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review 2019-12-08 18:20
From Cradle to Grave
In the Cradle Lies - Newport, Olivia

Sequels are a tricky business. They can enhance their predecessor or they can weaken it, especially if the first book was strong. Ideally, they demonstrate an improvement from prior books and offer more details about the characters and themes, depending on how the series is connected. This is one reason why I enjoy being able to begin a series at its inception and keep up with it as it grows. “The Inn at Hidden Run” opened the Tree of Life series and introduced readers to small-town Canyon Mines, Colorado, where Jillian and her father Nolan combine their professional talents to assimilate past and present.

 Olivia Newport’s “In the Cradle Lies” intensifies some of the elements from the first book in the series, making this a commendable sequel. Even so, this book could be read as a stand-alone, although I would recommend reading the series in order to better understand the characters’ backgrounds. In spite of the cozy milieu, “In the Cradle Lies” reads much like a suspense novel, and I found it difficult to put down. The mystery is more ominous in this book, and the winter setting augments this. Jillian and Nolan remain the main protagonists, but I was glad to meet different secondary characters this time around in Jillian’s best friend, Kris, and the mysterious vacationer, Tucker. For quite a while I was not sure what to make of Tucker, who is tight-lipped about his life and who is obviously hiding something, yet is incredibly generous, his savoir-faire attitude blending with his strange reserve. As he learns, you can’t outrun your past. However, for those who have accepted Christ, the past is just that—the past—and we can trust in the One who knows us, loves us, and breaks the chains that enslave us. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Intertwining the past and the present with her dual-timeline narrative, Newport demonstrates once again the substantial impact that our histories can have even decades later. Titling this series Tree of Life echoes with layers of meaning, particularly in this sequel. Aside from the obvious genealogical connection, I’m reminded of the eponymous tree in the Garden of Eden and how Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to their being denied its fruit yet also paved the way for the Savior. Also, cross-pollination serves as a metaphor in the narrative, alluding to the combination of the past and the present to form a stronger future and also to the subject of black-market baby snatching, taking a child from its original parents and transplanting them into another family. Although the faith element is very light, reconciliation is a solid subject, along with the realization that you cannot outrun either your past or God. Nolan observes that “[h]e couldn’t go back and change what he thought was right at a different point in time. But he could choose differently now.” The same is true for all of us, and because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection, no matter where we are in life’s journey or where we’ve come from, when we accept Jesus as Lord, He makes us new!

Recommended for those interested in genealogy, skiing, small-town life, father-daughter duos, and the criminal exploits of Georgia Tann, as well as fans of Liz Tolsma’s “The Pink Bonnet.”

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

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review 2019-12-08 10:00
In the Cradle Lies Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  In the Cradle Lies

Author: Olivia Newport

Genre: Christian Fiction

Release Date: November, 2019

Book 2 in the Tree of Life Series: A Father-Daughter Genealogy Team Link Faith Journeys on Family Trees

On a solo ski vacation in Canyon Mines, Colorado, Tucker has a love-hate relationship with his wealth, spending indiscriminately while skiing fearlessly and preparing to conquer the overgrown slope of Hidden Run, a dangerous run not attempted in decades. As genealogist Jillian tries to uncover enough of Tucker’s family tree to understand his charming nature but reckless resolve, Jillian’s equally charming father, Nolan, cajoles Tucker into giving him ski lessons to get him talking about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s life in St. Louis in the 1930s.

On the surface, Tucker’s family’s history seems too perfect. The secret may lie in the sealed envelope Tucker carries with him at all times—even on the ski slope. When no one can find Tucker to tell him the fiancée he never mentioned turned up in Canyon Mines, they realize he must be off attempting to ski Hidden Run alone in a snowstorm. And they may be too late.

In the Cradle Lies is the second book in the Tree of Life series by Olivia Newport. You’ll want to return to the lovely Colorado mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that will inspire you to connect with your own family histories and unique faith journeys.



Click HERE to get your copy!  
 

About the Author

 


Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twenty something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of Pikes Peak.  

More from Olivia

 

True confession. I live in Colorado and don’t ski.
 
In the Cradle Lies includes several references to “How can you live in the Colorado mountains and not ski?” Jillian, a main character in the Tree of Life series, has lived in the mountain town of Canyon Mines since she was two, and by the time she was eight she knew she didn’t want to ski.
 
I grew up in Illinois, and while my high school had a ski club and somehow found places to ski (I’m not sure where; um, not exactly mountain territory), I was sure I would break something. Arriving in Colorado in my forties did not persuade me to take up skiing at that age. I live at the base of Pikes Peak, not in the mountains like Jillian. I do love the views!
 
But one of the fun things about being a writer is learning a lot about things you know little about. Enter Google and YouTube. And more YouTube. And … you get the drift. Some quick facts about Colorado skiing to help get you in the mood for In the Cradle Lies:

  • Colorado typically leads the country in “skier days”—days of skiing purchased in ski areas.
  • Actually, most people in the state don’t ski. By a large margin. Like 90 percent. (So I feel better and so does Jillian.)
  • People visiting the state to ski or snowboard are important to our economy. (So thank you!)
  • Colorado has hosted about 175 ski areas since it became a state in 1876. Today, we have only about 30 operating resorts—so there are lots of dormant, lost, and hidden runs like the one in my story.

I hope you’ll check out In the Cradle Lies—and find out why Tucker came from St. Louis to Canyon Mines to ski an abandoned run that put his life at risk.
 

My Review

 

Sequels are a tricky business. They can enhance their predecessor or they can weaken it, especially if the first book was strong. Ideally, they demonstrate an improvement from prior books and offer more details about the characters and themes, depending on how the series is connected. This is one reason why I enjoy being able to begin a series at its inception and keep up with it as it grows. “The Inn at Hidden Run” opened the Tree of Life series and introduced readers to small-town Canyon Mines, Colorado, where Jillian and her father Nolan combine their professional talents to assimilate past and present.

 Olivia Newport’s “In the Cradle Lies” intensifies some of the elements from the first book in the series, making this a commendable sequel. Even so, this book could be read as a stand-alone, although I would recommend reading the series in order to better understand the characters’ backgrounds. In spite of the cozy milieu, “In the Cradle Lies” reads much like a suspense novel, and I found it difficult to put down. The mystery is more ominous in this book, and the winter setting augments this. Jillian and Nolan remain the main protagonists, but I was glad to meet different secondary characters this time around in Jillian’s best friend, Kris, and the mysterious vacationer, Tucker. For quite a while I was not sure what to make of Tucker, who is tight-lipped about his life and who is obviously hiding something, yet is incredibly generous, his savoir-faire attitude blending with his strange reserve. As he learns, you can’t outrun your past. However, for those who have accepted Christ, the past is just that—the past—and we can trust in the One who knows us, loves us, and breaks the chains that enslave us. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Intertwining the past and the present with her dual-timeline narrative, Newport demonstrates once again the substantial impact that our histories can have even decades later. Titling this series Tree of Life echoes with layers of meaning, particularly in this sequel. Aside from the obvious genealogical connection, I’m reminded of the eponymous tree in the Garden of Eden and how Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to their being denied its fruit yet also paved the way for the Savior. Also, cross-pollination serves as a metaphor in the narrative, alluding to the combination of the past and the present to form a stronger future and also to the subject of black-market baby snatching, taking a child from its original parents and transplanting them into another family. Although the faith element is very light, reconciliation is a solid subject, along with the realization that you cannot outrun either your past or God. Nolan observes that “[h]e couldn’t go back and change what he thought was right at a different point in time. But he could choose differently now.” The same is true for all of us, and because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection, no matter where we are in life’s journey or where we’ve come from, when we accept Jesus as Lord, He makes us new!

Recommended for those interested in genealogy, skiing, small-town life, father-daughter duos, and the criminal exploits of Georgia Tann, as well as fans of Liz Tolsma’s “The Pink Bonnet.”

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


Blog Stops

 

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 3

Inklings and notions, December 4

Daysong Reflections, December 4

Genesis 5020, December 5

Godly Book Reviews, December 5

Just the Write Escape, December 6

Pause for Tales, December 7

For Him and My Family, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

Betti Mace, December 9

Bigreadersite, December 9

A Baker’s Perspective, December 10

Hallie Reads, December 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 11

Spoken from the Heart, December 11

Older & Smarter?, December 12

Texas Book-aholic , December 13

Blogging With Carol, December 13

janicesbookreviews, December 14

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 15

A Reader’s Brain, December 16

With a Joyful Noise, December 16

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a free copy of In the Cradle Lies!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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review 2019-10-23 22:44
The Book of Speculation / Erika Swyler
The Book of Speculation - Erika Swyler

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon's grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

 

 

I read this book to fill the Relics & Curiosities square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.

This reading experience definitely suffered from my own fit of ennui, a mini-reading-slump that marred my life during mid-October. I was half way through this book and really enjoying it when I suddenly just bumped to a halt and had an extremely difficult time getting rolling again. That said, this book should have been right up my alley--the main character is a librarian, the relic in question is a wonderful old handwritten book, and the exploration of the main character’s genealogy is a major part of the plot. All of those factors are usually like catnip to me, a retired special collections library cataloguer. I can’t explain the waning of interest, but I know that it was more about me than about the book.

If you’ve enjoyed this book, I would suggest that you also check out Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy, including Fifth BusinessThe Manticore, and World of Wonders. This series also includes a relic (a stone which was originally wrapped in a snowball & thrown) and circus elements. I am inordinately fond of these three novels and in the spirit of fairness, I may try The Book of Speculations again in the future to see if I like it better when I’m in a more receptive mood.

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review 2019-06-23 11:31
A solid reference book for authors, amateur historians, and people interested in the big British families.
Great British Family Names and Their History: What's in a Name? - John Moss

Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for providing me a hardback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Let me clarify something from the very beginning: the book includes an ample biography and online resources for people interested in genealogy and doing their own research about the origins of their family (and an index to find specific information as well), but it is not a book where most British people (or people with British roots) are likely to find their direct ancestors. (Oh, by the way, because of the many historical changes and the way members of a family have moved across over the years, although the book centres on Great Britain, it does include both, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland). The author explains, in his foreword, his method, including the documents he based most of his information on (oh, taxes and taxation documents are older than we realise, The Domesday Book features prominently, and quite a few others), and also his choices. As he explains, this book is only a snapshot and tries to include names of families who’ve played pivotal roles in the history of the country. Some are already lost, but many remain familiar, be it because of history books or, in some cases, because their descendants still play important roles that help maintain them under the limelight (in some cases, quite literally).  

I am not British, have no British ancestors that I know of, and my interest in the book was mostly for reference. As an avid reader and writer, I am always intrigued by the historical connections between characters and families, and also by names. I’ve often read interviews with authors where they explain their process when researching the names of their characters and how, on many occasions, they look for names whose meaning or connections can become significant to the story, even symbolic at times. Although I haven’t done that too often, I must confess to struggling with surnames sometimes, and I can imagine this will be a much bigger concern for authors who write historical fiction. This book, divided into ten chapters covering the whole of Great Britain geographically, is a great starting point. It links the family names to their seats and areas by zones, including information on the origin of the name (many came with William the Conqueror from France, or followed shortly after, but not all), how the family fared later, the houses and titles they had, where the different branches of the family ended up, and where are they now (if there are any members of the family still connected to the name). Although it does not include all the details, it does mention members of the family who moved to Australia, America, etc., so it will be of interest to people from those countries aware of family connections and also to people interested in history and the ins and outs of the connections between noble and aristocratic families in the UK.

One of the things that grabbed my attention, and I hadn’t thought about before, was the information about the mansions, palaces, and houses that had belonged, at one point or other, to the members of those families. I love to visit historical houses (and the National Trust and National Heritage in the UK have done a great job of maintaining and restoring many of those properties and opening them up to visitors), and as I read, I discovered information about the owners of many of the properties I had visited over the years, some I was familiar with, but some that was totally new to me. I knew, for instance, that the Howard family’s (of Norfolk, yes, Thomas Howard, the uncle of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, that Howard family) seat was Arundel Castle (a beautiful Grade I listed building I recommend visiting. Don’t miss the Canaletto painting), and I knew they were related to the Howards of Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, one of my favourite places. (If you’ve watched the Granada Television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, Castle Howard is Brideshead in that series and in a more recent movie adaptation. If you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for? It’s a masterpiece!). I enjoyed learning more about the family, reading about the Fiennes Family of Banbury (a very illustrious and busy family, with current members of branches of the family as well-known as William Fiennes, author; Sir Ranulph Fiennes, explorer; Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, actors; and travel writer Celia Fiennes). The Russell (Roussel or Rosel) Family of Dorset has produce over the years members of parliaments, a Prime Minister (John Russell), and Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize for Literature, and many more.

If I had to make any recommendations to the author and the publisher, it would be to consider including some family trees. I know there are far too many names and families to be exhaustive, but the family trees of some of the most significant family names —with many branches and connections— would make for fascinating visual documents and clarify how closely-knit some of those family circles are. Photographs of some of the family seats, the wonderful mansions, castles and properties, would also enhance the appeal of the book and make it visually more exciting.

I recommend this book to authors, historians, and researchers looking for general information about the big British families and their origins, and also to people interested in learning more about an area’s history and about how the ownership of the big properties in a region have changed over time.

 

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review 2019-05-02 00:36
Leaving a Legacy
The Inn at Hidden Run (Tree of Life #1) - Olivia Newport

Not sure what to expect from this book, I was happily surprised to find two intertwined stories and plenty of interesting circumstances that made the narrative flow smoothly and quickly. “The Inn at Hidden Run” is book one in the new Tree of Life series, and I love the series title. It manages to tie in all of the major aspects of the story: genealogy, family, growing, and faith. Genealogy fascinates me. I have always loved history, but since struggling to find extant historical records for my ancestors for a project in the eighth grade, I have had a special appreciation for family trees. There is such a treasure trove of knowledge awaiting us in our lineages, shaping us into who we are today and who we hope to become.

Olivia Newport creates a contemporary small-town world centered on quirky characters and a light mystery that ties into the past. Meri’s plight adds family drama and generational legacy into the plot. Her dilemma and reactions were realistic, and the subsequent consequences and conversations were well-handled by the author. The faith component was subtle and could have been a bit more prominent. Nolan’s role as a lawyer and mediator made him an obvious fit for the novel, and his daughter Jillian’s occupation as a work-from-home genealogist intrigued me. I enjoyed learning the investigative aspect of genealogy and the various resources that genealogists draw upon in their research, as well as the various scenarios in which their skills are engaged. Jillian was the character to which I related the most because of her interests and her introverted nature. Following along as she placed puzzle pieces of the past together was fascinating.

An unexpected dual timeline enhanced the genealogical element and added a layer of danger, transporting readers to the burgeoning 1878 yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee. The horrors that Eliza Davies faced in the midst of the outbreak as she strove to aid those afflicted were not graphic but vivid enough to evoke heartache. Her story did not conclude as I was expecting, and the connection between Eliza and Meri’s family dovetailed gracefully for a fitting conclusion. The past informs our present in many ways, and understanding where and who we come from allows us to navigate life’s trials and stand firmly in our own convictions.

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

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