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review 2017-11-28 21:52
For readers who love inspirational stories, complex female characters, and historical fiction
Bear Medicine: A Novel - G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

I have read two of Elizabeth Kretchmer’s books before. The Damnable Legacy (you can check my review here) and Women on the Brink (check the review here) and enjoyed them. When I was informed that the author had published a new book, I had to check it out.

Once again, Kretchmer focuses on issues that relate to women’s lives and also to the environment and to human beings’ place in the world. The story is narrated by two women, Brooke and Anne, in the first-person. Although both women have a lot in common (both are married and not terribly happy in their marriages, although they are not fully aware of it or at least they haven’t acknowledged it to themselves yet, and they both love nature), they are separated by a hundred and forty years. Whilst Brooke lives in our present, Anne convinces her husband to visit Yellowstone not long after the Park is established, seriously underestimating the risks. Both women suffer because of their decisions (Brooke is mauled by a grizzly bear and is seriously injured, and Anne ends up alone and defenseless without experience on surviving in the wild) and are helped by other women. And in both cases, these seemingly terrible decisions end up totally changing their lives. The book is part contemporary women’s fiction and part historical fiction, and an inspirational read.

Both characters are sympathetic because of the terrible circumstances they find themselves in, although they are not the standard heroines that suddenly and almost magically become enlightened and proficient at everything. They sometimes show little insight into their real situations, can be naïve, do little to help themselves, moan, and take one step forward and two steps back. If anything, Anne, who married young and has little experience of the world, seems to take to the new situation and accept Meg’s teachings more easily, although it must have been a bigger shock to her and farther away from her everyday experience. The society of her time was also more prejudiced, and the fact that she becomes best friends with a Native American woman is much more of a leap of faith than Brooke’s friendship with Laila and her confused feelings about the younger woman. But Brooke has also been victimised (even though it takes her quite a while to accept that) for much longer, has two grown-up children, and therefore has much more to lose. It is understandable that she struggles more and it takes her longer to fully embrace her new reality. I think most women will recognize themselves in one of the characters, either the narrators or their friends and helpers, and feel personally involved in the novel.

The writing is beautifully descriptive and there are very touching moments, some because of the extremes of emotion and suffering, and some because of the moments of clarity and insight that the love of the women and their cooperation with each other brings them. The author has done her research (she explains her process at the end and also acknowledges her sources) and I learned much about the birth of Yellowstone and the Indian Wars by reading this book.

There are serious and current subjects discussed in the novel (abuse [mental, physical, and sexual], rape, drug abuse, mental illness, nature and environment, the protection of wild animals, politics, parent-child relationship), there are adventures and risky situations, secrets, betrayal, and plenty of love. Although most readers will figure out soon enough the connection between the two women, we care enough for both characters and their adventures to keep reading and hoping we will be right about the end. And yes, the ending is empowering and positive too.

An emotional book (yes, I did cry), an enlightened book, and also a realistic book, that shows us some women who are not the perfect heroines, all powerful and knowing, but who make mistakes, hesitate, don’t know what to do for the best, and can be annoying and irritating at times, but who become stronger and learn about themselves by joining with other women and choosing to work together.

An inspiring read and a book that I recommend to women (and men) who enjoy multi-dimensional characters. It will also delight people who love historical fiction, in particular, the Indian Wars, and readers interested in Native American tradition and mythology. Another great book by a writer I will keep my eye on.

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text 2015-07-17 03:27
Pure Lust, Volume 3 by M.S. Parker
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I'd always thought the stepmothers in fairy tales were supposed to be the evil ones, not the mother-in-law. Even Snow White's wicked stepmother had nothing on Claire Bouvier. Gabriella Baine is going to marry the man of her dreams...if her monster-in-law-to-be doesn't drive her away first. As she struggles to deal with wedding plans, she's also beginning to realize that, no matter how much she tries, she can't stay away from her fiancé's younger brother, Flynn McCreary. He's arrogant, rude and lashes out at everyone around him, but that doesn't stop her from going back to him for work. When the unthinkable happens, it forces Gabriella to make the biggest decision of her life.
Don't miss the penultimate installment of the heart-wrenching and steamy Pure Lust series by M.S Parker and Cassie Wild.

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M.S. Parker

M.S. Parker is a USA Today Bestselling author and the author of the Erotic Romance series, Club Privè and Chasing Perfection. Living in Southern California, she enjoys sitting by the pool with her laptop writing on her next spicy romance. Growing up all she wanted to be was a dancer, actor or author. So far only the latter has come true but M. S. Parker hasn't retired her dancing shoes just yet. She is still waiting for the call for her to appear on Dancing With The Stars. When M. S. isn't writing, she can usually be found reading- oops, scratch that! She is always writing.

Cassie Wild

Cassie Wild loves romance. Ever since she was eight years old she's been reading every romance novel she could get her hands on, always dreaming of writing her own romance novels. When M.S. Parker approached her about co-authoring Serving HIM series, it didn't take Cassie many second to say a big yes!! Serving HIM is only the beginning to the collaboration between M.S. Parker and Cassie Wild. Another series is already in the planning stages.
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Source: onceuponanalpha.com
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review 2015-06-24 02:49
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells

Sarah Addison Allen

Hardcover, 304 pages

Published August 28th 2007 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2007)                   

ISBN 0553805487 (ISBN13: 9780553805482)   

also available in Kindle, Audio Cd, and Audible Audio

 

Garden Spells is a relaxing read. Sara Addison Allen developed the characters well, giving them and the little southern town personality and charm. I liked the little eccentricities built into the characters, making them unique. Allen built in a little personal history to each character as well, which is what built part of the plot. Each character had something in his or her past to come to terms with, and Allen was able to show how each character grew throughout the story. This is a quick read. There is romance, but one thing I enjoyed was how the character, Claire, used her garden and edible plants in her catering business. The author even included the meaning and use of some edible plants that were mentioned in the book.  This is the first in the Waverly Family Series and Sarah Addison Allen's debut novel. The 2nd, First Frost, was just published in January, 2015.

 

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review 2015-02-24 16:08
Minerva's Fox by Kristina Baer

‘Minerva’s Fox’ is a captivating story of one woman’s journey to understand herself and come to terms with her past. 

 

When Malorie Ellsworth finds herself in a small village in France, she finally seems to be finding her way. With a traumatic childhood and a rough spell of graduate school behind her, Malorie looks forward to a future in garden design and a full life back in the States.  Although she is a success in her field, she is facing difficult times at home and when an old lover resurfaces, she must stop running and meet her past head on.

 

Kristina Baer’s story of a woman finding her way is beautifully written, finely balanced and impossible to forget.

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review 2015-01-29 23:37
The Carving Tree by Terry Thomas Bowman

A heart-shaped carving in a tree represents the enduring love of Jake and Sadie, but what happens when that old Beech begins to die?

 

In The Carving Tree by Terry Thomas Bowman, newly retired Sadie has to come to terms with the approaching death of her husband, Jake. As if this weren’t enough, she is left in charge of an abandoned child and is hit with a false lawsuit, leaving her bitter with God. Meanwhile, the child’s mother had become the victim of a human trafficking ring and needs to find the courage to find her way back to her son. Bowman gives us a beautiful story of love, faith, courage, God’s Grace and hope.

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