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review 2017-07-21 22:31
Facing West: A Story of the Oregon Trail - Kathleen V. Kudlinski,James Watling

This is the first Once Upon America book I have read.

I found a copy of this in the Little Free Lending Library and wanted to check it out.

I was blown away by what a great read this was. The writing was simple, but engaging. It is like the next step after The Magic Tree House books. Very educational and enlightening.

I love how Kudlinski worked so much into the narrative (women's roles, dangers on the trail, daily routines, systems of communication). It was very cool to learn about the Oregon Trail while still being entertained.

I also liked the added element of Ben's asthma and how this effected him on the trail.

A very good read, highly recommend for young readers who are interested in history.

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review 2017-07-21 16:57
Seven Stones to Stand or Fall
Seven Stones to Stand or Fall: A Collection of Outlander Short Stories - Diana Gabaldon

A few of these I've read already, so I'll be lazy and link to those reviews. ;)

 

The Custom of the Army - 2 stars


https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/524842810?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

The Space Between - no rating

 

I didn't bother getting this when it was originally released solo and I'm glad I didn't. I don't have much interest in Joan, and even less interest in the Comte St. Germain, nor did I ever once wonder what happened to the guy or what his backstory was. So this was one long bore and I skimmed a lot of it to get to the important plot points. It was nice to see Mother Hildegard, but her role here is pretty much just cameo and doesn't make up for the rest.

 

A Plague of Zombies - 4 stars


https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1900984342?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows - 5 stars


(No review for this one though. Sounds like a good reason for a reread.)

 

And reread I did and loved it just as much as the first time. Roger's father, Jerry MacKenzie, is unexpectedly launched back in time when his plane crash lands, and he goes through hell and back to get back to his time and his family. We get a few scenes of what's going on with Marjorie and baby Roger, but most of this is focused on Jerry. It's beautifully and heartbreakingly written, because if you've read the Outlander books you already know what everyone believes to have happened.

 

Virgins - 3 stars

 

Jamie and Ian are mercenaries in France. There's a lot of anti-Semantism in this one, as Gabaldon doesn't shy away from the prejudices of the time, and even our protags are guilty of it. The Jewish characters themselves though do not appear - at least to me - to be caricatures or stereotypes. Some of the Scottisms seemed strange - Ian's constantly referring to Jamie as a "wean" - I didn't think their age difference was all that great, so it felt odd. There's also this whole subplot with one of the other mercenaries who makes Gregor Clegane look like a fluffy kitty.

 

A Fugitive Green - 4 stars

 

Minnie and Hal's first meeting! I was intrigued by the backstory we got about Minnie in The Scottish Prisoner, so getting to see a more detailed telling of it was great. Minnie's wonderful and resourceful, and we even get a brief (too brief, I thought) subplot of Minnie's mom and her quest to find her. That was rather melodramatic - the mom's backstory that is - and I kept feeling like there was something more there going on than we heard

because nuns getting pregnant is not exactly unheard of so why exactly did Minnie's mom go mad because of it?

(spoiler show)

 

The ending also felt a bit rushed, so I hope this isn't the last exploration we get into these characters' backstories.

 

Besieged - 4 stars

 

Man, John can't even leave an assignment without getting pulled into a war. :P This is an interesting follow up to A Plague of Zombies, as John's still temporary military governor of Jamaica and trying his darnedest to resign that post. Enter his stepfather with some harrowing news. Loved seeing Tom Byrd again, and it was neat to see how Rodrigo is dealing after being zombified. There's your ingrained racism of the time, what with the slavery and all. I've never liked John's pragmatic view of slavery, but it is what it is, I guess? At least here, that pragmatism is a help to them.

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review 2017-07-20 22:44
Book Review of The Jewel Tree: A Young Adult Fantasy Novella by Lee Summers
The Jewel Tree: A Novel in Miniature - David Lee Summers

At the heart of THE JEWEL TREE is an heirloom so precious that the last remaining members of the Ryder family will do almost anything to keep it in their possession.

But how long should a young girl work to earn back the emblem of her mother's soul? And is any task to menial?

 

When Leda sees the hummingbird charm dangling from wealthy Lord Caitiff's shriveled earlobe, she swears she will labor a year and a day to reclaim it. She is prepared to do whatever the old man asks--until the day he asks too much.

 

In a world of dark curses and ancient grudges, Leda and her handsome young uncle are sometimes hard pressed to distinguish between appearance and reality. Not all that glitters is gold--and gold is never worth more than flesh and blood. This mini-novel about the redemptive power of love will delight readers who appreciate a little magic in their lives.

 

Review 3*

 

This is a wonderful young adult fantasy novella. I really enjoyed it.

 

Leda Ryder is a young girl of fifteen when the story starts, but the tale covers a few years. She is a wonderful character and I really liked her. She was orphaned at a young age and has been raised by her uncle, Alexander. Unfortunately, he has a gambling addiction and has squandered the family money until there is nothing of value except an heirloom called the Jewel Tree (fashioned from gold), which holds little charms set with precious and semi-precious stones. He sells these charms to Lord Caitiff to pay for his debts. When she finds out what her uncle has done, she finds herself working for Lord Caitiff in an attempt to earn the charms back.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, with no expectation of a positive review.

 

This is an intriguing and charming novella. I must admit that I was not sure what time period this book was set in at first, then I realised that it must be in Victorian or early Edwardian times as there is mention of horses and carriages but no cars.

 

The story is mostly told through the eyes of Leda, though Alexander and Lord Caitiff also have scenes seen through their points of view. I found myself hooked from the first page. However, I also found myself confused at the relationship between Leda and Alexander. The author introduces Alexander as Leda's uncle, but a couple of times they are referred to as siblings. It's as if the author couldn't decide what their relationship should be and kept changing it and never corrected it or missed it during editing. Nevertheless, they come across as a loving and close family even though it's just the two of them. Lord Caitiff is a mysterious benefactor and the reader never really gets to know him until close to the end of the tale. There is a good reason for this and the author uses this mystery to good effect as there is a slight twist that surprised me. There are also other characters that intrigued me, like Felicity, Lord Caitiff's daughter who is unspeakably ugly. This story has a "Beauty and the Beast" feel to it, and was further enhanced by the inclusion of a curse and a sorceress called Iona Grimm. What her relationship to Lord Caitiff is, I'll leave you to find out for yourselves.

 

I reached the end of the book with mixed feelings; I would have liked for the story to be a little longer as felt it was rushed in places but happy at the way it concluded.

 

Lee Summers has written an intriguing debut YA fantasy novella. However, this author has written other works under the name of Elise Chidley, though I have never read them. I love her writing style, which is fast paced. However, as I mentioned above, I found some of the story a little rushed at times. Due to the confusion over the relationship between Leda and Alexander, I found myself stumbling and re-reading parts which disrupted the flow. I think that once this issue has been addressed, the story should flow more smoothly. Having said all that, I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

There is no explicit or overt mention of sexual activity. However, there is one instance where Lord Caitiff propositions Leda. Nevertheless, this book is aimed at young adult readers and as such, I recommend this book to readers aged 12 upwards. Readers younger than this may struggle with certain words they may not be familiar with, but then again, it depends on their reading level, so parental advice is advised. I also recommend this book to adults who love to read young adult romance/fantasy or fairytale re-tellings. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-07-18 23:07
4****
A Trucker Christmas: A Romantic Short St... A Trucker Christmas: A Romantic Short Story - Jamie Schlosser

A nice quick revisit from Travis & Angel, who I love. And a clever but brief way to introduce new characters in the series. Unfortunately, they didn't pique my interest enough to continue on with the series though.

 

But this Novella (#2.5) and books #1 and #2 of this series are great reads that I would recommend :)

 

Happy Reading :)

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review 2017-07-18 21:32
Parent and child yoga.
Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids - Kristen Fischer,Susi Schaefer

With yoga enjoying widespread favour, I'm sure this will be a popular book. Children love to share with parents, and what better than exercising together? 

 

Although intended for children aged four to eight, my 18 month grandchild was mesmerised by the colourful illustrations of the zoo animals, and I don't think it would be long before he might attempt to copy some of their movements. 

Maybe not a book for grandparents to share as I'm not as nimble as I once was, but I'm sure this will be a hit with parents who are happy to slither on the ground or balance on one leg to demonstrate the actions.

In case of any doubt, full descriptions of the eleven poses are included at the end of the book.

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