Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Maine Coon Cat


Walsh, Liza Garnder. The Maine Coon Cat. Lanham, MD: Down East Books, 2013.

Walsh has compiled a book about the Maine Coon cat breed that is somewhat repetitive in places. The book could use slightly better organization, but it's certain to be a hit with those who love this popular breed. It's a quick read, full of photographs. The book would work well for readers as young as middle school.  This book was received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program with the expectation that a review would be written.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Jew Named Jesus





Simon-Peter, Rebekah. The Jew Named Jesus: Discover the Man and His Message. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013.

This book is not what I was expecting from the title. I thought that the book would go into more detail about how Jesus observed Jewish customs. It did show these, but it was superficial and really didn't address the culture behind them or give Christians significant insights into the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Instead, I felt that I was reading more of a spiritual memoir about the author's journey since converting to Christianity from Judaism. I also felt this book was part of her crusade against "replacement theology" which is taught in some churches. However, from reading this book, you would think that only a handful of churches did not teach the view that the church replaces Israel. She really did not need to convince me that God is not finished with Israel. I can read in my Bible that God's covenant with Israel is everlasting. I really feel that my pastor does a better job of addressing the subject covered by the title of the book than the author did. Perhaps the author should have first written her spiritual memoir and then written something on the topic of the book so that she would not be tempted to deviate from the subject. I did, however, enjoy reading of her faith struggles as she came to terms with her new faith. I am glad that she was able to discover the man and his message for herself and only wish she had done a better job articulating it for her readers in such a manner that they too could understand Him from the Jewish perspective. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Something Borrowed, Someone Dead





Beaton, M. C. Something Borrowed, Someone Dead. New York: Minotaur Books, 2013.


Agatha Raisin has been hired to look into the murder of Gloria French in the village of Piddlebury. She and some of her team go there to investigate and learned that the victim was someone who did not get along that well with other villagers. One of her biggest flaws was that she stole items from other people's homes and then claimed they were her own. This is a pretty typical Agatha Raisin mystery. Agatha is annoying as usual and rubs those whom she encounters the wrong way. She takes breaks from the case. However, the plot is laced with humor that arises from the situations in which Agatha finds herself. While this will never be my favorite series, it is tolerable. I only wish that I'd been able to listen to the audio version as I usually find those more enjoyable than reading them myself. This review is based on a publisher-provided advance e-galley through NetGalley with the expectation that a review would be written.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Angola Horror



Vogel, Charity. The Angola Horror: The 1867 Train Wreck That Shocked the Nation and Transformed American Railroads. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2013.

Vogel provides readers with a detailed look at the passengers aboard a horrible train accident that occurred outside Angola, New York shortly before Christmas in 1867. She describes the tragedy itself, the reaction of the townspeople, the findings of a jury regarding the railroad's responsibility in the disaster, and the impetus for change it sparked. Vogel conducted extensive research at a large number of repositories studying a wide range of newspapers, archival materials, and other resources. I am impressed by her notes and bibliography of resources utilized in writing this volume. The narrative itself is readable and engaging. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Six Women of Salem






Roach, Marilynne K. Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials. New York: Da Capo Press, 2013.

Roach has taken the lives of six women affiliated with the infamous witch trials of Salem Village and told their story over a longer period of time than just the trials. In telling these six lives, she has also touched on the lives of others who were accused and convicted. The author has done a great deal of research on each of these women (and a few others as well), but I found her method of documentation very annoying. Instead of using footnotes or end notes with numbering at the locations where documentation was needed, she instead chose an unconventional end note method which gave the chapter title and then a rough topic and the source. I disliked this very much because I really did not know if the author was citing her sources or not until I got to the end, since I was reading an electronic version of the book. I am fairly certain that she omitted documenting some pieces of information that needed documentation because of her method. I think that her documentation method makes this most useful for casual readers and sadly, only a marginal read, for more serious students of history and genealogists. I was delighted to find several mentions of my 8th great grand-aunt Mary Perkins Bradbury in the narrative although she was not one of the six subjects. There was not a great deal that I had not learned from other sources, but it was interesting to read about how much her accuser had disliked her. (Her accuser was one of the six.) This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

North Sea Requiem






Scott, A. D. North Sea Requiem. New York: Atria Books, 2013.

Opening with the discovery of a bloody human foot in shinty uniforms and proceeding to the murder of the woman who made the discovery, Nurse Urquhart, the wife of the shinty coach, more goes awry before the culprits are found in this mystery set in Scotland. The setting is perhaps the best thing this novel has going for it. I failed to connect with any of the characters. I am not certain if this is because I have not read the previous installments of the series or not, but I feel certain that was one of the reasons. The opening showed promise. I was unsure if I was reading a horror novel or a mystery as events began unfolding. The middle part of the story did not maintain my interest. The pace in the ending picked up, but I felt that it went on a little too long. I am not interested in reading earlier or future installments of the series. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.