Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy by Ann Blackman

Read: October 24 - 28
Format: Hardback 307 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: Espionage, Civil War
Category: The Engagement: this is getting serious
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, SYLL
Stars: ★★★

Rose O'Neale Greenhow, have you ever heard of her? To be honest, I hadn't but after reading this book, I'm surprised by that fact. When I think of a spy in wartime in the 19th century, a woman is not necessarily what I imagine, but Rose Greenhow played that part more than adequately. A strong independent woman, Rose, living in the Nation's capital, was a Washington hostess, presidential confidante and spy.

Living in Washington, Rose had a virtual list of Who's Who that befriended her over thirty years - John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Stephen Douglas (her son-in-law), Dolley Madison, Chief Justice Roger Taney, Mary Chestnut, Presidents Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James Polk, and James Buchanan and she kept a correspondence throughout the war with Jefferson Davis and General Pierre Beauregard.

At the start of the Civil War, Rose Greenhow contacted the Confederate government and offered her services as a spy in Washington. She was given a special cipher and frequently during the early months of the war gathered important information regarding the troop numbers, placement, and planned movements. Never keeping her Confederate sympathies a secret, it is surprising the information she was able to gather and forward to the Confederacy. The success of the South at the first major battle at Bull Run can be linked to messages that she sent directly to General Beauregard.

In 1862 she was imprisoned (first in her own home and then in the Old Capital Orison) for nearly a year and then she was exiled to the south. President Jefferson Davis commissioned her to go to Europe to attempt to persuade England and France to recognize the Confederacy and aid them. During her time there, Rose met with Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens. On her trip home, while running the blockade outside of Wilmington, NC, her ship ran aground and rather than wait for the tide, she insisted on a lifeboat to make land. Swells ravaged the tiny boat and Rose was drowned. Rose Greenhow's strong independent spirit was her downfall because the ship safely made port the next morning.

This book was an amazing tale of a feisty woman of the South, who embraced the southern cause and risked her liberty and gave her life for what she believed in. It is well-written and very informative of issues that were previously unknown to this reader at least.


At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

Read: October 3 - October 26
Format: Audio 16 CDs equivalent 550 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: small town pastor
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, SYLL, Audio
Category: Blind dates: Will I like them? - New series / new authors
Genre: Fiction
Stars: ★★★½

Mitford, North Carolina is the home of Father Tim, an Episcopalian rector who appears to be facing multiple issues leading to a spiritual mid-life crisis. He doesn't think that his ministry to the townspeople is very effective, he's developed diabetes, adopted a monster dog by accident, and assumed responsibility for an 11 year-old boy when his grandfather becomes ill. All this and a new love interest has moved in next door.

The characters are what make this story come alive. Some make you laugh - Cynthia the new neighbor, others make you want to cry or give them a big hug - Sadie Baxter. Others remind me of neighbors I had when growing up - down to earth and no nonsense. However, Father Tim is the center that draws them together. If my priest were half as good as Father Tim I might still be going to church. He speaks from his heart which obviously embraces the Lord wholeheartedly but he's not preachy.

I had a hard time with the start of this book, it seemed to drag but others had told me that I would enjoy it if I liked the Lumby series so I stuck with it and it was worth the effort. Lumby, definitely not, but Mitford is still a place I might like to visit again.


Skeleton Letters by Laura Childs

Read: October 21 - October 24
Format: Paperback 312 pages
Source: Author for review
Subject: religious icons, recipes
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Category: Setting up Housekeeping/ Leftovers - Crafts
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Stars: ★★★

Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava Gruiex are back at it as detectives when they witness the murder of their friend Byrle in St. Tristan's Church. Carmela can't seem to follow the warnings of her police detective boyfriend and gets involved in the investigation and together they get into a few very tight spots.

This is the 9th book in the Scrapbooking Mysteries series. The interaction of the characters has improved and I will look forward to the next in the series.


Secret Lives of the Supreme Court by Robert Schakenberg

Read: October 10 - 19
Format: Paperback 277 pages
Source: My shelves, giveaway winner
Subject: Supreme Court, judges bios
Category: Something New - books acquired in 2011
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★

This book is mainly a collection of short biographical material and unusual anecdotes concerning the lives of past and present Justices of the Supreme Court. Due the political leanings expressed by the author, I would think that some are a litte far-fetched. Though slightly entertaining, not recommended.


Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Read: October 17 - October 19
Format: Audio 9 CDs equivalent 400 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: cold cases, disfunctional families
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, SYLL, Audio
Category: Honeymoon - foreign settings/thrillers
Genre: Mystery
Stars: ★★★★

Three families are impacted by tragedies in a different way - a 3 year old disappears, one young woman killed, and a husband murdered. 10 years later private detective Jackson Brodie starts investigations of all three cold cases. Jackson is just what a reader wants in their central character - skeptical, suspicious, resentful - which means that when someone tries to stop him, he just digs in deeper.

The characters involved in all three of the cases are unique and diverse. The Land sisters found Blue Mouse after 10 years are still wondering if little Olivia is alive. Theo Wyre lost his daughter and wonders why she was cut down in the prime of her life and he was left behind. Michelle places her daughter in her sister's care who then proceeds to lose her. The cases are solved, not always skillfully, but in the end, we see how lives intertwine and events resonate like ripples in a lake. The reader can see from the clues that connections are there but how they twist and connect is what makes this book so riveting.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next Jackson Brodie mystery.


A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

Read: October 8 - October 14
Format: Paperback 275 pages
Source: Nook
Subject: Civil War experiences
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Category: The Engagement: this is getting serious
Genre: Historical Biographical, Memior
Stars: ★★★

I believe that any American, when reading about the American Civil War, tends to try to put their own standing as to whether Unionist or Confederate aside and look at the historical aspect of the volume. I had difficulty doing that with this book because of the apparent authenticity of the trials and tribulations of the author.

The introduction to this diary was compelling stating that "No Southerner at that time could possibly have had opinions so just or foresight so clear as those here attributed to a young girl." Sarah's adventures may have seemed a bit trivial in some cases for those of our century (collecting clothes, hiding silver), but at her time and place, she was a strong young woman who made every effort to keep her family together during the conflicts that surrounded them.


The Elusive Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Read: October 4 - October 8
Format: Paperback 464 pages
Source: Nook
Subject: Love, Marriage, espionage
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Category: Love and Marriage: a lifetime commitment
Genre: Romance
Stars: ★★★

In the second installment of the Black Cobra, the reader follows the travels of Gareth Hamilton complicated by the appearance and involvement of Emily Ensworth (who has decided that Major Hamilton is the man for her). The Black Cobra knows that Emily delivered the letter that Hamilton is now trying to transport to England and so they are both in danger.

Again the Black Cobra's followers work to recover the incriminating letter as well as eliminate those that are involved. Gareth and Emily protect each other while expanding their personal relationship. Another fun book with adventure and love at the center.


Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley

Read: October 2 -4
Format: Paperback 285 pages
Source: My shelves, giveaway winner
Subject: Supreme Court, marriage, TV personalities
Category: Something Old - read those TBRs
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★★½

What would it be like if Judge Judy was appointed to the Supreme Court? The premise of this book is that the president needs to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court and the Senate Judiciary Committee has destroyed the 2 perfect judges that have nominated so to get their goat he nominates Judge Pepper from the popular TV series Courtroom Six.

The public is thrilled with the nomination and she is pushed through. At the same time, the head Senator of the Judicary Committee (who really wanted the job) is recruited by the producer of Courtroom Six to take on the role of the President in his new series POTUS. This was an extremely fun book satirizing our legistlative and judiciary.


But Why Shoot the Magistrate? by Patricia Sprinkle

Read: October 1 - October 2
Format: Hardback 455 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: unorthodox religions, murder
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, SYLL
Category: Something Borrowed - from the library
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Stars: ★★★½

The second book in the Thoroughly Southern Mystery series has MacLaren Yarbourgh attemptng to solve two mysteries - did the minister kill the young girl and who shot her husband.

Reverend Blessed has detailed the murder of a young woman by what he saw in a dream but the police don't believe that it was a dream. As Mac delves deeper into the people involved in the victim's life, she is threatened and Joe Riddley, her husband is shot. To protect herself and her family she has to find the killer.

I've been reading this series a bit out of order but it is still fun because of the characters and the environment, I will definitely continue on.