A Lady Unrivaled: Ladies of the Manor Book #3 by Roseanna M. White: after her oldest friend's betrayal, Lady Ella Myerston is determined to discover the secret of the Fire Eyes--rare red diamonds said to be cursed by whoever owns them. They have haunted her family and friends for years, and Ella is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. And with the help of Lord Cayton, a man who has broken hearts and lived a rather foolish life, she just might be able to accomplish her secret goal. On his part, Lord Cayton is struggling to live as a man transformed by God, especially as the demons of his past come back to haunt him and those he cares for. This was the final book in this trilogy and you do need to read them in order. I thought the whole series was well-done. Pick them up if you like historical fiction with a Christian bent.
The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay: Lucy has her dream job working for one of the best interior designers in Chicago, runs the antique book side of their business, and has started dating one of the most wonderful men she's ever met. But when her boyfriend James inadvertently stumbles upon the cut corners she has taken at work, her life is upended. She begins to ask herself some hard questions: if the characteristic of deceitfulness runs in the family, can one escape it or is it inevitable? James' grandmother takes Lucy on a shopping trip to England where she is determined to grapple with her own past, one that directly affects Lucy. This so-called business trip becomes life-changing. I loved this book, specifically the ending. Lucy has a wonderful character growth arc. This was my first Reay book and all the literary Brontë references were wonderful. I need to familiarize myself with more of their works. Recommend!
Meet Me In The Margins by Melissa Ferguson: Savannah is an assistant acquisitions editor at a small but established publishing firm that specializes specifically in eclectic (read: unpopular) titles. Unbeknownst to her coworkers, she is also an aspiring romance author. She has only 44 days left until her manuscript is due, so when a coworker finds her hiding spot and begins anonymously leaving editorial notes on it, she jumps at the help. Their friendship begins to grow and deepen through their written conversations. With the manuscript complete and sent, Savannah must grapple with her own future--what and who does she want? This was a super cute, funny read. It was rather predictable, but I did not really care. It was what I was wanting! I plan to read her backlog of titles next.
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White: Louis is a trumpeter swan born without a voice. His father, in an at of sacrifice and bravado, steals a trumpet from a music store in Billings, Montana in order to give his son a voice. Louis is extremely grateful, but determined to pay off his father's debt and restore his honor through hard work. My kiddos and I listened to the audiobook read by the author. It is a wonderful classic novel, and I enjoyed it so much more via audio. You can catch the humor of the situation a great deal more.
Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner: Daisy's fiancé broke off their engagement two weeks before their wedding. So she leaves her job where they both worked and opens up a used wedding dress shop. Brides who purchase a dress at her shop know the history and love stories behind their dress. Daisy has settled into a routine over the last year until the son of the priest who blesses all her wedding dresses shows up to visit his dad. Both have had their hearts broken, but as they begin to deal with their hurts, healing occurs. I love Meissner's books! Her newer books are all historical fiction, but this older one from her backlog was just as enjoyable.
Murder at the Picadilly Playhouse, Cleopatra Fox Mystery #2 by C.J. Archer: when one of London's leading actresses dies suddenly, her death is labelled a suicide. Her lover, however, is adamant that isn't the case. While staying at her uncle's hotel, he jumps at the chance for Cleo to offer her investigative skills. With the help of Harry Armitage, they uncover the jealous, seedy underbid of the early 1900s English acting scene. I have enjoyed these mysteries! They are clean, although sometimes unseemly events or lifestyles are subtly referenced.
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan: in this nonfiction book, Egan interviews people who were kids, teens, or young adults during the Dust Bowl. Their stories of life on the prairie are fascinating and terrifying. The photos included depict massive dust storm clouds miles wide, houses buried in dust, etc. I learned so much about that time in history. One of the men interviewed was the son of Bam White who starred in this propaganda film during that time: The Plow that Broke the Plains. The truth is that the farmers did destroy the Great Plains, but with the full enthusiasm of the government during WWI. Unfortunately, postwar production did not slow down as it should have. Over 100 years later, and the land still has not recovered. Some scientists suggest it never will. I do not have an opinion, but this book put this disaster into perspective for me. Our history books do not do justice to this time in history.
Death on the Nile, Hercule Poirot #18 by Agatha Christie: Poirot embarks on an Egyptian cruise where a famously wealthy young woman on her honeymoon is ruthlessly murdered in her bed. Earlier on the trip, Poirot had overheard a jealous young woman saying she'd love to do the same. Is she the culprit? Or is nothing as it appears under the hot Egyptian sun? Poirot determines to use his 'little gray cells' to uncover the truth before their ship disembarks. I had read this book as a teen but did not remember all the details of the mystery. It is one of Christie's most famous mysteries. Definitely worth a read!
Romancing the Artist: Return to Inglewood Book #1 by Sally Britton: follows the children of Britton's original Inglewood series. You do not need to read them first, but I would recommend doing so. Caroline Clapham is sent to spend the summer with family friends, the Earl and Countess of Inglewood. The Countess is an accomplished artist, and Caroline plans to learn all she can as a promising artist herself. When Caroline meets Edward Everly, she volunteers on a whim to help him by pretending to allow him to court her. But feigned feelings become real and both Caroline and Edward must choose between taking a risk and leading a staid life. This was a sweet, easy read. I always enjoy Britton's novels.
A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott: young Rosamond Vivian angrily shouts at her heartless grandfather that she would sell her soul to the devil for a year of freedom. In walks the image of Mephistopheles--moody, enigmatic Philip Tempest. He seduced the innocent, naive Rosamond and whisks her away on his yacht. They spend a year of happiness together before Philip's past and Rosamond's impetuous vow come to haunt them. Discovering the truth about the man she loves forces Rosamond to flee in the night, but Tempest does not give up his obsession so easily. So begins a chase through Europe. Good versus evil. Obsession versus true love. Louisa May Alcott wrote this two years before Little Women but it was not published due to its 'sensational' content. It is nothing like her other books I've read! This book is full on gothic, think Jane Eyre or Daphne du Maurier novels. I enjoyed it!
The Sinking City by Christine Cohen: A long time ago, the rulers of Venice made a deal with a monstrous race known as the Seleni who live in the waters of Venice. They can come on land to trade in exchange for a city that never sinks. Liona Carvatti is the daughter of a publican in Venice. She leads a carefree life until the eve of her 16th birthday when the Seleni arrive to claim her--a bargain made by her father for his firstborn son's life. Aghast, Liona flees the Seleni in hopes that Venice's greatest magician can help her. But the Seleni do not give up easily, and she feels the walls closing in. This book was full of magic and a little bit of horror. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the characters.
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne: my boys and I listened to this as an audiobook read by Peter Dennis. We were greatly entertained by the antics of Tigger, Pooh and friends. These are such fun to listen to aloud!
Glitch by Laura Martin: tweens Regan and Elliot have been enemies since they began training as Glitchers--those who travel through time to preserve important historical events. But when Regan receives a letter from her future self warning them to get over themselves and work together, their lives are thrown into upheaval. They must become partners and friends in order to save everyone they know. This was a fantastic YA novel that I had a hard time putting down. Recommend!
Here are some great picture books we read this month that really stood out to us:
Charlotte in Giverny by Joan MacPhail Knight: written in journal format. Charlotte travels with her parents to Giverny, France so her father can paint. They meet some famous painters. The pictures in the books are actual paintings done by visiting artists to Giverny during the same timeframe as Monet. This is part of a series.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox: young Wilfrid lives next door to a nursing home, When he discovers that his dear friend has 'lost her memory', he sets out to find it for her. Heartwarming and bittersweet.
The Fiddler of the Northern Lights by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock: Henry has always listened to and believed his grandfather's tales, until everyone around him tells him they are not true. But Henry and his grandfather are about to experience something magical.