Read: Nov 25 - 29
Source: Public Library
Category: Overflow - Follower, Audiobook
Pages: 581

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec takes his wife of many years, Reine-Marie, to Manior Bellechasse in rural Quebec to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Their peaceful solitude is interrupted by the arrival of a dysfunctional family that includes Peter and Clara Marrow from Three Pines. Murder seems to follow the Inspector since the sister of Peter Marrow is found dead a little later so that the time which should have been peaceful and relaxing has turned deadly.

Gamache sends Reine-Marie to Three Pines which is just over the hill while the investigation proceeds. The personal relationship and their family interaction is more prevalent in this book as we learn of Gamache's family history.

The story is again intricately woven around the lives of the characters drawing the reader farther and closer with each page trying to determine how the mystery will be resolved and whose demons will be exorcised.

Since this book was set outside of Three Pines but incorporated Three Pine residents, the shift didn't bother me as much as I anticipated. However, it does make one stop and think, are Peter and Clara a major reason (that we haven't figured out yet) for all of these murders?


DEADLY GREETINGS by Elizabeth Bright

Read: Nov 20 - 28
Source: Public Library
Category: Crafts in the background - card making
Pages: 233

Jennifer Shane with her own shop, Custom Card Creations, is battling to stay a float with her new business even though Aunt Lillian is still "volunteering" her services in exchange for supplies. So when Aunt Lillian finds her a new studio apartment she signs on the dotted line before she is told about the resident ghost.

Jennifer learns to live with "her" but has other difficulties - an overzealous neighbor, a stalker, and an ex-fiancé trying to get back together. Then one of her best customers and a friend, Maggie, dies in what appears to be an auto accident. But Jennifer doesn't believe it because she received a handmade card from her dead friend stating that someone is trying to kill her.

Jennifer and Lillian work to figure out who killed Maggie while fighting off her various admirers.


Martin Van Buren and the Romantic Age of American Politics by John Niven

Read: Nov 10 - 26
Source: Public Library
Category: History /Bios
Pages: 715

Martin Van Buren, eighth President of the United States, "may have been a conservative, an advocate of States Rights, an agrarian, a party regular, but he was overall a New Yorker, a Northerner, and a pragmatic politician." The Little Magician as he was called, ruled New York politics for the majority of his lifetime, manipulating the selection process of who would have what office, who would be supported and who would be denounced. Behind the scenes of numerous vital issues, MVB would work the state legislature negotiating the passage of legislation that had far-reaching effects.

On the national scene, Van Buren worked tirelessly in support of Andrew Jackson and served as his Secretary of State as well as Vice President. In these capacities, he traipsed through the quagmire of issues of the day - bank dissolution, abolition, Indian removal - frequently calming a volatile Jackson and preventing numerous catastrophes. Van Buren's Presidential candidacy was complicated not by the issues of the day, but the selection of a running mate.

Upon his election, he was confronted with the banking issues, a depression and costs of the Indian removal - all issues inherited from Jackson. Trying to use the concept of a subtreasury to combat the depression, VB was handicapped by a hostile congress.

Defeated when he ran for re-election, Martin VanBuren felt that the importation of voters by the Whig Party constituted election fraud. The following years he spent trying to rebuild the Democratic party which he had built in New York state. He was drafted in a later Presidential election to run for the Free Soil Party which advocated the end of slavery.

This book was overwhelming in the amount of details that were dispensed regarding the politics of the State of New York elections and national politics during the Presidencies of Jackson, Van Buren, Tyler, and Polk. Since this was titled to be a biography of Van Buren, I was disappointed with the amount of information about unrelated people and events regarding the political machine that MVB was credited to have created. It was also difficult to read because the print was smaller than normal so that 1 page was probably equivalent to 2 pages of a normal book, so 700 pages was really many more.

A description of Martin Van Buren which seems appropriate - " An American Statesman who with his faults, his weaknesses, his little vanities had made no little consequence on his state and his nation."



Read: Nov 18 - 20
Source: Public Library
Category: Followers
Pages: 387

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to the village of Three Pines when Madeleine Favreau apparently dies of fright during a séance at the old Hadley house. The psychic holding the séance was on vacation in the small village but was that a coincidence or planned?

As Gamache gets deeper into the search for Madeleine's killer (she had been given poison) he must also face the consequences of his actions in his previous case against the popular head of the Sûreté du Québec for heinous crimes. His family is attacked in the newspapers and his son arrested in Paris as he works to clear not only his name but also solve the murder.

The book is filled with descriptions that draw you in and characters that make you want to meet them in reality with deeper and deeper characterizations. Subtly Penny weaves the details and grabs you by the throat until you can't put down the book until you know the answers to the questions that have you on the edge of your seat.


Christmas Challenge

I signed up for the Christmas Challenge being hosted by Michelle, The True Book Addict where she has challenged us to read Christmas books during the upcoming holiday season. The link to the challenge is on her page. It's quite simple, you have to read 1-3 books (no kiddie lit allowed) about this wonderful holiday.
Since I absolutely adore this season, this was a no brainer.

Hidden in Plain View

  1. Welcome to the weekly feature hosted by Tina at Tutu' s Two Cents. Use Random.org to pick a book from our library shelves (real or virtual) and bring it out into daylight. To join in, pick a random book from your library and tell us:
  • title,
  • author,
  • #of pages,
  • edition,
  • (tags, and collections if LT)
  • why that book is in your library,
  • (how and when you acquired the book)
  • whether you've read it or not if so did you like it and why;
  • if not, do you plan to read it?

    Well, I have 355 books in my library (books that I actually own) and the random number today is 84 -
    Title: Slightly Dangerous
    Author: Mary Balogh
    # of pages - 400
    Tags & Collections - Romance,2007, READ, OWNED, Favorites
    Acquired - 2007

    SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS is the final book in Mary Balogh's Bedwyn Slightly series. I read each one of them in order and it is the perfect ending. If you have read the others, you will enjoy this one, even more you will grin- and in several locations laugh out loud.



Read: Nov 11 - 16
Source: Public Library
Category: Followers
Pages: 387

We return to Venice in this second of the series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti as he is confronted with the death of a young American and a possible suicide of the doctor who identified the body. Since Brunetti's superior, Patta, wants the murder of the American resolved quickly, Guido goes to the American Army base in Vicenza to gather information on the victim and to try to determine why he was killed. When later he is handed on the case involving a mugging of a VIP and theft of expensive art, little does Guido know that the cases are connected and will result in an unusual ending.

I really enjoy these mysteries because Donna Leon serves up the clues in a slow and subtle way so that that the reader is going at exactly the same pace as the character. She delicately weaves the story introduces each element that is needed to resolve the mystery at the same time giving it the necessary importance and details to push the reader forward. Her interconnection of the characters and the story is quite masterful.

I have to admit that this story was so well-written that at times I truly believed that it could be happening and that really seemed so real that I wonder if Ms. Leon knows something that we all don't. Should we all be so trusting of a foreign government that doesn't behave the way we want? Should any country have carte blanche to behave in a manner that is not to the betterment of all mankind? This book definitely posed so very interesting questions about our or any society and made me stop and wonder. At the same time as I am wondering, I was wishing that I could visit all the places that she described with such vivid preciseness - the beauty of the city with the contrasts of its problems, oh well, maybe someday.


Giveaway of a special look at the Lost Symbol!

I had so much fun with my first giveaway that when I got a chance to get 2 copies of the book (1 for me and 1 for you) by Simon Cox titled Decoding the Lost Symbol, I had to grab it. I don't know about you, but I always seem to miss some little detail in books like The DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons. I'm hoping that this book will clear up any little details that my pea brain didn't catch the first time or will miss altogether. Hope you feel the same way too.

Can we compare The Lost Symbol with The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons?

Simon Cox says "The Lost Symbol is a thriller that keeps Robert Langdon on his toes and involves some big themes and historical enigmas. However, it's the deeper, more hidden elements of the book that will have the most impact over time. Between the lines of the novel, Dan Brown has attempted to write something akin to a hidden Hermetic text. It's a bold and ambitious undertaking. Indeed, the last ten chapters of the book and the epilogue are more or less an extended treatise on Deism, Hermetic thought, and religious tolerance. "

"The Freemasons are the secret society of choice this time around. There will be those who see Freemasonry as a covert, sinister movement intent on power and blasphemy. Many commentators thought that the Masons would, in effect, be portrayed as the "bad guys," but this is not the case. In fact, Brown makes a convincing argument for Freemasonry being a tolerant and enlightened movement with some interesting and forward-thinking ideas. "

This book should give special insights to the newest Dan Brown book. Read it before you get your hands on the Lost Symbol or after, to explain all the little details you may have missed.

So let's make this fun... to enter, click on comments below and:

  • Leave a comment - let me know if you've ever missed a point of interest in a book that someone else pointed out to you later.

  • Leave another entry if you're a follower (or become a follower and tell me.)

  • Blog about the contest and leave me a link in a third comment. (sidebars are OK).

  • No PO Boxes, US residents only. (sorry non-US residents)

  • One of your entries (or your blog profile) must have an email address so I can contact you.

  • Contest ends December 15th. If I cannot contact the selected winner, I will choose again.


THE PETTICOAT AFFAIR: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson's White House by John F. Marszalek

Read: Nov 3 - 9
Source: Public Library
Category: History
Pages: 304

Andrew Jackson was a man of deep moral principles and unfailing loyalty to his friends. When his wife Rachel, who had been much maligned during her marriage to Jackson, died before his inauguration, Jackson transferred his emotional support to his friend John Eaton and his wife Margaret Timberlake Eaton when her reputation was manipulated by the scandal of her marriage to Eaton before the required mourning period for her first husband had ended. The rules of mourning at that time required the widow to wear black for at least 2 years, not leave the house except for church, attend no social events. The widow wasn't even supposed to do any sewing because if she did she was not showing the proper amount of regard at loosing her spouse.

Margaret Timberlake lived with her family who ran a hotel and helped entertain the guests so she was constantly in view and socializing with men. For this fact, after her marriage to John Eaton (less than a year into her widowhood) Margaret Eaton was not considered by the other Washington wives as welcome into the polite society.

John Eaton had been a friend of Andrew Jackson's for more than 20 years and Jackson had selected him to be the Secretary of War. The other cabinet member wives refused to invite Margaret Eaton and her husband to social events and noticeably snubbed her at events held at the White House. Jackson took offense and through the first two years of his presidency tried to resolve the issues but was unable to. His solution was to start his cabinet over.
"The dissolution of the Jackson's cabinet, the only such event in American history, demonstrated the depth of the president's determination to have his way in the matter of Margaret Eaton."
"Andrew Jackson could never understand it, but it was he, not John C Calhoun, who made the snubbing of Margaret Eaton into the political cataclysm it became."

I found this book highly interesting showing that scandal and politics are not new bedfellows of the 20th century. I was also very surprised by the detail of the book since the 1000 page biography I had previously read about Jackson had very little about the Eaton Affair. I'm definitely glad that I took the time to read it.



I didn't exactly know what to expect from this book and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. This is the tale of the little recognized Civil War Battle of Franklin in Tennessee and how it affected the people in the town near the battlefield. It also brings to light the efforts that were made by the townspeople to preserve the cemetery and Carnton home where so many soldiers were taken after the battle.

This book appears to be a tribute to Carrie McGavock and her slave/friend Mariah. These two women of the south worked diligently to care for the wounded and to provide solace to the families of the soldiers who died in the battle.

Carrie McGavock is the normal southern woman, wife and mother. Before the battle, her life is filled with depression and grief related to the death of 3 of her young children. It seems that Carrie doesn't come alive until literally everyone around her is dying. The Confederate Army turns her home into a hospital and together, Carrie and Mariah work to ease the suffering of the survivors. Carrie becomes involved emotionally involved with Zachariah Cashwell, a Confederate sergeant who Carrie sends to the surgeon for a leg amputation. Their time together is cut short when Cashwell is sent to a Union prison. Carrie's spirit turns to protection of the cemetery where the Confederate soldiers are buried and she and her husband John work to have the soldiers reburied on the land when the original cemetery is threatened.

The historical facts are cleverly woven throughout the fictional story, enlightening the reader while enhancing the story.



Read: Oct 20 - Nov 3
Source: FSB Associates for review
Category: Romance
Pages: 320

My thanks to Anna Suknov of FSB Associates who sent me this book for review. It fit right in to the time frame of history that I am currently reading so I really enjoyed the insights that it gave.

This book is a fictional account of the life of Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea who was born during the great exploration of Lewis & Clark. Starting with a short account of the exploration, the story continues with the tales of his youth and visits to Europe (across the endless river= Atlantic Ocean).

The author includes numerous facts of Baptiste's life while weaving an entertaining though unverified story of his travels with Duke Paul of Württemberg. Mainly, the book strives to show the difference between the two worlds that he is part of - the Indian world from his mother and the European or civilized world from his father. It has a tendency to drag when the areas of Natural history were being discussed, but overall, it was entertaining and educational combined together. The love story that went throughout was definitely very understated.


CLOUDS OF WITNESS by Dorothy L. Sayers

Read: Oct 31 - Nov 1
Source: Public Library
Category: Followers
Pages: 288

This mystery with Lord Peter Wimsey and his valet, Bunter, has them working diligently to clear Lord Peter's brother (the Duke of Denver) of a murder charge. The characters include not only the Duke of Denver, but Peter's sister Lady Mary, his Mother the dowager Duchess, colorful villagers, and a few political malcontents.
Again this mystery was written in the early part of the 20th century but it was still entertaining and challenging for the reader.