Fiction

Book Review of “The Shenandoah Road” by Lynne Basham Tagawa

FCTheShenandoahRoad

Book Review

Set in 18th Century Colonial America, “The Shenandoah Road” is an enjoyable story centered primarily around a young couple who marry at first more due to an agreeable arrangement than out of love. The husband is a widower with a young daughter in need of a mother-figure. The new wife has spent more time lost in thought about books and botany than she has about almost anything domestic or theological. (I won’t spoil anything further in regards to how the arrangement for them to marry is made. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.)

This book is a little more overt with Christian themes, especially areas featuring details pulled from sermons by George Whitefield, so I would primarily recommend it to Christian readers. Some of the religious topics covered are a little deeper, so I would also say adult readers would be its best fit within the Christian market. I found this dip into the past to be a refreshing step into one couple’s journey, both on The Great Wagon Road and on the journey to deeper faith, and into deeper relationship with one another.

If you enjoy stories of faith growth and wagon trains … you’ll enjoy this one.

I’m rating this book 4 well-traveled wagon wheel ruts out of 5.


Cover Review

I always want to be gracious when I analyze anyone’s cover design. Because I design covers myself, I know how much time and effort often goes into their creation. On first glance my opinion of this cover was that it was peaceful, which is good … but I also felt it had a self-published feel. The background photo has been stylized slightly to be a little golden and hazy, which is what helps to give it the peaceful feeling, but by the photograph alone I am not certain what genre of book I am picking up. It could be a Western if I get close enough to see the hat on the horse’s rider? However, the style of the font used for the title doesn’t appear to back up that it is a Western. The font choice seems more fitting for either a historical or possibly a romance novel.

I also would have adjusted the spacing between letters in the title to appear more professional (this is called kerning in designer lingo) – particularly between the last four letters in the word Shenandoah.

I don’t think this is an unattractive cover, I just think it may not be super effective at attracting readers on its own. Therefore the author will have to work even harder on promotional copy and other advertising methods to attract the right readers. This cover will primarily attract readers who already know what the Shenandoah Road is and have existing awareness of the Great Awakening.

I’m rating this cover 2.5 well-traveled wagon ruts out of 5.

Please note: I received this title from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Fiction, Uncategorized

Book Review of “The Captured Bride” by author Michelle Griep

 

Book Review

The Captured Bride is the third book in the Daughter’s of the Mayflower series. My favorite part of the Captured Bride is the characters. There are at least three that are well-developed and complex. You feel like you know them, at times better than they know themselves. More than one is torn about where they belong, and to who they owe their loyalty. A dangerous and unexpected mission unites them, but at what price?

This story is set in America during the mid 1700s, during the French and Indian War. The main female lead is half Mohawk, and the male lead is half French. Both have to live their lives straddling two very different cultures in a dangerous time-period.

I did enjoy this story, but felt that it wrapped up rather quickly.  It was a slow, intense build up … with a too-quick finish.

I’m rating this one 3.5 out of 5 trail-side campfires.


Cover Review

No pun intended but this is a captivating cover. However, I don’t know that without the text I would know that the woman is a person who has been kidnapped. The light rope around her right arm actually seems like it could even be a part of her clothing? Although I love the braid, and that the locket from the storyline is also in the photo, I feel like this image makes the leading lady seem more like a damsel in distress than the main character, Mercy Lytton, ever really was in the story. Even under capture she is a determined woman that displays a fierceness that doesn’t seem depicted in this cover. I also don’t get any sense of her Mohawk heritage, which is apparently obvious.

I also don’t get a clear sense of the time period from her attire. I have a vague sense that it is a historical novel, but I can’t tell the time period without further explanation elsewhere.

The cover does get my attention … it’s just not super clear on what it’s conveying.

I’m rating this cover 3.5 trail-side campfires out of 5.

Please note: I received this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Fiction

Book Review of “The Weaver’s Daughter” by Sarah E. Ladd

TheWeaversDaughterBCTheWeaversDaughterFC

 

Book Review

“The Weaver’s Daughter” is a Regency era Romance novel. Set in the early 1800s in Yorkshire, England this novel is at first glance a thematic Romeo and Juliet with two young people fighting their attraction for each other who come from families which have been bitter wool-industry rivals for decades.

Although I have nothing against romance novels, I enjoy when the main plot is not all about the boy and girl getting hitched. Thankfully, this novel also includes a well-plotted mystery, more than one suspicious suspect, and characters that are complex and not one-dimensional.

This novel has strong tension that keeps you turning pages. I read it on a camping weekend in only a couple of days!

The only negative thing I felt toward the story is the need for variety when describing intuitive fear felt by the characters. Their neck hair was standing on end a little too frequently … but that is being SUPER knit-picky, and I know it. That was the only thing I would change, and obviously it didn’t suck me out of the story for very long or I wouldn’t have finished it so quickly.

Overall I loved this story, and felt it was well placed within a rocky time in history for mill-workers, weavers, and their owners.  I think both Christian and non-Christian readers will be happy when they get to the truth of the mysteries within this story. As it does contain romance, I do think it will attract more female than male readers.

I’m rating this one 4.5 out of 5 snowy lambs.


Cover Review

I confess that the first thing that caught my eye for choosing this particular book was the inspirational fiction sticker my library had stuck to the spine. I knew what kind of book I wanted to read that weekend, and that was the fastest way to find it. The spine itself wasn’t particularly eye-catching in design. There is only a faint snowy building blending into the white of the spine. [The author’s name was even covered up by the numerous library stickers.] However, when I did pull it off the shelf, by design, it was obviously a historical romance of some kind … and I recognized the author’s name as one I had enjoyed reading in the past.

I could tell by the dress on the cover model that it was likely set in the late 1700s or early 1800s – beyond that I didn’t know much except that it looked like a very cold environment.  The warm muff on the model’s arm steals a little of the focus on this cover. It is only thanks to the designer’s choice to run the title very large from edge to edge (over the top of the muff) that it maintains being the focal point.

I’m rating this cover 3.5 snowy lambs out of 5.

Please note: I borrowed this book from my local library. No expectation of a review at all was expected by any party.

Fiction, YA fiction

Review of “The Bone Thief” by Alyson Noel

The Bone ThiefFC

Book Review

“The Bone Thief” is a young adult, general market fiction novel. It is set in a fantastical world, where the only thing normal is that everything is always weird – well, everything except for the novel’s main character, Grimsley Summerfield, who is a seemingly average boy for having lived in such an unusual atmosphere all of his life.

The book deals with typical tween/teen issues of insecurity and the desire to fit in, as well as stronger topics such as bullying by both peers and those in authority. What I enjoyed was that this novel handles these topics in a way that is driven by the plot of our young hero’s journey and that of his unusual friends – both old and new.  The message of the story comes about very organically and not in a forced way. The book is not what I would categorize as a Christian novel, yet the theme of light triumphing over darkness is still definitely present.

“… there’s always a great deal of value to be found in the contrasts. If not for the dark, you wouldn’t recognize the light. If not for hate, you wouldn’t know love. If not for evil, you’d fail to recognize goodness. It’s the opposites of things that are most defining.”

I would recommend this book to readers primarily age 11-14. It features shorter chapters, strange characters, intriguing mystery, and a lot of action to keep them turning pages.

I’m rating this one 4.5  bent-spoons out of 5.


Cover Review

This cover was full of such whimsical imagination. As a life long lover of mysteries and fairy tales the misty vines, odd colored rabbits, and text made creatively out of bones had me guessing as to what kind of story this could be … from the very first glance.

Even the choice of font used to display the author’s name is no accident. It’s first impression is one of creative, rule-breaking mischief. A trait not unlike the personality of the main character.

The bone text is quite frankly a bit creepy, but paired with the fairy-tale like top half of the cover we are reassured that this novel won’t be one of complete gore. Although there is darkness in the novel, it is just enough to let the light shine through by contrast.

I’m rating this cover 5 out of 5.

Please note: I checked this book out of my local library simply because the cover caught my eye, and the marketing copy on the inside jacket confirmed that it should be everything the cover design promised.

Fiction

Review of “Where We Belong” by Lynn Austin

 

Book Review

“Where We Belong” is a Victorian era adventure story. It features quite a bit of time-hopping within the two sisters’ lifetimes – but what lifetimes! Through their eyes we witness the hurdles in place for women of their time – in education, in exotic travel … and yes, in romance too.

I would say that Christian women are definitely the target audience for this particular novel, and if you also happen to have a love of archeology … or just Indiana Jones movies, then you would also likely enjoy the journeys of these two sisters. Set primarily in Chicago, this novel also paints a portrait of life in the windy city before, during and after the great Chicago fire.

This is a clean book, it contains nothing inappropriate for young adult readers – however, I don’t feel it is one they would be drawn to particularly.  [At the beginning of the story the sisters are already middle-aged.]

I’m rating this one 4 out of 5 relics.


Cover Review

This cover is beautiful. Your gaze is automatically drawn to both the period costumes of the young ladies … and the Egyptian skyline they are staring at beyond them. It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. You are immediately sucked into an Egyptian travel adventure, and you know that it is a historical.

Having the author’s name more prominent than the book’s title is also a smart move. I loved the cover art, but I will admit that what sold me on buying the book was the name of the author. I had previously read several of Lynn’s novels, including “Until We Reach Home” and “While We are Far Apart” in digital format and loved them both. I knew it would be well written, and worth supporting the author.

The only reason I am not giving the cover a full 5 out of 5 relics is that the cover does it’s job – but to get a full 5 out of 5 from me it would have to stand out from the crowd just a little more – to be stuck in my memory more permanently. Though I love this cover, and it is doing it’s job, I likely won’t remember if I’ve already read this one in a few years without reading the back cover blurb. [Yes – I have picked up books I’ve already read on more than one occasion!]

I’m rating this cover 4.75 relics out of 5.

Please note: I purchased this book with my own funds. This was not a copy I was given for review.