The Family Tree Factbook

The Family Tree FactbookGenealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the U.S. Personally I have been looking into various branches of my family history for decades. This has caused me to amass a great deal of paperwork, charts and genealogy related source books. It’s always nice to look over a genealogy reference book and find new tips and resources.

The Family Tree Factbook is great resource book for the beginner with a wealth of information, web links, physical addresses, suggestions and keys to acronyms. This isn’t only a good reference for beginners as I saw some great links I will be checking out, not that I’m a professional by any means but I have been researching and collecting for over 30 years. This book it points you in the right direction. This is more for the United States researcher and not as much for those researching other countries.

What I would change about the publication: I would like to see a few photos or charts but that’s my personal preference. Also, in the Kindle version I received you can’t search the table of contents. The subjects are listed in the beginning of the book but there isn’t a corresponding page to search. As you go through the book I know you can bookmark specific pages of interest but a searchable table of contents would be helpful.

Overall I would recommend this book for someone deeply involved in family research. Publication date is set for October 18, 2018.

Much thanks to NetGalley for this advanced copy. Opinions are mine and I was not compensated for the review.

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The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

the-dream-daughterI’m a sucker for a time travel story and this one grabbed me straight away.  Evidently the author, Diane Chamberlain, doesn’t typically write this style book.  I give her an A+ for this delivery.

Carly Sears has had a lot of heartache in a short period of time.  Her parents were killed in an accident when she was a teenager and so her only family is her sister Patti.  That is established early on so you know what a tight relationship they have.

The book starts off in the 1970’s in North Carolina.  Carly  had recently been told her husband Joe was killed in Vietnam.  Unbeknownst to Joe and Carly, she had conceived and was pregnant when he shipped out.  Now Carly is a pregnant young widow and to top off that pain she learns her baby has a heart condition that is fatal to the newborn, at least it is in 1970.

We start out with Carly as a young physical therapist doing an internship of sorts.  She is the only therapist to connect with a depressed patient named Hunter Poole and this is where her life takes a dramatic turn.  Hunter is from the future but no one knows this yet.  He never wanted anyone to know. Hunter marries Carly’s sister Patti and establishes his life there in North Carolina.  It’s before the cell phones, computers, microwaves and all the modern conveniences we have today.  It’s also a lot less stressful for him.

Once it’s determined through the early development of ultrasound that Carly’s baby will die, he makes the decision to tell her about himself.  He knows if he can get his sister-in-law to the future an operation can be performed on the fetus, thus saving her baby.  Carly would do a time jump from 1970 into New York City in 2001, get the advanced medical help she needs for her unborn child Joanna, then slide on back to her home in 1970 North Carolina.  Easy peasy, right?

Obviously she thinks he has a screw loose as this is an unbelievable story. To convince Carly he isn’t crazy he tells her about the Kent State shooting which will happen in a few days. Everything falls into place for Carly such as the reason he knows the lyrics to Beatles’ songs on the day they are released or how he could know about events before they happened.

A quote from Hunter:  “There were days I missed the comforts of 2018.  I missed my laptop computer and cell phone and the Internet more than anything.  I missed being able to easily communicate with my friends, I missed being able to look up information in seconds.  But 1970 came with a sort of peace I’d never known before………I traded my laptop and cell phone for a hammock and a book.

Foodie references are not frequent. Fried chicken , ham hocks and butter beans and homemade biscuits. Homemade food, all the time!  But Carly in 2001 will experience Taco Bell for the first time.  Takeaway food, Google searches, iPads, cell phones and more.  Wouldn’t that just blow you away?  It would for me but I can say, there are times I would trade all this for a Norman Rockwell lifestyle that I had growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.

The characters are all likable and that’s a refreshing change from some of the books I have abandoned lately.  There is so much more to the story but I can’t give away any spoilers because this was a fun read.  I hope if you like the time travel element you will check this out.  It’s not all smooth and problem-solved, there are a couple of twists I wasn’t expecting.

My only negative comment is that I think the resolution with Hunter’s mother wasn’t necessary.  Too neatly tied up and frankly didn’t suit her personality.  Yes, you’d have to read it to get a grip on Myra Poole’s character and why I feel this way.

Thanks very much to NetGalley for providing me with this pre-lease copy of the Dream Daughter.  I very much enjoyed it.  Opinions are mine and I was not compensated for this review.

Linking up with Heather’s September Foodie Reads.

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In the Galway Silence by Ken Bruen

GalwaySilence

Jack Taylor is a former policeman with an attitude and an alcohol problem.  That doesn’t mean he’s not a likable guy but I guess that depends on how you are dealing with him.  He was hired to investigate a very weird crime, a murder, where adult twins were tossed in the river to drown.  That sounds heinous, doesn’t it?  Frankly, I think the twins got what they deserved.   They decided to pick on a guy in a wheelchair as he was an easy target.  While they started harassing him they had their guard down because he couldn’t defend himself.  Except that he could actually defend himself and wasn’t wheelchair bound.

They man clacks their heads together and duct tapes them to the chair, pushes it into the river to meet their fate. (that was cliched but couldn’t help it!)   Their father now recruits Jack to find out who killed them.  It’s hard to care who killed them as they weren’t nice people.

There is suspense and if you are offended by bad language then avoid this one.  Lots of F bombs throughout.

This isn’t the first Jack Taylor book so I ought to have started out with Guards, I may still go back and try it as I like a series.  This didn’t grab me straight away but I wasn’t tempted to call it a DNF.

Much thanks to NetGalley for allowing me access to this book prior to publication this November.  Opinions are all mine, nice and not so nice, and I was not compensated for the review.

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The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton {Aussie Book Challenge}

morton
In this epic book by Australian author Kate Morton we are transported back and forth from present day (2011) to WW II London as two stories merge. Laurel Nicholson is a very successful English actress and she is our main narrator.

We open with Laurel in the year 1961. She is a teenager, daydreaming about escaping her life in the English countryside. She sits in a tree house thinking about her boyfriend while the festivities for a birthday party are starting to get underway. Laurel is the oldest with three younger sisters and one little brother, Gerry. Their mother Dorothy is a wonderful woman., a loving mother and creative storyteller. It’s Gerry’s second birthday party and the family tradition is to cut the cake with a very special knife, red ribbon attached.

From her tree house perch Laurel sees her mother walk toward the house, little Gerry balanced on her hip, as she retrieves the special birthday cake knife. She also notices a man walking up to their rural home, an unusual thing as they don’t get many visitors. As he approaches Dorothy she witnesses her mother look fearful, place the baby behind her in the gravel path, as the man greets her by name. “Hello Dorothy….” Her mother then lifts the knife and plunges it into the man’s chest without any hesitation.

Gerry remains on the ground wailing. Laurel is naturally shocked. No one else sees what happened. The police are called and it’s determined the man was a tramp who had been bothering picnickers recently, clearly a dangerous fellow. But Laurel knows there is more to it as the man addressed her mother by name.

2011: All the siblings, now grown and middle aged plus, gather at their childhood home for their mother’s 90th birthday. It will clearly be the last one as Dorothy is dying. Laurel knows this will be the only opportunity to discover what happened with her mother and the man she killed so many years ago. Dorothy had asked for an old book to be retrieved so she could look at it and within is an old photograph tucked away. The photo depicts two beautiful young women with the inscription Dorothy and Vivian, something that clearly agitates elderly Dorothy. No one has ever heard her speak of a woman named Vivian so there is another mystery. As she gets her mother talking Laurel is given bits of information to research and discover who her mother was and what her life was like before. She’s in for a surprise.

Dorothy’s story is told from multiple perspectives during the WW II era in London. We are introduced to Jimmy Metcalfe and Vivian Jenkins, key characters in this vividly painted story.

The last 20 or so pages bring all the mysteries into play and it’s a very cool ending ( In my opinion). I love Kate Morton books and have read The House at Riverton, The Lake House and The Forgotten Garden. All wonderful stories with mystery throughout and a twisty endings. I love being transported to other countries as it’s armchair traveling for me at this time.

Linking up with Joy’s Book Blog for her British Isles Friday series as this book was partially set in England.  Also, this is the last book for my Aussie Reader’s Challenge and I hope to join in again next year and discover more Australian authors. I completed the Wallaby level.

For the challenge I have read:

The Dry by Jane Harper
The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

BriFri     aussieauthor

Lies by T. M. Logan

liesI received a sample of this book Lies by T. M. Logan.  The  very beginning had me hooked.  Joe Lynch is driving with his son Will and the little boy spots his mother’s car, asks if they can surprise her.  Joe follows her into a hotel parking garage, heads upstairs to the lobby, and then sees his wife Melissa talking heatedly with Ben, the husband of her best friend.

Joe doesn’t want their young son to witness any unpleasantness so he heads them back to the car.  He tries to catch Melissa as she drives off but then runs into Ben and gets into an altercation.  Ben is knocked to the parking garage floor and isn’t responsive.

To make matters worse Will has gotten out of the car and sees Ben knocked out on the ground, blood seeping from his ear.  This upset causes an asthma attack and Joe has get his son medicine.  So he leaves Ben, gets the boy help, returns to the garage and Ben is gone.  So is Ben’s car.  When his wife returns home he asks her about meeting Ben but she lies and says she’s been playing tennis.  More conversation between them makes it clear she’s hiding something.

Based on that, and it was edgier than I wrote this out, I requested the book from NetGalley.  The first part of this book was great and highlighted the dangers of social media.  Joe had lost his cell phone in the struggle in the parking garage – suddenly his Facebook page has updates that he isn’t making.  Photos posted from that hotel parking garage clearly showing blood in the background.   People “liking” and commenting on the posts.

They knew where I’d been.  It was like suddenly realizing you lived in a goldfish bowl.  Both updates had been posted this evening.  I had driven out of the Premier Inn around 5:10 p.m. and both Facebook posts had followed inside the next ninety minutes.

Can’t imagine someone hacking my social media account and posting as me.

Towards the middle I felt the plot dragged a bit and wasn’t believable.  We have to suspend disbelief with some story lines but after a while, I just couldn’t do it with this story.  Joe’s reactions to the “implied evidence” his wife was cheating was very unrealistic.  I know my husband wouldn’t be as understanding and rightfully so!

Obviously you have to have a weak character, the fall-guy so to speak, but this just didn’t fly.  Melissa Lynch is a completely unlikable person in the way she is manipulating her husband.  Why didn’t he toss her out?  Should of done so.  Is Ben a dangerous man or another victim?  You will see at the end.  Overall I felt disconnected from the characters and repelled by Joe (even though he is the victim) by his weak behavior.

The ending had a twist I certainly didn’t see coming and I will say well done there.

Would I read more by this author?  Probably so.  I’d try one more book.  It kept my interest until the end with the twists and turns and I wanted to know whodunit.

Linking up with Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday as the author is British and the setting is London and Sunderland.

Much thanks to NetGalley for the digital copy.  I was not compensated for the review, all opinions nice and otherwise are my own.

 

 

Day of the Dead by Nicci French {Book 8, the end of the Frieda Klein series}

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I’m certainly a fan of a series. The more books in a series the better in my opinion. Some folks don’t like the feeling of commitment with five or more books, following the same characters on a mystery or whichever genre it may be – I figure I am going to be reading anyway and I like familiar characters, watching them grow as characters and in their personal and professional lives.

So, this is the end of the Frieda Klein series. Eight books total starting with Blue Monday and winding our way through the days of the week. As I’ve mentioned before, I read the Sunday book first so I read many spoilers. Still, I went to the beginning and read through. Sunday was the best book. Thursday was not my favorite and had a seriously slow start.

This last book, Day of the Dead, wrapped up the series and so I will no longer have Frieda, Reuben, Josef, Chloe, Jack and Karlsson in my life. Josef was my favorite of the sub-characters.

Frieda needed to disappear in the previous book and spent most of her time in this last book under the wire. A killer was on the loose and she was the target, a string of violent incidences and a conclusion that I could accept.

There was a character named Lola Hayes who is introduced early in this book. She needs a subject for her criminology classes and plans to explain how psychoanalyst Frieda Klein thinks, planning on interviewing those close to Frieda and working out a profile. By trying to discover more about Frieda she puts herself in danger and is forced, literally, to go on the run with our main character. It’s a cat and mouse game and a bloody one at that.

The beginning was slow for me and I’ll say I wanted a different ending to this eighth book saga. I wasn’t especially disappointed as all things were resolved, I would just like to have seen some characters end up differently. It’s hard to review this without giving out a very important factor that is a huge spoiler.

Lots of food mentioned throughout the book.

Butternut squash soup, burgers and beers, bowls of bean sprouts and Greek salad, a simple salad of tomato and avocado and a bread roll.

Spaghetti and red wine, a Ukrainian lamb dish and a bottle of vodka. A flat white and piece of carrot cake. Chicken sandwiches with lots of mayo and tomatoes.

“Frieda bought a cauliflower, some cheddar cheese, butter, milk and a half-baked baguette. She added a small jar of mustard to the basket, two chocolate bars, apples, a jar of marmalade and oatmeal. Later she cooked a mustardy cauliflower cheese which they ate with hunks of baguette.”

I bought a cauliflower and planned to make that cheese dish but I still haven’t gotten around to it.

 

Goodbye Frieda Klein – it was a good ride.  Lots of mystery and I would certainly watch a television series if one was developed base don her character.

Linking up with:
Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday
Heather for her August Foodie Reads

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

keyhole

This is a physiological drama told from the point of view of a nine-year old boy. It’s a unique perspective to see young Samuel Clay’s view of his world, one where his mother Margot has been away for more than 100 days.

He receives no phone calls, no telegrams or packages. The only thing he waits for are the few postcards his mother sends from her travels across the United States and of course, his hope of her return. Samuel lives alone in a large estate in Surrey England with only the housekeeper, Ruth, to attend to his needs.

Samuel tracks his mother’s travels using an atlas and pins when he receives a postcard. Being a person who loves maps, it’s particularly enjoyable to read about the atlas and Samuel putting colored pins in Boston, San Francisco, London, Bath and Penzance.

Samuel’s father died a few years ago and the dire financial state of affairs prompted Margot Clay to go “fund raising” across the country and the USA to raise money. She left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye to her son. Ruth takes care of Samuel by cooking and cleaning. You suspect Ruth in the beginning of withholding information from the boy.

As you read the story from a nine-year old’s point of view, the adult reader can see and understand some of the reality of the situation. An example of that is when Samuel sneaks into his mother’s room and steals letters his mother had written to her husband.

You get the idea that Margo Clay had been in an institution or some home. Samuel remembered that from a remark by his father about Margot being away in bath where there would be peace and quiet. She evidently wasn’t suited to domestic life. In a letter from Margot to Samuel’s father she implores him not to bring he boy next time he visits as his arms around her make her feel as if she is sinking in the water. Not everyone is suited to be parent. When Ruth catches the boy in his mother’s room she berates him and tells him he should be ashamed snooping around.

Ruth didn’t understand that he was only trying to be near his mother, she was a creature in orbit and the one way he could feel close to her was to linger in the traces she left behind.

Ruth is really a piece of work – alternately making his favorite meals, asking about homework then berating him and being mentally abusive. The ending wasn’t what I thought might happen, quite a surprise actually. Can’t say I didn’t have questions about that and since they will be spoilers, I won’t talk about it here.  Goodreads has a spoiler feature so I will add my thoughts about that there.

I always notice the foodie parts in a book. Here are the offerings:

Shortbread, cake, freshly baked bread, roast beef and potatoes with peas, mince pie, eggs and sausages, roasted chicken and potatoes, roasted lamb, roast rabbit and chestnut stuffing, tea cakes and lemon tarts.

As I love making bread, the baguettes seemed a good option.

bread

Baguettes

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Directions

brush over tops of loaves.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheaPlace 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select Dough cycle, and press Start.

When the cycle has completed, place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8×12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; Brush the dough, bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Much Thanks to Netgalley for this book.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for the review.

Sharing with:

Joy for British Isles Friday as the setting is England.
Heather at Based on a True Story for August Foodies Read
Booklover’s Aussie Author Challenge