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Ruth King "BookishRuth.com" (Spring City, PA USA)
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Lizabeth's Story (Girls of Lighthouse Lane)
Lizabeth's Story (Girls of Lighthouse Lane)
by Thomas Kinkade
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Lizabeth's Story, 24 April 2009
Thirteen-year-old Lizabeth Merchant comes from the richest family in Cape Light and, as such, leads a very privileged life. Her biggest worry is that she might not be crowned Strawberry Queen in Cape Light's upcoming Strawberry Festival. She has little patience for her four-year-old sister, Tracy, who often seeks Lizabeth's attention.

Lizabeth is sent to stay with her cousin Kat's family when Tracy contracts scarlet fever. For Lizabeth, who is used to servants doing all the work in her own home, seeing Kat's entire family pitch in to maintain the lighthouse is an eye-opening experience.

Lizabeth worries that she won't be allowed to go back to her home before the Strawberry Festival. Her dress for the festival is still in her room and the house is under quarantine. Lizabeth sneaks out of Kat's bedroom one evening and returns to her home for the dress. While she's there, she checks on Tracy and is startled to see how sick her young sister has become. Suddenly the Strawberry Festival doesn't seem so important any more. The events that follow Tracy's illness will drastically change Lizabeth's view of herself and the people around her.

In the previous Lighthouse Lane books, Lizabeth was the character I liked least, but her story turned out to be my favorite of the series. She's a very self-centered character, but also a very insecure one. She doesn't feel that she has anything to offer beyond her good looks and privileged upbringing, but her sister's illness teaches her a difficult lesson. She realizes that money and material possessions cannot bring her happiness or prevent bad things from happening, and she's a better person for this realization.


Katherine's Story (Girls of Lighthouse Lane)
Katherine's Story (Girls of Lighthouse Lane)
by Thomas Kinkade
Edition: Library Binding

4.0 out of 5 stars Katherine's Story, 24 April 2009
In 1905 New England, thirteen-year old Katherine Williams loves life in the quaint village of Cape Light. Known to her friends as Kat, she dreams of one day being a famous artist living in a big city.

Kat's father is a lighthouse keeper and Kat helps with many of the lighthouse duties. Each night she takes the first watch from dusk until midnight. When the light fails during a storm, Kat is instrumental in helping a Boston couple avoid a shipwreck. The couple is so grateful for Kat's help that they arrange an invitation to a prestigious art school in Boston for the girl. Tuition is expensive, though, and Kat's parents cannot afford it. However, if Kat can come up with half of the tuition fee, her parents will pay the other half.

With the help of her friend Amanda and her cousin Lizabeth, Kat tries to earn her half of the money. After two failed entrepreneurial attempts, Kat has success selling hand-painted wrapping paper to several local shops. This allows her to earn her half of the tuition fee. When an unexpected expense leaves her father unable to pay the rest, Kat is furious at her parents. She makes a rash decision that could cost her something far more precious than just the chance to attend art school -- it could cost her her life.

Erika Tamar captures the ups and downs of teenage emotions very well, unfortunately this meant that Kat's character irritated me for most of the book. With each poor decision that she made, I found her more difficult to like. However, Cape Light is a very charming setting and the friendship between the three girls seems genuine. Inspired by the paintings of Thomas Kinkade, this entertaining and wholesome series will likely appeal to young girls.


Who Sees the Lighthouse?
Who Sees the Lighthouse?
by Ann Fearrington
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Who Sees the Lighthouse?, 24 April 2009
Who Sees the Lighthouse? starts out well with a wonderful rhyming cadence ("Swirl around, twirl around. / The narrow beam / Slices the night. / Who sees the light?") and beautiful illustrations. The book counts different things that can see the lighthouse's beams (One sailor, two pilots, three seagulls) but it seems as though the author ran out of nautical-related items by number seven (cats). The pages featuring numbers eight and nine are even more of a stretch: ghost pirates and aliens also use the light to guide them on their way.

The unrealistic departure is made more discordant by the fact that all of the beacons pictured in the book are real United States lighthouses. Cape Hatteras Light, Heceta Head Light, Split Rock Lighthouse, Pigeon Point Light and seven other lighthouses are beautifully depicted by illustrator Giles Laroche. Young children will probably be too engaged by the colorful illustrations and rhyming text to notice the implausibility of aliens and ghosts needing a lighthouse.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Fearless by Elvira Woodruff, 24 April 2009
Left in the care of his aunt while his father is at sea, 11-year-old Digory Beale is plagued by nightmares of his father dying in a terrible storm. Digory has always been afraid of the sea, preferring to draw when other boys were competing for sailing jobs. When word comes that his father's ship has gone down, it seems that his worst fear has been realized. Digory must set out for Plymouth to learn his father's fate. His aunt tells him not to return unless he finds his father alive. With eleven children of her own, she can't afford another mouth to feed. Digory and his 9-year-old brother Cubby (who decides to follow Digory rather than stay with their aunt) face a difficult journey with little food, no money, and dwindling hope that their father is still alive.

In Plymouth, Digory and Cubby receive the crushing news that there were no survivors from their father's ship. With their hopes of reuniting with their father dashed, the boys are alone and scared. Just when they think things can't get any worse, Digory and Cubby are framed for stealing. A man named Henry Winstanley intercedes on their behalf and this chance meeting will drastically alter Digory's life.

Henry Winstanley takes the boys to be servants at his home in Essex, but Winstanley's home is no ordinary country estate. An engineer with a fondness for gadgets, Winstanley has filled his home with many whimsical inventions including a "Flying Chair" (an early version of the roller coaster), a mechanical dragon, and fountains that shoot colored water into the air. When Winstanley discovers Digory's artistic talent, he offers him an apprenticeship. Digory thrives under the engineer's tutelage.

When Winstanley receives news that the Eddystone Lighthouse, a beacon that he designed, is in need of repair after severe storms, he and Digory rush to Plymouth. Digory will finally have to face his fear of the sea in order to assist his beloved mentor.

While Digory and Cubby are fictional characters, Henry Winstanley was real. In 1698, he took on what many thought was an impossible task: construction of a lighthouse off the treacherous Eddystone reef near Plymouth, England. The Eddystone Lighthouse sustained severe damage during its first year of operation and was rebuilt with a modified design. For five years not a single ship was lost to the reef. In 1703, the lighthouse was destroyed during the Great Storm, the worst weather disaster in Britain's history. Henry Winstanley and five others were killed when the lighthouse succumbed to the sea. The Eddystone Lighthouse was later rebuilt, and thanks to Winstanley's vision, thousands of lives have been saved.

Elvira Woodruff has written an exciting and well-researched tale of courage and friendship. The book includes a glossary, a map of England in 1700 highlighting the key locations in the story as well as an extensive author's note about the life and accomplishments of Henry Winstanley. Highly recommended.


The Lighthouse Cat
The Lighthouse Cat
by Sue Stainton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lighthouse Cat, 24 April 2009
This review is from: The Lighthouse Cat (Hardcover)
Being a lighthouse keeper is a lonely job that requires much dedication. Each night the lighthouse keeper climbs up, up, up the stairs to light the twenty four candles in the lighthouse beacon. Each morning he climbs the stairs again to extinguish the candles and perform the daily maintenance that keeps the light visible to passing ships.

One afternoon, the supply ship arrives with groceries for the lighthouse keeper. In addition to the usual food and supplies, the supply ship is also carrying a stowaway: a small silver cat. The keeper names the cat Mackeral and the cat becomes a steadfast companion to the lighthouse keeper.

Mackeral has many adventures on the island. He makes friends with puffins and seagulls, helps the keeper collect driftwood that is used to make furniture, finds a message in a bottle and scans the sea for passing ships.

During a very stormy night, wind extinguishes the candles in the lighthouse tower. The keeper tries to signal passing ships with a hand lantern, but the wind blows that out as well. Seeing this, Mackeral springs into action. He climbs to the top of the lighthouse tower and meows loudly. Eleven cats from nearby homes answer his call and join him in the lighthouse. Moonlight is reflected in the cats' eyes so that there are twenty four small glowing lights in the lantern room and ships can safely navigate to port.

Colorful illustrations and the repetitive language ("Up, up, up") will make this book a read aloud favorite.

The lighthouse featured in The Lighthouse Cat was inspired by Smeaton's Tower, which stood for over 100 years just south of Plymouth, England. The lighthouse was lit by twenty four large candles.


Sisters of Scituate Light
Sisters of Scituate Light
by Stephen Krensky
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Sisters of Scituate Light, 24 April 2009
During the War of 1812, sisters Abbie and Rebecca Bates are tending Scituate Light while their father makes a brief trip to shore. When a British warship arrives in the harbor, the girls must think quickly to protect their home. Armed with only a fife and drum, the girls play "Yankee Doodle Dandy". The British, fearing what they assume is the imminent approach of American soldiers, retreat and never return to Scituate Light. Abbie and Rebecca are later hailed as heroines in the community.

Krensky uses the sisters' own words (gleaned from later accounts of the incident) for the book's dialogue. Vibrant illustrations enrich the retelling of this classic lighthouse legend, although the depiction of the British soldiers as sneering villains is too stereotypical and does not match the style of the rest of the art.


Rose's Story (Girls of Lighthouse Lane)
Rose's Story (Girls of Lighthouse Lane)
by Thomas Kinkade
Edition: Library Binding

4.0 out of 5 stars The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Rose's Story, 24 April 2009
In New York City in 1905, Rose Forbes desperately tries to fit in at her exclusive all-girl school. When her mother's support of the suffragist movement becomes common knowledge, the other girls treat her as an outcast. Her father's medical practice also suffers after Rose's mother is arrested during a protest. Rose's parents decide that a change of scenery would be beneficial and settle on Cape Light as their new home.

Rose is excited about the possibility of new friends and a chance to start over. Kat, Amanda and Lizabeth welcome Rose warmly, but Rose lives in fear that they will shun her if they discover her mother's involvement in the women's rights movement. Rose is more interested in horses than politics and doesn't understand her mother's dedication to the suffragist cause. Rose begins working with an abused race horse, Midnight Star. When she's barred from participating in a jumping competition because of her gender, Rose finally understands and embraces her mother's political views.

While the plot is predictable from the start, Rose's love of horses will resonate with many young readers.


BSCM #27: Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost (Baby-Sitters Club Mysteries)
BSCM #27: Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost (Baby-Sitters Club Mysteries)
by Ann Matthews Martin
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost, 24 April 2009
The Stoneybrook Lighthouse was boarded up under mysterious circumstances years ago, and shortly thereafter the owners left town. Now the Hatt family has returned to Stoneybrook with plans to restore and sell the property.

The Hatts are staying with Claudia's family while they get settled. When the Hatts begin receiving threatening letters, Claudia and her friends want to know why. Do the letters have something to do with a tragic accident that took place at the lighthouse all those years ago? Claudia and the rest of the Baby-Sitters Club are determined to find out.

The Baby-Sitters Club books are formulaic, but, judging by the popularity the series enjoyed during the 1990's, it's a formula that works. I devoured the series as a child and enjoyed revisiting this book as an adult. Little details such as Claudia's secret candy stash and poor spelling, Kristy's love of sports, and Mallory's huge family came rushing back to me as I was reading and brought a smile to my face.


Drood
Drood
by Dan Simmons
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drood by Dan Simmons, 3 Mar 2009
This review is from: Drood (Paperback)
Opening Drood by Dan Simmons is like stepping into a time machine. I could almost feel the cobblestones of London's back alleys beneath my feet and smell the overpowering stench of raw sewage draining into the Thames.

In June of 1865, world-famous author Charles Dickens and his mistress were among the few survivors of a horrific train crash. Simmons manages to weave this real-life event into a compelling and terrifying tale of murder, jealousy, ancient Egyptian magic and mesmerism.

Drood is narrated by Dickens' fellow author, friend and sometimes rival Wilkie Collins. A laudanum addict, Collins is an unreliable narrator at best. Three days after the accident at Staplehurst, Dickens relates the harrowing experience to Collins. At the center of his tale is a mysterious man named Drood; a disfigured, wraith-like creature who seemed to float back and forth amongst the dead and dying victims of the crash. Was he rendering assistance to these unfortunate souls or hastening their departure from this mortal coil?

Dickens becomes obsessed with finding Drood, and this search will lead him and Collins into a labyrinthine world hidden below London's poorest districts. The horrors that await them there will change both of the authors - and their friendship - forever. Collins begins to wonder if Dickens has simply gone mad from the trauma he endured at Staplehurst or if he has fallen under the mesmeric influence of Drood, a man rumored to have killed over 300 people.

Victorian London is masterfully depicted; the sights, sounds and even smells seem to come alive and add a rich sense of atmosphere to this dark story.

The first 100 pages of Drood were slow-going for me, but they established a framework that was essential and very rewarding later in the book. I never knew what to expect with this story, and the shocking ending left me re-evaluating virtually every conclusion I'd come to over the length of the book. While it's still very early in 2009, I can certainly see Drood as one of my favorite reads of the year.


Dead Ringer
Dead Ringer
by Mary Burton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.42

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner, 20 Dec 2008
Reporter Kendall Shaw nearly died at the hands of a serial killer last summer. Since returning to work, she's done her reporting from the safety of the anchor's desk. But when a young woman is found strangled by the James River, Kendall feels compelled to cover the story. She wants to prove that she can handle the tough stories - not only to herself, but also to her demanding boss and former boyfriend, Brett.

Homicide detective Jacob Warrington and his partner Zack Kier have little to go on at the murder scene. The killer left no physical evidence and the only clue they have is a small gold charm engraved with the name `Ruth'.

When more victims are discovered, each with a gold charm of their own, an unsettling pattern emerges. Each victim was killed in the same manner, and they all bear an uncanny resemblance to Kendall Shaw. As Jacob tries to keep Kendall from becoming the next victim, he finds himself fighting a growing attraction to her.

Does the killer have his sights set on Kendall? And could a mystery from her past be the key to solving the crime?

While I enjoyed Dead Ringer, I felt two of the subplots should have been more fully developed. One promising subplot with Kendall's boss Brett saw no real resolution. Another subplot, this time involving Kendall's roommate Nicole and one of her photography clients, was more fleshed out, but it didn't feel believable to me. However, Dead Ringer offered up some great twists, an interesting protagonist, and a terrifying killer. These three elements made it a difficult book to put down.


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