Canada in 1862 was not the proud country we know today. It was still collection of colonies run by the British crown. To the south of Canada in the Un...moreCanada in 1862 was not the proud country we know today. It was still collection of colonies run by the British crown. To the south of Canada in the United States, the Civil War is becoming more volatile. As the fighting gets hotter, people from both sides, Yankee and Confederate alike cross the border into the British Colonies for many reasons. Among the southern gentry flooding into the cities of Halifax and Montreal, there are many spies and military personages. These men and women have ulterior motives to put into action secret plans against the Yankees. Secret plans that may or may not start a war between England and the United States. If a war is started between the two countries, the Confederacy would have an ally in fighting against the Yankees.
Former theater manager and ex-British aristocrat Erryn Shaw finds himself recruited as a spy for the British crown. His job is to befriend the Southern rebels and learn their secret plans. While on a mission to Montreal, he hears about an exceptionally sinister plot being planned by the Confederates. A plan, which the men in charge believe with all their hearts will win them the war.
While in Montreal, Erryn meets and courts a woman he finds intriguing and charming named Sylvie Bowen. Sylvie has recently emigrated to Canada, escaping life of drudgery working in the cotton mills of England. Sylvie also stands firm in her hatred of the Southern rebels. Because of their piracy, she and her aunt Franny were forced to land on Nassau. Only Sylvie would then travel onto Halifax. Her aunt left behind to be buried in a mass grave, for the victims of a Yellow Fever epidemic that was raging through the island when the women were forced ashore by the sinking of the English trader they were traveling on by the confederate ship the Alabama.
Erryn finds himself drawn deeper into the intrigue surrounding the plot he has uncovered. Meanwhile his feelings for Sylvie deepen as he spends more time with her. He finds himself in a race against time. Can Erryn Shaw find a way to stop the Rebel’s plans and keep England from starting a war with the United States? Can he do so and pull out of the spy game before his beloved Sylvie discovers he is a “Grey Tory” siding with those she despises? Or will he run out of time and loose both Sylvie and the hope of defeating the plan that the Rebels believe will end the war.
The Halifax Connection draws its story from actual events in Canada’s history. I was fascinated by the story, as much of my Civil War knowledge had ended with Canada being one of the end points of the underground railroad. This book is a fantastic example of historical fiction. It is superbly written and transports readers back in time to an exiting time in Canada’s colonial history. Author Marie Jakober takes us into the ballrooms and parlors of the bustling city of Montreal to the dirty, military garrisoned port town of Halifax. I originally won this book as a part of the first Hidden Treasures contest held by West of Mars back in the summer of 2007. I’m finding myself sorry for letting this book languish for so long in my “to be read soon" basket. This is one of the best examples of fiction set during the Civil War that I have read in a very long time. Author Marie Jakober has a love and passion for the Civil War and her own country’s involvement in it. This passion shows through in an extremely well crafted and exiting adventure of a story. (less)
Two orphaned brothers, Bo and Prosper, have run away from their grandfather’s house and their aunt Esther after their mother’s death. Esther plans on...moreTwo orphaned brothers, Bo and Prosper, have run away from their grandfather’s house and their aunt Esther after their mother’s death. Esther plans on splitting the boys up, keeping Bo with her and their uncle and sending Prosper away to boarding school. The boys go to the magical city their mother told them many stories about, Venice Italy. Once there, they join up with a group of children who are led by a mysterious boy Scipio, also known as the “Thief Lord”.
But unknown to the boys, their aunt Esther has followed them to Venice and hired a private detective to find the boys. Suddenly, they and their friends are having to find ways to avoid the persistent detective, while trying to plan their most daring and dangerous break-in yet. Plus, when Prosper and his friends find out a shocking secret about Scipio, the group falls apart due to their new mistrust of the Thief Lord. Will the children make up their differences and finish their planned theft? Or will Bo and Prosper be caught and taken back to their horrible Aunt Esther without resolving their problems with the friend who took them in when they first came to Venice?
I was exited when I first received this book. I had heard good things about Cornelia Funke’s writing in regards to Inkheart from other book reading friends. It took me a couple of tries to get into this book. The first two times I picked it up I read the first three or four pages and set it down again. However, this was one of the first books that I read in 2009, and I found myself quickly entranced by the story. I really enjoyed this story with its hints of magic in an otherwise normal world. Also its recurring theme about the strength of friendships, and how they can help overcome many problems was a nice message. I still have not read Inkheart, though I do have Dragon Rider Sitting in my to be read basket right now. I’m looking forwards to reading more of this author’s writing in the near future (less)
I received this book from bookcrosser NorthWestPassage last summer. Over the past few months, I've picked this book up and set it down without reading...moreI received this book from bookcrosser NorthWestPassage last summer. Over the past few months, I've picked this book up and set it down without reading it several times - not being in a poetry mood. However New Year's Day was spent just relaxing and I found myself curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a blanket and this book. I'm glad that I finally got into the right head space to read this collection.
Poet Kate Braid found her inspiration to write this collection from a brief meeting of the two painters Georgia O'Keefe and Emily Carr in February 1930 at a showing of O'Keefe's paintings in New York. It was a brief meeting, Emily Carr spent more time describing one of the painting in her journal than the actual meeting. However Kate Braid used this meeting as an inspiration to expand it into what would have happened had the two women become friends. What would happen if they were to visit each other's place of living and areas of inspiration for their paintings. O'Keefe in her New Mexican Desert, and Carr in her British Columbian forests.
The poems are told in the voice of Georgia O'Keefe, and explore the relationships an artist has with the land they paint The struggle they have with making their art, and the tenuous and often unpredicted power of friendship.
I'm a fan of O'Keefe's paintings, and have been since I was very young. One of the things I loved best about this collection was the fact that the author interspersed her poems with found poems gleaned from O'Keefe's own letters. These helped build a layer of depth on top of the wonderfully written poems to create an extremely powerful and moving collection of poetry.
There are two poems I want to save here to remeber once I share the book with someone else.
Last night I dreamed the blood ran in my veins like skeins of thread each thread a different colour as my heart beat scarlet chartreuse, cerulean blue.
I awoke knowing that when I am an old woman I shall live on cactus and thread.
Bone to bone I am embedded now in this land
deep as a tick on a mangy old dog. No matter how hard you scratch
While I dived into the first book in the series, I had trouble with this one.
It seemed more disjointed than the other book. I had trouble getting into...moreWhile I dived into the first book in the series, I had trouble with this one.
It seemed more disjointed than the other book. I had trouble getting into the different perspectives to the story. When I finally got through it, I found I had enjoyed it. It just took a while to get into it.
I don't think I'm going to look up the third book unless I happen upon it.(less)
I really could not get into this book. I usually adore nonfiction stories of the sea, but for whatever reasons I had trouble getting through this book...moreI really could not get into this book. I usually adore nonfiction stories of the sea, but for whatever reasons I had trouble getting through this book, and only made it about halfway through before setting it aside.(less)
Another book set in the American Civil War. I'm loving the fact that my "to be read soon" basket had a second book from the same time-frame as the Hal...moreAnother book set in the American Civil War. I'm loving the fact that my "to be read soon" basket had a second book from the same time-frame as the Halifax Connection (which I finished reading a week ago) from another viewpoint of the war, in a totally different setting. I was wanting to read more historical fiction from this era of history after finishing The Halifax Connection
Amelia Grafton’s life is changing in ways she didn’t expect. She and her family live in the Pro-Union state of Maryland. Her family supports the Union. But as the Civil War progresses and comes closer to her hometown it seems like everyone is slowly choosing sides with the Union or the Confederates. Everyone, it seems except her good friend Josh. Who is determined to keep a neutral outlook on the war in order to write well informed and truthful stories about the battles being fought around them for his father’s paper the Hagerstown Mail.
The War moves closer, with Lee’s forces invading Hagerstown three times. The final time there is even fighting in the town square! Amelia and her family struggle to keep their lives going as they had before the war. Her older brother Wes runs off to join the Union forces and Amelia is faced with the fact that he may not survive the battles being fought. Through it all, Amelia must decide how she can stay true to her own belief’s and figure out what she can do to help the war effort when the right time comes.
Amelia’s War is written by Ann Rinaldi, who has written many historical fiction stories. She based her story on the ransom of Hagerstown, Maryland, which happened the first week of July in 1864. She writes an informative story that sets a fictitious family into a well documented part of the American Civil War. This is the second book written by Ann Rinaldi that I have read, and I enjoyed it a lot. She has a way of writing that puts the reader right into the lives of her characters. I enjoyed seeing the war through the eyes of a young girl. It gave me a different insight to what was happening during that time frame. This is a fantastic look into how the Civil War affected the everyday life of the people who lived in the areas being fought on. I would recommend this book for any older child who is wanting to learn about the American Civil War. (less)
The Arctic. The very name pulls images of snowy landscapes, harsh weather, and intense travel conditions out of our imagination. Many men and women have raced against the elements to reach the North and South poles.
Near Death in the Arctic is a collection of writings concerning these journeys. Editor Cecil Kuhne has collected previous published writings by explorers such as Captain Roald Fram, Richard E. Byrd, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, David Lewis, and Robert Falcon Scott, as well as second hand writings of expeditions. This collection showcases both first hand experiences in exploring the North Pole, the race to reach the South Pole first, and exploration of the largely unknown continent of Antarctica.
Near Death in the Arctic, transports readers to a time where the world was not fully known, and exploration an important thing. We can learn more about the struggles these explorers faced from the weather, from lack of supplies, and unexpected situations such as their ships being frozen into the pack ice. Reading this book during the recent extreme cold weather here in the Midwest gave me an appreciation for what these explorers went through. They braved the unknown to bring the world an idea of what was out there. They went to advance our knowledge of the geography of these harsh areas of the world. They went to advance scientific knowledge of the Arctic regions. They went for the glory of exploring. I really enjoyed reading this book because it expanded my knowledge of the explorers who looked for a Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. I had been aware of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton’s trips to the Antarctic, but I had not known that Scott was the second team to the South Pole.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the exploration of the planet’s North and South Poles from the turn of the twentieth century onwards.(less)
Have you ever wondered what goes on backstage at a concert? Have you ever wanted to see the inner workings of a well known band? Did you ever wonder w...moreHave you ever wondered what goes on backstage at a concert? Have you ever wanted to see the inner workings of a well known band? Did you ever wonder what forces shape a band into a powerhouse of music? Well, with The Demo Tapes: Year 1 you can find answers to these questions and more.
The Demo Tapes: Year 1 is a collection aimed at introducing readers into the fictional world of the band ShapeShifter. All of the short fiction pieces in this collection were first published online in the author’s blog between April 2006 and March 2007. The stories all parallel Susan’s currently unpublished novel Trevor’s Song. The Demo Tapes came into existence because author Susan Helene Gottfried was tired of people not being able to read the intense story that she had created starring the band ShapeShifter. The West of Mars Blog was born through these frustrations.
Along the way, her short fiction and musings on her blog Susan gained a following of loyal readers. Her groupies (as they call themselves) stared clamoring for her writing to be published. Because of their push, Susan took matters into her own hands, and self published The Demo Tapes: Year 1 using the services of Lulu.com. The collection cleans up the quickly written outtakes from the blog, and arranges them chronologically.
I’ve been reading the West of Mars blog from its conception. I read each of these pieces when they were originally first published on the blog. I found ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes: Year 1 a fantastic and fun way of revisiting these older stories. I’m hoping that Susan publishes The Demo Tapes: Year 2 in the near future. I look forward to reading more adventures of Trevor, Mitchell, Keri, and the other band members and fans. I also hope that the Demo Tapes becomes a stepping stone for Susan’s debut novel Trevor’s Song to make it through the gamut of the publishing industry and be available for purchase in bookstores worldwide. Susan has created a wonderful collection of characters in a full fleshed world, and it would be a shame if it was never published.
I had an interesting time reading this book. I usually don't have a hard time with accents, but the pidgin and slang used through the book really thre...moreI had an interesting time reading this book. I usually don't have a hard time with accents, but the pidgin and slang used through the book really threw me.
There were some good parts that had me rolling on the floor laughing. I could commiserate with events such as having your barbies hair cut off in a mohawk, and drawn on by older brothers(in my case it was a neighborhood boy), and being teased for not having any female friends - just one boy who also gets teased. But other parts of the book were just hard for me to get into.
I found this one a slower read for me than some of the other books in the series that I've read. I enjoyed the book, but it took me a little longer th...moreI found this one a slower read for me than some of the other books in the series that I've read. I enjoyed the book, but it took me a little longer than usual to get into the story.(less)
I think that this is probably my favorite of all the Nerd books that I've read by this author. The plot was fast paced, the suspense was intense, and...moreI think that this is probably my favorite of all the Nerd books that I've read by this author. The plot was fast paced, the suspense was intense, and the romance was heated. I think the most fun part of the book in my opinion was that it was set in my hometown of Chicago. So I had a really fun time imaging the charecters in a setting that I'm very familiar with.(less)
A name that brings fear to the hearts of all who hear of the cursed ship. A name which is still known throughout the centuries. A...moreThe Flying Dutchman.
A name that brings fear to the hearts of all who hear of the cursed ship. A name which is still known throughout the centuries. A ship that even now is reported seen sailing the waters around Cape Horn. But no one really knows how the curse began. What caused The Flying Dutchman and its crew, captained by the feared Captain Vanderdecken, to be set on its eternal voyage across the seas?
When a nameless boy is found half dead and half frozen on the back of the Flying Dutchman, no one believes he will recover. The boy, claimed by the ship’s cook as a galley boy overcomes his deadly encounter in the harbor. Mute and homeless, the boy is christened Neb. He spends his days cooking and serving the captain and his rough crew. During one of the ship’s last stopovers in Europe, Neb rescues a half-starved dog. Together, the two witness Captain Vanderdecken’s decent into madness & the curse put on the ship by a vengeful angel. The two friends are swept overboard, saved from the curse by the same angel.
The angel grants the pair immortality, and the instructions that they are to roam the earth to help those in need. The friends brave the ages, and in their travels end up in the village of Chapelvale. This sleepy English village is threatened by the industrial progress covering the country. Its location above a vast limestone deposit, makes it a target for greedy men, with a planned quarry and cement factory where the town currently stands.
Neb – now called Ben- befriends several of the villagers. With their help he discovers an ancient riddle that could save the village. But there are only seven days before the machinery arrives, and the houses are sold. Can Ben, his faithful canine companion and the villagers helping the pair unravel the riddles and discover the hidden secrets in time to save Chapelvale from its impending doom?
I’ve been reading books by this author for years. I first stumbled onto Redwall my senior year of high school over a decade ago and kept reading the books as I could find them and as they were published. I don’t know that I’ve read every single book in the series. It’s gotten quite huge over the last five or six years. But They are comfortable books that I tend to check out from the library every few years to reread. So when I say Castaways of the Flying Dutchman on the entryway bargain shelf at the Borders by my work I was instantly intrigued. I bought the book hoping to read it, and pass it onto friends of mine who collect Brian Jacques’s works. I usually pass along copies of his books that I stumble across to younger readers rather than keeping them in our limited book shelves. It took me two weeks of walking by the store during lunch before I bought it. I had finished my commute book that morning and needed something to read on the train trip home.
I was amazed with the book! I found myself drawn into a richly written story. The pages flew by and I found myself wanting more of Ben and Neb’s adventures when the pages closed. I think that in my opinion this is probably one of Brian Jacques’ best novels. It introduces a well known subject – the doomed ship The Flying Dutchman and introduces the story with a twist. It is told from the viewpoint of a pair of survivors of the curse. Through their innocence and joy the pair of friends survive the curse the rest of the ship falls under. Through the angel’s love for them they are given a chance to live long and fruitful lives. Though Ben and Neb are haunted by their experiences of the Flying Dutchman, they are able to step past the fear that ruled their lives on the doomed ship and become stewards of love and friendship throughout the ages.
This is my highest form of praise. The copy I bought will go into my permanent collection of young adult books. Two days after I bought my copy, I found myself walking into Borders and buying three more copies. One to pass on to the friends I originally planned on sharing the book with, and two to pass along in a book giveaway on my blog in the near future. I was reminded why I fell in love with the author’s writing the first time I picked up Redwall and Mossflower, and why I continue to return to re-read his books even now many years since then.
I’ve learned this is the first book in a trilogy. The second and third books in the series, The Angel's Command and Voyage of Slaves, were published in 2003 and 2006 respectively. (less)
I like historical bodice rippers. However, it's been a long time since I've read any. This one was kinda meh. It's plot was pretty standard fare, the...moreI like historical bodice rippers. However, it's been a long time since I've read any. This one was kinda meh. It's plot was pretty standard fare, the romance descriptions a little too overly flowery for my tastes. It ended up being really light hearted reading on a commute and nothing much more.
When Shannon Stone witnesses her uncle commit a murder she flees the home she has lived in since the death of her beloved parents. Misunderstanding the meaning of a sign proclaiming rooms for women, she finds herself sitting at the bedside of a famous whore. In her lasts breaths, the woman tells Shannon how she won't be able to go meet her new husband in the Montana territory after all. Shannon, having no other way of leaving St. Louis, and the grip of her well known uncle, takes the documents left behind by the dead woman, and travels in her place as a mail order bride.
When she reaches the town of Dry Gulch, in the Montana Territory, she finds that what she expected is suddenly not right. Rather than being the bride of Alex Cordova, she discovers that he and the other four bachelors he lives with have pooled their money to order a mail order bride. Rather than wanting a wife, he and the others just want a woman on the ranch to read to them, tell them stories, and help around the home, and land. Instead of being a wife, Shannon finds herself welcomed as a daughter. She finds herself happy as Honey, until the women she has traveled to Dry Gulch with start dying one by one. The only thing connecting the three women was their arrival on the same stagecoach, and their red hair color. Suddenly her life is turned upside down as she fears for her life, and tries to help the wounded Indian she has rescued out on the range. Shannon finds herself in love with a man she has just met, and imminent danger surrounding her.(less)
For Amy, life has become slightly stale. She is a stay at home mom, living a lifestyle slightly beyond the...moreRead and reviewed for Front Street Reviews.
For Amy, life has become slightly stale. She is a stay at home mom, living a lifestyle slightly beyond the means of her one income home. She is the mother of a ten year old, and feels looked down on for still being a stay at home mom and not having returned to the working world. But she has not always been “Mason’s mom who doesn’t work”. Once she was a lawyer in a highly known law firm. When Mason was born, she set her law degree aside to be with him temporarily. But as the years pass, Amy finds her temporary hiatus becoming more and more permanent. She finds herself chafing at the roles and compromises that she sees as becoming her only identity.
However, Amy is not alone. She has a support group of women who all find themselves in the same roles. Wife, mother, and homemaker in a city which prides itself on its diversity and fast paced living where women hold as much power in the working world as their male co-workers. During a routine safety walk for Mason’s school, Amy discovers a new friend in a woman she only vaguely knows through the parent network of Mason’s classmates. As the women witness a horrible event, they form a fledgling bond of friendship. Amy finds her life becoming filled with excitement as she steps out of her confining roles into new ones.
However Amy’s new friendship changes some of her old ones. Until a tragic event swamps her new friendship, Amy doesn’t realize how special her old group of friends really is. Can this group survive the events that it suddenly faces or will these women quickly drift apart?
The Ten Year Nap explores the ideas of motherhood. Through Amy’s story and the stories of her circle of friends we are shown how girls are taught to strive for excellence and to be all they can be, only to be bogged down with the roles of motherhood. The story is punctuated by flashbacks to their mothers and the events which shaped each of these womens young lives.
Meg Wolitzer presents a strong story filled with strong and not so strong characters. We discover two generations of mothers and their hopes and dreams for their own children. I loved how the story was split into smaller sub stories; stories that make you think they are leading away from each other then at the last moment they turn and re-join in an unexpected way. This is not a book I might have picked up if I had seen it at the library. However, I enjoyed it very much and plan on seeking out earlier books by this author. (less)
Anna MacDonald has been betrayed! The coveted teaching position she has been waiting to get has been given to...moreRead and reviewed for Armchair Interviews
Anna MacDonald has been betrayed! The coveted teaching position she has been waiting to get has been given to the other woman that her boss, and boyfriend, has been sleeping with. In anger, Anna quits her job, gives up her flat in Edinburgh, and takes off for the only place that she has ever felt truly happy. Anna’s late grandmother’s croft, located on the shores of Loch Hourn, in the Scottish Highlands.
The croft is isolated. Anna has no phone, no close neighbors, and only her two border collies for company. Her plan for the summer is to nurse her broken heart and pride back to normal while working on the novel she has been yearning to write for years. She doesn’t plan for company during this time. Especially not the unexpectedly handsome company offered in the form of the slightly rude American who knocks at her door one morning.
Luke Tallantyre is a well known artist from Cape Cod Massachusetts. Faced with an artistic dry spell, he has set sail for the unknown wilds of Scotland. He has braved the Atlantic Ocean alone, and has come to Loch Hourn. When his yacht develops a navigational problem, he ends up knocking on Anna’s door for help.
Anna is more than a little resentful of Luke’s intrusion. Faced with an attraction she doesn’t know how to handle after her last rejection, she finds him an unwelcome distraction into her hermetic life. However, when an unknown assassin tries several times to kill both Anna and Luke, they find themselves thrown together in an attempt to find out why.
Will Anna and Luke find out who is trying to kill them and why? Will either of them realize the opportunity for true love that arises during the time they spend together?
I really enjoyed this book. The story drew me in quickly. I found myself having to pace my reading speed in order not to rush through the book. I enjoyed Victoria Howard’s descriptions of the Scottish Highlands, and Loch Hourn. They made me even more convinced that this is a part of the world that I want to someday visit. This was a very compelling story, and I totally enjoyed it despite it being a very quick read. It was one of those rare books that left me thinking "I can't be done yet!" when I turned the last page.(less)