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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams...Review

About the book:
Hershey. The name means chocolate to America and the world, but as Michael D'Antonio reveals, it also stands for an inspiring man and a uniquely successful experiment in community and capitalism that produced a business empire devoted to a higher purpose.

One of the twentieth century's most eccentric and idealistic titans of industry, Milton S. Hershey brought affordable milk chocolate to America, creating and then satisfying the chocoholic urges of millions. He pioneered techniques of branding, mass production, and marketing, and gained widespread fame as the Chocolate King.

But as he developed massive factories, Cuban sugar plantations, and a vacation wonderland called Hershey Park, M.S. never lost sight of a grander goal. Determined that his wealth produce a lasting legacy, he tried to create perfect places where his workers could live, perfect schools for their children, and a perfect charity to salvage the lives of needy children in perpetuity. Along the way, he overcame his personal childhood traumas, as well as the death, after a short and intensely romantic marriage, of the one woman he ever loved.

In childhood, Milton was torn by the constant conflicts between his stern mother and starry-eyed father. He watched his father go bust in the oil fields and his sister die of scarlet fever. As a young man he failed with businesses in Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago. Milton finally succeeded in Lancaster, thanks to a caramel recipe copied from another confectioner and a lucky break provided by a British importer. Then, at the history-shaping Columbian Exhibition, Milton found the chocolate-making technology that would allow him to bring a new taste to America. When they heard about his plan to build a chocolate empire complete with its own little city in rural Pennsylvania, his friends said he needed a legal guardian.

Ten years later, Milton controlled the U.S. chocolate market, and his town, Hershey, Pennsylvania, was the ideal American village. Factory workers lived in graceful homes. Their children attended the best schools. Local parks, libraries, and theaters rivaled the best in big cities. Trains brought thousands of tourists every day, who flocked to see the miracle town, the Hershey zoo, and an enormous amusement park.

Not content with these accomplishments, a childless M.S. Hershey founded an orphanage for boys at his family homestead. After his wife Catherine's death, the press revealed that he had secretly willed his entire estate to the Hershey Industrial School, as it was called. This was only the beginning of his giving. Through the Great Depression, Milton Hershey used his fortune to fund a massive building program that kept all his workers employed and spared the community the real hardships of the era. Before he died, he even gave away his mansion, keeping just two rooms for himself.

Remarkable as Hershey was, his legacy is even more powerful. It includes the $8 billion Hershey Trust (the single largest private fund for children in the world), an idyllic company town in central Pennsylvania, and a corporation that proves that the ideals of community and commerce can lead to profit.

This first-ever, major biography of an American icon paints a vivid picture of what Milton S. Hershey accomplished as the ultimate progressive businessman. Hershey's life suggests a kind of capitalism that seems warmer, and more personal. He was a gambler, raconteur, despot, and servant. And he stands as a rare, and perhaps unique, example of ambition, altruism, ego, and humility.

A fascinating look at the life of the man who brought chocolate to mainstream America. Milton S. Hershey's life is presented in an interesting, straight-forward manner.

Hershey was raised in poverty as his father, always dreaming of something bigger and better, drifted from place to place. His mother came from a prosperous Mennonite family. Hershey's early business attempts were failures, but he persevered with his mother's family's financial help. The book is as much a history of industry, philanthropy, and business in the late 19th and early 20th century as it is a book about Milton Hershey.

Hershey not only wanted to bring chocolate to the masses, he wanted to create a Utopian society and for a time, seemed to do that in what became known as Hershey, Pennsylvania. He and his wife were unable to have children and he formed a school for orphaned boys that continues to this day.

While not authorized or sponsored by the Hershey company, I found it to be well-written and incredibly well-researched.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/08

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's on your Nightstand?

Every month, 5 Minutes for Books hosts What's On Your Nightstand? There are several ways to participate:

Take a picture or simply give a list of the stack of books that you are in the process of reading or planning to read (it might be on your nightstand, on a bookshelf, or like me, under your bed).

Give short reviews of the book or books that you read that month.

Tell about what you are reading and why. I love to read the backstory on books. Did someone give it to you? Are you trying out a new genre at the recommendation of a friend (or website)? Did you stumble across a new author in a used bookstore?

Fill us in on your reading habits. When are you reading these books? Is one reserved for bedtime reading? Does one stay in your car to be read while you are waiting? Do you read just one book at a time?

This is my current nightstand. I'm nearly finished with Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams, by Michael D'Antonio. I have plenty waiting for me when it's completed.

Head on over to 5 Minutes for Books to check out what other people are reading.

A blanket, chocolate, and...

Last year about this same time, I came down with a nasty case of pink-eye. Conjunctivitis if you want to get technical. Boy, does it hurt. I spent a cozy day wrapped in a blanket with some cocoa and Mr. Darcy.

Right on cue, I have it again. I'm hoping it's not the contagious kind, but just the allergy kind. My allergies have been miserable and we had a wicked windstorm yesterday. I was out in it for a bit and I hope my eyes are simply irritated. We'll see. It sure hurts. I have my prescription from last time, so hopefully it helps.

However, since I have the house to myself for awhile, I'm going to indulge in some recovery time.

I have my favorite Austen film adaptations. But who do I choose? Mr. Darcy? Captain Wentworth? Edward Ferrars? Oh the choices...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Musing Monday

So, what do YOU do when you find yourself in a reading slump? How do you get out of it? Do you keep trying different books until you find one that draws you in? Do you just give in to the slump until it passes, and do something other than reading for a time? Do you ask for help? And, if you ask for help, what great (or, not so great) advice have you been given on how to get out of the slump?

Perfect timing on this question. I've been in a bit of a reading slump myself, the last week or so. Last week, I only read two books, both of which I loved. I think it was partly due to the fact that school started and we were getting back into our routine as a family. I think it was also partly due to the fact that my nightstand stack didn't look too interesting. Sometimes I think you need to be in a particular mood to read a particular book. If I own the book, I can let it sit until it appeals to me. If it's from the library, as most of mine are these days, there is always a bit of pressure because of the due date.

I've just learned that if a particular book doesn't appeal to me at the moment, I either set it aside or send it back to the library. I pick up a different one and hope that it is more interesting. Sometimes, too, I just need a break. If I've been on a reading binge, I often find myself wanting a bit of a break from reading. A day or two is often enough before I'm reaching for something else to read.

For more Monday Musings, visit Should Be Reading.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Salon

It's been a slow book week here at 2 Kids and Tired. That's unusual for me!

My boys went back to school this week, and my library stack hasn't seemed appealing. Sometimes you just need to be in a certain mood for certain books!

So, I cruised through my Goodreads to-read list and my library website and reserved a few more books that I should be able to pick up next week.

I really enjoyed Nothing to Regret, by Tristi Pinkston. Terrific. I read her new book, Season of Sacrifice in May and absolutely loved it too!

I did finish a terrific Christmas book, but my review won't be posted until September 1st, as part of the book blog tour for The Santa Letters. You'll love it.

For more Sunday Salon posts, click here.

Have a great reading week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks about libraries.

What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

I don't have one particular memory of the library. I just remember going. A lot. I loved checking out books, I would get stacks and stacks and read them all. I'd check out my favorites over and over again.

In school I would always get my work done quickly, so I could read. When I was in the 6th grade, I brought the math book home, did the whole thing and took it back and said, "There, I finished the math book, may I read now?" One day, my teacher called my mom to tell her that I was reading too much in class. My mom was incredulous and said, "You have a child who wants to read and you're complaining about it?" My teacher said that the reading wasn't the issue, but to the other kids, it looked like I wasn't doing my work, even though it was finished. My mom's reply? "Send her to the library." To this day, my favorite elementary school teacher was our librarian!

From the time I was little, I wanted to be a librarian. I received a degree in English from Brigham Young University and planned to do their MLS program. Unfortunately, they discontinued the program the year I graduated. I would still like to do an MLS program, and now that my kids are both in school, I might.

My boys love the library. We go quite often and they always have stacks of books to bring home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:

Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

My teasers:

"All of their troubles suddenly seemed to disappear, for now they could see with their own eyes what they had only dreamed about for months, sometimes years. From two thousand feet above sea level they saw a vast stretch of orchards, endless fields of grapes, cotton, and tomatoes, and as far as the eye could see in any direction, green--so much green it was hard to believe after life in the Panhandle."

From page 22, Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp, by Jerry Stanley.

Check out other Teaser Tuesdays at Should Be Reading.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Salon

I've had such a great week not only reading, but blog surfing. I've found so many new book blogs, added a ton of new books to my Goodreads list, and made some new friends.

I read a charming little chick lit book: A Mile in My Flip-Flops.

I read a good fictionalized novel about WW2 and a Japanese internment camp: Tallgrass.

I didn't like an odd book about painted dresses and family drama: Painted Dresses.

Check out other Sunday Salon postings here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Mile in My Flip-Flops...Review

About the book:
Thirty-something Gretchen Hanover is stuck. Seeking solace from a broken heart, she traded her wedding plans for home improvement shows and ice cream—but she knows she can’t live on Ben and Jerry’s forever. She also knows that her enthusiastic Lab puppy has outgrown her tiny apartment.

The perfect patch for Gretchen’s dilapidated plans? She’ll become a first-time house-flipper. As ideas go, it’s daring and genius. She’ll take out a short-term loan, buy a fixer-upper, renovate it, resell it, and use the profit for an adorable house of her own. What could be easier?

But Gretchen’s plans to flip quickly flop when the house turns out to be in worse shape than she expected. She is relying on her retired contractor-father, but he wants to draw in his carpenter friend Noah Campbell. And although Noah is handy with tools, Gretchen isn’t so sure about the baggage he brings with him. Will she be able to loosen her grip on the tools when it seems Noah may be her only help?

A whimsical look at color swatches, mismatched curtain rods, and the building of relationships, A Mile in My Flip-Flops reminds us that it takes faith to renovate the heart, as well as the home.

Gretchen Hanover is a thirty-something kindergarten teacher whose fiance dumped her just before their wedding. After 18 months of consoling herself with ice cream and HGTV, she decides she needs to do something with her life. Her solution? To flip a house, just like it's done on HGTV. She convinces her dad to co-sign on a short-term loan and she purchases a disaster of a house.

Gretchen's dad, in a bit of matchmaking, convinces her to hire his carpenter friend, Noah, to help the project along. Predictably, Gretchen learns a lot about herself and her relationship with God and, along the way, falls in love with Noah.

A light, easy read with lots of little details about renovating, decorating, ex-spouses and best friends. The moral of the story? Life doesn't always go as planned, but trust in God and He'll take care of it. Carlson has a descriptive way of writing and it's easy to visualize her story. The title is a cute play on words.

A charming, funny book: perfect for escapist reading.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/08

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

My Friend Amy is hosting a Book Blogger Appreciation Week, September 15th - 19th. It looks like a lot of fun. Check it out here, or by clicking the button on the sidebar.


About the book:
An essential American novel from Sandra Dallas, an unparalleled writer of our history, and our deepest emotions...

During World War II, a family finds life turned upside down when the government opens a Japanese internment camp in their small Colorado town. After a young girl is murdered, all eyes (and suspicions) turn to the newcomers, the interlopers, the strangers.

This is Tallgrass as Rennie Stroud has never seen it before. She has just turned thirteen and, until this time, life has pretty much been what her father told her it should be: predictable and fair. But now the winds of change are coming and, with them, a shift in her perspective. And Rennie will discover secrets that can destroy even the most sacred things.

Part thriller, part historical novel, Tallgrass is a riveting exploration of the darkest--and best--parts of the human heart.

Rennie Stroud, a 13-year old girl, tells the story of what happens when a Japanese internment camp is opened in her small Colorado town during WW2.

I found the story compelling. I loved Rennie's voice and those of her parents, who are, at first, some of the only people in town who accept the Japanese people. Rennie's father employs some young Japanese men on his sugar beet farm and the bond of friendship that forms between them all is strong.

Predictably, the prejudice shown to these newcomers is strong and mean. When a good friend of Rennie's is murdered, the Japanese are immediately suspected, even though it is obvious that it was one of the angry locals. Although, which angry local is not apparent until the end.

As in all Dallas novels, secrets are revealed and all isn't as it appears. The book is as much about Rennie's coming-of-age how the war shapes her perceptions of life, as it is about the internment camps.

I'm rarely disappointed in a Sandra Dallas book, but I was disappointed in the rather abrupt ending. It was too sudden and left too many questions unanswered. I have no idea how historically correct this novel is, but it's certainly an engrossing read.

Definitely recommended.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/08

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Painted Dresses...Review

About the book:
In this story of sisterhood and unexpected paths, Gaylen Syler-Boatwright flees her unraveling marriage to take refuge in a mountain cottage owned by her deceased aunt. Burdened with looking after her adult sister, Delia, she is shocked to find a trail of family secrets hidden within her aunt’s odd collection of framed, painted dresses. With Delia, who attracts trouble as a daily occupation, Gaylen embarks on a road trip that throws the unlikely pair together on a journey to painful understanding and delightful revelations.

Steeped in Hickman’s trademark humor, her spare writing voice, and the bittersweet pathos of the South, Painted Dresses powerfully captures a woman’s desperate longing to uncover a hidden, broken life and discover the liberty of living authentically, even when the things exposed are shrouded in shame.

Let's see: well-written...check; compelling...no; interesting...check; did I like it...not really.

I had high hopes that I would enjoy this novel. Set in the south, it's the story of Gaylen and her sister Delia. When their father dies, Gaylen returns to small town North Carolina for the funeral. Her marriage is in disarray and she needs some time away. She and her sister travel to their aunt's mountain cabin for some solitude. Her sister is a bit wacky and attracts trouble.

Gaylen uncovers many questions about her deceased mother and the family secrets. At her aunt's cabin, she discovers a collection of painted dresses: actual dresses her aunt mounted and painted over or embellished, and then framed. Each dress is marked with a note of to whom the painting should be given. On the run from a hit man after her sister, the two of them embark on a journey to return the paintings. Along the way they have some adventure and each time they drop off a painting, they find another answer to their family story.

Predictably, they reconcile their own differences, Gaylen and her husband reconnect, and they find out the answers to their questions.

In theory, it sounds like a great story. And, in some ways, it is. I just didn't connect with the characters. I didn't care if Gaylen reconciled with Braden. I didn't care if they ever found Truman and found out why he was really in prison.

I had to force myself to finish it, and truth be told, I skimmed the last part. It was easy to do and I still didn't miss any details.

I can't recommend it.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  If you're so inclined to purchase it, you can do so here.

Read 8/08

1/5 Stars

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's on your Nightstand?

I love Goodreads. It's one of the best things I discovered when I started blogging. I've not only found some new friends, but also a boatload of new books to read. My friend, Amanda, had a post where she blogged about her nightstand and the stack of books on it. Books she hasn't gotten to yet.

I have one of those nightstands too... Here's mine and the stack of books waiting to be read.

That looks like a lot. But, it won't take me very long. Trust me. Now it's your turn. Go ahead. Show me what stack of books is on your nightstand.

And if you're on Goodreads, invite me as a friend. I love getting to know other readers and finding new recommendations!

Il Gigante...Review

About the book:
This is the story of twelve years when war, plague, famine, and chaos made their mark on a volatile Italy, and when a young, erratic genius, Michelangelo Buonarroti, made his first great statue - the David. It was to become a symbol, not only of the independence and defiance of the city of Florence, but also of the tortured soul who created it. This is a history of the artist, his times, and one of his most magnificent works.

An interesting read. I found this one to be more of a history of art and the early renaissance, rather than a complete focus on Michelangelo. There are details of his creation of the David, and a nice selection of pictures. (He's much better in person though...)

An interesting review of the time and era of Florence at the turn of the 16th century: not only a time of flourishing art, but a time of intrigue and politics.

An interesting, but not memorable read.

I read my personal copy, but you can purchase your own here.

Last read 07

* * *
3/5 Stars

Prince Caspian...Review

About the book:
A prince fights for his crown. Narnia... where animals talk... where trees walk... here a battle is about to begin. A prince denied his rightful throne gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I've never read the Chronicles of Narnia before. How did that happen? I have an English degree! I've always meant to correct this literary deficit, but never have managed to do so.

After we saw the Prince Caspian movie, my son was insistent on us reading the book. He wanted me to read it first, because he knew I would read it faster than he would. So, I did.

I enjoyed it, although it was somewhat anti-climactic for me. I love the Pevensie children. I love that they are a family and they are happy when they are together. Their previous time in Narnia was a joyous time for them, and it's apparent that they regretted leaving. When they are called back by Susan's magic horn, their delight at returning is dulled by the knowledge that the Narnia they found, isn't the Narnia they left.

They are drawn back to help Prince Caspian obtain his rightful throne as King of Narnia.

After having heard so much praise for so many years about the Lewis' Narnia, I was surprised at how simple and easy it was to read. I suppose I expected more depth and detail. I do love the analogy of only the true believers being able to see Aslan. At first, it is Lucy who can see him and her brothers and sister don't believe her. He tells her that even if they don't follow her, she must follow him anyway. When she finally convinces them to come with her as she follows Aslan, by the end of the journey, each has had their eyes opened to the truth that Aslan has returned. A beautiful allegory.

I enjoyed the film immensely. I felt that they captured the spirit of the story, while adding the action and adventure. It was nice to have the Caspian character rounded out a bit more.

Overall, a delightful story.

I read my personal copy, but you can purchase your own here.

Read 8/08

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, August 4, 2008

Breaking Dawn...Review

About the book:
To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life—first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse—seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?

Just a heads-up, this review will contain spoilers. I am not a Stephenie Meyer junkie. I don't think she's the best writer, I don't think her books are the best ever written. And I find it interesting that while I didn't love the first three books, I did enjoy Breaking Dawn the best. If you look around the Twilight universe, though, you will find that many faithful Twilighters hated Breaking Dawn. It's been quite entertaining to read so many nasty reviews.

I had every intention of reading this book simply so I could write another snarky review. However, I liked Breaking Dawn. Meyer finally got it right. Her writing is much tighter here and the depth that I have missed from the other books has finally arrived. There was a hint of depth in Eclipse, so I had some hope that there would be more here.

Meyer's potential is terrific. Her writing, not so much. It has always been the big drawback for me. The writing in Twilight, especially, nearly made me quit reading. I've always wished that she had a better editor. It's as if Meyer bled all over her keyboard, never looked back and her editor (if you can call her that) simply liked the story and didn't actually do any editing. As an editor by trade, this has always bugged me. I've read Harlequin romance novels that were better written. What bothers me is so many people are thinking that it's great writing and it's not. I honestly can't believe that the books have been edited so poorly, if at all.

I have always hated Bella. I have made that clear in my other reviews. She was self-absorbed, stupid, single-minded and always needed to be protected. She complained about everything, even being forced to have a "wedding". She couldn't make her own decisions and let herself be controlled by Edward and his family.

I loved seeing her grow up, here. Marriage and pregnancy can do that to a person. And, the whole pregnancy thing was a surprise, especially given traditional vampire lore and Stephenie Meyer's own canon. Vampires are not able to reproduce. However, I found the explanation fascinating. Very creative. I liked that because of the pregnancy and love for her child, Bella became stronger and less selfish. I also liked Edward's realistic reaction. Normally, he is always in control. He loves Bella and suddenly there is a situation he can't explain, let alone control. He loses it and it was refreshing to see his "humanity." I also liked that Bella's turning was related to saving her from death, not simply to "make" her a vampire.

I enjoyed Jacob. Having the book split between his perspective and Bella's was an interesting angle. The whole werewolf imprinting thing is strange, and the imprinting on children is a bit disturbing. I realize it's a case of Jacob finding his "someday" partner and until then he simply is protector and friend. However, it's still a bit wiggy to me. I do see that by doing this, Meyer was able to keep everyone together and make them one nice, happy family. A bit of a cop-out? Maybe.

I'm sorry: Renesmee? It's a nice thought, but absolutely ridiculous and something an immature teenage mother might come up with. It could be argued that Bella is that immature teenager mother. I'm not sure what Meyer was thinking but Renesmee is awkward to pronounce and I even kept messing it up as I read. I did, however, prefer it over the nickname, Nessie. Sigh.

I like vampire Bella. I like that she finally gains some strength, both physically and emotionally. The vampiric qualities actually make her a nicer, more likeable person.

I found her relationship with Edward much more believable and enjoyable now that they are more of equals. Bella finally grows up and accepts her life: she is committed to Edward and Renesmee and their family. It was interesting that when she finally let go of herself and her own reservations and focused fully on her family, her "special quality" or supernatural talent finally manifested itself. It was only then, that she could use it to protect those she loved. Quite profound actually.

I was happy to see the end result of the "battle" with the Volturi. Bloodshed doesn't cure everything.

And maybe it's another cop-out, but I liked that Bella was still able to have her father in her life. Family is important and I'm glad Meyer made that work.

Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable read. Stellar? No. Compelling and entertaining? Yes.

So, while I haven't jumped on the Twilight bandwagon, I think that if you can read them for the fluffy, romantic, pop trash they are, they're fun. She does have a way of sucking you in and the whole way through (at least with Twilight and New Moon) I was thinking, "this is stupid why am I doing this?" And, yet, I kept on reading.

I think that all of these books would have been better if they weren't written in first person. Bella is so shallow through them that you don't get the character development from the others. In Twilight, especially, there would have been so much more depth to the story if it was told in third person, where we actually get Edward's reaction to Bella, rather than Bella's confusion.

Thanks to my library for having a copy I could borrow. I haven't had to buy any of these!  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, August 1, 2008


About the book:
A place you will never forget.

Rosemunde Pilcher's Scotland...where the fields flourish with greenery, the bills bloom with purple, and the lochs glitter with the bright blue of the sky.

A time you will never forget.

September...when the heather is in full flower, the first chill of autumn cools the air, and the countryside stirs with the hunt balls, dinner parties, and dance.

A novel you will never forget.

Rosamunde Pilcher's September...a story of homecomings and heartbreaks, friendships, betrayals, forgiveness, and love. From the author of the classic multimillion-copy bestseller The Shell Seekers, it is a book you will fall in love with...

Rosamunde Pilcher is one of those authors I return to, again and again. September is one of my favorites. Set in Scotland, it follows the lives of two families, the Airds and the Balmerinos. Pilcher's characters are likeable. For the most part, her women are strong: here it's Isobel and Violet. Pilcher characters grow with you, there is a depth to them that is often found lacking in popular novels.

As the summer wanes, the countryside prepares for a ball. The prodigal daughter returns home. A young boy discovers his strength and his parents rediscover their love. An Army veteran comes to terms with his experiences and Violet Aird watches over them all.

Pilcher's descriptions of Scotland are beautiful. You can feel the chill in the September air as Autumn begins to settle over the countryside. You wish you could be part of the balls and hunts and parties.

This is a story of family and homecomings, friendship and betrayal, and love and forgiveness. It's a story that warms your heart and one that you can return to over and over again, like a favorite sweater or a good friend.

While not a sequel to The Shell Seekers, it does continue the story of Noel Keeling, Penelope's son, as he is involved with Alexa Aird. I was so happy to see Noel redeem himself and grow up.

A terrific read.

I read my personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Last read 7/08

* * * * *
5/5 Stars