Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category
Imagine flying in a hot-air balloon, getting caught in an eclipse and descending over 100 years into the Wild West of New Mexico. You meet a strikingly handsome man who challenges every notion you ever had about love. That’s exactly what happens to independent, high-spirited Rachel Kingston, who doesn’t know how to get home, but must find a way without losing her heart.
Jeffree contacted me about reading and reviewing this book and she caught me at just the perfect time. I had just wrapped up my review for Orphan Train and was in a very loving mood for historical fiction. Who am I? But when I read that Rachel ended up back in the Wild Wild West, I couldn’t turn it down. As much as I love my iPhone and my Polar watch, cars, electricity, indoor bathrooms, fast food joints, blogging, my Nook… I think I could have lived in the olden days. Give me some yarn for knitting, some classic books, some old family recipes, I think I could have done just fine.
I devoured this book. I could not wait to see what happened. Would Rachel ever get home? What if this happened to me? Would I stay or would I go? Don’t we all wish at some point in our lives that we could travel back to another time or place and find a soul mate that doesn’t exist today? Don’t lie… I know that in a single time of your life you’ve thought about it, just knowing that there is not a single person in this century that gets you and you know they lived a previous life that you wish you could have been part of.
This book is also short and sweet. At just over 125 pages, Itrich tells a wonderful love story that spans hundreds of years. And does such a great job of going from present to past. Obviously, there will be a major jump, but it flowed flawlessly.
Books like this give me such inspiration to write. Even though I know that I am writing fiction, I love to be able to relate to things that happen in books. Because of that, I have a hard time thinking outside the reality box. I cannot jump over the fiction bump and go somewhere completely unrealistic. Books like this encourage me to jump off the page and try something new. I need to bookmark this paragraph so I will remember it in the future
I give Destiny at Oak Valley 5 out of 5 bookmarks. I am so happy this is just Book 1 in the series. I can’t wait to see what is coming around the bend, hopefully this fall, from Irtrich.
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.
Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
I got this book through my online book club, SheReads.org. If you want to read stellar books, check out their selections each month. For the past several months, my favorite books have been their picks.
It’s amazing how much my taste in books has changed since I started reading and reviewing five years ago. I went from being a YA junkie, to now reading whatever genre comes by way, and yes, I still cave to YA frequently. But one thing that has surprised me about my reading taste is how much I enjoy a little historical fiction. Christina Baker Kline bundled everything I love into one book with Orphan Train.
The story is told through two perspectives that flow seamlessly. You have Molly, in foster care, struggling to find a family and a place to finally call home. Then you have Vivian, the wealthy elderly woman, who has a story most couldn’t fathom, let along believe if they heard it. But they become unlikely friends, and even more than that, family. They both have so much to offer each other. It is an absolute beautiful story of heartache and pain and triumph. Both women have so much courage. It makes you think about what you have and the petty things that bog down our life on a daily basis. It’s sad that so many young children still have to live like Molly does.
I often say that my favorite books are the ones where I come away with knowledge. Chalk this book up on the list. How have I lived for 26 years and never known about orphan trains? I was never good at history, I just couldn’t remember all of the facts and dates and locations. But the older I get, the more I’m starting to have a soft spot for history. I want to know all of the little hidden secrets throughout the years and that’s exactly what Christina did with this book. The stories you can find online about the children who rode on these trains are incredible. I could read them for days. They seem more like fiction than anything I’ve read, they are so raw and real. I thank SheReads and Christina for bringing this amazing piece of history to my life and to light.
I give Orphan Train 5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Click here to listen to Christina Baker Kline talking about Orphan Train on NPR.
A young snowboarder turns up dead on the Blackcomb Glacier. The local police are calling it suicide, but the victim’s mother, a U.S. senator, is not convinced. At the senator’s request, the FBI sends in undercover agent Clare Vengel to infiltrate the world of ski bums and snow bunnies and find out what happened to Sacha. Clare soon discovers that not only was the victim involved in an LSD smuggling ring, but also the uncooperative top cop in town is in cahoots with the smugglers. With her cover dangerously close to being blown Clare must solve the case before she finds herself in the deep freeze permanently.
Oh how I love thee, Robin Spano. This is no secret. I jump on every chance to snatch up a Clare Vengel novel. This is the 3rd Clare book I’ve had my hot little hands on, and each one impresses me more than before. Robin has jumped up on the list of authors I know I can count on each time a new book is released. When I want something good, I turn to her!
Death’s Last Run is told through four viewpoints. You have Clare, undercover as Lucy. You have the Senator, and possible Presidential Candidate Martha. You have Richie, a drug dealer that wants to turn legit. And you have Wade, the employer… and lover of the dead girl. Spano did a great job using all the different voices to tell this story. I often feel like when I try to change characters, I still have the same voice. Robin has mastered this technique.
She has also mastered the murder mystery genre. She throws Clare into scenarios and locations that prove Spano is doing her homework and research to make sure she is telling her story accurately. And with each novel, she keeps you hanging on until the last second, throwing out several potential suspects, with the bad guy right under your nose. How do I always fall for this?
One thing I love about Robin’s writing is that she has fun with it. A lot of murder mysteries, along with the characters, are dry and serious. Not Robin’s. Clare is a badass who won’t take anything from anyone. Granted she has a lot of growing to do and has severe trust and settling down issues, but still, she’s a strong woman who rocks at her job. My favorite part of the book was in chapter 13, when Clare was taking snowboarding lessons and couldn’t remember Chopper’s name and called him everything from Flipper to Flopper to Flopface. I was laughing out loud at this.
You know what else I love? That Robin has left this bad boy open-ended, which leaves me with high hopes that another Clare novel is in the works. I’ll keep you updated.
I give Death’s Last Run 5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Helen North’s Greek vacation is not going as planned. She booked her trip envisioning a free-spirited getaway—unaware that everything was poised to crumble around her. While writing postcards by herself at a café, she meets Carla Finch, another solo, British traveler.
Carla is charming and unpredictable, and the two become fast friends, taking advantage of every moment of their adventure abroad. But things with Carla aren’t as they seem, and after a night out, something goes horribly wrong.
Carla is dead, and only Helen knows what happened. Back in England and wracked with guilt, Helen tries to move on, but specters from Carla’s life keep turning up around her. When Helen learns that her own dark secret might be exposed, she must struggle to separate truth from deception before it’s too late.
This is a book that I ran across on NetGalley. There were a few Joanna Hines books up for grabs. I am always a sucker for a good mystery, so I downloaded a few of them. With that said, I finished this book more than a week ago and still don’t know how I feel about it.
There were parts I loved. Greece sounded beautiful. I loved that two grown women went on a vacation by themselves. I could vacation by myself and be just as happy if people were with me. Throw me on a beach with a book and I’m good for a couple of weeks. Even after Carla’s death, back in England, the countryside where Carla lived… amazing. I think I’m starting to have a thing for England, and may have to convince dad we need a second trip to Europe.
But there were also things I didn’t like in this book. Infidelity in a character completely rubs me the wrong way. Unless it’s very extreme circumstances, like in Safe Haven, it will normally turn me against the character, with slim chances of winning me back. No spoilers, don’t worry. I’m not going to say who, but there you have it.
My thoughts for Helen are still forming. What would you do in her situation? She’s the only one who knew what happened to Carla but didn’t speak up. She could possibly go to prison in Greece for the rest of her life. Do you take those chances for someone you barely knew? Is she even remembering it right, or did she block something out that could help solve the crime? I felt bad for her even getting into the situation she was in. I just had a hard time connecting with her through her stages of grief and moving on.
There are some late game changers in this book that surprised me quite a bit and kept me hooked. But as with most mysteries, you know there is something coming ahead and parts seem to drag on forever until you get there.
I have read that this book was turned into a television series. I am very interested to see how it was transformed from the pages to the small screen. I will definitely be trying to find it (hopefully on Netflix).
I give Improvising Carla 3.5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Grace Alban has spent twenty years away from her childhood home, the stately Alban House, for reasons she would rather forget. But when her mother’s unexpected death brings Grace and her teen-age daughter home, she finds more haunting the halls and passageways of Alban House than her own personal demons.
Long-buried family secrets, a packet of old love letters and a lost manuscript plunge Grace into a decades-old mystery about a scandalous party at Alban House, when a world-famous author took his own life and Grace’s aunt disappeared without a trace. The night has been shrouded in secrecy by the powerful Alban family for all of these years, and Grace realizes her family secrets tangle and twist as darkly as the secret passages of Alban House. Her mother was intending to tell the truth about that night to a reporter on the very day she died – could it have been murder? Or was she a victim of the supposed Alban curse? With the help of the disarmingly kind–and attractive—Reverend Matthew Parker, Grace must uncover the truth about her home and its curse before she and her daughter become the next victims.
I got this book in audio book form from the local library. Every couple of weeks, I am ready to stop in, trade in the two I have and pick up two new ones. I have gotten into a habit of only checking out the “new releases” and have had great luck lately with stellar reads.
This one absolutely didn’t disappoint. First of all, look at the cover! The mansion, covered in greenery. Eek! And there’s secret passageways?? Take me there. And the summary, I know it’s the point, but I love it when two paragraphs can pull me in so quickly that even though I only had a couple of blocks to drive after I picked it up, I had to immediately put it in and start listening. Oh and it’s one of those that I wanted to keep driving, although I commute an hour each way to work. I spend enough time in the car without a book pulling me in so deep that I sit in my driveway just to see what happens next.
Have I pulled you in yet? I hope so. This book will definitely be on my Top of 2013 list.
Wendy Webb has written such an intense web of mystery into this book and it all revolves one family. Books about family secrets and history always win me over and intrigue me. There is a running joke in my family that every time I go to visit my mom’s side of the family, a new secret is unveiled to me. And I’m talking about game changers in my family that no one filled me in on for the first 25 years of my life. How does that happen? Needless to say, I could obviously feel for Grace in this book, because throughout the entire story, her family secrets are uncovered.
I will warn you… there is a spoiler coming…. if you don’t want to read anything about it, stop here and just know I loved this book and it got 5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Here’s one last chance if you don’t want to read the spoiler….
Ok… ready to move on?
The only thing that I mildly disliked about this book was the bit of the ghost story woven throughout. I loved, for most of the story, being able to believe that this could happen to any family, anywhere. Then, it kind of took a turn to the ghostly. It wasn’t enough to turn me away, I just wish that there would be an earthly explanation for the mystery. Scary stories are scarier to me when ghosts are not involved. I am more creeped out by someone with a grudge who wreaks havoc.
So, as I mentioned previously, I give The Fate of Mercy Alban 5 out of 5 bookmarks and will definitely check out more of Webb’s books. And I highly suggest this one for a beach read this summer. I promise you, you’ll be soaking up the rays because you won’t be able to put it down… make sure to take your sunscreen