Merry's Book Club

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Double Review: “True Colors” by Kristin Hannah and “Midnight Bayou” by Nora Roberts

reviews by wendy’s house

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

Three sisters who are very close go through the trials and tribulations of family life.  Their mum dies when they are very young, leaving dad to raise them.  They fall in and out of love, have arguments, party together, and basically go through life as sisters do.  They were raised on a ranch and have always worked hard to ensure it runs smoothly.  As in real life, Dad has his favourite much to the annoyance of the other two sisters.

The youngest decides to marry someone whom her oldest sister loves and this tears them apart in a small way.  When the youngest meets a new farm hand and falls deeply in love with him, the family are torn even more apart, as nobody trusts this new man.

Read the book to find out how this once loving family helps each other to come to turns with changes, upsets, etc. They argue continuously but always seem to make up as only family members can.

I’ve enjoyed this book as I have five sisters and this reminded me that all disagreements can be sorted out if you believe they can be.

Kristin describes the country side in detail and at times, it felt as if I could picture the village, ranch and countryside.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good family story with normal family upheavals.

Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts

Just when I thought I had read them all, I found this older book by one of my favourite authors.  Published in 2001, it shows why this author has sold millions of copies of books.

If you are after a ghost story with romance and mystery, then this is just the book for you.  The story starts in 1899 and winds its way to 2002, when a family descendant buys the manor where the mystery took place.

Declan is a descendant of an occupant of the manor and just happens to fall in love with another descendant but from a different family.  The spirits want them to uncover the truth about the mystery and are definitely not shy about causing great upheaval with the new owner, friends and contractors who are there to help restore the great manor back to its glory.

A wonderful read which kept me wanting more, time and time again.  Be prepared to want to keep on reading long after your allotted time has come to an end….you won’t want to put this one down!

“God of the Hive: A Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Mystery” by Laurie R. King

review by lindsaywrites

I discovered Mary Russell several years ago when, desperate for something to read while visiting my aunt and uncle, I plucked “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” off an over-crowded bookshelf. I’m really not much of a mystery reader, and hadn’t read any Sherlock Holmes related works prior to Laurie R. King’s first book in the Mary Russell/ Holmes mysteries. Basically, I was going in blind, and just hoping the book would be entertaining enough to get me through my Spring Break.

I never expected to develop such an insatiable addiction.

King’s writing is, first off, fast-paced and completely engrossing. Despite my lack of Holmse-ian knowledge when I started the series, I never felt lost with the characters. And while the mystery of each novel is as masterful as it is gripping, the real love affair for me with these books is in the characters. Sherlock Holmes is everything you expect him to be: intelligent, brooding, quick with a dry wit, and some how, despite his tendency to remain distant, lovable. Mary Russell, who enters the series as a 15-year old genius with a knack for stepping into trouble, remains charming and effervescent while simultaneously maintaining her independence as a strong, fiercely intelligent and capable woman.

I tell you, I want to hang out with Mary Russell. I adore this woman.

In King’s latest addition to the Russell/ Holmes series, the characters find themselves facing an advisory whose powers seem as vast as they are mysterious . Holmes, who is caring for his ailing son and trying to keep him hidden from the authorities, is relying entirely on the cunning of his wife, Russell,  and the strength of his brother, Mycroft–both of whom are in another country and incapable of communicating with one another. As Russell tries desperately to protect her husband’s young granddaughter from the man who tried to kill the girl’s father, she is forced to put her trust–and their lives–in the hands of a man whose sanity is as questionable as his past. But when Holmes and Russell are dealt the ultimate blow, their paths take a turn they could never have predicted.

“God of the Hive” will not leave fans of the Russell/ Holmes series disappointed. King has once again proven herself a master of suspense and storytelling in this riveting novel.

Just a note: “God of the Hive” is a continuation of the mystery started in its predecessor, “The Language of Bees.” I strongly recommend reading “The Language of Bees” first–but I even more strongly recommend starting the series at the beginning!

“Hey, Good Looking” by Fern Michaels


review by wendy’s house

Darby and Russell have been friends since they were young children and remained friends throughout their university days and into their working ones.  Russell asks Darby to be the executor of his will, to which she agrees.  He states in his will, that he does not want any organs to be donated in the event of his death.  Unfortunately, Russell is killed in an accident and before Darby can get back to their hometown, his stepmum has his organs donated to various people.  Darby and her family try to understand why she has done this and also why she is trying so hard to become a member of different organizations in the area.

The novel will have you in stitches of laughter on one page and in tears on another.  The author is extremely descriptive of the landscape and areas around the Horseshoe (Baton Rouge neighbourhood).

This book involves kidnapping, research, dolls houses (which Darby builds for children), love, laughter and lots more.

“Ghost Child” by Caroline Overington


This is an Australian novel based in Melbourne.  A five year old child is attacked and sustains head injuries which results in his death.  His parents insist he was attacked while on his way from the dairy, but the police do not fully believe them.  Jacob, deceased, has three siblings and people start to suspect that the oldest sister was involved.  She was nine years old at the time and doesn’t speak about the accident.

A turbulent twenty years follow during which time the children are placed in various foster homes.  They learn to come to grips with their past even though it is very difficult at times.

The author, Caroline,  has written each chapter  as a first person narrative by the different characters from the book, e.g. Lauren Cashman, Ruby Porter (foster mum).  In the beginning this was confusing, but after reading a few chapters it became easier to understand the characters.  The format of the story was interesting – starting with the children being together, losing each other, then slowly finding family members again, all whilst coming to terms with being left behind by their parents.

This book intrigued me throughout as I needed to find out who was responsible for Jacob’s death.  Although the truth is only revealed towards the end, the whole story was interesting.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery.

A must read for adults who enjoy a tale with a twist.

“Goodbye to Goldie” by Fran Manushkin, Illustrator: Tammie Lyon

Ages:  5-8   Series:  Katie Woo

Fran Manushkin’s new series features Katie Woo, modeled after her great niece.  Katie is an average girl who faces things kids have to face in life, from the everyday to the extraordinary.  In Goodbye to Goldie, Katie goes through the grieving process when her beloved dog dies.  It is an excellent book for children who have recently lost a pet, or for a child who has an old pet to prepare for the death of that pet.  Katie starts off very sad about the loss of Goldie, and cries in her mother’s arms.  Then she begins to remember the good times with her best friend Goldie.  Her human friends tell her stories they remember of the fun they use to have with Goldie and they suggest putting together a scrapbook.  This helps Katie immensely and at the end, Katie says “Goldie, I will always remember you,” which is just what a child who lost a pet needs to hear.

After the story, there is a rather useless glossary (after all, if you are able to read the book independently as suggested, you should know what a computer or a photo is!)  The glossary is followed by discussion questions and writing prompts.  These were good additions to the book with good ideas to extend the story.  The section ‘Having fun with Katie Woo’ details how to make a scrapbook page.  Great fun and another good way to extend the story!

My 5 year old (who reads at the second grade level) likes this series and said of this one “It’s sad because her dog dies, but I like the way they tell stories about her.  It makes Katie happier.”

review by storiesRfun

“One week in December” by Holly Chamberlin

Becca Rowan joins her family to celebrate the festive season at their rambling old farmhouse in Maine.  She meets up with her brother, his wife, two sons, and a daughter.  Also there is her younger sister and older sister plus husband.  Becca has an important announcement to make – she wants her daughter who is being raised by her sister, to know her heritage and who her biological mother is.  Becca was a teenager when she gave birth to Rain and her family thought it best if she was raised into a family environment.

Since the birth of her daughter, Becca had become a bit of an introvert and didn’t have any friends.  She loved her work and this occupied her to the early hours of the morning and on weekends.  After Becca delivers her speech to her family, she spends some time with her parent’s neighbour, Alex, and is drawn into an unexpected friendship.  Becca realises that what she would like and what would be best for all concerned, are not the same thing.  She discusses this with Alex who shows her that people can change and she begins to challenge her beliefs.  She realises she has become Rain’s friend and Rain respects her ‘aunt’.

Follow the arguments, friendships, happiness, sadness of the Rowan family during their one week visit to their old family home.  You will not want to put this one down until the end.

review by wendy’s house

“The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors” by Chris Barton Illustrated by Tony Persiani

Ages: 6-10

The telephone, the light bulb, the radio:  boring, boring.  But invention reports need be boring no more!  Next time the invention assignment is going around your town, pull out this book for a lucky child.  The fluorescent orange, green and yellow cover is enough to catch anyone’s attention, and the writing will keep them engaged for their report.  This is the interesting story of how a magic show and an accident at the ketchup factory led to the invention of day-glo colors.  While one brother was recuperating from the ‘ketchup’ accident, the other brother was playing with ultraviolet light for his magic tricks.  Both became interested in how things would glow with this special light.  When they took it to their father’s drug store, they noticed a label on one of the bottles glowed especially well.  They began to experiment with different chemical combinations to come up with glow in the dark paint and eventually day-glo color.  Their day-glo colors were used in several ways during WWII, making the two brothers rich from their invention.  Today, Day-glo colors are used in everything from safety cones to golf balls.  This is a very good read with lots of interesting information.

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