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review 2018-02-24 23:17
The Innkeeper's Daughter by Michelle Griep
The Innkeeper's Daughter - Michelle Griep

What a unique work of Christian historical fiction! With “The Innkeeper’s Daughter”, Michelle Griep crafts a fascinating story that combines romance, suspense, and hardship against the backdrop of Dover in 1808. The dialect immerses the reader in this Regency world, and the realistic challenges and situations which the characters face reinforce this connection. Moral quandaries and tests of faith feature prominently and demonstrate that despite the passage of time, some things do not change. Be it two hundred years in the past or contemporary society, faith and trust in God are essential, especially in trying circumstances.

“The Innkeeper’s Daughter” beautifully illustrates this through the story’s main conflict. Intrigue and adventure flow as a steady undercurrent that swells toward the end of the narrative, with no predictable ending to spoil the ride. The hero, Alexander Moore, accepts a covert assignment to get to the bottom of a deadly conspiracy and lands at the Blue Hedge Inn, which is run by the comely Johanna Langley and her aging mother. Plagued by financial difficulties and concerns for her mother and young brother, Johanna tries to take the world upon her shoulders, trusting in herself above all, as do so many of us today.

Part of what makes this novel so captivating is the quirky and unusual characters. They are unlike any I have come across in other Christian fiction, especially the peripheral characters. Not only do they add depth to the story, but they also offer a perspective on physical disability and mental illness. The villains, who are not always easy to pick out here, are handled cleanly in spite of their actions. Overall, this story reminded me in certain ways of “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. Gambling played a substantial role in the narrative, and this is another example of how Griep’s book proves its distinctiveness. Rather than portraying betting as inherently evil, “The Innkeeper’s Daughter” demonstrates that it can be done honestly as long as you never gamble what you can’t afford to lose. The question becomes how far the characters are willing to go to uphold their convictions and their loyalties.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-02-24 19:50
If I Were Your Monster by Scott Nicholson
If I Were Your Monster - Scott Nicholson,Lee Davis

How cute!!
Great illustrations accompany the cutest stanzas, all about what each monster would do if they were owned by you. It was fun and I breezed through the short pages. I even re-read it! It was just that adorable!
Grab this one for your kids when its nearing Halloween time. It would be perfect during that season.

 

 

Source: www.fredasvoice.com/2018/02/if-i-were-your-monster-by-scott.html
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review 2018-02-24 18:05
All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones
All Aunt Hagar's Children - Edward P. Jones

I think I am done with this one, at least for now. I've read the first 5 out of 14 stories (132 pages) and am finding it a drag, though I loved The Known World years ago and later on liked Lost in the City. The going felt slow, and the stories felt cluttered and sometimes confusing. Not all readers will share my short story preferences - I like them to be streamlined and to end with a bang - but that didn't really fit with these stories, which tend to meander along with two or three subplots that often don't reach any resolution or have much to do with the main plot. They're well-written and I'd hardly say they were objectively bad, but I'm not feeling it right now.

Some commentary on the individual stories, because I always want to see more of that in reviews of collections:

"In the Blink of God's Eye" - a young couple moves from Virginia to D.C. at the beginning of the 20th century, and begins to grow apart after she adopts a baby abandoned in their yard. I liked this one, though I felt it was a little padded out with the stories of secondary characters.

"Spanish in the Morning" - a young girl starts at Catholic school and skips ahead to first grade. The ending of this one baffled me.

She falls at her desk when standing up and thinking about how she's not happy about the treatment of a couple of other students, and then we rejoin her in bed at home with a wound in her hand and her family saying she doesn't have to return to that school. I couldn't tell whether she'd had a seizure or medical episode - which would make sense practically but not thematically and wouldn't explain the wound - or whether she spoke up and the teacher stabbed her in the hand, fitting in with a story an older relative told her earlier about a teacher who had a pitchfork like the Devil. Which would make sense thematically but is bizarre.

(spoiler show)


"Resurrecting Methuselah" - an American soldier in Korea is diagnosed with breast cancer, and his wife decides to leave him. In this one it was the motivations that confused me. We spend a lot of time with the wife, including a long sequence in Hawaii on the way to Korea in which she buys some candy she remembers from her childhood to find it completely different.

Then for some reason that was unclear to me, she immediately gives up on visiting her husband and flies home instead. My guess is that, having spent her adolescence as an invalid, she wasn't willing to have sickness in her house or around her daughter. But what does the candy have to do with it?

(spoiler show)


"Old Boys, Old Girls" - a young man is imprisoned for the second of two murders he's committed, does his time, and once on the outside, has to figure out how his family and an old lover fit into his life. I liked this one, which is interesting and doesn't have room for random subplots.

"All Aunt Hagar's Children" - a Korean war vet wants to head out to Alaska to pan for gold, but the older women of his family ask him to look into the murder of one of their sons instead, and he does. This was interesting but the end unconvincing.

He sees the murdered man's wife strike a powerful pose and concludes that she was the murderer, although there are plenty of other suspects.

(spoiler show)

And this one too grew weeds: it spends a lot of time on a stranger who died in front of the narrator getting off a streetcar, which does nothing in the story other than to haunt him, and I didn't believe for a minute that he somehow memorized her last words when they were full sentences in a language he didn't speak. Strings of unfamiliar words are unmemorable gibberish to me, and I'm good at foreign languages.

At any rate, I'm certainly not denying that there's merit here, but this wasn't the right time for this book, so it's heading back to the library.

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review 2018-02-24 16:07
Lonesome Dove
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry

I spent the last eight weeks with the Hat Creek Cattle outfit, going with them on their epic adventure, a cattle track from Texas to Montana. And what a journey it was. At times funny, at times exciting and at times heart breaking. This book made me feel so emotional and I caught myself welling up with tears more than once while reading this novel.

 

It isn´t a perfect book by any means. It takes about 200 pages before the story hits its stride and the way the (few) women gets treated in this novel didn´t sit well with me, although the depiction might be a realistic one for the time the novel is set in. And in one way I loved the bittersweet ending, but I would have wished for a more satisfactory ending for some of the characters.

 

Despite these faults, Lonesome Dove is one of the best books I have ever read and immersed myself in the world of Lonesome Dove.

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text 2018-02-24 13:54
Reading progress update: I've read 231 out of 231 pages.
The Gunslinger - Stephen King
"The dark came down and the world moved on. The gunslinger waited for the time of the drawing and dreamed his long dreams of the Dark Tower, to which he would someday come at dusk and approach, winding his horn, to do some unimaginable final battle."
 
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