What is your reading goal this year?

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Gates of Evangeline

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young


"When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte "Charlie" Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children in danger, she's sure that she's lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent. They are warnings that will help her and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them. After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie's dreams, asking for her help, she finds herself entangled in a world-famous thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana's prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family's sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust--and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined."

My Review:

This book is one of the SheReads.org books of winter. I'm so glad I was able to review this book! I love the writing in this book. I was captivated from the beginning. I love the descriptions, the flow of the story, the language of the book, and the writing style. This book grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go. Of course, I'm not sure if any mom, anywhere, could read about the children in Charlie's dreams and not get involved. It's heart wrenching. If I suddenly start seeing children in my dreams, I hope it's not because they're in danger; I hope it's because they're happy and thankful I was their teacher, or something. I like Charlie's voice. I like her personality, and I feel for her after her loss. The characters in this book are well developed and realistic. They come to life on the page. The story of young Gabriel is compelling and draws the reader in.  The description of what Charlie feels at the boat dock is so well done that it had my skin crawling.

Rating: R (This book is not for younger readers. There is profanity in the book; not a ton, but enough to up my rating, including a couple of "f" words. There is also "intimacy"-there are scenes and talk of it as well. There is also some violence; there are descriptions of some not nice things that happen to children.)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, February 19, 2016

My Fair Gentleman

My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen

My first Book Chat! If you don't want to read my review then just watch the video! I'm so excited for this new feature on my blog! (Be nice, it's my first-ever video :) 
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   "Jack Elliot dreams of being the captain of his own ship. But then his grandfather, the Earl of Stansworth, names Jack as his heir--with a caveat. Jack must impress the aristocracy, or else his mother and sister will remain in poverty. Can a rough-and-tumble captain be transformed into a gentleman of society?
   Ivy Carlisle is willing to try. Employed as his tutor, she begins teaching Jack the ways of high society, but she quickly discovers that this dashing sailor is brash and bold, opinionated and passionate. If she's not careful, Jack might end up teaching her a thing or two about romance.
   Sparks fly when the sailor meets society, and Jack soon learns that his challenge isn't surviving the ton, but surviving the conspiracies against him--as well as keeping himself from falling madly in love with his new tutor."
My Review:     
This is one of those books that you read for pure entertainment. It's predictable, cheesy, and cliched, but isn't that what we all want in a romance? I thought it was a sweet love story, with some crazy accidents added into the mix. The characters are fairly well done. I liked Ivy a lot. She has a cute personality, is likable, and seems realistic. I liked all her "properness." (Yes, I just made up that word.) I could picture her all prim and proper, and yet I liked that she learned to bend those rules if the situation warranted it. I liked Sophia too. I liked the relationship between her and Ivy, and I also liked the relationship she had with her brother Jack. Jack is an interesting character. I didn't like him very much at the beginning of the story. He seemed too irritable and grumpy. He wasn't very kind. As the story unfolded, though, he has some experiences that seem to soften him a bit. He was a much better character at the end of the book. This is a fast, easy read, and may not be too deep or require a lot of thought, but it's perfect for just being entertained; getting caught up in a story and being transported to a time of Earls, fancy balls, and rolling estates.
This book is a proper romance, and it fits perfectly in that genre. It's clean! There's no language or "intimacy." There is definitely some kissing, but that's as far as it goes. There is some minor violence and some blood, but it's not overly graphic. The two things that up my rating to a PG-13 are that in the book it briefly states that the women are constructing a home to help women who were "women of the night" to get out of that line of work, and it also states that one of the characters got into some trouble with a man before they were married. It doesn't ever go into specifics, in fact it's quite vague, but I don't want my 11 year-old daughter asking me about either one of those things. Overall, I liked the book. It was a fast read, and was a good distraction from laundry. :)
Rating: PG-13 (There isn't any language or "intimacy." There is some kissing and some minor violence. There is a point where the characters discuss building a home for former "women of the night" to come to and learn a new occupation. There is also a character that gets into trouble before she is married; it never comes out directly and says what happened, it's quite vague.)
Recommendation: YA (13 and up)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


"In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy are responsible for keeping a home while their father is off to war. At the same time, they must come to terms with their individual personalities--and make the transition from girlhood to womanhood. It can all be quite a challenge. But the March sisters, however different, are nurtured by wise and beloved Marmee and bound by their love for one another and the feminine strength they share. Readers of all ages have fallen instantly in love with Little Women. The story transcends time--making this novel endure as a classic piece of American literature that has captivated generations of readers with its charm, innocence, and wistful insights."

My Review:

This book holds a place in my heart! I loved it as a young woman (I read it many times), and I loved it just as much this time. I hadn't read it in years, but it doesn't matter; picking it up is like finding a long-lost childhood friend. Jo, Meg, Beth, Amy, and Laurie are like old friends, and it was so fun meeting them again after so many years apart. I LOVE this book! I love the carefully crafted language--books are not written with such beautifully crafted language any more. I love the descriptions, the conversations, the antics, and the characters. I love how simple life seemed in the early nineteenth-century. I know it had its difficulties; there was a war going on, they didn't have a lot of money, women didn't have as many opportunities as they do now, but they all sat together by the fire at night and sewed, read, and talked. As children they didn't need tv, video games, or ipods, they had  their imaginations and the big world outside. I love that. I enjoyed reading about the plays they put on when they were younger, and the little club they had. Even though it sometimes jumps to different characters, it's easy to transition, and you know exactly which sister is being spotlighted in that chapter. It's so fun to see the sisters grow and mature. You see them grow up before your eyes, and reading it from a mother's perspective brings a whole new side to the book. How obvious is it that I love this book? Can you tell?? Yeah, just a little! I definitely recommend this book! It takes a minute to get used to the writing because it's so different from today's literature, but I promise it's worth it! This book will take a little bit longer to read because of the language, but once again, it's so worth it! I hope this new generation of young girls will be able to learn to love the language and this story. I know my kids are used to faster-paced books and lots of action, but I hope to be able to instill in them a love of the classics as well.

Rating: PG (No language or "intimacy." A character dies and it's really sad. Other than that, it's clean.)

Recommendation: YA (13 and up) It's clean, but the younger girls may not be able to understand or appreciate it as much.