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A Review: The Winter Sea

3392089In Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea you get two books in one. The main character, Carrie McClelland is writing a novel about the past. The novel jumps back and forth between present and past. In the past we have among other things the love story of Sophia Paterson and John Moray. In the present we have Carrie, her genealogy research, her novel, and her slightly-less-interesting romance.

I found myself drawn more to the characters from the past. They were more real and interesting to me. I really liked the hero – he was dashing and romantic. There was plot point to the novel about the past that I found a little unbelievable – it was the same point that Carrie’s friend and agent, Jane found to be unbelievable and something that a mother would never do. I found that part of the story to be particularly sad (as did Jane). The storyline in the present seemed to be just a frame for the storyline from the past. I liked the present day hero well enough, and I liked the town’s people and their quirks. The present day heroine was okay, but she wasn’t that interesting – all she did was write and remember things from the past (she had her ancestor’s memories). If the story was to feature both present and past, I would have liked to see the present a little better developed. I felt there was no depth to the heroine, and there was nothing exciting about the romance. They just started seeing one another, and they ended up together. The romance from the past featured tension, danger, love, separation, tragedy, surprise and joy.

I understand that in Kearsley’s novel The Firebird she continues on with some of the storyline. She features Sophia and John’s daughter as another set of present day characters explore the past. I will definitely read that one. I hope both the present and past characters are equally developed (and interesting).

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A Review: The Snow Child

Goodreads review:  2 out of 5 stars

snowchildIn The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Jack and Mabel are homesteaders in 1920’s Alaska.  They are an older couple unable have children of their own, and they are drifting apart.

This was not an uplifting story.  It starts out with Mabel trying to commit suicide by walking out on the ice which might crack underneath her and sweep her away to her death.  She is depressed and full of despair.  The story is patterned after an old folk tale.  The couple builds a child out of snow, and she comes to life (or Mabel thinks she did). It had hints of the paranormal – the girl can make it snow by lifting her hands, she’s otherworldly, she disappears during the summer, etc.  I think I would have preferred that the story be left that way – where you wonder whether or not if she’s real or a fairy of some sort, and you are left wondering.  The story did explain who she was, though, and I’m not sure that part of the story was necessary.

What I also did not like about the story were the violent parts.  There are a lot of animal/hunting-related deaths. I know in 1920’s Alaska no one ran to the grocery store to pick up a steak; they hunted.  I still don’t like reading about animals being killed or dying.

I didn’t care for the ending of the story either, but I won’t give that away here.

Review: Last Chance Summer: A Short Story

Last Chance Summer: A Short Story
Last Chance Summer: A Short Story by Hope Ramsay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

***Thank you, NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing), for providing me with a copy for review.***

Last Chance Summer: A Short Story by Hope Ramsay was a cute story about Amanda Wright who is a war widow living in the small town of Last Chance, South Carolina. Amanda is a teacher and mother to a 4-1/2 year old son, Ethan. She also lives with her Grandmother who is beginning to suffer the early signs of dementia. Together they attend the town’s Watermelon Festival, and there after a series of unexpected events, they meet the town’s new radio DJ, Grant Trumbull. Grant has recently left the big city in search of a simpler, less hectic lifestyle.

My only complaint with this story was that it wasn’t longer. I enjoy stories about small town life and the various characters who inhabit small towns. Just when the story was getting going and the characters were being developed, the story was done. I understand from a search of Amazon that there are other full length novels by this author in the Last Chance series. Those novels might be worth a look.

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Review: A Tale of Two Centuries

A Tale of Two Centuries
A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, those time-traveling “cousins”! Alessandra D’Angeli is a dutiful sixteenth-century daughter. She does what everyone else wants her to do without question. The only real excitement she’s had in her young life is the recent visit she had from her time-traveling twenty-first century cousin (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1 by Rachel Harris). To make matters worse, Alessandra has not been lucky in love. Her suitor marries another. Feeling hopeless and lost, she cries out for help. It arrives in the form of the same gypsy fortune teller who helped her cousin, Caterina. Alessandra’s wish is for an adventure of her own. Propelled forward five hundred years into the future (her cousin’s future), Alessandra’s adventure begins. The twenty-first century is a scary place for a girl from the past.

I wasn’t certain if I was going to like this book at first. Alessandra enrolls in her cousin’s high school and the book seemed to take a turn into high school life and all its usual characters and annoying bullies. In her very first class Alessandra meets Austin, a “bad boy”. Alessandra has also always dreamed of being an actress – something unheard of in her time. She tries out for the school play, and she meets Kendal, a “mean girl”.

When the relationship between Alessandra and Austin began to develop, the book got much better. Austin sees her as a prim and proper “Princess”. He challenges her to break out of her shell. It was during a series of challenges as she got to know Austin better that the story got interesting. Austin was my favorite character in the book. As time ticks down and Alessandra realizes that her time-traveling experience will soon end, the book was hard to put down. I eagerly raced through the pages anxious to see what would happen. If you enjoy time travel and young adult romance, try this series. The books are very well done.

Note: My only complaint with this e-book that I received from NetGalley was that for some reason the text was missing most of the “fl” and “fi” letters in words; for example, the word “outfit” appeared as “out t” or “fling” was “ing”. It took me awhile to get the hang of reading the book that way, but I was able to figure out the missing word from context. It just took me longer to read.

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Review: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Caterina (Cat) Crawford, daughter of a Hollywood movie producer, just wants to be left alone. She’s a shy, artistic girl who doesn’t care for the limelight. Abandoned at a young age by her Mother, she and her Dad made a good team until her Dad meets someone new. Dad’s new girlfriend, Jenna, is bright and bubbly (everything Cat is not). Jenna wants to throw a huge sweet 16 birthday bash for Cat that will be televised and be a huge gala event. Cat wants no part of it. On a vacation to Italy with Dad and Jenna, on a whim Cat visits a gypsy fortune teller. Somehow she ends up traveling back in time to Renaissance Italy. While it is an artist’s dream come true to see Michelangelo’s statue of David when it was a new work of art, Cat is a little scared to find herself living someone else’s life, and she has no clue how to get back to her own life.

I thought this story was nicely done. It was cute, and it grew on me as I read. I did think it was a little silly to have her actually meet Michelangelo, but I found myself concerned for her as some of the less than civilized parts of the past cropped up. A young lady living in the 1500’s had a vastly different life than today’s young women enjoy.

This is a good and quick read if you like time travel stories. I enjoyed it. I am reading the second book in the series now.

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