Monday, December 5, 2016

Child of the River- Irma Joubert

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Persomi’s dreams are much bigger than the world of poverty and deprivation that surround her in the Bushveld of the 1940s and 1950s in South Africa.

Persomi is young, white and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her. Her older brother, Gerbrand, is her lifeline and her connection to the outside world. When he leaves the farm to seek work in Johannesburg, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of WWII and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is and where she belongs.

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Persomi’s English language publication solidifies Irma Joubert’s important place in the canon of inspirational historical fiction.


My Thoughts: This is an absolutely fantastic book. I can't remember a novel that has ever left me teary eyed before this one, and I usually hate any that have brought me even close because the characters lives where typically futile, with little hope in the end. But even though Persomi's childhood, and even parts of her adult life, where heartbreaking, there were very few moments which felt hopeless.

Persomi is the kind of person who never lets life crush her. Though she has her broken moments, she soon rallies and moves forward, refusing to back down from her convictions. Dealing with the politics of WWII, in which Irma realistically portrays a society which more or less sided with the Germans, and Apartheid, Child of the River not only shows a woman with incredible strength of character but also revels a time in history where social strife mirrored current social issues in the US.

Originally published in 2010, there is no way the author could have foreseen just how relevant this work would be years later and in another language. But I think that this book can teach a lot about holding on to ones own convictions while still putting major differences aside to love and care for those around us.

I highly recommend this work, both for the history and for Persomi herself. I can't wait to see more of Irma's novels translated and will be eagerly looking for them on shelves.

I have provided an honest review of this novel after having received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Scarlet Moon- S. D. Grimm

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: The land of Soleden is dying because the sorceress queen hunts and kills the people who cared for all nature, the Feravolk. Through their special bond with animals, the Feravolk have become more than men. Faster, stronger, masters of camouflage and stealth. Only a Deliverer born the night of the Blood Moon can save them from extinction.

According to prophecy, Jayden is a Deliverer, but it’s not a destiny she wants. She has no sympathy for either side. The Feravolk killed her family, so they can die for all she cares. And fighting the queen with nothing but daggers and her special abilities—storm predicting—is a suicide mission. Destiny can pick someone else.

Except hiding from destiny proves difficult; Deliverers attract powerful Protectors. Jayden’s is one of the Feravolk, so he can’t be trusted. But he makes her feel safe. Makes her want to save his race. If she chooses to keep hiding, he’ll remain one of the hunted, but he’ll protect her even if it means his death if she faces the queen. Making the right choice has never been so excruciating, especially since the prophecy says nothing about the Deliverer’s success, or survival.


My Thoughts: I took an entire day to think through just how I felt about this book and what I wanted to include in my review. It was difficult because I both loved and disliked it, a fact which lead me to decide that in my opinion it is simply okay.

The story in this book is amazing. There is so much danger and honest emotions, with each character being completely distinct. It did take me a while to fully appreciate these characters simply because there are at least five point of view characters and because while Jayden's is in the first chapter, it then takes another six or so chapters before we come back to her. Once I knew that there wouldn't be any more POVs, I was able to engage with those that had already been introduced.

But while the story is fantastic, there is a lot that is left unexplained. While a number of my questions were partially answered toward the end, I spent most of the book trying to figure out how things worked and what everyone's purpose was. Grimm sprinkles information throughout in a way that is really easy to miss, leaving me with the feeling that I still don't fully understand how this story world functions and that I might have overlooked something important.

Certainly not everyone will feel this way. The issues I found will likely mean nothing to a lot of readers and Grimm's story will shine through for them. I still hope to continue with the series and maybe I will figure everything out the next time around.

I have provided an honest review after having received a free copy of this book through the Bookfun Network and the author.

Guest Post on Go Teen Writers



Hey guys,

       Wanted to let you all know that today I am guest posting over at Go Teen Writers. The topic is on how to handle anxiety and depression. Please stop by and join in the discussion!


Rebekah



.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Saffire- Sigmund Brouwer

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: I reminded myself that once you start to defend someone, it's difficult to find a place to stop. But I went ahead and took that first step anyway.

For President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to 'let the dirt fly' and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats.

It's in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt takes that first step to protect a mulatto girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics. It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course or bring an end to it.

A love story set within a historical mystery, Saffire is brings to vibrant life the most impressive and embattled engineering achievement of the twentieth-century"

My Thoughts: Saffire likely would have been more accurately titled Panama, since a good portion of the novel is scenes in which the POV character mulls over the ambition and ingenuity that went into the construction of the Panama Canal. The plot centers around the greed and political maneuvering which took place during that time, with the hero being drawn into it both for his own financial needs and concern for the young girl Saffire.

The story has its ups and downs, shifting between scenes of high intrigue to others that read more like a historical reflection. Police corruption and an encounter with the "alligator" kept the plot moving while Brouwer's extensive research painted a picture of the entire construction, from idea to partial completion.

The book is well written, with a setting history lovers will adore. Yet for those who are only mildly interested in history, Brouwer's research into the canal is far more a focus of the story than it is just a setting. As a historically focused novel, it was interesting, but the plot did little to draw me back into wanting to pick it up and read it.

I have provided an honest review after having received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Gratitude Giveaway HOP


Thanks to Bookhounds for hosting this HOP!


This year I have much to be thankful for. I graduated college and will hopefully soon start a new job. Now it's my turn to share with you! Enter below for a chance to win either an ARC of Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer or an ARC of Karolina's Twins by Ronald H. Balson.




Both tell the stories of those searching for someone lost, yet each is set in a different time period. Saffire takes place during the construction of the Panama Canal while Karolina's Twins is set during the Holocaust. As such, Karloina's Twins is a much darker tale, though both will leave you thankful for what you have in life. This giveaway is US only.


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Monday, November 14, 2016

Shadow of the Storm- Connilyn Cossette

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mt. Sinai, upon which rests the fiery glowing Cloud containing the shekinah glory of God. When the people disobey Yahweh and build a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to learn the arts of midwifery. Although her mother wishes for her to continue in the family weaving trade, Shira's gifts shine brightest when she assists with deliveries. In defiance of her mother, Shira pursues her heart's calling to become an apprentice midwife.

When a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself bound to a man who betrayed her, the caretaker of three young children, and the target of a vengeful woman whose husband was killed by Shira's people, the Levites. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira will come face-to-face with the heartbreak of her past that she has kept hidden for so long. How can she let go of all that has defined her to accept the love she's denied herself and embrace who she truly is?


My Thoughts: Even though I was not a huge fan of the first book in this series, I am really glad that I decided to give this book a go. The story of Israel's time at Mt. Sinai was far more relatable in my mind than was the depiction of the plagues in the first book. As well, Shira's struggle with self-condemnation was much easier for me to relate with, and thus drew me into the story.

Much of what happened in the daily lives of the Israelites is left unspoken in the Bible. Outside of major events and people, there is no mention of how individuals coped with their sudden flight from Egypt. In this story, I believe that Cossette did an amazing job of bringing Biblical events to life and showing how these would have affected someone on a personal level.

However, some of the actions and opinions of her characters did not seem to fit well with the culture that was depicted. <spoiler> For one, in a culture that requires the stoning of an unfaithful wife, Leisha should have been sentenced to death long before the events of this story. </spoiler> While our own culture depicts this as a harsh sentence, it is none the less what would have been required in that time period. This, along with other cultural issues, made the story less accurate in my mind. Though I can understand the author wanting to make the story more palatable for a modern audience, it felt false to me.

I have provided an honest review after having received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Convenient Christmas Wedding- Regina Scott



My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Proposing a marriage of convenience to a rugged logger is the boldest move of Nora Underhill's sheltered life. In return for Simon Wallin's protection from her overbearing family, the unassuming seamstress offers prime frontier farmland. But their paper marriage changes when Nora's greedy brother tries to draw her back into a life of drudgery. Her only option: move to Simon's farm, and into the center of his loving, unruly family.

Years of shouldering responsibility have left Simon cynical and reserved. But little by little, Nora's warmth opens his shuttered heart to joy. With their marriage claim under threat, can this practical arrangement blossom over the holidays…and become a love for all seasons?


My Thoughts: I've not yet read the other books in this series and it has been some time since I have read any of Regina Scott's other books, however this one has reminded me that I really should rent all of her work from the library here soon. This story really pushed hard on the theme of just what a marriage should look like, with both partners helping and respecting each other while still encouraging the other to grow.

Simon was by far my favorite character. Throughout, he struggles with feeling accepted and needed, and with Nora he finds someone who is more than willing to show him that he is. Though Nora at times came across as juvenile, she did make a good match for Simon.

My only complaint, though it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story in any way, was that the ending had seemed a little rushed and predictable. I saw what was coming long beforehand, so while I was not disappointed in the conclusion, I do wish it had gone a different route.

I have provided an honest review after having received a free copy of this book from the author.
 



Biography: Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn't actually sell her first novel until she had learned a bit more about writing such as vocabulary, sentence structure, and plot. After numerous short stories and articles in magazines and trade journals, she got serious about her novel writing. The Unflappable Miss Fairchild was her first novel to be published (March 1998).

Besides her novels, Regina Scott has had published three Regency novellas ("The June Bride Conspiracy" in His Blushing Bride, "Sweeter Than Candy" in A Match for Mother, and "A Place by the Fire" in Mistletoe Kittens). Two of her novels, A Dangerous Dalliance and The Twelve Days of Christmas, have been translated into German. A Dangerous Dalliance and The Incomparable Miss Compton have been translated into Italian. Starstruck and Perfection have been translated into Dutch.

Regina Scott and her husband are the parents of two sons. They reside in the Tri-Cities of southeast Washington State and are members of the Church of the Nazarene. Born in 1959 and raised in the Seattle area, Regina Scott is a graduate of the University of Washington. She comes by her writing talent naturally--both her parents are excellent writers in their vocations as teacher and electrical technician. Her mother envisioned the plot for "Sweeter Than Candy," the novella which was written as a tribute to her.  Regina Scott is a devout Christian and a decent fencer; owns a historical, fantasy, and science fiction costume collection that currently takes up over a third of her large closet; and has been known to impersonate an independent consultant specializing in risk communication.

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