Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Bellewether, Author: Susanna KearsleyBellewether.  Finished 1-13-19, rating 4/5, historical fiction, 422 pages, pub. 2018

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.     from Goodreads

This was my first book of the year and it took me a while to become invested in the three characters whose stories make up Bellewether.  Charley who moved to the area so that she could live with her niece after the untimely death of her brother, took a job as museum director of the under construction Wilde House.  There she encountered maybe my favorite character of the book, the ghost.  There was also a cute contractor and some animosity toward the grandmother she’d never met who lived nearby.

As for the 1700’s storyline, we move between Lydia and Jean-Philippe’s perspective as the former tries to come to grips with unwanted houseguests and brothers with problems of their own.  Jean-Philippe only spoke French, so for much of the book he didn’t communicate freely.

I liked getting a deeper understanding of the war and what was happening in the region.  Some of these characters were based on real people or compilations which made the story richer, but maybe not quite as fanciful as I’d hoped.  There was romance, sure, but most of Kearsley’s books feel magical and this one didn’t quite get there for me.  It’s still good and I really enjoyed the multitude of characters and history.  My favorite ghost saved the day and the end was excellent and worth reading 400+ pages.

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

The day is almost gone and I was thisclose to forgetting to mark the anniversary of my opening up shop here on WordPress.  Eleven years ago I wrote my first post and have maintained a steady schedule since then.  I posted 280 times that first year and it was my most prolific. Since then it’s gone done a bit every year with last year clocking in at 113.  Amazingly, the number of views and visitors while taking a dive in 2016 has gone up considerably the last two years.

I didn’t start this blog to crunch numbers and I don’t stick around because a few more people have found their way here.  I’m still here writing and connecting because of you, my fellow book nerds.  May we continue to support each other for many more years to come 🙂

Sundays with Gage – Presidents

Over the years I’ve tried variations of ‘mom school’, but for the most part let it go by the wayside when he started 1st grade over a year ago.  Too much school work and way too many activities. But, well, mom school was never really about hard learning.  It was more for fun time spent learning together – usually both of us.  I like teaching and connecting and learning with my son and decided to bring back mom school.

In December (when we had time) we did 5-10 minutes learning about kids who did amazing things and it was fun.  But with the new year we started something with a little more stretch.  We are spending 5-15 minutes a day to study each President in order.  The first four are pretty easy since big things were happening.  I don’t know how it will hold up over the next 41 (and the 45th? it will take all of the diplomacy this Libra possesses).

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So, my goal was to read a book and then choose one thing that we could do.  Jason and I visited Mount Vernon last month and I picked up a book of paper dolls.  It took me more time to cut out George and his stepson and all of their clothes than we actually used them, so not sure that was a win for me, but they are cool.  For John Adams we had a 10 minute drawing contest to see who could draw the best picture of the first White House and then we called Jason in to see who did the best.  I was robbed.  For Thomas Jefferson we read through the two picture books shown Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation and Worst of Friends and then Gage traced from a photo America before Jefferson was President and after the Louisiana Purchase to see what a big deal it was.  James Madison’s book was okay and after we learned that the White House burned to the ground in 1812 Gage went to work burning down the White House he drew  two days earlier, lol.  We also watched a video on the story behind the Star Spangled Banner.

So, as you can see, we aren’t doing anything mentally strenuous here, but it’s nice that we can spend a few minutes together each day reinforcing that knowledge and learning are important.  I want him to remember that learning can be fun and so can his mom (when she wants to be ;)).

 

Charity Winner…

is Best Friends Animal Society chosen by Heather (Gofita’s Pages)!  

Our Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles

The mission of Best Friends Animal Society is to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets. We do this by helping end the killing in America’s animal shelters through building community programs and partnerships all across the nation. We believe that by working together we can Save Them All.

 

$100 was sent in Heather’s name to this wonderful charity.


Would YOU like to choose the next charity?  It’s not hard.  Every month I write a 5 word review of the movies I’ve seen and to encourage participation I ask you to write a 5 word review for the ones that you’ve seen too.  It’s fun!

Every ‘review’ is worth $1 and when we reach 100 I send $100 to the charity of the person who has contributed the most reviews.  In the past I’ve had people spend a few hours submitting reviews of all my past movies so their charity could get the money. Go for it.

Want to get started?  You can browse through 8 or 9 years of monthly posts (easiest way) or you can look through this list and click on the movies you want.

Goodreads Cleanup

I found this fun way to clean up my GR wishlist and want your help.  I’m listing the 10 oldest titles on my list and want you to help decide what’s worth keeping and what’s not.  I kept 2 out of 5 last week.

How to participate:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn’t know much about her background – the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip – but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

I’m leaning towards keeping it.

Kay says yes!

One Night for Love (Bedwyn Prequels, #1)She said she wanted only to start a new life—wanted only a husband who truly loved her. She had to leave him to learn how to meet his world on her terms. So Lily agreed to earn her keep as his aunt’s companion and study the genteel arts. Soon she was the toast of the ton, every inch a countess fit for the earl, who vowed to prove to his remarkable wife that what he felt for her was far more than desire, that what he wanted from her was much more than… One Night for Love

I’m a sucker for historical romance so I probably want to keep it. Right?

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with RecipesLunch In Paris is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs–one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Packing her bags for a new life in the world’s most romantic city, Elizabeth is plunged into a world of bustling open-air markets, hipster bistros, and size 2 femmes fatales. She learns to gut her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen), soothe pangs of homesickness (with the rise of a chocolate souffle) and develops a crush on her local butcher (who bears a striking resemblance to Matt Dillon).

I love Paris, but am not feeling the pull of this right now.  Have you read it?

Kathy says read it!

BlacklandsTwelve-year-old Steven Lamb digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. Every day after school, while his classmates swap football stickers, Steven goes digging to lay to rest the ghost of the uncle he never knew, who disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery.

This has potential.

Kay says keep it 🙂

JasmynOne day, without warning, Jasmyn’s husband died of an aneurysm.  Since then, everything has been different.  Wrapped up in her grief, Jasmyn is trapped in a world without colour, without flavour – without Liam. But even through the haze of misery she begins to notice strange events. Even with Liam gone, things are not as they should be, and eventually Jasmyn begins to explore the mysteries that have sprung up after her husband’s death… and follow their trail back into the events of his life.

This one still sounds intriguing.

The Girl in the Flammable SkirtBold, sexy, and daring, these stories portray a world twisted on its axis, an unconventional place that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. Bender’s prose is glorious, musical, and colloquial, an anthology of the bizarre. In ‘The Rememberer’, a man undergoes reverse evolution — from man to ape to salamander — at which point a friend releases him into the sea, while in another story a woman gives birth to her mother. A grief-stricken librarian decides to have sex with every man who enters her library. A half-mad, unbearably beautiful heiress follows a strange man home, seeking total sexual abandon: He only wants to watch game shows. A woman falls in love with a hunchback; when his deformity turns out to be a prosthesis, she leaves him. A wife whose husband has just returned from the war struggles with the heartrending question: Can she still love a man who has no lips?

I loved the one Aimee Bender I read but I’m not crazy about short stories.

Scott says read it!

Willful CreaturesWillful Creatures conjures a fantastical world in which authentic love blooms. This is a place where a boy with keys for fingers is a hero, a woman’s children are potatoes, and a little boy with an iron for a head is born to a family of pumpkin heads. With her singular mix of surrealism, musical prose, and keenly felt emotion, Bender once again proves herself to be a masterful chronicler of the human condition.

Again with the short stories?

Margherita Dolce VitaStefano Benni’s enormously popular and distinctive mix of the absurd and the satirical has made him one of Italy’s best-loved novelists. This is his twelfth bestselling book of fiction. Fifteen-year-old Margherita lives with her eccentric family on the outskirts of town, a semi-urban wilderness peopled by gypsies, illegal immigrants, and no end of bizarre characters: a reassuring and fertile playground for an imaginative little girl like Margherita. But one day, a gigantic, black cube shows up next door. Her new neighbors have arrived, and they’re destined to ruin everything.

No idea how this ended up on my list but it sounds fun!

The City of Falling AngelsVenice, a city steeped in a thousand years of history, art and architecture, teeters in precarious balance between endurance and decay. Its architectural treasures crumble—foundations shift, marble ornaments fall—even as efforts to preserve them are underway. The City of Falling Angels opens on the evening of January 29, 1996, when a dramatic fire destroys the historic Fenice opera house. The loss of the Fenice, where five of Verdi’s operas premiered, is a catastrophe for Venetians. Arriving in Venice three days after the fire, Berendt becomes a kind of detective—inquiring into the nature of life in this remarkable museum-city—while gradually revealing the truth about the fire.

I LOVE Venice and this is the same author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil so I’m leaning towards yes unless one of you tells me it’s a snoozefest.

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of LiberationExhilarating short stories of women breaking free from convention
Every now and then, right in the middle of an ordinary day, a woman rebels, kicks up her heels, and commits a small act of liberation.
What would you do, if you were going to break out and away? Go AWOL from Weight Watchers and spend an entire day eating every single thing you want-and then some? Start a dating service for people over fifty to reclaim the razzle-dazzle in your life-or your marriage? Seek comfort in the face of aging, look for love in the midst of loss, find friendship in the most surprising of places?

This doesn’t sound all that great, right?

Okay, so let me know if you’ve read any of these and whether I need to keep them on my reading list 7 years later.

 

First Book and One Word

Sheila over at Book Journey has hosted us book bloggers on the first of the year to share what we’ve chosen for our first book of the year AND invited us all to choose one word to be our focus for the year.  I’m so glad she continues to do this.

2019

Yesterday, Gage took this pic of me and my first book, Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley.

IMG_E5146  I was excited to receive 7 books as gifts in December, but am the most excited about the lastest Kearsley. I hope to get an hour in today, but since Jason’s home from work I have a feeling more furniture shopping and cleaning may take up most of the day.  We’re hoping to sleep in our bedroom for the first time since May.

 

my-one-word-300x180I was planning to write a post last week about all of our house tragedies and silver linings.  I’ve shared updates on the blog, but I haven’t always gone into the nitty gritty feelings and stress of having to be home surfing half the year, having to get rid of lifelong possessions (yes, this means my books too), and moving back into a house with no flooring, molding, curtains, furniture. etc., not to mention the financial burden… Well, you can imagine, I think, how off kilter you might feel if it happened to you.  I feel like I’ve barely held on to my sanity some days.

So, my word for 2019 is one that has been rolling around in my head for a few weeks.  After a year of flying by the seat of my pants my focus for 2019 is PURPOSE.  I can take back a little of my life living with more purpose in how I spend my time, the choices I make for my health, in the things to which I say yes, and the new things we bring back into our home. Bring it on 2019 🙂


So what’s your first book of the year going to be? And do you have a word you’d like to focus on this year?