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review 2018-04-21 23:07
Gorgeous, fierce YA historic fiction
Sky in the Deep - Adrienne Young

Disclaimer: reviewing uncorrected pre-publication galley via NetGalley

 

This was an awesome read. To be honest, I decided to review it because it was getting so much prelaunch hype, but I kinda thought I wouldn't be the target audience. I really just couldn't care less about Vikings, and so much of the marketing around it emphasizes that element.

 

If you're in the same camp, not to worry. Sky in the Deep is incredibly well-done and tells an exciting, high-stakes story with a fierce multi-dimensional main character who goes through an incredible character arc and journey. I don't think it's positioned as fantasy, but to me, it felt as much like fantasy as historical fiction.

 

Eelyn is a warrior, and the book opens with her totally eviscerating guys in battle. Which . . . I wasn't that into. I think I was afraid she was going to be really flat, like some implausible, too-perfect super-warrior, but she becomes more of a sympathetic character pretty quickly because her dead brother shows up to the battle. So maybe she's crazy or in shock, but then he shows up again--and when she chases him, she gets captured by the enemy.

 

Eelyn lives by a sort of warriors' code and puts honour above all, so being taken captive and forced into slavery by the group they're perpetually feuding with is nearly grounds for suicide. However, this isn't really the story of Eelyn the Viking superhero shutting down the old-world slave trade. It's way more nuanced than that.

 

I really appreciated the slow development that shows how someone with a rigid view of the world could come to understand others and challenge her own beliefs and those of her family/community. The slow-burn romance wasn't bad either~~

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what else Adrienne Young has in store for us. This was a beautiful, powerful debut about a girl who's not only a wicked-strong warrior, but has the strength to learn, grow, and love others despite the cost.

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review 2018-03-26 19:35
Dense, interwoven historic fiction within a conspiracy-mystery frame story
Minds of Winter - Ed O'Loughlin

Remarkable work of historical fiction. Intricate in structure, convincing and meticulous in detail, and surprisingly engrossing in character, this novel avoids typical plot, organization, and closure in favour of more challenging choices.

 

The modern-day frame story is of two lost souls in the high Canadian Arctic and, oddly, a historic marine chronometer. Nelson's brother (recent) and Faye's grandfather (long past) went missing in the area - but they're not there on a Dan Brown-esque mystery-thriller search for the truth. This case of missing, confused, and obfuscated identities resists such tidy progressions. Instead, the unlikely couple stumble their way into uncertain discoveries of questionable validity based on documents left behind by Nelson's apparently-missing brother. This modern day progression is interspersed with "found" documents and firsthand accounts of explorers, adventurers, and secret-history-movers of the last two centuries prodding at the edges of the unknown on journeys that range from Australia to the Arctic and very nearly everywhere in between. The dots don't connect - or maybe they do - but the real surprise is how enjoyable the ride is.

 

I don't usually enjoy fiction that lacks the classic rise-and-fall story arc or that evade neatly-wrapped endings, but the unconventional format of this book somehow worked for me. Strong research, a talent for authentic(-seeming) voice, and telling details bring to life far-flung locations and eras long since passed. I couldn't keep track of the location, time, character, and (potential, suggested, unconfirmed) links between the jumps for most of the book - and in fact, once I thought I'd worked out the trajectory, this book happily dumped the drawer upside down on me once more. In effect, the experience is like reading a loosely-linked series of short stories or historic records. I'm not sure if it's the inherently fraught circumstances of so many of the players, the exotically far-reaching locales, or the promise of a mystery to untangle, but this dense, interwoven narrative completely held my attention. Highly recommended read.

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review 2017-04-08 21:53
The Hideaway
The Hideaway - Lauren K. Denton

By: Lauren K. Denton 

ISBN: 9780718084226

Publisher: Thomas Nelson--FICTION

Publication Date: 4/11/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  5 Stars 

 

Top Southern Debut 2017! 

 

“A story both powerful and enchanting: a don’t-miss novel in the greatest southern traditions of storytelling.” —Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author

 

 

Storyteller Lauren K. Denton, a new voice in Southern fiction delivers a smashing debut, THE HIDEAWAY. Making me want to return to my southern front porch and curl up for a long leisurely nostalgic afternoon while being transported with this beautiful love story.

My vote for Southern Debut of 2017!

Set in Sweet Bay, Alabama in the Deep South, we meet Dot, a friend of Mags (Mrs. Margaret Van Buren), a tenant of The Hideaway. The Hideaway was once a booming Bed and Breakfast; however, over the years it has turned into a home for eccentric seniors (bohemian) style, artists, and the free-spirted looking for an escape; you came and never left.

As the book opens, Dot (husband, Bert) are seniors living at the house. She is admiring the latest Southern Living article featuring Maggie (Mag)’s granddaughter, Sara who owns a highly successful interior design shop in New Orleans.

People tend to arrive at this charming inn and they fall in love and decide to never leave.

Mag’s daughter, Jenny is deceased and she helped raise her granddaughter Sara. Mags was very unconventional and some called eccentric. Sara was embarrassed by her lifestyle growing up. Mags has never told her own story to Sara. By the time she had moved in with her at age twelve, Sara was at that critical age where there were peer pressure and friends’ opinions.

Sara turned out to be a stronger woman because of who Mags turned out to be. If Mags had remained under her parents’ thumb, worrying about how other perceived her, she would have been a wispy shadow of a real woman.

Sara loved the French Quarter in the Big Easy. She was proud of her shop, Bits and Pieces. She has no time for a man, relationship, or anything other than her shop. She has restored an old shotgun house and filled it with restored furniture, and antiques. A bit of everything. Her assistant manager, Allyn was always there to help out (loved him).

Her mind always went back to Sweet Bay to see Mags, her grandmother. However, she was too busy with the shop to visit more often.

However, when Sara receives the news from Mag’s attorney, she knows it is too late to spend time with her eccentric little grandmother. She had left her for greener pastures in New Orleans, but Mags was her only family. Her grandmother has passed always. Now she has regrets for not making the time.

What would happen to the house now that Mags was gone?

"The Hideaway was always full of friends and lovers, mothers and daughters, secret keepers, and secret-spillers, straight talkers and soft shoulders. We had hurt and we had joy, but I wouldn't have it any other way."


It had not been a proper bed-and-breakfast since she was a kid. As she got older, she became more aware of the unusual living arrangements. It might have been a legitimate B&B at one time, but over the years it had become a senior citizen commune with a revolving door. A long layover for people on their way to Florida retirement glory.

The old Victorian which was once a beauty, now in a poor condition. It was formerly in all the travel guides as the Southern Sight to See. They would all be shocked to see it now.

Sara soon learns she has inherited the inn and the resident seniors. She is to bring the inn back to its glory days. However, in the process, Sara soon learns there was much more to her grandmother than she ever knew.

The author takes us back to 1960's to learn about Margaret's parents, family and how she met her husband to be. The man she married. A man her family wanted her to marry. A banker. After he began cheating, over and over, she escapes to The Hideaway. A solace for many.

After meeting the original owner, whose husband died, the inn was not the prestigious Gatsby house it was previously in its hay day. Margaret comes under a false name and soon gives up the rich life, pearls and pillbox hats, for a simpler life. One she adored.

Mags meets William, a man who changes her life. A wood maker, who teaches her the important things in life. The man who held the key to her heart. However, her old life comes back to complicate things. She chooses the bohemian life, so different that the one she had previously. Mag’s past changed her from quiet to bold. Weak to strong.

Sara soon discovers more and more about her grandmother and the mysterious man in her life from the past. However, she may be more like her grandmother than she knows. She decides to remodel The Hideaway per her grandmother’s wishes.

In the process, she meets the handsome contractor which slowly changes her perspective. In addition, she encounters challenges with the residing seniors, now part of the family, and a developer who wants the land, after all the work. Plus she has her life and shop in New Orleans. She never wanted to return to Alabama. Much less run an inn.

However, just when she is about to wrap up the renovation and make plans to return to New Orleans, the old nasty developer is threatening to take away the historic dream, for a condo new project development, until someone intercepts, which changes more than one life. Sweet surprises for many.

Compelling and Inspiring! Rich in history, character, and lots of heart, Denton bridges the gap from past to present with a heartwarming and charming southern tale of family and friendship. The important things in life. A thought-provoking takeaway on a journey to self-discovery.

Do we really know our parents and grandparents? We all need to slow down, listen, and hear the intriguing stories from past generations which will enrich our lives while helping us to understand their struggles and sacrifices. After all, they helped mold us to become the person we are today. I loved Mags!!

For fans of southern, historic, Christian, women’s and contemporary fiction.

Those who enjoy authors: Viola Shipman, Nicholas Sparks, Beth Hoffman, Patti Callahan Henry, Susan Rebecca White, Mary Ellen Taylor, Lisa Wingate, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Mary Kay Andrews, Joanne DeMaio, Donna Ball, Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Laura Lane McNeal, Camille de Maio, Wendy Wax and Karen White, will enjoy this newfound author.

Well-written, a must read. Cannot wait to see what’s next from this exciting new talented author!

A special thank you to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 



Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/01/The-Hideaway
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review 2017-03-21 20:41
The Hope Chest
The Hope Chest: A Novel - Viola Shipman

 

By:  Viola Shipman

ISBN: 1250105072

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 3/21/2017

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

Master storyteller, Viola Shipman (Wade Rouse) returns following the heartwarming debut, The Charm Bracelet (2016) and nostalgic Christmas novella Christmas Angels with the latest love story— THE HOPE CHEST, poignant and beautifully crafted, a story of hope, faith, memories, second chances, life’s special moments and surprises.

Emotionally rich, heartbreaking, and yet inspiring and warm-spirited— Shipman once again demonstrates the impact of family, history, and friends. Life is precious. Life is a gift. Time. How do we choose to use it? A legacy to be continued through others. To be passed along. You can utilize what time you have, or lose it all in a blink of an eye.

Thought-provoking! One man may be losing his wife, but through her strength—he may discover a new family. From family heirlooms, nostalgia, grief, sadness, to inspiration and hope for the future.

“ . . . Hope is something you carry with you forever, not only this chest but also in your heart. So look inside it and inside yourself when you need hope the most, and it will guide you, and remind you of what was and what is to be. . . “

Set in idyllic and charming small town of Michigan, Don and Mattie Tice have had a happy life. They have been in love since they first met many years earlier. They promised one another, till death do us part. They are approaching their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Don wishes more than anything he could freeze time. Just a little longer.

They had their cottage at Hope Dunes. Their history. However, the house was big and now Don needed help with Mattie. They now required a caregiver. Mattie has ALS— for five years, and now they are forced to move to a smaller place. Are they really ready to give up a big part of their past? What about the future?

Mattie is multi-talented. She was a successful landscape designer, with many famous clients over the years. She was also a painter. Don was an executive at Herman Miller furniture, and they both love the beauty and importance that objects and plants hold in people’s homes and lives.

Now they are left with no children and only a faithful dog, Mabel. What will he do when his loving faithful wife passes on. How will he go on? He is clinging to every moment.

Enter Rose Hoffs, and her charming, "larger- than- life" daughter, Jeri. Rose lost her parents to cancer and her husband left years ago. A divorced single mom, her parents had left her their family home; however, she is struggling to make ends meet.

She needs full-time hours versus part time in order to survive without using all her savings and her inheritance, which was dwindling quickly. She needed to hang on to her family home. She was too young to have no help. She is excited to get an opportunity to work for this couple through the service, There’s No Place Like Home, the senior care group as a caregiver.

Little does she know how she and her daughter’s life will be enhanced by this wonderful caring couple, and the impact she and her daughter will have while based on this newfound relationship.

In the years following Mattie’s diagnosis, Don had been angry, with God and at every person so insinuated that his wife would one day be better off dead. However, Mattie made him aware his anger was misplaced. It was not all about him. She told him he was being selfish and wasting his strength and emotion over something he could not control. Time will march on. Life will continue.

. . . “We get one chance on this earth. One short little stop to get things right, and too few of us do. We focus on everything that is unimportant.”

Special keepsakes. A special hope chest for a special history. Everything has a story. Each of the heirlooms in the hope chest teaches something about one’s self. Past, present, future. Living lessons. A hope chest once filled with hope and now there is none.

From a cedar chest, scents, fragrances of the past. Filled with memories such as scrapbooks, heirlooms, family pictures, teddy bears, family bibles, special mementos, rag dolls, aprons, dishes, jewelry—precious items to be passed along to a family. Connecting the past with the future. Filled with love, hopes, and dreams.

“Hope is only one short letter from home.

H is for Hope Now and for always.
O is for the Overwhelming love I have for you.
P is for the Practical items that will make your house a home.
E is for the Eternal memories this chest will provide every time you open it up.

You are my hope, and my home, in this world, My daughter, my love. . . ”



Beautifully written, I bookmarked so many passages. Shipman has a way with words and vivid descriptions—predict he will be the next Nicholas Sparks! Loved everything about this charming story! Readers will fall in love with the characters, as well as the comforting words to those who have recently lost loved ones or those left behind trying to make sense of their loss. You will smile and cry at the same time. No chance encounters. An ideal book for book clubs and further discussions.

Another element which was nicely done— the way Shipman used the different timelines. Often an author will spend more time with the secondary story than the main one. I liked the fact, Don and Mattie's touching and the timeless story took center stage, as well as their background history. Rose’s life intersected perfectly, without taking away from the couple's journey.

For fans of Nicholas Sparks, Fredrik Backman, Debbie Macomber, Joanne Demaio, Sally Hepworth, Zoe Fishman, and Charles Martin.

Highly Recommend!

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/01/The-Hope-Chest
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-11-02 19:00
Little House On the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder Book Review!
Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder,Garth Williams

Hi everyone! Today I'm reviewing Little House On the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

 

In this book the Ingalls family leave the Big Woods of Wisconsin due to the fact that so many people are moving into the woods and scaring of animals. they go of into Indian territory where many hardships await them.

 

This is the most popular book of the series. This is also the first book where the Ingalls family go threw hardships such as wolf packs, prairie fires, sickness, and Indian war cries. It definitely made the book a lot more interesting. 

 

Laura still remains my favorite character. I love her relationship with Charles and Jack. I love like Caroline and Mary.

 

In this book we are introduced to a new character named Mr. Edwards. Edwards becomes good friend with Charles and Laura, but Caroline think him to be uncivilized. Though Mr. Edwards may not be my favorite character of the book, I still like him. He was basically the same as he is in the show (which I also love by the way).

 

I don't really have a favorite part, but the part with the wolf pack and the Indians really stand out to me.

 

This was a really good book. I really enjoyed it.

 

Until next time!

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