The Cross House

The NE Corner. And the Value of a Good Book.

May, 2018.


July, 10, 2018. A stripe from top to bottom is completed. Now, I will begin again at the top of the relocated scaffolding.


I could not do anywhere near as much work on the house as I do without Audible books. While I sand or scrape or hammer or screw or paint I am almost always listening to a good book. This makes time fly, and most enjoyably.

Today, I listened, again, to Amy Snow, which I purchased two years ago. Which I listened to again a year later. And am now listening to for a third time. I love the book!

From Audible:

It is 1831 when eight-year-old Aurelia Vennaway finds a naked baby girl abandoned in the snow on the grounds of her aristocratic family’s magnificent mansion. Her parents are horrified that she has brought a bastard foundling into the house, but Aurelia convinces them to keep the baby, whom she names Amy Snow. Amy is brought up as a second-class citizen, despised by the Vennaways, but she and Aurelia are as close as sisters. When Aurelia dies at the age of 23, she leaves Amy 10 pounds, and the Vennaways immediately banish Amy from their home.

But Aurelia left her much more. Amy soon receives a packet that contains a rich inheritance and a letter from Aurelia revealing she had kept secrets from Amy, secrets that she wants Amy to know. From the grave she sends Amy on a treasure hunt from one end of England to the other – a treasure hunt that only Amy can follow. Ultimately, a life-changing discovery awaits…if only Amy can unlock the secret. In the end Amy escapes the Vennaways, finds true love, and learns her dearest friend’s secret – a secret that she will protect for the rest of her life.

Last week, I finished the eleventh volume (yes, eleventh) of the Miss Fortune Mysteries. The books are kinda silly and not remotely believable but are well written and rich with likable characters. I also love series.

This is Book One.

From Audible:

CIA assassin Fortune Redding is about to undertake her most difficult mission ever – in Sinful, Louisiana. With a leak at the CIA and a price placed on her head by one of the world’s largest arms dealers, Fortune has to go off-grid, but she never expected to be this far out of her element. Posing as a former beauty queen turned librarian in a small bayou town seems worse than death to Fortune, but she’s determined to fly below the radar until her boss finds the leak and puts the arms dealer out of play.

Unfortunately, she hasn’t even unpacked a suitcase before her newly inherited dog digs up a human bone in her backyard. Thrust into the middle of a bayou murder mystery, Fortune teams up with a couple of seemingly sweet old ladies whose looks completely belie their hold on the little town. To top things off, the handsome local deputy is asking her too many questions. If she’s not careful, this investigation might blow her cover and get her killed. Armed with her considerable skills and a group of elderly ladies the locals dub the Geritol Mafia, Fortune has no choice but to solve the murder before it’s too late.

I need such lighthearted fare after listening to intense political books such as It’s Even Worse Than You Think, What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America, or intense historical non-fiction such as The Johnstown Flood.

The very first Audible book I purchased to is still one of my favorites, and I have listened to it four times now: Citizens of London, The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour.

From Audible:

Listeners of Citizens of London are guided by the strong, steady voice of Arthur Morey as he details the tenacity of three Americans, who, prior to 1941, implored the United States to come to Britain’s aid in holding off German encroachment. Lynne Olson’s book reveals how the lives of broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, businessman Averell Harriman, and politician John Gilbert “Gil” Winant were woven together by their unabashed love for the English people and their respect for Britain. Even if you thought you knew just about everything there is to know about the Second World War, you’ll be enthralled to learn how closely the lives of Murrow, Harriman, and Winant intertwined through their personal connections to President Franklin Roosevelt and English Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Prior to America’s entrance into the war, Edward R. Murrow, in his CBS radio broadcasts from London, detailed the human cost of nightly German bombing blitzes of the city. U.S. Ambassador “Gil” Winant, anxious to dispel the vocal anti-British sentiment of his diplomatic predecessor, Joseph P. Kennedy, walked the debris-strewn streets asking shaken and dazed London citizens how he could be of help. When Averell Harriman arrived on the scene to control the distribution of Lend-Lease Act goods, his jovial camaraderie with Churchill served as ballast to the ever-shifting diplomatic signals FDR sent Churchill in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor. Murrow, Winant, and Harriman all became unofficial confidants to both Churchill and FDR. Morey’s classic narrator’s voice moves easily from the historical wartime details of negotiations and battles to descriptions of the toll the years in London took on the personal lives of Murrow, Winant, and Harriman. It was not all grim days and nightly shattered nerves, since at one time or another during the war years all three married gentlemen were romantically involved with Churchill women, which more tightly braided together the men’s lives.

Morey’s subtle changes in tone seamlessly blend the fatalistic hedonism of wartime London with the political gamesmanship that marked the relationships between Churchill and FDR and between English and American military leaders. Once countries banded together to become the Allies against the Germans, friction between FDR, Churchill, and military and diplomatic leaders was a constant. Morey’s even delivery expresses the gravitas of Olson’s writing as military missteps and diplomatic misunderstandings marked the Allied collaboration.

The lives of Edward R. Murrow, John “Gil” Winant, and Averell Harriman were so defined by their wartime experiences that the end of the war left all three searching for work that would be as meaningful to their lives. Listeners will appreciate Morey’s deliberate yet sympathetic style as he gives voice to how dramatically life after WWII especially affected Winant and Murrow. The material in Citizens of London, and Morey’s even narration, keeps listeners engaged and further informed about WWII and how repercussions of that event continue to affect our world today.

A fabulous book from which I learned a great deal from.


15 Responses to The NE Corner. And the Value of a Good Book.

  1. The other books, I can’t speak to, but I heartily agree with your assessment of Citizens of London. I, too, listen to audible books while I work. Many of them are so good I re-listen to them throughout the year.

    • Hi, Christine!

      I read Rules of Civility by the same author, and liked rather than loved it.

      So, will I love Moscow?

      • Hi Ross, I can’t say it’s meaty, but the language is flowing and the reading impeccable. The story spans many eras of Russian history which begins just after the revolution. The setting is very tight, yet the main character creates a full and rich life for himself.

        You know, since you’ve nothing else to do, you should create the Cross House Fans book club! It could be a new tab on your blog. You sort of have the first entry already with this report on the books you’ve been reading. Since we’re already fans of YOUR writing, perhaps we’ll also be fans of your book choices. But if not, there could be some lively discussion.

        Re: Goldfinch, it sticks with you. The story is not dark overall, but as with any great book, there are some heavy elements and by the end, it’s all tied up satisfyingly.

        It’s a good challenge to tell about a book without spoiling the content.

        Happy reading, Ross. It DOES make time go quickly. I listen in my car all the time.

  2. Oh goody, the Cross House Book Club!

    Do we recommend podcasts too? My problem with that is I tend to get hooked on video podcasts, video being absolutely useless for driving or fixing things, because I can’t bear the TV these days. My TV only serves as a home for my ChromeCast.

Leave a Response

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.