Archive | December 2017

Review: Carnegie’s Maid: A Novel, by Marie Benedict. Sourcebooks Landmark.

Book Description (from NetGalley)

From the author of The Other Einstein comes the mesmerizing story of love, power, and the woman who inspired an American dynasty. 

In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances.  Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady’s maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie.  Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie’s search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy.

With capturing insight and sunning heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist.

My Review:

We are ushered into the world of 1860’s America, walking in the shoes of impoverished Irish immigrant Clara Kelley. Though this is the New World and our freedom-loving USA, we soon realize that this was far from a classless society. I am reminded that many of my ancestors had a similar sea voyage to America from Europe, and I wonder anew at how they survived the rigors of that journey and lived to thrive in their new home.


Woman today largely take for granted the freedoms that we have, but Clara’s story reminds us that it was not always thus. Marie Benedict gives us an eye-opening view of our past. She uses the fictional character of Clara to present the story of Andrew Carnegie, who did so much to endow free libraries for Americans of all classes. This is an absorbing and fascinating read.

My thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review.

Review: The Mindful Way to a Good Night’s Sleep: Discover How to Use Dreamwork, Meditation, and Journaling to Sleep Deeply and Wake Up Well, by Tzivia Gover. Story Publishing.

Book Description: (from NetGalley)


This accessible guide to cultivating deep, restful sleep — naturally — combines author Tzivia Gover’s expertise in both mindfulness and dreamwork. Along with a healthy dose of encouragement, Gover offers practical lifestyle advice, simple yoga poses, 10-minute meditations, and easy breathing exercises, plus visualization and journaling activities. You’ll also learn how to set the scene for safe, productive dreaming and cultivate your dream recall. This holistic approach extends into your waking hours with tips on morning routines to ensure that sound sleep leads to refreshed, more conscious living all day long.


My Review:


As I’ve mentioned before in my reviews, I am a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. And there is one thing I hear constantly from patients–that they don’t get a good night’s sleep.


Well, this book should help with that! It is full of practical and useful ideas to help with sleep.   The design of the book is very appealing, in shades of blue, with frequent glimpses of fluffy cloud patterns. The organization is very clear, and the book is easy to read. It is a very kind and gentle book.


I think it is a truly elegant aid to sleep and I recommend it highly.  I plan to order copies for use in my practice.

My thanks to author, publisher, and  NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review.

Review: Alpha Alpine: An Emma Lord Mystery, by Mary Daheim. Random House Publishing Group – Alibi.

Book Description (from NetGalley):


Emma Lord is back and better than ever! This time around, the amateur detective partners up with a rookie sleuth to investigate a string of murders in her beloved Alpine, Washington.

For a small town nestled in the Cascade Mountains’ foothills, picturesque Alpine provides more than enough headlines to fill the pages of editor and publisher Emma Lord’s Alpine Advocate. The Labor Day edition’s lead story features controversial timber baron Jack Blackwell’s scheme to become Skykomish county manager. But the recent strangling deaths of two young women are all anyone can talk about.

After a third body is found, Emma’s husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, suspects there’s a serial killer in their midst. The latest victim is the sister of a dashing newcomer rumored to be working for Blackwell. “Black Jack,” as he’s known to his non-admirers, has a long-standing rivalry with Milo. To discover if there’s any connection between the mogul and the murders, Emma recruits the Advocate’s receptionist, Alison Lindahl, to do a little digging.

Still recovering from a recent breakup, Alison welcomes the distraction. But when the investigation puts the eager protégé in the line of fire, Emma worries that the cub reporter’s career will be over before it even begins.


My Review:


I always know I can count on a good read with a Mary Daheim book. She has a way of providing stories filled with characters we can relate to, because they are just people–not perfect, not forever perky or clever. They can be grumpy. They can have a bad day. They can be irritated with their spouse, or their friend. Just like us. So we like them, and we like the stories because they have an air of real life about them.

This current book continues the tradition with a good mystery and lots of intriguing action from Emma and her community in Alpine.  My thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review.

Blog Tour & Review: A Kingdom Falls (Ravenmaster Trilogy), by John Owen Theobald. Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus.

Book Description:

In the dramatic conclusion to the Ravenmaster Trilogy, Anna Cooper must find the strength to face her greatest fear in Britain’s darkest hour.


London, 1944. War is raging across Europe and Hitler’s terrifying secret weapons, V1 rockets, transform life into a nightmare.


After her mother was killed in an air raid, Anna Cooper was sent to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. Now, he too is dead and Anna must seek help from her estranged father to discover her only chance of fighting back.


Commandeering a Spitfire, Anna leads a crew of fearless pilots to intercept the deadly rockets. But Hitler has one final secret weapon, against which there is no defence… At the eve of a devastating war, Anna must confront the ghosts of her past and do what she can to survive in a world forever changed.


My Review:


England has given us such rich subject matter in the World War II years; this book offers a somewhat different perspective–women who made a significant contribution to the war effort, despite the limiting attitude toward women’s appropriate roles in that day and time. Here we have a tale of a dedicated and gifted group of woman aviators who made their way into combat service against formidable odds.


Our heroine is Anna Cooper, whose story is a continuing one begun in parts one and two of this Ravenmaster Trilogy. I did not read the first two books, and although I was able to follow the story and this book works as a stand-alone effort, I do feel I would like to read the first two books, and will probably do so.


Part 3 of the trilogy is told by four different narrators. The primary one is, as one might expect, Anna Cooper herself. But other voices we hear are those of Anna’s sweetheart, young soldier Timothy Squires, as well as RAF officer pilot Cecil Rafferty, and Anna’s nurse friend Florence Swift. These multiple viewpoints, taken together, give us a rich view of the story as it unfolds. It is riveting and thrilling, also tragic and heroic. This is a fine effort by author Theobald.


On a personal note, I felt a particular kinship with this story as my uncle Robert Hunter was an American serviceman stationed in England during those war years. He was an aviation mechanic. He didn’t talk much about the war, but on one noteworthy day he related to me his feelings about seeing his buddies go up; some did not come back, but he was obliged to patch up the planes so that more brave young pilots could go into the fray again. I think he would have loved this story.



Born and raised in Eastern Canada, John Owen Theobald moved to the UK to study the poetry of Keats, and in 2009 received a PhD from the University of St Andrews. He lives in London, England.