Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Everything She Didn't Say by Jane Kirkpatrick

In 1911, Carrie Strahorn wrote a memoir entitled Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage, which shared some of the most exciting events of 25 years of traveling and shaping the American West with her husband, Robert Strahorn, a railroad promoter, investor, and writer. That is all fact. Everything She Didn't Say imagines Carrie nearly ten years later as she decides to write down what was really on her mind during those adventurous nomadic years.

 Certain that her husband will not read it, and in fact that it will only be found after her death, Carrie is finally willing to explore the lessons she learned along the way, including the danger a woman faces of losing herself within a relationship with a strong-willed man and the courage it takes to accept her own God-given worth apart from him. Carrie discovers that wealth doesn't insulate a soul from pain and disappointment, family is essential, pioneering is a challenge, and western landscapes are both demanding and nourishing. Most of all, she discovers that home can be found, even in a rootless life.

With a deft hand, New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick draws out the emotions of living--the laughter and pain, the love and loss--to give readers a window not only into the past but into their own conflicted hearts. Based on a true story.

Paperback, 343 pages
Published September 4th, 2018
by Fleming H. Revell Company
***

 A life without a purpose is a story without an ending.

Based on a true story Everything She Didn’t Say is Carrie Strahorn’s story of her life traveling the American West. I enjoy reading about strong women of the past, especially ones I am unfamiliar with, such as the case here. Told from her point of view she tells her story of the struggles and hardships they encountered not just with the dangers of travel but within their marriage relationship, financial and the family Carrie left behind.

This is my first time reading Jane Kilpatrick, I was impressed with the research that went into this book, the endless traveling made me tired for Carrie. The chapter structure was something a little different with each one ending with a piece from Carrie's actual memoirs.

There wasn’t a lot of action to keep me glued to the pages and at times I felt things a little repetitive and slow. But I enjoyed learning of both Robert and Carrie Stratton and their lives from the past.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: The Way Lies North (Loyalist/Forging a Nation #1) by Jean Rae Baxter

This young adult historical novel focuses on Charlotte and her family, Loyalists who are forced to flee their home in the Mohawk Valley as a result of the violence of the 'Sons of Liberty' during the American Revolution.

At the beginning, fifteen-year-old Charlotte Hooper and her parents begin the long trek north to the safety of Fort Haldimand (near present-day Kingston). The novel portrays Charlotte's struggle on the difficult journey north, and the even more difficult task of making a new home in British Canada.

In the flight north, the Mohawk nation plays an important role, and Charlotte learns much about their customs and way of life, to the point where she is renamed 'Woman of Two Worlds.'

Later in the novel, she is able to repay her aboriginal friends when she plays an important part in helping the Oneidas to become once again members of the Iroquois confederacy under British protection. Strong and capable, Charlotte breaks the stereotype of the eighteenth-century woman, while revealing a positive relationship between the Loyalists and aboriginal peoples.

Paperback, 340 pages
Published September 1st, 2007
by Ronsdale Press
****

Canadian historical is a favorite of mine and a genre I plan to read more of this year. It was through a kid-lit writing course I took last year that I was introduced to Jean Rae Baxter. A Canadian author who has written a series of books taking place during the early year of this great nation.

Introduced to Charlotte, a 15-year-old Loyalist in 1777, who along with her parents flee to the north during the American Revolution. This book is geared for middle grade and up, it gives the young reader a look at what those loyal to the King endured in his name. It’s realistic, believable and appears to stay true to history. It’s a tough journey these three take, with many obstacles and setbacks along the way.  The role of the Mohawks and Oneida plays out nicely as well.

The author has penned 3 other books with other characters introduced here, ones I am looking forward to reading about.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge (1).

Waiting on Wednesday: The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post to showcase upcoming releases that I am anxious to get my hands on.



Hardcover, 305 pages 
Expected publication: February 12th 2019 
by Lake Union Publishing

From the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War. 

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.

When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster but may open a path to her destiny.

What are you waiting for?


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

Paperback, 352 pages 
Published January 22nd, 2019 
by Bethany House Publishers
*****

I first discovered Jaime Jo Wright with her debut, The House on Foster Hill and absolutely loved it.  So I wait in eager anticipation for her new releases.  The Curse of Misty Wayfair is her 3rd book and releases in a couple weeks. 

Thea and Heidi are 2 completely different characters and yet so similar, over a hundred years separate them but they are both searching for purpose, who they are and boy do they get more than they bargained for.

I LOVED this book!  It was mysterious, suspenseful and kept me on my toes.  It was beautifully written with authentic characters that battled issues relevant in both time periods but where society's views differed drastically. I loved that I didn't read the blurb and dove in blind, it added to the creepiness.

Dual time periods, yea my favorite, where it's the past storyline I usually love more, the historical part where I can learn more of the past.  And I loved that here, the stigma of mental illness and the treatment along with covering up scandal. Throw in a ghost or two, some weird characters and it's great.  But it was the current day plot I really enjoyed.  The author created some interesting characters, they were authentic, those who suffered from real human issues - whether it was the dysfunctional family dynamics, again mental illness, loneliness, trust issues and more. It was the searching with no idea what to look for... now I should stop before I start giving away too much of the story.

The ended was perfect and really that's about all I will say about it.  This is one of those books I want someone else to read so we can talk about it.

Suffice to say that my first read of 2019 was awesome!  The Curse of Misty Wayfair is Christian fiction at its finest.  This is definitely a book I highly recommend.

 My thanks to Bethany House for an ARC (via Netgalley).

click on cover to take you to my review

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Review: El Deafo by Cece Bell (Goodreads Author), David Lasky (Colorist )

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful--and very awkward--hearing aid.

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.

Paperback, 233 pages 
Published September 2nd 2014
 by Harry N. Abrams
****

Every year for Christmas this grandma buys each of the grandkids a book. I have lots of fun searching for the perfect book, which I will admit adds to my own tbr pile. My granddaughter Asha is 10 years old and loves graphic novels, that confused me because I don’t have much of a clue what’s good. The cover drew me to El Deafo and knowing she loved Wonder I thought this one would be a perfect fit. I watched her read this one Christmas Day and the next morning, then she gushed to her mom about how much she loved this book. What was I to do but grab the book, plunk myself down and read.

This is my first graphic novel, I’ve shied away from them because really how can a story be told with the depth that I love, will I be able to connect with the characters and get involved in the plot? Well I’m happy to report it can be done and it was done very nicely here. Also as far as I'm concerned this is a great way to get kids who might be intimidated with a regular book to read.

Cece is a likable character, she is funny at times but also struggling as she adjusts to her hearing loss. I will admit to not knowing anyone with hearing loss and reading this opened my eyes to the struggles, feeling of being different that Cece has to deal with.  Based on the author's own experiences it was a great read and something all ages could read.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Audio Review: Amazon Adventure (Hal & Roger Hunt Adventures #1) by Willard Price

Long Island teenagers Hal and Roger Hunt explore uncharted Amazon River with their father, expert naturalist John Hunt for his exotic animal collection. Someone sends an anonymous telegram, so John returns. Alone, the boys face hostile natives, dangerous rapids and wild animals, and a hunchback with bloodshot eyes.

Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 15th 1993
by Red Fox (first published 1949)
****

We purchased the Hal & Rogers Adventure Series book for our boys when they were younger and have shared them with many friends. I myself have never read them, this past weekend I discovered the audio version was available for the Amazon Adventure, it’s not long, just over 6 hours  - a perfect fit for our road trip.

Canadian born author Willard Price wrote this series of 14 books beginning in the late 1930s. It’s a series that my husband inhaled as a boy, he loved reading about the different adventures these brothers went on throughout the world - African Adventure, Whale Adventure, South Sea, Underwater (to name a few). Sometimes compared to The Hardy Boys these stories have the added outdoor adventures at the same time solving mysteries, getting out of tough jams and learning so much about nature and different critters.

I enjoyed my time listening to the Amazon Adventure, sometimes witty, others times educational -learning about different cultures.  Maybe a little dated but still a great adventure without technology getting in the way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Year in Review


Happy New Years!!


It's that time of the year when the 'best of 2018' reads start appearing.  Last year I didn't post one because I was too busy reading and figured I'd get to it tomorrow, next thing I knew it was spring.  This year rather than putting it off, here is a summary of my reading from 2018.  

I managed to read 105 books - my goal was 75

Of those:
39 were audiobooks - 11 from Scribd (I only started using them in the fall)
                                 -  21 from Audible
                                 -  only 7 from Hoopla (via the library) - I am not really a fan of their formatting

Only 20 books were off my shelf (hope to do better this year)
I challenged myself to increase my NetGalley rating, starting the year with a 71% I did manage to finish with a 75%, hopefully, this year I will do better.

And most importantly I read 39 new to me authors - that's always fun!

So here we go in random order, my favorite books of the year, yes there are 18 of them.

clicking on the cover will take you to my review



 


I'd love to read your favorite books of 2018 or what you are looking forward to reading this year.
 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Audio Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.

Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Hardcover, 426 pages 
Published November 13th 2018 
by Crown
Audio:19 hours, 3 minutes
*****

I enjoy listening to memoirs and autobiographies in audiobook format, it’s like they are talking directly to me. What I loved about Becoming was Michelle Obama read it and it was wonderful. I would have loved the book edition just to see the pictures though.

 I am not into political books, which made me a little apprehensive but it wasn’t an issue with Becoming. Beginning when Michelle is a child living in Chicago she tells about her up bringing, values and so much more. She is down to earth, intellect and has a passion (and the ability) to empower. She has a gift to speak with such eloquence, grace and intelligence that kept me listening to this book.

Her honesty as she told of her struggles in so many aspects of her life was real, from her career to juggling motherhood in the White House along with the demands of being FLOTUS and even on the campaign trail.

 Definitely a book I highly recommend, even if you aren’t American, this Canadian loved it.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Spotlight: Fortress of the Sun by E.M. Thomas

Fortress of the Sun by E.M. Thomas

Publication Date: December 26, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 300 Pages
Rokhish Press
Genre: Historical/Greek & Roman


It’s 243 B.C. and Greece is ready for a revolution.

Eighty years have passed since the death of Alexander the Great, the man who first cowed free Hellas into submission. His successors to the Macedonian throne have only tightened their grip in the interim, the present king no exception. Spartan rebellions, opportunistic usurpers, foreign invaders – for nearly five decades, King Antigonus has seen them all and crushed them all. He now stands alone astride Greece; he fears no one.

Aratus of Sicyon plans to change that. With a passion for freedom and hatred for the King that stem from the same childhood tragedy, he takes aim at Macedon when no one else would dare; takes aim at its crown jewel in the south, the linchpin of its control, the very symbol of its domination – Corinth. Hopelessly outfunded, outmanned, and outarmed, he embarks on one of the most audacious and stunning attacks in ancient history, one that would change Greece forever.

Available on Amazon

E.M. Thomas is an author of two novels - an epic fantasy (The Bulls of War) and a historical fiction set in Ancient Greece (Fortress of the Sun). E.M. was born and raised on the East Coast of the United States but is a world traveler at heart. He caught the writing bug early on and has a passion for all good fiction, but especially that of the fantasy and historical variety. One of his favorite moments thus far in his young career was writing a chapter of his latest book about the great battle of Corinth - while sitting amidst the ruins of ancient Corinth.

For all news and updates related to E.M. Thomas, visit www.emthomas.com.

You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Fortress of the Sun

Friday, December 28, 2018

Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, releasing December 18th.

Kindle Edition, 250 pages
Published December 7th 2018
by Hoover Ink, Inc.
****

Every once in a while a good mystery, suspenseful type thriller is in order. A few friends on Instagram posted about Verity and I dove right in. I managed to skim over the blurb and settled in.

This is my first time reading Colleen Hoover, I was drawn in right away with a scenario and prose that I liked. Slowly as both Lowen and Jeremy’s stories are revealed I couldn’t stop reading. They are sad, heartbreaking to say the least and one can’t help but feel compassion.

It’s a relatively quick read not just because of the size (approx 250 pages) but the adrenaline of trying to figure things out myself and getting to the end. Yea the end, it was a good one.

Colleen Hoover is known for her romance novels and that aspect comes through here with some explicit scenes (actually more than some), it’s not my thing and not always necessary in such great detail.  But all in all a story that kept me on my toes flipping through the pages.

I purchased the kindle ebook from Amazon, it’s free if you have kindle unlimited.