Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review: Dolphins Under My Bed by Sandra Clayton

Sandra Clayton is the first one to say that she was never very fond of sailing. Oh, the idea of it was alright, but the mechanics of it were the issue. A few holiday sails taken over the years are the extent of her sailing experience. And her husband David's, too.

But David is fed up with the cold & damp Northern England winters. The couple is in their mid-fifties, tired of the rat race and lengthy car commute, and their good health is just beginning to falter. That's when David has a brilliant idea. If they sell the house, buy a boat and live frugally, they can retire early and spend winters basking in the Mediterranean sunshine. Sandra is not keen. But eventually a compromise is reached in the form of a two hulled catamaran, which is much more stable and rides more comfortably than a traditional sailboat.

(I have to say how much I sympathize. We are from New England. You know, snow, Arctic temperatures, Nor'easters. We thought we were hardy. Then we spent some time in Northern England in February. Not a snowflake in sight and not even that cold on the thermometer but we were FREEZING. That damp cold that just sinks in and won't let you go. It was not that much warmer inside, either. We felt like wimps! But I digress...)

And so the great adventure begins. Through the English Channel, down the coast of Europe and around the rock of Gibraltar to the lovely Mediterranean. Along the way they will become intrepid sailors, absorb the culture of lovely small port towns (frequently while looking for the laundromat) and meet a vast array of people who are mostly eager to lend a hand. Mother Nature makes a grand appearance, too, a reminder that she is big and they are small.

The author's descriptions of the beauty that surrounds them are breathtaking. It is a wonderful story, full of adventure. The Claytons are an example for the rest of us, they are healthier and happier for their choice. Don't wait until it is too late, pursue your dreams. Make the sacrifices now so you don't end up saying, when it is too late, "If I had only..."

A sequel, Something of the Turtle, will be published in the spring and a third book is in the planning stages. I am thrilled to hear that the Claytons are still sailing and can't wait to read of their continuing life aboard!

Dolphins Under My Bed is published by Wheatmark. ISBN 978-1-58736-816-5

Order Dolphins Under My Bed from Amazon

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Love Your Blogs, Too!!!

THANK YOU!! to Amanda at The Luscious Literary Muse for giving me this!! I have been seeing it go around since BBAW. I have to say that I just love the book blogging community and I am honored to be a part of it. As a whole, everyone is so friendly, helpful, creative, imaginative. What a wonderful group to belong to! So thank you and right back at you!

My list of the seven blogs that I go to the most for inspiration and great reviews are:

If you'd like to accept and participate here are the rules:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review: We Bought A Zoo: A Memoir by Benjamin Mee PLUS a GIVEAWAY!!!

"The amazing true story of a young family, a broken down zoo, and the 200 wild animals that change their lives forever."

Benjamin Mee was living that life that he thought he wanted. In the summer of 2004 he has moved his young family to rural France, leaving behind years of busy London life but taking his writing career with him. He is the proud owner of two very rustic barns that need enormous amounts of work. Perfect for a writer of do-it-yourself columns, he will have plenty of inspiration.

Life, as it is wont to do, intervenes. Benjamin's lovely young wife Katherine is diagnosed with a brain tumor. She is treated aggressively and early but the type of cancer is one of the fastest growing kinds and is likely to recur. With admirable courage, the couple faces the unthinkable. The treatment is successful and they have hope.

At some point during the crisis, Benjamin's sister sends him a pamphlet of a zoo that is for sale in Dartmoor, England. Somehow, this is what he has always wanted. In a fantastic co-operative effort, his entire extended family bands together to try to make the dream a reality. After much exhausting back-and-forth the zoo is purchased and the family moves in.

Now the pressure really mounts as Benjamin, Katherine, their small children, his Mom and his brother Duncan all work together to turn the run-down zoo back into a thriving business. In the midst of the chaos, Katherine's two year remission comes to an end and Benjamin is sidetracked, caring for his now terminally ill wife.

When I received this book in the mail I opened it up and read the jacket flap. Just that, and I was teary-eyed. So I turned to the first page and before I even looked up I was on page 120. No one should have to deal with the kind of stress that this family went through. But the zoo, while a source of enormous pressure to get it up and running, was also the path through the grief and the way back to life. The animals need you every day, even days when you don't want to get out of bed. The story is engrossing and heartbreaking at times, but ultimately life-affirming and I was cheering for this family and thrilled for their success.

Visit the website for Mr. Mee's zoo, Dartmoor Zoological Park.

We Bought A Zoo is published by Weinstein Books. ISBN 978-160286048-3

Order We Bought A Zoo from Amazon

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!!

Weinstein Books has generously provided me with a brand new, hardback copy of We Bought A Zoo. Would you like to win?

Here's what you do...

For one entry leave a comment here telling me the name of any animal at the Dartmoor Zoological Park (except for Tamzin, he's on the home page, too easy) Hint: look at the Gallery page!

For an extra two entries blog about the giveaway and link back here. That's it! Enter up till 11:59 pm Eastern Time on October5. Winner will be drawn at random. USA and Canada entries only, for mailing purposes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Review: The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own by Nina Garcia

Okay, I admit that I am not a Fashionista. I live in a rural area and wear a uniform to work, so the chic part of my wardrobe is slim. But I would love to improve in that area (I keep watching What Not to Wear, hoping something will sink in) and this book is a great guide.

There are quite a few items on this list of 100 that I actually own, surprisingly. Little Black Dress, Wayfarer sunglasses (so glad to learn that those are classic, I've been wearing them since college), Ballet Flats, Cable-Knit sweater, iPod (!), Jeans (of course). L.L. Bean Tote Bag...I have several! Nice to know that I am not as far out of the fashion loop as I thought!

Some entries I will never have, I don't need an evening dress and will never spend the amount of money that will buy a car on an "investment bag." And some don't seem fashionable to me at all. White jeans, do people really wear those? And a Caftan. Really? Didn't think those were ever actually an accepted style. Outside of your own home, that is. But what do I know?

Those examples aside, this is a fun book. There are little boxes throughout with the history of different pieces and "fun facts," too. The brilliant illustrations by Ruben Toledo really make the book. No matter what your level of style, you are sure to find something that you already own listed and it will help you add the essential pieces you might be missing.

The One Hundred is published by Collins Living. ISBN 978-0-06-166461-8

Order The One Hundred from Amazon

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Review: The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Some would call the Pharaoh Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti visionaries. They ended the polytheistic religion of Egypt and destroyed the greedy and corrupt temples of Amun. They instituted a revolutionary monotheistic system, worshipping one God, the Aten. Unfortunately, thousands of years of religious belief could not be erased so easily. Their reign ended in disaster and the old religious order was restored, ending a line of kings stretching back over a hundred years.

Michelle Moran starts this novel several years after the events of her first novel, Nefertiti. The sole survivor from the previous royal line is Princess Nefertari, niece of Nefertiti. She has been raised at the court of the current Pharaoh, Seti I, and alongside the royal heir, Ramesses. They are fast friends. In fact, he is one of her only friends and the only reason the other children tolerate her. She is the victim of the backlash of hatred against her deceased family. She is called 'heretic' and worse and is blamed for the actions of her relatives.

As they grow up, the close friendship of Nefertari and Ramesses blossoms into love. But few at court want Nefertari as Egypt's queen and her enemies try to turn the people against her, too. Fortunately for Nefertari, she is a gifted woman. She has an affinity for language and is able to learn the political intricacies of the court. She has brains and courage. Her journey to the throne of Egypt is breathtaking.

The author has vividly recreated the stunning courts and palaces of Ancient Egypt. Her imagining of the life of Queen Nefertari and the Pharaoh who will be known to history as Ramesses the Great makes for an engrossing and fascinating historical novel. I particularly liked the inclusion of the Egyptian calendar at the end of the book, the first of these that I have seen. I have read quite a lot of historical fiction set in Ancient Egypt and have always wondered how their calendar of seasons corresponds to our own.

I loved The Heretic Queen and impatiently await Ms. Moran's next book, Cleopatra's Daughter. Visit her wonderful website!

The Heretic Queen is published by Crown. ISBN 978-0-307-38175-0.

Order The Heretic Queen from Amazon

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Winner of My BBAW Giveaway is....

SJ from That Book Addiction!!!

Two Jane Green books will be on their way to you! Please send me your mailing address. Thanks to everyone who entered! Please check back on October first, I have some great giveaways planned!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Great Big Thank You to Amy for Book Blogger Appreciation Week!!!!

This summer, after book blogging was patronized in the mainstream media, Amy from My Friend Amy made a suggestion that we celebrate book blogging. From that idea, Book Blogger Appreciation Week was born. Many of us have participated in interviews, contests, give-aways, and through awards but this would never have happened were it not for the dream, perseverance, planning, hard work and dedication of Amy. This has been a wonderful week and as members of the Book Blogging community, in one voice we want to thank Amy for all that she has done.

Amy, you are truly the Queen of Book Bloggers and we love you!

Monday, September 15, 2008

And Now for the Winner!

Congratulations to Alyce at At Home With Books, you are the winner of The White Mary by Kira Salak! Many thanks to everyone who entered!

Now I'm giving away two books by Jane Green. Enter here!

Thanks again to Amy for all of her hard work on Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Review: Nox Dormienda (A Long Night for Sleeping): An Arcturus Mystery by Kelli Stanley

This new mystery series is set in Roman occupied Britain. The governor, Agricola, has subdued the Britons and built a fragile peace after the terrible destruction of the Druids' sacred isle of Mona and the defeat of Boudicca. But the balance is precarious, the Romans and the natives barely tolerate each other.

Arcturus is caught with a foot in both worlds. His mother was a Briton but his father and step-father were both Roman. He has managed to become a successful physician, officially he is Agricola's physician, but he manages to hover in the middle. He feels the tug of divided loyalties.One night, after a busy day treating patients, a beautiful woman comes to see him. Her name is Gwyna and she claims that the Governor is in danger. Arcturus has a knack for solving problems and a bit of a reputation for it, too. Perhaps because of his knowledge of both nationalities, he is able to win trust on both sides. He is a little distracted, though, by Gwyna, and the other interesting members of his household are both a hindrance and a help.

Before you know it a murder has taken place, and then another. The Romans blame the native community, particularly one young Druid who is conveniently in their path. Can Arcturus unravel the mystery in time to find the real killer, save the young man and avoid the civil war that is sure to erupt if the Romans execute the wrong man?

This mystery novel is full of well developed characters and has an intriguing plot. The setting of Roman Britain is so masterfully crafted that it is obvious the author has immersed herself in it. You can feel the mud and the dreary rain and see the gray mist that covers the Londinium of the time. I loved the inclusion of the excellent glossary in the back which included every Latin and Celtic word used in the book.

In her author's note, Ms. Stanley explains that she is a fan of Noir films and the classic private eye stories of Raymond Chandler. That is certainly apparent in this engrossing mystery. Some of the snappy language was hilarious and the whole time I was reading it I kept seeing Humphrey Bogart in his overcoat (make that a toga) and hearing Dick Tracy in my ear. It was a vivid, exciting, hard-boiled mystery with a bit of fun thrown in!

I hope I will be able to review the next book in the series, Maledictus. I have to know what happens to Arcturus & the rest of the lively characters that live in Ms. Stanley's world of Roman Noir.

Nox Dormienda is published by Five Star. ISBN 978-1-59414-666-4

Order Nox Dormienda from Amazon

Double Book Giveaway in Honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week PLUS My Friend Amy’s Official BBAW Giveaway List!

In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week I am hosting a double book giveaway....

Enter to win two books by Jane Green, Second Chance and Swapping Lives. Leave a comment here for one entry. You can earn an additional four entries if you post about it on your blog and link back here (if you don't have a blog, email four friends and cc me on the emails). Have your entries in by midnight eastern time on September 19 (my birthday!). Winner will be chosen at random. US or Canada only for mailing purposes. Good Luck!

Please check back here on September 15 for the results of my giveaway of The White Mary by Kira Salak. You can enter until midnight eastern on September 14 for a chance to win that one!

My Friend Amy is hosting the official Book Blogger Appreciation Week Giveaways, here's all the info:

If you follow along for the festivities of BBAW at My Friend Amy, you will find many chances to win LOTS of goodies! Like what? Well have a look below. All of these things will be given away between September 15-19. There will be a huge variety of ways to win them and giveaways will be announced constantly throughout the week. So be sure to check in often!

Daily Raffles:

Monday--Books and Chocolate sponsored by My Friend Amy and Hey Lady! Whatcha' Readin?
Tuesday--Books and Going Green sponsored by My Friend Amy
Wednesday--Books and Coffee sponsored by My Friend Amy
Thursday--Books and Charity sponsored by My Friend Amy and Fashionista Piranha
Friday--Books and Movies sponsored by My Friend Amy

Win a Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit!

Do you find it's your turn to host book club and not only do you not know what to serve but you don't know what books to offer up for the next month's selection?! Let Book Club Girl come to your rescue with the Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit.

One lucky winner of the kit will receive:

* A basket of cheese, crackers, cookies and wine for up to 12 people
* 5 great book group books to vote on for your group's next pick. And Book Club Girl will then donate 12 copies whichever book is chosen for your entire group to read.
* 12 Book Club Girl mousepads to give out as party favors that night
* 12 Book Club Girl bookmarks to mark everyone's favorite passages
* 12 Book Club Girl coasters to protect your coffee table from all those wine glasses!

TWO SORMAG Goody Bags containing books and more!

A Special Pamper Me Basket from Cafe of Dreams!
From Avon Foot Works
~ Inflatable watermelon shaped foot tub
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Cooling Foot Lotion
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Exfoliating Foot Scrub
~ 12 count Watermelon Effervescent Foot Tablets
~ An ARC of So Long At The Fair by Christina Schwarz
~ A variety of Hot Chocolate and Tea mixes

A pre-made blog template from SNSDesign!

A Subscription to Poetry Magazine from Savvy Verse and Wit!


Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen
The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
John's Quest by Cecelia Dowdy
Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy
Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
A Tale Out of Luck by Willie Nelson with Mike Blakely
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
Gunmetal Black by Daniel Serrano
Isolation by Travis Thrasher
The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
Every Freaking! Day With Rachell Ray by Elizabeth Hilts
Dewey by Vicki Myron
The Shiniest Jewel by Marian Henley
Keep the Faith by Faith Evans
The Book of Calamities by Peter Trachtenberg
A is for Atticus by Lorilee Craker
After the Fire by Robin Gaby Fisher
Mike's Election Guide by Michael Moore
War as They Knew It by Michael Rosenberg
Fixing Hell By Col. (ret.) Larry C. James
Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran by Andy Taylor
The Last Under-Cover: The True Story of an FBI Agent's Dangerous Dance with Evil By Bob Hamer
Border Lass by Amanda Scott
Insatiable Desire by Rita Heron
Hungry for More by Diana Holquist
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
Trespassers Will Be Baptized by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan
Never Surrender by General Jerry Boykin
Dream in Color by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, Congresswoman Loretta Sánchez
Beyond Belief by Josh HamiltonCobain
Unseen by Charles R. Cross
Doing Business in 21st Century India by Gunjan Bagla
Branding Only Works on Cattle by Jonathan Salem Baskin
Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady, Orrin Woodward
How to Hear from God by Joyce Meyer
Knowing Right from Wrong by Thomas D. Williams
Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life by Caroline Pigozzi
Pure by Rebecca St. James
He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobson
So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobson and Dave Coleman
Move On, Move Up by Paula White
The Rosary by Gary Jansen
Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody
by George by Wesley Stace
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh
Dead Boys by Richard Lange
The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones
GunnBeyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky
With Endless Sight by Allison Pittman
Harlequin Titles: To Be Announced

Many other blogs are giving away books and prizes for BBAW as well! You can see the links to all of these giveaways here

Friday, September 12, 2008

Review: The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams

Seville, Spain in the year 1593 is a wealthy city. The gold and riches pouring in from the New World have led to prosperity for Spain but unfortunately the country has lost many of its men to recent wars and the colonization of the New World. There are more widows and lonely wives than ever before. The result of the low male population is the rise of the Galanteador, a gallant or seducer. The most successful and famous of these was Don Juan Tenorio.

Don Juan was abandoned as an infant at a convent in Seville. He was raised by the nuns who were thrilled to have a child in their care. Growing up amidst a group of women has great advantages for Don Juan. He learns to understand and love them in a way that many men do not. At the age of fifteen he falls in love with a young novice but their affair is found out and he is expelled from the convent. He briefly lives in a nearby monastery where he is mistreated by the monks, so he leaves to make his own way in the world.

After several years as a burglar Juan is befriended by a Marquis who trains him to be a spy and Galanteador. Juan learns quickly and soon exceeds the Marquis in talent. He becomes famous for his exploits with women. He worships women and he believes that he could never be happy with just one. His happiness lies in showing each different woman how beautiful she is, regardless of her age, race or station in life. Then one day Don Juan meets the beautiful Ana and she has an unexpected effect on him.

The narrative will leave you breathless. It has amazing sword fights, frantic escapes, a fantastic bull fight, the horrors and torture of the Inquisition and steamy love scenes. It is full of action and excitement and I couldn’t put it down! The characters run the gamut from charming and endearing to dastardly and evil. I was rooting for Don Juan as he grew from his experiences and finally learned the truth about love.

The Lost Diary of Don Juan is published by Washington Square Press. ISBN 978-1-4165-3252-1

Order The Lost Diary of Don Juan from Amazon

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Review: The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain spent a lifetime winning their country back from the Moors. They finally succeeded in 1492 with the fall of Granada. They would use their four daughters to cement alliances with other European countries in order to obtain peace for themselves and their people.

Juana of Castile is like any other princess of the time, bound up in duty to her family and her country. At sixteen she is married to Philip, the Archduke of Flanders. It is difficult for her to leave the land of her birth but she never gives a thought to being an heir to the Spanish throne. She has both a brother and an older sister who will come before her. As she departs for Flanders she never expects to set foot in Spain again.

At first things in Flanders go well. Philip is handsome and Juana is surprised to find herself happy in her new life. She feels pampered and loved, she gives birth to two children and grows used to the luxury of her life as an Archduchess. It is a far cry from the austerity that the royalty of Spain believes in. In her happiness she allows herself to forget the lessons of her parents and her childhood.

When tragedy strikes repeatedly in Spain, killing in quick succession Juana's brother, older sister and baby nephew, Juana is suddenly the heir to the Spanish throne. She becomes the pawn in every power scheme for the crown and is betrayed by nearly every man that she has ever known and loved. They will stop at nothing. They accuse her of madness in order to show her inability to rule in her own right. The oldest trick in the book, used to wrest power from women down through the ages. She uses all her wits to fight them, will it be enough to save her throne?

With the great number of historical novels written about British royalty lately, I was happy to immerse myself in a story whose history I knew little about. Mr. Gortner does a wonderful job bringing sixteenth century Europe to life and explaining the convoluted politics of the time. I fell in love with Juana of Castile, who was as trapped in her life as any prisoner in a cell, though she fought valiantly to escape it. It is the wrenching story of a strong woman who had to face tremendous obstacles.

The Last Queen is published by Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-345-50184-4

Order The Last Queen from Amazon

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Do You Remember the Magic of Your First Book?

First Book is an organization that provides free, new books to needy children. Go to their website to record "What Book Got You Hooked?" and to vote for the state that you would like to receive 50,000 new books for kids from First Book. Voting is open until midnight on September 15. While you are there you can read all of the interesting entries so far! Nothing is required to participate but you are welcome to donate if you like.

Here are two of my favorites. The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary by P.D. Eastman (Dr. Seuss) is the first book I ever read myself. It is a fantastic book for children that are just learning to read.

Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards is the story of an orphan girl who discovers an abandoned house when she climbs over the back wall of the orphanage. She returns repeatedly, each time trying to do a little something to make it her own. She weeds the garden and tries to clean up the interior. It is her own special place and in her imagination it is the coziest home in the world. Then wonderful things start to happen. Each time she returns something has really been fixed, furniture and delicious food appear. Can she keep her secret from the other orphans? And who is her secret helper? It is a lovely story that remains one of my favorites to this day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Congratulations!! Plus Eleven Book Giveaway!

Congratulations to Jennifer at The Literate Housewife Review for posting her 100th review! To celebrate she is having an eleven book giveaway. Enter here by noon on September 11, eastern time. Good luck!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Review: The Black Tower by Louis Bayard

Restoration Paris, 1818. It has been over twenty years since the Revolution, Napoleon is in exile and the Bourbon kings are back on the throne of France. But the past still echoes...

Hector Carpentier is an ordinary medical student living at home with his mother, where she takes in boarders to help make ends meet. He is suddenly thrust into a murder investigation when detective Eugene Francois Vidocq turns up on his doorstep. It seems Hector's name has been found on a piece of paper that was concealed on a dead body. Hector has never seen or heard of the victim before. He is at a loss to explain why the man might have had his name and been at pains to hide it.

Before he knows what's happening, he is swept along with Vidocq and into a case that has the potential to shake France to its core. The evidence points to a conspiracy to kill a simple, quiet young man who lives in the country and who just might be the heir to the throne of France, Louis-Charles.

During the Revolution, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were both killed. Their two children, Marie-Therese-Charlotte and Louis-Charles were imprisoned in the Black Tower. Marie was eventually released but Louis-Charles died in prison. Or did he? The rumors have always circulated that he might have escaped and impostors have turned up before. But this young man has no memory of his early life and does not claim to be the lost prince. Someone believes he is, though, and they are intent on his death. It is up to Vidocq and Hector to unravel the mystery and protect the unassuming, fragile young man.

Louis Bayard paints a fascinating picture of the little-known real life detective, Vidocq. The world's first real police detective, he had a background in crime and had been imprisoned in his youth. He knew the criminal mind from personal experience and was able to use his knowledge to become an extremely successful detective. To me he seemed to be a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Columbo because of his flair for disguise and his gruff demeanor. Restoration Paris is likewise brought to life brilliantly. This book is a wonderful historical adventure.

The Black Tower is published by William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-117350-9

Order The Black Tower from Amazon

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Review: Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins

In 1746 the battle of Culloden in the Scottish Highlands nearly wiped out the Highland Clans. This is the story of Maggie Duncan. At seven years old she was the sole survivor when her village was destroyed by the English army because the villagers had aided the Highlanders. She is able to escape and then helps a mortally wounded soldier find his way home. Luckily for Maggie the soldier's wife is a midwife and she adopts Maggie, raises and educates her while passing along her healing skills.

When she is twenty-one Maggie's foster mother dies and with her goes Maggie's protection from the neighbors. They look on her as cursed since she survived when everyone else in her village perished in the attack. They are cruel and narrow minded, so she is unable to make a living for herself since the locals will not accept her as a healer. Eventually she decides to start fresh in America and sells herself as an indentured servant in order to obtain passage on a ship.

Upon arrival in Virginia, the ship's captain sells at auction the four year bonds for each passenger he has brought over. Maggie narrowly avoids being bought by an arrogant, drunken nobleman who has made the passage on the same boat. She is bought by a frontiersman, Seth, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife and children. He desperately needs help as his wife is ill and pregnant and physically unable to cope with frontier life. For Seth, Maggie is the answer to a prayer.

Maggie fits in well with Seth's family and the other settlers in that area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is smart and skilled and she quickly starts to learn the medical uses of the local plants. But just when everything seems to be going well, disaster strikes and she must use all of her wits to survive.

This is a terrific, enthralling story of frontier life in colonial Virginia. The characters were compelling (or repulsive, as the case may be) and the settings were wonderfully described. I loved the balanced depiction of the Native Americans of the time, showing them from their own point of view as well as an outsider's. I also loved that the author peppered the text with Scottish words. They were easily defined by the context but I had a great time looking up their meanings (ie: sclim=climb, swither=to be uncertain or hesitate). A really well done historical novel. I'm looking forward to future books by this author!

Midwife of the Blue Ridge is published by Berkley, ISBN 9780425221686

Order Midwife of the Blue Ridge from Amazon

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Giveaway...The White Mary by Kira Salak

Can't believe that summer is over and it is September already!! This giveaway is for a new trade paperback ARC of Kira Salak's The White Mary. There are a total of four possible chances to win. Comment here for one entry. Earn a second entry by commenting on my review, here. For an additional two entries blog about the giveaway and link back here. I'll take entries thru midnight eastern time on September 14 and the winner will be chosen at random. Check back mid-month for a second giveaway (the next one is going to be a double)! Look forward to hearing from everyone!

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Thank you!!

Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.