Kache hasn't been home to Alaska since his parents and brother died in a tragic plane accident twenty years ago. All these years he's been carrying arKache hasn't been home to Alaska since his parents and brother died in a tragic plane accident twenty years ago. All these years he's been carrying around the grief and burden of losing his family but now his grandmother is dying and his aunt Snag has asked to come home. Kache expects to find the old homestead in rubble and decay since it has stood empty all this time.
Kache and Snag didn't know that the homestead has actually been cared for by Nadia, a young woman hiding out from her clan of Old Believers. Used to a life of solitude, Nadia hasn't left the homestead for nearly ten years. She's kept up the place and left it essentially the same as it was the day Kache's family died.
Kache, Snag and Nadia must all face their personal fears and guilt and find a way to heal their hearts and move on with their lives.
I love a book set in Alaska. There just seems to be an extra bit of magic and wonder, danger and fear when a story takes place in the majestic and rugged beauty of Alaska. So, I was expecting a lot when I picked up All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson. Though the novel took a different direction from what I was initially expecting, I did enjoy reading more about the characters and their experiences and adventures in Alaska. Part of the fun of the Alaska setting is that certain plots really only work there. I appreciated the addition of the Old Believers, a Russian religious sect that immigrated to Oregon and then Alaska. I have never heard of them before so I found it rather interesting. The characters were unique enough to be interesting. Aunt Snag was so likable in her vulnerability and sensitivity hidden behind her facade of strength. The strengths of the novel are definitely characterization and setting.
The plot line gets hijacked by romance for too long and it starts to drag in the middle. There was foreshadowing of a thriller but the climax and ending were abrupt and lacked the intensity I was hoping for. Overall, All the Winters After was a fairly good read that started out strong but lost momentum for the conclusion. I enjoyed reading more about Alaska. ...more
The love shared by Henry Longfellow for his wife Fanny Appleton is legendary. We all know the story of her tragic death and the pain he experienced atThe love shared by Henry Longfellow for his wife Fanny Appleton is legendary. We all know the story of her tragic death and the pain he experienced at her loss. We know how his grief inspired him to pen the poem that eventually became the beloved Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Because I knew and loved this story, I had to pick up and read Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack. I rarely read romance novels of any variety and if I do, it's generally because someone picked it for my local book club. However, perhaps because of the historical nature of Forever and Forever since it is based on real historical figures that I admire, I enjoyed the novel.
Henry Longfellow was still grieving the death of his first wife, when he first met the eighteen year old Fanny Appleton during their tours of Europe. Henry admired her intellect and her interest in literature. He couldn't get enough of the girl. Fanny was less sure of her new suitor. He was a bit awkward; older and certainly not of the same social class. Their courtship is long and unusual and I really enjoyed reading about how the two finally came together in a mutually loving and committed relationship that would transcend time.
This is the first time I've read a novel by Kilpack and I was impressed by how she paid homage to these inspiring people. Well researched, she is faithful to their story and legacy. I appreciate that she included chapter notes at the end of the book. I must admit that I found some sections and dialogue lengthy and unnecessary to the advancement of the story. Overall, I enjoyed the novel. I liked the characterization and how Kilpack successfully shows the maturing and growth of her characters. Forever and Forever is definitely a novel I would recommend, especially to those who appreciate an enduring and realistic love story....more
The dreams! Not long after the untimely and sudden death of her little boy, Charlie started having very intense dreams of children and future events.The dreams! Not long after the untimely and sudden death of her little boy, Charlie started having very intense dreams of children and future events. She's a bit freaked out when the events in her dreams come true. When she dreams of a little boy in a bayou, she decides to accept the writing job in Louisiana. She's been hired to write a book about a thirty year old unsolved mystery of a kidnapped little boy. Perhaps with her dreams she can finally bring closure to the case.
The Deveau family is one of Louisana's most prestigious families so when the little boy went missing, it became a world famous case. To conduct research, Charlie moves onto the Deveau estate of Evangeline and meets the eccentric members of the family. As she uncovers the secrets and mysteries of the Deveaus she might even find friendship and love and healing from her own grief.
I was almost immediately captivated by the writing and story of The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. The plantation in Louisiana was a great setting for the otherworldliness of Charlie's dreams and the intrigue that surrounded all the characters. Thrilling and at times romantic, The Gates of Evangeline kept me reading late into the night. I loved the Gothic style and the ghostly nature of Charlie's dreams.
Before reading The Gates of Evangeline, which is a She Reads Book Club choice, I had heard a lot of praise and I wasn't at all disappointed. It was a quick, thoroughly enjoyable read, perfect for solving any book slumps....more
Once upon a time, I regularly read biographies and histories. I spent weeks devouring every detail of the historic figures' lives and sharing with RanOnce upon a time, I regularly read biographies and histories. I spent weeks devouring every detail of the historic figures' lives and sharing with Randy anything I thought especially interesting or unknown to him (as a history major he seems to know everything). As much as I enjoyed learning more history and about the interesting people, it's been a few years since I found a work to capture my attention. America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie is written as a novel but uses so much research to tell the story of Thomas Jefferson's daughter Martha Patsy Jefferson Randolph.
I haven't spent so much time reading a single book for years. It took me almost two full weeks to read America's First Daughter yet I enjoyed every minute. Beginning with Patsy's childhood as the Jefferson family prepared to flee their home as the British army closed in, the novel takes the reader through the exciting history surrounding the Revolutionary War; Jefferson's time as ambassador in France; his continued time in politics and his retirement told through the eyes of his beloved and trusted daughter. I loved having the opportunity to visit these historic events through the domestic perspective of a woman and his family.
The novel focuses on Patsy and so it is her personality that shines through so clearly. She is a strong and yet conflicted character dealing with such troubling issues and nothing about her life is in any way boring. With the exception of Patsy's husband, most of the other characters are not as richly developed. Using letters and other research, Dray and Kamoie share family details that enrich the understanding of that period of time. There was often so much turmoil. I read the novel while my husband watched the election debates next to me. Listening to the circus that the election has become this year, I found it interesting to read more about the drama and dirty politics that occurred in the election of 1800. So little has changed. Except that we don't fight duels anymore. Perhaps that's just what this election is missing.
Part of me wished that it had been written as a biography so my brain would know just what was supported by research and what was assumptions filling in the gaps. However, there was value to it being a novel. It allowed the authors to delve into the ideas of Jefferson's personal life--though it could be seen as apologetic, it offered sympathy and understanding to a confusing and horrific issue.
The time I spent reading America's First Daughter was valuable and enjoyable. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much. I'm definitely inspired to find another biography soon....more
Anna is not yet forty years old when she is diagnosed with the same early-onset Alzheimer's disease that killed her mother years ago. As her memoriesAnna is not yet forty years old when she is diagnosed with the same early-onset Alzheimer's disease that killed her mother years ago. As her memories and cognitive abilities deteriorate, Anna and her twin brother decide it is best if she is checked in to an assisted-living center. The one they finally choose, Rosalind House, is a high-end place with very few residents that just happen to include another "young" patient--Luke who also has a degenerative brain disease. Anna and Luke begin a relationship that makes their time happier but worries their respective families.
Because of unfortunate family circumstances, Eve is desperate for a job. She practically begs for the cook job at Rosalind House. She is just being introduced to the residents when Anna begs Eve to help her. As Eve gets to know Anna, she is able to come to understand just how she can help.
I really enjoyed Sally Hepworth's novel The Secrets of Midwives last year. Hepworth is a skilled writer and spins a good story. I was happy to have the opportunity to read her newest novel The Things We Keep. Novels about early on-set Alzheimer's disease have been popular lately. I haven't read Still Alice yet but I have read We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas and The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman. Throw in other novels dealing with other degenerative diseases or life changing accidents like Five Days Left and Me Before You, and it feels like a subject that I've read a lot about in the past few years.
I wanted The Things We Keep to bring a new perspective and in many ways it did. I appreciated the author's tone and story. Without giving anything away, this tale brought a new angle to the discussion and it was refreshing. It challenges perceptions and preconceived notions about disease, life and death.
The problem with this particular novel, for me, was that there were too many things going on. It was ambitious. The characters started out strong but as the story went along, the ending felt rushed and incomplete. Clearly, as Anna's brain deteriorated it would be difficult for her to continue narrating her own story but the reader is suddenly pulled in to side plots/tangents with lesser characters. I became less and less interested. The level of emotion one expects from a story like this was lacking.
Though there were issues, The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth tells an interesting story and adds a new dimension to the discussion. For every person that suffers from this disease, there is a different story. ...more
I loved Naomi Munaweera's first novel Island of a Thousand Mirrors. It was one of my very favorite novels in 2014. So, when I saw that she'd written aI loved Naomi Munaweera's first novel Island of a Thousand Mirrors. It was one of my very favorite novels in 2014. So, when I saw that she'd written another novel, I was thrilled to be able to read it. What Lies Between Us takes the reader back to Sri Lanka, where a young girl grows up surrounded by the tenuous love of her parents. Her relationship with her mother is at times loving caresses and tenderness but often her mother withdraws and is distant and emotionally unavailable. At the same time, the girl loves her homeland--the lush surroundings and dear friends. However, under it all, she hides a terrible secret that is threatening to destroy her entire family. When disaster sends them to America, she must now try to fit in within a completely different society and culture.
In What Lies Between Us, Munaweera again delights with stunningly beautiful language and haunting imagery. I was enraptured as she wove her tale of familial love and its power for complete destruction. The narrator is a sensitive character who endures so much and has a way of observing and describing situations that shows her keen insight.
Munaweera exposes parts of human nature that we wish to hide and wish they weren't true. It is at times uncomfortable and yet so very valuable to recognize and understand. She never lets the reader off the hook and doesn't shy away from painful topics. She writes a novel that will make you feel and think and maybe even squirm. What Lies Between Us is an unforgettable novel....more
Everyone knows about the explosion of the Hindenburg. We've seen the old newsreel footage. If you have young sons, you may have watched it multiple tiEveryone knows about the explosion of the Hindenburg. We've seen the old newsreel footage. If you have young sons, you may have watched it multiple times. But what I never realized was just how many people were on board the Hindenburg the night that it was engulfed in flames within seconds. I didn't know that the Hindenburg was a flying hotel, carrying passengers across the Atlantic. I certainly didn't know a thing about those passengers.
In Flight of Dreams, Ariel Lawhon takes a historic tragedy and gives faces and stories to the people aboard that fateful day. Emilie Imhoff was famously the only female crew member. Torn between her own plans and her developing feelings for the navigator, Emilie spends the trips assisting passengers and trying to make important personal decisions, while becoming tangled in the plots of the passengers.
There are others aboard with their own agendas, including a mysterious American who always manages to be in the parts of the ship where he isn't allowed and a sullen Colonel who was especially worried about leaving his wife behind and seems rather distracted.
Set in those tumultuous years before World War II, Flight of Dreams captures all the elements of unrest and nervousness that many felt as the Nazis and Hitler rose to power in Germany. Displaying swastikas of the regime, the Hindenburg was representative of that power. Lawhon gives emotion to those feelings by letting her passengers, many who had their own run-ins and concern with the Nazis, shape their own decisions. She captures the emotions of the time and allows the people aboard the zeppelin to become living, passionate characters.
Lawhon's research is immaculate and blends seamlessly with the fictional story she tells within the blanks of the mysterious events leading up to the explosion. Her story is a constant page turner. Though the reader knows what tragedy is coming, it is no less explosive and heart rending. Perhaps it is more so as Lawhon tells of the deaths and escapes and pandemonium of characters that now mean something to the reader. I watched the newsreel footage again after finishing the book and it was a much more emotional experience.
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon is an amazing story that fully presents the history and the people of the Hindenburg in an unforgettable, riveting novel....more