I enjoyed reading Tracy Kiely's Murder at Longbourn. It is first and foremost a cozy mystery. It is not a retelling or adaptation of any particular AuI enjoyed reading Tracy Kiely's Murder at Longbourn. It is first and foremost a cozy mystery. It is not a retelling or adaptation of any particular Austen novel. So don't expect that, and you won't be disappointed, or as disappointed.
As I said, I enjoyed this holiday-themed mystery novel. Elizabeth Parker, the heroine, goes to visit her great-aunt for New Year's Eve/Day. There is a party hosted at her great-aunt's bed and breakfast. It is a themed party--there will be a "murder" at the party. She meets plenty of new people at her great-aunt's bed and breakfast. Some of them being guests staying at the b&b. Some being guests (from the town) invited to the New Year's party. But one person is not a new acquaintance at all, but, an old "nemesis" named Peter. The two knew each other as children, and, as far as Elizabeth is concerned, there's nothing but hate between them: past, present, and future.
The party goes horribly, of course, and a real murder is committed. Elizabeth is convinced that there is a lot of framing going on--and her aunt may suffer for it--but can she with a tiny bit of help from Peter--find the real murderer in time?
I liked Elizabeth well enough. I didn't love everything about her. There were times she came across as not too bright. And I did find quite a few things about this one to be predictable. But. In the moment, as I was reading it, I cared more than I didn't. I wanted to keep reading it. I wasn't annoyed or frustrated or disgusted or disappointed. It was a very pleasant read. Now, a week after finishing it, the in-the-moment pleasure of it all has faded a bit. ...more
I enjoyed reading David Baldacci's Wish You Well. That is, I "enjoyed" it as much as one can enjoy a book with so much heartache in it. Some of the heI enjoyed reading David Baldacci's Wish You Well. That is, I "enjoyed" it as much as one can enjoy a book with so much heartache in it. Some of the heartache was completely predictable, I won't lie. But some of it wasn't.
Readers meet Lou (Louisa) and Oz (Oscar). These two undergo a lot in the course of a year. The family is in a car crash. Their father dies at the scene. Their mother is left in a coma, of sorts. She's able to eat and drink, but, not to talk or walk. She's essentially dead to the world, unable to give any sign to anyone that she is still in there. The two go to live with a great-grandmother in Virginia. This great-grandmother raised their father. Her name is Louisa. Life in the country is certainly different than life in New York City, but the two adjust quickly. They enjoy spending time with Diamond, an orphan boy around their age, and Eugene, a black man who lives and works with them on the farm. Their mother lives with them as well. They manage to nurse her and do all the farm work as well. One man, a young lawyer, takes it upon himself to visit the family often. Cotton reads to Alicia (the mother) as often as he can. The children quickly bond with him. So they've experienced loss certainly, but, they've made new friends as well.
Is life perfect? Not really. Oz and Lou would give anything to have their parents back. And Oz especially is still counting on his mom waking up again. Lou secretly wants this just as badly. But she's older, and "wiser," and doesn't want anyone to know that she believes in wishes and happy endings. She can't help herself for wanting and wishing, but, she's ashamed of it at the same time. She hates herself for it in a way.
The book chronicles their adventures and misadventures in the country. The setting is 1940, by the way. I won't spoil the book; yes, a few things are predictable. But not everything in my opinion.
Wish You Well is a coming-of-age story written for adults. Don't be confused by the child narrator, this one really is an adult book.
What I liked best was the characterization and the setting. I liked Lou and Oz and Diamond. I liked Louisa and Cotton. I liked spending time with them. And the historical setting was a nice touch. ...more
I absolutely loved, loved, LOVED reading C.J. Mahaney's Humility. It is a short book that every believer needs to read. One reason, of course, is thatI absolutely loved, loved, LOVED reading C.J. Mahaney's Humility. It is a short book that every believer needs to read. One reason, of course, is that everyone--believer or not--struggles with pride. Becoming a Christian does not remove that struggle with pride. Though the type of pride might shift around a bit and become spiritual pride, or, pride in our spiritual health or growth. Pride wears hundreds of masks after all. And thinking you've conquered all there is to conquer, and that the battle against pride or the battle against self is won once and for all, can be dangerous. (Now, we know that Christ has won the victory, and, that ultimately, that victory will be ours. But the battle is daily. And just because Christ has won, doesn't mean that we can relax and let down our guard against sin. Our problem is that we don't always recognize sin as sin.) Mahaney's book is about humility and pride--being humble and being proud. It is in many ways a book about how to live the Christian life.
In part one, Mahaney shows us "The Promise of Humility" and "The Perils of Pride." In part two, the focus shifts to greatness: "Greatness Redefined" and "Greatness Demonstrated." (The subtitle of this book is TRUE GREATNESS.) In part three, the book turns super-practical. The chapters are: "As Each Day Begins," "As Each Day Ends," "For Special Focus," "Identifying Evidences of Grace," "Encouraging Others," "Inviting and Pursuing Correction," "Responding Humbly to Trials," and "A Legacy of Greatness."
I love the book because it's honest, straight-forward, practical, and above all biblical. The book doesn't waste your time. It's concise and relevant. ...more
Two words describe Archivist Wasp, in my opinion, confusing and compelling. It's not often a book is equal parts confusing and compelling. Even thoughTwo words describe Archivist Wasp, in my opinion, confusing and compelling. It's not often a book is equal parts confusing and compelling. Even though I found myself with more questions than answers and lingering confusion, I couldn't stop reading Archivist Wasp. Two more words to describe the book? How about post-apocalyptic and ghosts?
Our heroine is an archivist calling herself "Wasp." I'll be honest, Wasp doesn't have the best of lives, even, when she's not fighting for her life, fighting to stay the Archivist. (She's challenged every year by three Upstarts. That's how she got the job as well, by killing the previous Archivist.) Archivists have a marginally better life than Upstarts. But essentially, no one in this post-apocalyptic world has a happy, easy life. The villagers, well, they have their problems too. But at least they aren't tortured/tormented by the Catchkeep's Priest and brainwashed into a life of hate and violence.
So what does an Archivist do? She hunts ghosts, recording what she learns from each ghost, disposes of ghosts after studying, except, for when a villager wants to buy a ghost for whatever reason. It's a bleak, lonely life. And Wasp does spend a good bit of the book recovering from various injuries.
So the book is about what happens when Wasp meets an out-of-the-ordinary ghost, one that is actually able to communicate with her, one that has a tragic tale to tell and a huge request for her. This nameless ghost (he can't remember his identity, I believe) wants her help in finding another ghost, Catherine Foster. He wants them both to travel to the underworld and search the spirit-world. She agrees, and, in the process learns that life below isn't any more bleak than life above. In fact, in some ways it might even be slightly better. But the search won't be easy. And it will have its own dangers.
The book is about what she learns through this search, it will change her certainly....
Do I understand everything that happened in Archivist Wasp? Not really. The quest was really confusing in places, and, she is thrown in and out of other people's memories. She sees the past on her quest, in bits and pieces, and probably not sequential flashbacks either. She has to piece it all together. And she does a much better job than I did with that! ...more
An Impartial Witness is the second book in the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd. I love that the series is set during World War I; An ImpaAn Impartial Witness is the second book in the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd. I love that the series is set during World War I; An Impartial Witness is set in 1917. Bess Crawford is a nurse, and, she's nursing wounded soldiers both abroad and at home. (Bess spends a good amount of time in this novel in France, very close to the front.)
The book opens with Bess arriving in London on leave for thirty-six hours. She's just spent time on a convoy with a wounded soldier--a pilot with severe burns. He keeps holding on because he loves his wife. Her photograph is something he always has close by. She would recognize his wife anywhere she's seen it so often the past few days. But she didn't really expect to see her--this wife--at the train station seeing another soldier off. The scene was VERY emotional, and quite inappropriate if she's the wife of another man. The scene haunts her.
And with good reason, it turns out! For she soon learns that this woman--this wife--is found murdered that evening. She tells what she saw at the train station--several hours before the crime. She describes the man--the soldier--with her. That might have been all...except that she can't stop thinking of the case, of the tragedy of it, and she keeps talking with Scotland Yard about what she learns...
A man is arrested. But is he guilty? She doesn't think so. She really, really doesn't think so. For could she be falling in love with him?! Michael Hart isn't capable of murdering the woman he was supposedly in love with for years, is he?
Can Bess find the real murderer?!
I love, love, love this series. I love the characterization. I love the historical setting. I love the mystery itself. It's just a fabulous read. ...more
I definitely enjoyed reading Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes. This young adult fantasy is a quick, compelling read with two narrators. Laia is a sI definitely enjoyed reading Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes. This young adult fantasy is a quick, compelling read with two narrators. Laia is a slave from the conquered Scholars tribe. Elias is a Mask, a soldier from the dominant (conquering) Martials tribe. The chapters alternate points of view. Which is good and bad. Good in that both narrators have action-packed stories that sometimes happen to collide. Bad in that the action is interrupted oh-so-often. And when you're all caught up in the moment, the last thing you want to do is switch narrators! Even if you know that in just a page or two you'll be swept right back up again. But at least both stories are fast-paced and action-packed. It could be a lot worse.
So. The world building is interesting. And the world-building is gradual in a way. You keep learning more about the world as the plot unfolds. It is never so unsettling that you're completely confused. But you know that the world is unique from the start.
So what is this one about? Laia turns to the rebel resistance when her brother is arrested and put in prison. She has no spy-skills to speak of, but, she's determined to do whatever it takes, no matter how hard, no matter how risky, to free him. She's placed as a spy within Blackcliff, the soldier-school, and her mistress is cruel. (She's also the Commandant.)
Elias is planning an escape of his own. He may have trained as a soldier--as a mask--but he's never bonded with his mask. He doesn't see himself as a cruel, heartless soldier who rapes and kills and follows orders. But he hesitates at the last minute, and decides to become an Aspirant instead. There were four named. Two will die. One will be the new emperor. One will take an oath to serve the new emperor until death. And the four trials will be more challenging, more risky, than anything he's ever faced before.
Both Elias and Laia are absolutely miserable and are facing huge challenges daily...
I liked it because sometimes you just need an intense, compelling read. ...more
To Capture Her Heart is the sequel to A Place In His Heart. Did I like it more than A Place In His Heart? Yes, mostly. If you remember, I had some bigTo Capture Her Heart is the sequel to A Place In His Heart. Did I like it more than A Place In His Heart? Yes, mostly. If you remember, I had some big issues with the first book.
To Capture Her Heart is set on Long Island in the early 1650s. (1653 and 1654 to be precise). There are two or three main stories within the book.
Heather Flower, one of the main characters, is rescued by Dirk Van Buren. A rival native tribe kidnaps Heather Flower--on her wedding day--along with a dozen other young women from her tribe. She is ransomed or rescued, the other young women--not being Indian princesses perhaps--may not be as fortunate. Dirk Van Buren is "her hero" the one who brings her back to her family. He makes an impression, for sure, but not as he hoped perhaps. For he falls madly in love with her at first sight. And the last thing on her mind is love and romance.
He's not the only man in love with Heather Flower. (Of course, he isn't.) Benjamin Horton is also in love with her. (But is he really?) She is on very friendly terms with the whole Horton family. Her aunt was one of Mary Horton's first friends in the new country. She is staying with her aunt for personal reasons. (Her aunt is grieving the loss of her husband. And she is grieving the loss of her groom.) Benjamin wants to be the one. But does she want to move on and find love again?
Is To Capture Her Heart a romance novel? Yes and no. It is more than that certainly. The book also focuses on the friendships of the women characters: Mary, Lizzie, Patience, Winnie, Abigail, etc. And the threat of war between the English settlers and the Dutch settlers. (Not to mention the "threat" of Quakers in the community.) Will the settlement go to war against the Dutch settlement on the island? Will Joseph and Benjamin be caught up in a war? Will this potential war keep Dirk from courting Heather Flower?
I would still recommend this one for those that enjoy historical fiction more than historical romance. But this one does have more romance than the first book. ...more
I still can't say that I love this cover of Hatchet, but, avoiding the book because of the cover was a bit silly of me. So did I enjoy reading HatchetI still can't say that I love this cover of Hatchet, but, avoiding the book because of the cover was a bit silly of me. So did I enjoy reading Hatchet? Yes, for the most part. Hatchet is a survivor story starring Brian Robeson. (It is a Newbery Honor book). Brian is on the way to visit his Dad after the dramatic divorce. (Brian knows something his father doesn't. This SECRET haunts him throughout the book. He's definitely not over the divorce.) But the single engine plane taking him to visit his Dad never arrives. The pilot has a heart attack, and Brian must land/crash the plane himself. He survives the crash, but will he know how to survive in the wild until he is rescued? Fortunately, his mom gave him a hatchet before the trip. And it's a hatchet he wore on the plane, on his belt, I believe? So it's the one thing he has with him that may enable him to survive until help comes...
Brian has adventures and misadventures. He manages to survive, but, never to the point where it becomes fun and amazing. These aren't adventures he'd ever choose to have.
I definitely am glad I read this one. Have you read it? What did you think?...more
I've read Sarah, Plain and Tall several times, but, I can't find proof that I've blogged about it. So. Sarah, Plain and Tall won the Newbery in 1986.I've read Sarah, Plain and Tall several times, but, I can't find proof that I've blogged about it. So. Sarah, Plain and Tall won the Newbery in 1986. It is historical fiction for the youngest of readers.
Anna is the heroine of Sarah, Plain and Tall. Through her we meet Caleb, her brother; her father; and Sarah, the woman who may become her step-mother if all goes well. The children want this very much, a new mother.
Sarah comes to visit the family for one month. Will she come to love them? Will they come to love her? Will they belong together? Is this meant to be? Or will Sarah miss her old home and her old life too much to stay?
This is a sweet novel full of innocent longing. I loved all of the characters. There is something so simple and pure about it. Definitely recommended. ...more
I really loved, loved, loved Ann Gabhart's The Innocent. I was a tiny bit surprised by how much I loved it since it is set during the Civil War, well,I really loved, loved, loved Ann Gabhart's The Innocent. I was a tiny bit surprised by how much I loved it since it is set during the Civil War, well, directly after the Civil War. But from the start, Gabhart had me hooked. I think one of the reasons I loved it so much--cared so much--was the characterization.
Carlyn Kearney is the heroine of The Innocent. The war has left her a widow, a widow hesitant to declare herself a widow. Her husband is missing in action, has been missing for several years now. Part of her truly wants him to come back home, and expects just that. Another part of her realizes that if he was alive, he'd have found a way to at the very least write her and let her know that he's alive. Carlyn is in a predicament because she cannot make payments on the house, and, the man who loaned her husband the money is a scoundrel not above making threats. The novel opens with him bringing the sheriff to evict her. The sheriff. Well. He's something. He's a big part of why this one works so very well.
Having nowhere else to go, Carlyn Kearney joins the nearby Shaker community. Will she be a permanent Sister of the community? Or is this a temporary fix? Will she get along with the other women? Will she meet their expectations? Will they meet hers? This decision isn't one that is taken lightly.
The Innocent is part mystery novel--I LOVED the mystery element--and part romance novel. I won't say a word about the mystery, but, it's GOOD. ...more
Phantoms in the Snow was a great book set during World War II. Noah, the hero, is a young man who has just lost both parents to small pox. His only liPhantoms in the Snow was a great book set during World War II. Noah, the hero, is a young man who has just lost both parents to small pox. His only living relative is an uncle that he's never met, or can't remember meeting. He's a soldier in the army, a "Phantom" part of a skiing unit. Now Noah was raised by pacifists, and, until their death he's never really thought about how he personally feels about war, and if he should be a part of it or not. He's sent to live with his uncle at a mountain camp, army camp. Once there, his uncle signs him up and lies about his age. Noah begins his training. He first has to learn to ski. He already knows how to shoot. But there's so much about army life that he doesn't know at least not yet. Noah remains conflicted through much of the book. About who he is and what he believes and where he really belongs. He learns a lot about life and about how you should never make assumptions about where another person is coming from, and what life is like for others. Anyway, it's a very strong coming-of-age story. It's a story with a lot of heart, I might add. I cared about Noah. I cared about his uncle. And I cared about a character called Skeeter. Overall, this one is oh-so-easy to recommend.
Did I enjoy reading The Children of Hurin? Yes! Very much! After reading The Silmarillion last week, I wanted more new-to-me Tolkien, and The ChildrenDid I enjoy reading The Children of Hurin? Yes! Very much! After reading The Silmarillion last week, I wanted more new-to-me Tolkien, and The Children of Hurin was an excellent choice. And a very reader-friendly excellent choice I might add. This is a longer version of a story contained in The Silmarillion. (I believe Tolkien wrote several adaptations or versions of this story. Perhaps one or two poetic form. But this one is prose. I'm relieved that it is.)
So Turin is hero--tragic hero--of Tolkien's Children of Hurin. And this reads like an epic classic. A hero doomed because of a fatal flaw, one that is almost fundamental to who he is. It isn't a happy-happy read in other words. But it is full of spirit and adventure and love. It features several strong and brave women who love with all their hearts and minds and who will truly do anything to stand by who they love. There's a fierceness to the friendships as well. One thing I can confidently say, Children of Hurin is not boring.
I won't share many details. But you should know that it is about the ongoing battle between good versus evil. And it does feature a dragon.
I definitely liked it. I'm not sure if it was LOVE. But I definitely enjoyed it more than Book of Lost Tales Part One. ...more