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review 2019-02-20 00:59
Book Tour: Trials and Trails
Trials and Trails: Adventures and Unexpected Discoveries of Life - Jim Halverson

We follow a young man that joins up with another after a cattle drive in Nebraska that came from Texas. His name is Leroy. The man that helps him and join him is named Johnny B. We follow them as they had North and somewhat West.

We learn about the lives a bit and nature though out the book. We go on trails and adventures with them both. It fun to see where they go and what they experience. They even meet up with a lady named Alice. They seem to want to help folks and find there their own way in the world.

We learn about Leroy past and a little bit of Johnny B's. You will surprised at the end as to who Leroy's father is? I can not tell you as it would be a bummer and spoiler. What would do if you are treated as a slave but find out something socking about your parents? I wondered why Leroy was able to get a education along with the master's son? Did he know that he had a brother or not?

The author does so well with story that you want to go along for the ride. I enjoyed it and would like read more by this author. He talented. He put me in the era that his story was telling. It was nice going across the west by horseback and being able to visualize the USA West as I was reading.

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review 2019-02-20 00:48
Secrets Abound
Ladies of Intrigue - Michelle Griep

As soon as I heard about Michelle Griep’s “Ladies of Intrigue”, I was drawn in, and I jumped at the chance to review it. Three stories from the nineteenth century, tinged with mystery? Sign me up! Despite the brevity of the stories, each one had a twisting denouement and a swift but satisfying conclusion. They could all have easily been novel-length, but as it was, the rapid pace assured that there was no lagging to the plot. “The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady”, set on the Cornish coast in 1815, reminded me of Abigail Wilson’s “In the Shadow of Croft Towers”, so readers of this short story may enjoy that novel and vice versa. From there Griep takes us to 1862 Minnesota in “The Doctor’s Lady”, which was the least mysterious of the three but full of other conflict, including that between the Indians and the United States during the Sioux Uprising and the dangers of being a single woman during that time. My favorite, however, was “A House of Secrets”, which differed from the previous two stories in both title format and writing style. This last tale was written more poetically and featured characters from the upper class in Minnesota in 1890, and it held the most secrets. Each narrative focused on the characters’ need to trust and rely on God and His provision. It was interesting to trace how women’s roles and societal expectations changed over the decades through the timeline arc of this collection. Historical fiction and romance fans will enjoy these stories, which combine love, the conventions of the past, and the necessity of faith—both then and now.

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

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review 2019-02-19 15:06
Innocence Lost
Innocence Lost - Sherilyn Decter

In 1924 Philadelphia, the city is run by bootleggers. The gangs that supply the alcohol run the city, controlling the money and most of the police force and Mickey Duffy is one of the bosses that controls it all. On the night of a raid of one of Duffy's warehouses, three young boys are caught in the action. One boy, Oskar, never made it home. Oskar is friends with Tommy Barnes, Tommy's mom, Maggie runs a boarding house in order to make ends meet. When Maggie finds out that it is Tommy's friend that has disappeared, she becomes more involved in the community and sees the toll that bootlegging has taken. Maggie is determined to find out what happened to Oskar, but has no idea where to start. Maggie gets a helping hand from an unusual source, a retired Police Inspector from another era coaches Maggie to help her bring down the criminals hiding right beneath her nose. 

Innocence Lost is a unique murder mystery set within Prohibition era Philadelphia. It took me a while to get into the story while the scene was being set, but once Maggie and Tommy's characters were introduced, I felt connected to the story. Maggie's character transforms throughout the story from a woman who feels powerless to control her surroundings while feeling like she does not fit in with many of her immigrant neighbors to a woman who is actively fighting crime and caring for her neighbors. The integration of Inspector Geyer was very interesting. His presence as a ghost fit in seamlessly and helped Maggie immensely, but I did wonder a lot about his background and how he found his way to Maggie. The Prohibition era was highlighted in the storytelling as well; I had never thought of the many reasons why so many men easily fell into bootlegging after World War I and how women embraced the freedoms of the era after taking up the men's jobs while they were away. While Maggie lends a large hand in avenging Oskar's death, there is still a lot of work to be done in keeping her city safe. I'd love to see what she can accomplish next. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2019-02-17 18:47
Remember the Alamo!
The Alamo Bride - Kathleen Y'Barbo

Since Kathleen Y’Barbo wrote “The Pirate Bride”, book 2 in The Daughters of the Mayflower series, it is also fitting that she penned “The Alamo Bride”, as there are direct connections between some of the characters. Although I mention this in most of my reviews for this series, it is worth echoing; each book in this series contains a solid plotline that allows it to stand on its own, yet with some mention of previous characters, and the series never feels formulaic. Each contains a romance, but there is a fresh diversity with each new time period and couple. Part of this is no doubt due to having different authors, and the challenge of maintaining the overarching theme of faith and adventure is always met. Readers can start with any book in the series, but for the best experience, I would recommend reading them in order. Doing so also offers a nice chronological timeline of America’s pivotal historical events. Prior to reading this novel, I must admit that I had little knowledge about the Texas Revolution and the Alamo. Nor have I read many books about the Southwest. Thus “The Alamo Bride” was both enlightening and entertaining. The New Orleans Greys were new to me as well, and it was interesting to learn about their involvement in the conflict. Clay Gentry’s role in the novel surprised me, and Ellis Valmont always brought a smile to my face with her feistiness and devotion to her family and the cause. Jean Paul Valmont provided an appealing character because of the difficult decisions he had to make as a patriarch and businessman. The danger of everyday life during this time period was startling, but Y’Barbo does a nice job of presenting the humanity of both the Texian and Mexican sides. As a crucial element of the plot, the head injury was a fascinating and unique touch, adding an extra layer of intrigue. This novel delivers faith, conflict, humor, and love while exploring an often-overlooked piece of our nation’s history. 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 2019-02-15 20:14
The Binding
The Binding - Bridget Collins

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

This was a little of a rollercoaster book for me, in that the blurb -is- pretty misleading when it comes to the expectations it rises—so there were quite a few chapters when my interest ebbed and flowed, as I poised between “this is not what I wantedto read” and “that’s pretty interesting” and “I expected something different in terms of world-building”, etc. Especially, there’s a romance element that is -not- in the blurb, and since I’m not a big fan of romance for the sake of romance in general, my first reaction was pretty much ‘ugh, no, not yet another romance plot, you should’ve warned me about this, since I don’t feel like reading romance these days’.

However, as everything settled, as the plot fully came together, as I got to know the characters more, this change of mood abated, and I found that I was actually liking this novel. I do regret that the art of binding wasn’t explored more in depths, with deeper explanations of how it worked, and this is something that disappointed me until the end. Still, I nevertheless felt myself rooting for several characters, getting angry at how other people treated them, didn’t accept them, at the rampant intolerance, too. It wasn’t ‘enjoyable’ (I so wanted to slap the parents), no. The main characters were often annoying in many ways, too. But it made for a good story.

I must say that I usually have several pet peeves when it comes to romance (yes, there’s some romance in it), one of the major ones being when the lovers lose sight of priorities (typical example: “who will she chose, the boy she loves, or saving the world?” --> everybody knows that 99% of the time, the world is doomed). Here, there is strong potential for turning these characters’ world(s) upside down, but I didn’t get that feeling of thwarted sense of priorities, because all in all, most characters had bleak prospects to start with, and what hinged on them was something that wouldn’t have made so many other people happy anyway: arranged marriages, bad job prospects, abuse, cannot go back to their old lives, etc.

Speaking of abuse, the world Emmett lives in is rather bleak in that regard as well. It reminded me a lot—and that was no doubt on purpose o nthe author’s part—of 19th century novels, with a strong country/town dichotomy: the countryside as a ‘pure, natural, innocent’ world where people have a chance to be happy, vs. the town as polluted, home to crime and vice, and where the wealthy treat servants and poorer people in general as dirt, as toys that can be broken and then mended at will. While the abuse is not depicted in gory ways, and usually alluded to rather than directly witness, the allusions are not veiled either. It is very clear who rapes their servants, and who gets others murdered for the sake of their own interests. Those aren’t triggers for me, but they could still be depending on the reader. All in all, that also reminded me of other literary movements of that time: there’s no shortage of showing people being sick, reduced to their ‘bodily functions’, shown as the cowards they are, and so on. If you’ve read Zola, you’ll know what I mean. This novel doesn’t sing the praises of human beings in general, for sure, and shows most people as being weak at best, and hidden monsters at worst.

I am… bizarrely satisfied with the ending. It’s fairly open, and there are still many loose ends, but it also allows the book to close on a kind of resolution that I found fitting, balancing between “it could still turn so sour so quickly” and “well, there’s hope left and the future looks kinda good”.

Conclusion: 3.5 stars

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