Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Depression Era #HistoricalFiction THREADS by @CWhitneyAuthor #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Threads by Charlotte Whitney

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Threads is my introduction to Charlotte Whitney and I have discovered a talented writer. Threads follows the lives of three sisters growing up on a hardscrabble farm during the depression, and the story alternates among their points of view. Nellie is the youngest and in second grade, and she has the most pronounced mid-Michigan farm dialect. Irene is in sixth grade and a definite middle child. She and Nellie attend a one room school. The oldest sister, Flora, is in high school.

Nellie is a real tomboy with a vivid imagination. One afternoon, while she explores the meadows and woods surrounding the farm, she spots a tiny black hand poking out of a mound. Nellie is terrified and listening to her parents talking that night – she can hear them if she puts her ear to the heat register in the floor of her bedroom – she learns it was a baby boy. The sheriff had been called but no one had any idea about whose baby it was. Her parents worry they will be blamed.

Irene is sassy, intelligent, and has become the pet of the school’s teacher Miss Flatshaw. She thinks Nellie is stupid. Flora is on the cusp of adulthood. She is a caring and perceptive young woman who has considerable responsibility in the work of the farm and realizes that her life will be one of a farmer’s wife, despite her desire for a career.

The three girls’ personalities are wonderfully wrought – you can hear their voices in your head. You live with them over the next years, through all the details of running a farm, struggling to put enough food on the table to feed everyone, the penny-pinching and making-do, the sharing of whatever they have with those more in need, and the whims of the weather on which their livelihood depends. The descriptions take the reader into life on a farm, into a loving but stressed family, and through all of life’s transitions: from one grade to another, graduation, first love, surprising traumas. Woven in is the continuing mystery of the dead baby’s origins. I particularly liked the last chapter, which presents us with the girls as adults with lives of their own.

I highly recommend this book. It was a joy to read. The author’s knowledge of, and passion for, this era shines through.

Book description

It’s a boring, hardscrabble life for three sisters growing up on a Michigan farm in the throes of the Great Depression. But, when young Nellie, digging for pirate treasure, discovers the tiny blue-black hand of a dead baby, rumors begin to fly. Narrated by Nellie and her two older sisters, the story follows the girls as they encounter a patchwork of threatening circumstances and take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THREADS by @CWhitneyAuthor

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Threads by Charlotte Whitney

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The Great Depression began after the market crashed in late 1929 and drastically affected the world’s economy. Threads tells the story of a farming family in Michigan and is narrated by the three daughters. Flora, is the eldest at seventeen. Irene, the middle sister, is eleven and Nellie, the youngest, just seven.

Narrated in alternating short chapters, the story is told from the perspective of each sister, giving individual views on their lives and the people around them. In this way the characters and their very different personalities are developed extremely well as they navigate their way through daily life on the farm, at school and with their friends and neighbours.

Nellie loves making up stories and talks to imaginary friends, which include the animals. Irene can be opinionated and thinks she’s the smartest. Flora wants to get married and be a farmer’s wife. Neither of the younger girls understand quite what’s going on and complain about the changes and things they can’t have.

Nellie loves to play down by the creek and escapes there as often as she can. On her way through the woods one day, she notices a mound of disturbed earth. Thinking it might be pirates’ treasure she begins to root around. What she unearths sends her running back home as fast as she can.

“Tonight I couldn’t git that dead hand outa my mind. Ma gave us girls each a piece of bread for supper, but I couldn’t eat. I wanted to pretend it never happened. Even though I wanted to go to sleep and forget about today, the heat register was still calling to me.

Jist ’bout every night I listen in on Ma and Pa from the heat register on our bedroom floor. It’s right above where Ma and Pa sit in the parlor, right down from my side of the bed.”

The descriptive and realistic prose, showing how a farming family coped during the depression through the eyes of the sisters, paints such a vivid picture of the hardships of the time. Working from dawn to dusk, the girls doing their part with chores before and after school, working most of the day during the summer holiday, and still not having enough to eat. But what really shines out of the story is the endurance and kindness, even through the deprivation the farmers face. Neighbours look out for each other, people passing through are given whatever food can be spared, even if it’s just a slice of bread. Amid all this, there is mystery, rumour mongering and danger.

I enjoyed the fact Charlotte Whitney used the mid western dialect, lending an authenticity to the narrative, along with her personal knowledge of growing up on a farm. I had no idea what to expect when I began reading, but soon became immersed in the lives of the family and was pleased the author included an epilogue so we learn if Nellie’s, Irene’s and Flora’s hopes and dreams for the future materialised.

Book description

It’s a boring, hardscrabble life for three sisters growing up on a Michigan farm in the throes of the Great Depression. But, when young Nellie, digging for pirate treasure, discovers the tiny blue-black hand of a dead baby, rumors begin to fly. Narrated by Nellie and her two older sisters, the story follows the girls as they encounter a patchwork of threatening circumstances and take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery Blue Lake Christmas by @CynthiaHarriso1

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Blue Lake Christmas by Cynthia Harrison

Blue Lake Christmas Mystery (Blue Lake Series) by [Harrison, Cynthia]

In the 1930s, the biggest names in British detective stories formed the British Detection Club. They took an oath—

“Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God? —Oath of the British Detection Club, 1930”.

…which most promptly violated to some degree. But author Cynthia Harrison would be a member in very good standing. Her new cozy mystery, Blue Lake Christmas Mystery, could be a laundry list for the genre’s main tropes—even if there are no little old ladies who like to knit, cats, or even cupcakes.

The action is set in Blue Lake, a tiny town on Michigan’s Lake Huron coast, where everyone (including Holly) is either related or part of generations of family friendships. When we meet the ambitious, painfully young Holly, she’s focussed on using her new role of junior (and only) reporter for the struggling local paper as a springboard to credibility for her secret project—a book revealing an inside look at a recent local tragedy involving her young cousin.Her sleuth, newly-minted college grad and writer wannabe Holly is an amateur journalist and even more amateur detective. She sees investigating a recent Blue Lake scandal as her ticket to fame and fortune. When another murder occurs, she doesn’t hesitate to apply her newly acquired journalist credentials to her self-appointed detective role.

As Holly gets to know the people in the town, however, she begins to understand the trauma that exposing their pain and ongoing suffering for her own gain would cause for relatives and friends still struggling to recover. At the same time as she finds herself falling for the emotionally devastated young architect Bob, Holly is also applying her loose-cannon investigative skills to the latest murder, a much-disliked guest at the holiday dinner for the local Fun Divorce Club.

Also in keeping with the cozy genre, bodies pile up offstage, but actual blood/bodily fluids are kept to a minimum. Same goes for sex, actually. Holly’s on-again/off-again romance with Bob is indeed cozy, with misunderstandings, emotional baggage, and ever-present relatives combining to stall developments and physical demonstrations.

I enjoyed so many aspects of this book. Although there wasn’t much actual description of the town and surroundings, I’ve spent enough time in Michigan to be able to picture the setting. And I loved the authentic sounding interactions between the residents of Blue Lake, with their combination of humor and family snark that hinted at years or even generations of background.

Holly’s is also an interesting voice. She’s funny, immature, ambitious, and clever. “She may have overwhelmed Bob with her comments, because he went silent again. Holly briefly wondered if she should have gone to dental school. Conducting this interview was like pulling teeth.” But over the course of the book Holly learns and even grows into a mature understanding of her ambitions and her responsibilities.

Sure there were things that made me sit up and shake my head. There was the mysterious book agent who was supposedly offering a lucrative contract to the young, unpublished, and untried author who hadn’t even researched, let alone written, the book. (I’d love to live in that writing universe!) Then there were the members of the police and medical profession who apparently couldn’t wait to gift just-met reporter Holly with all manner of detail that must have violated every iota of regulation and ethics. And, of course, there’s Holly’s unexplained but apparently deep pockets which allow her to shrug off details about paychecks, and even on short notice “to buy a dress for the ball with a matching burgundy velvet coat.” 

At first, the numerous coincidences and leaps of faith, instances of journalistic license, and unprofessional secret-sharing bothered me. But then I thought of the small towns I’ve lived in, their gossipy local papers, and the way everybody knows everything as soon as it happens, and I realized these are actually strengths of the book. So really, my only complaint is that Blue Lake Christmas reads like a middle book in a series, with people and events that were introduced and explained in earlier works.

I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a quick-moving cozy mystery where you’ll figure out the murderer long before the amateur detective but have a great time along the way. It’s a fun winter read, so grab a cozy quilt and snuggle up next to the fire.

Book description

All Holly wants for Christmas is to prove to her parents that her pricey college education was worth it. When she lands a reporting job in tiny Blue Lake, where the chill winds blow off Lake Huron all winter long, and a guest dies at a dinner party, she isn’t sure she can meet that goal. Holly has a second writing gig as a true crime reporter in mind, but there’s only one problem: the new love interest keeping her warm is determined she should not write about the one thing her heart desires.

Bob has one goal: to get his life back on track after a train wreck of a relationship with a fragile first love named Lily. Oh, it would also be nice to feel excited about work again. Not to mention Christmas. Holly’s new in town and she stirs something cheerfully seasonal in him, but when he realizes she’s willing to take down Lily for her own purposes, he decides a holiday romance is the last thing he needs.

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#NewRelease THE BOOKSHOP ON AUTUMN LANE by @CynthiaTennent #RomCom #TuesdayBookBlog

The Bookshop on Autumn Lane (Truhart #3)The Bookshop on Autumn Lane by Cynthia Tennent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bookshop on Autumn Lane is a fun #RomCom set in Truhart, Michigan. It opens with some of the inhabitants of Truhart waking Trudy from her sleep in her 1973 VW Beetle, concerned she is a vagrant of some sort. Instead they find the new owner of “Books From The Heart”.

Trudy has been left the shop by her namesake Gertrude, but instead of it being a delicious gift Trudy sees it as a millstone around her neck. Its only saving grace being that she might be able to sell it to fund her travel dreams.

It soon becomes apparent that Gertrude senior got a little carried away with her book obsession and Trudy accepts the help of visiting English Professor Kit Darlington to sort and clear the books. Kit’s English mannerisms are a hit with the local Truhart ladies who insist on calling him “My Lord” and he soon becomes more than friends with Trudy, but what is Kit hiding from? Will Trudy ever be able to sell the shop and make her travel dreams come true?

This was a fun read, I would be in heaven if a relative of mine left me a shop packed with books, I would want to read the lot. I loved all the parts for Lulu the VW Beetle, I’ve always been a fan ever since the TV days of “Herbie”. For animal lovers their is a lovely role for Moby, a loyal friend to Trudy and the amusing stereotype of Kit and the English ways and sayings were well presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

Book description

Big dreams can come true in a small town…
 
While some young women would jump through hoops to claim ownership of a bookshop,
free-spirited Gertrude “Trudy” Brown wants nothing to do with the rundown store her late Aunt Gertrude left her.  Having suffered from dyslexia all her life, books aren’t exactly her friends. With not much more than a collie dog who’s scared of his own shadow, and a rusty but trusty ’74 Beetle, Trudy arrives in the tiny town of Truhart, determined to sell off her cumbersome inheritance as quickly as possible…

But Trudy is not the only stranger in town. Christopher “Kit” Darlington, a professor of American Studies at Cambridge, is searching for an elusive manuscript—and he secretly thinks Trudy’s ramshackle bookshop might hold the key to its discovery. As these two opposites spend the autumn days together, cleaning out Trudy’s bookshop, they soon find that uncovering both literature and love can be equally mysterious…

Trudy’s never been  the type to stay in one spot too long, but something about Kit makes her consider starting a new chapter—and maybe even finding there’s a happily-ever-after…

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads