Tuesday, October 20, 2009
PG-13 (adult themes, intense scenes)
Connie Goodwin, a Harvard student up for Professorship, has to clean up her grandmothers house to sell before the IRS takes it away (her mother hasn't paid taxes on it in over 20 years). While there she discovers an old Bible and a key that gives her the name, Deliverance Dane. Connie, needing a primary source for her doctrinal studies, decides to chase down who Deliverance Dane was.
This story also jumps back in time to the 1600s and the time of the Salem Witch Trials and explores the theory of why there was a mass hysteria toward witchcraft in Salem that year (1692?) and asks the question: What if some of the women really were witches? Eventually the two story lines come together in a surprise that will shake Connie's world.
I have always been interested in the Salem Witch Trials, so this was a very fun, interesting read. The author is actually descendant of two women who were accused of being witches--one who got off and one who was hanged. I also enjoy Ms. Howe's writing style. Once she describes a corner as having a skein of webbing. I loved that and the book is filled with little visual gems.
I can't really say enough good things about this book. It is written as a series of letters from a journalist to a community of people who live on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands south of the UK. It takes place following WWII and talks about a literary society that was formed on Guernsey while they were under German Occupation during the war.
The characters were well written and likable. I had a hard time putting this book down. I highly recommend it.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
PG (intensity, adult themes)
mystery, women's fiction
Piper Mills' parents died when she was six and her grandparents raised her. While recovering from an equestrian related accident that leaves her terrified of horses, her grandparents die. Piper remembers an old box she helped her grandfather bury when she was twelve, so she unearths it and finds her grandmother's girlhood scrapbook and returned letters with her grandmother begging for someone named Lilian's forgiveness. Also in this box, there is a key that leads to a secret room in her house. Realizing that she never knew her grandmother, Piper decides to contact Lilian.
Lilian refuses to see Piper, unwilling to dredge up old memories, so Piper visits their horse ranch under a false name. As she begins to research her grandmother's life and get to know the aristocratic 90-year-old Lilian and her grandchildren, Helen and Tucker, she discovers a dark secret that tore three women apart and changed the course of their lives forever.
I stayed up late in the night to finish this book. At the heart of it, is Piper learning how to live again by researching her grandma's life. It made me want to call up my grandma and learn her story before it is too late. It is a happy and hopeful book that I became completely immersed in. I highly recommend this novel.
PG (action, inuendos)
Melanie Middleton hates old houses, so she is not happy when an old man she barely knows leaves his old Charleston family house to her in hiswill. The will stipulates that she must live in the house for a year before she can sell it. She decides to move in, drawn in in by the house almost against her will. Then she starts to see people who aren't there, including an evil presence that wants her gone.
Jack Trenholm, a handsome writer, contacts her, wanting to write about her house in one of his new books. She agrees to let him, even though his play-boy attitude can get on her nerves. As they begin renovating the house, the discover the mystery of a loving mother who disappeared without a trace. As Jack and Melanie try to figure out what happened to her, they realize that more than one person would like to keep them from finding out, and will stop at nothing to keep them from the truth.
I could not put this book down. I love all of Karen White's books and this one was no exception. It had the perfect blend of romance, mystery, and beautiful prose that really made me feel like I was walking through the house on Tradd Street. I will definitely read it again and recommend it to my friends.
Friday, October 2, 2009
PG-13 intensity, murders
Kate Stanely is directing a production of Hamlet in London's famed Globe theatre when her estranged mentor, Rosalind Howard, visits her with a box and the cryptic direction to open it and follow where it leads. That night the Globe is set on fire and Rosalind is found dead, murdered by poision in the same manner as Hamlet's father. Kate then opens the box and discovers a mystery as old as Shakespeare that leads her to chase clues through London, Cambridge, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.
At her heels is a theatric killer, recreating several famous murders from Shakespeare's plays, who will stop at nothing to keep Kate from discovering the secret. With the help of Ben, someone sent to protect her, she explores who Shakespeare really was, clues he left in his plays, and if perhaps he wrote one more play that is hidden to the world.
I really liked this novel. Once the mystery began I had a hard time putting it down. It really gets into Shakespeare and his plays (two things that I love) and effectively intertwines a story that spans history and links to the present. At times it read like a history book and some of the lengthy descriptions of certain historical figures could pull me out of the action. Ms. Carrell gives an intelligent and plausable basis for her mystery and I would highly recommend reading this.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Audience: YA, Adult, Women
Genre: Historical Romance
Review of By Love or By Sea
Alice Lind Frank is a happy young woman who is being courted by the most eligible man in town, Clarence Hielott. She enjoys working with her grandparents and anticipates the expected day that Clarence will propose marriage to her.
While walking through her seaside town one morning, Alice Frank sees a sun-bronzed, tattered sailor who resembles Caleb Newman, someone she once loved. She knows that it cannot be him, for his ship went down and he died at sea many years before.
When she finds out that the sailor is indeed the boy she had loved, she is torn between her commitment to Clarence and her yearning for Caleb. Yet, Caleb hurt her once and she is afraid to open her heart up to him again, especially when Clarence unearths a deadly secret from Caleb’s past.
I enjoyed reading By Love or By Sea. My favorite character in this novel was actually the grumpy Betsy Winters, a townswoman that Alice befriends. The plot moved quickly and it made for an easy read. It took a few chapters to get into, but once Alice realized who Caleb was, I didn’t want to put it down. Also, I wanted Alice to show as much spunk to the men chasing her as she did to the cantankerous, old Betsy!
This is a sweet, clean romance that I would recommend to anyone who loves kissing, drama, love triangles, and…pirates!
I had the opportunity to interview Rachel Rager.
Kaylee: Can you tell us a little about yourself, Rachel?
Rachel: I’m the mother of three beautiful young girls. My husband and I have been married for eight and half years. I love to sing and have a degree in vocal performance for opera. I published By Love or By Sea in April 2009 but have seven stories that are complete and five works in progress! I love to read any good, clean romance book, ride my bike, go on picnics with my family, write, sing and bake! (Not usually at the same time, of course!)
Why did you want to be a writer?
I didn’t. I had other ambitions. I wanted to be a mom or a business woman but I never thought I’d be an author. When I was young, I couldn’t spell well and didn’t like to read and I didn’t read well. So, it’s amazing that I ever desired to write a book and see it to fruition.Shortly after my first daughter was born, my mother-in-law gave me A Heavenly Surrender by Marcia Lynn McClure to read. I loved it and eagerly searched out more of Marcia’s books. At the time, she only had three in print, but I devoured them!Then one night I had a dream and when I woke up, I decided to try and write it down. Did I imagine anything might come of it? Of course not. I didn’t even know if I’d have the patience to sit and write all those words! Still, I eagerly wrote down an outline and then timidly told my husband. I will always remember the doubtful look on his face as he said, “Well…I guess if you really want to.” I told no one else! Instead I wrote. After a month of typing during my daughter’s naps and while my husband was in classes, I finished. And it was terrible! But I had done what I set out to do. So I edited and submitted it. (Only then did I tell my mother, who was floored by my revelation.)My first attempt was rejected, but I persisted. I kept rewriting, editing, and even began writing another book. I also broadened my horizons and read tons of books. With each rewrite or book I read, I learned more and more. Finally, after five years, I had written five stories. I submitted my third story and finally got a contract with Cedar Fort, Inc. Six years (almost to the month) after I started writing, I accomplished another goal and held a copy of my book in my hands.
What was your inspiration for Alice and Caleb's story?
By Love or By Sea is the third story I wrote. And Caleb is actually six-years-old in the first story he makes an appearance in, so I had a long time to get to know him. One day I was in the shower and I had an idea to write a story just about Caleb. I was working on something else, but I soon started his story. The journey he takes developed long after I started his story.
What are some of your favorite books?
Since I feel I owe my start to Marcia Lynn McClure, it’s obvious I love anything by her. I thoroughly enjoy books by Jaimey Grant and Joyce DiPastena, along with just about any clean romance novel. I don’t get into science fiction or fantasy much but I love Maria V. Snyder’s books who wrote Poison Study. But one of my all time favorites is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. That was the only book I read in high school or junior high and it remains one of my all time favorites.
Can we look forward to more books from you in the future?
I’m polishing up one with a working title of A Dress to the Heart. I’m also doing some rewrites on The Tiger, Unleashed, and A Cold Heart which is a historical romance based at Platte Bridge Station just outside of Casper, Wyoming. I’m also considering writing a book about Betsy Winter’s journey. I have heard so many things about her. Everyone just loves her! So, I’m thinking about that. I have probably a dozen stories in my head and no time to put them on paper. So I hope that you will see many more books from me in the future!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If I had to say anything, I’d say if you have the dream, don’t give up! Learn all that you can and keep at it. Don’t let rejection get you down. And make sure you make it fun!
Thank you for this interview, Rachel. I loved the book and look forward to reading more from you!
Thanks, Kaylee! You’re a joy to visit with!
You can visit Rachel Rager at http://rachelrager.blogspot.com/ or at http://www.rachelrager.com/.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Starting September 28 there will be daily blog reviews and author interviews for Rachel Rager's By Love or By Sea. If you leave a comment on my review or become a follower on Rachel's blog http://rachelrager.blogspot.com/ you will be entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of her book. You can comment on more than one review and become a follower of her blog and be entered into the drawing multiple times.
Here is the schedule:
September 28 - Jaimey Grant - http://romanceoldschool.blogspot.com/
September 29 - Kaylee Baldwin - http://kayleeseye.blogspot.com/
September 30 - Cindy Beck - http://www.bythebecks.blogspot.com/
October 1 - Kim Thompson - http://www.scribbledscraps.blogspot.com/
October 2 - Alison Palmer - http://www.alisonpalmer.blogspot.com/
October 3 - JoAnn Arnolds - http://www.authorjoann.blogspot.com/
October 5 - Rebecca Talley - http://www.rebeccatalleywrites.blogspot.com/
October 6 - Anna Arnett - http://frespafan.blogspot.com/
October 7 - Heather Justensen - http://heatherjustesen.blogspot.com/
October 8 - Rachelle Christensen - http://www.rachellewrites.blogspot.com/
October 9 - Joyce DiPastena - http://jdp-news.blogspot.com/
Also doing a review - Liz Adair - http://sezlizadair.blogspot.com/
Make sure you check out my review and interview with Rachel Rager on the 29th and make a comment to win her book!