education pathways

Home » Posts tagged 'History'

Tag Archives: History

A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea–reinventing yourself

A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea

by Liz Eeles

Many series depend on the continuation of a character or a set of characters. The Heaven’s Cove Series does not. The continuity is found in the setting—the little village of Heaven’s Cove and Driftwood House perched on a cliff high above the ocean. Therefore, with only a few characters from the first book showing up in the second, anyone can easily jump into the series with this second book, A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea. I should add, however, that I loved the first book and immediately after reading it purchased the second book so I would be ready to jump into the third which was recently published.

Lettie has had a hard time finding her way in life. Her family tries to manage her personal life while depending on her to be on call for their needs—be they babysitting, shopping, or sorting repairs. When she is sacked from a customer service job five weeks after the death of her beloved great-aunt Iris, she does a runner to Heaven’s Cove where she hopes to fulfill the bedside wish of her aunt to “find out for me, darling girl.” Aunt Iris had secrets about her past. She left Heaven’s Cove as a teenager with her whole family, never to return. She bequeathed a delicate gold key to Lettie that was connected to her secret. Lettie is committed to discovering what the secrets are that make up Iris’ past.

Locals are suspicious and disdainful of outsiders so Lettie has trouble researching the history, but in the process realizes that maybe she is ready to rediscover her former passion for history and reinvent herself. Along the way she meets several handsome young men and some cranky old timers. She finds Heaven’s Cove calling to her. As she follows leads on Iris’ story, she discovers someone else in need of her skills to track down a long lost love, adding another emotional dimension to the plot.

Lettie is a very likable main character. You will want the best for her and feel her frustrations as your own. My second visit to Heaven’s Cove kept me turning pages and ended with me smiling in satisfaction.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction

Notes: 1. # 2 in the Heaven’s Cove Series, but would be good as a standalone.
2. Clean fiction—no sex or violence and very little swearing.

Publication: May 19, 2021—Bookouture

Memorable Lines:

Truth be told, Claude had saved Buster that night, as the rain lashed down and the shivering stray risked being swept away by the waves breaking over the quay wall. But then Buster had saved Claude, in return, from the loneliness that often threatened to overwhelm him.

“People disappear from your life, but they always leave an echo,” said Claude quickly.

Much as she’d grown to love Heaven’s Cove, she would never get used to the village grapevine. In London you could drop dead and no one would notice.

Put Out to Pasture–a victim’s startling past

Put Out to Pasture

by Amanda Flower

Since I enjoy Amanda Flower’s cozy mysteries, I left the first one in her new series Farm to Table Mysteries scratching my head in wonderment that this book, although satisfactory, was just not up to the standards I expect from this author. Fortunately, the first book was just a rough patch as she got started on the series. The second book, Put Out to Pasture, is everything I want in a cozy.

Flower turned around the pervasive and ugly negativity that permeated Shiloh’s return to her home town of Cherry Glen in Michigan from L.A. In this story there continue to be antagonists, but not everyone is pitted against Shi. When a dead body is found on her farm and her best friend Kristy is accused of the murder, Shi is doggedly determined to clear her name. There are a lot of clues that lead Shi and the reader to suspect various people. Having spent years with the Hollywood crowd, Shi knows that many seemingly good people may just be good actors.

Meanwhile, on the personal front, Shi’s best and favorite sidekick, her pug Huckleberry, continues to bring humor through Shi’s descriptions of what he appears to be thinking. She continues to clean out her grandmother’s cabin and finds a note to her with a mysterious riddle. She has a new neighbor who at first appears to be a bright light, but later seems to have greedy intentions. Shi’s deceased boyfriend’s best friend is working through the deaths of his friend and his own wife. Hazel, his daughter continues to be a breath of fresh air as the tween struggles to find a new normal with her firefighter dad’s erratic schedule and her grandmother’s protective strictness. Shi’s father, who was immersed in his Michigan history collection for most of Shi’s life might be coming out of his shell.

In this book, Shi is a likable character and we can see potential for her goals of revitalizing the family farm. The story is fast-paced with a web of threads and interesting characters. The author ends by dangling several hooks, any one of which is sufficient to reel the reader into the next book in the series.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Farm to Table Mystery Series, but can certainly be read as a standalone.

Publication: February 22, 2022—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

The one anomaly in the gravel lot was my car, an expensive sports car that would be as practical in a Michigan winter as a snow blower was in LA.

“She seems calm to me.” “That doesn’t mean she’s not mad. Trust me, I know. When she is really, really mad she gets cold. She’s like the iceberg that took out the Titanic.”

“I think the thing I got most out of my parents’ death is cutting people a break. You don’t know what they have been through or are going through. Everyone could use a little kindness.”

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder–Sam and “the girls” invade Britain

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder

by V.M. Burns

Samantha Washington (Sam) is the owner of a mystery bookshop in North Harbor and has just landed a three book deal with a publishing house. She will spend the next week in England doing research for the British historic cozy mystery she is writing. She is slated for a mystery tour accompanied by her Nana Jo and Nana’s three best friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Village. Of the four senior citizens, not a one meets the stereotype of frail, little old ladies. They have a reputation for helping Sam solve mysteries that come her way through interviews, eavesdropping, feminine wiles, deduction, and the occasional use of martial arts as two of them have blackbelts. They keep the plot moving and the reader laughing.

There are complications just in reaching London with jet lag and no luggage, but that’s only the beginning of their troubles. The owner of the tour company is murdered, but the police, oddly, are not investigating. Unfortunately, there is another murder, and one of the assigned detectives is “as bright as a burned-out light bulb” and “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.” It’s time for Sam, Nana Jo, and “the girls” to join forces to discover the truth.

In order to free up her conscious mind when stymied in her investigations, Sam spends time when she can’t sleep or between tour stops writing her own mystery. Although the book she is writing takes place in 1939, Sam is able to use elements in the murders she is currently investigating and apply the principles to her own mystery with great success. When the flow of the contemporary mystery was first interrupted with this secondary story, I was a little miffed because I wanted the action to continue in the primary story. By the time I reached the next transition to 1939, however, I was anxious to read about the progress made in Sam’s own whodunit. The character Sam’s writing seems a little stilted at first, compared to the rest of the book, but that is perhaps due to the titles of “Lord” and “Lady” still being used along with formalities involved with a household of servants and adherence to etiquette rules. It is quite a contrast to our contemporary society.

I enjoyed Sam’s eagerness in visiting The Grand Hotel in Torquay where Agatha Christie honeymooned in 1914 and the Torquay Museum that displays the famous author’s memorabilia and items from movies based on her books. Next they went to Greenway, Christie’s home in Devon where she wrote many of her books. Sam “fangirled” on the tour of the house taking many pictures and drooling over first editions. Because of the two murders, the itinerary for the trip had to be revised several times, but most of the highlights are still included, and the group is able to visit several places that were alleged to be the settings or inspiration of mysteries by authors like Dorothy L. Sayers and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

If you like cozy mysteries, you can’t get any more “bookish” than V.M. Burns’ A Tourist’s Guide to Murder. It has two plots within the same book, a tour of significant literary locations, a writer-sleuth, and a mystery bookstore. It’s not heaven, but it’s pretty close. The tour intentionally lays on some misdirection, and there are red herrings in both plots to keep you guessing. The retirement home group is anything but retiring: they bring to minds phrases like “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and “herding cats.” I want to read more from this series.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #6 in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. This was my first book in this series and I had no problem reading it as a standalone.
2. There are many reasons to read this book, but one of them should not be the two cute toy poodles on the cover. They belong to Sam, but she doesn’t take them with her to England, so they are only briefly mentioned in the book.

Publication: January 26, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

Lady Clara’s cheeks flamed and her eyes flashed. After a split second, she gave the captain a smile and then stomped down hard on his foot. “Oooph.” Captain Jessup bent over in pain. “Dear me, was that your foot?” Lady Clara said in a voice that oozed sweetness.

Nana Jo glanced at Hannah. “I don’t know about your national health care system, but in the United States, the pharmaceutical companies are running the whole country, and they’ve got a pill for everything.”

“Let’s face it, Stinky Pitt couldn’t find a killer who was standing naked in the middle of the street with a neon sign over his head.” Nana Jo and the girls nodded. Hannah looked confused. “Stinky Pitt?” Ruby Mae looks up from her knitting. “He’s the local detective in North Harbor, Michigan.” “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer?” “I’ve got sharper spoons.”

Penned In–Idaho Halloween tale

Penned In

by Lynn Cahoon

Penned In is a novella in Lynn Cahoon’s excellent Farm-to-Fork series which does not typically contain paranormal references. This novella has a paranormal twist to it, however. The story takes place on the night before Halloween at the old Idaho Penitentiary where the County Seat Restaurant’s staff goes for a team building exercise. The book contains a little history which is interesting. As a novella, neither the plot nor character development are extensive.

My enjoyment of the novella was probably colored by my dislike of both paranormal novels and team building exercises. As a diversion, it was satisfactory, but not something I would ever reread. If you are a fan of locked room mysteries, you would probably enjoy this little mystery!

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. Would work as a standalone.

  2. Includes paranormal, but is not scary.

  3. Locked room mystery.

  4. Includes a recipe for chocolate chip muffins.

Publication:   August 31, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Anyone that mean, he has to be the killer. The other people are nice. Tad doesn’t have a nice bone in his body, as my grandmother would say.” Hope leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. No one was going to mess with her logic.

“They said I wasn’t smart enough to sell computers. Hell, I could sell ice to Eskimos.”

It was all just posturing for him. He didn’t want her but he wasn’t sure he wanted her to be happy with another guy.”

Lineage Most Lethal–secrets from the past

Lineage Most Lethal

by S.C. Perkins

Having read a very positive review of the debut novel in S.C. Perkins’ Ancestry Detective Mystery Series, I decided, when the opportunity arose, to give Lineage Most Lethal, the second book in the series, a try. I am fairly neutral on the interest continuum when it comes to genealogies, but this cozy mystery afforded a different perspective for me on family trees. I also learned a little about the intricacies of researching lineages.

Lucy Lancaster is an outgoing young woman who shares office space with two friends in downtown Austin, Texas. Currently she is spending a week at the high-end Sutton hotel working for Pippa Sutton to investigate her family’s history and compile the information into a video to be presented at a family gathering. As the plot progresses, we learn about Lucy’s own beloved grandfather’s involvement in World War II and a little about her former boyfriend, Ben, an FBI agent who has ghosted her.

Lucy’s research turns dark when a stranger dies before her eyes, Pippa’s mother Roselyn begins acting strangely, and Chef Rocky is found dead. Lucy’s grandfather shares secrets from the past, and suddenly it seems many in the present are in a dangerous state. As Lucy tries to juggle all the balls, she is pushing against a murderer’s timetable as well as her professional and personal commitments.

Although I suspected the identity of the murderer, I did not grasp the intricate connections of the victims, potential victims, a nutcase who appeared sane, and their descendants. The tale includes a few red herrings dealing with cipher codes and given names as well. The solution is definitely complicated. Well played, S. C. Perkins!

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Ancestry Detective Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone.

Publication:   July 21, 2020—St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur

Memorable Lines:

The point is, do yourself a favor and halve your problem by sharing it with someone.”

I would do my part to protect these people, even if I would never meet them and got branded by the APD as a genealogist who was a taco short of a combination plate.

Ben took my hand and led me out the French doors into the winter wonderland, the white fairy lights making the falling snow glitter like diamonds.

English Humor

SO FUNNY! Share this with all of your English nerd friends and those English teachers you love to hate. History teachers will love it too! 😂😝🤓

Died in the Wool–in pursuit of a murderer

Died in the Wool

by Peggy Ehrhart

Died in the WoolDied in the Wool, like the first book in Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit and Nibble Mystery Series, has a calmness that gives me pleasure as I read. Although the main character Pamela sometimes follows inadvisable investigative leads like other cozy mysteries’ main characters, neither her pace of life nor her pursuit of justice is frenetic. I sometimes wonder how some main characters manage to maintain a job while trying to solve the mystery and juggle their many personal issues.

Pamela, like author Ehrhart, enjoys knitting and food, and those passions are evident in Pamela’s life as a member of a knitting club whose meetings  also feature snacks or desserts. Ehrhart includes a knitting pattern and recipes in the back of the book, but more pointedly, her descriptions of various foods are detailed and mouth-watering.

The knitting club Knit and Nibble works for weeks producing stuffed animal aardvarks, the school mascot, to sell in support of the football team at Arborfest. Unfortunately there is a murder and the knitting group’s reputation is damaged. Pamela and her friend Bettina try to find the murderer. This cozy has twists and turns with the criminal’s identity discovered only after many understandable, but wrong assumptions and some exciting scenes. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, Knit One, Die Two.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Knit and Nibble Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:  August 28, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

She tested several ice-breaking comments in her mind, settling on “Your daughter’s tabouli is delicious.” He turned, looking as startled as if she’d announced a taste for human blood. Terribly shy, Pamela said to herself, awkward in social situations.

At that moment, the sandwiches arrived, on cream-colored oval plates with slender pickle spears tucked alongside. Gobbets of tuna salad and golden streaks of melted cheddar were barely contained by bread that had been grilled to buttery and toasty perfection.

Pamela wasn’t a wary person. She woke up every morning expecting the day to unfold predictably, just the way a knitting project moved predictably toward completion with only an occasional dropped stitch that could easily be picked up again.

The Summer Nanny–relationships and their impact

The Summer Nanny

by Holly Chamberlin

The Summer NannyThe term “women’s fiction” can connote quite a broad range of books. Thus I was unsure what to expect from The Summer Nanny by Holly Chamberlin. This story is actually two tales in one as best friends Amy and Hayley, from very different backgrounds and with very different prospects, decide to accept employment for the summer as nannies for wealthy vacationing families. Hayley is a product of a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic and abusive father. She loves academia, but rather than finish college has to work cleaning houses to support her family. Amy’s father passed away when she was a baby, but her mother, a gifted crafter of fiber arts, has raised her in a small but comfortable home in a loving atmosphere.

Amy and Hayley find personal challenges in their summer jobs. Naive Amy is hired by a narcissistic and controlling successful businesswoman who claims to want to mentor Amy. Hayley, on the other hand, finds relief from her home environment in her job as a nanny for two year old twins whose mother is teaching French at a community college as a favor to a friend. Both girls experience personal growth as a result of their jobs. Romance plays a role in this novel, but so do family connections.

The style of The Summer Nanny with its short chapters keeps the plot moving as the focus of the chapters alternates between the two main characters. The book is interesting, but some of the scenes could have been omitted without sacrificing the integrity of the plot or the points the author wants to make.

Although this book could be considered a “beach read,” it is not really fluff. The author encourages the reader to examine questions of the causes and results of two abusive situations and the responses of the characters involved in them. There are definite themes of right and wrong and the importance of choices.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Women’s Fiction

Notes: One of the recurring characters in the book is a lesbian and a subplot concerns her relationship status, but there are no descriptions of a physical relationship.

Publication:   June 26, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Hayley was smart enough to know there was no possibility of completely throwing off one’s past, but there had to be ways to move into the future relatively unencumbered by traumas experienced when one was young.

Love and admiration transformed an average-looking human being into an angel of beauty. Contempt and dislike transformed an average-looking human being into a goblin.

“What with arts education funding being cut so drastically, I feel I have to do something. Kids need to learn visual thinking and creative problem solving.”

Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt–young time travelers

Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt

written by Linda Bailey

illustrations by Bill Slavin

Hot on the Trail in Ancient EgyptHot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt is a juvenile graphic novel that kept this adult interested from beginning to end.  In this book, which is part of The Time Travel Guides, the bored Pinkerton twins chase after their little sister Libby who has entered the rather creepy Good Times Travel Agency. Opening the owner’s personal guide book catapults the three children into Ancient Egypt. They learn that their adventure will not end until they finish reading the book.

The layout of the book is very appealing. The fictional story is told in comic book style at the top of the page. At the bottom of the page is a drawing of an aged book (Julian T. Pettigrew’s Personal Guide to Ancient Egypt) containing nonfiction text that explains and elaborates upon what is happening in the story. For example, when an Egyptian woman invites them into her home, the nonfiction text describes the house, food, and clothing of Ancient Egypt.

I can’t stress enough the current importance of books like this to interest children in history for three reasons. First, most people are familiar with the saying attributed to George Santayana that “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” There are many horrific events in history most can agree should never be repeated. Second, sadly to say, most children are not exposed to history in their younger years in school. The school day and curriculum in public elementary school is so regimented that the focus is reading, taught in a boring and uninspired way, math, and standardized testing. I am not kidding or exaggerating when I say that as a teacher I had to sneak in science and history and hope the principal didn’t catch me. Third, history is interesting and FUN. in an age when teachers do their best to incorporate games and movement activities called “brain breaks” (to replace the recess that was taken away), we need to restore the intrinsic fun that comes through learning interesting things. In that way we create life long learners.

In addition, a book of this type actively demonstrates reasons for reading—to learn more about something you are interested in and to be carried away by a story. I particularly appreciate that Bailey gave a belated shout out to her high school history teacher: “Great work, Mr. Visch—you made it fun!” She dedicated the book to her daughter who “once did a school project on the Sphinx and has been in love with all things Egyptian ever since.” Teachers and projects do make a difference.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Notes: 1. new edition of an older book

  2. Grade Level: 3-7

  3. Age Range: 8-12 years

Publication:   May 1, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

For drinks, try the national beverage—beer! It’s made from half-cooked bread and river water, and it’s thick, dark and sometimes a bit lumpy. You’re supposed to strain it well before serving, but not everyone does.

Down at the bottom are the farmers and laborers. Most people in ancient Egypt are at the bottom of the society—where there’s plenty of room!

Sightseeing in the middle of a getaway? This was a very bad idea. Emma and Josh tried to lure their little sister out of the pyramid.

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest–pigeons just want to be loved

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest

written by Sarah Hampson

illustrated by Kass Reich

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon ProtestDr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest is a sweet but nonrealistic story for children. I don’t mean unrealistic in the sense that it is fiction. Indeed it is fiction and talking birds can be expected. My issue with the book is that its goal is to show how even those with differences can work to get along with each other…and I believe in that. The problem is that the basis for compromise is based on promises the pigeons can not keep such as refraining from “splatting on cars (and heads)” and instead use only designated compost areas for their droppings, keeping public areas clean. In exchange people will not put spikes on ledges, shoo pigeons away, or run them down with cars. These are nice sentiments but the pigeons, being pigeons, can not keep up their end of the bargain. This concept just does not translate over to two groups of people trying to live in harmony. 

 

The book is well written and the illustrations are appealing, their style going well with the text. The best part of the book is the idea Dr. Coo, a pigeon, has for getting people’s attention so they can negotiate. I would say to the team, “Give it another go with a different idea or even a different solution. I just would not buy this for my own children or for my classroom as is.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes: Ages 4-8

Grades P-2

Publication:   April 3, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

The conversation started out as it normally did.

They cackled about the supply of corn kernels in the park.

They nattered about the nearing of winter.

They prattled about new perches.

%d bloggers like this: