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review 2020-03-16 07:00
Turning Tide Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Turning Tide

Author: Melody Carlson

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Release Date: Feb 15, 2020

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.



Click HERE for your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

More from Melody

 

 
Writing about the WW1 era has definitely been a good history lesson for me. Prohibition laws in Oregon (and rum-runners breaking them) combined with a massive war that changed the world and a global epidemic is worth paying attention to. Especially since history sometimes repeats itself. The early 20th century had a lot going on—much that seems nearly forgotten. I’m glad to see the movie 1917 is doing well—and we plan to see it this week. Although I’m not a fan of gruesome war movies, this era continues to intrigue me. Even as I wrapped up my Sunset Cove series with Turning Tide I was left wondering . . . what’s next? But isn’t that the beauty of story?
 
 

My Review

 

The fourth and final book in the Legacy of Sunset Cove series by Melody Carlson, “Turning Tide” lives up to its name and proves to be my favorite installment. Whereas “Surf Smugglers” left off with a bit of a somber feeling but with burgeoning love and relationships, “Turning Tide” truly does turn things upside down. Reality comes crashing in, and once again Carlson draws readers into an atmosphere that is at once both cozy and overwhelming.

This book was a very apropos read right now because of its candor in addressing World War I. Without going into gruesome detail, Carlson informs readers via Anna’s newspaper of the high number of fatalities of American troops overseas and the injuries to both body and mind that they faced. Shell shock, which is now known as PTSD, is discussed. What makes this part of the narrative so interesting is that it is presented as it was in 1918, with doctors’ thoughts and opinions revealed. Also, the Spanish Flu is an important part of the story, especially the latter quarter or so, which plays into the current Corona virus pandemic. As in this story and the rampant fear generated by the flu, our current response should be like that of Katy when she reaches the end of herself: “She knew it was time to pray.”

Relationships form the backbone of “Turning Tide”, just as they have for the previous three books in this series, and reading all four offers the advantage of witnessing relationships blossom and grow and, in some cases, end. The characters have become endearing over the course of this series, and I will miss several of them, especially Mac and Lucille.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 


Blog Stops

 

The Avid Reader, March 16

For the Love of Literature, March 16

Through the Fire Blogs, March 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 17

Inklings and notions, March 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 18

deb’s Book Review, March 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 19

By The Book, March 19

Wishful Endings, March 19

Texas Book-aholic, March 20

She Lives To Read, March 20

Betti Mace, March 21

Remembrancy, March 21

janicesbookreviews, March 22

Mary Hake, March 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 22

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 23

For Him and My Family, March 23

Maureen’s Musings, March 24

My Devotional Thoughts, March 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 24

Christian Bookaholic, March 25

Artistic Nobody, March 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Older & Smarter?, March 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 27

Blogging With Carol, March 27

Daysong Reflections, March 27

SPLASHES of Joy, March 28

Vicky Sluiter, March 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 29

Pause for Tales, March 29

For the Love of Books, March 29

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize package of a complete set of The Legacy of Sunset Cove series!!
 
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 2020-01-21 05:00
Above the Fold Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Above the Fold

Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Confined behind a secretarial desk at her father’s struggling newspaper, Elissa Tillman longs for her father and the world to take her seriously—not just as a suffragette, but also as a full-fledged journalist.

Cole Parker regrets the day he’d abandoned Pittsburgh to chase a high-profile journalism job in New York, but now he’s returned to the steel city to amend his mistakes and win back the woman he once spurned.

The murder of a millionaire offers the perfect chance for Elissa to nab the headline and prove her skills. But there’s a catch. To get her story above the fold, she must compete for it. Her rival is none other than Cole Parker, the very man who shattered her heart.


Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. She currently enjoys life in Ohio with her husband and two kids. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms.
 

 

 

More from Rachel

 

What does the classic movie His Girl Friday, famous mystery writer Agatha Christie, and my husband’s grandfather all have in common? They were all used as inspiration for my debut novel Above the Fold.
 
His Girl Friday is one of my favorite stories. This movie captures the thrill of the newspaper world—that drive within the reporter’s heart to get the scoop, that hum of activity from the newsroom to the firing of the presses, and that inescapable pursuit to beat out the opposing paper. But what I loved most about this movie was the chemistry between the two main characters. They share a romantic history. In turn, there is major tension, but man oh man is there spark! So this triggered my creative mind. What would happen if I switched the roles and had the heroine be the one that gets jilted? What if I set this story in the 1920s when the profession of journalism was male-dominated? What if I add some more mystery? Cue Agatha Christie.
 
 
My husband and I love Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple series. Did you know that she wrote over 74 books? That’s staggering to me. My mind reels at how intricate and varied all her plots are. My husband and I would try to guess who the murderer was at the beginning of a story and more often than not, we were wrong! On one particular night we were watching a PBS version of Miss Marple and an idea struck me. What if I changed my story to go this route? What if I made this person the villain instead of that one? The idea that came to me had nothing to do with the story we’d been watching, but one thing that’d been said flickered a light in me. I love it when that happens! And I also love it when I can incorporate pieces of my personal life into the book. This brings me to the biggest inspiration of the story—my husband’s grandpa.
 
Grandpa Jay Lewis had two loves in his life—his wife and the newspaper press. He’d started working for the local newspaper during his early teens and made his way up the ranks until he became the press foreman. Here’s a picture of Jay when he was in his early 20s. The hat shown was made of folded newsprint paper and worn to keep the ink from dripping on his head. But the expression in this picture says it all—the press was his happy place. He’d worked with the presses for over five decades, until he no longer had the strength. In 2004, he passed away, but his legacy lives on in the hearts of many. So in tribute to Jay and his great passion for the newspaper world, I included him in the cast of characters. I only hope I was able to capture his zeal.
 
So there you have it. Inspiration came to me in a myriad of ways, but they all worked together to bring you a story that I pray delights your heart.
 

My Review

 

How appropriate that this book is set in 1922, as we now enter the “roaring twenties” of the twenty-first century. Comparisons are inevitable, and to my surprise, as I read “Above the Fold”, I realized that while there has been progress, much remains the same. This story seems timeless in some ways because the conflicts and circumstances translate so well, both on a more superficial human level and on a deeper spiritual level. A mark of noteworthy fiction, this detail goes hand-in-hand with being relevant and applicable to readers. Achieving this with historical fiction further raises the standard.

Rachel Scott McDaniel’s “Above the Fold” triumphs remarkably, no small feat for a debut! I certainly never would have guessed that this was a first novel, as it carries the sophistication of an established writer. From character development to plot execution, this story truly shines, and I am delighted that I had the privilege to read and review it. What initially drew me to the story was the fact that it is set in Pittsburgh, as that is not very far from where I live and I recognized most of the street names, as well as the Duquesne incline. The references to it as a steel industry magnate and the ecological concerns therein continue to be issues of debate today, even after the end of the steel era.

McDaniel’s focus on the newspaper industry offers another facet of the Steel City, bringing attention to journalism and the role of women in post-WWI, Prohibition-era America. Through Elissa Tillman, McDaniel highlights the ongoing women’s suffrage movement in the quest for workplace equality. While not a new theme in and of itself, in this story it dovetails with romance and the human condition to reveal how inextricably linked our identity is with the way in which we approach life and impact those around us. Elissa had been known in school as the “Shadyside Slob” because she was not elegant and graceful, and in adulthood, as she strives to earn a place as a newspaperwoman, she laments that “No man took her seriously. Not Father. Not Adam. And definitely not Cole.” So “[w]hich hurt worse, forgotten or betrayed? The only men she’d ever loved had done both.” Perfectionism results from a desperate need to prove herself. Cole, likewise, battles his own inner torments, able to see himself only through the lens of failure. However, a murder investigation serves as a catalyst for metanoia, demonstrating how the Lord uses even bad situations for good and is truly the God of second chances. She realizes, as we all should, that “Her dreams had been elusive like a breath of wind, but her value wasn’t found in triumphs. Or failures. God’s love defined her…God’s love made her enough.”

Highly recommended for anyone interested in 1920s Pittsburgh, journalism and the news business, women’s suffrage, Prohibition, addictions (handled very gently, without graphic details), second chances, and finding one’s identity in Christ.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

April Hayman, Author , January 14

Robin’s Nest, January 14

Godly Book Reviews, January 15

Where Faith and Books Meet, January 15

Just the Write Escape, January 16

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections, January 16

Through the Fire Blogs, January 17

mypreciousbitsandmusings, January 17

Betti Mace, January 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 18

Texas Book-aholic, January 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 19

janicesbookreviews, January 20

Emily Yager, January 20

She Lives to Read, January 21

For the Love of Literature, January 21

Inklings and notions, January 22

Life of Literature, January 22

Daysong Reflections, January 23

For Him and My Family, January 23

Stories By Gina, January 24

Jacquelyn Lynn, January 24

Hallie Reads, January 25

Beauty in the Binding, January 25

Back Porch Reads, January 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 27

Batya’s Bits, January 27

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her giveaway, Rachel is giving away the grand prize package of an Autographed Paperback copy of Above the Fold, A Custom Newspaper-Themed Book Cozy, An Above the Fold vintage-style bookmark!!
 
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 2019-06-23 22:21
Baccano!, Vol. 2: 1931 The Grand Punk Railroad: Local (book) by Ryohgo Narita, illustration by Katsumi Enami, translated by Taylor Engel
Baccano!, Vol. 2: 1931 The Grand Punk Railroad: Local - Ryohgo Narita,Katsumi Enami

The year is 1931, and the Flying Pussyfoot, a limited express train bound for New York, has just acquired several groups worth of dangerous passengers, nearly all of whom think they'll easily be able to take over the train for their own ends. There's crybaby bootlegger boss Jacuzzi Splot (best name ever) and his misfit band of delinquents, who plan to steal some secret cargo. There's the Lemures group, a bunch of terrorists determined to take some hostages in order to free their leader, the immortal Huey Laforet. There's murder-loving Ladd Russo, the nephew of the head of the Russo mafia family, his bride-to-be Lua, and his group of fellow killers. There's the mysterious monster known as the Rail Tracer. And then there are a few less dangerous passengers, like the thieves Isaac and Miria.

All of these passengers have their own goals and motivations. Only some of them will make it to New York alive.

First, a disclaimer: I have seen (and enjoyed) the anime, which adapted several books in this series, including this one. I suspect it helped my ability to follow along with the characters and story. Normally, I'd suggest watching the anime prior to attempting these light novels, but the anime has gone out of print and, as far as I know, isn't legally streaming anywhere (to anyone who wonders why I still buy so much anime when streaming is an option, this is why).

As far as reading order goes: Although Narita wrote in his afterword that he planned to keep each volume as self-contained as possible, that doesn't mean the books can be read in any order - definitely read Volume 1 before starting this one, even though only a few characters from the first book make appearances in this one. Also, if you make it past Volume 1 and plan on reading Volume 2, you might as well buy Volume 3 as well, because Volume 2 isn't self-contained. It doesn't end in what I'd call a cliffhanger, but it does leave a good chunk of the story untold. Multiple characters show up, only to disappear again, the details of their fates saved for Volume 3.

In my review of the first volume of this series, I wrote that the writing/translation was bad but that this somehow didn't interfere with my enjoyment. That was sadly not the case with Volume 2. I don't know whether it was actually worse than Volume 1 or whether I was just less in the mood, but there were times when the writing literally ground my reading experience to a halt as I tried to figure out what Narita meant. One example:

"Nice objected to that idea. Since she was talking to Nick, even under the circumstances, she meticulously parsed out casual speech and polite speech to the appropriate listener; Nick received the latter." (147)

It would have been simpler to say that, even though she objected to Nick's idea, she still did so politely. Not only is the phrasing incredibly awkward, I'm not sure that "parsed" is the right word here. "Parceled out" might have been more appropriate.

Here's an example that just made me shake my head:

"Without giving an audible answer to that question, Lua nodded silently." (48)

Can we say "redundant"?

As in Volume 1, the writing was almost completely devoid of descriptions. Nearly all of the book's historical and setting details were limited to pages 61 to 62 - otherwise, it was all character introductions, dialogue, and action, pretty much in that order.

It's a sign of how excellent Ladd Russo's English-language voice actor was that I kept hearing him every time I read Ladd's dialogue. Of all of this book's many characters, Ladd and Jacuzzi probably stood out the most. Jacuzzi was a relatively fun and interesting character, a young man who tended to cry and panic about everything but who nonetheless inspired intense loyalty within his group. Ladd, unfortunately, just came across as an excuse for occasional mindless bone-crunching violence.

Isaac and Miria were a disappointment this time around. They continued their role as the series' comic relief, but instead of being oblivious to the violence around them, they were presented as being well aware of what was going on, but so used to it that they were unfazed. Honestly, it made them seem more creepy and disturbing than, say, a more in-your-face monster like Ladd.

I don't expect the series' writing to improve, but I'm hopeful that I'll like Volume 3 more than this one, because all of the fantasy elements that Narita only hinted at in this volume will actually be on-page in that volume. Also, my favorite character from the anime, Claire, will finally get more than just a few vague mentions.

I'll wrap this up with a couple things that made me go WTF. Was the fingernail thing in the anime? I can't remember, but in the book it made me wince. Fingernails don't work like that - I don't care how you shape or cut them, you're not going to be able to saw through multiple ropes with them, and certainly not quickly enough to do any good. Also, if you did arrange to have one of your nails shaped like a tiny saw, you would constantly regret it as you accidentally cut yourself or other people or even just got the nail caught on cloth or whatever. And then there was the thing under Nice's eye patch, which I know was definitely in the anime, although I'd completely forgotten about it. So much wincing. Just a bad, bad idea.

Extras:

Several color illustrations at the front of the book (with text that will likely only confuse readers who haven't yet read the volume and haven't seen the anime), several black-and-white illustrations throughout, and an afterword by the author.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-03-26 19:57
Wing walking feminist during Prohibition
Nothing But Sky - Amy Trueblood

Disclaimer: reviewing advance uncorrected proof via NetGalley

 

This is a solid historical fiction debut with an interesting and unique premise. An orphaned teen is determined to win a contract with a film studio to keep her found-family together and hold onto her dangerously exhilarating job as a wing walker - an acrobatic who performs stunts on (and off of) flying ex-WWI planes.

 

I thought there was a good balance between period-accurate tone and characterization, and of-the-moment attitudes and values. Language use wasn't totally jarring, and especially at the beginning, there was a noticeable effort to avoid anachronism. Based on true-to-life examples, the wing-walking girl's fierceness and her (and her friends') push back against traditional expectations for women weren't totally out of left field. The structure of the story is not unlike a sports story - the big game coming up, the secret early morning training, the big snag etc. There is a fairly significant romance subplot that didn't really hold my attention, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. Very good twist at the end - some excellent slight of hand helps it land effectively, and if the wrap-up was a little pat, that's just the way of engaging storytelling. Generally an enjoyable read.

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review 2017-12-31 17:36
Historical fiction with dark thriller underpinnings
Yesternight - Cat Winters

Winters continues to amaze with detailed historical fiction that delves into the creepy, the paranormal, the supernatural, and the crappy bits of being human.

 

Alice Lind is a psychologist fresh off of a masters degree and traveling rural Oregon conducting child intelligence assessments for the school system (bc a mere woman can't get into doctoral programs in 1925, natch) when she comes across a child who claims to remember a past life as a drowning victim. Alice wants to help, and not just because it's a fascinating case; she was a difficult child herself, with unexplained, extreme behavior buried in a half-remembered past. But when there's no psychological explanation for the child's supposed delusion - no trauma, no abuse - Alice's journey to solve the mystery may cause more harm than good.

 

Good period-appropriate worldbuilding, a clear, modern but not overly anachronistic voice, feminist characters and story development, and a taut thriller-esque mystery with supernatural-leaning elements that may or may not be more than human. The ending was a twist and a half, and unfortunately not one I really appreciated, taking the tone of the book to the horror end of the thriller genre. Very well written, though. Heads up on some adult content; a dash of language and sex scenes may offend some readers, but is on the milder side of adult fiction content.

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