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Stone and Silt, by Harvey Chute

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on February 25, 2016 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)


     "A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold. At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door. Those are soon the least of her troubles. Nikaia discovers a hidden cache of gold, and when police find a corpse nearby, her father becomes a suspect. Worse, Elias Doyle is circling, hungry to avenge his brother’s death. Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love"


     Short Summary: This books brings together several different types of families and cultures together in a beautiful display of the courage people can display when faced with the ugly side of life.


     Full Review: This book is a masterpiece of meshing cultures. Nikaia is our main character, a sixteen year old girl from a family of mixed races. Her father married and Indian woman, which makes it hard for the family to truly fit in anywhere. There's nothing about the story that could be considered especially remarkable, shocking, or never done before in literature, and yet it's such a beautiful story in it's simplicity. I love it when books manage to create a great story in realistic circumstances. Sometimes, the truth is what seems really impossible or most incredible, and this story follows events that, while entirely fictitious, could have reasonably happened to anyone living in that time.

     The characters in this book are all unique, and none of them are perfect. There are very few flat characters, most of them add a lot to the story through their diversity, how they interact, and their different ways of life and how they intersect.

     Nikaia's mother and her Indian family have a very different lifestyle than the one Nikaia's father came from. The cultures are unique and fascinating all on their own, and together they are beautiful and entirely different. I loved this couple's support of each other, and how they brought different elements of their lives together to raise their family. Despite any persecution, they were strong because they were together. They only really needed each other. This family was a beautiful illustration of what a healthy family should be.

     Then there's Nikaia's best friend Yee Sim, and his Chinese family. They're hardworking like Nikaia's father. They are happy and content in the simplicity of their life and home.

     Frannie goes to church and weeps in the back alone, because she has to make her living at the saloon from the company of men since her husband died. Yet she shows more goodness and kindness than most of the high in society, or the enforcers of the law. She is the one there for Nikaia's family in their time of need, she hides Nikaia and gives her information to help her discover the truth and restore peace to the town, along with serving justice to those who deserve it.

     The Sheriff's deputy, in a position of one who should be upright and responsible, wants wealth as much as the family in town known to cause to trouble to get what they want. Because of this, he teams up with that family and together they use deception and thievery for self-gain.

     All of these people are living together, working together, worshiping together, and surviving together. The people of the town have different motives and entirely different goals in life, yet they all come together in different ways when a big issue comes up that drags them all into the same fight. It's a good lesson on morals and ethics, and would be a fantastic book to spark discussion in classrooms or book clubs.

     This is a story that truly shows how much the author has invested in their characters. Because of this investment, the characters leads the story into its greatness. Rather than the plot leading the characters around, the characters lead and demand the plot in a humble, quiet, simple, yet incredibly powerful way.

     I loved how effective the bit of romance was in this book. It didn't try to overthrow the more important parts of the plot, and it wasn't overdone. I could relate to Nikaia and her thoughts and feelings even though we're from completely different times, cultures, and families. This went beyond just romance. She was so real, as were all of the characters. I think that's why it impacted me in the way it did.

     Overall, this book may not have the appearance of “the next big hit” but it made a profound impact on me because it tried to stun me or attempt something no author has done before, but because it drew out the issues in real, human life, and connected to me in it's realness and the beauty humans can show when put through the fire of trials.


     Overall Rating: 5


*I recieved this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.*

A Spy's Devotion, By Melanie Dickerson

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on February 16, 2016 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

 

     "In England’s Regency era, manners and elegance reign in public life—but behind closed doors treason and deception thrive. Nicholas Langdon is no stranger to reserved civility or bloody barbarity. After suffering a battlefield injury, the wealthy, well-connected British officer returns home to heal—and to fulfill a dying soldier’s last wish by delivering his coded diary.

     At the home of the Wilherns, one of England’s most powerful families, Langdon attends a lavish ball where he meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey. Determined to maintain propriety, he keeps his distance—until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia’s guardian. As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation’s undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman. And when Julia realizes that England—and the man she is falling in love with—need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray. Will the two succumb to their attraction while fighting to save their country?"


     Short Summary: Melanie Dickerson was already a favorite author of mine, but this really takes the cake. Her fairy tale romance series was beautifully woven and very enjoyable as well, but this new series she's beginning, Regency Spies of London, is definitely a path she's going to thrive on. This is my favorite book of hers yet, and with good cause.


     Full Review: Melanie Dickerson has done it again, and I daresay this is her finest work yet.

     This book is what I suspect Jane Austin would be like if she wrote in a style easier to understand in our deteriorated language of today, geared towards younger people rather than adults. It is much easier to read than Pride and Prejudice, yet it has all the style, culture, grace, and intrigue of the very-classy classics.

     We are told the story from two different perspectives, those of Julia Grey, and Nicholas Langdon. Julia is an orphan who was taken in by her Aunt, Uncle, and cousin Phoebe. She dearly loves her cousin and wants the very best for her. So when Phoebe decides she is in love with Mr. Langdon, Julia helps direct Langdon's heart towards Phoebe. However, when Julia becomes involved in a plot her uncle has to help their French enemies after Mr. Langdon requested her help, her feelings are also dragged into the mess. She becomes more and more attached to Mr. Langdon, even as she hopes for her cousin's happiness.

 Nicholas has returned from the war to heal from his injuries. His friend entrusted him with a diary before he died and instructed Nicholas to take it to the War Office. Unfortunately, the diary is lost to people who hope to use it for personal gain. Nicholas turns to Julia Grey to help him gain information before everything is lost. However, when her world crashes in as a result of her cousin Phoebe's affections towards Nicholas and her uncle's deception and treason, Nicholas starts to realize just how much she means to him.

     Love triangles usually make for a good story, but tend to be overused, or used ineffectively. Not so in this book. Take love triangles ruled by society and what is considered proper, use people who come from many different stations of life with many conflicting goals in life, triple the stakes, and then you have a killer love triangle. In this case, there may even be multiple triangles all crashing together. Romance can't stand alone, it has to be driven, and boy is this romance driven! It's refreshingly realistic and yet incredibly sweet and satisfying.

     Dickerson took a world so different to us and made it so real. She took a society and a culture so perfection-driven, so filled with rules on how to behave, a world where people aren't allowed to do one thing wrong or improper, and showed us it's underbelly, it's faults. Nobody and no society has ever been perfect. These are humans. They made mistakes. They did things for self-gain. They fell in love with the wrong people. They broke the rules, they did improper things. And it's beautiful, because it rings so true, because it's so real, and because even then the good shows through. The honorable people, fighting for what is noble and right, shine all the more for it.

     I loved the plot, I loved the characters, I loved the suspense, I loved the plot twists, I loved everything about it. Dickerson's books are all obviously a labor of love. Rather than losing fire, she just gets better and better the more she writes. I look forward to more great things from her in the future.

     If you're looking for a good, clean story from an author you can trust, this book or any of Melanie Dickerson's other books would be perfect for you!

     Overall Rating: 5


I recieved this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Broken Banners, by Mark Gelineau and Joe King (Book Review)

Posted by Bethanny Lawson on February 11, 2016 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

    

     "Slaughtered and left for crows, soldiers of the King’s Army lay dead in a field. A grim reminder: the king’s law ends at the gates of the capital.

 

     Elinor fought for what she believed and now she is an outcast. No soldier will follow her. No officer will stand with her. Yet when she finds her brothers and sisters slaughtered, she cannot turn her back on them.

 

     Long ago, they swore an oath. Not to the king, but to each other.

 

     And woe to those who break that bond."


     Short Summary: I cannot think of a single thing wrong with this book. Breathtaking action, engaging plot, believable characters, and realistic emotion. There is some pretty brutal violence, but it adds to the story in ways that are absolutely necessary. If that doesn't scare you off, you need to read this book!

     Full Review: This book is incredibly captivating. From the moment you pick it up to the minute you set it down, the story wraps you up and won't let you go. I read the whole thing in one sitting. The characters are beautifully created. It's easy to feel like you know them pretty quickly, even though we don't get long explanations of their back story or descriptions of their character. The plot was equally well-spun. The fast pace of the book kept my interest peaked and pulled off real emotion in the midst of engaging action. I have not read the first book, but I could follow this story easily anyway. I certainly want to go back and read the first one after how good this book was!

     Elinor's strength is admirable and refreshing. Her ability to not only believe in and attempt crazy things, but to actually get them done and get them done well is something not often done so well through a character, let alone a female character.

     This book makes you think, and you have to pay attention or you'll get lost, but it's not difficult enough to be intimidating. I was always waiting to learn more, always guessing as to what would happen, to what people were going to do, or trying to figure out along with other characters exactly what the truth was about what had already happened.

     Not only were the characters wonderful all on their own, but the relationships between the characters were diverse and endearing. Con's trust in Elinor and his willingness to follow her wherever she led was a beautiful show of loyalty and the relationship felt deep without degrading the seriousness of the story with “puppy love.” He was strong on his own, too, but you could see that Elinor had earned his undivided loyalty, and that meant a lot.

     As for Elinor and Aldris' relationship, it was pleasantly mysterious. I was a little nervous when romance was hinted at, but it was very short and subtle. So many good stories have been ruined by unnecessary romance. This is not one of them. I look forward to watching the relationship develop more in future books.

     This book was packed with emotion and the story was breathtaking. I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't scared of a little violence.


     Overall Rating: 5


I recieved this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.