Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls: The Dastardly Deed by Holly Grant, 333 pages

Join the League . . .

After their narrow escape from a NEFARIOUS kidnapping ring, Anastasia, Ollie, and Quentin (a.k.a. The League of Beastly Dreadfuls!) are looking forward to a relaxing vacation from DANGER! INTRIGUE! CATASTROPHE! Sadly, they’re not going to get one.

Because Anastasia makes the SHOCKING discovery that her family is at the heart of a centuries-old scandal—a SCANDAL that began with THE DASTARDLY DEED. Before you can say “Bob’s your uncle,” the Dreadfuls have another MYSTERY to solve: the Case of the Missing Grandfather. Can our INTREPID LEAGUE track down Anastasia’s Vanished Gramps? Gentle Reader, BEWARE! The trail of clues leads to spine-tingling surprises. (Catastrophe! Magic! Opera! Stinky cheese! Science fairs!) Read on if you DARE!

Grave Consequences by Dana Cameron, 357 pages

Archaeologist Emma Fielding is beginning to doubt the wisdom of spending her vacation in England helping friends excavate a twelfth-century abbey, especially when they uncover an all-too-modern skeleton in a nearby medieval graveyard. But it's the second discovery--of a murdered graduate student recently missing from the dig--that suggests to Emma that Marchester isn't exactly the quiet riverside town that it appears to be. There are dark passions and lethal secrets buried here, heinous crimes that shake the conflicted community to its core. And it's up to Emma, an outsider far from home, to delve into a past that too many people--including her friends--would do anything to hide.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tales Behind the Tombstones by Chris Enss, 207 pages

A crumbling headstone in the cemetery at Bodie, California, memorializes Rosa May, a prostitute still known for caring for the sick. In Deadwood, South Dakota, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, infamous to the end, lie interred side by side, per Jane's last request. And at the top of Lookout Mountain in Colorado lies the greatest western showman of all time, Buffalo Bill Cody, his grave site visited by thousands every year.
Simple stones, roadside crosses, and grand monuments commemorate the lives of those ordinary citizens and larger-than-life characters who tamed the Wild West and exemplified its greatest myths. In Tales Behind the Tombstones, author Chris Enss shares the stories behind their lives, deaths and burials.
Every college break, my daughter comes home, picks out library books that she never reads but I end up enjoying. This break was no different.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tulipomania, The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions it Aroused by Mike Dash, 297 pages

In 1630s Holland thousands of people, from the wealthiest merchants to the lowliest street traders, were caught up in a frenzy of buying and selling. The objects of the speculation was not oil or gold, but the tulip, a delicate and exotic bloom that had just arrived from the East.
Over three years rare tulip bulbs changed hands for sums that would have bought a house in Amsterdam. Fortunes were made overnight, but then lost when, within a year, the market collapsed-with disastrous consequences.
Mike Dash recreates the bizarre episode, tracing the tulip's story from its origins on the Turkish steppes to its arrival in Europe. He follows the hysterical boom and devastating bust, beautifully evoking Holland's Golden Age.
This was an interesting read but I now compare these type of books to Kurlansky's books and this didn't quite measure up. But I'm still glad I picked it up.

Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander, 272 pages

Taran has been both Assistant Pig-Keeper and warrior, but his heart is troubled. Who are his parents? Where does he come from? In a quest to learn who he truly is. Taran travels Prydain seeking secrets long buried by time and silence.
Accompanied by his loyal friends, Taran begins his search. Maybe, if his parents are noble as he hopes, Princess Eilonwy with the red-gold hair will think as often and as fondly of Taran as he finds himself thinking of her.
I've read this series once before years ago and was compelled to read it again after one of my book clubs read the first one. I've enjoyed it, but with with overtones of apprehension because I know what's coming in the last book.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Crossing the Heart of Africa by Julian Smith, 325 pages

In 1898 the dashing British adventurer Ewert Grogan fell head-over-heels in love---but before he could marry, he needed the approval of his beloved's skeptical, aristocratic stepfather. Grogan, seeking to prove his worth and earn his love's hand, then set out on an epic quest to become the first man to cross the entire length of Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo, " a feat hitherto thought by many explorers to be impossible."
A little more than a century later, American journalist Julian Smith also found himself madly in love with his girlfriend of seven years...but he was terrified by the prospect of marriage. inspired by Grogan's story, which he discovered by chance, Smith decided to face his fears of commitment by retracing the explorer's amazing---but now forgotten---4,500-mile journey for love and glory through Africa.

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats, 278 pages

High-spirited young Jane is excited to be part of Mr. Mercer’s plan to bring Civil War widows and orphans to Washington Territory—but life out west isn’t at all what she expected.

Washington Territory is just the place for men of broad mind and sturdy constitution—and girls too, Jane figures, or Mr. Mercer wouldn’t have allowed her to come on his expedition to bring unmarried girls and Civil War widows out west.

Jane’s constitution is sturdy enough. She’s been taking care of her baby brother ever since Papa was killed in the war and her young stepmother had to start working long days at the mill. The problem, she fears, is her mind. It might not be suitably broad because she had to leave school to take care of little Jer. Still, a new life awaits in Washington Territory, and Jane plans to make the best of it.

Except Seattle doesn’t turn out to be quite as advertised. In this rough-and-tumble frontier town, Jane is going to need every bit of that broad mind and sturdy constitution—not to mention a good sense of humor and a stubborn streak a mile wide.