny Saved

If you have any tips to share please either leave a comment or send me an e-mail to

Friday, June 17, 2016

Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

I haven't been able to get to the library this week and have been going through books on my shelf. Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund was from a blog giveaway and not a genre I would normally read (Christian Romance). I had not heard of Michilimackinac Island before and Ms. Hedlund gives the reader a detailed picture of life in Michigan in 1814 when the British and Americans were fighting for control of the island. I enjoyed the story and especially learning about life during such a difficult time especially for those Americans on the border with Canada.

From the cover:
Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who's grown into a beautiful woman. Angelique finds herself trapped by circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley.

Aerial photo of Fort Michilimackinac, Mackinac City, Michigan, MI ...

1812 Battle of Mackinac

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Evan Help Us by Rhys Bowen

I'm taking a break from the 50 State Reading Challenge and found a lovely cozy mystery set in northern Wales. Evan Help Us is the second in the Evan Evans series by Rhys Bowen (our local library didn't have the first book Evans Above). The setting and characters are reminiscent of the Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton with a village constable and a remote village.
Along with a murder or two, the village of Llanfair believe they have found something of archaeological interest which they believe will put their village on the map. They have several rivalries with other villages that have more interest to tourists, one of which, although starts with the letters Llanfair, continues on to be the longest name in Britain Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I spent many summers in Wales as a child and enjoyed getting re-immersed in the local language, terminology and Welsh ways in Evan Help Us. This is one that will be going on my favorite list of reads for 2016.

And if you're wondering how the longest name in Britain is pronounced you can listen below.
The meaning of the name is: Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and Saint Tisilio's church near the red cave.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Basket Case by Nancy Haddock

In Basket Case, Nancy Haddock has switched from her previous genre of  Vampires to Cozies and I think she's found her niche. Basket case is the beginning of a delightful series.

From the Cover:
There isn't much crime in Lilyvale, Arkansas, but local authorities have their hands full with Ms. Sherry Mae Stanton Cutler and her housemates - a crafty group of retirees who've dubbed themselves the Silver Six. But when Sherry Mae's niece arrives to keep them in line, Lilyvale also plays host to a killer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cimarron by Edna Ferber

I hadn't heard of Edna Ferber until a friend mentioned her love of the author's novels. But once she started listing the screenplays from her books I understood her obsession with the author: Giant and Showboat are two of her most popular.  While searching for a book set in Oklahoma for my 50 State Reading Challenge Cimarron was one that was listed. Written in the late 1920s, it gives a vivid description of the difficult life when homesteaders descended upon the dusty plains of Oklahoma's red soil. Not long after the settlers became comfortable with life with their neighboring Indians who had been moved to an Oklahoma reservation, the oil boom hit. The story is set in a fictional town of Osage and follows Yancy Cravat, a lawyer and newspaperman and his wife Sabra, the daughter of an elegant Southern family. Below is the trailer for the 1960 Cimarron film. Note: Yancy Cravat's name was changed to Cimarron in the movie.

From the cover:
Cimarron, that wild and unruly strip of land between Texas and Oklahoma, was to be thrown open to homesteaders. The city of Osage, tents and shacks and wagons, rose where but one day before were only Indians, rattlesnakes and outlaws. To this crude city came Yancey Cravat whose eloquent speach and ready guns had already made him a legend, and his wife Sabra, daughter of the elegant and delicate Southern aristocracy. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

I realized while searching for a book set in Vermont for the 50 State Reading Challenge that I had never read Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. As a fan of Hayley Mills during my childhood I've seen the movie and most of us know the story. The book is delightful (a little like Anne of Green Gables) with a happy child who always finds something to be glad about. But I'm sad to say, with all the horror stories of abductions and children being treated badly, the days when a child can wander through town making friends with adults are long gone.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Crossfile Trail by Louis L'Amour

I chose Crossfire Trail by Louis L'Amour because of the Wyoming setting for my 50 State Reading Challenge. I've never been a big fan of westerns, but found this book on the 10 cent shelf  at the library and along with the challenge I'm trying different genres this year. Louis L'Amour paints a vivid picture of life and ranches on the wild American frontier and immediately engrosses the reader in the story of Rafe Caradec "a man who always rode at the read, hardened by a life spent among ruthless men who played for the highest stakes." With over a hundred novels to choose from, I have a feeling this won't be my last Louis L'Amour. Crossfire Trail was also adapted into a television series staring Tom Selleck (Rafe's name was changed from Caradec to Covington in the series.)

From the cover:
The only thing Rafe held sacred was his word - and now he had sworn to a dying man that he would save his Long Valley ranch for his wife and daughter, Ann. But Ann thought Rafe was moving in for his own crooked gain, and played right into the deadly hands of the greedy ranchers plotting to destroy her. Then Rafe figured a way to save Ann and the land. It would be dangerous - but that was the only way Rafe Caradec knew.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dunkirk 1940

The Dunkirk miracle – In WWII fog suddenly covered the English ...
Beginning on May 26, 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill asked for help from owners of boats of all sizes and pleasure craft to rescue over 350,000 British and allied soldiers trapped on Dunkirk (Dunquerke) beach in France. Some boats were as small as 18' and it was the smaller boats that were needed to maneuver in the shallow beach area. For an unknown reason, possibly expecting surrender, Hitler had halted his offensive for a few days which made the evacuation possible. It was anticipated that approximately 25% of the armies would be saved. But although of 860 ships that participated 240 were sunk, with assistance from the British Navy and Royal Air Force, over 300,000 soldiers were removed from the Dunkirk beaches.
Description Dunkirk Evacuation shipping routes.png
I remember learning a poem at school I believe it was called Dunkirk 1940, possibly by the Welsh poet, Idris Davies about the little ships and the brave British citizens who traveled across the channel to save the brave soldiers.

The Little Ships, the little ships
Rushed out across the sea
To save the luckless army
from death and slavery

The little ships . . .

Does anyone else remember the poem? I did some research but wasn't able to find it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Although Little House in the Big Woods is a children's book, it's still an enjoyable read for adults. It covers the years when Laural Ingalls and her family lived in a log cabin in Pepin, Wisconsin (near Lake Pepin). Caroline and Charles Ingalls both had the necessary skills for self survival and while Laura's father, a skilled hunter, provided food and fuel for the family, her mother sewed and cooked and kept the cabin clean and tidy. All of the family adapted to a strict regimen to keep their family home well stocked and cared for.
Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday
If I was ever stuck in the woods, this is the book I would want with me to learn survival skills! But it wasn't all work. The extended family got together to bleed sap (maple syrup) from the trees which was cooked, and although most of it was stored, they did scoop up platefuls of snow and pour maple syrup on it which quickly turned to candy.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her sixties when the first book in her Little House series was published after many rejections (she was told writing for children was a waste of time). Her books now have over 60 million in sales. And of course we all remember the series Little House on the Prairie starring Michael Landon.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


The Suffragette movie is very thought provoking. Meryl Streep plays an important character, Emmeline Pankhurst, but it isn't a huge part. It's Carey Mulligan's character whose fictional story is followed throughout the movie who carries the story. I've never taken the cause lightly as I lived in London next door (as a child) to a woman who had once been a suffragette and she told me some of the horrific stories of how women were treated. Emily Davison is also portrayed in the story. No one really knows if she intended to be killed that day by the King's Horse or whether she merely wanted to disrupt the race at the Epsom Derby and bring attention to the Suffragette Movement. Herbert Jones, the jockey, was unconscious after the collision, but survived.
The 1918 Representation of the People Act allowed women of property over the age of thirty the right to vote.

See the timeline of women's right to vote around the world here

Friday, May 20, 2016

Through a Glass Deadly by Sarah Atwell

I picked up Through A Glass Deadly by Sarah Atwell because it's set in Tucson, Arizona and I'm working my way through the 50 U.S. States for a reading challenge.

From the Cover:
With a weakness for taking in strays, from homeless dogs to extra students, Emmeline can't help befriending troubled newcomer Allison McBride. But their friendship takes a dangerous turn when em finds Allison's husband in the studio - dead.

Sarah Atwell also writes as Sheila Connolly and although I love the County Cork series, Through A Glass Deadly wasn't one of my favorite cozy mysteries, but I can't really put my finger on the reason.

I think a review on Goodreads may sum it up -
I've been researching cozy mysteries, trying to find one that might interest my mother-in-law who loves them. She also loves glass-blowing, so this series piqued my curiosity. The main character, Emmeline, is a glassblower and owns her own shop and studio in Tucson where she gives glassblowing classes. The thing I didn't like about this cozy mystery is that Em's behavior is completely implausible. At the beginning of the book, she meets a woman who is reserved, nervous, and seems like she is hiding something. Within hours of meeting her, Emmeline offers her a job in her studio. Within a day of meeting her, a dead body shows up in her glassblowing furnace (she discovers the body and is remarkably nonplussed). Turns out that the dead guy is her new "friend" Alison's husband. Emmeline defends her friend and continues to believe that she had nothing to do with it.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Air Dance Iguana by Tom Corcoran

I was looking for a book set in Key West to read when I visited there last month and came across Air Dance Iguana by Tom Corcoran. This isn't the first book in the series, but I didn't find it difficult to get acquainted with the characters. Key West is such a unique place and I enjoyed the mystery. I'll be adding Tom Corcoran to my list of TBR authors.

Summary from the author's web page: Two men, twenty miles apart, are killed in the same strange way on a quiet summer morning in the Florida Keys. Forensic photographer Alex Rutledge finds that he may be the only person interested in pursuing justice, especially when his brother becomes a key suspect.Alex connects the current-day murders to a thirty-year-old scam amidst revenge smoldering since the Nixon years. He races time to thwart a final killing and, if possible, to prove his brother's innocence.

In my quest to stick to my budget this year, the book was borrowed from the library.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Murder She Wrote - a Fatal Feast by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

The Murder She Wrote series books need no introduction. They are true cozy mysteries, one you want to cozy up with (along with a cup of tea). Of course, we already have an image of the main character - Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury).
I chose the book for its setting in Maine as part of the 50 State Reading Challenge.

A Fatal Feast - From the Cover
I squinted to see what had captured his attention. Something in the grass now glistened in the moonlight, tiny specks of brilliance twinkling like earthbound stars.
It wasn't until I was ten feet from it that I recognized what it was.
The hilt of Seth's knife.
The elaborately crafted carving knife protruded from a body - a man's body from the glimpse I saw of his clothes . . .