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Book Review

I do not exactly know what I was expecting when I opened The Language of Flowers and started reading, but I do not think that I was expecting to be completely and utterly amazed and captivated by the story right from the very first paragraph:

For eight years I dreamed of fire. Tree ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, I bolted awake. The sharp, chemical smell was nothing like the hazy syrup of my dreams; the two were as different as Carolina and Indian jasmine, separation and attachment. They could not be confused. (pg 3)

This is a smart, fun, interesting, and touching history book. It is about four women in the Civil War on both sides of the war. Two women from the Union and two from Confederacy are the leads. Karen Abbott gives the reader full background information about the four women and she gives what happened to them after the war. The story Abbott tells is almost unbelievable. These four women from very different backgrounds get involved in every aspect of the war. They spy, lie, cheat, and seduce all the information they need from the men around them. But the women are also understandable. They are doing what they believe to be best for their nations. They believe in a greater good and are willing to sacrifice for it. Abbott does great research with full notes at the end of the text.

In Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in the province of Auvergne France has a secret. It is a quiet place with people who value silence in good deeds and for life in general. The secret is that during the Second World War the people there hid at lead 883 Jews and other people wanted by the Nazis and the Vichy government. Caroline Moorehead is a World War II researcher and author with many other books under her belt before she began researching this quiet story. She gets interviews with people who live in the area and lived through the war. She has access to archives, letters, newspaper articles, and diaries for her resources. The story is very moving and uplifting. The people in Chambon-sur-Lignon did what they believed to be morally right and refused to compromise.

Written in a film noir style William J. Mann delivers a fascinating tale of murder, sex, and young Hollywood. Three film actress, one director, and more than four conspiracies about the why of his death. Mann’s research into this almost 100 year old murder is solid but the best part of the book is the writing style. Mann uses words to give the correct ambiance to the story. They are not movies but pictures, it is not a clue but a clew, and dozens of other little touches to give this book the feel of the twenties. Mann builds the story from the past of all the people involved then the night of the murder then moving into the slow future. He gives the reader perspective on both the murdered and those around him. This is an intellectual true crime noir that will move you.

-LR

In honor of International Women’s Month, check out We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Ms. Adichie herself is an author, public speaker, and activist of women’s rights and issues. Having grown up in Nigeria, she discusses her personal experience being a young girl in a country and society that often did not place emphasis on respect for women’s general education, medical needs, and rights equal to those of their male counterparts. The short, first-hand account originated as a Ted Talk and was then adapted into written form.

The Magnolia Story is an endearing walk through Chip and Joanna’s journey to their Fixer Upper television show fame. Narrated by Joanna, and Chip too with his usual style of popping in and out, this book takes you to the start of their relationship, the first houses they flipped, and the beginnings of a new family. Though this book isn’t a behind-the-scenes of Fixer Upper, it tells everything that came before the show and gives you an interesting peek into their past. Joanna doesn’t leave out the hard times in their business or their relationships, as, with each challenge they conquer, a new one always seems to leap up. But through it all they share their philosophy for life and how they choose to thrive rather than survive.

Have you ever experienced the eerie feeling of being watched when actually you were supposed to be all alone? If so, you have this in common with almost an entire small town in Northern Maine. For nearly 30 years, residents of Rome, Maine experienced this feeling and attributed it, along with a constant string of strange break-ins, to someone they’d never seen and only known as The North Pond Hermit.