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The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas

The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery - Sam   Thomas

1466 York England, The town is under siege by rebel forces. While the city is governed by Royalist supporters, a woman is tried for the murder of her Parliamentarian husband. Only Lady Hodgson, a well-respected midwife, believes in her innocence and hunts for the true killer. Lady Hodgson and her resourceful servant Martha look after the townsfolk—both the poor and the privileged. It's nice look at midwifery of the period as well as a satisfying historical mystery. I will definitely continue with the more of the series, however it can be read as a stand alone work.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

End of Event Meme:


Which hour was most daunting for you?  

      Hour 13.  After dinner I was just too tired to continue


Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?    

      For a historical fiction reader, The Midwife's Tale

      I read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams years ago:

           it would be a great choice to keep you reading into the wee hours


Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

       No, the organizers are fantastic!  Thanks much for all your hard work.  

       I had great fun and hope to participate more next year!


What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

       What didn't!  I particularly liked the hourly challenges. 


How many books did you read?   About 1½ books total


What were the names of the books you read?

        finished: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

       read from start to finish:  The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas

       started: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Which book did you enjoy most?   The Midwife's Tale


Which did you enjoy least? I enjoyed them all


If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

       I wasn't a cheerleader.


How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  If I can get the time off from work, I'll definitely participate again-as reader and maybe cheerleader.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon: Mid Event Meme

1. What are you reading right now?

         I'm still reading The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery - Samuel Thomas 

2. How many books have you read so far?

         I'm on my second book of the day

              finished: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot 

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

        If I get to it, The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. - Sandra Gulland 

        However, I think I need to read a fast, light book next

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?

         I switched days with a few co-workers in order to have the weekend off


5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

         Only a few--nothing too time consuming

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

         How little actual reading I'm getting done.  I'm enjoying reading many blogs and participating in the challenges.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

         No.  Everything is great!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?    Try to get more rest the night before.  

9. Are you getting tired yet?

         Yes, yesterday was a busy day and I didn't get much sleep


10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?

        No, I'm new to readathons and the only tips I know have come from experienced readathoners

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Hour 6 Mini Challenge

The Best Books of My Reading Year:

Although the year is only 4 months old, I've had some memorable reads:


The Best Book of the Year:  

   A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel - Anthony Marra    

   runner up: Doc: A Novel - Mary Doria Russell 

     it's too hard to pick just one here.  Both are wonderful reads!  

        Marra's book is heart-wrenching and thought provoking.  

        Russell's book brought Doc Holliday and the Earps to life for me.


The Best Mystery Book: The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler 

      What can I say...it's a classic.


The Best Sci-Fi Book:  Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time) - 'Robert Jordan', 'Brandon Sanderson'  It's such a great book that it made the slog through some of the middle books in this series worthwhile.  It's the penultimate book of the Wheel of Time Series (Book 13).   


Best Author:  Anya Seton 

I finally got around to reading Katherine and was "wowed".  She made me feel like I was right there in Medieval England.  I will definitely read more of her works.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Progress


It's Hour 6


I got a late start, so my stats are rather miserable.

However, since I was nearly finished with a book before the day started I have a sense of accomplishment:  one book completed



Currently Reading: The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery - Samuel Thomas 



Books Finished:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot


Total Pages Read:  70


Amount of Time Spent Reading: 90 minutes


Challenges Participated in:  Opening Meme, Cover Puzzle Challenge


Amount of Time Cruising Blogs of other Readathoners:  30 minutes



Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Opening Meme:


What part of the world are you reading from today?



Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

         looking forward to all--just hoping to finish a few


Which snack are you most looking forward to?  

         chocolate covered almonds!


Tell us something about yourself?

        this is the first readathon I've ever attempted


If this is your first readathon what are you most looking forward to?

        not feeling guilty about spending so much time reading!


Currently Reading:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral-And How It Changed the American West

The Last Gunfight - Jeff Guinn 3 ½ stars
After reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell, I wanted to delve a bit deeper. I only wish I'd read this first, as the "backstory" would have further enhanced my enjoyment of the novel. I enjoyed reading about the development of the frontier mining town of Tombstone and all the economic, political and social factors that played a role. This is well researched with extensive notes on where and how Guinn obtained his research. I really appreciated his explanations of where his source material came from and the problems inherent in many of the contemporary accounts.

Dissolution (Shardlake Series)

Dissolution - C.J. Sansom The first book in the Matthew Shardlake Mysteries. A historical mystery set in Tudor England shortly after the establishment of the Church of England and the beheading of Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII. Shardlake is a hunchback lawyer who works for Thomas Cromwell. He’s been charged with investigating the murder of a royal commissioner murdered in a monastery. Besides being a satisfying mystery, it met my expectations for a “historical” mystery as it is filled with rich details of the period and a compelling view of religion and politics at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in England. Wonderfully narrated by Steven Crossley. I plan to continue with this series.

Katherine (Rediscovered Classics)

Katherine (Rediscovered Classics) - Anya Seton, Philippa Gregory The incredible love story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gault—ancestors to the Tudor dynasty and the Stuarts. Spanning much of the 14th century, we see Katherine develop from an innocent young girl raised in a convent into a strong and wise woman. Anya Seton writes in such a vividly descriptive style with such well-rounded “characters” that I felt transported to Medieval England. I felt Katherine’s awe upon coming to court, her anguish at her lack of control over so much of her own destiny and her love for an unobtainable man. And, it's so much more than a romance. Intertwined in this beautiful love story are many rich details of 14th century life--for both peasants and royals, including events like the Black Death, and the Peasant's Revolt. I listened to this on audio, Wanda McCaddon's narration is a beautiful complement to this wonderful work.

The Splendour Falls

The Splendour Falls - Susanna Kearsley 3 ½ stars

This book is more a mystery with some romance rather than historical fiction. It's set mostly in 1990's Chinon, France, with just a few brief jaunts to the past to set the scene for the contemporary story. The book begins in the 12th century: King John's wife Isabella resides in Chinon Castle where she "hides a treasure without price" prior to fleeing the besieged Castle. There is also a brief journey to the end of WWII where another Isabella hides another treasure. The bulk of the novel revolves around Emily, who has been convinced by her cousin to join him in Chinon while he searches for the first Isabella's treasure. When he fails to appear, she becomes embroiled in the lives of the other guests at the hotel.

I love Kearsley’s descriptive style, however in this novel her descriptions overshadow the actually storytelling. At first I loved it, but by ½ way through I got tired of all the detail with little substance and nearly stopped reading. Fortunately I didn’t give up. By nearly 2/3 of the way in, the story finally took over and I was back to loving it by the time I finished. A bit convoluted and meandering, but with enough of a payoff to make me happy I stuck with it. Not recommended for first time Kearsley readers, but I think enjoyable enough for her diehard fans. I was enchanted by her descriptions of Chinon—it makes me want to plan a vacation there.

Doc: A Novel

Doc - Mary Doria Russell What a wonderful book! This is the story of John Henry “Doc” Holliday. The “characters” made famous by the Gunfight at the OK Corral had always been rather one-dimensional to me, however Doria Russell’s writing has brought them to life. This story is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. It’s so touching to see Doc’s love of life, friendships and caring attitude coupled with his wit and southern charm. Doria Russell’s characters are all well developed and her beautiful style of writing and language had me laughing at times and crying at others. I’m left bereft—and thrilled to learn she’s working on follow up book which features the Earps—due out in 2015.

The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time, Book 12)

The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson I started the Wheel of Time series nearly 20 years ago, enjoyed most books until about book 7 or 8—when the already slow moving series seemed to slow to a snail’s pace. I stopped reading after book 10. Now that the series is complete, I decided to give it another go. I started at the beginning and have been reading the series all the way through via audiobooks, with Michael Kramer and Kate Reading narrating. The two of them are great, and they’ve managed to hold my interest in the series for many months.

The Gathering Storm, is the first book of the series written by Brandon Sanderson—based on extensive notes left by Robert Jordan. Sanderson holds true to the characters and storyline of the prior books but breathes new life into them. Rand, Matt, Perrin, Egwene and Nynaeve are growing up and starting to appear capable of fulfilling the roles the pattern has set for them. The Dragon Reborn, Rand al’Thor, has moved from the carefree youth to a darker and harder individual, willing to risk everything to fulfill his destiny. Egwene al’Vere is now a mature woman and clearly demonstrates her ability a strong leader. As the final battle nears, the action is finally picking up….I can’t wait to see what else the pattern has in store for them and to see how it all ends!

Death of a Gossip (Hamish Macbeth Mysteries, No. 1)

Death of a Gossip - M.C. Beaton First of the Hamish Macbeth series. John and Heather Cartwright run a fishing school for trout and salmon in the Scottish highlands where angler wanna be’s come for week long sessions. On this particular week, 8 students meet up—including 2 Americans, a 12 year old boy from Manchester, a lovelorn 19 year old girl, a widow of a Labour peer, and an army Major. When one of the guests is murdered, all are suspect and “big city” detectives are brought in solve the crime. Bumbling and seemingly hapless (quirky) Macbeth, the local constable, is brushed to the sidelines; yet he’s the one who ends up solving the crime.

I wasn’t too keen on the angling storyline and found the murder mystery to be rather standard fare—however, I love the rumpled, mooching detective and his friend Priscilla. I’ve heard future books in the series are superior in storyline and character development, but I wanted to start at the beginning. I found this a quick read with a good introduction to what promises to be a fun cozy mystery series with a loveable Constable.

The Goldfinch: A Novel

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt Big, massive book. Loads of long descriptive prose. A host of wonderfully developed characters. I loved this book and would have given 5 stars except that a few parts of the book dragged for me and I was a bit let down by the ending where Theo, the main character, got a bit preachy.

I listened to this on audio and think the narrator, David Pittu, did a brilliant job. The tone and style of his narration had me entranced—and taking the long route home to be able to listen a bit longer. Additionally, the wonderful narration led me to really care about the characters—even when they were acting rather despicably. I sometimes loved them, sometimes hated them—but always rooted for them to succeed. I doubt I would have enjoyed this book nearly as much had I read it rather than listened to it.

All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1)

All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy Set in 1949-1950, this work opens with the death of 16-year-old John Grady Cole’s grandfather and the news that the family ranch will be sold. John Grady Cole was raised on the ranch and has virtually no relationship with either his mother or his father. When he learns he cannot save the family ranch he and his friend Lacey Rawlins head out to Mexico to find work as cowboys.

I found McCarthy’s sparse style of writing a bit off-putting at the outset, but I soon learned to love the language and syntax and found it very fitting for this coming of age tale. Additionally, the use of the Spanish language throughout lent an air of authenticity and greatly enhanced my appreciation. However, I imagine those without a rudimentary understanding of the language may find it frustrating and a barrier to their enjoyment.

This was much darker and more violent than I thought it would be, but necessary to the story. There is such a cinematic quality to McCarthy’s writing style and his beautiful descriptions that I’m not surprised this was made into a film, however I can’t imagine the film could do justice to the written word. This is the first book I’ve read by the author—but certainly won’t be my last.

The Lost Ark

The Lost Ark - J.R. Rain Sam Ward is an ex-photojournalist for National Geographic turned guide on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey after the death of his fiancé. When Faye Roberts asks his help to find her father, a biblical studies professor who went missing while searching for Noah’s Ark on the mountain.

Disappointed in this one. I got the impression that this was written as a script for a television show or movie. Sam is sarcastic, and spews off a number of “one-liners”. I might not have minded this, however nearly all the other characters also made “zingers” —even at inappropriate times and when it did not fit within their character. Additionally, the storyline is unbelievable. Not much redeeming about this one.