Book Chat

This month’s book reviews:

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow intrigued me because of its setting, in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair. I’ve been fascinated by that event since reading Devil in the White City.

However, the fair (or Columbian Exposition, as it was called) plays only a minor role in the story. The Ferris Wheel is mentioned several times, but other than that, not a lot. As I read this book, I immediately thought of Downton Abbey. I’ve just started watching the show this season, but this book seemed like a clear echo of it, with drama between the highborn family of the house and the servants in the kitchen and stables.

The story has meh to me; Charlotte is a maid with a definite dilemma; several of them, actually. These build throughout the story, and just when you can’t imagine how she’ll get out of them, they all resolve nicely (and a bit unrealistically, in my view) in the last chapter. Still, if you enjoy a light drama with clean romance and a bit of Christian thought thrown in, you may enjoy it.

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Revell for a review copy.


Mysterious Benedict Society

I’ve been meaning to read The Mysterious Benedict Society for ages — since all three of my girls have enjoyed it. It’s a book for children, but at nearly 500 pages, not for the faint of heart. It reads easily and quickly though, and is full of enough adventure to entice most any child (or adult, for that matter).

The society is made up of 4 kids, each of whom answered a newspaper ad asking, “Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Each of the 4 is gifted, but each in their own unique ways. One remembers everything. Another is a problem-solver and is “people smart.” A third is athletic, and the final one has intense concentration and determination. Mr. Benedict has gathered this group in order to save the world before it’s too late.

Their adventures show the power of teamwork, even with those we might not have chosen in the first place. Without being preachy, the book shows us that we all have gifts and that, working together, we can accomplish great things. Recommended.


Fairest Beauty

The Fairest Beauty — reviewed by my 11-year-old, Sophie:

This has to be one of my favorite books ever.  One thing I like about it is that it’s a more realistic and twisted version of  “Snow White” .

The main storyline is this:  Sophie is the rightful Duchess of Hohendorf, but instead, her evil stepmother, Ermengarde, forces her to work as a scullery maid.  Ermengarde tricked everyone in the kingdom that Sophie and her father died many years ago, and now Ermengarde poses as Duchess.

As the story begins, Sophie is sentenced to two days and nights in the dungeon with no food or water, a common punishment.  The Duchess sends Lorencz the huntsman to gain Sophie’s trust and then kill her.  Lorencz  gets her out of the dungeon a day and a night early and takes her out on a picnic.  The picnic is deep in the forest, and Sophie doesn’t trust him at all.  Jumping into the middle of the picnic is Gabehart, scaring off Lorencz and informing Sophie that she is betrothed to his brother, Valten.  They leave at once to meet Valten and Gabe’s family, a long journey from Hohendorf.  What begins is a long, frightening escape from the duchess with all Ermengarde’s guards after them.  Along the way to Gabe’s home, both Gabe and Sophie fall in love.  Can they convince Valten and Gabe’s parents to break Sophie’s betrothal to Valten?  Or is she doomed to marry Valten?



Togheter a novel of Shared VisionTogether: A Novel of Shared Vision was the first book I was able to check out from the local library on my Kindle! Woo hoo!

I’m a sucker for this kind of book: Brenden is a young man finishing med school, out climbing the Maroon Bells in Colorado. When a climbing accident blinds him, he is in despair and even contemplates ending his life.

All that ends (but not before some drama) when he is paired with his guide dog, Nelson. Nelson has been paired unsuccessfully with 2 prior masters, and so he’s ready for a good relationship as well. Brenden and Nelson bond, and by the book’s end, Brenden has gotten over his pre-accident girlfriend leaving him, finding a new girlfriend, learning to ski (yes), and even climbing the Bells again (I thought that was pretty foolish, but he didn’t ask me).

So, as I reached the end of the story I got online, hoping to learn more about Brenden and Nelson today. There I discovered that this book was in fact fiction. That really disappointed me — for some reason, I felt that this really needed to be a true story. It’s a quick read, but I’m still trying to get over the fact that it didn’t really happen.


Check out what others have been reading this month over at 5 Minutes for Books.

10 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. We’re big fans of the Mysterious Benedict Society books around here — some of their dialogue has made it into our family discourse. I like your point about teamwork in the book.

  2. Benedict has been on my list for ages. Downton clones will be a dime a dozen for sometime yet. The 70s had them thanks to Forsythe Saga and Upstairs, Downtstairs. Great review Sophie! Any book with a character named Eramengarde gets my vote!

  3. I love fairy tale adaptations, so I’ll have to check out The Fairest Beauty.

    I, too, became interested in the 1893 World’s Fair after reading Devil in the White City–but it sounds like Dilemma didn’t really address the fair much at all. Bummer.

  4. All of the book reviews peaked my interest, although I don’t get to read all that much due to eye problems, such as glaucoma and developing cataracts. Since I have been longing to visit Colorado and the always beautiful Rockies, I really enjoyed the info on the Maroon Bells. I have been up Pike’s Peak three times in my life, but I had never heard of the Bells. Maybe that is because I have never been to Aspen.

  5. Love MBS! Together sounds really interesting, I’ve never heard of the Maroon Bells either but there’s a lot I don’t know about this state, having lived here only 3.5 years. And yes, Kindle library loans are fantastic!


  6. How nice to read a review by Sophie! I am so proud of you, Sophie!

  7. My daughter’ favorite books are the Mysterious Benedict Society Series. I’m going to check into The Fairest Beauty for her.

    If you like reading on the Chicago’s World Fair and recommend Fair Weather by Richard Peck. Though it is a kids’ book it was a fun read.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing from you.