Posts Categorized: reviews

Book Review: Mercy Snow

January 29, 2015 Book Review, reviews 3

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Mercy SnowMercy Snow by Tiffany Baker
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 27th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Magical Realism
Pages: 368
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Set in rural New Hampshire along the Androscoggin River, Mercy Snow is at turns a portrait of a prejudicial society and a testament to how one person can redeem a town.

The Snows have quite the reputation in this logging town that goes back several generations.  The McAllisters also have a reputation, as the owners of the mill and the town.  When a youth group bus crashes into the river a chain of events are set off that causes the town to implode.

At times my heart was breaking for the Snow family, Mercy, age 19, Hannah, the 8-year-old “wild baby sister,” and Zeke, the older brother intent on saving his sisters.  In a town where work was scarce and opinions rampant, being considered “backwoods,” was not a good thing.  Living off the land, illiterate, and poorer than church mice, the Snows were not welcomed in the paper mill town of Titan Falls.

After the bus rolls off of Devil’s Slide Road due to a maniac trying to pass on the ice, Zeke is accused and must disappear deeper into the woods.  This leaves Mercy with the bulk of responsibility caring for Hannah through a scarce winter.

While not stated, it seemed to me that the book was set in the early 80’s soon after the Clean Water Act was enacted.  It was interesting {and sad} to read how protecting the water source affected so many livelihoods.

There’s a touch of magic or what mountain folk call ‘the gift’  in Mercy Snow. Mercy comes from a long line of female healers ~ those who know which herbs and touch to use for all kinds of ailments.  Living in the Appalachian Mountains I can attest to that belief still going on strong.

My fave quote:

You know, there’s a difference between healing and saving.  Only one of them is God’s work.

My one fault with the book is that not everyone got his or her due.  Which doesn’t happen in the real world either, but I really really really wanted a couple of people to suffer for the evilness caused.

Truly a spiritual Southern gothic tale set in the mountains of New Hampshire, Mercy Snow is both rich in atmosphere and character.  Highly recommended to readers of Sarah Addison Allen, Angela Hunt and Beth Hoffman.

[Tweet “Lyrical spiritual southern gothic tale set in New Hampshire “]

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I’m honored to be a member of the She Reads Blog Network. Five lucky winners will receive the set of She Reads Books of Winter of which includes Mercy Snow. ENTER HERE by January 30th, 2015 {that’s tomorrow folks!}  The complete set includes The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag, The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister, Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker, and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

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Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams

January 13, 2015 Book Review, reviews 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: The Dress Shop of DreamsThe Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Pragg
Published by Ballantine Books, Random House on December 30th
Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound
Goodreads

 

Having read and loved Menna van Praag’s novel The House at the End of Hope Street {review here} I had high expectations of The Dress Shop of Dreams.  Both books are steeped in magical realism and satisfy my yearning for fairy tales.  I collected fairy tales as a child and read them over and over {The recent movie “Into the Woods” was a phenomenal experience for me!}  I’ve been accused, quite often, of living with my head in the clouds and being too much of a dreamer.  All perfect reasons to immerse myself in Menna van Praag’s novels!

When Cora Sparks parent’s died mysteriously, Cora moved in with Etta, her Grandmother, above Etta’s fabulous dress shop.  Cora grows up as logical, a realist and becomes a scientist with a heart closed to love.  On the same street as the dress shop is a book store where Walt, a young boy infatuated with Cora, grows up immersed in the stacks.  Walt ends up buying the bookstore as an adult {what a dream come true that would be for me!} and Cora burrows deeper and deeper into her lab.

Etta’s sewing needles and expertise at finding the perfect dress for a client is nothing short of magical.  A woman can walk into the dress shop without any self-confidence, put on a dress from Etta and then sees herself as beautiful, self-assured and ready to make her own dreams come true.  When Etta decides to push things along between Walt and Cora by sewing a tiny heart into Walt’s shirt, chaos ensues.

Normally I enjoy books with several points of view; however, The Dress Shop of Dreams seemed to have a few too many that did nothing to further the plot.  The cast of characters are imaginative and real, making this character-driven story a treat.

[Tweet “a nora ephron-esque feel-good book for dreamers”]

As a feel-good novel with underlying magic The Dress Shop of Dreams shines.  Reading it was like sitting through a Nora Ephron film with copious amounts of popcorn and snowcaps.  A super sweet, imaginative love story with hearts all awry and characters who think they know what’s best until life, and a bit of magic, show them otherwise.  Recommended to those who enjoy a Nora Ephron film and readers of Sarah Addison Allen.

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I’m honored to be a member of the She Reads Blog Network.  Five lucky winners will receive the set of She Reads Books of Winter of which includes The Dress Shop of Dreams. ENTER HERE by January 30th, 2015.   The complete set includes The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag, The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister, Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker, and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

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Book Review: Vanishing Girls

January 7, 2015 Book Review, reviews 8

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Vanishing GirlsVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on March 10th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Lauren Oliver’s latest novel follows two sisters trying to overcome a terrible car accident and a family trying to move ahead in spite of a divorce.  Underlying that family drama is a 9-year-old girl who has gone missing from the backseat of her sister’s car.

Nick {Nicole} and Dara are a little over 11 months apart.  They’ve been inseparable since babies until the past four months has found Dara shunning Nick since the car accident.

Lauren Oliver has a way of writing that grabs you from the outset and does not let go.  In that aspect, she is a master storyteller.  In Vanishing Girls Oliver rotates between Dara and Nick as narrator and between ‘before’ the accident and ‘after.’  This style both moves the story along rapidly and hides the clues of what really happened with both the missing girl and the car accident.

A couple of issues I had with the plot ~ do high school juniors and seniors really drink that much? I don’t ever remember drinking that much in high school, nor do I believe I was so absent & unawares when my kids were in high school ~ perhaps I’m being naive?

Second issue is more plot development ~ I figured out part of the mystery early on from the big whoppers of clues and I’m probably the person that takes the longest to figure anything out!  My family and friends know when they tell me a joke they may have to break it down for me {sad, but true!}.  I’m thinking if the clues had not been so blatant that the big reveal may have been much more shocking.

Lauren Oliver’s writing ability is intense and wrings me out by the time I close the book.  Never fails, she has me sobbing by the end.  In Before I Fall {review} I remember thinking I would never quit crying!

[Tweet “Realistic {yet fictional} study in love and conflict between two sisters”]

Where she does get it right, Oliver shines.  The conflict and relationship of the sisters is what I witnessed with my girls who are 18 months apart.  The adoration and dedication are apparent between the two as is the struggle with personal identity and the intrinsic jealousies.  It’s a good study in love and conflict of two sisters.

To sum up, I liked Vanishing Girls.  Although the plot was not as seamless as previous novels, Lauren Oliver has a unique writing style that I thoroughly enjoy.  Recommended.

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Book Review: Little Things Long Remembered

December 5, 2014 Book Review, reviews 2

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review:  Little Things Long RememberedLittle Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day by PhD, Susan Newman
Published by Iron Gate Press on October 1st, 2014
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 148
Source: complimentary review copy
Goodreads

Filled with practical tips on creating memories with your children {or grandchildren}, Little Things Long Remembered is a practical, darling addition to any parent or grandparent’s repertoire of parenting. It is especially great for new parents or even veteran parents who need quick tips without a lot of steps. The ideas are broken up into memory-makers for 5 minutes, 30 minutes and longer.

Soon after I received this book the Little Monkey was spending the day with me and it happened to be pouring rain. I was at a loss as to what to do {sometimes in the moment it’s hard to think of cool ideas that are both entertaining, memory-making and educational}. Anyone else ever feel that way? Normally we would head outside to go on a nature walk but the cold rain prohibited that idea. Sooo, I grabbed this little gem of a book, flipped through the pages to “5 Minutes More or Less” and “Sick Days” {I figured rain days would fall into that category as well} and quickly was reminded of a game my kids had enjoyed – flipping playing cards into a hat. Yup, something as simple as flipping playing cards kept a three year old entertained for quite a while and in the meantime taught hand-eye coordination {without the benefit of a game station might I add!}; playing well with others {hey, the Little Monkey can’t win every time!} and simply laughing at the simple things in life. Now, on the days I have the Little Monkey he always asks if we can play cards/throw cards!

Much of what is included in Little Things Long Remembered is common sense, practical tips that anyone can implement. I would love to see this in the hands of every parent and grandparent. Makes for a perfect stocking stuffer, baby shower or everyday gift.

Be sure to read Susan Newman’s guest post on Making Memories during the holidays. A gentle reminder to enjoy the little things and not try too hard.

[Tweet “Key to making memories with little ones during holidays is don’t try too hard”]

What little memories do you remember from your childhood?

Many thanks to iRead Book Tours for including me on this tour.

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Right or Happy? That IS the question.

December 3, 2014 Book Review, reviews 9

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Recently my baby brother did something to make me so angry I could have beat him up with my bare hands if he were not a foot+ taller and outweigh me by 100 lbs.  What’s ironic is that he was thinking his actions were helping me when, in reality, it did just the exact opposite.  But isn’t that the way it goes?  In The Mill River Redemption sisters Rose and Emily are completely estranged.  Reading the terrible manner in which they treat each other had me thinking about the situation with my brother and thankful we resolved the drama before Thanksgiving dinner!

I’m reminded of a popular saying do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?  As stubborn as my family can be {yes, me included} I’ve figured out that being happy is more important to me.  Especially when the argument is about something stupid, and this one was!

Now that sentiment would go out the window entirely if someone’s life were in danger.  For most instances though, dealing with family stuff by the ‘happy or right’ quotient keeps me sane {as long as I truly DO let. it. go. and choose happiness over rightness}  And man is that hard to do. But also absolutely necessary.

How do you deal with family drama during the holidays?

This post was inspired by the novel The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan, about two estranged sisters who are forced to work together in order to uncover the hidden inheritance by their mother.   Join From Left to Write on December 2nd as we discuss The Mill River Redemption and enter to win a copy of the novel.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

This novel along with The Mill River Recluse  paired together makes a great gift for anyone who enjoys fiction with inspirational, healing stories!

For more about author Darcie Chan visit the website or connect on Facebook | Twitter

 

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