Archives for March 2017

Belinda’s Book Nook Review: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins

Title: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate
Author: Susanna Calkins
Copyright: April 23, 2013
Genre: historical fiction, mystery, romance
Format: book Pages: 352

Why did I pick this book up in the first place? I enjoy historical fictions. I especially enjoy historical fiction series with female sleuths. I like using Amazon’s features especially when it comes to books. If you search for a book that you like, they will recommend similar authors.  I saw Susanna Calkins’ name and clicked on it to see what books she has written. I found this series and this searched for the first book and it sounded like a book I would enjoy. And let’s not kid ourselves, the cover was stunning.  So I switched to where you can find deep discounted on used books and I ordered a few of them, taking the leap of faith that I would enjoy them.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and someone close to Lucy falls under suspicion. Lucy can’t believe it, but in a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers aren’t permitted to defend their clients, and—if the plague doesn’t kill the suspect first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never find out what really happened. Unless, that is, she can uncover the truth herself.

My Thoughts:

 I read a bit about the author and it said that she has become fascinated with 17th-century England and she uses that in her stories. This story is about Lucy Campion who is the 17th-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate. I won’t lie a little bit of me thought of Downton Abbey when I read the this so it also prompted me to give it a try. It says the book is a historical fiction mystery with romance. I would say if you enjoy historical romance this one only had a touch of romance. A bit of a slow burn romance and very G-rated. The beginning of the story gives you a sense of Lucy and the people she works for as well as the people she works with to maintain the house. Not too far in the book, the murder takes place and so begins the mystery to figure out what happened.

The author does a good job of giving a sense of what was going on during this time period in England in terms of social relations, social stations, and the political atmosphere. Religious fears at the time were also included in this book, particularly of the Quakers. The story also gives you a real sense of what it was like during the period of the plague in London. So while you’re experiencing the main story, she created an environment that allowed you to see what people did during that time and how people reacted and responded to the plague. I was curious about both irrational and rational responses to the fears of becoming sick and dying during a plague. This is where I find historical fiction’s lovely because it gives you an opportunity to learn a bit about different time periods and often inspires further research.

I think the author did a good job of the character development in the story I really was rooting for Lucy and I was very curious about the members of the household. Lucy was a strong heroine and sometimes got herself into situations that were definitely moments of nail-biting to read. I would find myself saying, “Oh no. No no no no.”

Being that this was Susanna Calkin’s debut novel might explain why I felt in the middle of the book the pacing really slowed down a bit much. Not to the point of discouragement but it picked up and the last I would say 100 pages the pacing picked up and I could not put the book down. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I also looking to the evolution of this author’s writing. I am glad I bought a few books in the series. I would definitely recommend this book for the reasons mentioned and if you enjoy historical fiction. I would give it 3 1/2 butterflies.

Happy reading!!


Hello Spring!

Hello, Everyone! Well, that was fast, I meant to get back to write some posts last week after the storm and it just didn’t happen. The kids had two snow days out of it so it that kept me busy. Lots of reading, tea and talking while they were home. So they had a short week which meant a short work week for me too.  The storm took some time to arrive and then it made a mess and then it rained and then it snowed. So it wasn’t any fun shoveling. However, yesterday, on the first day of spring the temps rose and the snow has begun to melt. When I stand outside it’s fun listening to all the birds singing and the snow dripping as it melts.

As the snow melts, I start to walk around and see what’s starting to make it’s way to the surface. So far, no casualties from the storm. I planted more spring bulbs in my front yard and patiently waiting to see which will bless us with a bloom. This time of year, I start to get anxious about my landscaping and gardening projects.One casualty of the storm was one of our retaining walls fell when our plow guy plowed the snow. It was weak prior to the storm and I had intended on reinforcing it, but now it’s a project of another scale … sigh.  I took the photo through our screen the day after the storm on the deck so pardon the fuzziness.  If you look at the end of the wall (in the middle of the photo) you can see the fallen stones. I contacted our guy and he will be coming in late spring to assess the damage…second sigh.

Well I am going to go make some lunch but I wanted to check in on you all and let you know we faired well and wish you a blessed day! I will be back with some more book reviews and my recent craft project. I am playing catch up right now.


Happy Monday: Big Snowstorm on the Way!

Hello and happy Monday! Despite the pending snowstorm, spring is already blooming in my home. My girlfriend Ashley gave me this sign and I had to put it in my craft room because it’s definitely true. I do talk to my plants and this morning one bud had opened so I snapped a photo of it while telling it how beautiful she is. My only problem with these plants is their roots always come out of the containers. I am not sure what to do with them so I let them roam wild. But if any of you know if I should trim them back after the blooming season, let me know.

So yes, a storm is coming. It will arrive tomorrow around noon and we are also on a blizzard watch. Now, I know we have crazy weather but two weeks ago it was in the 60s. Now it’s barely 20 degrees!  I am pretty sure the boys will be having a snow day. We like snow days even though we have to make up days if we reach our limit.  I will snap photos tomorrow and share photos of our totals in snowfall. I am currently reading some great books for Women’s History Month so I will put aside time for that.

I had a great week last week and I started a new craft project that I will share as soon as it’s complete. I will give you a sneak peek below:

Yes, it has butterflies in it. My favorite!! I hope you all had a nice weekend and I will check in later this week.

Have a blessed day!


Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Orphan Keeper by Camran Wright

Title: The Orphan Keeper
Author: Camran Wright
Copyright: September 6, 2016
Genre: historical fiction
Format: book Pages: 432

Why did I pick this book up in the first place? I can’t remember where I saw a write up about this book but I think it was Book riot’s book blog. But when I saw this book in its physical form in the library, I saw a “chunker” and I had a moment of big book fear cross my path. I read a good share of books about or set in India in the past but thought I was due for another.  As part of my reading experience, I want to continue to read more books in that this region and around the world.

A few quotes that I liked from the book:

“Be honest, good son, be kind. You must, if he ever hope to see the end of your suffering and attain moksha. Moksha , a state of liberation where one could finally be free from the struggles of life and the cycle of reincarnation. ”

“Resentment, pity, shame … all were growing in the cracks of my soul like mold.” – The landowner (Mrs. Iyer) – what a great use of words to describe his mother’s feeling after losing her child to elements and becoming barren.

“it took me the entire day watching the sun part across the sky, but Lord Shiva helped me understand that my only journey of concern was to be like the sun, to make it through the day offering as much light and warmth and consistency for others as I could one single day. Each day. That was all.”
– the landowner (Mrs. Iyer)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Based on a remarkable true story.
Seven-year-old Chellamuthu’s life is forever changed when he is kidnapped from his village in India, sold to a Christian orphanage, and then adopted by an unsuspecting couple in the United States. It takes months before the boy can speak enough English to tell his parents that he already has a family back in India. Horrified, they try their best to track down his Indian family, but all avenues lead to dead ends.

Meanwhile, they simply love him, change his name to Taj, enroll him in school, make him part of their family—and his story might have ended there had it not been for the pestering questions in his head: Who am I? Why was I taken? How do I get home?

More than a decade later, Taj meets Priya, a girl from southern India with surprising ties to his past. Is she the key to unveil the secrets of his childhood or is it too late? And if he does make it back to India, how will he find his family with so few clues?

From the best-selling author of The Rent Collector, this is a deeply moving and gripping journey of discovering one’s self and the unbreakable family bonds that connect us forever.

My Thoughts:

I don’t want to spoil any of the story, so I won’t tell of his adoption process. But instead, jump to his experience in America. At one point, his adoptive mother suggests changing his name to something easier to pronounce to avoid teasing so he is renamed Taj.  I had mixed feelings about this and the practice in general. It seems like many foreigners are forced to accommodate the lack of effort and exposure of the general American population to foreign names by changing their given name. This sort of “kid glove” approach only further assists in detaching people from their homeland and past. I admit, I am notorious for butchering many foreign names but I would like the opportunity to learn the proper pronunciations so that I can improve my literary, social, and international experiences. Why make it easy for us at the expense of a person losing a piece of themselves? After all, parents take the time to come up with a name for their child that often has special meaning. So why should I take that from both mother and child to make life more “convenient”?  I feel like we can’t grow with such handicaps.

A surprising revelation while reading this book, was how much this book made me reflect on my own experiences here in the United States. I am not an orphan, I am not Indian, and I was not adopted from another country; however, I noticed similarities with some of the experiences this character had in this book. I found myself sharing many of the feelings and experiences of Taj in this book. So it made the experience for me much deeper. It was no longer just a story about this particular boy and the conditions in India. It talked about the experience of being different, trying to find a way to fit in. All of these kinds of things were explored in this book.

An example of some of the social challenges is when, as a teen, Taj participates in a foreign exchange program and goes to London. When he meets his host family in London for the first time I felt so connected with him and sorry for him by the host family’s initial reaction when he first spoke. They asked him how his trip was to London. And after he said his trip was long. The father of the family says, “it’s true, then …You look Indian but sound American. ” Although the father may not have meant any harm in that statement it shows the narrowness of their thoughts. When I was growing up, I lived in a predominately white town and there were only a few minorities in the school. So when I went to college and I had the opportunity to be around so many diverse groups and spend time with African-American students they would always ask me “What are you? You talk like a white girl.” I was taken aback by the statement because I am black and this is how I talk. I didn’t think there was just one way to talk or look or act for that matter. In this book, Taj has no “typical” characteristics of an Indian person because he was raised by a white family in a culturally white American household in a predominantly white town so his Indian heritage, those cultural characteristics were lost.

While reading this book, I felt that I not only was learning more about the plight of the very poor in India but specifically a possible fate for some of the poor children. The possibilities of being kidnapped and sold into adoption systems. Things like that are alarming and I think that the book is a good story for people that are curious about some things that are taking place right now and want to provide help. I also think this book is good for people of color to find common grounds with other people of color through similar social experiences within the American context. I think this is also a great book for children that may have a similar situation is as Taj, the main character, that wants to find their family and to encourage them to never give up that pursuit.

So there are so many ways this book is helpful to so many as well as being a great story. I feel like the author did a great job providing depth of character and a good amount of details.

My rating:

I believe I have to give this book a five stars for many reasons that I’ve already stated but I’m a big chicken when it comes to big books I tend to look at them and try to get to them later but when I saw this one on the library shelf, I said well what do I have to lose? I picked it up and I kid you not it was such a fast read that I really can’t even believe that it was a big book. It’s written so well and very accessible to everyone. It’s not one of those books where you’re sitting there and you’re so depressed reading it and you’re in tears and you just feel hopeless it’s quite the opposite it’s filled with hope and some humor at times. It’s definitely a book that can inspire us all. It’s not a book filled with a bunch of dry facts. But there is enough information in there to start the wheels turning and the curiosity to learn more about the country and the plight of the people particularly the children. I don’t like to give five butterflies very often but I feel like this book really just moved me in such a way that I cannot give it less than five butterflies.

Happy reading!



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