3 stars · Book Review · Western

Emulating the Klondike Gold rush, “Toward the Midnight Sun” promises more than it delivers

Written by Eoin Dempsey, Toward the Midnight Sun promises adventure and romance against the rugged backdrop of the Klondike goldrush in 1897.  The story follows the young protagonist, Anna, as she embarks on a wild trip from Seattle to Dawson City to join her betrothed, a stranger twice her age.

As a native Coloradan, I LOVE westerns and the gold rush and anything about rugged mountain adventures.  After reading the description, I couldn’t wait to pick up this book and dig in.

After a very slow start and a slow build up, the action picks up when Anna finds herself stranded with dishonest chaperones and a pair of strangers her only allies.   The story really picks up and gets interesting as Anna starts her trek across the land to Dawson City.  I enjoyed the description of life on the trail and all of the work involved in getting yourself and your supplies across an unpredictable landscape with winter breathing down your back.

Things take a turn for the worse in Dawson City, and Toward the Midnight Sun moves from a slow starting adventure novel towards a cheap romance novel that loses the plot.  Things start to tumble together quickly and eventually characters are thrown into situations and reactions that don’t make sense for the story or their personalities.  Dempsey tries to be inclusive and empathetic towards the plight of women but it ends up feeling unnatural.  Anna becomes a young woman whose primary thoughts revolve around showing everyone she could do survive.  Rather than inspirational,  her inner monologue quickly gets boring.

About 3/4 of the way through the book, things start to feel too big to wrap up with just 25% of the book left and Dempsey steamrolls through to a quick ending.  The last portion of the book feels like Dempsey realized he needed to finish in a certain amount of pages and did anything to get there.

Overall, this book was a quick read.  I enjoyed the subject and the trail adventure.  However, the girl-power factor was overdone and the book was slow too start and too quick to end.   3 stars for me today.

Until the next time, happy reading!

Cheers- R

4 Stars · Book Review · China · Favorite Authors

Adventure abounds in Jeff Wheeler’s latest novel, The Killing Fog

41SJKIH2+DL._SY346_Hey friends!  How are you?  Are you reading a lot more lately?  I’ve seen a lot more posts in the books subreddit  on Reddit and a ton more book discussions between friends on Facebook.  It looks like most of us are dealing with these stay-at-home orders by indulging in lots and lots of reading.

So tell me, what are you reading?  I don’t have the stomach for anything dystopian at the moment, but Jeff Wheeler’s newest book just arrived and it was like Christmas morning on my kindle.  Y’all know how much I enjoy Jeff Wheeler’s world building and The Killing Fog just really took me in completely.

One of my favorite things about Wheeler’s writing is that he takes familiar-ish stories, locations or times and gives them a very magical supernatural spin.   His world building skills are incredible and The Killing Fog delivers completely in this sense.  The characters were much stronger than in The Harbinger Series  and the writing itself was almost as strong as that of The Kingfountain Series.    I’ve always find it interesting that Wheeler’s main characters are almost always strong capable young women and that he tends to write them fairly well for a middle aged man.

Hands down, The Kingfountain Series is still my favorite of Wheeler’s works (and I HIGHLY recommend these books if you’re in the mood for something well written, intriguing and magical), but The Killing Fog comes in at a strong second.  While the Harbinger Series, Muirwood and Mirrowen were good young adult fiction, The Kingfountain Series and The Grave Kingdom Series are better suited for mature readers and really show Wheeler at his finest.

Wheeler’s books are meant to be read as a series, they’re not standalone books, which can be a little bit annoying.  Especially since the next book in The Grave Kingdom series isn’t out until June, but it’s also nice to have something to look forward to.

Take care!  until next time, cheers!

-R

Books Read · Books to Movies · classics · dystopian · Gonna Need a Stiff Drink For This One · series books · thoughts

Books I wish I’d never read. My list of the worst books to read during a government imposed quarantine.

Boy, howdy.  The last few weeks have been rough.  Popping in to see how y’all are doing.  Everyone in my fam is safe and well, something I am grateful for every single second these days.  Lately, it seems like everything we did before last week was silly and meaningless.  We were so innocent and naive and the world was wonderful.  Writing a blog about the books I read was a fun and quirky hobby.  Now, at a time like this, it has felt silly and without purpose.

But then I went for a run on a beautiful day in our beautiful neighborhood and found that someone had written inspiring messages across a good 1/2 mile of the park loop.  The ones that stuck out the most were

“Always look for the helpers.  Mr. Rogers”

and

“Look for the light.  If you can’t find it, be the light.”.

So, here I am, ready to be a helper and a light bearer.  I don’t have much to offer, but if you enjoy discussions about books and love westerns, historical fiction and sci-fi, I can offer you companionship and camaraderie through a blog about books.

The last few weeks have left me anxiety ridden as I have (very unwisely!) gorged on news and found myself ticking off a mental checklist of news items found readily on a highlight reel of dystopian novels.  As my beautiful home state prepares to lock down tomorrow, there are several books I wish I’d never read and didn’t have a mental memory picture to pull references from right now.  Without further ado, I present to you, my list of the worst books to read during a government imposed quarantine.

The top three are quite obvious and cliche.  The number of young adult books on this list is alarming.  And finally, I’ve read so many books by Latin authors discussing the economic and government fallout of their countries, that they belong on this list as well.  Unlike the others on this list, I wouldn’t avoid reading the Latin American books right now because they aren’t dystopian novels, but they will bring an entirely different perspective to life outside of America as we know it and can be quite uncomfortable to read at times.

1984

Animal Farm

A Brave New World

Catch-22

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, The Mockingjay

Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

The Light of the Fireflies

The Lord of the Flies

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Giver

The Time Machine

The Maze Runner

A River in Darkness

 

Latin American Books:

In the Time of the Butterflies

The Motorcycle Diaries

Guerrilla Warfare

Dreaming in Cuban

On my current reading list, I’ve been diving into the Deep Magic e-zine and Jeff Wheeler has a new book out, Killing Fog, so I’ve fallen into both of those lately.

Take care of yourself friends!  Drop me a comment or shoot an email response and let me know what you’re reading and how it’s going.

Cheers, – R

 

 

5 stars · Book Review · Sci-Fi · Science · series books · thoughts

The Last Dance is an accessible and entertaining intro for Sci-Fi newbies and hits the spot for nostalgic Sci-Fi readers

41LvyukIvVLIf you love the old Star Treks, Star Gate and anything 80’s sci-fi, The Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker is a must read.  This was one of my favorite Kindle reads of the year.  It was well written, fun and incredibly intelligent.  You can tell Shoemaker loves space and the book maintains a good grasp on the science involved with space travel as well as the complexity of human behavior and emotions when millions of miles away from home.  There’s nothing I hate more than a book that glosses over science completely (unless it’s magic..of course!) so I really appreciated Shoemaker’s approach in The Last Dance.  The true emotion elicited by this book was reminiscent of reading “The War of the Worlds”…i.e..it totally could happen.

Set on the Aldrin, a space craft that shuttles people from Earth to the Mars colonies in 2083, The Last Dance untangles the very complicated story of Captain Nicolau Aames who is accused of treason and his loyal crew, accused of mutiny.

As Inspector General Park boards the Aldrin and conducts her investigation into Aames and his crew, she encounters the true complexity of space travel, the nuances of human interactions and the explosive political tensions between the Mars/Earth and Civilian/Military bureaucracy. 

Aames, by all accounts is an asshole.  But he is consistent, incredibly competent and exceptionally fair.  He’s also stubborn, arrogant and routinely pushes people to their breaking points.  His list of political enemies reaches from Earth to Mars.  His crew, however, is unswervingly loyal and exceptionally competent themselves, leaving Inspector General Park to dig for an unbiased truth from the testimonies of a crew who respects their captain and stands by him, even against accusations of mutiny and treason.  

The Last Dance was so much fun to read and I cannot wait book two: The Last Campaign.

5 Stars because I love retro sci-fi.  🙂

Until next time, happy reading friends.

-R

3 stars · Book Review · Historical Fiction · WW1

In a Field of Blue reaches beyond romance to the ravages of war

in a field of blueIn a Field of Blue by Gemma Liviero was a Kindle first read and despite a confusing and slow start, it was an enjoyable historical romance set in 1922 England.  With the slow start of the first few chapters, it felt like Liviero really struggled with finding the voice of her male narrator.  Starting out, I thought the main character was female and had to read back a few times in confusion before realizing the narrator was male and named Rudy.  That wasn’t a great start.  I read a lot and have never encountered a book where the narrator’s gender and name were unclear or confusing.  Luckily, Liviero found her footing and I was able to follow the story easily after realizing who Rudy was.

Set in England post WW1, In a Field of Blue swirls around three brothers and their mother.  The youngest son, Rudy, and his mother live precariously on the edge waiting for the return of Edgar, the eldest brother whose gone missing during the war and the heir of the family fortune.  Their future depends on Edgar’s return, as his death means the entire family estate would be lost to the wildly irresponsible Lawrence, the second born and next in line who wants to sell their home and move on with life.  As the third born, Rudy has no claim to anything except the mess his older brothers leave in their wake.  When a strange French woman arrives with a small boy in tow,  claiming to be Edgar’s widow arriving with his son, the family drama ensues and Rudy begins an investigation into the strange woman, named Mariette, the boy and Edgar.

While In a Field of Blue is classified as Historical Fiction, it definitely teeters closer towards historical romance without every falling into that category.  Liviero did a fantastic job bringing forth the emotional trauma of war and presenting it in a way that is both respectful and powerful.  This book is worth reading just for Liviero’s approach to mental health.  The characters are incredibly well developed, it’s impossible not to fall in love with them, and the backdrop she paints across Europe is beautifully done.  The story does flip between four different narrators, and I wish Liviero had stuck to Mariette as her narrator.  Her writing was so much stronger and easier to follow with Mariette than the other characters.  This book could have also done with some heavy editing, particularly through the first 30% to help with clarity and ease of reading.

Overall, In a Field of Blue was a very enjoyable book, perfect for a winter day snuggled under a blanket.  I give this one 3 stars.  Incredible characters, beautifully written, needed a lot of help with clarity those first few chapters.

Until next time, happy reading friends!

Cheers, -R

 

3 stars · beach read · Book Review · Bust · Secret Hideout · spoilers · Summer Read · thoughts

Unpopular Opinion: Where the Crawdads Sing is a beautifully written book with a stupid plot.

Thank goodness it’s a snow day because I stayed up late last night finishing up “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens and I need a nap.  This book is crazy popular right now and I was actually lucky enough to snag a copy from the library’s “Lucky Day” shelf last week.

So first things first, Where the Crawdads Sing has over 37,000 reviews on Amazon right now, with about 87% of those being 5 stars.  I’ve honestly never seen a book have so many reviews.  It’s just incredible.

*I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but with 37,000 reviews and a full Wikipedia synopsis of this book, I’m not sure what’s spoiler and what isn’t for this book.*

Set somewhere in the marshes of the North Carolina coast, the novel weaves together the story of the young beautiful feral marsh girl, Kya, with the suspected murder of the town’s golden boy, Chase.   As Owens takes readers through history and into the marsh, the chapters flash back and forth across the years of 1952-1969, eventually catching up to each other in 1969-1970.  The use of short chapters and flashing back and forth in time was well done.  Unlike Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Owens was able to maintain her momentum and storytelling with ease throughout the entire novel.

The book is full of rich descriptions of the natural world and it’s no surprise that Owens is actually a zoologist.  While I enjoyed reading about the mashes’s flora and fauna and the incredibly world Owens creates in the marsh, it eventually burned me out and I wish there had been more editing to cull down the descriptions a bit.

The entire plot of Where the Crawdads Sing is set upon Kya’s abandonment, first by her mother who leaves six year old Kya and her four older siblings in the marsh shack with an abusive drunken father.  Her mother’s departure is followed by a slow trickling of abandonment by the four older siblings who vanish down the road without a trace until seven year old Kya is left alone with a man she fears and can’t count on to provide food or stability.  After a truce of sorts in which her father teachers her to fish and boat, he too disappears, leaving Kya to fend for herself in a shack in the middle of nowhere with no food and no money.

Depending on the skills taught by an older brother and her father, Kya survives alone for almost 17 years, a feral child living in the marsh surfacing only for meager supplies and gas for her boat.  Kya’s vulnerability draws readers in, the rich natural descriptions of the coast blending with the loneliness and heartbreak of a little girl left completely alone in the world.  Flashes of racism and prejudice flicker heavily across the pages and I couldn’t help but think that everyone in Barkley Cove comes across as a coward, an asshole or both.

In the midst of Kya’s desperate bid to survive, two local boys find Chase Andrews, the town’s hero, dead in the marsh.  The town searches desperately for a cause of death and eventually lands on a suspected murder.

Without spoilers, I found Where the Crawdads Sing to be a quick and easy read.  The story drew me in but left me wanting more rooted in reality.  I couldn’t get past an entire town knowingly and willingly leaving a little girl to survive out in the marsh alone for years.  I couldn’t get past older siblings knowingly and willingly leaving a little sister alone with a drunk abusive father.  I couldn’t get past the long list of skills that a six or seven year old would need to survive alone without food, running water or electricity in a North Carolina marsh.

I couldn’t get past Kya’s prodigal art talent or her seemingly instantaneous ability to read after 14 years of illiteracy once someone finally taught her the basics.  I couldn’t get past a child not only surviving but thriving on grits, mussels and a few random vegetables for years.

I couldn’t get past the middle-of-nowhere marsh shack being fitted out with plumbing and electricity without any details of how exactly that happened.  I couldn’t get past the terrible inconsistent accents.  I also hated all of the random poems and over technical explanations tossed into the book to make Kya appear much smarter and more cultured than the town folks.

I couldn’t get past the characters suddenly and shockingly changing character in ways that just did not make sense.

For all of my wanting to accept the story, I could not get past the absurdity of the trial or the eventual revelation of who killed Chase Andrews.

Overall, most of this book just felt too implausible.  Where the Crawdads Sing started out beautifully but left me reaching too far from reality to feel grounded in the story and too far removed from characters that seemed to flip personalities seemingly instantaneously.  This one rings somewhere around 3 stars.  Beautiful written.  Stupid plot.

Until next time, happy reading!

Cheers- R

Uncategorized

Rosie Revere, Part 2

Hey All!  Popping in between things to announce that our lucky winner of a Rosie Revere book is Melinda.  Congrats!  I’ll be mailing this out to you via amazon prime, asap!

It’s been great weather for reading, cold and snowy!  So many great books, I’m dying to carve out space and review each of them.

Until next time, cheers!

 

 

Rosie Revere Engineer

4 Stars · Bad Ass Women · children's books · Favorite Books · leadership

My favorite book to gift this year + Read on to find out how you can get a FREE copy!

Hey hey!  It’s been a while.

Things have been bananas around here.  Not only am I working my normal job, I’m also starting up my own Pilates + Stretch Studio!  Woohoo!!  Super fun but also a lot of work.

Anywho, with all of that going on, writing has taken a back seat.  I’ve missed it though and wanted to pop in today with a quick hello and introduce you to the #1 book I’m gifting this year!  Seriously, there may have been four purchases of this book already.

Without further ado, introducing “Rosie Revere, Engineer”.   Yes, yes, I know it came out in 2013.  I still love it and am going to rave about it!

The age range for this book is 5+ with a recommended age of K-2nd grade.  However, both my husband and I found great inspiration in this book.  In fact, I read it out loud to the family the other day, while everyone was in the kitchen bustling to get going for the day.  It was just one of those days where things felt impossible and I just felt like giving up on all of our extra projects.  Rosie Revere was sitting on the counter, and in a random bit inspiration, I read it out loud.  By the last page, I was smiling and ready to give it another go and the munchkin was stoked because he got an extra random breakfast story time.

Like “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, this book is really great for anyone who needs a little extra pick me up or is starting out on a new adventure.  This is the perfect gift for December grads and also makes a fantastic Christmas gift.  It’s also a good one for coworker gifts.

My 6 month old niece is getting a copy for Christmas, as are a few little friends who have bday parties in December.

Seriously loving this book this year!  I love it so much in fact, that I’d love to give you a copy!  If you’re interested, all you have to do is follow this blog. I’ll choose one winner at random from all of my blog followers.  The winner will be announced on Dec 15th.  Just in time for gifting if you’re wanting to gift a copy!

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Rosie Revere Engineer

beach read · Book Review · Romance

“Selkie” is more than romance, it’s a love affair with Scotland itself

41XT86jn39LIt is with the greatest pleasure that I got to read and now review my friend’s debut novel!  Reading someone’s work can be such an intimate activity, especially for something like a romance.  Luckily, Selkie by Dacia Dyer is a beautifully written PG-13 romance, so no awkward friend moments required.  🙂

Set in Scotland, Selkie weaves together the mysterious threads of an old folktale with the modern day lives of Connor, a brokenhearted fisherman/bar tender and Talia, a broke freelance writer turned house sitter.  Connor and Talia are young and sweet and very simple while also avoiding the trap of becoming one dimensional and predictable.  Dyer’s knowledge of Scotland and local colloquialisms bring a welcome authenticity to the novel.

I’m fairly new to the romance genre and while I prefer historical fiction romances, Selkie was very enjoyable and I am happy to recommend this book to others looking for a quick and easy read.

Until next time, happy reading y’all!

-Cheers, R

Books Read · Books to Movies · Favorite Books · tear jerker

8 Books that make you ugly cry

I came across a Reddit thread the other day about books that make you ugly cry.  There were soooo many good book recommendations on this list and I was just nodding along with the list and sniffling thinking about how bad I’d cried for so many of the books on the list.  Most of these are now movies too, which is cool if you’re like me and enjoy reading books and sharing the movies with the hubs.

Here are my top 8 ugly cry books:

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  2. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  6. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
  7. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Happy reading y’all.

Until next time.

Cheers!