Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Welcome to Another Edition of My Dental Hygienist Is Cooler Than Your Dental Hygienist ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Addictive tech is part of the mainstream in a way that additive substances never will be.  Abstinence is not an option" (9).

I don't know about the rest of you, but I see my dental hygienist to get book recommendations.  Teeth schmeeth!  We chat about what we're reading.  My hygienist ingests a lot of non-fiction, a genre I tend to avoid, so I'm always excited when she steers me toward intriguing, informational texts.  When she started telling me recently about Irresistible by NYU professor Adam Alter, I knew I had to read it.  I'm glad I did, too.  It's an utterly fascinating book that sheds a harsh, eye-opening light on the addictive power of modern tech.

Alter begins by defining behavioral addiction as different from alcoholism, overeating, drug abuse, etc.  Behavioral addictions, he says, "arise when a person can't resist a behavior, which despite addressing a deep psychological need in the short-term, produces significant harm in the long-term" (20).  He cites examples of people so obsessed with playing video games that they don't eat, sleep, or socialize off-line for days on end.  Others can't look away from their phones long enough to push their child on a swing or converse with their partner at a restaurant.  These obsessions are dangerous to the addict's health as well as to that of those around them in ways both physical (driving while texting, for example) and emotional (ignoring one's child or spouse).  Even more disturbing, Alter says, is that these devices, games, and apps are purposely engineered to be addictive.

As chilling as Alter's descriptions may be, he also offers a glimmer of hope.  He talks about successful treatments being used at recovery centers for behavioral addicts.  He also recommends setting limits on screen time, especially for young children, and encouraging them to engage in real-life interactions.  The best way to stop an addiction, of course, is never to start one.  To that end, Alter proposes monitoring the use of addictive technology—both in ourselves and in our children—very closely.  After all, he says, "There isn't a bright line between addicts and the rest of us.  We're all one product or experience away from developing our own addictions" (4).  

Although Alter discusses all kinds of scientific studies and terms, Irresistible is written in a conversational tone that makes it easy to read.  The topic is compelling, Alter's examples are spot-on, and his message of warning comes across loud and clear.  This is an important book, one that is both timely and life-altering.  You're definitely going to want to put down your iPhone and give it a read.

(Readalikes:  I don't usually read books like this, so nothing is coming to mind.  Ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives) and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Worth the Wrestle Insightful, Inspiring

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we're taught that if we follow the teachings of the Gospel faithfully, everything we experience in life will work out for our good.  Sometimes we foolishly expect this to mean we will never struggle—not financially, not in our relationships, not with our faith, not with the doctrine of the Church.  This is simply not so.  Everyone has their challenges, even if they are earnestly striving every day to live the Gospel.  When these complications come, how do faithful LDS people react?  How should we react?  We're taught to "hold to the rod", look to the Lord, and have faith that He knows what He's doing.  If we do this, we won't question our God, our faith, our Church leaders, the purpose of our challenges, etc.  Too often questioning is frowned upon because it is equated with doubt and unbelief.  But is questioning really so bad?

According to Sheri Dew—current CEO of Deseret Book Publishing Company, a former member of the Relief Society General Presidency, and a popular author and speaker—questions are good.  In her new book, Worth the Wrestle, she says questions should not be seen as threats to our testimonies.  Quite the opposite.  "...questions asked against a backdrop of faith," she says, "and with an earnest desire to learn always lead to spiritual growth and a stronger testimony."  Not asking questions can, in fact, block learning, progression, revelation, and whisperings of the Spirit.  

After offering these refreshing insights, Dew goes on to discuss related topics like how to receive personal revelation, how to stand as a witness even if we don't know everything, and how and why we need to wrestle with our questions.  Most meaningful for me, personally, was the section on understanding the personalized way in which the Lord speaks to us.  I also appreciated Dew's constant reassurance that although receiving answers takes both time and work, if you put in the effort, those answers will come.

If you've ever read a book by Dew or heard her speak, you know her words are always marked by her trademark warmth, wit, and down-to-earth wisdom.  No matter how profound the topic she's addressing, she makes it accessible.  This is the reason I love Worth the Wrestle so much.  It's deep, yes, but not so much that you have to re-read every sentence three times to understand what Dew's saying.  I came away from the read feeling enlightened and inspired, not confused or headache-y from trying to understand.  Dew's approach always resonates with me.  I read Worth the Wrestle at exactly the right time and highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for an insightful, uplifting, and inspiring read.

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing's coming to mind.  Ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Worth the Wrestle from the generous folks at Deseret Book.  Thank you!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Episodic, Unfocused Plot Makes South African Historical Romance Less Enjoyable Than Expected

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Lettie Louw has always felt different from her girlfriends, who are beautiful, flirtatious, and adept at attracting masculine attention.  Getting her heart broken as a teenager propels her to seek education, not love.  After medical school she returns to her small South African hometown to work in her father's clinic.  All around her, Lettie's former classmates are getting married and having children.  Love still eludes the young doctor, who throws herself into her career.  Fulfilled but still lonely, Lettie tries to ignore the aching in her heart, the longing for a blissful romance of her own.  

Marco Romanelli has suffered a broken heart of his own.  After risking everything to protect the Jewish woman he loved, being thrown into a Nazi concentration camp, and barely surviving with his life, he's still trying to recover his health.  When his brother invites him to leave their native Italy and join him in South Africa, Marco goes, hoping the warm, dry climate will help clear his vulnerable lungs.  The last thing he expects is to fall in love with his physician, an intriguing woman who doesn't recognize her own beauty and strength.  

As Lettie and Marco take tentative steps toward the kind of grand romance neither one of them ever expected to find, they encounter stumbling blocks big and small.  When a heartbreaking discovery threatens to tear their world apart, the couple will have to travel a crooked, unimaginable path that will take them in an unexpected direction.  Can their faith and love see them through?

It's hard to describe The Crooked Path by South African author Irma Joubert because, truly, the novel has no plot.  It tells a sweeping story that spans Lettie's lifetime, but it's an unfocused, episodic tale that plods along for nearly 400 pages without really going anywhere.  In trying to cover too much ground, it's unevenly paced, which makes it feel even longer.  I appreciate that the story is squeaky clean and uplifting without being preachy; still, the tome was a chore for me to read.  Maybe Joubert's prose was more impressive before being translated into English, but in the version I read, it's very passive, very flat, and very dull.  The characters are all (well, mostly) perfectly nice—they're also one-dimensional, boring, and pretty much interchangeable.  Overall, then, I just had a difficult time reading The Crooked Path.  While it comes to a satisfying conclusion, the read was not worth the effort for me.  Ah, well.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I'm not sure to what I can compare it.  Ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Crooked Path from the generous folks at Thomas Nelson via those at TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!


Want more opinions of The Crooked Path?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by visiting the sites below:

Monday, October 23rd: Read-Love-Blog – spotlight
Thursday, October 26th: From the TBR Pile – spotlight
Friday, October 27th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, October 30th: Fiction Aficionado
Tuesday, October 31st: View from the Birdhouse
Wednesday, November 1st: OMG Reads – spotlight
Thursday, November 2nd: Reviews from the Heart
Friday, November 3rd: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, November 3rd: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, November 6th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, November 7th: Write Read Life
Wednesday, November 8th: Jathan & Heather
Thursday, November 9th: Read Eat Repeat
Monday, November 13th: Katy’s Library blog and Instagram
Tuesday, November 14th: Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 15th: Books & Bindings
Thursday, November 16th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Friday, November 17th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Monday, November 20th: Suzy Approved
Tuesday, November 21st: Splashes of Joy
Wednesday, November 22nd: The Sketchy Reader

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Authentic and Uplifting, Forget Me Not an Enjoyable, Empathy-Inducing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's hard enough trying to fit in when you're constantly the new girl, but when you have Tourette Syndrome (TS) to boot, it's pretty much impossible.  Calliope "Calli" Snow knows this only too well.  After her mother's latest breakup, the two of them land in St. George, Utah.  Even though she knows she shouldn't, Calli dares to hope this move might be different.  Maybe this time they'll stay in one place for longer than a month, maybe this time she'll be able to make a friend, maybe pigs will suddenly sprout wings and take to the air ...

When a strange girl dressed in weird clothes with golden hair streaming down her back moves into his apartment building, Jinsong P'eng finds himself very intrigued.  The more he gets to know Calli, the more he likes her.  But being friends with someone like her—someone who dresses funny and acts like a freak—is social suicide for a popular guy like Jin.  Can he really afford to take that risk?  This isn't the baseball field; it's real life.  Will he stick his neck out for the vulnerable new girl?

Like Wonder before it, Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry tells the story of a child who longs to be accepted in spite of the things that make them different.  Told in alternating verse and prose, the novel shares Calli's tale from two perspectives—that of an insider (Calli) and that of an outsider (Jin).  Although Forget Me Not is lighthearted overall, the fears and insecurities of both narrators come across loud and clear.  Because Ellie Terry has TS, Calli's perspective rings especially true.  Without feeling heavy-handed, Forget Me Not illustrates the importance of acceptance, the power of empathy, and the joy that can be found in even the most likely of friendships.  Authentic and uplifting, this quick, enjoyable read will resonate with anyone who's ever felt out of place.  And, really, isn't that all of us?

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Intriguing MG WWII Novel Sheds Light on Plight of Ukrainian Child Slaves

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Lida Ferezuk isn't Jewish, but that doesn't stop the Nazis from killing her parents and taking her and her younger sister captive.  Their crime?  The Ferezuks are Ukrainian.  According to the Germans, their country no longer exists.  They are now Russian and thus eligible to be put to work for the Nazis.  Even though Lida is only nine, she's forcibly separated from her sister and sent to a labor camp.  Knowing she must be useful in order to survive the upcoming ordeal, Lida lies about her age and vows to stay as strong as possible.

When Lida is ordered to work at a bomb factory assembling explosives for the Nazis, she sees an opportunity to finally fight back against a cruel and vicious enemy.  With eyes on her all the time, it's a huge risk that could cost her her life.  Already weak from starvation and wracked with fear, does she dare to put what little she has left on the line?  If her plan fails, she'll lose everything, including the chance to ever see her sister again.  

Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is a harrowing middle grade novel based on the real Ukrainian slave raids that occurred during World War II.  I didn't know much at all about this topic, so it was interesting to read about it.  Disturbing, but fascinating.  Lida makes for a sympathetic narrator.  It's impossible not to root for her as she tries to help those around her, looks for beauty in even the darkest places, and longs for a reunion with her beloved sister.  The story moves along swiftly, ensuring a quick, exciting read that's as informative as it is interesting.  While Making Bombs for Hitler didn't knock my socks off, I definitely found the novel a worthwhile read. 

Readalikes:  Reminds me of other middle grade WWII novels, including The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen; Number the Stars by Lois Lowry; and Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed a copy of Making Bombs for Hitler from my daughter's elementary school library.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Eerie Gothic Overtones Make Hawkins' Newest An Atmospheric Psychological Thriller

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For hundreds of years, the women of Beckford have been dying in a part of the local river that's become known as the "Drowning Pool."  Whether the dead chose a watery grave for themselves or were forced off the craggy cliffs surrounding the spot is part of its mystery.  Nel Abbott has always been obsessed with the Drowning Pool, so much so that she's crafting a coffee table book about its history.  When Nel becomes the latest in a long string of difficult women to die in the Drowning Pool, no one's overly surprised.  After all, the photographer spent lots of time on the cliffs, trying to capture the perfect photo.  She could easily have lost her footing, accidentally plunging to her death.  The more evidence that mounts, however, the more it appears that something much more sinister happened to Nel Abbott ...

Nel's younger sister, Jules, arrives in Beckford—the town to which she swore she would never return—to try to understand Nel's death.  She's also charged with the care of her newly orphaned niece.  Already haunted by the recent suicide of her best friend, who killed herself in the Drowning Pool, 15-year-old Lena grows even more surly and withdrawn in the wake of Nel's death.  Jules, a lonely, childless social worker, has no idea how to comfort Lena, let alone herself.  

Jules is desperate to know what really happened to her sister; her inquiries, however, produce more questions than answers.  Someone in tiny Beckford knows the truth.  Everyone is hiding something, but no one's talking.  Can Jules figure out how Nel died?  Or will her pointed questions lead to her own corpse being dragged out of the murky depths of the Drowning Pool?

With its eerie Gothic overtones, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, is an atmospheric novel that's as haunting as it is compelling.  It's more layered than The Girl On the Train, but somehow less original.  Still, the story kept me turning pages far into the night.  As engrossing as the tale is, it's also sad and depressing.  Overall, I found it intriguing but not nearly as mesmerizing as Hawkins' debut.  Even though I'm not bowled over by the author's sophomore effort, I'm still anxious to see what she does next.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of novels by Carol Goodman and of the Jess Tennant trilogy by Jane Casey)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, disturbing subject matter, and depictions of prescription drug abuse

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Into the Water from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Based On a True Story, MG Holocaust Novel Touching, Eye-Opening Tale of Survival

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When the Nazis invade Krakow, the life of Jacob "Yanek" Gruener changes forever.  Jews are no longer safe in Poland.  Not even a harmless 10-year-old boy.  Crowded into a city ghetto with other Jews, Yanek and his family must eke out a life with little privacy, scant food, and no freedom.  Despite the hardships they endure, the Grueners are grateful to be together while all around them, friends and neighbors disappear daily.  

One day, the inevitable happens and Yanek is left all alone.  When the Nazis finally capture him, he's sent to a concentration camp.  His youth and relative strength mark him as "lucky"—as long as he can work, he can survive.  Moved from camp to camp, Yanek does everything he can to survive.  The more he suffers, the more he wonders if living is even worth it.  As hope dwindles and his "health"—the only thing keeping him alive—seeps out of him, Yanek longs to give up.  Will he continue his fight for survival, for freedom?  Will liberation come soon enough to save a young boy who's rapidly losing hope?  

Based on a true story, Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz tells an amazing tale of survival.  Like all concentration camp novels, it details the unbelievable horrors suffered by people who actually lived.  It's fiction, yes, but it's grounded in harsh, shocking reality.  It's an eye-opening novel, one that's both eye-opening and touching.  As haunting as it is, the novel is a perfect one to hand to kids who want to learn more about the Holocaust.  They'll definitely root for Yanek to persevere; in turn, they might just be inspired to push through their own challenges with courage and determination.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other Holocaust books for children, including The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Regency Romance with Substance Makes for an Enjoyable Read (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the daughter of an illustrious duke, Lady Amanda Cumberland enjoys a life of wealth and privilege.  In London for her first Season, the 16-year-old should have only one thing on her mind—fun.  With two handsome, eligible lords courting her, her days have become infinitely more exciting, but still, something is missing.  Lady Amanda longs to do something real.  When she hears a stirring speech by Henry Hunt championing equal rights for all, his words sink deep into her soul.  She vows to do all she can, even if it must be done secretly, to help common Englishmen—and women—achieve the dreams of freedom and equality.  

Lord Nathaniel Halloway is known as the biggest rake in London.  It's a facade he's carefully cultivated to hide his true passion—aiding the lower classes in their fight for freedom.  His role in the campaign is bigger than anyone could guess; if the other members of the ton found out, the consequences would be unimaginable.  Lord Nathaniel must play his part in their glittering world of excess and abandon in order to divert high society's fickle attention away from his true activities. 

With her father pressuring her into choosing a husband, Lady Amanda must do some pretty play-acting of her own.  Both play their roles to near perfection.  Will their frivolous masks keep them from uniting—not just in a noble cause but in a love that could burn brighter than anything they've ever known?  

I've been known to enjoy a fluffy Regency romance now and then, but I like them even better when they've got some substance behind them.  The Nobleman's Daughter, a debut novel by Jen Geigle Johnson, offers up just that.  Using England's turn-of-the-century fight for equal rights as a backdrop, the author creates a tension-filled romance that keeps the reader enthralled as it winds down to its inevitable Happily Ever After.  The story's predictable; it's also exciting, fun, and engrossing.  Nothing overly original, but it's enjoyable overall.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Regency romances by Jennifer Moore)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Nobleman's Daughter from the generous folks at Covenant.  Thank you!


Want more opinions on The Nobleman's Daughter?  Follow along with the book's blog tour by clicking the links below:


Want to win a copy of The Nobleman's Daughter for your very own, plus a $25 Amazon gift card?  Enter the giveaway below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Searching for Ways to Make Christmas More Christ-Centered? Look No Further. (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Covenant)

 "Time, that precious commodity, is what all families want us to give them, and time is what our Savior wants us to give Him" (2).

http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/p/lds-authors.htmlWith the above quote, author Christie Gardiner introduces, Our Family Christmas a low-stress guide that aims to help families make their holiday celebrations both more meaningful and more spiritual.  With a section devoted to each day from December 1st to the 25th, it's an advent calendar in book form.  Each day, Gardiner offers a scripture or quote plus a short story, thought, or anecdote that introduces a different Christmas-y topic.  Then, she gives suggestions for implementing the principle being taught (giving to the poor, sharing the light of Christ, understanding the symbols of the season, etc.) by suggesting fun, easy family activities (crafts, baking, games, etc.).  With busy families in mind, she divides the ideas into those that can be done in 1 hour, 20 minutes, and 5 minutes.  Each day also gets its own recipe, journaling prompts, and a Christmas hymn/carol.  

Gardiner acknowledges the reality of busy, stressed-out families by encouraging each to do what works for them, when it works for them.  She emphasizes that Our Family Christmas is a collection of ideas, not a stringent program designed to make parents feel even more burdened during an already overwhelming season.  She does testify, however, that focusing on simple, Christ-centered activities like those suggested in the book during the Christmas season will bring families closer together while blessing them with a peaceful, more satisfying holiday experience. 

Beautifully illustrated with bright, whimsical Norman Rockwell (and Rockwell-ish) paintings, Our Family Christmas would make a lovely pre-holiday gift.  If you're already frazzled with Christmas anxiety, do yourself a favor and read through this lovely book.  The ideas within are reassuring in their simplicity.  Nothing elaborate is required in order to center your holiday more firmly on the things that really matter—honoring the Savior, generous service, family closeness, and spreading joy.  Our Family Christmas keeps it real with small, doable suggestions that can have a large, lasting impact on your family.  If you're wondering how to make your holiday more meaningful this year, start with giving this book a look-see.  At the very least, it will inspire you to remember the reason for the season.  

Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Our Family Christmas from the generous folks at Covenant.  Thank you!


Interested in more opinions of Our Family Christmas?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking on the links below:

*Nov. 3rd: http://sweetlymadejustforyou.com/blog/, http://www.wishfulendings.com/, http://brooklynberrydesigns.com/, http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/

Want to win a copy of Our Family Christmas for your very own?  Enter to win the book, plus a $25 Amazon gift card by filling out this Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Regency Romance + Christmas Setting = Warm, Charming Combination

(Image from Deseret Book)

http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/p/lds-authors.htmlPeanut butter and jelly.  Cookies and milk.  Hot chocolate and marshmallows.  Some things just go together, you know?  I'm fairly new to Regency romance books, so I've never really considered what a sweet combination could result from pairing the genre with magical holiday settings.  If Christmas Grace, a collection of Regency love stories by various authors, is any indication, I'd call the mixture a very pleasant one indeed. 
Christmas Grace, a new collection of holiday tales by beloved LDS romance writers, includes four selections:

"Let Nothing You Dismay" by Jennifer Moore tells the story of Ben Talbot and Camilla "Millie" Prince, childhood sweethearts whose elopement ends with a tragic accident.  Reunited after eight years with no contact, the former fiancés have a second chance at love.  Are they brave enough to take it?

"Christmas at Canterwood" by Krista Lynne Jensen stars Julia Seaton, a governess who's taxed with keeping up the spirits of the children in her care while their parents are away from home at Christmastime.  When the handsome but too-serious vicar gets roped into Julia's plan to distract the kids, unexpected sparks start to fly. 

"Winter Angel" by Anita Stansfield concerns Mariah Pritchard, the 22-year-old daughter of a London baker.  When she encounters a poor, beaten man during her rounds of distributing bread to the homeless, she's surprised to discover he's a gentleman in disguise.  She's even more shocked by her heart's reaction to the down-on-his-luck stranger.

"Christmas Grace" by Chalon Linton begins with a carriage accident that brings a young widow into the care of a kind stranger.  When a storm strands Grace Hershaw at the estate of handsome, cheerful Gordon Burgess, the two work together to plan a holiday fete.  Will Gordon's charms manage to capture the widow's attention, let alone her heart?  

While I enjoyed some of the stories more than others ("Christmas at Canterwood" is my favorite), all four are filled with enough charm, hope, and love to warm even the coldest heart.  Short and sweet, they make for light but uplifting reading that is especially well suited for the busy holiday season.  A satisfying collection, this book would make a fun gift for anyone who enjoys clean, happy endings-guaranteed Regency love stories.  If you are looking for a quick, Christmas-y read to get you into the holiday spirit, look no further.  You've found it.

Readalikes:  Hm, this is the first Regency Christmas tale I've ever read, so I'm not sure what to compare it to ... Any ideas?


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for a small amount of violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Christmas Grace from the generous folks at Covenant.  Thank you!


Interested in more opinions of Christmas Grace?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by visiting the stops below:

*Oct. 27th: http://literarytimeout.blogspot.com/, http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/, http://www.blogginboutbooks.com -- a little late, oops!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Second Charlie Cates Novel An Engrossing, Eye-Opening Mystery

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note: While this review will not contain spoilers for The Shimmering Road, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, The Gates of Evangeline.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

Now that Charlotte "Charlie" Cates has found love again, she's eager to move on with her life.  With a new baby growing inside her, the 39-year-old journalist is looking forward to a promising future with kind, hardworking Noah Palmer.  Just when everything seems to be coming up roses, however, Charlie gets some shocking news.  Her mother—a drug addict who abandoned her daughter when she was just a toddler—has been killed in a double murder.  The other victim?  Jasmine Cassell, a half sister Charlie never knew existed.  As if that weren't enough, she's having visions again.  This time the distressed child is Micky, Jasmine's daughter.

Although Charlie's energy should be focused on her own child, she can't ignore her niece's plaintive pleas.  Something terrible happened to the child's mother and grandmother.  Determined to find the truth, Charlie starts digging.  Her search takes her into the chaos of northern Mexico, the desolate Arizona desert, and deep into the murky waters of her own troubled past.  Ultimately, her investigation is leading her to the most dangerous destination of all—into the hands of a cold-blooded killer.  Trouble is the last thing Charlie needs, especially in her delicate condition, but she's heading right for it ...

I picked up The Shimmering Road by Hester Young without realizing it's a sequel to The Gates of Evangeline, which I read last year.  It seriously took me a few chapters to catch on!  Maybe that's because Young's second endeavor is much, much better than her first.  Where Evangeline felt flat and predictable, The Shimmering Road remains tense and compelling throughout.  While it's a disturbing read, it's also engrossing, eye-opening.  Overall, I enjoyed this one.  I'll definitely be watching for the last book in the Charlie Cates trilogy which will hopefully come out in 2018.

(Readalikes:  The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a handful of F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Book Spotlight: The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister

So many books, so little time ...

Although I spend many hours every week with my nose crammed in a book, there's still no way I can read all the tomes I want to read.  Inevitably, many fall by the wayside.  Such is the case with The Long Way Home, a debut novel by Canadian author Kevin Bannister.  Although I've not had time to read it yet, I think the tale has an intriguing premise.  Here's the back cover blurb:

Set in the turbulent times of the War of Independence, The Long Way Home follows the lives of Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele who are friends, former slaves, fellows-in-arms and leaders of the Black Brigade. Their real-life story is an epic adventure tale as they battle bounty hunters, racism, poverty and epidemic in their adopted country after the war.

The Long Way Home has resonated with readers around the world as an unforgettable account of courage, hope and determination triumphing over despair and injustice. Thomas Peters, thoughtful and charismatic, and Murphy Steele, strong and impulsive, lead their followers on an inspirational search for a place where they can be free.

I'd never heard of this duo before.  It sounds like they have a very compelling story.  If you're interested in reading about them, be sure to pick up this book.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the novel.  Anyone read it?  Anyone planning to?

If you'd like more opinions (or, you know, an opinion from someone who's actually read the book), please follow along on the book's tour by clicking on the following links:

www.tlcbooktours.comMonday, August 28th: A Holland Reads
Friday, September 1st: What Is That Book About? – author guest post
Monday, September 4th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, September 6th: 100 Pages a Day… Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Thursday, September 7th: Reading Reality
Thursday, September 7th: Mama Vicky Reads
Friday, September 8th: Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, September 13th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Monday, September 18th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 26th: Girl Who Reads
Monday, October 2nd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, December 11th: Suzy Approved

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