Thursday, May 31, 2012

Double Thorsday Book Review!

I have a real book and an e-book to review today!  Spending lots of quality time with Kevin the Dentist also insures that I spend lots of quality time waiting for things like x-ray development and other fun things we don't need to discuss here.  Anyway....Book #1

By Katherine Howe
copyright 2009
362 pages

I bought this book at one of the used book sales this spring.  Oh, I know I said I'm not buying myself any more books, because I have so many, but how could I resist this cover?

How could I resist this back cover?

How could I resist the inside of the book?  And the pages felt nice in my hand, too, which is something I love about real books, and miss about e-books.

Connie Goodwin is a graduate student at Harvard, preparing to write her thesis to receive her PhD in Colonial American History.  Shortly after passing her oral exams, her mother Grace calls to ask Connie to go to Grandma Sophie's house in Marblehead, Mass., to clean it up for sale.  Grandma has been dead for 20 years, and Grace has ignored the house, but the property taxes have become cumbersome, so Grace wishes to sell it, without the bother of returning home from New Mexico.  Connie reluctantly agrees to take on this job while searching for a topic for her dissertation.  She finds Sophie's house completely furnished, but absolutely without modern utilities (save indoor plumbing).  While going through old books, Connie found a hollow key in a 200+ year old Bible; a tiny rolled up parchment in the key bore the words "Deliverance Dane".  In an effort to find out who or what Deliverance Dane was, Connie scours records at old churches, town halls, and libraries.  She also meets a hunky steeplejack, Sam, who attempts to assist her.  Because, after all, what fun is a novel set in New England without a hunky steeplejack?

Interspersed between the modern chapters in this book are chapters set between 1682 and 1750, which explain the background of Deliverance Dane and her descendants.

I liked the first 3/4 of this book, but in the last quarter, the author took a turn I found unnecessary; I thought she could have come to the same ending without following the course she did.  Overall, it was a pretty good book, however.  3 stars out of 5

by Kathryn Judson
copyright 2011

This story is told in the way a mother or grandmother would relate a family saga to a teen or young adult, complete with the periodic inquiry as to whether you'd like more cocoa.  It's the story of Great-grandfather Lars, who immigrated from a fishing village in Norway in the 1880s when the fish stopped biting.  He was 17, and his father sent him with his 5 year old brother, Thorval, to the Dakota Territory, to live with his Uncle Anders, a bachelor running a successful teamster business.  Lars and Thorval are greeted in town by a pastor who is neither Lutheran nor Norwiegan, but helpful nonetheless, and feeds the boys while they await their uncle (and gives them puppies as they're leaving with Uncle Anders).  The book is about Lars' first few years in Dakota, learning to handle horses, meeting people, learning to be more American and less Norweigan, and, of course, meeting girls, one of whom would become his bride.  There are Indians, who are more or less friendly, cowboys, and all of the other types of people one would expect to encounter in the Old West.  The book made me chuckle a couple of times, gasp in horror a couple of times, and smile a lot.  Overall, it was a very nice book, which made me wish I had family stories of my great-grandfather Lars, er, I mean Olaf.  This is about as close to a 5 star book as I can imagine.

Both books are available in paperback at, and the second is also a Kindle book.  I got it for free, and I'd love to have a hard copy of it.

Of course, there are plenty of horses and dogs in this book (and a dog in the first book), so Thor would approve.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!


Nichole said...

That is a very pretty book! :) Love seeing photos of the big guy... happy Thorsday! <3

Big Dude said...

I don't know how you have time to read.

SissySees said...

I was all excited about the first book until I finished your review. I think I'll skip ahead to #2. I have a Kindle gift card...

Pam said...

I wouldn't be able to resist that first book either.

Faith Shen said...

this book is very interesting :D

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Pam said...

First, I have to say... I MISS THOR!

Anyway, I thought the first book sounded great so I am sad the last part of the book wasn't as good as it could have been. The second book sounds interesting and fun.

I hope your mouth feels better soon! xoxo

Sue said...

That first book sounds so familiar. I think I read it a number of years ago.

The second one I never heard of, but it'll go on the list because you liked it. So there.

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Hi Marjie, they both sound good and my kids bought me a kindle for Mothers Day so I may have to try that second one. Thanks for the review. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

altadenahiker said...

Do you know, you are getting very, very good at this. On a monthly basis, I probably read more reviews posted on Thorsdays than I do in the NY Times & LA Times combined.

Gonna buy selection #2.

grace said...

my brother is a phd candidate in english, so reading is literally his job. he refuses to buy a kindle because he loves the smell and feel of books so much! :)

Blond Duck said...

Such a pretty book!