Sunday, May 30, 2010

Willis, Cook, Dean--Memorial Weekend Reading

Hello All,

I've been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time, especially once I figured I could turn it into a 4 day weekend :), so I stockpiled some books. I'm in the middle of some, we'll see if they get finished this weekend.

My first book finished was Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. This was a reread for me, and one I was hesitant to read the first time, due to its descriptions of the bubonic plague. I enjoyed it much more this time around. Connie Willis has several books and stories that center around a time travel method that is part of Oxford University. I believe the first story is Fire Watch, from the short story collection of the same name. I read these to return to To Say Nothing of the Dog, the first Connie Willis I read 8-10 years ago.

Doomsday Book is about Kivrin, a young university student who wished to be sent back to the 1300s, so it is carefully planned that she be sent to the year 1328, about 20 years before the Plague comes to Oxford. Due to a modern flu epidemic that hits Oxford just as Kivrin is sent, she is accidentally sent to the year 1348, exactly when the Plague arrives. She is ill when she completes her time travel, and is taken in by a relatively wealthy family of the time. Kivrin recovers, and fits into the family just before Christmas as a nursemaid to their two girls Agnes and Rosemund. As the book progresses, there are two storylines, that of Kivrin, as she hears more & more rumors about people being sick in what she thinks is 1328, and the book's modern setting, where her adviser suspects but can't prove she was sent to the wrong time. The flu epidemic is terrible, and there are quarantines and death, finally making her adviser ill, and resulting more time being wasted as people try to figure out when Kivrin is (they know where she is). As people sicken horribly around her, Kivrin eventually deduces what they have, and finally asks what year it is; the terrible truth is that it's 1348. Kivrin does what nursing she can, but she can't help enough. The parallel storylines are very interesting, showing how far we've come in health services, but that nature evolves too. This book is highly recommended to those who like time travel and/or history.

The second book I finished was The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook, which, if classified, would be considered "women's fiction". I enjoyed this book very much. It is the story of Noreen, a 40-something single woman who takes a buyout when her company is bought out. She spends a few days mourning this change, and then gets up and starts walking. She meets two neighbors on these walks and they join her for everyday walks. I liked the friendships, and the fact that not everything was smooth with them. One of them, Rosie, owns a lavender farm, and the women decide to go from Massachusetts to Washington State for a lavender festival. How they make this decision, and all of what occurs before, during and after makes for a good read. I am inspired to return to my walking :). Recommended for those who like books about women's friendships.

Third book finished was Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean. A reviewer friend of mine wrote a good review about this title, but I was disappointed. Miss Dido Kent is chaperon to her niece Catherine, who is jilted by her fiance at their engagement ball. Catherine is unsure of the reasons for the engagement being broken, but she is still in love with her fiance. And then there is the matter of the dead woman found in the shrubbery. I hoped this book would be one I liked, as it is set during the Regency period in England, and the main character is an intelligent woman. Unfortunately, I thought this book was slow-moving, unclear in places, and I just didn't care about any of the characters very much.

I had an extra day for my weekend, but didn't finish any more books (I think I'm in the middle of about 4!)

Hope everyone else's reading was enjoyable over the long weekend!
Happy Reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross

Hello All,

Boy, have I been missing out! I read the first Miss Julia years ago, and was recently sent her newest book, Miss Julia Renews Her Vows for review--what a good time! It has Southern hospitality, manners and charm, lots of humor, interesting characters, and a mystery or two!

In this series entry, Miss Julia finds her plate quite full of things to resolve to her satisfaction. Heather Marie, her first husband's former mistress, is pregnant with twins and is beginning to show--first order of business is to get her married. Next, an old friend moves back to town, and within a few days of being back, accuses another friend of Miss Julia's of assault and robbery. Last, and most annoyingly, Dr. Fred Fowler, the doctor who tried to prove her incompetent after her first husband's death, has been hired by their church to provide a marriage enrichment course (Dr. Fowler has never been married and lives with his mother).

Miss Julia resolves all of the above in the most proper of ways, and by (mostly) telling the truth, just as a lady would.

I'm ready to read through this series, and am sad that I have to wait a year for the newest Miss Julia book!

Happy Reading!