Monday, March 18, 2013

Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn

     Another in the delightful Daisy Dalrymple series, this book finds Daisy writing an article on the Henley Royal Regatta for an American magazine.

     But. Of course she encounters an acrimonious relationship among the crew that is part of the house party that Daisy has joined--at the home of her cousin Patricia. And this acrimony leads to murder. And Daisy's sweetheart, Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, hoping to enjoy a rare weekend at the races with Daisy, is instead assigned to investigate the murder. Daisy, of course, has ideas of her own and ends up just as involved as Alec is.

     A cute book with an ending that I didn't expect. I like this series!

Damsel in Distress by Carola Dunn

     This was a charming little mystery, part of a series starring Daisy Dalrymple, and set in the 1923 English countryside.

     In this book, Daisy's erstwhile suitor, the Honorable Phillip Petrie, urgently requests her help when his new ladylove, the wealthy American heiress Miss Gloria Arbuckle, is kidnapped and held for ransom.

     I really like Daisy and I found this little "cozy" mystery a lot of fun. I especially like the sweet and low-key romance between Daisy and her policeman Alec Fletcher. The book is absolutely clean and is engaging and upbeat. I like this series a lot.

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

     I really liked this book. It is subtitled "One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal".

     I think many of us dream about doing good in the way that someone like Mother Teresa did--real service, without thought for one's own needs, to those who are desperately in need. Most of us will never do something close to what she did. Many of us will do our best to serve those in our families and communities. This book is about a man who took the opportunity to serve a group of  people, far outside his family and community, who desperately need what he offers.

     The story of the lost children of Nepal is heartbreaking. Connor Grennan's story is heartwarming. At the beginning of the book Mr. Grennan comes off as shallow and I anticipated his story to continue in the same vein. So it was an unexpected pleasure to follow his journey, as first he fell in love with the children he met in the Little Princes orphanage in Nepal, and then ultimately decided to make it his primary purpose to rescue as many of them as he could. I didn't expect to like this book, but I ended up really loving Conor's children and feeling motivated to be more aware of the needs of others, even if my reach falls far short of somewhere like Nepal. It was a book worth reading.

The Trouble with Kings by Sherwood Smith

     I loved this book!

     It's a YA novel about Princess Flian and her awakening to herself and her purpose--an oversimplification, but you know how I dislike summaries.

     I think the books I enjoy the most have a strong character who changes over the course of the story. Princess Flian in this book starts out as a relatively passive character--a girl who is accustomed to being wanted for her wealth and position, but never wanted for herself. However, very quickly she is thrown into a situation that forces her to make some painful discoveries--about herself and about those who have befriended her.

     This book has kidnappings, battles, intrigue, royalty, rebels, family, romance.... I really, really liked it. After I finished it the first time, I immediately read it again because it was such a great story. Highly recommended.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

     This is a classic children's fairy tale novel published in 1872. I bought this book and several others by George MacDonald after learning that his works were influential in the life of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll.

     This is the story of a noble and lovely young princess, Irene, who unites with a mysterious and magical relative and a courageous young miner (Curdie Peterson) to save herself and her kingdom from the evil plans of the goblins. 

     The book is a classic certainly, but it is also a lovely and uplifting story in itself. The good is clearly good and the bad is clearly bad. Princess Irene is full of integrity and charity, exemplifying every good quality one might expect to find in a Princess. Curdie is just as outstanding, caring for the Princess even when he feels misunderstood by her, loyal to his parents and full of bravery when things get sticky.

     I bought several other books by George MacDonald, expecting to further understand his version of fantasy as well as his Christian philosophy. I am looking forward to experiencing more of his work.

Murder Carries a Torch by Anne George

     This was an utterly charming "cozy" mystery. Set in the Birmingham, Alabama area, the main characters in this story are two 60-something sisters, Patricia Anne and Mary Alice. They are different from each other in every way, but are also close friends. When their cousin Luke asks them for help in finding his wife Virginia, they quickly agree and soon find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery.

      I enjoyed this book a lot and I think it was because it was so different from the mysteries I usually read. The cute dialogue between the sisters, their divergent personalities, the sprinkling of Southern tradition and speech... it all added up to an entertaining book that I really enjoyed. And I also think I might read the book on the religious snake handlers that is referred to in this book...sounds very interesting. Hm.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

     This is one of those personality analysis books. It was recommended to me by a friend who found it rather life-changing. It contains information on 9 personality types and includes the tests to determine which personality type the reader is.

     I do not know how these kinds of personality analysis systems are created, but I find them pretty fascinating. The tests in this book were short and easy and the analyses were clear and full of information. I liked the description of both unhealthy and healthy versions of each personality type--it's cool to try to figure out where you are on that spectrum. After I took the tests myself and read about my personality types (I was pretty evenly split between two types), I administered the test to every member of my family that I could get to sit still long enough to answer the test questions. I enjoyed the insights the book gave me into their personalities too! I love trying to figure out myself and the people I love, so I really liked the book and highly recommend it. 


Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib

     Advice columnist and clinical psychologist Rebecca Butterman's best friend, Annabelle Hart, is beaten and left for dead. As Rebecca deals with her friend's clients and takes care of Annabelle's house and cat, she also finds herself threatened by Annabelle's attacker.

     I am not really a fan of clinical psychology, but I really liked Rebecca Butterman. As I've said before, I prefer police procedural mysteries because I have trouble suspending reality enough to accept the idea of some random innocent person running into ONE murder/violent crime during the course of his/her life, let alone a series of them!! And to imagine that this random innocent gets involved in solving these criminal mysteries? Pretty unbelievable. As I expect Dr. Butterman's constant involvement in criminal cases would become if I read more of this series. However, this is the first (and probably the last) I have read or will read of Dr. Butterman's adventures, so for a one-off, I enjoyed this book! Dr. Butterman's involvement as she tries so hard to help her friend Annabelle is pretty believable and she doesn't snoop in matters that don't actually concern her or Annabelle, so I was able to get into the story pretty comfortably. It was an entertaining book that I enjoyed.
     I think it was pretty clean (I read it about 12 books ago, so I'm having trouble remembering details)--I know there were no love scenes and very little, if any, bad language. It was a pretty good book.

Drop of Gold by Sarah M.Eden

This is a lovely little Christian romance, very slightly reminiscent of Jane Eyre. 

Our heroine Mary Wood is a governess with sparkle, smarts and a secret. Guess who she falls in love with?

This book was totally clean and it was also sweet and uplifting. There was nothing outstanding that really distinguished this from any other nice little Christian romance, so it's not exactly an unforgettable story, but it's satisfying and lovely. I  like Sarah M. Eden and will be sure to read more of her books.