Book Review:The Captured and Two Companion Books

This book "Captured" my interest at the prologue!  I had placed it on my "looks readable" list eons ago, before it ever found a coveted spot on my annual book list. I did not know what I was missing.

Captured

 The Captured: is the true story of a handful of children who were abducted by Indians in the 1860's & 1870's.  What leads the author to write this book is he discovers that his many-great uncle was abducted and later returned to his family. The story and legacy was lost through the years and the author sets out to learn more.  Beginning his research by looking for information on his uncle, he uncovers the stories of others who undergo the same traumatic experience and live to tell about it in memoirs or stories handed down through generations.

The Captured, is written in a fact filled historical tone, but a story is weaved within the fact, that makes you feel like you are there.  Quotes, interviews with family, and pictures add great detail to this book that kept me reading and reliving one of histories wildest times.

Give this book list choice a read.  I gained a new appreciation for how the west was won!

*Captured is an adult non-fiction read *


Here are two fictional companion reads, one for children and one for adults if this subject interests you.

* For children ages 10 and up, I recommend a title that we thoroughly enjoyed- Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison

Based on the actual account of 12 year old Mary Jemison who was captured from Pennsylvania in 1758.  A wonderful story that sheds light on the Indian way of life and will entertain and teach children and adults. This title fits in nicely if you follow Charlotte Mason and her concept of living books.

 

 

* For the fictional romance fan, I recommend: The Second Kiss. This is an older book originally published in 1963 under the title Nakoa's Woman.
This title has it all, romance, suspense, drama, violence but is still full of historical detail.  This book held me spell bound!

 

 

 

 There you have it, three amazing but different books that will keep you reading way past your bedtime.  Enjoy!

 

 

Book Review: First Mothers the Women Who Shaped the Presidents

This title was chosen ahead of time for me, by me, on my annual reading list.  I deemed it appropriate for May, because of Mother's Day.  What better inspiration for a mother than to read about other mother's whose sons reached the highest office in our country?

First Mothers was written by Bonnie Angelo, a reporter with Time, who had covered stories at the White House through eight administrations.  She uses this knowledge as well as interviews with past presidents and their families to write this impressive biography.

Mothers

First Mothers is a wonderful biography full of wisdom, quotes and history made by the work of these mothers.  This book sheds new light on the line: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."  The chapters are dedicated to the mothers of Presidents: FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. 

What I found fascinating is that not one of the eleven mothers sought to have her son become president; many had no political aspirations for their family.
The common thread of each mother whether born wealthy or dirt poor, was that her son be a good man- strong in character and to be able to do what needs to be done. 
It was interesting that each son that would become president, held a special place in his mothers heart, not quite a favorite, but for lack o f a better word, a favorite none the less. Each mother would champion her son; always believing the best in him and encouraging him to do his best. The binding tie was that each mother who would have a president son, had an especially close relationship with her father.  She would hold him in high esteem and find her strength in this relationship that would then influence her and her sons futures. 

First Mothers is a book that sheds new light on powerful men who changed and made history.  A book that will charm and inspire you.

Book Review: Finding Fraser

I discovered the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon last summer and read all eight of these heart pounding, tear inducing, fabulous novels over the course of a few months. 
If you have not read them, I encourage you to do so….life will never be the same once you are introduced to Jamie Fraser; the tall, redhaired hero of this series.  Jamie is also referred to as The King of Men.  ( once you read it, it will all become clear!)

Today's book review is a fictional account of a woman who goes to Scotland to find her own Jamie Fraser! 

Findingfraser

In Finding Fraser, Emma Sheridan, who is about to turn thirty, decides she has had enough of bad relationships and mediocre existence. She sells everything she owns -including her hair straightener, starts a travel blog and books a flight to Scotland. There, she plans to retrace the steps of Claire, the Outlander heroine and find true love along the way. 

Of course the path of true love never runs smooth. Obstacles and mishaps find Emma and while searching for true love, she just may find the missing part of herself. 

This book is a treat for an Outlander fan.  The chance encounter Emma has with Herself ( the honorary title for the authoress of Outlander)  is especially noteworthy. 
The locations I had come to love are revisited in modern times and still have a charm to them. I have been wondering if travel agencies book these kind of tours maybe lead by a man in a kilt?!

 Finding Fraser is a fast paced, enjoyable read; perfect for the weekend!

 

Book Review: Crinkleroot Nature Series

Springtime brings a renewed interest in nature study to our home.  We long to take walks in the woods or learn more about the birds that are all over the yard.  It is as if this subject has awakened from its winter hibernation.

There are plenty of nature books and guides to be found. But none like the one I am linking to today- a collection that I wish I had heard about years ago!

My latest nature book find is the Crinkleroot Series!

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The author, Jim Arnosky, is a naturlist and artist.  Here are a few topics that are found in these whimsical yet educational books: avoiding poison ivy, how to identify animal tracks, and beautiful sketches that are labeled- this alone makes these books worthy of a place on a nature study table.

The main character is Crinkleroot, a woodsman who sets off to explore his surroundings while giving facts and interesting tips to the young explorer. I hesitate to say young explorer, because while these books are Excellent for elementary ages, they could be a great starting off point for a middle schooler who is just getting started in nature study.

There is a Crinkleroot book for almost every nature topic.  Here are the titles we have read:

 Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Birds    ( has a wonderful labeled bird diagram )

Crinkleroot's Guide to Walking in Wild Places  ( ferns, ticks, poison ivy plant family )

Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing Butterflies and Moths ( butterfly labeled diagram )

Crinkleroot's Guide to Animal Tracking, Revised Edition 

The Brook Book 

Crinkleroot's 25 Birds Every Child Should Know (just names and a picture, I wish the photos were real life )

Crinkleroot's 25 Fish Every Child Should Know (just names and a picture, again I wish these photos were real life )

Crinkleroot's Nature Almanac (informative and spanning a whole year, much of the info in this book is compiled from others )

Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking (great info and sketches to get you started in studying nature )

There is one more title that I would like to read and that is the Crinkleroot Guide to Trees.  I will have to put that one on my amazon wishlist.

StackGrab a Crinkleroot book and begin exploring nature today! 

What other books do you use for nature study?

Book Review: The Life Giving Home

Today's book review is by an author that I have read for years.  I would consider her a mentor I have never really met. I was fortunate enough to go to one of the mom heart conferences years ago. ( I should look for a picture from there! ) Sally Clarkson's books and her blog encouraged and guided how I shaped my home, my thoughts on motherhood and even my homeschooling.

I was thrilled when I heard she was writing a new book about building the home culture with her daughter Sarah Clarkson.  I rushed out to pick up a copy and read it through in a day.

The cover art is just beautiful. Being a tea time enthusiast the image of a cuppa tea and a hearty bread spoke to my soul.

Bookcover

The book is written in easy to read chapter snippets that are categorized by months of the year, each with a different topic for creating a place of belonging. Sally and Sarah alternate writing the chapters and you will note a different voice in them.  I appreciated hearing Sarah's point of view; a grown child remembering the many details that her mother did to make her childhood home welcoming. 

I loved all the suggestions of how to implement new rituals, traditions and the whys. This kind of side by side help is needed by many moms who many not have an older wiser woman nearby to guide them on the road of motherhood.

The Life Giving Home is a  wonderful and encouraging read by Sally and Sarah Clarkson.  I would highly recommend it to moms of young ones and those who may not have heard of Sally Clarkson.
That being said, as a long time reader or Sally Clarkson, I felt that I had heard a lot of the stories and tips before.  I did like that the book was centered on making a home, a topic that was touched on in other books but not as in depth as this one.  I will link my favorites below. 🙂 Even still, I walked away energized to continue making a home where my family longs to be. 

Take aways:

~  "I have found that my own plans work best when I live within the limitations and strengths of my own personality and circumstances."

~ Avoid mile wide and inch deep commitments

~ all great works of life must be planned in order to make them productive, useful and flourishing.

~ Chapter 4 by Sarah really spoke to me….the main gist I took was: Nothing is neutral & to evaluate your use of time.

Of course I recommend The Life Giving Home, but these are the other books I would recommend by Sally Clarkson.

 The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity : a beautiful book about motherhood. My copy is heavily highlighted.  A great resource for moms with children 10 and under.

 Seasons of a Mother's Heart, 2nd edition: The first book by Sally Clarkson that I ever read.  This title is a valuable resource for a homeschooling mom to get the big picture of motherhood and its seasons. The book is filled with wisdom.

 

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber is the follow up book to Outlander.  I wrote all about that amazing book here.

Very few authors can write sequels that are as good as the first book in a series.  But Diana Gabaldon has proven that theory wrong!  Not only is the second book equally as good as the first, but all 8 books are Stop What You Are Doing and Read worthy!  I like that each of the books have an interesting and stand alone title.  However, I do find myself referring to them as the second/third book in the Outlander series.

I will do my very best to not leak any spoilers for those who love to discover a book for themselves, but when summing up a book some things are bound to get out there.  Oh, and I may abbreviate Dragonfly in Amber as DIA….just a heads up.  Here we go!

Gabaldon-Dragonfly-in-Amber-220x332
At the end of Outlander, we had Jamie and Claire en route to France both out of necessity and as a place to heal Jamie from the trauma that occurred at Wentworth.   You'd think that is where DIA would pick up- and it does Eventually.  
This threw me at first, but just start reading- it will all make sense in good time.

Dragonfly in Amber begins in 1968, with Claire bringing her daughter to Scotland. Claire plans to tell Brianna who her father is and about her experiences at Craigh Na Dune.
During this revealing, the story takes the reader back to France in 1744, right where Outlander left us.

Paris, France is worlds away from life in the Scottish Highlands. The dress, housing, customs, everything; is different for Jamie an Claire. Because of Claire's knowledge of upcoming historical events, they decided to try to alter the course of history by playing a high stakes political game.
Politics is a risky business and things do not always go as planned.Circumstances and events will threaten to tear apart their relationship and they must find a way back to each other. 
Realizing that they cannot change what is to come they return home to Scotland. Only to find that the upcoming battle of Colloden will shadow their future forever.  A heartbreaking choice must be made. This author knows how to write a heart pounding and consuming novel! 

After recounting all of the story to Brianna, Claire may or may not find peace with her past. 

* Dragonfly in Amber is a must read before you watch.  I am looking forward to the second season of Outlander that is airing on Starz in April.  They have done a good job of sticking to the plot of the story and maintaining integrity to this well loved book. I hope they continue to do that with Dragonfly in Amber. *

 

 

The Ides of March

Did you read Julius Caesar in high school?
Nerd confession- I liked Shakespeare.  Not enough to read it in my spare time for entertainment but enough that I can appreciate Shakespeare's sonnets and his well known plays.

There are many quotes and phrases that we use that come from his works. But that is another post for another time.

Today is March 15 AKA the Ides of March.

The day Julius Caesar was murdered.

Idesmeme
I remember sitting in high school English class reading Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, and after the "et tu brute" jotting down March 15th in a notebook.  I told you I was a book nerd.

Today's book review is not by Shakespeare. There may be a collective breath by many. 

The book I recommend for the Ides of March is The Memoirs of Cleopatra.

I read this book for the first time when I was 18. It was and still is one of the longest books I have read. It has a whopping 976 pages. 
Do not be intimidated. The writing style and the first person account will pull you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.

This epic read is ideal for fiction fans who want a book with a basis in historical fact.
The fictional recounting is told in Cleopatra's own voice. It begins with her first memories and her rise to the throne.

Cleopatra
Enter in the Romans led by the great conqueror Julius Caesar. A whirlwind romance binds Cleopatra and him together until tragedy strikes him on the Ides of March.  ( Cleopatra is in Rome when this occurs….I am unsure if this is historically accurate, but it made for a great story!)

Picking up the pieces she returns to Egypt.
Political alliances bring her together with Marc Antony, another Roman and friend of Caesars.
Another romantic involvement, she really has a thing for Romans and I am not the only one who thinks so. This snippet from the book confirms it:

Linefrombook

Love does not conquer all in this case.
Rome soon invades and captures Egypt and rather than be paraded as a captive through the streets, Cleopatra plots her own demise, by snakebite. A fitting end for a Pharaoh whose royal emblems include a snake.

I was completely drawn into this book. It is full of descriptive writing that will make you feel as if you are there. Obviously there is no written record of Cleopatra's conversations with her trusted servants, Julius Caesar or any other person; but this fictional retelling is believable and gives a humanized side to this great queen of history.

Favorite lines from this book. There were many but I paired it down to these:

~What is one person's diversion may be another's supreme test. (ch. 5)

~Inanimate objects seem to soak up the essence of living things, and later cause pain or pleasure when we merely look at them. (ch. 16)

~Dreams without details cannot come true. ( ch. 72 )

I highly recommend this lengthy book and look to read the other titles by this author in the future.

 

 

 

Book Review: The Year of Yes

The cover of this book looked happy and seemed to say- "Yes, you should read me!"
I am glad that I did.


YearofYEs

Not just because I am a fan of Grey's Anatomy- since forever.  You may be saying to yourself- "Wait, what does this book have to do with a TV show?"
Well if the Dance It Out, reference on the cover didn't give it away the I should tell you that the author of this book, Shonda Rhimes is the creator of Grey's Anatomy.

I am glad that I read this book because I think Shonda and I could be friends.  Real friends not just FB friends.

There comes a time when we all need to do the thing(s) that frighten us, that put us on edge. These are the things that will grow us.
Shonda Rhimes does that and lives to tell about it, in a humorous way.
In this book, the author shares the startling moment when she realized she was going through the motions of living; not really living at all. She then decides to do something about it. She starts saying Yes to life.

I enjoyed her autobiography focusing on her year of yes. I found the conversations she has with herself, totally amusing and relatable. It was  comforting to know that there are other introverts who would rather be alone with their thoughts than out at a massive party. 
I liked the tone throughout the book. It is the tone of a friend telling a friend whats been happening in their life.

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Take aways from Year of Yes:

~ "Nothing works until you are ready for it to work."

~ "Its not bragging if you can back it up." – Muhammad Ali

~ You have to read it to get the full effect, but her thoughts on motherhood being called a "job".  She says its not! 
– chapter 6…..Well Said, Shonda!

I am glad that I said Yes to this book.  It was an inspiring and fun autobiography by a super talented woman.
Lets all start living our Year of Yes.

Book Review: The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts

Midafternoon found me wandering around my local library in search of something new to read.  I decided it needed to be fiction with romantic comedy tones, something I had never read before and a new author would be nice.

You would think I would walk away empty handed with a list like that. Because how do you pluck all of that out of thin air?

I don’t know – But, somehow I did!

I can now say that I have read my first Nora Roberts novel. Actually, I have read my first Nora Roberts series.  A new to me author, she is no newbie to the publishing world- she has more than one hundred books published! 

February being the month of love and all things romantic I picked out the title: Vision In White, book 1 in the Bride Quartet. I read this charming book over the course of a weekend. I then powered through the entire series in no time at all.

The Bride Quartet series tells the story of four childhood best friends. Growing up they would play “Wedding Day” over and over. This game develops individual talents in the four girls.
Entering adulthood they turn this “game” into a thriving Wedding Planning business called Vows. Each character uses their talents in a different aspect of the business.

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Book 1 focuses on Mackensie ( Mac) Elliot the photographer
Book 2 is about Emma Grant the flower bouquet maker
Book 3 centers on Laurel McBane the cake maker
Book 4 tells about Parker Brown who is the business master mind.

But these books are not only about work!  Love does find each character in a special way even while running a business.  These stories all build on each other and the characters are well developed and entertaining.

I highly recommend these books for a weekend where light, romantic reading is just what you want.  The only downside to them is that you will want cake, and not ordinary cake, but a delicious three tiered kind of cake while reading!

 

Book Review of A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove

 A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove is a history of American women told through food, recipes and remembrances. I had actually never flipped through the book to see the layout and writing style before bringing it home to read.  That is the only gamble when ordering with Amazon, really- sometimes there is the Click to See Inside feature which thrills me.  But, I did not do that with this title and I wish I had.

In my mind I had built up a book that read as a diary.  In which women left behind recipes and snippets of stories of how they endured the Civil War or the Great Depression with ration cards. I imagined "grocery lists" from different times. Lists of what the women going west would have considered essential to have to cook for their hungry men and children.
I wanted an easy read in a conversational tone that made history come alive.

Booktitle

There is a smattering of these things in this book. There are numerous photographs and historical prints. There are recipes and well researched facts.
However, I never found myself drawn into the world of these women whose stories are chronicled here. I wanted to, very much. I found myself skimming the book looking for snip-its that drew me in.

I did enjoy sections about the pioneer women and their long and difficult day on the journey westward. I wish there had been real diary entries here. I enjoyed portions about women during WWII and the Great Depression and how they helped turn the tide. There is a long quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that I loved. 
Here is the last line of it: "And I hold it equally true that in this present crisis it is going to be the women who will tip the scales and bring us safely out of it."

 A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove is a well written book. I neither loved it nor disliked it. The book was not what I had in mind when I saw the title and added it to my annual book list.  But I would recommend it to someone doing a report on the kitchen and its role in history.