Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Monday, July 14, 2014

Secrets of Hallstead House

Reade, Amy M. Secrets of Hallstead House. New York: Kensington, 2014.

Macy Stoddard of New York City, recovering from the loss of her parents in an accident, takes a nursing job on an island in the St. Lawrence River at Summerplace, also known as Hallstead House. Her job is to provide care and therapy for Alexandria Hallstead who is recovering from a fall. Macy is afraid of the water as she leaves the mainland for the island as she has never learned to swim. She likes Pete, the local man who often works for Alexandria and took her by the island though which puts her more at ease than she expected. She is met with hostility by the housekeeper and her husband the handyman as well as Alexandria's nephew. Macy soon learns that Alexandria's only daughter had met her death by drowning and that Alexandria's husband had suffered a fatal fall. When Macy learns the real reason that Alexandria has invited her to the island, Macy isn't sure that she wants to stay. This story has many of the elements of the classic romantic suspense novel. Readers who enjoyed the works of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt will find much to enjoy in the novel. It suffers a bit in the believability department in a few places, but the pleasure of finding a book that took me back to my early love of this genre more than made up for it. I received an advance e-galley for review by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Psalms and Prayers for Little Ones

Nolan, Allia Zobel. Psalms and Prayers for Little Ones. Illustrated by Tammie Lyon. Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 2014.

This little volume takes several of the Psalms and paraphrases them so younger children can more easily understand them. It then pairs them with a short prayer based on each Psalm. The illustrations are good but not the quality that would be found in a Caldecott medal or honor book. The paraphrases sometimes stray a bit too far from some of the mainstream versions for my own tastes. If that does not bother you as much, this might be a book for your child or grandchild. There are certainly some Scripture truths to be learned here. This review is based on an advance review e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review. I did find the "Review Copy" in black letters on each pair of pages to be of overkill. Perhaps the publisher needs to learn the art of watermarking the images so they are still readable but easily identified as review copies.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Summer Wind

Monroe, Mary Alice. The Summer Wind. New York: Gallery Books, 2014.

Mamaw has convinced Carson, Dora, and Harper to spend the summer at Sea Breeze one final time before it is put on the market. Carson is the victim of downsizing and is seeking a job. Dora is in the midst of a divorce and has a child with Asperger's syndrome (Nate). Harper is well off financially but isn't very happy in New York City. Also present is Mamaw's longtime employee Lucille who is like family. Most off Monroe's books that I have read have an environmental aspect to them. In this particular installment, readers are made aware of dolphin rehabilitation groups through an incident involving Carson and Nate and a dolphin that became ensnared in a fishing line. Each character is dealing with hurt and each must be healed from the scars of his/her/its own situation. It's a good summer read, and Monroe has woven together a plot where all the threads compliment each other and create a multidimensional portrayal of what healing is. Although I loved all the characters and they are all well drawn, my favorite has to be Lucille. My only disappointment is that we really do not get to see the complete resolution for every situation. We do see progress. I suspect that Monroe will revisit one or more of the characters in a future book. I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written. There were a couple of misspellings in the ARC which I hope are corrected in the official version.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Long Way Home

Brierley, Saroo. A Long Way Home. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2014.

Saroo Brierley managed to get lost from his home in India by jumping aboard a train at the age of five. He traveled all the way to Calcutta with no identification, landing in an orphanage in that city. A couple from Australia adopted him. This is the story of his life and of his search for his family in India using the Internet, especially Google Earth and Facebook, to locate his home town. I don't want to provide spoilers so I'll simply say that the search illustrates how limited a five year old's vocabulary can sometimes be. Many memoirs can be rather boring and sometimes suffer from being poorly written but this one was a quick well-written read and managed to maintain my interest.  Persons interested in intercountry adoption or in locating birth parents will likely find it interesting. This review is based on an "Uncorrected Manuscript for Limited Distribution" received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Late Starters Orchestra

Goldman, Ari L. The Late Starters Orchestra. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2014.

Goldman, a professor of journalism at Columbia and former New York Times writer, recounts his studies of the cello at a later age in life and his involvement with the Late Starters Orchestra. He also discusses his son's studies in a Suzuki program for cello. The book is interesting in places, but bogs down in others. I loved the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. This book could be quite inspirational for older persons who have been contemplating studying a musical instrument. However, I suspect that many persons would be frustrated by the lack of opportunities in their geographic area. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.


Friday, June 06, 2014

The Greek Yogurt Kitchen

Amidor, Toby. The Greek Yogurt Kitchen. New York: Grand Central, 2014.

Toby Amidor has provided a lot of options for those interested in substituting Greek yogurt for some of the less healthy ingredients found in many recipes. There are recipes for breakfast foods, for breads, for main courses, for vegetables, and for desserts included in the pages. The author provides many helpful tips along the way. He also quotes from nutrition literature about the value of Greek yogurt in the diet. Most people will find at least a few recipes that sound interesting enough to try. The author used plain yogurt in some recipes and flavored ones in others. He also includes a recipe to make one's own Greek yogurt at home and tells what equipment would be needed. He includes some recipes for creating flavors in the yogurt. The index was unavailable for review in the the galley. This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.


Thursday, June 05, 2014

Biography for Beginners

Bentley, E. C. Biography for Beginners. Illustrated by G. K. Chesterton. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications 2014. (Reprint of 3rd ed., 1925)

Although this short book has been around for a long time, it is now being republished by Dover Publications. It consists of "biographies" of persons written in four lines of rhyming verse. The biographies generally focus on only one thing about each person. The illustrations are drawings done by G. K. Chesterton. Some of the rhymes are better than others. Some of the persons included are not likely to be recognized by a 21st century audience. The premise of the book is entertaining, and I'm certain that the audience at the time it was written laughed out loud at many of the rhymes. This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review be written.