Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole.

Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 28, 2014)
ASIN: B00N4EKOXC  (287 pgs)


A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

Thank you Cath.  (my "sis" from across the pond)

Cath read and wrote a review of Letters from Skye and when I said it sounded like I might like it she agreed…. and so I found a used copy.

I sat down and read the first 30 pages and emailed Cath.. "30 pages in and I love it".

Later that evening I finished the entire book!   That is a first for me!  I have never read a whole book in one day! (ok, so maybe if you count comic books!)

I am not a person to read "love stories".  But I think when they come into my reading, in this case the format of letters intrigued me, that they are such a refreshing change that I like them. 

This one began innocently as a fan writes an author about liking her book. (hmmm, I’ve done that and now friends with Michael Scott of Ireland who wrote the Secrets of Nicholas Flamel series of books!..but he’s way to young for me LOL)  Anyway..  A friendship blossoms and then slowly you learn of both of their lives.  Then comes WWI and their lives change.  I don’t want to say much even though the above review does.

I found this book captivating from the first "letter" and now, like Cath, I would love to see the Isle of Skye!

Great book.  Fast read.  A book just to make you feel good!



My 7th book for RIP

Rustication by Charles Palliser.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (November 4, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0393088723

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2013: "Rusticated" was the polite 1800s term used when young men were suspended from school, and that’s what’s happened to 17-year-old, opium-addicted Richard Shenstone at the start of Charles Pallister’s creepy and addictive fourth novel. Shenstone is "sent down" from Cambridge and forced to return to his rural, rainy home, where he finds his family on the verge of losing their run-down mansion. His father has recently died, and his mother and sister are acting jumpy, sneaky, and strange. Told in the form of Richard’s journal–"discovered" by the author 150 years later, in a county records office–we view the story, of desperate families acting desperately, through Richard’s opium-fogged eyes. Pallister is an evocative writer, moody and lovely and atmospheric. At times, reading about life on the moors, I felt I should’ve been wrapped in an afghan blanket in front of a fire. As Richard once puts it, being stuck inside during the rain "felt frowsy, cabined, cribbed, and confined." Though the characters aren’t very likable, many of them self-absorbed and deceitful, the story is very catchy, a smart and spooky page turner. It’s like reading a BBC Masterpiece Theater mystery, with a heavy dose of Downton (more like downtrodden) Abbey, with saucy maids and prude dowagers, earls and lords and priests. The dark, terrible truths slither out slowly, at times too slowly. “None of us can face the truth,” Richard says. Still, I’m always impressed by a writer who can keep me guessing for 300 pages and pull off one more twist on the last page. –Neal Thompson

This book was a bit different from other mysteries as it is written mostly as  "journal entries" of a young man named Richard Shenstone.

I’d say the first third of the book was not a huge page turner, although as with any book written similar to "private letters", it does entice you to be nosey and read on.

Then it picks up greatly and you, along with Richard Shenstone, try to figure out just what the heck is going on.  … and then there’s a murder. (knew there had to be one sooner or later!)  

One does find oneself thinking about "who did what, and when" and the fact that this has got to be the most gossipy town ever! 

Set in the 1880’s the home and atmosphere is what you might call Dickenish.  Especially many of the characters.  The book is enjoyable, not top of the list, but still, if I find I don’t skip a day reading at least some of the book, it can’t be to badly written.

It is a good read for RIP.


My girlfriend, Dottie and I go thrift-shopping now and then.  (ok.. maybe more than now and then).

She mostly collects Christmas stuff and I mostly collect books.  Key word is mostly..we seem to get other things now and again. heh.

Anyway.. we went to one of "our places" knowing there would be lots of books.  Thankfully, I am getting fussy at my choices ONLY because of space in this small apartment.  Dottie, on the other hand has a whole house AND a hubby that like to read too!

Between us she managed to pick up about 14 books for about 7.00.  cha-ching!

She came across one quite old book that looked pretty bad on the condition but when she opened it there were prints of old presidents.  Knowing I have been doing a lot of reading on them she called me over to see it.  I asked if she was getting the book.. she was unsure at the moment, so I said, ok IF you don’t want it I will take it and I went back to digging thru these humongous boxes of books.   An hour later she said, you can have the book because I know you would like it.  Ok *smirk *  thanks Dottie.  I think she felt bad cause she had 14 books and I had 1 which is not for me but my son. 

So today I tried to do some research on this book.  Let me show you what little I found……………..


[New York, Bureau of national literature and art, c1901]
Physical description
28 l. illus., 24 ports., facsims. 52 x 42 cm. (this copy has only 23 ports, some with damage)  

Presidents > United States > Portraits
Gravure company of America
Gravure company of America

Bibliographic information

Publication date
1901  (the copyright in this says 1907)
Title from half-title.
Added half-title: The presidents.
First leaf printed on both sides.
The ports. are by the Gravure company of America. Each port. accompanied by guard-sheet with descriptive letter-press.
"The artists proof edition is limited to five thousand copies, each numbered and registered."

(below are just a few samples)…………


I think they are fantastic!  There are rips on some and a number of them are missing but still………. I love this book!

So.. Thank you again Dottie!  You can borrow it anytime! 

Isn’t it amazing what fifty cents can get sometimes!… to be honest, you can’t even get a cup of coffee for fifty cents!…  and yet..there’s this book. *smile*

This House is Haunted

My 6th read for RIP.


This House is Haunted by John Boyne.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Other Press (October 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1590516796

From Booklist

Eliza Caine is orphaned at 21 when her father succumbs to the flu after he insisted on attending a reading by Charles Dickens in cold, wet weather. She is bereft and, like most heroines of the time, without resources. She has lost her home, and so she leaves her teaching job to take a position as governess to two children in Norfolk. The advertisement is somewhat irregular, but she summons her courage and travels to what should be her new life. But secrets and mysteries abound. There are no parents present, and no servants to speak of. No one will share any information, and terrible things keep happening. Isabella seems old beyond her years, while Eustace is sweet and lovable. Through dogged pursuit, Eliza ferrets out the horrific truth and survives the malevolence of the presence that haunts the house. As the fearful situation grows worse, Eliza finds a strength that is unexpected for her time and place. Does she solve the puzzle, and do she and the children survive? A perfect, shivery gothic tale. –Danise Hoover

Well now, this book was easy reading and quite enjoyable! 

Good background material so you never get lost, and just an all-’round quick "ghostly" read!  Can’t ask for anything more during RIP!  Wow , I might even get one more read this month so that I don’t embarrass myself on the book count for "things that go bump in the night"!   

This one did not go bump in the night though.  It more went, shove out the window, strangle, push down stairs.. in general: not all nice stuff  :o).  Like I said, perfect for RIP!

Five Came Back

 Five Came Back by Mark Harris.

Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC(February 27, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1594204306

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It’s hardly news that the movies affect and are affected by the broader canvas of popular culture and world history, but Harris—perhaps more successfully than any other writer, past or present—manages to find in that symbiotic relationship the stuff of great stories. He turned that unlikely trick in Pictures at a Revolution (2008), about the five Best Picture nominees in 1967 and how they defined a sea change in Hollywood and in society at large, and he does it again here. The number is once more five, but this time it’s five acclaimed directors who went to war in the 1940s to make propaganda films and came home changed by what they saw and what they did. The stories of what John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler, and Frank Capra did in the war are dramatic (Ford filming the opening salvo in the Battle of Midway from a rooftop; Wyler riding along on bombing missions over Germany; Stevens filming the horrific scenes at Dachau), but they are also stories of personal redemption, frustration, and even dishonesty (Huston receiving acclaim for the authenticity of his documentary San Pietro, which was made up almost entirely of reenactments). Every chapter contains small, priceless nuggets of movie history (Joseph Goebbels thought Wyler’s Mrs. Miniver was “an exemplary propaganda film” and hoped the Germans could copy it), and nearly every page offers an example of Harris’ ability to capture the essence of a person or an event in a few, perfectly chosen words (describing Huston as a “last-call bon vivant”). Narrative nonfiction that is as gloriously readable as it is unfailingly informative. –Bill Ott

Since my dear "sis" in England got me reading the Mitfords, and their lives contained a LOT of history, especially around WWII, I think I have become slightly obsessed with reading versions of that time period in America.  I’ve read more than I care to remember on Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin, I have more books waiting about them and about Eisenhower and now I found this book about Hollywood and WWII !

I have to admit this was no "page-turner"… but… I did find it very interesting how Hollywood legends "went to war" with their camera’s ..which is why when we now watch historical things about that war we see many parts that were filmed by these men.

In doing so much of WWII is also covered with a different perspective .  It’s like saying (the truth) that there is always many sides of the same story depending on whose seeing it.

So.. if you want excitement and a fast paced book , this would not be for you, but if you hold interest in WWII and Hollywood..then you might like this book.

I, for one, am glad I didn’t give up on it.

Red Mist

(my 4th book for RIP)

Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell.

Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Berkley;(September 4, 2012)
ISBN-10: 9780425250433



On her quest to find out exactly what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months before, Scarpetta drives to the Georgia Prison for Women to meet a convicted sex offender and the mother of a vicious and diabolically brilliant killer. Against the advice of her FBI criminal intelligence agent husband, Benton Wesley, Scarpetta is determined to hear this woman out.
Scarpetta has both personal and professional reasons to learn more about a string of grisly killings: the murder of a Savannah family years earlier, a young woman on death row, and then other inexplicable deaths that begin to occur at a breathtaking pace. Driven by inner forces, Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding’s death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning of something far more destructive: a terrifying terrain of conspiracy and potential terrorism on an international scale.
And she is the only one who can stop it.

Of the few "Scarpetta" books I have read I found this one the most enjoyed so far.

Scarpetta , while trying to find out information of her friend Jack Fielding, finds herself as a target for a possible murder. 

This is a well driven mystery with a few more twists and turns throughout.  Although I am thinking all of the Scarpetta books will have a lot of similarity, I am finding reading some of them is a nice change.  You might want to try a few for yourself! 

The Bone Bed


Book 4 for RIP.

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult(October 16, 2012)
ISBN-10: 9780399157561

The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell.



A woman has vanished while digging a dinosaur bone bed in the remote wilderness of Canada. Somehow, the only evidence has made its way to the inbox of Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, over two thousand miles away in Boston. She has no idea why. But as events unfold with alarming speed, Scarpetta begins to suspect that the paleontologist’s disappearance is connected to a series of crimes much closer to home: a gruesome murder, inexplicable tortures, and trace evidence from the last living creatures of the dinosaur age.
When she turns to those around her, Scarpetta finds that the danger and suspicion have penetrated even her closest circles. Her niece Lucy speaks in riddles. Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI forensic psychologist and husband, Benton Wesley, have secrets of their own. Feeling alone and betrayed, Scarpetta is tempted by someone from her past as she tracks a killer both cunning and cruel.
This is Kay Scarpetta as you have never seen her before. The Bone Bed is a must read for any fan of this series, or an ideal starting point for new readers.

This is the first “Scarpetta” book I have read. But not the first Patricia Cornwell book.  In 2002 she put out a book called: Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper–Case Closed.  Which was her version of searching who the real Jack the Ripper was, and it was a very good book.

Although she has about 20 Scarpetta books out, and this is far (far) from the first, I did not find it hard to follow the characters.  The book is about  6 pages per chapter and 1 1/2 spacing, so reading it is easy and clear.

I found the book engaging but I wouldn’t say it is going to be an “all time favorite” but I will read a second Scarpetta book that I have here in the house , and if it’s as good as this one I have no doubt that somewhere down the road I will read others.

I do have to say there are books in which the characters grab me harder and make me want to read stories with them in it more than this did.. but as I said, it was engaging enough that I didn’t put it down and will read another to see if the characters grow on me more.

It’s a good “forensic mystery” and a fast read for anyone wanting such a book.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.