I would give this book 10 Shiny Gold Stars if I could.
I picked up this book because I had read an interview with Andre’ Jute at Cookie’s Book Club and he sounded fascinating. Although, this is not the genre of book that I normally read, the Iditarod sounded interesting.
The research and facts in this book are outstanding. You can tell the author took great pride in getting all of his facts right. The history and side stories about some of the Iditarod heroes are fascinating.
I never realized reading a book could be so emotionally exhausting, this story will never let you go! The elements that the participants endure, the foreshadowing of things to come literally scared me to death.
The relationship that grows as we learn about the two main human characters is realistic, fascinating and encompassing and a far cry from what this book is really about.
This book is truly worth more than 5 stars. This is an adventure of a lifetime that I will highly recommend no matter what genre you read, you will not be disappointed. The editing and formatting are pristine.
BRAVO, Andre’! You would be welcome at my dinner table anytime. You will have to excuse me now; I need to go read something light and fluffy. :)
Seized (The Pipe Woman Chronicles) by Lynne Cantwell
Native American and old world mythos intertwine in a captivating story surrounding the winter of solstice 2012. Naomi has a pretty sweet life as a skilled mediator at a large legal firm in Colorado and she has just become engaged. When events from her past come to light, her whole world is turned upside down. It will never be the same again.
I have a soft spot for Native American stories, I am not sure why, as far as I know I have no Native American blood. I also enjoy stories about old world gods and myths. This story combines the two in a unique way. This contemporary fantasy is told through Naomi’s eyes. She is an intelligent, well-balanced character that you can’t help but like. The story is well thought out, draws you in quickly and has a steady building plot that adds some interesting twists.
Each character in the story is well developed and plays an important part in the development of the plot. I loved the way this story challenges all belief systems, this author has taken this on in a grand scale. The dialogue is realistic, entertaining, and humorous at times. I found it very easy to suspend my disbelief and become immersed in the story. I am excited to see where she takes us as this story continues to build in its ever-widening scope. Well done, Ms. Cantwell, well done. I think I have found a new favorite fantasy author.
This book contains adult language and situations that may be offensive to some, but I don’t feel they were added for shock value. I found no significant errors or issues.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. ** February 8, 2013
Entangled Thorns by Melinda Clayton
Told through multiple points of view, Ms Clayton does an excellent job devoting each chapter to a single character in this heart-wrenching story. She takes us on an emotional journey into the past of a dysfunctional, but proud family, to discover how abuse affects all members of a family and the dynamics of the abuse that surrounds them. By singling out and developing each character individually she explores how these cycles tend to continue, how the courageous ones try to break the cycle, and how things are not always the way they seem. Not many authors have the expertise to accomplish this without making judgments the way Ms Clayton does.
I love the style in which this story is written, through inner dialogue, we are allowed to feel what each character is feeling and gain an understanding of why things are the way they are and how each character perceives them. We are also given insight through the eyes of Kay Langley, the owner of the local café that serves as the town's hub. Through her eyes we see a caring outsider's view of how the town views this family and its individual members. One of my favorite elements of this story is the fact that Beth took her seventeen year-old daughter, Marissa, along with her on this difficult trip to face her ghosts. With Marissa along we are given three generations of view points.
This character driven story flows well considering we are getting the story from five different characters. It is incredibly well told and I enjoyed my trip back to Cedar Hollows. There is a definite feeling of hope as this story draws to an end and I found it inspiring. I will share this book with my daughters and grand daughters. One of the things I appreciate about reading a hard story like this one is it makes me reevaluate my life and I realize my life is not so bad after all; things could be a whole lot worse. Melinda Clayton has won herself a spot on my `must buy' list for future books.
Although this is the third book about Cedar Hollow Ms Clayton has written, I believe it can be read as a standalone story. You may miss some of the richness of the minor characters or of the area in general in doing so though.
At the end of this story Ms Clayton has included questions for book clubs to consider after reading her book. This would be a great book for discussion because everyone has their own story and view point and I am sure everyone can identify with one of more of the characters in this book. I know I did.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. ** October 29, 2012
***** Five stars
Return to Crutcher Mountain by Melinda Clayton
While Appalachian Justice was contemporary fiction, Return to Crutcher Mountain is more mystery and suspense. The main character is Jessie who has grown up and managed to have a very successful career producing films. She has been able, with some success, to push her abused past into the back of her mind but it still influences her relationships on a personal level.
For Billie May and Jessie Crutcher Mountain was a ‘healing place’ and as such Jessie has founded a camp for developmentally disabled children allowing the mountain to continue it's magic. When odd things start happening Jessie is determined to find out what is actually going on. Someone wants her back there, the mystery is who and why. Although it is not necessary to read Appalachian Justice, I think it does enrich this story to know the back ground.
Melinda Clayton has woven a remarkable suspense with fully developed characters that jump off the page. Michael and Robbie were wonderful additions to this story. I loved the fact that Crutcher Mountain is still working its magic and Jessie is still benefiting from it. She is able to learn some things about her past that she was unaware of and this starts her journey to true healing. I really didn't think I would like this story as well as Appalachian Justice, but it is just so different from the first I couldn't help but love it also.
Appalachian Justice by Melinda Clayton
Wow! What a beautifully written story. Once I got used to the Appalachian prose I was totally there on Crutcher Mountain beside Billy May. Melinda grabs you by your heart and leads you through the life and times of Billy May Platte and doesn't let you go.
This is a poignant and totally engrossing story with well developed characters that will break your heart and then heal it, leaving memories that are not truly your own. Billy May's story and strength of character will stay with me forever. I highly recommend this book.
I also recommend you read BigAl’s review for this book at Books and Pals. http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/05/appalachian-justice-melinda-clayton.html
Gordon A. Long has done an excellent job building an Old World type setting for this story. Aleria is a smart, self-assured, high-strung, spunky teenager from an upper class family who is able the see the hypocrisy going on around her. She has a reputation for pulling harmless pranks or stunts to call these out. She also has a talent for sizing up people’s characters rather quickly. After completing the class Quest, an individual rite-of-passage, Aleria comes to the conclusion that it was more or less a farce, which doesn’t prove her mettle. So she initiates her own Quest to prove to herself she is capable of taking care of herself.
Now the real adventure begins. She is smart enough that she shares her destination with her best friend Mito, who has promised not to tell unless Aleria doesn’t return in a proper amount of time. After being on the road a few days she meets a fellow traveler who has traversed this road many times before. She asks to join him on a short cut across a mountain trail. When a rebellion breaks out in the direction Mito knew Aleria was headed she alerts her parents and a search for Aleria begins.
Aleria learning about the rebellion makes smart decisions and tries to alert the authorities. Thinking she is now safe she inadvertently gets captured by Raif, one of the rebel rousers. These men are a loathsome group of disparate men. It is all Aleria can do to try to stay alive and sane while suffering abuse and the threat of rape. However, Raif is not who he seems and Aleria must decide whether to trust him or not. The pace of the story turns fast and furious at this point and became hard to put down. There are a fair number of twists because these men are not very well organized.
The story starts out slow as we are introduced to Aleria, her parents, and a few of her classmates. I found the cast of characters who played important roles were well developed. The dialogue seemed realistic with a good amount of humor. I really enjoyed Aleria and Mito’s friendship. Mito is from the poorer side of town but has managed to enroll in the girls Academy. Mito is a smart, levelheaded girl who tries to keep Aleria balanced, their heart-to-heart talks were engaging and intelligent. I am hoping for some romance to develop in book two, there are a couple of possibilities.
FYI: The author uses Canadian spellings.
Out of Mischief is Book 1 in the World of Change series.
Format/Typo Issues: I found a small number of proofing errors throughout the text.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** June 18, 2015
Into Trouble by Gordon A. Long
As Aleria immerses herself into advanced battle arts lessons with Master Ogima as a way to deal with her nightmares stemming from the rebellion in Out of Mischief, another situation arises. Bandits are stealing merchandise, which is traveling by cart, in Lord Fauvé’s land around Taine. Aleria seems to think she can handle going undercover for a fact finding mission by going to visit Shen Waring and his family near Taine with the hope of getting invited to stay at Lord Fauve’s castle, with her being a Lady and all. The ploy works and Aleria insinuates herself by helping Lord Fauve’ planning parties and making rounds with the Lord to visit his holdings and meet the farmers.
It’s all very interesting seeing how Lord Fauvé runs his domain and meeting the farmers who work the land. When the bandits strike again Aleria watches Fauvé closely, but things go as she imagines it should. She finds no connection between Fauvé’s behavior and the bandits. She also has been keeping Lord Raif Canah updated through coded love letters which are delivered to Mito and then she delivers them to Raif. I found the story had an even pace until a tragic turn of events, which happens at the end of chapter eighteen, spins everything upside down. At that point, two-thirds into the story, I couldn’t put the book down until the last page. It is engaging, terrifying, suspenseful, and surprising. I think the political intrigue was expertly handled and executed as was the dialogue. At this point towards the end the castle staff has a larger presence which I enjoyed immensely.
I was a little disappointed that the romance I thought would develop in this book didn’t, however I am still pleased with how things worked out. Aleria is continuing to grow and I hope she finds her place in the world. Mr. Long seems to have her figured out, she is a wonderful character.
FYI: This story contains rape, it is not depicted as graphic, but it tis here nonetheless.
The author uses Canadian spellings.
Into Trouble is book 2 of the World of Change series. Book 1, Out of Mischief, should be read first to properly enjoy the subtleties between Aleria, her parents, Mito, and Lord Raif Canah.
Format/Typo Issues: A small number of proofing errors.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** July 5, 2015
This is an engrossing story that includes war, espionage, politics, spirituality, and a bit of romance to boot. There are several characters in this book that are listed at the beginning. I found this list intimidating but plowed ahead hoping I could keep up with all of them. The story centers on Gaelen, second son of the King of Bargia, who is thrust into power after the death of the king and his oldest son during a battle at the beginning of the story, and his advisors. As the characters were brought into play, I had no problem keeping up with them and the roles they played. The main characters are all well developed and easily believable. The matters of state which Gaelen had to deal with were tedious to me but essential to the story over all.
There are no fantasy creatures in this story; the only magical element was perhaps the spiritual belief that we ourselves affect our environment and the world as a whole. Oh, well, there was a prophetess, a true seer who Gaelen called upon occasionally. If you enjoy the political workings of a society, spy games, mercenaries, and mistresses I believe you will enjoy this story as well. The plot moves along at a nice pace encompassing all matters of this demesne (the term for the land under control of a lord) and those surrounding it.
What captivated me was the relationship between Klast, the king’s assassin, and Brensa, a lady in waiting. Both are badly broken souls that need healing and whose futures seem to hold dominion over the prosperity of the kingdom as a whole. I found it fascinating and their journey became very important to me. I do tend to get involved in the emotional aspects of the characters I read; this is where I think any story’s strength lie. Ms. Hertzberger was able to capture and express the emotions of all her characters, be it love or treachery, throughout the entire novel. This books storyline is complete; there were no cliff-hangers to draw you into the next book, although I am very interested to see what happens next. This is a great story on all levels.
FYI: British spelling and some ‘Old World’ word usage. **Originally written for "BigAl’s Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** September 1, 2013
The Dreamt Child by Yvonne Hertzberger
At last the goddess Earth speaks more directly to Liannis and she has to come to terms and acknowledge her feelings for Merrist! I was so ready for this, but Merrist is the one who has to broach the subject because Liannis is still reluctant. I suppose she has just cause because it will be their job to gain acceptance for their relationship with all the inhabitants of the One Isle. To help Merrist the Earth goddess bestows him with a gift that Liannis does not possess. Which works out rather nicely when they are visiting Gharn and a tragedy befalls Lady Sienna. But I'll be darned if no sooner than they are together they are both summoned by Earth to different dioceses, what rotten luck! So Merrist heads to help Lionn track down a notorious traitor and appoint a new Lord in Catania, while Liannis is sent to Leithe to assist a transitioning lordship there.
The plot moves steadily forward and there is a lot of traveling between the different kingdoms as our players deal with treacherous political posturing, treason, terrorism, and tragedy to start, then eventually triumph, celebrations and much joy. It seems the One Isle is finally achieving some balance, and Liannis and Merrist are allowed a reprieve. They move back to Liannis's childhood home to await the birth of the dreamt child, along with Brensa who is still desperately mourning Klast.
There is a nice twist at the end of this story that I wasn't expecting after the trials and tribulations of these dioceses. It seems that the Earth goddess is very happy and things are changing for several of One Isles inhabitants. However we all know the pendulum will never stop swinging. This is quite an epic. Well done, Ms. Hertzberger.
FYI: I think reading the first two novels of this trilogy will enrich your enjoyment of this story.
Format/Typo Issues: A small number of editing errors.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** November 30, 2013