A Tale of Two Pages

Books, life, motherhood, and more!

18 Cranes ~A Book Review~ — October 9, 2018

18 Cranes ~A Book Review~

I have a new review to share with you! Do not miss out on this fabulous read! Get it today! 5/5 stars!!

Read this book, and then let me know your thoughts!

18 Cranes By Robert Campbell

Bing is fixing to enter one of the most stressful moments of his life. For his entire life, he has studied and prepared for this moment, to take the highly competitive examinations. The Civil Service Examinations are a mark of the elite. Those who pass will attain high honor. Those who do not will study again to either retake the exams or go into another form of work. The exams are tedious, meant to test you at every turn, and extremely hard to pass. He has had the best tutors, every opportunity to succeed, but now the rest remains with him. He will be tested on what he knows, and how well he can articulate those thoughts. In 1630s China, sons follow the family traditions and continue in the vein of their fathers. Bing’s father is a highly respected government official, and he has given Bing every opportunity to succeed and follow in his footsteps.

But as the exams progress, Bing begins to have strange dreams. In these dreams, 18 Cranes are the focal point. Searching his mind, he tries to reason what the dreams could mean, but he struggles to find a common thread. He seeks out his father’s advice and the wisdom of his grandfather. While they challenge him to think of what the dreams could mean, Bing knows that there is more to it than what they are suggesting.

As the time for the grades to be released, Bing spends more time in quiet contemplation, mulling over his dream. He wonders if it does not foretell something of his future. His grandfather, however, is not done telling him everything. As he begins to reveal a long-held family secret, Bing knows that there is more yet to be discovered and that his dreams are thoroughly entwined with his grandfather’s secret….

This book was a fantastic read! I read it twice as there was so much to take in! This book was captivating from the first page! If you are looking for a book that will make you think, encourage you to read between the lines and to just enjoy a fantastic story, then you must check out 18 Cranes by Robert Campbell. I felt drawn to Bing, and could empathize with him on the agony of preparing and taking the exams. The boo is written in such a way that you feel as though you are just as exhausted as he is. I could smell the flowers described, and wanted to meet Grandfather Ai! I cannot wait to find more books by this author, as now I must know the entire story of Bing, and unravel the full meaning of his dream. Travel back to China and embark on a tremendous journey with Bing!

The Witch of Willow Hall ~A Book Review~ — October 8, 2018

The Witch of Willow Hall ~A Book Review~

Good day readers! What a start to October! This month is already flying, and I am not entirely sure where the time has gone! There are still so many things that I want to share with you this year, and I feel like my time is running out too quickly! I am going to make the most of what I have so there will be quite a few new books reviews coming your way, as well as some other exciting things! I hope that you will enjoy it!

But this book is one for the MUST READ LIST. I know that I share this with you at times, but there are some books that stick out more than others, and this book was one of those. I sat down to read, and was so drawn into the story, that I had to remind myself at times, that there are tiny humans in my house that I must take care of from time to time (I jest, I do care for them always, but there are times that I really just want to read and forget all other responsibilities).

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is a fabulous read! I cannot say enough good things about it! 5/5 stars! Really, get this added to your read list, and then tell me what you think about it! There are so many different aspects to this book. Love, joy, sorrow, secrets and more! When you try and narrow down just one thing about this book, there is no way!

Here is a short review:

Lydia has a gift that she has no idea exists. When she is angry things happen…

Lydia Montrose and her family have left Boston due to rumors circulating around town regarding her family. While her sister Catherine does not care what people think, it is hurting the family and the business her father is in. So they head off to Willow Hall, to start fresh and begin a new life.
There, they meet their father’s new business partner, Mr. Barrett. Lydia is smitten with him, but as always, her sister Catherine seems to hold sway with all the men.
When tragedy strikes the family, things begin to shift. Lydia begins to see ghosts, not only of her sister, but of two women, and a little boy that seems to be somewhat of a prankster.
Lydia knows she has to do something, but she is not sure what she can do to put her sister to rest, and also to claim the happiness that she so desires with Mr. Barrett.

This book was amazing! I started it and then got sidetracked with life, but when I picked it up and started reading again, I was hooked! I could not put it down, I had to know what happened next! This is definitely a MUST read for the year!

Final Thoughts:

Okay, like I said – I cannot recommend this book enough. I would love to hear from you and get your thoughts on it! There is so much that I want to say about it, but I do not want to ruin the read for you! This is a book that you have to experience for yourself! I look forward to your comments and sharing a great discussion on this book!

The Lost Letters Of William Woolf ~A Book Review~ — September 25, 2018

The Lost Letters Of William Woolf ~A Book Review~

Good day, dear readers! I have such an exciting book to share with you, and one that needs to be on your pre-order list NOW! The Lost Letters of William Woolf is a book that has mystery, intrigue, a little love lost, and SO MUCH MORE! Oh my goodness, I sat down and read this in one sitting! It was that good! Now, this book does not release until next year, but I promise it is one that you are going to really enjoy!

I hope that when you get the chance to read this book that you will love it as much as I have! Let me know your thoughts!

~Review~

William works as a lost letter detective. When letters and packages are lost on their way to their destinations, they come to his department. He must try and find the person they were intended for, or else they perish into the flames of the incinerator.

While his work life can be dull, it seems to be slipping into his personal life as well. The smooth marriage he once had is now falling apart. Claire seems withdrawn and holding resentment for everything that he does. He is not perfect enough, looking for sufficient achievement, and she is tired of being the primary breadwinner of the family. William is working on a book, but that too seems to have fallen by the wayside. He holds onto hopes of writing a book about the lost letters, but his boss does not full seem on board with the idea. He feels they are too personal to share with the entire world. William feels otherwise, he thinks they should be shared with the greater public. You never know who might be reading! What a way to find someone!

When he receives letters from “Winter” in his pile, he is drawn to a woman he has never met, and wonders what it would be like to meet her, and if they are destined for each other. Even though he knows its stupid, and he is married, he cannot help himself from going to look for her, and to solve the mystery of the many letters that she has been sending.

~Closing Thoughts~

This book was fantastic! I loved it! The many twists and turns of the book, leave you wondering what will happen next! Hard to put down and definitely one that should be on the top of everyone’s list of must reads! Y’all, I think this is going to be one of those books that will fly off the shelves. The stories and the hopes – it makes you wonder what happens in mailrooms today! Do they really look this hard to find the owners of these letters, or are they merely thrown into a fire to be destroyed once and for all? I would love to think that somewhere, there is a William Woolf who is trying to bring letters and packages back to their rightful owners.

Release Date: 4 June 2019

Author: Helen Cullen

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of this book! I have read and given it a fair and honest review.

 

Back To School Is Here! — September 16, 2018

Back To School Is Here!

The day has finally arrived, the dreaded back to school. I got the boy’s curriculum in the mail this past week. We have been doing shorter days as all of their schoolwork had not yet arrived. But now, it is here, and we are ready to kick off another school year. Summer was fun while it lasted, but to be honest, I am very ready to get back to a decent schedule. We have been fighting the dreaded monster known as boredom for a few weeks now.

I don’t know about yall, but I hate it when my kids spend to much time on electronics. Everything we do now has something electronic involved. My kids have decided that they love to play Minecraft, and a few other games as well. However, it is starting to detract from other things that need to be done. My house is needing to be cleaned, they have chores that are falling by the wayside, and there are little things that I could use a helping hand with.

Mom Frustration

I do not mind for them to have a little time to play their games, but I am tired of not having their help when I need it. How do we combat this? I want them to be successful and have considered putting them into coding classes online, but then I add more time that they are online. ARGH! It is very frustrating to figure out! For the past week, they have been begging to have an older computer that we have so they can play their games together.

We are currently working on building a schedule that will tie in their game time. I am wanting to limit the time that they have to 1.5 hours maximum for a day. However, I feel as though that is still a bit much, but if they get their school work done, I suppose that they could play and still learn at the same time.

School Work and Downfalls 

Part of the schoolwork we are doing this year is online. We are using Khan Academy for math. I really dislike math, so for me to try to teach it is not going well. There are things that I excel in. History, English, and Writing – we are good to go. But science and math I struggle a bit more. Science, I feel as though I am learning right alongside them, it has been so long since I have these classes! I still love learning, and it has been fun to rediscover old knowledge and share new things with them.

But here is my downfall – I work from home. I love working from home. Sometimes being able to take the time that we need fo school and working can be a bit difficult. But it is time to get our school year started and see how we fair this year. I am very excited to get started, and to see what these boys are going to accomplish!

Special Projects

So each year, I have the boys work a special history project. Before we hit the back to school mode, we select a topic and they work on learning more about it. One is going to do Ancient Egypt and the other wants to focus on the Civil War. Both of those are super broad subjects, so we are going to try and focus the scope a little bit and then see what we can learn this year. As a history teacher, I love both of these subjects, so I am very excited to help my kids learn more about these fascinating subjects. I am already putting documentaries on our saved list, and finding books that we can dive into together to learn more about these fun subjects.

For those of you homeschooling, share what projects you work on!

Reading Through September — September 10, 2018

Reading Through September

September is here, and the reading list is ever growing! I have begun to narrow down my list. I have 136 books to finish before the end of the year! Minor freak out moment just happened! I sat down and cleaned up the titles that I have to finish, and just about had a nervous meltdown. But then I thought, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I have already finished 128 this year, so why not 136 more?

When you break it down, it comes out to 34 books a month. Completely doable, right? I hope so! I have a feeling that I am forgetting a few on this list so it might be growing a bit more. However, if I can finish the entire list, that means that I will have finished 264 books this year. Might as well just round that number up to 300, and push for the gold this year.

Working Toward Goals

I was telling my husband about my goal, and he looked at me as though I have lost my mind. To be completely honest, this year has been busy! Between work, Boy Scouts, Church functions, kids, family, life in general, and the fun little speed bumps that pull in – well – life stays constantly moving, and I LOVE IT! I cannot imagine not being busy, yet, there are the occasional days where I wish that I could hide in bed and just read the day away. I snatch bits here and there, rely on some audio books to get through the ones I really want to read and carry my Kindle everywhere. Usually I have several books on the go at once. I would not know what to do with myself if I did not have something to read at any given point.

During the day while I am working, I keep an audiobook going in the background. It helps to keep my mind rolling, and gives me a little boost when I need it. In the past, I would keep the television going throughout the day, but I was finding too many documentaries that I wanted to watch and it was taking away from work time. So, now I save them to watch later when I need to sit down with a crafting project and let my mind unwind a little. While reading is life, I do enjoy my crafting moments. There are several projects, already working ahead for Christmas, and trying to get some little projects in the works that I want to get completed.

In Other News…

In the world of crafting, I am participating in a cross stitch project with 113 other stitchers. We are all over the United States. What a fascinating project we are working on! We are stitching George Washington crossing the Delaware, and when it is finished, it will be one of the biggest pieces ever finished! We are so excited, and it is moving along nicely. I will be adding some pieces in here, and talk about that as we move forward. It is a five-year project and something that I am loving being able to participate in. What a piece of history! Can you imagine being able to tell my grandkids in the future, that I worked on that historic piece? Not only am I loving being a part of it, it encompasses one of my biggest loves – cross stitching! So this is your warning that there are going to be blog posts and photos coming!

While September continues to move forward, the end of the year is looming. I would love for time to slow down and to allow for some relaxation in our busy schedule. I am excited for what the rest of the year holds, and the many fun adventures and projects that are coming up! Stay tuned!

 

Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen ~A Book Review~ — September 3, 2018

Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen ~A Book Review~

Good day, dear readers! I am bringing you a new review! This book was amazing from start to finish! The history of Aethelflaed is one of a remarkable woman, one who stood out in the time when women really disappeared into history. Many of them have only their names known, through their powerful husbands or brothers, but many others are simply lost to us. Aethelflaed was determined to make her mark on the world, and she did so with such gusto and energy, that is a wonder that she has not been written more about. Known as the Lady of the Mercians, she ruled in her own right after the death of her husband. Women in those days would have been expected to either remarry or to retire quietly to a nunnery to finish out their days after the death of their husbands, but she refused to do either. Taking up the reigns of government, she continued in the stead that she and her husband had been going for the many years of their marriage, and pushed even further than one might have dreamed. She led troops to battle, designed and saw many burghs carried out, with fortifications to keep citizens safe against the invading Vikings. This book JUST released, so it is available now!

 

5/5 stars

History

Author – Margaret C. Jones

Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen – Review

Aethelflaed was a woman ahead of her times. The daughter of Alfred the Great, how could she be anything but fabulous!

Aethelflaed was courageous and not afraid to make her mark in the world. At a time when women were expected to stay in the background, she was determined to lead her people fairly and honestly. Married at a young age, she had only one child, a daughter. Yet this woman was more remarkable than many could have dared to hope for. She planned and executed the building of several burghs and towns, fortified to keep the townspeople safe from Viking attacks, held off Viking attacks, and even managed to bring peace throughout her realm.
Known as the Lady of the Mercians, she ruled in her own right after the death of her husband. While her brother, Edward, was her overlord after the death of their father, she ruled Mercia alone for years. After her death, her daughter ruled briefly ad the Lady of the Mercians, before Edward swept through with an army and removed her from power, where she disappears from history altogether.
Aethelflaed, had she still been alive would have fought back against her brother, but the daughter was no match for her powerful uncle. At the time of her death, she was in process of brokering peace with York, where a great Viking community was thriving. Her untimely death waylaid all plans for peace and it was almost ten years later when her nephew would finally bring York under Saxon control.

The story of Aethelflaed has not been recounted as often as it should, and many times she is afforded a footnote in the annals of history, brushed aside. But she deserves more attention than she has been given. Her layouts for the burghs reverberate through many of the towns that she founded, and still exist today.
Margaret Jones did a fantastic job in fleshing out this remarkable woman and bringing her exploits to life. This book was fantastic and one that deserves to be read!

 

My Opinions

I absolutely LOVED this book! I sat and read it in one sitting. It is not very long, about 208 pages, but it was well done. History is a major love of mine, and so for someone to be able to bring new information, or expand on older information, to the table, and present it in a way that it can be learned from and expanded upon is awesome. I have not heard much of this woman before reading this book. She was just a footnote in ONE of the many history classes that I took when working on my degrees. I hope that ya’ll enjoy this book as much as I have!

 

 

Juggling the home-school headache — August 30, 2018

Juggling the home-school headache

Home-school headaches, for real! Well, I finally did it. I FINALLY ordered the books that we are going to need to get this school year started. I really hesitated when it came to buying a curriculum this year. I struggled with what I wanted to get, what would be best for the boys, and what would be best overall.

I did some searching, did a lot of digging, and after making several phone calls decided to go with Rod and Staff this year. I was able to customize the subjects! Some I needed to go up a little bit, while others I needed to take it back a notch. The gentleman that helped me over the phone was more than patient with me all over the place in thoughts and with questions.

When it comes to education, I am an outside the box educator. I want my kids (and the college students I teach) to start forming their own opinions. I want them to really LEARN and understand what it is we are going over. I don’t just want them to learn what they have to and then forget it after the test is over. I have been working on different ideas for them, and really trying to help them gain the deeper understanding. Of course, we have the subjects we hate, but we also have the fun ones. Finding the right mixture and the right balance to everything is what is getting us through the days.

The school year will start back soon enough. College classes have already begun, and I have a great group of students this year. The boys and I will start the school year sometime in mid-September. I am in no rush to push them through, and we are going to take it slow and easy this year. I mean, we want our kids to want to learn, not dread it. After all, learning is something that we do all our lives, we should embrace it!

If you home-school as well, what are you using this year?

Where is August? — August 20, 2018

Where is August?

Good day, all!! I am sitting here looking at the calendar and trying to figure out how in the world we are this far into the month.  I am not entirely sure where the days have gone, and what I have done with all of my time!

Reading is massive for me, but my reading time has gone completely downhill this summer. I read over 100 books already, but July and August have been slower months in the reading department. To date, I have finished 110 books, but in July and August, I have read less than 20 books total. On a good month, I can read 20-30. What in the world!? I need life to seriously slow down!

I have been starting to figure out what we are going to be doing for school this fall. I am so far behind on that too! Generally, by this time of year, everything is set, the copies I need of exams are made, and the lessons plans are made out.

AHH!! Does anyone else feel this way? I can’t be the only one who feels completely overwhelmed at times, right? I have been looking at the massive to-do list that is in front of me. I have begun to set a list of what I can accomplish each day and check it off as I go through. Making records that are easy to follow and laying it out by the hour, it helps. I have begun to make a list for each day, and look forward to accomplishing what I can every day. I add what I need to get through for work, personal, and outside activities.

What are your tips for staying on top of what you need to get done? Do you have a system that you have found that works better? Share your ideas with me! I love to see the ideas that are worth keeping, and anything that can help to stay on top of everything is fantastic!

 

With summer winding down, I am ready to really embrace the fall and entirely get everything back on track. I do not like the feeling of unfinished or unaccomplished tasks. Anyone else prepared to tackle the feelings of stress and get life back on track?

 

 

Author Interview with Eleanor Herman — August 13, 2018

Author Interview with Eleanor Herman

If you loved the review for The Royal Art of Poison, then you are going to really enjoy this! I got an interview with the author!! Author interviews are thrilling!! I love being able to talk with the authors and get a little insight into the writing. I hope that ya’ll enjoy these few questions that I asked! If you have questions for the authors, please leave your questions in the comments! I will pass them onto the author!

Happy Sunday!

 

Interview with Eleanor Herman

 

  1. Is there one area of poisoning that you enjoyed researching more than the others?

I’ve enjoyed working with doctors and researchers all over the world to understand fully not only natural illness but also the forensic techniques currently used to discover what may have killed someone years ago. For instance, scientists can study a random skeleton and determine where the person was born based on the chemical make-up of its teeth. And arsenic or mercury in human remains might not necessarily mean the person was poisoned. The poison could have been used in embalming or in medications or cosmetics. Scientists have ways of determining how it got there, and if the intent was murderous or benign. I worked with a scientist in Copenhagen who dug up famed astronomer Tycho Brahe, and a professor in Italy who found the long-lost intestines of a sixteenth-century grand duke, riddles with arsenic!

 

  1. Given that many royal bodies have been destroyed over the years, do you think that the notes alone from the doctors of the time will help to narrow down more cases of poisoning?

They already have. By the nineteenth century, for instance, the copious notes taken by doctors attending royal personages helped determine the cause of death of Edward VI in 1553 (tuberculosis) and Henry, Prince of Wales, in 1610 (typhoid fever.) Other cases are less clear. In his final illness in 1791, Mozart’s alarming symptoms, carefully recorded by those in the sick room, have resulted in a current list of 118 possible natural causes of death. No one can say for sure what killed the greatest musician of all time, just that it wasn’t poison but an epidemic that was killing a lot of people at the time.

 

  1. Are there other cases that you feel could fall into this list, that did not make the cut in this book?

I would like to pursue ancient poisonings among the Roman emperors: Caesar’s heirs dropping dead at banquets, and Nero’s poisoning school set up in Rome under the direction of a renowned sorceress named Locusta. Exploration of those stories didn’t make it into the Royal Art of Poison as there was a huge time gap between them and the next poisonings we know about in the fourteenth century, and less documentation to really do a deep dive.

 

  1. Which royal did you enjoy researching the most?

I enjoyed researching the mistresses of Louis XIV in the 1670s and 1680s and the Affair of the Poisons. Beautiful, witty, sexy, these women threw themselves at the king and then clawed each other’s eyes out. Stories of poisoned gloves poisoned gowns; a teenager wasting away at the hand of an older, jealous mistress; love potions of baby’s intestines and bits of bats and frogs slipped into the king’s wine… It was an almost unbelievable story.

 

  1. New information is discovered all the time, and it is possible that a cache of documents may turn up one day that would lead to more interesting cases. As historians, we have to view each document with discernment. I wonder at times if doctors did not “edit” their notes to save their own skins. What do you think?

There wasn’t just one doctor in a royal sickroom. There were several, in some cases a dozen or more. And the doctors were all watching one another and writing down what was done for (or to) the patient, and who did it, and what the symptoms and results were. After the death, they would often sit down and write up an in-depth report and all sign the document. Doctors took careful notes to protect themselves from charges of incompetence or intentional murder. Fortunately for the doctors, people of the time knew medical treatment often didn’t work and chalked the death up to either God’s will or some nefarious poison no physician could successfully treat.

 

  1. Is there one case in the book where you felt as though the person really deserved to be poisoned?

Yes! Russia’s Joseph Stalin, a mass murderer who threw shade on Hitler. Not only did he kill his political enemies, but millions of hapless citizens. There is some debate among historians and scientists as to whether he had a stroke—the official cause of death—or had been poisoned. His initial autopsy referred to extensive bleeding in the stomach, not a symptom associated with stroke but with the use of the drug warfarin, odorless and tasteless and easily concealed in food or drink. All mention of stomach bleeding was removed from the official autopsy report. Clearly, Stalin had many enemies, some of whom had dinner with him the night before he died.

The Royal Art of Poison ~A Book Review~ — August 6, 2018

The Royal Art of Poison ~A Book Review~

Good day, dear readers!! It has been a little bit since I have brought you a new book to peruse through. This summer has been super busy, and we have been on the go, but there is always time for reading! I have some fabulous reviews to be bringing your way.

I don’t know about ya’ll, but there are some book companies that I watch like a hawk. St. Martin’s Press is one that I have on a watch list. They are always rolling out fantastic reads, and I always get excited to see what they have upcoming. Let me tell you that this fall, they will have a slew of books that are going to have you parked on the couch reading your heart out. I have been working on a handful of books from St. Martin’s Press, but I am so excited to share this one with you!

Hang on for a fabulously fantastic book!

Book Review:

Eleanor Herman takes us on a tour of one of the areas in history that are talked about, yet not. While that sounds a little weird – it is. Poison is something that we read about it books, suspected deaths and uses, but not really discussed and brought to the forefront.

From germs that were unknown and illnesses that today could be cured with simple remedies – life was not that simple back in the medieval ages. Doctors killed as many patients as they saved. Dirty hands and instruments were some of the leading killers, yet, their concoctions were just as unsafe. Now, there are going to be times within this book, that you might not want to eat before, during, or after… these “recipes” for medicines were NASTY. I have a very strong stomach, and there were a few times that I felt a tad queasy just reading through the ingredients that would go into a balm or drink for a cure.

Doctors though were not the only ones to blame. Cosmetics were also a leading cause of death. Women have always been very vain about their looks, and it was no different 600 years ago. Lead-based products, mercury, arsenic… the list goes on and on. Arsenic was used in just about everything! From clothing, cosmetics, fruit washes, and more. There was no test to see how deadly the many uses were at the time, and these were seen as agents that could “help” and “preserve” items. Little did they know that they were killing themselves slowly.

Mercury was used as a medicine, although in small doses. One of the main uses was for the treatment of syphilis, yet it would kill you just as quickly as the actual disease. It could be used though to kill someone if that was your intent. The Medici family perfected the art of poison and used it most effectively to eliminate many of their rivals. Yet, they were not the only ones to do so. While they are most commonly associated with poisoning – it was used on a far wider scale than many realize. England, France, Germany and many of the other world powers at the time had their own ways of poisoning a rival. Lady Francis Howard was convicted of murder in England, after removing a rival for her lover’s affections.

Kings, queens, ambassadors, and many others were liable to fall victim to poison, just as easily as they could fall victim to the many germs that were rampant. Cleanliness was not as prevalent as it is today, and bathing was seen as opening the pores of your body too bad humor. They would bathe just a few times per year (depending on the person, they might never bathe). King James I was known to boast that he had never bathed in his life, and the smell that his body emanated certainly backed up that fact.

I absolutely LOVED this book! From murder to daily products that could kill you, ancient to more modern times, I was hooked! I love a good mystery, and these cases draw you in. Eleanor Herman really draws you in and takes you down the many facets that made up the known world at the time, from famous figures to some lesser known ones as well. You can read about Napolean, Mozart, and so many more.

This book is now available! You can search for it at your local library or favorite book spot! I give this book 4/5 stars!

Links for Book Purchases: