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Monday, February 29, 2016

#9 - Murder on the Ballarat Train - Kerry Greenwood

Title:  Murder on the Ballarat Train
Author:  Kerry Greenwood
Read by:  Stephanie Daniel
Published:  1991
CDs/Hours:  4/4 hours, 50 minutes
Dates:  2/24/16 - 2/28/16
Rating:  B
Genre:  Mystery

This story tells of how adopted daughters Jane and Ruth came to be under the care of Phryne Fisher, flapper Down Under.  We also learn who committed the murder and why.  It is truly a nightmare and involves a young girl who can't remember a thing, rumors of vile white slavery and the body of an old woman missing her emerald rings.  With Phryne at the center she works through the clues to arrive at the incredible truth before another murder is committed.  Great series!

#8 - More Than Words - Linda Lael Miller, Sherryl Woods, Curtiss Ann Matlock, Jennifer Archer, Kathleen O'Brien

Title:  More Than Words
Authors:  Linda Lael Miller, Sherryl Woods, Curtiss Ann Matlock, Jennifer Archer, Kathleen O'Brien
Genre:  Anthology
Published:  2008
Pages:  524
Dates:  1/27/16 - 2/25/16
Rating:  B 

Each year Harlequin asks their readers to submit nominations for the Harlequin More Than Words award, from which they select five very deserving recipients.  This philanthropic endeavor is dedicated to celebrating and rewarding ordinary women who make extraordinary contributions to their community which in turn inspires others to volunteer on behalf of these and like organizations.  Proceeds from the sale of the book goes towards being reinvested into the Harlequin More Than Words program to support the causes that are of concern to women.

For example, Jeanne Greenberg set up a non-profit organization, SARI Therapeutic Riding, in honor of her daughter, named Sari, who suffered from Downs Syndrome.  The idea for it came from her daughter's enjoyment of riding lessons and Greenberg's desire to help other families with children who have similar disabilities.  Author Linda Lael Miller wrote Queen of the Rodeo, a fictionalized accounting about a mother/daughter family in a similar situation.

Each story is prefaced by the woman who inspired her organization's development and how her dream to promote the cause came about.  At the end of the story, the author also writes a letter to the reader explaining her involvement and encourages further participation in that particular or comparable organization.

I thoroughly enjoyed every story in the book and look forward to reading other books by these inspirational authors.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

#7 - The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass

Title:  The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
Author:  Frederick Douglass
Read by:  Richard Allen
Published originally:  1881
CDs/Hours:  17/21.5
Dates:  1/27/16 – 2/23/16
Rating:  B
Genre:  Autobiography

“In Talbott County eastern shore state of Maryland, near Easton the county town, there is a small district of country, thinly populated and remarkable for nothing that I know of more than for the worn out sandy, desert-like appearance of its soil, the general dilapidation of its farms and fences, the indigent and spiritless characters of its inhabitants and the prevalence of ague and fever. “  Thus begins Douglass tale of growing up slave, then free man, then orator and defender of human rights.

This is Douglass’s third autobiography.  In it he goes into greater detail about his life as a slave, his escape to freedom.  I found this an engrossing narrative as Douglass recounts his early years of abuse, his involvement in abolitionist campaigns and his crusade for full civil rights for former slaves.  He also discloses his life during and after the Civil War, including his encounters with American presidents Lincoln, Grant, and Garfield.   

Saturday, February 13, 2016

#6 - The Castlemaine Murders - Kerry Greenwood

Title:  The Castlemaine Murders
Author:  Kerry Greenwood
Read by:  Stephanie Daniel
Published:  2003
Listened to:  7 CDs/8.25 hours
Dates:  1/28/16 - 2/13/16
Rating:  B
Genre:  Mystery

DD gave this to me from the library (we use the same library system) and she likes the historical stories.  Phryne Fisher is also a PBS series which I haven't really gotten into nor DD for that matter.  Yet Phryne is a flapper and cute as the bee's knees so it's fun seeing her in my imagination as I listened to a tale from the 1920s that solves a mystery that occurred in the 1850s.  Did I say the tale takes place in Melbourne, Australia?  It's a place that DD and I have both visited many years ago.

As the story goes, Phryne and her sister Beth and her faithful maid, Dot, take a trip to an amusement park with Ruth and Jane, Phyrne's two young lady daughters.  In the dusty dark Ghost Train, a mummified bullet--studded corpse falls to the ground in front of them.  Digging to the bottom of this long-standing mystery takes her to the country town of Castlemaine where it soon becomes apparent that some person is trying to muzzle her investigations.  Meanwhile, Phryne's lover Lin Chung has his own mystery to solve.

It took me longer than usual to finish because I kept falling asleep.  The two intertwining stories -- one from the present and one from the past -- also keep me on my toes, not always conducive to sleeping! Another interesting fact is that Castlemaine is an actual town in the state of Victoria and the site of a gold rush during the time of the earlier mystery.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#5 - Francisco Goya - Ann Waldron

Title:  Francisco Goya
Author:  Ann Waldron
Genre:  Non-fiction 760.92
Rating:  B
Date Published:  1992
Dates Read:  1/23/16 - 1/26/16
Pages:  92

Starving artists tends to describe painters of the era in which Goya was born, 1746, and this was true as this painter began his career as a young man.  A forerunner of the impressionist movement, Goya worked hard, under the tutelage of some other more well-known artists until he gained enough notoriety to become recognized by royalty.  Then his career really took off.  His passion was for the underdog, the horrors of wars that raged between his native Spain and France, the common folk as well as portraits of the royals.  His early works included pantomime and as he matured and produced more and more paintings, his values changed along with his abilities until he gained a scholarship to work for the king.  Some of his work really showed those things that raged in his mind.  This was probably true due to the loss of his wife and his general debilitating health.