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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (3)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
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- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii
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- Washington, D.C.* (1)

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (8)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (2)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

22 / 100 books. 22% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

60 / 165 books. 36% done!
Saturday, December 15, 2018

Amish War Novel Gentle, But Authentic

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With World War II raging across the world, no one remains unaffected.  Even the peaceful Delaware Amish community where Miriam Coblentz lives has been turned upside down by the far away conflict.  Miriam's fiancé, 25-year-old Henry Mast, was drafted six months ago.  As a conscientious objector, he has been assigned to a Civilian Public Service Camp in Maryland for two years of service.  The months have dragged by, leaving Miriam's vulnerable heart open to the flirty advances of Henry's best friend, Eli Brenneman.  While she longs for her beloved, she receives troubling news from Maryland.  Going against everything the Amish believe, Henry has decided to enlist.  Although he feels that God is calling him to fight, Miriam can't understand why he'd risk being Shunned by his family and friends to join a bloody battle that could send him home in a body bag.  Torn between the rules of her faith and the convictions of her fiancé, Miriam must make a difficult choice.  Does she remain loyal to her Amish upbringing or follow her heart, even if it means losing almost everything—and everyone—she's ever loved?

Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts is the author's debut novel and the first in a trilogy.  It tells a gentle story about faith, forgiveness, family, and following one's heart.  Because Younts was raised Amish and, despite leaving the community, remains in close contact with relatives in the faith, her portrayal of the Amish is tender, but realistic.  Her characters are regular people with the kind of common fears and struggles to which we can all relate.  While Promise to Return doesn't pack quite the punch that The Solace of Water, Younts' most recent Amish novel (and one of the best books I've read this year), does, it's still an engaging, thought-provoking novel about tradition vs. forging a new path.  I enjoyed it and can't wait to read the sequels, both of which I've purchased but not yet opened.

(Readalikes:  Promise to Cherish and Promise to Keep, both by Elizabeth Byler Younts)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for some subject matter more suited to readers 12 and older

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

Gothic Family Secrets Novel Disturbing and, Ultimately, Just Not That Satisfying

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Kate Moore will do anything to escape her grim, impoverished past.  So, when she attracts the attention of Matthew Lemont, a wealthy businessman from Chicago, while working as a governess on an ocean liner, she sees in him a way out.  After only a couple weeks of knowing him, Kate marries the serious, reserved 28-year-old.  Despite her misgivings, the couple goes to live at Lakecrest, the Lemont Family's ancestral home on Lake Michigan.  Kate detests the mansion, an ugly, brooding pile that looks like "a Frankenstein's monster of architectural castoffs" (130).  She's even more distressed to be stuck there with her controlling, manipulative mother-in-law and Matthew's sister, a party girl whose over-familiar affection for her brother gives Kate the heebie jeebies.  Add to that Matthew's frequent night terrors, which he never bothered to mention, and Kate realizes she's jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.  

It soon becomes apparent that creepy old Lakecrest keeps a myriad of Lemont Family secrets, dating back to the time of its piecemeal construction.  Most infamous is the 1912 disappearance of Matthew's aunt into the labryinth on Lakecrest's sprawling grounds.  Three decades later, Cecily Lemont is still missing.  It's obvious the family knows more about the incident than they're saying.  In fact, Kate begins to believe Matthew's nightmares stem from something he saw—or did?—the night Cecily vanished.  

Isolated at Lakecrest with a new family she doesn't trust, Kate is determined to unearth the Lemont's well-kept secrets.  The more she learns, however, the more unnerved she becomes.  Just what kind of family has she married into?

Gothic novels featuring old, creepy houses are my jam, so I was eager to read In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell.  As promised by its intriguing premise, the story it tells is tense, compelling, and eerie.  It kept me guessing, not knowing who among its cast could be trusted and who could not.  While Kate isn't exactly a likeable character herself, she is sympathetic.  I wanted to know what was going to happen to her.  Certain plot elements make In the Shadow of Lakecrest a difficult read, even though overall, the book would only be rated PG-13.  All in all, then, I didn't love this one.  It kept me turning pages, despite a sometimes sagging storyline, but it felt predictable and not all that satisfying in the end.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of books by Kate Morton [although Blackwell's novels are darker] as well as those by Carol Goodman)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, blood/gore, disturbing subject matter, references to illegal drug use, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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