Monday, September 30, 2019

October...Cooler Nights, Yes, But No Snow Yet Please!

Well, I failed getting all of my books read in September. I just couldn't dig in and pay attention long enough to read Their Eyes Were Watching God, so back on the shelf it goes. I will read it. It's become a personal goal for me. I started What We Talk About When We Talk About Books and became stuck pretty fast. I may return to it when it's in paperback. I did read Nora Robert's Blood Brothers, and liked it enough to want to read the two other books in the trilogy. I've read a few of her trilogies, and unfortunately they all seem very much alike, so unless she pulls something out of her hat, I may not read anymore. I'll finish this one, and review all three together soon. 

October was always the gateway to the fun part of the year for me as a child. Halloween, quickly followed by my birthday, then Thanksgiving and Christmas. So much candy, treats, and yes, birthday cake! I still love the last few months of the year, even if they are a bit frantic sometimes. October is also a great reading month, too. I get to snuggle down and relax at night. Here's what I'm reading this month:

I'm almost done with this novel--a contemporary quest to find King Arthur's actual resting place--and the treasure people will kill to obtain. Loving it! 

A widow is accused of witchcraft, and someone is playing tricks on the town with inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe's short stories. Eek! Gothic goodness. 

YA novel about a mysterious road in the woods that leads to...nothing good. Nope. Ghosts, thrills, and teen horror. 

An apocalyptic tale set off the coast of Ireland. A young teen has to leave the island to save her mother...will they survive what has killed humanity?

A collection of Agatha Christie's supernatural short stories, with a bonus story included. Perfect for Halloween! 

Of course, I'll have a few other titles to talk about. If you haven't like my Facebook page, please do--I put up videos where I blab on about what I've picked up at the bookstore and the library. 

Take care everyone! Let me know what you're reading this month! 

The Bookalicious Babe

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, & Allyson Charles

Fall has been reluctant to arrive in Iowa. Today, finally, it feels like it. Chili in the crockpot, slight chill in the air, but not enough to not wear a t-shirt outside-just remember to bring a jacket for later. Ah. While I enjoy the ease of summer, I do get tired of it, so I'm ready for cooler nights, comfort food, and  not doing any yard work!

This trio of romances is pure fun. I caution that you'll probably want to eat your weight in cookies and scones while you read it. But if you're looking for a fun read full of feel good romances and happy endings, this is your ticket. 

Moonbright, Maine is a delightful small town that goes all out for Halloween. As in having a huge parade, everyone in town dresses up, shops are open late at night, and it's one big party. Bellaluna's Bakeshop is a family business run by Sofia and her granddaughter, Abriana. The bakeshop is known for out of this world sweets, and if you're someone special, you might just get the special Italian cookie that is sure to bring you your true love. Abriana (Bree) keeps trying to make the cookies, and failing. They taste awful. Until one day, when Caleb stops in to introduce himself and Sofia offers him one of the cookies. Before Abriana can stop him, he bites into it and swoons. No, it doesn't taste awful...it tastes like heaven. Bingo! Abriana tries one, and darn it all, it tastes pretty wonderful for her, too. Attraction sizzles for these two, but a few obstacles stand in the way of happy ever after. 

The second story also takes place at the same time, with Cassie trying everything she can to make her boss notice her. She's decided he's the one, but he has no clue. Sofia has given Cassie two of her special cookies to take back to the office, and before she can get her boss to eat one, Chip, a hot home flipper, eats one. He's pretty taken with Cassie, who, despite her attraction to Chip, stubbornly keeps trying to snag her boss. When a Halloween project puts Cassie and Chip together, sparks fly. Will Cassie see what's right in front of her eyes? 

And finally, there's the story of the Mayor, Jack, and Lara. Recently dumped by her oaf of a boyfriend, she's also been notified her rent is going up, and her part-time job at the antique store is probably going to end. Running into the Mayor at the bakeshop, they both eat one of Sofia's special cookies, and what has always been an attraction to each other kicks into high gear. Jack offers Lara a position with the city as events coordinator. He's overwhelmed by organizing the Halloween parade, and needs help. Lara is a natural. They've known each other since high school, and both secretly crushed on the other, but nothing happened until now. Their love story moves pretty fast!

There are a few recipes included at the end of each story. Kind of made my mouth water. The men are hot, hot, hot! And while the cookies may prove magical, they only bring couples together long enough to get that spark started. 

Snuggle down with your blanket, hot cocoa, and a delicious pumpkin or apple treat. I'm glad I'm trying to maintain some healthy eating habits, because otherwise I would have inhaled a loaf of pumpkin bread and some apple cider donuts while reading this delightful seasonal novel. There is a previous novel called The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine, but I could only find it offered as an ebook. I may end up getting the ebook and reading that, too. 

Rating: 3/6 for a simply sweet trio of stories about a magical town in Maine, true love, and some tasty treats. Pure fun for when you need a little escape. 

Available in paperback and ebook. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Whisper man by Alex North

This month has been a tough one for getting through books. I've struggled, when I usually zip through a few a week. I started reading The Whisper Man a few weeks ago, and kept putting it down, picking it up. I just couldn't get my head into a novel about a serial killer of little boys. But this weekend was rainy and gloomy, and I decided to buckle down and finish it. There was much more to it, and the deeper I got into the story, the more gripping it became. 

Tom Kennedy and his little boy Jake are moving to the small town of Featherbank to start over after Tom's wife and Jake's mother dies unexpectedly, leaving both in the depths of grief. Jake is a quiet boy; he loves to draw, and is always having conversations with his imaginary friend, a little girl who keeps him company. A new house, a new school; Tom hopes Jake will come out of his solitude and make friends. Tom, a published author, is stuck trying to begin a new novel, but he's suffering from writer's block. 

Their new house, unbeknownst to Tom, is known as the haunted house in Featherbank. He's uneasy living there, but just isn't sure why. Jake picked out the house, and it was the only house he was excited to move to, away from the only home he'd known. Tom and Jake are still navigating life alone, and they have some miscommunication that leaves Tom feeling like a horrible father, and Jake feeling pretty alone. 

A little boy has disappeared in Featherbank, eerily similar to a horrible case 20 years before, when Frank Carter, known as the Whispering Man, kidnapped and murdered four little boys. Local detective Pete Willis is haunted by his inability to get Frank to tell him where the last little boy's remains are...and Frank likes to dangle that over Pete's head. Frank is a pretty horrible man, and the stuff of nightmares. Locked away in prison, he rules the prison and has a deep hatred of his wife and son, who witnessed much of the horror, and finally turned him in to the police. 

Pete, a recovering alcoholic, and suffering all these years later with guilt for not finding the last little boy, is horrified to think that the Whispering Man is back, and that Frank had someone helping him all those years before. 

What connection does Tom's house have to the Whispering Man? Who is the little girl who talks to Jake? Is Jake the next victim of the Whispering Man?

At first, this started out a little slow for me, and I blame that on not reading enough of it before putting it down for awhile. Once I started again, I plowed through, and the tension and uneasiness grew with each page I turned. I had no idea what to expect, but there are definitely a few twists I didn't expect at all. I figured out who the Whispering Man was, but didn't quite connect the dots until the big reveal. And the end...oh gosh. Terribly sad on many fronts; but also a gut punch that haunts you. I keep thinking about certain phrases and what they mean--the kind that make me go "Oh! Now I see!" for hours after I've turned the last page. 

This was a really good thriller. There are no gruesome depictions of murder, but the subject matter is a bit tough to swallow. However, a story that will keep you up late at night, racing to the end. Definitely one to discuss! 

Rating: 4/6 for a police thriller, a family drama, and a chilly look at the mind of a serial killer. It picks up speed about halfway through, and then you can't put it down. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Oh, it took me a while to get through this novel. I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews about it, and that influenced me (I admit this reluctantly!). There were a few times when I was ready to just throw in the towel, but I persisted and finished the book, and I'm glad I did, even if I do have mixed feelings. 

So. Ivy is a private investigator in San Francisco. She's your stereotypical PI: just barely hanging on, investigating cheating spouses and small time criminal activity, and likes the bottle. She's called on to investigate a murder at an unusual place: The Osthorne Academy, a secret school for witchcraft and wizardry. This is no run of the mill murder, either; it's rather gruesome. Sylvia, a teacher at the academy, is found in the library, literally split in two, head to toe. The school wants to know what exactly happened--this is big, big magic--the kind of magic that isn't actually possible. So did Sylvia try something, and it went horribly wrong? Or was she murdered by another mage?

Ivy has a few issues. First of all, her twin sister, Tabitha, is a teacher at the academy. Yes, her sister got all the magic, and Ivy got none of it. It's caused a rift between the two sisters, even more so after their mother died of cancer and Ivy blamed Tabitha for not saving her. Another issue: everyone at the academy assumes Ivy has magical abilities, and she, wanting to finally fit in, doesn't tell them any different. The only person who knows she's not magical is Tabitha, and she's not telling anyone. As Ivy stays on campus, investigating the murder, she begins to uncover some big secrets between students, teachers, and yes, even her own sister. Was Sylvia's death murder, or a magical mishap?

I had a few issues reading this story. First of all, Ivy, get over yourself. Sheesh. Over and over, we're reminded that she's not magical. Over and over, we're reminded that she's really angry at her sister. I got a little confused, because it seemed like there were a few instances where Ivy appeared to have some small magical talent--or maybe I was just reading it wrong. She seemed to be able to figure out some big magical stuff that the folks with all the talent couldn't. The cast of characters were okay, but I was perplexed by the fact that this secret magical academy existed, but the regular world didn't seem to have a clue. Where did these students go, once they graduated? How did this whole thing work with the regular world? I was left with a whole lot of unanswered questions. And the final reveal? Well, I wasn't surprised at the who, but the why was interesting. Brought up a whole bunch of ethical issues, for sure. And it turns out, we are all just human beings after all--magic or not. 

I've got mixed feelings about this book. I'm glad I finished it. There were moments of ho-hum, and moments where it got really interesting. A lot of peaks and valleys. I'd probably try another novel by this author; either a stand alone, or a continuation of Ivy's story. There was a lot left unanswered. 

Rating: 3/6 for a novel that explores magic in the modern world, sibling relationships, and ethical issues. I'm on the fence with this one. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Three Children's Novels That Have Been Banned or Challenged: Banned Books Week

My book group meets tonight, and our theme for September is to read a book that was either challenged or banned in the United States. Challenged means someone tried to have a book removed from a library or a school curriculum  because they objected to subject matter or felt the book was inappropriate for children or young adults. It doesn't mean the book was removed. Banned, of course, means the book was successfully removed from a library (or libraries) or a school curriculum. Unfortunately, this continues to happen regularly. Spending my adult life working in a bookstore, and now a library, I am a HUGE advocate for no censorship regarding reading material. 

I don't have children; however, if I did, I would certainly not limit their reading. If I was even slightly worried that they wanted to read something that they might not be emotionally ready for, or have trouble understanding, I would want to read it with them, or read it before they did--and have a conversation! I can tell you from my experience, denying a child a book only makes them want to read it more, and by golly they will find a way. I bought a Stephen King novel in my teens(!) with my babysitting money, and my Mom found it and took it away. It simply disappeared one day. I found it later hidden in her "secret" drawer, where she put everything she didn't want us to have. I also tried to buy the novel Endless Love--remember the movie with Brooke Shields?! Yes, I bought  that book. My mom caught me, and made me return it to B. Dalton's before we even left the store. I was soooooo angry. I vowed then and there to never, ever do that to my future children. Oh, it still makes me mad to think about it, all these years later. 

So, for my group, I was going to read Their Eyes Were Watching God. Unfortunately, I started too late, and can't give the book the time and attention it deserves. I'm still going to read it, but not for tonight's group. Instead, I looked at lists of challenged/banned books for children, and picked three--and off to B&N I went to buy them and read them on my day off. Here's a quick review of the three I chose:

I love Mary Downing Hahn. I wish she had been writing when I was a child. Her books usually involve ghosts and unsolved mysteries. This one was different-it's about two friends who find a dead body in a creek, and how they figure out who may have murdered the man. Published in 1990, it has been challenged over the years. It has themes that explore murder, drugs, and gun violence. I thought the friendship between Matt and Parker, and Parker's determination to save his mother from the bad men (and stay true to his instincts) far outweighed the other issues. I'd say it would be a good novel to read with your child, and answer any questions. It does seem a bit tame, compared with what we see, read, and hear every day in 2019. 

I've wanted to read this novel for years! Finally did. Loved it. The Watsons are a loving family living in Flint, Michigan in 1963. Byron, the oldest son, is a bit of a troublemaker--always making bad choices. His parents decide to return to Alabama for a visit, and to leave Byron there with Grandma for the summer, in hopes that her no nonsense attitude will mature Byron. His father also wants Byron to get a taste of what it's like to be a black man in 1963 Alabama, and to see the challenges and issues he will face coming of age in a turbulent America. This is a loving family, seen from the eyes of Kenny, the younger son. Full of humor, love, and hope, I loved this novel. I'm guessing people had issues with the content, the bullying the occurs to Kenny at school and by his brother, and the terrible scenes of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963 that killed four young girls. A wonderful book that should be read and discussed with children. 

What??  Scary Stories was banned or challenged?  Yep. It still shows up on lists! I read the first of three, and now it's a movie. I've even read a few reviews that said it was more frightening than It 2. Huh? 

This trio of scary stories by Alvin Schwartz has been around for years and years-first published in 1981. It says something to the popularity of the scary tales that it remains so popular with kids. Filled with short tales and poems, accompanied by super chilling illustrations by the incomparable Stephen Gammell, I have to admit, some of these tales are gruesome and a little creepy--especially if you're sitting around a campfire on a chilly Fall evening. However, they are just the kind of stories sure to thrill! I'm guessing it's regularly challenged due to some of the tales being a bit gruesome. Just the kind of book I would have loved to read as a kid! 

These are the three books I'll be discussing tonight with my group. Each quite different than the other two, but all on lists of books that have been challenged or banned over the years. You can find lots of information, including the most challenged books of 2018, at bannedbooksweek.org.  Goodreads also has lists of books banned or challenged by year. 

Make it a point to read books that are controversial. Discuss them with peers, or if your children want to read something that you're not quite comfortable with, do yourself a favor and read it with your child, or read it before your child does-and have a conversation with them about the book. Be open and honest with your kids. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Ingredients of Us by Jennifer Gold

Sometimes a book that you think is going to check off of all your boxes ends up being one that leaves you with a lingering feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction.  The Ingredients of Us was one of those books. Maybe I went into the book thinking it was going to be a fun-filled novel about a baker, and recipes, and a bit lighthearted, with just enough drama to keep it from being sappy. 

Instead, I struggled to finish it, and it took me a few weeks. It's the story of Elle and Tom, married for 8 years, and Elle has recently discovered Tom has had an affair. A busy woman with a popular bakery, she's consumed by her love of baking--so much so that it usually takes priority in her life, even over Tom. Feeling neglected, he cheats. And this is the main plot of the novel--how they cope with his infidelity while deciding if saving their marriage is something they want to do. 

We see their relationship from the earliest stages up to the days and weeks following Elle's discovery of the affair. While it was important to understand where they came from as a couple, it was a bit too much bouncing back and forth, back and forth, between "7 years and 3 days before Elle finds out" to "Four weeks after Elle finds out". I'm never one to complain about plots zipping back and forth between the before and the after, but this seemed a bit overdone. The  looks back were a bit all over the place, so it was hard to settle in and see where in the relationship Elle and Tom were and what it had to do with what was going on in present time. One big issue was children--Tom wanted them, and Elle wasn't ready. Was she ever going to be ready? It's a pretty big deal, and I'm not really sure it was ever laid to rest as I turned the last page. 

So while I was looking for a lighthearted read, I didn't find it here. The recipes and baked goods sounded divine, but the writing of the recipes seemed completely at odds with the tone of the novel--they seemed a bit out of place. 

This wasn't the read I was expecting it to be, and maybe it's my fault for being disappointed in the result. If you want to read about a marriage and all the trials and troubles that add to it, and potentially destroy it, this is the novel for you. It just wasn't my jam. 

Rating: 2/6 for a novel about two people navigating the choppy waters of infidelity. Too much jumping around was jarring, and the bakery setting and foodie parts didn't seem to jive with the seriousness of the rest of the novel. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Old Bones by Preston & Child

This is just the kind of story I love to dive into, and even though it was my first Preston & Child novel, it won't be my last. 

First of all, bless Grand Central Publishing for taking the time to list all of Preston & Child's novels by series! Makes reading their previous works much easier. I wish every publisher did this for prolific authors. Old Bones is another new series, with characters from previous novels, but this is the first in the Nora Kelly series. I can't wait to read more. 

This novel involves the mystery of the Donner Party, and the Lost Camp. After the Donner party became lost and stuck in the Sierra Nevada area in the winter of 1847, they became part of western legend and lore. Very few people survived the months long ordeal as they starved, survived blizzard after blizzard, and some resorting to cannibalism to survive. The party was broken up into three camps, each a distance away from each other. One camp, known as the Lost Camp, remained  undiscovered over a hundred and fifty years later. 

Archaeologist Nora Kelly is called in to lead an expedition up into the wilds of the Sierra Nevadas to attempt to discover the "Lost Camp". Traveling with Nora is Dr. Clive Benton, a historian (and descendant of one of the Donner party families) who has discovered Tamzene Donner's long lost diary, which describes the location of the lost camp. Finding this lost camp, and the remains of the people who died there, would be a huge historical find, and answer a lot of questions. There is also a big chance that twenty million dollars in gold coins is also somewhere in the camp, stolen from one of the Donner party men, who was murdered by two men who died at the lost camp. 

Another interesting addition to this story involves FBI Agent Corrie Swanson. Just learning her job, she's assigned to a simple case: investigating the murder of a man found in a recently disturbed grave. Doesn't seem like it would have anything to do with the Donner lost camp, but oh, it does. It seems that someone has been digging up graves and making off with parts of the remains. Corrie makes a connection between seemingly random events, but no one believes her--it's rookie enthusiasm, after all. 

Yet, there is a big link to these two big events, and that is what is most fascinating about this novel. I seriously couldn't put it down. The blend of archaeology, legend, lore, and history hooked me good. I've always been interested in the Donner tragedy and have read a lot of books about it. That's what  drew me to this novel, too. I wasn't disappointed. It was a heck of a good read, and a great introduction to Preston & Child novels. 

I've had friends tell me how much they enjoy Preston & Child novels, and now I know why. I'll be working my way through all of them, and looking forward to the next Nora Kelly novel. I liked both Nora and Corrie--two strong women,  navigating through the politics and machinations of their chosen fields. Both experts in what they do, they make a great team. Did I say I loved this novel?! I sure did! Fans of historical mysteries, anthropology, archaeology, and police procedurals will enjoy this one. I'm a fan of Ellie Griffith's Ruth Galloway mysteries, which also feature historical mysteries and forensic archaeology. I'm excited to have found another series with all the elements I enjoy. 

I know I read a lot of magical realism, foodie, and contemporary women's novels, but oh, the nerdy history and forensics girl in me loves this type of novel, too. 

Rating: 5/6 for a thriller that combines history, action, adventure, archaeology, forensics, and a race against time. The Donner Party tragedy continues to echo down through the years. It's never too late to bring peace to those who died tragically in the most horrible of circumstances. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen

First read for September is done! I do like to read about true crime; usually I prefer to read forensic books about how crimes are solved through analysis, forensics, and good old fashioned smarts. However, this one is a bit different, in that Billy Jensen doesn't use forensics, but Facebook and Twitter to help solve crimes. 

Billy is a journalist, and for years he wrote about murders that remained unsolved. He partnered with Michelle McNamara, the author of I'll be Gone in the Dark, who sadly died suddenly before her book was finished. Michelle was obsessed with finding the serial killer she dubbed The Golden State Killer. Billy worked with her on a few crime podcasts and shows, and formed a firm friendship. Crushed by her sudden death, he turned his grief into action. He decided that he would pursue the killers of unsolved crimes after the police had given up. 

In this non-fiction crime tale, Billy talks about a few of the cases that began his new career as a crime solver. Each one of them is heartbreaking. Once case involved a Polish immigrant who became the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. Another involved a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was hit so hard by a stranger he fell into a crosswalk unconscious, and was subsequently run over by a taxi cab and killed. All captured on cameras. But not so easy to identify the killer and bring him to justice. Billy used a new crime solving tool: Facebook. Paying for ads, he created Facebook posts and targeted them to audiences that were near the areas the crimes took place. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes not. He realized he had to do more than just put the word out, and hope someone, somewhere would help. 

This was a very interesting read, especially concerning the use of social media, and the evolution of DNA testing and finding killers based on something brand new: tracing them based on family genetics via Ancestry and 21 and Me results. And this..this was how the Golden State Killer was finally caught, two years after Michelle's death, and many years after raping and murdering dozens of people and terrorizing a city. We are in a new era of crime fighting and soon new tools will be available that will make it even harder for criminals to hide. Crowdsourcing to fight crime is happening, thanks to social media. 

Now I've got an itch to check out a few true crime podcasts. I am horrified and disgusted at the disregard of human life so many people show; there is another part of me that is grateful there are people like Billy Jensen out there who work tirelessly to solve what was previously unsolvable. Thousands of murders go unsolved each year, but solving even just one brings closure to those left behind, and justice to those who died at the hands of others. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Rating: 3/6 for a behind the scenes look at the evolving science of crime solving through the lens of journalism. Crimes that are haunting, and the people who take it all on to provide answers for families left behind to grieve. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

September Reads: Cool Nights, Lots of Coffee, and the Lure of Fall

It's unseasonably cool for August in Iowa. Freakishly cool. I wasn't in a frame of mind for the conveniences of summer to be over just yet-no coats, slip on sandals, and lots of fresh basil for the picking just outside my kitchen door. But this past week has really kicked in the Fall feels for me and I think everyone else  in Cedar Rapids. It doesn't hurt that college football started yesterday, too. 

As per my usual reading habits, I always love to dive into my creepy, spooky, thriller-ghosty stories as the nights get longer and Halloween approaches. I'm going to be good this season and not eat bags of Brach's pumpkins. It's going to be tough! I know Halloween is still 8 weeks away, but the thrill of it is the build up to it, so I'm starting now. 

My picks for September are a mix of library books (I've got to read them STAT!), new buys, and a few that I've had on my shelves at home:

It's been sitting on my bookcase for 4 years. Shame on me. Reading this for a September book group where banned or challenged books are our theme. 

Modern day magic in San Fransisco. I haven't read any reviews, so I'm not sure what to expect! Diving in with an open mind. 

I've had this sitting at home for months! Just moved a pile of books and found it. First in a trilogy by Nora Roberts. Magic, three brothers, and a terror in the woods. 

I'm not going to lie: this one may give me the major creeps! A serial killer who lures his victims outside with whispers. Yikes! Keeping the windows closed while reading this one. Getting lots of buzz. 

Non-fiction about unsolved murders and a man determined to solve them. 

Books aren't dead! In fact, they're thriving. Book lovers, we know this.

I've never read a Preston & Child novel, but this one--oh, heck yes. It involves the Donner Party! One of my obsessive historical mysteries. I can't wait to read this. It may lead to a whole lot of Preston & Child novels in my future.

I've got a few other titles on my list, so we'll see how far I get. This time of year, I like to be home at night, and make few social plans. The Great Fall 2019 Hunker Down and Read is beginning soon! 

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

I read as fast as I could, but I didn't quite get all my August reads done before midnight last night. However, I did finish this novel last night at 11:30! Wahoo! I managed to finish 7 out of 11 books, with one extra tossed in, and I'm part way through The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis. I've spent the last few days staying home and reading, and reluctantly folding laundry. 

This is Katherine Howe's follow up to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. A few things made this read a little more of a struggle than it should have been, and they were absolutely my fault. It's been a number of years since I read Deliverance Dane, and I forgot a lot of the book. I know I enjoyed it, and it was really good, but I couldn't remember much of the plot. When I started this sequel, it was taking me a lot of time to remember what had happened, and where the characters were now. As a rule, I don't go back and re-read books, but it probably would have been smart to do in this case. In any case, I did catch on after awhile. I also kept putting the book down, then picking it up days later. This didn't help me stay on track, either. Connie Goodwin is a professor of American history in Boston, and is on a tenure track at her university. She's living with Sam, her partner and a main character in Deliverance Dane. Connie is busy mentoring a new PhD student-Zazi, and putting together her tenure papers. One of her major projects is finishing a book about magic and witchcraft, but she's still looking for that special something that will complete her book. 

Everything changes when Connie realizes she's pregnant. Visiting her mom at the old family home in Marblehead, her mom knows what's up-after all, both are descended from magical women, and both have some pretty amazing gifts. Only problem is that the women in Connie's family can't keep their husbands and their children. Connie knows, through her research, that the men in the family always die tragically, and early. Terrified to lose Sam, she has to find a way to break the cycle. Only one woman's husband lived to a very old age-Temperance Hobbs. How did she break the cycle? Connie's in a race against time to uncover family secrets, find the spell, and free Sam from a certain early death before she tells him she's pregnant. On top of that, she's got a previous student pushing her to recommend him for a big job at Harvard, and tension with Sam because she's refused to marry him. 

The politics in academia are a big part of this novel, and so much of what gives Connie her stress. I loved the setting in Boston, and the background of early American history. And of course, I'm always fascinated by the magic and witchcraft aspect. There is a part of me that wishes I had taken the deep dive into academia, and pursued graduate degrees in American history. This book certainly poked at that dream a bit! 

So. I would recommend reading Deliverance Dane first, then read this novel. Too much time had passed for me to remember and connect the dots quickly. I was a bit frustrated with Connie at times; she should have confided in Sam sooner than she did, way at the end of the book. The back and forth between Connie and her ancestors, and their experiences as healers was really interesting, and I of course loved the history of it all. The cast of characters were solid, and I liked them all--I even understood the angst of those seeking to succeed in the academic world, where the stakes are high, and competition is tough. Mostly, the setting reminded me of my college years, living in Pennsylvania, surrounded by all that wonderful history. Oh, I miss that, even after all these years. 

Rating: 3/6 for a sequel to a novel that had just too darn much time in between. It made it tough to remember the important bits from Deliverance Dane that trickled into Temperance Hobbs. However, the story did kick in towards the end, and I loved the rich history of it all, along with the strong characters. Magic, history, secrets and gifts passed down through generations are all elements that drive this tale to a satisfying conclusion.

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